'It's dark.' That was the first coherent thought that she could conjure.
As she roused from slumber, the darkness was illuminated split seconds at a time, as if the light were teasing her with its distant presence. She tried to shift her weight off her feet, both of which felt numb, but her attempt was met with instant resistance and a soft but clear clink of metal.
Although it was still difficult to make out any of her surroundings using the dim, flickering light, her eyes slowly adjusted. The floor was a little damp and very dirty. A thin layer of dust clung to her skin and it occurred to her that she was naked save for a scrap of cloth over her most private regions. She lifted her head, trying to discern more from her surroundings.
"Where...?" She licked her lips, but her parched tongue offered no significant moisture or assistance in vocalizing her question. Instead, she tasted the thin layer of dust that had collected on her lips. 'How long have I been unconscious...?'
Nevertheless, her almost silent question elicited a response, however distant. It felt like several minutes had passed before she heard the first soft thud of booted footsteps approaching. A clatter of metals came soon after and she finally became conscious of an apt description of where she was. A dirty underground cell.
She struggled to communicate, to ask for help, but to no avail.
Eventually, from no more than a foot in front of her, she heard her captor's voice.
"Olivie Segbrecht… You've finally awoken. Welcome to Shutra."
-The Lines That Blur-
Vivio's eyes snapped open. Light filtered in from the window, in stark contrast to the dream she had just awoken from. She felt a hand holding hers and turned to look at Einhart, who continued to sleep peacefully next to her. They had come a long way in their relationship since their initial abrasive meeting and she was glad that Einhart had agreed to the sleepover so readily.
Looking again at their intertwined fingers, Vivio's smile faded. Einhart had told her about the dreams… the memories of the Hegemon… which had become so real to her that they became like her own memories. Had her dream been a memory? She had never had a dream like that, at least not one that she could remember. She could still feel the cool ground of the cell…
Vivio sat up with a start when she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. She relaxed when she heard a knock, and then her mother's voice. "Vivio, Einhart, are you two awake yet? Breakfast is ready."
Einhart stretched and rubbed her eyes as she slowly sat up. She answered, "We just woke up. Thank you, Vivio's mother."
Vivio giggled at the way Einhart addressed her mother. "We'll be down in a bit, Mama."
"Okay, take your time and wash up properly."
After Nanoha went back downstairs, Einhart stared blankly at Vivio. "What was so funny?"
Vivio grinned, thinking that Einhart was starting to catch some of her sleepy morning habits. "Nothing. Nothing at all. Let's get up. Mama's waiting for us."
Einhart nodded as she dressed and washed up with Vivio. As they returned to the room to neaten the bedding up quickly before going downstairs to eat, Vivio remembered the dream again. She opened her mouth to ask Einhart, but then it occurred to her that getting an answer might do more harm than good. Usually, her curiosity got the better of her, but with this dream, she wasn't so sure. It reminded her of the incident that brought her into Nanoha's life years ago. The pain... the isolation...
Startled, Vivio snapped her attention towards Einhart, who was watching her with open curiosity. "Yeah?"
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah… I mean, yes, I'm fine. Did you sleep well?"
Einhart nodded. "I like sleeping on the floor. It relaxes me and reminds me of the times I spent training out in the wilderness."
Vivio smiled, but it faded again when Einhart returned the question.
"How did you sleep?"
"Umm… Slept like a baby!" Vivio laughed nervously before setting the bedding aside and tugged Einhart's arm towards the door. "Come on, let's hurry. Mama's food doesn't taste as good cold."
"I heard that, Vivio!"
Vivio yelped and then waited a moment before giggling. She decided she would think about the dream later and forced herself to produce one of her usual beaming smiles. "Sorry, Mama!"
Meanwhile, downstairs, Nanoha was having a light morning video chat with Fate, who was once again on a far-off engagement.
"I have a surprise for you when I get back tomorrow. I hope you like it."
Nanoha teased, "You know how I don't like surprises."
Fate played with her coat nervously, a light pink coloring her cheeks. "I know… that's why I'm telling you ahead of time that I have a surprise for you. So it's a surprise… but not."
Laughing, Nanoha nodded, paying no heed to Fate's nervousness. She had learned by now that Fate could get nervous over anything, regardless of whether it was warranted. It was a shy side that nowadays only she really saw. "I look forward to seeing what it is."
Nanoha turned as Vivio arrived on the scene with a more poised Einhart in tow. "Good morning, you two."
Fate smiled from the monitor and waved. "Good morning! I'll be home tomorrow, Vivio. Did you make any plans?"
Vivio blinked, a dazed look coming over her face as she thought about it. Then with a grin, she announced, "If I did, I'm canceling. Are we going to pick Fate-mama up at the spaceport together, Mama?"
Nanoha hummed and then nodded with a smile. "Yes, we can. The ship will come in a couple hours after school ends."
Vivio cheered and then looked at Einhart. "Einhart, do you want to come, too? It's always fun picking up Fate-mama."
Einhart raised an eyebrow, the rest of her expression remaining unimpressed. "'Fun'?"
"Mmhmm." Vivio leaned over and whispered in Einhart's ear, "Mama and Fate-mama always get in trouble for kissing in public there and a crowd starts up to watch them, sometimes before they even get near each other."
Einhart blushed, as did Nanoha and Fate, who easily overheard despite Vivio's precautions.
Nanoha and Fate exchanged looks. Fate resolved aloud, "We'll control ourselves this time, I'll make sure of it."
Nanoha gave an emphatic nod of agreement. "I'll make sure of it, too."
Vivio giggled, knowing as well as her parents did that it would be harder than that to avoid the inevitable.
After a hearty breakfast and some backyard training to practice her control, Vivio volunteered to walk Einhart home. Not two steps out of the gate, Vivio remembered her dream again and once more dealt with the indecision of asking about it.
"What's on your mind, Vivio?"
Vivio jumped a little and then smiled sheepishly at Einhart. "Am I that obvious?"
"Yes, but I could tell you weren't yourself all morning. What's wrong?"
Vivio took a deep breath and then released it slowly, trying to calm her nerves as the sensations came flooding back. "Well… I had a … weird dream. I think… it might've been a memory."
Einhart stopped walking, comprehension dawning in tandem with worry. "What was it about?"
As another thought occurred to her, Vivio met Einhart's concerned gaze with one in need of assurance. "If our relationship… if the relationship between your ancestor and mine… if there was anything special about it, you would tell me, right?"
Einhart frowned. "What do you mean by 'special'? From what I've seen, it was a deep bond but… how do you mean 'special'?"
Vivio looked around nervously, tugging Einhart to keep walking down the sidewalk. Einhart followed without complaint. "Umm… I mean… Did Olivie ever… get captured? Like in Shutra?"
Einhart bit her lip and looked away. She'd hoped it hadn't been about that. Especially for Vivio's first, to her knowledge, memory of the past life. Eventually, Einhart answered, "Olivie was first brought to Shutra as an indentured servant."
"…A dented servant?"
"Indentured... she wasn't quite the level of a slave- she wasn't considered anyone's property- but she didn't have rights compared to the men of the time. Not when she first arrived in Shutra at least."
Einhart allowed the silence to permeate, despite how uncomfortable it was.
"But wasn't she a queen?"
"She was a princess before she was a queen. And certainly not first in line to inherit the throne. Her time in Shutra was long before she became queen. Officially, she went to Shutra to study. What she studied though…"
"What did she study?"
Einhart smiled weakly, as if it were her own past that she was not proud of discussing. "She was studying the art of submission. So that when she returned, she could be a puppet to the men directing politics from the background."
Vivio frowned, both confused and indignant. "But you told me… you told me that Olivie was strong and brave and that the Hegemon respected her greatly. How can that-"
"It was a dark time for her, but I did not say she stayed in that situation. She may not have been treated as a queen, but she always had the dignity of one. What she ended up doing in Shutra… was actually quite commendable."
"How… how did they meet?"
Einhart didn't need to ask who 'they' were. Instead, she murmured, "It's a long story."
"Tell me the short version."
"You'll want to know the rest if I tell you the short version."
"You know it all, right? As if you lived through it?"
"No." Einhart answered honestly. "I only know the Hegemon's side of the story. I'm sure Olivie had many experiences that the Hegemon was not aware of. And I don't have a perfect timeline of all of the Hegemon's memories. Only the memories of the most important life events."
"Can you tell me what you do know then? Please, Einhart, I'm just in the dark about all of this."
Einhart smiled softly, squeezing Vivio's hand. "All right… the short version is… the Hegemon was assigned the task of training Olivie… in this art of submission. By dominating her as a man of that time would. That is how they met."
"In a cold cell?"
"My memories had no dungeons in them. Not with Olivie at least." Einhart frowned. "You could feel sensations like cold?"
Vivio nodded. "Couldn't you?"
She shook her head in response. "I can sometimes, but for the most part I only saw and heard. The Hegemon had conflicting emotions at the time, but there were few physical sensations that were important enough to remember. But I hope for your sake that you don't have another such vivid memory."
Einhart didn't say anything for a long moment. It wasn't until Einhart's home was in sight that she finally answered. "Because learning hurts."
A/N: Went back and edited this chapter a little. If you don't want to reread it, it's essentially the same. If this is your first read through... Hi!
I would like to note that although I said this was partially inspired by 50 Shades of Grey (which I did not like but felt compelled to read anyway), domination and submission is not strictly synonymous with the leather bondage and flogging that are typical trademarks of BDSM. Submission and domination is, at its core, purely mental. It's the power exchange behind decent BDSM stories. That said, I disclaim all external things that inspired this story (namely MGLN and 50 Shades) and the characters therein. And I hope to turn this into a good story. And no one will have an annoying subconscious goddess.
It is really awkward imagining these kids understanding what their adult counterparts went through though. But then again, they can mega-evolve into teenage size. And we're all kids inside. Just aged a little. Like cheese. Rape would hurt and scar both an adult and a child. And both are horrible to think about.