Chapter 7: The School Life
Second morning after the potion of youth incident.
"Master, I still think I should accompany you to school," Saber Lily folded her arms and frowned.
"And that is simply a bad idea," Shirou disagreed. "You'll stand out and you aren't a student there anyway."
"This is a Grail War and if you're without a bodyguard, you're at risk," Saber Lily protested. "You are important and therefore need a bodyguard."
"I don't need a bodyguard," Shirou exasperatedly replied. "And I need to get going or else I'll be late. Taiga's already left and she'll be expecting me."
"Your worry over your sister figure's concern is commendable, Shirou," Saber praised. "But is it worth your life?"
"Considering that I won't get attacked again so soon, yeah, it is worth the non-existent risk." Shirou folded his arms and stared at Saber Lily. "Also, I have only been attacked at school once before. How likely could it happen again? Aren't Servants supposed to be rare? Only seven of you right?"
"And Lancer might come back," Lily pointed out. "You told me that you saw two Servants fighting in the school yard, Lancer chased you all the way here. What do you think about the other Servant? Perhaps he will attack you after seeing that you aren't dead."
"Come on," Shirou threw up his hands. "What are the chances of being attacked twice in two days?"
"Are we counting Taiga or not?"
"She wouldn't kill me."
"She tried to throw me out!"
"The duel was a farce, even if she beat you."
"Only in the first one! She cheated!"
"Of course she did. She's Taiga." Shirou sighed. "She does whatever seems fun, which means breaking the rules if they get in the way."
"Giving me a fake sword is cheating!" Lily stomped the ground petulantly, an adorable frown on her face.
"You ended up doing 15 rounds because neither of you would accept a loss." Shirou's hand met his face. "And you both ate all of my lunch afterward."
"Well," Lily blushed and looked away, one foot rubbing a circle into the ground behind her. "It was really good? I'm sorry! Please forgive me!"
Lily bowed from the waist a full 90 degrees.
"It's alright," Shirou forgave her. "It's not the first time it happened."
"People steal your lunches?" Lily looked up, an indignant fire in her eye. "Master, your lunch needs a bodyguard!"
"I'm not sure you're my first choice," Shirou pointed out. "It's like asking the fox to guard a chicken coop."
"I wouldn't steal your lunch!" Lily huffed. "On my honor as a knight, I would guard your lunch with my life!"
"Really?" Shirou raised an eyebrow. "You would guard my lunch from everyone that wasn't yourself?"
"If it's on my honor, I would do it!" Lily stood proudly, her small frame barely as tall as Shirou's even while she was standing on the step above his. Then she looked away awkwardly. "Well, I'm still a squire to be honest. But I was about to take my oaths as a knight so I would still keep my word."
She completely missed that I implied that she would be the one to take my lunch, Shirou realized.
Nodding self-satisfiedly, Saber continued. "On my word, name, and honor, I swear to my Master that I would protect his lunch from all takers!"
"Well, that's reassuring," Shirou sarcastically commented. "Except I didn't pack a lunch today, Lily."
"Oh." Lily looked crushed, like a child told Christmas was canceled and Santa Claus didn't have any gifts for her. Then her eyes widened and lips quivered. "Then, what will I eat?"
Shirou opened his mouth only to pause as he remembered that due to Taiga and Lily's extension of their duel into the dining room and breakfast this morning, he was out of ingredients, food, and leftovers. But he had to leave for school soon. He couldn't go shopping for more ingredients right now and he couldn't send Saber off to a restaurant as he didn't think restaurants existed back when she had been King Arthur. Would she be able to handle it? And given her appetite, would his wallet if he sent it with her to a restaurant? He wasn't sure. Which meant-
"All right," his hand met his face as he gave in. "You can come with me. I'll buy you a lunch at school."
He would have to go grocery shopping after school today. Maybe get double portions if Taiga and Saber decided to continue fighting through eating.
"Yippee!" Saber jumped in joy.
"It won't be very good-"
"-but it will be food." Shirou ignored Saber's crestfallen face. It made his heart pang that she looked so sad. "Oh, but you'll have to hide. It will be hard to make an excuse for you."
"No worries, Shirou!" Lily brightly replied before she disappeared from sight. "I can go invisible!"
Shirou blinked. He blinked again. Uncertain of where the girl who was in the middle of eating him out of house and home had gone, he waved a hand through where Lily had been standing. Nothing there. The girl was gone like she had been a figment of his imagination. But if she was, then who had fought with Taiga and eaten his food?
"Shirou!" she wailed as she reappeared a few steps away, arms folded across her chest, her face bright red. "That was my chest you stuck your hand in!"
Shirou's head exploded into a similar amount of red.
Rin eyed Shirou as he worked on a broken heater in the student council room from the hallway. How did the school janitor ever manage to become a Heroic Spirit?
Images images of fire, flying swords and blood flashed through her mind and she shuddered involuntarily. Yes, on second thought, she could see how that could qualify anyone to become a Heroic Spirit. If he had survived or will survive all that…
"So did you hear about what happened to the Matou?" Issei Ryuudou asked Shirou.
"There was a shift in the foundations and the gas pipe in the house exploded-"
Rin walked past the student council room and the conversation fell outside of hearing.
Rin stiffened as she felt two Servant signatures approach her. Not her Archer's but two different Servants. At least the coalescing Noble Phantasm barrier around the school had disappeared.
Master, Shirou Lily warned. Two Servants are approaching. But…
Rin barely held in her urge to shriek in surprise at her Servant's sudden communication.
Archer! She screamed across their bond. Don't surprise me like that! What would happen if I had reacted and people had noticed!
You could claim you stubbed your toe. Shirou replied.
In school? Without anything around that I could have stubbed my foot on? Rin asked, disbelieving. How did someone so illogical manage to end up on the Throne? My reputation value would drop!
Well, I guess reacting to a voice only you could hear might be bad, Shirou Lily said musingly. But perhaps it would help in the Grail War if a Servant could, I don't know, speak and warn their Master?
Yes, it might. Rin said bitingly. So then, tell me!
Well, you have two Servants approaching-
Tell me something I don't know!
One of them looks like Saber, not that it means anything with how many look like her, but the other… The impression of a shrug came over their familiar bond. I got nothing. She doesn't have any weapon I've ever seen before. She could be hiding it though and she looks a bit familiar but I don't know where.
So you've seen them before-Wait! Rin realized something like a flash of lightning. Did you, human you, participate in the Grail War?
Yeah, Shirou Lily sounded puzzled. Didn't you save my life with that gem after Lancer killed me? You introduced me to the Overseer that night.
Rin started. How did he know that she had used her gem? She would never have told anyone! How could she? She spent a decade of mana to revive a boy that she and her sister had a crush on! Only for him to turn out to be one of her competitors. Such a thing would doom her reputation as a magus!
But I didn't introduce you, human you, to the Overseer, Rin objected. We have him locked up and suff—ah, resting from his recent experiences. In a manner beneficial to my wellbeing.
Where did you even get that bed of nails? Also, I don't think those spikes and swords were meant to go there—
Beneficial to MY wellbeing. Rin repeated firmly.
Oh, Archer said as he realized that Rin still held a grudge against Kirei. Rin hid her smug smirk behind her usual school idol mask. She had won the argument. As to be expected of her.
But as she turned the corner, she suddenly remembered that she had sensed two Servants coming her way. And she and Archer were still recovering from treating Sakura. She had gone through most of her reserves and even a day later, Archer would only be able to fight for a few minutes at best.
And the enemy Servants were just getting off the stairs in front of her right now.
Again, Rin barely held in her urge to scream as she realized that the two Servants dressed in school uniforms were right in front of her.
Her school's uniforms. One a blue-haired, delicate girl with a bit of illusion on the sides of her head around her ears and one athletic but slender blond with her hair in a pony tail with a cute black bow in her hair. But both of them were wearing the brown vest over white shirt and past knee length black skirt that was her school's girl uniform.
The three girls blinked at one another.
"Um," the blue haired girl began. "Is this the floor class 2-C and 2-A is on?"
Oh, yeah, I was going to tell you. Archer Lily added in brightly. They are materialized and look like they have joined the school to get a modern education. Their parents must be proud of them being so proactive in seeking a good education even in the midst of a Grail War. For however long that is until the school is destroyed by collisions between Servants, nearly absorbed into a Bounded Field Noble Phantasm, depopulated or canceled.
WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME EARLIER!? Rin screamed into Archer Lily's mind.
She could feel him flinch.
Because you were worried about your reputation? Her Servant replied, somewhat unsure in tone but a smirk was buried underneath. She just knew it! Her Servant was mocking her! I don't know, I believe I was about to tell you but then I was somehow interrupted. Must have been some voice yelling in my head.
Rin savagely bit back a curse. Her Servant's sarcasm could be dealt with later.
But right now, she had to deal with this.
She couldn't fight. Her Servant was weakened badly by the massive expenditure of power to save Sakura yesterday. Nothing to the extent that they couldn't fight if needed but Archer Lily's and her own mana reserves were low. Low enough that if Shirou Lily had to do a full-out brawl against 2 Servants that were still full on the power they were summoned with, he would probably be looking at his defeat from running out of magical energy even if they didn't land a blow on him. She had planned on spending a few days just recovering strength to restore their reserves so that Shirou Lily wouldn't use all of his magical energy up in invoking his Noble Phantasm repeatedly in a fight.
And one of these girls were Saber, bearer of Magic Resistance so any spells Rin could do with her vastly depleted stores might not even do anything. And the other, judging by the illusion around the ears, was probably Caster. Two Servants obviously not hostile to each other.
And they were in broad daylight in a crowded school. Saber, Caster, and a magus.
The only way it could be worse is if the Assassin stood behind her right now.
At least Archer was just a floor up from her. It would take less than a second for him to come to her rescue if he had to. Oddly enough, the idea that Servant Shirou Emiya was there to save her in case a fight broke out was both very comforting and encouraging.
It was with that reassurance that Rin acted.
"Yes, it is," On the outside, Rin smiled sweetly and tilted her head, eyes closed. Bluff, bluff, and bluff some more. Pretend that the only thing keeping you from starting a fight is the rule to keep the Grail War hidden and not the fact that you couldn't win. "Do you need any help to find your classrooms?"
You should get that brain checked out then. Rin replied to her Servant even as she bluffed to two Servants confident enough to walk around in public daylight. Schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, is unbecoming of an existence on the Throne of Heroes.
You'd be surprised, was all her Servant would say. The Throne is full of a lot of crazies.
Sneezes. Many, many sneezes from the Throne of Heroes. Especially those who could qualify as Berserkers. In fact, there are so many sneezes, that I won't bother listing them.
So, Archer, Rin began dangerously even as she greeted two heroes long dead like they were nothing suspicious. They in turn didn't cut her in half or blast her with more magical energy than Rin could put out in her current state. Quite a bargain. Why didn't you tell me that you were part of the Grail War?
In my defense, you usually are the one to explain to me what was going on, Shirou Lily began defensively even as he walked phantom-like an entire floor above her. I didn't know a thing about the Holy Grail War up until that point. I accidentally summoned Saber just before that but I think that was two nights ago now.
So Shirou Emiya has Saber then. Rin concluded.
Maybe. Shirou reminded her. This timeline is different from what I remember. It could be that he didn't summon Saber.
Would you recognize Saber if you saw him? Rin asked.
Her. Shirou corrected. And yes. I would never mistake her for anyone else. And if it should happen that he didn't summon the Saber I remember, then I should be able to discern who the Saber is at first glance.
Good. Rin thought about his response even as she watched Caster enter her new classroom, which happened to be hers as well, to talk with the teacher there and give him the papers attesting to her being assigned to be part of his class. The tall teacher nodded severely and directed the disguised Servant to a seat. Rin turned away with the other Servant still following her, hoping that having a Servant in her class wouldn't negatively impact her education or her school ranking. Or her life but the other two in particular. But there was nothing for it at this point, she couldn't kick a Servant out from the school. Since you already saw her from the upper floor, is the non-Caster behind me Saber?
I think so. I haven't seen her sword yet so I can't say for certain, Shirou replied. But the problem is, Saber would never think to enter the school like this. She would only enter to guard her Master. This?
Rin could almost sense him shaking his head.
She wouldn't enter school like a student. Archer Lily predicted. She'd be behind her Master or right beside him at all times. But she isn't. And I would never think of enrolling her as a student. More like hide her from everyone or something.
So she looks like Saber but isn't acting like Shirou's Saber? Rin summarized his position. Could we have changed anything that would lead to things happening like this?
Hmm. Shirou hummed. Me, Gilgamesh, and Medusa were turned into Lily Servants but I don't see how that would have affected Shirou and Saber. Though Gilgamesh could have interfered, I doubt it. Education was never something he was concerned with and as the current overseer, he wouldn't act to enroll only one Servant into a school. Neither did we didn't introduce Shirou and Saber to the overseer. Instead we took him prisoner. But Shirou does know enough about magecraft to keep a Servant hidden. We went after and wiped out Zouken and kidnapped Sakura and Medusa. But Zouken has nothing to do with me this early on in the war. At best maybe an early meeting or something but nothing like this. Let's see, what else…Ah.
What? Rin asked as she led the Saber. What did you realize?
This morning, Sakura had breakfast at your place instead of his. Shirou said.
That's it? Rin asked incredulously. Of all the things that could have changed things to end up differently from what you remember, the location of Sakura's breakfast is the culprit?
It could have thrown Shirou's thought patterns off, Shirou Lily suggested. Waiting for her only for Sakura to never arrive. Or he could have been worried about her house being blown up. But that only makes it seem less likely as he would have been more focused on helping or finding Sakura than on how to conceal a Servant. But even then, he wouldn't be able to get a girl's uniform for Saber unless…
Unless he failed to hide Saber from Taiga and she somehow thought Saber was a high school student skipping school, Shirou Lily concluded.
A mundane teacher would force a Saber class Servant into school? Rin asked skeptically.
Taiga and mundane really don't go well together. Shirou drily responded. Like beans and cheese, only with less gas and more chaos.
Rin couldn't deny that. She had Taiga as her English teacher after all. But to the extent of enrolling a Servant as a student? She wasn't that strange, right?
"This is your classroom," Rin said out loud to Saber as she approached classroom 2-C. Shirou's class. She didn't know that just because she had a crush on him.
"Thank you," The Saber gave her gratitude before shifting from foot to foot. Rin stopped herself from taking inhaling. She was so adorable in her fidgeting! Like a puppy that she had never had. "Um, do you know where the teacher is?"
"The teacher?" Rin looked into the class to see it empty of any adult. And Shirou and Shinji, though the latter two being missing was no surprise. Shinji was either dead with the mansion or reasonably skipping school to avoid the war. And she had just seen Shirou in the Student Council Room. "Class is about to start in five minutes so everyone should be gathering right about now. Excuse me?"
Rin intercepted a student about to enter the classroom. "Do you know where your teacher is?"
"Fujimura?" The random person asked. Rin nodded in confirmation. "Ah, she's probably late. Nothing unusual. Do you need her for something, Tohsaka?"
"Not me," Rin demurred as would have been expected of an honor student. "But the student behind me-"
"Saber?" Shirou asked from behind her, causing Rin to freeze as the human Shirou, an enemy Master, was behind her and she didn't notice until after he spoke up. She did brush her hair this morning, right? Yes, she did, it was after finding Sakura leaning against the wall in the kitchen, trying to make breakfast while still weak from the surgery. It had taken some fussing and a lot more effort to get her to sit down. Sakura had gotten more stubborn from when they were young. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, Shirou!" Saber brightened up. "I've come to school to learn! I think it will help a great deal in preparing for the future."
"But how?" Shirou sounded baffled. Rin collected herself enough to turn around to face him. It definitely looked like he was surprised and unaware that Saber had just joined their school. But if that was true, who had entered her into the school?
Saber was craning her head every which way, taking in all the wonders and marvels of the modern era.
Cars, bicycles, paved roads better than even the Roman roads, poles, two story houses! For everyone! It was amazing! Is this what humanity will become? Such a drastic change, almost unrecognizable, but so incredible.
"Something feels off," her Master muttered to herself. "Like I'm missing something."
"Like what Master?" Saber Lily asked curiously, preparing herself to manifest. Was there danger? Was Assassin about to strike? She couldn't detect another Servant nearby.
"What is it?" He muttered. "It's not Saber Lily, wait, are you still here?"
"I'm here, Master!" Lily chirped.
"Um," Shirou raised a hand then hesitated. Remembering just a dozen minutes earlier, Saber Lily hastily stepped back and away, her ethereal face feeling hot despite not having a body at all right now. "Speak up, um, if you can? Please? I really don't know anything about all…this."
Shirou seemed to remember that they were on a public road and that the modern era demanded that magecraft be hidden. Very different from her time. Magi were respected and feared but now they just didn't want to be bothered. Merlin had said that he too didn't want to be bothered at times, especially at night and entertaining guests. Something about night being the time for magus business and he liked his liver and neck safe from Kay and Ector too much to teach her those lessons so stop pouting.
"I did!" Lily said indignantly. "Oh, you can't hear me like this, can you Master? Um, weren't Servants and Masters supposed to have a telepathic link? Um, Master, why don't you use that? Um, how do I use it? Am I doing it right?"
"Anyway," Shirou shrugged and went back to walking on his path to school. Lily followed. "What is it that we're missing? I changed clothes, cooked breakfast, fed Taiga, locked the doors, made sure Taiga left on time… Ah."
"Merlin, why didn't you teach me how to use a familiar bond? Wait, isn't this supposed to be automatic?" Lily wondered. "I thought that being a Servant would give me an automatic knowledge of how to use this… I think I am doing something wrong, maybe?"
"Sakura didn't come today." Shirou nodded in front of her. Saber Lily jumped up beside him. He was frowning. "She's usually pretty regular about coming over. I don't think she ever told me she ever missed a school day without telling me first."
"Um, are we properly even linked?" Saber Lily wondered. "Oh, we forgot to reestablish the Master-Servant bond after the transformation! Master, we still have work to do! I'm getting a tiny amount of mana from you but you said you are pretty weak so that makes sense… But we can't talk like this!"
"Is Sakura okay?" Shirou worried. "Did she get sick?"
"I guess you can't hear me," Lily frowned and looked around. Boys and girls in clothes like her Master were on the street, moving in the same direction. "And there are too many people around for me to appear and talk to you physically."
"Should I ask Taiga?" Shirou wondered to himself. "Or should I go look for her after class? Probably should ask Taiga first. She might know. She went to Archery club this morning. And Shinji is there too so she would have asked him."
"You can't hear me," Lily glumly concluded before stopping and frowning. "Wait, is that… Master!"
"I hope Sakura is okay."
"Servant! There's a Servant here!" Lily drew her sword so she'd have it in hand when she materialized. But she didn't manifest yet. Too many people and it wasn't allowed for her to fight in public like right now. "Shirou, be careful!"
"Oh, quiet down," a new female voice spoke up. "Your spiritual voice is loud. If you want to talk to your Master, just use your familiar link."
"Oh, sorry!" Saber apologized for speaking too loud. "Wait, you're an enemy!"
"Okay, let's take this somewhere else. Somewhere we can talk without hurting my mind." The other Servant spoke. "Let's see…how about behind the wall there? The one with blue roof tiles instead of black."
"How do I know you're not going to do something suspicious?" Lily asked suspiciously. Merlin, Kay, and Ector had all repeatedly told her not to follow strange people she didn't know to places she didn't know. Especially if she didn't tell one of them before. Even if her instincts said it was okay and they were in this case. And nobody was in danger this time so it wasn't like when she usually went off to help save a suspicious-looking person and their family and village.
"We'll be only a few feet away from school. If we fight, we'll quickly alert everyone and get into trouble," Was the other Servant's explanation. "Our Masters won't like us breaking the rules this early on in the war, right?"
"True," Saber nodded. "Alright then! I'll meet you when we can."
A few dozen feet away, a blue haired girl in a school uniform leaped over the school wall. Saber would worry but she could tell that a Bounded Field had suddenly been put in place before she had and that everyone was avoiding it. Even her Master was taking a detour into the street rather than continue walking on the sidewalk.
Saber jumped over the wall separating her and the other Servant.
"Excuse me, ma'am, but you can materialize now," the long blue-haired Servant said after a moment.
"Oh, right. Sorry," Saber apologized as she shifted from the Spiritual realm into the material. "I apologized for my rudeness."
"A knight princess," the blue haired girl's eyes widened. "You're so adorable!"
"Eh?" Lily blinked. That was not what she had been expecting to hear.
"Where did you get that ribbon?" the other Servant pressed, surging forward and touching the black ribbon tying her hair. "It's such a waste! Can you imagine what you would look like if your hair was down? You'd be so cute! But then again, the ribbon look is good too…"
"Cute! But, I'm a knight!" Lily stuttered as the enemy circled around her like a shark circling a minnow. "I'm a proud knight, a just protector of the innocent and weak!"
"I know!" the enemy squealed. "You completely look the part! Tasteful armor but leaving your shoulders and neck exposed, a skirt made to flare on either the battlefield or in a ball, excellent wardrobe! You got a good seamstress! Or armorer in this case. But if we put you in one of these," she snapped her fingers and a blue dress, white dress, red dress and black dress suddenly floating appeared in thin air. "you'd make a fabulous model! Can you imagine it?"
"M-model?" Lily found herself stepping back. What was this Servant doing? Weren't they supposed to be doing preparations for their inevitable battle? Negotiations? Banter? Why were they discussing dresses?! And modeling? Was this the dreaded feminine talk Kay had told her about?
"Why certainly," The enemy Servant smiled and nodded. "I'll be glad to help you model."
"Wait, hold on!" Saber held up her hand in objection.
And found herself fighting to keep the blue dress from falling over her head and her arms.
"Oh, you prefer the black dress?" The dreadful foe questioned. Another snap and Lily took a gasp of air. Before the black dress was sweeping towards her like a dangerous sword strike! Lily hurriedly drew her sword from her scabbard with a rasp of steel.
"Uh-uh," the enemy wagged her finger reproachfully. "No fighting. We're too close to public attention."
Saber Lily swung at the dress which disappeared before it could reach her.
"You will not persist in these attempts to distract me!" Saber Lily leveled her sword at the enemy. She seemed like a Caster with the ability to snap her fingers and pull clothes out of thin air. Beautiful dresses she had to admit.
"You're right," The Caster eyed her. "The black dress doesn't really go well with your skin tone. A little black is acceptable, maybe, but too much would clash. Maybe if we use some make-up or alter the hair color slightly. But Gothic doesn't seem like it would fit your personality. Maybe if we tried for gap moe…"
"Huh?" Saber couldn't understand what she was saying. No, this must be a distraction. An attempt to cause her to not pay attention to her Master while some dastardly villain made off with his lunch!
Oh wait, he didn't make a lunch today. They must be after his cooking skills instead! To somehow steal them and prevent her from having more delicious meals! No, she had no idea if that was possible but she couldn't take the risk!
"Hmm, in that case, how would red fare?" The blue Servant readied her fingers to snap.
"Stop!" Saber rushed to interrupt before the next wave of enemies could rush her position. "You will not distract me from my duty to protect my Master!"
"Master…?" The long-haired ponytail girl tilted her head before her eyes widened and she pounded the bottom of her fist into her palm. "You're right! I completely forgot about finding my Master a good wife at school! We'll have to play dress-up again next time."
"You're going to do this again-wait, no that's not important!" Saber Lily corrected herself. "What do you mean finding your Master a wife at school? Is your Master at school?"
"Yes, like yours I presume?" The Caster tilted her head questioningly. "Oh, are you referring to the boy you were following?"
Saber felt her blood freeze in her veins. The Caster already had picked out her Master? They hadn't even talked much! How had she figured it out?
"I mean, it is obvious that your Master is here otherwise you wouldn't have come," the Caster reasoned. "I'll have to thank him for coming to school in the middle of a Grail War. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to meet."
"Caster-you are Caster, correct?" Saber Lily kept her sword pointed at the enemy.
"Yes," Caster curtsied, her hands pulling her school skirt out. "I am Caster Lily. And you must be Saber."
"Indeed. I am titled Saber Lily," Saber affirmed, her courtly manner training kicking in. "But what causes you to think that I will permit you to leave with the identity of my Master known when you might have any number of diabolical spells to afflict him now that you know him?"
"Um, because if we fight here, our Masters will get in trouble," Caster lead on, like it was obvious.
Saber felt her cheeks warm. They had agreed to this parley for that reason. How could she have forgotten simply because of some dresses?
"Well," She coughed to cover her embarrassment. "Your argument might have some validity. However, I require your word that you will not reveal my Master's identity nor will you seek to harm him."
"…Saber. You are aware that this is a Grail War, right?" Caster Lily raised an eyebrow. Idly, the Servant rubbed her black school skirt to her leg. "It would be foolish to trust that everyone will be playing above the table."
"Perhaps," Saber Lily acknowledged. Ector and Merlin had made it a point to drum it into her head that while honor and chivalry were vital, there were people who would discard it if they thought it would benefit them. "But I will deal with such dishonorable knaves if they will act so."
"I see," Caster eyed Saber, her eyes clear but with suspicion. Thought and judgement was being made. Even Saber, in her young self could see it.
Would Caster trust the word and honor of her enemy? When they didn't even know each other's True Names?
Caster Lily closed her eyes and smiled. "Then I'll trust you. Very well, I promise I will not reveal your Master's identity or attack him if we are not fighting."
"And I promise you I will do the same to you and yours until such a time as we face each other on the field of battle. You and your Master's identity and life will be safe with me," Saber vowed, sheathing her sword. Words and oaths had been exchanged and despite her foe's unusual weapons, her honor would protect her Master now that she had failed to hide his identity.
"Great!" Caster Lily clapped her hands together. "Then shall we go to school…"
The Caster Servant eyed Saber Lily and then down at the Homurahara school uniform Caster herself was wearing and back up. Back down. Back up.
"Acceptable," Saber Lily nodded as she prepared to shift back into the astral realm.
"Actually," Caster interrupted her before she could disappear. "There might be a better idea for you to protect your Master while at school…"
Saber wondered why she instinctively took a step back. And what was that gleam, that passionate fire in Caster's eye that it frightened her more than Ector's worst attempt at cooking potatoes?
"She somehow managed to get me into this uniform and signed up for classes in less than 5 minutes, Shirou," Lily's eyes looked like she had seen hell. "It was the second-worst 5 minutes of my life."
"That…" Shirou tried to find words. "Doesn't sound so bad…? I mean, what did she even do? How did another student manage to sign anyone up for classes? How could getting signed up for school possibly be so bad? What did she even do?"
"I don't want to remember," Lily shivered, her school skirt shaking with the motion. Shirou's utter confusion was not strong enough to stop his eye from sneaking a peak down at her white, strong legs. "All those dresses and uniforms…"
What did dresses have to do with getting signed up for classes?
Sakura drew in a single pure breath of air in the house that could never again be home. It was weird. Knowing Zouken was dead, murdered by heroes. The silence in body and mind. The minor aches of surgery rather than the constant wiggling of invaders. The muting of the whispers in her spirit.
Oh, make no mistake, Sakura knew she was still a monster and the whispers of her filth was still creeping through her, tainting the newfound purity Senpai had given her despite her best efforts. She was still an evil, dirty girl who only lived by the grace of Senpai. The miracle that only Senpai could have done. But Senpai had saved her. Senpai had saved her.
The thump of a cupboard came from downstairs. Sakura struggled to push herself up from under the covers and swing her legs off the bed before Medusa opened the door to her room and glared at her. She lapsed back to her bed with a pout as Medusa walked in with…left-overs from breakfast.
But he was slightly different from her Senpai, Sakura found herself reflecting as Medusa Lily moved over to Sakura and lifted her up to eat, glaring at her when she tried to raise herself up. Sakura had spent years watching Senpai and Rin's Servant was Senpai but a slightly different Senpai. It was in his stance, the position of his hands, where he looked, how he reacted to Gil or Medusa or even herself. Even his cooking was slightly different, a little larger in portions and serving sizes. Senpai was Senpai but he was like a Senpai who had gone on a trip and came back a little different, a little damaged by his experiences.
She didn't like it. She wanted to be part of Senpai's life, not see him change without her. She wanted to be the one changing with him, not him going off on his own. A selfish, greedy desire. She shouldn't be harboring it. Love wasn't supposed to be like that.
Medusa held up a spoon to Sakura. Sakura sealed her lips shut. Medusa glared. Sakura pursed her lips tight, refusing to be treated as an invalid. Medusa's eyes narrowed. Sakura stood firm.
Even as they wordlessly argued over how Sakura would eat, her thoughts didn't leave their fixture on Senpai. She wasn't sure if she liked this Senpai as much as she liked the real Senpai. Servant Senpai was a Heroic Spirit, a recreation of a legend, a person. Even a non-magus like her knew that. But at the same time, this Senpai had saved her. But he had also seen some of the things about her she never wanted him to see.
"Eat." Medusa opened her mouth to order.
"No." Sakura refused. "Give me the spoon."
"No." Was Medusa's simple answer. "Eat."
Sakura pouted. Medusa puffed her cheeks out and pouted back. The spoon hovered between them, the handle still in Medusa's hand.
He was Senpai. Just…not her Senpai. He was indiscernible from Senpai, unmistakably Senpai. Just, he might not be the Senpai she had helping for the last year and had fallen in love with. It was like how Medusa Lily was the same taciturn Medusa she had summoned but slightly different, including the loss of height and gain of innocence.
For a brief moment Sakura envied Medusa. That with just one accident, Medusa could be transformed into an innocent. Why couldn't she have had her clock rewound, turned back into a time before she had to endure everything?
But Sakura pushed that feeling down with ease of long practice. Medusa was to her like a sister. A younger sister now, which Sakura couldn't help but like the feeling of. She had always been the younger sister, first of an older sister lost but now returned, and then an older brother. Now she got to play with the younger sister as the older sister.
The spoon pushed towards Sakura's mouth. Sakura leaned back.
If only Medusa didn't associate being the younger sister with the responsibility of taking care of helpless older sisters instead of the other way around!
Sakura wished she was strong enough to escape. Well, to be honest, she was. She could leave the bed anytime. It was just that whenever she did, Medusa threw her back into bed. Or took her to the bathroom and then threw her back in bed.
Sakura sighed. She couldn't wait for tomorrow when she would be permitted to go to school. If she rode a cab instead of walked. And listened to Medusa. And could persuade Rin that she didn't need to be watched every minute of the day. And didn't try to wake up hours before Rin and walk or get a ride over to Senpai's.
Oh, it was nice to be treated like Rin's younger sister again. Sakura couldn't deny that; Rin was doting, too much so, and Sakura relished the sensation. But it grew old, especially this morning when Rin looked like she was the one who had lost and regrew over a pint of blood at seeing Sakura trying to make breakfast after persuading Medusa that no, Medusa couldn't cook something that wasn't charcoal and that she wouldn't go to Senpai's for breakfast if Medusa would let her cook breakfast here.
At least Rin's Servant-Senpai helping to cook breakfast was almost as good. She could persuade Senpai into letting her cook alongside him. He was Senpai and he had the same weaknesses she knew oh so well when it came to persuading her stubborn Senpai.