Author's notes moved to the end in order to spare people who don't want to read them.

Disclaimer: I don't own Ar Tonelico, Gust and other rightful owners do.

Since apparently I actually need to say this: this fic is written from game canon only, due to me not owning copies of the Japan-only settai books. In the same way, being centered on game canon means it expects the reader to have certain knowledge from those games, like how dive therapy is equated with prostitution in Ar Tonelico 2 and how Luca thinks she has skill at manipulation that she really, really doesn't. Level 9 cosmosphere here is used as a metaphor for someone who has overcome their personal issues and found love in a stable relationship like marriage (which the games also treat it as an explicit metaphor for). According to the settai materials, level 9 is rare, which is really sad given that the games treat it as more common and a metaphor for something that should ideally be found all over the place. If dive therapy actually worked for stabilizing mental states, then it would help practitioner reyvateils open up their cosmospheres faster, meaning that they would have a higher percentage of level 9s than the general population, too. Meaning a lower rate would indicate the opposite in any medical trial.

Growing up, Lyner Barsett didn't have a mommy.

The above statement is true in the 'nuclear family' sense, but simultaneously false in three different ways.

First of all:

Commander Leard Barsett might have been capable of many things, but giving birth to a child without female assistance wasn't one of them. Nor was seducing the Lady Shurelia, the only woman he had ever loved, so he didn't even try, instead contenting himself with serving as her loyal knight, the way generations upon generations of his family had.

Crushing helplessly and hopelessly on the wise, strong, beautiful and benevolent Lady of the Tower was practically in the blood by that point.

Thus it was that, when Shurelia gently informed him that he was nearing his fiftieth birthday, and slowing down, and thus really needed to get on with either having a heir or picking a successor to train, he went looking for a courtesan. Or rather, delegated the task of finding one in good health, capable of defeating at least twenty monsters before breakfast who was willing to bear him a heir, to a subordinate.

After Platina (the Platinum City that sheltered the Jewel of the Tower, its Goddess) was opened to travelers, many of them wondered why a city that been Forbidden for so long had an inn. And a very nice one, at that.

There were two reasons: so people would have somewhere to go for honeymoons, anniversaries and other special occasions since they couldn't actually travel someplace different, and so that young people who didn't have a place of their own yet and knights who were still stuck in the barracks could have sex without other people ruining the moment.

The Knights of Platina were centered around the reyvateils. Their Order had been founded in order to protect the goddess and the singing holy maidens. In order to bring out their true power, a reyvateil needed someone who they could trust, someone who could love them for who they were, someone they could bare their hearts to without fear.

Thus, the Knights were, by necessity, a group open only to reyvateils and the men (and occasional women) willing to spend their lives supporting a reyvateil. They were half military organization and half dating service.

It paid off. While the traitor's assault on Platina gave some lowlanders the impression that the Knights didn't live up to their legends, that was failing to take into account that the Knights had just spent the last several weeks successfully defending Platina from viruses that just wouldn't die. They hadn't just held the line, they'd advanced towards the Altar of Apostles. If the people of the towers remembered more of the world below's history, someone might have made the comparison to the stand of the three hundred at Thermophylae. There, too, warriors had been motivated to hold off a vastly stronger force by the fact that their shieldmates, those they were fighting or singing to protect, were their most precious people, those they loved most in the entire world, and that allowing them to be harmed was not an option.

The Knights of Platina and their Holy Maidens were fanatically dedicated to training because of this.

Not just training in arms, but training to create and strengthen a bond between two lovers.

Thus, it was well known that Platina's Inn had the contact information of a certain number of courtesans. Ladies that a young knight could contract if he wanted to learn how to make sure that his partner's first time was pleasant instead of painful, and gentlemen that a reyvateil could contract if the idea of sex frankly terrified her, after spending years hearing about how it was similar to crystal insertions, and those hurt, and she didn't want her partner to think she was terrified of or rejecting him.

Of course, the Fancy Shop did sell copies of the Kama Sutra, among other such things, but studying a manual of arms was no replacement for actually doing your practice.

This caused a great deal of culture clash when Platina and Metafalica (once Metafalss) began diplomatic relations. The Holy Maidens of Metafalica were attempting to repair the reputations of Dive Therapists, who had been slandered by labeling them prostitutes. Much of their campaign revolved around pointing out the differences between the two professions, and of course dive therapy was a public service, not a dirty, degrading thing like prostitution that tore partners and families apart.

When when Luca inquired into how a dive therapist would go about getting licensed to practice in Ar Tonelico, and they found out about this, the Courtesan Union and citizenry of Platina were immensely offended. Not only was Luca slandering the people who were willing to open up their hearts and bodies for the good of other people and the strengthening of their bonds and families, when Platinan literature was full of tragic romances about courtesans who had fallen in love with clients and what a sacrifice it was to work to strengthen the bond that meant they could never have their love, but she was saying that this was somehow worse than so-called 'dive therapy.'

A reyvateil's cosmosphere was her mind, her very soul. Someone entering it could either be a joyful, liberating experience or a rape more damaging than any physical rape could ever be. One wrong move could break their spirits: everyone knew that, and that was why no one held it against a reyvateil if they seriously injured a diver. It was self-defense of their very selves. Oh, dive therapists might only let the strangers they didn't care about into the first cosmosphere, but in order to make it pleasant for them they had to alter and distort that cosmosphere.

The purpose of diving was helping a reyvateil liberate her true self and unleash her full potential. To repair the distortion and damage life's casual traumas had done to their cosmospheres. Dive therapy forced reyvateils to learn how to hide who they were, taught them that other people wouldn't like who they really were.

Thus, the citizenry of Platina's first reaction to Luca's overtures was, 'Hell no! Are you crazy, we have reyvateil abuse laws here!' And the public consensus was that anyone who even thought about doing to a young reyvateil what had been done to Luca was going to get themselves thrown off the tower.

And, frankly, remembering the way Luca had lied to and manipulated him, even with her Cosmosphere itself, and how dirty and used that had made him feel, Croix kind of had to agree with them. Once upon a time, he would have done anything for Luca. If she'd asked him to spy for her, he would have done it in a heartbeat. It was those lies that had destroyed their relationship, and while she had probably started lying to him before she began her training, it had taught her to lie in a polished manner, even in her heart of hearts, and the way she had said baldfaced lies to his face without remorse or hesitation? That had made him feel just like a tool to be used, a thing to be manipulated for her own ends and to her own satisfaction. He could understand why she had done it, but he couldn't love someone who didn't trust him or respect him as a person. It wasn't dive therapy's fault it had ended like this… but it certainly hadn't helped.

The final agreement was that Platina would only allow Dive Therapists to train or practice there if they had a stable relationship with someone who had reached level nine on their cosmospheres first, so they would know better than to ever think their selves were just tools to be used.

There were absolutely no dive therapists who fit those criteria, Luca found after she'd angrily agreed to those terms, certain that she'd find some to shove in their faces.

Discovering dive therapy so soon after the Tenba Company's reyvateil abuse was stopped really didn't help its PR. Add that to finding out the truth about IPDs?

The point of all this is that Lyner Barsett did have a biological mother: in fact she was on the committee that had backed Luca into that corner, but she never told him that she was his mother. An honorable courtesan would never interfere in a relationship, and the Barsett family's hopeless devotion to Lady Shurelia was romantic and legendary enough to have spawned plenty of its own trashy romance novels (with the names changed to avoid legal issues and smiting) . She should know, she'd read enough of them.


Newborn infants were red and squalling, with patchy skin and… they just generally weren't presentable in the least. Lyner was only delivered to the Cathedral once he was a few months old and had stopped waking up hungry every three hours.

The first time Lady Shurelia laid eyes on him, after having months to prepare for the baby's arrival (and put bunnies all over the nursery), he was an adorable little puffball.

His blond hair was thin, soft, and floofy, he was wrapped in the softest blue blanket the best grathmelders in Platina had been able to make, and he was blinking up at her (or in her general direction, since his eyes couldn't focus yet) with this adorable little serious expression and pale blue eyes that hadn't yet darkened to their adult color.

Lady Shurelia had been herself for a long time, and thus knew herself about as well as anyone could know themselves (even a reyvateil with a level nine cosmosphere couldn't consciously access it). She was well aware that she was weak against cute things. She had seen many adorable members of this family in her time, ever since Terrance Cossack's very public (there had been television in those days) trial for leading the group that had infiltrated reyvateil research clinics and 'kidnapped' the test subjects.

When Mir, after spending years as a member of that group laying the groundwork for her revolution, had announced her genocidal agenda, she had specifically called him the human she was going to kill last. She hadn't revoked that even though about half 'her' army had followed him and joined Lady Shurelia's faction, which had been neutral until that point (since while Shurelia didn't want to get involved in political affairs, she certainly couldn't support anything that might cause her, and more importantly the tower, to be seen as something people without authorization, human or not, were free to tamper with).

Since then, she had been wrapped around their fingers and called Auntie La many times. She had watched them grow up and been so very proud of them.

And then they always died and broke her heart.

Shurelia was aware that without a mother, it would be natural for Lyner to latch on to her. She was very determined to prevent this. She'd never had a child of her body because of how devastating it would be for her own children to die while she remained eternally young.

So, she never took off her armor around him, and steeled herself to reject him if he ever called her Mommy.

Thus, while Lyner Barsett did have a female role model who taught him things and balanced out Leard's sternness, she was not a soft, small-yet-strong person who smelled nice and hugged him and was called Mother, Mommy, or Mama.

He had a big and strong metal person who could fly and let him sit on her feet or top when he was tired that he called Lala. Until he grew up and she became his commanding officer, of course, at which point Lala became Lady Shurelia.

Lyner is an odd duck in a lot of ways and has a lot of traits that seem contradictory at first glance: he refuses to give up trying to save people on the one hand and he doesn't really have a problem with Mir dropping that Wing of Horus in the past on the other.

Codes of conduct/politeness tend to grow out of practical necessity, and places where lots of heavily armed people have to live around each other and can't just go into exile that easily, like Britain and Japan, tend to develop elaborate ones to avoid people getting pissed off and killing each other. Platina is a city that's isolated from the rest of the world, on top of that tower, and on top of being populated by the descendants of the Apostles of Elemia, who were basically a holy Knight Templar equivalent in the first place (note how Radolf treats Lyner), the gender dynamics there seem similar to those of the chivalric age, but the underlying reasons are really the exact opposite.

In (ideal) chivalric culture, women were treated with extreme politeness because they theoretically couldn't defend themselves, and it was therefore not only a cheap shot to go after one but their families and decent people in the vicinity were obligated to go after the perpetrator on her behalf.

In Platina, where very likely the entire female population is reyvateil? Think of it in terms of every single woman carrying around a rocket launcher. Of course people raised their kids to be polite to reyvateils. Sure, it's not much use in close-quarters combat, since it takes a lot of time to set up and reload, but tick them off, in the way politeness evolved to avoid ticking people armed with swords off, and you wouldn't end up missing an eye, you'd end up a smear on the pavement. Treating a reyvateil cruelly or rudely isn't just a bastardly thing to do, it's downright suicidal, as the world should have learned when Mir started her campaign.

However, the fact that they're not good on defense means that a reyvateil would have to obliterate anyone who attacked her: they wouldn't have the option of just scaring them off if an attacker knew all they had to do was get in close. Thus, if anyone was stupid enough to abuse a reyvateil, then if they even bothered putting her on trial, the decision of any Platinan court (probably meaning Leard), as well as public opinion would be probably be along the lines of 'he had it coming/that deserves a promotion.' Military, remember. Mir was effectively under attack by the human world, an unprovoked attack/domestic abuse that never let up. Looked at in those terms, what was she supposed to do except try to finish off her opponent? Of course, those aren't exactly rational terms themselves, as the game points out in a certain late-game scene where Lyner frightens the others with how willing he is to respond to reyvateil abuse with extreme prejudice.

Lyner is able to show Mir that he accepts her because he really does believe that she was doing the best she could/the best she knew how under the circumstances and doesn't blame her. Some of that's cultural, but there's more to upbringing and how it shapes a person than culture.