This is actually pretty old, but I noticed that I'd forgotten to put it on here. Apologies to those who've already seen it on lj.
Spoilers for BKO, obviously. Also, this is an AU, where the maladeiter project never happened.
Baelheit sighed again.
"No, Milliarde, you may not bring your toy sword with you. We're heading for a garden party, not a picnic in the wild. I know you'd prefer to run around, but please try to act like a proper lady for once?"
The eight years old pouted.
"But Father …"
"I said no, Milliarde, now run down to your- "
"Heeeeeeeit? Are you done dressing yet? We're going to be late!"
He didn't even try telling his wife that he had been ready for the last half hour. Fighting with his daughter and wife was a lost cause. He'd be lucky enough if he got Milliarde to act less like a tomboy and more like the sweet little girl the other high-ranking imperials were expecting her to be.
In a way it pushed his buttons ever-so-slightly. Milliarde was a sweet girl, loving and protective, if rather spirited. She took after her mother, and while some people might have frowned at Stern's attitude had she not come from a powerful family, her liveliness and swift wit had been what had made him fall in love in the first place. He didn't like restraining her too much, as long as she didn't go crazy, but this was an important gathering, and they had to show a good face to the officials. The future of his project -the implantation of a research facility in Azha to boost education and employment there- depended on it. So for the day they had to be the perfect little Alfard noble family.
He bent down to look into his daughter's eyes.
"Look, Milliarde. If you behave today, then next week we'll go for a weekend in Diadem to see the Knights and the fishermen. Now that the peace treaty is settled, we can go there freely again."
Not to mention that getting tourists from Alfard might help make the peace a little less talk and a little more fact, especially if their daughter is crazy about knighthood..
Her eyes gleamed.
"Yes. Now, put down that sword, and show me the little Lady I know you are."
"But Father, real Ladies should know how to fight."
"I know. They're just too old to understand that. But intelligent people have to show they're inteligent by understanding and not provoking, all right? You know what you can do, and you don't need people you don't care about to know."
She pondered that for a second, then grinned.
"Heit, Milly, I'm going to leave without you two."
He looked up and his breath nearly caught. Stern had made herself more stunning than ever, dressed in white with gold hairpins in her curly brown hair. But that wasn't all, he noted. The earings were Azhani, as was the embroidery on her dress. The outfit was still Mintakan in design, but the message was clear.
Baelheit Laboratories were of Alfard, in its integrity.
If he hadn't already been married to her, he would have proposed on the spot.
"We were just finishing. Right, Milliarde?"
She ran ahead, dropping her wooden sword on a nearby table as she went.
"Are you trying to turn her into the perfect like Mintakan Lady?" she asked with a mock frown.
"Of course. Can't have her running around like a savage."
She laughed. He thought back to the days when her humour always had him panicking in his search for an answer and smiled.
"I hope you aren't implying I'm raising her wrong, Heit. I'd be sad."
"No. I'm implying I should have kept a closer watch on her when she started following your wicked ways. Shall we get going?"
"Of course. I was waiting for you two all along, you know." She ran after her daughter, catching the side of her dress in one hand.
Baelheit walked out of the door, chuckling at the "Milly, sweet, if we get the funding, you and me are going to binge on Azhani melon shaved ice tomorrow, deal?" that barely reached his ears.