Dislcaimer: I don't own MGLN.

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Final Blow

It was a duel. A duel for a Jewel Seed, a Lost Logia; the ultimate prize in your eyes back then. It was nothing more, nothing less. Even when the girl known as Takamachi Nanoha grew to become your rival and equal, that duel was nothing but a stumbling stone as she went on her way.

But when you finally reflect on it, you were probably better off killing her.

You could have; you know you could have. Bardiche was at her throat; all you had to do was give one good swing, and her head would be separated from her body. Then she'd cease to be a problem, and you wouldn't have to worry about making empty threats and keeping an eye out for her as you went along.

You probably should have killed her. In the long run, all things considered, you were probably better off killing her. Mother wouldn't have minded; in fact, in a twisted way, she might have been proud of you.

To Mother, staining one's hands with innocent blood is as shattering as cutting your finger on a broken piece of glass. It stings for awhile and brings tears to your eyes, but by the middle of the day you've forgotten all about it.

Mother would have killed her.

(But when you stop to think about it, really think about it, you know she would have killed you, too.)

But you didn't.

You can always argue, even now, that a duel has certain rules that must be followed. Unless a duel is specified to be fought to the death, the combatants do not—by honor and an age old code—take the final, killing blow. It is an unspoken rule—you do not cut your opponent's thread of life unless it has been earlier set down.

Your duel with her—if you could even call it that, it didn't last even a few minutes—was not put down as a duel to the death. Neither of you said it would end when the other died. All you were fighting for was one Jewel Seed; in the end, you followed the rules. You withdrew your blade from her throat, and you took the Jewel Seed.

But then again, weren't you a rogue to begin with? What you were doing at the time was illegal and wrong; you knew but you didn't care, because you wanted to make Mother happy. You wanted her to smile. You would have died for her smile.

So, technically, you had the right to kill your rival—the one fighting you for Jewel Seeds. Not only did she stand in the way of Mother's smile, but you were already breaking numerous laws; killing her would have almost been expected of you.

(It's what Mother would have done.)

But you didn't do it.

You couldn't do it.

Because somewhere deep down, buried by your stubborn will and shoved into the darkest shadows of your mind, you believed she had a reason, too. A reason for fighting, a reason for searching for the Jewel Seeds. Maybe she wanted to see her mother smile, too.

(But if that was true, why was she trying to befriend you?)

And when it came down to it, when you wanted to get past any sentimentality on your part, it was just wrong. Somehow, someway, you knew and believed—you believed, dammit, a belief that was your own and wasn't beaten into you by Mother—that taking another person's life was wrong. You were an adult trapped in a child's body, but somehow you were still young enough, still innocent enough, to believe that spilling innocent blood was wrong.

Had things gone differently, you were probably better off killing her.

But you didn't, and things didn't go differently.

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Two years later she lies on a bed, pale and small with liquids keeping her alive and her eyes closed. You sit by her bedside every day without fail, though most of the time you tightly grip the sides of your chair; you want to touch her, to take her hand, to stroke her hair, but you fear that if you do she'll stop breathing and shatter into a thousand pieces.

You want to speak to her, but you don't know what to say. You've never been good at talking; she always talked for you, in her own way. The words climb into your throat and jam it so you have to swallow several times, soft whimpers occasionally escaping, and your fingers turn white from gripping your chair so hard.

You don't want to cry, but you can feel the tears falling; you can feel the heat in your face and the wetness streaking your cheeks, and you hate yourself because she wouldn't want you to cry for her. Your body is shaking and you can't stop.

Maybe you should have killed her, after all. Any punishment would have been better than this. This horrible pain, this weakness, this overwhelming feeling of helplessness.

(You probably should have killed her, but you know that if she dies now, you'll die too.)

The End

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The scene in episode 5 of Fate with Bardiche at Nanoha's throat has always been one of my favorite scenes from season 1, for some weird reason. I get a vibe from it, so I wrote this short little thing. The end is based off the event mentioned in Striker S, two years after A's.

I hesitate to call this out and out NanoFate since technically they're 9-11 here, but you can percieve this as close friendship with maybe a hint of romance... bah, I don't know.

Read and review, please!