A/N: This story has taken far tooooo long to finish but it was a labor of love. When I first started this I got dogpiled by my collection of NanoFate buddies. When they read the first draft I was only saved from murder when I explained what I had planned for the story. Once we (Ditto526, TheForgottenPen, Elfbs and myself) got to arguing about the main premise it became clear I HAD to finish this story properly. So, after many, many rewrites, nearly 2 years of wrestling with words and being driven mad (madder) [You know you love us - ElFbs] at the demands of my beta readers this thing is finally done. I do hope all my readers find this an enjoyable read and I beg forgiveness up front for being a cheeky monkey.

This story will have 3 chapters and an epilogue, look forward to the next part in three days. Reviews are always welcome and appreciated.

Disclaimer: I do not own MGLN or its characters; I make no profit from my writing.

Who

Chapter One

Fate looked down at the sleeping baby in her arms and wondered how the child had so easily captured her heart. She had gone from resenting the very existence of this little one to now being willing and able to sacrifice her own life for her. Six months ago when she discovered Nanoha was pregnant Fate had felt like a fist had been punched through her chest. She had been gone on a eight month long mission and had had little contact with friends and family leaving her in the dark as to what new developments had occurred.

~Six Months Ago: Mid-Childa~

After arriving back at station she had been so happy to see all her friends and family waiting for her. That there was a strain between Nanoha and the others was worrisome, and her quiet, "We need to talk," pushed that worry into a higher realm but Nanoha's hand in hers eased it briefly.

Being loaded into the cargo van with everyone as they joked and teased her it felt like she was home again. Food and drinks seemed to magically appear at the house she had shared with Nanoha for a decade. The music and talking distracted her from noticing how strained Nanoha was looking. Until a voice pitched perfectly to carry said, "You haven't gotten that fat yet. When do you think you'll start to show?"

Instantly her head turned and Nanoha's face went pale before Subaru said, "Pregnant ladies only get fat if they don't take care of themselves. Nanoha knows better than that."

When their eyes met Fate saw the truth, this wasn't a joke. Nanoha was pregnant and she hadn't discussed this with her at all. While rationally she knew this was something Nanoha had every right to do without discussing with her; there was something about the panic in those sapphire orbs that made her think there was more going on here. Watching as Nanoha cupped her stomach with her hand Fate couldn't help wondering how this was achieved.

The question, "So when are we going to meet the proud papa? You have been acting pretty sly recently," sounded damning as it rung through the room.

Nanoha's eyes went wide and with a cry of panic clutched her stomach. Fate almost didn't hear it as her own heartbeat was thundering in her ears. She had been turning away from those frantic eyes when the sudden movement caught her attention. Bent over Nanoha let out a gasp of pain before crumpling to the ground.

After a lot of hustle and bustle they had moved Nanoha to a bedroom to rest. It was Shamal's diagnosis that Nanoha had fainted from stress but both she and the baby were fine. If her friend hadn't just fainted she might have already left but walking out now seemed wrong. Holding her head in her hands she tried to decide what hurt her more: Nanoha pregnant with some unknown man's baby or seeing the woman collapse on the ground?

The guests hearing Nanoha needed rest decided to start leaving but one was not allowed to go without imparting what she knew. Pinning Hayate with her stare Fate asked, "Did you know?"

Rubbing her neck Hayate said, "She didn't tell me, it only came to me through official channels. When I asked about it she said it was something she did in a moment of weakness. She said she wanted to talk to you about it before discussing it further."

Taking that in Fate asked more quietly, "Do you know who the father is?"

Shifting foot to foot Hayate nervously replied, "I don't know. I looked into the matter and when Nanoha found out she got pissed. She told me it wasn't any of my concern and to stop snooping."

It was clear Fate wasn't happy with this answer, luckily a new avenue of information had just opened up. Shamal seeing how stressed the pair was becoming said, "Fate-chan, here is what we can tell you, Nanoha had been growing more disquieted the longer you were gone. It seems this tour of duty hit her harder than usual without Vivio here. It is my supposition that she decided to go to one of the smaller clinics and had this done because she was lonely."

Fate glared at her and asked, "Which one? If that's true which one did this for her?"

The pair were silent, no matter how much they had investigated there were no records of anyone matching Nanoha's description going to a clinic within 200 kms of the city. Going further field meant her needing to stay overnight and at no time had she left the city for more than a few hours. Just one unauthorized flight at night which she sometimes indulged in when Fate was away.

Taking their silence as her answer Fate asked, "How far along is she?"

Shamal estimated, "I'd say she is about three months pregnant. She hasn't let me near her before today. From what I can see the pregnancy has been rough on her. Please don't argue with her Fate-chan, she is in a delicate state right now."

Realizing her rigidity might be seen as anger Fate took a deep breath before relaxing, "It was a shock. I… we hadn't had a chance to talk and when Subaru dropped the news like it was common knowledge it hurt."

Squeezing Fate's shoulder Hayate said, "The idiot only knows since she is covering Nanoha's classes. Unfortunately news spread pretty quickly once she told Teana and Ginga. I am not sure which of the two said something but it was all over the base before the end of the day. Nanoha wanted to tell you herself, I thought she would have messaged you or called…"

Fate shook her head, "We were in communications blackout nearly the entire time. All I was able to send out was my ETA and that I did in a message sent to everyone. She said she wanted to talk to me when I first disembarked but everyone was there and you said something about celebrating. There was no time to talk."

With a twinge of guilt Hayate gave her friend a hug and said, "You two have always been able to work things out by talking. Don't let this be the one time you fail. She wants to talk to you."

Accepting this advice, Fate saw her guests out then sat on the couch to contemplate the situation. It didn't take long for the unsettling silence in the house to unnerve her. Without Vivio and all her little friends in the house it suddenly felt large and empty. It wasn't exactly a secret that Nanoha wanted more children. They had discussed it many times but there was always something that got in the way. Was this her own fault? Pulling at her hair she decided it was and losing Nanoha was exactly what she deserved. Whoever this unknown man was, and there had to be a man somewhere, he at least had given Nanoha exactly what she wanted.

The sound of the bedroom door opening had Fate standing up instantly. Seeing Nanoha so pale and eyes dimly bleak ended all of Fate's internal conflict over leaving. Walking to the woman she wrapped her arms around her and whispered gently, "Sweetheart you need to be lying down."

Clutching at Fate's clothing Nanoha held on tight, tears choking her she asked weakly, "Will you lie down with me? Just for a little, please Fate-chan."

Kissing her forehead before picking her up Fate said, "Of course, I'll stay for as long as you like."

Lying down Fate held Nanoha against her and could feel the woman trembling, rubbing her back and pulling a blanket over them Fate tried to warm her. Nanoha crawled in closer, burying herself in Fate's warmth and the blonde clutched her tight once she realized it was helping. Whatever was wrong with her best friend this was helping, she was helping. It only took a few minutes but they had soon dozed off comfortable in their ball of warmth.

Waking up two hours later Fate realized Nanoha was also conscious and had been playing with her uniform shirt's buttons for a while. It was obvious Nanoha was scared and wanted to talk.

Feeling her conflicting emotions began to churn in her chest Fate swallowed her trepidation and asked, "What is it?"

Shaking a little again Nanoha pressed her head to Fate's shoulder and whispered, "I know you're angry with me Fate-chan. Please just don't hate me for doing this without talking to you."

Fate couldn't help feeling like Nanoha was being unfair to her now, wasn't she the one being abandoned, the one hated and unwanted. Her hurt fought with her instinctual need to protect and take care of Nanoha making it difficult for her to form words. Feeling Nanoha's hands were now clawing at her and sound of the the girl sobbing meant the pain inside lost the battle, pulling her closer she rubbed the girl's back and said, "I could never hate you. No matter what, we will always be best friends."

Nanoha had her face pressed into the crook of Fate's neck as she shook her head, one hand maintained her tight grasp on her best friend as the other moved to her curving stomach, "I've been unfair to you Fate-chan. I never meant for you to find out about the baby like this..."

Feeling her emotions roil again at the situation she tried to calm herself. She had no right to the feelings whirling inside her. She had been incredibly presumptuous and it was her own fault for assuming certain things. Just because she was proven wrong about the most vital relationship in her life meant nothing. Her long dormant feelings of insecurity and doubt over her position in Nanoha's life reawoke. Before they could begin making inroads on her psyche Nanoha gave out a sharp sound of pain and clutched at her stomach. Battle heighten senses picked up the smell of blood and true terror filled her.

Immediately Fate called for medical assistance and was left to stand aside helpless. Shamal was almost instantly there and examined the young woman closely. Despite the blood lost Nanoha was as close to stable as she could have found her. Unsure of what exactly she was seeing here she said, "Nanoha, I'm not sure what happened to get you pregnant but one more major stress like you've had today and you will lose her. Without your magic compensating to support her you already would have."

Nodding her head she understood Nanoha covered the bump and tried to contain her tears.

Shamal looked at the blonde standing aside and said, "She needs someone to take care of her for next forty-eight hours. Bedrest. No more stress. No magic. Just healthy food, plenty of fluids and lots of sleep. I will come by again tomorrow to check up on her."

As Fate stood by and watched the scene develop the idea of losing Nanoha hit her hard, looking around though there didn't seem to be anyone poised to take her spot. Despite all the things this pregnancy could mean, Nanoha pushing her away or replacing her wasn't the final explanation. Shamal assuming she'd be the one to care of the girl made her smile, the action reaffirming her position as the one to stand by Nanoha's side. Seeing how deeply the situation affected the person she loved above all else she squashed all her darker feelings.

Moving to sit on the edge of the bed she took Nanoha's hand, "Sweetheart, you heard Shamal-sensei. You have to get some rest, both for yourself and the little one." The gasping hiccup of dismay Nanoha gave at Fate mentioning the baby had the blonde reach out and touch her barely curved stomach. "Hey now, don't start stressing out. I told you before, we are best friends and I will support you no matter what. All I have ever wanted is for you to be happy."

Covering Fate's hand with her own Nanoha said, "Thank you Fate-chan, I..I...ah" but was unable continue due to her tears.

Unable to take this the blonde leaned in and banged their foreheads together, "Hey, um, ah, I told you no more stressing out, right. Now you will lie down and get some sleep. Look at the hour, it is way past your bedtime young lady."

With a tremulous smile she tried to laugh at the feeble joke before asking in a weak voice, "Sleep with me?"

Feeling powerless to resist, Fate nodded before gently pulling away to say, "Let me get changed."

~"~"~

All further discussion of where the baby came from was tabled for when Nanoha was no longer in such a delicate condition. Anyone trying to have the conversation got an angry glare from Fate which was inevitably ruined by her then needing to fuss over Nanoha. It appeared that the pregnancy had been rough from the beginning. Which was why she had avoided going out as much as possible but Fate refused to let her hide indoors. Which in turn meant the blonde made it clear questions were not welcome nor would they be tolerated.

What would be tolerated was Nanoha's new need to be physically close to Fate. Now that the blonde was home she couldn't let her go. This new neediness scared Fate since she couldn't bear the idea of Nanoha suffering alone. Who would take care of her friend when she left on duty? It was this thinking which caused her to delay taking on new ship duty assignments.

Normally even after a long tour she'd leave again after a week or two at home. She'd make sure to take jobs where she'd be able to call home at night and it would help ease things. Living her life with Nanoha in absentia through the video screens. Doing such a thing now wouldn't ease Nanoha's stress but make things worse. It had been a long time since she had spent this much time on planet and surprisingly the work she was doing was both fulfilling and challenging. These duties had always been available to her but this was the first time she really thought about taking these less prestigious, but just as essential, jobs.

Nearly two months home and finding herself getting comfortable in this new work Fate had to ask if she really wanted to go back on ship duty. Even when Vivio had been small she hadn't slowed down enough to discover this other side to her career. Back then she had been burning to prove herself and thought being on the frontline meant she'd be preventing the bad things reaching the people she loved. Not realizing she was also preventing herself from sharing in their lives and making so many precious memories.

Even though talk about Nanoha's pregnancy was off the table didn't mean other topics were being avoided. The fact that this development had hurt Fate so much was because Nanoha hadn't discussed it with her meant neither was willing to risk any further rifts. For the first time since they were teens they were talking about their feelings and dreams. Before this upset they had without realizing it fallen into the habit of talking about their jobs, Vivio, and current events but had stopped sharing more than their surface thoughts.

Sitting up on the bed as they read with Nanoha pressed against her side Fate admitted, "I missed this," then wrapped her arm around her best friend to pull her in closer.

This kind of thing was becoming more frequent between them. When they had been little girls they hadn't refrained from snuggling but when they got older and more aware of each other they had been careful not to indulge in such things too often. Nanoha knew if she let herself she could become addicted to the scent of Fate's skin. It wasn't something that the bedsheets could hold perfectly, only from the source was the unique heady scent able to satisfy her craving.

Rubbing her cheek against Fate's arm Nanoha took in her hit which made her heart pound and ache. Looking up at her Very Best Friend Nanoha couldn't understand how they had managed to get themselves into this position. Somewhere along the line from the time they were nine to nineteen they should have "officially" upgraded their relationship from Best Friend to Lover. Instead they had both been too shy to make that final move which both were aware would mean sex, and lots of it. Fear of that moment, of disappointing, of disgusting, of wanting too much, had stayed their hand. Then Vivio came into their lives and they were able to skip straight to Life Partner and Co-Parent without that messy step.

Curling into Fate she replied, "I'm going to miss this when you leave again. I don't know how I'm going to survive without my Fate-chan hug pillow."

Blushing at this comment Fate tried to hide behind her book, "That's not something you will likely need to worry about for a while. I got the ship's auditor position. I'll be assigned to home base for at least a year..."

Nanoha knocked Fate's book out of her hands and practically climbed on her, "Fate-chan you mean it? You're going to be here. With me. For the next whole year!"

Worried about Nanoha hurting herself and the baby Fate caught hold of her to support her properly then settled the woman comfortably on her lap. With her best friend now happily snuggled against her while making squeals of excitement and joy as she hugged her tightly Fate had to admit she liked this response. She knew Nanoha liked it when she was home, but hadn't expected this reaction.

Holding Nanoha tightly she asked, "Does it really mean that much to you?"

Clutching the ruby eyed woman's tank top Nanoha laid her head on Fate's chest to listen to her heart before replying, "Of course it does. I'm happiest when Fate-chan is home."

Frowning Fate kissed auburn hair before apologizing, "I'm sorry. I've made you lonely a lot haven't I. All I wanted to do was protect your smile but I made you sad instead."

Sighing Nanoha said, "No, I've been very happy with my life. Knowing Fate-chan was fighting for our family and having your promise to always come home made me happy. The only time I ever felt sad was when I didn't know if you were okay, when I couldn't hear your voice…" then almost in a whisper she continued, "...call my name."

Rubbing her best friend's back Fate said, "I'm always calling your name, ever since you taught me what friendship means. It still surprises me when you take my hand or hug me. I don't know how I ever earned your friendship with how badly I treated you at first."

Shifting into a position more comfortable for them both Nanoha yawned, "You never had to earn it silly. I knew from the first time I saw you, we had to be friends. I felt it inside," her voice got weaker as she began dozing off, "you felt it too, didn't you."

Petting the sleeping woman's hair Fate said quietly, "I felt so many things the first time I saw you. I'm only now really understanding what some of them are, I love you Nanoha."

~"~"~

The knock on her office door had Fate looking up to see a familiar blonde figure. Frowning in worry she asked, "Is something wrong with Nanoha?"

The knowing smirk that passed on Shamal's lips while annoying relieved her mind, the woman was likely here to tease her. Backtracking to her manners Fate said, "It's nice to see you Shamal-sensei, please come in."

Smiling kindly at the young woman Shamal finally said, "It's nice to see you again too. I actually did come to see you regarding Nanoha's health. She still won't let anyone do more than a basic check up on her and the baby. The last time I evaluated them the baby appeared to be a little undersized. I was hoping you'd be able to convince her to let me do a full work up on them."

Chewing on her lip Fate thought about the situation, she tried not to get too involved with the practical aspects of Nanoha's pregnancy. It upset them both and the stress took a lot out of her friend. It wasn't that she actually believed Nanoha had slept with a man to achieve this pregnancy but the mystery around the origin of the child bothered her greatly. If not sex or insemination how did Nanoha get pregnant?

Rolling her shoulders Fate said, "I'll talk to her tonight. Just don't expect too much Shamal-sensei. She doesn't like talking to me about her pregnancy. I do what I can to make sure she takes her vitamins, eats properly and gets plenty of sunshine but you know what Nanoha's like."

Giving the younger blonde a questioning look Shamal asked, "So she still hasn't told you how she got pregnant?"

Looking away and feeling increasingly uncomfortable Fate replied, "No, all she would say is that she didn't have sex with someone. She said she was saving her first time for the person she loves."

Running her hands through her hair Shamal grumbled under her breath, "The pair of you have to be the biggest set of fools I have ever seen. Wasting so much damn time."

Turning back to the older woman Fate glared at her, "You think I don't know that. You think I don't regret everyday I wasted. Being home with her, watching her as she goes through this pregnancy makes me think about how it should have been. I've thought a lot about what our lives could have been like if I hadn't been so stupid."

By the end of her speech Fate's shoulders slumped and she looked defeated, getting up Shamal placed a hand on her arm and said, "You two have loved each other honestly since you were children. There was nothing deceitful or avaricious about it. Yes, you two did skip a few steps but are you saying you weren't happy all those years living with her raising Vivio?"

Tears running down her face Fate kept her voice calm, "I was never happier than when I was with them. That's my point, I left them to go fight battles and put myself in harm's way when I should have been with them. I missed so many of Vivio's special moments because I was halfway across the universe dealing with trade disputes and calming insurgencies. What kind of parent was I to her?"

Pulling Fate into a hug Shamal couldn't help laughing a little before saying, "The best kind. You have always been a warrior Fate-chan, you protect your family and have been a great example for Vivio and all her friends. Now if you really want to do things differently you have another chance. But only if Nanoha is able to give birth to a healthy baby. I'm worried about her and honestly I don't know what losing this child would do to her."

Wiping her tears Fate nodded, "I...I will talk to her."

~"~"~

Coming home to Nanoha was something Fate had always enjoyed. Seeing the pregnant woman sitting at her desk with the cute pink reading glasses she'd taken to using in the past year made her smile. Stepping up behind her she squeezed her shoulders which were tense from likely sitting most of the day in her office chair. Placing her chin on top of Nanoha's head she asked in a mock admonishing tone, "What have I told you about spending all day on the computer?"

A soft hand reached up and brushed slim fingers down the length of her face which sent butterflies fluttering in her stomach. Nanoha's response was, "Nyahaha Fate-chan is such a worrywart. I'll be fine, though I didn't realize it was this late already. I haven't started dinner yet. Go take your bath and…"

Turning her friend around Fate said, "Nope, if I need a relaxing bath then so do you. So here is what we are going to do. We are going to take a bath and then we can order in. It's been awhile since we had Mid-Childen takeout."

Blushing Nanoha covered her growing bump as she said, "Ah we don't have too. I can make dinner…"

Pushing herself up out of her chair Nanoha clumsily tried to avoid brushing her front against Fate. The movement surprised the blonde who reached out to help her friend up. When Nanoha felt her friend's touch on her waist she gasped and pulled back almost tripping. Seeing the discomfort and panic Fate wanted nothing more than to end this precarious situation. Catching hold of Nanoha to balance her she held her steady for a moment eyes meeting.

Leaning in she pressed their foreheads together before saying, "Please don't pull away from me. You know I'm not angry with you about this."

Eyes welling up with tears Nanoha asked desperately, "Do you really mean that Fate-chan?"

Kissing her friend's forehead Fate answered honestly, "You told me many times you wanted more children and you know my feelings about them. This baby is not a bad thing, I was just shocked since you… we didn't talk about it beforehand. I didn't know what to think. I was scared Nanoha had replaced me when I was gone."

Throwing her arms around Fate and pulling her in tight Nanoha denied this vehemently, "No one could ever take Fate-chan's place!"

Feeling a little of her own internal unease about the situation settle Fate hugged her back. The bump between them felt small and fragile. Kissing Nanoha's forehead Fate said, "Come on, let's take a bath. It's been awhile since I've had anyone help me wash my hair."

This offer relieved Nanoha's mind more than anything, Fate hadn't allowed this level of intimacy between them since coming home. Hugs and snuggles were one thing, but she was always careful to avoid directly touching her stomach or looking at the bump. She prayed this meant Fate was now growing to not only accept the situation but was now eager for this child's birth.

Stripping down with Fate was embarrassing since the blonde was still the picture of perfection. While nearly five months pregnant Nanoha had been losing weight initially and was only now beginning to recover that weight and add a bit more. Her slim build made her bump appear prominent making her thinness seem even worse. Fate seeing this bit her cheek, she wanted to rage at the woman for not taking better care of herself.

Fate refrained from her initial reaction only because she knew Nanoha was doing everything she could to stay healthy. She was the one who did the grocery shopping and it seemed every other day she was being told to bring some new healthy snack home with her or needing to replenish some necessity. Nanoha must eat five times a day and snack all the time but she was having a difficult time gaining any weight. In Fate's eyes it now appeared the child was draining her of life sustaining nutrients faster than Nanoha could take them in to support them both.

They got through their washing up much more silently than either had expected. Both had too many things on their minds and were afraid to upset the other. When Fate climbed into the family sized bath she took her normal position and didn't even question her body's movement which took hold of Nanoha and helped her settle between her legs. It was only when her arm wrapped around her friend's waist that she realized what she was doing.

Instead of pulling away Fate decided it was time to stop being so hesitant. She knew all her flinching and discomfort about the baby was hurting Nanoha but the situation was so foreign to her. It wasn't like she had ever witnessed this process closely and Chrono's complaints over Amy's pregnancy had her slightly traumatized. She was still waiting for a Nanoha hormone fuel rage or for her to start making strange demands. Letting her hand rest on the curve of Nanoha's stomach she found the skin was soft as ever.

Pulling her friend back against her Fate said, "Relax."

It had been far too long since she had done anything like this with Fate. It was one thing to snuggle while clothed, it was a whole other thing to feel Fate's naked breasts press into her back. Whenever they had done this before she had always taken a few moments to prepare her heart; she really hadn't expected Fate to do this. Taking a deep breath Nanoha tried to ignore how good Fate's body felt against her own. It was times like these that she wondered how she hadn't snapped years ago and just jumped the blonde.

Thinking about the last time they had done this she had to laugh. Sweet Vivio had begged to take a bath with her mamas before leaving for school. Because of the limited space Nanoha had ended up in Fate's lap while Vivio sat across from them. It had been a bittersweet moment for her, enjoying having her family all together but knowing soon they would all be going their separate ways. Placing her hand beneath Fate's she was surprised when her friend moved her hand and linked their fingers together.

After a few minutes to allow them both to relax Fate took a deep breath for courage then asked, "Nanoha, why won't you let Shamal-sensei give you a proper check up?"

Stiffening at this question Nanoha answered, "I am seeing a doctor already. There is no need for her to poke and prod me too."

Squeezing their linked hands Fate replied, "She is worried about you. And frankly so am I. You are too thin. You shouldn't be suffering like you are. If there is something she or anyone else can do for you we need to know."

Standing up Nanoha climbed out of the tub, grabbing her towel she said, "I'm going to start on dinner."

When the door snapped closed Fate let her frustration at the situation loose with a fist to the tiled wall. Nanoha needed help and there was nothing she could do. It was like she was watching her friend wither away in front of her, pushing herself beyond her limits. Looking down at her hands she frowned, what was the point of all the power she could wield if she couldn't help the person she loved?

~"~"~

Nanoha didn't go see Shamal and she was strangely quiet for the rest of the week. Fate wasn't sure how to proceed, all she wanted was Nanoha to be healthy and happy. For the first time since she had come home Nanoha was sleeping on her side of the bed. No longer snuggled up next to her even when she positioned herself on the very edge of the unspoken border.

Three nights went by this way when suddenly Nanoha woke her up in the middle of the night and grabbed her hand. Placing it on her rounded tummy Fate felt for the first time the stirring of life. Looking over she saw the excitement in Nanoha's eyes at being able to share this with her.

But it was the words Nanoha spoke that changed everything, "Do you feel her? Do you feel our baby moving Fate-chan?"

The word, "OUR," flooded her mind and suddenly a possessiveness she had never known filled her. Since coming home she hadn't been certain what her position in this child's life was supposed to be. In the beginning with Vivio it had been the same, Nanoha was her mother and Fate had been a friend who helped out occasionally. Then she had been given an official place in Vivio's life as Godmother and co-guardian. From there the three of them made a family and home together.

She had always felt a certain amount of possessiveness when it came to Nanoha, her unwillingness to share the woman was something she struggled with. Her comfortable life raising Vivio with Nanoha had redoubled that feeling, but Vivio growing up and leaving home had left her perplexed as to what was to happen next. Now with this new baby she had the chance to reclaim what had been lost. Their family life, which had been the sweetest and happiest time of her life, could be restored. No, not restored… honestly she wanted more but that would have to wait until after their baby was born.

Rubbing the bump and marveling at the fluttering feeling under the warm smooth skin Fate found herself doing something insane. Bending her head she kissed the bump and sang the lullaby Vivio had loved so much to the growing child. Within a few minutes the fluttering stopped and there was a serenity to the moment that made Fate wish it would last forever.

Curled on her side Fate lie looking at the mound and let her hand rest lightly on its swell. Whispering now she said, "You had better get your rest little one, we are all waiting for you to come out big and strong."

The smile Nanoha gave Fate was luminous as she asked, "Will you think of a name for her Fate-chan?"

Looking up at her friend Fate was shocked, "Are you sure? Don't you want to choose?"

Pushing back sleep rumpled bangs Nanoha leaned over and kissed her forehead, "No, I want you to choose. I am sure Fate-chan will think of the perfect name for our baby."

In that moment when all three of them seemed connected Fate felt her heart open fully and completely to the child. She would name their future daughter and help raise her. This time she wouldn't miss those special moments. This time she'd really be the one to stand by Nanoha's side.

Shifting on the bed Fate pulled Nanoha closer and tucked the covers over them, "I will think about names, in the meantime we need our rest. Come here, let me keep my girls warm."

Fate was glad for the dark as she blushed, she had never spoken so possessively about Nanoha before. The fact that her friend was now buried snuggly against her gave her some hope that Nanoha didn't mind. If she had looked down she would have seen the woman was blushing just as deeply and had a breathtaking smile of happiness on her face.

~"~"~

Waking up before Nanoha was a minor miracle in and of itself, being able to sneak out of bed without the woman waking almost made her worry. It was only her relaxed and easy breathing that let Fate know her friend was sleeping soundly which eased her concern. Knowing Nanoha needed her rest she quickly dressed and went to the kitchen to make breakfast. As she cooked she thought about the few times she had the chance to do this for her family. Nanoha liked to be the one to cook for them, saying it made her feel like she was taking care of them. Cooking a nutritious meal for her friend and the growing child inside her Fate understood how fulfilling this act could be.

When Nanoha came into the kitchen she was still groggy with sleep, wearing her robe and her hair still loose. She looked absolutely adorable and defenseless. Serving up the food on plates she said, "Good morning sleepyhead, take a seat, you're just in time to eat."

Not minding the food Nanoha stumbled over to Fate sleepily and hugged her friend, "Morning Fate-chan. Mmmm warm…"

Setting the plates down Fate had to lead the half asleep bundle to the table before going back for them. It took a few bites before Nanoha really seemed to wake up and when she did she blushed scarlet.

Fate seeing this laughed, "Were you sleepwalking and sleep-eating Nanoha?"

Ducking her head and looking away Nanoha refused to answer which made Fate think she looked extra cute. Squeezing her hand she tried to soften her tone, "I'm sorry for teasing you. Na~no~ha, come on you need to finish your breakfast. Does it not taste good? Should I make you something different?"

Protectively curling an arm around her plate Nanoha stuck her tongue out and said, "It's not my fault Fate-chan's food smelled so good I couldn't resist. Now let me finish you big bully."

Enjoying the pink to Nanoha's cheeks Fate ate her meal quietly. When Bardiche let out a beep and notified Fate she was needed down at the office for a meeting she sighed.

Clearing the table she said, "Hopefully this meeting won't last long. I should be home by two at the latest, was there anything you needed me to pick up?"

Turning to look at her silent friend Fate saw her eyes were still sleepy, picking her up she said, "Back to bed with you. Take a nap. When you wake up you can send me a list of what we need."

Yawning Nanoha grumbled, "But Fate-chan won't be here to cuddle," as she tightened her hold on the blonde.

Carefully settling Nanoha on their bed she slipped out of her grip before placing a pillow in her arms. Tucking in her precious bundle to make sure she stayed warm Fate felt an ache in her chest at the thought of leaving Nanoha alone. Kissing her forehead she whispered, "Rest now love, I'll be home as soon as possible."

~"~"~

Fate checked her messages once she exited her meeting. It had gone smoother than she had expected and now all she needed to do was some shopping and she could head home. There was no message from Nanoha with a grocery list but thinking over what she had seen in the kitchen that morning she decided to at least pick up a few essentials. Wandering through the store she found herself passing the Baby Care aisle.

As she walked through this foreign territory she felt the urge to make everything perfect for her soon to be family consume her. Her fingers itched to purchase bibs, bottles, and the dozens of miscellaneous bright and colorful items that called out to her. Before purchasing anything though she heard a woman say, "Honey grab the bib with the monkey on it. It will match our jungle-zoo theme for the baby."

This halted her and made her think, 'What would Nanoha like?' then the realization that they hadn't even started preparing for the baby's arrival struck her. There was a ton of work to be done to prepare a nursery for the child and wasn't there some kind of party women had when they got pregnant? She'd heard things and had even seen Nanoha buy gifts for co-workers for these occasions but had zero experience with this concept.

Rubbing her head she thought about the situation and decided to bite the bullet, calling up a vid-screen she waited for her other long time friend to pick up. The smiling face of her brunette friend stared at her curiously, "Hey Fate-chan, what's up?"

Realizing she was being hasty but also knowing if she didn't do this immediately she'd chicken out she said, "Hi Hayate, um I wanted to ask you a question."

The lift of her eyebrow and image moving closer in showed the petite woman was highly interested in what Fate had to ask, "Shoot. You know if I don't know the answer I'll find it for you."

Checking the aisle and seeing it mostly empty she asked, "Um there are parties people have...um for when a friend or family member gets pregnant right? Would you know what goes into one of those things?"

The grin on Hayate's face and the squeal of joy at the thought of planning a Baby Shower instantly had Fate waving her hands trying to calm the woman, "Quiet down Hayate. I am at the store. Look all I am asking is you make up a guide for what is needed and maybe a little help setting it up. Don't go haring off with this idea and turn this into a fiasco. I don't want Nanoha stressed out by the event."

Waving away Fate's concerns Hayate replied, "Don't you worry about that. I had been hoping I would get to throw a Baby Shower, I already have a lot of great ideas. We can have it at my house so we can keep it a surprise. Then afterwards we can start working on the baby's room. I am sure we can all pull together and get it set up in a few weeks. The sooner we have the party the better since that will let us know what else you need to buy."

The realization that they hadn't even begun to convert the spare bedroom into a nursery struck Fate hard. Her future daughter needed her own room. She was snapped out of her distraction when Hayate said, "Of course you already know what theme you'll be using."

Eyes wide with panic Fate replied, "I haven't got a clue. Shouldn't this be something Nanoha chooses?"

Hayate gave her a dry look and pointed a finger at her friend before saying, "YOU know Nanoha better than anyone else. Think hard now, what kinds of cute things does she like? What makes her smile?"

Looking at the displays of baby products with all the various prints on them one in particular caught her eye. It had a set of woodland creatures frocklicking around together. Picking up a bib with a bunny, racoon, bear and fox print on it she held it up to the screen. Hayate gave her a big thumbs up before proclaiming, "See I told you! Now then I have lots to plan, I will give you a breakdown of what needs to be done on Monday after your meeting."

Fate barely got to say goodbye before Hayate cut the Com, placing the bib in her basket Fate also couldn't help picking up a stuffed animal while she was at it.

~~~To be continued... favorite so you don't miss out~~~