Sword and Sorcery

By J. Marie

Warning!!!! This is a lemon yaoi fanfiction starring Seifer Almasy and Squall Leonhart of Final Fantasy VIII. It is rated NC-17. If male homosexuality offends you, then too damn bad. If you're not 18, you shouldn't be reading this story. But you'll probably do it anyways. Anyways this is the kiriban request for Drygonrose, my 20000th hit!! Thanks!! Anyways, Drygonrose wanted a nice explicit, romantic, AU fic set in another time. Next thing I know, I start cooking this up. You can say I got a little carried away. But I'm having fun being carried away. The person carrying me is soooo cute!! ^_~ So, this story is definitely AU. Let's just say that if Squaresoft had given me the FF8 charas and said "Here, write a fantasy story about them." this is what I woulda wrote. It is set in medieval fantasy times, and is a nice, classic, sword and sorcery (hence the title) story, only with a nice touch of angst and it's most certainly yaoi. Not to be bitchy or anything, but since this is an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE fiction, I don't wanna hear any whining about things not being like they were in the game. I don't change characters, but I DO modify their background as needed. Now, in the case of Edea in this story, we'll just say that the whole Ultimecia thing was a bad dream, and leave Edea as the wicked woman tainted by dark powers, as she appeared to be before the idea of Ultimecia came in. Personally, I thought Edea made a WICKED villain (in every sense). Ultimecia was underdeveloped and stupid looking. And the whole idea of Edea as the kids' Matron was just silly. Why go and ruin a perfectly good villainess? And since I AM the author, you can kiss Ultimecia good-bye, and say hello to a much darker, and far more villainous Edea. I'm doing her up in grand style. Don't like the idea? Don't read the story!!! Quite obviously, this has nothing to do with my other FF8 stories. Well, Drygonrose, this is for you, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. :) Oh, and many thanks to the SorceressKnight for his suggestions and ideas.


The kingdom's name was Esthar.

Originally, it was ruled by an evil sorceress, the Empress Adel. She was a cruel tyrantess, and she desired the flesh of other women. Because of her disdain for men, Adel was never to have an heir of her own blood. Instead she sought out the perfect child to be her heir. She eventually found a girl child that lived in a small village called Winhill, named Ellone. Ellone was the daughter of a woman named Raine and a man named Laguna of Loire. Adel sent out her minions to acquire this young girl she had discovered. Ellone was a special child, with mysterious powers to manipulate time.

However, her father did not take kindly to his daughter being kidnapped. Laguna had once been an archer in the Sorceress Wars for the kingdom of Galbadia. He took up his bow and arrow once more, and traveled to Esthar, with the aid of his friends and companions, Kiros of Seagill and Ward of Zabac. Despite the odds against this courageous three, they persevered in rescuing young Ellone from the evil clutches of a twisted magician named Odine. But as Laguna learned the plight of the suffering kingdom through a valorous knight who saved his life at the cost of his own, he took it upon himself to destroy Adel once and for all. And with an arrow bestowed with power by his young daughter, and the strength of his pure heart, Laguna overcame the evil sorceress, and banished her to the Nether World, never to be seen again.

It is ironic that a woman who so despised men, was defeated by one.

Laguna was soon named King by a joyous country. But the pure-hearted warrior yearned for his wife that he had not seen and went to return home to collect the new Queen of Esthar. But the tale soon turns tragic, for even as Laguna took his daughter back to Winhill, he found his beautiful and beloved wife dead, having given birth to his son in his departure. Laguna was saddened and took the newborn child back to Esthar, naming the boy child Squall.

It was odd, how on his return to his new kingdom that a young sorceress, yet untainted by darkness, stopped him. She was the Lady Edea of Kramer, bride of the Headmaster of the finest school for young warriors. Laguna wished for his son to be read by a sorceress, to determine the baby's depths. At Laguna's request, Lady Edea the Sorceress looked deeply within the newborn's soul, and saw within him the heart of a lion and it chilled her soul. She left quickly, muttering this beneath her breath.

But Laguna had heard her words and his son was known as the Crowned Prince Squall the Leonhart from that day forth.

King Laguna of Esthar was soon saddled with many responsibilities, for as King, it was his duty to put his land to peace.

The valorous knight who had given his life to save Laguna's was discovered to have a young son, only a year older than his own. In repayment for the service done to him, Laguna brought the child to his own castle, to be raised alongside his own children. The child was given titles and was trained as a knight, to follow in the footsteps of his heroic father. Laguna hoped that one day, when the child was old enough, he would stand alongside his son and lend the boy strength to lead a country, as Laguna's childhood friends, Kiros and Ward, did for him.

The boy child's name was Seifer of Almasy.

Laguna did not spend as much time with his son as he would have liked, for his duties kept him busy. His son clung to his older sister, and Ellone quickly became like a mother to him. She took it upon herself to become the big sister of all the castle's children, even the sulky, rebellious Seifer of Almasy. The older Seifer quickly became a rival to Squall for his sister's attentions and affections.

Perhaps that is where the legendary rivalry between Prince Squall the Leonhart and Sir Seifer of Almasy began.


Have you ever seen a sword fight?

A real sword fight, I mean. Not the kind of paltry play you see between foot soldiers of a war. Not the sorry fencing duels between fops with egos. A real sword fight.


Then imagine this.

It is a rainy night.

Not the kind of rainy night where one wonders if dark powers are afoot, but rather a moody night where the weather leashes pent up fury at human transgressions.

The occasional spark of light illuminates the dark, cloudy sky.

You're unsure if this is because of the lightning bolts or the strike of metal upon metal.

Perhaps a combination of both.

You hear the clang of metal upon metal after a few minutes, which is odd, because it is louder than even the rumbling thunder overhead.

You can hear breathing soon after this, which is even odder, for it is quieter than the pelt of rain upon your back. Two distinct patterns of breathing can be distinguished after another minute. One is the long, rasping breaths taken by a man who is acting quickly, with reflexes being tested. The second is that of a man taken by surprise by the quickness of his opponent, heard in short gasps for air. The breathing of each opponent seems to have taken to the rhythm of the other's movement.

You can only see dark shadows moving against the other, swords drawn. The figures move with the grace of dancers, for a dance it is. A dance of death. One figure is larger, stronger. The other smaller, quicker. Yet their grace is the same. Perfectly orchestrated.

The swords strike at the same time the lightning does and momentarily you are taken by the faces of the dueling shadows. One a handsome blonde, his face a chiseled mask of beauty that has lost none of it's masculinity. The other a sultry brunette, his face a mask of ethereal beauty that has lost none of it's intensity for it's effeminance.

You realize you can hear their heartbeats. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Deep, rythmic beats. Their hearts beat together, though neither has noticed. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. A pulsing, lulling drumbeat at odds with the rising furor of their blades.

Another strike of light. Was it the clash of blades or the strike of lightning?

You see their eyes.

Naked emotions swirl in the clear depths of their eyes. The blonde carries eyes like green fire. The brunette carries eyes like the blue squall of the sea. Such naked emotions.

Perhaps emotions is too weak a word for what you see in their eyes. Eyes that never leave the other's. Feelings, emotions, all these words fail to describe the utter intensity of their passion. Hate. Love. Love. Hate. There is no distinction between the two for these two young men.

They are too young to have emotions such as these, you think. The blonde is a mere fifteen summers and the brunette a year his junior.

And then you begin to pay attention to their actions. The grimace of their faces. The swings of their blades. The blonde is so cocky, so arrogant. He blocks the brunette's blade with apparent ease, but if you look closer you see that he is weakening. The brunette is so intense and so quiet. He needs no words as he strikes with rising fury to get past his opponents defense.

Swing. Parry. Block. Clang. Feint. Thrust. Jab. Like a viper the brunette strikes, yet the blonde, though slower, seems to block every hit just in time. But the brunette is pressing him. The brunette now has the advantage and the blonde now knows it.

The blonde takes a step back and holds out his hand. A small spiral of fire sprays forth and knocks the brunette over. You've never seen such naked emotion in the brunette's eyes. He gazes up angrily at the blonde, angry at the underhanded tactic.

You wonder idly, as the brunette stumbles to his feet, why they fight. Is it because they hate each other so much? Or is it because they love each other so much? Do they even recognize their own emotions for what they are?

The brunette aims to strike again at the blonde, but the blonde has recovered from the press and strikes back, breaking past the brunette's speed with his strength. You wince just as the blonde's blade comes down.

The blade slices open the brunette's face. A diagonal cut to the right, that slices from forehead to cheek.

The brunette falls back as his face begins to bleed. Blood pours forth, splashing across his cheek, and spilling onto the rocky ground. Red against gray. Pure rage is written across the brunette's features, but it is an odd rage. It is a cold rage.

And shock registers across the blonde's features as he realizes he has spilled his opponent's blood. A mistake he did not mean to make. You thought at first they meant to kill, but now you wonder if they were at play. The blonde mistakenly lets down his guard and his blade as he gapes at the wounded brunette.

The sound of metal against rock. The sound of their matched heartbeats, beating faster. The cry of cold rage. The gasp of shock and guilt. How fast can a heart beat?

Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

The brunette is weakened, but drags the point of his sword on the rocky ground, swinging up at blonde in vengeance, seeking purchase.

Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

Everything goes white.

Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

But you can still watch. You watch the brunette's long blade cut just as deeply into the blonde's face. The same pattern. Only in reverse. A diagonal cut to left, from cheek to forehead. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and scar for a scar.

Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

The brunette falls to the ground unconscious as his blade cuts into the blonde's flesh. After a few seconds, the blonde sags to the grounds, sinking to his hands and knees.

Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

Blood loss overcomes the blonde even more quickly than his opponent and he soon collapses on top of the smaller boy. Their blood mingles.

Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

You stand there for another minute, staring at the fallen pair, listening to their heartbeats slow. Normal sound returns and soon all you can hear is the pelt of rain, and the crash of thunder. Then you realize you should run for help before they both bleed to death.

But questions enter your mind unbidden even as you run. Were they lovers? Enemies? Why did they fight? Was it really only a few minutes ago that they had begun to fight?

Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

Everything fades to white.


A long time ago in a world far, far away.

Somehow, things always seem to fall into place for Lady Edea of Kramer.

Of course, she was a Queen now.

She was the ruler of Galbadia.

And she craved for more. Far more.

She was a beautiful woman. Few could compare to the Sorceress Edea's beauty. Her long, raven black tresses were pulled back in an impossibly tight twist, and adorned with richly colored baubles. She often wore a dark purple dress with feather lining that draped to the floor in a dark train of silk, that fitted her slim, yet desirable form. Edea was delicate beauty, yet it was a cold beauty.

As cold as her heart.

A dark smile twisted the richly dressed woman's lips. Tonight, all things would come to her as they should. Her plan would bring Esthar to it's knees and then under her control.

"My Knight........" she hissed at the tall blonde who sat across from her in the carriage.

Sir Seifer of Almasy looked up, his fiery green eyes taking in his mistress' cruel smile and good humor. Edea was only happy when she got her way. "Yes, my Queen?" he asked in his rich baritone.

"My Knight..... When my little apprentice delivers the potion to the Prince of Esthar, he will be under her command, and thusly under mine. However, if the little girl chooses to cause me problems by betraying me, I want you to demonstrate to her why crossing the Edea the Sorceress is never a good idea. Keep a close eye on the pretty little witch. I want the Prince delivered to me unharmed," Edea said, her melodious contralto worthy of an opera singer.

"Yes, my Queen," the blonde said evenly. Yet despite his voice, Edea always saw the glimmer of rage in his eyes, even in his calmest. Her Knight was a very angry young man.

"And I know how you despise the little princeling, but remember who is your mistress. If one hair upon Squall the Leonhart's head is harmed by you, I assure you that your death will be sung about by bards for the next few centuries. Understand?" Edea asked in her cold contralto. Her eyes were narrowed in wicked humor.

"Yes, my Queen," Seifer repeated himself, gazing out the window of their carriage and not into her eyes. Her threat seemed not to intimidate him, but Edea knew that as clever as Seifer was, he had filed it away.

The sorceress relaxed slightly and leaned back against the dark velvet of pillows. She watched her knight with the glittering darkness of her eyes, her wicked smile still present. Seifer seemed not to be bothered by his mistress' scrutiny.

And he wasn't. For as long as she didn't look too deeply into his eyes, Seifer knew she would know nothing of his true intentions. He silently pulled up the veil over his handsome face, and adjusted the helmet that covered his hair.

Tonight would be very interesting.

The Lady Quistis of Trepe strode quickly to her king's council chambers, gathering the long skirts of her ornate robes in her hands to quicken her pace.

She was a stately blonde, with the majesty of any royal princess. She wore her golden blonde hair pulled back, but let her bangs hang free. She wore spectacles for her true blue eyes, and wore the magician robes of her station. Quistis of Trepe was the Court Wizard of Esthar, a Blue Mage without equal. She was said to be one of the most powerful mages in the land, even at the tender age of eighteen years. Even Quistis did not suspect the true depths of her power.

Lady Quistis entered the council chambers, and bowed before King Laguna as the guard announced her entrance. "Your majesty. The newly crowned Queen of Galbadia, the Sorceress Edea, has arrived in her carriage, in company with her Knight," Quistis said as she stood up, her blue eyes involuntarily resting on the sour-looking young man that sat beside Laguna. Besides the king and the prince, both the Captain of the Guard, Sir Ward of Zabac, and the Master of Assassins, Lord Kiros of Seagill were in the room.

Laguna had aged well, and despite his forty-four years, looked no older than thirty. His long black hair had only a hint of encroaching gray, and his aquamarine eyes sparkled like a child's. His pretty face was still as beautiful as any woman's, and his body as toned as it was twenty years ago. He smiled brightly at the young blonde woman.

"Oh good! We'll meet her in the throne room after they've settled in and washed up, and then the ball may commence. Maybe there can be peace between our kingdoms after all," Laguna smiled. He had invited the Sorceress Edea and her chosen Knight to a ball in her honor, in hopes that he could forge an alliance with his neighbor and avoid a war. Laguna was tired of fighting.

Quistis bowed again. "We all hope so your majesty. I tested the Sorceress' magical aptitude, and I must say that she is easily the most powerful sorceress I have ever heard about. Her level of sorcery outshadows even Adel's in her prime," Quistis said seriously, trying not to stare at the Prince too much. It would not do for the Crowned Prince of Esthar to know that she was infatuated with him.

"I still say this is a bad idea, Father. We should not let a sorceress into our castle. They are deceitful creatures. You of all people should know that. They more often than not use the powers of the Dark Realms to enhance their own," Prince Squall the Leonhart said. As always, he was an odd mixture of cold disdain, and dark sensuality.

"I know that, Squall. I fought in the Sorceress' Wars, remember? Good sorceresses are about as common as flying blue donkeys. But I don't want a war, Squall. I don't want people to die. I just want to live my life out in peace," Laguna sighed, his cheerful expression darkening slightly.

"Sometimes war is a necessary evil, Father. She could easily stab us in the back and-" Squall protested before Laguna looked at him sharply.

"Squall. I know I wasn't the best father in the world, but where is your compassion? I think not of political necessity, but of all the lives that will perish in war. Of all the orphaned children, and weeping widows. Of the maimed men, and innocent lives lost. In both countries. I was born and raised in Galbadia. I don't want people to die. Why are you so eager to bring us to war and sacrifice the lives of your people, and the people of the kingdom your father was born in?" Laguna said, his voice sounding old and tired.

Squall scowled and looked away, then stood up. "I shall go prepare for the ball tonight, Father. Do what you will. I gave you sound advice, but as always, you are too weak to heed it," he said icily and breezed past Quistis and out of the room. Quistis swallowed, her eyes following the sultry brunette momentarily before returning to her king.

Laguna sighed sadly and covered his face with his hands. Kiros unwrapped himself from his shadows and placed a dark hand on his long-time friend's shoulder. Sir Ward's face tugged into a frown. Quistis hung her head. As beautiful as she found Squall, and as much as she desired him, she could never abide his cold and calculating nature. Squall had no compassion for anyone, not even his own father. Especially his own father.

"I've failed him, haven't I? After Ellone died of consumption, he locked his heart away in ice. I should have taken the time to be there for him. To tell him I love him. To let him know he's not alone....... I failed him as badly as I failed Seifer," Laguna said quietly, his body shaking slightly, telling all who were present that he was crying behind his hands. Quistis turned her face, hating to see her beloved king like this.

"You cannot blame yourself, Laguna," Kiros purred out in his dark baritone, his exotic accent stressing the sound of "u". Few men were as stealthy, and as skilled in espionage as Kiros. Yet despite his cold trade, the Master of Assassins was a font of compassion, and had a soft spot for Laguna. "You did the best you could. You are king before you are father. You had an entire kingdom depending on you and not just one little boy. And the same for Seifer. It is a sad thing that both boys turned out to be full of such hate, but it is not your fault."

"Yes. I am king before I am father. Yet, because of such, my son despises me and the son of the man who saved my life, despises me more. I should have been there for both of them when Ellone died......" Laguna sobbed, as Kiros pulled him into an embrace. Quistis felt embarrassed, wondering why she hadn't been dismissed. Then she realized it was because they had forgot she was there. Everyone seemed to forget about her.

"If you had done that, Esthar would have destroyed itself in civil war. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, Laguna. Perhaps one day Squall will learn love and compassion for others. And perhaps Seifer will find the happiness that escaped him," Kiros soothed. Quistis edged towards the door, wondering if she could open it and leave without being noticed.

"I banished him, Kiros. I exiled him after he scarred my son's face. Happy? I pushed him away from everything he knew in a fit of rage. My people say I am a wonderful king, but I am a poor man......." Laguna cried softly into Kiros' shoulder. Ward put a comforting hand on Laguna's back. Ever since Seifer's banishment from Esthar, Laguna had begun to doubt himself as he realized exactly how the children in his care had turned out. One was full of violent rage, and the other cruelly dispassionate.

Quistis made it out of the room, stifled by Laguna's guilt. She had known what had happened, but never did she imagine that Laguna hated himself so much. She sighed sadly. Tragedy plagued the royal family more than she cared to know.

The sight of sky blue caught her eye, and Quistis looked up to see the Lady Rinoa of Heartilly stride down the hallway, heading towards the Prince's chambers. Curiosity, loathing, and jealousy overtook her common sense and she cast an invisibility spell upon herself and followed the young woman down the hall.

Lady Rinoa was from Galbadia, and the daughter of the Lady Julia, a woman whom King Laguna had fancied as a youth. The General of Galbadia's army was her father, and had asked King Laguna to harbor the girl in Esthar when he discovered the turmoil within Galbadia as Edea began her climb to the top. Laguna had accepted and happily brought the pretty young girl to his castle, hoping to secure a queen for his son. Rinoa had only been in Esthar a few months, but had already attracted more attention to her from Squall than Quistis ever had in her entire life. Despite herself, Quistis was jealous of all the attention Rinoa received from everyone, while Quistis was practically ignored by everyone. People tripped over her in the hallway, she was so insignificant.

Quistis followed Rinoa quietly, wondering what the simpering courier was up to. Her invisibility spell was flawless, but if she was careless, Rinoa would hear her. Rinoa flounced up to the door of Squall's chambers and smoothed her bue dress, and flipped back her long black hair. Quistis wondered what everyone saw in her.

"Squally? Oh, Squally-poo! Are you in here?" Rinoa cooed, slowly opening the door. Quistis blinked. Squall was a very private man, and allowed no one in his chambers.

"Yes, Rinoa. What do you want?" Squall asked coldly. Rinoa stepped into the room and Quistis had to hurry to get in the room before she closed the door.

"I just wanted to see how you're doing.... I can't wait until the party! It's going to be so fun!" Rinoa said excitedly, smiling brightly at the beautiful prince.

Squall looked at her with a sour expression. Despite his cold treatment of her, it was more than most received from him. "Yay. I can't wait. Now would you be so kind as to leave, so I may bathe?" he asked.

"You sure you don't want me to stay and help?" Rinoa asked slyly.

"I'm a big boy. I can do it myself, thank you. If you'd be so kind as to lock the door behind you," Squall said stiffly. Quistis was relieved, and realized that she had been holding her breath.

"As you wish, your highness. But after tonight, you might change your mind," Rinoa said smugly. Quistis resisted the urge to trip the smug little courtier as the Asian girl passed her. Quistis followed her out, the thought of being in the same room with a naked Squall too much for her.

Quistis wonder as she dropped the invisibility spell after ducking off into hallway why Squall paid attention to the girl. Even if he was cold, Rinoa could coax him to dance, drink, and even go places. This made Quistis jealous, as it was hard getting Squall to even talk to her. But at the same time, it made her wonder if maybe Squall could learn to love Rinoa.

Maybe Rinoa was the one.

It hurt Quistis a little, but Laguna's grief had caused her to readjust her thinking. Squall indeed, did need to learn how to love. It was obvious that Quistis couldn't teach him, but maybe Rinoa held the key. Quistis scrunched up her face in disgust as she stomped back to her chambers to prepare for the ball. She did not like the idea of Rinoa being Squall's true love.

She'd have preferred Squall to fall in love with Seifer.

Edea emerged from her bath, quite satisfied with her posh guest chambers. Both her and her Knight had been given rooms to wash up and prepare for the ball. Seifer had been covered up, and none knew of who he truly was. Edea dried herself off, admiring her own elegant beauty in a mirror.

A soft knock came at the door of her chambers, two, and then in three sets.

"Come in, Rinoa," Edea said calmly, not bothering to cover her nudity as she began to apply powder on her face.

Rinoa came in furtively, her head cast down, and she applied a curtsy. "Your majesty. I have missed your tutelage, Mistress. I am so happy to see you again," she said meekly.

"You lie. You loathe me, and are jealous of my power and beauty. This is perfectly understandable, but if you do exactly as I say, perhaps I will teach you one day to became as beautiful and as powerful as I. Have you performed as told?" Edea asked, slowly turning to favor her apprentice with a chilly smile.

"Yes, your majesty. The Prince is as difficult to seduce as Sir Seifer said he would be. I have failed to get him into my bed, but succeeded in forming something of a friendship with him," Rinoa said, not daring to look at her mistress.

"I expected as much. I have created a love potion just for you. You will put it in Squall's drink and give it to him. It is necessary that you look into his eyes when he drinks, to seal the bond. As long as there is attraction there, he will fall completely in love with you. He will do exactly as you say. And since you've reported that he seems to like you more than most here, you should be fine," Edea said calmly, and handed Rinoa small packet of a reddish-orange powder.

"Yes, your majesty. I think I shall like to have the Prince as my pet..." Rinoa dimpled and looked up into Edea's dark eyes.

Edea favored her apprentice with a patronizing smile. "Don't get too attached, Rinoa. Men are like animals. Conquer them and you have a valuable tool, but if you leave them untamed, they are wild and unpredictable," she said almost maternally, and returned to her vanity.

"Now, go make yourself as lovely as possible for the evening. It wouldn't do for the Crowned Prince of Esthar to fall in love with a shameless and unwashed hussy."

King Laguna of Esthar sat on his throne a little nervously, glancing over at his sour looking son.

Squall sat in the smaller throne to his right, staring straight ahead, pointedly ignoring Laguna. Laguna sighed and looked ahead as well, listening to the guards announce Queen Edea of Galbadia as she entered the throne room.

The powerful sorceress was truly a vision of loveliness. She wore her best, and greeted Laguna with the most chilling smile he had ever seen on a human being. At her side was a tall man in dark armor. A dark veil covered the lower half of his face and he wore a open-faced helmet. The tall Knight bowed to Laguna as she did, and was named as the Sorceress' Knight.

"I and my Knight thank you for your hospitality, King Laguna. May I inquire as to why we have been invited to your beautiful home?" Edea purred, another subarctic smile gracing her glorious face.

"I only wish to express my pleasure at having such a beautiful neighbor, your majesty. I hope that perhaps we may become allies," Laguna said brightly, pushing away all his thoughts of unhappiness.

Squall found his eyes drawn to the Sorceress' Knight. The tall man had a veneer of confidence, arrogance, and contained rage that Squall found familiar. The armored knight's eyes were the only things visible, and soon met Squall's. Fiery green met stormy gray, and all else in their world dulled.

"Mayhaps, your majesty. An alliance certainly begs thought, if nothing else. At least we may enjoy each other's company for the night," Edea smiled smugly. Diplomacy was a game she played well.

"Certainly," Laguna said slowly, noting Edea's predatorial smile and cold reservation. A sudden chill passed through him as he noted that in many ways she reminded him of his son. Cold, calculating, and ruthless.

"Your Knight need not be so formal. It is not necessary for him to be in full armor. You already have my word that no violence shall be done while you are my guests," Laguna added after a moment, wishing to change the subject.

Edea's wicked smile grew. "You wish to see my Knight's face? Well, is this is your wish, your majesty, then I see no reason why not," she said in an amused tone.

The Sorceress' Knight took this as his cue, and removed his helmet, revealing short golden hair, cropped to fit beneath a helmet. Laguna blinked and Squall gasped, both slowly becoming aware of who the Sorceress' Knight was, even as he slowly removed his veil. Seifer of Almasy stood proudly before them, a smirk on his scarred face.

Squall stood up his throne, cold rage on his face. "You dare come back here, you bastard???" Squall demanded, his tone chilling the air.

"Is this what you've become, Seifer?" Laguna asked softly, staring at Seifer in horror. He had never really forgiven himself for banishing Seifer, a decision forced on him by his son's outrage at being scarred. And now he realized that banishing the youth had forced him to serve a mistress whose intentions were unclear, but certainly not for the better good of society. Guilt hit him like a doom train.

"I am the Sorceress' Knight, and I was invited to Esthar. Seifer of Almasy may have been exiled, but the Sorceress' Knight has no use for your paltry commands. I serve a new liege, now. I bear you no ill will, unless you force my hand," Seifer said heatedly, his tone held in check, but only barely.

Laguna hung his head, even as Squall whirled to face his father, his sour expression alive with cold hate. "Father, you cannot let this scum into our kingdom. The sorceress is one thing, but not him. I demand that you send him away. He is a bastard, and doesn't deserve the air he breathes," Squall spat, his gray eyes clouding over to a stormy blue.

Laguna looked up slowly at Squall, his anger only barely held in check. Seifer had suffered the same grief that Squall had when Elle had passed away. Only Seifer had no family. He was just an orphan being raised by a man who was far too busy to spend time with his own son, much less another's. Laguna grieved over the mistake he had made with Seifer as much as he did Squall. The two boys had never gotten along, but after Ellone's death and the onslaught of puberty, their rivalry intensified to an odd sort of hatred.

"You are not the king of Esthar yet, my son. Hold your tongue and be silent. I banished him once for his crime of blooding you, but this time he has done nothing. Leave him be," Laguna said to Squall sharply. Never had he taken such a tone with his son before. Squall had never received discipline from his own father, and only the swordmaster who taught him to use a blade had given him any discipline in his entire life.

Squall's face fell slack momentarily at the shock of his father's reprimand. It was quickly set in ice and he sat down stiffly, turning from his father to glare hatefully at a smirking Seifer.

"Perhaps we should let the celebration commence, my fine King. It seems two young men may need to cool off," Edea chuckled.

Laguna sighed, and stared sadly at Seifer. Yet another child he had failed. "Yes. Let the ball commence," he said dully.

Lady Rinoa of Heartilly hummed to herself as she emptied the love potion into Squall's champagne glass.

The night had proceeded tensely, and it seemed everyone was ready to draw their weapons. Only the Sorceress Edea and her Knight were at ease. And Rinoa of course.

If Rinoa had been a little brighter, the thought of betraying Edea might have crossed her mind. But in ignorance there is truly bliss, for crossing Edea would have eventually led to her death or worse. The young Sorceress' apprentice wasn't terribly intelligent, but she was apt in the skills of sorcery, an aptitude that had won her apprenticeship.

Rinoa wasn't truly evil. She wasn't smart enough to be evil. She was just selfish, self-centered, and foolish. Unlike Edea, all she truly craved was true love. And somewhere in her empty little head, she had came up with the idea that Squall was her true love. He was everything she desired in a man. He was beautiful, even prettier that she was, strong, intelligent, and powerful. But most of all, Rinoa desired to be a princess. And marrying Squall would make her such. Being a materialistic girl, she had easily confused her desire for shallow ideals for true love.

And when Edea had told her to go to Esthar by manipulating her father, to seduce the young prince, Rinoa had jumped for joy. She had quickly slithered her way into Squall's social life, if it could be called such. There was a certain loneliness there, that craved for someone to melt through the ice wall of his heart and give him company, though even he did not consciously know it. Rinoa paid attention to him. She seemed so needy and helpless that Squall found himself bound to her in the role of a romantic hero. No one else seemed to care about him, or at least Squall thought so. And Rinoa was there.

She carried the champagne glass carefully and walked over to Squall, who stood leaning against the pillar, glaring hatefully at Seifer, his bitter rival. Rinoa smiled at him, proffering the glass to Squall. "Squally-poo! I brought you some champagne! Are you having fun?" she giggled, standing closer to him.

Squall barely took his eyes from Seifer as he took the glass. "Fun? How could I be having fun, with him here?" he asked sourly.

Edea stood off in a corner, chatting idly about political matters with Laguna, yet her attention was focused on Rinoa and Squall. Seifer stood off farther away, leaning against the wall, looking impassively at the teeming dance floor. He seemed to be pointedly ignoring Squall's intense glares.

"Oh, you mean Sir Seifer? Don't worry about him, Squally-poo. He's nothing compared to you," Rinoa giggled, smiling at Squall with what she thought was a seductive smile.

Squall sighed and shrugged, gazing at the girl before him for a moment, and then stared down at his glass of champagne. Was it just him, or had it taken on an odd color? "I really wish you wouldn't call me Squally-poo," he sighed. Why did the only person he thought cared about him have to be a simpering idiot? But at the same time, she was somebody who put forth an effort.

"Don't worry, Squally. After tonight, I think you'll like the nickname just fine. Perhaps we should toast to peace between Esthar and Galbadia?" Rinoa asked with another girlish giggle. Squall scowled.

"Or how about your future reign as King?" Rinoa suggested innocently. This caused another, even deeper scowl.

"How about we just have a toast?" Rinoa asked, running out of ideas. Squall shrugged, agreeing.

Edea watched the pair intently, as did Seifer, as both realized the drink was very close to being consumed.

Rinoa held up her glass, pleased that her hand was steady. "A toast!" she said brightly, and the sipped at her glass.

Edea and Seifer's eyes were riveted to Squall, their gazes intense.

Squall held Rinoa's brown eyes as he brought the glass to his lips, and then he felt eyes on him.

The glass came to his lips even as he turned his eyes to where Seifer stood, staring at him.

Rinoa gasped, and grabbed his sleeve, trying to get Squall's attention back to her eyes, remembering Edea's warning about looking into his eyes as he drank.

Prince Squall the Leonhart's dark blue gaze met Sir Seifer of Almasy's fiery green gaze.

Squall sipped his champagne, not breaking the glare until after he swallowed the liquid. It tasted odd, but he drank it anyways.

Rinoa gasped, and the relaxed as Squall's gaze returned to her as she frantically tugged his sleeve. He downed the rest of the glass, before resting his eyes on her petite form.

"What?" he asked sourly, seeming unchanged.

"Do you like me?" Rinoa asked nervously, realizing that failing Edea in this might mean her life.

"What sort of question is that?" Squall scowled. He was beginning to feel odd.

"You have to like me Squall! You-will-like-me. You-will-like-me," Rinoa chanted quickly, praying that the love potion would still take effect as planned.

"You're being ridiculous, Rinoa," Squall sighed and handed his empty glass to one of the servants who walked by.

Edea stared hard at Squall and Rinoa. The idiot young Sorceress had let the prince's gaze wander, during his draught of the potion. Perhaps she would still be lucky and it would still take effect.

Rinoa looked desperate. "You don't love me?" she asked in a petulant voice.

Squall blinked and then scowled. "Of course not. I barely know you," he said dismissively. He was feeling most odd.

Rinoa backed away, and then looked around desperately for Edea. Sorceress and apprentice's eyes met. One looked frightened and upset, the other angry and irritated.

"I need to sit down," Squall mumbled to himself as he stumbled to the nearest chair, feeling faint. His head pounded, his heart thumped, and his body felt weak.

Seifer walked towards Squall and Rinoa, wondering what had happened. Squall should be head over heels with Rinoa by now, but he had walked away from her. Edea resumed her conversation with Laguna, not wanting to look suspicious at the ball. As it was, both Kiros and Ward were watching her like hawks. Rinoa looked near tears.

Squall looked up from his chair, the odd feeling passing, and leaving something far more intense in it's wake.

His eyes met Seifer's again.

Seifer stopped dead in his tracks.

Squall was gazing at him intently. But for once, the gaze did not hold Squall's cold disdain. Seifer couldn't name what exactly he saw in Squall's eyes, but he was quite certain it wasn't cold disdain.

Seifer swallowed and turned his back to Squall and returned to his corner, shaken by Squall's gaze. The look in the brunette's eyes.

What in the nine hells was going on here?

Rinoa backpedaled away from Squall. She instantly recognized the love in his eyes, but knew it wasn't for her.

He was staring at Seifer.

Rinoa bumped into someone as she backpedaled and turned to face a young trio. Zell of Dincht scowled down at the spilled wine on his clothes. The maiden Selphie of Tilmitt and her suitor, Irvine of Kinneas looked at Rinoa in confusion. The Asian girl was positively spooked.

Zell of Dincht looked up and happened to notice Edea the Sorceress favoring the shaken Rinoa with a death glare. No wonder she was spooked. He turned to the cowering girl. "Lady Rinoa, don't let that evil Sorceress disturb you. She is just spiteful. She can't hurt you while you're here," Zell said gently.

Rinoa seemed to calm a bit at these words. "Y-you're right...." she stuttered. Suddenly the realization that she was safe as long as she remained in Esthar dawned on her. Perhaps Edea would forgive her mistake in time. Until then she would remain in Esthar.

Seifer of Almasy found himself the subject of Squall's attentions again, but found the attention a little disturbing. Squall was acting oddly. Yet it didn't seem to be from the effects of the love potion, as he was completely ignoring Rinoa. She might as well have ceased to exist at the moment for all the attention he paid her.

The rest of the night seemed to pass uneventfully. Rinoa cowered by Zell, Irvine, and Selphie, while Seifer made every attempt to rid himself of Squall's intense gaze. Edea chatted vaguely with Laguna, not understanding what had happened yet, and Laguna gave her no peace to reflect on the matter.

When the ball ended, Edea announced that she and her Knight would return to Galbadia the next morning, to attend important matters at home. In truth, Edea needed time to regroup and rethink, as her plan had fell through. She resisted the urge to kill Rinoa for her ineptitude, thinking perhaps the girl might still prove useful to her.

As Edea and Seifer retired for the evening, Squall made his decision.

And he had this one night to prepare.

"Your Majesty!"

Laguna sat bolt upright in his bed, rubbing the sleep frantically from his aquamarine eyes. He gazed at the young woman who had just burst open his bedroom door. "Lady Quistis? What's wrong?" he asked in a tired voice.

"Your Majesty, Prince Squall is leaving!! He's at the gate! The guards won't let him out, and his Highness is threatening to kill them! Come quickly!" Quistis said frantically, her voice shrill in urgency. She was wearing nothing but a robe over her nightclothes, and her long blonde hair tumbled below her shoulders.

Laguna was instantly awake and was running down the hallway in nothing but his breeches. Quistis was at his heels, clinging to her robe to keep it closed. They reached the gate in a few minutes.

Squall was mounted on Griever, his white stallion, who paced angrily at the gate, which was guarded by several harried looking men. There was fire in the Prince's eyes and he held his blade, the Lionheart, drawn.

"Squall!! My son, what are you doing??" Laguna cried, never having seen Squall look so furious. Squall was a cold man by nature, and this heated fury in his eyes was odd to say the least.

"I want out!! Let me out, Father!! I have to go see him!!" Squall shouted, turning those wrathful eyes on Laguna.

"What? Have to go see who, Squall? Stop this at once!" Laguna cried, trying to edge between the guards and his mounted son.

"If you wish ever to do one thing for me, Father, then do this. Let me out. I cannot live here without him. I will return as soon as I can, but I have to find him," Squall said urgently. There was emotion in his voice. An emotion so strong that Squall's voice cracked under it's weight.

Laguna gazed at his son. Squall seemed more alive then he ever had before. He didn't understand what his son wanted, but knew that Squall truly meant what he said.

"Let him go."

The guards backed away in surprise, opening the portcullis reluctantly. Griever reared and Squall raced the horse out of the castle, turning back to cast a glance at his father.

"Thank you, Father!" Squall cried, smiling.

Whatver else Laguna felt at that moment, it was outshadowed by the joy of seeing his son smile.

Edea the Sorceress sat upon her throne, studying her Knight.

Sir Seifer of Almasy stood before her, rattling off various weak spots he knew inside the castle. He was promising to have a map drawn of the castle, interior as well as exterior. He betrayed the kingdom and the King he had grown up with so easily, and without apparent regret. She wondered how easily he would betray her, if it was convenient to him. Edea was a clever woman and knew that the only master Seifer truly served was himself.

Presently, Seifer's two best warriors, a pale woman named Fujin, and a dark man named Raijin ran in the throne room. Seifer spun around to face them, and Edea focused her attentions on the two young warriors.

"SQUALL!" Fujin shouted. Edea had learned rather quickly that the girl, though perfectly intelligent, had a hearing problem, and a speech problem, and communicated to people in one word shouted at the top of her lungs.

"We caught Squall the Leonhart, your majesty, ya know. All by ourselves, ya know. He was in the city when he caught him, ya know. So we arrested him and all, ya know. And when we saids we was takin' him to see ya, Sir Seifer, he didn' put up a fight or nothin', ya know," Raijin said proudly. Edea had found out that Raijin, though not exactly the brains of the operation, was a lot smarter than he pretended to be.

"Squall? Here? Alone?" Seifer asked incredulously.

"Bring him to me," Edea said sharply, beginning to understand why the love potion had not worked. Or rather how it did. But it didn't make sense.

The pair dashed off at her command, after Seifer gave them a nod. It annoyed her how they only did as she said after Seifer approved it, but had found their skills too valuable to lose. They almost seemed to worship Seifer.

Squall was brought in a moment later, bound at the hands and the feet, dragged none to gently by Fujin and Raijin. The beautiful prince glared hatefully at the Sorceress Queen, but when his gaze rested on Seifer, his expression visibly softened.

"Undo his bonds. He's not stupid enough to try anything with both me and her Majesty here," Seifer sneered at his rival.

Fujin and Raijin quickly did as commanded, removing Squall bindings. The brunette stood up and rubbed at his wrists, still gazing at Seifer in that odd intense manner he had two nights ago at the ball in Esthar.

Edea smiled cruelly. It wasn't exactly what she had hoped for, but the results could be just as useful. Unfortunately, she had to rely a little more on Seifer than she cared to. She gazed long at the slender brunette, taking in at a glance the fact that his power matched her own Knight's. Their potential rivaled the other's, and had depths yet to be explored.

"Tell me, boy-Prince of Esthar," Edea said, breaking the silence with her cold contralto. "Why are you here?"

Squall looked at her momentarily with cold disdain, but said nothing, Involuntarily, his gaze flicked back over to the scowling Seifer, his eyes intense. Though he had said nothing, Edea knew for sure why he had come. Her cruel laughter rang out across the throne room, echoing against the marble walls, muffled slightly by the velvet curtains.

She smiled and crossed her arms slowly before her breasts, her hands across from her cheeks. Her hands glowed with eerie blue-white intensity and then the light sparkled off her hands and flowed in front of her. Seifer stood to the side, out of range. Squall drew Lionheart from it's sheath, but too late.

The magical energy hit him full force, radiating him with it's power. Squall's blade crashed to the floor, and his throat and ears began to glow bright hot and then the glow moved to join the radiating blue-white energy that had attacked him. The sorceress' spell swarmed around the white energy taken from Squall throat and ears and then the entire spell withdrew into Edea's body.

Squall fell to his knees. His mouth opened but no sound issued forth. He looked dazed and held his hands to his ears, staring in growing horror at the Sorceress. His gaze shifted to Seifer. Seifer was momentarily taken by the helpless look in Squall's eyes before shaking it off him and turning to Edea.

"What did you do to him?" he asked, startled by what Edea had done.

"I removed him of his voice and his hearings. There are things he doesn't need to hear, and this will ensure he does not hear them. As for the voice, I can think of nothing duller than him professing his love to you on a daily basis," Edea said with a shrug of her slim shoulders.

Seifer blinked his green eyes, confused. "What....? What are you saying...?" he asked slowly.

"Come now, Seifer. You're not stupid. He was looking into your eyes when he drank the love potion. I did not think he was attracted to you, but apparently, he is," Edea smiled.

"What???" Seifer cried, her revelation confusing him further.

"Really, Seifer, I'm surprised. You're not innocent. Surely you know that some men prefer other men sexually?" Edea asked in a silky voice full of amusement.

Seifer's eyes narrowed. "I know of it. But how do you know he is truly attracted to me?" he asked with a snarl. His eyes glanced over to Squall, who was still on his knees in front of Edea, looking helpless and confused without his voice and his hearing.

"Because, unfortunately, that is the nature of my spell. I could have him fall in love with someone with whom he held no attraction, but the spell would not be as binding. But if he has an attraction for someone, then my spell will cause him to fall in love with the person so deeply that he would die for that person. And Squall was attracted to you. And now, thanks to my potion, he is in love with you," Edea purred with a predatory smile.

Seifer blinked and turned his attention fully on Squall. The brunette looked up at him, his stormy blue eyes filled with emotion. Squall chewed on his bottom lip and then broke his gaze with Seifer, blushing slightly. Seifer allowed a smirk to play across his face as realized exactly what this meant.

"He would die for me?" Seifer asked, his tone full of wonderment.

"The little princeling will do anything you ask of him. He is completely bound to you. Anything. He'd kill himself, kill others, maim himself, anything. Squall the Leonhart is yours to toy with, Seifer of Almasy," Edea purred. She could play this trump card well, she saw. Seifer was growing enamored of having such power over his rival.

"The great Squall the Leonhart. Crowned Prince of Esthar. All high and mighty, sitting on his golden pedestal. Acting like his shit don't stink.... Now he's my slave," Seifer sneered, bending over to look into Squall's eyes again. Squall blinked and swallowed, but didn't break the eye contact.

"But you are still my servant, Seifer. I don't want him harmed. You will not hurt him. I want him whole and healthy. I shall have to amend my plans, now. But Squall will still be quite the tool against his father," Edea said calmly.

Seifer stood up and faced his Sorceress Queen. "What exactly were you planning had he fallen in love with Rinoa?" he asked idly.

Edea smiled. Her Knight was far too clever for his own good. She was reluctant to share plans with him, but it didn't matter now. She still wondered if betrayal was near. Seifer was sly, and might use Squall against her.

"I was planning on having him marry and impregnate Rinoa. Then I was going to have him convince Squall to murder Laguna, leaving Squall as the king. And when the baby was born, I was going to have Rinoa bring the child to me. Then I was of course going to slay her. Squall, of course, would not want me to harm his own child and would willingly hand over Esthar to me. Then I would slay him when he came to get his child, and then the babe. Obviously, it will be rather difficult for you to be impregnated by Squall, so my plans desperately need revision," Edea said silkily.

Seifer appreciated the clever plan, but inwardly blanched at the thought of murdering an innocent baby. He narrowed his eyes, seeing an opening to exploit. "You were depending an awful lot on Lady Rinoa," he said simply, knowing by this suggestion, that he was indicating that he knew that she would have to rely on him as much.

"Yes, I was. Which is why I was going to have you be set as her guard, to ensure her loyalty. I still could have you command Squall to lie with Rinoa and impregnate her, even marry her, but if his heart lies with you, his attachment to the babe would not be enough to ensure he would give up his kingdom and his life for a babe he sired on her. I shall have to choose another route," she sighed.

"Why don't you just go to war, and defeat Laguna and Squall in battle?" Seifer asked, wondering why she was being so deceptive.

"That would be intensely foolish, Seifer. I have many reasons I avoid war, and one of them is the fact that Laguna was powerful enough to destroy Adel the Sorceress. That, and the citizens of Esthar would probably revolt. Deception is necessary. If I deface Squall to his people, they will lose confidence in him, and upon Laguna's death, welcome me with open arms. Despite what you may think, my Knight, I wish to avoid a war at all costs," Edea said reasonably. Seifer had to appreciate her cold intelligence.

"How long does this love potion last?" Seifer asked, casting another glance at Squall who met his gaze and then quickly dropped his eyes, blushing.

"It will last the rest of his life, but there are two ways to dispel it. I may, of course, dispel my own magic at any time, but you may dispel it was well, by drawing your own blood, flinging it in his face, and saying his name backward. Of course that would be entirely stupid of you, for at that moment, Squall will know that he had been under a spell, and I assure you he will blame you for his love-sick state," Edea smirked. Nothing like a little truth to keep her Knight in line.

"That might just be enough for him to defeat me," Seifer whispered, but Edea heard. The tall blonde gazed down at the sultry brunette, who had yet to move.

"You may, of course, amuse yourself with him, if you so desire, while I make my plans. He is your new pet. As long you don't hurt him, do what you like," Edea shrugged, waving a hand at Seifer to dismiss him.

Seifer smirked and grabbed Squall's arm a little roughly, standing the brunette up and dragging him along as they left. Edea watched the pair leave the room, and then sighed to herself, feeling the tension draining her body. There was something about Seifer and Squall together in the same room that made her nervous.

Edea stood up and headed back to her chambers, ordering for a bath to be drawn. She found her thoughts wandering to the many reasons why she wished to avoid war with Esthar She had, of course, told Seifer nothing but half-truths. It was not Laguna that she feared. Laguna was indeed powerful, but he was nothing compared to her. It was Squall that worried her.

She still remembered the day long ago, before she had sold her heart to darkness, when she had looked within a baby's soul and foresaw her own death. That's why it was necessary to nullify Squall with a love potion first. As long as Squall fell in love with those who were her servants, she would come to no harm. Squall's potential was immeasurable. Never had Edea seen such power in one person. With the possible exception of Seifer.

It was odd that Squall's rival sought her out. But fitting. His power matched Squall's, and if ever she needed a defender, Seifer would be the proper one. As powerful as she was, the outcome of battle between her and Squall was indefinite. Yet Seifer was an unknown. He served himself. Edea constantly wondered if he might betray her for his own cause, or his own whims. She wondered if Seifer might set Squall against her, but knew that at the least, she could buy herself time, by dispelling the love spell. There were so many dangers now that she must rely on Seifer.

Damn Rinoa!

Edea sighed as she sank into her drawn bath, mulling her thoughts. She was going to have to be very careful about this. One misstep could lead to Seifer's betrayal.

She comforted herself with the thought that as long as Squall and Seifer loathed the other's existence, she had some measure of safety.

Seifer led Squall into his chambers, and closed the door softly behind the brunette.

Squall looked around quickly, taking in the richly decorated chamber, his eyes resting on the bed longest. It was a large bed, with dark red sheer curtains. Squall blushed again, and quickly turned to look at Seifer.

Seifer smirked. He hadn't seen Squall blush since they were children. "Like the bed, Squall?" he sneered.

Squall tilted his head in confusion, and Seifer suddenly remembered that Edea had robbed him of both voice and hearing. Seifer shrugged and headed towards the small bar in his room, pouring himself a drink. Squall remained standing, and opened his mouth to say something, but no sound issued forth, causing the brunette to frown deeply.

Seifer sat on one of his chairs and motioned Squall to sit across from him. The brunette did so, avoiding eye contact with Seifer. Seifer sipped at his drink, studying Squall with a smirk. It had been a simple command, but never before would Squall have even sit at Seifer's request. Seifer leaned forward, to look into Squall's cloudy blue eyes, reaching over and grabbing Squall's chin, forcing the younger boy to look back.

"Never figured you for a sodomite, Squall. A little pretty boy who secretly desires other men. How amusing. And me? Did you like it when I would hit you, then?" Seifer snarled at the boy. Squall blinked, trying to withdraw from the angry look on Seifer's face. He could not understand what Seifer was saying.

Seifer spit and threw his drink on the ground, roughly forcing Squall to his feet. "If you were attracted to me, then why ignore me? Why be so cold? I tried to be your friend for so many years, but you wouldn't have it. Why were you such a cold bastard to me? Why?" Seifer's voice became louder and she shook Squall violently, squeezing the boy's arms tightly.

Tears sprung to Squall's eyes, but he refused to let them fall. He tried desperately to stop looking at Seifer, but the stronger blonde would not release him. "Or were you jealous of me? Was that it? How does it make you feel now? Now that you love me? That you would die for me?" Seifer demanded, pitching voice to almost hysteria, his green eyes wild.

Squall began to look frightened. He couldn't hear what Seifer said, but he knew that Seifer was upset. Before, when Seifer was upset, Squall would treat him coldly, and then they would fight. But now, Squall couldn't bear to push the blonde away from him. He wanted, nay, needed Seifer near him. Even if it meant he had to suffer Seifer's wrath.

"Why couldn't you just be my brother, like you were suppose to be??" Seifer snarled, drawing Squall's face closely to his own. Their eyes met, Squall's dark blue eyes wide with fear, and Seifer's narrowed in anger.

"Why did you have to make things so difficult for me? You were the only family I had after Sis died!" Seifer cried, his face only inches away from Squall's. Squall found himself mesmerized by Seifer's hypnotically angry eyes. He gazed back, his fear ebbing, looking sympathetic once he realized that Seifer was frustrated and not truly angry.

"And now you're mine. My pet, my slave. I finally conquered you. An empty victory, for it was by Edea's poison, but a victory nonetheless," Seifer breathed, his nostrils flaring as he tried to calm his anger before he disobeyed Edea by harming Squall.

Squall didn't move back, the fear almost gone. He stayed where he was, held by Seifer, only inches away. He breathed softly, gazing intently, adoringly into Seifer's electric green. Seifer leaned his face a little closer to Squall's, wondering what the brunette would do. Squall remained as he was, his attention focused solely on Seifer's eyes.

"If you're mine, I can do what I please with you. I can completely humiliate you, and you'd like it," Seifer sneered, realizing that Squall wasn't pulling away, and wasn't going to.

Squall just looked into his eyes and then dropped his own eyes to gaze at Seifer's pale pink lips. Seifer smirked. "You want me to kiss you, don't you? A little fantasy of yours now? That I kiss you?" he sneered, pushing his boundaries by pushing his face only a hair's breadth away from Squall's face.

Squall raised his eyes slowly back to Seifer's eyes. His blue gaze was soft, an expression Seifer had never seen before. It stirred something carnal in Seifer. He pushed his lips against Squall's in the space of a second, hungrily taking Squall's mouth into his own, penetrating past Squall's generous lips with his tongue to plunder Squall's warm mouth. Squall relinquished all resistance, kissing back softly. But Seifer didn't want soft. He want to conquer and dominate his rival in a new way, since victory through battle had been robbed of him.

Seifer was kissing Squall roughly, devouring the sultry brunette's mouth like a starving man. Squall found himself lost in Seifer's brutal kiss, and felt afraid again. Seifer was not a gentle man. He took what he wanted, and he took it roughly. Seifer was bruising Squall's lips, wrestling violently with the brunette's tongue. And then Squall felt Seifer's hands roughly pull on his clothing.

Squall struggled slightly, but Seifer held him tighter, tugging off Squall's clothes roughly. Squall tried to turn his face and gasp for air, but Seifer relinquished nothing, pushing the smaller youth towards his bed. The pair toppled on top of it, and Seifer finally let go of Squall's lips to pull back and remove all of Squall's clothing.

Squall lay still, terrified and exalted at the same time. He closed his eyes, feeling the rough tug of clothing, and knew that even though he couldn't hear it, that Seifer was ripping his clothes off. Seifer finally stripped the brunette, panting slightly from adrenaline, staring down at his childhood rival.

Seifer pushed his entire body against the brunette, pressing Squall into the bed, and sliding him up. He returned to his savage kissing, stealing breath from Squall's mouth. Squall felt Seifer's hand travel his body, but there was no gentleness. It was a rough exploration, almost painful. Despite the harsh treatment, Squall was aroused by Seifer's ministrations.

Seifer smirked into their kisses when he felt his rival's arousal, which in turn aroused him. Without warning or preparation, he suddenly rammed his hardened erection into Squall, causing the smaller boy to writhe in agony. Their kiss broke off, and Squall turned his face, squeezing his eyes shut as the flood of pain overtook his body, stemming from where Seifer had penetrated him. Seifer fully entered him, and began to thrust violently, tearing Squall's soft flesh as he did so.

An odd escape of air came from Squall's mouth, which would have been a scream if he still had his voice. Tears silently rolled down his face, and onto Seifer's bed, soaking into the bedsheets. He whimpered silently, feeling nothing but the pain. Seifer began to roughly kiss the side of Squall's face, seeking Squall's lips.

Seifer's thrusts seem to drive Squall deeper into the bed, and Squall pushed against it, as if he could escape the pain by disappearing within the sheets. He wanted to make love with Seifer, not to be hurt. He never thought it would hurt this much. That Seifer would be so angry. Seifer was only seeking to vent his frustrations on Squall, to humiliate and hurt his rival in the only way left to him. It hurt Squall more than just physically. He never thought it was possible to feel so hurt, inside and out.

Seifer grunted and thrust twice more, coming inside Squall violently, then pulling out and sitting up. Squall immediately curled up, his body shaking with silent tears. Seifer sat back, and stared down at himself, realizing that his member was covered in Squall's blood. He blinked twice, realizing that he drawn his rival's blood again.

Like the night they scarred each other's faces.

Seifer swallowed, and felt guilt creep into his being, as it had that night when he realized he had pressed too hard and cut into Squall's face. Squall seemed to be calming down, but remained with his back to Seifer, and his face pressed into the bed. Seifer began to breathe heavily as unbidden memories surfaced in his mind's eye.

Memories of his childhood. Memories of trying to make friends with Squall and Squall always pushed him away. Memories of Squall trying to keep their surrogate mother, Elle away from him. Memories of Seifer violently beating Squall in frustration. Of numerous childhood fights and squabbles. But the memory of being rejected by Squall stung the most.

And then memories of their sordid puberty. Seifer swallowed, trying to push these thoughts away, but they would not leave him. The memories of Seifer's fantasies and wet dreams. Of sullen, cold-hearted Squall, whom he desired, but denied the emotion. Of the fights fueled only by Seifer's pent-up sexual desire for Squall. Memories of how much it hurt when Squall said he hated Seifer.

And then they fought.

And they drew each other's blood.

Seifer swallowed, blinking back tears, staring down Squall. As Squall had been, Seifer would never had been able to have him. Squall was too full of ice. But with the potion, Squall loved him, wanted him. And Seifer had hurt him as vengeance for all the years of his rejection. Squall's new found love wasn't real. But it was more than Seifer would ever have from the cold beauty.

Seifer laid his hand flat on Squall's back, tentatively. He watched the brunette stiffen, anticipating pain again. He suddenly wished Edea hadn't taken away Squall's voice and hearing. Instead of speaking, Seifer settled for gently rubbing Squall's back. The brunette slowly unfurled himself and turned to look up at Seifer, his eyes still full of unshed tears.

Seifer looked down at Squall. Into the eyes as blue as the deep ocean. Eyes that had once been as cold as ice, but were now so warm. He was tired of the hate, and the fighting. Seifer wanted what he could never normally have, but was given to him now. He mouthed the words "I'm sorry."

Squall seemed to understand what Seifer was saying and sat up carefully, some of the hurt fading from his face. Squall blinked away his tears, staring at Seifer sadly. Seifer almost thought he would drown in the deep blue ocean of Squall's eyes. Seifer looked away and suddenly stood up from the bed. He walked into his bathing room without another glance. It was too much too soon.

Seifer felt near tears himself as he bathed Squall's blood from him. Admitting that he loved Squall, even if it was only to himself, was painful. He felt guilt for bedding Squall, and even more guilt for hurting Squall while he did so. He finished his bath full of guilt and pain.

Squall was still on the bed, his bare legs drawn up to his chest. He looked for all the world like a lost little boy. Seifer motioned for him to take his own bath, and Squall slowly obeyed. Seifer sat down on his divan while Squall bathed, thinking that Squall was a lost little boy.

Seifer wondered what Squall made of his new emotions. If he secretly resented them. If somewhere in the back of his mind he knew they weren't right. If behind his false love for Seifer, his hate for Seifer was growing. Seifer shook his thoughts from his head. He wasn't going to brood over it. That wasn't his style. That was Squall's.

But Seifer was left with a decision. He could take advantage of Squall as he was, and capture a form of love, no matter how false, that he would normally be denied from Squall. Or he could just push Squall away and use him as the tool Edea thought he was.

Squall returned from his bath, covered only in a white silk robe that a servant had laid out for him. He stood in front of Seifer silent and still. Seifer looked up and found himself lost in Squall's eyes again.

He made his decision.

Squall sighed contentedly in his sleep, his body snuggled against Seifer's.

Seifer ran his hand through Squall's soft brown hair, admiring it's silkiness. They had done nothing but kiss and hold each other the whole night, but it satisfied Seifer in a way that sex never had. He had bedded various women, finding the sex physically satisfying, but emotionally empty. He had never before dared to bed a man.

Squall seemed content to lie in Seifer's arms. He hadn't resisted when Seifer had pulled him to the bed, despite the fact that Seifer had hurt him. Seifer touched his lips to the sleeping boy's forehead, kissing Squall gently. When he pulled back he noticed that Squall was smiling softly in his sleep.

Something in Seifer changed at the moment.

Squall sat on the window ledge, looking in the direction of Esthar.

His expression seemed sad and distant.

Seifer returned to his chambers to find Squall sitting like that. The tall blonde sat next to him, removing his cloak as he did so. Squall didn't turn, and Seifer knew it was because Squall couldn't hear him. Seifer placed a soft kiss on the youth's smooth cheek, causing Squall to jump a little in surprise.

The smile that lighted up Squall's face made Seifer's chest burn. The willowy brunette threw his arms around Seifer happily, kissing the blonde on the lips. Seifer smiled back, meeting the kiss with his own. It had been two days since Squall had come to Galbadia, and whenever Seifer came back from his duties, Squall seemed thrilled.

Seifer closed his eyes, enjoying the taste of Squall's warm mouth. The feel of the smooth, wet flesh. No one had ever been happy to have him around before. Even if it wasn't real, Squall's unconditional love made Seifer euphoric. Seifer deepened the kiss, slipping his tongue inside Squall's mouth, questing for the sultry brunette's tongue. Squall met Seifer's tongue and they slipped around each other. Squall suckled gently on Seifer's tongue, pressing his smaller frame against Seifer's.

Seifer's arms soon crushed Squall to him, feeling the thin material of the red silk shift he had given Squall to wear. Feeling Squall's taut body underneath. Seifer already felt heat rising in him at Squall's closeness. He had not had sex with Squall since the time he had hurt him, shying away from the act of sex. Seifer wanted Squall desperately, but every time he considered it, guilt prevented him.

But this time, Seifer felt Squall's own heat. He felt it in the subtle pressing of Squall's arousal against his stomach. Seifer gently pulled back from the kiss, mildly surprised.

"Squall...?" he asked softly, looking into Squall's eyes and then letting his green eyes travel down Squall's body to the source of his heat.

Squall blinked softly, following the gaze and blushing. He looked back up into Seifer's eyes and then returned to kissing the handsome blonde, reaching around to knead the knotted muscles of Seifer's back. Seifer moaned softly, but pulled back away again, readjusting their position, so that Squall could feel his own arousal.

"Don't tease me, Squall......." Seifer whispered, though he knew Squall couldn't hear him.

Squall shuddered slightly at the feel of the hard bulge between Seifer's legs, looking into Seifer's intense green eyes. Seifer smiled at him softly, planting another gentle kiss on Squall's generous lips, before purposefully traveling his eyes over to the bed. Squall followed Seifer's gaze, understanding Seifer's silent question. He answered Seifer by kissing the handsome blonde again, and pressing his growing arousal against Seifer.

Seifer moaned softly again. He picked up Squall's slight form and carried him to the bed, gently laying the sultry brunette down, and crawling over him. The silk shift had slipped down one of Squall's shoulders and gave him a seductive look.

Seifer paused to admire Squall's beauty. When he had lain with myriads of women, he never took the time to study them, think of them. Their beauty did not arouse him, or make him feel excited. But looking down at Squall caused his heart to beat faster, and his blood to rush to his loins. Squall's beauty made his heart ache at it's sight. Squall filled Seifer with longing and desire, and he knew that only the smallest part of that desire was sexual.

Seifer shook himself from his thoughts. Squall was lying beneath him, his chocolate head tilted slightly to the side, gazing up at Seifer with those deep, deep blue eyes. Squall smiled softly when Seifer's attention focused outward rather than inward. Seifer smiled back, and slipped his hands to the hem of Squall's shift, and gently slid it off the brunette, taking time to admire the graceful curves of Squall's body.

Seifer sighed when Squall was nude, just letting the mere sight of his lover excite him. Squall sighed, slightly irritated at being stared at, but not touched. Squall leaned up and put his arms around Seifer's neck, kissing the tall blonde's soft pink lips again. Seifer kissed back, tugging his own tunic off. Squall reached down and began to slowly undo Seifer's belt. Seifer had little patience, and reached down to tug his pants off. Their nude bodies pressed against each other, warming each other on the mildly chilly night.

Their lips met yet again, but their passion had grown hungry, and their bodies slid against the other's. Seifer felt Squall slide his hands down his back, working the muscles gently, yet firmly in his hands. Seifer slid his hands down Squall's porcelain skin, brushing the boy's nipples, which elicited a silent gasp from Squall. The tall blonde found Squall's hips and adjusted them against his own, their legs entwining as their hips met and the underside of their erections met each other.

Seifer moaned lowly, hearing the loud outtake of air from Squall that signified that he was enjoying the position as well. Seifer gazed over at his lover, grinding his hips slightly against Squall's causing an intense amount of pleasure for both of them. Squall threw back his head as the friction built between them as there shafts slid against each other. Seifer just gazed at Squall, as if the very sight of his lover could bring him to orgasm.

Their hips had gained a rhythm of their own, grinding furiously against the other. The sensitive skin of the underside and sides of their erections rubbed against each other, leaving both men at the mercy of almost unbearable ecstasy. Squall's breathing was ragged and loud, his lack of voice offset by Seifer's loud moans. Seifer impulsively grabbed both their shafts, pressing the dripping heads together in his grip, and pulled Squall closer so he could kiss him. Their scrotum rubbed together and it felt to both men as if somehow their lower bodies had merged without uniting.

They both came nearly at the same time, their bodies grinding of their own accord by now. Both young men felt their bodies lose control, and jerked and spasmed a few last times before coming. The pleasure seemed to have numbed their senses for a moment. Seifer lay back, pulling Squall down on top of him. The brunette sighed contentedly, making himself comfortable on Seifer. Seifer pulled up the pillows beside him, so that Squall could roll off onto the pillows to sleep if he desired. Squall, however, seemed perfectly content to sleep on Seifer.

"I love you, Squall," Seifer whispered, tears forming in his bright green eyes as the thought that Squall would never had let this happen had he not been under Edea's spell.

But Squall was deaf, and could not hear him.

The Sorceress Edea strode quietly down the hall, rather pleased with herself.

It had taken her a fortnight to work out the details, and the plan within a plan, but she had finally set everything in motion. She just had one last loose end to tie up.

The regal beauty stood before the door to Seifer's chambers, and opened it silently, stepping inside. She looked around the room with the eyes of a hawk, noting how the lamps were out, but a few candles burned in the dark. The curtains to the large window were thrown open, letting the subtle illumination of the stars in.

Her glittering black eyes caught on movement on the bed, and after her eyes adjusted to the dark, she made out two writhing figures behind the sheer red curtain of Seifer's bed. She allowed a small smirk to flit across her face as she approached closer. Details became clearer, and Edea could see that Seifer was on top, thrusting gently inside the boy beneath him. The blonde was grunting softly, but only the sounds of escaping air passed Squall's lips. She could see the movement intensify, and watched in fascination as the two bodies stiffened and then released, going limp against each other.

Seifer slumped over the lithe form of his sultry lover, kissing Squall's face, and caressing his body. Edea narrowed her eyes, noting Seifer's tender actions. She allowed the sound of her breathing, and the noise of her walking to become audible, causing Seifer to almost instantly stir, jerking up.

Edea gave her Knight a predatory smile as he threw the curtains of his bed open, jerking up and withdrawing his bastard sword, Hyperion, from where it rested by his pillow. His bright green eyes, still glassy from lust, scanned the room, and finally rested on his Sorceress Queen. Squall sat up behind him, drawing the covers around his nude form, looking slightly frightened.

"Your Majesty," Seifer said, not as a question, but as an acknowledgment of her presence.

"My Knight," she said in response. She drew her fur lined black silk robe around her tighter, allowing the cloth to cling to her slender form. Thought she knew it would not sexually interest Seifer, it would give him the false impression that she was vulnerable.

"How may I be of service to my Queen?" Seifer asked, his tone mildly sarcastic.

"In many ways, little boy. You seem to have grown rather attached to your new pet," Edea said smoothly, allowing amusement to creep into her chilly tone.

Seifer's eyes widened and he hesitated, realizing how vulnerable his attachment to Squall made him to her. Then they narrowed, as he tried to cover his moment of hesitation. "He is a satisfactory sexual conquest. You robbed me of besting him any other way. I know that at least, I humiliate him this way," Seifer lied, trying to sound idle and almost succeeding.

"This is true. But it is of no matter now. I have made my plans," Edea shrugged, maintaining her cold smile. Seifer's eyes had told her much in his moment of hesitation.

"Oh?" he asked, still trying to sound idle, but succeeding now. Squall leaned over and touched Seifer's shoulder, wondering what had happened. Seifer shrugged the touch off, and Squall withdrew, looking slightly hurt.

"I shall restore the little Princeling's speech and hearing. Upon restoration, you will return to Esthar with him, and demand that he assassinate his father, King Laguna. It is necessary that you do this under the cover of the night. As he slays his father, I wish for you to call for the guard, so they may witness the assassination, and know that the royal heir is committing patricide on their beloved regent. Before the guard comes, use this teleportation orb I give you to escape. When you return, we shall ride into Esthar and the city shall welcome me with open arms," Edea said with that maddeningly knowing smile of hers. She handed Seifer a small glowing sphere of glass, the teleportation orb.

Seifer swallowed. Reality hit home and his inevitable guilt crashed down on him like a ton of bricks. She wanted him to ask, nay tell, the man he loved to murder his own father. To murder the only man whom Seifer could even remotely consider a father. Treachery to Esthar had seemed so vague when he first went to Edea, but suddenly it rested badly on his conscious. To his credit, he allowed none of this to show on his face, and merely nodded.

Edea smiled and held out her hand and two searing white spheres shot from her hand and into Squall, causing the boy to fall back on the bed, writhing. Seifer snapped his head to look at Squall in alarm, and then back at Edea, his fist gripping his sword.

"I have returned his speech and hearing," Edea said simply, smiling widely before turning on her heel and disappearing.

Squall stilled as Seifer bent over him in concern. He blinked his deep blue eyes momentarily, and then gazed up at Seifer, smiling. "I can hear! And speak again," he said, his tone more joyous than Seifer had ever heard.

"Squall......" Seifer breathed, dropping his eyes, feeling ashamed. Squall sat up and threw his arms around Seifer, smiling happily.

"Oh, Seifer. It has been wonderful this past fortnight...... I love you so much," Squall whispered. Seifer thought he would die from the guilt that overtook him.

"Squall..... If you love me, then there is a thing you must do for me," Seifer croaked, hating himself even as he spoke. But Edea would kill Squall the moment Seifer betrayed her.

"Anything, my love. Anything at all," Squall said seriously, gazing up at Seifer with that sultry smile of his.

"Then.... you must... kill your father for me. You must kill King Laguna," Seifer said, his voice turning into a whisper at the end, and he tried not to cry as he said it. Edea knew his weakness now, and she would exploit it. And if she dispelled the spell, Squall would kill him.

Squall blinked and looked taken aback. His generous lips tugged to a frown. He stared at Seifer almost resentfully for a moment. Seifer began to pray that somehow Squall would overcome the love potion and refuse. He would say he could not kill Laguna, not even for Seifer. That he would free himself, and thusly free Seifer. That.....

"As you wish, my love."

And Seifer cursed himself.

Edea smiled as she watched Seifer and Squall depart for Esthar in her crystal ball. Everything was going smoothly.

She had not expected Seifer to develop feelings for Squall, but even so, it played nicely into her plans. Seifer had two choices. And he would not endanger Squall's false love for him by betraying Edea.

"Your orders, majesty?"

She turned her glittery black eyes on her General. Edea favored him with a smile that could chill the blood of Ifrit, god of fire. "Prepare the summoning room for me. I will have Adel back from the Nether World, and at my side before the night is through," she said knowingly.

The General bowed, looking smug. "As you wish, majesty," he purred, and turned to walk away.

"One more thing, General," Edea said airily, causing her General to pause and turn back to her.

"Prepare my army for war. Esthar will be mine before the week is out."

It was disgustingly easy for Seifer and Squall to sneak into the castle by the waterway.

Both men knew the layout and the guard's rounds, and easily dodged them as they made their way to Laguna's chambers. It was the middle of the night, and most everyone was asleep.

Seifer stared down at the teleportation ball in his pack as he and Squall snuck into Laguna's chambers, oiling the doorway to get in silently. He was no fool, and knew that it was actually a scrying device for Edea. It would only take him back to Esthar provided he followed her orders. If he disobeyed, the item would leave him for the Esthar guards to deal with.

The tall blonde knight followed the young prince to King Laguna's bedside. Squall stared down sadly at his father's sleeping form. Seifer took the opposite side of the bed, his eyes resting on the only man who ever even had a remote amount of concern for him. He began to feel his heart ache.

Seifer looked up and watched as Squall pulled out the dagger at his hip, griping it in both hands, pointing it down to Laguna's prone form, pointing at where the sleeping king's heart lie. The blonde noticed the trembling of Squall's hands and looked up to meet Squall's eyes.

Squall looked back, his eyes wide in pain. He was torn. Torn between his false love for Seifer, and his very real love for his father. Seifer's breath caught at the pain in Squall's eyes, and felt his guilt scream at him. Squall was paused, fighting against his own conscious.

Squall was breathing rapidly, the dagger shaking in his trembling hands, and he gazed down at his father's face. A tear slipped down his cheek, soon followed by another. "I do this for you, my love," Squall whispered, his gaze returning to Seifer with a look of desperation.

Seifer could take it no longer. This was not right. He loved Squall too much to let this happen to him.

Seifer took out his own dagger in the space of a second and cut open the palm of his hand, squeezing it so that the blood ran freely, Edea's words running across his mind.

"Llauqs," he said sadly and flung his blood onto Squall's face.

Squall stumbled back, dropping the dagger he meant to kill his own father with on the bed harmlessly beside Laguna.

The gentle king woke up from his deep slumber, looking around sleepily, not understanding what was going on.

Seifer took out Edea's scrying device and dropped it on the ground, letting it shatter to a million pieces. Like his heart.

"You bastard!!!" Squall shouted, shaking off the final effects of the potion.

Seifer looked at him sadly, and drew Hyperion, his blade.

Laguna looked bewildered, and rang for the guard, afraid despite himself.

"You fucking bastard!!!" Squall continued to shout, tears still rolling down his face.

Seifer spun his blade around and handed it hilt first to the bewildered Laguna silently, never dropping his sad green gaze from Squall's.

The guards swarm into the room, arresting Seifer upon Squall's order, as Laguna stared down at Seifer's blade, understanding that somehow, someway, Seifer had changed.

"He used me, father. He seduced me with aid of his filthy Sorceress Queen's love potion, and violated me! He commanded me to assassinate you, father!! I almost killed you! I demand that you execute him!!!" Squall's voice was shaky and full of emotion.

Laguna looked up at Seifer sadly, begging, pleading with his large aquamarine eyes for the Knight to refute the accusations. "Is this true, Seifer?" he asked, his bird's voice heavy with sorrow.

"Yes, your majesty," Seifer said solidly, his face set in stone. He remained still as the guards roughly chained him.

Laguna dropped his gaze and tears spilled from his eyes as he acknowledged what he must do to a child who was like his second son. And despite everything, he blamed himself. He hated himself. He was a failure.

"I hereby order the execution of Sir Seifer of Almasy, on grounds of treason, sodomy, and attempted murder."

Squall looked fierce, his chilly stare full of hate for Seifer. The tall blonde hung his head and nodded sadly, accepting his fate.

"And since you desire his death so badly, my son, you will be the one to slay him."

Galbadia attacked within the hour.

Laguna rode off to battle on his white stallion, with Kiros of Seagill and Sir Ward of Zabac at his side, leaving Squall to guard the castle. Lady Quistis of Trepe was left to gather the mages of Esthar for battle, but Irvine of Kinneas and Zell of Dincht were sent off to battle. And unbeknownst to all, the maiden Selphie of Tilmitt had disguised herself as a boy, and left for battle as well. The Lady Rinoa of Heartilly was left at the castle, as none knew of her secret Sorceress' powers.

And the execution was about to commence.

Seifer was stripped to the waist, and chained by the wrist to the wall of the dungeon. Two guards stood beside him, silent and cold. Within minutes, an icy Prince Squall entered the room, his sword, the Lionheart, drawn and in his hand. The Lady Rinoa followed him, chewing on her fingernails.

Rinoa had received a command through her mirror from Edea herself, ordering for her to ensure Seifer's death. And then to take the best opportunity to slay Squall. She fingered the hidden stiletto in her corset, her brown eyes wide in fear. Never would she have imagined Edea would demand her to murder anyone. She stared in horror at Squall as he approached Seifer, fearing the blonde's death.

Squall's face was a mask of icy rage. Seifer's face was a like a fire having burned itself out. He was pale and tired looking, an expression of defeat on his handsome face.

"Sir Seifer of Almasy, for the crimes of treason, sodomy, and attempted murder, your death has been ordered by King Laguna of Esthar. I, the Prince Squall the Leonhart, shall be your executioner. May God have mercy on your black soul," Squall hissed, glaring hatefully at Seifer's dull green eyes, readying his blade for decapitation.

Seifer raised his head, his pride not allowing him to die without honor. His dull eyes seemed to glow back with their old fire, but it was not the same light that caused them to glow. "If my death brings you happiness, Squall, then so be it. But know this, my Prince, for what it may be worth to you. As villainous as you may think I am, I returned your wits to you, not out of Knight's honor, guilt, or compassion. I did it because I love you," he said proudly, his jaw set in a line that only those who know death is upon them have.

Squall held his blade high, and the final swing would cause Seifer's golden head to roll. His gray eyes flashed to the deepest blue at Seifer's statement. It all came crashing down at him at once.

The way Seifer looked at him. The look in Seifer's eyes. The smiles Seifer favored him. The feel of Seifer's arms wound around Squall's form. The touch of Seifer's lips to Squall's lips. The pleasure their bodies had brought them. The gentleness, the tenderness that Seifer had shown him. The way Seifer had seemed to change.

Squall gave a strange cry and his blade came down with a loud sching.

Seifer blinked.

Squall sagged against his sword, crying. For the first real time in his life since Ellone's death, Squall was crying.

Seifer lifted up his hands, realizing that Squall cut his chains, freeing him.

"Your highness?" one of the guards asked, startled.

"Leave me," Squall sobbed. The guards looked confused, but did as they were bade. Rinoa stood behind Squall with a look of sadness and pulled out the poisoned stiletto from her corset.

"Squall........?" Seifer asked, not even noticing Rinoa's existence as she crept closer to Squall.

Squall looked up at Seifer. And just as the fires of rage had cooled from Seifer's gaze, the ice of hatred had heated from his. Squall's gaze was full of pain, but warm. And full of an emotion so deep that Seifer felt his breath stolen from him.

Rinoa gave a strange cry, and the stiletto fell at Squall's side and she kneeled behind him, tears brimming from her brown eyes. Both Squall and Seifer turned to stare at the kneeling sorceress apprentice.

"Forgive me, your highness. I am also a traitor. I am Edea the Sorceress' apprentice. I was in league with her plan for the love potion. It was meant for you to fall in love with me, but it went awry. She ordered me to slay both of you, but I cannot. I am no murderess. I beg of your forgiveness. I did not want any of this. All I wanted was true love, but now I come to see that this a thing I cannot force. For the love I see between you and Sir Seifer is as pure and true as any love may be. Kill me if you must, but forgive me for my treachery. Never will I stand in the way of true love, even if it is not my own," Rinoa sobbed, baring her breast for Squall to kill her.

Squall blinked and picked up the poisoned stiletto. "Nay, Lady Rinoa. In this you have shown more honor than I thought you capable of. You say you have powers of a Sorceress. I forgive you, but ask in return for my mercy, that you aid my kingdom in it's battle against Galbadia," he said quietly, resting a hand on Rinoa's shoulder.

The Asian woman looked up with a look of pure relief, and favored the Prince with a true smile. "I thank you for your mercy, your highness. This was such I never thought you capable of. I pledge my allegiance to Esthar, and all the magic at my disposal," Rinoa swore, standing up with more dignity than either man present had seen her with.

The door burst open and Lady Quistis of Trepe ran in, looking around the room in confusion. "Your highness? What has happened? The guards told me you cut Sir Seifer free..." she said quietly, her true blue eyes resting on Seifer's form. The tall blonde stood to his full height, and glanced over at Squall. Even Seifer did not understand what Squall's motives were.

Squall chewed his bottom lip and gazed at Seifer. "You said you loved me," he said, almost as a question to Seifer.

"I swear this on my father's soul, and the blade of my sword, Hyperion," Seifer said, his eyes telling Squall the depths of his love.

"If you love me, swear to me your sword, and you honor," Squall said, handing Seifer back Hyperion.

Seifer stared down at his sword and smiled. He fell to his knees, bowing his head before Squall. "I swear to you on my eternal love, my sword. I shall fight at your side, protect you with my life, and destroy whatever you desire. I swear to you my honor. For I shall never betray you again, for I would sooner fall on my own blade than bring you pain. I swear to you that I will sooner die than let anything harmful befall you, to either body, soul, or heart," Seifer said, his even baritone rich with emotion.

Squall touched Seifer's shoulder with the Lionheart. "Then rise, my Knight. We must join my father in battle," he said somberly. Seifer rose to his feet gazing intently at the smaller brunette.

"Queen Edea has summoned up Adel from the Netherworlds! And I'm sure she has risen the forces of evil with her pact with Hell. We should all join the battle as soon as possible," Rinoa said urgently.

Squall looked alarmed and turned to Quistis. "My Lady... Can you teleport us to the battle? Not even my father may stand against Edea with the forces of another powerful Sorceress and the powers of Hell behind her," he said urgently.

Quistis swallowed nervously. "My powers are not strong enough to transport all of us so far away. But I think I know of another way..." she said quietly.

"What? Anything, my lady! We must go help my father!" Squall cried.

"Follow me," Quistis said, and turned on her heel. Squall, Seifer and Rinoa followed the stately blonde. Rinoa whistled to her faithful hound, Angelo, who joined them.

Quistis led them to the roof of the castle. The sky was dark with a terrible storm that Edea had wrought. The winds howled, as if Pandemonium, god of winds, soared overhead. Squall, Seifer and Rinoa watched the Blue Mage with fascination as she stood with her back to them, staring off at the windswept, dark gray sky.

Quistis of Trepe held up one hand, that began to glow with an eerie blue energy. Angelo howled into the wind, feeling the power in the air. Rinoa 's eyes widened as she realized what Quistis was about to do. "Lady Quistis!! You will kill yourself with use of such power!" Rinoa screamed, but too late.

"Bahamut!!! King of Dragons!! I summon thee to my side!! I bind thee to my service!! Come to me, lord of the Dragons!!" Quistis called, and her words were part of summoning spell of such magnitude that only the most powerful could dream of casting. She was pouring forth her own life energy to summon the most powerful of all dragons.

Everything grew unbearably bright, and Seifer, Squall, and Rinoa had to shield their faces. Quistis collapsed to the ground, and a huge shadow played about in the stormy clouds, diving towards them. The young trio found the light bearable again, and before them appeared the greatest of all dragons, Bahamut himself. He roared with the power of the ancients and the humans trembled before him.

"Quickly..... Ride upon.... Bahamut's back...... to the battle. ....He will take you there..... quickly, and destroy many of your..... enemies with his breath..... I will..... join you..... when my energy returns...." Quistis said weakly, her body writhing slightly with currents of electric blue energy.

"Thank you, my Lady," Seifer said respectfully, realizing the sacrifice Quistis had made for them. Squall touched the young woman's neck, assuring himself of her life as he nodded to Seifer and Rinoa to mount Bahamut.

"Fare thee well, Lady Quistis. Be strong, and I pray for your health," Squall whispered. Quistis smiled as she heard him mount the great dragon. Bahamut's powerful wings flew them away quickly to the raging war between Esthar and Galbadia.

And Quistis found joy in the fact that for once, they had noticed her. Even if she died, she knew it would not be for nothing, for she was noticed. Someone cared.

And that was all she really desired.

They were all going to die.

Laguna could feel it in his bones. It made him want to cry. He loosed another arrow, downing another nightmarish demon. There were so many of the enemy, and so little of his people left. They were all going to die.

Tears blurred his eyes as he loosed another arrow, causing him to miss, but Kiros' swift katal ended the matter. Edea had brought back Adel, and both Sorceress' were casually destroying entire Estharian troops. Edea had summoned forth thousands of demons from Hell, and even the great Queen of evil Dragons, Tiamat herself.

The roars of the five-headed dragon sent shivers of fear through even Laguna. She roared so much as she breathed her deadly fires upon his people, that it sounded like she was six dragons.

That wasn't right.

Six dragons?

A deep loud, emphatically male reptilian roar drowned out Tiamat's roars.

Laguna looked up.

And gaped.

The battle almost seemed to pause as Bahamut swept into view, his blue-black scales glittering in the fires of war. His scaly reptilian head reared back, and he let loose his deadly megaflare breath upon Tiamat, severely injuring the Queen of the Dragons. Battle was met between the two great Dragons, good against evil. And luckily for Bahamut's three riders, they jumped off his back before Tiamat reached her mortal enemy.

Laguna stared at the three forms that had arrived, his face slack in shock. The same emotions were on Edea's, but hers were tinged with fear.

Squall swished the Lionheart in the air, sneering coldly at his enemy. Seifer flourished Hyperion, his fiery rage forming into a wicked smirk upon his face. Rinoa smiled demurely, and angel wings appeared momentarily behind her. Angelo howled.

"Father! I have come to aid you with two new people who swear their allegiance to us!" Squall shouted, running to his father's side.

Laguna grinned. He felt relieved that for some reason his son had spared Seifer's life, and in return Seifer had repledged himself to Esthar. But unfortunately, not all on the battlefield were as thrilled.

"This cannot be!!!! Slay the Leonhart, and his treacherous little Knight!!!" Edea screamed, enraged by all the failures of her servants.

The demons resurged with renewed hunger for Estharian blood. Squall found himself overrun by the numbers of his enemy. He could hear his father's arrows loosed, one after the other, rarely missing. Kiros' katals, silent except for the audible scream of the fallen. Ward's great sword, hacking at enemy after enemy. Zell of Dincht's flawless martial arts, who need no weapon other than his body. Irvine of Kinneas's crossbow, which never missed a target. Selphie of Tilmitt's nunchaka, who's boyish disguise had fooled no one. Angelo's growl as he ripped apart his enemy. The crackle of Rinoa's magic. And the swing of Seifer's long sword, Hyperion.

Squall felt he was in a trance. He was swept up the battle. Swing of the blade to the right. Then to the left. Swing up, then down. The clash and the clang. The screams and roars. The smell of fresh blood, and dead bodies. The powers of darkness were great, but so were the powers of good.

Laguna spotted his old enemy, Adel the Sorceress, former ruler of Esthar. The masculine woman sneered at Laguna, pointing a talon at Laguna. "Fool! I shall destroy you this time!" she screamed, loosing streaks of red fire directed at Laguna.

Laguna dodged, barely in time, loosing a few arrows at Adel that all missed. He could feel more of her magic try to overcome him, but he was nimble and dodged all her attacks, getting closer to the evil Sorceress. Adel didn't seem to notice, and instead kept loosing her magic at Laguna, determined to destroy the man who had dared to defeat her before.

Laguna grinned ferally when he got in close enough, and nocked back an arrow, loosing his chi into the tip, focusing on the evil tyrant who had once oppressed his people. Adel snarled at the man, loosing her magic again, but found it blocked by Laguna's chi. "I will not be destroyed by a pathetic little man creature!!" she screeched.

"I really don't see what your problem with men is, Adel. Even I'll admit you're more of a man than I am," Laguna grinned. He loosed the arrow as the sorceress howled in rage. The force of his chi caused the arrow to glow white, and it struck the manly woman in the chest, striking her dead.

Laguna allowed himself a moment to gloat over Adel, pleased to have finally destroyed her.

It was his last mistake.

"Amusing. But of no consequence, little King. A pity I shall have to kill you. I had once hoped to bear your child, as both your progeny are quite... impressive. But it is necessary that you die now," Edea said coldly, behind the raven-haired man.

Laguna tried to turn and shoot the beautiful sorceress with another arrow, but he never finished the action, before black energy shot from Edea's hand slammed into his body, flinging him fifty feet away.

"NOOOOOooooooooo!!!!" Squall screamed, watching in horror as Edea attacked his father. He watched his father's body land roughly in the dirt, writhing against the electric black energy coursing through his body. Squall began to run towards Edea, even as Laguna's body stilled, and the life fled from his beautiful aquamarine eyes.

Seifer gasped, realizing what Edea had done, he was soon on Squall's heels, cutting through the demons who stood in his way. Squall was worked up into a rage more powerful than any even Seifer suffered from, and wordless screams of rage issued from his lips as he cut his way towards Edea.

Squall's blade began to glow a blue-white with the power of his chi, and Edea's eyes widened, as she realized that destroying Squall's father had cut free his true power. The Lionheart was a sword of white-hot flames and it was nearing her. She threw up a shield of blackness and the blade met the shield, crackling energies meeting, and the smell of ozone met the smell of blood.

Squall screamed again, trying to cut through Edea's shield. Edea smiled, realizing that Squall couldn't get through. She had been wrong. Squall wasn't more powerful than she was. He was just a little princeling soon to follow his father into death. Edea raised her taloned hand, forming up the death magic to slay Squall.

And then she realized that she was wrong again about Squall.

He was powerful enough to destroy her.

But only with the help of another.

Seifer stepped behind Squall, his arm around the boy's torso, his own sword, Hyperion, began to glow red-white with his own chi. Edea tried to loose her magic, but it fell useless against Squall and Seifer's blades. Seifer raised Hyperion beneath the Lionheart, and the two blades touched. And without energy, light, or sound, Edea's shield vanished, as if it had never existed.

Edea was given a moment to reflect upon the error of her ways before the swords cut her two.

And as quickly as the war had begun, it ended. Without Edea to maintain the powers of darkness, the demons quickly disappeared, fading into the ground, into nothingness, or just plain running away.

The forces of Esthar realized that they had won.

But the price was the life of their beloved King.

And a kingdom mourned.


Seifer stood before the newly crowned king of Esthar, his green gaze steady.

Squall still wore the white band of mourning for his father, even though Laguna's ashes had been scattered to the wind three months ago. Seifer had requested to go into private meditations after the war between Galbadia, and Squall had granted it without question. Seifer had just returned and stood before his new King, wondering what happened next.

"So......" Squall said quietly. He wore his crown troubled, but with grace.

"So.... Is Lady Quistis well?" Seifer asked after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.

"She survived. A testimony to her will," Squall nodded, finding this ground far more comfortable.

"And Lady Rinoa?" Seifer asked.

"She is fine. I think she fancies Zell of Dincht now," Squall shrugged.

"Not a bad match. And what of Irvine of Kinneas and the Maid Selphie?"

"Selphie is a maiden no longer. She married Lord Irvine a month ago."

"And what of Lord Kiros of Seagill and Sir Ward of Zabac?"

"Lord Kiros retired upon my father's death. He has gone into isolation to mourn King Laguna's death. I think there was more than friendship between my father and Kiros, but it is none of my affair. Sir Ward remains by my side."

"And what of you, my King?" Seifer asked, swallowing.

Squall's gray eyes slowly changed to blue. "I.... am lonely," he admitted.

"As am I," Seifer said evenly, offering himself silently with his eyes to Squall.

"I think I love you as well, my Knight," Squall said suddenly, chewing on his bottom lip.

Seifer's face broke into a grin despite himself, and he approached Squall, laying a hand upon Squall's shoulder. Squall looked up, and smiled at Seifer.

"I am going to marry the Lady Quistis. She will be my wife, and the mother of my children. Yet neither of us love each other. Her heart is reserved for her work, and I think will never truly go out to any man. And mine is for you. I have given her the freedom to choose lovers, as she has agreed to give me..." Squall said.

"And what of me, your majesty?" Seifer asked, coming to his knees before the throne, looking deeply into Squall's blue eyes.

"I wish for you to be my lover... If you desire," Squall said, bringing a hand to Seifer's face.

"I desire, my love. Anything for you," Seifer whispered.

Their lips touched.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Well..... Not too bad, if I do say so myself. Boy did I get carried away with this one. :) A little melodramatic, but try to find the fantasy story that isn't. I tried to be more lemony, but I just couldn't get it out this time. It was the best I could do. I hope you liked it, Drygonrose, and thanks for being my 20000th hit!!

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