I awoke slowly as the sunlight from the window finally reached my side of the bed. For some reason there was this spot on my pillow that always had the morning light hit it to wake me up. Amazingly no matter where I was on the bed I always seemed to be right there when the time came to awake me. It was for this reason that I rather liked the sun; it was a reliable alarm clock. Vivio moved against me lightly as she clutched at my shirt. With a smile I moved her hand from myself and crawled over her carefully so I could reach Fate. After double checking to make sure the little one was still asleep I went about waking up my friend. "Fate-chan," I smiled when she stirred lightly. "Fate-chaaaaaan." Moving to straddle her waist I started rubbing her shoulders. "Faaaaaaate-chan?" Finally she opened her eyes and looked up at me only half focused. "Happy birthday, Fate-chan." Leaning over I pecked he forehead. After doing such I slid onto her body and made myself comfortable, snuggling. "I'm going to make you breakfast but I'm still a little lazy." In response she draped one arm over the small of my back and shifted to get more comfortable. I loved it when she was sleepy, she was always so snuggly.
Nanoha allowed herself to enjoy the rare moment of being cuddled for almost five minutes before reluctantly re-straddling Fate's waist and sitting up on her lap. With a face-splitting yawn she stretched out and looked down at her friend again. The blond seemed to be slightly more awake now and was gazing up at her happily. "Happy birthday again," She spoke down at her softly. In return the red eyed girl smiled up to her and offered her hands, which were taken. "I love your hands."
"I know," Fate finally spoke back as she played with Nanoha's fingers. The gesture was common now, having been seeded since they were only twelve years old. Nanoha had said the words countless times now while holding hands. Always the same, simple words. Once done, she would always reply in kind: "Thank you." The two touched their fingertips together and idly flirted without saying anything else for a moment.
"Mama..." Vivio broke the silence then, reaching out to try and find one of her guardians. "... Mama..."
"Here," Nanoha scooped her up and laid her next to her friend's body. "Have a Vivio."
"Why thank you." She accepted the present and soon found herself cuddled. "I'll keep this gift forever and ever."
"Or at least until she starts throwing a temper tantrum at which point you'll tell her to go to Nanoha-mama?"
"You nailed it." Fate gave her a gentle gaze.
"I'm going to make us breakfast. I told your work space you would be late coming to work this morning already so take your time okay? You can even sleep another half-hour or so if you would like to."
Fate shook her head. "I'll be down shortly. Thanks for the extra time." The two met each other's eyes briefly before Nanoha leaned over to give both Vivio and herself a kiss to the temple. When done the pony tailed one waved lightly before going downstairs. 'How odd,' Fate mused to herself. 'Nanoha has always given me a present the very moment I woke up...Even when we were living in separate houses she would sneak to my room to be sure she was the absolute first to wish me a happy birthday.' With a curious hum she let the fact slide by and proceeded to wake up the child currently clinging to her. "Vivio. Vivio? Time to wake up sweetheart." When she met the multi colored eyes of her sleepy 'child' she couldn't help but touch her nose. "Good morning."
"Good morning," Vivio rubbed her eyes with both hands before letting out a loud yawn. "Happy birthday."
"You knew it was my birthday?"
"Nanoha-mama told me to be sure and say it as soon as I woke up," She replied honestly. "What's a 'birthday?'"
Fate helped Vivio out of the bed and proceeded to go about dressing her. "Well, it's a very special day. Normally people celebrate the day you were born by giving presents and eating lots of cake and ice cream."
"You were born today?"
"I'm special," Fate pet her head before going to her closet and picking up one of her uniforms. "Fate-mama doesn't know what day she was born on so Nanoha-mama gave me a birthday."
"Mm." Fate started to button her undershirt. "Ten years ago, on that day when we were on the bridge, I made my first friend. That is my birthday." Leaning over, Fate made sure Vivio's shirt was on properly. "Come now, let's go see if Nanoha-mama has caught anything on fire in the kitchen."
Nanoha's voice floated up from downstairs with a loud "I can hear you!" and a pout once they were in visible range. "I prepared extra hard for you. I've been cooking Yuuno breakfast for the past week so I would be sure I did it properly." She broke a few more eggs into a skillet and swirled the pan around. "Almost done, everything is ready but the eggs and biscuits."
"Western style breakfast?" Fate looked impressed. "Biscuits too? Wow."
"They're frozen," Nanoha admitted to her while sticking out her tongue. "I tried really hard but not even Yuuno would eat them anymore after the third day..." Ignoring the amused look she continued to finish the eggs. "You like them a little runny, right? We should probably make sure Vivio's is fully cooked just in case though."
"Nanoha-mama sure thinks about the right things," Fate cooed at her, leaning over so she was looking over her shoulder. "Hm? Nanoha you went stiff all of a sudden."
"N-nothing." The breath from her friend's mouth tickled her neck lightly. "Will you get plates down please Fate-chan?" When the warm breath was gone she instantly felt a shiver go down her spine. "Vivio, help her set the table would you?" Her daughter replied happily and trotted over to the blond, holding her hands up to reach for one of the dishes. "Do you have any specific plans for the day?" She continued while they started getting everything ready to eat. "Will you be late coming home or anything?"
"Not that I know of." Fate pondered the question a moment. "Lunch with Signum and a meeting with Hayate later on but I don't think anything else is planned, why?"
"Just wondering." Nanoha looked over at the blonde and smile fondly. "Hey, can I braid your hair?" As she sat the last batch of food on the table she quickly went to stand behind her friend and start finger combing the hair. "It won't take long, promise!" Although she knew Fate got sleepy when her hair was played with it was a vital part in her plan to have the hairstyle. Before any objection could be made the hair was split into three parts and began to intertwine with itself. "Sorry, can you eat while I'm doing this?"
"You say after you start." Fate began eating regardless, chewing slowly to savor the taste. "Mmm... This is really good."
"Thank you, I tried hard." Vivio seemed to be enjoying her meal as well, stumbling over the table manors she was learning in an attempt not to be messy in her hurry to shove more into her mouth. "You have to leave your hair braided today no matter what okay?"
"Why?" Fate looked over her shoulder as best she could and gave Nanoha a knowing glance. She knew it just had to have some type of connection with Nanoha's birthday present to her and wasn't going to let up until she knew for sure.
"...Mou." Nanoha pouted at her. "Stop trying to figure things out, it'll ruin the surprise."
"Then don't make it so obvious," Fate countered her happily, eyes shining. "Do I get my present now? You've made me wait hours!"
"We just woke up!" Nanoha put a hand on her hip and grinned at her partner. She knew good and well she normally gave Fate her presents just a few minutes after the stroke of midnight or at the very latest waited until the sun started coming up. Having made breakfast she successfully threw off the pattern and attempted to put Fate in a confused state before surprising her but that was just shot out of the air. "You spoil everything." Nanoha poked the ruby eyed girl's nose and smiled when Fate playfully nipped at her. "Down girl. Good. Stay." She ruffled Fate's hair lightly as to not mess up the completed braid and jogged lightly out of the room to fetch the gift. "Close your eyes!"
"How about I turn my back while putting Vivio's plate up?" Fate casually called back as she did just that.
"That works too!" The voice floated down the house and was followed by scuffling sounds from upstairs. Shortly after Nanoha flew over the rail and glided silently over behind Fate. "Boo!" Her hands grabbed Fate's shoulders and shook lightly, sending the blonde into a small fit.
"Kya!" Fate turned and held a hand to her chest, panting. "Nanoha!"
"Happy birthday!" Nanoha was smiling brightly, as if she didn't just give her best friend a heart attack. "This is for you." She held up a type of flower that would resemble a rose back on Earth, only yellow in color. "Do you know what this is?"
"A yellow Mid-nan." Fate replied easily, looking at the beautiful flower. "Where in the world did you get one? They are ultra rare."
"I called in a few favors," Nanoha admitted easily with a smile. "Do you know what it means?"
Now it was Fate's turn to smile. "Mm. One of the ancient goddesses gave it to her best friend as a symbol of their connection. It's the flower of friendship."
"Right." Nanoha beamed at her. "You know a lot about flowers. Good, that will make this go a lot easier."
"Huh?" She blinked.
"Nothing!" Nanoha allowed Fate to smell the flower and look at it just a moment more before Nanoha took it back and got behind her friend. "And now for the finishing touch." With a little work she threaded the stem seamlessly into the braid so the flower was top center of the hair-style.
Fate blushed lightly, knowing people were going to giggle at her when they saw the cute flower in her hair. "Nanoha, that's embarrassing..."
"It's okay." Nanoha protested happily while leaning over to kiss her cheek. "It looks nice."
"...Thank you." She embraced the fingers around her shoulders and leaned back against Nanoha, careful not to crush her new flower. After enjoying watching Vivio's attempts to clean off the table for a while Fate finally pulled away from the hold and stepped forward. "I should go ahead and get to work, I'm already pretty late. You're going to take Vivio over to Hayate's later today right?"
"Yeah Hayate needs her to get officially registered as a citizen and resident of the base so she'll probably end up staying the night with her." Nanoha walked her to the door and allowed herself to be a living brace while Fate put her heels on. "I'll be waiting for you tonight."
"Oh?" Fate grinned at her, making Nanoha scratch her cheek. If she had been trying to not give away the fact that she was planning something, she had failed. "Okay, I'll come home right after work."
"Okay," The two looked at each other a moment longer, cheeks lightly coloring. "Would you... want a birthday hug before you go off?"
The blonde's gaze softened, smile playing on her lips. "Mm, yes please." The two took a step towards each other and gave one last embarrassed look before wrapping their arms around each other.
"Have a good day,"
"I'm off then."
The two held the hug a while longer before pulling away slowly. Nanoha's cheeks colored a little more when she noticed that she had been on her tiptoes in the hug. Fate's natural height advantage with heels made her a full head length taller than her when barefooted. "Once again, happy birthday."
"Thank you," Fate slowly went through the door and closed it while keeping her eye on Nanoha until she was completely blocked from view. 'For some reason I feel really embarrassed... Nanoha was so...touchy today.'
The brown haired girl on the other side of the door smiled brightly to herself, nodding as if confirming something. Turning, she smiled at her adopted daughter and spoke cheerfully. "Vivio, would you like to help Nanoha-mama give Fate-mama a present?"
"Present?" Vivio tilted her head to the side curiously.
"Happy birthday Fate-chan!" Hayate smiled merrily while leaning against the door leading into the main office building. "Nanoha-chan distract you a little this morning?" She gave her friend a hug followed by a birthday card.
"Just a little bit, yes." The two walked into the building and were greeted by the warmth of the heater. "Can I open this now?"
"Go ahead." Hayate stopped and watched Fate restrain herself from ripping open the letter, as she knew would have happened if they had been alone, and instead observed Fate very maturely slide her finger to break the seal. "I was going to give you the day off for your birthday but I decided not to because it could be seen as favoritism so instead I'm going to be making you lunch."
Fate smiled brightly as she read the card and gave her friend another tight hug. "Thank you, it's so sweet! Don't worry about anything, you know I don't need to get gifts. Just having everyone near me is enough." Despite her words she still slipped the gift card to her favorite bookstore into her purse along with the card. "Lunch, hmmm?" She thought about it. "I'm supposed to be-"
"Don't worry." Hayate waved it off. "I know your tradition of eating with Signum on your birthday so I'll do it tomorrow." She grinned at Fate's embarrassed look. Signum was Fate's first real role-model and the two had gotten along surprisingly well over the years; even if there was a short phase where Fate tried to copy things that Signum did. Fate would never admit it, still probably thinking she covered herself so no one else noticed, but Hayate could still recall all the times Signum had come home after being on a mission with Fate and was torn between talking fondly about how the two got along or demanding never to be placed with the blonde ever again. The memories made her giggle lightly and had to cover her mouth to hide it from the curious look she was getting. "Nothing, don't mind me."
"Ohhhhh kaaayyy..." Fate gave her another amused look before setting off to walk to the elevator with her friend.
"Ooh, a flower." Hayate laughed at the sight. "Nanoha really made you wear it huh?"
"No," Hayate smiled innocently, not trying to cover the fact that she was blatantly lieing. "I'll see you a little later okay?" with a small wave she said her goodbye to her friend when she stepped out on her floor.
The blonde blushed instantly when she saw the banner above the door leading to her office that proudly screamed out that it was her birthday. Several of her co-workers were grinning at her and laughing at her embarrassment, pointing and covering snickers while at the same time greeting her. "Mou, you guys." She tried to cover her face but only got more giggling around her. "Everyone go to work, you hear me? No more making fun of me."
"Nanoha give you a spanking yet!?" Someone Fate couldn't see called out from across the room, getting loud laughter from everyone else.
"Whoever said that is getting a pay cut!" Fate declared playfully before finally escaping to her office and away from her teasing office space.
It was around ten in the morning before the birthday girl got her next treat on her special day. Outside her office people were suddenly squealing over something cute and flocking around it. The red eyed girl's curiosity perked and she too left her desk to see what it was. Once close enough she heard the familiar sounds of Vivio's happy laughter and shortly after saw her adopted daughter outright. The little one was wearing a uniform that was an exact copy of hers, complete with a black ribbon at the bottom of her hair. "Mama!" Vivio noticed her and ran towards the woman quickly before hugging her knees. "Hello!"
"Hello," Fate greeted back as she observed Vivio closer. "You look adorable."
"Hayate made it for me!" Vivio informed her childishly. "Nanoha-mama said it would be cute. Oh!" She reached into the miniature purse she was carrying and pulled out a small plastic case that was poking out of it. "Nanoha-mama said to give this to you."
Fate took the case and blinked at it. Inside was another rose, this one Orange in color. 'Orange,' She thought to herself as she opened the case and took out the rose to smell it. Soft and subtle, barely noticeable on it's own but still enough to tickle her nose. 'Desire and fascination? Why would Nanoha give me one like this? What does she want?' The question rolled over in her mind until the small girl waved a hand in front of her clouded eyes. "Oh, I'm sorry sweetie, thank you." Fate put an arm around Vivio's bottom and hefted her into the air to hold against her side and carry.
"Nanoha-mama wanted me to put it in your hair." Vivio continued as she was carried into Fate's office.
"Hey," Signum greeted casually as she walked through Fate's door while rapping lightly against the frame with the back of her hand. "Is the birthday girl having a nice day?"
"Very," Fate greeted with a smile. Her hands quickly typed on the keyboards to save her work before closing down and grabbing her purse. "You should have seen Vivio this morning."
"I know," Signum smiled in her own special way. "Nanoha came over with her to pick up the outfit. Speaking of..." Signum produced a single Mid-nan seemingly from nowhere and held it up. "Here's number three for the day."
"Number..." Fate's eyes widened slightly as she put the pieces together. "She's setting something up isn't she?"
"Yes," Signum confirmed for her as she allowed the blond to inspect the pink flower. "Turn around please." Fate did as requested and Signum gently weaved the stem into Fate's braid, adding the flower down the strands and also fixing Vivio's attempt at doing so as well. Once down the three floral accessories were in a straight line in the braid.
"My hair is becoming a flower garden," Fate half whined half joked while Signum worked. "It's embarrassing..." She closed her eyes, feeling suddenly sleepy with the hands working her hair. 'Pink...Happiness, admiration, gentleness, 'trust me'...What is it Nanoha? You're working up to something I know it... Friendship, desire, asking me to believe in you...What is it you're trying to say?'
"You want to take them out?" Signum's voice shook her out from her thoughts.
"...No," Fate covered her face with both hands to hide her blush. "I don't want to."
"Then don't complain." Signum patted Fate's shoulders to let her know she was done before turning to go out the door. "Where do you want to eat at today?"
"Mmm...The Mexican place?"
"Didn't you just eat there?" She gave the blonde a weird look.
"Please?" One red eye closed and she stuck out her tongue. "I want to munch a taco."
Looking up from her work, Fate saw four people smiling at her from the office door. The forwards all waved at her weakly, having just come from training. "I don't suppose Nanoha has anything to do with the burnt barrier jackets and wild messy hair does she?" Her words were playful, knowing full well that her room mate probably gave them hell today. "What can I do for you?" She added as an afterthought while closing her monitors down. It was still a few minutes before her normal quitting time but leaving a little early couldn't hurt...
"Happy birthday!" They all sang out together.
"Congratulations on turning twenty." Subaru offered a card followed closely by Tia.
"Thank you," Fate gave them a happy look before reading the cards in her hands. "How sweet..." In a rare moment of disrespect to their rankings she gave them each a hug and turned to the smaller members. "Thanks for stopping by, it means a lot to me."
"I know," Elio hugged his older sister tightly. "Oh, Nanoha-san wanted us to give this to you..."
"Here," Caro held up a Mid-nan and smiled knowingly. "She said to be absolutely sure you got it."
"Yellow?" Fate pondered aloud as she observed it. "No wait, it has red tips..." Her eyes gazed at the flower a moment longer while the others seemed to be holding their breath. 'Yellow is friendship, but the red tips make it...' She gaped loudly, hand clasping over her mouth. 'No... no way...' She heard Subaru trying to hold back a happy squeal and was silenced by Tia's elbow in her ribs. 'She means... Friendship but she desires more...for me to trust her... she's falling in lo-...' She looked at the group again.
"Nanoha-san is waiting," Subaru offered lightly, revealing that they were all in on it as well.
"I-I have to go." Fate quickly hugged them all in turn one more time before grabbing her purse off the desk and hurrying out the door and into the hallway as quickly as she could without it making it look like she was running. The cold air greeted her harshly at the door of the office building and she jogged the rest of the way to the residential area of section six. The doors slid open to her call and the elevator ride was made slowly. The blonde, normally calm, found herself hopping in place and nibbling her bottom lip as she waited for people to board and exit on the way up the few short stories that made up the building.
Finally the door to her loft apartment was in sight but before her hand waved over the scanner to open it she suddenly felt nervous. 'What if I''m wrong?' Her tongue flashed out over her lower lip in a subconscious nervous reaction to the thought. 'It would be a dream come true if she did mean it like that but... Nanoha is a little scatter brained, maybe she doesn't realize what the flowers are saying...but thenagain...' Slowly she took a breath to steady herself and finally scanned her hand.
The door hissed open instantly. "I'm home Nano...ha?" Fate dropped her purse. The lights were all completely off but the rooms were illuminated in a soft candlelight. Starting a little ways into their loft a trail of candles lead to the stairs, giving off enough light to show the way she was meant to go and reveal that by each candle a single red mid-nan laid by it. 'This can't be happening...' Fate slowly walked forward, not even taking her heels off, to the first candle. Trembling fingers picked up the de-thorned flower and held it to her eyes. 'Red... love... she loves... they're red...' Her mind stopped working briefly while she followed the trail and picking up the flowers along the way. 'Six...seven...' She stopped counting, seeing the last one on her nightstand up the stairs along with an empty vase. 'Twelve counting the ones I already got...' As she walked she noticed a small teddy bear on the bed complete with a card held in it's lap.
Deciding to place the flowers first before looking for Nanoha, Fate slowly undid her braid and arranged them all in the vase. Moving back to the bed she noticed several rose petals sprinkled around the sheets and felt a hot blush creep up on her face. Her fingers stopped just a moment when they touched the card but still plucked it from the teddy bear and opened it up. Despite the darkness in the room the candlelight still gave enough to allow her to make out the words neatly written on it:
Turn around and look down
The card fell from her fingers at the same time as her hand once again found it's way to her mouth to cover a gasp. Slowly, ever so slowly, she turned around and allowed herself to look towards the floor. Nanoha was before her, kneeled down and looking up at her with shimmering eyes that reflected the glinting candle flame. "Fate," She began softly. The blonde choked on her air but still watched, body shaking in anticipation, disbelief, and most of all an amount of joy that she couldn't describe. "We've been together for so long." Nanoha continued as she brought up a small velvet box. Clicking it open Fate gasped again at the sight. A small golden ring with intertwining hearts and their birthstones looked up at her. "And I know I'm a little slow sometimes but... I want you to know that I love you. I really, really love you...So..." Reaching up she took Fate's right hand and slid the ring over her finger. "Will you be my girlfriend?"
The red eyed girl didn't know what to do, what to say. Everything she had ever wanted had just hit her head on and she didn't know how to deal with it. Her knees gave out from under her, making her plop down on the bed and stare at her friend with wide shocked eyes. Briefly she looked back at the ring on her trembling hand still being embraced by Nanoha's and then back to the blue eyes searching for an answer. She was on her knees for her, petals everywhere, candles lighting their room, the sweet smell on incense and flowers lingered around her, and her hand was being held so very softly. Nanoha had finally granted the wish she had silently asked for the past three birthdays. A tear rolled down her cheek as she blinked, followed by another a few seconds later.
"E-eh?" Nanoha's look suddenly turned to panic. "Fa-Fate, please don't cry!" The hand gripping the blonde's suddenly got tighter. "D-didn't you want me to ask? I... I mean... oh please don't cry!"
Fate shook her head quickly, pulling Nanoha forward and embracing her in a hug. She couldn't find her words at the moment, voice lost in her tight throat while she held her friend tighter. Another tear of joy rolled down her cheek. The smell of Nanoha's hair invaded her nose, body heat seeping into her as they embraced. The shock slowly started to fade away and she realized that her friend was probably still worried that she had done something wrong. "Yes," Fate finally whispered into Nanoha's hair as she tried to pull her almost painfully closer. "Yes, yes I wanted it."
Nanoha's tense body relaxed all at once and soon hugged Fate back fully. "You scared me," She scolded softly.
"Sorry," Slowly the two pulled apart and touched foreheads. "I'm just..." She sniffed lightly and Fate fought the urge to rub her nose. "So happy right now..."
"Good," Nanoha gently touched the blonde's cheek and caressed it lovingly. "Fate...?"
"Yes...?" Her hand also went up to touch Nanoha, small glimmering bits of light reflecting off the golden ring.
"Can I kiss you?" Fate didn't answer. Instead she simply nodded lightly and leaned forward. Their lips met softly, almost not enough to be a real kiss. Instead of ending there they tried again, this time finding each others lips and pressing against them just enough to be felt. The two stayed like that for an un known length of time, simply holding each other and touching softly. "Happy birthday, Fate." Nanoha whispered briefly as they broke to take a small intake of air.
"Nanoha..." Fate slowly leaned back on the bed, taking her new girlfriend with her, and gazed up into the clear eyes of the most important girl in her life. "I love you too, Nanoha." Their fingers slowly found each other's and interlaced gently. Eyes closed against their will as their lips touched again, breath playing lightly onto each other. The candlelight burned softly around them, caressing their skin in a soft light as the girls slowly leaned in for more kissing.
Author's notes: I know it's a standard "Nanoha and Fate like each other and end up together" story... but darn it I like this one. I wanted it to be sickingly cute and full of fluffy warm feelings instead of the more serious works I've done lately. Also I'd like to give special mention to more of the nameless Nanoha translation brigade. Narmi, Beddo9, and Nirvaphreak ( in no particular order) for many translations, and Zoung for providing most of the scans. Also all the people who prefer to stay Anonymous, thanks to you as well.
As for this story, it will be continued in the future to pick up where the girls left off in another fanfic entitled "Emerald Night".