The sunset is gold today, and Shirou can almost see the feathery tufts of Saber's hair in its color. His fingers twitch, whispers of longing, wishing to run themselves through that hair in a way he never could before.
His eyes are fixated on it, incapable of bringing themselves away even as that gold sinks out of his reach once again.
Behind him, Rin watches him with soft eyes that echo the longing that causes the twitch in Shirou's fingers, with hair that glimmers like brilliant silver, absolutely breathtaking to anyone who could see it.
However, Shirou is obsessed with gold.
And silver is always forgotten next to gold..
Shirou admits he misses Saber.
But, he does not want to admit he is bitter about it. Because that would soil the memory of his time with Saber, ruin it for him, because it would mean he's not that perfect hero of justice that she thought he could be.
He already lost Saber.
If he lost her respect, he didn't think he could handle missing her.
Rin thinks Shirou is a child, for all his heroism and bravery, or maybe because of it.
Shirou is frivolous. He gives and gives and gives and never expects anything back, letting others take from him like that schoolboy everyone asks favors from but never invites to birthday parties.
Shirou is reckless. He takes all sorts of chances because he thinks he won't die, the same way a child can dare to stand in places that an adult will never touch because they know its dangerous.
Shirou is selfish. He can't stand having what he wants taken away, even when he pretends to be a big boy and hold himself up with a stiff upper lift and the idea that "I'll always know I loved her" as if it'll make everything better.
Above all, Shirou is stupid. He doesn't seem to realize the world is too big for him, or that moving on is not the end of the world.
Shirou does not skip school, he does not mope, and he doesn't even vaguely sulk the way someone is entitled to when Life decides to screw them over.
Because that's what Saber would have wanted.
Rin finds it irritating that he can't even have one day of moodiness for himself, so she takes it upon herself to be moody for them both. She scowls at questions and pointedly ignores cheery greetings.
"Why are you doing this?" Shirou asks as he takes her aside.
"Because someone has to move on," she replies, almost coldly, and brushes past him, leaving him to his ghosts. "Someone has to let go."
Shirou watches her go, standing still, the bright gold of the sun washing over him.
For some reason, he can't feel its warmth.
They don't talk for a week after that, and it is only because of Sakura's prodding and their mutual weakness to said prodding that Shirou and Rin find themselves sitting next to each other, just like they used to during the Grail War, when there was violence and unbelievable experiences and an unrelenting onslaught of danger.
Compared to the mundane existence they live now, the Grail War seems easy.
"You're mad at me," Shirou begins softly, picking up his teacup and breathing, watching the ripples across the green surface. "I don't know why."
"Yes you do," Rin replies. "You just can't admit it to yourself."
He turns, fixing his gaze upon her, opening his mouth to say something, anything, but she interrupts before he can.
"Don't look at me like that."
"Like what?" he asks, setting his cup down.
Rin's eyes are so sad its beautiful.
"Like I'm a memory."
She leaves after that, without a word to him, but smiling at Sakura and making her excuses when asked to stay for dinner.
"Next time," she says, and maybe means it.
Shirou can't bring himself to see her out, and avoids meeting Sakura's eyes when asked how the talk went. He doesn't want to talk about Rin and her sad eyes, how they should have reminded him of Saber's own but didn't.
He skips dinner, makes excuses, and then lays down in Saber's room, wondering why he can't ever seem to feel any closer to her.
They pass each other twice in the halls of the school the next day, Shirou keeping his gaze firmly forward, Rin doing her best to look anywhere but.
The irony is lost on them both.
It is only after school that Shirou's patience finally breaks and he can't stand this silent, cold war with Tohsaka, the only person who truly understands what happened because she was fighting right beside him and, more importantly, Saber.
Because he can't be the only person who remembers Saber. He needs to know that she doesn't just exist in his memories.
"Tohsaka," he calls out quietly, stride quick and long until he reaches her side. To her credit, she does not speed up, but she also gives no sign she heard him.
"What do you want me to say?" Shirou asks, almost desperately.
She pauses, but otherwise gives him no sign.
"I'm moving on," he says stubbornly. "I'm moving forward."
"No, you're not." Rin finally turns to look at him, mouth set in a hard line, angry. "You can't move forward while you're looking back."
Shirou scowls, eyebrows knitting together, angry now as well, and he all but snarls out, "I am not looking back. I've accepted Saber is gone, I know she's gone-"
Shirou flinches, whether at her tone or her question or both, he does not know. He looks up to stare at her eyes, no longer angry, but almost pitying.
Rin stares at her him for a long time, as if searching for something. Then, as if giving up, she turns away without a sigh.
"You can be angry, you know," she whispers softly, barely audible to his ears. "You can be sad."
"No I can't," Shirou mutters doggedly, a blind man clutching the last lifeline he can feel. "Saber-"
"Is dead and gone. She died before your grandparents were even conceived, in a land that you've never even seen." Rin bites her lip hard until it draws blood. "You aren't. Don't you dare disrespect her by trying to pretend otherwise."
Shirou finally looks away, toward the golden sun that he always knew was out of reach. "Is it wrong to want to stand still for a while?"
She turns back around at last, glossy black locks flicking through the air. "A better question," she murmurs softly, "Is do you think Saber deserves you never moving forward because of her?"
Shirou looks down first, gazing at the concrete, at his two feet that are frozen to it. "It's too hard," he whispers, voice breaking. "I can't lose her memory. I thought I could, but..."
"It's not hard at all," Rin replies gently. "If you take it one step at a time."
He swallows, throat dry.
Hesitantly, Shirou places one foot forward.
Rin lips quirk into a smile, and she tilts her head to the side bemusedly, hair flashing silver.
Shirou asks her to come to dinner that night, for reasons he doesn't fully fathom yet. Sakura is happy they're on speaking terms again, Taiga is too but is too much the independent modern woman to admit it (and she's also busy making sure Illya hasn't taken the last dumpling), and Illya pretends she's annoyed Rin is back but smiles with her eyes as Rin scolds her yet again, the two bickering away like a mother and a daughter.
Dinner is rambunctious and loud and makes Shirou forget Saber for just a moment as he laughs alongside them.
Afterwards he feels so guilty he storms out on their laughing and out into the night, breathing quickly because it might rid himself of this feeling.
Rin follows after him, silent but he can feel that she is trying to comfort him. He feels grateful.
"I'm still scared," he admits softly, almost shamefully.
She says nothing for a while, hands clasped behind her back, taking a few steps forward until she's next to him, staring up into the endless black of the night sky.
"Want to know a secret?" Rin asks, turning towards him, an odd smile playing on her lips. "So am I."
Her hands unclasp, and she smiles brilliantly at him, extending her hand out, for him.
"I think it'll be easier if we both try, though."
Shirou stares at her hand for the longest time, before gazing up at her, watching the moonlight making her hair shimmer silvery, lighting her summer sky eyes, the opposite end of the spectrum from Saber's golden hair and ocean-dark sapphire eyes.
Somehow, though, Shirou thinks they're both beautiful.
Slowly, he places his hand on hers, smiling back genuinely. He says nothing, but nothing is needed.
At the sunrise, Shirou sees a golden sky and smiles without longing, but not forgetting either. The gold fades in time, but he thinks that'll be okay, because there are many kinds of beautiful, and he's just starting to learn that losing one doesn't you can't have another.
Sometimes silver isn't forgotten.