A/N: This is RadiantBeam's fault, really. It usually is. She posted a short over at the AnimeSuki forums in her LuteciaxVivio series in which some guy tried to pick up Lutecia, and I responded with a line with Nanoha saying "And Fate-chan finally got me to accept this relationship!" So RadiantBeam asked "How did Fate get her to do that?"
No, that wasn't my answer. Really, you're all pervs. :)
Anyway, then she wrote the fourth story in her series, "Daddy's Little Girl." And in doing it she managed to dodge BOTH of my Nanoha-Fandom Pet Peeves, both of which were easy set-ups for a story like that. So I gave in and said I'd write the answer to the question.
Then it grew up into a full-length one-shot instead of an omake segment.
So if next week's chapter of Kannazuki no Shimai is late...you can blame her!
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"Nanoha, what's bothering you?"
The TSAB's Ace of Aces blinked.
"Huh? What makes you think that?"
Fate T. Harlaown folded her arms across her chest, She'd been Nanoha's friend since forever, her lover since nearly forever, and her wife for over a dozen years. She knew when something was bugging the brunette.
"It's been three months since I was last on-planet, our daughter has gone off to school, the bedroom door is locked for double measure, and yet I'm still wearing my shirt. Either I'm no longer attractive to you since I hit the big three-oh--"
"Fate-chan!" Nanoha immediately started protesting.
"--or you're worried about something important." She fluffed her long blonde hair, which she wore free of its usual ribbon. "My ego says that it's the latter."
The flippancy dropped from her voice and she patted the bed beside her.
"Sit down and tell me about it, why don't you? Even if I can't help, at least I can listen so you don't have to keep it all inside."
She stopped, broke off, then sighed.
"All right." Nanoha dropped onto the bed. "I just didn't want to interrupt your homecoming, but I guess I went ahead and did that without meaning to, anyway."
"We're here to help each other out, right?" Fate encouraged. She started to rub Nanoha's shoulders, which were tight with tension.
"Vivio? Did something happen?" A spark of worry kicked up in Fate's lower belly at the mention of their daughter.
"No...nothing new, at least. It's just..." Nanoha clenched her hands into fists where they rested on her thighs. She then spun to face Fate, pulling free from Fate's hands, her blue eyes wide, searching, and a little scared. "How can you accept this, Fate-chan? How can you be so calm about Vivio going out with Lutecia-chan?"
"That's what's bothering you?"
"Did something happen while I was off-planet?" Fate asked at once. This time Nanoha shook her head.
"N-no. I mean...I don't think so. They go on dates and things, though I don't think it's gone past kissing...and Vivio hasn't acted like anything bad happened or said anything..."
Fate let out her breath. She hadn't expected such a thing; if anything it would be Vivio that pushed the shy, reserved Lutecia Alphine to move the relationship forward. Even so, Nanoha's obvious concern had made her worry for a moment.
"So what's wrong, then? It can't be that Vivio is with another girl, since you never hesitated about that with us, and they've been friends for years and Lutecia's never treated Vivio badly..."
"She's four years older, Fate-chan! Vivio's only fifteen, and Lutecia-chan's nearly an adult. We were nineteen when we adopted Vivio!"
"Four years isn't that much. Ten years from now if they're still together it won't matter at all. And Vivio loves her. She's loved her for years. You know that Lutecia was her first crush but she never moved on to anyone else."
"I...I know, but...love is different at fifteen and nineteen. It is, it can't help but be." She let out a huge sigh. "Whenever they're together, I get scared for Vivio, and I want to just rush in and rip them apart from each other, and I know that I can't do that, and so I end up being unable to say anything at all, and that just puts me right back where I started..." She broke off, then made a little sound deep in the back of her throat. Her next words came out as half laughter, half sob. "Fate-chan, I'm no good at waiting and worrying. I want to do something, to act, to fix things and I don't know what or how or--"
"Nanoha," Fate said gently. She cupped her beloved's cheek with her palm. "Nanoha, look at me."
Nanoha sniffled a little, but met Fate's gaze, blue to red.
"You have to talk to her," Fate said.
"But Vivio won't--"
"Not Vivio. You have to talk to Lutecia. Seriously talk to her. Like Lindy did."
"Lindy?" Nanoha was puzzled for a moment, and then her eyes widened in remembrance.
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Fate T. Harlaown was as happy a thirteen-year-old girl as there was on the planet, she was sure. She was in love! Better than that, she'd finally worked up the courage to confess her feelings and they'd been accepted! She'd been so scared that something would go wrong, that Nanoha would be repulsed or offended, or if not that then that she might not return Fate's feelings and that either way it would ruin their friendship, but she'd gathered her courage in both hands and let fly. And Nanoha had said yes!
A knock on her room's open door cut through the pink, fluffy bliss.
"Hey, Fate, c'mon. You're going to want to see this."
"Chrono-niichan?" Her brother, nineteen, lean, and dark-haired, stood casually in the doorway, but his face was serious. "What is it?"
"Nanoha stopped by to see you, but Mom grabbed her first. They're going to take tea in the living room. Any guesses what they'll be talking about?"
Fate sat bolt upright in her bed.
"Hold it!" Chrono cut her off before she could rush out of the room. "You've got to promise to stay quiet no matter what, okay? If Mom finds out I told you she'll ship me off to Mid-Childa without benefit of a ship!"
"No, she wouldn't," Fate said. She knew Chrono was just using hyperbole, but she felt the need to say it anyway. Lindy Harlaown was Fate's adoptive mother and Fate refused to hear even joking remarks about exaggerated maternal wrath. She'd had too much of dealing with the real thing from Precia Testarossa to tolerate such remarks about Lindy.
"Okay, true, but she'd get mad and then she'd be all disappointed in me, so you still have to promise."
Fate took a deep breath. She had an idea it would be hard, but she could grit her teeth and endure hardship. That and magic use were about the only things Precia had taught her.
"Okay, I promise."
Chrono led her down the hall out onto the landing that overlooked the living room. They were in a back corner off to the side of Lindy and Nanoha, who faced each other across the coffee table, so they could watch without being seen.
"Would you like a cup of tea, Nanoha?" Lindy offered.
Lindy poured green tea for both of them, passed a cup to Nanoha, then added sugar and milk to her own. Over the years Nanoha had gotten used to Lindy's habit, but Fate knew it still weirded her out. Lindy had acclimatized so well to life in Japan that she was considering it as her full-time residence when she retired, but every so often she showed off little quirks that pointed out that she was an honest-to-goodness, from-another-world alien.
They sipped their tea, and then Lindy spoke again.
"I understand that congratulations are in order, Nanoha."
"Fate tells me that the two of you are dating now."
Nanoha blushed bright red.
"Um, that is--"
"Oh, isn't it true?"
"No--I mean yes--I mean we are, but it's just--"
"To hear me say it so bluntly isn't so easy?" Lindy drank more tea, giving Nanoha a chance to collect herself.
Fate wanted to dart downstairs and offer Nanoha her support, but restrained herself.
"Do...do you not approve, Lindy-san?"
Lindy didn't answer at once, her silence prompting Nanoha to elaborate, which she did.
"I mean, I know you can't have expected Fate-chan to fall in love with a girl, and..."
Lindy shook her head.
"No, I don't disapprove of that. Mid-Childans don't make a point of such things. And you're quite wrong. I fully expected Fate to fall in love with a girl. I've been expecting this talk between us for four years now."
Fate flinched in surprise, barely able to suppress a gasp.
"Fate loves you, Nanoha. She's loved you since she met you when you were nine. You were 'best friends' to her only so long as it took for her body to catch up to her heart. So I've been expecting the topic to come up sooner or later. What I wasn't sure of were your feelings. You're very close to that Yuuno Scrya boy, after all. My son has always believed the two of you would make an excellent couple."
Fate shot a surprised glance up at Chrono, who just shrugged.
"I like Yuuno-kun very much," Nanoha said in a small voice. "He'll always be my very important friend. But he isn't Fate-chan!"
"No, he isn't." Lindy sipped more tea. "Yuuno is much stronger than Fate."
"Fate-chan's a very strong person!" Nanoha sprang to her defense.
"Generally, yes. About you, no."
"W-what do you mean?" Nanoha said, but the look on her face suggested that she already had at least some idea. She'd never been a particularly good liar.
"You were the first person to show love to Fate. Her mother hated her, thought of her as nothing but a tool to retrieve the life of her biological daughter. Arf genuinely cares for her, but as a familiar she is inherently subservient to Fate and so can't really be strong in her place. You, on the other hand, stood up for her at once and never let go. You fought hard, you risked your life, you disobeyed my orders, and even battled directly with Fate herself, all for her sake. You had no obligations to her, no ties or responsibilities, and yet you stood up and gave her your hand. Fate had done nothing since she was created but try to win love from Precia Testarossa, and then you stepped in and gave it to her. And it wasn't generalized or impersonal; you valued Fate for Fate, you cared about her sadness, you hurt because she hurt, it was her face you wanted to see smile."
"Fate is terribly dependent on you, Nanoha. You might not have understood that when you were nine, but I think you're starting to now. It's not as serious as it once was, but make no mistake, she will always look to you first for approval and affection. That is a very, very dangerous amount of power to be giving a person, particularly one's love."
Lindy set her cup down and fixed Nanoha with a look that left no room for turning away.
"I want you to look at your feelings very hard, Nanoha. Do you genuinely love Fate as a girlfriend? Or is this just a crush? Do you care for her as a friend and are looking for an easy, safe way to experiment with being 'in love' with someone you know will never hurt you?
"And if you are serious, then again how serious are you? If your other friends and classmates turn against you because of this, will you stand by Fate? What if your parents object? You thought I might, so what about them. Will you risk fighting with your family if they won't stand for you being with Fate?
"If that's not the case, then I want you to break it off with Fate now. If you can't be what she needs you to be, Nanoha, then it's best she accept it now before you hurt her too badly for her to bear."
Trembling, Fate almost bolted to her feet and would have, promise or no, had Chrono's hand not caught her by the shoulder. This wasn't fair to Nanoha! How could she be expected to make such a declaration?
Nanoha, however, did not flinch.
She set her nearly-full cup down sharply, nearly sloshing tea over the lip.
"Lindy-san," she declared firmly. "I can't make promises for two years or five years or ten years from now. But! I can absolutely say that my feelings for Fate-chan right now are completely serious. This isn't something I said just because I didn't want to hurt Fate-chan with rejection or on a sudden whim! I've felt these feelings for her growing for more than a year, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to hurt her or make her suffer the weight of that choice. I'm not going to give up on her or be pushed aside just because it's hard, because Fate-chan is the one I love!"
Fate's eyes brimmed over with sudden tears. Nanoha had returned her confession earnestly, but this fierce defense was something different. Her vision wasn't so clouded as to miss Lindy's smile, though.
"Good! I approve of your relationship with my daughter."
Chrono had to pull Fate back to keep her from bouncing up over the railing to thank Lindy.
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"You were watching that?" Nanoha exclaimed. "I never knew that!"
"I have a feeling that Lindy-mama had Chrono bring me on purpose, so that she could talk to me without really talking to me to express her concerns, and so I could hear your response."
"You're probably right. You Harlaowns are sneaky like that."
"Well, you're a Harlaown by marriage, now, so you can learn from us. Seriously, though, talk to Lutecia, not as an angry mother but woman-to-woman. Be honest with her. We both know her and what kind of person she is; I think it'll help her, too, to get things out in the open between you. And I'm sure it'll make it easier for you to talk to Vivio. She's still fifteen and needs you to be the clear, adult thinker."
"You're right, Fate-chan!" She leaned over, gave Fate a quick hug of thanks and hopped to her feet. She'd already taken the first step towards the door when Fate stopped her by grabbing the hem of her skirt.
"It can wait, dear."
"Isn't the one with the problem. You are. Or rather, we are."
"We? But you..." It sunk in after a few seconds. "Oh. Well, I suppose I wouldn't be much of a magical-girl heroine if I ran off to take care of my own selfish concerns when the woman I love still needs me." She gave Fate her best White Devil smile, then hopped up on the bed astride Fate's lap.
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Vivio's Magical Omake Theater!
The sight of a large blue wolf knocking on a door would have been unusual in many places. Even in the capital of Mid-Childa, at the heart of a dimension-spanning administrative federation based on magical technology, it would have raised eyebrows. Zafira himself found it off. But when the five-year-old he was babysitting went into her bedroom and locked the door, dignity ceased to be a factor.
"Vivio! Vivio, are you all right in there?"
"Vivio, what are you doing?"
"This isn't funny, Vivio. Open the door and let me in."
This time, he heard her voice from the other side. It was muffled, though. Perhaps she hadn't answered because she hadn't heard him? Yet if so...she couldn't have said what he thought she had, could she? It was nonsense, even for a five-year-old.
Zafira pressed his paw to the lock plate. He'd been given the code to open all doors, since he was providing adult supervision, and he judged it time to use it. The door hissed open, leaving him face-to-face with a pouting little girl.
"No, no, Zaffy; you're supposed to say, 'Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!' before you open the door!"