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Thread: The Magus' Heart (Post-HF, AU)

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    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    The Magus' Heart (Post-HF, AU)

    Author Notes: Hey everyone. For those of you who were unaware, this was an entry in the BL FF contest that concluded a while ago but I've decided to post it in the Fanfic section now. Essentially, this is a snippet of a bigger story I planned but haven’t had the time to write. However, I believe this story can stand on its own without prior knowledge of what happened before (as long as you keep in mind this is a HF AU route). There are 2 OCs in here which I believe are required thematically or narratively.

    Do note that this will be a heavy bitter flavored fic.

    Definitions:

    Tonkatsu - Deep fried pork cutlet.
    Kotatsu - Japanese low-height table.
    Shin’i Agency - A Japanese organization meant to deal with dangerous supernatural elements such as Dead Apostles or Demons. A relatively new organization, it utilizes more technological weapons and tools than its Church or the Magus Association counterparts. Originally introduced in Battle Moon Wars.

    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    EXTRA: The Diner

    =====

    The Magus’ Heart

    - Life -

    Shirou hummed to himself as he lugged the heavy bags of groceries through the door and into his home. The familiar sight of the tiled entryway and long wooden hallway greeted him, and down the hall he could hear the muffled sound of talking and laughter. Gently placing the bags down, he slid the entry gate closed and put his shoes in the usual place. Hanging up his jacket in the closet, he shivered slightly from the February cold. Unlike the more modern western houses, traditional Japanese homes did not have central heating.

    As he reached down for the bags, he smelled something off in the air. Something that shouldn’t have been there. He took another deep breath of air just to be sure.

    The savory smell of roasting meat and vegetables: cooking. Most likely by Sakura.

    He grumbled slightly at that thought. Today was supposed to be his day to cook dinner. Yes, he admitted he may have been slightly late picking up the groceries but that didn’t mean she could simply replace him in the kitchen; even if she was coming close to his level of culinary skill. A sinister thought crossed his mind: “If the apprentice wants to challenge the master then I suppose I’ll just have to teach my disciple a lesson.”

    Walking down the long wooden hallways, Shirou thought of all the myriad recipes he would use to...

    A tall blonde woman peeked her face from the far end of the hallway corner. Wearing a simple white sweater and jeans, she stared at him with an a hopeful look plastered on her face; her long ponytail hair sway to and fro as her head moved back and forth staring at him. Pausing in his tracks, Shirou looked at her and she towards him as they both shared a moment of silence. Finally, she moved her head forward and her eyes widened in excitement as she looked towards the groceries and Shirou followed them to their destination: the large bottle of Saké.

    “Oh, no...” he thought.

    “Shirou! You remembered!” came the excited voice of Sable down the hall. Her hands shot upwards with joy as she gave a cheer of jubilation and, like an unstoppable locomotive, she raced towards him at an alarming speed.

    “Wait! Sable, just hold on! I need this for cooking tonight...” said Shirou nervously. Unfortunately for him, his words failed to reach her. Moving at speeds normally recorded in flight, the woman continued speeding towards Shirou; her long hair trailing almost horizontally behind her. In his peripheral vision, he saw one of the washroom doors open.

    With no other choice to avert catastrophe, he deftly lunged into the washroom; missing the supersonic woman by a mere hairbreadth. If he had listened closely he might have heard something ram into the front door at a high speed. Unfortunately, his dodge resulted in him losing his balance and colliding with the woman that had been leaving the washroom.

    Collapsing sideways, the pair fell together in a jumbled mass of tangled limbs, vegetables and tofu. Looking from his tilted view on the floor, he saw an assortment of foodstuff strewn about the floor, including the box of Japanese curry he had bought earlier. Luckily, it seems the warm bathroom cushions had softened his head during the fall. With a groan, he used his left hand to push himself off the floor... And found it sink into something round and soft.

    Three things occurred to him suddenly: He had collided with someone after dodging Sable’s charge, they didn’t have any cushions in the bathroom, and his left hand was currently pressing somewhere forbidden on Caster’s body. Slowly lowering his gaze, he saw the Caster looking patiently at him clad only in a bath towel; her long locks of damp raven hair cascading down her figure. Due to the towel’s short length very little was left to his imagination as the towel conformed to the mature woman’s enticing silhouette. Her face held an amused expression as they simply stared at one another in silence.

    Maybe it was from the hot steam in the washroom getting to him but Shirou’s face went beet red as he felt himself freeze in place. It was odd but at a dangerous time such as this his brain failed to work. After waiting a moment, the older woman calmly looked at him and said, “I believe the proper course of action would be to remove your hand, Shirou.”

    With speed that amazed even himself, he flew backwards and placed himself flat against the wall. All at once, he found his mouth moving at a thousand words per minute and his mind finally began to work again.

    “I’msorry,reallysorry,Caster.Ididn’tmeanerrImeanit wasacompleteaccidentthatthathappened. You.You.YouseeIjustgotbackhomewhen...“ He was sure his face was turning redder, if that was even possible, and his vision began to blur as he ran out of air.

    Caster rose from the floor before placing a finger up to his mouth to silence him. “Shh... Remember to breathe, Shirou. Breathe,” she said.

    Listening to her advice, he stopped himself and took several deep breaths. Slowly but surely, he felt his body return to normal. Finally catching his breath, he looked up and was met by Caster’s blue eyes.

    “There... better?” she asked with a warm smile. He nodded. ”And I thought I told you to stop calling me that. Call me Elesia,” she said. Even though the frown on her eyebrows indicated she was annoyed, the way she spoke in that smooth and calm voice of hers made it sound more like a caring mother correcting her child than Elesia actually being mad.

    “Heh, sorry Elesia,” he said.

    “Don’t be. Just remember it,” she said. Looking around the washroom she saw the floor was littered with the night’s dinner ingredients. ”Here, let me help you with those.” Crouching down, they gradually collected all the foodstuff back into their respective bags.

    “So... Sable?” she asked as she put a daikon back into the brown bag.

    “Sable,” he said with a nod. There didn’t need to be anything else said.

    As if on cue, the tall blonde woman poked her head into the washroom. “Someone say my name?” she said with a smile.

    “Ohh!” she said as she reacquired her original target. “Yoink!” In one swift motion, she grabbed the large bottle of saké from the newly reorganised bag of groceries and then disappeared into the hallway.

    “Wait! I need that to make dinner!” said Shirou as he followed behind her; groceries in tow.

    “Eek!”

    *Whap*

    Leaving the washroom, the now unconscious Sable lay on the ground; the precious sake cradled in her arms as she muttered Incoherent words about “her precious.” A bright red spot marked where something had hit her on the top of the forehead. Standing triumphantly above the dazed woman was Saber; her face an almost innocent smile. “Almost” because he could see the long shinai she was hiding behind her back.

    “Welcome back, Shirou,” said the small Servant cheerfully.

    =====

    - Light and Darkness -

    Standing in the kitchen, Shirou gently wafted the scent of the delicious Tonkatsu to his nose. In the end, Shirou found out Sakura had simply been preparing the miso soup and a side dish while waiting for him to return. He felt slightly ashamed at his initial assumption in the hall. He sighed. He supposed he should be happy. The fact that she was willing to take the initiative in the kitchen meant she was recovering well enough from everything that had happened to her. Perhaps now would be a good time for Sakura to take a greater role in his kitchen.

    Gently cutting the Tonkatsu on a plate he said, “Hey Sakura, could you bring the Miso soup and the other main dishes out? I’ll finish the Tonkatsu over here.”

    “Of course, Senpai,” she said with a warm smile.

    He watched her as she moved the food to the table. Looking from the kitchen, an outside observer might not have noticed the extra spring in her step or the way Sakura’s smile seemed to shine brighter than before. However, having known her like family these past years, Shirou noticed the change. The best comparison he could make would be as if a patient had just been told he had recovered from an incurable illness.

    She seemed more energetic now than anytime in the past. Perhaps it was a sign of her recovery; like a bird relearning her wings. His thoughts drifted to the wormed abomination known as Zouken Matou. He thought about what Zouken had done to Sakura, the torture he’d inflicted and the pain he’d caused, and he heard the knife resonate hard on the ceramic plate. Taking a deep breath, he cast aside his thoughts of Zouken. The monster was dead and gone; the best thing he could do was let the selfish bastard fade from memory and history.

    “Senpai? Is everything ok?” asked Sakura as she walked towards the kitchen. She must have seen the brief anger on his face.

    He forced a smile and said, “Everything’s fine, Sakura. Just take a seat. I’ll bring the food over.” Grabbing a hold of the plate of Tonkatsu and another dish of vegetables, he carefully walked out towards the table.

    Currently sitting at the table were four beautiful women. Elesia had managed to finish getting dressed and now wore her casual dark navy blue coat; its cuffs and outer edges adorned with cross motifs. With her index finger, she pushed up her glasses and put down the novel she had been reading. Across from her sat the slightly intoxicated Sable with the smaller Saber sitting to her left. Currently, Saber held the saké in one arm while using her other arm to push Sable’s head back and keep her arms from reaching the bottle.

    After using the saké in his recipe, he had eventually relented and given the bottle to Sable; although not without slight reluctance. It was either he gave her the bottle or the tumultuous blonde would sulk and whine for the rest of the evening. Observing the bottle’s swishing contents, he saw that she’d already drained almost the entire bottle.

    “Stop drinking, Sable-san, you’ll ruin your appetite,” scolded Saber.

    “Meanie!” said Sable as she finally relented and surrendered the bottle to Saber. She crossed her arms and glared at the petite girl with an annoyed expression. “Besides, you’re one to talk. At least I have an appetite to ruin. All you have inside there,” said Sable as she pointed to Saber’s stomach, “is a black hole.”

    If it was possible, Saber’s head would have turned crimson red. Sensing her opponent was distracted, Sable launched herself at the saké bottle behind Saber but was intercepted in mid air by the stalwart warrior. Both teams were evenly matched with Sable having reach but Saber having the greater flexibility. On the sidelines, Sakura and Elesia were content to simply smile and watch the entertainment as the two fought.

    Shirou placed the dishes down before returning with a stack of plates, bowls, and utensils. As he arranged the dishware, he saw Elesia hand Sakura a stylish purple fan before Sakura wafting the scent of the delicious Tonkatsu towards the fighting pair. As if a dinner bell had been rung, they quickly disentangled and arranged themselves at the table.

    He double-checked to make sure everyone had a plate: Sakura, Saber, Elesia, Sable and himself. Five plates arranged at the correct spots on the table. Holding the sixth set of dishware and utensils in his hand, he carefully placed them in the one spot closest to the door; careful to make it look as tidy and neat as usual. Finally, he headed towards the kitchen to grab the fresh batch of tea he had brewed.

    Returning with teapot in hand, he saw everyone waiting patiently for him; except for Sable. She was look around the table in confusion. “Oh? Are we missing someone? It looks like you’ve got an extra set of plates over there, Shirou.”

    Silence.

    All eyes turned to her as if she had suddenly turned into Berserker. She opened her mouth to talk but then thought better of it. Saber was glaring at her with eyes that could melt tungsten.

    “You... How could you be so inconsiderate. You naivety here is beyond description. Even after everything that...” said Saber.

    “You idiot! It hasn’t even been a two weeks since the end of the war and you can’t even...” said Elesia

    “ENOUGH, from both of you” said Shirou. Placing the teapot down on the table, he turned towards Saber. “Sable only came back to Fuyuki today. She doesn’t know what has been happening since the end of the war.” His explanation seemed to have calmed down Saber, who was now content to simply glare at Sable.

    “Shirou? What’s going on?” asked the tall blonde as she looked at everyone at the table innocently.

    He turned his attention to Elesia and said, “Could you explain the situation to Sable? I’m going to check on Tohsaka.”

    Hearing that name, all the inebriation seemed to disappear from Sable and her face turned white. As he left the main room, Shirou could see her bowing her head down shamefully as she realized what was going on.

    Retreating from the light and warmth of the main room, he walked down the darkened wooden hallways; shivering slightly in the cold shadowy halls. For a moment, he thought he saw something move at the end of the hallways, but then chalked it up to paranoia; The Grail War had had him on the edge of his nerves since the beginning. Besides, Elesia’s enhanced alarm spell would almost certainly have been able to detect any hostile intruders.

    Even without turning on the lights, he easily found his way past each corner and corridor. This place had been his only home for as long as he could remember and he knew every single nook and cranny. If there had been another home before this one, the fire had burned it from his memories.

    Turning a corner into one of the outer halls, he saw white moonlight bathe the central yard and light the path before him. Walking along, he glanced outside at the yard.

    Though they had fixed most of the superficial damage to the house, the section where Berserker had cleaved straight through the perimeter wall remained. He reminisced how he and Saber had worked on the wall for long hours only for their slipshod attempt at masonry to end with a very angry Elesia covered underneath rubble screaming how she was under attack by the house’s malevolent spirits. He grinned. It wasn’t their fault that she ignored his warning to let the mortar set for a day. Of course, the 30 minute lecture she gave afterwards about building construction and safety wasn’t nearly as entertaining.

    He inhaled the chilly air and then exhaled; watching his breath wisp in the air. With everything that had happened in the Holy Grail War, he was grateful for the way that everything turned out. He thought for a moment and then revised that statement in his head.

    That wasn’t completely true.

    Turning a corner, he saw a raven-haired magus sitting silently on the edge of the wooden hall and looking out at the moon-bathed lawn. A slight chill passed through his body as he noticed she had opened one of the sliding glass doors onto the lawn. Despite the chilly temperature, though, she still only wore her regular crimson red shirt and black skirt.

    Her aqua-blue eyes stared out at the empty lawn in front of her while her arms entwined together at a slightly upward angle; almost as if she were praying. Walking towards her, she neither stirred nor seemed to notice his presence as he sat down next to her.

    “Hello, Tohsaka,” said Shirou. He forced a warm smile on his face for her. However, if Rin had heard his words, she showed no outward sign of it; her face was still an emotionless visage. With great care he gently moved several stray strands of hair away to look at her face. Looking at her this close, he could see her eyes were bloodshot and cheeks puffed up. It was clear she wasn’t getting much sleep.

    “Sable came back today,” he said with slight enthusiasm; as if the news might change her silent demeanor. “We’re all ready for dinner. I can take you to the main room if you’d like. I’m sure Sable would like to see you.”

    Silence was her only response. Her eyes continued to stare outside as if he didn’t exist at all. Placing his hands on hers, he called out her name again to no avail. The stillness hung in the air like his foggy breath and he had to force the smile to stay on his face.

    He gave a pained sigh; It had been like this since the end of the war.

    As he began to get up, he felt a light tug against his arm. Still unable to look into Shirou’s eyes, Rin shook her head to get him to stop. She gave a barely audible *mph* before she looked behind her at the floor which led to her room.

    “You want to go back to your room?” asked Shirou. She gave another *mph* before silently nodding her head. Holding her by the hand, he opened the door to her room before leading her to her bed. She quickly slid underneath the warm covers and then turned to face the wall. Tucking her in, he said, “I’ll be in the main room if you need anything, Tohsaka.”

    Before closing the door, he took one last look at Rin’s sleeping form. If she had been looking at him, Rin might have seen his expression change to one of sadness as he removed his hollow smile.

    Walking back from the dark hallways towards the main room, he noted it was quiet inside; only the sound of his footsteps reached his ears. Opening the door, all heads turned towards him. He took his seat next to Sakura and then shook his head. At his response, the group dropped their shoulders glumly. Even Sable, who was normally infectiously cheerful stayed quiet.

    He worried for Rin. She had receded into her own world since the end of the war; not even coming out to eat with the rest of them. This wasn’t the same girl that he had admired when he first came to school.

    For several moments the group stayed silent before Sakura broke the silence. “Come on, cheer up,” she said with a look of firm resolution in her eyes, “Nee-san wouldn’t want all of us being sulky like this.” Her expression suddenly softened with a warm smile, “Taiga always said our mood is dictated by the people around us. So let’s be happy and eat plenty.”

    With nods of agreement from everyone, they said “itadakimasu” and began dinner.

    =====

    - A Betrayal Worse than Death -

    “Come my dear, it's time to begin your training,” came the voice of Zouken Matou. Grabbing Rin by the hand he led her towards the shadowy entrance. Rin shivered as her uncle led her down the damp stairs. Even though she didn’t really like Uncle Zouken, Rin held onto his grip tight. The wind down the stairs reeked of an unknown stench and even someone as young as she could feel... the sense of wrongness that emanated from below.

    “Uncle Zouken, where are we going?” asked Rin. As they descended down towards the stone stairs she caught a whiff of outflowing air and had to stop herself from gagging. She wasn’t quite sure what it was but it smelled musty... and sickly organic, as if hundreds of animals had been herded in a pen that was too small.

    “To the Matou training chambers,” he said in his usual hoarse phlegmatic voice. He continued to plod downward into the darkness. Rin didn’t want to go, but father had said the reason he had given her away was so that she could eventually become a strong magus.

    The steps downstairs eventually evened out onto a walkway which led into a cavernous room. The stones of the wall, like the stairway that preceded it, were lit in a greenish hue. All along the walls were holes and shallow indentations where coffins and skeletons lay. Then she realized what this place was. It was the Matou crypt. An odd sound reached her ears, like the sound of tearing flesh.

    She felt bile fill her throat at the image before her. Thousands... no... millions of sickly white worms writhed in the chamber below them, their hungry toothed jaws snapping like a chorus that rose to a dull din. There were so many she thought the very ground itself was moving; like some eldritch horror made real. The meager torch light reflected off the secretions from their body, making the entire floor seem to flicker like primordial sludge. With debilitating fear, she clutched onto her uncle’s arm, the only sense of safety and familiarity she found in this tomb of horrors.

    “No, I want to go. I want to leave. Please Uncle Zouken!” she cried. She didn’t know what her training entailed but she knew this was wrong. Nothing of this was like her father’s workshop. Everything here was wrong.

    His blackened eyes stared at her with mild interest before he gave a light chuckle. “Don’t be silly,” he said, “this is Matou magecraft.” He continued to lead her down the stairs towards the nest of familiars. “

    With a sudden shove, Zouken Matou pushed Rin forward and she fell towards the gaping maw of the worms. Like sugar to water, her clothes disintegrated from the onslaught of familiars. She could feel them burrow under her skin and wiggle their way into every single crevice of her body.

    Pain. Pain the likes of which she had never felt exploded throughout her body and into the core of her being. It felt as if someone had lit her body on fire but even that would be mercy. The pain flared past her skin, right into her bones and organs. She writhed. She screamed. She flailed. Yet no matter what she did it was futile. The familiars didn’t care; they simply continued their work.

    “Help me! Please! Uncle!” screamed Rin. Her echoes filled the chambers before eventually faltering into nothingness.

    From his perch on the stairs, he watched as his familiars went to work on the young girl. If someone was watching him, they might have even seen the dark eyes squint as a smile appeared on his face.

    =====

    Rin woke with a start and screamed. Her eyes darted around wildly as she tried to coalesce her memories into a coherent form, however all she saw was an ever present darkness. It was then she noticed it; something warm that completely covered her body. Suddenly, her mind returned to the basement underneath the Matou household; the image of those... things... enveloping her. Fear gripped her heart.

    She screamed and desperately tried to push them off even as she scurried backwards from the swarm. Her heart felt as if she had ran up all of Ryudo Temple’s steps. Using her hands to push herself back, she retreated from the worm familiars. Unfortunately, before she had even moved a meter her head slammed into something hard and she realized she had backed herself into a corner. She felt the well grow within her stomach as she realized she had nowhere else to run.

    She brought up her feet to her chest and shut her eyes. Even as she clamped her ears shut, she could hear the faint hissing and clicking of their tiny teeth as the white worms approached. Trapped in the corner, she whimpered quietly; the phantoms of her nightmares closing in all around her.

    Please, make it stop. I’m sorry, Sakura, I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry....

    =====

    - Deathless Enemy -

    They had finished dinner almost half an hour ago. Despite what had happened before dinner, everything had returned to normal. At the end, Sable had been able to convince Sakura to come watch one of the recent TV shows she’d discovered. Normally Taiga would have beaten them to the TV room but she was still staying at the Fujimura residence and recovering from the war. Saber had decided to head to the dojo to practice her combat exercises, explaining that although the war was over a “warrior should always keep their skills sharp.” Elesia herself was simply content to read a book in her room.

    This left Shirou cleaning the dishes; not that he minded. As he cleaned a plate by hand, he glanced back at the table. Tohsaka’s dishes and utensils were still on the table; ever ready to receive its designated owner. He’d made it a habit to place Tohsaka’s plates back last after everyone else's dishes.

    Picking up all the chopsticks, Shirou took the sponge and began washing them down. Even though they had a dishwasher he still preferred washing the dishes by hand. It was odd but he enjoyed the process of scrubbing and rinsing the dishes clean; it gave him time to think and reflect. In a weird way it was oddly therapeutic. Shirou had just finished washing the chopsticks when he heard her screams. He ran to Rin’s room.

    Turning on the lights he saw the the room was a complete mess. The bed’s comforter, pillow, and sheets had been pushed off into a lump onto the floor and the standing lamp adjacent to her bed had fallen and had taken some of her Alchemy tools on her desk with it. In the corner of her bed sat Rin, her feet pulled to her chest and her arms pushed to her ears. Her eyes were shut as she tried to close all senses to the outside world.

    Her hair, which he remembered had always been kept straight and proper everyday, was completely disheveled and entangled in front of her face and he could hear her quietly whimpering from the corner.

    Moving with haste, Shirou hopped over the lamp and jumped onto the bed. Perhaps in reaction to the bed’s movement, she curled herself into the corner even more. Moving towards her, he grasped her by the hands so she might be able to hear him. However, moving her arms felt like moving rusted steel.

    “Rin! Rin! It’s me, Shirou,” he said. Rin didn’t respond to his words.

    Grasping her by the shoulders, he shook her to get her attention and received a kick to the torso for his effort. Falling from the bed, Shirou collapsed onto the blankets and heard the sound of shattering glass as something broke underneath his weight. He lay there for a moment on the bed sheets, simply heaving and gasping for air. Eventually, he pushed himself onto his hand and knees; finally recovering his breath.

    He coughed before saying, “Damn it. *cough* Rin. Wake up!”

    As the words left his mouth he realized he had made a mistake: even he was able to hear the anger and irritation in his voice. He said it hoping Rin would wake from her stupor, but he hadn’t meant it to come out like that. As he slowly raised his eyes up to her he saw the consequences of his actions. Tohsaka, not having made eye contact with anyone since the end of the Grail War, simply sat there looking at him in shock as the tears fell from her face. Her bloodshot aqua-blue eyes stared directly at him, a look of sorrow on her face told him all she wouldn’t say: “I’m sorry for everything.”

    “Wait... no... I didn’t mean it like that...” said Shirou. Unsure of what to do next, a voice from the doorway saved him the effort.

    “Nee-san?” came Sakura’s voice. Looking at the situation, Sakura immediately ran to Rin’s side and hugged her. “There there. It’s okay, it's alright.” She quietly whispered into her ear as the two simply sat there. Shirou lay on the jumble of pillows and bed sheets thrown on the ground; unsure of what to do. As he watched, he noticed Rin’s whimpers and cries slowly subside in the warmth of her sister’s arms.

    “Come on, I’ll bring you to my room,” said Sakura. Slowly she helped Rin up and walked her to the door. As they left Rin averted her gaze from Shirou and instead placed her head onto Sakura’s shoulders.

    He gave a loud sigh and sat on the bed sheets. He felt oddly tired right now. He’d have to apologize to Rin later and clean up the mess in this room but right now, he was content to rest for a moment.

    A year ago he could easily have seen the roles between the sisters reversed. Now... there was an odd dichotomy between the sister’s past and present selves.. Rin had always been the strong one with a seemingly invincible attitude while Sakura had been the quiet one that stayed on the sidelines. Rin was the strongest student. Rin was the master Magus. If the world was to come to an end, it would be Rin that could save it. But then... he thought about how she was now.

    Shirou and Saber had also suffered through the war, but while their major wounds had been physical, what Rin was going through no salves could heal nor magic fix. That burning truth made him angry beyond words. Grasping one of the plastic containers on the floor, Shirou threw it angrily against the wall. The cylindrical container rebounded off the paper walls and knocked several more vials off of Rin’s wooden desk; a useless act of rage.

    No, that wasn’t true.

    He wasn’t mad. Rather, he simply felt helpless because there was nothing he could do. This was an enemy that he couldn’t defeat, an enemy with no weapon to destroy; no body to kill. Even when he had faced Berserker, he felt as if he had ‘some’ way to affect the outcome. Berserker was an enemy that could be met with blade and magic. He was an enemy he could face together with his allies... How could they defeat Rin’s enemies when they only existed in her mind? When she wouldn’t even talk about them?

    How do you defeat an unkillable enemy?

    -----

    He wasn’t sure how long Rin and Sakura had left before he stood up and looked around. Just like before in the past several days, he began to pick up the scattered clothes and miscellaneous paraphernalia and place them back in their correct place. Looking at the sheets and blankets he noticed there were now several multi colored stains coating the middle. Carefully lifting the bed covers, he noted with annoyance several shattered alchemical vials underneath them. He must have fallen on them during the confusion. He gave a sigh as he looked at the multicolored mess on the floor. Wonderful...

    A slight shuffle caught his attention. In the doorway stood Saber, her calm visage offset by Sable’s head poking out from the hallway above the short warrior like an odd totem pole.

    “We thought you’d like to know. Rin seems to have calmed down now and I think she’s feeling better,” reported Sable.

    Saber cut in, “Sakura was able to convince her that it may help her relax if she took a bath so I will need to borrow...” She stopped talking, however, when she noticed Sable was making funny faces above her head and using her hands to imitate wings. A quick elbow to the ribs quickly ended Sable’s fun and toppled the totem pole.

    *eep*

    “In any case, I will need to borrow some of Rin’s clothing,” said Saber. Thinking about Rin’s clothes brought about memories of their foray into home invasion. Unsure of how to deactivate the Tohsaka residence’s defenses without the command words, they had decided to simply try brute force. Several explosions and traps later, one of which oddly enough consisted of spilled milk, and they had access to new clothes for Rin; albeit at a slight cost to Saber’s pride.

    “Go ahead, Saber,” he said. The petite Servant nodded and then quickly collected some clothing from the drawer before leaving. He began to clean up again, picking up a textbook from the floor with the title “Alchemy for Novices: a Reference for the Rest of Us, By Lord El-Melloi II”, before he noticed Sable was still standing at the doorway. Even though her normally uplifting smile was still there, it was tempered by the troubled expression on her face.

    “What’s wrong, Sable?” Shirou asked.

    “I feel kind of like dead weight here until I finish my report about the Grail War. Do you mind if I help you clean up?” she asked. He shook his head and Sable immediately began to get to work by looking for a mop.

    =====

    In the steam filled bathroom, Sakura quietly hummed a pleasant tune while she washed Rin’s long hair with care. Taking another handful of shampoo into her hand, she lathered the sweet scented lotion up and down her sister’s dark raven hair; taking care to undo any knots along the way. Satisfied she had lathered every strand of Rin’s hair, Sakura took the shower head off its holder. Turning on the warm water, she began to wash the soap and suds from Rin’s body.

    As Sakura continued rinsing Rin’s hair, her sister had stayed quiet. Sakura was used to this by now, of course, but it still tore her heart every time she thought about it. The last time she had heard her speak a complete sentence was the last day of the war in the cavern. It pained her that their last words had been filled with insults and shrieks of hate. She would have gladly taken all of Rin’s anger and malice right now if it meant she would return to normal.

    Sakura sighed. It was a wish she prayed for everyday even though she knew it would not come true; especially with the Holy Grail finally shattered into pieces. She felt her chest scrunch as she thought of what her sister used to be and she forced herself to keep the smile on her face. There was no use in showing Rin any worry.

    “Come on, let’s get to the bathtub. I’m sure the hot water will help you relax,” Sakura said with the same cheerful tone she used before. She guided her over to the tub of steaming hot water. Touching it carefully with her big toe, she found it at a perfect “sauna hot” temperature that might help Rin relax.

    As they slowly sat down in the large tub, Sakura held Rin above and below her breasts; cradling her within her arms. She held her with tender care and slowly they both began to descend into the warm water until the waterline reached just above her collarbone. Holding her tightly Sakura could physically feel Rin’s heartbeat jump as something triggered within Rin’s memory.
    “mmph,” muttered Rin, as her body thrashed about. Her head shook vehemently as imagery from the past resurfaced. Memories of her time with the Matou returned; of spending days locked in the suffocating darkness as her body was taken to new limits of pain when she was immersed within those horrible familiars.

    “Shhh, shhh. Just listen to my voice. Its alright, Nee-san, it's alright. I’m right here,” she said encouragingly. She felt Rin’s hands grip her own as she tried to fight off the pervasive fear.

    “Everything’s fine,” she whispered. After a while, Rin’s thrashing stopped and Sakura could feel her heartbeat slowly return to normal. Silence echoed across the room as they simply sat there for long moments, neither one speaking to another; simply content to enjoy the soothing heat of the water and the comfort of each other’s presence.

    A single sniffle echoed across the bathroom. Then another and another. Sakura was crying.

    Rin looked up from her reflection in the water in surprise and turned to face Sakura. On her face, a single tear rolled down her cheek even as she made a pained smile.

    “Why?” said Rin, wondering why her sister was crying.

    “I’m so sorry, Nee-san,” she said, “I never had the chance to say this to you sooner but this is all my fault,” said Sakura as she hugged her sister tighter. “I wasn’t strong enough.” She slouched further into the pool as if the water could remove the shame she felt, “If only I had been stronger... None of this would have happened.”

    Rin lowered her face before slowly shaking her head. “Not your fault,” said Rin plainly. She returned to her original position of leaning again Sakura’s body.

    “But why?” whispered Sakura her eyes wide with surprise, “I was the monster.”

    Rin didn’t answer her question. Her eyes returned to look at her own reflection in the water; content with looking at her reflected image. Sakura herself said nothing, not wanting to push Rin’s already fragile mental state.

    =====

    - Fallen too Far? -

    The cavern shuddered under the relentless power that was building from the Greater Grail. Even more rocks began to fall from the battle between the two sisters as shadow met light. A silence finally permeated the cavern as both sisters faced one another along the Grail’s plateau.

    "…But is that my fault? The ones who made me like this are Grandfather, and my father that sold me to the Matou family, and Nee-san who didn't come save me…!” said Sakura. The dark flames of prana whipped around her body like fire as she poured her heart and soul into these words. Eleven years of torture and pain flowed for the first time from her wounded soul.

    “I didn't become this monster because I wanted to…! I was forced to become one because everyone cornered me…!" Sakura yelled. She wished for someone to hear her. For someone to understand her and her plight.

    And yet... even her last plea in life is denied.

    “Oh. What of it?" says Rin casually, as if Sakura had told her she’d she’d forgotten to bring a book to school.. "Things like that happen. It's not like crying will change anything, and besides, being a monster doesn't sound so bad. It doesn't hurt now, right?"

    Anger. Red hot anger clouds Sakura’s mind. Rin continued talking. She said she didn’t understand her plight. How she wouldn’t even bother understanding her troubles. Then Rin says something that blankets Sakura’s mind white:

    “I never thought I was blessed.”

    Sakura’s vision turns into static and shatters into a million pieces. Anger, the likes of which she hadn’t ever felt throughout her entire life vaporizes all logic and reason from her brain. And at that moment, when all her anger is directed at Tohsaka, Rin enacts her plan.

    A brilliant shining light envelops the cavern and the shadow colossus evaporate in its bright light. Now is her chance. Rin grips her secondary dagger and lunges while Sakura is still blinded by the surprise attack.

    When Sakura opened her eyes, she saw the tip of the dagger scant inches from her head. Looking down, she saw two shadowy tendrils piercing Rin’s chest. Even though she hadn’t willed it, the Shadow knew how to protect its host.

    Sakura laughed even as Rin dropped the dagger.

    “I won!” she cried with joy.

    Dark tendrils, looking almost like living cloth, wrapped around Rin’s limbs and bound her in place.

    “Sakura?” said Rin, worry lined her voice and a look of fear lined her face. Sakura chuckled as the tendrils slowly lifted Rin off the floor.

    “You never thought you were blessed? Let me show you just how lucky you were. Let me show you the hell I had to endure!” she yelled.

    Rin’s eyes opened wide with surprise before the tendrils began to constrict around her entire body. In less than a minute, Rin had been covered head to toe like a mummy. With a mere thought, she repaired the wounds she had inflicted on Rin. Sakura had no intention of killing Rin. The selfish bitch’s words had made sure of that.

    “Sleep peacefully,” said Sakura, an expression of absolute joy filled her face. Even now, Sakura could feel her magic seeping and pouring into the core of Rin’s body. As she walked towards the edge of the stairs, she could see everything Rin was experiencing. Even though it had been mere seconds since Sakura had bound her, in Rin’s mind a day had already past.

    Sakura gave a hearty as she savored every scream and drank up every jolt of pain Rin experienced. To Sakura, this pleasure was even better than anything the worms could inflict; it tasted like a sweet dessert after a bitter tea. She reveled in Nee-san’s pain and pleasure.

    “Hah, she’s already crying on the first day,” said Sakura, as if Rin’s pain were a comedic spectacle. She looked down the flight of stairs as Shirou raced towards her.

    “I should thank you, Senpai. This was the best present you could have brought me.”

    =====

    - Magus’ Heart -

    With a quick push, Sakura plugged the nightlight into one of the electrical sockets into her room. The nightlight was shaped in the image of a cartoonish smiling frog; something that Shirou had oddly found amongst his old childhood things.

    “There. That should keep the shadows away,” Sakura said with a cheerful smile. Rin looked towards her from her position on the bed. With a motherly touch, Sakura carefully tucked Rin in bed before kneeling down next to the bed and grasping Rin’s hands with her own, “if you need anything, I’ll be next door, ok? No matter what it is.” She waited until her sister nodded silently
    and then gave her one last hug before departing.

    They had decided that, with Rin’s room still a slight mess and in need of cleaning, now would be a good time for Rin to have a change in scenery and moved her to Sakura’s room.

    Saying goodnight, Sakura quietly closing the door and was met by the concerned faces of the current residences in the Emiya residence. Despite the darkness and chilliness of the hall, the group had waited while Sakura let Rin drift off to sleep.

    “How is she?” asked Saber, her hands clasped together in concern.

    “Better. I think just getting out of her room helped nee-san relax just a little,” said Sakura. Her eyes perked up and she gave a reserved smile, “She looks better than before. Happier.”

    “Ah, well that’s a relief,” said Shirou while leaning against the wall.

    “Not really, Shirou. This isn’t something she can recover from in just one night,”said Elesia

    Sakura tilted her head in confusion, “what do you mean, Elesia?”

    Elesia closed her eyes and gave a sigh. She began to explain, “It might not look like it, but Rin is psychologically wounded. Wounds like these don’t simply heal within a day. She might look better now but this might simply be a small respite.

    “Then how can we heal her?” asked Shirou.

    Elesia shook her head, “You misunderstand. This isn’t a wound that you can suture and seal. These wounds will stay with her for the rest of her life...”

    “For her entire life!?” exclaimed Shirou.

    Saber and Sakura made *shushing* noises at Shirou’s loud response and pointed into Sakura’s bedroom.

    “Sorry,” he said sheepishly.

    “Let’s take this conversation back to the main room. We don’t want to disturb Rin’s sleep,” suggested Saber. The rest of the group agreed.

    Walking back to the main room, Sable offered to make tea while the rest sat and listened to Elesia.

    Elesia continued where she left off, “Rin is a casualty of war despite the fact that all her physical wounds have healed. I’ve seen people break under stress and launch themselves like a madman to their untimely death. Others have cracked completely and shutdown on the battlefield. Rin’s case is similar yet different. Very few people have experienced what she has.” At that part, she glaced at Sakura who simply nodded silently in understanding.

    Elesia continued on, “The sheer pain, feelings and sensations... Most regular people would have been mindless husks by now. The fact Rin still maintains her sanity alone means she is emotionally stronger than even most of the soldiers and church agents I’ve met in the past.”

    At that moment, Sable arrived with a new batch of green tea. With her same indomitable attitude and inexhaustible supply of energy as before, she brought several teacups before pouring everyone a cup. She continued to hum a tune as she returned to the kitchen for more hot water.

    Elesia continued. “Like I said, these wounds will always haunt her but that doesn’t mean they have to control her. With enough time and support we can help her recover past the worst of it. However, this isn’t something you cure. No one really fully recovers from this; they simply learn to live with the trauma. The most important thing is we must never give up. All of us.” She emphasized her point by giving a resolute stare at the group. “

    ”Then... isn’t there any other way we can help her recover faster?” asked Shirou. It was obvious he was desperately looking for anything he could do that might help Rin recover quicker.

    “My master once said that all victims have a story to tell. If Rin talked about her experience... her fear... If she let it out in the open it would certainly help speed her recovery... but...”

    The grouped looked morose as Elesia’s voice trailed off. Each person heard Elesia’s unspoken words: “Rin no longer spoke to anyone.”

    After a moment of silence, Saber spoke up, “Elesia, how do you know all of this?”

    The older woman didn’t answer at first, simply content to take a sip of her tea. Looking at the wall in distant thought, she savored the feel of the green tea as its warmth spread down through her body. Then she gave a warm smile and then spoke reminiscently.

    “I was like her long ago,”Elesia said succinctly, “the difference was that I bottled it up and forgot it ever happened.” Unconsciously, she began to fiddle with the silver chain around her neck. “It worked... except when it didn’t,” she gave a morbid smile at the statement. “But the day I finally felt free was when I found friends that helped me lift the burden.”

    =====

    Their impromptu meeting had concluded nearly an hour ago. They had all decided to go to sleep with the exception of Sable, who had to finish what she said was “a thesis length” report on the Grail War. Considering her actions in the war itself, Elesia was amazed she had the patience to write such a lengthy report; her personality gave no credence to such discipline either.

    Closing her textbook, Elesia put the thick tome she had been reading down onto a growing stack of similar books. She pinched the bridge of her nose in fatigue and then rubbed her eyes. Gaining official recognition within the Magus’ Association was looking like it was going to be more trouble than it was worth. Even more so since she was an unknown Magus trying to hide her status as an all powerful Servant.

    “Of course, the Association could never know that,” she thought to herself with a smirk. Putting down her glasses, she picked up the sci-fi novel she had been reading: The Imperium’s Hero by Mitchell Grane. It might have seemed odd for a Servant of magecraft to be entertaining herself with lasers and space marines, however it helped to have something to unwind with at the end of the day that wasn’t related to her work. Opening the door to her room, she figured it was about time she took a refreshing break from the rigors of studying and headed towards the kitchen for a fresh cup of tea; novel in hand. Heading down the hall, she noticed the front door was slightly ajar far down the hall.

    She walked to the entrance and closed it but not before checking the boundary field was still active around the house. She reinforced the alarm spell Kiritsugu had placed around the residence and she doubted there was any living magus that could beat her magecraft, though it always helps to be sure. Walking back towards the kitchen, she muttered a simple incantation and tested the boundary field before breathing a sigh of relief. Everything was fine.

    “Shirou was holding large bags of groceries when he came back,” thought Elesia as she recalled the evenings events. “Maybe he simply forgot to lock the door?” Reaching her destination, she pulled the door aside and entered.

    Sitting at the table was Sable, her face illuminated mostly by the laptop’s light which she was so keenly staring at. One arm held her head up while the other held a bottle of milk tea. On a small dinner plate was an amalgamation which might have been called a sandwich if one took the definition far enough. Looking at the table, Elesia saw scattered bags of chips and chocolate bars dotting the battlefield as Sable washed down her late night snack with the bottle of tea.

    “Still awake, Agent Sable?” asked the Magus servant. Etiquette and politeness refrained her from commenting on the mess atop the table. Sable nodded her head as she took a bite from the slipshod sandwich.

    “Dang Jet lag,” she replied after she’d stopped chewing.

    “Jet lag?” Caster repeated with some bewilderment, “I thought Shin’i headquarters was located in Japan.”

    The Shin’i Agency was an organization in Japan that was formed to deal with supernatural elements that might harm the civilian population. Sable had been the Agency’s monitor of the Grail War before she broke protocol to help them. Now Sable was under what she colorfully said was a “veritable shitstorm” from the Agency as she wrote the report to explain her actions. It was only appropriate they help her in return by letting her stay here for the time being.

    “Yup,” she nodded in confirmation, “but there was nothing but old magazine on the flight back so I caught some shuteye. Now I can’t sleep.”

    Elesia sighed and walked towards the kitchen, “Well... Next time remember to completely close the inner door on your way back from your late night venture to the store. The war might be over but I’m sure Shirou would appreciate the lower heating bill.”

    “Eh?” said Sable, tilting her head in confusion, “I didn’t leave the house. I bought all this in the afternoon. And the door was locked last I checked. I should know, I collided into it.”

    “What?” said Elesia with confusion, her hand hung midway towards mug in the cupboard.

    The cogs in their head began to turn as both women began to realize the implications of their shared statements. Before either could speak, however, Sakura appeared in the doorway. She wore a worried expression on her face and said, “Elesia? Sable? Have either of you seen Rin? She isn’t sleeping in her room.”

    =====

    Author's notes: That's it for now. I've decided to break the story into better bitesize sections. I'll post the next section up tomorrow.
    Last edited by Vigilantia; May 16th, 2012 at 07:07 PM.

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    ;_;

    This is very well-written. It's interesting to see how Rin reacts to being put through the same torment Sakura went through, and to see Sakura (and the rest) taking care of her as best she can.

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    Assets transcending Virtual and Reality themasterwarlord's Avatar
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    Oh wow, this is confusing. One moment I'm reading something familiar, then suddenly it's a foreign scene. I didn't realize this was HF AU at first. Either way, I find this story a little bit disconcerting personally. It's good though.

    I presume Sable is one of the OC. Why did you choose the name Sable? I thought it was a misspelled Saber at first. Also, is Elesia Ciel or the other OC?

    I was about to ask a bunch more, but when I read back from the beginning I saw that this is AU and not canon, so I refrained.

    ~I hate writing English paragraphs longer that one line. Or any language, really.~

    In the middle of re-re-redoubling the effort of erasing the habit of lurking for the 9001st time

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    Well, it's supposed to be "disconcerting". Although, given that Rin seemingly actually went through with her attempt to kill Sakura here, I think she was somewhat responsible for her own downfall. It's still sad, though, because Sakura truly does love her sister, and is sincerely regretful of what happened. It just takes the whole tragedy of the Tohsaka family to a different level.

    As for the OCs, I think they'd make more sense if this were the full fic and not a snippet. As it is, they do indeed seem rather out-of-place.

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    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by themasterwarlord View Post
    Oh wow, this is confusing. One moment I'm reading something familiar, then suddenly it's a foreign scene. I didn't realize this was HF AU at first. Either way, I find this story a little bit disconcerting personally. It's good though.

    I presume Sable is one of the OC. Why did you choose the name Sable? I thought it was a misspelled Saber at first. Also, is Elesia Ciel or the other OC?

    I was about to ask a bunch more, but when I read back from the beginning I saw that this is AU and not canon, so I refrained.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1984 View Post
    Well, it's supposed to be "disconcerting". Although, given that Rin seemingly actually went through with her attempt to kill Sakura here, I think she was somewhat responsible for her own downfall. It's still sad, though, because Sakura truly does love her sister, and is sincerely regretful of what happened. It just takes the whole tragedy of the Tohsaka family to a different level.

    As for the OCs, I think they'd make more sense if this were the full fic and not a snippet. As it is, they do indeed seem rather out-of-place.
    Heh, I suppose its a curse I haven't finished the full fic yet I'm writing near the end of it. I try to make the transition as smooth as possible but I guess there'll always be a rough spot. Oh well... Better to have written it for the contest than to have just thrown in the towel.

    Regarding Elesia, I consider her to be an important character for the narrative due to the... strong experiences she has had in her past. Take that how you will. I will also admit the two names Saber and Sable are similar. A slight overlook on my part (my bad) but the name stuck for me.

    Anyways, I'll be posting the rest "soon," assuming my editor gets off his ass and texts me back.

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    Magus' Heart: Part II
    Definitions:

    Imouto: Little sister.


    - Downward Spiral -


    If there had been any pedestrians, they might have been alarmed at the shivering young girl as she walked down the lonely road. As it was, the recent murders from the Grail War had essentially shut down all late night traffic. No one saw the lone girl walk silently down the illuminated pale yellow streets as she meandered towards an unknown destination.

    Rin wasn’t sure why she was out here herself. All she knew was she couldn’t stand the suffocating darkness of the room anymore. It wasn’t as if she had developed Claustrophobia or anything idiotic like that. She just needed something new to look at, a change in scenery, or else she felt she would go insane.

    As she walked onward a refreshing downward mist began to descend from the sky and lightly tickled her nose. She had to blink her eyes several times to stop her eyes from blurring. She turned to look at the path where she had come. She wasn’t sure what time it was but she only now noticed how far she’d walked.

    It was getting kind of late, maybe she should head back? She hadn’t wanted to disturb any of the others since she thought this was going to be a short walk, but if she went further it might take her a while to get back. They might be worried.

    A sudden voice spoke in her head.

    Why? So you can bother them again?” came a voice from beside her.

    Rin looked up and saw herself standing there; Rin Tohsaka in all her glory. Unlike her, however, this image was perfect. Every strand of her hair was perfectly aligned and her smooth clothes hugged her silhouette like a model. It was the Tohsaka that once curled boy’s hearts around her finger at school; the honor student and the great magus. She was perfection. She was power and strength.

    Rin wasn’t sure what she was... Maybe it was penance for her sins; punishment for her crimes. All she wished was that it would leave her alone.

    Go away,” she said, in a tone that was mired between an order and a desperate plea.

    All you do is bother them. Just like today,” the image said, ignoring her order.

    - - -

    Rin! Wake up! It’s just a stupid dream! Wake up to reality! You stupid girl.

    Snapping open her eyes, she saw Shirou clutching his stomach and coughing in pain on the floor. Of course, he hadn’t said it like that. Shirou was much too kind to ever say that. However, she heard the malice and anger in his voice.

    He was right, they were just stupid dreams... Dreams couldn’t hurt her. So why couldn’t she just make them go away? Why couldn’t she just ignore them?

    - - -

    That was an accident,” she thought, “he was just trying to help me.

    Exactly. You’re a nuisance. Even when they try to be nice you all you do is hurt them. You’re nothing but a drain on them. They only put up with you because they feel obligated be nice to you. If you just disappeared they’d be happier.

    “Shut up! That’s not true! They’re my friends... They’re family. They love me. You’re lying! LEAVE!”

    Am I?” asked the voice. “Then what about at dinner? Do you think they’d have gotten into that argument if you hadn’t existed?

    “Just leave me alone!!” yelled Rin, her cries echoing against the cold dark sky.

    The image bared her teeth like a predator sensing weak prey. “Leave you alone? Just like how you left your sister alone so she could be raped and tortured for the rest of her life? Sure, I’ll do that,” it said.

    Rin collapsed against the sidewalk railing and clutched her chest as the memories returned, “No... don’t show it. Don’t remind me. Stop...” However, it was useless. The moment she thought about it her mind already formed it.

    The voice changed, this time taking the form of Sakura. When she looked up, she saw her standing before her; her black and red striped robes eerily helped her blend into the night. Dark Sakura was looking at her, her crimson red eyes gave her a damning look.

    Eleven years. Eleven years, Nee-san! That’s how long you left me there in that hellhole,” it said.

    Rin tried to crawl further into a ball as Dark Sakura’s words hit her. “I didn’t know! I couldn’t know...” whispered Rin and she placed her arms around her head trying to block out her words.

    You didn’t know?! Is that the best excuse you can come up with? Is it you didn’t know or because you didn’t care because it might interfere with your precious Magus honor?” Sakura’s eyes flared with anger and the wisps of crimson and black smoke rose behind her. “Did you know? The Makiri even put poison in my food so even eating became agony. For my entire life all I knew was pain and you couldn’t even be bothered to know me! Your own sister!” By now, Sakura was screaming; her cries rang into Rin’s ears and echoed silently into the night.

    - - -

    It had felt like a lifetime ago. She remembered it had begun to rain before she finally found them. Standing on that lonely field were Sakura and Shirou, both of them hugging one another in a warm embrace despite the falling cold rain all around them. The sound of wet footsteps caught both of their attention. Rin stood facing them with her Azzoth dagger drawn menacingly at her side. Looking at her, Shirou saw her eyes were cold enough to send a chill down his spine..

    “You know that if she lives she’ll continue taking more lives,” said Rin.

    “She is family, Rin,” said Shirou, the statement was all he needed to say.

    “She’ll eventually kill again. You know what that means,” she said, her emotionless stare colder than the rain that fell.

    “We can find another way, Rin. There’s always another way. Don’t just give up on her!” yelled Shirou. This time anger seeped into his voice.

    “No, you won’t. You won’t find a solution; not before many more people die,” stated Rin. In that one statement, Rin had severed her ties to the both of them. Archer materialized behind Rin. However, even his expression betrayed a hint of sadness. She gripped the dagger harder in her hand, its blade gleaming in the parks artificial light, before she said, “I’m sorry. But it must be done.”

    - - -

    “I’m sorry, Sakura. I didn’t mean... I didn’t want for any of this to happen,” said Rin as she stared at her sister with bloodshot eyes.

    Sakura laughed. “Of course not. You wanted me DEAD so you could go to your precious Mages Association with the grand prize. THAT’S what you wanted to happen.” This time, Rin had no response. All she could do was sit there in fear.

    Then, Sakura’s demeanor changed. Placing her head between her hands, she began to giggle. It was the sort of soft-giggle that would have driven fear even into one as strong as Saber. Sakura fell to the ground before she began to crawl towards her, each movement in her slide smooth and sultry until she was eventually face to face with Rin.

    But don’t worry. I’m your Imouto so I’ll be here with you forever and ever. I won’t ever leave you alone like you did to me. I’ll stay with you everyday for the rest of your life. We’ll be the best of friends,” she said. Then her mouth cracked open into a chilling Cheshire smile that would have frozen even Berserker in his tracks.

    Though Elesia hadn’t been aware of it, Rin had overheard her through the thin paper doors earlier in the evening. Right now, Elesia’s words echoed through her mind:

    “These wounds will stay with her for the rest of her life...”

    Rin thought she felt her heart stop. Pushing herself backwards with her numb hands, Rin bolted and ran. She didn’t care where she was running, she just wanted to escape the shade that was haunting her waking dreams. So she ran towards the darkness and further into the night. Sakura sat on the sidewalk, content to watch her run away.

    “Don’t worry, Rin. The moment you think of me... I’ll be back.”

    - Snowballs and Dominoes -

    Rin’s lungs felt as if they were on fire. She’d ran for what felt like forever and the burning in her calves and chest felt unbearable. Unable to continue any further, she collapsed with her back to the metal railings. During her run down the main street, the light rainy mist had transformed into a torrent. As she tried to regain her breath frigid rainwater ran down her face, soaked through her crimson shirt, and chilled her to the bone. She hugged her sides; trying to shield herself from the onslaught of water.

    Eventually she felt she’d finally regained her breath and pulled herself up to regain her bearings. From where she stood she could see the black splash of water as it swirled against the riverbanks on this moonless night. With a look of surprise, she realized she’d run the entire length of Miyama and reached Fuyuki bridge.

    You always were one of the best in Track,” came the voice of her imaginary twin. Looking behind her, she saw her sitting on one of the opposite banisters; nonchalantly swung her legs too and fro while watching her disheveled counterpart stare at her. Despite the strong winds and heavy rain, she looked as immaculate as ever. “It must have been useful during the war too,” it said, jumping down with a spirited hop that ruffled its skirt. “You ran away from all those memories; all those feelings and emotions. Must have been handy being able to stash away all your failures like so much useless junk. All so you could get the Grail.

    More images appeared behind false Rin, each one representing a victim she couldn’t save. One group represented a family with their daughter smiling and waving at her. The girl’s father silently nodded towards her with a gentle smile while the mother held the daughter’s hand. Is that how they’d died? Holding on to one another in fear for comfort? She recalled when she and Archer arrived at the home she had to leave before she retched out her dinner. There wasn’t enough of them left to identify them and only a nearby photo identified who they once were.

    Her view then turned to several young men. Simply looking at their dress clothes, she’d guess they had probably worked in downtown Shinto. She remembered the news report stated it had taken DNA matching to find out who they had been; the only thing at the crime scene had been chunks of flesh.

    Finally, her eyes went to the one figure she knew. Like a moth to a flame, she wanted to shut her eyes and forget all about her yet she could not.

    Yo, Tohsaka,” said the girl. She gave the same cheerful greeting when they normally met.

    When she and Archer had arrived at her home, she remembered ramming through the partially opened door; ignoring Archers warnings. If she had been simply visiting, very little would have seemed amiss in the empty house. It was only when she’d opened the door to Ayako’s room that she saw something wrong. Books and other various paraphernalia lay scattered across her room as if one of her wind gems had blow through the room. She then saw the large pool of blood on the ground and realized Ayako was dead; without even a body to mourn. The authorities still listed her as missing but Rin knew the truth: Ayako was gone as sure as ice against the Saharan sun.

    Rin lashed out in anger and hurled a punch that phased through the false Rin and landed against one of the street lights lining the bridge. “They’re not junk!! They’re people!” she screamed through the numbing pain in her hand. In an instant, Ayako and the rest of the dead disappears from sight.

    Her counterpart laughed, “Of course they’re not junk. But that doesn’t make it any less true. You failed as the supervisor of Fuyuki to protect them and now they’re dead because of you.

    You failed as a Magus, Rin,” this time, in the voice of her late father, Tokiomi Tohsaka. “All you had to do was win the Grail but you let your heart get in the way.” He turned his back on her and refused to even look on her. “You are a shame to this family and a disgrace as a Magus. But most of all, you are a disappointment to me.

    Another image appeared, this time of Dark Sakura, “You couldn’t even bother to get to know me. I wish you were never my sister. I wish I never knew you!

    Another figure stepped out from behind Sakura in the image of Shirou. This made Rin stumble back until she hit the metal safety railing. Looking behind her, she saw the sheer drop that would have landed her in the water. “Why are you even here?” Shirou said, his eyes full of hatred “You’re an annoying eyesore, Rin. All your annoying sniveling and crying drives us mad. Why don’t you just leave?

    Rin shut her ears as the din of the ghosts hammered against her. Her counterpart stepped in front of the crowd, as if to give the coup de grace, and spoke:

    Everyone hates you. They’re only putting up with you now because they feel obligated despite everything you did to them. However, one of these days you’ll be kicked out. One day their patience will end, and then what’ll you do? You’re an utter failure. You have nothing! You ARE NOTHING!

    “SHUT UP!” screamed Rin. As she she wondered, “Why did this have to happen. Why couldn’t I have just died in that cave?”

    “You still can,” a voice said. Rin’s mind was mired with such fatigue that she wasn’t sure if her other self or her own voice that spoke the words.

    Blissful silence followed those words. She raised her head and found the walkway empty. Taking in a breath of cold air, she raised her face to the sky and enjoyed the feel of rain on her face. Her entire body felt numb and cold, yet... under this chilling rain, she felt at peace. As much as she wanted to deny them, she knew they spoke the truth. She was a failure. She’d used all of her jewels and even her father’s heirloom to win this war and had failed. She had nothing to show for it.

    In that crucial time during the war, she had abandoned her sister. When Sakura was at her most vulnerable, she had abandoned her. No... worse, she’d actively tried to kill her. Her own family. And all for what? Some stupid prize she hadn’t even cared about.

    Her hands were numb as she gripped the railing. She tried to climb the banister but slipped from her numb hands and the slick rain. “Stupid failure,” she thought, “I can’t even climb it right.”

    She was defective. Damaged. While everyone had gotten past the war and on with their lives, she had lingered on like some lingering shade. She wished she could just will all her problems away but she knew that was possible. She wasn’t strong enough. She wasn’t like Shirou who could carry the world’s burdens on his shoulder or Sakura

    “It’ll just be a quick moment of pain,” she convinced herself,” then everything will be alright.” She smiled. Maybe all of this would finally all be over. That’d be nice... She closed her eyes and felt the soft pattering of rain tickle her face.

    In the background, she could hear someone calling her name but it didn’t matter to her. With a smile, she let go.

    =====

    Shirou felt his lungs burn as he pushed himself and ran with the entirety of his being. He felt the torrential rain numb his fingers and the harsh winds chill him through his coat. He didn’t care about any of that. All that mattered was that he reach the red-clad figure leaning from the railing. Rain ran down his face and clouded his vision; he had to blink to keep her in sight.

    “Rin!” he yelled, his voice muffled by the accursed rain. She didn’t respond, she was content to simply stare out into the black midnight sky.

    He was so close now. Less than fifty footsteps away. He could hear Sable’s feet pounding the cobblestone behind him trying to catch up. Her voice was barely audible over the pouring rain but he could hear her as she talked hastily with Elesia over the phone.

    Ten more steps now. His heart felt as if it would explode, the way it was beating right now. Looking at Rin, she seemed oddly peaceful. Her eyes were closed and she even seemed... happy. It was an odd difference from her recent sullen moods. He even thought he saw her lips curl in a smile.

    The distance closed in. He was so close he felt as if he could already touch her. He reached out with his right hand and...

    She let go.

    His eyes grew wide and he felt a vise seize his heart. Vaguely, he realized he was yelling out her name even as she began to fall. He could almost reach her. She was less than a meter away. “I can still save her,” Shirou desperately tried to convince himself.

    With one final burst of speed, Shirou leapt off the cobblestone walkway. Almost jumping past the railing, he caught her arm with his numb hand. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “Almost missed her,” he thought. His sense of relief faded, however, as he felt his hand slip against her crimson sweater. Letting go of the railing, he used his other hand to secure his grip on her arm.

    Water continued to run down their arms like a waterfall as the rain continued to pour from the sky.

    A moment went by as Shirou simply tried to catch his breath and it was only then that he noticed the strong grip that was holding his ankles and stopping him from falling over the railing with Rin. He looked behind him and saw Sable strewn on the bridge behind him, her arms latched onto his legs.

    “Idiot, what would Sakura and Saber think,” she muttered from her position on the ground..

    A surge of wind drew his attention back to Rin and he felt his grip slacken. Attempting to pull her up, he felt her fingers slip and squeeze through. The damned rain was too slippery and he could barely feel his fingers as it was.

    Rin looked up towards him, as if only now realizing Shirou was there. On her face was a serene smile that, despite their precarious situation, seemed... peaceful.

    “Rin, give me your other hand!” he yelled.

    “Don’t worry. It’ll be alright,” she said to him, her quiet voice almost inaudible above the rain and the howling wind. “You don’t have to worry about me anymore.”

    “Rin! Please...” Shirou said. His eyes pleaded with Rin. He watched in sheer uselessness as, bit by bit, her hand slowly sank from his grasp. Why did it have to end like this? With all his strength as a Magus... as a Hero... why was he so useless?

    Rin closed her eyes, and Shirou felt her fingers finally slip through his hand.

    “No!” screamed Shirou. His hands grasped empty air and he watched helplessly as she fell towards the rushing waters of the Mion River. Tears mingled with the rainwater falling from his face as he asked one question.

    “Why?”

    High above, perched on the girders of the old Fuyuki bridge, a single Raven watched the events unfold. Its jewel eyes observed ever vigilant at the events at hand before lifting off and letting the strong wind currents take it away.

    =====

    Author's Notes: I should have the last section uploaded hopefully sometime this week (if my Editor ever answers my calls. Bleh) I have to say, for an originally 5000 word story, it sure took longer than expected. In retrospect, I could have possibly taken out one of the OCs at the expense of levity. What's done is done I suppose.
    Last edited by Vigilantia; May 10th, 2012 at 04:27 PM.

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    Wow, that was very moving and well-written. I just hope they can find a way to save her....

    One thing, though. Sakura says she's Rin's "Nee-san", which is just plain wrong. Nee-san means "older sister", and Sakura is younger....

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    Ahh, right. I think Beam mentioned that previously but I couldn't find that post again. Let me fix that.

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    This is a good story. It gives me mixed feelings about the characters. Sakura seems like she should be feeling more guilty over the entire affair instead of having a spring in her steep and looking better than she ever did. I mean, she was super happy in the HF True End, but in this case everything is way worse.

    That made me wonder though, this is apparently based off the Bad End where Sakura goes a "bridge too far" as far as Shirou was concerned, so wouldn't Shirou be a little more hostile to Sakura? Well, I guess you changed some things up since Saber is not corrupted. Which also makes me wonder how Saber was saved, and Rider apparently got wiped out in the process.

    I like seeing Rin go through her struggle and try and overcome it.
    He never sleeps. He never dies.

    Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mAc Chaos View Post
    This is a good story. It gives me mixed feelings about the characters. Sakura seems like she should be feeling more guilty over the entire affair instead of having a spring in her steep and looking better than she ever did. I mean, she was super happy in the HF True End, but in this case everything is way worse.
    Well, I get the distinct impression that Sakura is acting "happy" because she doesn't want to upset Rin, or the others. It's clear from the scene in the bath that Rin's situation has hit her pretty hard.

    That made me wonder though, this is apparently based off the Bad End where Sakura goes a "bridge too far" as far as Shirou was concerned, so wouldn't Shirou be a little more hostile to Sakura?
    No, it's different. Here, instead of Rin refusing to stab Sakura and hugging her instead, she went through with it, but Sakura got her first. So, it's not shocking that Dark Sakura was somewhat unhappy with her....

    As for Shirou's attitude, why would he be "hostile" towards Sakura. She was not herself in that cavern, and it's clear that she feels terrible about what happened, and just wants Rin back to her old self. Further, this is HF Shirou, not UBW Shirou. He cares more for Sakura than he does for Rin. Sure, he feels sad about what happened, but he doesn't blame Sakura and he's sure as hell not going to take it out on her.

    Well, I guess you changed some things up since Saber is not corrupted. Which also makes me wonder how Saber was saved, and Rider apparently got wiped out in the process.
    Yeah, I'm not too sure about that either....

    I like seeing Rin go through her struggle and try and overcome it.
    Yeah, I hope she can get back to something vaguely resembling a normal life, with her sister and Shirou. I mean, Sakura has managed to overcome it, so surely Rin can....

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    Well, if you read the part in this fic where Rin is trying to stab Sakura, it plays out pretty much like HF. Sakura is blinded and helpless and Rin has a clear shot, but somehow Rin doesn't stab her, and then Sakura manages to get her instead. So I interpreted that to mean that Rin actually did stop after all, but Sakura just never got a chance to find out what she was thinking.

    I guess it could go either way though. Not sure.
    He never sleeps. He never dies.

    Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1984 View Post
    Well, I get the distinct impression that Sakura is acting "happy" because she doesn't want to upset Rin, or the others. It's clear from the scene in the bath that Rin's situation has hit her pretty hard.

    Look closely and you'll find most of the group puts on good bedside whenever Tohsaka is mentioned.


    As for Shirou's attitude, why would he be "hostile" towards Sakura. She was not herself in that cavern, and it's clear that she feels terrible about what happened, and just wants Rin back to her old self. Further, this is HF Shirou, not UBW Shirou. He cares more for Sakura than he does for Rin. Sure, he feels sad about what happened, but he doesn't blame Sakura and he's sure as hell not going to take it out on her.

    I don't think even UBW Shirou would blame Sakura for what she did. Saddened for what happened but he wouldn't look at Sakura as a wanton killer. Also, Sakura is family to him afterall, even after everything she's done.


    Yeah, I hope she can get back to something vaguely resembling a normal life, with her sister and Shirou. I mean, Sakura has managed to overcome it, so surely Rin can...

    I guess we'll see about that in the next chapter.
    Quote Originally Posted by mAc Chaos View Post
    Well, if you read the part in this fic where Rin is trying to stab Sakura, it plays out pretty much like HF. Sakura is blinded and helpless and Rin has a clear shot, but somehow Rin doesn't stab her, and then Sakura manages to get her instead. So I interpreted that to mean that Rin actually did stop after all, but Sakura just never got a chance to find out what she was thinking.

    I guess it could go either way though. Not sure.
    That would be correct. The dagger is poised inches above her head as Rin was unable to bring herself to kill her sister. The "for want of a nail" in this situation is Rin unable to explain her action and D!Sakura thinks she simply won the duel (instead of her sister letting her live).

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    Yeah, so that means, just like the Femme Fatale Bad end, Shirou probably came up to her and she went on to describe how Rin was being tortured and stuff. Unless something else ended up happening. But that's why I was thinking Shirou would seem less forgiving.
    He never sleeps. He never dies.

    Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    Look closely and you'll find most of the group puts on good bedside whenever Tohsaka is mentioned.
    Yeah, but Sakura seems to be acting happy to reassure everyone. Plus, it's not like she doesn't have things to feel happy about. She is genuinely free for the first time in eleven years, even if she is saddened by her sister's situation.

    I don't think even UBW Shirou would blame Sakura for what she did. Saddened for what happened but he wouldn't look at Sakura as a wanton killer. Also, Sakura is family to him afterall, even after everything she's done.
    Exactly....

    Sakura was not really responsible for what happened (she was insane at the time), and it's clear that she regrets it a lot, and is suffering the consequences.

    I guess we'll see about that in the next chapter.
    Indeed....

    Also, could you please not edit your responses into the quote box like that? It makes replying to you a real pain....

    That would be correct. The dagger is poised inches above her head as Rin was unable to bring herself to kill her sister. The "for want of a nail" in this situation is Rin unable to explain her action and D!Sakura thinks she simply won the duel (instead of her sister letting her live).
    Ah, Ok.

    Even so, Sakura isn't aware of the fact that Rin had stopped herself (since Rin didn't hug her), and Shirou would presumably feel the same way.

    Quote Originally Posted by mAc Chaos View Post
    Yeah, so that means, just like the Femme Fatale Bad end, Shirou probably came up to her and she went on to describe how Rin was being tortured and stuff.
    The difference is that, here, Dark Sakura did not summon Saber back in the same way. Rin actually did try to kill her. Plus, if it went like Femme Fatale, then Shirou would have been absorbed too. The fact that he was not implies that something different happened here....

    Unless something else ended up happening. But that's why I was thinking Shirou would seem less forgiving.
    If he was unwilling to forgive her, then he wouldn't have freed her from AM in the first place. Given that he did, he clearly saw her as "saveable", and given that I can't imagine him holding her responsible for what happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1984 View Post
    If he was unwilling to forgive her, then he wouldn't have freed her from AM in the first place. Given that he did, he clearly saw her as "saveable", and given that I can't imagine him holding her responsible for what happened.
    Well, let me put it to you like this. Imagine someone you love, be that your family, your wife, or a lifelong friend just lost someone extremely dear to them from a murderer. She goes into a downward spiral, drinks and then commits something wrong (breaking into the murderers house, wounds him, maybe tortures him.)

    To an outside force, they would most likely shoot your loved one or be very willing to use deadly force. To you or Shirou, odds are you'd try to talk her down. Do everything "but" use deadly force. She's under the influence and she's done something wrong but she is, despite everything, someone you care about.

    Once everything is sorted in the future, you might be weary about the events of what happened, but that person is still the person you care about and what happened was due to extreme circumstances. It isn't who the person really "is". Also, it helps the world hasn't ended and everything turned out well :P

    Anyways, that's how I see it. Take that how you will.
    Last edited by Vigilantia; May 14th, 2012 at 10:53 PM.

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    Magus' Heart: Part III

    Had anyone on the bridge looked towards Miyama, they might have seen a cloaked Servant carrying her smaller purple-haired Master fly from the Emiya residence and land at the foot of the bridge. If they had listened very closely, they might have heard the cry of horror from the girl as she watched her sister plummet from the bridge. Had they looked closely, they might have seen the Command Seals on her arm flash as she whispered a prayer to the open heavens above.

    As it was, no one was looking towards Miyama at the time and no one saw Caster fly towards the small falling figure. Strong winds lifted the Servant as if she were the god of storms and accelerated her towards the petite falling figure.

    More tornado-strong winds buffeted Rin’s fall until she floated mere inches from the Mion river waters; her long black hair whipping around her still form with the raging winds. The water below churned like a whirlpool as Caster’s magecraft kept Rin afloat.

    Still propelled by the Command Seal, Elesia caught Rin between her arms and cradled her with utmost care. With hurricane-like force, Caster’s wind spell lifted them back towards the shore with enough force to buffet the bridge and cause the superstructure to creak and moan in protest; spattering waves of water against him. Losing his balance against the shuddering bridge, Shirou lay flat on his back and watched in silence as Elesia flew away.

    =====

    - Hope and Reconciliation -

    [Soundtrack Recommendation: Jade]: http://www.repeatmyvids.com/watch?v=...&kmdom=youtube

    They were over the wet stone riverside walkways and the quay when Elesia felt the Command Seal’s power begin to dissipate. Unable to find a suitable spot to land and with the ground still passing by at great speds, she unceremoniously dropped Rin towards a row of comfortable bushes before the Servant herself fell and rolled on the unyielding stone walkways before slamming hard against a tree.

    Rin was still struggling out of the leafy menace when Elesia walked back to where she had left her; a slight limp in her walk. Eventually, a strong arm lifted Rin from her bushy opponent and placed her roughly on the soggy grass. Elesia stood waiting, arms crossed in annoyance, as Rin pushed herself off the ground. With rage, Rin pounded feebly against Elesia’s chest.

    “Why did you save me!? Why?” screamed Rin.

    “A thank you would have been nice,” replied Elesia coldly. The raven haired Servant stood silent against Rin, her hood’s shadow concealing any emotions Elesia might have had.

    “It was almost over,” she sobbed. “Why did you...”

    Before Rin could finish her sentence, Elesia lifted her by the collar and slapped her. Hard. Before Rin could even utter a word in response Elesia slapped her again; the sound of the strike echoing in the rain. Rin stumbled back in fear at Elesia; her face filled with shock and confusion.

    “You stupid... stupid little girl,” said Elesia, the Servant barely contained her urge to yell. Had she not been wearing gloves, Rin might have seen how white her knuckles were from her shaking clenched fists. Rin cringed in fear as Elesia approached her, the fierce look on her face would have given even Saber pause. The rain continued to pour down as the two magi looked at one another.

    “How could you be so greedy...” said Elesia quietly as she shook her head.

    “What?” said Rin with confusion.

    “Do you really think it’s that easy? That you’re all absolved of your sins the moment you're gone?” yelled Elesia. “Nothing changes, Tohsaka. All you’re doing is hurting everyone that cares for you.”

    “Did you even think about what you put everyone through!? Are you even aware how scared Sakura was?!” Rin stood silently. She had no answers to Elesia’s questions.

    “Elesia, that’s enough!” came Sakura’s voice over the rain. Rin turned in time to see her sister a moment before Sakura embraced her; Sakura’s warmth comforting in the unending rain. Sakura pulled away and held Rin by the shoulders as she stared at her, Sakura’s lavender-colored eyes filled with worry.

    “Are you ok? Are you hurt?” she asked.

    Rin looked down at her body, only now appearing to realize her clothes were soaked by the rain. She shook her head at the question and Sakura responded by embracing her in a warm hug again. They stood like that, their bodies so close together that Rin could feel Sakura’s heart beat against her own chest. Somehow... it felt right to her.

    Sakura spoke, her voice a gentle whisper, “Nee-san, please... Never do that again. I lost you before... all those years ago. I couldn’t bear to lose you again. Not after finding you again so soon. S.. s... so...” She paused for a moment as she sputtered and choked on her words. “whatever you’re going through... I want to help you through it.”

    Shock echoed through Rin’s mind at Sakura’s words. When she spoke, Sakura could hear the uncertainty in Rin’s voice, “Really? You don’t... hate me?” Shirou doesn’t hate me?”

    “What?” said Sakura. “Of course not! Why would you think something like that?” Sakura could feel Rin’s head lull against hers before giving a quiet sigh.

    “I just thought... I feel so useless and dead. I can’t do anything without your help. I’m deadweight. And... with everything I did in the war... when I tried... when I tried to... k... ki...” Rin’s voice broke up, unable to finish the word, and Sakura gently shushed her quiet.

    “Senpai and I love you. We all love you. I know you did things you regret in the war, we all do; especially what I did... when you tried to save me. I should be asking you to forgive me, Nee-san, for everything that happened. I know you’re still hurt. You’re not ready yet, so i'll wait with you... no matter how long it takes, Nee-san. Just... Please don’t leave me alone again. Please...” Though Rin couldn’t see it, she knew her sister was crying as she felt her embrace hug her even tighter.

    Rin let the words sink into her mind. “She forgives me? For leaving her alone all those years? For betraying her when she needed me the most during the war?” She had trouble believing it. Sakura had all the reason in the world to scorn her... to even laugh at her Nee-san’s demise. It felt as if a weight had been lifted from her soul. She didn’t deserve any of this. She deserved to be hated and scorned for what she had done.

    Another voice broke the silence and sent a chill up Rin’s spine, “Awww, isn’t that cute. The little sister feels sorry for her decrepit Nee-san.” Rin opened her eyes and saw Dark Sakura, her white hair blowing lightly in the wind. “Doesn’t matter though. She’ll leave you eventually. They all do.” Dark Sakura’s lips curled in a cruel grin as she leaned forwards, her crimson eyes staring intently at Rin. Despite the wind and the rain, every part of her was the same as it was in the cavern; a timeless phantom.

    She hugged onto Sakura even harder, the warmth of her sister’s body and her previous words was a bastion of hope against her noir counterpart. Rin closed her eyes to shut out the image. “Even if this is just sympathy. Even if none of this lasts... I don’t care. I just want to be with them, so go away! Go away and leave me alone!”

    Moments went by as only the pouring of the rain reached her ears. Finally, distant mischievous laughter echoed into her ears, “Hahaha... Fine then. We’ll be back, Senpai. Like Caster said, we’ll be with you all your life... waiting. So when you’re alone... with your back against the world... we’ll be there. Don’t worry... We’re patient.”

    Rin felt her body shiver; from Dark Sakura’s words or the cold, she wasn’t sure. A sudden bright light assailed her eyes, and then she felt a wave of comforting heat warm her body. Elesia had conjured a warm wisp of fire which levitated several inches above her hand. Despite its small size, it radiated enough heat to rival a campfire. Rin looked around for Sakura’s darker half; however, she was nowhere to be seen.

    “That better?” Elesia asked, one eyebrow raised as she looked at her. Rin could still see a tinge of annoyance on her face but Elesia’s demeanor by now had softened at the sister’s reunion. She timidly gave a small nod in thanks and Elesia tipped her head down in affirmation; although Rin thought she saw a smile cross Elesia’s lips.

    “The others are coming,” said the Servant as she looked towards Fuyuki bridge. From the bridge, they saw Shirou and Sable running towards them. In the distance an azure figure, only revealed by the occasional street light, sped towards them at a startling speed.

    Despite the pervasive darkness, the bone-chilling cold, and the miserable rain... Rin felt happier than she had in years.

    Taking her by the hand, Sakura said, “Come on, Nee-san. Let’s go home.”


    =====

    The kitchen was alive with the sound of cooking as the morning sunlight streamed in through the ricepaper doorway. Elesia walked into the main room and was greeted with the delicious smell of scrambled eggs, vegetables and cooked meat as Shirou prepared a hearty breakfast from his workshop in the kitchen. It seemed as if he was preparing a banquet what with his rapid movement and the various pots and pans cooking on the stovetop. Despite yesterday’s events, Shirou still rose early as usual to prepare breakfast.

    “Ahhhh. That smells wonderful Shirou,” remarked Elesia, her novel in hand.

    “Mmhmm. I wanted to make something nice for everyone after what happened yesterday. Something to cheer up Sakura and... maybe Rin...”

    “I’m sure they’d like that,” she said with a warm smile. Elesia looked into Shirou’s domain, taking in the image of the battlefield of ingredients on the tabletop. “Is there anyway I can help?” she asked politely.

    “No, that’s fine,” Shirou replied quickly. If Elesia hadn’t been paying attention, she might not have noticed how his smile was a little too sincere, how his posture was a little too perfect to be relaxed or how his arm had suddenly been paralyzed and stopped chopping the onions on the chopping board.. She also might also not have heard the word “curry” he muttered under his breath.

    “Alright, Shirou,” she said with a chuckle. She made a cup of tea for herself before sitting down and opening The Imperium’s Hero once again. A calm descended upon the kitchen as Elesia sat content with her novel and Shirou continued preparing his breakfast banquet.

    The commissar hero had just challenged the winged Daemon to a duel when Elesia heard the sound of a scuffle beyond the rice paper walls. Sable opened the door with Saber behind her. Sable had wrapped a long warm blanket around her body. Her nose was a pinkish red and her eyes were puffy as she smothered her face into a box of tissues.

    “...and I was just simply stating it was rude to do that. There’s no need to take offense,” said Saber as they both walked in.

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” said Sable past her nasal congestion, “I’m sorry the w’ittle Servant can’t take a little coughing and sneezing. Horrors abound if the invincible Servant Saber got the flu. Besides, you you can’t even get sick.” She finished her sentence by blowing into the bundle of tissues again.

    “Idiot! You’re fortunate all you recieved from that swim was a cold,” the small Servant retorted.

    “Ha! You’re the idiot! There is no scientific evidence found to suggest tha... tha...“ she had to pause to sneeze into the pile of tissues once again; the force of the blast strong enough to flutter her blonde hair.

    Elesia broke into a smile as she remembered the cause of Sable’s cold. In an attempt to save Rin, she had jumped off the bridge to follow her as she fell. Luckily, Elesia was able grab Rin before that happened. Unluckily for Sable, the Magus Servant flew past her, leaving the Agent rapidly descending towards the frigid Pacific water. Were she just a regular human and had she positioned herself differently, Sable might have been in the hospital with multiple broken bones and contusions. Of course... reinforcing one’s body didn’t help against the bone-chilling water.

    “Saber? Why don’t you help Shirou in the kitchen? It seems like he’s got his hands full,” said Elesia, hoping to break up the upcoming fighting. Saber sniffed the air and, as if her brain just registered the smell of food, headed towards the Kitchen nose first.

    “Shiroooou... need any help?” said Saber; her facing changing to a cheerful smile.

    Deprived of her opponent, Sable sat down glumly at the kotatsu; content to simply laze and mope in the morning sunshine interrupted by the occasional sniffle. Having resolved the situation, Elesia reopened the novel to where she had left off.

    ===

    An assortment of steamed vegetables, scrambled and sunny-side-up eggs along with slices of ham and other grilled meats lined the plates on the kotatsu. Sakura had still yet to appear for breakfast and now Shirou sat patiently waiting and sipping tea at the table. On the right side of the table sat Elesia, who was calmly reading her book, Saber and Sable. The two older women held the small warrior by the arms in an attempt to save some food for Sakura.

    “Saber,” said Elesia with feign interest; her eyes still glued to the book. “Do try to calm down. I’m sure Sakura is just taking care of Rin. I’m sure she’ll be here momentarily.”

    “bu.. but.... Hunger is the enemy,” she said, almost crying, as she looked at her meal in the distance. Chained back by the two women, she looked on sadly as her delicious meal sat tantalizingly close yet far away. “and we’ve been waiting for soooo long.”

    Of course, it didn’t help that Sable had somehow acquired a hand fan and was now wafting the scent of bacon and scrambled eggs with butter and a faint hint of chives towards the poor girl. Behind Sable’s smile, Shirou thought he heard the sound of hidden sinister laughter as she drank Saber’s misery like a fine Chardonnay.

    Saber looked towards Shirou with large puppy dog eyes and he had to stare downwards at his tea to avoid her gaze.

    The sound of the door opening silenced the room and drew everyone’s attention, revealing Rin standing shyly in the doorway. She stood there, paralyzed with fear, as moments passed while everyone stared expectantly at her. Her cheeks began to turn a bright pink and she fidgeted with her hands nervously, unsure of what to do.

    Finally, Sable broke the silence. “Hi ho! Rin!” she said cheerfully as she flashed a smile and waved at her.

    “Hello, Tohsaka,” said Elesia.
    “Hello, Rin,” Saber nodded in greeting.
    “Hey, Tohsaka. Are you feeling better?” Shirou asked.

    Behind her, Sakura gently pushed her forward and led Rin to her seat. Everyone stared as Rin sat down at her seat and her face turned a deeper shade of scarlet as she looked back and forth between everyone, scared of all the attention she was receiving.

    “Here, Nee-san,” said Sakura as she placed her chopsticks into her hand. “Now that we’re all here... shall we eat?” As one, the group nodded in agreement.

    After saying “itadakimasu”, the room was full with the sound of clinking plates and utensils as everyone began to fill their plates and eat. Eventually, conversation turned to when they would return to school and other mundane chatter.

    Sakura quietly sipped her tea, watched, and listened to the conversation at the table. On one end, Elesia tried to convince Saber and Shirou to come with her to Shinto on a “quick” shopping trip which they both politely tried to rebuff. On the other end, her sister nodded and smiled in a one-sided conversation with Sable about her recent trip back from Tokyo. The twin-tailed magus sat silently and listened politely to her description of the city, from the shining monoliths in the Shibuya district to the top of the line cuisine and the panoramic view of the city’s skyline that would put Fuyuki to shame. Occasionally, Rin would quietly speak, interrupting the blonde Agent’s adventure, to pose a question or make an observation.

    Sakura smiled. It might have seemed so tiny, simply getting Rin to come to Breakfast and yet it was a large step out of many she would have to take. She was still shy and scared, but it was the little changes that brought a warm feeling of hope to Sakura’s chest. It was the way she smiled now when Sable made a slight tease toward Saber or the mere fact she simply spoke for herself; even though her words were quiet and timid. They were small steps and Rin was different from the sister she had known for all these years... yet despite that... it was enough for now. Rin was getting better, and that was all that mattered to her.

    Sakura gave a sigh of relief. For the first time since the war’s end, she felt as if things were finally starting to return to normal.

    =====

    Author's Notes: Well, that took longer than anticipated to edit. This was originally going to be a considerably longer final chapter but my editor threw a few blows to my head and told me to edit it down since it seemed to drag on.

    For those of you unaware, the title The Magus' Heart is a play on the condition "Soldier's Heart," which was a term in the American Civil War used to describe symptoms similar to PTSD. I believe it is pertinent, given that the Grail War is actually quite brutal. Despite its somewhat impersonal combat where Servants fight Servants, you're talking about kids barely "18" years old fighting one another to the death. It's made even more chilling by the fact that all the masters in the 5th war basically know one another.

    It's amazing Shirou, Rin, or Sakura never wake up after their endings in cold sweats thinking about the people that had to die or the people they killed in the war. It's like their psyche is made of reinforced concrete. Anyways, that was the end to what was supposed to be a 5000 word story. Funny how those short stories run away on a writer...
    Last edited by Vigilantia; May 15th, 2012 at 01:42 AM.

  17. #17
    後継者 Successor Prince Charon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    Once everything is sorted in the future, you might be weary
    'Weary' = tired
    'Wary' = worried

    The fic is good, though.


    "Those who say it can not be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
    -- Chinese Proverb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    Well, let me put it to you like this. Imagine someone you love, be that your family, your wife, or a lifelong friend just lost someone extremely dear to them from a murderer. She goes into a downward spiral, drinks and then commits something wrong (breaking into the murderers house, wounds him, maybe tortures him.)

    To an outside force, they would most likely shoot your loved one or be very willing to use deadly force. To you or Shirou, odds are you'd try to talk her down. Do everything "but" use deadly force. She's under the influence and she's done something wrong but she is, despite everything, someone you care about.

    Once everything is sorted in the future, you might be weary about the events of what happened, but that person is still the person you care about and what happened was due to extreme circumstances. It isn't who the person really "is". Also, it helps the world hasn't ended and everything turned out well :P

    Anyways, that's how I see it. Take that how you will.
    Yeah, I guess that about covers it, although Sakura was more than just "drunk", she was actually insane.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    It's amazing Shirou, Rin, or Sakura never wake up after their endings in cold sweats thinking about the people that had to die or the people they killed in the war. It's like their psyche is made of reinforced concrete. Anyways, that was the end to what was supposed to be a 5000 word story. Funny how those short stories run away on a writer...
    Aww, nice ending. It's good to see Rin gradually on the mend, and to see Sakura's love fighting off the spectre of her Dark self.

    And, yeah, it is amazing how little Sakura, in particular, seems to suffer the after-effects of what happened, both in her own past and also in the Grail War itself. Although it might just be that we don't see all the times when she wakes up screaming after a nightmare and Shirou gently soothes her back to sleep....

    Rin too would probably feel quite bad about the fact that Sakura had suffered for so long whilst she had been blissfully unaware of it. Even though she's OK now, I could easily see her having nightmares about Sakura's abuse.

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    Vigilant. Relied Upon. Vigilantia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1984 View Post
    And, yeah, it is amazing how little Sakura, in particular, seems to suffer the after-effects of what happened, both in her own past and also in the Grail War itself. Although it might just be that we don't see all the times when she wakes up screaming after a nightmare and Shirou gently soothes her back to sleep....

    Rin too would probably feel quite bad about the fact that Sakura had suffered for so long whilst she had been blissfully unaware of it. Even though she's OK now, I could easily see her having nightmares about Sakura's abuse.
    Well, I always figured that those scenes would break the narrative and feeling of the HF epilogue. Nasu is a writer afterall :P Although, it is a shame the epilogues weren't all longer to explore the future more.

    Also, is it me or would Shirou really sleep in the same bed as Sakura? It seems like an un-Shirou-like thing to do (given everything we've seen of him and how he reacts to girls). Maybe sleeping in the room beside her.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilantia View Post
    Well, I always figured that those scenes would break the narrative and feeling of the HF epilogue. Nasu is a writer afterall :P Although, it is a shame the epilogues weren't all longer to explore the future more.
    Well, yeah, true. There's quite a lot that the epilogues don't really cover....

    Also, is it me or would Shirou really sleep in the same bed as Sakura? It seems like an un-Shirou-like thing to do (given everything we've seen of him and how he reacts to girls). Maybe sleeping in the room beside her.
    Well, I would imagine he would eventually (they are a couple, after all), and he certainly did after the final sex scene in HF. If she was having regular nightmares and he found out about them, then I would expect he would take to sleeping with her just so he could comfort her.

    From what I can tell, sleeping in the same bed (even non-sexually) is quite common in Japan, with children usually sharing beds (even in rather rich families - the Childcare is War doujins have Rin and Sakura sleeping next to each other, and I don't think it's just for the "dawww" factor...). Then again, most of the doujins I've seen set post-HF either have Sakura sleeping seperately or else have them sleeping together as a big change, so it may be that couples don't start doing that until some way into their relationship.

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