Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the song, I just play around with characters and translations. Because I am feeling evil, I didn't translate everything, so you can continue at your leisure. I am honestly curious how many if you will even go to listen to this, considering it's in a language different from English. But well, you can be adventurous for three minutes and try your ears on the song.
Shout Out: This chapter is late because of two reasons: real life threw me priorities I couldn't put aside. My work schedule got completely messed up, and even now, I have multiple projects to juggle around. Secondly, this chapter was all kinds of stubborn. Dealing with multiple characters with strong personalities is both a challenge and a chore, and at times I really wonder if my writing is doing them justice, because the plotline is becoming increasingly twisted and at times hard to insert the original scenes in.
I am stressed enough and in order to get things done I am abandoning the two-week posting schedule and returning back to erratic one. I am honestly sorry to announce this, because I enjoy reading your reviews, opinions and reactions just as much as you enjoy reading this story. Thank you for your attention, reviews, quips and posts - you really make my day with them, just as I hope the chapters I post make yours.
Warnings: AU in multiple 'verses, Tense Dinners Are Tense, Cute Family Moments.
Friends, brothers sisters and restless souls
Let's go play a God.
Let's go point with finger above clouds,
Just for fun, cause it can be done
Let's go play a God.
So what if no one of us knows how
Let's go play a God.
Let's find out what we've got
When a monkey clones a dog
Let's go play a God.
(Translation of the song 'Gremo se igrat boga' by Hamo` Tribute 2 Love)
Banquet of Kings.
Harry didn't know whether to laugh or cry or curse the stupid idiot - Rider - who had suggested such a disaster-inducing event.
(Personally, Harry was inclined to choose option C and he already had some ideas on recruiting Xanxus and his menagerie to help him with ... additional education of the red-haired moron with penchant for going off about conquering the world and whatnot. Honestly, it was like seeing an unholy child of Ron and Hagrid combined, what with Rider having that distinct red hair and insatiable appetite for food, and his body was like someone had miniaturized Hagrid to more… human proportions and made him a muscle buff. Harry had to do a double take the first time he really saw Rider. The similarities were… shall we say, uncanny.)
And of course, a certain someone had a bright idea to suggest him as a moderator of the entire horror show in the making.
Archer better sleep with one eye open, because Harry was coming after him and revenge would be glorious.
The entire shebang began because certain people who shall not be named shamelessly mooched off of Archer's culinary prowess.
Meaning, they appeared at the church without any announcement, but always in time for either lunch or dinner.
And it was just a happy coincidence - not! - that the two pairs in question were also involved in the Grail War.
Suffice to say the church's residents were not happy with the said moochers.
Firstly because Kiritsugu and Gilgamesh were like cats and dogs and secondly, because Waver used his puppy dog eyes with scary efficiency to ensure that he survived being in Giglamesh's vicinity via being Harry's special guest, and well, Rider could fend for himself, no questions asked. Waver was rational - read: shameless - enough to know which battles to pick and when to let sleeping dogs lie, proverbially speaking, though Iri got into a habit of clinging to Wawer like some kind of limpet, much to Xanxus' exasperated relief. (He could only handle being her teddy bear for so long.)
Rin and Sakura were still undecided on the issue, with Rin practically interrogating the hapless Clock Tower student about what was it like to be and learn back there, and Sakura - well, Sakura more or less clung to Xanxus as if her life depended on it while she cautiously eyes the huge mass of Rider sitting or standing beside Waver.
Kids being taken care of - nobody would've been insane enough to do them any harm when there was Rider to babysit them - at least in appearance, if nothing else.
Usually, Saber tried to avoid Gilgamesh's presence like plague or at least place Harry between two of them to have some blessed peace from the Golden Jerk, as she called him inside her mind, that was not always possible. Tokiomi folded too fast and Father Kotomine must have had a precursor to Kirei's little sadistic tendencies somehow because he was equally as guilty of the sin of leaving her to King of Uruk's (un)mercy.
But no respite lasts forever, and even Saber's had to finish sometime.
It all began with an innocent thing called dinner. Usually, that wouldn't have been a cause for concern, but this time, the Potter luck raised its ugly head.
The great table in the living room was repurposed for this evening unexpected gathering, with the Masters talking with each other, with their Servants occasionally interjecting with their opinions or quips. The table was in the shape of septagon, courtesy of Gil's treasury. It wasn't exactly ideal, considering Saber's grumpy face when she saw it, but it was a whole lot better than the rectangle they had to contend with before. Besides, food was easier in reach that way, which was the most important fact for the gluttonous personas of the gathering.
Seating arrangement was a matter of prudence on all sides. Generally, it was decided to have Masters to sit with their Servants - and as such, Saber sat beside Kiritsugu, Rider with Waver while Gil smoothly ignored that rule, electing to sit with Harry, much to Tokiomi's poorly hidden relief. The Tohsaka Clan Head sat together with Father Risei, with both of the Master-Servant pairs on the right and left side of their own corner, so to speak.
Xanxus was not happy with Gil stealing Harry's right side, but he promptly seated his tush down on Harry's left, with Iri following him. On Gil's side there were Kirei and Archer with Rin and Sakura completing the picture.
If one would've observed the battle lines, so to speak, they would immediately note that both of the sides with 'official' powers were squeezed into a proverbial corner, and what was even worse, deemed unimportant by position they were forced to occupy.
Which left everyone free to enter the fray, so to speak.
"So when will the Grail War commence once again?" Rider asked after he gulped down a delicious piece of sashimi before he snatched another one. Saber gave him a dirty glare, but the red-headed kind didn't heed her annoyance.
"Mm. Do we have to?" Archer whined before letting out a surprised oomph as Rin elbowed him into his side. "Oof, you have pretty sharp elbows, missly!" He glared at Rin, who returned his glare right back at him.
"Dummy. Of course you do! How else would we reach the Root then?" She growled at him - or as much as one could growl, considering she currently looked like a chipmunk what with her mouth full of fried sesame balls.
"Not everyone wants to chase after imaginary heavens, chibi." Archer snarked back at her, causing an incensed Rin to growl at him.
"But we do have our individual wishes the Grail would fulfill if we win." Saber chimed in. "Isn't that the point of all this War?"
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Harry snarked. Absentmindedly, he put a piece of meat on Gils' plate, much to the King's amusement.
Waver paused. "You don't believe in Grail War?" He asked, curious.
Harry chuckled. "Someone once told me to not trust anything I don't know where it has its brain." His mind flashed to Mr. Weasley and the happenings in the Chamber of Secrets. The memories caused him to shudder.
"That has to have an interesting backstory," Tokiomi tried to interfere, only to be gifted with Gil's unimpressed glare that made his mouth clap shut in hurry.
Xanxus looked interested. Too interested, in fact. Waver just frowned. Harry just shook his head. "On the contrary, it's a boring one.« He denied modestly, a wry smile on his lips.
Gilgamesh, Kirei and Kiritsugu shot him a dry look that just screamed his little demurring act was an understatement of the century.
"It doesn't change the fact that the Grail is a wish granting device." Father Risei spoke up, smiling politely over the gathered people around the table.
"And it's highly unusual for the most famous Kings to be gathered in one place. Forgive my curiosity, but I can't help but wonder just what would you wish for in the case you'd win. "
That fatherly smile full of beguiling benevolence sent shivers down Harry's spine. This was so not good it wasn't even funny. In fact, he'd bet anything that Father Risei just set off a proverbial bomb.
"This is going a little too far, Father Risei. After all, wishes are personal." Kiritusu spoke up, obviously uncomfortable with the topic, and Harry shot him a grateful glance. Ear tips flushing, Kiritsugu viciously bit in a piece of sour and sweet fish, his face dark and impassive.
"I agree." Kirei spoke out. Everyone - even Gilgamesh - gave him an incredulous glance. It was like leopard announcing that from this day on he won't be wearing any spots! Kirei didn't mind - instead, he served himself another ladle of Mapo Tofu nobody wanted to eat in fear of irreparably destroying their taste buds.
"Hey, Saber. What is your wish?" Little Rin didn't really read the mood, much to her father's dismay.. Big turquoise eyes looked at the King of Knights inquiringly, causing Saber to blink with surprise.
"My wish?" Saber repeated as she put her spoon down. "Well… if I would have to choose it, is that I'd turn back time." There was a pause.
"That is your wish?" Xanxus asked, incredulous. "You would've wasted everything for such a stupid wish?"
Saber glared at the little brat. "It's not stupid!" She bit back, irritated.
"Fine, it's not stupid." Xanxus conceded. Saber gave him a smug smile, but Xanxus opened his mouth again.
"In fact, it's down right idiotic!" Xanxus, that disaster child, dared to diss her. "You were a King, and you want to go back and what? Not be a king?"
"Well, she was a weak fool of a king." Rider shrugged, ignoring Waver's ourtaged glare at his person. "So it kinda makes sense she wants to lay down her burden that way."
Harry's bad feeling evolved into a worse one. Things were going to go south, and it wouldn't be pretty... for anyone involved. Suddenly, the food in his mouth tasted at lot less delicious than it had a few moments before.
"Watch your mouth." Archer's voice was low and dangerous, causing Rin to shrink away from him. The white-haired man was not happy with his proclamation. "As if you were any better. At least she ruled her kingdom and left behind a legacy. What about you?"
Dark red eyes glared back into steel silver ones. And then, the man guffawed. "Wahaha, you sure have guts, boy! But well, if you ask me, conquering was fun! I was together with my soldiers, all of us sharing the bread and the wine while we gained victory upon victory when we were going toward Okeanos! Tell me, did her legacy comfort her at night? Cold and alone on the top, detached from the very people she led! If that isn't foolishness, then what is it?"
Archer was halfway to leap across the table and sock the redheaded muscle-bound idiot one. Surprisingly, the one who restrained him was Gilgamesh. Archer sent him an outraged glare.
"A foolish King, indeed." Gilgamesh agreed with Rider. "She stumbled and fell, breaking apart when she ought to have been strong. And now you want to escape all the deeds you have done, to wipe your King self from history?" He scoffed at Saber. "You were unfit to be a King from the very beginning."
The tension at the table rose. And if something wasn't done soon, there would be a mess.
Slowly, Harry took in a deep breath. As a Brit himself, it hurt to see the legendary Once and Forever King so downtrodden by her fellow rulers.
"This is not the time or place for such a discussion. If you want to compare who is better King, do it on your own time, but not when kids are present or when you are a guest here!" He snapped out, his voice shart, just on the razor edge of still being polite.
All three Kings looked at him - Saber's eyes were glimmering with a glint of suppressed gratitude, while Rider was a little bit chastened. Gil, however, looked annoyed that Harry interrupted his fun.
"I apologize." Rider nodded to Harry. The ex-wizard just sighed. Sometimes it felt as if he was manning a bunch of preschoolers instead of working with reasonable, grown-up people. And why was Rider apologizing to him and not to Father Risei?
"I am not your host." He replied tiredly. "The one you ought to apologize to is Father Risei."
"Harry had a good idea, though. We ought to have a banquet, where we would talk things through and found out which one of the three of us is the most worthy of the title of a King!" Rider continued, once again his boisterous self, and not even Waver's scorching glare managed to make him back off on the issue."
"With Harry as a moderator." Archer helpfully pitched in, causing Harry to choke on a piece of sour and sweet chicken. Xanxus hurriedly patted him on the back while he glared at Archer for once again making a mess out of things.
"Have - cough - you all lost your minds!" Harry managed to squeak out, green eyes watery with discomfort.
"It's a good idea." Tokiomi, the traitor number two, cheerfully agreed. Harry sent him a blistering glare, but the Tohsaka clan head was unrepentant. "It would ensure that all parties understand each other." He reasoned, and after a thought, Father Risei slowly nodded his assent.
"Firstly, I am not an observer in this war. If you care to recall, I am one of the Masters. As such, I don't have any right to participate in this - whatever it is." Harry pointed to Father Risei, not even caring that his gesture was as rude as one could be. "Father Risei is the chosen supervisor for this Grail War - "
" - And as a chosen supervisor I can decide a temporary substitute in such matters." Was it just Harry's ears or did Father Risei sound a touch too gleeful to be normal?
That kind of ceasefire, Harry definitely didn't want it!
Itn was akin to playing God - and the metaphor was all to true, considering that he was dealing with overpowered, almost mythical entities and if one included in their powers… Yeah, no. Harry almost wished for the good old days when he only had to deal with Voldemort and his ilk once a year.
"It would be fun!" Iri piped up as she cuddled against Xanxus, with Sakura solemnly nodding at her words. As if it was so simple thing as to like on the grassy plain and make shapes out of the fluffy clouds with the pointer of a finger. Just because.
Fun, they said. Harry heaved a sigh.
And now he was between rock and hard place, proverbially speaking. After that disaster of a dinner it was decided that the next week, the three kings would commandeer the church's garden and duke it out about their views on who was the best king. Personally, Harry thought this was more of a pissing contest, but because one of the kings was a woman this was kind of impolite to say aloud, no matter how true it was.
Wearily, he rubbed the bridge of his nose. The air outside was cool, offering a tiny bit of respite from the madness happening within. He had to excuse himself in order to have a break because any longer, and he would do… something. He didn't know exactly what, but it was bound to be terrible.
"Harry?" Waver's tentative query sounded behind him.
The darkness had already crept across the land, a silent mass of shadows conquering the last silvers of daylight mercilessly, mutely cloaking the world in sepia colors.
"Waver." He acknowledged the teen, and then he felt Waver hugging him around the waist, Waver's forehead burying itself into Harry's right shoulder.
"I am scared." Waver's voice was tiny, shaking a little. Harry swallowed, his throat tightening at the raw honesty in Waver's voice. "I just found you again, and things are now coming to a head."
"I…" Hary gulped again. "I am scared too." He admitted quietly, his hands cradling Waver's own, letting Waver hide on his back, but sharing the warmth between them all the same.
He felt Waver cling to him harder. "I feel kind of bad for Mackenzies." Waver admitted quietly.
"I enchanted them into thinking that I was their missing grandson… turned out that Grandpa Mac already knew that I wasn't… and he still treated me as one."
Harry inhaled. His first impulse was to lecture Waver, but the sheer amount of guilt in Waver's voice disabused him of his intended action.
"When all this ends, let's go visit them." Harry listened to his voice, strangely detached of what he was speaking about, as if it were just a play he was participating in. "I would like to thank them for taking care of my family."
Waver's breath hitched. "You… really think so? That I am your family?"
His voice was fragile and desperate, and Harry felt his heart break for the youth. He turned around, in Waver's hold, gently lifting the teen's chin for Waver to look into his eyes.
Since Harry had last seen them, Waver grew taller and thinner, and there were new shadows in his eyes. His shoulder-length hair looker even darker in the night, and there were faint eye bags under his eyes.
"I'd love for you to be my family." The words slipped past his lips with surprising ease as he flashed Waver an awkward smile. "Or - if not that, at least a friend -"
"Family." Waver's voice was firm in his decision, but his eyes were still bright with apprehension and uncertainty, with a glint of stubbornness that characterized him so much.
Harry smiled back at him, his heart warm when Waver brightened back. "Family." he agreed.
Maybe that kind of business, choosing and building his own family that was wasn't so troublesome as he had thought it to be.
"You'll love them, you know." Waver broke the spell of silence between them. "The Mackenzies, I mean. Grandpa is crazy for coffee, of course, but Grandma makes an absolutely mean casserole."
Smiling, Harry hummed in agreement, as he let Waver chatter on, content to listen to him, both of them content to be in their own little world for a time, simply enjoying being brothers .
There was a crash resounding in the living room, Xanxus' angry voice rising against Rider's enthusiastic one with vehemently denying the man's offer to be recruited in Rider's army, Saber defending him while Tokiomi frantically tried to placate both of them, with not much success.
Mean, the lot of them! No fun whatsoever!
The word was so bo-oring and it was unfair he was denied fun when everyone else could have it whenever and however they wanted.
So many worlds, so many tunas and he was still bored!
No originality, no entertainment, same shit, different day. Or world, in Byakuran's case.
World domination rhymed shit occupation for a reason.
(But maybe it would be fun. For a time, anyway,)
"Isn't there anything - or anyone - that could entertain me? Just for a tiny, teensy bit?" he complained - read whined - into the sky as he munched on the hundredths marshmallow in this day.
(There is an old adage to be careful what you ask for. Even if he was bored to tears, Byakuran ought to have been careful what exactly as he asking for.)
(But in true blue Byakuran style, he was as careless as one could be and well…let's just say that Zelretch's Troll Senses tingled, alerting the old monster of The Potential, and left the inhabitants of the Clock Tower shaking with terror.)