In the beginning people thought it was so unfortunate that I was born without the ability to use my legs. They'd offer their sympathy and assistance, but I would just smile at them and say it wasn't necessary.
The fact was I was far from unhappy. Sure, I was bound to my wheelchair, but that was just the way it had always been. It was normal for me so I never despaired over it. I had no reason to because I was extremely happy since I had such kind, loving parents by my side.
But then I didn't and my Hell began.
Having no living relatives, there wasn't much choice other than dumping me into the system. While the lawyers and whoever else argued over what was to be done with my family's estate and possessions, I was placed into a foster home.
The couple I was sent to live with were all smiles when I arrived. Both of them were on the chubby side, giving off the sort of impression one would expect from the Claus family. By all appearances they were warmly welcoming a poor unfortunate child into their home with the intent of caring for her.
Appearances can be deceiving.
As soon as the social worker dropped me off, the pleasant air froze over and the happy faces petrified.
"Okay you little brat." They said. "While you're staying here you'll earn your keep, you hear?"
Certainly I had no intention of freeloading. I could clean what I could reach, and my mother had taught me how to cook so helping around the house wouldn't be much of a problem.
These people quickly proved to be unsatisfiable, however. My attempts to help out resulted in smacks and scolds of "you'll just break something" or "I know how to prepare dinner!" They took it upon themselves to 'educate me' on my proper place, which usually involved knocking over my wheelchair. They'd say how I should crawl along the ground like the scum I was while handing me a toothbrush with instructions to scrub the floor.
I could only take refuge in the room they had given me. It was a nice enough room, I suppose. It had to be, or else when the officials came for their inspection they'd know something was up. Oh how I desired to speak up about the horrible treatment I was receiving, but the threats kept me silent.
"If you talk we'll hunt you down and make you pay!"
Imagining what would be worse than what I was already going through had my mouth clamped tight. When asked how things were going, I'd just smile and say things were great.
If I had known what was yet to come, maybe I would have taken the chance after all.
He came in late one night, swaggering up to my bed, the putrid stench of the booze waking me up. Before I could say anything, a hand smothered my mouth and he was on top of me, tearing away the sheets and pulling at my pyjamas.
His weight pinned me to the bed, rendering me immobile despite my attempts to resist. Yet his hand, tongue, and other unmentionables found their way across my now exposed body, causing muffled cries of terror in their wake.
"I said you were going to earn your keep." He whispered in my ear before flipping me onto my stomach. "Your virginity will sell for a high price, but why should I miss out on sampling the merchandise? I can just use the back door."
And use it he did. I wanted to fight back, to kick and scream, but my useless legs were no good and his hand remained firmly over my mouth.
Oh God it hurts.
Make it stop.
Some one help me!
Even if I could get the words out, what would it have done? Would that woman come to save me? Would she stop her husband from raping me? I can say without a doubt that the answer was no.
"This is our secret, little girl." He said sweetly when he had finished. "You know what'll happen if you tell."
Violated, I just lay there for the rest of the night, staring blankly at the wall as my vision swam. Why was this happening? What had I done to deserve all this? I didn't understand it. I had been a good girl, hadn't I? I listened to my parents and I was nice to others, so why did I have to suffer so much?
I wanted to do something about it, but what could I have done? I was just a weak and defenceless child stuck in a wheelchair. Resisting was out of the question and I couldn't even run away because of my damn legs!
He would come in again other nights to repeat the process and I had lost my only sanctuary. The pain would linger even after he had finished, making the following day a nightmare as well since I had to sit in my chair the whole time.
I desperately searched for some kind of escape, and I managed to find one. The child friendly façade the household sported featured a collection of books that I wouldn't be hit for touching. And so I escaped into fiction, immersing myself in stories about brave warriors, fierce dragons, mighty robots, and the epic battles they participated in. Fantasy stories in particular I was rather fond of. Some books had illustrations, and I was quite impressed with the costume designs.
They did the trick and got me away from it all. They had me dreaming of the day when a handsome prince would ride up on a white horse and take me somewhere far away where I wouldn't be spat at, hit, or sodomized.
How fitting that my salvation arrived in the form of a piece of paper.
I remember how excited I was when I got that letter and learned that an old friend of my father's was willing to support me. He had arranged it so that I could return to the home I shared with my parents and he would see to it that I'd have everything I needed to survive on my own.
The couple fought this, of course. They finally had a buyer, apparently, so thank God I was saved when I was. I moved out of that house and never looked back.
It was some small consolation that I received a visit from the police some time later. They wanted to ask some questions about that couple after they got busted for child trafficking, among other things. I refused to comment, though. I didn't want to relive those horrible weeks.
With a new lease on life, I began my time alone. It was hard, living in that house with all those memories of happier times. I half expected my parents to jump out at any moment and we'd all have a big surprise party. That never happened, obviously. I had moments where I'd just cry in the empty building, but given the alternative it suited me just fine. Again, books helped stave off my loneliness and I was glad that the local library was nearby.
I worked hard to keep the household in shape. I keep things tidy and kept myself well fed to show everyone I could take care of myself and I didn't need to be sent to another foster home.
Money was never an issue, as my father's friend gave me more than I needed. He even arranged for me to receive treatment at the local hospital. Thanks to him and Dr Ishida I finally remembered what it was like to have some one care about you. I didn't want to cause them too much trouble, though, so I never told them what I had been through. Whenever they asked if I was okay I'd just smile and say I was fine.
I had no idea who my benefactor was, but that got me excited since it reminded me of a book I had read. Like in the book I wrote him letters letting him know how I was doing and stuff like that. He'd write back and his words definitely gave off the feel of an older, dignified gentleman. I wondered if I'd ever get to meet him in person.
Another meeting came before that, though. I'll never forget the morning of my ninth birthday. As usual I had gotten lost in a book and read it until midnight. When the clock chimed, they appeared and my life changed once again.
Signum, Shamal, Vita, and Zafira. It had all been quite unbelievable at first: magic, ancient books, physical constructs of programs… It really was like something out of one of my books!
They looked to me as their master, asked me to give them orders, but I would have felt wrong doing it. When I heard of their pasts, of how they would be used for nefarious purposes and treated cruelly by their previous masters, it brought back memories of scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush, and that man's weight on top of me. I knew of such horrors and would not subject them to such things. I would not use them that way.
And so I had gained a family. They were not mere programs in a book, they were wonderful people who filled my days with joy. It was unbelievable how happy I was. I had finally moved out of that Hell and gained a little paradise, but a part of me worried. To be blessed with so much happiness at once was an ill omen. It wouldn't last long.
That Christmas I was sent back to Hell.
I once again lost my family, and this time it was by the hand of people I thought were my friends.
I had had enough.
All it took were those dark thoughts to set things in motion.
When that long night came to close, things were back to being great again. My family was restored, my legs would be healed, and Reinforce had been freed of the corruption that had caused so much trouble. I thought everything was going to be fine, but…
Why does fate hate me so much?
Reinforce finally had a chance to be happy, but the defence program was beginning to rebuild itself inside of her and the only way to finally put an end to it was to put an end to her. I begged her not to do it, actually ordered her not to, but…
It just wasn't fair! Why did such a cruel thing have to happen? Yet again I had to watch another person dear to me leave and never return.
I barely had time to grieve before I was swept up in what was to follow. Because I was technically a criminal, I had to answer to the Bureau and face several inquiries and trials. Thankfully I was given some leniency, but I didn't have much choice in regards to my future path. I would have to become a mage for the Bureau and that was that.
I didn't mind it so much since it gave me and my kids opportunities for a happy life and to use our abilities for the good of others.
I was prepared to accept that, when I received summons to meet with a certain individual. He was one Admiral Gil Graham, and he revealed to me that he the mysterious friend of my father who had been supporting me. I was pleasantly surprised on several levels. Here was the man who I had dreamed of meeting for so long, and he was actually a high ranking official that operated on another world.
There were so many things I wanted to talk to him face to face about, but before I could even open my mouth he got down on his knees and apologised to me. I was rightly confused by his actions and he proceeded to explain everything to me.
He wasn't really a friend of my father. He had only reached out to me because I was Reinforce's current master. He's the one who had my knights killed before me in order to completely the book and make it go berserk. It was all for the sake for sealing the book and me along with it in ice and tossing me into a dimensional rift. He claimed it would ensure the book would never cause harm again, and since I had no one, my sacrifice wouldn't have been such a big deal.
No one cared about me, after all.
For a moment I thought my paralysis had spread to my whole body. Sure, I wasn't expecting to marry him when I found out who he was, but this… What was I supposed to think of it? This man had saved me from that foster home, but only so he could lock me away for good.
He had used me, just like how that other man had used me.
I wanted to be furious at him, and on some level I was, but even if his intentions were to seal me away the fact remained that if it wasn't for his actions I would probably be some glorified sex toy sold to the highest bidder. I wouldn't have met Dr. Ishida, wouldn't have gained my family, and wouldn't have made the friends I have now…
Should I hate him or be grateful to him? I just didn't know. When he begged for forgiveness I wasn't sure if I could give it to him. He did seem sincere, though, so even if I didn't mean it I threw on a smile and told him it was okay.
Even now that he lives in England, I still keep in contact with him. I guess that means I did eventually forgive him after all.
Still, my faith had been shattered because of it and it was awhile before I found myself trusting a man again. I know it wasn't fair to all the guys out there, but I couldn't help it. I received my fair share of love letters in school, not as much as Fate-chan or Suzuka-chan, but a decent amount. I wanted to give them a chance, but whenever they looked at me in the way hormone driven teenage boys do, I'd always see the face of the man who raped me. That hungry look in his eyes that saw me as a piece of meat was burned into my memory and my attempts to forget proved futile.
I tried to combat this by being rather physical with my female friends. I thought that maybe if boys saw me groping other girls they'd think I was a lesbian and give up on me. But maybe my aversion to boys had me wanting to convince myself that I was into girls? If that was the case, it didn't work. I still desired to be with a boy, but I was just too afraid.
Then again, I had been groping the others long before then, so I wonder… Did I want to feel and focus on others' bodies because I was disgusted with my own? Their bodies are unsullied and maybe I hoped some of that would transfer to me.
All things considered, that was the only blight on my life during the years. I could walk again and I was surrounded by family and friends, but my past still haunted me. I didn't dare tell the others about it. How could I? They were all enjoying their lives and I didn't want to bog them down with my story, especially my kids who were finally free from their own pasts.
The situation at school proved a bit too much, though, so the moment I graduated middle school I decided to leave Earth and move to Mid Childa to be a mage full time. I was just running away, but I wanted to leave those horrible memories behind me.
But that was impossible. No matter where you are, people don't change.
I worked hard in an attempt to climb up the chain of command. The higher position I got, the more I'd be able to help those at large. I took a variety of tests and exams, but there was a rather large obstacle in my way. My criminal record was always being rubbed in my face and used as an excuse as to why I failed.
But that wasn't the worst of it. Often times I was approached with certain propositions from high ranking male officials. They offered to forget about my past and give me desirable positions if I did certain types of favours for them.
I was disgusted by their forwardness and terrified by how many others wore the same face as my ex-guardian. I promptly refused, naturally, but that just meant I'd need to work even harder to obtain what I wanted.
The stress of it all had me falling back to an old crutch: reading. After a day of crushed dreams, I would head to the library for something to lose myself in. The Bureau's library certainly lived up to its name, so there was no shortage of things to choose from.
Plus, he was there too.
I'd never really spent much time with Yuuno-kun before. I'd see him around a few times, and Nanoha-chan would often talk about him, but I didn't know him that well otherwise. I was a bit apprehensive around him at first, but I still smiled and politely conversed with him.
It didn't take long for me to get comfortable around him. There was just something about him that put me at ease. Be it his kind nature or gentle smile, I always felt safe around him. I enjoyed having long conversations with him, discussing a case I was working on, or a book I had read recently. He'd offer his input, giving suggestions on an angle to pursue, or what novel I might enjoy reading next. It was so much fun. He treated me like a friend and he didn't look at me the way other guys did.
I'm not sure when it was I started wishing he would.
It just figures, doesn't it, that the one guy I finally fall for has absolutely no interest in me romantically. Whatever higher power there is sure loves messing with me.
Yuuno-kun had a thing for Nanoha-chan, that much was clear, so I knew I didn't stand a chance. Nanoha-chan is so vibrant and pretty while I was dirty and disgusting so I resigned myself to defeat. It hurt to see them chat happily together, but I smiled with them anyways.
I bore all my hardships the best I could, but even I have my limits. One big thing finally pushed me over the edge.
I was in on the bust of a large Lost Logia smuggling ring and it went off perfectly. We stormed their headquarters and arrested them all with zero casualties. While sweeping the rest of the building, I discovered a horrific room. It was rank with the stench of every bodily fluid imaginable, but what the nose smelled was nothing compared to what the eyes saw.
Chained to the wall were several children, all of whom were naked and covered in cuts, bruises and other sorts of wounds. Smuggling Lost Logia weren't the only illegal thing the criminals did.
While other mages rushed in to free the children, I just stood there in shock. Their eyes, dear God, their eyes were so pained, defeated, and empty. But I didn't see them, no. The one I saw chained to that wall was me as a little girl, alone, frightened, beaten, and used. I swear I was going to be sick on the spot, but I managed to hold on. I had a job to do, and I did it, but images of that room kept forcing their way into my thoughts.
It was late, but the moment I was free to go my feet took me to the library. There had to be some large book there I could let absorb me, anything to get my mind somewhere else.
I should have known Yuuno-kun would still be there.
I wanted to be alone in case I broke down, but that was not meant to be. I just smiled and said I was fine but he – ha ha – read me like a book. Concern was plastered over his face and the sincerity of it was too much for me.
I swear I cried so much I suffered dehydration. Poor Yuuno-kun should have caught a cold after he let me sob into his chest, but he just held me until I let it all out.
I told him about what I saw and how it had affected me. Before I could stop myself I also told him about what had been done to me while I was a child, how that man would sneak into my room every night and do those things to me. He was the first person that I ever told that too, and he was the last person I wanted to find out. I was afraid that if he knew, he'd shove me away and never want anything to do with damaged goods like me ever again.
What an idiot I was. Yuuno-kun wasn't the kind of person who would do something like that. Instead he held me tighter and stroked my hair, whispering in my ear that it was okay, that it wasn't my fault, that I wasn't dirty or disgusting.
Hearing him say those things helped immensely. Finally getting it out and hearing such encouragement broke the chains in my chest. My secret was revealed, but here was a trusted individual who I cared for and who I knew cared for me completely accepting it. For the first time the darkness of my past was obliterated by the light of my present.
I guess the truth does set you free.
He wiped away my tears, gave me a tissue to blow my nose with, and that loving smile he gave me… Damn, it made me fall for him even harder.
With his support behind me, I soon told everything to Nanoha-chan and the others. They actually sat there and cried with me when I had finished and I thanked the heavens for giving me friends who cared for me so much. They didn't think any less of me, they were just a little mad that I didn't tell them about it sooner. That got a little laugh out of me and it made me smile, really smile, freely and easily for the first time in a long time.
Things changed for the better after that, and so far it's stayed that way. I hope fate is finally giving me a reward for all the crap it put me through. With my loved ones by my side I've renewed my determination with more vigour. Criminal record or no, I will one day become a top commander and nothing will stand in my way! As for Yuuno-kun, well, I've been far less successful in that department…
But hey, I'm working on it!
Main inspirations for this were Criminal Minds, the In Death book series, the Bitter Virgin manga, and fellow author deathcurse. She's got some Hayate dramas under her belt so I figured I'd do one too.
Wasn't sure how far I was gonna take this fic when I started, but the fic itself eventually pushed me to go all the way. I wasn't sure if I should add the Hayate/Yuuno angle cuz it felt like just me being a fanboy that could have spoiled the piece, but the story demanded it. Deathcurse once said that Yuuno was that safe guy the girls could lean on, and I figured that after what Hayate's been through, she really needed a safe guy. I recalled how it worked in Bitter Virgin so I took some elements from that too.
I hope I handled the subject matter well enough, and I hope you liked reading it.