Chapter Seven: The Perfect Moment

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VIII

Galbadia Garden. Are all Gardens this big? It's ginormous! Really. I mean it's not as big as Esthar, nothing is of course, but for a school of mercenaries, it's not bad. No wonder the Sorceresses liked this place. There seemed to be so many secrets.

They were getting ready for a festival when we finally arrived. If it wasn't for my gorgeous face we could have gone through without fuss, but instead…well we became guests of honor. Not many knew I was the President of a forgotten city, but surprise. The military did. We just had to stay, as much as Ward didn't want to. It's uncomfortable for him because he can't answer questions like "What is it like to be next to such a Superstar like Laguna Loire?" …On second thought, I'm perfectly okay with him not spoiling my image to all my fans.

I wrote another letter and sent it to the person waiting. Looks like we are taking a mini-vacation within the vacation. I don't think dshe will mind. I hope not anyway. It's been so long since Kiros, Ward and I were able to relax and just talk. This war has drug everyone down. Well. I suppose that's why this Garden needed to party.

And so they did. Hard.

It's like a University here! I mean that's where normal students go right? I went straight into the army, well…not straight there. I took some years off after I finished secondary school. Ah. Here I am getting sidetracked.

I spend too much time in the past.


Laguna suddenly knew what he was going to get Ellone for her birthday, as he rolled around in his bed.

. . .

Phase one of his plan was the whole point of the plan. He could knock out two birds with one stone; as long as he was able to get through the first part of the plan. If it didn't work, then there wasn't any birthday gift for Ellone and there would be the possibility he'd want to leave town out of embarrassment. The thought that he could fail made Laguna nervous and he postponed the event another day.

I've really got to get myself together! How am I supposed to get this done? I need to do this…Elle isn't getting any younger.

He went through the plan again in his head. The morning air was chilly and it gave him motivation to keep moving through his patrol. As there weren't many monsters, and if one sadly came his way it didn't last long, it allowed him to think. He knew what he had to do; it was just the fact that every time he went to go ask Raine to meet him that night, he'd suddenly get cold feet. More like he was going to be sick and couldn't even open his mouth to say anything kind of cold feet. Also the leg cramps came back in full force. The whole event would end with an awkward forced laugh and a shake of the head.

I can do this, he repeated to himself. It only took a little courage to get it out in the open.

He found himself at the edge of town. Four monsters and the patrol was over. He stretched a little and then started his way back up. He waved to the few villagers that acknowledged him, which was more than the zero villagers he had when he first came to this tiny place, and continued with his own encouragement. Bits and pieces of his plan were already done. He had gone out of town just a week and a half before to get the two specific items he had ordered in Timber. He came back to Winhill with some other items to explain his absence, though hiding the truth from Ellone and Raine was a little difficult. Now he just needed the courage to walk into Raine's bar, look her in the face, clear his throat and finally say what was needed to say. He went through this plan a few times in his mind feeling the slight uneasiness flow out away from him.

"Uncle Laguna!"

Laguna smiled and waved at the little girl that was racing towards him. When she got close enough she jumped just a little, but Laguna was used to this. He caught her and twirled her around in a circle, then placed her on his shoulders. Ellone had a fit of giggles and slight screeches as Laguna bounced them around. She dug her fingers in his hair and tugged on him to run. He took a little lap around the square before finally setting her on the ground. Ellone hung onto his leg as he stomped up to the pub.

He marched right in with her still tightly woven onto his leg. There were a few older men and a friend of Raine's hanging around, the former sipping on glasses. Laguna laughed to himself, he honestly wondered why Raine sold any type of alcohol at nine in the morning, and the laugh turned into a sigh as he caught sight of the woman in front of him. She was wearing a light orange long sleeve shirt that was v shape in the collar. Her brown hair was swept in a bun and away from her crystal blue eyes. She had a smile on her face as she listened to her friend's story. He couldn't believe how she could just make him lose all sense when she was in the room. His heart thumped in his chest and he could feel his body tingle with electricity when their eyes meet. He was hopelessly in love.

When he had a crush on Julia Heartilly it was not as devastating as this. He knew that if he could find someone else who could make him go crazy even more than the piano girl—the supposed girl of his absolute dreams—then he has found the perfect soul mate. He didn't know how to express his feelings well, but Raine was the kind of person to understand and love him for that anyway. He couldn't see himself living life without Raine or the tiny girl attached to his leg.

As soon as Raine saw the two of them, she stopped what she was doing and her arms fell onto her hips. The smile dispersed. "Ellone. I've said this before." He voice was stern but not uncaring.

The young girl quickly scrambled down off of Laguna's leg. She smiled up to the other woman, looking a little goofy as she had just lost a tooth. "Sowwy!"

Before Raine could reprimand her any further, she was already skipping over to the older men, playing cute. Laguna watched as they harmlessly laughed and patted her head. One offered her a piece of hard candy which she gladly took.

When he glanced back to Raine she was busy talking to her friend again.

The unease crept back up in his life and he felt his left leg twitch. He sighed. It wasn't the right moment.

. . .

"Perhaps we can have a random rendezvous when it's not pouring outside?"

Laguna cursed the sudden fall weather. Ellone's birthday was in two weeks. At this rate he wouldn't have any time to do any of the phases he had in mind. Raine kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear, "raincheck." Laguna felt his face heat up at the feel of her breath on his cheek, and nodded sharply. Raine laughed at his expense and went back to clearing up the bar.

. . .

When the weather cleared he had a week and a half left.

. . .

Two days later he was quietly waiting for the last person to leave the bar. It was the perfect moment. The moon was out. The weather was clear. It wasn't too chilly. Ellone was at a friend's house and they could be perfectly alone together. When the last call rang and the final stumbling person left, Laguna ignored his beating heart and found his voice. "Hey! Random rendezvous is back in action!"

Raine laughed and continued to wipe the bar down. Laguna scratched his head happy she wasn't looking him in the eye. He might not have found the courage if her eyes sank into him just yet. She was wearing the old crème like turtleneck and her headband allowed her hair to be away from her eyes, though the curtain on the sides couldn't be avoided. She swept her hair to one shoulder and looked at him sideways. "What is the plan?"

"Well." Laguna couldn't give it away. "I just wanted to have a romantic meeting with the love of my life in a secret—but not really secret or else how could you find me?—location."

Raine's smile grew wider. She leaned on the counter, one hand curling around her face. "And where are we meeting?"

"The field in two hours?" Laguna had to make sure he was fully ready and there were no monsters in the perimeter to ruin the moment. He added, "Please?"

"Way past my bedtime," she said with a sigh. Laguna mock pouted. "But I suppose. Just this once."

"Perfect!" he cried out. He gave her a quick kiss on the lips and bolted out of the pub. He needed to get ready.

. . .

It was the best location. No monsters were lurking and the wind stopped blowing the cold against him. He could only see the rolling hills and hear the faint roll of the sea. The whole field seemed to be lit up by the moon. The ground flushed silver under its rays and suddenly Laguna felt sick as he saw the brown haired woman come into view.

. . .

He was making a fool of himself sadly. Mumbling words, catching her sweet gaze and her softly quizzing eyes and getting lost for seconds of their time. He could see the smile in them, and he just knew in his head he was making a fool of himself. She teased him and he felt his stomach flip over. How could he think he could do this?

He made a quick wave, turned his back and sucked in a quick intake of breath to allow his stomach to settle. He knew that if she didn't stop him now, he would just leave Winhill for good.

He heard the footsteps following him and the soft, though urgent, apologies leaving her mouth. He stopped suddenly, tore into his pocket and turned so quickly she froze in her steps.

Before he knew it he was twisting the ring onto her finger.

She gazed, said a few things and looked up at him. Her eyes were wide with shock and something he couldn't quite place. It was almost as if she didn't understand, or maybe he just needed a refresher too. He finally closed his mouth and held up his own hand, the matching ring wrapped around his finger.

And unexpectedly she was crying, holding onto him. At first he took it for a bad sign, the tears always confused him, but she was clinging onto him. She was holding in desperation, adoration, shock and love. The last word finally allowed him to wrap his own arms around her.

Suddenly everything seemed okay.

. . .

Raine finally let him go only to tangle her fingers with his. She stared down at the latched fingers and couldn't hold the shaky laugh away. "I can't believe it."

Laguna chuckled. "I can't believe I did it. You know if you didn't start following me I was planning on high-tailing it back to Winhill and packing away?"

"I'm glad I felt sorry for the teasing then." She broke their hands apart and looked up into his face. He lifted a ringed finger to her cheek and she leaned against it. He felt her sigh into him and couldn't repress the smile that spread warmly across his features. He marveled at his new fiancée, now that he could officially call her that. He let them stay there like that for a moment before he remembered Ellone. The little girl's present could now be made.

"And now, phase two!" Laguna grabbed Raine's hand. "Now I can get Elle the perfect gift!"

He suddenly wasn't holding Raine's hand any more. He turned to her and saw that she wore a bemused look. "So. You proposed only to get Ellone a gift? Is this only temporary?"

As much as he knew she was teasing, it did strike him in the heart a little. He usually jumped from subject to subject but he didn't think to let this one settle down first. He laughed guiltily and ran a hand through his hair. "No. Definitely not. This is permanent, as long as you want it to be."

He felt Raine wrap her arms around him. He leaned his chin to the top of her head. "Sorry. I'm just really excited. I get so…so…"

"Distracted? Jumpy? Awkward?" Raine finished for him. He laughed. "Ellone can wait." Her hold tightened. "For the night."

"She can."

. . .

Laguna made sure not to let the ring on his finger distract Ellone. His left hand constantly stayed in his pocket when she came bounding into the room, but today was going to be the day that the little one-sided game stopped.

Raine, as much as the both of them didn't like it, didn't wear her ring. She worked with her hands too much and it would definitely grab anyone's attention if they were really paying attention. She wasn't sure if showing the town would be the best thing to do before showing Ellone. Laguna figured he would have lost his had he taken it off anyway.

"Elle!" he called as she came downstairs and across the bar, still dressed in her nightshirt. "Who turns five today?"

She grinned up at him as she crawled into his lap. "I do!"

"Who?" Laguna teased as he tickled her sides. Her laugher filled the otherwise empty pub. "Who is I do?"

"Me!" She laughed again. "Ellone! Elle! Uncle Laguna! Stop!" she giggled. Laguna finally let her go. She curled onto his lap and smiled up at him. "It's my birthday!"

Raine came in from the outside carrying a wrapped box. She set them down on the table. "Elle, you get to pick when you want to open your presents. But you will have to get dressed first."

Ellone leaped out of Laguna's lap. "I'll go get dressed now!"

Raine laughed as they watch the girl make her way up the steps. She took the moment to slip the ring onto her finger and take her place on Laguna's lap. Laguna leaned back into the bar as he wrapped his arms around her. It was then that Laguna also decided that if a 'lady' were to sit in his lap, there was only one thing to do.

"Laguna? Oh! No! Stop—" She stopped short when suddenly she was attacked by his fingers to her sides. She screeched and tried to pull away, but he was faster. He could hear her laugher and feel the quick gasps of air that came between the giggles. This lasted for only an instant, when she finally managed to turn her body to the side and cover his mouth with hers.

The kiss would have gotten serious if Laguna wasn't painfully aware of the girl on the bottom steps. "You guys are silly. Kissey-Kissey."

Raine broke away, her face flushed from the sudden tickle attack and got off of his lap. She straightened her shirt out and leaned down to face the girl. "Now?"

"Now!" Ellone jumped down and ran to the table. She climbed into the chair and was soon joined by the adults. She was a patient girl, but Laguna could see the excitement in her eyes.

Raine pulled the present closer, using her right hand, but stopped just before the girl could reach. "Are you sure?"

"Yes!"

"Really sure?"

"Auntie Raine!"

She laughed and let the girl open her present. Ellone didn't tear greedily, but very gently unwrapped the bow and pulled off the top of the box. Her eyes grew in wonder as Laguna watched her pull out the pink dress. It was full of bows and lace in all the right, appropriate places; and Ellone might not have been the girlest of five year olds but she knew a special dress when she saw one. "It's so prwetty!" she gasped. She held it up to herself and smiled widely. "It's so prwetty," she repeated.

"It's all for you," Laguna said, ruffling her hair.

"Thank you Auntie Raine! Thank you Uncle Laguna!" Ellone hopped off of the chair, the dress high in the air. She ran behind the bar. Laguna couldn't see her, but he could hear a stool scrape against the hard floor and saw her normal blue dress tossed to the side. There were a couple of muffled clothes and mumbles when finally, "Raine can you help me?"

Raine laughed. The girl was trying so hard to be independent. Raine went behind the bar and Laguna could see her bend down and fix a few things. She stepped aside, nodded her approval and came out from behind. After a moment, which to Laguna meant it was for dramatic effect, the young girl emerged from the bar counter.

Laguna laughed. Ellone crossed her arms. "I don't mean to offend! I always laugh, you know that!" He decided to add, "You look just like a lady!"

Ellone smiled, the little gap of another lost tooth ruining the effect of the lady only slightly. She curtsied, a little wobbly, and said, "Thank yoo!"

"You are going to have to keep that dress very clean and tidy, Elle." Raine straightened a few folds automatically as if she did this every time. Laguna admired her motherly nature to her adopted daughter, excited to see the same with their own children someday.

"Why?" Ellone tilted her head.

"Why?" Laguna mocked incredulous very well. He saw a smile snake its way to his soon-to-be wife's face. "Why? Well, only the most important date, other than your birthday, will be happening soon!"

"What?" Ellone was getting excited. She came closer to Laguna and he scooped her up into his arms. "What could be more important than my birthday?" Ellone teased.

"Have you ever been in a wedding before, Ellone?" Laguna asked.

She shook her head. Laguna shifted her so she was in his right arm as he held up his left hand. She looked at the silver ring then gasped. "Who? You can't get married! Not unless it's…!" She gasped again and Laguna almost dropped her as she turned her body to the other lady in the room.

Raine took a moment to thoughtfully put her left finger to her chin. "Who would it be…? Gosh I don't know, Ellone!"

Ellone saw it though; the other silver ring that matched Laguna's. She screamed and clapped her hands together. She was laughing, and bouncing and Laguna had to put her down because she couldn't stop moving. "This is the best birthday ever!"

She jumped into Raine's arms and Laguna could see both of his special ladies had tears in their eyes. He suppressed his own with a laugh as he pulled the both of them into a hug. Ellone's birthday wish of having her own little family was going to come true.

. . .

It's been too long. I apologize. I'm in my last year of college, and life just happens. I hope you few readers are liking this story! I have been enjoying it immensely, even though I'm not the most perfect writer. I am actually on chapter twelve of this story and I'm happy that I have not given up hope!

I hope to get all updated soon! I'm going back through and editing. Fun. Times.

Love, La'Ruelia