Matou Shinji and the Broken Chains
A Harry Potter / Fate Stay Night Story
Disclaimer: Though I wish it were otherwise, I do not own or in any way, shape or form hold a legal or moral claim to elements of either the Nasuverse, the Potterverse, or other works I may reference in the course of this story.
Summary: It is a time of seeming peace, as the British Ministry prepares to host the Quidditch World Cup - the greatest sporting event in the Wizarding World. But unbeknownst to them, a grand army of Giants and Werewolves is gathering in Eastern Europe, under the leadership of the vicious Fenrir Greyback, their sole objective - revenge. In the East, Matou Shinji and his comrades have arrived at the hidden bastion of Mahoutokoro to hone their skills, given that they are likely to become Champions of the two Tournaments this year – the Triwizard and the Potions. And if their struggle against the Acromantulae has shown them anything, it is that only through power can they gain victory - and only through victory can their chains be broken.
Chapter 1. Overlooking View
As he stood in one of the waiting rooms of the Mifune City Medical Center, looking through the window at the city beneath him, Matou Shinji was rapidly coming to the conclusion that he didn't much like hospitals, though the reasons weren't quite what one might expect. It certainly wasn't the smells of death and decay and medicine lingering in the air – while unpleasant for most, they reminded Shinji of the home he'd grown up in. Nor was it the background chatter of the medical staff, their language sterile and cold as they discussed the conditions of their patients, the state of the world, or what they would do after their shifts.
It was the sense of pain and desperation hidden behind the eyes of the patients he passed by – as well as the fear and helplessness of families and friends who visited them. The way patients would stiffen each time a doctor approached their rooms, and relaxed as the physician walked on. The utter lack of control most had over their lives while they were in the hospital…and worse, their resignation to it.
For all those things reminded Matou Shinji of how and what he used to be: a powerless corpse just pretending to be alive, doing his best to deny the fact that he was already dead. He'd studied the family arts, thrown himself into mastering the theory with a zeal that bordered on madness, desperately hoping that if he pushed himself hard enough, worked long enough, he might achieve a breakthrough.
Might be accepted by his family. Might become the Matou heir, despite his lack of magic circuits.
And then one day, he'd discovered the truth. The truth that his…sister, the outsider he had grudgingly come to accept as part of his family after she'd been cast out by hers, had been adopted by the Matous not out of pity, but pragmatism. That the girl the Tohsaka had thrown away was to be his replacement, and that Matou Byakuya, the worthless man who had dared to call himself his father, had known this all along.
That man had given him false hope, only to turn his back on Matou Shinji when the truth was revealed, without so much as a hint of remorse or sympathy. In retrospect, it was obvious to the boy that that man had never truly cared about him. The few moments that man had spent with him had undoubtedly been a chore, a pretense that Matou Byakuya couldn't wait to discard, for in that man's eye, Matou Shinji meant nothing.
'If it wasn't for my…sister…'
No, that was wrong.
It was tempting to say that his…sister had taken everything from him. Tempting…but inaccurate, because it implied that Matou Shinji had had anything to lose in the first place, anyone to lose. That he hadn't been considered worthless to everyone around him to begin with.
It was more accurate to say that the outsider had shown him the truth – and for that he'd hated her, hated her more than anyone – or anything – else in the world.
'If I hadn't gotten a letter from Hogwarts all those years ago, if I hadn't found something to give my life meaning, something – someone – to live for…'
…who knew what kind of monster he would have become?
Those 'what ifs' weren't things Matou Shinji particularly cared to think about, but they'd been on his mind quite a bit in the past few days, since he'd learned of that man's passing.
'Why did the letter have to come the day after Tanabata…?'
Less a letter than a brief note, laying out the facts of Matou Byakuya's death – and that a funeral had been scheduled for the late so-called 'Head of the Matou Family' on July 16th, less than a week from now. Before that though…
"Something on your mind, Matou?"
…a voice interrupted his reverie.
"Was it that obvious, Fujou?" Shinji asked dryly, turning from the window to regard the kimono-clad boy that he'd once known as Emiya Shirou.
Of course, that had been before the other boy had been made aware that before the Fourth Fuyuki Grail War – and the fire that destroyed his memories, he had been a member of the Fujou clan, an ancient lineage of Japanese magi specializing in shamanism.
And that in fact, aside from his elder sister, who had been hospitalized for years, Fujou Shiroe, as he had been born, was the last member of the main family – and thus its rightful head.
"You were looking off into the distance," the Fujou magus said quietly, regarding the boy he called a friend, after a fashion. "Something interesting out there, Matou?"
"No, just needed to focus on something else for a moment," Shinji replied, keeping his expression as impassive as he could. It wouldn't do for his companion to know he was ill at ease, after all. "Since you're back, I take it your sister is ready to see us now."
"Uhm…yes," Shiroe answered, his smile seeming a little sheepish. "Sorry about that. The nurses were helping her bathe earlier, it seems."
"Ah." Shinji took a deep breath. "How long has she been here? In the hospital, I mean."
"Years," the Fujou head answered distantly. "Since before…before the Fuyuki fire. The fire itself was…a nightmare, but I can't imagine what that must have been like to think your family was all dead. I wasn't alone in Fuyuki when that happened. My…"
…parents, the boy who had once been Emiya Shirou wanted to say. He didn't, though, because he didn't actually remember them, and he thought that to call them that might be setting aside the man he considered his father.
Emiya Kiritsugu, the Magus Killer. One of the Masters in the Fourth Fuyuki Grail War.
The man who had rescued him from the flames, when he had lost all hope of survival, who had adopted him as his own.
"…so I heard from Kaiduka-san," Shinji noted softly. "It's good that you survived, Fujou."
"Only because I was saved," Shiroe replied, shaking his head. "The only one saved, in the end. Even if the means Dad found to do it has a price."
"A price?" Shinji asked sharply, his thoughts going back to a comment he'd heard about his companion about a year and a half ago. "This has something to do with what Kaiduka mentioned when you first met him, doesn't it?"
What the Matou scion referred to was, of course, the five-tailed fox's comment about Emiya Shirou – Fujou Shiroe's elemental affinity shifting from metal to something else due to something within him. Something powerful. Something of the west.
'An artifact of some kind, maybe?'
Fujou Shiroe hesitated for only a moment, but it was enough for Shinji to draw his own conclusions.
"Let's talk about that a bit later, alright, Matou?" the Fujou head said quietly. "Admittedly that was part of why I asked you to come with me today, even though I know how busy you are with your other obligations, but…it wasn't the whole of it."
"Oh?" Matou Shinji was intrigued, though also a little puzzled. Even when they'd both lived in Fuyuki, he and Emiya Shirou – as the boy had been called then – had never been particularly close. Neither had that changed with them both in Mahoutokoro, as each had their own duties to attend to, and masters that they served.
"I never did thank you," Fujou Shiroe noted, his voice barely above a whisper. "Without you, I wouldn't be on the path I am now. I wouldn't have a teacher. I wouldn't have a family." The boy shook his head. "You've met Kohaku by now—"
"—hard not to when your cousin spends a lot of time around you," Shinji interjected with a wry smile, remembering that as he'd seen the boy with his distant cousin at Tanabata. "Or when she works closely with Sajyou-san."
"But you haven't met my sister," the redheaded boy continued, as if the Matou scion hadn't made his comment at all. "And if you don't meet her now…I'm not sure you'll ever get the chance."
Shinji stiffened as he heard this, levity fading from his face as he regarded his companion.
"That bad?" he asked. He'd wondered of course, since the girl had been hospitalized for so long, but there was a part of him that thought…
"Yeah," Shiroe answered quietly. "That bad."
"Don't be. It's not your fault, Matou. It's just how things are. Even if…" Shiroe's voice trailed off as he swallowed, closing his eyes. "Even if I wish more than anything else in the world that I could save her. Somehow."
For Fujou Kirie, that word defined the totality of her day to day existence. The physical pain of her slowly failing body, whose unnatural vitality only prolonged her suffering, the anguish of the mental tedium which ground on day after day after day in the years since she'd been admitted to Mifune City Medical Center years ago, the torture of seeing the vast world outside her window – a world without limits, a world without boundaries, a world where everyone moved freely – and knowing she'd never be able to return to it, that until the day she died, this sterile room would be all that she knew.
There were no plants in her room.
No fresh fruit.
Nothing from the outside world except the harsh light of the mid-day sun.
Occasionally a letter would arrive for her from Shiroe, but those were few and far between, and as much as their words were a comfort, they also hurt because of their formality – because of how different her brother was from how she remembered. When Matsuo-san had told her that her brother was alive, that he had not died in a car accident in Fuyuki after all, Fujou Kirie had been overwhelmed by emotions she had thought she'd lost the capacity for: hope and joy.
For the first time in who knew how long, she'd broken down in tears at the thought that perhaps she might not be utterly alone, that someone who cared about her was still alive.
…and then Shiroe – who had called himself Emiya Shirou – had visited, along with a girl named Kohaku, whose mother had been born into one of the Fujou branch families by one of the previous heads for violating a taboo.
As kind as the two of them had been, as nice as they had seemed, the encounter had been…awkward. She had never met Kohaku – Fujou Kohaku now, she supposed – and so the other girl treating her with the reserve and deference due a social superior was to be expected, but…Shiroe had acted the same way. Indeed, it had soon become clear to her that her brother didn't remember her at all, that all the memories they'd shared growing up were gone.
That in all the ways that mattered, her brother – the boy she'd grown up with – was dead, with this stranger taking his place and name.
When he and the branch family girl had left, Kirie had wept in the privacy of her room, cursing herself for having dared to hope things would be different, cursing Matsuo-san for giving her that hope, cursing the world which seemed to take a cruel amusement in tormenting her.
Had it not been enough that she lived in constant pain, pain that could never be completely treated, no matter what medications she was put on? Had it not been enough that her body was giving out, that slowly her sight, her hearing, and her other senses were beginning to fade? Had it not been enough to have only the view outside her window every day? A view of a world where people lived and laughed and smiled – a world that was unreachable to her?
Had it not been enough that she had finally come to terms with the fact that she was alone in the world without that false, futile hope Matsuo-san had given her?
In the days, weeks, months since, she'd reflected that the Maiden of the Tree probably hadn't intended to hurt her so – that Matsuo-san had only meant to give her something to look forward to, even if the other didn't fully understand. While they were both confined in a way, with the powerful shrine maiden unable to leave the City Under Earth, and herself unable to leave this hospital, the chains binding the other were those of choice and duty – not physical infirmity, with the Maiden having far more freedom than she.
'Even if I cannot imagine how she chooses to remain there, for the countless years she has been alive. She looks exactly the same now as when I met her over a decade ago…'
Kirie had been just entering her teens – and the quite-healthy heiress to the Fujou family – when she'd met Matsuo-san. They hadn't spent much time together – perhaps about a week at most – but in that brief period, the older woman had felt like a sister to her, taking note of her talents and sharing with her some of the gifts she would one day come to inherit, filling her with a sense of wonder.
Helping to her to understand her family's past.
But after that meeting, Matsuo-san had not appeared to her at all– until the eve of the new year, when she'd informed Kirie that her brother Shiroe lived.
Fujou Kirie had no illusions about what would happen in the end.
It wasn't as if there was any hope she could be cured. Tumors had invaded much of her body, and the rest seemed to keep going only by strength of will sometimes.
A will that was slipping away, day by day, as she grew thinner and thinner, frailer and frailer. Her long, raven-colored hair was about the only thing about her that somehow refused to be affected by her long illness, or by the many treatments she'd had in her battle to prolong her life, and while sometimes it gave her a sense of pride, she also knew that coupled with the rest of her appearance, it made her seem like a yurei – a ghost trapped in the world and unable to move on.
Sometimes, she thought the comparison fitting.
She was 24 already, yet her life had been frozen since she was only 17 – before she'd graduated from high school. Before she'd come into her inheritance as Fujou family head and master of its mysteries. Before she'd ever had the chance to love – or be loved.
The girl grimaced as she felt a stab of pain within her chest, closing her eyes and focusing on the simple act of breathing. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Slowly, the pain passed, as it always did.
It was always worse after she was bathed, as if the moisture and the smell of antiseptic soap aggravated her ailment, almost more than just the act of sitting up.
But she'd gotten used to that too.
One could get used to almost everything in time, after all.
And then, in a break from the usual routine, someone knocked on the door.
"You have visitors, Fujou-san," the voice of one of the nurses announced, with the young woman turning from the window to see two youths shuffling into the room.
One was her brother, of course, but the other was a boy she'd never met before, one with hair so black it was almost blue in the light.
"Good afternoon, aneue," Shiroe greeted with a bow, not knowing that his formality hurt her more than anything else could. "How are you feeling today?"
"The same as always, Shiroe," she responded. "Who—"
But Fujou Kirie couldn't complete her query, as she broke into a fit of coughing that lasted for over a minute. Her brother hastily filled a cup of water and handed it to her, which she accepted with trembling hands as the coughing went on and on, until it finally stopped.
Bringing the cup to her lips, she took several long swallows of the lukewarm liquid, feeling the burning in her throat easing fractionally – enough for her to speak.
"Who is your…friend?" the woman asked, her voice a hoarse whisper.
The other boy bowed low.
"My name is Matou Shinji, Fujou-san," he spoke solemnly. "I knew your brother when he was in Fuyuki as an Emiya."
"He's the one who told me about my heritage," Fujou Shiroe added with a pained expression, glancing at his friend. "After my adopted father's death, he took me to Kyoto where I learned…where I learned who I was. Even if there is much I have forgotten."
Fujou Kirie blinked.
If by Kyoto, Shiroe meant…
"…you are a disciple of Matsuo-san, then," she said after a moment. Glancing over the boy, she was a bit confused, as he didn't seem to be from one of the four families – or even anyone very remarkable, at that. "I…am grateful."
The words didn't come easily to her, but she said them, nonetheless.
"Less a disciple than a simple student," Shinji corrected. "It is an honor to finally meet you, Fujou-san, since Shiroe has spoken so well of you."
"Shiroe…has?" Kirie repeated, her expression puzzled.
From how awkward and infrequent their visits were, she didn't think her brother would speak about her at all – much less, speak well of her.
"He isn't good with showing it, because he doesn't remember much before the fire," the Matou boy said quietly. "But he's happy to know he has family. To know that he had people who cared about him."
"I see," she noted, taking another swallow of water.
"Be patient with him," Shinji added. "Emiya's always been a little dense, so things may take some time."
Fujou Kirie smiled at how Shiroe's glance turned into a glare at his friend's comments, but it was a brittle smile indeed.
Time, after all, was the one thing she did not have.
"It is a pleasure, Matou Shinji."
On the night train back to Kyoto, given how far it was from Mifune City, Matou Shinji sat seiza-style on the second floor of a darkened compartment, watching the world go by in a blur outside the window, the lights of distant cities gleaming in the distance a testament to how mankind feared the dark and so built fires to scrape away at its edges.
Meeting Fujou Kirie, learning about his…friend's circumstances, and the rest had been interesting, if a little jarring in what it revealed about himself and how much he'd changed. After all, three years ago…
'Three years ago I would have gladly traded places with her…'
Would have happily given up his health, his freedom, his future, if it meant having power, if it meant being acknowledged as the heir of his family.
Things were different now, and he found himself sympathizing with the young woman who'd been confined to a single room in a hospital. With how in some ways – in every way that mattered, if he was honest – her situation was far worse than his had ever been.
After all, even though he'd been denied the Matou magecraft, and so had been considered unworthy of even the slightest bit of care by his family, he'd found friends, mentors, companions once he'd become a practitioner of witchcraft. People who respected him for who he was and what he could do, as opposed to rejecting him for what he could not.
People like his Master or the Director of Atlas, neither of which he probably would have met had he actually become a magus.
'The gifts I've received, the things I've done…what lies ahead, I wonder?'
A quiet knocking down below jolted him from his thoughts, with the boy letting out a tired sigh.
"Enter," he called out, as the door slid open to reveal the pensive form of Fujou Shiroe, whose compartment he was sharing.
"Are you sure you don't want anything to eat, Matou?" the redhead called up quietly. "The dining car won't be open much longer."
"I'm sure, Fujou," Shinji replied, his voice barely audible. He hadn't even turned to look at his friend, his gaze still fixed on the world outside. "I'm not hungry."
"Sorry," Shiroe said after a moment. "Hey, Matou, did I do something wrong?"
"Why?" the Matou scion asked blandly.
"You've been in a bad mood since we left the hospital," the Fujou head answered. "I know you're busy, and that coming with me today took up a lot of your time, but—"
"—it's not that," Shinji interrupted. "And it's not you. I've just been…thinking."
"About what I used to be like, and how things might have been."
Silence reigned, as neither of the two knew what to say. It started as an uneasy pause, but slowly grew, with seconds turning into minutes, before Shinji spoke up.
"I am…honored you trusted me enough to let me visit your sister," he said slowly. "I'm probably the first person outside the family, aren't I?"
"You are," Shiroe admitted. "Since you're the reason I have a family again, I thought that if anyone should, well…"
"I appreciate that."
"I thought you might," the Fujou boy said as he walked over to the window on the ground floor. "I wasn't sure there'd be another chance, since…" He swallowed, his words failing him. "Since…"
"She's dying," Matou Shinji supplied, causing his companion to wince.
"…yes." The admission came out like a strangled gasp, as it wasn't something Fujou Shiroe wanted to think about. "I just lost Dad a year and a half ago. Just found out I had a sister. And now…? Am I going to lose my family all over again?"
"It's hard, isn't it?"
"…you have no idea," Shiroe whispered, biting his lip. "Yes, I have Kohaku, but that's not…" He trailed off, shaking his head. "When Dad died, he told me that he'd always wanted to become a hero. To save everyone. And while I might have saved Kohaku and her sister by rescinding their branch's banishment…"
"You feel guilty you can't save your sister."
To Fujou Shiroe, Shinji's words felt like the punch to the gut, as the boy utterly deflated.
"Yes," he admitted brokenly. "I wish there was something I could do. Anything. But…"
"Even healing has its limits," Matou Shinji noted, recalling a conversation he'd had with Sajyou-san on the matter. "And even if it didn't, your family arts don't exactly revolve around healing, do they?"
"Well…that's another thing," Shiroe said woodenly. "My affinity's changing because of…because of what Dad used to save me. If it continues beyond another week or two, I won't be able to learn the Fujou arts anymore. And Kohaku isn't…I don't think she'd do well as a family head."
"Won't she have to learn eventually, since you seem to be courting her?" Shinji asked slyly, causing the Fujou boy's cheeks to flame.
"It's not what it looks like," the Fujou head answered. "I just think it would be nice if she would smile. I mean really smile, not put on the mask she always does. The one I think she must have worn around Makihisa."
"I think she wonders if I'm going to be like him. If she needs to protect Hisui from me."
"From you? Emiya, that's the most ridiculous thing, I've ever…" But Shinji's words died on his lips as he turned to look at his friend and saw how pale and drawn the other boy was. "…you're not kidding, are you?"
"I wish I were, Matou. I wish I were." Fujou Shiroe's reply was almost a whisper. "I'm a lot less innocent than I used to be. And there are days I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." The boy was silent again for a moment. "I want to do the right thing though," he said at last. "That's the real reason I asked you to come today. Because there's almost no time left, and I don't really trust anyone else enough to ask."
"You barely know me, Fujou," Shinji cautioned.
"And you barely knew me, but you gave me my family back without asking anything for yourself," the head of the Fujou intoned quietly. "You could have, you know. Giving me my past, showing me a future – that's something I can't even begin to repay."
"I didn't do it for you, Fujou. I did it because I didn't want an old fox angry at me," the Matou scion admitted.
"…well, there's that, I guess," Shiroe grunted, the corners of his lips tugging up into a semblance of a smile. "But…Kaiduka told me that if my affinity finishes changing, I...I won't be a Fujou anymore. Not in the ways that matter. And if that happens…"
"This change…it's related to the item inside you, right?" Shinji asked.
"Can you take it out?" the Matou boy inquired.
"I…I think so, from what Kaiduka has implied," Fujou Shiroe answered. "But…"
"Then do so," Shinji said with finality. "Whatever it is, whatever you might gain can't be enough to justify losing everything. Again."
"…and what would I do with it then?" Shiroe asked. "What I have…it's not something I can leave laying around."
That was the other question on Shiroe's mind: once he removed Avalon from within him, what would he do with the holy sheath? Where could he put it that would be secure?
"Why don't you ask Kaiduka-san that question?" Shinji suggested. "He or Matsuo-san would probably be able to help once you make up your mind." Shinji chuckled. "Valuable, is it?"
"…you have no idea, Matou. The Einzbern…well, let's just say it was why Kiritsugu could save me. I've been holding onto it as a card to use against them if they came against me one day, but…" Shiroe sighed. "I'd trade it in an instant for a miracle to let me save my sister. Even if there's no miracle in the world that would come in time."
After all, the only thing he knew of which might allow him to cure Kirie was the Holy Grail, and even if he was willing to disable the bomb that was set to destroy the Greater Grail in time – which he wasn't, the war was decades away, and he didn't think his sister had decades left.
A few years perhaps.
Maybe even less.
"There might…" Shinji began, but cut himself off before he said anything that would betray himself.
"…there might?" Shiroe repeated, seizing on his companion's words. "There might what, Matou?"
"There might be a way," the Matou scion admitted. "But…"
After all, Sion had given him a single dose of the Water of Life, a powerful elixir that could cure any injury or illness – even vampirism, a corruption of body and soul that went beyond any merely physical ailment. And if he did cure Fujou Kirie, no doubt he'd receive much favor from Kaiduka and Matsuo-san, not to mention the Fujou family as a whole. Still…
"But what, Matou?"
"I need to think about this, Fujou." This wasn't a decision he could make lightly, or nor something he could give an instant response to. "What you're asking – you know it has a price, right?"
"To save my sister, there's nothing I wouldn't give, Matou," Shiroe said quietly, though there was no doubt in Shinji's mind that the boy meant every word of it.
It had been something he had been thinking about, due to the funeral notice. Even if he didn't care about the man who had been his father, he had obligations to uphold as a Matou
"All I can say for the moment is to treasure what you have, Fujou," Shinji noted after a time. "You have a family that cares about you. You have a chance to hold onto your future, to use the life saved by Emiya Kiritsugu to save others and to do good. Don't throw it away over an item. No matter how valuable. If you can stop your affinity from shifting completely, do it, Fujou."
"…you're right," the boy who had once been called Emiya Shirou sighed. "The moment I became a Fujou, the moment I let other people begin to depend on me, I gave up my choice, didn't I? Because I have a duty to my family."
"Yes…you do," Shinji replied distantly. In a way, this talk with Shiroe had helped him make up his mind about whether to go to the funeral. As a member of the Matou family, he had certain obligations he couldn't ignore, even if they'd never been much of a family to him. Matou Zouken had arranged for him to meet Aozaki Touko, after all, and had let him live, despite his failure. The least he could do was attend a funeral – even if it was that of a man he didn't care about whatsoever. "We both do."
"And what about…my sister?" Fujou Shiroe inquired. "Is there anything…?"
"Give me a week, Fujou," the Matou scion replied distantly. "I'll have an answer for you then."
For the rest of the ride back to Kyoto, Matou Shinji said no more.