I want to give my special thanks to souvikkundu0017, who had made a big contribution for the story, regarding information about Nasuverse. I'm very grateful for his support.
For now, please enjoy.
Albus Dumbledore was sitting in his office, head in his hands. Never before had the old wizard ever felt so weary and lost like he was tonight. Sighing for what might be the hundredth time, he looked up and started to think about how things could have gone so wrong in just one night. Whether the boy would be able to overcome this or not was still unknown at the moment. But there was no reason not to be prepared for the worst, especially after what Dumbledore himself had witnessed after arriving at the scene.
"Albus!" With a loud noise, the door to his office burst open, and his Deputy Headmistress – Minerva McGonagall dashed in, confusion and fear transparent on her face. She was still in her night gown with a coat draped hastily over her shoulder, her hair uncombed and her face almost drained of blood, which Dumbledore knew would get even worse after she heard what he had to say.
"Albus. What happened to the boy?" McGonagall asked as she approached his desk. "You sent your phoenix to me in the middle of the night saying that Harry Potter is in critical condition without any explanation..."
"Please, Minerva," Dumbledore waved his hand tiredly. "I'm about to give you an explanation right now if you would let me. Please take a seat. It looks like Severus had also arrived."
Indeed he had, the mentioned Potion Master was making his way through the door with haste. His expression wasn't very different from that of McGonagall.
"Albus!" Even his opening speech was the same. "Please tell me you got there on time. I saw hundreds Dementors heading that way after informing you about..."
"Please take a seat, Severus, and let me speak," Dumbledore politely signaled to the empty chair next to McGonagall with a tired but sharp voice. Snape, after eyeing him for a moment, got closer and sat down reluctantly.
"Thank you," The Headmaster heaved a sigh and looked straight at the two teachers in front of him, regarding them for a moment before beginning his explanation. "Minerva, tonight, Sirius Black has been found in the castle's ground. Harry Potter was with him."
"Sirius Black?" McGonagall gasped. "He...He finally managed to get to the boy? Was that why..."
"No he didn't," shaking his head to reassure the witch, Dumbledore then continued. "Severus here had spotted and followed them into a secret passage way leads to the Shrieking Shack. However, he was stunned. After waking up, he was only able to find Miss Granger and Mister Weasley and brought them back to the castle before reporting to me."
"But… How about Potter? What happened to the boy?"
Giving his Deputy Headmistress an apologetic look, Dumbledore continued his story.
"What really happened was unknown at the moment. However, when I found them, both Black and Harry were being surrounded by Dementors. Black was unconscious, and was now being kept inside the Astronomy Tower. He wasn't kissed though, that much I can be sure. Harry, on the other hand..."
"No..." The reaction from McGonagall was something Dumbledore couldn't even imagine seeing. The rest of the blood drained from her face as she murmured in horror at the implication. On her side, Snape's face remained stoic. However, Dumbledore could see the emotion in his eyes, something he wasn't able to clearly define.
"He is also unconscious in the Hospital Wing right now. Whether or not he was kissed, we couldn't be sure. That has to wait until he wakes up. If he ever does."
"That...That can't be true, Albus..." McGonagall stuttered. She didn't want to believe it, and Dumbledore completely understand, as he also felt the same. They shouldn't abandon hope, no matter how small it was.
"Like I said, we can't know that, not right now. The reason I've called you two here is to ask for your assistance. Until we know exactly what happened to the boy, we can't let what happened, or his condition, be known to anyone else. This is very important, given who he is. You understand, right?"
The two teachers nodded in unison, though from McGonagall's expression, he could see that she still couldn't believe all of that had just happened.
"And I mean it, even Miss Granger and Mister Weasley are not to be informed of this. That's everything for now. I want to have a talk with Sirius Black before Fudge came over and get his version of the event. Hopefully we can have more insight on what really happened. Severus, please bring your strongest dose of Veritaserum to the Astronomy Tower. I and Minerva will see you there."
With a curt nod, Snape stood up and swiftly left the room. Dumbledore and McGonagall also left their seats.
"If anything happen to the boy. I'll so kill Black even before the Dementors get to do their job," the witch murmured in anger.
"And I'm not sure if I can stop you, my dear professor," Dumbledore replied in a weary voice as they headed to the door.
This is going to be a long night… The old wizard thought solemnly.
Shirou Emiya dragged his battered body across the large clearing in an underground cave. He had done it. He had defeated Servant Caster and his Master in this Fake Holy Grail War, and was now facing the root of all this, the cause of what he was sure was his final battle, as he could feel the energy leaving him.
The Fake Holy Grail War, an imitation of Fuyuki's Grail System, reconstructed by a group of magus in Germany. They had been dealt with, but their creation was still there, and the War erupted without warning. However, to Shirou, it was a lucky stroke, without the time or knowledge to prepare beforehand, this Fake war wasn't able to reach the violence degree of Fuyuki's Fourth War.
Technically, Shirou himself wasn't a Master, as he didn't have a Servant to begin with. He caught wind of the War from his connections with the Clock Tower's Enforcers and hastily got to Germany in order to sabotage it. More than most people, Shirou had experienced first hand the nightmare an artifact like the Holy Grail could bring, and he had to make sure that it wouldn't happen again.
Looking at the Grail in front of him, Shirou knew that it wasn't tainted, something he had learned about the Fuyuki Grail after the War. But for all he knew, it wasn't completed either, and could very well be dangerous in its own way. Even if it was a perfect wish granting machine, then it would still be the object of many, if not all, magi's desire. It was evident that people would kill and do unimaginable things to become its owner.
For that reason. It must be destroyed, he thought as he got closer to it. The last fight had almost drained him. It wasn't easy to take on a Master and her Servant at the same time, but somehow he had managed it. Shirou had to admit that a sneak Caladbolg II shot helped greatly in weakening Caster as he shielded his Master, but the rest of the fight wasn't a walk in the park. He had had to finished off the Servant as quickly as possible before he healed, all the while dealing with the interference of a full fledged magus, who was also powerful in her own right.
And now it's just me and this cursed thing… He chuckled. After the fight, he was heavily wounded. But there was no need to heal up, though it could easily be done with a quick trace of Avalon. Shirou had already decided that this would be his last battle, and he was going to die soon. He didn't need to treat his wounds. All of his remaining energy would be needed if he was going to destroy the Fake Grail once and for all, as there was no Saber around this time to do it for him.
"Trace...on!" With a gentle smile at the memory of the graceful King of Knights, Shirou murmured, and a switch was flipped within his body, letting his od once again fill the Magic Circuits. He then traced the most powerful sword he had in his arsenal – the Caliburn.
There was no deny that it was a very captivating sword. No matter how many time he looked at it, Shirou still couldn't help but admire its beauty and the light it emitted, even now, right before he was about to sacrifice himself by using it with all the power he had.
Raising the sword above his head, Shirou then looked at the Fake Grail with determination. Without wasting any more time, he started to focus his od into his final attack.
"CA..." As the first word was said, the sword recognized the order and accepted his od. It then started to glow brighter and brighter. The energy it produced was enough to distort the air around Shirou. Then, without warning, the rest of his od was rapidly sucked out through his Circuits, making him feel like he was being burned from inside. Cold sweat was now covered Shirou's face and his legs started shaking, but he tried his best to hold on. Just a few more seconds, when the sword gathered enough prana, it would be all over.
"...LIBURN!" Shirou shouted the rest of the sword's name as he felt the last drop of od left his body. He swung it down as hard as he could, watching in amazement as it released the blinding light toward the Fake Grail. The power of the attack shook the entire cave. It could very well collapse, but all of that didn't even matter anymore.
After the light had somewhat faded, Shirou checked again and a contended smile formed on his lips. The Fake Grail had been broken and was slowly dissolving. There was something leaking out of it, but not the tainted black stuff of the Fuyuki Grail. It was something else.
Does it really matter though? He wondered but didn't really seek an answer. Shirou then fell on his knees as the Caliburn in his hand disappeared. Understandable, he had no energy left to maintaining its appearance in this world. It didn't matter, since there was no need for the sword to be here anymore. It was time to let Gaia do her job.
At least I didn't turn out like Archer, in his last moment, Shirou entertained himself with the thought. He had known what future had in store for him if he went down that route. Thanks to Rin, he had somewhat got rid of his suicidal mindset. But that didn't mean it couldn't act up sometimes, like just a moment ago for example. Shirou didn't regret it though, as his death was able to prevent much more tragedies later on. Who knows what would happen if this wretched War was allowed to repeat over and over again, each times more violent and prepared than the previous?
Hmp? But I wonder if the World itself would offer me a contract like it did with EMIYA, would I accept it? Shirou snorted dryly, as the answer came to him just a second later. It would be crazy to accept that deal. He knew better than anybody else but the Counter Guardians themselves, what he would be forced to do if he were to become one of them. That, however, didn't mean he was entirely satisfied with this ending though. Shirou was happy to be able to destroy the Grail, even if it meant giving up his life. But there was still a tingle of regret in the back of his mind, telling him that it would be the end of his dream as well. There would be no more saving people after this moment. As he closed his eyes and let himself fall down, it would be all over.
"I just wish to be able to continue my dream..." Shirou murmured his wish even without realizing what he was saying, but quickly disregarded it. There was no use dwelling on that anymore. He had made his choice, and the result was perfect. So what was there to complain?
But again, he wouldn't be Shirou Emiya if everything could just happen normally around him.
As soon as the wish left his mouth, Shirou instantly realized that he had made an irreversible mistake. Before he knew it, the stuff from the Fake Grail had coiled themselves around him, wrapping around his arms and legs and starting making their way up.
"Wha..." Shirou's eyes shot up with horror as he stared at the dissolving Fake Grail. Apparently, even in that state, it was still trying to perform its duty, to grant the wish of the last survival. Since the last legitimate Master had been struck down, Shirou was the only one left with a wish in its presence.
Struggling as hard as he could, Shirou tried to get himself out of it, but it was of no use. The stuff was now up to his chest, and he had no strength left to escape. After a few seconds, with a final heavy sigh, Shirou resigned to his fate and gave up, allowing himself to be swallowed by the remnant of the Fake Holy Grail.
What could possibly happen? I was going to die anyway… Was his last thought before Shirou closed his eyes. His consciousness started fading. At least, he was glad that whatever was happening to him, it wasn't painful or uncomfortable.
A very long while later, or at least that was how he felt it, Shirou finally opened his eyes again, and the first thing he saw was the white ceiling of an unfamiliar room. A moment later, he realized that he was laying on some kind of bed with a soft blanket pulled up to his neck. Also, for some reason, everything in front of him was all blurry.
"What the… Where in the root am I?..." Shirou murmured, trying to sit up to get a better view of his surrounding. He let out a groan as his body ached at the effort. However, his vision was still bad even after sitting up and he couldn't make out anything. Lucky for him, that was easily solved with a bit of Reinforcement applied. It did make Shirou wonder what happened to his vision though.
"You're in the Hospital Wing, Harry. It's such a relief to see you finally wake up," a voice at the side of his bed made Shirou jumped in surprise.
"Hospital Wing?" He blinked in surprise, looking at a very ancient man sitting next to his bed. He was old, very old, with long white hair and an impressive set of beard. On his nose was a pair of half-moon glasses and he was wearing a long, purple robe which resemble what Shirou usually saw back at the Clock Tower, only it was designed more...uniquely.
"I'm not dead yet?" Shirou asked again and noticed that his voice had also been altered. He sounded younger, much younger, just like a teenage. But his throat was also so dry. Maybe that was the reason.
"Dead?" The old man raised an eyebrow. "No you're not, Harry. Well, we all thought you were. But now you're awake, everything is going to be fine."
"Did you just call me 'Harry'?"
That question managed to pull a grimace out of the man. He leaned closer to examine Shirou, which made him a bit uncomfortable. The man showed no sign of hostile though. If he did, even just a little, Shirou would've traced the first sword that came to his mind to defend himself already.
"You… don't remember your name?" Finally he asked.
"Of course I do," Shirou stared at the man, confused. "But it's not Harry. My name's Shirou Emiya."
He then raised his hand to scratch his head, but immediately noticed something odd. Shirou frantically pulled u both of his hands and stared at them in horror.
They're not mine, he thought. No, of course they're mine now, since I'm controlling them and all, but..."
Hastily flipping the blanket over and jumping off of his bed, Shirou made for the nearest mirror and looked into it. What he saw shocked him deeply.
Inside the mirror, a young teenage boy, no more than fourteen years old, was staring back at him. He was a bit short with a slim frame and messy black hair. The most noticeable features of him was his clear green eyes and a lighting bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
Couldn't believe in what he was seeing, Shirou raised a hand to touch his face, the boy in the mirror did the same. He then pinched himself hard to see if he wasn't dreaming, but the pain reminded him that it was indeed real. Apparently, the boy was also mimicking Shirou as he rubbed the sore spot as well.
What the hell does this mean? He wondered, still couldn't take his eyes off the reflection in the mirror. Then as the recent memories came back and hit him, Shirou finally understood what had happened.
"The Fake Grail..." He grunted angrily. He didn't know exactly what it had done to him. Give him a new body? Or simply placing his soul into another body? Or something else even more sinister?. All he knew was it had done so to grant his last wish – to be able to continue his dream of saving people. It sounded like a good thing. However, Shirou's experience with the Holy Grail was telling him that it was too good to be true. Every wish came with a price. And right now, after figuring it out, Shirou started to see what could possibly be that 'price'.
Did I just take over the body of that 'Harry' boy? Did I kill him? He grimaced, but then another thought came up. Hold on, according to what the old man said. He thought 'Harry' had died. What if he had really died and I'd taken over his soulless body?
That was definitely a lighter thought. Of course, it was still awful and was an inhuman thing to do, but still better than killing off the host to take over the body. That didn't mean it didn't make Shirou want to vomit as he thought of it, unfortunately.
"You can see clearly without your glasses?" Behind him, the old man asked again.
"I can," slowly turning back to him, Shirou answered. For now, it was best to figure out more about his situation by talking with that man. "The eyes itself are still bad though. This 'Harry' must be short-sighted or something. I had enhanced it a little to be able to look around."
"You say you're not Harry Potter? No, of course you're not. Harry wouldn't be able to enhance his eyes," the old man stated. There was now an edge in his voice, and Shirou could see that his hand had already prepared to pull out something, maybe a weapon, from under his robe.
"You're right. I'm not," Shirou nodded, eyeing him carefully. "Like I said, my name is Shirou Emiya."
"So what happened to the real Harry Potter?" The man asked in a cautious voice. "Rather, what have you done to him?"
"I have no idea," Shirou replied coldly. "That was also what I wanted to ask myself. I know how I got here. But I don't know why I ended up inside this 'Harry' boy."
Staring at him for a moment, the man finally pulled out what he had been hiding. It turned out to be a little piece of wood, a wand to be exact. Shirou reacted to the sudden movement. In a blink of an eye, Kanshou and Bakuya appeared in his grip and his body was reinforced, ready for any kind of attack.
However, the man didn't attack him. Instead, he just waved his arm and murmured some complex incantation., making the surrounding air shake a little before he settled down and put away his wand.
"What did you just do?" Shirou asked, glancing around suspiciously.
"Just some private charms so that we can talk without being overheard. And yes, I've had my doubt, but it's cleared now. You're certainly not Harry Potter. Wandless conjuration isn't something a student can do with ease like you just did."
"Really?" Shirou's eyebrows shot up. "Projection is the basic of basic. Who have you been learning your craft from?"
That actually earned him a snort from the old man. However, Shirou realized something else.
"Hold on, you called it 'wandless conjuration'. I take it using a wand is common here? Where are we anyway?"
"This is Hogwarts, the school of Wizardly and Witchcraft," the man answered. "And by the way, I'm Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of this school. And I don't think it need to say it, but that's the body of my student that you're using."
"Sorry for the trouble, I guess," Shirou returned the snort, despite himself finding absolutely nothing funny in the situation. "But I've never heard of the name Hogwarts. Where's this school located?"
"It's in Scotland," Dumbledore looked at him with interest. "From your name, I take it you're from Asia? Maybe that's why you've never heard about us before."
"I'm Japanese, yes," Shirou nodded. "But I've been in England for two years and had been traveling a lot. There's no way I haven't heard of a school like this, considering how close it is to the Clock Tower's influence."
"The Clock Tower? I'm afraid I haven't heard of such organization. Mind you, I've been living for over a hundred years and had my fair share of knowledge and connections."
Until this point, Shirou had had a fairly good idea of where he had been pulled into. He sighed heavily and let his blades disappeared into thin air.
That goddamned Grail, he silently cursed. This was another world, another dimension. It was the best explanation Shirou could pull out of his head right now. 'Magecraft' that mostly used wand, an unheard 'Wizard' academy. Heck, even the way they put the 'wizard' in the title suggested something seriously out of place. And most of all, what living magus hadn't heard of the Clock Tower? Unless they were raised in the mountain from birth and cut off from civilization, which the old man there clearly wasn't.
"Alright, Emiya, is it? May I call you that?" Dumbledore's voice pulled Shirou out of his thought. He then continued after receiving a nod. "Emiya, it's clear that you're still confused. I as well. But I can offer you my thought and a bit of explanation to clear it up a little, as long as you do the same."
"Sounds good to me, sir..." Shirou answered but was interrupted.
"Please, none of this 'sir' business, just call me Albus."
"Then please do the same and call me Shirou," he replied and Dumbledore nodded, smiling gently.
"Right, Shirou. Allow me to tell you about 'Harry' first. There's a long story behind the boy, but let's focus on what happened to him recently. Have you ever heard of 'Dementors'?"
Shirou shook his head slowly.
"Just as I thought," Dumbledore sighed and proceeded to give him an explanation of what exactly were the 'Dementors'. Shirou couldn't stop himself from shivering in disgust at the descriptions of the vile creature. He then continued to hear the Headmaster's story of the night a serial killer named Sirius Black broke into the castle and how he and Harry Potter were surrounded by hundreds of those soul-sucking monsters.
"…Anyway. The last time I've seen Harry Potter, if my eyes didn't trick me, he was being kissed by one of them," Dumbledore said heavily. The twinkling light in his eyes had disappeared. "I had hoped that I was wrong. But after seeing you here, in his body..."
"I'm sorry," Shirou said, looking at him apologetically. "Your story cleared up a lot, especially when combined with my side of the story. My knowledge was limited, and I don't know anything about how the magic of this world work, but from what I guess, this 'Harry' boy is already dead, or at least had his soul sucked out that night. Otherwise, I should have felt more resistance from him as my own soul tried to enter this body. Until now, I haven't felt anything at all."
"That was what I feared. I've been observing you, looking for signs of resistance, but nothing showed," Dumbledore sighed, looking even older than he already was. Understandable though, his last hope had just been robbed from him. Shirou didn't know what his relationship with the boy was, but it was by no mean a normal teacher-student one.
"Please, tell me your side of the story," after awhile, Dumbledore looked up and said. Shirou then started to tell him about his theory of alternate worlds, about the Holy Grail and Holy Grail Wars, original and fake. He told him about how he ended up in the last War and sacrificed himself to destroy the wretched thing, and finally, how he foolishly muttered a wish right in front of it, knowing it hadn't completely dissolved yet.
"A very intriguing story, I must admit," after he had finished, Dumbledore had once again been looking at him with apparent interest. "All of this about alternate worlds, and wish-granting creations, are all aspects of magic that we haven't managed to create ourselves. I agree with you though, the latter shouldn't even be created in the first place. Now with the circumstance cleared, I have to ask. What is your plan from now on, Shirou?"
"I'm not sure," Shirou shook his head. "To be honest, taking over the body of a dead person makes me uncomfortable, and that was putting it very lightly. On the other hand, the Fake Grail had granted my wish of 'saving people', means I was given this body to do exactly that. And that's what I will do. But how? I have no idea at the moment."
Looking at the old man in front of him, Shirou could see that he was still devastated. However, for a moment, he thought that a glimpse of hope appeared within his twinkling eyes as he said.
"I can't say I understand how you feel, Shirou. And from what we've talked about, I'm sure that there are still a lot more to be discussed that couldn't be done tonight. So how about you remain here? You can continue living here as Harry Potter. There's something else I should tell you. The boy is very famous here, and it would be a fatal blow for this society if he were to die now. The reason, we will get to later as it's a very long story. I believe that was also the answer for how you can 'save people' here in this world."
"But… it feels wrong," Shirou looked away bitterly. "I've already taken his body, now also his name and his life? It's just..."
"I won't force you into it. But just think about it for the time being. I believe that by doing so, you can save this society from what I said – a fatal blow that could lead to a very, very dark time of war and tyranny."
"I...I'll consider it," he muttered, gritting his teeth. Never before had he felt so angry with himself. Of course, being able to save people was a wonderful thing. but certainly not like this. Why did he have to be so stupid to spew out that last wish? If only he could just keep his mouth shut…
"Thank you," Dumbledore bowed gratefully. "But don't beat yourself over it. What has been done is done, you can't change that. It's getting late, you should get some rest. I'll tell everybody to leave you alone for tonight, so there's no need to be afraid of unnecessary questions. By tomorrow morning we will meet in my office and discuss this further. Even if you don't accept living as Harry Potter, I'm sure we can arrange something else. But like I said..."
"I understand," Shirou nodded dryly, still not looking at the old man.
"Then, see you tomorrow. Goodnight, Shirou," Dumbledore then waved his wand again to cancel the privates charms he put up earlier and left the room, leaving Shirou alone, thinking over all what had happened.
That's why I despite the Holy Grail, he thought angrily. What the hell is 'Holy' in this mess anyway?
Leaving the Hospital Wing and heading back to his quarter, Dumbledore was having his own confused thoughts. He was destroyed by the death of Harry Potter. He had failed the boy, from the day he left him in front of his relatives' doorstep, and now he couldn't protect him, even in his own school. The old Headmaster couldn't fight back the tear as he blamed himself to agree to have the Dementors standing by around in the first place.
But all is not lost. Despite his personal feelings, there was still hope for the Wizarding World in the upcoming and inevitable war, as long as that Shirou Emiya agreed to live his life as Harry Potter. Dumbledore would do his best to convince him. Given what he had heard of how selfless Shirou was, it wouldn't be very difficult.
And there's the prophecy, Dumbledore thought to himself. Now that he had calmed down and considered it, the prophecy could be interpreted this way too. Maybe, just maybe, that Shirou Emiya had the 'power he knows not'? He had displayed excellent conjuration ability and wandless magic, not to mention a very good reflex that spoke of serious training and experience. Most of all, he was using a completely different kind of magic, that could very well be what the prophecy meant. Besides, if his original theory was right, who said Shirou couldn't love? Finally, even though his soul wasn't Harry Potter, but that body was still 'born as the seventh month dies'. The only problem was that it wasn't the Dark Lord himself who gave him those abilities or brought him here. But if Dumbledore could find the answer to that final puzzle…
That's right. We should not abandon hope, the Headmaster told himself as he mentally prepared for his meeting with Shirou the following morning. He was sure that there would be a lot for them to talk about. Luckily, the summer vacation was approaching. And that meant there would be more time to prepare for the future without the risk of exposing Shirou Emiya to the student body too soon.
-End of Chapter 1-