It's not a monster. It's a lion.
You know, one of the things I love about FFVIII is that it actually explains where monsters come from. In most RPGs, it's just an accepted fact of life that once you're outside of a town, you're going to get mauled by monsters, but you never actually hear anything about how that ecosystem got there in the first place. Let alone where all the animals are. Like, you can't expect me to believe that people eat chocobos. They have to have chickens somewhere, right? Or is behemoth steak and cactuar stew all that's on the menu?
I ask the important questions on this website.
In any case, lions exist in some shape or form in FFVIII, even if we never see them outside of Squall's pendant. Maybe they went extinct after the Lunar Cry, or maybe they're mythical beasts. Seriously, this is the kind of thing I've always wondered about RPGs. Where the hell are all the animals. (I wonder this about Pokémon too, to be fair.)
Right, so, Squall. The whole end of Disc Two is treated in-universe like they're heading for the final boss fight, which is hilarious considering it's disc two of four. Clearly no one sent them the memo. The battle is chaotic, to say the least, but that's what you get when the other side decides to launch soldiers on motorcyles at you. (I will never get over that. Seriously, what the hell?) There's also the part where Rinoa magically holds onto the side of Garden for like half an hour, but Squall's shining moment is his speech.
Is this really Squall? Our Squall? Squall "go talk to a wall" Leonhart? Yes, yes it is. He's already grown a lot through the game, and we've still got a good ways to go. I think it's very important to note that while Squall can give a speech like this to the entire school, that doesn't mean he's anywhere near ready to say the same kinds of things one-on-one. Like I said above, this whole part is written like a final dungeon/boss battle sequence despite the fact that we're only on disc two, and Squall's got the energy to go with it. He thinks that he's making the final push, and he's doing his duty as a leader. That's still very different from being a friend.
This is no more obvious than when he tells Rinoa about his ring.
Griever is more than a symbol: it's an ideal for Squall to live up to. He doesn't actually believe he has all that strength and pride. He still sees himself as that kid in the rain, waiting for Sis to come back. Griever is everything he’s striven towards — to be able to survive alone, to not need anyone else, to not lose.
And here he’s about to face down the sorceress, and he needs that strength. He wants to be a lion. But still, he doubts in himself. He’s already seen that he can’t do this alone. Strength and pride aren’t enough.
Would it be so bad to have someone else with him?
Squall clearly isn’t sure what to think about the fact that everyone is pushing him and Rinoa together, but he doesn’t protest the idea that she could become like a lion too. Slowly but surely, he’s opening up to her, and through something that means the world to him, no less: Griever.