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Thread: A Heart Whose Love is Innocent [Fate/Zero] [Saber x Irisviel]

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    A Heart Whose Love is Innocent [Fate/Zero] [Saber x Irisviel]

    This was the fic I wrote for Yuletide this year. Since author reveals have happened now, I can post it here now. It's a missing scene sort of thing set after Saber's first fight with Lancer. I hope you enjoy it.



    A Heart Whose Love is Innocent

    Rating: T - Complete - Originally Published: 12/20/2015 - AO3



    The kindred between herself and Irisviel is odd.

    Following her through Fuyuki City reminded her of something from another time, even if it did not closely resemble any similar time in Artoria's life – with its secrecy, pretense, and half-truths guiding and protecting a goal and a dream. In her life, there had been no time and no space for the mere enjoyment of the city growing up around her and another woman she had been sworn to protect.

    No, not following her – leading her, guiding her, escorting her. The duty of a knight, graciously accepted by this lady of another time, another world.

    Sometimes it had seemed as though Irisviel thought her primitive, simple, and ignorant of the world around them. Looking at her under the different, twinkling light of the city at night, next to the cold and gently lapping dark of the sea, another thought suggested itself. Perhaps she should not have found any great insult in Irisviel's surprise when she knew things about this present era. The cold castle in which Irisviel had spent the entirety of her life until these first moments, first hours outside placed her in a position to understand the life and shelter she must imagine Artoria to have endured.

    Seeing the flushed skin of her face, the way she breathed the cold north wind without flinching or shying away – the youth in her face, fixed there as neither blessing nor curse – it had started to become easier to believe that Irisviel could find some way to imagine them the same. Even the way she responded calmly, with a smile, to the promise of the first brush with the danger did nothing to dissuade this charming idea.

    Of course, the idea was not without its obvious imperfections – an incomplete likeness between them.

    The first of the still very great differences between them showed itself in their countenance on the first battlefield of the fourth Holy Grail War.

    Saber – the Heroic Spirit and Servant of the sword – lost herself to the clash of weapons once it had begun. For a time, there was nothing in the world greater or apart from her keen and imperative focus on her opponent – his spears and movement, her sword and confidence. She could see grace in the confusion, strategy in the chaos.

    Irisviel – her accepted Master – could not do those things. She could only hold back, watch, and try to help with the healing arts granted to her through her mastery of magecraft. She could not wield a weapon with her hands. While it was Saber's role to fight fearlessly, the only perception she could spare of Irisviel seemed to show that she reacted with fear and awe. It was not shameful or cowardly. It was survival, and survival was a responsibility they shared. While Irisviel was helpless to do anything to ease the pain or deadly disadvantage of her accursed wound, it was Saber's job to see that her fears were not realized, even as the battle turned against them.

    The second of these differences shows itself when the battle is done.

    Rider's words set her heart at ease, a little. She finds a smile and a clear breath of cool air that stops the thrumming pulse of fear and failure that had knotted her stomach and made her all too aware of the helpless twitching of her left hand. Something she does not expect, however, is the outpouring of breath, charity, and kindness that next flows from Irisviel's lips. She runs to her when at last the final enemy Servant has cleared, and she is quick to reach out for her.

    “Saber, your left arm!”

    Saber gathers herself and finds that even as the battlefield fades, the bounded field from the enemy Master withdrawing and more than that the spirit of battle itself, she has not entirely lost the brave face she had recovered when Rider had extended to her first great kindness and then, better, great fairness. She does not feel shame in front of Irisviel, in spite of the blood dripping down from her arm and over her fingers to the ground. She senses no anger and no sleight in the concern.

    “Yes, it was a painful blow. It is as Rider says. If I fail to deal with Lancer first and undo the curse on this wound, it will damage my chances against the other Servants.”

    She faces ahead, looking out over the dock and along the scarred ground that will leave a mystery for those who do not know their city is the battleground of a war, but her attention is caught away from that, as it had been earlier in the day, by Irisviel taking her hand. This time it hurts. Only, Irisviel cradles it, the lightness of everything about her not shying away from the dripping, red blood that might stain some part of her in a way that would never come out.

    “Thank you, Saber. I survived thanks to you.”

    Then Saber knows the reason her brave, battlefield smile has not left her yet.

    “The reason I could focus on the battle before me was that I had you to stand behind me,” she insists, the fervor that comes from being a knight sworn to protect a lady and Artoria's joy that she had not failed Irisviel one and the same.

    “Saber...” Irisviel intones in another little, delicate breath.

    “The battle is only beginning, Irisviel,” Saber insists. She feels that it is her duty to tell her, now more than ever. “Tonight we saw the mere opening gambits of a battle that is just beginning to unfold.”

    “That's right...” Irisviel replies, something a little distant and dazzled in her eyes. She blinks as if she means to clear her vision and looks to Saber for further explanation, showing again a surprising amount of readiness for war shining back in the face of a young girl.

    “They were all powerful adversaries. Not one of them was a conventional enemy,” Saber says, concern etching her face as she considers what she has learned of each of them. She senses something unusual ahead, different from every other battle for the Holy Grail in the past. It is not something she can hope to explain to Irisviel, though – not now, not here, standing out in the open. She is certain that her Master, her summoning-Master and he who bears the Command Seals, Emiya Kiritsugu, would never wish to allow it.

    “So this is the Holy Grail War...” Irisviel says, looking up to the sky as if it might help contain some of what she has witnessed this night. Before either of them can speak again, Irisviel lowers her head from the sky and turns her attention instead to something drawn from her pocket. Then she looks around, her eyebrows lowering with concentration.

    “What is it, Irisviel?” Saber asks. She knows that there are no Servants nearby, unless one has gone undetected. Before she receives an answer, she believes she already knows what it will be. Kiritsugu. A small, strange thought drifts through her mind that it was like a summoning, calling upon him from somewhere in an unseen, impossible to reach place.

    “A signal,” Irisviel explains, and there is no other need for explanation. Saber senses nothing from this signal, not from her Master nor any other magic. During this day, Saber has learned that many of Kiritsugu's methods are inscrutable, partly because he refuses to make himself known to her and partly because the methods he uses are completely unlike any other Master. Her granted knowledge of the present world does not included men like Emiya Kiritsugu nor the tools they use.

    Irisviel is not her true Master, but she behaves as one. She determines their next move with visible consideration, even if she is responding to commands given by the one granted the Command Seals by the Holy Grail. Irisviel has used her magic to assist Saber and her voice to guide her, and this is only the beginning of the war to come.

    - - -

    It takes quite a long time for them to join Kiritsugu. Saber recognizes that this must have been a change of plans, though she has never been informed of what the original plan might have been. She can guess that it was quite simple: she was to win, to defeat the enemy Servant with one decisive strike. She knows without any doubt that Kiritsugu will be displeased with the results of this first fight to draws. She cannot seem to find any connection between that thought and the shame she ought to feel.

    By the time they arrive at the agreed meeting place, Saber has long since reverted from her dress and armor to the suit Irisviel had given to her. She moves carefully, trying not to drip blood onto the fine fabric Irisviel had seemed to cherish so much. Irisviel had done what she could with a handkerchief, but it feels wet and thin and small.

    The car only emerges from darkness and pulls close to the curb when they arrive. It is dark, sleek, and inconspicuous. When it comes to a stop and the brake lights flare an angry red, the passenger's side door immediately opens. A little caught off guard by this development, Saber moves to stand ahead of Irisviel, even if only her shoulder protects her for a moment.

    Kiritsugu emerges not from behind the steering wheel but from the passenger's side of the car. Once more, this surprises Saber, but she does not have further cause for standing to defend Irisviel. She stands aside and lets Kiritsugu reach his wife. He never seems to see her as he takes Irisviel softly behind her shoulder. With the other hand, he opens the nearest door and ushers Irisviel inside. All the while, his shoulders are hunched and his face is held low. As soon as Irisviel is safely in the vehicle, Kiritsugu takes his seat once again.

    Irisviel sits behind Kiritsugu, so Saber takes the backseat opposite her. Once again maneuvering her arm to avoid unnecessary dripping inside the car, she crooks her elbow so she can feel the slow trickle of blood try to run more slowly up her arm, surely about to stain the inside of the shirt. Her knowledge of this era does not tell her if this is something that can be repaired. In a war, bloodstains and dirty clothes are to be expected, but she remembers the quiet near-peace that had existed that afternoon. It had seemed almost warm on the mild winter day, while Irisviel had simply been enjoying the world for the first time. It seems unfair, wrong, to have ruined it so early. She frowns at her sleeve, mildly, privately.

    All of this prevents her from concentrating on the sickening ache that radiates up her arm from her twitching fingers.

    Just as the car begins to move, Irisviel moves, presses against her seat belt, to lean forward toward Kiritsugu's shoulder.

    “I need something,” she says urgently, apparently anticipating that he would understand.

    “What do you need, Iri?” he asks, sounding not disinterested but somewhere far off where he could not see or even begin to imagine what his wife was asking.

    Saber's focus moves across the car to watch Irisviel, then to glance at Kiritsugu. He has a cigarette held at the corner of his lips, and when he lifts his attention to Irisviel, even a little, he quickly snatches it out of his mouth, tucking it away somewhere unseen.

    “Something for Saber's arm,” Irisviel explains. She had told Saber that Kiritsugu had taught her about the world, but Irisviel's healing magic was unlike anything even the present world could produce to aid in healing arts. Besides, there is very little that can be done for a cursed wound. Still, she is trying.

    “It is a cursed wound, Iri,” Kiritsugu says, still without glancing toward his Servant.

    “There has to be something! She's bleeding. There must be something we can do to stop it,” Irisviel insists. Then, some little spark of anger flashes in her ruby eyes. “If your Servant bleeds to death, you will never win this war!”

    This is the first time Saber has noticed their driver move, apart from guiding the car along the road. In the rear-view mirror, the unadorned and beautiful raven-haired woman inclines her gaze across to Kiritsugu, then to a part of the car that is just beyond his knees.

    “That will be our concern when we have the necessary tools to—” Kiritsugu tries to explain, his tone cool and patient before it is abruptly cut short by a sudden dart of movement. It is at once agile and careless to how it knocks his knee aside, inconsiderate of any respect or regard for physical space.

    The silent young woman never decelerates the car, keeping it at steady pace with the progressing traffic, as she releases a latch in front of Kiritsugu. The compartment opens, and its contents seem almost innocuous, ordinary, giving no hint as to the passengers' purpose here in this city. Long, elegant fingers clasp around a container made of a hard, white plastic and toss it back to Irisviel. The box rattles but neatly sits upon Irisviel's lap, a red cross adorning the front of it with no other explanation as to its use.

    Saber understands, though, and wants to apologize for the fact that it will take more than careful wrapping to care for this wound that even Irisviel's powerful healing magic could not touch.

    “Irisviel—” Saber says softly, breaking her silence for the first time in front of Kiritsugu since she had been summoned and asked if he was her Master. At least, she thinks she broke her silence. She is surprised and wonders if her voice has grown weak when Irisviel speaks over her, not acknowledging that she had spoken.

    “Thank you, Maiya,” she says. She pops open the box on her lap and her brow creases with consternation as her delicate fingers brush over, pick up, and try to make sense of the tools before her.

    The car picks up a little speed as it pulls onto a broader, more heavily trafficked road. As if in response, Irisviel moves much more quickly, too. Without latching it, she sets the small box's lid back down in place and sets herself free for her seat belt. Never unsettling the box's place on her lap, she slides halfway across the car. Bracing herself with her hands and then settling, she carefully props the box back open and turns toward Saber.

    “Let's see...” she says gently, her voice calm and soothing, reminding Artoria that she is a mother. She meets Saber's eyes and watches them intently.

    After a moment, Saber's eyes widen as she realizes there might be something she ought to do.

    “Yes, Irisviel?” she asks.

    “Your jacket,” Irisviel replies, her voice graced with a light chuckle that makes her purpose seem somehow less grave.

    Saber continues to look back at her for the space of another few breaths, her hesitation difficult to understand, even for herself. Then, she smoothly slides out of the jacket, not at all responding to the pain from her wound.

    “There,” Irisviel encourages, taking the jacket and setting it between the two front seats with a half-careful folding upon itself, disregarding how it might brush the elbows of the other two occupants of the vehicle.

    Leaning forward, rolling the stained sleeve back, Irisviel laces her fingers beneath Saber's turned forearm to cradle the affected area. In the dark, the ooze of blood seems less like a pure, living red, and more like a frightening, murky black. Sometimes, they pass under street lamps that make this seem just a little better. No matter what it looks like, there is no trace of fear in Irisviel's eyes. Finally, she draws something from the box – a roll of gauze, a bottle, and one after the other she assembles her tools across her own lap and upon Saber's. She takes pause to set Saber's arm down to free her hands, taking a moment to push her silver hair out of the way.

    “It is is as Kiritsugu says,” Irisviel explains apologetically as she goes about cleaning some of the dried blood away. “It is a cursed wound, so there is very little we can do.” She takes a second to frown down at the very tools she uses, and Saber has learned to recognize her response to newness in her eyes. “But we can try,” she says, confident in her efforts without ever having tried to mend a wound by hand before.

    - - -

    The Einzbern residence in Japan is similar and nearly as spectacular as the frozen castle they had left behind in Germany. The car moves through a bounded field, uninhibited, and inside the barrier the night seems to go even more quiet as they move through the grasping shadows of trees. At the end of a long, curving drive, the stone structure juts out of the landscape with an audaciousness that seems not to fit this place, even deep in a forest. Saber understands that this place is a meeting of opposite forces – the homes that line the streets are either traditional or western, the people here are combatants or civilians, touched by magic or completely ordinary. This castle seems to separate itself further still, being neither traditional nor a western style house. It is more than magic; it is outside time.

    She knows that this is not exactly the case. Even within the bounded field, there is no force holding this place outside of the natural flow of the world. It does not need one.

    Standing outside the car, looking up at the castle that looms a great shadow over them, Saber cannot help but notice that it seems to be, in this place, uniquely alone. It does not need to be prevented from moving through time, only forgotten. A being out of time herself, when Saber looks across the end of the car at Irisviel, she thinks she understands again the touch of familiarity she can see in her.

    The way she holds herself, her footsteps delicate and controlled as if over snow, even on dry ground, the gentle, quiet, brave curve of a smile that rarely leaves her lips – she would be, is, like touching a fragment of a passed away world.

    Kiritsugu clears his throat as he opens the trunk of the car, hauling out one heavy piece of equipment after the other, handling each differently and with fast, efficient care.

    “Iri,” he says, “take Saber inside. I have preparations to make.”

    Irisviel seems to hold her questions in her throat, only replying with a little hum before giving him a wide berth to come to Saber's side. This time, she takes Saber by the elbow without its being offered, gently sliding her fingers around the back of it.

    “Come, Saber,” she says warmly. “We will go inside where we can get you warm. It is cold tonight.”

    Saber knows that Irisviel is accustomed to much deeper cold than this. She also knows that Kiritsugu's order has nothing to do with whether or not she might be cold, even after such blood loss. She is not human, and she does not think he could see it even if she were.

    Inside the castle, the walls rattle and echo with familiar, distant sounds as the aging structure grows accustomed to visitors. Saber is not alarmed by them, nor is Irisviel. Irisviel leads her up a grand staircase and around into a sitting room where there is a fireplace along one wall. She does not seem to have any trouble lighting the fire, and soon the room crackles as it slowly fills with warmth and light. All the while, Saber stands in the center of the room, awaiting what she is to do next.

    “Saber,” Irisviel coos when she notices. She takes her arms just beneath her shoulders, guiding her physically to stand before a low, curving couch. It is very fine, but the upholstery seems dusty. This is not the cause of Saber's hesitation, though. “Sit,” Irisviel insists when she does not immediately take her suggestion. “Please. You have no need to worry. We are safe here. The castle is protected by a bounded field, and we have no need to worry of any other intruders with Kiritsugu and Maiya here. They will keep us safe.”

    Rather than reply, Saber chooses to take her seat – to mask the heavy exhale with the settling of her tired, weakened form.

    “I'm afraid there is not as much to do here,” Irisviel says, and Artoria senses that there is some longing in her voice. She wonders if it is for her home, for the things she spoke of as having only ever known, or for her child. She will not ask. There is no point in bringing up things that might cause her pain.

    “I will have plenty to do,” Artoria says, and she finds that in spite of the melancholy air that lingers in this place that she smiles a little.

    “Of course,” Irisviel says, turning on her feet back toward her. Every time she has even the faintest promise of hope, she seems to find a light within her that seems to never leave completely, returning like the cycle of the silver light of the moon. “Thank you for showing me the city today,” she says, using the warmth of her words to draw herself closer to Saber. She takes a seat just beside her, and before she can consider hesitation she reaches for both her hands, as if this were the most natural inclination in the world.

    “It is no trouble. It is my duty as—” Saber says, but it is difficult to find the same levity of words she had found earlier in the night.

    “As a knight,” Irisviel says, finding all the lightness of words for her. She still seems delighted with the idea. She has already drawn Saber's hands close toward her before she seems to notice what she has done, blinking down at them with a small show of alarm. “Oh, I'm sorry – does it hurt?” she asks, freezing in place and watching their hands as if she has broken something.

    “I am fine,” Saber assures her. “My wounds are not your worry. They are... sometimes the cost of battle. And they are the concern of myself and Kiritsugu now,” she says, wondering at the regret she feels in bringing up his name.

    “Yes,” Irisviel agrees, latching onto the very mention of him without question. “I am sure he will know what to do. He understands magecraft, but he understands many other things, too.”

    “I am afraid that if you do not understand the nature and limits of this curse that there might only be one man who does,” Saber says, dangerously close to expressing a lack of faith in Kiritsugu. She does not betray her meaning any more explicitly than that, though. She will not cause Irisviel unnecessary doubt, unnecessary pain.

    Still, Irisviel creases her brow. She seems to intuit that there is more at play in Saber's mind than she dare give voice to. Once more, she thinks it might be because the same is true for her.

    “We will find a way to recover the use of your thumb, to heal your wound,” Irisviel insists with an adamance that reminds Saber of the precociousness of brave children, even as the woman before her holds a command and sense of some authority in her eyes. She seems to believe that she can tell the world how it ought to be, even if it is only from within these castle walls, only about the Servant Saber.

    “I will serve you well,” Saber insists gently, in case her wish cannot come true in the course of the war ahead. She knows that she will take care of Lancer before the others, if she is given the advantage she needs, desires, and will plan for. She also knows that war is not always like that.

    There is a sound in the hallway, a shuffling of feet and the sound of heavy equipment being set down and moved in the next room. Kiritsugu and his companion – Maiya, Irisviel had called her, as if they knew one another already – had joined them on this floor. How long had it been?

    Irisviel looks around curiously, brow creasing as she seems to try and discern what they are doing without going to look. When she settles herself and turns her gaze back toward Saber, she gives a smile that is less bright and more weary. It seems to be a smile of small resignation.

    “He has prepared for everything. He has planned meticulously for a very long time to win this war. You do not have an unprepared ally,” she says.

    Again, Saber cannot answer this in any way that would not be out of turn.

    With better timing than could have been hoped for from the elusive Kiritsugu, he arrives in the open sitting room through the doorway. First, he is accompanied by Maiya who is helping him move something that certainly does not resemble the sleek plastic and metal and mostly black equipment that is their forte. Instead, they seem to be hauling a bulky wooden table that seems at home in this place.

    “Kiritsugu!” Irisviel says, letting go of Saber's hands and rising to her feet with a surprising speed and some indignation. “What are you doing?”

    Saber notices that as soon as she has set her end on the floor, Maiya steps back and almost seems to disappear from the room without leaving. She wonders if she is as difficult to see, too.

    “I'm sorry,” Kiritsugu says to her curtly. When he has settled the table into a more or less straight configuration in the empty space found for it in the sitting room, he turns to look at her. “We need a war room, one clear of anything but what we will use to plan.”

    Irisviel frowns and slowly nods, her face relaxing bit by bit. She folds her own hands before her and wrings them just a little before letting go. She seems conflicted about something, the sanctity of this house something she had never experienced but something of which she feels protective all the same.

    “Yes, of course. Thank you for bringing it to me,” she says, as if she could be gifted with her family's own furniture. The way she speaks of herself and her being, Saber cannot help but wonder if she believes this to be true.

    Maiya takes the momentary silence as an opportunity to move from her spot standing by the window and wall. She avoids contact with Irisviel, disrupting neither where she stands nor much of her line of view. She moves behind Kiritsugu's back, and only turns to face him just before she moves past his reach.

    “I will go and prepare the rest,” she says, vague but seeming to have something very particular in mind.

    Kiritsugu nodded as decisively and his body turned slightly toward her, his toe turning out in his casual posture, his hands finding his pockets.

    Irisviel seems to watch Maiya go, but when she is gone she seems neither more upset nor more relieved. She does seem to wait until that precise moment to reach out for Kiritsugu's forearm, though. She looks as if she hopes to gently draw a hand from his coat pocket.

    “This place will work for you?” she asks, glancing at the moved piece of furniture and back to his eyes, appearing concerned and almost guilty.

    “Of course it will, Iri,” Kiritsugu responds with another curt nod. He does not offer her his hand. Instead, his arms seem to tense closer to his body the moment she tries to touch him.

    Saber had not seen them together very often before, or indeed Kiritsugu very much at all, but she remembers the first time she had seen them. They had been together, holding onto one another. She had never had a question about what they were to one another – until now. Seeing them standing together, arms ready to protect and hold each other, is a stark contrast to what she sees now. She cannot tell if it seems more true, more right, or like something has gone terribly wrong.

    Kiritsugu looks down and only shrugs one shoulder without ever showing the flesh of his hand.

    “Concerning Saber's wound: we will prepare a charm to prevent the curse from affecting the rest of her body.”

    Her. The phrasing choice surprises Saber, even though Irisviel has treated her as nothing but a wounded knight, a companion, and perhaps a friend. She wonders if it is only looking into her eyes that causes him to choose this way.

    “Yes! I knew you would think of something to help her. Can I help? I know some charm spells,” Irisviel says.

    Kiritsugu nearly smiles but then his expression takes on a much more dour turn. The curve of his lips then resembles something more like a woeful grimace.

    “We will discuss it later, Iri. For now, I am sure that conventional methods to slow the bleeding will suffice. The Saber class is among the strongest,” he says, then turns with a movement of the heavy tail of his coat.

    He does not see it, but Saber does. The way Irisviel's hand outstretches as if she might at least touch him at the level of his shoulder, touch him as he walks away. She does not, instead simply standing until once more the room and the hall around it are touched by nearly tangible silence.

    Irisviel returns to her side, sitting down as before. She does not show a great response to the way Kiritsugu left, turned away from her as if he were losing the ability to see, to notice, that his wife longed for some touch of reassurance. Instead, Saber feels her hands picked up and drawn to rest over Irisviel's knees. They are soft and exposed save for the thin, slick covering of tight fabric that wraps around them to protect them from the cold, to make them faintly shine like something even beyond the inhuman, perfect beauty of her pale skin, hair as pure and white as snow, and kind eyes that warm even the cold red that colors them. Her thumbs resume their gentle rhythm, tracing just a little more delicately over the bones and flesh that make up Saber's hands.

    “You see?” Irisviel says, and at first Saber can hardly tell if he words are meant for her. She finds that she hopes she is to hear and understand. “It won't be long now. We won't leave you in pain...”

    There is a heaviness to Irisviel's eyelashes, thicker than the mascara that blackens them. She blinks faster and tears seem to appear thick and slow enough to mat them.

    “I am not in pain, Irisviel,” Saber says. What she feels from the wound now is to be expected, and it is nothing she cannot endure. Slowly, to prove her point, she turns her wrists to touch her palms to Irisviel's. She cannot help the twitching, the unsteadiness of her left hand, but with her right she gently grips, tightly enough that she feels Irisviel's steady pulse.

    Irisviel lifts her eyes and the bright smile returns from behind the pity and tears. Saber feels her breath draw in and out with some relief.

    “I believe you will bring us victory, Saber,” Irisviel reminds her.

    Saber swallows and graciously nods, closing her eyes for a moment with the inclination of her head.

    “Yes, Irisviel,” Saber agrees. “I will give you my best to win... the Holy Grail,” she says, hoping that her faltering is only reverence, only solemnity in the face of the difficult quest before them. She hopes that she will find victory and bring it to her Master, that she will abide by the rules of conduct in this conflict and contest. She hopes she will not betray something so vital at this most important hour.

    Her hand around Irisviel's wrist, her hand pressed to her pulse, her eyes nearly afraid to open, she can think only of how she will win for her Master. What troubles her is who she thinks of as her Master, the one whose spirit she will follow in this war. Kiritsugu has the Command Seals carved into his hand while Irisviel holds onto hers, even in its injury.

    Irisviel holds onto her hands and it feels like she has already nearly reached her goal, if only she could reach a little farther and finally be the king she ought to be. Cautiously, she blinks open her eyes before she allows herself to be lulled into hiding from the warmth that extends from Irisviel's hands. As she opens her eyes, Irisviel releases her left hand and sets it gently atop her lap, freeing her own hand to reach out for her face. She smooths it back along her forehead and down the side of her cheek, touching her as if she were burning with deadly fever with no such barrier against etching the feeling into a mind and heart that can take it in and remember it.

    Just steps from being as the rightful King of Britain ought to be, already valiantly trying to be the knight she ought to be, she feels none of these things more than she does when Irisviel touches her, holds her, like a lady. She cannot imagine how any man would turn away from this, away from her. She cannot imagine how any chance of victory could be felt more without Irisviel standing beside, standing behind, standing before like a single fire on a cold night. She draws a deep breath and notices that in the pure, familiar warmth and light that there is the faint smell of ancient, choking smoke billowing up even from this fresh fire. Against the smell, she draws a quicker breath and a little closer to Irisviel, who smells of fine, unfamiliar perfume and her glittering, loose hair. Irisviel is a lady and Artoria is a knight. Kiritsugu is her Master, but Irisviel is the one she feels she would follow and drive through flames to win for her.

    She knows that after tonight she would never refuse to take this lady's hand, and it feels like treachery.

    All heroes are broken beyond repair. And all villains are just heroes who chose truth over dare.


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    紅魔|吸血鬼 Frostyvale's Avatar
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    In general, the prose is a little unfocused, and a lot of detail is lavished where less would suffice.

    Following her through Fuyuki City reminded her of something from another time, even if it did not closely resemble any similar time in Artoria's life – with its secrecy, pretense, and half-truths guiding and protecting a goal and a dream. In her life, there had been no time and no space for the mere enjoyment of the city growing up around her and another woman she had been sworn to protect.
    A paragraph like this obfuscates immediate comprehension, and suggests a complex meaning when the important message is quite simple. You picked a good subject of comparison for this pairing, so focus on conveying the contradiction between the romp around town, and her position in Camelot. The sentences would benefit from a shortening, and from the removal of some extraneous detail. Essentially, try to say more, not just in more words.

    A thematic issue is that you've set up Saber and Irisviel's intimacy alongside Kiritsugu's alienation, but stressed the latter further than usual.

    Now, while perfectly competent, your prose suffers from going neither very far into visual description, nor into the narration of a metaphor.

    The Einzbern residence in Japan is similar and nearly as spectacular as the frozen castle they had left behind in Germany. The car moves through a bounded field, uninhibited, and inside the barrier the night seems to go even more quiet as they move through the grasping shadows of trees. At the end of a long, curving drive, the stone structure juts out of the landscape with an audaciousness that seems not to fit this place, even deep in a forest. Saber understands that this place is a meeting of opposite forces – the homes that line the streets are either traditional or western, the people here are combatants or civilians, touched by magic or completely ordinary. This castle seems to separate itself further still, being neither traditional nor a western style house. It is more than magic; it is outside time.
    At the start, there is imagery, and the statement that the castle is out of place. Consider what's conveyed by the rest:
    1. A castle of European design. The castle is out of place.
    2. Silent and still night.
    3. A commentary on local architectural styles.
    4. A statement about the nature of the castle, in relation to the local architecture.
    5. "outside time"

    Not one of these ideas was fully developed in that paragraph, and while they're closely enough related that that the paragraph maintains a basic coherence, it loses relevant impact because the central idea of this paragraph is nothing more than that the castle is out of place. You could attempt stronger imagery, providing some entertaining description for the reader. As for the organization of themes, consider the central focus and reorder the sentences with that in mind.

    The same lack of focus affects the plot, which hits many points, but falls slightly short of immersing the reader.

    That said you're doing very well. Write what you enjoy and when you feel like it, and you'll do just fine.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostyvale View Post
    In general, the prose is a little unfocused, and a lot of detail is lavished where less would suffice.

    The sentences would benefit from a shortening, and from the removal of some extraneous detail. Essentially, try to say more, not just in more words.
    I appreciate the constructive criticism. I can sometimes do shorter, more tightly descriptive sentences, I think. Everyone makes fun of me for being too verbose, and I'm sure that's true. However, I think I might over-commit to a certain tone I don't necessary know how to achieve. It depends on what I'm writing, I think, but I know I should improve.

    A thematic issue is that you've set up Saber and Irisviel's intimacy alongside Kiritsugu's alienation, but stressed the latter further than usual.
    I'm not sure how I could have introduced that theme earlier in a fic that is this length, but I'll try to bear pacing in mind?

    Now, while perfectly competent, your prose suffers from going neither very far into visual description, nor into the narration of a metaphor.

    Not one of these ideas was fully developed in that paragraph, and while they're closely enough related that that the paragraph maintains a basic coherence, it loses relevant impact because the central idea of this paragraph is nothing more than that the castle is out of place. You could attempt stronger imagery, providing some entertaining description for the reader. As for the organization of themes, consider the central focus and reorder the sentences with that in mind.
    I was trying to keep this fic at a length that could be read in one sitting by my Yuletide recipient. I also am not sure how to balance part of this advice with not being even more wordy than I already am. The reordering of details is a good idea, though, thank you.

    The same lack of focus affects the plot, which hits many points, but falls slightly short of immersing the reader.

    That said you're doing very well. Write what you enjoy and when you feel like it, and you'll do just fine.
    Thank you for taking the time to read and to give advice. I appreciate it.

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