Disclaimer: Well, I didn't own Fate/Stay Night before, and to my knowledge I didn't get it as a Christmas gift. So no, I still don't own Fate/Stay Night.
Home Sweet Home
-- Interlude 1.1 --
"Don't tell me he's sleeping in again," Rin mumbled to herself as she stood outside Shirou's dorm, already having knocked twice. Ever since they'd moved to London, Shirou never seemed to have gotten over the jet lag, and as such his early morning riser attribute seemed to have been lost. He had refused to buy an alarm clock, due to his stubborn nature, and as such she'd gotten tired of being locked outside of his room until he woke up or she had to force her way in. So in the end she just bought the darn thing herself and forced him to use it. Although this tactic seemed to have worked, there were still moments like this where she found herself locked outside.
"That's it Shirou, I'm coming in!" With those words she formed her hand into a sort of gun shape, and activated her magical circuit. Concentrated magical energy began to form near her fingertip until a visible black energy could be seen forming. Having charged enough energy, she let the 'bullets' fly.
The Gandr shots blew through the maple wood door like paper, and even though she had only meant to take out the lock, the door and part of Shirou's entrance way were blown apart, wood splinters spread all over his floor and some even stuck in the walls.
'Oh well, it's not like it isn't easily fixable," she thought as she recalled a time where she had fixed one of Shirou's windows after he had gotten attacked by Lancer for the second time. It still amused her how amazed he was with such a simple spell. Well, that was long ago, time to worry about the here and now, particularly the probably now cowering Emiya on the other side of this door.
Stepping through the smoking crater that had been, until just moments ago, Shirou's door, she entered his dorm room. She was surprised though that instead of finding Shirou screaming at her for her forced entry, he wasn't there at all. In fact, the place was a lot more chaotic than it was yesterday or than it ever was for that matter. Clothing was thrown around different sides of the room, and magical aids were scattered across the floor as if the place had been searched multiple times.
"What the hell, did he get into some kind of fight?" Of course she didn't really believe that. In fact, at closer inspection, she noticed that it looked like Shirou had hastily packed in a short period of time for what appeared to be an extended trip.
As she continued to inspect the room, she found a letter lying on the dining table. Finding it was addressed to her; she opened it and began reading.
Sorry about the mess, something came up yesterday, and as such I'll be heading back to Japan for a while. Don't worry about me; by the time you get this letter, I'll probably already be on a plane to Tokyo, but I should be back before you know it. Besides, you mentioned yesterday you were busy, right?
Be back soon,
Thinking of reasons why Shirou would take a sudden and unexpected trip back home without telling her, it wasn't long before a thought struck her of the possible solution.
'Oh, don't tell me he…' Suddenly taking inventory of Shirou's stuff, Rin's impression was correct as she noticed what was missing.
A few days worth of clothing, then a couple magical items including the ceremonial dagger she'd given to him as a gift for his birthday three years ago. It was a dagger similar to Azoth that she'd given him to defeat Kotomine with. The only differences were that the crystal in the hilt was a deep sapphire blue instead of a ruby, and the blade itself was about a half foot longer, made not as a sort of wand like Azoth had been, but something more similar that could be used as a sword. Something Shirou was more accustomed to.
She'd even gone as far as to fill the crystal up with some of her own mana. Although, she'd made sure to make him swear an oath that he would never use it unless the situation called for such a thing. The issue with the situation was that it had about a year's worth of mana contained within it. While that still wasn't very large, especially to her standards, they greatly outdid Shirou's, which meant he planned on using a lot of magic.
Then a few books she noticed missing were The Mysteries of the Third Magic, and Basic & Advanced Summoning Techniques.
After that though, she didn't take notice of anything else that was missing as she already had enough evidence to know what he was planning.
"That IDIOT!" Rin screamed as she ran back to her room, ignoring the mess she'd made with the door, and began planning on things she would need for a trip of her own. She didn't know how it happened, but it seemed that even after all the work Shirou and Saber put into destroying the Grail, the cursed thing wouldn't stay dead. And it seemed the damn thing was involving her close friend once again.
'I swear Shirou; if you die before I get there I'm going to kill you.'
-- Day 1_Fuyuki, Japan --
Stepping off the bus I look around the familiar Shinto shopping district. I smile as I remember the things I had done here, particularly the one date I had gone on with a certain someone. I shake my head to clear my thought, now's not the time for that. I look down at the luggage I'm carrying in my gloved hands. I hadn't packed much, just a few outfits and then the stuff I'd need for tonight. Of course I hadn't spent the entire 12 hour plane flight sleeping. I made sure to read the books I had brought with me. After all, I couldn't afford a mistake this time, and the more I knew about what it was that needed to be done, the better it would turn out.
Dressed in a tan trench coat, with a hat to disguise my hair, I made sure no one was giving me any suspicious looks. Not that anyone would most likely recognize me anyway. All the same, one of the many things I'd learned with spending so much time with Rin, it was to attract the least amount of attention possible. Making one last check that I had all the luggage I'd brought I begin the walk home.
"Ah geez," I mumble to myself as I stretch out my legs. Walking for a good hour isn't a good idea when you've been traveling for over 14. But, it's nice to be home. Of course, it would have only been 45 minutes had I not stopped at that bridge connected the Shinto and residential districts of Fuyuki City. I couldn't help it though, that bridge contained some of my most treasured (and dreaded) memories. Besides, I think I earned the right to be a little nostalgic every once and again. Well, what was done was done; all that mattered now was that I'm home.
The first thing that comes to mind though is the reaction I'm going to get when I walk inside. I already gave Fuji-Nee a call that I was coming so that I wouldn't have to come home to an empty house. Besides, I also didn't want to walk all the way over to the Fujimura home to pick up Ilya. Something about long trips, you always seem to be tired afterwards, even if you haven't done anything. It's just nice to sit back and relax, if for only a bit.
Pulling out the house key in my back pocket to unlock the gate, I enter the front door and prepare for whatever surprises wait for me on the other side. 'Cause yeah, with Fuji-Nee, there's always a surprise. That's something I've always come to expect during my visits home.
I'm still surprised though as I enter, it's unnaturally quiet, especially since I'd called beforehand, it's lunchtime, one of Fuji-Nee's three most favorite times of the day (I'll let you guess what the other two are). I would think she'd be waiting impatiently at the front door. While the two can always wait on one of the maids at Fuji-Nee's house, she still believes I'm the best cook around, especially since Sakura… No, I don't dwell about that anymore. Walking down the hallway and into the dining room I'm totally unprepared for what happens next.
As soon as I enter, my 'sixth sense' that I sort of obtained and even trained during and after the last war recognizes a threat to my right. Leaning back to avoid the attack, I see the end of a shinai pass by where my head was until moments ago. Using the same technique I saw Saber use all those years ago during the duel with Fuji-Nee, I find myself standing behind my past guardian, the shinai I've taken out of her hands pointed at her back, my bags all held in my other arm. An impressive feat if I do say so myself.
She turns to me with a disappointed expression, complaining, "Oh, where did my defenseless little Shirou go. When did you get to be so mean?"
I swear Fuji-Nee, I sometimes really worry about you. Ignoring the whining woman in her mid-thirties, I look down at the girl standing next to her.
"Hey Ilya, how have things been lately?" I ask her, snapping her out of the glare she was directed at the woman next to her.
"Nothing too much Shirou, although it be nice if I didn't have to keep her in line," Ilya responds with a smirk directed at the older woman, emphasizing the difficulty in keeping Fuji-Nee presentable.
Stopping her consistent complaining (at least temporarily), Fuji-Nee ignores me to begin her usual argument. Of course, recognizing the threat that threatens the stability of my homecoming, I break it up with one of the best ways I know how. I walk over to the kitchen, tie on my apron, and brush some of the dust off of the kitchen counter.
Within moments I can hear the conversation slow down to a halt. After which I feel two pairs of eyes staring at my back. Yeah, if there's one thing that can bring those two together, it's food. And yeah, some things never change.
Deciding to cook something easy since I'm still recovering from the long trip from London, I make a few seasoned rice balls. Even if it's easy, I still get the enjoyment of seeing a drooling Fuji-Nee and a glowering Ilya facing her.
From there, lunch continues pretty normally. That is until Fuji-Nee—
"So Shirou, have you seen Sakura lately?"
—Asks me something I really don't want to talk about.
I sigh, before giving her a serious glance and responding, "No Fuji-Nee, I still haven't been able to talk to Sakura yet. You already knew that, so please, stop asking."
With that, she just shrugs and responds back, "Alright Shirou, if you say so. But I still think you should try talking to her."
I shake my head refusal and change the subject. I don't need to talk about such a depressing manner at the moment, especially since I just got home.
"So Shirou," Fuji-Nee once again interrupts my thoughts by bringing me into the conversation, "You told me you were coming, but you never said why. Mind giving me an explanation as to why you're back so suddenly?"
I let out a small grin, if there's one thing about Fuji-Nee and Ilya that they have in common; it's their ability to speak what's on their minds. None the less I answer, "Honestly I don't quite know why just yet. I was told to come back by the school, and that there was someone here that I was supposed to meet, but other than that I wasn't told who it was or the real reason why I'm here. Does that answer your question?" Well, it wasn't a complete lie, was it?
Fuji-Nee just nods and continues eating, meanwhile I see a glare directed at me by the other member of our little lunch party. I thought so, another thing about Ilya, she doesn't just speak what's on her mind, but she can also see right through even some of my best lies. Well, I never planned on keeping her in the dark anyway, she was a master in the last war so it's not like she wouldn't understand. I'll make sure to tell her after lunch when Fuji-Nee leaves.
"Alright, bye Shirou, see you later," Fuji-Nee waves goodbye as she leaves to go do whatever it is that she does when she isn't teaching or eating, probably to go do something for her grandfather, Raiga. I wave back before closing the front door behind me and head to my old room once the dishes have been put away. As I expected, the one in question is already there.
"Shirou, why are you really here?" as by her custom, and as I stated before, Ilya approaches the subject in her usual manner, blunt and direct.
"I thought so," I reply, "I didn't expect to fool you, especially since you're aware of whom I really am and what I really do, I guess it would be better showing you." Ilya has a puzzled expression when I say the word 'show', but I continue my explanation without words. I grab the glove on my left hand and reveal the command spell for all to see.
She's struck speechless as I reveal my secret before making a troubled expression. "No, no, no, no, no," Ilya repeats as if trying to refuse it, "That's impossible, masters are only supposed to be chosen once. You can't be a master again," Ilya complains, and while I think it's more out of jealousy than anything else, I can't help but sense the slight fear in her voice as well.
I shrug as I reply, "Well I didn't expect it either, I thought for sure we'd destroyed it. The fact that it still exists is suspicious as it is, but I guess we're just going to have to accept the fact that I've been chosen to be a master once again."
With a sulking expression she continues, "So Shirou, does this mean you're going to enter the war a second time?"
I sit down as I try to think of an answer to that before replying, "Really Ilya, I don't know. If the Holy Grail War really is starting again I want to be able to protect any innocent people from getting hurt. Yet I can't help feeling though that this may be some sort of trap, I was sure we had destroyed the Grail last time; it doesn't seem possible that it could still exist. And then there's…" I have trouble saying the last part.
"Saber," she finishes for me, with an expression still filled with both jealousy and envy, but also compassion as well, knowing exactly whom I'm thinking of, yet sympathizing as well.
I let out a depressed sigh and then nod. Yeah, I guess in the end, the real reason I'm even here right now is because there's a chance, even if it's slim, that I might be able to summon Saber again. This is a chance I never thought I'd get again. So yes, Saber would definitely be a factor in all of this.
"So, what would you do?" I ask, wanting to know what someone else would do in my situation.
"You mean would I summon Berserker again if I could?" Ilya asks, without giving me any time to respond she continues, if a little more quietly and gently, "Of course I would, I miss him too."
I nod again, that's how I figured it would be. He may have just been a pain in the ass for me, but for Ilya, he was just about the only family she knew. The Einzberns definitely weren't role models, if Ilya's upbringing is any indication. I can't help but feel a small pang of regret that it had been me and Saber the insane servant had fallen to. But it only lasts a second; after all, it was Ilya and he who tried to kill us, even if it wasn't entirely their fault at the time.
"But Shirou," she continues, "Promise me you'll stay safe. I won't forgive you if you die this time; it's your duty as my Onii-chan to protect me."
I give her a smile of thanks. I know that's just her way of saying she's scared about my safety. As the previous Holy Grail, she has plenty of surplus magical energy to deal with just about anything underneath a servant, add that to the boundary field around the house and you'll understand why she and Rin made this our unofficial base of operations. So it's not like she really needs to be protected. But I make sure to give her a hug as well, eliciting a cute little squeak from her at the sudden sign of brotherly affection.
"Well, guess it's time," I state as I see the watch on my wrist hit 11:00.
From what I heard from Tohsaka, every magus has a time during the day or night where their magical energy is the strongest. According to her, one of the reasons she botched her summoning during the last war was because all of the clocks were an hour ahead and therefore she summoned her servant an hour before her magical circuit was at its strongest. At least, that's what she says…
It didn't take long for me to figure out that the time for me was somewhere around midnight, which is why I think I found strengthening magic easier to practice at night than during the day. With this in mind, I've been in my room waiting until this time, thinking about what it is I'm going to do and how I'm going to do this.
Realizing earlier today that I had forgotten a very important ingredient in the summoning I had searched Kiritsugu's study, with a little help from Ilya. While we found the bottle of quicksilver I needed for the actual drawing of the circle, Ilya stayed there for a few hours afterward. Apparently, thanks to the size of the house, she'd never been in here before, so I guess it was a need of hers to see what was in Kiritsugu's study, to see into a bit of the life she never got to know of her father.
Checking up on Ilya in her room to make sure she's asleep before I leave, I grip the duffel bag of supplies I'd need for the summoning tighter in my hands and begin walking towards the shed. I look up at the sky while I walk across the yard and notice the cloudless, moonlit sky. Hm, fitting, it's almost exactly like that first night five years ago.
I take a good look at the shed that contains so many odd memories. 'Well, no time for reminiscence right now, I'd better get to work,' and I begin setting up the ritual.
'It's almost midnight,' I notice as I finish up the preparations for the summons. I redrew what was a terribly faded circle in the corner of the shed using the quicksilver as ink and the dagger I had with me as a brush. Finishing, I pricked my finger with the blade and stuck the blade into ground near the edge as a second offering and prepared the final item needed for the summoning.
The object I create is one of the few I can create, outside of swords, without suffering from serious prana withdrawal. Seeing it take shape in my hands, it's only seconds later that the process is finished. Looking down at the item in my hands, I'm reminded of what it had been responsible for. I didn't need to go through the exact steps of my tracing as I usually did because it was an object that for the longest time had been a part of me. In my hands I hold a copy of Avalon that could rival the original that had disappeared along with her. Taking one last moment to pray to whatever gods were out there, I hope it's enough to summon the right servant.
After placing the sheath in the center of the circle, I walk to the end of the circle opposite to the position of the ceremonial dagger I have placed, the first offering being my own store of magical energy. I'm not mediocre enough to believe that I have enough magical energy to do this. While this wasn't what I had originally planned to use that stored energy in the hilt for, I have no regrets about this decision, especially if it works.
Making a final verification of the ritual's completion, I began the chant I'd made sure to memorize to complete the summoning.
If thou wouldst serve under me, my fate shall be guided by thy sword.
If thou wouldst answer the call of the Holy Grail, come.
I am the one who defies the laws of war.
For I was the one who obtained peace previously.
Together we joined forces once before,
May we continue this alliance once again as Servant and Master.
I call upon the greatest of the seven familiars.
Now, come forth my servant!"
At the completion of the spell, I allow the blood gained from my pricked finger to drop into the circle, a blue energy I recognize from before is released almost immediately as I'm soon blinded by the strong blast of light. I almost fall to knees as the prana begins to be fed into the summons. As I take notice and wonder why the strain seems to be smaller than I thought before, I remember why as I look at the ceremonial dagger also pulsing with a similar energy to the one surrounding me.
A strong invisible pillar of wind surrounds me despite the cloudless night and then, things start to go wrong. I notice the sapphire within the hilt of the dagger crack, and then crack again. It continues to break apart until it shatters before my eyes, all of the magical energy having been released. This time I really do fall on my knees as the strain triples at the very least, soon having to support myself with my hands as well. Now it seemed that it was only my own prana that was feeding the summons.
At that moment I also notice Avalon beginning to dissipate as the stress is too much for the 'fake' object. Eventually it disappears entirely, and then all that's left visible in the brightened shed is me on my hands and knees, struggling to keep myself upright. Then, everything stops.
Although I still seem to be temporarily blinded I notice the rune's glow die down to the point that it's only the quicksilver shining in the moonlight. The stress on me is released as the process finishes, although I'm still left barely holding up, my ragged breaths the only sound I can hear in the barren shed.
But that's just it, that's the only thing I can hear, myself. There's no sound of shifting metal or the quiet voice I can only hear in my dreams. I open my eyes as my vision returns and look around myself, scanning the area in front of me that should contain her presence. But all I see is… nothing.
I punch the ground as I'm afflicted with conflicting emotions. Anger, frustration, shock, disappointment, embarrassment, and even a little heartbreak all ravage my mind as I grasp the situation. There's no Saber, something must have been wrong with the summoning, I've failed.
"Damnit, I've gone and screwed up the only chance I had." I can't help but feel a bit of hatred towards myself and I punch the ground a second time in my frustrations. I should have waited, made sure everything was perfect, allowed no mistakes. But I let my anxiety and impatience get the better of me, and now it appears what my punishment will be for those actions. And just as I'm about to let out a string of curses at my incompetence—
"I wouldn't say that Master, it just seems that your placement was a bit off. Behind you…"
—I hear a soft voice full of affection and amusement that at that moment I seek to hear over anything else.
I stand up and turn around, expecting it to only to have been a figment of my imagination out of my frustration and despair. But I turn to see her looking just as beautiful as that first night before, I inwardly smile as it's almost a repeat of the scene from that night, the soft moonlight coming in through the door, enhancing her already perfect figure. Her arms are crossed in front of her chest and I can tell from her expression that she's just about overwhelmed. Her usual impassive appearance is instead replaced with that of the smile and disbelief of the young girl Arturia, yet her noble appearance remains, as it always will. Despite all the things I want to say to her I find myself only able to choke out one line.
"Sa… ber?" Part of me doesn't believe this to be real, but at this moment I don't even care. Next thing I know, my arms are around her waist, hers around my neck as we're locked in an embrace. I take a moment to look down at the face, that until this moment, I had only seen in my most treasured memories. I'm not surprised to see unshed tears in her eyes as she looks back at me, as I notice that my own eyes are blurred with tears as well.
"Shirou," I can hear her whisper, almost as if she believes this is a dream herself. I don't answer her, I don't need to, I just respond in the only way I can. I wrap my own arms tighter around her waist and pull her even closer to me. She responds in her own way, laying her head against my chest beneath my chin, and at the same time ignoring her pride as a knight and servant to finally let her tears fall.
And for a while, we just stand there together, embracing. Because even a moment like this is more than either of us could have asked for.
-- Interlude 1.2 – Fuyuki Church --
A figure draped in black clothing stands in front of the church, her white hair blowing in fluid movements behind her as she stares off into the direction that until only a moment ago was filled with a faint blue light, located somewhere across the river.
She has perfect knowledge of what just happened since she had already been assigned by the Church to be the supervisor for the war this time around. It seemed that yet another master had summoned his servant. In an amused yet offset voice she asks, as if to the one she's looking in the direction of can hear her –
"So, master of the Saber servant, are you ready for the Sixth Holy Grail War?"
Author's Note: Oh, cliffhanger… Not really.
Anyways, as you've already noticed, Saber's back! To tell the truth, I didn't really see any point of adding a filler before this so I just decided to get straight to the point this time, because I sometimes write very lengthy and detailed fillers between plot points, so yeah…
As for the whole time topic when it came to the summons, has anyone ever noticed that it's often times around midnight when Shirou begins his practice in the shed, at least in the game. I just thought like bringing that up in this chapter, even if that fact may be misguided. After all, due to his still amateur abilities, Shirou needed all the edge he could get to complete the summoning.
In other news, some of you have probably already made a guess as to who that is in the last interlude, let me tell you. You're most likely right since she's a canon character, at least for the game, Hollow Ataraxia. As a side note, I'll probably be making references to this game. Again though, I can't understand Japanese, so… sorry if any of the characters I involve become seriously OOC (especially since I'm only using Wiki and translated scenes to understand the characters a bit more).
Because I feel like explaining it, I will. When I mentioned Shirou's 'Sixth Sense' (and no, I've not seen the movie), I meant his ability to detect both magic and physical threats. Most close combat experts from what I've seen, through experience gain the ability to sense danger. Although usually this would still be too slow for any normal human to sense the attack of a servant, especially an Assassin, add Shirou's magi abilities and you've got one tough cookie. I'll grow on this as the story continues, but I hope at least you sort of see what I mean.
If you notice, Shirou has a seemingly good relationship with all of his friends as you've seen, well… almost all of them. I realize that this makes them seem a little OOC, considering the fact that Shirou basically just dropped them off the planet to become a better magus in London, and let's face it, while Fuji-Nee might accept it, Ilya is a bit… unforgiving and even revengeful in that aspect. But bear in mind, this story was done from Shirou's point of view. And being the some-what oblivious fool he is, he wouldn't notice their personal struggles and would just buy the acts they put up for him, or at least he will for now…
Also, wanted to point this out for personal reasons in case anyone didn't get this, Ilya doesn't live on her own at the Emiya home when Shirou's away. She stays with Fuji-Nee when he's in London, but stays with him when he visits. Because honestly, she seems to have an 'interesting' relationship with Fuji-Nee, if the ending of the Fate route is any indication. Not to mention, Ilya seems to just have this attraction to Shirou before anything, as if she accepts him as her brother from the moment he spares her after their battle with Berserker, perhaps even long before that.
But yeah, keep those reviews coming guys. Any input would be appreciated. Not to mention I'm still open to any ideas as to who to use for heroic spirits as the other 5 servants I haven't made a decision on. And yes, if you noticed, I'm making this fic officially Shirou/Saber, no harems. You can thank that to all the reviewers out there practically screaming for it to be so, even if the poll says otherwise. Although for those of you who are disappointed, I might end up writing something with a harem pairing after this story is complete, which mind you won't be for a while, but no promises. Besides that, even though it's a little late, Happy New Year! And…