.-: Chapter One :-.


Priscilla Dincht. I wrinkled my nose and scratched out the name as I adjusted my chin within my hand. Yuck. I tapped the end of the pen onto the paper and the half a dozen or so names listed. Zell Jr., the name of our first boy. Beth, the name of our first daughter. Sally Elizabeth Dincht, the name of Zell's first and only wife.

I sighed, my expression growing wistful as I remembered again the happiest night of my life. My twentieth birthday and all the surprises that had come with it...

'Sally,' Zell had said, his face so serious and his voice as beautiful as anything I'd ever heard... 'This has been the best six months of my life. I never knew being this close to a girl could be so awesome. I mean, I can tell you everything and you actually listen and think it's important. You stand up for me. You do things just because you know I'll like them, even though you normally wouldn't because you're so shy. We've had our rough spots and smoothed them over because we wanted our relationship to work. We talked, sometimes we argued, but it was all good. No, it was great. I mean... Damn. You love me, and I've never had that with anyone.'

Then he had gone down on one knee and pulled an opened velveteen box from behind him as he asked, 'Will you marry me?'

I shivered and giggled as I hid my face in my hands and again whispered, "Yes, Zell. Yes, yes, yes."

So we were engaged. I was going to be Mrs. Zell Dincht. Sally Elizabeth Dincht. After three and a half years of wishing and hoping and praying, I was going to marry my sweetheart. In my love-drunk mind, life couldn't get any better. Yet I hoped it would... Actually, I knew it would. There was the honeymoon.

I flushed and giggled again, giving a twitch at the sound of a person sitting at my table in the cafeteria at Balamb Garden. I quickly lowered my hands and looked up into Selphie's smiling face. "Hi," I greeted quietly.

"Hey, Sally." She pointed at the paper. "Whatcha doin'?"

I looked down, my wistful gaze returning as I sighed. "Thinking of names for our kids."

Selphie squealed. "Cute!"

I closed the spiral notebook very tenderly. "I should be thinking about the wedding, though," I admitted.

"Can I help?"

The spontaneous offer drew my gaze and a relieved smile. "Would you? I don't have any idea how to plan a wedding, Selphie, and I don't want it to be the worst one in history."

"Sure! No problem. We just need to figure out when you two want to be married, where you want to be married, and then figure out what you and Zelly want so that we can make it happen. Simple."

"I certainly hope so," I whispered.

Selphie reached across the table and gave my hand a squeeze. "It'll be wonderful, Sally. Just you watch."

I nodded. "Okay."

"Here. Give me the notebook."

I passed it to her, watching as she turned the pages to the first available sheet and then took the offered pen.

"First we need to figure out when you two are going to get married," she informed, her voice business-like. It made me want to laugh. "Have you two talked about it?"

I shook my head. "No. This whole week Zell had to be with Marshal at Deling Garden. A meeting or something." And I missed him. "But he's sent me a couple e-mails." Which made me miss him more.

"But you haven't talked about the wedding?" Selphie asked, eyes wide as she slightly shook her head. "At all?"

My cheeks flushed, and I lowered my gaze to the notebook to doodle Zell's name in a corner. "He's been so busy with Marshal and Sub-Lt. Cmdr. Seifer and Cmdr. Squall... I haven't wanted to bother him. Not yet."

"But the wedding!" Selphie protested. "You can't put it off until Zell isn't busy; because he always is!"

"Oh, I won't put off talking to him that long," I assured as I met her gaze. "Just until he gets back."


I nodded, smiling. "I already told Zell I'd like to talk about it. That's why we're going out to dinner."

Selphie's expression brightened. "Good girl."

I giggled. "Janine would've had a fit if I hadn't. Every day she's asking me if we've set a date." I shook my head, eyes crinkling at the corners. "I think I'll put her in charge of something, so she'll leave me alone."

Selphie laughed. "Good idea-- Ooo! Ooo!" she suddenly squealed, grabbing my hand. "Can I be in charge of the flowers and decorations? Please? And the pictures, too."

I blinked, eyes wide. "Really? You'd want to do something?"

"Sure! Your wedding's going to be the thing of the decade."

Again, I blinked. "How come?"

"'How come?' Because it's Zell and you. The cutest couple of the millennium. Well, at least as cute as Rinoa and Squall."

I flushed and resumed my doodling of Zell's name.

"But the fact that you're the first of us to be married is making this the thing," Selphie finished.

"No pressure," I whispered.

Selphie giggled. "No pressure, Sally. Especially considering how awesome your birthday party was. Now." She took the pen back from me. "What did you want for flowers and stuff? We can talk about when and where later."

I cupped my chin in my hand as I absently asked, "Flowers?" while already day-dreaming of the white dress, and the white flowers, and the tuxedo Zell would wear at the altar - also bedecked with white flowers. Doves would fly as we kissed and then we would run away to the ship - or yacht - that would take us to Winhill for two weeks of wedded bliss--

snap-snap "Terra to Sally. Come in."

I blinked and straightened, my cheeks burning volcanic red as I lowered my gaze and picked at the table. "Sorry," I murmured.

Selphie smiled at me. "Don't be sorry. It's cute, and you two are so lucky." She focused again on the notebook while she chewed on the end of the pen. "Outdoor or indoor?"

'Lucky.' "Outdoor," I said, watching her. 'Lucky.' That word reminded me that Zell had mentioned something once about her and Irvine Kinneas, but I had never seen them act as anything more than close friends.

"Ooo. That'll be pretty in the Spring." Selphie jotted some notes. "There are some gorgeous flowers that bloom in the early spring that would be perfect for a wedding. And if you wore a garland of them in your hair?" She squealed.

I smiled. Selphie was so much like me, but not. Where I was shy and introverted, she was outgoing and a bit outspoken. She was nice, and perky, and was one of the most popular Instructor's at Garden - besides Zell. I couldn't understand why she hadn't found someone special. I mean, Quistis had Zack - near as I could tell. They always denied everything when asked - I had Zell, Rinoa had Squall, Ahndra had Marshal, and I had begun to wonder if Seifer had a thing for Janine - completely perfect for each other. Why couldn't Selphie have her sweetheart?

"I'll get some different flowers from each season and have you pick, then that will help you and Zell close in on a date," Selphie continued. "Okay?"


"Great!" Selphie nibbled on the end of her pen again. "Did you want a singer at your processional, or not?"

"I... I don't know."

"Hm. I'll let you and Zelly talk about it. And what about special music? You know. The couple thing. You can sing to him?"

I flushed. It would be romantic, but I would die.

"Oh. What about food for the reception? Can we have it here? That way Francine can be in charge," Selphie suggested.

My expression brightened. "That would be perfect."

"Cool!" Selphie wrote a few more notes and then ripped the page free. She folded it up and tucked it into the pocket of her uniform as she stood. "I'll talk to some people and get back to you. Okay?"

I nodded and then watched her go. Then my gaze was drawn to the notebook. I drew it close and turned back the pages until I saw Sally Elizabeth Dincht. I smiled and sighed. How many times had I doodled the same into journals and onto miscellaneous pieces of paper, hoping it would one day come true while not believing that it was possible?

And then I had talked to him. And then I had asked him for help. And then... then... Everything from then on remained a happy blur of laughter and kisses and intense conversations of what meant the world to us. All had led to this one spectacular moment in time when I was engaged to Zell Dincht.

Me. The library girl.

I sighed again and leaned back in the chair, lifting my left hand to look at the two rings there. My engagement ring and my half of the ring I had given to him 'just because'. It had always been big enough to wear on my middle finger. As if it had waited for the time when my ring finger would be occupied. As if it had known.

My eyes crinkled at the corners and I sounded a soft and very silly giggle, closing my eyes and lowering my chin to relive the day I had given him the ring. To relive the day he had given me a better one. To relive all the days I had known him as more than just a watcher...

Can a person die of happiness?

I felt a soft and warm touch on my neck and shivered, smiling wider as I lifted my head and opened my eyes to look to my right. Zell sat down beside me, grinning his usual boyish grin that usually always left me weak in the knees.

I launched myself from the chair into his arms with a squeal of "Hi, sweetie!"

He laughed out a "Whoa!" and adjusted his balance to keep us from tipping the chair over backward.

"I missed you," I told him once I pulled back and settled myself onto his lap.

Zell rested his interlaced fingers of his joined hands onto my right hip as he smiled up at me. "I missed you, too, kitten." Then the smile warped to an annoyed frown. "And it sucked over there. Nothing but a bitch session on how their life is so damned hard. All I can say is that if they hadn't screwed off in the first place, they wouldn't be there. Each and every candidate and SeeD is given enough warnings to pull their head out of their a-- butt. If they don't, well, they get sent to Deling. It's better than getting a dishonorable discharge."

My lips drooped. "I'm sorry you didn't have any fun."

"Tch! Marshal made it better than a stick in the a--" Zell cleared his throat. "Butt."

I giggled and wrinkled my nose at him. "You don't have to censor yourself, sweetie. I can do it."

He grinned. "I know." Then Zell stood, lifting me up in his arms. I squealed a giggle. "Come on. I need to beat some shit up. A couple of the SeeDs there really got on my nerves. Pains in the ass both. Too bad I couldn't call 'em out. I woulda loved to pop 'em once or twice."

I crossed my ankles and adjusted my arms around his neck. "Okay, but we can't for too long. Remember, you said we could talk about the wedding plans over dinner." Wedding... I fought back the fuzzies and the day-dream so that I could focus on Zell.

"Are you kidding? I wouldn't ever forget that." His boyish grin returned as he kicked open the cafeteria door. "Why do you think I'm carryin' ya? Practice."

I giggled and kissed his cheek. "You silly boy."

Zell chuckled and then set me down to take my hand. We headed down the hall for the main corridor. "You sure we can't just run away and have a Captain marry us?"

"I..." Eloping would be so romantic, Zell, but... I had wanted a wedding to Zell Dincht for three years.

"I know. You want your mom and pop there. And Zack. And all your friends. It's just... I don't know. I don't want to wait another six months before gettin' ya to myself. It sucks."

The flush that burned my cheeks must have been contagious, because Zell looked about as red. I released his hand and wrapped my arms around his middle to give him a tight squeeze. "It'll be worth it in the long run, though. Won't it? To have all the pictures and the memories and... everything? I mean, it's going to be the happiest day of our lives. I want to share that with everyone."

Zell rubbed my back. "Me, too, it's just... Well, like I said, the wait is going to suck."

And I knew what he meant. After all, I still remembered Winhill like it was burned into my brain.

"Okay. Let's get this whole wedding thing worked out," Zell said as he held my chair out for me at our table in the Quad.

A new perk for Ranking Officers and Instructors was a small ‘restaurant' catered by the cafeteria ladies and set up in the first portion of the Quad around the tree there. The ‘Café' had been inspired by Selphie and Rinoa and proposed to Commander Squall only a few weeks ago, before my birthday party even. There had been a general poll made available on Selphie's website to get a reaction to the possibility, involvement, prices, etc.

The idea had won, with only two emphatic ‘no's from Seifer and Ahndra - of course. No one had told me the reasons, but I was sure it had something to do with security and order. Seifer and Ahndra didn't like chaos, even a little bit of it, because they said it always grew to something uncontrollable.

Seifer and Ahndra both liked controlling things.

Zell sat across from me and spread his cloth napkin over his lap. He wore black jeans and a dark blue shirt with a white collar and a red stripe circling mid-chest. It looked a bit too 'civilian rich kid' for Zell, but I figured it was more than likely something his mother had sent for a birthday present or something. Of course, whether it was Zell or not didn't matter to me. He looked awesome in everything.

I smiled and gave a slight shake of my head before looking down to the notebook and opening it to the page where Selphie had helped me write specific questions. "Okay. The first important question is: When?"

"Tomorrow, if it were up to me."

I giggled and looked up to meet Zell's boyish grin. "And your second option?"

"Next week?"

"Zell..." I wrinkled my nose at him. "Realistic option. There's no way we can organize a wedding ceremony in a week."

"What d'ya mean?" he protested. "Squall can run the ceremony, the T.C. would be perfect for your outdoor wedding, and I bet Francine wouldn't give a rat's ass if we had the reception in the Cafeteria. Why's it so impossible?"

I lifted an eyebrow as I stared down at my list, my expression thoughtful as I chewed lightly on the end of my pen. Then I pushed it aside and smiled brightly, giggling as I focused again on Zell's serious face. "No. No. No. I'm not going to rush this."

"‘Rush?' What ‘rush'? You've been wanting this for three years and me for about 3 months already. Been busting my hump to get everything lined up." Zell leaned forward, resting his arms against the table. I did the same, the silly smile still on my lips. "Tell ya what. Let's figure a compromise. You want a fancy thing, I want something simple and quick. Why don't we figure three months max for a wedding here. If plans fit together sooner, then we get married sooner. If plans fit together later, then we elope."

I laughed and Zell grinned.

"So," he continued, "three months from your birthday is the date, but with no promises for it not to be sooner."

"But what about all the people that want to go? Like my parents. Or your ma. Or Zack and Quistis. And President--"

"Tough," Zell said, a quick nod enunciating how serious he was.

I shook my head, still smiling. "I'll agree to the three months, Zell, but not sooner. I want everyone to have a chance to come."

Zell pushed his lips to one side as he regarded me. Then he grinned. "Okay. Three months is a helluvalot better than six."

I giggled as I wrote the date down after the question. "Okay. If it's going to be here, then we answered two questions at the same time."


I jotted down the information while absently saying, "Commander Squall to perform ceremony. Training Center for outdoor ceremony. Cafeteria for Reception..." I looked up to meet Zell's lopsided smirk. "Can we have dancing in the Quad, too?"

His lopsided smirk changed sides. "I want to see you in a strapless number."

I flushed and looked back down to the list. "Dancing at the Quad. Note to self: strapless for sweetie."

Zell laughed and my heart jumped and frolicked all over the place. Finally, one of the waiter/candidates came and took our order, also leaving glasses of water for us to sip until our sodas came.

"What's next?" Zell asked when the waiter/candidate left, sitting up real straight to try and read my list upside down. "This is kinda fun."

"Next. Next. Um..."

"Honeymoon," Zell prompted.

I giggled and looked up. "Don't get me started on that until we get these other things out of the way."

He smirked. "Fine. What's next, then?"

"What do we want as decorations for the Reception and the ceremony?"

Zell made a face. "Can't we leave that up to someone else?"

I sniggered. "Okay. I'll tell Selphie she can be in charge of that." I made a note on the page. "But I'll make sure she knows to ‘okay' the final stuff with us."

"Good idea," Zell said, sniggering. "Next?"

"Invitations." I looked up. "Can we do them?"

Zell made yet another face. "Please tell me you mean address them and not design them?"

"Pick them out of a book," I said, smiling. "Addressing will be just sticking labels on envelopes."

"Whew. Sure. We can do that. But you're not gonna want anything too fancy, right? I mean, you'll save me from all the frills and stuff, right?"

Giggling almost uncontrollably at his expression and the seriousness of his tone, I said, "I'll save you, sweetie. Promise."

Zell grinned. "Cool." Then the serious expression returned again and he tapped on the notebook paper. "Just something nice and simple, but it can have, like, a gold border or something. Nice writing, too, of course. I just don't want all the damned curly-q's and crap like that."

I nodded and noted that on the paper. "Okay. When did you want to get together to do the list?"


"The names of the people invited," I prompted.

"Oh. Right. Duh. Well..." He itched at the back of his head. "I guess I could make up a list between classes." Zell met my smiling gaze. "Couldn't we just invite everyone from all the Gardens like we did for your birthday party?"

I giggled. "Zell, sweetie, how are we going to get everyone to fit in Garden?"

He grinned. "We could have Galbadia pick up and come over and help with the crowd control."

I laughed harder, my eyes tearing up. "No. No. No, Zell. We are not going to have thousands of people at my wedding. Francine would kill us if she had to feed our SeeDs and everyone else's."

"Oh. Right. I guess she would." Zell scrubbed again at his neck and scalp. He snapped and pointed at me. "How about this: We have a Reception at each Garden. One right after the other."

My laughter stopped as my jaw gaped. "Are you serious?"

"Sure! It'll be fun." He grinned. "More presents."

I leaned back in the chair with a quick exhalation of breath. "I can hardly imagine planning one Reception, Zell. Don't ask me to do three others. Please."

"Plan? Who said you had to plan them? I wouldn't do that to you. Make someone else do it. Strictly voluntary. If they don't tell us they've set up a Reception, we don't go."

"Well..." But the thought of going to more than one Reception, which would more than likely last at least 3 or 4 hours each, and thereby delaying that first night together... I flushed and lowered my gaze to the table-top.

"Oh! I meant to ask you if I could do the music for the Reception."

I looked up. "Really? I was thinking of asking Janine to do it."

"Oh. Okay. Never mind, then."

I smiled at his somewhat morose tone and reached across to grip his hand, drawing his gaze. "I haven't asked her yet. If you want to do it, that's even better. Just look how awesome the music was at my birthday party?"

Zell grinned. "Cool."

I gave his arm another squeeze, pulling back when the waiter/candidate arrived with our sodas and my salad and Zell's soup.

"What else before talking about the honeymoon?" Zell prompted as he crumbled crackers into his cream soup.

"What else." I pulled the notebook a little closer and fingered down the list-- I worried my lower lip as I stared at the question I didn't want to ask.

"Hey. What's the matter?" Zell asked, reaching out to give my arm a squeeze.

Meeting his gaze was the hardest thing I had to do, but I did, cheeks flushing as I confessed, "Selphie thinks I should sing."

Zell grinned at first, but the expression that screamed 'Hell yeah!' immediately faded to an 'Oh yeah. She doesn't like doing things like that.' Instead of the emphatic 'Yes' I saw in his beautiful blue eyes, I heard him say, "Or we could have Rinoa do it. She's got a crap-load of songs her mother wrote before she died. And she loves singing in front of people."

And that was when the battle began. I would rather have died than say 'No' to doing something that I knew Zell really wanted. But I would die if I had to do it. I never sounded very good singing in front of people, but I knew in my heart that Zell was worth the terror. After all, hadn't I faced a similar terror just asking him out?

I lowered my gaze to the paper as I wrote and said "Rinoa," and added a question-mark beside. "I'll talk to her about it," I said softly. And I twitched when I heard Zell sigh. He really wanted me to sing, but I knew he wouldn't ever ask me to do it. I sighed deep and doodled in the margin. "Zell..."

"Kitten, I know how you are in front of people," he interrupted. "It's okay for Rinoa to sing instead."

The silence that followed made me peek up at him, and I caught the meaningful expression in his eyes and the lopsided and boyish smirk.

"I'll just get you to sing to me on the honeymoon," he said, eyebrows wiggling.

I hid a giggle behind a quickly raised hand.

"And now we talk about the honeymoon," he prompted between bites of soup. "Winhill, right?"

I busily poured dressing onto my salad. "I had hoped so. I really loved it there."

"And we never got to check out that tree fort. Great place to make out, I hear."

I dropped my fork and looked up. "From who?"

Zell wiggled his eyebrows. "Guess."

I gasped and covered my mouth. "No way."

Zell nodded. "You got it."

"Marshal and... Marshal and..."


I sighed and lowered my wistful gaze back to my salad. Marshal and Ahndra. Making out. I giggled.

"So, yeah, I'd like to try it for myself," Zell was saying, completely serious, which made me giggle again.

"Winhill would be spectacular, Zell," I confessed.

"Three weeks?"

"Thr--" My fork dropped again as I looked up to meet his gaze. "Three weeks. I thought..."

"You'd rather a month?" Zell shrugged. "I guess I can use all of my vacation time. I just wanted to save that for our six month anniversary."

My cheeks burned crimson. "No. I was thinking two weeks."

"Two weeks? We can't hardly do anything in two weeks."

I blinked, shocked silent.

"I figure we'd spend a couple days in Timber hanging out with your folks and Zack and Quis at the T.V. station," he continued, tone serious. "Then we'd charter a ship to Winhill to do what we didn't do before, namely the tree fort and the chocobo farm. Then I figured we could sail around for the last couple weeks, stopping off at the orphanage and maybe Tears' Point or Cactuar Island before heading for home. Maybe even stopping off at Fishermans Horizon, if we've got time."

I wordlessly nodded as I lightly bit my lower lip to keep from bawling with joy.

Zell's ears got a little pink. "I've got it all lined up, basically. I just need to give the ship guy a date of when we're gonna leave." He cleared his throat and swirled his cream soup. "I was... I wanted it to be a surprise. I already told Seifer that you'd need three weeks off, so that was already taken care of, but... but I guess I should have told you before."

I shook my head. "No," I whispered. "It's okay." I sent him a teary smile. "I love surprises."

And wasn't three weeks alone with him the best surprise of my life?

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