Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or any part of the series.
Author's Note: Woohoo!!! This is the story that was requested by GoodGirlGoneTobi, who gave me an idea for a good Christmas songfic. So you guys should probably thank her for this... :3 I wish I can say more, but you'll just have to read the next chapters that I'll be uploading as often as I can (since I'm still working on a few more stories), but I promise that I will never leave this story unfinished... ever.
Hope you guys like it! ^^
As they stood before the quiet, waiting crowd, he looked at her. Her chin was proudly tilted up; her body, presentably straight; her eyes, focused, waiting for his cue. It wasn't like her, the girl he knew would smile and wave at the audience. He saw a different kind of person in her, it was as if she lost her heart and replaced it with her brain.
He couldn't accept it. He couldn't let it happen.
But he was a great thinker. For years, he had survived his life through logical thinking and common sense. But that wouldn't help him now, it was too late for that. And for once, he decided to use a bit of that talent and use more of his heart, just to favor his own happiness.
He inhaled deeply, though subtly, before he strummed the strings of his guitar, marking the start of their performance, as well as his courageous plan for that evening.
It was just too good to be true.
She was standing in the middle of a grassy field, full of pink flowers, and the clear sky smiling at her. It was a scene everyone could ever dream of; but what made it even more perfect was the man standing right beside her. He was the most beautiful man a person like her had ever seen in her entire life. The time they were spending together wasn't just any moment; it was a given chance for him to confess his undying love for her.
She turned to her handsome companion, who stared right back at her with his sparkling blue eyes.
He opened his mouth and let out the sweetest words she ever heard. "No matter what happens, even if you become the world's enemy, I'll be your knight."
He was no warrior in a shiny armor, nor a dreamy prince charming with a noble steed; he was more than that. He carried a huge sword with much grace and strength, and even she could tell that he made every battle beautiful.
With his hand covered in leather glove, he reach for her face and stroked it ever so gently. She closed her eyes, savoring his touch with which he poured all his being, exclusively for her.
"Rinoa?" He called her name.
"Yes?" She responded.
"Rinoa!" Her head snapped back up at him. His voice wasn't low and suave anymore. It sounded more like...
"Rinoa! Wake up!" His mouth was following the words, but it was not his voice taht came out. It was...
With the final shout, she woke up, and it was then she recognized the voice. It was her mother who was sitting right beside Rinoa with her hand placed on her daughter's arm.
"Mmmng..." Rinoa grumbled. "Mom..."
"Rinoa, I hate to wake you up, but," Julia Heartilly stood up from Rinoa's bed, giving her daughter some space to sit up. "you'll be late for the train!"
The black haired girl moaned over he pillow as she stretched her arms. Rinoa never hated the mornings as much as she did now, especially after being woken up from a very good dream.
"What time is it?" She managed to mumble to her mother.
"It's eight in the morning, but you know the train leaves at eleven!"
"It's still early!" Rinoa complained as she pulled the covers over herself.
"C'mon, get up!" The older woman pulled the covers off Rinoa before pulling the girl's arm off the bed. But her capabilities proved to have weakened over time as she grew older. Her strength was no match to her daughter's stubborness.
Julia sighed in defeat. "Honey, you know I don't want you to leave either..." Rinoa opened her eyes slightly as she listened to her mother's words of understanding. "But this is what's best for both of us."
She did not need any more explanation; they have talked about it for over hundreds of times already. Her mother's career as a singer was on its peak of success and concerts were arranged so she would become more known all over the world, ultimately fulfilling her dream. But this will cost her much time, for it required her to travel from places to places for almost a year, performing in different major cities. Naturally, she couldn't leave her beloved daughter behind, whom she couldn't bring along for Rinoa was still studying, opting to attend college and pursue her goal as a journalist. Not wanting to break her daughter's aspirations, she decided to bring her to the best boarding school around, which was Balamb Garden. Of course, with her daughter's consent, since she never really had a choice anyway. It was a hard decision to make, especially for Rinoa. But both were strong enough to live with their futures without each other, at least for now.
Rinoa finally sat up and faced her mother, who was at the brink of crying. "I know, mom..." She whispered gently as she hugged the singer. "I'm gonna miss you." She said sweetly.
"Ooh..." Julia did not hold her tears back anymore and embraced her daughter back very tightly. "I'm going to miss you too, Baby."
"It's going to be alright." Rinoa soothed. "I promise, I'll visit you as much as I can, like what we have planned."
Her mother smilled meekly. "You can visit me anytime you want, Sweetcake. Anytime you want..."
Rinoa returned a comforting smile, assuring her mother that everything will go just fine.
"Well, you better get prepared now. I made you some good breakfast before I bring you to the train station." The mother said comfortingly, careful not to ruin her daughter's morning any further.
"Yup." Rinoa said under her breath as she stood up and headed for the bathroom.
After taking some good, warm shower, Rinoa swiped the moist off her mirror before looking at her own reflection. She looked tired, obviously; she wasn't ready to face the day just yet. Usually she wakes up at ten in the morning. But not today. She was deprived with two hours of sleep.
She sighed to herself. The dream she had was still clear in her head, and it would've gotten longer if only her mother did not wake her up so soon. Or maybe the dream just appeared at the wrong time.
It was a nice dream, so nice she was still having a slight hangover of it. It left her a bit of sensation that it was real, that it really happened. But no, it was just merely a dream, because she did not wake up at the grassy field, but rather on her bed inside her bedroom. To think it was all too familiar as well; a handsome mercenary who promised his sorceress lover that he will be her knight. It was one of the major parts in the videogame she used to play so often. She played it almost everyday until she had finished the whole thing. The end made her cry, and so she played it all over again. It wasn't just because the story was too romantic (which made her a hopeless romantic herself), but the hero of the story was just too... too...
Tall, brave, handsome, intelligent; everything a girl could possibly dream of. Always, she had prayed to meet a guy like him, but all that she was blessed for suitors were the ordinary ones any girl could encounter everyday. Of course, dreamers can't be choosers, but it didn't mean that she cannot step back and think for herself if what was happening was indeed making her happy.
Simply put, she wanted someone that can turn her world upside down. She didn't know how that would work, Rinoa had never been in love. She only heard that common cliche almost everywhere, and it sounded too wonderful that she too wanted to experience it.
But of course, with her "knight".
She put on a white blouse with puffy long sleeves, matched it with jeans and white loafers. She went downstairs to the dining room, which greeted her with a generous breakfast of two pancakes with strawberries on top.
Julia Heartilly was sitting right across Rinoa's chair, eating her own pancakes. "I know it's your favorite. Consider it as my last treat for you before we get to see each other again." She said with a motherly smile.
She had always been such a sweet woman.
After Rinoa's luggages were placed inside the car, Julia finally drove her daughter to Deling City's train station. After saying their last goodbyes, tightly hugging each other while crying in the process, Rinoa stepped into the train, heading to the city of Balamb where her school was waiting for her.
Rinoa had been to Balamb Garden once, when she took an entrance exam. But she had not felt this way before. Slowly, it was sinking into her that she was a part of the prestigious institution. Suddenly, she felt intimidated by the simple structure before her. It was amazing how a building could make her feel so inferior, as if she did not deserve to be in that place. But she was, she passed all the tedious requirements, and she finally made it; a student of Balamb Garden.
"Wow..." Rinoa said in awe, as she stared at her new school after she stepped out of the service car the school provided for her transportation.
"Hello." A gentle male voice greeted her. She looked at the direction of the voice and saw a balding, old man, wearing a rest vest on top of his white, long-sleeve shirt that fit his short, round body. Rinoa smiled back at his welcome.
"Hello." She replied.
"I'm Cid Kramer, Headmaster of Balamb Garden." The man introduced.
"OH! Hello!" Rinoa held out her hand to shake the man's hand, a gesture she believed would add a good impression on her. "I'm Rinoa Heartilly."
"I know. I believe your mother had sent you here." Cid shook her hand with his and gave her a wider smile. "A lovely woman. My wife is quite a fan of hers; always listening to Julia's songs on the radio."
"Oh, I'm so sure Mom will be so glad to hear that." Rinoa said, enlightened with what the headmaster told her. She felt even prouder of her already famous mother.
"Well, I assume you're looking forward to explore what this school has for you." The older man let go of the new student's hand. "And as much as I want to show you around, I'm afraid that I can't because of the many issues at hand I have to deal with." Rinoa nodded in response to him, showing that she understood. "So, I asked the help of one kind student who will give you a tour of this institution and fill you in with what you need to know before you involve yourself with your classes."
The ebony haired nodded, once again. "That sounds great."
"Good. Very well." The headmaster said before turning around and gestured at someone with his hand to come over. Rinoa glanced at that person and her eyes beamed with admiration. She was a tall, blonde girl with a slender figure and distinguishable blue eyes behind her rectangular glasses. With graceful movements, she quickly responded to the headmaster's command and walked over to him.
"Rinoa, this is Quistis Trepe." Cid said with his hand still up at the girl.
"Hello." Rinoa held her own hand to shake Quistis'.
"Hi." The blonde took Rinoa's hand and greeted her formally. "You must be Rinoa, the new student."
The black haired nodded. "Yeah. I'm so excited to be here."
Quistis giggled. "Well, there's more to it than you think." She winked.
Cid cleared his throat. The two girls let go of each other, though still smiling. "Sorry to interrupt you girls." He smiled at them shyly and faced Rinoa. "She will be your tour guide, and she will also be your roommate."
Rinoa gasped. "That's awesome!"
Quistis nodded, with wide smile on her face. "I know."
"Yes, I know it will be awesome." Cid smiled too, as he adjusted his glasses on his nose. "I'll be leaving you two then. I still have a meeting to attend. And Rinoa,"
Rinoa turned to her headmaster. "Yes Sir?"
"Welcome to Balamb Garden."
"And this is our room." Quistis finally said as she opened a door along the dormitory corridors, which revealed a large, white, neat room with three beds. After showing Rinoa every part of the Garden, she showed their room the last so the newcomer can finally have her rest after all the travelling. The blonde beauty also showed Rinoa her classrooms for each of her subjects, so to familiarize her with their locations.
Rinoa surveyed the room in amazement. It was a nice room, and their beds were considerably big for a single person.
She turned to Quistis. "There are three beds. We have another roommate?"
The blonde nodded. "Yes, her name's Selphie Tilmitt." She raised her arm and looked at her wristwatch. "She's probably still with her boyfriend, Irvine."
Rinoa's lips pouted in an "Oh". Selphie sounded like an intriguing and interesting person with the lovelife she had.
She pulled her luggage towards the empty bed she assumed to be hers. She jumped over it and laid down.
"This is such an awesome place." Rinoa said.
Quistis turned to the black haired girl at her remark. "Actually, it is. Just follow the rules and regulations, and the rest is up to you. Have fun. Do whatever you want."
Rinoa sat up. "When do I get to know the rules and regulations?"
"Well..." Quistis approached Rinoa's bed and sat at the edge of it. "You will be given a handbook for it, eventually, though all you really need to remember is be the best and nicest girl you can. And stay out of trouble."
"Stay out of trouble. Got it." Rinoa nodded.
"I better get going." Quistis rose up and quickly walked towards the door.
"Wait!" Rinoa called, in a sad tone. "you're going to leave me here?"
"I'm afraid I have to." Quistis replied as she sighed tiredly. "I have some business to attend to; some students broke some rules again, and now I have to deal with them."
"Wow." Rinoa replied. "You're in a disciplinary committee or something?"
Quistis shook her head. "Not exactly. I'm the President of the student council. Though I do fix these kinds of things up, I often bargain with the REAL dsiciplinary committee and negotiate with them so they don't confer punishments to those who break the rules."
"Whoah." Rinoa nodded. "Must be tough."
Quistis sighed. "Kind of is. Well, I shouldn't take too long. Do get as much rest as you need. Feel free to do whatever you want." She smiled as she turned the knob of the door and stepped out of the room.
Rinoa laid down on her soft, fluffy bed again and inhaled deeply. She couldn't wait for the next day when she would finally attend her first class.
"Room 105... Room 105..." Rinoa chanted endlessly as she scanned the whole classroom corridor for the room of her first class; Room 105. She remembered Quistis showing it to her the day before while giving her the tour, but she had almost ten rooms for the semester and she could hardly remember which one was located to where.
Finally, she saw 'Room 102', and she figured she must be close to her destination.
"105... 105..." 103... 104...
"Aha! 105!" Rinoa thanked Hyne as she spotted the room she had been looking for.
There were a few students, which was only natural at such an early time. They still had about twenty minutes before the class officially starts. She felt her classmates' eyes on her, which scared her a bit. They don't seem to bite or capable of harm, but they don't look very friendly either. They were silent, not as interactive as she expected them to be.
She took a seat on the first chair she saw, which was not far from the door where she entered. She remained there silently and timidly and watched as more students came into the room.
Then, a particular person caught her attention.
He wasn't late, he arrived five minutes earlier than the required hour; but he stood out from the rest of the class. He was a tall guy with a well-toned, slim figure, evident in his male uniform that fit perfectly in him. But what she found most attractive in him was his face; his short, brown, shaggy hair that almost (but not quite) covered the upper part of his face, but not enough to conceal his dazzling deep blue eyes. His only imperfection was the scar between his eyes, though that too was very well placed and it only made him look even tougher. He truly was a captivating sight.
What made him even worth even more fantasizing was, he looked just like (if not close) to her "knight" she saw in her dream. And that memory only made her heart pound faster, almost draining all of her blood from her system.
Rinoa found herself drooling over him; and she was thankful that he did not even take notice of her. A sad though, but nevertheless, okay. She couldn't believe that someone as gorgeous as he was actually existed! Was that even possible? Or maybe she was still in dreamland?
She pinched her own arm and winced at the piercing pain. No, she was definitely living and conscious in the real world. And he did, as evident and visible before her sight, exist.
Subtly, she followed him with her brown eyes and saw him sit at the farthest part of the room. She had a sudden need to stand up and transfer seat to anywhere near him; but that would look too obvious. After all, she knew very well that she wasn't the only person who was fanciful over him. For sure, many other girls wanted him. Or maybe he already had a girlfriend? She would be surprised if he didn't have one, though it would be a favorable thought.
"Good morning class." A voice snapped Rinoa out of her thoughts and she looked at the front to see a female person she assumed to be their instructor for the morning walked over the table at the center of the room's platform. She was a fairly tall woman with a curvy figure that many men would desire, a long, black hair, tied up and decorated with colorful sticks, and a face, though beautiful, was just as scary as Shiva's icy rage.
The teacher looked at a piece of paper in her hand and looked back to her class. "We seem to have a newcomer today." She said, in a gentle voice that did not suit her appearance very well. "Heartilly? Rinoa Heartilly?" She called.
"Here, Ma'am." Rinoa replied and stood up, suddenly unconscious of the brunette guy she was staring at just a while ago.
Their mentor smiled at her, a welcoming one. "I'm Instructor Lulu, and this is my Zoology class." She raised her hand, as she presented her students to the newcomer. "It will be nice if you introduce yourself to us."
Rinoa nodded. "Yes Ma'am."
Instructor Lulu left her table and stood at one corner as she gave the floor to Rinoa.
The raven haired girl suddenly felt her blood rising up her face as she looked around her classmates, nervous for herself. She caught the sight of the brunette, who wasn't even looking at her. Thought his head was facing her, his eyes were darted away at the side walls of the classroom, his expression seemed bored and uninterested. This had made Rinoa even more fidgety on her place.
"Uhm, hi..." Rinoa waved her hand slightly as she greeted her classmates. She heard some people responded with "Hellos".
"I'm Rinoa Heartilly, I came from Deling City. I'm seventeen years old, and..." those were all she could tell about herself. She recalled if there was anything she missed, but the pressure she had in front made her want to get the whole thing over with. "I'm looking forward to working with all of you." She concluded.
Then, someone raised a hand. Rinoa looked at its direction and saw a guy with blonde hair and a noticeable tattoo on his face. He seemed eager with his statement or question.
"Yes, Zell?" Lulu recognized him.
"Are you related to that singer, Julia Heartilly?" The male student asked.
Rinoa nodded timidly. "Yeah. She's my mom."
It triggered alot of murmurs and whispers at her answer, and Rinoa couldn't help but check if that "hot" guy even bothered with her reply. But he still wasn't looking at her, nor at the white wall. Rather this time, his eyes seemed focused at the opened book on his desk.
Rinoa suddenly felt a pang of irritation at him, which was also caused by the embarassment for dreamily staring at him before, and even expected him to care about her. But then, if the blonde guy bothered to ask her that question, then why wasn't he as curious?
Who does he think he is?
"That's nice." Lulu commented after a short moment. "I heard she will be having concerts soon. Tell her I said congratulations and goodluck."
Rinoa smiled in response. "I will. Thank you."
Zoology went well, and so did her following subjects like Geology that she took under Mr. Highwind and World Literature under the eccentric Mr. Rhapsodos. After those sessions, they were all given the liberty to spend the next one hour for lunchbreak.
Quistis had reminded Rinoa that morning to join her table during the break, along with her group of friends and theother roommate Selphie, whom she still had to meet. Before buying her meal, Rinoa scanned the cafeteria and searched for any sign of her blond friend, whom wasn't as hard to find.
She approached their table and realized that Quistis wasn't alone anymore. She was accompanied by more guys, and she even recognized one of them as the classmate who asked her about her mother. If she remembered well, her instructor from the first subject, called him "Zell".
"Rinoa!" Quistis waved at the newcomer, beckoning her to come over. "Over here!"
Rinoa smiled and walked towards their table shyly and warily. She always did well with groups, but it often took her time to get really involved with each member.
"Hello." She timidly waved at Quistis' friends.
"This is Zell," The blond placed her hands on a male blonde's shoulders, the same one Rinoa first recognized at the cafeteria besides Quistis.
"Yeah, I'm your classmate." He said. "Hope you still remember me!"
Rinoa giggled and nodded. "Yeah, I remember you."
"Well, good." Quistis said. "Zell here is extremely nice and approachable. And if he ever gave you any problem, just tell me and he's dead."
"Whoah, I'm not as meanie as that guy, ya know?" Zell shot back, thought it made Rinoa wonder whom he called "Meanie". "But, really Rinoa, you can come to me at any time!"
"Thanks!" Rinoa bounced forward, at an attempted sweet bow at the kind guy.
"And this is Irvine," Quistis winked at Rinoa as she pointed at a tall guy with auburn brown, wavy hair, tied in a ponytail. Rinoa understood Quistis' gesture as she remembered how the blonde mentioned about him as Selphie's date the day before. "and his girlfriend Selphie, our other roommate." She then pointed at a brown-haired girl with shoulder length hair, which ends were flicked at all directions.
"Oh!" Rinoa exclaimed. "Hi Selphie! I've been meaning to meet you!"
"Tee hee!" Selphie giggled as she stood up and embraced Rinoa. "I was so excited to meet you too!"
Rinoa hugged back at the sweet girl.
"Sorry I didn't get to show up yesterday." Selphie said, in an sweetly, apologizing tone.
Rinoa winked at her. "I know." She nodded. "And it's okay."
"Let's go buy our food now." Quistis reminded, as she approached her roommates.
"Okay." Rinoa and Selphie said in chorus, as they nodded.
"You can leave your things here with the guys. They'll watch them over for you." Quistis said as she nodded on the blue tote bag the raven haired girl was carrying.
Rinoa looked at the two males, who were sitting around their lunch table. They both saluted at the ladies, assuring them that they will guard their stuffs with their lives.
"You can trust us, pretty lady." The brunette male winked suavily.
"Heard you have a new classmate!"
Squall's cheerful blonde friend said excitedly as he tossed the brunette his hamburger. They were hanging out at a bench near their school gym with another blonde (thought his hair was lighter in color) during their usual lunchbreak.
"So?" Squall replied.
"Heard she's pretty." His friend replied, his eye brows moving up and down playfully with a grin.
The brunette sighed. He would've replied "So?" but he didn't bother anymore.
"Tidus," The other blonde cut in. "if you're so interested about her, why don't you leave your section and transfer to Squall's class?"
"You know they won't allow that, Cloud." Tidus replied, his eyes narrowed, as if telling his blonde friend that he wasn't that stupid to not know that.
"Beg?" Cloud suggested.
"Hey!" Tidus rebutted, though he knew the always-sarcastic blonde was only kidding. The two of his friends knew that Tidus was close to dating a quiet girl from his class, whom he somehow always found himself protecting from people who wanted to take advantage of her kindness, and maybe he was trying to help Squall get a girl too.
The brunette knew that his friend Tidus was only trying to help him get out of his confined shell, have a life, and become just like him; an active blitzball team captain of their school who had a large circle of friends (though both Squall and Cloud didn't understand why Tidus stay with them, when they were always silent and brooding), outgoing, always attending parties... just about the complete opposite of Squall.
And now, he was trying to get him go out with a girl. Squall only had the ever mysterious and mopey Cloud at his side, but he thought that even the blonde was helping Tidus with his cause. Cloud was not as anti-social as he was, the blonde was far more open to people, even if he was often pessimistic about life. Squall wouldn't be surprised if Cloud suddenly became as famous as Tidus was, though he considered placing his mopey friend somewhere in between taciturn and jolly.
Though they were close to him(Squall's definition of "close" being merely friends he hung out often during lunchbreaks), Squall couldn't tell them exactly how he felt, not just yet. Though amazingly, they often understood him quite well, even if he didn't say anything at all. But this time, and thankfully their we-can-read-your-mind ability was currently inactive, he couldn't help but admit to himself that the new girl in his class somehow annoyed him. He couldn't understand why, but her face, her aura, everything about her, somehow annoys him.
Just like every other person in his class.