The howling blizzard is just outside. The walls are too thin to keep out the sound, let alone the chill. The world outside shows no traces of the black of night, let alone the mountain trail beneath, so thick is the raging snowstorm. Nobody lingers outdoors. I lie on the floor, content with what I may rest with – one blanket is better than nothing.
My host, the magus among the townspeople I came to help, is waiting a short while as the wind calms down. He is stressed after our dramatic evening, but is more afraid for tomorrow – the man is checking all of our options and backup plans just one more time, so that we know what to do.
My wounds are healing. I should have enough energy for tomorrow. The freezing cold does not bother me. Not because of how exhausted I am, or any damage to my hearing, or any crippling numbness.
But because I need only recall your face, and then everything is peaceful.
My days may be exhausting, but all my nights are calm. Some people I have worked with say that for someone who moves with such fierce alacrity, it's startling to see me so relaxed when I sleep. They say it with high spirits; sometimes even with a humoured envy.
I can see those memories so very clearly, despite all this time. Those days we shared, the time we spent, the things we did... I can't perfectly recapture your voice, yet I remember every word you said.
And I'll never forget that night when we first met. Your proud demeanor, your stern posture, they were unlike anything I had ever seen. If I weren't so stunned by the beauty of your face, I would have known right away just how deep a person and history lay beneath it.
You wouldn't be bothered by the cold. You'd be freezing just like I am now, of course, but you'd never let anyone know that. We need you to be strong, after all.
For the woman I loved, there was never any reason to suffer hopelessness. You knew of pain, you knew suffering and regret, things which didn't deserve to bother you. But even they were never allowed to break your resolve. Those fears, which overwhelm most every other person, could only fuel your devotion, for you were willing to shoulder everything for the sake of everyone else.
Even for a stupid fool like me.
I wanted to be a hero so badly. The man everyone could depend on. But in that war, as myself alone, I was in over my head and I wouldn't admit it. Doing so surely meant giving up – if the hero falters, then that means there is nothing left. The hero is the one who does the saving: he doesn't need someone to protect him.
That's what I thought.
And the more I tried to stand alone, the more I stumbled; often right into your arms.
You were there when I needed you.
When you stood tall, I felt safe.
When you fell down, all I wanted to do was stand up for you.
When you smiled, I felt joy.
When you frowned, all I wanted to do was fight back those pointless worries.
I didn't need to read up on your legends to say for sure. You were every bit the hero that I fell in love with.
Whether you believed it yourself or not.
(I hear again the neverending echo outside.)
How can one person, after giving peace to so many people, not know peace of mind herself? How could you only dwell in misery over your failures and blot out your successes? Despite your pleas for the contrary, there wasn't a single person who would have done a better job than you did – there couldn't have been. For the sake of everyone else, you gave your life, body and heart.
But nobody needed you to sacrifice your soul as well. For you to abandon yourself.
I tried so hard to convince you of that truth.
The times I spoke to you, pleading for you to move on...
...The night I held your warm figure in my arms...
...The night I kissed those beautiful lips...
(I'm no longer aware I should be shivering where I lie.)
And yet you wouldn't listen. I wasn't wrong; you deserved to rest, with everything fulfilled. Yet upon reflection, despite my scolding, I can understand why you were like this.
Because I was held back by the same burden.
Everything was dying around me; the ash-ridden sky, the charred ground, the toppled buildings, the disfigured bodies and faces strewn everywhere I looked, and the countless cries of anguish all beckoned me towards death. I may have survived that day, yet I never truly escaped from the pain. It followed me, night after night.
It wasn't until some weeks after the war that I realised...I hadn't dreamt of it since. I did all I could then, as I am now - there is nothing to be ashamed of. I had no need for that sorrow any more, and so it disappeared. I had better things to dwell on.
That's how I know that I will keep going.
I wonder. Before you came into my life, did I ever dream? Were those feelings and thoughts, which I saw most clearly at night, the same sensation I feel now, or merely a nightmare I couldn't understand? Failed to make peace with? I can't remember how I felt about them back then - in retrospect, none of those delusions make sense.
Going by physical stress, my life is a lot harder than it was before. But in reality, I've never been freer. I'm doing good out here, I know I am. It doesn't matter that these people have never met me before, or that I don't know all their names. They're in trouble and they deserve to be free from it. I'm going to help them. I'm going to keep helping them for as long as it takes. I'm doing everything I can, and I won't stop until they're safe.
I have nothing to regret. If I stand by this, I never will have anything to regret. I have no reason to make that mistake.
And besides...If someone like you can come from this life, then it can't be wrong.
It's very peaceful, here. And so very warm. Your smile is just as radiant as when we left. I wish we could be like this all the time.
I'll just keep reaching out until we're able to.
A/N: Getting writer's block whenever writing original content, I thought I'd put pen to paper on a short little thing that wasn't mine. I didn't have an approach for this: I felt like drabbling for once, and let my mind do the writing, then tidied it up afterwards. Hopefully this'll help start my creative cogs again. Beyond exploring the thematic importance of Shirou and Saber's relationship, my intent was to write something with a consistently optimistic atmosphere without falling into fluff. It's also my first time taking a genuine stab at romance, which sometimes on this site walks a tightrope between the extremes of angst and fluff, so I tried to balance it out. I'll let you decide how I did there.
Initial inspiration came from the song Dream of Mirrors by Iron Maiden.
Thank you for reading!
Disclaimer: I do not own Fate/Stay Night, nor any characters present within this piece. Everything fictituous within is the property of Type Moon.