In the Shadows

Chapter 1 - The Wedding

By Kursed SeeD

Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy are indeed complex people.

I have watched those two for years and years. I have seen them go from the best of friends, to bitter enemies, and back to friends again.

I watched in silence as I saw the pain consume them. I stood in the shadows as Squall shed tears for his lost friend, then the Sorceress' Knight. I crouched in the darkness as sadness filled Seifer's face, the first time he had almost killed Squall.

I watched as Squall pretended everything was okay, like he didn't care. I saw Seifer lash out at complete strangers in frustration.

And for the longest time, I understood none of it.

I will never forget the relief that flooded their faces the first time they saw each other after the Sorceress' War. Relief that lasted only a second, to quickly be replaced with masks of indifference and arrogant smirks.

I will also never forget the moment that Rinoa announced her engagement to Squall. Squall had appeared utterly lost and Seifer had been indignant. At the time, I had thought it was because of the past history. I believed that Seifer still loved Rinoa, and that Squall knew it.

Only now do I know how silly that idea was...

My true understanding of those two began in subtle hints.

I noticed first with Squall. He acted more and more often as if he did not truly care for Rinoa. As if there was a completely different reason for clinging to her. She had something that he wanted and needed. Something that actually had nothing to do with her.

Seifer's manifested in the way of snide comments. It slowly became clear that his crude remarks to Rinoa did not come from his anger at losing her to Squall, but something entirely different. Something that he kept hidden in the deepest depths of his mind.

Even though I had all of the signs, I could still make no sense of it. It was obvious something was bothering them, but I couldn't say what.

Then I watched them training one day.

Squall had come into the centre, highly annoyed and moody. Seifer had been cocky and rude, as usual. They threw harsh insults at each other for a while and then began to fight. The way they were fighting caught me completely off guard. I knew immediately that they were not fighting with all they had, as they usually did. They were holding back, almost as if they were afraid to hurt each other.

And then the Grats had come. I had been expecting them to work apart, thinking only of themselves, but I saw the exact opposite. Their faces were set in determination, each of them concentrating on watching the others' back. Every move they made was complimentary to the others' move. Every step they took was in defense of the other.

It truly was magic.

And it was in that single moment that I had finally understood what I had been trying to for years.

It wasn't a bitter hatred for each other that drove them to act the way they did, or even a case of being too much alike.

It was pure, unbridled love.

I felt so foolish for not seeing it before. Everything suddenly made so much sense.

Squall's behaviour now seemed rational. Of course he had been moody these last couple of months. Everyone knew him to be the 'hero' and expected him to play the part. The part, of course, included marrying the princess and having a family. There was no room for discussion in his life. Everything had been decided for him.

I understood Seifer's frustrations. There was nothing he could do to better the situation, either. We all knew Squall would never purposely hurt Rinoa, and he would never disappoint everyone. Seifer knew Squall was bound by the unseen ties of fate, and no amount of pleading could change that.

I had felt my heart wretch for them at that time. Their love would never be known. It would be merely something that was thought about during long nights or on a rainy day. A silent hope that was only acknowledged when no one else was looking.

I wanted to help them. I wanted to run to them and hold them both, telling them that it was okay, I knew. And I loved them no less for it.

Instead, I did as I have always done. I remained in the shadows, my lips sealed. (What else could I do?)

I watched as the wedding date drew closer and closer. The passing time was constantly shown on three different faces. A face of anxiety, a face of anger, and a face of joy. Still, only I knew the meaning behind the anxiety and anger.

I had felt my very core tear into two as Squall had stood at the altar with his blushing bride. He had appeared hollow, empty. But he still managed a smile for her. I knew that one act took everything he had. I had cheered him on entirely, knowing full well that Squall wanted to die inside.

I had felt equally as drained when Seifer, ever the best man, had given a speech wishing Squall a happy future. I noticed that not once did he mention Rinoa. Instead, he spoke of Squall's accomplishments, Squall's abilities, and Squall's hopefully happy life. I had applauded him thoroughly, for it did not escape me as to how much his glass had shook.

The world seemed hopeless to me afterwards. Everything was dark, damp, and dismal. Why bother trying anymore? If a love like the one they shared could not be realised, then how did the rest of us possibly have any hope?

I had been ready to give up on everything in general when I had heard voices, whispering in the shadows.

"I'm sorry..." The voice was regretful.

"You did what you had to do." Was the understanding reply.

"I shouldn't have."

A small, sad chuckle, "You know you couldn't survive unless you were doing right."

"Is this right?"

"What do you think?"

"I think I feel empty without you." The voice sounded drained of emotion.

"And I you... but that doesn't change anything... you have your life now, and I have mine..."

"Why can't our lives be together?" Desperation shone through.

A pause, "I guess the Fates just aren't working with us."

"Can I wish for someday?"

"Only if I can wish with you." I could hear the smile in the voice.

A soft sigh, "You should get back to the party... they'll miss you before long."

"Come in with me?"

"Not yet... I want to stay outside for a bit longer."

"Is this goodbye?"

A strained voice, "No. Even if we never see each other again, you'll always be in my dreams."

"And you in mine..."

I saw the two figures embrace each other, kissing softly.

One of the figures stepped out in the light, "She better be good to you..." the remaining one whispered.

Squall smiled sadly, not turning around. "I'm sure she will be, Seifer...."

Maybe there is hope after all...

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