Nanoha lie awake in her hospital bed, antiseptic stinging her nostrils. The majority of the hospital had long since gone to sleep, leaving only the night shift and the machinery to work away.
Lying there was the only thing Nanoha could do. Her body was still wrapped in bandages, and while most of her physical wounds had healed, she still couldn't move most of her body.
This is what happened to those who were shot down.
She had been careless. She hadn't been paying attention to her own condition. Those machines weren't that tough, but she had gone overboard regardless. Her young, developing body just couldn't take it anymore.
So here she was, constrained to the bed.
Nanoha glanced over to her closed window. The room was so stuffy. She wanted to walk over and open the window to let the night air in. She wanted feel the wind in her hair. She wanted to dance with the stars, the twin satellites, and the neighbouring planets.
She wanted to fly.
She missed the sky so much, but was powerless to do anything about it. She wondered if she would ever get to feel that sense of freedom again. It certainly wasn't looking good for her. She tried her hardest during the rehab sessions, but it didn't seem like her legs would regain functionality.
They were on the verge of giving up.
Sometimes Nanoha wondered if it was for the best. It was her own fault she ended up like that, after all. Perhaps it was meant to be.
She didn't want it to be, though.
Nanoha closed her eyes and tried once again to fall sleep, but she was startled by a rapping noise.
She carefully propped herself up with her arms and glanced to where the sound originated: the window.
There she saw a familiar green clad boy waving at her.
"Yuuno-kun?" She blinked in surprise. Yuuno opened the window and floated into the room. "What are you doing here? It's way past visiting hours!"
"Uh, well… Sorry to intrude." He grinned sheepishly. "I just… wanted to see how you were doing."
"Well, I'm doing as fine as I was earlier today when you came to visit me." Nanoha answered, still confused.
"That's good… I um… well…" Yuuno searched for the right words. "I was wondering if maybe you'd be up to… going out with me."
"What do you mean, Yuuno-kun? You know I can't…"
"I just want to take you out for a bit…" He interrupted. "You must be tired of being cooped up in this room, right? I just thought it might be nice…"
"It would be nice, Yuuno-kun, but what do you have in mind?"
Yuuno hesitated several times, but he eventually reached for her. "Pardon me." He muttered as he slipped his hands under her. He proceeded to lift her up along with the bed sheet that covered her.
The nature of the action was unanticipated. The girl glanced up into Yuuno's face. Even in the pale moonlight, she could tell it was dark with embarrassment. Nanoha expected him to take her to the wheelchair in the corner of the room, but instead he took her over to the window from which he entered.
"D-Don't worry, Nanoha." He said with great effort. "I swear I won't drop you." Being extremely mindful of the girl in his arms, Yuuno slid out the window and into the awaiting heavens.
The sudden blast of cool air made Nanoha shiver, but it was a sensation she had longed for. She looked at the distant ground below and smiled.
"Ah, are you too cold?" Yuuno voiced his concern. Nanoha could feel the chill disappearing as his body heat mingled with her own.
"No, I'm just fine." She answered. She glanced over at the far off glow of the city lights. It was like a secluded swarm of fireflies. "Let's go higher, Yuuno-kun!"
The boy obliged and soared further into the air. Nanoha reached out and skimmed her hand along a cloud as they passed by. Soon, Yuuno broke through the billows and into the theatre of the stars. Both of Mid Childa's moons were full, and its sister planet showed its splendour like it always did. The number of stars and other celestial bodies were impossible to count.
Nanoha stared at the nostalgic sight. It had been far too long. The views and the sensations of flight always made her feel at home. She closed her eyes and let it all soak in. She really needed this.
"Thank you so much, Yuuno-kun." She said.
"No, it's nothing really…" Yuuno looked away. "I kept thinking about what I could do for you but… I can only do this much..." He took a deep breath. "Nanoha, I'm really…"
Nanoha reached up and weakly pulled on his cheek before he could finish.
"You were about blame yourself for what happened to me, weren't you, Yuuno-kun?" She sternly reprimanded. "How many times have I told you that it wasn't your fault?"
"I really am grateful to you, Yuuno-kun." She smiled. "You opened up a whole new path for me to take. I gained the wonderful ability to fly, I met so many precious people, and I've done so many amazing things. None of that would have happened if I hadn't met you. If I could, I wouldn't change a thing."
"But… because of that…" Yuuno bit his lip. Nanoha felt his grip become firmer. She had never realised that he was this strong. His arms remained perfectly steady under her weight. It was almost hard to believe that, not too long ago, he used to be the little ferret perched on her shoulder. It seemed like a stupid and obvious thing to suddenly recognize, but Yuuno really was a boy the same age as her; a kind and gentle boy who had stood by her side and supported her since the very beginning. Being there in his arms under the night sky filled her with an overwhelming sense of security. It felt so… right.
Becoming conscious of that set off a flutter in her chest. Nanoha had never experienced such a sensation before, but it definitely wasn't an unpleasant feeling. Both her heart and her cheeks felt warm and tingly. She couldn't help but let out a giggle.
"What's so funny?" Yuuno blinked in surprise. What he had been saying was quite serious.
"Nothing, really." Nanoha responded. "I was just thinking about how I used to be the one carrying you around."
If he was in the position to do so, Yuuno would have fallen over.
"Geh, I'll never live down that ferret thing, will I?" He sighed. Nanoha laughed harder.
"You were so furry and cute." She said. After her laughter died down, Nanoha rested her head against Yuuno's chest. His body stiffened, and his quickening heartbeat thumped in her ear. "What happened to me was a lesson I needed to learn, so don't feel bad about it. I won't repeat the same mistake twice."
Nanoha smiled up into his emerald eyes. "When I get better, let's going flying together again, Yuuno-kun. Just the two of us. It's a promise, ok?"
Yuuno blinked a few times, but a smile soon spread across his face. "Ok, it's a promise."
Nanoha closed her eyes again and just listened to the rhythm of Yuuno's heart. It brought peace to her mind and she found herself drifting off to the sleep she failed to achieve earlier.
Yes, Nanoha would recover and, together with a very special person, she would soar through the night sky once again.