A/N: Welcome back (or welcome, if you're new) to this very, very special fanfic of mine. The Fate universe is my favourite anime universe, and houses two females in anime I absolutely adore and respect. Rin Tohsaka has been my favourite female anime character for over a decade now, and Saber (King Arthur) is so iconic she rarely requires an introduction. Fate/Heirs was my first attempt at fanfic, and while it's not bad, its age shows, and my new experiences as a writer (and further knowledge of the lore now) compels me to give this fanfic a hard re-work which will include chapter overhauls, constant, new passages and interactions, and whole new chapters. The last quarter of the main story is being completely changed (Salter, anyone?), and the "Days" portion (20 or so chapters after the Grail War concludes) requires a major cleanup/refining, in my opinion. Therefore, please enjoy, for the first or second time, this precious story to me, and feel free to leave me your thoughts on it. I generally reply to every single review. Thank-you very much!
Tonight. It starts tonight. Tonight, I summon my servant and enter the Fifth Holy Grail War.
But it's so early. Way too early. Papa said it should only be every sixty years, and yet…
Rin brushed the back of her hand with her fingers, a stinging sensation prickling further at the touch. The mumble of her teacher was lulling her into deeper contemplation. She couldn't focus on anything else but the looming trials. She had trained herself diligently for this very moment in time. However, now that it was upon her, she couldn't deny the nerves circulating within her entire being.
I will summon Saber, the most powerful class of them all. Papa showed me what I should do. I've practiced many a time. This will be simple. I'll win the war, restore the honour to the Tohsaka name, and wish…and wish…
But how should I deal with the other masters? I don't necessarily have to kill them as long as I take out their servants. It'll be fine. Even if I have to defeat the other magus, I've known my duty since infancy. It's been my burden to bear ever since I can remember. It's fine. I can do it. Everything will be fine…
Should I move aggressively or quietly? Target the families with deep ties to the magi realm, like the Matous? No. Proceed elegantly. Of course. As a Tohsaka should. I'll have to take immediate defensive measures. My name doesn't do me any favours other than invite a little caution. Even then, my identity isn't a secret either. Populated areas will have to be my main method of recon. I suppose it really depends on the servant I manage to summon. If it's Saber…If I can simply manage to summon Saber…
'Earth to Rin!'
Rin blinked and realized that class had been over for what must've been at least five minutes.
'Kaede.' She breathed, looking about as the classroom cleared out and the cleaning duty began their tasks. Her friend – one of the few she could barely classify as such – sighed in exasperation, her parted hair swishing as she shifted in her seat and chuckled.
'Oh! So you do remember who I am. Fancy that!'
'Sorry. I was lost in thought.'
'You're kidding! I never would have guessed!' Kaede sighed again. She didn't have patience to begin with, let alone when she was ignored. Rin sort of appreciated that about her. Perhaps that's why they clicked more than Rin typically allowed herself to with others in her school. 'So, I gotta go meet that guy before practice. You mind coming with?'
Rin nearly rolled her eyes. Romance was the sole focus of almost all of her classmates, yet she was distracted by a war that could very well influence the entire world. Completely different lives. Insignificant? She wouldn't go that far, although the thought had passed her mind. Kaede wasn't too bad, at least. Still, when a war loomed over her head involving heroic spirits of the past clashing in a battle royale, it was hard for Rin to sympathize with the notion of adolescent fancy and ridiculous confessions that led to relationships that wouldn't statistically last to begin with.
'Don't give me that look. We can't all by gorgeous, academically superior beings.' Kaede called Rin out, and she grinned.
Rin's aquamarine eyes drew enough attention at Homurahara Academy, but her mixed heritage only added to her mystique. She was gifted with a conventionally attractive face (thanks to her equally beautiful parents), long, soft brown, wavy hair, and a fit, physically pleasing body due to her ongoing and extensive training at the hands of a martial arts master and particularly aggravating old friend of her father's. Rin recognized why she was confessed to on a regular basis, but it didn't help her irritation with the triviality of it all when she had much larger problems constantly on mind…like studying magecraft. Maintaining a demanding appearance at school. Managing her estate. Being the last of the Tohsakas. Worrying about the very fate of Fuyuki City. That wasn't to say Rin was immune to passing thoughts of romantic intrigue, but that was a completely new form of frustration and discomfort she didn't have time for anymore. A blessing, really.
'I simply work hard.' Rin attempted to negate the compliments. 'In any case, you received that letter in your locker this morning, correct?'
'Yep. Isn't it a little old fashioned?'
'Slightly. But you have to admit, there's a level of charm in such an approach.'
'Hmph.' Kaede crossed her arms and scoffed while Rin packed up her things. 'So, are you coming or not?'
Rin valued the few individuals she might call friends, but for selfish reasons more than not. They helped her blend in and not draw attention to herself. Her grades were far above average, alongside her looks, so she couldn't be completely invisible, but living a perceivably "normal" life in school certainly assisted where it needed to. However, she couldn't sacrifice the preparation time she needed for this very special night. She felt bad for abandoning Kaede, since the girl didn't ask for much often, but such was life now.
'I apologize. I have plans tonight. My family is hosting a celebratory dinner for my grandfather who is in the city. Forgive me?' Rin considered herself a professional liar. It was necessary as a mage. It was a good thing. Her father had a silver tongue and a sly grin Rin could only hope to emulate accurately someday. The truth was, Rin was very much alone. Had been for many, many years. She didn't let it bother her…often.
'Ugh. Fine. I'll just let him off easy and be done with it.'
'I'd advise against it.' Rin found herself becoming serious, finally standing and placing her bag over her shoulder. 'Let him down hard. Don't leave room for doubt or false hope. You're only crueler if you don't.'
Kaede couldn't respond right away, and Rin noticed the shift in the classroom's atmosphere immediately. Damage control. She needed to repel the stares. Elegance. Seamless professionalism.
'At least, that's what my father told me once. I personally wouldn't know.'
'Pu-lease. How many confessions a month do you get?'
Rin didn't want to answer that question. Too many. Weekly. Sometimes days in a row. The downsides of such a large school. Lowerclassmen. Upperclassmen. Alumni. All were tiresome attempts to take her out on a date. Rin had only ever considered one individual as worth her time, perhaps, and he was in his own little world, as always.
'Mobile text me if you need anything. I'll do my best to respond when possible.' Rin turned heel and made her exit, eyes upon her. Eyes always watching the heir to the Tohsaka name…whether they new its weight or not.
Considering how long ago class ended, Rin expected the halls of Homurahara Gakuen to be a little less busy than they were. Perhaps there wasn't any real difference in the volume, and it was her own suppressed anxiety that was pushing through her nerves. Nonetheless, navigating the halls scratched at Rin's already aggravated nerves, and she clutched onto her bag with an iron grip, maintaining her posture and grace, but biting at the side of her lip subconsciously.
Perhaps in the day's one final attempt to thwart her focus, an obnoxious voice accompanied by bird-like giggling made Rin's back shiver, and she pushed through the crowd a little more aggressively than she had been resisting to in that moment.
'Rin-chan~! What's the hurry, my lady?'
Shinji Matou. He could be an enemy in hours. He could already be an opponent. His family had deep ties with the Mage Society. Magic ran through his veins like her own, no matter how pathetic it had become. Not only that, but he was a Grade A prick. If Shinji hadn't spoken so loud, Rin could've feigned ignorance to his antagonism, but she wasn't so fortunate. Some cockroaches required endless defeats. Not only that, but he had a shield that even Rin flinched at when considering. Her own Achilles' heel she wasn't sure how to handle now that the war was being set in motion. She thought she had more time. She needed more time…
'That would be Tohsaka-san to you, Matou-kun.'
Shinji dramatically acted out a pitiful excuse for emotional injury. There were three airheads among him – one under his arm – and they cackled almost wildly at the display. Such weak girls.
'You wound me, Rin-chan. I would think we had gotten over any previous misunderstandings.'
'There are no misunderstandings in these circumstances, Matou-kun. I am not interested. End of story. Thank-you for the offer.' Image. Image. Image. Balance. Balance. Balance. Elegance. Elegance. Elegance.
'Hmph! You're practically implying that I would bother to give you the time of day. How foolish, Rin-chan. You must be aware that I am a very busy man and there are many ladies that require my thorough attention.' Shinji held one such girl even tighter, his hand boldly brushing against her breast, although Rin could certainly see that she had successfully struck a nerve.
'Very well, then. My mistake.'
Victory…to a degree. She may look foolish to some, but at least she knew the truth. Shinji had, on multiple occasions, asked Rin on many a date even though he was clearly unwilling to admit as much. Rin had, naturally, turned him down on every occasion. She didn't have the time or desire for romance. Perhaps after the war, and her training was complete, she could make such considerations. Besides, it's not as though she had met a single individual that she could tolerate or count as her equal intellectually, let alone romantically. It just wasn't a focus. It couldn't be. Romance created weakness. Weakness couldn't be tolerated during such a deadly war. Not now. Not now. Not now.
That being said, Rin noted Shirou Emiya and Issei Ryuudou as she neared the staircase leading to the first floor of her school. Shirou was something of an enigma in her view, and enigmas were just that; perpetually fascinating, but equally perplexing. There was always this sort of disconnect in his eyes that baffled even Rin. He never truly smiled either. He was helpful and considerate; ridiculously so, and honestly fairly attractive in his solemn way, but there was an air of mystery about the boy that annoyed Rin. Issei, on the other hand, was the student council president, and openly disliked Rin for reasons she didn't care to consider for more than a second. He amused her enough, so, she poked the bear when she could. It was the little things, after all.
'How are you today, Ryuudou-kun?'
'F-fine.' Issei adjusted his glasses and scoffed. He was normally quite put together, but he wasn't foolish enough to dismiss Rin's placement in the school's hierarchy either.
'Don't work poor Emiya-kun to the bone now.'
Rin giggled inwardly at the sight of Issei's face. He was utterly flustered. Shirou didn't seem to pay her much mind though, simply tinkering with a piece of machinery in his hands as he tended to do.
'Have a safe trip home, Tohsaka-san.' Shirou's softer voice uttered suddenly.
Rin was thankful her back was to the boys, for her face must've reflected her surprise in some manner. Indeed, ever an enigma in Rin's life.
'You as well.' She managed gracefully. Shirou almost always remained silent when Rin pestered Issei, so why the change of heart suddenly? It wasn't truly worth investigating at the moment, but perhaps after the war she could amuse herself in some way. Assuming she survived the fights ahead…
The air was brisk on the way home. Summer had barely finished, yet Fall seemed to be welcoming itself sooner than most would willingly allow. It could be some sort of freak anomaly, and the warm weather may return any day, so, Rin didn't fret. Cooler temperatures were preferred for physically demanding activities anyway. Rin considered herself lucky.
Everyone's lives were moving along as though it were any other day. A neighbour walking her dog. Children bumbling about with sticks and backpacks. Couples teasing one another with light brushes of the hand. Corner stores being raided by students on their way home. Business men looking exhausted. As long as the rules were followed, the impact upon Fuyuki City would be minimal. The enforcers would make sure of that if they did their job properly. The church wasn't Rin's favourite establishment, but she had no choice but to have faith in their involvement. She cared for and hated Fuyuki City. The feelings were mixed. It housed so many wonderful and painful memories. Maybe that wasn't entirely unique to her own childhood, but she was confident her past was colourful enough to create a sound argument that her history was particularly unique and, perhaps, troubling, considering how her family had ended up, or lack thereof.
Rin shook her head and quickened her pace home, subconsciously aware of her surroundings in case the war took a turn for the worse more hastily than she anticipated. This would be her last walk home feeling even a semblance of comfort and safety. From here onward, from the moment she summoned her servant, everything would change. She was ready. She would will herself ready, just as she always had.
The Fifth Holy Grail War was about to begin. Seven magi would summon seven servants representing seven classes of warrior to do battle over the Holy Grail, which would grant the victors of the war one wish. Heroic legends who have left their mark in history through the ages would manifest, thanks to the Grail, their abilities and role alongside their master dictated by their class.
Saber. Archer. Lancer. Caster. Rider. Assassin. Berserker.
Rin's father had prepared her as a mage, and had tutored her endlessly for as many years as he could before his passing during the Fourth Holy Grail War. In all honesty, Rin never suspected she would have to participate in such a bloodbath, assuming her heir more than likely forced into such a fight. Yet, here she was, the back of her hand itchy and her family crest already beginning to show signs of manifestation. The war was happening whether she suspected to be involved or not, and therefore, Rin Tohsaka would use everything left to her by her father to summon the most powerful class available to any master, its base parameters consistently stacked, and its master's place in the final stages of the war reliably solidified.
Saber. Rin would summon Saber.
I'm going to win this war, Father. Mother.