A/N: SapphoSensei: Thanks for the suggestion! I've proofread this chapter more times than I usually do so I hope that this time the number of mistakes decreased. Then again, I'm only a human and I'm not able to catch every typo. First three chapters (including prologue) still need some editing, mostly because of a certain mistake I've been repeating during that time. I'll probably proofread the whole story once again after finishing it.

And there is one more thing, to be honest, I paired Precia with Momoko mainly to let Nanoha be the character she was in the series. I believe that her canon mother was a huge influence to her and, to me, it was a necessary action to keep Nanoha's character not only closer to anime, but also more believable and reasonable.

With that said, have a good read.

The Meaning of Us

Chapter 5

By: Caelion

"There is something I need to tell you." Nanoha repeated and stepped into the light, threw by a small night lamp. Fate's eyes widened when she looked at her sister's face. Tears had washed away the brunette's make up, leaving her pale skin exposed again. Crying made her eyes bloodshot, her breathing was uneven which only added to her horrible look. For a while Fate expected the girl to fall into her arms and she even wanted to stand up to hold her but she stopped halfway.

Nanoha bowed her head repentantly instead. "I'm sorry..." She stammered. "For what I've said to you." Her voice was shaky and uncertain. "And for what I've done to you," She stopped and raised her head slowly, looking into Fate's eyes. "I know that things will not be the same but... Please, forgive me."

She didn't have to say it twice. Fate got up as fast as she could and hugged her sister tightly. "Stupid," She scolded her gently and pressed her to her heart. "Of course I forgive you." She was truly happy. She wanted to cry, laugh and cuddle with her sister at the same time. She resisted her urge to lift the brunette and placed a small kiss on the girl's head. But something was wrong. Nanoha usually didn't need much to cheer up but this time she was too silent. "Nanoha?" Fate asked, not sure any more what to say next. Was there something more to this?

Nanoha was torn between staying in her sister's warm arms and doing what she came for. But if she wasn't going to tell her now then when was she supposed to do it? It was now or never. "I said that I wanted to tell you something." One more time she pressed her face to Fate's body, not seeing a confused look on the blonde's face. "I haven't told you yet." This time she pulled out of the hug and stepped back a little. She looked at her sister and took a deep breath. Now or never. "I love you, Fate-chan." She put everything she had to make her voice strong and firm. She tilted her head cutely and smiled sadly when the words left her mouth. Fate was just watching her in silence. Then, she wanted to return the statement but Nanoha stopped her. "I love you as a woman." She continued, this time making the blonde speechless. And the dam, holding Nanoha's feelings inside her, broke again. "I want to hold you, kiss you, make love to you..." The brunette felt that her voice started to falter at the last words. She fell down on her knees and hid her face in her hands, crying openly. "Please, don't hate me, Fate-chan..." She stammered through her tears.

Fate reacted instinctively, kneeling down next to her sister and pulling her into a comforting hug. But a true storm of thoughts was going through her mind. Nanoha was in love with her? She wanted to kiss her? Like lovers do? Have... sex with her? Her ears were burning red at the thought alone. She tried to put her thoughts in order but her common sense decided to fail her in that, particular moment and, in the end, she wasn't able to think about anything at all. When Nanoha's muffled sobs reached Fate's ears, she put aside all of her thoughts and decided to take care of the crying girl for now. "Shh," She started to soothe the brunette, leisurely stroking her brown hair. "I would never hate you, Nanoha," She said it, but had she really been thinking that way? In fact, she wasn't disgusted with her sister's confession even in a little bit, it was just all so confusing to her. But strangely all of it had been making sense. "Have you been avoiding me because of this?" She asked gently and the girl nodded her head in agreement. So that's why. It must had been hard for her, hiding her feelings like that. And then a thought struck Fate. How long had Nanoha been feeling like this? If she was in this state already then it couldn't be a month or two. She took her sister's face and looked into her eyes, wiping her tears in the same time. "Nanoha, how long?"

The girl averted Fate's eyes, looking at a point somewhere behind the blonde's neck. "Four years, I think..." She lowered her gaze, still shaking a little.

Four years? Had she been suffocating herself for four years? Fate pulled Nanoha to her again. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?" Her voice was soft and comforting but also a little reproaching in the same time.

"I... I was scarred," Nanoha said shyly, finally calming down. "I didn't want to risk breaking our relationship," She curled up on Fate's lap, the blonde was pleasantly warm. It was summer but Nanoha was feeling strangely cold. "I didn't want to be more selfish than I already was." She was truly merciless for herself.

Fate closed her eyes, not knowing what to say. She knew that Nanoha was blaming herself for everything and in the same time she was looking for comfort in the blonde's arms. The girl must had went through a lot, becoming like that was only natural for her after such kind of breakdown. Suddenly, Fate felt Nanoha pushing her away, trying to stand up. "Wait," She tightened her hold around her sister. "Please, don't go yet," She couldn't let her go, not now, when the girl only started opening herself to her.

"Fate-chan," The brunette stopped her efforts and relaxed a little. Then she just smiled sadly and gently pulled out from Fate's hug. "It's the only way, isn't it?"

Fate was confused, to say the least. Why had Nanoha told her everything in the first place if she wanted to leave anyway? She had to think something up, she had to stop her sister, she didn't want to be separated from her. But her mind just gave up, offering her only empty ideas.

"I couldn't possibly ask you to be my girlfriend after all of this, could I?" The brunette continued, wiping a stray tear running down her cheek. "Besides, we're sisters, we can't have that kind of relationship." Her mothers could encourage her to do it but what about others? There were so many reasons that prevented them for loving each other in that way. Society, the rest of their family, their friends...

The blonde listened to her and cursed her mouth for taking all of her words away in such important moment.

Nanoha took advantage of Fate's silence and spoke again. "It will be okay, Fate-chan, I'll go to America for a few years and..." Her voice started to break again but she continued stubbornly. "I'll come back when... I'll be able to love you in a normal way... again..." She sniffed silently and tried to repress her tears.

Fate managed to finally gather her words. "Why are you doing this to yourself?" She asked. It hurt her to see her beloved sister in such miserable state. "There must be another way." She thought about other possibilities again. If there really were such then she was going to find them.

"Thank you, Fate-chan," Nanoha's response was silent but clear. She sniffed lightly and continued. "But it won't do any good to both of us." The brunette came closer and snuggled up to Fate to feel the warmth one more time, closing her eyes. She owed her sister an honest answer so she went on. "You see, Fate-chan, it's true that I'd rather to stay here, with you, but... I can't take it any more." A long pause before she spoke once again. "Being with you and knowing that you don't feel the same-"

"I don't know." The blonde interrupted her.

"What?" Nanoha opened her eyes sharply and looked at the girl.

"I don't know if I don't feel the same." Fate repeated thoughtfully, staring at the floor.

No, it couldn't be true. The blonde was surely just trying to make Nanoha stay with her. "It's okay, Fate-chan," Nanoha said with alleviating voice. "You don't have to push yourself to anything-"

"No, it's not okay," Her sister interjected abruptly, her voice was sharp and determined. "Yes, I'm confused right now, yes, I don't know what to do any more, but if your decision depends on my feelings then I want to be sure." She clenched her fist tightly and bit her lower lip. "I want to be sure what I feel." It was true that Nanoha couldn't ask her out in that situation. Or rather, she could but she was too convinced of her own guilt and selfishness. So the only way to make the brunette stay was Fate asking Nanoha out. But even Fate had to admit that lying and faking her feelings could result with something much more painful than a few years of separation for both of them. She gulped and took a breath. "When do you have to apply to the college?" She asked and fear started to consume her. What if it was already too late?

"The day after tomorrow is the last day." Nanoha's voice faltered. "After that... After getting their response, I'll need to personally fly there." So it meant only a few days of being together. The brunette had no doubt about accepting her application. Her grades were just too good. To her astonishment, the blonde let out a sigh of relief. "Fate-chan?" She asked, surprised.

A small smile appeared on Fate's face. "Nanoha," She took the girl's hand in her both and looked into her eyes. "I want to try."

What? Did the blonde say what she just said? Nanoha gave her a confused look and Fate continued.

"I want to try to find out my true feelings." She repeated a little louder. "Please, give me one day before applying."

It was all turning into totally different direction. Nanoha was supposed to be the one confessing and asking the other out, not Fate. So why was the blonde so stubborn about it? Why she wanted to try so desperately? Had Nanoha just got her chance to change her dream into reality? Her mothers' words still lingered in her mind. Maybe they were right? Was there something wrong in trying? But what if she was just rising her hopes up? What if Fate was not going to return her feelings in the end? She opened her mouth to say that it was pointless but something told her that all of it was worth trying. Even if failure meant only more pain. "Okay." She said finally and felt that her sister's tense muscles loosened up significantly.

Fate crawled to her mothers' bed and rested her back on it's edge, closing her eyes and sighing again. So there was still some hope left. Suddenly, she felt her tiredness entwining her slowly. It was a truly hard day for both of them. "Let's go to sleep now, okay?" Fate suggested, standing up and helping the other girl.

Nanoha nodded her head and took her sister's hand. "By the way," The brunette started curiously. "Why were you lying here instead of your room?"

Fate stopped in the midway to the door. That's right, she was supposed to sleep with her mothers this night. A little change in her plans wasn't going to hurt. "Ah, that's not important now." She scratched her head, which made Nanoha giggle. Oh how she missed her sister's cute laugh. They went to the brunette's room when Fate stopped right before the door.

"What's wrong?" Nanoha asked and looked at the blonde who suddenly started to study her feet carefully. Ah, after all she had told her sister that they shouldn't sleep together. But she didn't want to be alone again. Only this time. Only once. "Um, Fate-chan," She started playing with her fingers nervously. "Do you mind sleeping with me tonight?"

Fate looked at her shyly. "Actually... I was going to ask the same..." They were gazing into each other's eyes before they burst out with light laughter. It was so good to be together again, even if it could be the one of their last times.

They entered inside and Fate went to make the bed while Nanoha went to take a quick bath. The blonde sat down on the bed and sighed. She had a difficult task to complete. Never had she thought about her feelings towards Nanoha before. Was it even possible that her love was something more than just sisterly bond and she didn't know about it? And on top of that, she had never been in love with someone before. How was she supposed to know her feelings when she didn't even know what to look for? The next day was definitely going to be hard for her.

Fate started her 'researches' right at the beginning of the next day. If she was unable to do it alone then she was going to ask her friends for help and a certain Yagami was currently on top of her last dialled numbers.

"Hallo?" The blonde heard a sleepy but familiar voice in her phone.

She looked at a small watch in her room, which she forgot to check earlier, and facepalmed. It was 8am, while getting up early was normal for Fate, then her friend definitely wanted to sleep longer. "Ah, hey, Hayate-chan, sorry for calling you so early, I kind of..." Forgot to check the time. She finished in her thoughts.

"Oh, Fate-chan," Hayate answered with more awakened voice. "What's up? Have you had a talk with Nanoha-chan?"

"Yes, I had, but it's not about that, I mean, I'll tell you the result later, okay?" What was she saying? If it wasn't about that then about what was it? The brunette let out a short 'ah' while Fate continued. She had to think something up and she had to do it quickly. "Let's say that... a guy asked me out and I..." It was a horrible lie but it was too late anyway. "You know, I don't know if he's the... right one." She stopped and heard nothing but silence. Ah, right, the question. "So my question is: how can I get to know this?" She was so screwed if Hayate was going to find out the truth.

"Hmm, so you want to know if a guy who asked you out is the right one..." The girl's voice surprised Fate. She expected Hayate to question her which would finally lead to an endless teasing but a serious tone the brunette used wasn't something that Fate was prepared for.

"Mhm, I wonder if you could give me some kind of... advice."

"Sure," Hayate answered in an instant. "Try kissing him."

Oh, right. That was so simple. "What?!" Fate almost dropped her phone but quickly composed herself. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said."

Her friend just repeated calmly. "Kiss him. If you find him not attractive enough to do it or if you have some restraints then is there even a point in going out with him?"

Fate though about Hayate's words. No, Nanoha was definitely attractive enough but kissing her... For now it was a little too much for the blonde. Did that mean that she had to give up and see her sister off in an airport? Then again, Hayate was known for her somehow strange attitude towards relationships so Fate decided to not treat her as an ultimate oracle in love issues.

"Fate-chan, are you still there?" A voice from the phone brought the blonde back to reality.

"Ah, yes, yes, thanks a lot, Hayate-chan!" She responded and quickly closed her phone, shivering suddenly.

Hayate put her device on her bed and smiled widely. "You are a terrible liar, Fate-chan..."

Fate sat in front of her desk and resisted an urge to hit it with her head. She was so hopeless, she couldn't even figure out her own feelings. And there was another problem. What if Hayate would get to know the real reason behind her question? Was she prepared for telling her friends the truth? It was all so complicated... And it weren't only her friends, what about her family? Her mothers? Even if the two were in the same sex relationship, they at least were not sisters.

Going that way, Fate got to the next issue. Her own sexuality. She had wondered about it before a little, it was only natural for her when most of her female friends had their boyfriends. But to her, males were not only not interesting, but also, even if she had never admitted it to anyone, ugly. On top of that, between the mass of people confessing to her in high school, she could remember at least a few girls. It had never disgusted her, moreover, she saw them as pretty and definitely worth her attention. If all of it wasn't already centred around Nanoha. Yes, her sister had always been everything to Fate, no matter what other people were saying about them. She got up and left her room. As soon as she stepped out she ran into Kyouya, which resulted in both of them falling on the floor.

"Ah, Fate, sorry," He helped the girl stand up, massaging his back.

Fate acted before she thought about what she was going to do. She dragged her older brother into her room and closed the door. "Um, Kyouya-niisan," She looked at her feet when she realised that it was kind of harsh of her. "Do you have a while? I have a problem..."

The man looked at her carefully before answering. "Actually, I have a few minutes left, how can I help you?"

"Thanks," Fate smiled lightly. "Could you tell me how... When you meet with a girl for some time, how do you know if she is the right one?"

Kyouya scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm, I don't know." He answered and Fate lowered her gaze again. "It's something I feel rather than know." He added. "It's hard to explain with words, in my case it's when just being with her makes me happy, then I can assume that she may be the right one."

"Assume?" Fate asked curiously. So was there even more to this 'romantic love' thing than just 'knowing' and 'feeling'? Mentally, she cursed her own luck for never falling in love before, even for a few days to know how it felt.

Kyouya smiled and patted the girl's arm. "Yeah, if I don't feel that she is special to me now, then I can only assume that one day she may become like that. And I just need to give her a chance." Then he looked at his watch and opened the door. "Ah, sorry, I need to go to work, I hope I was able to help." He gave the blonde a smile and left.

Fate felt like the world around her was going to spin. Nanoha definitely felt special to her. But it could be that because they were sisters. And her situation couldn't really let Fate give the girl a chance. All of it needed to be done in totally different way. An advice Kyouya gave her was good, just not in her case. She took out her phone, checking her watch this time, and decided to send a message to Suzuka. 'Hello there, Suzuka-chan, I need your help. Let's say that I was asked out by a good guy and I don't know what to respond. I don't want to say 'yes' and then break his heart by changing my mind so... How can I get to know the right decision?'

Suzuka, mostly because of her cats, wasn't a sleepyhead and the response from her came quite fast. ''Let's say'? Okay, I guess you really have a problem. How about going on a date then? It doesn't have to be something obliging both of you, just hang out together and spend some time alone, maybe try acting a bit like a couple. You should know by the end of it. Good luck ;)' A date? True, Fate hanged out with Nanoha often but she had never considered it a date. Suzuka got the point, it was something worth trying.

"Nanoha?" Fate opened the door to her sister's bedroom. She got up about an hour before the brunette and, the last time she checked, the girl was still sleeping. This time, however, Nanoha was sitting on her bed, wearing her clothes already and being basically ready for the day. "Good morning," The blonde greeted her and entered the room.

"Ah, morning, Fate-chan," The brunette gave her a small smile and Fate had to admit that the girl was either in much better mood or she was good in acting differently than she felt.

"Um, are you free today?" Fate decided to be straightforward. They were siblings after all, there was nothing wrong in going out on a date with her own sister, wasn't there?

"Yes, why?" Nanoha asked curiously, lightly rising her brows.

"Do you want to go for a walk?" The blonde proposed. "The weather is beautiful today." She topped her question with the warmest smile she could afford.

Nanoha looked at her, surprised at first, then her expression cheered up as she jumped off the bed. "Sure!" It's been a long time since their last walk together.

Fate noticed that Nanoha was keeping a little distance between them. She didn't take a hold of the blonde's hand like she had used to do before, she weren't shooting her some occasional glances, just looking at the road before her. 'Try acting a bit like a couple' Fate remembered Suzuka's words and decided to do so. If it was going to help her with finding out how she really felt towards her sister, then it was worth trying. A little hesitantly at first, she put her hand on Nanoha's small, feeling the girl tensing and then relaxing a bit at the touch. So she tried going further. Slowly, she moved from the brunette's back to her hip and gently pulled her closer, connecting their bodies.

"Fate-chan?" Nanoha asked with a tiny voice.

"Hm?" The blonde responded, acting like nothing happened.

"Um, it's nothing." The girl dropped the topic.

Fate decided that this moment of silence was good to measure her feelings. But everything was just as always. Her heart didn't start to beat faster, the sensation was as normal and natural for her as if she was touching her own body. True, she felt the pleasant softness of Nanoha's skin, through the material of her clothes, and the girl's warmth as well but it was all. They turned to the park and sat down on a small bench in a shade of a few trees, effectively separating them from the rest of people taking a walk there. Fate moved her hand a little higher and rested it on Nanoha's arm, letting the girl lean back on the bench. She tried to desperately remember what couples usually do in that situation. She looked around, hoping that she would see something that could help her. To her joy, she spotted a boy sitting with a girl not too far from them. She stared at the two as they started to move closer towards each other and she had to quickly turn her eyes on something different, not wanting to disturb their privacy. No, that stuff was not appropriate in her case. At least not in that kind of place, when someone they knew could see them. Next to her, Nanoha tried to hide her yawn. And it gave Fate a perfect idea what to do. She had seen this one in some romantic comedy her sister talked her into watching so it was definitely going to work. "Nanoha?" She asked with a gentle voice. "Are you sleepy?"

The brunette looked at her, then turned her head again. "A little, I wasn't sleeping too well lately and I woke up early today."

Fate smoothed out her skirt on her lap. "Do you want to get some sleep now?" She tried to make her voice as mild and inviting as possible.

Nanoha was clearly taken aback by the proposition. "Um, I'm not that sleepy, you know..." She masked her puzzlement with a small giggle. She stopped when she saw the blonde lowering her gaze. Was it that important to her? "But I think I may try after all." Slowly, she lay her head down on Fate's lap and felt her sister's hand resting gently on her hair. She closed her eyes and couldn't help but notice one more time how soft the girl was. Although the bench was not too comfortable, her 'pillow' was warm, making her feel safe; her drowsiness came back.

Fate started to stroke Nanoha's head. Again, she didn't feel anything she hadn't felt before. She had to admit that just sitting with her sister like that was pleasant, then again, it had always been like that. She was so helpless, trying to find the feelings she didn't even know about.

Nanoha truly fell asleep on Fate's lap. She woke up after a good hour of lying on the bench and started to massage her, a little sore, neck. "Fate-chan, were you sitting here with me for the whole hour?" She asked after looking at her phone.

"To be honest," Fate started and firmly reached out for her sister's hand. "I didn't even notice how much time passed." She smiled, grabbing what she wanted, and led them to the street again. "Are you hungry?" She asked when they left the park. "We have almost an hour to a lunchtime, how about taking a walk somewhere else and then getting something to eat?" The blonde looked at the other girl. "Or maybe you want to come back?"

"Nah, let's eat," Nanoha's voice was again as cheerful as always, although Fate found it a little suspicious, she decided to stay silent about it.

They came back home after almost two hours, talking and occasionally laughing on their way back. Nanoha was definitely in much better state than a day or two ago. Although the perspective of separation was taking it's toll on both girls, the brunette's confession the day before made her heart much lighter than ever. Fate saw it in her sister's eyes, their old shine was almost back and the thought that it may disappear again, and she would not be able to help, made the blonde push harder to reach her goal. But the progress was almost non-existent and, even if only the first half of the day passed, Fate was already running out of ideas.

After getting back, she decided to call one more person, although asking them for advice in love matter was almost as wise as giving Hayate naked pictures of herself and Nanoha, the blonde hadn't had much possibilities left. She took a deep breath, dialled the number and with shaky hands waited for response.

"Yes?" She heard finally.

"Hi there, Amy-san," She said cheerfully. Try to sound natural. Try to sound natural. The girl was an incredible babbler and every suspicious thing Fate could say, would be told to the rest of her family in a matter of hours.

"Oh, hello, Fate-chan? What's up?" Amy's enthusiasm, whenever it came to talking, was hard to overcome by some people. Nanoha called it playfully 'a natural selection', mostly because it successfully eliminated most of potential suitors and Chrono's ability to silence the girl was truly a mystery. Fate only hoped that she wasn't the weakest link.

"Um, I need an advice-" She started but her friend didn't let her finish.

"Have you finally found a boyfriend for yourself?"

Fate laughed nervously. "Actually, something like that, but I'm not sure of my feelings and-"

"Not sure?" Amy interrupted her again. "Could you elaborate on this one a little?"

The blonde quickly thought about what she was going to say and started to speak. "It's a little complicated, we've known each other for quite a while and now he's asking me out and... you know, I'm not sure how to respond."

"Aww, that's a rather serious matter, Fate-chan,"

In that moment, Fate was truly glad that one of Amy's interest was other people's love life. Though it could be as lethal as helpful. "Yeah, could you help me a little? The situation is a bit intricate and I have to hurry up with giving my answer."

"Sure, I'll help you. You know what?" The cheerfulness in the girl's tone was dangerous. "I'll tell you what I know and then I'll ask Lindy-kaasan about it. Maybe she'll be able to help too. She's rather experienced in those matters, you know?"

Fate's stomach twisted. If her aunt Lindy would get to know what she said there then she would definitely repeat it to her mothers and then... "Ah, no need to go that far, I'm sure she's busy and... stuff..."

"Mmm, okay, as you wish, but call me if you change your mind." Amy responded with a little disappointed tone.

Fate just let out a silent sigh. "'Kay, I'll make sure to do such." Though such a change was not planned.

"All right, then," Fate centred all of her attention on the girl's voice and Amy continued. "Here is my advice."

Fate closed her phone, massaging her ear and cursing Amy's babbling nature. After many minutes spent on talking, the girl basically told her everything Fate heard from her friends before, only attaching some 'examples' to every part. The blonde couldn't really blame her, she tried her best to help. Was there anything more she could do? It was still too early to give up. Then, she remembered Amy's words about Lindy. Yeah, Lindy could help her but- What about her mother then? She was Lindy's friend after all, and she had been in a few relationships herself so she probably could help her. Quickly, she went to check the bedroom. Empty. The living-room, also. In the garden she found Nanoha but no single sign of Precia.

Resigned, she wanted to go back to her room when she heard someone opening the front door. She went to check who was there and saw the black-haired woman changing her boots. "Mother," She started and bit her lip. Lying to her mother about her sudden interest in having a boyfriend was out of question. On the other hand, she didn't want to give her sister away.

"Ah, Fate," Precia came closer and gave the girl a quick hug. "How are you today? You've stood us up yesterday." She laughed lightly.

"Sorry," Fate averted her mother's eyes. "Nanoha came to make it up with me."

"Did she?" The woman put her hand on her daughter's arm and led her to the living-room. "I'm glad then." They sat down on the sofa and she continued. "But I feel that you still have a problem, am I right?"

"Mm," The blonde nodded her head and put her hands on her knees.

"Can I help you with it?" Precia asked gently, pulling Fate into a light hug.

The girl didn't resist and laid her head on her mother's arm. "I'm not sure of my feelings." She started and Precia raised her brow slightly. "Let's say..." Fate continued. "Let's say that there is someone who loves me and I want to return this feeling but..." She stopped, not knowing how to formulate the rest of the question.

"But you don't know if you love this person in the same way?" Her mother finished after a while of silence.

Fate couldn't help but see the woman as even more amazing than she already was in her eyes. She nodded her head in agreement. That was exactly her problem. She felt Precia's fingers gently stroking her hair and her mother spoke again.

"Sometimes not everything can be solved in a matter of a day or two."

That, however, was the response she feared of. "I know but... I don't have much time to answer."

"What I'm trying to say is that you're trying too hard. You're trying to find your feelings so hard that you could have already missed them."

Fate closed her eyes. So what was she supposed to do in that case? She had to try so hard, otherwise her sister would go away, taking the burden alone. "What should I do then?" She asked, still determined.

"Forget it." An instant answer.

That was something Fate didn't expect. How was that going to help her? "But-" She started but Precia silenced her with a gesture of her hand.

"Don't try to find your feelings." She continued. "If you really feel the same, but don't know about it, they will find you."

Precia's advice made Fate only more confused. "I don't understand," She truly didn't. "How am I supposed to answer then?"

"Just be honest. Don't lie, tell the truth. If you don't know how you feel then say it. You don't know what will happen, sometimes simple things can trigger our feelings and emotions. Just being with that person, holding their hands for the last time, things like that can make you realise."

Fate looked at her lap sadly. It was a lottery, wasn't it? What if she would realise what she felt too late? It was all so hopeless right from the beginning. "Thank you mother," She responded silently and stood up. "I'll go now." She started to walk but the woman's voice stopped her suddenly.

"I'm sorry, Fate."

It was the first time when she heard her mother's voice lightly breaking. First time since her father's death.

"I'm sorry that I can't help you more."

The blonde looked at Precia and saw her sad expression. "It's okay." She hugged the woman, reassuring her. "It's going to be okay."

Precia stood up and looked into her daughter's eyes. "I should be the one saying it." She gave her daughter a small smile. "I'll be fine, go find your feelings." She gently kissed the girl's forehead, sending her off.

Fate entered Nanoha's empty room. She couldn't possibly feel worse than in that moment. Everything was going so wrong and she couldn't do anything about it. She was useless, she couldn't even stop her own sister from leaving. And the girl had just told her what she felt towards her. She probably needed so much courage to do it, and now, all her efforts were going to waste. Because Fate didn't know how she felt about the brunette. She sat down on the bed, rested her back on the wall and hugged her knees. She didn't even notice how much time passed her on sitting there, depressing herself. The sound of footsteps pulled her out of her thoughts. The door opened and Nanoha entered inside.

"Fate-chan?" She stopped, apparently not expecting to see her sister there. "What's wrong?" She sat down on the bed, next to the girl.

"I'm sorry, Nanoha," The blonde started with sad voice. "I failed you." She looked at Nanoha and saw confused expression on her face. "I told you that I would find my feelings but... I just don't know how I feel." She let a few tears run down on her cheeks. "I just don't know..."

"It's all right, Fate-chan," The brunette took her sister's hand. "I... Was expecting things to go this way so..." She sighed lightly. She knew it right from the beginning but still it was so painful for her. "You tried, it means a lot to me." She gently stroked the blonde's head.

"If you... If you apply to the college, you are going to leave soon, aren't you?" Fate asked, feeling as if her heart was going to break in two when Nanoha nodded her head. Apparently it was also difficult for the brunette to talk about it. "Is there something I can do for you?" It felt only right for her to ask, she had raised her sister's hopes up and then told her that it was not going to work. To her astonishment, the girl giggled lightly.

"Thank you, Fate-chan but I couldn't possibly be more selfish than I already was." The laughter died as soon as it appeared and Nanoha looked down.

So there was something on her mind. "It's okay, Nanoha, I was selfish too, I tried to stop you because I didn't want you to leave so..." She caressed her sister's cheek lightly. "It's okay for you to be selfish too." She stated and managed to smile sadly.

Nanoha was battling with her thoughts for a while before speaking again. "Then..." She started with a shy voice. "Can I kiss you? Just once." Her cheeks burned red as soon as the words left her mouth and she looked down at her fingers.

A kiss? She was going to leave soon, they were not going to see each other for a few years. And all because Nanoha was in love with her. The brunette would be hurt the most of them. Fate decided that she could do at least that. "Yes." She responded and looked at Nanoha's face. The girl didn't move so she repeated gently. "Yes, you can."

Nanoha shook off her astonishment. "Are you sure?" She asked uncertainly, as if she feared that the blonde was going to change her mind. "It's going to be your first kiss-"

"I am." Fate interrupted her, giving her an encouraging smile. "And it will be your first too, am I right?"

The brunette giggled. Yes, it was going to be her first kiss. "Close your eyes then." She said silently, almost whispering. She tilted her head and rested her body on her arm, placing herself perfectly in front of the other girl.

Fate did as she was told, she licked her mouth, parted them slightly and waited. She felt her sister's hot breath on her face, then the warmth radiating from the brunette. Her heart started to beat faster and faster and, when their lips connected, she could swear that it skipped a beat or two. Their mouth were just touching but the feeling was like nothing she had experienced before. The softness of Nanoha's lips, their gentleness, all of it made the world around the blonde spin. Following her womanly instincts, she put her hand on her sister's neck and the other one was roaming on the girl's back. Suddenly, she felt a hot tear falling down on her face and Nanoha pulled back. "Wait," Fate said as soon as she caught her breath. She wanted to feel this one more time.

"Fate-cha-" The brunette started but her mouth were quickly closed by Fate's own. For a short while Nanoha struggled lightly to break free but gave up easily when her sister pulled her closed. The blonde felt like a lot of small butterflies filled her stomach. The taste of Nanoha's mouth was mixing with tears running down the brunette's cheek.

Fate stopped to take a breath and kissed Nanoha once again. And then one more time. And once more. She gently sucked the brunette's lower lip and tilted her head, starting a dance with her sister's tongue. Their kissing, from just gentle touching, went to more aggressive, almost frantic. Nanoha hugged Fate with both of her hands tightly and, losing her support, made both of them fall on the bed. This time neither of them wanted to stop, acting as if their life depended on it. They broke off only when their lips became swollen and too sore to continue.

"Fate-chan?" Nanoha finally managed to gather her words and looked at her sister, surprised.

The blonde just hugged her, pressing the girl to her heart. And she knew that it was the feeling she was looking for. The bliss she wanted to last longer. When butterflies in her stomach died down, she curled up with Nanoha, pressing every part of her body she could to the other's. "I won't let you go." She stated finally, hearing muffled cries coming from her sister. She caressed her head, comforting the sobbing girl and repeated. "I won't let you go."

A/N: One more chapter left. Today I'm going on a three-day trip myself so writing it may take me a little longer than the two last ones. Though I'm going to take my laptop with me and write some in my spare time. We'll see, expect the update no sooner than at Sunday.

See you next time!