Author's notes: For anyone who has been following me since my first fic, you may want to read the update on my profile page that I posted on the first of November. Even if you aren't, hopefully you will read the second paragraph of it. If you're done, just read the line below and you can begin.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to MGLN or its sequels, whether it is the anime, manga or sound stage.
"Thanks for coming!" Nanoha chirped as she waved her hand to the guests who were leaving her house. Murmurs of thanks and goodbyes could be deciphered by the crowd as Vivio bounded up to the door.
"See you next year!" she exclaimed as she joined her mother in waving them goodbye. As the door closed, Vivio turned to see the clock on the wall. It read eleven forty and she sighed. Her cheerful look moments ago also changed to a somber one. Dejectedly, she dragged her feet back into the house and slumped onto the couch.
Arf, who was clearing some plates came over and sat beside her. "There's still twenty minutes, she'll be back." She wanted to see her master face to face, although their relationship was much more than a familiar and master.
"Yeah…" Her tone and the look on her face clearly showed her lack of confidence. "Fate-mama did say she would be coming back for my birthday." Burying her head into her hands, she took a few quick breaths and Nanoha, who was coming back in, could hear the sobs that Vivio was desperately trying to hold back. She let out a sigh and rubbed her hand against her daughter's back. Seeing that she could not do anything more than Nanoha could, Arf returned to clearing the plates.
"You know that they've finally found the criminal who was attempting to devastate a world with his followers. Furthermore, he has plans to use a lost logia as his last resort. I'm sure you're also familiar with Fate's sense of responsibility; she has been chasing him for quite some time so she reluctantly joined the mission." Although Nanoha was trying to calm her daughter down, she could not help but feel uneasy with the scale of Fate's mission.
Vivio sucked in a long breath and exhaled slowly. Lifting her head ever so slightly, she responded with a ragged voice, "I know, I know. A few of our outings were cancelled due to the same reason but I didn't blame her. I just wished," a heavy breath was let out before she continued, "that she would keep her promise for this day."
Flashes of Nanoha's childhood came back to her. The calendar showed that it was the fifteenth of March and the sky was dark. Nanoha was lying down on her bed and hugging her knees to her chest. The clock chimed again, painfully reminding her that another hour had passed.
That would be the fifth time. Five times the clock had rung since she had her dinner, alone, at seven thirty. 'They weren't here… My family didn't want to celebrate my birthday…' Her defences finally crumbled and choked sobs could be heard, not that anyone was there to hear it.
'I understand that Dad was injured really badly so Mom's taking care of him and Bro and Sis are managing the café but…' Her mind lost the ability to form coherent thoughts by that point and her weeping intensified. She distinctly remembered that she cried herself to sleep that night.
Finding nothing to say, she just stroked Vivio's back. 'Fate, please hurry back.' For some reason she couldn't put her finger on, she added as an afterthought, 'Safely.'
"Don't come any closer or I'll blow you all to smithereens!" a wide eyed male with sweat drenching his forehead howled as he held up the lost logia. "If I absorb this, I can and will destroy this whole planet with the trash that you are with it!"
"Just give up! Your forces have been decimated already. If you give in now, you will have the right to defend yourself and get a lighter sentence!" an enforcer shouted as he continued to fly after him.
"Last chance!" the criminal yelled back as he tightened his grip. "Do not underestimate me!"
"Overdrive; Shin Sonic Form."
"Sonic Drive," Bardiche intoned. Fate disappeared from the crook's vision, causing his eyes to dilate even more. The next thing he knew, or felt, was a mammoth blade crackling with electricity slamming into him from behind and left him plummeting to the ground. The grip on the lost logia was relinquished and it sailed through the air.
Holding Bardiche in Riot Zanber Calamity form with her right hand, Fate caught the lost logia with her left. The other enforcer caught up to her at this point and just blinked at the massive display of speed. "Take this and bring it back to the ship, I'll get him," she said as she passed the lost logia to him. Snapping out of his trance, he saluted his affirmative and started to fly back.
Fate landed on the ground and pointed Bardiche at the man. "You're under arrest," she asserted as binds formed around him. There was no response, not even any struggling. 'I should conserve my energy or else I won't be able to stand during Vivio's birthday,' she grimaced at the thought and brought Bardiche into view. "Bardiche."
"Yes Sir," he replied. "Barrier Jacket; Impulse form." Her heavier armor came back on and her breathing deepened a little from overloading her veins with magic to enter Sonic form. "Assault form," he continued as he shifted back into a polearm.
"Bardiche, what time is it now on Mid-Childa?"
"Fifteen minutes to midnight, Sir." Fate's face immediately became one of panic, realising how late it was. Seeing other enforcers heading towards her, she desperately tried to regain her composure. As they surrounded the criminal, he started to stir. His eyes darted around to take in the situation. Seeing that there was no way out, he let out a snicker and smirked.
'Good thing I absorbed a bit of the lost logia. It's below one percent, but it'll do.' Sinking into the ground, he let out his final sentence, "Goodbye, Bureau dogs."
Fate's eyes widened as she recognised that he was using the relic's power. "Everyone, get off the ground now!" she shouted as she took off. After getting barely five meters elevation, explosions occurred all over the planet, wiping out anyone who was still on it. However, they threatened to consume even those in the air.
Fate struck out her left hand to create a shield, grunting as the impact came. Much to her chagrin, her steel gauntlet was getting torn apart as bits of steel were breaking off. 'Bardiche, put everything we've got left into one last shield!' He complied as he loaded the last two cartridges they had and casted the defensive spell.
"Defenser Maximum." Fate's initial shield broke just as an almost opaque yellow sphere surrounded her. Despite that, the force seemed relentless on the shield as it threatened to shatter the remaining defences. Soon, skies of the planet they were on were completely white.
In orbit, a few cruisers witnessed the alarming event. When the light eventually dimmed, the screens showed that bodies were littered across the planet; both from the TSAB and the rebel forces. "Everyone, report your situation!" the admiral urgently sent out.
"Commander? Generals? Enforcers? Anyone?!" she tried again, desperation filling her. When the same result came back, a drop of cold sweat trickled down the side of her head.
On the ground, Fate lay on her back; her barrier jacket ripped all over, drawing blood from any opening. In her right palm were bits and pieces of the golden gem that was Bardiche. Drawing on her very last bit strength, she managed to move her left thumb very slowly. It barely touched the bottom of the ring on her third finger before dropping back down.
'Nanoha… Vivio… I'm sorry. I may never see you again…' With so much blood flowing on her face, it was impossible to tell that a single tear had fallen from her eye as the darkness laid claim to her.
"Shamal, are you ready to go?" Signum asked as she put her phone back into her pocket. Looking up, she could see that Shamal was sitting down and she had her face buried in her hands. After staring at her for a few seconds, she spoke again, "What's wrong?" The only response she received was Shamal shaking her head. Signum then took a sit beside her to wait for an audible response.
"I have to perform an operation. Seems like this one will take a few hours," Shamal finally said, raising her head to look at the ceiling as she let out a distressed breath. Signum turned to look at her, willing her to continue.
When nothing came, she urged, "What's the problem? You've had several nights when you couldn't come home before. I'll just call Hayate again and-"
"The patient's Fate." Signum went silent and turned to look at her.
"I wish it was some other Fate," Shamal replied quietly.
After taking a second to blink, Signum continued, "I see." Shamal turned to see that Signum's face was still as stoic as ever. "While it will be severely…" she hesitated for a while, trying to find a suitable word, "uncomfortable if Testarossa were to die-"
"Don't you get it?!" Shamal abruptly interrupted as she stood up quickly and threw her arms down. "Maybe you can deal with Fate dying and seeing Hayate mourning for her but I can't!" She let out an exasperated breath. "Especially if I was the one who failed to save her." Silence hung the air for a few seconds. "She and Nanoha were the ones who saved us from the curse of the Book of Darkness!
They managed to stop the Book of Darkness when it went out of control, saving Hayate; the first master that you, the general of the raging fire, actually cried for!" Shamal was nearly hyperventilating by this point, trying to calm herself down. She knew that she should not be taking out her frustration on Signum yet she had just done so.
"It's just like that time again," she continued, her voice significantly lower. "When Nanoha almost lost her ability to fly." She turned away from Signum. "Yes, it was mostly her own fault for going overboard with her training but I…" Her left forearm was brought to just below her chest, her right elbow resting on her left hand and she covered most of her face with her right hand.
"Maybe if I knew more about healing or the human body; she might not have to undergo the painful rehabilitation process. But before that, she was in a coma for half a month. I'm sure that you saw Fate sombrely waiting for her to wake up every day. What if the same thing happens again? Fate could be in a coma for who knows how long and when she finally wakes up, what if she has to undergo rehabilitation for all her limbs? Or worse-"
Her flurry of thoughts were cut off when Signum yanked her wrist and pulled her into a deep kiss. Shamal's eyes dilated at first, eventually closing as the contact between their lips did not cease. After a few passionate seconds, Signum pulled away and Shamal opened her eyes slowly. Regaining her vision, Shamal thought, 'It's amazing how she can do that with a straight face…'
"Now that you have cooled down, maybe you will listen to me." Receiving no reply, she continued, "We front liners are not the only ones who are improving. You've been doing this for about ten years now, I'm sure that you have picked up some new skills that would put your past self to shame." Signum gave Shamal a few seconds to let that sink in, given that she now had a contemplative expression.
"Although Testarossa is a far cry from what I'm going to ask you to imagine…" Neither one spoke for a second. "What would you do if I was the one who needed the operation?" Shamal stiffened visibly and her eyes narrowed, almost becoming slits. At this point in time, another surgeon appeared behind Signum.
"Doctor Shamal, the patient is now in the operating room and all preparations have been done. We should hurry if we are to save her." Shamal gave a curt nod and walked towards the surgeon, thanking Signum as she walked past her.
"I'll wait for you." Shamal turned to face her and nodded again, a glimpse of a smile appearing. Signum took out her phone, intending to call Hayate. She almost pressed the call button when Nanoha and Vivio ran in from the corridor, the latter lagging behind.
"How is she?!" Nanoha asked, her voice laced with fear.
"How did you-"
"Arf threw up blood," Nanoha replied at such a speed that made the response barely understandable. That would explain how Nanoha knew Fate was wounded but how she knew Fate was on this planet's hospital and that Shamal was operating on her would be a mystery to Signum.
Nanoha grabbed Signum's arm tightly before demanding, "Now. How. Is. Fate?" If people did not know their relationship, they would have thought that Nanoha was interrogating her.
"From what Shamal said, it seems that her injuries are worse than yours from the time that you became wheelchair bound." Nanoha's hand seemed to have lost all life when she heard that as it dropped back to her side. Vivio, who was still behind, slowed down to such a pace as if heavy weights were bounded to her legs.
They knew it would be severe if Arf was incapacitated; even when Fate's linker core was absorbed Arf could still move normally. However, if it was worse than the time Nanoha was in a coma for half a month, lost her ability to walk for six months and could not fly for another four… To say that they were horrified would be a serious understatement. Nanoha's legs were visibly trembling and Vivio fell to her knees.
"Fate-mama…" she whispered, tears welling in her eyes.
Answering to a person's family and friends would be gruelling to any surgeon. Especially if the operations they participated in involved life and death. If they were to fail, the generic 'We tried our best' would be said emotionlessly. At least, that would be what the people outside would think. Some would go crazy and assault them.
They would not break down openly. If they are alone, the tinge of guilt would haunt them, maybe for a few seconds. Nevertheless, they would feel horrible. They should; no one can save lives if they did not cherish them in the first place.
However, if the person being operated on is their family or friend, their emotions would be more open. That is a sad fact of life; you do not care if people you have never seen before die. This could be seen as a low level of selfishness which leads to destruction. Therefore, death will claim everyone sometime. Not even S+ mages would be able to escape death.
The look on Shamal's face was evidence of how the operation went. Grim, upset and exhausted. Perhaps it was because she had lost her will to continue with this profession that she was burnt out. She was about to push open the doors of the Operating Room when the other surgeon put her hand on her shoulder. Shamal turned to look at her, slightly raising an eyebrow, wordlessly asking her what was the matter.
"Go ahead back to your home. I'll tell them. I've had as much to do with this operation as you did so you are not pushing any work to me." Shamal was weary physically and mentally after that so she nodded.
"Thank you," she murmured. The doors were opened and Nanoha and Vivio rushed towards Shamal. Her partner held up her hand in front of her, redirecting them to her. Shamal continued to walk towards Signum. Signum wrapped her arm around Shamal's shoulders as they began their slow and quiet trip back home.
"How is she?" Nanoha asked as she felt her heart beat as fast as a race car at its maximum speed.
"Her body was littered with shrapnel; nearly all her organs were pierced." Nanoha and Vivio's eyes widened; if Fate's heart or brain were skewed she would surely be done for. "Fortunately, her brain and heart suffered very light wounds and they should have a complete recovery.
"However, the same cannot be said for her other organs. Usually we would be able to predict how long it would take for one organ to heal but for damage on such a scale, it is nearly impossible to estimate how long the process will take. Furthermore, her linker core was below zero point zero one percent and it received considerable physical damage as well.
"Because of all these factors, there is no telling how long she will be in a coma." She took a moment to swallow, causing Nanoha and Vivio to have an ominous feeling. "Or if her condition will worsen." The air was thick with dread as the silence hung. "You can go and see her now but I must warn you of the sight. The machines are keeping her alive now. If she does not wake up within a week, her chances will start to dip."
As the surgeon walked away, Nanoha stood still and stared at the door of the room where her love lay. Knowing that she was in so much pain and could die at any moment was akin to driving a knife into her heart and slowly twisting it. "Vivio, I'll bring you home," she said as she tried to mask her grief and fear.
"No, I need to be by Nanoha-mama and Fate-mama's side now. After all, I'm still waiting for Fate-mama's present." Nanoha turned to face her daughter, ready to blow her top at her for still thinking about how Fate missed her birthday when Vivio choked out, "That she will wake up and recover. That she will come back home with us. I don't care if that is the last present I get in my life. I won't ask for anymore, ever."
Two days had passed since the operation. Family and friends came to visit, although it was clear that Fate's family stayed longer than her friends. Amongst the family members, Nanoha and Vivio sat by her the longest. Her kith and kin were all declared mentally unfit for work for a week, something that was much appreciated.
What was not as welcome was how Fate looked. It was as if she was in a full body cast with those bandages wrapped around most of her skin. Wires with electrodes were attached to her exposed skin and her right forearm had an intravenous drip attached to it. She had a huge laceration on the left side of her face, causing half her face to be covered as well and an oxygen mask attached to her mouth.
Although it was helping her with breathing, Nanoha painfully noticed that her chest did not rise as much as when she was sleeping peacefully. Even in a coma her lungs hurt and Nanoha could not do anything to alleviate it. She tried to get over it by reading reports on her students which Vita submitted but to no avail.
Arf was awake twelve hours ago and went she heard how Fate was, her face turned emotionless. She had been sitting up on the bed and staring into blank space ever since. Chrono and Erio had gone to buy food and drinks for the women, Lindy and Caro included, who were looking after the patients. As expected, not much was consumed.
Not many hours were spent sleeping as well. Nanoha was the most extreme, getting barely an hour a day. All reminders that she needed more did not serve well, she just could not sleep peacefully.
Out of the corner of her eye, Nanoha saw that Vivio was sleeping in her chair. 'Maybe we should go back home to sleep tonight…' She was really conflicted, every fibre of her being was screaming at her not to leave Fate. Suddenly, she heard a ruckus coming from the room Arf was in. Seeing that her daughter did not move, she stood up to see what was going on.
"Let me go!" Arf shouted at Erio and Caro who were trying to restrain her.
"Where are you going then? " Caro asked, panic evident as Arf jerked her arm, trying to shake her off.
"I'll save Fate! If a third party kills a familiar nothing happens to the master and I'll stop draining Fate's magic! She'll wake up once I die so let me go!" Arf swung her arms again, weakening the hold they had on her. She was about to try again when pink rings bound her in her position.
"Na-Nanoha?" the three of them stammered at once.
Nanoha put down her hand as she spoke, "Erio, Caro, thank you for holding her. I'll speak to her now so you can let go." They did as she said and considered leaving the room as well, given how grave Nanoha looked at the moment. "Arf, are you serious about going out to get yourself killed?"
"If that'll save Fate, I'll do it!" she shouted back.
"No offense, but I don't think your death will change anything," Nanoha replied. "The fact that you can move around now means that she is recovering and you don't really tax her; taking less than a hundredth of her magic every day. Besides," there was a certain edge to her voice now, "how do you think she will feel if you died?"
Arf went quiet at that and her struggling stopped. "I'm going to let you go now. I really hope you will make the right choice." A subtle nod was received and the binds vanished. Arf went back to her bed and apologised to Erio and Caro as Nanoha returned to Fate's room.
As Nanoha was walking back to Fate, she stopped in the hallway. Her vision started to blur and she closed her eyes for a while. Placing her right hand over her face, she tried to fight off the sleep that was trying to take her. 'I have to at least get back to Fate…' the thought lingered as she opened her eyes and continued walking back to the room which Fate was in.
As she opened the door, she did not expect to see a woman in the blue TSAB uniform in the room. Her side was facing the door and she turned to see Nanoha coming in. "Captain Takamachi, I would say that it's a pleasure to meet you but I believe that the situation isn't so. I am Admiral Sonoda, the one in charge of Enforcer Harlaown's latest mission."
Nanoha's eyes narrowed for a split second, she wanted to blame the admiral for landing Fate in such a state before rational thinking took over. Whether or not the admiral saw this, her face did not change. "Admiral Sonoda, what can I do for you?"
"I'm sure you knew how dangerous the criminal Enforcer Harlaown was chasing; he had a lost logia capable of turning a planet into particles of itself. We knew that he was rallying his forces to break through an administrated world's defences and blow it to bits. We have finally decoded the last bit of his message, telling us the planet he was aiming for."
The admiral took a moment to swallow before continuing, "The planet that he wanted to destroy so much, it was Mid-Childa." Nanoha's eyes widened slightly before returning to their normal shape.
"What you're saying is…"
"Yes, because the forces then took the explosion, they prevented it from happening on Mid-Childa. The moment the explosion died down we sent rescue units to teleport the survivors immediately back here for treatment. Furthermore, when we retrieved the lost logia that was floating in space, ninety-nine point one percent of it remained.
"Zero point nine percent of that power killed off nearly five thousand soldiers and left giant craters all over the planet. So far, only five people are still alive from that but the other four are in a similar state compared to Enforcer Harlaown. If he had released the full power here on Mid-Childa, I dare say that there would be no survivors; there might not even be a Mid-Childa anymore.
"Therefore, if Enforcer Harlaown were to die, she would have died for the sake of her home planet and family, unlike most enforcers who die for people they barely know." The admiral slowly brought her hand up to form a salute. On behalf of my family, I thank her."
Admiral Sonoda turned to leave as Nanoha slowly rotated her head to stare disbelievingly at Fate. "But, I know that your wife is strong. She will make it through this," Admiral Sonoda finished as she left the room to visit the other four patients.
Nanoha moved slowly towards the bed and knelt beside it. She gently took Fate's left hand and caressed her own face with it. Vivio had just woken up and heard Nanoha mumbling between ragged breaths, "Fate, you're like this because you protected us. I won't let your effort go to waste so I'll take care of myself and Vivio. But no matter what, I'll be here for you." A few tears rolled down her cheeks as she stood up.
The crucial week was coming to an end. As Nanoha promised, she and Vivio went back home to get a healthy amount of sleep, but not before making sure that the hospital would contact her through Raising Heart immediately if Fate woke up. Lindy and Chrono had stopped coming two days before and Erio and Caro came one last time yesterday before leaving for Supools. However, they had also requested contact if Fate were to wake up.
Vivio was with Nanoha earlier but she had left, saying that maybe she was waiting too eagerly for her 'present'. Nanoha wanted to drive her home when she said it would be fine; she was going to have a sleepover with her friends. Nanoha had genuinely smiled when she heard that her daughter already had close friends.
However, at the final hour of the week, she had lost all the happiness she felt then. Fate was still unconscious although she did not look as bad; at least now both her eyes could be seen, although they were still closed. Nanoha had worked long enough in the military to know that when a doctor says that a person's chances dip, it was a complete understatement. They did drop, all the way to near zero.
'I must have worried Fate as much when I took a week longer to wake up,' Nanoha somberly thought back to when she was twelve as she felt the seconds crawl by. She herself had fallen into the 'no hope' stage. To her, the only reason she woke up was because Fate was wailing her name and she wanted to stop Fate's sadness.
She had described it as the sound piercing even the deepest ocean, pulling her out of the cold and dark trance. Even though she did wake up, it came at the price of her legs. Having experienced the agonising rehabilitation process first-hand, she definitely did not want Fate to go through the same thing.
She remembered when she first met Fate; two nine year old girls were looking at each other in the eyes. She would never forget her initial thought, 'Her eyes are so beautiful, but why do they look so incredibly lonely and sad?' Fate also gave her life meaning, showing her that she could do something nobody else could. Nanoha had managed to touch even the most tormented soul's heart.
After that, the burgundy irises were much happier. They only brightened up further when she accepted Lindy's request for adoption and when they adopted Vivio together. Nanoha would never forget the day which they gleamed at their peak; the day which they exchanged rings. Tears welled in her eyes as she took Fate's left hand. 'Please, let me see them again… Please open them…'
Pitch black, everywhere was pitch black. That was all Fate could see in whatever plane or dimension she was in now. Her body was numb, there was no feeling at all yet she knew her eyes were open. She did not know how long she had been floating but she definitely felt that she was sinking. 'I need to get out of here but my limbs won't obey me… Is this my limit?' Fate shut her eyes as the thought haunted her. Unwittingly, her mind began to replay events, some more solid than others.
It was around April on the year after the Book of Darkness incident. A new week had started after Nanoha and Fate had gone to watch the cherry blossoms fall. Fate was waiting at the usual place before school started, earlier than her friends. Nanoha arrived soon after but she noticed something different about Fate.
Upon closer inspection, Nanoha caught on to what Fate had done with her appearance. Instead of her usual twintails, Fate had her hair down. "Fate, why did you change your hairstyle?" Nanoha inquired.
Fate turned to face her and beamed. "Because, I've finally been able to see myself as Fate Testarossa instead of a flawed copy of Alicia Testarossa. My hair was based on her memories but since I've accepted that I am a unique human being, I decided to style it my way." Nanoha's typical happy expression grew when she heard what Fate had said.
"Congratulations, I'm so happy for you!" she exclaimed.
"Thank you, but I haven't forgotten what you gave me." Receiving a quizzical expression in response, Fate dug into her bag and pulled out a couple of pink ribbons; the same ones Nanoha had given her. "I'm thinking if I should tie one of them at the bottom of my hair, although I may want to change the color." Nanoha smiled at her friend; she was finally moving forward. "However, that was not the only thing you gave me."
Nanoha titled her head to the side and raised an eyebrow. "Huh?" Her pupils shrank the next moment when Fate embraced her. Knowing Fate's shy nature, she was always the one who initiated the hugs. "Fa-Fate?"
"I know I've said this many times, but this time I'm saying it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, Nanoha. If you didn't save me back then, who knows how much I would have fallen. Thank you again, Nanoha."
'That's right… It was Nanoha who brought me to life. If she didn't, I would have remained in my delusions…'
"It doesn't matter if we're master and familiar. Let's stay the same as we are, now and forever."
"Well, the real reason is because you're a very good child. I might not look like it, but I have a very good sense of character." Lindy assured her.
"Ah, um, er… um… um…" Fate stuttered, quivering at the last word.
"If you disappeared, I would be worried."
"Thank you very much…"
"Don't touch me!"
"See Erio. Right now, you're full of unhappy feelings, and thoughts of unforgivable things. I certainly won't be able to understand all of it, but I do want to try and understand at least a little. I think we even can share some of our unhappiness."
"Where do I have to go this time?"
"That depends on where you want to go, and what you want to do. Caro, where do you want to go? And what do you want to do?"
"I'm your godmother. It's my job to watch over you and your mom, Nanoha."
"Erm… Nanoha-mama… and Fate-mama?"
The doors of the cathedral opened, revealing two women in their wedding dresses. As they walked up to the front, they could not resist glancing at each other. Fate felt as if she was going to melt the entire time and she did when she heard Nanoha's vow.
"I, Nanoha Takamachi, take Fate Testarossa Harlaown to be my lawfully wedded wife. If she's injured, I will stay by her and protect her. My love for her knows no bounds; no one can stand in my way to shield her from suffering. If the need ever arises, I will be glad to give up everything I have to save her. As long as I am beside her or a part of me is with her, I will have no regrets.
"However, what I say doesn't matter. No amount of words in the universe can express my unwavering devotion towards her. "
'My wife,' the thought resounded in their minds at the same time. A tear dropped from Nanoha's eye onto Fate's hand, rolling off her ring before touching her skin.
A small pink light shot through the darkness, reaching Fate's hand. Its power flowed into her as her forearm began to glow. 'I'm coming Nanoha, I'm sorry I took so long,' Fate thought as a magic circle formed behind her. The symbol was different from her normal gold circle, the outer circle was pink. "Trident…" she slammed her hand into the circle, invoking her magic. "Smasher!"
A yellow blast came out, pushing her towards the surface. Soon after, two more beams sprouted out. However, they were pink instead of the usual yellow. Fate felt her imaginary body rush to the surface, where she would awaken.
Her eyelids opened slowly, revealing her wife's sobbing face. Nanoha noticed that Fate's eyes were opened and murmured, "Fate… Your awake…" before her tears started stream down her face. Her emotions over the past week were washed over with relief as she tightened her grip on Fate's hand, afraid that she would never see her again if she let go.
"Na…no…ha…" Fate croaked, trying to find her voice. It would have sounded weak enough by itself; the oxygen mask she still had on was making it worse. Her own eyes started to water as she saw the love of her life again after she had sank into the void. "I was so scared… I thought that I would never see you again…"
Nanoha sniffed as she rubbed her face with her right arm while gently lifting Fate's left hand with hers. "I'll never give up on you. As long as you're alive, I will wait for you, no matter how long it takes." She squeezed Fate's hand softly, "We took the vows together, remember?"
Fate willed her fingers to wrap around her wife's and they slowly obeyed. When their hands were firmly clasped around each other, she replied, "I do, that's why I'm awake now."
Six months have passed since their tearful reunion. Fate's recovery had been easier due to her timely waking; she just needed to lie in bed for most of the time. However, her insides still flared if she stretched too much or too fast. Due to this, she was excused from work for another three months while she continued to rest at home. She had just packed the last of her medication when Nanoha came into the room.
"Fate, are you done packing? I've signed the discharge papers." The person in question turned around to see her wife; her face rid of the elongated scar she had. Healing magic had also cleared the many defects she received from the explosion, turning the scar tissues into healthy ones.
"Yeah, I'm ready to go back; to our home."
"Okay then…" The next thing Fate knew, she was being carried, bridal style, by Nanoha. Her bag was slung on Nanoha's shoulders and she started to walk out.
"Na-Nanoha? What are you doing?" she stammered as her face turned red.
"Fate, you've suffered for the past six months because you were protecting us. I'm going to pamper you back home."
"You don't have to…"
"Right now I can't even hug you from the front without you wincing from the pain," Nanoha retorted. "That means that you're still injured so I'm going to nurse you back to health."
"But… This is embarrassing…" she whispered as Shamal appeared at the door.
"Now Fate," she began, "you also carried Nanoha this way when she finished her rehabilitation. It's only fair that Nanoha gets her turn." Fate's blush deepened when she remembered Nanoha with her new side ponytail in her arms.
"Oh, that's right," Nanoha said as she put Fate back on the bed. When she looked like she was going to stand up, Nanoha shot her a look that meant, 'stay'. Fate looked at her for a moment, silently begging. When she saw that Nanoha would not budge, she sunk back down into the bed. "Thank you Shamal, for saving Fate," Nanoha said as she bowed.
Shamal waved her hand. "I'm just doing my job. I'm glad that Fate made it through as well."
"Speaking of which, where is the other surgeon who operated on her? I couldn't find her."
"Oh, she took a day off today. You can see her tomorrow." Shamal then chuckled. "Now go on you two."
"Okay," Nanoha replied with a bow again. She then picked Fate up and started to walk back to the car. Internally, she was enjoying that her wife was blushing so hard all the way. They soon approached the car and Vivio could be seen with two intelligent devices behind her.
"I see Fate-mama's getting special treatment," Vivio remarked as she giggled. "Looks like she's not the only one," she continued as she moved away, revealing that Bardiche, fully repaired, was levitating with a pink glow surrounding him and Raising Heart floating with her wings.
"Please place me back with Sir," his tone almost pleading.
"No, you protected my master's beloved. You should get some rest too."
"… Sir?" he tried.
"Bardiche, your 'Sir' is still out of commission. While I am taking care of her Raising Heart will do the same for you," Nanoha cut in. She almost glared at him, wanting to get home quickly.
"Yes, lady," he replied after a few moments.
With that, they got into the car. Vivio opened the door of the backseat, allowing the intelligent devices to float in first while Nanoha opened the side door and carefully placed Fate down, even doing the seatbelt for her despite a minor protest. Vivio then got in and closed the door, followed by Nanoha entering the driver's seat.
The car reached the parking lot and Nanoha cut the engine. "Vivio, go and open the door while we bring these two in."
"Okay mama!" she chirped as she ran towards the house. Raising Heart and Bardiche floated in while Nanoha carried a blushing Fate in. When they reached the master bedroom, Fate was placed down with her back against the pillow while Bardiche was slowly let down beside her.
"Wait here, I have your lunch prepared," Nanoha announced as she kissed Fate on the cheek, earning another blush from her love. When Nanoha and Vivio went to the kitchen to get the meal, Fate turned to look at Bardiche.
"Bardiche, this home… It makes all our hardships worth it, doesn't it?"
"Yes," he replied, dropping the 'Sir'. Fate blinked at that as Nanoha and Vivio returned with a huge bed table and many dishes, all of them her favourites.
As she observed how happy they were while she was with them, her near death experience flashed across her mind once more. 'That's right, I should, no, will come back alive to them no matter what,' she affirmed in her head. 'As Fate Takamachi Harlaown, it is my duty to my wife, Nanoha Takamachi Harlaown.'
Author's notes:When Signum said that Fate was a far cry from her, she was not talking about combat. She was talking about how good she was in bed. With Shamal.
Admiral Sonoda not calling them Captain/Enforcer Takamachi Harlaown was intentional. Either think of it as the Bureau wanting only one last name in their ranks or it's my writing style.
Some of the flashbacks Fate had were either from the sound stages or derived from them. Thank you Nagumo for translating them and links to them will be on my profile page.
Information of Nanoha's injury were loosely referenced from the Santa Sangre trilogy.
From now on most OCs will have their names done using a random name generator. The links to the scanlation and name generator will be on my profile page (again).
This is it for now. Until next time.