I will say whatever I want down there after your read, methinks. Several japanese translations here, however.
Baka - Idiot.
Kaa-san - mother
Ja matta ne - See you again
And lastly, enjoy the finale.
"Kono Hiroi Sekai Ni"
- Donna Burke & Kevin J. England, MGLN OST.
In this wide world.
Fate studied the figure on the bed.
Keen ears captured the sound of even breathing. There was no air mask placed on Nanoha any more, and the bandage - once soaked with blood - was no longer wrapped around the brunette's head.
She was healing rapidly, and it was mostly thanks to Shamal. Broken bones had been mended, and the cuts and burns were now faint scars that would soon disappear.
Long brown hair spilled around her, reaching halfway past the shoulders.
Her hair was getting long, Fate noted absently.
The room was airy and cool. Before, Nanoha had been placed in a ward for patients in critical state, and no windows could be opened. It had almost been stuffy, and it smelled of death. But now, she was in a normal ward, and everything about the room seemed to have lightened. There was no beeping machine, no wires and tubes surrounding her, no bandages wrapped around her body...
Just her, the blanket covering her, and the soft light of the orange sky soaking into her skin.
A brief smile flickered on Fate's lips as she sat.
"Nanoha," she said quietly, reaching for the other's still hand, grasping it gently. "I passed the enforcer's exam today."
There was a pause before she added. "It's my third try. The past two exams...I failed them."
Fate continued, as if she was answering a question that never came. "I was too busy moping," admitted the blonde. "When I heard you were dying, I...I couldn't think. I couldn't do anything."
A chuckle. "Were you expecting that, Nanoha?"
The blonde half-expected Nanoha to suddenly spring up and scold her for moping around the past weeks.
But of course, there was no reaction.
"But...you know, Nanoha, I won't do that anymore." Fate said softly. Her hold on Nanoha's hand tightened a little. "I passed the exam. That means I will be a lot busier now."
A pause. A long pause.
"...And today's the last time I will visit you, Nanoha."
The wind blew softly, and Fate brushed away a stray hair that covered Nanoha's closed eye.
"Want to know why?"
There was no response, but the blonde continued as if there had been one.
"The next time we meet," Fate smiled a little, "I want to hear you say my name."
A brief silence.
"I don't care how long it takes, Nanoha. Days...weeks, months, years..."
Fingers intertwined with Nanoha's own.
"Until the day you wake up, I won't come here." she said softly. "So wake up soon. And call my name."
The phone in Fate's pocket rang once, twice, and stopped.
Releasing the other's still hand, she retrieved the phone from her pocket, and flipped it open.
It was a text message from Lindy. It took only a moment for Fate to read it, before she shut the phone.
Burgundy eyes glanced at Nanoha.
"The message was from kaa-san," she told the sleeping girl, slight amusement in her tone. "She wants me to come back for dinner. Apparently there's a feast, though I'm not sure what's on the table."
Eyes swept over the still figure once, ingraining everything in her mind, before returning to look at her face.
"I'm sorry this visit was so short, Nanoha." A smile flitted past Fate's features. "...But when you wake up, I will definitely come a lot more often. So until then..."
The girl stared at that sleeping face for one long moment; that ever so familiar, gentle expression.
"...Ja matta ne, Nanoha."
The wind ruffled her long blonde hair lightly in reply, and she stood.
Fate turned and left.
She didn't look back.
The breeze was soothing, and the orange sun was warming.
It was a beautiful evening.
Vita, unsurprisingly, was a daily visitor to the ward; sometimes accompanied by the other Belka Knights, sometimes by other friends and family of Nanoha. They all came by frequently, to visit Nanoha, to brighten up the room, and to tell stories of daily happenings.
And Fate, true to her words, no longer came. She had been immersed in work and training.
She had also cheered up considerably, no longer walking around like a zombie; much to her family's relief.
To the current date, there were only two occasions when she visited Nanoha.
One was when the results of the exam were announced.
And the other...was when Nanoha woke up.
Contrary to what most would have thought, what happened later was anti-climatic.
When her eyes finally opened, it was two weeks after that one time Fate visited.
The news had spread with the speed of sound. Most, aside from those who could not avoid work, had streamed in and out of the room on that day itself, be it for five minutes, ten, an hour or even nearly the whole day. There was no fanfare, no celebrations, nothing; just quiet, well-meaning wishes and encouragements from friends and family.
Her current condition had also been quietly revealed to her by Shamal, but Nanoha took it in a stride. Seeing the confused gazes that surrounded her, her reply was to offer a benign smile, and say, "It's myself, after all. I know my body better than anyone else." She also apologized for the trouble, and Vita looked as if she wanted so badly to hit and hug her all the same - a look mirrored, though more subtly, by the others in the room then.
In the end, it was the latter that Vita did, encouraged quietly by Hayate; though she never stopped scolding "BAKA!", crying all the while.
And Fate...she hadn't been around when Nanoha woke. She didn't even visit until much later that day, when everyone else had come and gone.
And when they met; there were no hugs, no kisses, nothing of that sort. The blonde didn't tackle the girl on sight, nor did Nanoha so much as move.
It was just Fate standing by the door; and Nanoha sitting on the bed, distant eyes gazing at the night sky.
The blonde had smiled, eyes brimming with tears. Her words were simple, but emotions were plainly there.
Nanoha smiled too, slate blue eyes sparkling and warm when she turned to meet Fate's gaze.
The same smile that never changed.
It's strange, really.
Life's like that. There are always joy and laughter, but there's also sadness and despair.
Whatever happens, life goes on. It wasn't always easy.
Sometimes it was exhausting.
Sometimes it was painful.
Sometimes it was saddening.
And watching Nanoha struggle to live, fighting for her life on the deathbed; then to only be a spectator when she struggled to learn how to walk again...I wanted so badly to help her, but I was powerless. All I could do was watch when she almost died, and continue to watch as she struggled to walk.
It was hard.
But she told me that it was enough. 'Just watch me,' she said, not quite in words but not quite in actions.
It was as if my mere presence was already helping her. There was mischief in her smile, but her eyes were serious.
So I will watch. Even if it hurts to watch, I will watch.
If she stumbles, I will catch her. If she falls, I will grab her hand and pull her up.
She tells me she will do the same.
It was hard and it was painful, but we were, and still are, happy.
It's really ridiculously simple.
To gain joy and happiness doesn't necessarily mean giving and receiving.
It could be something far more simple; and there was one that suited us both fine.
To be by each other's side.
It wasn't at all that easy, and we were like little children stumbling blindly in the darkness.
There are times we trip and fall, get hurt and annoyed, and times we forget ourselves, but we continue.
Said girl was still blinking blearily, trying to distinguish between dream and reality.
"Come on, wake up!"
Despite her sleep-befuddled mind, her ears caught the sound of clothes rustling; and she turned her head to look at the source of the noise, a hand shading her burgundy eyes from the glare of the sunlight.
Nanoha had just finished buttoning up her shirt and picking up her white and blue jacket, which was folded neatly on the bed. She was standing on her own two feet, her back facing the blonde. It was a perfect posture for a normal girl. Not lop-sided, not...crippled.
"I know it's your off-day, Fate-chan," the combat instructor was saying, but her brain was still too sleepy to properly process that. "But you shouldn't sleep too long. You will ruin your sleeping timetable."
The brown haired girl, with hands snaking through her jacket sleeves, glanced at Fate.
The blonde just stared, a blank look in her eyes.
Nanoha sighed, and climbed up onto the bed, one hand moving to shake her lightly.
Despite Nanoha's obvious efforts, she felt tired. She wanted to sleep again, for some odd reason.
"Mou..." There was a slight whine in the brown-haired girl's tone.
"Master," Raising Heart called from the dressing table, and the brunette glanced at it. "It is already 7.15 AM."
"Ah, I'm going to be late!" Nanoha turned to give Fate a half-hearted glare. "Don't sleep too long, you! I got to go now."
She moved to leave from the bed, the blonde watching blearily all the while.
Nanoha was leaving for work.
She was leaving.
Unease suddenly rose in her chest.
"Nanoha...!" Her hand reached out to grab the brunette's wrist instinctively, and she sat up instantly.
Blue eyes blinked at her.
A brief silence fell, before Nanoha asked. "Fate-chan?"
It jerked the blonde out of her trance-like state, and her cheeks blazed as she realized what she had just done. She released the other quickly. "A-ah...sorry." She fell back down to the bed, a hand lifting to cover her eyes, hiding from Nanoha's curious gaze.
"What's wrong?" Concern.
"It's...it's nothing," mumbled Fate, all the while mentally berating herself.
"Really?" That tone was clearly conveying disbelief.
"...Really. Go to work."
There was a pause before weight shifted on the bed, and she almost breathed a relieved sigh. Nanoha wasn't about to ask anything else.
But when Fate felt a shadow loom over her, she peeked from the little openings between her fingers to check.
Nanoha was right above her, hands locking the blonde in the middle, blue eyes glaring. For a second, the blonde could only blink as Nanoha unceremoniously removed the hand covering her face.
"...Nanoha...?" she asked hesitantly, almost afraid. The brunette's grip on her hand was firm. "What - "
"I don't believe you," the other cut in curtly, frowning. She leaned closer, and Fate pressed deeper into the pillow, as far as she could. Which was, predictably, very little.
"A-ah..it's..um...well...it's...nothing. Really." Fate tried to muster some conviction into her startled tone, failing miserably.
A skeptical look was sketched onto Nanoha's face.
"Really. You are going to be late for work, Nanoha," pointed out the blonde helpfully, trying to wiggle her hand free from the other's hold. One that Nanoha didn't let go, firm but gentle.
A brown eyebrow twitched, before an impish glint flitted past in those blue eyes. "Nope, I'm not going."
"Raising Heart, please inform them that I am sick today, and to go through schedule C-5 for today's training. Send my apologies to Vita-chan too please."
"All right, my master."
Slate blue eyes turned back to her, almost glaring.
"..N..Nanoha...?" Fate faltered. It was that certain look again, and the blonde could never tell what Nanoha was planning when there was that look in her eyes.
The brunette leaned back a little, and did release her hand this time.
Fate had very good reasons to be afraid now, especially when she was suddenly aware of the fact that both her legs had been pinned to the bed with Nanoha's own over them.
But she didn't have long to contemplate it, as the attack came.
"Wha! Na - wait..! Stop! Ahah...Nanoha! That's - ahaha - "
Fingers were dancing along her ribs, poking into sensitive spots mercilessly.
Nanoha was tickling her. Literally.
"Na - hahah - noha!" Desperate now, and beginning to lack air, the blonde gathered whatever strength she could, which slipped away every time a sensitive side was poked. She also tried to grab Nanoha's hands, but they were, ironically, too quick for the lightning mage to catch.
"That's - ahahh - enough!"
Fate mustered the strength to lift her legs up - which lifted Nanoha's legs up as well - and made the instructor lose balance. Taking the chance, the blonde flipped the brunette - who gave an undignified yelp - over.
In an instant, Fate was above her, hands pinning Nanoha's wrists just a little above her head.
The combat instructor resisted for a second, but Fate tightened her grip. Realizing the blonde wasn't about to give in anytime soon, Nanoha sighed and gave in. Fate had always been superior to her when it came down to hand-to-hand combat, and neither was oblivious to that fact.
The blonde enforcer took the opportunity to suck in air, panting for breath.
Impish blue eyes looked into flustered burgundy.
"You..." The blonde tried to search for the right word to reprimand with, but could not find one. In the end, she tried glaring at the girl below her, but it didn't quite turn out to be a glare. It was half-amused, and half-exasperated. "What was that for?"
Nanoha stuck her tongue out at the blonde in that ever so familiar childish motion, despite the fact she was nineteen now. "Punishment for you!"
"Punishment?" repeated Fate, bewilderment marking her tone. "Punishment for what?"
The brunette arched an eyebrow. "You don't know?" She tsked. "Fate-chan..."
Blonde eyebrows twitched. "I don't know, Nanoha. Tell me...please?"
"Hmm, I wonder what should I do?" Nanoha teased, holding back the information.
"Nanoha!" Fate visibly resisted the urge to return the favor of tickling the girl beneath her.
"That's because..." The brunette paused dramatically.
"...Because?" repeated the other, suspicious. And despite herself, curious. It wasn't every day that Nanoha would tickle her and claim it was punishment.
Then Nanoha smiled warmly, to her surprise and wonder.
"Because...you forget that you are not alone, Fate-chan."
"I'm here," the brunette said, voice soft but serious, "Hayate-chan, Arf-san, Chrono-kun, Lindy-san...and so many more. We are all by your side." A pause. "You are not alone, Fate-chan."
The blonde just stared, unsure of what Nanoha was trying to say.
"So even though you tell me to leave for work," continued the brunette, "How could I, when your eyes tell me you want me to stay?"
Realization sunk in those burgundy eyes.
Not missing the chance, Nanoha disengaged her hands from Fate's loosened hold, reaching up to caress her cheeks.
Always so easily, thought the blonde; even as she felt warm, gentle fingers on her face.
Her vision blurred, though she didn't know why.
A slender finger wiped away a tear that trickled down her face.
"See?" The brunette said quietly, almost teasingly. She poked the blonde's cheek. "You're crying."
So easily you chase away my fear
"No I'm not," protested Fate feebly, grabbing the offending hand. "I'm just..."
And stake your claim at a place where I cannot hide...
Just what was it anyway?
Truth to tell, she didn't really know.
Her fingers traced over the faint scar on Nanoha's palm absently, one which would soon disappear.
"...I just had a bad dream." The dream was already fading into the back of her mind, and she couldn't remember much.
It was silly, really. Fate, more than anyone else, knew that Nanoha was capable of taking care of herself. But that didn't mean she would ever be rid of the worry and fear for the other girl. Especially that day, when Nanoha released her staff to take Teana's and Subaru's attacks bare-handed...
Hands wrapped around Fate's neck, fingers buried under the blonde hair.
"Mmn." She managed a smile. "A dream of the past."
"Are you sure?"
Their foreheads touched.
The next time their faces closed, it wasn't their foreheads that touched.
And then you would show me warmth.
Heh. Well, first of all, I'm sorry I didn't change the genre to romance in the end. I honestly wanted to, but the above scene alone isn't enough to constitute romance. For me, at least. I'm kinda picky when it comes to these stuff. And above all, I'm more concerned with characterization if you want me to compare with some random kissing and cuddling scenes. Cause, if I were to create some random romance out of the blue, but butchering the characters in the process, may as well I create some new characters...no?
Secondly, it has come to my knowledge about some stuff where military ranking is concerned - my thanks to ikka again - lieutenant seems to be a too high a rank for Fate at the moment, or that there might be no such thing for an enforcer/instructor? Honestly, MGLN had been rather vague where military ranking is concerned, so...meh. Not to mention I can't remember much about military ranking system, nor could I be bothered that much to find out more due to laziness and lack of interest in military. So no changes were made, but, given that MGLN may sooner fix that in coming StrikerS episodes, and if I feel...not-so-lazy, I may come back to fix them.
There were also some minor issues about medical situations but... -squints- ...I prefer not to go indepth with medical stuff unless if I really, really know the matter in question. Hence some vagueness. Hence cracked spine instead of spinal cord and...some other misc stuff.
Third, I am happy to inform all of you that I managed to coerce my beta into watching MGLN, and into a particular pairing that I favor as well, so Feathers have been beta-read. Various things, from sentence flow to grammar had been tweaked/fixed, except for the ones both of us missed. It's also partly why this chapter was late, even if it had been done nearly a month ago - and subsequent reasons were due to laziness and busy days. So...-sweatdrops- ...heh? Sorry.
On the other hand, I am not so happy to inform you my good deed of the (past) day had been backfiring. She's been trying to coerce me into writing a multi-chapter fic, which would be my absolute nightmare. Gah. Whatever I do comes back to bite me, I swear. I have written one or two random scenes for that potential fic as well - one of them is posted in my livejournal - which is not very good news for me.
Well, that said, my kudos to Syaoran Li Clow who noticed - or felt as I do - that Feathers can only be a three-parter, with no subsequent chapters. I suppose it's possible, but then it did be some random scenes of Fate training and investigating stuff. Nanoha is asleep and will not be moving from the bed, and writing her sleeping and describing her features to no one in particular would have been...meh, I dunno, mundane? So...this will be all.
Another thanks goes to ikka again. XD The above phrase, 'Kono hiroi sekai ni', was translated by her, truly. Knowing a japanese translator is really helpful sometimes, yes?
Neeeeeeeeext, I have some self-promotion to do. Another three-parter, titled 'White Devil' for several obvious reasons you can probably guess, will make its debut soon. I won't say when for sure, given how the work schedule between my beta and I tend to be inconsistent, but it will be up. By next month, at least. A blurb about it had been posted in my bio - and no, this is not the multi-chapter fic in question, so there's an entirely different scenario in my livejournal. By multi-chapter fics, I usually mean fics with a span of ten chapters or more. I will also be updating my bio when I can, as it is currently the most convenient way to update the bunch of you on the status of whatever stories I have. It won't be daily, but it will be updated now and then as I go along.
...The author notes is too long. Erm. Lol? -coughs- Well, as my last note, I give my thanks to the readers who were patiently waiting for this, and put up with reading this long author's notes as well. I hope it's been an enjoyable read for all of you. :) I understand that some of you would have liked me to go more in depth with Nanoha and her rehabilitation...but I'm afraid I don't think there's any place here for it. In a somesort sequel, perhaps, but not here. And don't count on it. I found Nanoha to be much more harder to write in comparison to Fate, for several reasons. So the percentage of such fic appearing is close to nil.
All in all...
Ja matta. :p