[fanfic] Paying our Respects

Written for the prompt Remember from dailyprompt over at Dreamwidth!

It was a day to remember.

The war had ended some six months ago.  Everyone had mostly recovered from their injuries.  Those who hadn’t fully recovered were there with their fellow SeeD in spirit.  Uniforms were freshly pressed and worn with pride.  Boots were polished to a pristine state.  Those that had survived the second Sorceress War stood at attention in the Quad waiting for the six who had done the impossible.  Those who could not stand were given chairs as the sun shone on the gathered group.

There was nervous chatter amongst those who had gathered.  There was always a reason for a gathering of this many SeeD but none of them had been informed of the details.  A debriefing?  A new mission perhaps?  Another war had started out somewhere on the planet and they were needed to go and put an end to it?  There were numerous theories running through the air when the doors to the Quad opened for a second time that morning.  Those in attendance looked over to see the six.

Squall, stoic and resolute as ever yet somehow more approachable was leading them as he always had.  Rinoa was hot on his heels in a dazzling black gown.  Her hair glistened in the sun despite the fact that she was never a SeeD.  Quistis was next with her blonde hair pinned back into a tight bun.  After that was Selphie who wanted to bound ahead with her bouncy hair but was being kept in check by a steadying hand from the freshly promoted SeeD Irvine Kinneas.  Her hair had grown in the months since the war began and it had been pulled into a ponytail at the nape of her neck.  Irvine on the other hand had opted to leave his cowboy hat at home that day.  He grinned nervously at the crowd as Zell brought up the rear of their group.

“MAKE SOME NOISE BALAMB GARDEN!” Zell bellowed enthusiastically.

He was met with dark glares from every single person before him and nobody cheered.

At that moment, it was not a time for good cheer.  The air in the room was somber and dedicated to something unknown.  The six heroes walked up onto the Quad stage and stood before the group who saluted.  The six saluted back in traditional SeeD fashion.

“Please be seated,” Squall said as he stood behind a podium.  He cleared his throat before continuing.  “We are here today to do something that has been a long time waiting.  It has been six months since the end of the war with Ultimecia and today we will finally pay our respects to those who lost their lives defending the people who call Garden their home.  Today, instead of grieving their loss, we will celebrate their lives.  Everyone is encouraged to spend this day remember their friends, their loved ones and even their significant others for the people they were and not for the cruel fate that befell them.”

Squall took a seat as Quistis rose to the podium and nodded.  “It’s exactly as the commander has already stated.  Today, take the time to celebrate the good that came from your friends.  Take solace in the knowledge that their sacrifices were not in vain.  If you all look out into the courtyard of Balamb Garden, you all will find a memorial garden.”

Quistis remained standing as Selphie came to the podium next.  She had lost so many of her friends when Trabia had been hit by the missiles.  Quistis could see the perky brunette’s hands shaking from more than just nerves.  “Today…”

Selphie looked to Quistis sadly, unsure if she should say what she wanted to.  The instructor nodded as she placed a hand on Selphie’s shoulder.

“Today, we invite you all to come to the memory garden with us.  We’d love it very much if everyone came to the Garden at some point today to help us cultivate a living legacy.  The six of us feel that this is the best way to celebrate their lives.  I know that my friends in Trabia are looking down at us all, wanting us to all keep doing our best to keep going.”

Rinoa went to the microphone next but not before she moved to embrace Selphie.  They all knew that this would be a difficult day and the perky brunette was doing a remarkable job of maintaining her composure throughout this day.  “You all may not know me but I’ve fought beside you all during these battles.  I’ve learned so much from the friends that I’ve made and hope to keep learning more from all of you.  The memory garden is my gift of thanks to all of you.”

“So come on already,” Zell called without the microphone.  He was loud enough for everyone to hear without one.  “Check it out!”

Irvine nodded before pointing toward the entrance into the courtyard of Balamb Garden.  The birds were singing and the sun was shining down through the shade of the trees.  The air smelled of freshly turned earth as the SeeD and students alike took turns milling through the gardening supplies and choosing seeds to plan in memory of their friends.

The six heroes were the last to come out from the Quad.  The group was smiling at the noise and activity that had come from Rinoa’s idea.  It seemed that the memory garden was going to be a great success.

“Say guys,” Selphie spoke up.  “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get three plants and grow them next to each other?”

“Whatcha thinkin’ Sefie?” Irvine asked curiously.

“That might wrap around each other right?  It could be a symbol of Garden’s unity.  There’s SeeD from Galbadia, Balamb and Trabia all under the same roof now.  We’re all in this together now for better or for worse.”

Irvine laughed good naturedly at the sunny girl.  She said such wise things from time to time that it impressed him deeply.

“You’re right,” Squall agreed.  “Next time we’re near a Garden Centre we’ll get the plants.”

“And hold a ceremony!” came Selphie’s enthusiastic response.

Everyone agreed before separating to join in the chatter of the Garden.

All except one.  Squall hung back from the crowd before him, silently observing.  There was nothing he could do or say here so he merely watched.

“You’re doing it again, Squall,” Rinoa teased before wrapping her arms around his shoulders to watch him smile.

“…Whatever.”

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