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- Final Fantasy VII/Final Fantasy VIII - Bandages by Konitsu - It is difficult to explain my affection for this story without resorting to squeaking noises because it was so good. It was one of those all-rounder stories that just... damn, did it hit all the right buttons. Sparkling characterization, lovely writing, genuinely funny humor, plot, gorgeous Sephiroth machinations, gorgeous Cloud angst, brilliant weaving of the two worlds together, and more. Everything about this story makes me burble happily, I don't know if I could pick out any one thing. But I'll try, of course. For starters, the characterization. Oh, god, the characterization. I could actually see and hear these characters, they have all the little touches that make them who they are and yet not devolving into stereotypes--Cloud is angsty and tortured, but he has damned good reason and he's a resilient little bastard. Zack's voice in his head is just absolutely, utterly gorgeous, you can feel his character, his charm and charisma and caring, coming through just in the dialogue. The dynamic between Cloud and Zack is just... awesome. *squees* Sephiroth is actually properly creepy and insane, but still that something to him when dealing with Cloud. And. Oh. God. Vincent. Cid and Vincent and the brilliant subtlty and hints and dialogue and interaction and dynamic and it's just so breathtakingly good.

Then there's the FFVIII side of things and, holy shit, did this story give me an insane love of Zell Dincht. He's bright and funny and adorable and just a bit of a dork, but still such a good fighter, a good friend, and smart and chapter seven (I think it was seven?) had me laughing so hard, I couldn't read for awhile, I just had to turn my face away and cackle. I love him so, so much. And, oh, god, somehow the fic manages to make Squall interesting, even being all broody and shit as he is, he's actually a person, a rather likable one at that, the author does a brilliant job of writing his character, of how he feels about Rinoa, about his Garden, about his life and making the character work. How she plays him off Cloud, how they clash and the interaction is so natural, it's breath-taking. She also makes Rinoa work, giving me even more fondness for the character, not making the Squall/Rinoa relationship perfect, but still very genuine. She even makes Seifer interesting and, god, did I love the interaction with Tifa, who is another brilliantly herself, kind and caring and feeling guilty or angry or happy. I admit, I was a little wary of Tifa-bashing towards the beginning, but the later chapters with her are lovely, so I'm not quibbling. <3

Then you add in that there's actually a plot going on, that the romantic tangles actually tend to work together with the plot or take a back seat to it and the crossover just... it works so well, I can see it so easily, the characters fit together so seamlessly. Now, I admit, the writing started off with just a hint of stiffness, but the only reason I even notice is because the later chapters are so sharp and every chapter just keeps getting better and better. I was literally kicking my feet in excitement by the end of chapter eight and then the end of chapter nine and, god, if I have one complaint about this story, it's that I don't have the next chapter yet! *chews on the furniture in anticipation* Okay, I can forgive a lot from the FF7 fandom now that I have shiny crossover fic. *___* Loved this one. (Sephiroth/Cloud, Squall/Rinoa, some Cid/Vincent, hints of other pairings here and there, none of them are entirely the point of the fic.)

- Final Fantasy VII/Final Fantasy VIII - Bandages by Konitsu - [ chapter 10 - chapter 11 ] - I slacked on this fic for a little bit, so I'm only just now catching up on reading the two latest chapters. Which I really shouldn't do, because, damn, is this fic ever in my top five FF fics, but it's sort of like how I am with One Piece. It frustrates me to constantly gnaw the furniture because I want more so damn badly. It helps when I can read two chapters at once instead of just the one. Anyway, yes. Goddamn do I love a fic that actually has a plot and balances its ensemble cast, to the point that I think all the major players are covered in two chapters without feeling like any of them have been shortchanged. In these two chapters, Squall and Rinoa's breakup still hurts like hell (and if they have to be broken up, this story does an absolutely beautiful job with it, that it's no one's fault, they still genuinely care, it honestly hurts to break up, and both of them are wonderful characters, there's no bashing or character warping ♥), Irvine and Selphie are utterly adorable together and make me fall just a little harder for them, Rinoa is a lovely young woman and so beautifully in character, Cloud and Sephiroth's relationship gets even more complicated, Squall and Zell move towards something but not too fast because it's not time, Cid and Vincent are amazing together, everyone reacts so amazingly humanly to Chaos, Irvine's inner thoughts and comparisons are fantastic, Quistis' reaction is so human, and this is all while there's plot, too.

I know, I ramble. But this fic really does delight me sort of endlessly with all the little moments and interactions that you wouldn't necessarily think of or those that just make the story sparkle. Quistis talking with Irvine about her reactions or Cid's feelings on all the kids running around Garden or Squall being treated like a teenager at Zell's mother's place or Tifa's struggle to let go of her feelings for Cloud or Zack's voice in the back of Cloud's head or-- ....well, yes. You get the picture. The characterization is just so damn sparkly and the crossover fits together so damn well and the humor is actually funny--I think there was at least one time in each chapter where I was giggling aloud. The writing is smooth and clean and crisp, yet still having this particular warm charm to it that makes me fall in love again and again. ....shut up, I can ramble if I want to! >:O (Sephiroth/Cloud, Squall/Rinoa, Irvine/Selphie, eventual Squall/Zell?, Cid/Vincent, possibly more.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Play By Ear by Abbykat - *squees* After reading the author's previous Zell fic, I had sort of hoped that I would like her Squall and Rinoa fic, but I hadn't quite expected to adore it this much. It's just... the writing is lovely and has this quality that reminds me so strongly of the game itself, something about the descriptions of spiral stairs or the nightclub that's familiar-yet-not and the piano playing and the lovely, fluid writing and Rinoa's little expressions and wistful smiles and good nature and Squall's abruptness and just... oh, god, I totally, totally squeed over this fic. It slides into the frames between the game beautifully, it has such the perfect characterization for Squall and Rinoa, the way he has so much swirling through his brain but he's so quiet on the outside and he's such a teenager sometimes, such an emotional retard, but still strong and capable and Rinoa is weak in her own ways, but strong in her own ways, too, and the way Squall looks at her, partially annoyed, partially... something else and the way the author doesn't comment on it, it's just there... this was beautiful, completely the Squall/Rinoa fic I was hoping to find in the fandom. (Squall/Rinoa eventually implied, given canon.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Moment by Abbykat - I think I've fallen rather painfully in love with this author's FFVIII writing and I'm saddened that there's not more of it. It's that I actually vibe with the way she writes Rinoa! Well, Rinoa and Squall both, but the former tends to be a rarer find in fandom. I mean, when Squall is tired and flat, dull during the train ride, asking where Zell is, Rinoa casually responds with, "I threw him off the back of the train." and he just sort of stares at her for the ludicrous statement, not even managing surprise. And the characterization in the story is so perfectly in tune with the characters, those beginning bits of something between the characters, Squall wavering between annoyance/frustration and something that he never quite puts into words, Rinoa somehow understanding more than one would think and she's trying. I love that about her, she may not be the smartest or the most talented, but she tries to do things on her own, tries to help, and somehow... she manages to do that in her own way. Lovely. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa implied.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Devotion by DK - I read this story in one long sitting and then I sort of sat and stared at the screen dumbly and didn't know what the hell I was going to do. This is a story that... was brilliantly written. I have no questions about that, the writing and characterization were stunning, every scene was marvellously aced, the concepts and parallels and tie-backs were all brilliant effective. Everything the author hoped to achieve with this story was top-notch. I began the story completely head over heels in love with this portrayal of Rinoa, it was everything that I saw in her in the original game. Someone who wasn't perfect or the best, but someone with a lot of determination, a kind heart, and a bright personality. She and Squall positively sparkled, both apart and together. I was in love.

But this is not a kind story. Perhaps I shouldn't say that, I don't want to spoil any of the events, but neither do I just want to write a bubble, effusive rec and have it sucker-punch a reader out of nowhere, making it seem like I was only focusing on the happy parts of the fic? How could I? The slow spiral into horror, the trauma Rinoa goes through, all the little details that come back to haunt her, the way everything tied together, it was masterfully done. I cannot say that enough. When it comes down to the final words, I have to say that I'm glad I enjoyed reading this story. But I'm not sure I would have started it if I'd known how it was going to end. But I might have been better prepared. (On the other hand, it is just a story and I'll get over it when I get up and take a walk around, so I don't mean to give the impression that I'll be haunted for weeks.)

On reflection, I think it's a story that takes certain premises of the FFVIII world, the very nature of SeeDs themselves, and tells the darker side of them. It hurts to read it, I want mountains of fic of the same quality only with happy tones to make up for it, but I'm glad to have read it. At least some stories should deal with the nastier, uglier sides of the world, especially when they're such marvelous, effective characterizations of these people. Even after this, I just love them all the more. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Tempo Giusto by Wayward Tempest - This is likely not a fic that's going to convince anyone of the pairing if they're not already a fan. However, after the heartbreaking previous fic I'd read and my natural inclination to be a dippy OTPer and secretly loving romantic stories? This is exactly what I wanted/needed. It's Squall and Rinoa in the middle of a field and they're dancing and they're being adorably cute together and teasing/flirting in that way they have and it just... soothed me. True, the writer seems fairly young, the writing could have used a little polishing, but the heart of the story was there, so I definitely want to keep reading this author's work. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Weathering The Storm by Wayward Tempest - [Note: It helps to have read "Tempo Guisto" before this one, but it's not absolutely necessary.] This is another fic that could have used a little toning down, a little polishing along the edges of it, but the heart of the story, the characterization and love for these two, that was still solidly there. I think it helps to save this piece for when you're in need of something fluffy and romantic, I certainly know that helped me to melt into a happy pile of goo while Squall and Rinoa stood out in the rain and then while they curled up together under a blanket out of the rain. The sex was also wonderfully done, it wasn't about the sex itself, it was about the connection and the emotion of it--which maybe I normally would roll my eyes at and say, "Just tell me about the sex itself already!" but here... I wanted them to connect, I wanted them to be in love, I wanted them to be all stars and fireworks and oceans. Which the author was kind enough to give me and make me feel happy and in love again; she hit that vibe I so desperately wanted. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa, very very light content warning.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Almost Magical by Yati - Oh. Now this is just about exactly what I was looking for. Nevermind that the author labels it pure mush (which it kind of is, but it's what I was looking for and it's lovely and all the things these two crazy kids are in their quiet moments), it's... it's... I don't know how to describe it. Squall's feelings for Rinoa, that complicated mix of hesitant awkwardness because this is so new and he doesn't know what to do or say, but at the same time he knows how he feels about her, knows the way he sees her with her wit and wings and free spirit. When he watches her sleep after having come back late, not sure what to do with the flower in his hand, it took my breath away with how Squall it was when he's not on a mission, when he's dealing with this girl he loves. It's exactly what I wanted, I wanted to revel in how much I love them, how much they love each other, how sparkling they are together, it's beautifully written. It was good. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Remember by Baconfat - I'm not sure how to describe this fic, how to get across what made it quietly effect, how the things that Squall remembers, the things he doesn't remember, all those moments between him and Rinoa, all those important moments that come and go in his memory. There's a certain something to the way they're described, something so simple about them, but that that's how it brings out the power/effectiveness of them, the way they're strung together like this. It's a short little fic, but one that leaves me feeling just that much more satisfied with the FFVIII fandom and how much this fic said about the Squall/Rinoa couple. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Home Is Where The Heart Is by Ashley125 - I admit, at first this fic seemed a bit much. However, two things made me like the fic anyway. Well, three if you count that intangible sort of charm that I so often seek out in fic, there was just something quietly likeable about the way this author wrote. It wasn't perfect, but it certainly had the heart that I was looking for. Anyway. Two things. One, it's the middle of the night and thoughts are often different, more intense/dramatic in the wee hours of the morning. Two, it was romantic and hit that 'complete ass over tea kettle devoted to Rinoa' dynamic that came off the game so strongly for me. It's that sort of sorceress and knight dynamic that leans towards the ultimate romantic couple that I felt with them, was part of the reason I fell for them. What was interesting is that the conversation between them was relatively normal and cute and that just reinforced that I like both sides of them. The epic side (the sorceress and knight side) and the cute, normal couple who get up in the middle of the night to get something to drink. This definitely helped make me happier with this couple. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - an unsafe edge by invocations - Why is it that so many of the truly beautifully written Squall/Rinoa fics I run into are ones that leave me with a heavy heart afterwards? Yet, they're so beautiful and still respect that overwhelming love between them that I can't help glowing a little more and loving them a little more afterwards. This story... was vague, it's almost more feelings and impressions than it is actions, you're not really quite sure of the context, but it doesn't matter because that's not really what it's about. It's about love that seems perfect, but it's not. It's not broken, it's still love and it's still tremendous, but it's real and real things are very rarely perfect. The writing is lovely and even if the author says it can be read as not being Squall/Rinoa, the characterization sparkled so much to me that I'm not sure I could have read it any other way. Just... lovely, really. Even if it's melancholy for much of it. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Winter by invocations - Oh. This was gorgeous. From beginning to end, it was beautiful. It's light-hearted, sparkling in all the right places and it's weighted, almost heavy in all the right places, neither being too far into the extreme. The writing is gorgeous, the kind that almost makes me clench my jaw for how lovely it is. It's not just that the turns of phrase are pretty, it's that they get across the atmosphere of the piece. Rinoa snuggling down into her blanket or the way Squall quietly looks at her or the way she draws on the bathroom mirror after a hot shower and it's all a moment in time, the way heat and winter spiral through the back of her mind and what they mean to her and why she doesn't like the cold, but without overwhelming the piece. And it's just. God. It's just so perfect, so much the kind of fic I've been desperately seeking. Especially with the ending and, yes, this is the Squall/Rinoa I love. Love so damn much. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - The Password by Luna Manar - I was happily reading along with this fic, thinking it was cute and fun and light-hearted and happy and totally hitting my cute-Squall-Rinoa-couple kink when the fic suddenly went and had Squall haul her up and over his shoulder because she was being flirty!clingy and deliberately weighing him down and asldkfjalsdjkflakjsd I've wanted him to do that forever. Just pick her up and cart her off wherever when she's being stubborn/obstinate, but in that cute couple sort of way and then she was awesome about it and I think I just about literally squeaked and awww!'d at the fic. It started out a little rough, the whole thing with Rinoa waiting outside Squall's classroom and I wondered at Squall being quite as open as he was, but... it's post-game and I do believe that Squall would start opening up a little and his reactions were so cute/cranky/emotard that I just... yeah, this fic totally worked for me exactly how it was supposed to. ♥ Also, um. I might have kind of melted at the ending despite that I saw it coming a mile away. Shut up. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Clarity by Pandora Ramirez - There were a couple of things that almost turned me off this fic. The author comes rather close to purple prose at times and her Squall is very bitterly angry with Laguna, which I didn't get off him from the game. However, the more I read, the more her style evened out somehow and I came to actually kinda like the way the author writes. Second, her build up for Squall's anger felt right somehow. When it finally burst forth, it felt natural and like, yes, that's how Squall could have reacted in that situation. Especially the way he thinks of Rinoa, how wonderful she is, even while it makes him all the angrier, all these things he'd buried before. There were too many new emotions awakening from hibernation inside him today. Love, attachment, rage, hate. The ice of apathy had melted away with Rinoa's kiss, and now boiled off. It ended a little more sadly than I would have liked, but not heartbreaking. It's a fic I'm very glad I read and wished the author had a few more like this. (Some Squall/Rinoa, but it's only half about that.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Attitude Adjustment by Abbykat - Given that I've been in a happy Squall/Rinoa mood all night, this fic just put the icing on the cake. Fantastic writing. More than just fantastic characterization, it sparkled with how cute Rinoa was and how flutstered Squall was without showing it (because he's Squall, but he's also so... Squall) and their friends were being absolute dorks in that way they have and everything was just so brilliantly in character. I spent the entire second half of this fic caught between laughter, thinking Yes, they would *so do that*, and sparklight delight at Squall and Rinoa trapped in an elevator on his birthday. It seems like such a simple premise and the author doesn't try to drag it out too far, which lends the pacing of it even more fabulousness. I would read this kind of fic forever and ever and ever if I could. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Let Her Go (or, Half-dreams) by dotscribbles - I initially wondered if I should even read this, since it's based on a concept (RP?) that I'm not familiar with, but... the beginning of it seemed well written and I've been desperate for good Squall/Rinoa, so I kept reading. And I think you don't really have to be that familiar with the concept because it touches on canon FFVIII enough that the effect is really rather neat. It's a short piece, Squall dreaming and the tone of the story reflects that, there's a dreamy, almost hazy sort of effect to it. The writing is beautiful, it's clean and smooth, the imagery very pretty. And Squall is just... so very Squall in this. Also? Those last few lines? Fabulous. I loved this whole entire piece. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Once by dotscribbles - I've heard of the Rinoa = Ultimicea theory before and it seemed intriguing, but I was wary of reading fic for it, because it would have to be done just right. This fic? Brilliant. There's this gorgeous, dreamy sort of quality to it, like it's all colors and golden and silver edges, like watching one of the FMVs from the game, there's something about the style that captures those beautiful scenes. There's something about the style that captures the sense of time shifting almost in a mercurial sort of way, the imagery that flitters past with every sentence beautiful and breathtaking. The emotion of this piece, the way I nearly ached while reading it, the way I felt like my fangirl heart wanted to cry a bit over it, was all brilliantly done. It was gripping. It was gorgeously written. The characterization is perfect. The concept is pulled off nearly flawlessly. I feel... almost devestated after reading it, like I can only jabber endlessly instead of making coherent comments. Just. Wow. *breathless* This was exactly what I was hoping for. (Implications of Squall/Rinoa, but it's not really the point.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Hush by andrine - There is something almost lyrical about this fic, it's like poetry in the way the author weaves these lovely colors or images across my mental field of vision. Which sounds horribly, horribly cheesy or pretentious, but it's my inability to describe more than the author's, because the writing here is absolutely lovely. There's something almost haunting in the way Squall's thoughts wind around themselves and drift off, in the way the slate gray of everything around them lends the same atmosphere to the piece. Yet, it's not a sad one, it's about love and intuition and fate and maybe a little philosophy and slowly coming to understand something on the eve of the final battle with Ultimicea. Squall's characterization is gorgeous, the way he's his usual emotard self, but slowly figuring out what Rinoa makes him feel. And Rinoa is lovely as well, a grace all her own even while she's so young still, so... almost naive like him. Except that's not a bad thing. They're gorgeous together, there's something in this fic that makes me feel like I'm seeing the game again, something that the author really and truly got about the point of it all. I love. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Storm by Schism-ism - I admit, part of me is arguing with the ending of this fic, because I don't agree that they're better off apart. But most of me is delighted that measuringlife pointed this fic out because it has lovely writing and the quiet, cute moment between Squall and Rinoa is really, really well-done. It's adorable and I like how young they are, while still having gone through so much. The way Squall reacts to her, the way it can appear like indifference, but is anything but. It's just... quite and short and lovely. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Breathing Space by invocations - At first, it's easy to dismiss this fic as being a cute, fluffy story about Rinoa getting Squall to take a vacation, the kind of fic that makes me want to glow happily and start humming a soft little tune because I am a giant dork. But the more I stopped to consider it, the more all the little facets sort of fell in place, everything felt exactly right for how such a situation would go, the more I realized there was real deftness in the way their interaction was handled. Underneath the cute, fluffy surface, it's an example of showing why and how Squall and Rinoa work together, the little touches that keep them working smoothly, how they meet in the middle and it's okay, it's not a bad sort of struggle, it's the good kind. The way he's slowly started to change, the way she doesn't pull too hard at him, the way they make each other better people when they're together. All of this is gotten across in a short little fic where Rinoa gets Squall to take a vacation. And, oh, the ending makes me just melt like the fangirl I truly am. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - untitled by thornsmoke - Despite all of the 1sentence sets I've read that have actually been good, I still don't care for the style as much as I would a regular fic. But it's also hard to argue when an author actually does the style well, each one is a small snapshot of Squall and Rinoa's life, highlighting moments of intimacy or humor or hopefulness or drama or a dozen other emotions. The writing is lovely, the characterization sparkles, and it makes me fall in love with how much they fell in love with each other. You can feel that in this piece, without having to be told, and it's lovely. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - the simple answer by thornsmoke - One of the things I love most about 31_days is that it has brought so many wonderful authors to my attention, authors who are writing currently even! Especially Squall/Rinoa authors who are still writing lovely fic like this, I can probably count the number of those on one, maybe two hands. But, yes. The fic has this really beautiful way with language, something that reminds me so strongly of the game, with its bright colors and sharp edges but not jagged. Like a musical piece, like I can picture the scenery and the characters perfectly because the author's use of language somehow fits perfectly with them. But it's also that the characterization is really beautiful, Squall being unsure of himself but not too over the top. Rinoa being lovely and almost whimsical. Their friends being almost no help, despite their decent advice. Even a wonderful moment by Laguna and his crew. It's... everything I want out of Squall/Rinoa fic, the sense of friends and family between the larger cast, lovely writing, and then Squall/Rinoa quiet romance at the end. They don't even have to do anything, just look at each other and I can feel how much they love each other. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - In the Cards by andromeda3116 - Sometimes I feel guilty for mostly only recommending shorter fics when it comes to Squall/Rinoa (even if those are the only ones I seem to find that resonate with me), but then I read something like this that's just so cute and adorable and perfect that it made me sparkle at the perfect pacing/characterization of it that I can't help myself. Squall, Rinoa, and tarot cards should not be this cute, but the author just nails them both, it was this fabulous little moment. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Lesser Demons by andromeda3116 - I... I am kind of quietly in love with this author's work now because this Rinoa piece is both lovely and poignant, just the kind of fic I itch to read in this fandom. It's a lovely look at Rinoa wondering about the "evil" people in the world, the Sorceresses and the people who've done bad things, and there's this really hopeful, almost naive but not quite, tone to the way it's written that's perfect for Rinoa. She's been sheltered, but she's trying and she wants to know things and wants to get back up again and wants to know more about Squall and it's just... this is why I adore Rinoa's character so much. (Some Squall/Rinoa implied.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Color by andromeda3116 - I really like the use of this theme, "soul", and the trippy feeling the author put into the fic, since Rinoa's not thinking very clearly around the time of the Lunar Cry, when she's up in space and running out of air. It takes talent to make a rambling, run-on story like this work, to fit with the reactions we saw on the screen, to not feel forced but instead like a natural ramble of someone who's starting to lose it. The thoughts and descriptions are very like Rinoa, her thoughts on Squall, the way she feels like she's going to die up there, it all... just hits the right combinations of notes for me. Lovely fic. (Squall/Rinoa implied.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Stay the Same by andromeda3116 - For all that I like Squall/Rinoa as one of those romantic couples that's as much about a theme of love as it is about the characters as people themselves, much as I tend to want happy, sparkly fic, sometimes it's interesting to read a story with a bit more of an angry edge to it. I like that Squall's still a jerk and Rinoa still kind of whining, that she knows both of these things and she doesn't want either of them to have to change for the other. She loves them anyway and the fic was a really cool little read for that. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Waltz for the Moon by andromeda3116 - You know, I don't think I've read a fic from Rinoa's point of view about just before she and Squall met, certainly not one that really does justice to her character like this one did. She's lovely here, nervous about being in a room where she doesn't know anyone and worried she'll make an idiot out of herself, worried about her mission and focused on finding Headmaster Cid, and even the first time she notices Squall her inner voice is perfect and this right here is why I adored Rinoa. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Imperfect by andromeda3116 - This isn't the kind of fic I usually read when it comes to Squall/Rinoa, I'm not sure I agree with the theme of them not being in love. I like them as not-entirely-perfect people despite that the theme of the game was for them to be one of those Ultimate Romantic Couples, more fairy tale than gritty realism, but not "I don't know what love really is". So why am I recommending this fic anyway? Because it's lovely and Rinoa's thoughts on the day before her wedding are very much like her and the whole thing is beautifully in character. If I swung this way, this would have been a perfect fic for me, any problems I had with it were on my end, the fic itself is gorgeous. Thus, I had to recommend it. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - the story of us by measuringlife - One of the greatest things that measuringlife could do (besides the AkiUme fics she writes, because AkiUme > EVERYTHING, I'm dead serious) was to write Squall/Rinoa fic, because she has this style that I've spent pages trying to describe (and failing, mind) that's perfect for how I picture these two. It's not just that the characters are how I picture them, that they're in character (though, there is that, too ♥) it's the way her style really does fit the characters, the way she... well, as I said, the way there's something very epic about these two, while not forgetting the quiet moments in between is what makes up this couple. It's such simple moments, like Rinoa after a shower or painting her nails or even just smiling at him, Squall not quite sure what to make of it or the feeling he has, and it's just... it's that same tangle of fangirl emotions I felt while watching them in the game. This is a terrible rec, but a gorgeous fic. The ending line is fabulous and so is measuringlife for writing these two. Just. Eeeeee. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Flu by andromeda3116 - I am delighted whenever this author posts new FFVIII fic because she somehow always manages to write Squall and Rinoa so wonderfully and this one is no exception. Squall's stubbornness about being sick isn't too far over the top, Rinoa's gentle, teasing way of wheedling him into doing what's good for him is just the right amount of cute, and there's this lovely quality to the writing that just... it's that whole "epic pairing that's made up of little moments" quality that fits them so well. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Darkness by argle_fraster - I was browsing ff_press and noticed a fic with a listing for Rinoa, Squall, and the rest of the cast. I was curious enough to check it out and kind of... quietly fell in love with this fic. I'm generally not one for fics that try to bridge a line between the FF series and Kingdom Hearts (since that means that the FF worlds have to turn out badly for it to happen) but I love when an author really puts a lot of thought into it and comes up with a creative, intriguing way to do it. Everything about this was a really enjoyable read, Rinoa's characterization and the way she's slowly learning to use her power, the way there's a tension running underneath everything that you don't know what it means until later, the way the Squall/Rinoa relationship is present in the fic, but not necessarily the focus, all of it created this really cool, very nicely paced little fic that was a lot of fun to read. I'd definitely like to see more in this vein, especially from this author. (Some Squall/Rinoa, it's not entirely the point.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Long Held Back by Renay - So, I'm in a mood for FFVIII today and Renay had written something with Squall and Rinoa in it, so I wandered happily over to read. I was expecting something maybe lighter and fluffier, because that's what this pairing usually attracts, but instead this was something a little bit darker and more intense than I had in mind. This is actually a really good thing to me because the storm raging just under Squall's surface, when it occasionally tears through, even if mostly off-camera, is beautifully done, I love that he's actually intense and feels dangerous here. I love that somehow the two of them still work it out, not perfectly, but they manage through somehow. It was a perfect little ficlet that achieved everything it set out to do, I think. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Compression Webbing by argle_fraster - [ part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4 (of ??) ] - Note: This is a companion piece (continuation of?) to Darkness and it would help to read that one first, I think. The FF AUs in Kingdom Hearts are one of the more fascinating parts of the game for me, I loved these characters and seeing them in this alternate storyline was really neat and intriguing, but few fics really tackle it in an in-depth, plotful sort of way. What I love about this fic is that it's only partly about the characters' relationships and emotions, instead it works with the story and the magic and the Heartless and weaves it together with the Squall/Rinoa relationship. Seeing both Squall and Rinoa try to find their way back to each other, each hopelessly lost and unable to figure anything out, the way the story is paced and all the details woven into their actions and scenes, their scenes running parallel to each other, framed by moments from their past, it's really a great read. There's a lot of imagery going on here, a lot of references to both games and the characters' histories, and I'm really, really curious to see where this story is going. <3 (Squall/Rinoa, but it's also got a plot.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Invocations by irishais - This is a very pretty, gently written Squall/Rinoa fic that is just a quiet moment of reflection from Squall about how they both don't sleep much anymore, how their time together is probably going to be limited, given who they both are, and it's not... it's not entirely unhappy, there's something of a peaceful feel here, especially from Rinoa, even with darker undertones. I find that to be rather similar to the game's feel as well. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - It's just that it's delicate by fiorie - So often I'm wary about clicking random links from ff_press, but this said it was Squall/Rinoa and I've been wanting fic about them for awhile, so I decided, what the hell. And I'm very, very glad I did because it's delightful, Squall is a tard and Rinoa is so full of life and she actually teases him, even when they're in the middle of trying to have sex on the table. Sometimes I wondering if this pairing should even have smut written about it (well, this is probably PG-13 at the most, but the implications are fantastic, yesss), they don't seem like the type of pairing that calls for that in fic, but then a fic like this one comes along and I go YES PLZ. Squall's narrative on this fic is beautiful, it's just the right tone and just the right amount of hesitance mixed with experience, and they are so pretty together. I loved this fic. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Losing Self by edenbound - [Note: This fic is part of a larger arc, but I think you can read this one on its own well enough, as long as you're familiar with the premise of the series: Scenes from a warzone. New sorceress, new war, new tactics.] I was browsing ff_press and stopped on a Squall/Rinoa story because I hadn't read them in awhile and I got this tiny little moment of calm amidst a warzone, where Rinoa quietly draws strength from Squall, who lends that support to her. It's sweet, especially set against the backdrop of a war like this, and you can feel the connection between them and cleanly written. I have my fix for the day, a charming little story that intrigued me. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - the remains of the day + remember to breathe + return to innocence by measuringlife - You'll have to scroll for a bit to find the FFVIII fics in this series of posted ficlets, but measuringlife's Squall/Rinoa fic is some of my favorite in the fandom, her writing style is gorgeous and suits them so well. She creates these incredibly intimate moments between the characters, these beautiful pictures that she weaves and I can see so clearly, using little details to get across so much emotion without having to say any of it. Something so simple as Rinoa working on a painting and the use of color as Squall watches her is brilliantly just. Just. I love. (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Not Safe by irishais - After having watched the Dead Fantasy II video, I was totally in the mood for FFVIII fic, so I went digging through my saved links and stopped on this one first off, because I remember reading some of the author's other work and being mightily impressed. I was a little wary of the story, the prompt it was based on was "no fairy tale endings" and I generally am always wary of non-happy ending fics for a pairing like Squall/Rinoa. But I like them with a tinge of something not quite so perfect, too, so I read and I'm really, really glad I did because this fic is lovely. It achieves absolutely everything the author sets out to do--something a little bit suspenseful, a little bit creepy, a little bit sad, a little bit romantic, and all-around gorgeous writing. The picture of Rinoa's life after the game, after the war they go through, is beautifully done, the author totally nails her character. The relationship with Squall is also beautifully done and I just-- I have some faith in the VIII fandom again. *__* (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - handfuls of dirt by irishais - This is another slightly more serious Squall/Rinoa fic, while still being in the guise of something sweeter and more light-hearted fairy-tale-esque, which works so very well for these characters, especially with the author's lovely way with words. It's such a simple idea--Squall and Rinoa in a field of flowers, she's making a daisy chain, and she's making him promise to visit her grave when she goes. It's just the right amount of terrifying and yet still... oddly peaceful and romantic. The author does an amazing job with these two. *__* (Squall/Rinoa.)

- Final Fantasy VIII - Carbon Made by venefica_aura - I was browsing my flist when I saw a link for a FFVIII fic with Rinoa (and a bit of Squall and Laguna) and, as I am wont to do, clicked on the link to start reading. What I got was a tremendously gorgeous story that hooked me from the very first chapter, there's something really smooth and almost lyrical about the writing and the descriptions here, without being too purple with the prose. I love absolutely everything the author did with this story--the Rinoa characterization, the way it's about her as her own person, trying to figure herself out after the events of the game, the way she handles being a Sorceress, the undercurrent of longing to be normal that's so clearly felt without having to be stated overtly. It's something that fits so perfectly with that tremendously difficult balance with her character, you can tell the author has given Rinoa a lot of thought and it shows in the writing. Admittedly, I clicked on it because I do like reading Squall/Rinoa fic, which is present here, but it's not precisely the focus, despite that it's still a big part of her life, there's so much uncertainty there, without moving the themes away from what I felt they were in the game. The use of the supernatural elements, the awesome scenes with Laguna (who was brilliantly done here as well, the interaction between Laguna and Rinoa were spot on), it was all a fantastic read, definitely one of the best I've managed to stumble over in the fandom. ♥ (Some Squall/Rinoa, it's not entirely the point.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Mail Call by astrangerenters - I was browsing Scribbler's recs again and noticed a fic listed as Squall and Rinoa, my curiosity instantly roused. And, sure, that part of the fic was nice, but really what you're reading this fic for is the totally hilarity of it. I was grinning the whole entire way through the fic, enjoying the hell out of it, but I totally had to LOL at the end, it was just... it was so delightful and used a bit of gameplay and made it brilliant. Plus, Rinoa is totally cute and Squall is LOL-worthy and even Zell is adorable, too! I'm just. Really charmed by this one. (Some Squall/Rinoa, but it's only half the point.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Date-O by Mina Lightstar - This was an early birthday present for me and it is mine, precioussss. I love it because it's based on that totally hilarious moment that Mina mentions in the author's notes where you know Squall really is that socially retarded when it comes to dates. I really love the way they're written here, the way they're such young kids in love and it doesn't go perfectly, but they're making their way there, even through little moments where Rinoa has to have a lot of patience with Squall. I grinned the whole way through this and may have cooed a little at the ending because I am a giant sap. But I'm a giant sap with awesome birthday fic, so I don't mind particuarly. (Squall/Rinoa.)

Final Fantasy VIII: I Believe by Touch of Gray - This is one of those stories that has an almost surreal or dream-like quality to it that wouldn't necessarily work with a lot of characters or series, but somehow works really well for me when it comes to FFVIII and Rinoa. It's very pretty and uses tiny little flashes of scenes, sometimes little more than a handful of lines of dialogue, to tell its story and yet somehow this shows so much of all the characters that Rinoa interacts with. The idea that she wanted to be a dancer, but is kind of afraid of it, while not showing that on the surface, is one that I find fits her character well. (Some Squall/Rinoa, but it's almost more background than anything.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Heliocentric Girl by Denebola - I am often intrigued by the idea of a Squall - Selphie friendship, but haven't really dared wade too deeply into the fandom to find it. I stumbled over this one tonight and was really kind of delighted with it, it really shows a lot of thought was given to the characters and the kind of friendship they would have, that seems so simple on the surface, but there's so much more going on there. I really liked that the author didn't take the easy route with Squall, he is kind of a jerk at times, and yet their friendship still somehow comes around again anyway. I loved the use of parallels between them, the snippets of flashbacks of moments during their friendship, the contrasts against the other people in their lives. This really just. Worked for me. (Some Squall/Rinoa, some Irvine/Selphie, but neither is anywhere near the real point.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Whew by Rhianna Aurora - I haven't read FFVIII fic in ages and I'm not sure why because it's not really like my interest has waned. But this was a really fun, delightful read set post-game where Rinoa is going through the process of becoming a part of SeeD properly. I adore it because it has an actual action sequence in it, because Rinoa gets to be herself and be afraid and nervous and sharp to cover her nerves and strong and kick a whole lot of ass on her own. And there are even makeouts! Not that I don't enjoy the quieter pieces just as much, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded that these characters are from a video game and fight against monsters, a kickass Rinoa on top of that is just even more of a bonus. ♥ (Squall/Rinoa.)

Final Fantasy VIII: a room somewhere by measuringlife - There are two things that I love deeply about this fic. One is that it reflects the way that Rinoa changed Squall as a person through the game, rather than the other way around. Two, this pairing is one of those that suits the author's writing style so well that I just glow when she writes these two and this fic is no exception to that. The use of language, the almost dreamy tone to every scene, the little details and snatches of imagery, all of it blend together in this really beautiful fic about Squall trying to find himself post-game, trying all sorts of different things, and eventually it always comes back to her, to Rinoa quietly opening him up and guiding him out of a dull, colorless world. ....okay, my rec here sucks, but this really is a beautiful fic, the kind that I want to read forever about these two. *__* (Squall/Rinoa.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Goodnight by anime_angel_ash - ....oh, good lord, it's ridiculous how much I love Squall/Rinoa and how adorable they are when they're together and what a total sap Squall has become over her, even when he's fighting it so very hard and still has that rigid discipline that keeps most of it from showing. This was just adorable and charming and delightful, a quick vidphone conversation while Rinoa is in Esthar for training and she's been talking to Laguna. I think I probably had the stupidest grin on my face at some points, shut up. (Squall/Rinoa.)

Final Fantasy VIII: After a long day by zebra_in_dream - So, you know who also doesn't get enough porn pretty much ever? Squall and Rinoa. They're teenagers, they should be all over each other! *firm on this* Even though I understand why and it does make the occasional R-rated fic all that much sweeter. I like what the author did with the prompt (using magic in unconventional ways), the way the magic is so much a part of their lives and is incorporated even into their time together in the bath, the way they play with each other, Rinoa lightly teasing and Squall firmly capturing her even when she's the one casting all the spells, how it makes the dynamic between them really fun and has some very pretty imagery. The author achieved a nice mood with the fic, it was nicely satisfying to read after waiting for so long for Squall/Rinoa smut. <3 (Squall/Rinoa, maybe a light R in rating.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Find Your Way by Joie de Combat - Well, after reading so much FFXII fic lately, it was time to dive back into FFVIII for a little bit as well. And this was a lovely Rinoa piece, set not quite mid-game or so, where they're trying to find Cid and Rinoa is determined not to be dead weight with the group anymore. I love that she's not perfect, I love that she still has to try really hard and is hesitant, but she at least tries suggestions and works on being better. That's the Rinoa I know. ♥ (No real warnings/pairings, aside from implied Squall/Rinoa on the level of canon.)

Final Fantasy VIII: Musings on a Relationship by sagemuraken - This was a really sweet, gentle take on Squall and Rinoa without being too uber-fluffy and I really liked the characterization here. I really liked that Rinoa was quite aware of Squall's rough edges, but she wasn't really trying to change him so much as she was occasionally trying to get him to open up, and I really liked how you could feel how much she cared about him. I liked the mentions of how he held her and how she saw that and it was just... a really solid, nice little shortfic. (Squall/Rinoa.)

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