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November 8th

A few days ago, when I told Squall that I had been feeling guilty about abandoning the liberation efforts in Timber for quite some time, I also felt very badly about it. The 'badly' I added wasn't to drive that point home because I had decided to rip up the old contract a long time ago (keeping Squall, Selphie and Zell for such a vague period of time didn't seem fair to them), it was for a different reason — I wasn't being truly honest with him when I said those words. I needed a way to escape and I tarnished Timber's worthwhile and on-going cause into some lowly excuse, something that I really wish I hadn't done but...the cards haven't been dealt in my favour and I had to scrape by with whatever's in my hand.

I almost cried when he said that if I needed to go; he'd respect my wishes and let me go to help for as long as I felt I needed to be there and that he would wait for me back home. I know that I'll be stretching that promise to the limit, but it's for the best...even though I don't like this 'best' I've come up with. It's basically the 'best' option in the worst kind of way. Sticking around the Garden isn't something I have the luxury of doing right now.

I don't want to be second in line to force him to grow up any faster than he already has after Cid kept him in the commander position after the war had ended, shoving endless stacks of paperwork and long missions down his throat. It's bad enough that SeeD had already stolen most of his childhood, I can't even start to imagine how hard it is for him to also feel like he has to project this image of being the perfect leader and soldier all the time, being forced to set the example everyone has to look up to.

So that's why I'm on this train, to hide the fact that he's just a normal nineteen year old underneath it all, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I know how hard it is for him already because a lot of people don't take him seriously because of his age and...I know that this would definitely put the last nail in the coffin if anyone were to find out that he was going to be a father in a couple of months.

There, I wrote it. And now it's out in the open if anyone decides to read over my shoulder as I'm writing this; the Commander of Balamb Garden isn't as perfect as he tries to be for the sake of the Garden — I'm laying low in Timber so no one will know that I'm pregnant with his child.

I feel like I owe him that much of a courtesy.

Not only because of SeeD, but because I know that he's just not ready for this, not even after all of the progress he's made during the year and a half we've been together since that kiss on the balcony. The fact that this would make us the first of anyone to have children out of the gang would just spark a lifetime's worth of embarrassment for him, especially since it's been a running joke that the day we'd have kids would be the day Shiva would start using fire spells — it's no secret that Squall's not too keen on having or wanting any children. Ok, I know that that's a superficial reason for hiding this but, deep down, I know that he would blame it all on himself for this, even though he couldn't have possibly seen coming. Not when Edea told us at one point that sorceresses weren't able to have children unless if the bond with their knight was strong enough to break the cycle of infertility. Even I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't seen all five of the home pregnancy tests I secretly bought turn into positives.

Still, does the bond have some sort of magic to reverse the effects of birth control? Or did we slip up somehow? God I...just don't know. If I ever reread this in the future, I know that this is going to sound incredibly clichéd in my head, but...why did it happen to us? It wasn't like we were going about this with reckless abandon, using what Edea said as an excuse not to protect ourselves.

But, I suppose there's no point in wasting time over this. It won't change the fact that I'm still pregnant and that I have to handle this on my own because...well, it's not an option for Squall to know right now. I'm not ready for this either but...I'm going to deal with this one day at a time. I have to.

God, I've known about this for a month now, haunted bathrooms for about two and I still can't wrap my head around this. I've been flying by the seat of my pants this whole time and I don't think I'll stop anytime soon. I haven't gone as far as think of what I'd do if he or anyone else decides show up to surprise me with a visit or anything like that for Hyne sakes.

-Ok. I'd better stop writing along those lines or else I might start crying and it'll only draw attention to myself. And the last thing I need is a whole bunch of people starting at me until the time the train gets to Timber when I've got all these thoughts in my head already. I've got to focus on something constructive for a change. Ok. Right now, my plan should be to get to Timber, get a good hotel to stay at until I can get a decent apartment and find a good doctor. Hopefully, I'll be able to find Zone and Watts too. It might be nice having company I can talk to— or at least until my stomach starts poking out anyway. Then I'll have some explaining to do. But I don't want to think of that day, whenever that will come. I've been getting away with medium-sized, long-sleeved t-shirts, but when will my luck run out?

...Hyne, I really don't want to think of that day.

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-


December 4th

All's starting to really fall into place in Timber, I've found a decent place to live (courtesy of Watts's basement, which is more than enough for me), a good doctor and a job working at the courtesy desk of the hotel I was living at for the first week I was in town. And as a bonus, I've also been able to gather some valuable tidbits of info for the Owls by overhearing some of the conversations in the lobby or out in the halls. It's nice to be useful for a change when all I seem to want to do is sleep and lock myself in the bathroom. I've been lucky as far as Squall and the others are concerned too.

I've been able to keep in contact with them through daily e-mails and the odd phone calls. But...I have to admit that whenever it's Squall I hear on the other line, my heart drops a little every time. I'm always struggling not to tell him about all of this and it feels like a needle's gone through my heart every time I have to say I'm too busy with the Owls, which isn't so much of a lie anymore, to meet up with him when I know that he's been working night-and-day to get far enough ahead to have some free time.

When he called twenty minutes ago, I was really tempted to finally take him up on his offer to come here, but then I realized that I couldn't possibly get away with just spending an afternoon outside with him. Not to mention, that would probably encourage him to try more often. But, on the other hand...wouldn't not seeing me do that too? Ugh. I'm confused. I think I'll take a breather and sort this out in my head.

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-


December 6th

Right after I stopped writing in this notebook the last time, I caved and said that I could rearrange my schedule a little bit so I could spend the afternoon with him right after. He came up yesterday and I can't lie, it was so wonderful to see him after going a month without his company. It was really chilly that day so my thick wool sweater didn't raise any suspicion with him (not that he's known to be real observant with those kinds of things to begin with).

We sat in a small cafe and talked a little. I told him where I worked and how I've been more or less gathering information at the same time, on top of doing whatever I could for the Owls on my days off. He didn't say much but I could tell that he was just glad to sit here with me. The silences we shared in the cafe weren't awkward ones, but the comfortable kind. I was a little worried that he's been working himself a little too much though. He looked older than I last remembered with his eyes looking really tired and his cheeks a little more drawn. I stuffed a big piece of my croissant into his mouth to fix that for now. We had, or maybe it was just me, a good laugh at that.

After we left the cafe, we simply walked along Timber's streets until we were finally in front of Watts's house, just as the sun was starting to set. Before I got the chance to say goodbye, he closed the space between us and gave me a soft kiss on the lips. I felt a hot tear run down my cheek, warming my cold skin. I couldn't tell whose it was, most my skin was really numb from the weather. After it ran off of my skin, I flinched when I felt one of his hands brush past my stomach, worried that he might have felt something. Lately, I've been feeling like there's a Marboro squirming around inside of my belly so I wasn't being completely paranoid there. He didn't say anything after so I think it's safe to say that he didn't feel anything.

He left after I told him that it would be awhile before I'd be able to see anyone but I'd let him know when. I've been lucky so far because my stomach doesn't have that pregnant look yet (I just look a little pudgy below and around my belly button), so I can imagine that I'd be able to celebrate New Year's Eve with everyone but, past the new year, I'm not sure if I can afford to see anyone. I'm fifteen weeks along now and I'll be half a week past eighteen on New Year's Eve so...it'll be likely that I'll really start popping out after.

But...something is telling me that I'll be pushing it if I celebrate ringing in the new year with them. I don't know why.

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-


December 22th

It's official. I won't be able to spend any more time with Squall or anyone else from the Garden...unless if they visit me at work where the desk hides my body from the chest up. In the past week, I've ballooned so much that I had to tell the hotel managers about my baby (well, I lied about when I found out and about the details surrounding the baby's father, but that's about it) so they wouldn't get anymore suspicious than they've already been lately. It's the second uniform they've had to order for me because of my growing tummy kept on forcing my blouse's buttons to pop off and was making it impossible to zip up my uniform's skirt. After hearing about my ridiculously-simplified version of the situation I was in, I'm so glad that they understood and are willing to work around me and have me work more shifts while I could still handle them and adjust my schedule as much as they think they'd need to later on.

Phew. That's one less worry I have to think about. Now all I have to do is go to that extra ultrasound appointment I booked for tomorrow on my lunch break. I have a feeling that someone goofed up when they told me that May 17th was my due date. I feel far too big for seventeen and a half weeks.

Zone and Watts found out about the baby last week (I blame my stomach's decision to inflate nearly two-fold for that one). When the shock set in after a few hours, they were being really understanding and supportive, offering to help me get some things for the baby along with wanting to help with other stuff, but...Zone seemed a little on edge when I quietly explained the situation to them.

I might be imagining things here but, I don't think that he's ever liked Squall very much. Toss in the fact that I'm having his baby and he doesn't even know anything about me being pregnant at all, well...I don't think that would win anyone brownie points. When I had spilled the beans after they had confronted me about my unnaturally-round belly, both Zone and Watts had asked me interesting questions once I had explained myself, things I hadn't thought of and I don't think I would be able to answer yet.

The conversation went something like this,

Zone: So you're hiding out here so it won't ruin his career?

Me: Yes. It's not really an option for me to stay there. It would be too much for him, career-wise and for personal reasons too.

Zone: Are you putting your baby up for adoption then?

Me: I thought about that, but...I couldn't do it. I'm going to keep him or her. I'll find a way to make it work.

Watts: But Princess, you can't hide out here forever. If you go back, he's going to notice if he sees you with a little baby that looks like either of you when you left nine months before.

Me: I was already two months pregnant when I came over here. I think I'll be okay as far as math goes. Don't worry about it you guys, I'll find some way to explain why I have a baby with me.

Zone: Someone's going to pick up on the resemblance Rinoa, no excuse is going to make them any less suspicious.

Watts: You could always say that you had a cousin who passed away after she had a baby and she wanted you to take of it because you were the only one who was close to her...or something like that.

Zone: ...And what if the baby doesn't look like Rinoa?

Watts: Then, um...

Me: Guys, guys...that's enough. We don't have to think of this now. I still have five months left to go, I'm sure that at least one of us will think of something. If we can't, then, I'll use Watts's idea and tweak it depending on who the baby looks like. If he or she looks more like Squall, I'll just say that it's a close friend's baby.

Zone: Okay, we'll play this by ear but...things like this have a way of getting out. You might not be able to get away with it.

Me: ...I know.

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-


December 31st

I'm sitting here in my bed, spending New Year's Eve by myself, writing in this notebook. Both Watts and Zone offered to take me to a restaurant and to watch the fireworks later tonight, but I didn't see the point. I haven't been able to eat anything beside salad, vegetable soup or soda crackers since last week. And I didn't feel like going outside either, the heel of my boots broke yesterday and there was the possibility that I could be seen by anyone of the gang if they decide to come and surprise me. The hotel customers who see me out around the hallways and lobby don't mistake me for being a little on the chubby side anymore, they confidently assume that I'm having a baby.

But...they're still mistaken though.

What I'm actually expecting is baby's plural form — babies. Twins. The 'blank-but-trying-to-hide-what-he-thought' look on the doctor's face when I described the movements in my stomach as Marboro-like said it all. I knew that this wasn't just a really bouncy baby in there long before he actually did the ultrasound after he made that face.

Watts and Zone don't know and...whenever either one of them say 'the baby,' I have to bite the inside of my cheek to stop myself from crying hard. God...I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't raise two by myself and I can't ask Watts or Zone to help out, because that wouldn't be fair, and I think, well...I don't think that I can hide this anymore but...I still can't tell him. It'll kill him even more.

Hyne, I hope he's having a better New Year's than I am. I'm going to bed. I don't feel like thinking now.

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-


Knock. Knock.

I heard the knocks coming from the basement door directly in front of my line of vision but I don't answer the door. I'm still not in the mood to open it. Whatever Zone and Watts want will have to wait, or if they want me to come out, well, too bad. I need my beauty sleep.


Knock. Knock.

The annoying knocks don't seem to want to go away so now, so I completely curled myself under the covers so whoever it is will get the idea by my silence. God, I hope it's not Squall or anyone trying to surprise me.

"Princess, I know you're there and still awake!" Watts yelled through the dividing wood door. "You've got a telephone call from Balamb!"

Ugh. Now getting up was gonna be the hard part, answering the phone was the least I could do for the gang after suddenly cancelling on them like I had. But I wasn't kidding about needing some beauty sleep. That, and maybe some extra being-pregnant-with-twins sleep on top of that too.

I swung the covers off of me and my legs on the edge of the bed, yanking the light bulb chain down soon after that. When the light came on, I quickly shielded my eyes from the sudden shock of the bulb's blinding, artificial rays from scorching my eyeballs. After I was sure that I wasn't going to blind myself, I moved my hand away, got up from the bed and loosely weaved my way from the bed to the stairs which led up to the door where Watts was.

I thanked Hyne that it was only a phone call, or else whoever was there would have suffered the horror of seeing my stretched-out aqua tank top and worn-out cotton-candy pink pyjama bottoms. Inching up the steps was no problem, thanks to my death-grip on the hand-rail over on the side and, before I knew it, I poked through the basement door, looking for Watts and a phone in his hand, scanning the area for booby traps.

Luckily, I only saw Watts with the phone and nothing else, no booby traps to be heard of. I opened the door enough so I could pass through and I gave him a meager smile before promptly snatching the cordless phone from him, mustering a 'Yoink!' noise to complete the small joke. He left to give me privacy as soon as I had the phone.

I put the phone to my ear and sure enough, it was Squall on the other end.

"I assume you're feeling better. ...I heard a 'yoink' noise in the background." he wryly said. I couldn't resist an actual smile even though I knew he wouldn't see it.

"No, I...still feel as sick as ever," I lied, continuing the fib I had told them a day ago, "Just hearing your voice is helping a little though. I didn't know you could say 'yoink!'"

I could almost sense the eye roll at the other end. Then again, Squall's a predictable guy when it comes to stuff like that, so any eye rolling was practically a given, really.

"...Whatever."

Oops, I'd forgotten about that gem of a Squall-ism. Oh well.

Kick. Kick. Kick.

Before I could stop myself, I said a few choice incoherent noises. "Ooh-ow—"

"...Rinoa? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," I reassured him, "I'm used to it happening."

"...I don't think you should be used to whatever is making you sound like you're getting kicked." he said pointedly. Dammit. I slipped up. Wait...does he know? He used the word kicked, didn't he? No, he can't...it was just a coincidence. Yeah. "...You might want to get that checked out."

Oh, the irony, I mused.

"No, I'll be fine Squall." I reassured him once again. "If it doesn't go away, I'll get it checked. Does that sound ok to you?"

...Nice choice of words, clever wordplay even.

"Yeah..." he trailed off in agreement; I heard an exasperated sigh after, "...Have any idea of when you'll be able to get away from work?"

I felt a sharp pang. The answer was no, but I couldn't tell him that. "I, um, don't know Squall. Things are too...all over the place to be able to make a guess. I'm working a lot of shifts right now on top of the work I'm doing for the Owls. Sorry."

"Would...you have time tonight?"

I shook my head vigorously. Had he gone mad and lost all concept of geography?

"Squall, there aren't any trains running to Timber at this time of night on New Year's Eve. Besides, even if there were, you wouldn't get here until the middle of the night and I'm really tired."

"I'm not in Balamb, Rinoa." he countered. "I'm sitting on the bench in front of Watts's house."

I nearly dropped the phone. How am I supposed to say no now? Think Rinoa, think, I chastised myself. All of my coats aren't enough to hide my belly anymore and my sweaters still showed signs of a bump, save for when I cross my arms but...that wasn't going to help.

I heavily sighed.

Zone was right; these things do have a way of making themselves known. But...maybe this should have been known from the start. Career or not...I didn't even give him a chance and now he's going to find out in the worst possible way. Hyne, who was I kidding? This plan was doomed to fail all along. Zone was more than right; he was voicing the thought that I had tried to drown out in my head.

But...why hadn't I given him a chance if I knew this was going to happen anyway? I should know that he's more resilient than most people give him credit for. Did I use some of his vulnerability as an excuse? We could have worked this out together and possibly worked out the same kind of plan minus him not knowing. Hyne, I didn't notice it 'til now but...looking back, this whole thing was a little out-of-character for me to do this.

Then it hit me.

Did I run away for his sake or mine?

But...it doesn't matter now. Questioning this won't turn back time; I chose to run away and avoid confrontation. And now, I'm going to have to do the confrontation I should have done months ago.

"Ok. ...Squall?"

"Yes?"

"Stay on the bench. I'll be out in a moment."

"Alright."

Click.

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-

Poking my head out of the front door, I immediately saw him sitting, and shivering, on the bench, presumably freezing his virtually non-existent butt off. The sight of my head caught his attention.

"Hey, you." I called out. "Come inside before you turn into a human snow cone."

He got up with a bit of a smirk; he obviously couldn't see my bump with only my head and hands visible.

"...I thought the expression was 'human popsicle,' not 'human snow cone.'"

I found myself grinning at his comment. Sure, only he would argue with me about something trivial like that. But no matter how anyone could have cut it, his smirk was damn infectious. After all, it was a well-guarded secret, which no one was privy to save for me, that he has one of the cutest smirks in the history of the planet.

"Well, I like snow cones better so human snow cone it is." I teased, trying to keep that smirk on his face; a smirk I knew that I wouldn't see once the news was broken. Now he was inches in front of me with the door separating us.

The three months' grace period was officially over.

"Squall...I have to confess something to you." I admitted; still using the door as a shield.

When he furrowed his eyebrows and looked at me with a skeptical look, I wasn't sure if he did that because I switched gears so abruptly after joking around with him or if it was because I might have sounded like I was continuing about the snow cones.

"You're not...talking about snow cones, are you?"

...Okay, so it was the latter.

"No." I managed a small smile, keeping my hand firmly on the door. "...I wish that was it."

"Then...I assume it has to do with why you didn't want to see me or the others?"

After I nodded, I caught the small fleck of hurt in his eyes. I had to diffuse the situation before he had the chance to assume the worst situation. Even after all the time we'd known each other, it was a trait that he'd never gotten rid of. I don't know how many times I wished that I had the ability to save him from the darker machinations of his mind.

"No Squall, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have gone but the circumstances weren't good. I would have only brought you trouble and pain by being there."

"...I severely doubt that Rinoa."

"Please, I'm not kidding about that. Listen," Adjusting my hand's grip on the door, I readied myself to open it once and for all. "-even though I'm helping gather information and doing all sorts of things for the Owls, I didn't leave for Timber's cause. I left because I found out that I was pregnant and I didn't want to ruin your life."

I opened the door wide open and let him see the evidence of my words. His eyes went down to my belly and back up to my face. He stood there speechless, so I had to speak before he fell over and went unconscious. The corners of my mouth felt like they had permanently dipped downwards.

"You can hate me for running away, not telling you or for not getting rid of it but, please, the only thing I ask is that you don't blame yourself. If you don't want to see me anymore for being so dishonest with you...go ahead. I promise that I won't tell anyone that they're yours." I barely choked out.

"...That's a pretty tall order for the kind of hell I put you through." he said pointedly, his voice threatening to crack with every word. "Not when there's more than one to think about."

I nearly had a heart attack. "How...how did you know?"

"You said, 'they're yours' not 'it's yours.'" he explained, his tone a little more consistent now.

I looked down, ashamed at my own slip-up. Right now, I thought it would be best to be out with the whole truth and avoid the numbers game. "...The doctor told me they're fraternal twins." I mumbled. "I don't know the sex of either baby."

Because my head was down, I only heard the sound of the door close and the footsteps after. Feeling his arms all around me and his lean, hard stomach against my bump came as a total shock. I was expecting a thud noise from him going unconscious. I looked up at him. He had tears in his eyes.

"...Why haven't you fallen over yet?" I softly asked, "I just told you I'm having twins."

"...I already knew about you being pregnant for quite some time." he admitted. "I found the tests in the garbage in your dorm after you left. A transfer Garden student was going to temporarily live in your dorm while you were gone. And because there's a regulation about the standard level of cleanliness for dorms when transfers occur...I offered to clean it up because..."

I cut him off after the hesitant pause. "—It's okay, you can say it Squall. Mine was a mess like usual."

"...Yours was a mess like usual." he repeated.

"That's better." I light-heartedly said. Afterwards, I juxtaposed my tone. "But, if you knew...why didn't you say anything?"

He let me go and held me at arms' length. I could see the cerulean hue of his irises with surreal clarity. "I let you go because I knew that if you wanted me in your or our child's life, you'd tell me when you were ready. I wasn't going to force you. For all I knew, you could have resented me for getting you pregnant. I...started to assume it was the case when you kept on making excuses, but...after that day we spent together, I realized my error."

"Is...that why you came up here today without telling me?"

He quietly nodded. "You sounded downright miserable on the phone when you cancelled so...I had a feeling that you weren't avoiding me because you didn't want me there, but because you were afraid of how I'd react."

"Ok, so now that you're here and you've visually confirmed this...may I know what that reaction is then?"

"...In all honesty?"

"Yes. I don't want it any other way. Say whatever you feel you need to say."

"Alright." He drew a large breath. "I'm nowhere near ready and I don't think I'll ever be, but, I got us into this mess, so I want to take responsibility for my actions. I don't want to see you suffering alone like this ever again. I don't want you to turn into the same kind of jaded person I was before I met you. Whether you want to raise them with me, by yourself or put them up for adoption...I'll fully support your decision."

"Squall...?"

"Yes?"

"I don't want you to take responsibility if you're going to end up resenting me or our children. Sorceresses aren't supposed to get pregnant and we weren't being reckless because we knew that fact. This whole thing was a fluke and I don't feel like you should take responsibility for a mere fluke. If it would be best if I were to stay in Timber and you go back to the Garden, please, do that if you feel it's the best way to keep Garden and the others out of your hair. I'll promise to keep you updated on things."

"Fluke or not, this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't done what we did. We both share half of the blame and I don't see the logic with you hoarding all of the responsibility for the consequences. I said I'd follow whichever decision you wanted to take, not the one you think I want to hear."

I almost started to cry at this moment. I don't deserve him, I really don't. It went without say that I owed it to him not to lie anymore. I wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed the side of my head to his broad chest, my ear hearing his every heartbeat. The beats came fast but steadily. His body was pleasantly warm, but not red-hot.

"I'd like...you to be involved but, I want you to do it on your own terms, whichever way you think is best, even if I have to come back to Garden saying that my cousin died and asked for me to look after her twins or using some other explanation after I have them."

I looked up at him and, for the first time since he was inside of the house, he gave me a warm smile. "If it's fine with you, I'd like to unofficially help you with Timber's cause until they're born and go back with the three of you to the Garden. That is...if you think you can put up with me."

"Putting up with you shouldn't be hard but...shouldn't you be worried about what they may say at Garden?"

"Garden and SeeD will always come second to you, Rinoa. I don't care if I've been there for most of my life, if they don't or can't accept this, then I'll resign and go wherever you want to go. Money's not an issue here."

"But...what about the gang? Won't they bug you to death knowing that we're the first to get pregnant out of everyone, with twins no less?"

"A little teasing won't kill me. Besides, I'm almost certain that they'll be distracted."

I furrowed my eyebrows. "What do you mean by 'distracted?' ...Are you going to schedule extra missions for all of them so that they're not at Garden for a while?"

"I'll keep that suggestion in mind, but no. Since you're their mother, chances are they'll be fairly..." I nearly died when I figured out the word he was searching for. I had to bite my tongue so that I wouldn't fill that blank for him. Nearly a half-minute later, he finally found the word. "...cute."

I had to smirk at that observational comment. Not the part about indirectly calling me cute, but about the distraction factor of cute babies in general. I know that cute babies never failed to get my attention and— Then, just as I was thinking about the comment, a revelation hit me.

I shifted a little, "...You've been doing some research on babies, haven't you?"

He gave me a somewhat embarrassed look. "...A little."

I gave him a look.

"...A lot." he confessed.

That was all I needed to hear to know we were going to be ok with a little time, patience and understanding. I kissed him right then and there. A few seconds later, I felt the Marboro-like motions going on inside of my stomach but I didn't place either of his hands to feel the kicks at this point in time. He's been through enough right now. I wanted to take this slowly.

A few honking noises interrupted our kiss. I turned around to see Watts with a paper party favour whistle in his mouth. He plucked it right out of his mouth after I made eye contact with him.

"Happy New Year Princess!" he happily declared. "-And to you too sir!"

I heard a noise I'd thought I'd never hear in a million, no, make that a zillion years; the sound of Squall's laugh.

"...You can call me Squall, Watts."

-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-

May 20th

We've been through a lot of ups and downs over the past few months but we finally made it. I had the girls two nights ago. It's almost surreal to believe that there are two Leonhart girls in this world now. Squall can't either. We had both thought they were both going to be boys, possibly boy-girl twins. But I'm more than happy to be tickled pink twice. They both have ten fingers and ten toes, so that's all that really matters.

We'd named the girls Rachel and Naomi — I picked Rachel because I've always liked that name for a girl and Squall picked Naomi because it meant 'beautiful, gentle, pleasant' and since it went nicely with Rachel (which I'd picked first). Although they're fraternal twins, they look a lot like each other for the most part. Both already have a full head of dark brown hair, darker than Squall's, but lighter than mine, my nose and Squall's ears and mouth. The only real difference I can see is that Naomi is a bit bigger than Rachel and clearly has Squall's eyes while I suspect Rachel's really dark blue ones will turn brown like mine with time. But, regardless of anyway I can describe them; they're both cute as a button. (Well Squall, I guess your prediction was right, but not just because of me.)

I'd never say this out loud but, I think parenthood is really agreeing with Squall so far. I can imagine that if I told anyone who knew what Squall was like before, they'd ask if I'd gone insane, but I really do believe that. It's only been two days, but he's been so attentive and involved it sometimes brings me to tears. The ironic thing is that even I wouldn't have believed anyone who would have told me that he would be like this after I'd give birth, judging from the way he was, not even a few months ago. Of course, he's still fairly apprehensive like I knew he would be, but looking at the way he dotes on them, it's so adorable. He won't say anything, but I know that he's very proud to be these girls' father and happy that he's there for them where his own father wasn't.

I can't even begin to describe how happy I am for him. I'm glad I could give him something to be proud of, despite the turbulent beginning of my pregnancy. But, maybe it was for the better in the bigger picture of things. Because of the distance I created, we ended up gaining a better understanding of each other in our own time without others or ourselves complicating things.

Hyne, speaking of the others, I'm sort of looking forward to go back to Garden to show everyone our girls and, to certain extent, even Squall himself. I feel like I'm keeping the world's best secret and I so desperately want to share it with everyone. But there's another part of me that also wants to keep this to ourselves while we can, knowing that things might get tough for us if outsiders at the Garden start interfering — either by accusing Squall of lacking self-control, accusing me for trapping their commander by getting pregnant on purpose, claiming that the commander tainting SeeD's name, or whatever. I know it'll happen. It's unavoidable, no matter how cute the girls are (sorry, I had to toss that in) but, nothing in life worth having is easy. I know that Squall has very good self-control, I didn't get pregnant on purpose to try to trap him and that SeeD should get a grip on the fact he's human, so that's all that counts to me.

Although the girls weren't planned, they're definitely not accidents. We may not have been ready to have them at nineteen but all we didn't use that as an excuse to get rid of them, pawn them off to someone else or to not bother trying. We didn't back down. And I don't regret this decision in the slightest. I don't think Squall does either.

Remembering what Edea said, a sorceress can't conceive unless if the bond with her knight is strong enough to reverse the effects of infertility. And because of that bond, we ended up with two precious little girls. It wasn't like we had them because something broke or didn't work, because we were in a lusty mood or anything like that, we had them because we loved each other.

And if that doesn't mean anything in this world, I don't know what does.