Fate/Bonds Beyond Humanity

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24- Home Is Where The Heart Belongs

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Medusa, even when she was a giant and had wings, never had actually tried to fly before. The transformation of her body from goddess to monster took away much of her joy and wonder when it properly started so she never thought about it.

But inside a plane the little goddess can't help but look at the windows with wonder as they are high above the clouds. Such concepts were things that only high gods and birds could do before were now miracles of man and the small girl, barely as tall as Koneko, can only admire the progress of humanity.

Now she is dressed in what her protector called proper clothing; a purple dress that matches her hair with long sleeves and ribbons on her hair to keep it from touching the ground. On her feet there are sandals which Medusa accepted easily, the centuries of not having feet meant she didn't find them as odd as she should.

Undeniably anyone that looks at her would see a small but beautiful girl, they still would be stuck looking at her for a good time if not interrupted as her mere presence is hipnotic to the weak of mind but a girl still away from her teenage years is what she actually looks like. An extremely cute one.

Besides the new ways of dressing that the mortals invented there are many things that caught Medusa's eye as they moved to a city that was bigger than anywhere she lived before, all around her the modern world showing its beauty; with bright, foods that she never imagined on her time, clothes that in the past would be exclusively for gods and kings. And she also saw much of its ugly side; the dirty, too many people in close spaces, the attitude of some of those people and the bad smells in some places.

While they were on land Shirou did his best to explain some of the intricacies and changes to the modern world. Medusa was baffled by the fact that they were going to the Far East and that it would only take a couple days to get there by one of the inventions that mankind managed to create: a plane.

That is where they are now, on their way to the country of her protector, Japan. She never thought that such a distant land could exist separated from the continent, or its actual size once Shirou bought her a book with maps once she thought that his cell phone was an instrument of sorcery and almost broke it in half from surprise.

Unfortunately for Medusa, while she likes reading, she can't read even the modern version of Greek, the language had evolved too much in the milenia she was away. Shirou didn't let that deter him and before their plane had arrived he started to teach her Japanese and English, promising her to get some books on them for her once they landed in his home country.

All things considered the former Gorgon is happy to have accepted going with Shirou back to his native land as she has nothing bounding her to Greece anyway and he was proving to be nice and patient with her in a way that only her sisters, on their better days, were able to.

However at the moment she finds herself in a dilemma; she just can't take her eyes from the window as they fly on the plane. "Are you sure your parent is not a god or king of some kind?" Medusa asks but her eyes do not leave the cloud they are passing by. "I can hardly believe that this luxury could be afforded by the common men."

Chuckling a little and looking at Kiritsugu, whose eyes are not leaving his laptop as the man is immersed in his work, Shirou replies. "He is not a god or a king but I find the concept of calling him 'common' extremely hard." In the same cabin that father and son had their conversation, even if in a different plane, Shirou motions to some books on the table. "Now come here. You already had enough time to look at the clouds and you need your lessons."

The idea made Medusa pout. "I may look like a child but I am not a child so you have no need to treat me like one."

"True." Shirou didn't deny that. "But don't you want to learn how to read anything in the modern day fast enough to read your books?"

And that is something that she deeply wants, especially since Kiritsugu allowed Shirou to buy as many books as she wanted in Greece to help with her lessons. The man ignores the byplay between his son and the goddess as his eyes remain on his work but takes note that Medusa is moving to sit besides Shirou as he opens a basic English book.

After the Shapeless Isle's fiasco, Kiritsugu knows he has to cover his bases. Even after getting the signatures of the Church members in a contract he knows they are not the only leaks that may lead to danger to his family.

First the man needs to make sure that the Greek pantheon intelligence network can't track him, even if he believes he didn't leave a trail, about the sabotages he did to them. Most of his agents are being pulled out by similar planes or other transports at this very moment as the man works constantly.

Only certain elements, freelancers that he has contacts for but aren't part of his group, are to remain with their ears on the ground to know what kind of reaction the Greek pantheon is going to have because of the Gorgon's 'demise'.

The fact that the Shapeless Isle and its dangers are gone is assured to change the state of the moonlit world in Greece and Kiritsugu can't predict the exact reactions that are going to have on the people, neither in the mundane or the fantastical side of things.

Besides that, he still wants to talk more with Shirou, his son who is diligently teaching Medusa the basics as the goddess shows herself intelligent and absorbs it like a sponge. The problem on that front is that the redhead doesn't want to speak with his father at the moment.

After a short discussion once they reached another hotel to rest and recover, the two fell in a silence between them that Shirou declared it was going to last until they were back home. The declaration surprised the older man who expected a fight or a heated debate after they left the island and made preparations to leave Greece in the best hipoteses.

Instead Shirou just said what was going to happen and asked him to make preparations and give him some money to buy things for Medusa, the concept of which the Magus Killer is still having troubles to wrap around his mind.

Carefully, Kiritsugu's eyes leave one of the many emails he has received in the last hour to look at the little goddess. 'She looks too innocent to someone that doesn't know how to look.' Is one of the observations that he makes about her as he goes back to work.

To be sure that his son wasn't being tricked Kiritsugu at least demanded an explanation about the purple haired girl's presence. If his son wasn't a bad liar he wouldn't have believed a tale about a magical mirror and the suffering of Medusa.

However he could believe absolutely about Athena having a plan of some sort for her. She is the Greek goddess in charge of the defense of their country and she is one of if not the most wise among their pantheon. And in Kiritsugu's opinion she is also crueler than him considering some of her methods and that was even before he learned about Medusa's predicament.

But the Magus Killer can respect pragmatism and that is the reason why he is working around the clock to cover his tracks. Having Athena as an enemy is a terribly bad idea, worse than many other gods and he has no intention of getting on her bad side.

Kiritsugu looks at his son once again.

One good thing about this trip is that now the redhead looks much more relaxed even if he didn't explain to Kiritsugu why as of yet. The words that Shirou spoke after their escape of the sinking island are still stuck on the older man's head but after thinking for some time he believes to understand what Shirou meant. What Shirou wants.

For that he got into contact with Maya. If there is someone that he can trust to help on his hunch it is her.

Also he doesn't want to call his wife in case his suspicion is proven correct, there is going to be tears and would prefer if Shirou dealt with them himself since he is going to be the cause.

Massaging his eyes, Kiritsugu can feel the events of the last few days and the time he spent working on damage control finally setting in. He is exhausted and in desperate need of a nap. 'I think everything is settled already. Once we land in Japan then maybe things will calm down for a while.'

It is with this thought that a new message appears on his email, one that isn't familiar and the address reads 'goddess athena loves owls' all together. Kiritsugu takes a deep breath, closes his eyes and counts to ten, hoping that it is a hallucination.

The email is still there. 'It could be that she is just covering her bases.' It wasn't optimism that invaded Kiritsugu's mind, it was him just thinking about the probabilities. 'How fast could she have discovered the leek in her system, managed to discover that it was me and sent me a death threat?... Let's get this over with.'

Opening the email Kiritsugu promptly reads as Athena dissected his operation in Greece after the fall of the Shapeless Isle. But there was a positive for him in it, she didn't realize were his actions that tipped the scales inside their society and took away a valuable resource for her while destroying a source of money.

'...your attempt to subvert my system amused me once discovered and I would express my respect and nothing else if nothing much had come of it. Except it did, it allowed individuals of great power to pass unchecked and in consequence one project that I had invested much in was lost. Regardless of that, you violated our laws and are responsible for incalculable damage to my property. However, considering your influence and your allies there is little that I can do, especially without proof of your guilt since I only noticed your alterations to my defenses only when you had already started to remove them...' Silently, Kiritsugu reads line by line, already suspecting where the email is going to end. '...Considering that a conflict between us may cause more damage than solutions, you are henceforth exiled from Greece until I find some use for your skills. Graciously, Pallas Athena.'

Relief washed over Kiritsugu, things actually ended better than he expected. He is glad that he managed to extract everyone before Athena could catch the full extension of what he did. She also still has to deal with the backlash of the fall of the island and whatever problems came with it that she is not revealing to him.

'At least the email confirms the mirror of memories' veracity.' While Kiritsugu is sure he is not the only one being warned to leave, he is positive that Athena herself was aware of him and that she let slip more she intended because he knows Medusa's secret. 'Her suspicion is probably going to fall on Heaven since there is nothing stopping people talking about the angel that showed herself declaring she was going to slay the Gorgon.'

He takes another look at his son and the little goddess. She is already reading a book as big as a brick as Shirou is checking something on his tablet but stopping whatever he was doing when Medusa asked him a question and he took his time to patiently settle her doubts. If he is either studying as well or doing something else, Kiritsugu has no idea as he looks back to his computer.

'At least no one suspects that instead of being killed, the Gorgon regresses to the body of a child and is being smuggled to another country.' Taking a deep breath, Kiritsugu reaches for his coat, taking out a small black book and a pen.

It is the last task of the day and after that he is going to sleep the whole way to Japan. Everyone else is on their posts and he has Shirou's assurance that Medusa isn't going to do anything drastic, so far she didn't have any outlandish request and neither Emiya has much to complain about.

Shaking his head to take his mind off the potential powerful hazard flying on his plane, Kiritsugu opens his little book close to the last page, there is only a small list of names there. Names of countries that the patriarch of the Emiya family writes 'Greece' right at the end.

'And with that, there are nine countries that I can't return to...Iri is not going to let me hear the end of it. Neither she nor Sirzechs.' Kiritsugu still can remember when they gave him this book to take note of anything he shouldn't forget. He decided to use it to write a couple of obscure passwords he doesn't use much, notes on some things he tries to remember and every place he can't go back to. It is the reason why he doesn't personally take any jobs in Japan. 'Now that I thought about it, I better reserve a hotel room in Finland. If Iri's reaction is really bad she is going to need some time off and no better place than her favorite country.'

He also doesn't take jobs in Finland.

…..

Medusa can definitively say she has nothing against Japan. Shirou explained to her that the country is still in the midst of winter and the weather would be better entering spring but they arrived at the beginning of a new year and so snow is still everywhere and she is in heavier clothes as the car they are in moves to the Emiya residence.

She can tell that Shirou is nervous. He didn't explain to her what he is going to do but whatever it was, he is uncomfortable doing it. Ever since they landed he had a nervous energy that Medusa can't categorize.

But he isn't hesitating. Something that the little goddess is growing familiar with is Shirou's face when he is determined and even if he is nervous he is going to see it to the end. She closes her eyes in the back of the car, confident that her protector knows what he is doing.

'I have no idea what I am doing.' Shirou thinks to himself as they arrive at the Emiya residence. It is exactly how they left it, snow and all. 'Home sweet home I guess.' He thinks with a sad smile his new buttoned up shirt is a little tight with the armor beneath it but there was no place for it in the baggage. "Medusa, we arrived."

"This is your home?" The little goddess asked as she looked at the house. "It is smaller than I thought." She can see clearly that the house doesn't appear big compared to the palaces of antiquity or even her temple.

"His mother wanted a homie place to raise the family." Kiritsugu informs as he stops the car and opens the back to pick their luggage, everything bought in a random city since they had to abandon all they took to Greece in Perseus. "I am surprised-"

"Kerry! Shirou!" Irisviel announces their arrival by jumping out of the door to hug both of them.

"It has been months since you called me by that old nickname." Kiritsugu comments with a chuckle as the woman has her arms around both their necks.

Then she hugged them a little tighter and the men got concerned. "You two didn't show up for New Year's Eve." The long haired woman may not be a fighter but her hug was legitimately starting to suffocate both men. "I hope you two have a veeeeeeery good explanation for your delay."

"The Great Hunt began later than expected and we came back as fast as we could once it was finished." Kiritsugu, used to his wife's temperament, quickly says with as much confidence as he could muster.

"Mama!" Illya comes running outside the house, followed by a frustrated Sella and a calm Liz as they exit the house with their normal clothes but the short haired maid has the addition of a plate on her hand as she is eating her dinner without concerns. "Why did you- Papa! Shirou!"

The older sibling of the Emiya family charges at the recently arrived and Iri, with a glint on her eyes, dodges to the side to let both men to feel the full strength of a starved from affection Illya as she almost pushes them into the car.

"I missed you two so much!" Her hug is considerably stronger than her mother's but the father and son duo are actually in a better situation since she is hugging them by their sides and not their necks.

"I missed you too, Illya." Shirou says with a smile as Kiritsugu pats his daughter's head.

"So, how was the trip?" The long haired young woman asked, stepping back from the males. "Was it enlightening? Fun? Did you two bring souvenirs?"

"We had to leave in a hurry." Shirou says with a smile, moving to open the back door of the car. "But yes, it was enlightening." He opens the door and stepping out from it is Medusa, someone he and his father are somewhat acquainted with after the last few days.

All the women of the Emiya family are shocked by the arrival. To them, Medusa looks like a doll, flawless and perfect. Even the way she stares at them can be called cute or beautiful depending on the perspective.

"So this is your family." Medusa comments while looking at the two similar women with long hair, her eyes going to the younger of the two. "And she is your sister." There is some sadness in her voice but it disappears with her next wods. "You two look nothing alike."

"I forgot to mention that I am adopted." Shirou comments while scratching the back of his head, not noticing how Iri is approaching them with wonder in her eyes.

"And the other two." The purple haired girl asked, motioning to Liz and Sella. "Are they your siblings as well?"

"No, we are the caretakers of the house and guardians of Illyasviel-sama and Shirou-sama." Sella says with respect and dignity, recognizing that the small girl before her has a certain dignity that demands the older maid to be respectful. "I am Sella and this is my sister, Leysritt."

"Sup." Is the short haired maid greeting, much to the frustration of the older sister.

"'Sup'?" Medusa tilts her head in confusion, her understanding of any language not giving her insight of what that means.

Meanwhile, Iri can't hold herself anymore and gets closer to Medusa, lowering herself to approximately her height to look her in the eyes while holding herself back from doing something rude. "And who are you, little lady? Are you someone my husband and son helped?" She wants to throw her arms around the little girl and give her a hug but the woman manages to hold herself back, just barely.

Medusa looks at the woman and steps a little closer to Shirou, not trusting the stranger completely yet but not reacting much since she has her protector's trust. "Shirou promised to protect me until I recovered my power."

"Your power?" Illya caught those words and then looked at her brother suspiciously. "Who is she?"

"Mom, Illya, Liz, Sella." He calls each of their names before placing a hand behind Medusa's head to incentivize her to step forward. "Allow me to introduce you all to Medusa, a goddess of the earth and former Gorgon of the Shapeless Isle."

Rare are the times that Kiritsugu can see all the white haired women of his family with their chins dropped but this is one of those ocasion and the man regrets hadn't got a camera ready. It is still a memory he will forever cherish. "Maybe we should get inside?" He suggested. "From what I can see, dinner must be getting cold."

"Please don't let it be fish." Medusa requests as she goes around a shocked Iri and Illya with only Liz moving to give her and Shirou passage. "I am tired of eating fish at least for a while."

"Don't worry." Shirou reassured her, in his hands a new suitcase for her and a bag for himself for new clothes he had to buy. "You just need some variety...and a kitchen in general. I promise when we have fish it will be in a way you have never tasted before."

"I will take your word for it." Both of them entered with Liz right behind. The short haired maiden is not even bothered by the presence entering their house.

"She…" Iri, for the first time in a long while, is without words. Kiritsugu feels the need to enjoy that while it lasts.

"Is she- I mean, was she really the Gorgon? Is she really Medusa? That Medusa? The Medusa?" Illya's mind is running in circles by the fact that Medusa, a being of legend and one of the fundamental monsters of Greek mythology, is now in her house as a little girl.

"Yes, she is." Kiritsugu will never admit he is taking joy in the surprise on the women's faces but he absolutely is.

"But- but- why is she here?" Sella questions, afraid of the being that is now in their house, sitting on their table and getting ready to eat the food she made. Now she is regretting not having made something better or stravagant considering that a literal goddess is in their residence.

"Why didn't you call?" Iri gets up and looks at her husband as the man scratches the back of his head.

"There is something that Shirou wants to talk about." Just his words placed Irisviel on edge. "I also thought that explaining everything by phone would be useless since even I don't have the whole story."

"I see…" His wife's replies are calm but he knows her for long enough to tell that she is worried.

"You should have called earlier, Kiritsugu-sama." Sella turns around and runs inside the house. "I better make sure our illustrious guest is well attended to."

And with that there are only three people outside as the clouds indicate that the night will have more snow falling. "Is she dangerous?" Illya questions after some time. "I can barely feel her presence. It is there but it is just so weak."

"From what I can understand she lost much of her power by an erroneous transition between Gorgon and her actual form." Kiritsugu reveals what he managed to pry from Shirou. "She is pretty much defenseless and Shirou promised to protect her since he is responsible for her actual condition."

When she heard those words Illya frowned but then let the frown go with a sigh. 'There is no way he is going to join the Hero Faction now.' The realization did annoy her a little more than she thought it would but it made sense.

The main goal of the Hero Faction is human supremacy and a goddess like Medusa may disagree with it or, in the worse hypothesis possible, Shirou tries to join the Hero Faction, someone may tries something with a weakened goddess and Shirou defends her, resulting in a conflict that may end badly, especially with some of the members that Illya knows in the faction that will want to use her power, weakened or not.

And Illya knows that, she knows that Shirou isn't going to risk it. Just Medusa's presence alone is enough to indicate for her that he discarded the idea of joining her.

"What was Shirou's choice?" The daughter questions her parents, her frown may be gone but she is still upset with the situation.

"I don't know." Kiritsugu confessed, much to his wife and daughter's frustration.

"Did you even ask?" Iri asks with a raised eyebrow.

"Not really. He is going to tell us on his own time." And that just made the younger white haired woman even more frustrated. She wants answers, she needs to know where Shirou stands.

"Did he kill anyone?" Illya questions and her mother won't deny that she wants to know it too.

"None human but neither the Gorgon as you all can see. He did kill many serpents but not the main one and I am sure he was willing." Kiritsugu's answer didn't satisfied his daughter

"Hmph." Illya turns back to the house, planning to wait for what Shirou has to say, even if she knows she won't like it.

"She is upset already." Iri comments with a smile. "Probably because it is clear her brother isn't joining her." The mother of the house came to similar conclusions to her daughter but something is still worrying her regardless. "You have no idea what Shirou is going to say?"

"None." It is the only answer that Kiritsugu can give his wife. "I don't know what he saw in the cave of the Gorgon or all the details since it was her past and not his to share." The man paused, stepping to the house as his wife took hold of his free arm.

"It doesn't matter what it is, we will support him." Iri says as much to Kiritsugu as to herself but the man doesn't reply.

'If my suspicion is right, then maybe you won't want to support him.' But the mercenary doesn't say it, he remains silent as both enter their home and lock their door.

Turns out that they arrived in the middle of dinner but there is still enough for everyone to eat once Liz shared some of her portion and Sella moved to make some more.

As Medusa had wished, it is not fish but chicken fried in a pot with some salads and rice. The purple haired goddess has nothing to complain about and even praises the food, finding it better than anything that she tasted before much to Sella's relief.

Liz then asked the purple haired girl if she had tried Shirou's cooking yet and received a shake of the head that had the short haired woman of the house saying. "That is why." And returned to eat while ignoring her sister's small glare.

At the moment everyone is eating mostly silently while Shirou tries to teach Medusa how to use the hashi even if Sella had offered a fork for her to use insisting that she wanted to learn for the sake of trying new things.

Shirou didn't disagree and started to teach the little goddess, watching amusedly as she tried and failed to grasp the chicken, much to her frustration. He offers some instruction which Medusa listens to and tries again, managing to succeed this time before letting it drop back on the plate in the middle of her silent but noticeable celebration.

But in the table there are others watching the interaction with some trepidation; Kiritsugu would have prefered if his son talked with them already, Irisviel is nervous because her husband didn't know what their son has to say while Illya just wants to know where Shirou stands, her impatience bleeding to Sella who can see her mistress is getting more annoyed by the minute.

Liz is just eating her chicken, happy that Shirou is present again and already making plans to ask him for a cake one of these days. 'Maybe Medusa will like one as well?' She realized that the little goddess has an appetite that can compete with hers and is proud to introduce someone else to great food. Koneko and Yoruichi certainly enjoyed her suggestions.

It was just a matter of time before someone said anything to disrupt the peace and on this occasion it wasn't Shirou who began the conversation on the topic.

Illya spent most of the dinner watching how well Shirou is treating the purple haired girl and admitaly was growing a little jealous. That, combined with what her presence actually meant, finally makes her snap and hit the table hard with her hand.

"Okay…" Illya glares to the side where Medusa is sitting, Shirou's side, her proper place. "Care to explain why we have a goddess on the table?"

"Woah." Liz reveals her surprise out loud.

"Something wrong?" Sella questions her sister.

"Nothing. Just had a deja vu." Is the short haired maiden reply and Shirou chuckles at it.

"Kinda." The redhead says with humor. "To cut a long story short; I broke her mirror and I have to protect her."

"Sweety, you are skipping too many details." Iri says with a smile, trying to be more patient than her daughter.

"Hum~ I suppose I am." Shirou accepts that and promptly goes back to eating, ignoring Illya's small glare, Iri's twitching eyebrow and Kiritsugu's hand on his face.

Sella doesn't know what to say or do, she just looks to the sides while trying to think if she should be doing something, Liz doesn't care, in her mind Shirou said everything he needed to say and Medusa is of the same opinion considering that is the main gist of their story.

"Well…?" Iri tries to probe his son into speaking a little more but the redhead just keeps eating.

"Is this payback because when we return home we barely talked about our lives in the moonlit world?" Illya's question catches everyone's attention.

"Maay~bee." Shirou says playfully as he takes another bite of his food.

"Where did this mean streak come from?" Illya can't help but ask, remembering that her brother was more of a push over in the past.

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe if you were around more you could tell me." Shirou said in good humor but that actually affected most of the people on the table more than it should as he can notice the depressed looks on everyone's faces with the exception of Medusa and Liz who are happily munching their food. "Okay, that was a little too mean."

"A little?" Illya asked sarcastically.

"Shirou does have a point. We take too long to come back to the house when we leave for work." Iri is quick to intercede.

"We could stop." Kiritsugu comments. "My firm has enough agents that I can operate remotely."

"For a while." His wife cuts the idea down. "We have people that we answer too and without you to keep the boat floating someone could try a take over." The eldest long haired woman looks at her daughter. "But someone could stay a little longer."

"I can't. I have my obligations as well." Illya says with determination. "It isn't like quitting an organization like the Khaos Brigade would be simple to begin with but I also made promises, promises that I intend to keep."

"Then maybe I can stay some more?" Iri raises the question but Sella is the one to shoot it down.

"That would be a terrible mistake, Irisviel-sama. Without you to rein Kiritsugu's-sama most destructible impulses I have little doubt that a city will end in ruins by the end of the month." The dutiful maid said passionately while the man himself gave her a deadpan stare.

"I am not that bad." That made Illya laugh and Iri smile.

"But you are bad with collateral damage." His daugher points out and the man shrugs, not denying it. "Maybe Shirou can go with one of us, or I suppose one of you."

"But he has school." Irisviel sounds scandalized by the prospect. "How is he going to meet girls if he isn't in the proper environment for it?"

"He doesn't need any girls-" Illya is quick to say but Kiritsugu won't let that slide.

"You aren't in contention." The speed of which her father used to stop her from continuing actually made Illya retreat on her chair.

"...hahahaha…" It is then that the rest of the family turns to the reason for their argument and notices that Shirou is laughing. They all almost can't believe what he is doing, a hand on his chin as he lets out a small laugh that turns into a healthy smile. "No, please. Don't mind me. Go on." He chuckles a little before continuing. "It is rare that we have moments like this anymore. Like we are a family."

"But we are a family." Irisviel says with a sad smile and Shirou nods in agreement.

"Yes, we are. But we are not that small tight family anymore." He turns to a wall and everyone can see a portrait of them in their second year as a family.

Kiritsugu is with his arm around Irisviel as Sella is trying to fix Liz's uniform that both still were wearing at the time. In front of the family is Illyasviel holding Shirou in a hug from behind and everyone is smiling.

"Those were happy days." Shirou says nostalgically. "Then, everyone started to go around and do their own thing. Dad and mom started to work some more, Illya is doing something with friends with Sella at her side...makes me feel like I am the only one not growing up."

"But Shirou-"

"I am moving out." A glass fell on the floor but no one paid attention, all the eyes of the residents of the Emiya house looking at the redhead. "Ah, but I won't do it like Illya and join a shady organization," he says with a smile that shows he is just teasing, "I don't like the idea of not finishing what I started so I will graduate from school and, well, see where life takes me from there."

"Wait a minute, wait a minute please." Iri practically begs, breathing too fast to the point that Kiritsugu starts massaging her back.

"What- moving out? What?" Illya is shocked by the declaration. "Where are you gonna go? Where are you going to stay? Did that devil put you to this?-" That and other accusations flew out of Illya's mouth, either against the devils, their father or even Gilgamesh much to Shirou's amusement.

"Shirou-sama, there is no need for such drastic measures." Sella also is breathing hard, her hands moving around almost like she is trying to find something to do with them. "I am sure that we may find something valuable to occupy your time while we are gone and-"

The only one of his family whose reaction surprised Shirou was Liz. She is still, as in completely frozen as the glass where she was drinking had fallen mid drink and it was almost like she had forgotten how to move.

Shirou stays calm and lets everyone talk while he partakes on his food, noticing that Medusa is doing the same, not caring much about what is happening around her and just enjoying the chicken, something she couldn't have eaten as the Gorgon.

'I need to remind myself to cook a lot of different stuff for her. Just serpents and fish for a milenia would have been torture and even if she wasn't sane at the time she can remember everything now.' Still, his attention is mostly focused on his family as they calmed down after a while and only when his mother was breathing normally was that he spoke again. "Our trip to Greece was illuminating to say the least." His tone is firm and the first person that he made eye contact with was his father. "I learned a lot, including how someone may have manipulated events a little too much. To be fair, not all fault is with them, both those that fell for the trap and the person that set up the Great Hunt itself are also responsible for the chaos that happened."

Kiritsugu suspected that his son had realized his meddling with the Hunt selection process. The redhead said nothing during the trip and even then it looks like he won't say much but it is clear that Shirou disapproved because of the glare he gave to his father.

"During that trip, I saw many things that I didn't like and found myself unable to do much about them. I suppose that is the human condition; I want a world where everyone can smile together and while I know it is impossible I have never seen so much anger and despair running around. It was almost maddening." Shirou chuckled a little as his family glared at Kiritsugu. "But it sure helped me understand that even if I can't help everyone, I can help someone." His hand started to pat Medusa's head and the little goddess looked at him unamused. He just chuckles at her glare. "There is nothing wrong wanting another person's happiness, it may sound stupid and even mad to want everyone happy but there is nothing wrong with it. What is wrong is to neglect oneself, to value everyone one around you so much that you end up distorted." He gives the former Gorgon a small smile and she closes her eyes and goes back to eating, understanding that these words are not just about her but also Shirou himself. "With our trip to Greece I learned two things; that there is nothing wrong in helping others." His hand stops for a moment in Medusa's shoulder and then he places both hands on the table, his food forgotten. "And that there is nothing wrong in being a little selfish, to preserve yourself so you don't end up being the one lost and needing help." Seeing Medusa's past showed him that if she was a little more open with her sisters she would have ended better, or maybe not but she never really tried and took all the burden to herself. "I love you all." The declaration wasn't a surprise in itself but Shirou never had spoken so openly before. "I love you all so much it hurts. You all are my family and I would give my life for any of yours in a heartbeat."

There is no doubt or conflict in Shirou's voice, he is being completely and absolutely sincere and his mother places her hands on his. "We love you too, Shirou. I love all of our family." Irisviel said in support and Shirou returned a smile to her, one that carried a little sadness.

"That is why I need to go. Because I can't stand to stay here waiting for you all while you go and do things that I can't approve of." He keeps his hands under his mother's but his eyes go to his father. "To sacrifice what isn't yours to sacrifice." Then he turns to Illya. "Or to follow a path that will end in war or genocide, maybe both." The white haired sister actually looks down at the comment while the redhead looks to his mother in the eyes. "But I love you all. I couldn't bear the thought of hurting you, it would be worse than killing thousands of people with my own two hands." And with the edge in his voice, they knew Shirou would do it, if it was for them, he wouldn't hesitate. "But I refuse to allow these same people to be sacrificed either." His tone turns soft once more. "If I can choose a way how things are to end then I want one where there isn't a single death. Even if that is impossible, I want to make it possible. But that is not just up to me. You all have your goals, your objectives, your obligations and your way of doing things. To stop any of you I would have to either imprison you, which would break my heart, or kill you, which would also kill me."

The confession was surprising but not in the sense that some of the table didn't already know the possibility. The Emiya family members are starting to walk in different paths, either because of their beliefs or choices and conflict among them is possible.

What surprised the ones who already knew that, Illyasviel and Kiritsugu, is that Shirou came out and said it to outloud.

"This doesn't need to happen." Illyasviel declared, the idea of harming her family also crushed her heart. "We can all work together, there is no reason for our family to be divided!"

"Would you leave the Khaos Brigade?" Shirou asked directly, crossing his arms and going directly to the point. "Would you leave the Hero Faction?"

"Why wouldn't you join?" Illya raises as a counterpoint. "If it's about Medusa we can make arrangements so no one disturbs her. I will make sure that whatever it happens she is going to be unaffected-"

"If it was just about keeping my promise maybe that would have convinced me." Shirou tells his sister with a sad smile. "But you know very well that isn't the reason. That was never going to be the reason."

"How many did you kill in that job?" Illya demanded to know, getting up and slamming her hands on the table. "They weren't human, there is no-"

"Don't you dare to finish that line!" Shirou demanded with a deep voice and suddenly everyone on the table felt like a sword was being drawn. "How many I killed? Doesn't matter. The serpents there were a threat and it was do or die. They wouldn't have negotiated, nor given up. So I treated them accordingly. If I was going to go for that logic I would have killed Medusa when she was down without being able to defend herself, both as the Gorgon before I broke her mirror and as the goddess she once was, no matter how reduced." Shirou glares at Illya and she starts to sit down feeling the weight of her brother's words and eyes. "I had plenty of incentive; her blood could have made me invincible, her fangs could make the sharpest weapons, her flesh turned into the strongest armor! But I didn't. Because I saw someone that wasn't guilty of the position she was in and that needed help. And she took it, that is why she is here."

"You broke my mirror and I can't defend myself as weak as I am." Shirou chuckles at Medusa's retort and pats her head again which makes her pout.

"But you asked me to protect you instead of choosing to sit down in that cave to die." At the redhead's words, the little goddess has no retort and turns to finish her food. Shirou turns his attention back to Illya. "Don't mix things up Illya, as I said before; if I could settle that without death, I would. But the nagas and lamias weren't going to quit unless the Gorgon was out of the picture. We just ended up sinking the whole island in consequence but that couldn't be helped."

"Wait, you sunk an island?" Irisviel turns to her husband but the man is refusing to look at his wife. "Kerry...tell me you aren't banished from Greece." His silence is telling for her. "That is what? The tenth country that we can't step in?"

Shirou chuckles at the comedic timing of his mother but his eyes never leave Illya. "I will say this once Illya, I don't approve of genocide. I never did and never will. If the Hero Faction was really about defending the interests of humanity, they would have dealt with Medusa much sooner instead of acting shady and planning to completely separate humanity from the moonlit world."

"It's complicated, Shirou." Even to Illya that sounded weak but Shirou didn't allow himself to be detained.

"Maybe, maybe not." Shirou smiles at his sister. "Either way, it is a good thing that they didn't intervene since I suspect that if some of you had found themselves in the same situation that I did, they would have killed Medusa, no questions asked."

The heiress of the family lets her shoulders drop. "I can't disagree with that. I know most of my allies that they wouldn't hesitate to tear the Gorgon apart for a reason or another." She looks at the small goddess with a little shame. "Sorry, nothing personal but you are- were a monster that was responsible for a lot of deaths."

"Blame Athena. She was the one who brought me back to life" Medusa said with a shrug.

"Shirou is moving out?" Liz finally spoke after a long time, her hands resting on the table.

"Don't worry Liz, I won't be leaving the town or anything like that." Shirou says confidently. "I will probably find a small apartment for myself and Medusa, enough for two people." The maid doesn't react to his reply.

"And how are you planning on paying for a place like that?" Kiritsugu spoke firmly, wanting to hear what his son had planned.

"While I failed to mass produce EM without the possibility of almost killing someone to place a healing spell on a weapon, I have managed to figure out how to mass produce a good portion of my creations." While the contradictory existence that is EM proved itself a challenge, there were many of his works that Shirou learned how to mass produce with his attempts. "Not every copy will be perfect since the original needs to transmite the spell throught similar weapons and there is a reduction of efficiency in the spell for every new copy."

"Let me see if I get this right," Illya interrupts her brother's explanation to try and make sense of it, "basically the original will always be the complete work while the others are reduced?" After a nod she questions, "How much of the power of the spell is lost?"

"Depends on the spell itself." Shirou will have to write that down for the others that are going to work with it.

"While the process of replication of spells is fascinating, I suppose you are going to have Rias bankroll the start of this project?" Kiritsugu is already taking account of the possibilities of such endeavors and while there is money to be made in it there will be nothing without a place to begin.

Fortunately for Shirou, he already has that covered. "Over the last few months, after I had finished testing all materials that Rias provided for EM, I started doing the same for other spells. It was a way to pass the time and channel my energy after the numerous failures with EM." Most attempts ended in failure one way or another but Shirou didn't need to mention that since he recycled the material every time. "Besides having learned how to make a material good enough for really tough armor," he taps his chest a few times for reference, "I also discovered the best material for Structural Analysis together with the best shape to use it."

"Impressive." Kiritsugu admitted but his wife didn't allow him to keep his pride in a single word.

"'Impressive'? Kiri, that is brilliant! A spell only a magus could use now available to everyone is something beyond just 'impressive'." Irisviel imitates her husband's tone on the last word.

"I thought so too. Just the applications for construction alone made it worth it, but like EM there is also application for medicine." Shirou can say for certain he was proud of that fact and the whole family can admire what he did.

'What is EM? Structural Analysis in a weapon? What does all that mean?' Medusa, on the other hand, is understanding nothing of the conversation, the only reason she isn't really voicing her thoughts was because it technically wasn't her problem since it was a way for Shirou to get money for them and it sounded successful from how his family is reacting.

"How did you deal with the flow of information? Unless someone is trained for it, there is no way that they will be able to process everything that the spell allows them to see." Sella is curious on how Shirou solved that particular issue.

"I made it into a pulse, like a machine you would use in a hospital but instead of a huge piece of equipment it is a small sword or a big dull knife. You don't even need to stab someone to use it, just place it to the side of the area and you can have a 3D map of what you are examining in your mind in less than a second." Shirou explains and everyone on the table can't help but admire the work. "Of course it will be useless for most people that can't understand what they are seeing in the first place but that is standard to any kind of equipment."

"And the material?" Kiritsugu decides to bring everyone back to the conversation in what mattered; cost. "If it is anything too expensive no one will buy it. Even if the Underworld is still absorbing parts of human culture, sooner or later their Medicine will catch up with ours."

"Papa is right. That means they will start to get some machines from our world and they may be less expensive than your mystic codes." Illya nods at the point, happy that they have something to stop Shirou from leaving home and hopeful he is going to stay somewhere at least safe.

"I already made thirty diferent kinds of the Analyzer knives by myself. The most efficient kinds use expensive material but for a limb or the torso nothing really rare or expensive, quite easy to find in the Underworld if what Rias told me is right." However Shirou took away his sister's hopes, the information that it wasn't difficult to create his mystic codes filled her with pride and dread.

"And how are more going to be made? Are you going to tell everyone how they were created? Or how are you going to stop people from studying your work and copying it themselves?" Kiritsugu refuses to let his son leave his home without at least some guarantees he will be fine.

"I can make the knives easily, any good smith with a similar Reinforcement and skill can." Something they all know is a hard combination to find since Shirou's skill with reinforcement is absurd. "Transferring the mana? That anyone can do. The knives themselves are made with just two functions; absorbing the spell and using it."

Shirou is confident in his work and that it won't be that easy to be copied. It was born of his affinity with blades and Rias resources, as far as he is concerned the pureblood devil deserves half of the credit since he wouldn't have got that as far as he did if she wasn't there to give him materials to work with instead of him needing to keep using scraps.

'Whatever profit I make with my work, Rias deserves a share. Especially because I failed in making the EM into a form easy to mass produce.' Shirou thought about the number of attempts he made, it was always the first and the last thing he tried with any material and he never succeeded.

"You can't be really considering this." Illya declares, motioning to the house. "This place is the safest one in the city. If Shirou wants to start a business he can but there is no reason for him to move out."

"I already explained-"

"It is not worth the risk." Illya interrupts her brother but that just earned him a glare. "And don't say 'you are risking yourself as well' or something like that." The older sibling hit right in the nail's head as Shirou closed his mouth before talking. "I have people watching my back, not all of them are my friends but they need me and none of them hates me. You want to move to an unsafe location with just a half pin goddess. That is suicide!"

"I see no problem with it." With those words, Irisviel has everyone's attention on her, her husband taking a deep breath at her side. "Shirou...he is dealing with some things and we were not really honest with him, neither of us." The matriarch made sure to look to both her children and husband before continuing. "If he needs some space from this house because we are away...then he can get that. He isn't leaving Fuyuki and we aren't going to be less of a family because of it."

"That is- I-" With her mother's approval, Illya is left without words as she believed the older woman would be her greatest ally against Shirou's decision.

"If this is about safety, I will provide Shirou with a house for him to live in." Kiritsugu looks at his son, waiting for the protest that he is sure to come.

He wasn't disappointed. "There is no need for that dad. I can find a place for myself."

"You could also ask for Rias' help, her family are entrepreneurs after all and could literally build you something in no time. But you won't, because of some sort of pride or desire for independence. Forget about it here, we are family and we will support you." Kiritsugu has no intention of letting Shirou talk him out of this. "We have other properties in Fuyuki, one of which I already asked Maya to fix."

"You...already knew?" Iri's question received a nod from her husband.

"I suspected something like that from what Shirou said on our trip." That impressed and scared the redhead.

"I barely said one line in relation to not needing to worry about attacks on our house. It could have meant anything." The younger man of the house doesn't know what to say about his father's insight. "How?"

"Be ready for everything." The man replies with a small smirk. "Admitaly, I didn't know what you were going to do or what you wanted to do, so I tried to cover all possibilities." Kiritsugu said without shame.

"Like?" Shirou raises an eyebrow, interested in what his father had planned.

"A plane will be ready to take off to anywhere in the world, your choice." The black haired man began to recite. "You could go with your true name or with a fake one, I had everything settled to make a new identity if needed." That definitively scared both his children. "I also had some contacts ready in case you wanted to hide yourself just for a while instead and, of course, I had Maya, she stayed here to check Fuyuki's security, to get a house ready for you. It is going to take a few days for it to be all ready and we will need to buy some furniture but besides that everything else was already prepared, just in case."

"Did you really run with all possibilities in your head and prepare all that on the way here?" Illya knew her father liked to plan ahead but not that much.

"A little paranoid there, don't you think?" At Shirou's question, Kiri and Iri look at each other then in unison they turn to him.

""Yes."" The two say at the same time, Kiri with his deadpan stare and Iri with a smile. "I promised that I would do everything to support this family the best way I could. If you want to move out, that is fine and I shall make sure you will have a good roof over your head. It is a good home with plenty of space and you will only have to worry about paying the bills." The father said with his usual monotonous tone.

"But we are also going to give you some help in getting yourself settled up and until your business starts to really get going." Iri's body is shivering in excitement. "I am so proud of my little boy, all grown up and starting his own business. All he needs now is a wife and some children."

"Mom." Shirou blushes and his face goes from red to scarlet as Medusa turns to look at him with a small smile. "We have company." Shirou quickly sobers up as the little goddess' presence reminds him of something. "Is that why you messed with the Great Hunt? To support me?"

"I admit that I had someone change the parameters of the selection process. I made sure that the biggest number of posing forces managed to enter and gather on the Hunt." Kiritsugu once again has no shame for what he is saying. "It was all crafted to, theoretically give you the best environment to get over any problem you may have on killing."

"Well, that didn't go as planned." Shirou didn't even know where exactly the plan had gone wrong.

"It clearly didn't. You had no problem in killing creatures or hurting humans. I am starting to believe I misread the situation." Kiritsugu admits with a little frustration.

"To be fair, we should have had a conversation before you started planning something that would put so many people at risk." Shirou blames himself as much as his father for that blunder. "But even then, something positive happened and we managed to save Medusa and finish the Hunt."

"You broke my mirror." Medusa makes sure to say. "But yes, I needed that to leave the island or I would never have abandoned it." Shirou smiles at her in appreciation.

"Did it at least solve your problem?" Sella felt someone should ask.

"Don't worry about me. I won't hesitate when necessary. But! Only when necessary." The redhead looks to his father in the eyes. "And it wasn't necessary to have that many people die for it."

"I will support our family with all I have." While the tone the man spoke reminded Shirou of the Magus Killer but this time his eyes were not cold or distant. Instead they carry a fire that the redhead never saw in his father. "I don't care about the cost or how many bodies I have to pile up, I will protect our family, no matter the price."

"But you don't need to pay the price." Shirou sounds and looks upset, to no one's surprise. "I get that you care about us, old man. I really do. But there is no reason for you to go for the metaphorical and literal throat every time."

It was the first time a member of the family said that to Kiritsugu, the first time someone in their family actually pointed that out because deep down everyone on the table, even the newly arrived Medusa, agrees that the most efficient way to do something is more often than not the most drastic one.

"Look, I understand that sometimes there isn't any other way; either it is you or him or that person is beyond any help. I get that." Shirou said with irritation and impatience. "But not everyone is like that, not everyone deserves to die for what they believe if you can talk them out. Or not set up a dangerous situation with way more aggression than it is necessary and instead talk to your son and avoid unnecessary death."

Silence follows the statement and no one really found themselves disagreeing with Shirou but not agreeing entirely either. The only person that understood where Shirou was coming from was Leysritt because she remembers a similar conversation months ago. "Shirou is too nice." Liz finally says, garther everyone's attention. "But that is a good thing."

That comment surprised most of the table's occupants but none more than Iri, who looks at Liz proudly, and Sella, who is shocked by her sister's attitude.

"Fine." Kiritsugu finally spoke and the surprise returned to all in equal amounts of shock and disbelief.

"'Fine'? You agree?" Shirou is the one most surprised of them all.

"I am used to doing things in a certain way, that won't change overnight." Kiritsugu isn't in a rush as he looks to his son with pity. "I try to avoid unnecessary casualties, don't think for a moment that I don't. But as I told you, I am used to placing lives on a scale, a scale where our family is my main priority." He raises a hand before his son could say anything. "However, you are right; I could have approached that situation differently, I could have approached plenty of situations differently and I will try and rein those impulses a little more. If, and only If, you accept the house."

A sigh escapes Shirou's lips. "I am not getting away without the house aren't I?"

"It is either that or you stay on this one." Iri says with a grin and she sounds proud of herself and her husbands. "So? What is going to be?"

"Fine. At least I won't have to go looking for an apartment." Shirou said with such optimism that Illya could only gap.

"That is it?" The older sibling raises the question, the attention on the table turning to her. "What do we do now then? Everyone is just going to do their own thing?"

"Pretty much." "Yes." "We kinda already were doing that." Were Shirou's, Kiitsugu's and Iri's replies respectively.

"So...what do we do now?" Illya questions her family with a frown.

"What we usually do. Nothing really changed, I am just moving out. Probably when you all are already gone so we can be a normal family for a while." Shirou tries to cheer his sister up and the small smile on her face told him it worked.

"Since when are we normal?" Illya can't help but chuckle at the idea.

"Hey, we are mostly normal." Iri took offense to her daughter's words.

"No, we never were." Kiritsugu is amused and looks at the table. "We better finish eating, the food is getting cold."

While the food was cold it was still good, and the Emiya family planned to enjoy as many meals as they could together, for as long they could.

…..

For the next few days, all the family did was try to spend time together. Medusa, regardless of having only Shirou as a protector, had no problem staying around the house and learning a little more about modernity if there was someone else around to teach, a job that Irisviel took with gusto since the matriarch felt like she was passing the knowledge her husband himself taught her on her first year outside of the Einzebern castle.

With any free time they had, the Emiya family did everything they could as a family, new albums of photos were already being made with many more pictures to be added on the next few days as they spend time together, showing the new goddess residing in Japan the town where she will live while having fun doing silly things.

They watched TV, played games, had snow fights, anything they wanted to do together, they did. For no other reason than to have fun as a family.

They also still have obligations and things they need to do before the departures and Shirou does need to get some things for his new house. That is what he is doing today in the company of Illya and Medusa.

It is a good opportunity to show the little goddess around the town as business starts to open up after the end of the year break. In their run from Greece most places were closed and they couldn't stop to see the sights but Fuyuki is safe territory for them, Shirou literally has the phone number of the owner of the place.

And so the day started with the idea of buying new things for the house, which Kiritsugu insisted to not show his son until it was done. It made it harder for Shirou to buy things but he wasn't worried for himself, he decided that Medusa should also buy more stuff besides a couple of clothes his mother helped her get.

Dressed for the cold in a blue coat, red scarf and with a full bag of books on his right hand, Shirou is side by side with Illya, in a combination of purples and whites and a huge hat on her head. They are following Medusa as she looks for anything that picks her interest, the little goddess dressed in her new white coat, black hats and boots.

"I still find it weird that an actual goddess is running around our town. Like a child no less." Illya comments during their walk, her arms folded below her breasts as the thought crosses her mind.

"She didn't have a choice in what form she was going to take, you know?" Shirou stops as the topic of their conversation, found a library and immediately got inside.

"You should really thank our parents for paying for all this. With how many books she brought already you would think she didn't understand the internet when mama explained it." The siblings chuckle at the comment but Medusa's head pops out of the store.

"She did, I just like to feel the texture of the paper." And with that, she returns to the bookstore with a spring in her step.

"That is fair but not the point." Shirou said with a chuckle with Illya giving him a huge smile before her face turned serious.

"Are you going to be alright with her?" The oldest of the pair finally asked a question that has been eating her for a few days. "I mean, weakened or not, she is a goddess. Things tend to be dangerous when one of those is around."

"It will be fine." Shirou places his free hand on her shoulder and they both realize he is becoming taller than her. "Besides, I made a promise. And things can't get any worse than having to take care with her trying to get sake while looking like a kid, there will be no troubles."

"It is still weird that a goddess looks like a kid." Illya comments as she watches the purple haired girl race around the shelves and collect books as the store clerk tries to keep up with her questions. "Is she going to stay like that forever?"

"I think she would prefer to." Considering Medusa's memories and how personal they are, that is all Shirou can really say. "But I doubt it. As her power returns, she will have to change or stay defenseless." He notices she is checking one of the books with avid curiosity as the clerk is taking some deep breaths. "But for now, let her enjoy herself."

"That means you are going to have to protect her for longer." It clearly bothers her but Illya kwon's her brother will keep his promise and she has to accept that. "Are you going to tell the devils?"

"Hard not to since she is going to be around the town and I don't want any mess." Shirou replis confidently. "Besides, I trust Rias and she wouldn't allow anything to happen to Medusa, she is too nice for that."

"I don't agree with you." Illya says with a snarl. "There are a lot of people who would kill to have an weakened goddess on their hands. As far as you know, Gremory is like that and you just didn't realize it yet."

"Couldn't you say the same about the Khaos Brigade?" Shirou watches as his sister's face looks like she had a sour lemon. "Why did you join them after all? You never told me."

"I didn't tell our parents either." For a second Shirou thought that was all his sister was going to say but Illya lets out a sigh and continues. "Did dad tell you about mother's dreams?"

"About the Grail War and a possible end of the world scenario? Yeah, I got the cliff notes." Illya chuckles a little, getting used to her brother's new attitude when it shows up from time to time.

"The reason why she had those nightmares ever since her creation is because of her connection with the original homunculus of which she is based on, Justeaze von Einzbern, the Holy Maiden of Winter." Shirou wants to interrupt Illya since he already knew that part but decided to let her make her point. "To make sure the war is even possible in the first place, the grail, the artifact itself, needs to have a connection with the Throne of Heroes."

"I got that part. A weaker version of Heaven's Feel." Shirou's eyes don't leave Medusa both for her protection and to make sure she can't hear the conversation.

Illya, realizing her brother wants her to get to the point, decides to do just that. "For the Grail system to work, 7 Heroic Spirits are necessary together with a vessel to create a Lesser Grail to connect with the Greater Grail. That was the original plan until Justeaze changed the design, turning her body into a true Grail and having the homunculus made after her work as a computer accessing a server for a simple description." She looks at Shirou and with her eyes looking at her she knows his full attention is on the story. "Because of that, even if the Grail isn't working, the homunculus is connected with it and can see its fate playing out in their dreams, a little cheat that the Einzebern added to help determine the winner of the Holy Grail War."

"You are saying that Justeaze saw that the winner would do something wrong and worked to stop it?" Illya nods at Shirou's question. "And that has been happening every time?"

"In a world with gods and demons does that surprise you?" Illya raises her eyebrows in incredulity. "Odds are that once the war started and some of those got wind of it, things would escalate and the world was going to be doomed."

"So Justeaze made the modifications to the system to avoid that, having all the homunculus from her working to stop it." Shirou can see it happening if he considers the legendary homunculus was similar to his mother's and that the woman who raised him is a nice person by heart. "That doesn't explain your allegiance."

"After I was born, I also had dreams." Illya tells Shirou with apprehension. "Dreams of fire and death, dreams that haunt me even today."

"The Holy Grail War?" The prospect scares Shirou but a shake of her head didn't calm him down, it made him even more worried.

"I dreamed of a boy, walking on fire, doing everything to survive." Illya turns to look directly at Shirou and even as he doesn't move, his eyes are fixed on her. "He struggles to survive but the fire keeps chasing him. He is wounded, he is tired and he is about to die. And yet, the boy still moves forward, with a shadow in the fire right behind."

The story is familiar to Shirou, he also has nightmares with it from time to time. Both of them know they are talking about his story, his origin as far as he and his family know, the fire that consumed everything in its wake, even his memories and former life. Except that the shadow is new for him.

Illya continues. "It was a large shadow but it broke apart as it tried to chase the boy, fragments of it flew in all directions a small part of it kept going to the small boy in a straight line. It finally caught up with him and managed to cling to the young boy's own shadow as both struggled to escape the inferno together." She stops for a moment, turning to the bookstore and noticing Medusa is still busy before continuing. "The boy kept walking on that hell he was in, he kept going and going until his legs couldn't carry him anymore. The shadow is also there and is trying to prompt the boy up, to survive. But the boy couldn't and the fire was coming for them."

Shirou turns his head as well, hopíng that Medusa wasn't coming so Illya could continue. 'Why is she telling me this now?' The question gave place to another one. "Did you tell our parents about the nightmare?"

"No. Because it turned out to be real." Illya replies in a somber tone. "The boy was dying, the shadow couldn't do anything and once the boy died then it too would die. Except, the boy didn't die, the sun saved him." She looks up and even as the clouds cover the star she knows exactly where it is. "It was bright, it was beautiful and it banished hell and saved the boy's life, your life, the shadow was nowhere to be seen." Illya drops the pretences, her red eyes closed as she continues. "I saw you before we ever met and when I first saw your face I couldn't help but think, 'It's the boy from my dream'. Except, the dream doesn't end there, it turns into a nightmare." Opening her eyes once again, Illya raises and looks to her hand. "I saw you grow with the sun ahead of you, keeping the shadows away. I saw you turn from the boy you were to the man you are becoming." She motions to him to say she saw him more or less as he is now. "I saw you growing stronger and stronger, I saw a man that could face any challenge and win every fight. I saw a true hero."

"'Hero' huh?" Shirou questions sarcastically since it sounded like she was insinuating something but Illya doesn't stop.

"With the sun ahead of you and surrounded by swords in a triumphant battlefield I have no idea what else to call that version of you." She is a little ashamed but refuses to stop. "And when the dusk came, when the sun was not there anymore, the shadow returned. In my nightmare I see it, emerging from the ground, springing from beneath your feet, covering you little by little. It is huge, many times your size and has red eyes filled with hate." Illya lowers her tone as the image comes to her mind one final time. "I can't see that 'you' anymore, just a giant with antler-like horns like a crown on its head, a golden cup on its hand and just thinking about it, a word comes to my mind…'extinction'."

"That is just a dream." Shirou says immediately after. "Maybe with time the boy in your dream had his face replaced with mine and you are misremembering it."

"Mother doesn't dream of the Grail anymore, she told me that when I asked. But I do." Medusa is finishing with her purchase, a pile of books is being moved to the front. "That is why I joined the Hero Faction, so when that thing finally reveals itself, you will have someone to help you, so we will save you." Shirou speechless after such declaration, his mind needing a while to process everything but he can't reply as Illya raises a hand and points inside the store. "Ask if they do deliveries here too or else you are going to fall to the ground carrying all that."

Shirou wants to say something, to either reasure or contradict his sister. Unfortunately he can't for the moment as Medusa waves to him and he gets inside to begin paying for the books and to not bother the poor clerk who looks exhausted after following the small goddess around the shop.

While Shirou negotiates with the clerk, both to haggle the price and to get the books delivered to their house, the little goddess steps outside, leaving her and Illya alone on the cold street. "Did you tell him what you needed to tell?"

"You heard?" Illya is not even mad or concerned, this was the only time away from their parents and outside of the house that they could have this conversation after days waiting for it and if the goddess allowed it then she can't complain.

"No. It was not my business." Medusa replies emotionless. "Unless, of course, if you were trying to convince him to go back on his word."

"Ha! That is a good joke if I ever heard any." The white haired woman recovers some of her good mood at the thought. "Don't worry about it. I don't trust you but Shirou does and you are weak, I doubt you are a threat." She says in good humor before her eyes turn serious. "But if you do hurt him I will find a way to hurt you and kill you in the worst ways I can imagine and believe me," she looks Medusa directly in the eyes, "I have a very vivid imagination."

Instead of being offended Medusa is amused and even gives Illya a nod of respect. "Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less of siblings who love each other." The word 'sibling' made Illya pout a little. "However, you have no need to worry. He is my protector and far away from me to harm someone that is taking care of me in such a weak state."

"Fair enough." Shirou returns with his hands completely full and Illya chuckles a little as some of the books don't fit in bags and he has to carry them in his arms. "Maybe we should go home for the day."

"Indeed, it would be quite a shame if my protector got hurt because he couldn't hold some books." Medusa's amusement didn't subside just yet and she can see that Shirou is struggling a little to balance the new tomes for her collection.

"Oh ha ha ha ha. You two are hilarious." Shirou doesn't bother to hide his sarcasm as neither woman moved to help him and instead started to walk back to the house.

Shirou wants to keep talking with Illya, to convince her that it was either a simple nightmare or that she didn't need to risk herself for him. But he didn't get the opportunity and he knows that even if he got their parents involved he knows she will just deny and avoid him.

It didn't matter for her what he believed, Illya kept looking forward to the house and during the whole day she did exactly what Shirou expected and avoided the subject like a plague.

For her the course was set and she is going to walk the whole way, to gather allies and to gather power. Illya is determined to attain Heaven's Feel and to find as many allies as possible to avoid the worst outcome of her nightmare.

Because even if she didn't have the Grail or even saw the thing in her life, a connection was established with her from her birth. And it always reminds her that something is coming, something absolutely powerful is coming and Shirou is going to fall to it.

Such was his fate on Illya's vision.

…..

"No, no, no. We need to decide this now." An elegant Irisviel with glasses points to a white board that Sella is pushing to the middle of their living room. "Our time together is almost over and we need to decide where our last outing will be as a family until we get together again." Once the board was in position the short haired maid bows her head and moves to sit down with the rest of the family. "Come on guys! Let's trade some ideas on how to spend the rest of the winter."

The family looks to each other before commenting, which gives the new arrival enough time to raise her hand and ask, "Should I be here for this?" Medusa questions with a tilt of her head which makes Iri nod.

"Of course you should. You are part of our family now." Is the matriarch's reply and she expects a warm reaction with a little blushing.

Instead she receives bluntness. "I am part of your family for being here for just a couple of days plus using your son as a bodyguard?" Iri's smile twitched at Medusa's comment and her son followed up next.

"It is still really cold these days, I don't think it is a good idea to leave the house now." The smile was still in his mother's face until another blow came, this time from his sister.

"I mean, do we even have time to do anything? I will be leaving in three days. That is barely time to plan something." Her oldest child's words manage to make Iri lower her head in mid depression.

Which her husband notices. "Maybe it isn't possible to plan anything for us to do together but we should be planning for when we leave." Pragmatic, useful and it was something for the family to do and that could distract Irisviel.

Except that it is about that theme she wants a distraction for in the first place. "I know that." The woman slams her back on the white board. "I just want to spend the next few days doing fun stuff as a family. We have no clue when we will next see each other."

"Planning ahead can be a fun activity." Sella says excitedly as she steps to Iri's side and guides her to the couch before picking a pen. "It is a necessary step to make sure the things don't fall apart as we are away."

"What is there to plan anyway?" Shirou raises the question since it was the first time something like this happened. "I may be moving to another place but I can check the house from time to time."

"There is no need for that Shirou-sama, it is Leysritt's duty to take care and guard the house while we are all away." Sella starts writing something on the board while her sister's head lowers at the thought. "Regardless, the security of Fuyuki has been redoubled by Kiritsugu's-sama agents and all that needs to be settled is when Shirou-sama will officially move out of the house."

"As soon as Illya departs, there is no reason to rush in separating our family." Kiritsugu says swiftly.

"I still haven't even seen the house yet." Shirou makes sure to point out.

"Have you noticed how not all the stuff Medusa brought isn't here. I had people working on the house for weeks now. Have a little faith in your old man." Is Kiritsugu's reply with a smile which didn't reach his eyes but no one finds it weird since they rarely do.

"Right, since that is taken care of, we can move on to other matters." Sella erases 'Shirou's moving' but before she can write anything else, Liz raises a hand.

"Could I..." The short haired maid began talking but stopped herself for a moment. As little as she spoke, her words were still enough that everyone turned towards her. "..." She still doesn't know what to say and while the eyes in her direction aren't bothering her the fact she isn't saying anything does.

"Liz? Something wrong?" Shirou is the first to ask, beating Illya to the punch by a second.

The maid doesn't reply which prompts her sister to. "If she has something to say, she will later. Maybe when I am giving her instructions about how to take care of the house by herself." The long haired maid nods in acceptance of the future unpleasantness.

"That is a little harsh with Liz." Iri says with a smile. "She is competent, even if she isn't used to the more domestic aspect of taking care of a house."

"It doesn't matter, Irisviel-sama." The older maid said in a stern tone. "Soon, she will be taking solo care of the house and it will be better if she knows exactly how to do it."

"You guys know I can take care of the house as well right?" Shirou repeats with a little frustration. "It won't be a problem, I can come here once or twice a week to check the garden and clean the place."

"You have your own place to take care of in the future, unless you plan to hire maids to do it for you." Sella said with a little bitterness because Shirou never allowed her to do everything if he could help.

Throwing his arms over his head, the redhead comments. "I don't know, I haven't even seen the house yet." And without knowing the real size he can't really estimate the logistics of cleaning it.

"It is considerably big." Kiritsugu says with a hand on his chin.

"It is?" Shirou asked in surprise after finally receiving some information about his future home.

"I can help." Medusa said without apprehension.

"A goddess wants to help clean? That must be a first on history." Illya can't keep the surprise out of her voice. "Especially since you barely did anything while here."

"Why would I do 'anything' as you called it, when people happily do it for me?" The purple haired girl says impassively. "However it would be bad if my protector grew tired and weary from doing too many tasks. It would also be hardly fair since we will be living together in the same house."

"Medusa-sama, do you know anything about cleaning?" Sella questions with respect, understanding that a god would not know much about such tasks but still could take offense by the suggestion.

"I used to clean the temple of the Shapeless Island by myself." Medusa didn't glare but her voice gained a ton of annoyance with the maid.

"And you were a little bit taller at those times." Shirou informs the little goddess with a little sadness, he knows exactly what those kinds of memories are brought out on her by that detail. "You don't need to worry about it. I use cleaning to train my Reinforcement anyway."

"Be as it may, it is unfair if I at least don't do my part." Medusa tells Shirou with absolute certainty. "I may not be tall," and she sounds happy about that, "but I can still take care of the floor and bookcases. Like my own that your mother was kind enough to allow me to buy."

"It is no problem dear." Iri says proudly, resisting the urge to go hug the little goddess, she will do it later, after the discussion. Instead she goes for her daughter with a happy thought. "I miss when you were smaller." She says with a smile and a blush.

"But I don't, mama." Illya said while letting her mother hug her with their faces side by side.

"Besides, you are going to start a business of your own." Medusa continues, ignoring the mother and daughter demonstration of love. "It could be bad if you are spending too much time on the house instead of working."

"He also has school to go to." Kiritsugu felt the need to remind his son to prompt him to accept the help.

"What is 'school'?" The purple haired goddess question makes Shirou facepalm. "Ah, is that another of those modern things you should have explained before?"

"Kinda but also not really." The redhead hit himself because he realized he can't keep his promise if most of his days he is at school and Medusa is at his house. "Just another favor I will have to ask. I will explain school later."

"Did you know any place where humans go to learn mathematics or stuff like that?" Illya questions the goddess, interested in the life of humans from the distant past.

"Temples, theaters, their own homes. Humans learned stuff all over the place." Medusa says and Illya sighs.

"Things were very different then, Illya." Iri says with a smile, happy to explain things to her daughter. "The school system is a pretty recent invention all things considered and most of the teachers were either tutors for specific skills, schoolars with tons of knowledge, experienced warriors or even priests in temples."

"Yes, I remember many priests taking boys outside our temple to talk about one thing or another." Medusa confirms with a nod. "They used to sit around the garden sharing stories and drawing things. I never cared much about it at the time."

"Either way, I will need to talk with Rias on the first day of school about her and where she can stay while I am at school." Shirou is sure the devil is not going to mind too much but even he is moderately unsure on how she will react to a goddess in her territory. 'I just hope Medusa's presence doesn't cause any problems. The best bet I have...is to prepare a feast and hope Rias is in a good mood.'

While Shirou is nodding to himself, already thinking about the dishes he will make for the occasion, Liz is still trying to process what she wants to say.

The teacher and maid knows she isn't much of a talker, she prefers to let others deal with the major details while she just does what is necessary. That is characteristic of her and the fact she is a homunculus makes her an excellent protector and personal guard for the family.

In reality Leysritt knows that the idea of her guarding the house in everyone else's absence is the correct one. She is a fighter and a brawler, give her an enemy and she will gladly destroy them and having something to protect only means that potential enemies are going to go to her and she doesn't need to look for them.

But she doesn't want to just stay in the house. "Can I still teach at Kuoh?" Finally Liz expressed one of her concerns and once again her family attention is on her. "Can I?"

"You don't need that job anymore." Sella says with a nod with her arms crossed. "Shirou-sama is going to have his own house and take care of himself, there is no need for you to constantly protect him any longer." She says it with the supposition that her sister is acting more like a babysitter than a proper teacher.

"But...I want to?" Liz questions herself as much as she is saying what she wants, not even sure if that is her real desire.

"Why not?" Shirou chuckles at his own question. "She is one of the most popular teachers in Kuoh; the girls admire her disposition and the boys...the boys admire her too for the most part, some for good reasons."

"But it is unnecessary." Sella made sure to point to Shirou when she said that. "Her duty is to protect both the family and the house. With you moving out, she can't keep doing both but her job is still a protector."

"She did protect Kuoh when one of the students tried to turn everyone there in a battery." Shirou doesn't mention that she didn't manage to do much but the attempt was appreciated and she helped to distract El-Melloi long enough with everyone else for Waver to finish the fight.

"Maybe we could reassign her then?" Illya offers as a compromise. "I mean, Shirou doesn't mind keeping an eye on the house from time to time. We could take Liz with us."

"I mean...it would be better than leaving her alone." Iri is practically ready to voice her agreement.

"No." Except that Liz herself disagrees.

"'No'? What do you mean 'no'?" Sella is quick to react and trade stares with Liz as the older siblings can't accept the response. "Your duty is to protect this family and Illyasviel-sama is the heir, arguably the most important person in this family."

"I don't want to leave." Liz says with conviction, for the first time voicing her true feelings. "I want to stay, to be a teacher, to be with Shirou."

Sella actually takes a step back. "You- she- You can't do that." Is said with a lot of anger.

"Why not?" Liz questions her sister back and Sella is startled by her younger sibling's attitude.

"Our duty is to Illyasviel-sama first and foremost." Sella steps to the side as Liz gets up, both sisters are now face to face. "Her safety and care are the first things we have to provide. You know that."

Both have the same height and while they are dressed differently and their hairs and body shapes make them distinct, when they are standing together one can easily recognize them as twins.

"I do. But I want to stay." Liz keeps her eyes firmly on her sister's as both of them stare at each other.

Both Shirou and Illya feel uncomfortable with the way the discussion is going and are ready to intervene only for their mother to place her hands on their shoulder and shake her head, Kiritsugu and Medusa turning to watch that interaction before their eyes return to the sisters, both willing to let this play out for their own reasons.

"We have a job to do as the last creations of the Einzebern family. Our duty to their legacy still lives even if the family has fallen." Sella declares with pride in their past and creation.

Leysritt feels neither, she doesn't care about either. "I want to stay."

"Why?" Sella demands to know, she needs to know. "You never cared before."

"Because I was happy." Leysritt closes her eyes and remembers the years living in this house, how happy they were and how she wanted them to continue. Yet, she knows it won't. "I was happy with everyone. I wanted to protect it, but I failed."

"You didn't fail." Shirou says, getting up and placing a hand on Liz's shoulder. "We all just want to do different things."

"That is right, we will still get together some day." Illya strides to the two maids. "It may not be tomorrow or even next year," she gets to the side and gives Sella a side hug, "but even apart, we are still family."

"Without a doubt." Iri affirms her daughter's words. "If you want to stay Liz, you can. That is fine with me."

"Me too." Illya affirms with a nod and the short haired maid nods back before turning to Shirou.

"Can I...stay with you?" Liz didn't know why she asked, she just knew she wanted to.

"Of course you can." Shirou says without hesitation and Liz smiles at him. The redhead recognizes the smile and can only smile back, it was still as beautiful as her first one.

Seeing that his family dealt with the problem, Kiritsugu claps a few times to get everyone's attention. "Now that is settled, what about some board games?"

"Really old man?" Shirou barely manages to hold his laugh. "Board games? Couldn't think of anything else?"

"Can you think of another activity for all our family members?" The father questions with a raised eyebrow and Shirou has no answer to that. "Come on, it will be fun."

"I admit that I am curious how games are played in this era besides the more electronic ones." Medusa commented with a small smile, happy to see a family as united as them.

"Believe me, those are games of a past era." Illya's cheeky smile makes her father let out a grump.

"I am not that old." The black haired man says in his gruff voice only making most of the room laugh and him smiling with them.

But not everyone is smiling or laughing. She doesn't want to smile, she wants things to change, she wants her sister with them as they do their duty.

Sella was always the smarter of the duo, made to be an advisor and head of the household staff, to take care of any needs of her mistresses and masters. And she can't help but feel something that was strange to her in ways she can't describe.

It is a bad feeling, of that she is sure. But she can't control how tight her chest feels and how much she wants to protest and tell her sister she wants to stay together in some way.

Jealousy runs through her heart as she envies Leysritt for being able to speak beyond her duty.

…..

"Are you sure you are going to meet them here?" Shirou can't help but ask as he follows Illya in one of the parks of Fuyuki, the place where his sister told him her group was going to extract her since there is no need to pretend to fly to London any longer.

To make sure everything is going to go smoothly, the older sibling threw a small boundary field on the area to avoid unnecessary bystanders but the place is an odd choice for Shirou, just less odd for him than the uniform she is using.

"And these are really the uniforms for your faction? I swear it is like you are going to school again but with a male attire instead of a skirt." Shirou can't help but comment on the long sleeved uniform with matching purple pants.

"Oh, yeah. We were using black before but I managed to convince them to use a dark shade of purple instead." Illya throws her hair back and makes a pose to show her figure. "What do you think?"

"I think we arrived." Shirou says, dropping the briefcases without ceremony and making Illya pout.

"You were more fun to tease before." At his sister's complaint Shirou shrugs and turns back to Liz and Sella carrying some other stuff. Both maids are dressed according to their preferences with Liz using jeans and a jacket while Sella is completely covered in her maid clothes in a mix of whites and black with long sleeves and a dress with a hat that covers her ears.

In the distance he can see his parents waiting close to the car, talking while they wait for their son to return with one of the maids while the daughter will be leaving with the other.

"Believe it or not, I have had women tease me worse in the last couple of months." Between the devil that has no problem walking around naked, the cat lady that has no problems in exhibiting her real form and the other devil that likes to breathe on his ear while whispering naugthy stuff, a little posing doesn't work on him that much anymore.

"Boo." Illya complains, crossing her arms in irritation. "I will have to do better next time then." She then looks at their parents with a sigh. "You know the real reason why our father decided to show you the house after I am gone is so I don't know where it is right?" The redhead looks at her in surprise before throwing a frown at the car. "Don't be upset with him, he is just making sure that you are keeping your promise, that is all."

Her brother wants to complain but he can't disagree with her. Inside the car and hidden both from view and her power suppressed is the small goddess Medusa, a tempting target in the best of days and for any organization worth their salt an opportunity if well capitalized either for her blood or power.

"Doesn't mean I agree with it." Either way Shirou is going to have a stern conversation with his father when he has the chance. "When you pass around town, call me. I will receive you either way."

"Of course you will! I am your precious older sister!" Illya hugs Shirou, holding his head on her chest for a couple seconds before the redhead escapes, face blushing from the experience. "Heh, gotcha." Then her face turns serious. "But it is better this way. Even if I won't do anything against Medusa, if I don't know where she is I won't have to risk getting caught in a lie."

Grumbling from embarrassment and the fact that she has a point, Shirou still looks to his father with a little irritation. "Doesn't mean I like what he is doing."

"And he knows that." Illya says with a condescending nod. "He promised to control his killing, not his manipulation. Trust me, now you are in the know, you get used to it."

"Shirou." "Illya-sama." Both maids warn them at the same time as a magic circle appears and two men step out from it.

One has black hair and strides confidently while the other has brown, a little spike, hair and glasses. Both are using the same uniform as Illya but their styles are completely different as the black haired man has a long white coat tied to his waist and a spear on his shoulder while his companion has a wine colored wizard-like robe covering the majority of his body.

But it was the spear that caught Shirou's attention, the moment that his eyes landed he used Structural Analysis on it only for his vision to be filled with static and a familiar headache started to make itself known. 'Something similar to Enki? Another Divine Weapon?'

"Illya! Glad to see you!" The black haired man greets his sister with a warm smile. "How was the vacation?"

"Not as productive as it should have been, Cao Cao." Illya responds but her eyes are on her brother, noticing his discomfort.

"So, this is the man that can create Noble Phantasms?" The brown haired man questions curiosity as his main emotion even if his face remains stoic. "I confess that I am extremely curious about how someone manages to replicate a legend by using something as simple as Gradation Air."

"This is actually the most emotional I have seen Georg in a long time." Illya comments while stepping in front of her brother as if to protect him from the man in glasses.

"I concur." Cao Cao says with a chuckle. "Say Georg; are you swinging for the other team? I wouldn't mind you know? We can still be friends."

"Huh, don't be absurd. I just am curious how someone is capable of replicating Noble Phantasms." The now identified Georg fixes his glasses as his eyes turn to Illya. "But I suppose he didn't join us since your vacation wasn't productive?"

"Your voice is familiar." Shirou manages to comment as his eyes stay on the spear still even as he fights the temptation to try and use magic again.

"Oh yeah! I talked to you on the phone a while back." With a smile and extending his hand for Shirou who saw no problem in going for a shake. "Cao Cao is the name and I am the official leader of our little club."

"Nice to meet you I suppose." Shirou can tell that both the men are pretty much opposites in personality.

Cao Cao is more straightforward and his posture speaks of a warrior, ready for a fight at any second. While he regards Shirou with education the redhead can feel that the man is also studying him and already thinking of ways to take him down if necessary.

Georg appears to Shirou as the typical scholar, his friend Ryuudou Issei comes to mind. Unlike his friend, the man regards Shirou with practically pure curiosity alone and the magus can feel himself as if he was below a microscope being studied, not caring about the redhead's own opinion on the subject.

One is a soldier and the other is a magician, Shirou is sure of that even if he doesn't know exactly what school of study Georg practices. He can also feel a familiar smell coming from them.

"So...are you sure you won't be joining us? We have a great support plan and we make sure all our members have excellent dental." Cao Cao decides to ask and Illya facepalms to the side.

"Sorry but I am not in the best place to join an organization that supports genocide." Shirou replies in a deadpan tone and Illya grunts in protest.

"Woah dude, there was no reason to go in there already. Besides, we are looking for other options first." Cao Cao steps back a little and raises both his hands defensively, trying to avoid a fight. "So, don't worry about it. We aren't jumping to something like that just yet."

"Even if it is the more efficient option." Georg says impassively. "As a magician, especially a magus, you must know that efficiency is paramount in the process of completing something and if the best way to get rid of the dangers to humanity is the complete extermination of other races then we should just do it."

"Oh yeah, because that is completely moral and correct, kill people just because of what they can do." Shirou's sarcasm is dripping from his voice. "Just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should."

"Debating ethics means inaction. For a proper solution to be found all the avenues of research must be pursued." Georg's face remains impassive as continues. "Besides, history shows that the presence of certain entities are destabilizers to human society."

Rolling his eyes Shirou asks. "So there is no problem ignoring ethics? How do you know the results are going to be the expected ones if you rush to a conclusion? The consequences may be worse than inaction and without preparation that can bring even a worse catastrophe."

"Okay, okay, settle down." Cao Cao hits his spear on the ground to direct the attention to himself. "I can see that you two are ready to rip each other apart and I would prefer to avoid that."

"I agree." Illya places a hand on her brother's shoulder, a frown marrying her face. "You should be a little careful, Shirou. Georg is stronger than he looks."

"And he can make Noble Phantasms." Cao Cao felt the need to point out. "I mean, really! Noble Phantasms! Are you sure you don't want to join?" Shirou only gives him a deadpan stare. "I had to try. Don't take it personally."

"I will join if you can promise to not even consider genocide." It was telling for Shirou that not even his sister said anything. "I thought so. Talk about disappointment." With a shake of his head he looks straight for Cao Cao's eyes. "For the record, if you try to harm any innocent, Illya's presence or not, I will stop you."

"Oh really?" Now the Hero Faction's leader's voice gained an edge while Georg raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

"Really. I just thought it would be fair if I warned you." Shirou doesn't move from his position nor makes any aggressive gesture, his intention is only a warning and nothing else. "If you try and hurt anyone undeserving I am going to break your arms, if you try again, it will be your legs and I will keep stopping you and breaking your bones until you quit."

Cao Cao raises his own eyebrow at that. "Really? That is it? I was expecting a death threat or something."

"As I said, that is if you try to harm someone innocent, someone undeserving." Shirou closes his eyes and offers a gentle smile. "I don't like the idea of killing and would prefer to stop you before you get too far and do something irreversible."

"And if I do something irreversible?" Cao Cao can't help himself and asks even if he knows the answer.

"Then all the bets are off." Shirou replies calmly.

"Hum~ I thought that your father would be the one threatening me. With his reputation and all that." The leader of the Hero Faction comments nonchalantly.

Illya actually giggles at the thought but it is Shirou who explains. "The old man doesn't make threats or promises. If he is going to kill you, odds are that he will do it without a warning or second thought." The redhead then shrugs. "I, on the other hand, believe in fair warnings and not just killing people. So here is your warning."

"Most people warn only if someone does something with their sisters you know?" Cao Cao smiles in good humor but his postures show he is ready to defend himself even if he won't start the agressions.

"Oh, that is implied. If you harm my sister in any way, I will hunt you down." Illya blushes at Shirou's declaration. "Doubt that I will do anything worse than my father will but he is kinda like that."

"Hahahaha! So Illya has both a papa bear and a brother bear? Hahahaha!" Cao Cao laughs with glee as Illya just blushes more at the comment. After a couple more instants the man manages to calm himself. "Oh boy, that was a good laugh! Thanks for that. I needed it."

"No problem." Shirou's reply surprised Georg but not Cao Cao as the leader just keeps smiling. "I have no real issue with you or anything like that for the moment but I wouldn't find it fair if you at least didn't know where I stand."

"I get that and I can respect it." The spear user changes the hand on his weapon, throwing it around for a bit. "It is a shame though that you aren't joining us. Gilgamesh is going to be disappointed."

"Speaking about him," Shirou placed a hand on the pocket of his jacket and Georg got a magic circle ready before Cao Cao placed his spear in front of him, "don't worry Georg-san, it is just a letter." And indeed it was, all present can see a white sealed envelope, written on the corner is 'For Angelo, descendent of Gilgamesh.' "See, nothing special really. You can examine it to see if there is anything dangerous if you want."

Georg takes the envelope cautiously, Cao Cao finding the interaction amusing. "I won't underestimate a magician that can make Noble Phantasms."

"So it is for Gilgamesh then?" Cao Cao asked with a smile that Shirou offered back.

"If it isn't much problem-"

"Of course not. Nothing wrong with two friends trading letters since it is a little difficult to communicate when we are always moving." Cao Cao says with humor and a glance at Georg's hand with a green magic circle, inspecting the letter as if it holded the secrets of the universe. "I doubt you placed something dangerous there because your sister is with us...on the other hand that may be why you didn't give it to her."

"Yes Shirou." Illya grabs one of her brother's cheeks and starts to pull hard. "Any reason why you didn't give that letter to me?"

"Because you would read it and destroy it if you didn't like it." Shirou spoke with some difficulty because his sister was pulling his cheek and felt relief when she let it go to cross her arms and nod.

"Probably." The fact that the white haired maiden admitted so easily made Cao Cao laugh more than before.

"Hahahaha! Oh god, I can't breathe! Hahahaha!" The only thing keeping the man standing are both hands on his spear.

"You should take this more seriously, Cao Cao. We are in enemy territory and this man isn't our ally." Georg says while making the magic circle disappear from his hand.

"Did you find anything suspicious?" Shirou asked with fake curiosity.

"No." And it hurts Georg to admit but he didn't show it. "You are acting a little too bold in your position. Your whole attitude is suspicious."

"Spoke the member of a shadow organization with the desire of starting a potential war against half of the globe." Shirou raises an eyebrow. "Anything else to add?"

"One would think someone in your position would be more careful, especially with threats." Georg is sure he didn't like Shirou, neither his attitude or confidence. "You do realize that our organization not only has the recipient of this letter, the descendent of the King of Heroes Gilgamesh, but also many other descendants of heroes ready for combat?"

"And you are one of those right?" Shirou asked with a chuckle before pointing to Cao Cao. "The general that almost took all of China in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao, the man that defeated and executed Lu Bu, the greatest warrior of China." The man himself gives a small bow of acknowledgement and Shirou turns to Georg. "And you are the descendent of a great man as well, the dragon slayer, Georgios also known as Saint George."

"Pft!" "Shirou!" Cao Cao holds back a laugh as Illya facepalms again as Georg looks at him in fury.

"I am the descendant of Johann Georg Faust, you imbecile!" The man is losing his patience with Shirou at this point. "I can't believe you are the man capable of making Noble Phantasms! How such great achievement can belong to someone so- so-"

"Annoying?" Is Shirou's suggestion.

"Irritating?" Is Illya's suggestion.

"Funny?" Is Cao Cao's suggestion.

"I swear I never had to deal with this kind of situation in my life." Georg says with his eyes closed and his face being unable to hide his anger.

"Look, I am sorry for the mess, okay. I didn't want to offend you." The redhead magus says sincerely. "To be fair there are a lot of famous Georges that did a lot of heroic deeds and I will admit that it was a guess since you call yourself Georg not Johann. If it was Fuast, that may have been my first guess." Shirou says in an attempt to calm the other magician down.

"Yeah Georg, it was an honest mistake." Cao Cao pats his friend's back in good humor. "Don't be mad at him for it. He even apologized." The black haired man then picks up the letter. "Out of curiosity, what is written on it?"

"Angelo can tell you later if he wants." Placing a hand on his chin, Shirou adds. "He probably will."

"Cool, cool. Why should I deliver it then instead of just reading it myself?" Cao Cao plays with the letter for a bit before moving his finger closer to open the envelope. "I will admit that I am really curious about what you wrote here."

"Because next time I meet with Angelo I am going to ask about the letter." Shirou's words made Cao Cao pause. "From what he told me, you guys are a little afraid of him."

"More like terrified." Illya admits with no troubles.

"He is the strongest human after all." Cao Cao says with a sigh as he places the letter in his jacket. "Really, using the King of Heroes as a threat? That is a dangerous strategy. Can't say I saw this coming." Even Georg stayed silent after that. "Consider it delivered."

"Thank you for that." Shirou thanks the man with a small bow before turning to his sister. "Try to stay out of trouble, will you?"

"That should be my line." Illya tells him with a smile.

"Didn't you hear mom? I will be living the 'flower of my youth'." Shirou makes air quotes that have his sister smiling more and punching his shoulder.

"I better not hear something about a girl next time I see you or else I will make sure you regret it." Yet her smile was calm if not shy as she picked up her bags and walked to the two new arrivals' side. "Let's go Sella."

"Yes, Illyasviel-sama." Sella garps some of the bags and nods to her sister while others are covered by magic circles that Shirou found odd and smelled weird for him.

Turning his head he notices Georg motioning his hand and a yellow circle on it. Cao Cao notices Shirou's eyes and chuckles. "We could either call a lot of people to carry Illya's stuff or have Georg here teleport most of it with magic."

'Is that really magic?' Never had Shirou felt such a mixture of smells with ocean, dust and something he can't identify just yet mixed all together.

Before Shirou could think too much about it Illya gives him a hug. "See you soon, Shirou."

He returns the hug and says softly. "See you soon, Illya." And with that the white haired maiden steps away from him completely to join her companions.

For a second Shirou just watches them there, his sister smiling, Cao Cao waving and Georg moving his hands again, a golden circle on his hands as another appear around the other three and himself as the circle raises from their feet and the four disappear, all very odd for Shirou as he can feel that something is wrong with that teleportation.

'Do they use a method different from the devils?' Shirou questions himself as Liz touches his shoulder.

"We should go." The short haired woman tells him and the redhead nods and turns to follow her as both return to the family car. "Don't be sad. We will see them again."

"That isn't- thanks." He was going to mention the weird smell but decided against it. "Say Liz; do you have any new expectations for our new house?"

"I hope it has a big kitchen." Those words made Shirou smile more.

"Really? Nothing about a bigger living room or TV?" The magus watches amusedly as Liz shakes her head in denial.

"Those things are worthless without good food to enjoy them." The idea of good food from Liz made Shirou chuckle a little before he pauses as a thought enters his head.

'With both Liz and Medusa present, a small apartment is already plenty full. But mom and dad want to give me a house.' In his mind's eye the redhead can see a smaller place without a second floor and small garden with the essentials to live and receive guests. 'Probably will be something simple, they don't know about Yoruichi and Koneko...Yoruichi is going to probably insist on sleeping on my bed anyway, if she does it while not in her real form then that is fine...'

The fact is that Shirou doesn't know if he would be capable of corresponding to the nekomata's feelings and if she slept in her alluring form on him, he knows he would do something both might regret, the temptation was just going to be too much. And he does care for her, he just doesn't know if enough to have a deeper relationship as of yet.

'Another problem is going to be Koneko. Her own issues aside, that girl is like Liz in a lot of ways when it comes to keeping her feelings to herself.' The magus looks to his teacher and smiles since Liz is smiling and with a spring on her step. 'Thought that did change this time and she told everyone what she wanted. I am proud of her.'

As Shirou made plans to cook something special for the little devil if his new house didn't have enough space for her, they approached the car where the rest of the family was waiting.

Everyone else was inside the car listening to some music on the radio but they all turned to Shirou and Liz when they entered in the back of the car in that order, the redhead between ladies of white and purple.

"How did it go?" Kiritsugu questions his son, turning the mirror so both could meet eyes even as he turns on the car properly.

"What am I supposed to say?" Shirou asked back, not in confusion but annoyance. "You could be a little more direct."

"Is your sister in any danger?" Is the pressing question on the older man's mind and the mother of the family won't deny that a big part of her also wants an answer.

"No." Shirou replies with a frown. "I got nothing from the two that showed up that they planned something against her in general. They legitimately think of Illya as a comrade."

"And their names?" Because the Magus Killer plans to investigate those people a little more for himself.

"Cao Cao, descendent of the hero of the same name, and...Georg, descendent of Johann Georg Faust, the man who sold his soul to Mephistopheles and helped found the Clocktower." Shirou hesitated a second on the second name, which many found odd.

But Liz decided to deliver a more complete report. "Shirou thought he was a descendant of Saint George."

"Really Shirou?" His mother turns to him with a hard look. "How did you make such a mistake?" While Iri said it with a playful tone the redhead felt shame for being reprimanded by his mother.

"I believe it isn't exactly clear who is his ancestor with a name like Georg. There are plenty of famous kings and soldiers alike with the name and Shirou's guess was a good one." Medusa raises in defense of her protector, the books she read in the last few weeks helping make her argument as it told the story of European kings.

"I know right?" Shirou couldn't help but say in his exasperation "I even apologized to him after that but he looked even angrier for that." The redhead says in frustration with himself.

"Really? Should I go and have a conversation with his parents?" Despite what the words indicated, Irisviel is absolutely serious in her statement. "I am sure your father can find them for us."

The man for his part decides to say nothing and keep his eyes on the road as Shirou feels a considerable degree of embarrassment. "Mom, we are kinda too old to get our parents involved in this."

"No you aren't!" Iri is quick to reply. "At least not until you have children of your own. Then as a grandmother it will be my duty to spoil them rotten."

Slowly Medusa picks up another book and begins to read, dismissing herself from this discussion as Shirou doesn't have a proper reply to his mother other than blush and relax his head on his seat.

Liz, pitting the redhead, pats his head in a gentle manner as Iri turns back to the road that her husband is driving then through. The black haired man is being careful since some of the streets still have some snow even as the winter comes close to an end in Fuyuki.

The car ride is silent but not in an oppressive way, no one has anything to say or comment that hasn't already been said at the moment as the radio starts the news cycle of the morning with information about the climate and the news report of incidents during the night.

There wasn't much happening in Fuyuki these days, many people celebrated the beginning of the new year and after that decided to stay indoors because of the snow. As a result the city is mostly peaceful on the mundane side, something that Kiritsugu has learned to appreciate over the years.

'Not everywhere there is peace, but this peace is enough...isn't it, Natalia?' Sometimes the man wonders what his foster mother would say about the way he lived, if she would be proud of his accomplishments or disappointed with his decisions. 'She would probably be laughing, telling me I got domesticated.'

Kiritsugu drives down the street as they make their way to Shirou's new house, it wasn't close to where they are now and it was actually closer to Kuoh than the main city.

They start to pass by a lot of small businesses spread around the neighborhood in between the houses that have people, families and friends, playing around and talking to each other.

It is a neighborhood that Kiritsugu and Irisviel considered for a while a good place to live with their children, a place where even before he started to clean the city of the more unsavory elements it always was peaceful in a way that Kiritsugu himself finds great comfort even if for a reason he had concerns with in the past.

Turning to the right they arrive at the area with the biggest houses, a place for the most fortunate people to live but that still keeps a certain level of humbleness. The houses in the area are few and they are big but it is more for practical reasons with spaces for big families to live together and still stay comfortable.

And it is in one of these houses, the second biggest house of the neighborhood, that the SUV stops, a truck at the end of the street has a bored black haired woman waiting for them. "Here we are." Everyone starts to exit the car with Kiritsugu going to the back to start to collect some of the bags.

Shirou looks to the side, sees the house and can't help but ask. "Isn't that…a little too big?"

"Looks small to me." Medusa says as she steps outside of the car.

"Most homes don't need to have big entrances these days." Iri says with a smile, recognizing the place from a distant memory and different possibilities. "Look to the sides, can you see how huge the wall is and how far it goes?" After a nod from the little goddess, the white haired woman continues. "All of it is part of your house." That impressed Medusa as the taller woman stole a small hug during her comments.

The house is made in an older Japanese style with white walls and green roof tiles organized in the traditional way. Behind the walls there are trees, some grass and plants surrounding the home.

"Finally you all arrived." Maya steps close to the family, after everyone greeted her she continued. "All the preparations have been made and the house is done." Pulling out some keys from her pocket, she offers them to Shirou.

"Thanks for the help aunt Maya." The redhead bows in appreciation but the woman chuckles and turns around.

"I will pull the truck closer. Why don't you all take a look?" Before departing Maya glances at the small goddess, processing the fact that the purple haired girl is really a goddess, and then steps back to the truck.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Open the doors." Iri tells her son and Shirou begins the process of learning which key goes where. Fortunately the keyholes are distinct enough that the new owner of the house has no problems and soon steps inside the terrain and he opens the front door.

Entering the house Shirou can see a traditional floor after the entrance with doors connecting various rooms to the hallway also in the traditional style, he is so stunned by the place that while he is still taking off his shoes, Iri is already describing some of its features.

"This place has dozens of rooms and for now we already had our people set up some rooms for yourselves as well as a living room and other necessities..." The matriarch of the Emiya family opens a door to the side and Shirou rushes to take out his shoes to see what she is showing. "This is the living room. As you can see, we have already set up a television and a small table for your convenience. There is the kitchen right and inside it there are some of the most modern appliances. If needed, a bigger table can be brought here or you guys can eat there."

Both Liz and Medusa take a look at the house, admiring the place. Medusa in particular is admiring the architecture since it is completely different from temples and houses she had seen in her life.

"Now follow me~" Iri sings a little as the trio goes after her as Kiritsugu finishes taking some bags out of the car. Getting to a hallway with a door the woman points to the sides. "There are rooms there and there, most of the place is empty right now but we took the liberty of setting up a library with Medusa's books and other things I found interesting right behind that door." The woman is pointing to a door in the hallway. "That other one a little ahead is for a bath for when you all want to just soak in and relax. In case you prefer showers and other, there are five bathrooms around the house to accommodate such needs." She makes sure to not specify if they should be together or separated. The woman didn't stop walking as everyone kept following her and admiring the place. "If you follow this way there are a lot of rooms in the whole house that you guys can use for whatever you want but I want to show you this," turning a corner, Irisviel starts to walk a little before getting to a door and opening it, showing a huge empty space with two small building inside the property, "ta-da~ A workshop for Shirou and a dojo that you guys can use for any more strenuous activity. It already has been reinforced with runes and boundary fields so if you have something to practice go nuts!"

"Better not." Kiritsugu says in a hurry. "While the place can take a beating, anything capable of destroying a building can still break one of its walls."

"That is still impressive." Medusa said while Liz silently nods in agreement.

"This place is too big!" Shirou says with a little angst, already thinking of the work that is going to take to clean the house during the week. "There are too many rooms, too much space! And the plants...how am I supposed to take care of all of it?"

"You don't need to use the whole place." Kiritsugu informed his son but it was clear that it didn't help. "Besides, you aren't living here alone, are you?"

"Yes, this is still smaller than the temple where my sisters and I lived." Medusa gladly informs, liking the environment of the house and the open space that she believed would be great in the summer.

"Don't worry Shirou. I will take care of my room." Leysritt says in commitment.

"And...anything else?" Irisviel is the one to question her now former maid. "You asked to stay with Shirou and that means helping him around the house even if not in the kitchen." Liz nods to every word and Shirou can't tell if the short haired woman is taking what his mother is saying seriously or not.

"Even then this house is too big. It is practically a mansion. I don't think I need this much space." The tour has barely begun and he has a lot of places to check, not to mention that every unoccupied room will need to be cared for to make sure nothing wrong happens to the house. Combined with his future projects and responsibilities, Shirou feels it is fair if he worries a litte.

"We already set the best boundary fields to avoid detection and there is no time to find another property." His father says, placing a hand on the redhead's shoulder. "The shed also has the same fields to get rid of smoke with a forge and noise canceling ones to make sure even those in the house won't hear a hammer during the night so you can still work here as you please. Like the forge in our house it is in a specially constructed space beneath the shed itself so you can also use it for storage."

Shirou looked around one more time before asking. "Wasn't there really anything smaller? This place looks like it could hold twenty people."

"Silly Shirou, if people don't mind things a little tighter than the house can have a little over sixty people." Iri informs her son cheerfully, making him see the size of the task that is going to be keeping the place clean.

"At least I won't have to worry about that many people." The redhead told himself as Kiritsugu messed with his hair.

"If your business with Rias doesn't work you can't rent some rooms and make this into an inn of some kind. All you need is a couple permissions since the place is actually suited for it." The parent tries to cheer the son up a little.

"Fine, fine." Shirou finally accepts the house in its entirety. 'At least I don't need to send Koneko away. That girl can pout in a way to make even the happiest man alive depressed.'

"Great!" Iri claps her hands in happiness. "Why don't we go and sort out the rooms for everyone already. Kiri and I are going to stay in one before we leave tomorrow but you all need to choose a more permanent one for each one of you."

"I got the one closest to the library." They have barely settled down but Medusa immediately marked her territory, not even bothering to wait for the actual owner of the house to choose a room. Not that Shirou would deny her that since the goddess loves reading.

"No need to rush yet, we still have some stuff to take out of the car and the truck that Maya has close by." Kiritsugu mentions and his wife throws him a glare. "They can choose their rooms later-"

"Close to the library." Medusa said with all the dignity of a goddess that looks like a child can muster, managing to look utterly adorable while doing it.

"And they also need to decide on if they want beds in their rooms." That got the new residents' attention. Kiritsugu proceeds to explain himself. "I didn't know what everyone's preferences are and the house is more suited for just futons or lighter beds. Of course I had some adjustments made around for safety and the shelves in the truck are all good to go but if you guys want a bed then you will have to decide later."

"Just futons, hmm?" Shirou considers the idea seriously since he doesn't mind much and it would be easier to take care of than a whole bed.

After that the last adjustments to the new house began, shelves, a kotatsu and a couch also were added to the living room, the table in it previously temporarily moved to one of the empty rooms in the house.

And there are many rooms, Shirou is actually glady that both Medusa and Liz have no problem in helpíng him take care of the house or else he would just close some spaces and not bother to clean them much, only every other month or so.

The dojo was actually one of the best taking care places of the house with weapons and weight lifting equipment of many kinds to help with training. Most of the inside is made with well polished wood and mana can be felt around the place. The building is as resistant as his father promised and has many blunt weapons for sparring and training with plenty of space to put some more equipment if deemed necessary.

Looking at the shed and his new forge was the other thing that Shirou took a lot of his time doing, surprised that there are a lot of boxes around and when he took a quick pick inside them he noticed many types of scrap metal for him to work with of different qualities.

The forge itself was of good quality but like the one in his parents house there is no ley line to help him in the process of creating swords, even as he can feel one of them is below his house, just not properly connected.

However it wasn't surprising that his parents couldn't do anything properly since Shirou knows that his forge in Kuoh was made with the help of some of the best yokais specialist and no matter how many resources his father has he wouldn't have easy access to them without asking for favors, something the man generally doesn't do.

After inspecting his place of work, Shirou moves to help around the house As promised the boundary field around his new residence stops any sign of magic from being detected as they tested it while Shirou, Irisviel and Medusa use of magic to help in the last touches of the house.

Surprising everyone else, Medusa demonstrated an extremely high control of mana to send small beams of purple energy to help clean some parts of the house while killing some bugs that had made their way inside, a minor use of the power she naturally poses but not even close to the levels she displayed when she was the mighty Gorgon.

Thanks to everyone's help, including Maya who insisted on waiting by the truck until called, the job of finishing the last touches on the house finished in a day and an afternoon without any issues.

Unfortunately there was little time for cooking but fortunately Maya knew of an excellent restaurant close by and they made deliveries so the first meal of the house wasn't one made by the resident cook.

Later in the night most of the home is already asleep or going to sleep. Shirou took some more time to clean a little more and tidy the house a bit before going to bed when he noticed his father sitting at the entrance of the backyard with a box to his side.

The box is black with golden carvings around it, the symbols in it are a portrait of the changing of the seasons and all around the box there are letters in a language that Shirou can't read, never having seen it before.

Shirou looks to his father, sitting with his back on one of the wooden pillars of the house. Like his son, he is using simple clothes since the residence was warm enough to allow it, just a long sleeve shirt and pants with socks on his feet, black for the father, blue for the son.

"Something wrong old man?" Hearing his son's call, Kiritsugu turns to see his face before chuckling.

"Just enjoying the silence and the full moon." That got the redhead to raise an eyebrow.

"Never saw you do that before." Another chuckle escapes the father's lips as he points to his side.

"I also need to talk to you."

"Ah, there it is." Shirou says with a little sarcasm. "You know, I think I am getting used to you having secondary reasons to do anything." Still, the son didn't hesitate to sit on the other side of the box and look at it curiously. "And this box?"

"This? Oh, inside is the Holy Grail made from Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern." For a couple seconds Shirou just sat there trying to determine if his father grew a sense of humor.

"What? The Holy Grail? What?" The word just escaped Shirou as his mind fried at the thought.

"Yes, since the house is going to be empty, your mother and I decided that we should move it." Kiritsugu replies bluntly.

"And you brought it here? You do remember that I already have a goddess in this house right?" Shirou couldn't help but feel that another dangerous thing around was just tempting fate for something to go wrong. "She may be weak right now but she is still a goddess."

"I know. Unfortunately I have no choice but to give this to you." He pushes the box in his son's direction.

Hesitating a little, Shirou pushes it back. "That is probably one of the most powerful artifacts on the planet and I wouldn't even know what to do with it."

Kiritsugu pushes again. "Anything that you want, nothing, hide if you prefer. The problem is that I have no one else to trust but you with it."

"Then take it with you." Shirou says in protest, almost begging. In his mind he remembers Illya's warning about a shadow and him holding the grail. "Why can't you take it? You are probably one of the most dangerous men on the planet with allies and resources that spam countries."

"And that is mostly why I can't take it." Instead of pushing the box back to his son, Kiritsugu let it go right in the middle of them and looked up to the moon. Shirou does the same as he waits for his father to say something. "Have I told you why I became a freelancer? Or stayed a mercenary?"

"Because of my grandmother." Is the immediate and certain reply from Shirou.

Kiritsugu shakes his head with a small smile before talking again. "If I wanted to, I didn't need to follow her footsteps. I could have been just an assistant that knew how to defend myself or just stopped after...after she passed." Looking at one of his hands, the man continues. "Or after your sister was born. I didn't need to take the deal with Sirzechs either, true Grail or not, if I offered him this," Kiritsugu pats the box, "it would have been without a doubt enough payment for his services."

For a while everything stays quiet as Shirou processed the information his father had just shared. "Then why did you do it? Why stay as a mercenary?" He finally asked.

Then Kiritsugu's face started to show an emotion he had only seen once in the man's face before, on the plane ride to Greece; nostalgia. "I wanted to be an ally of Justice. A hero." Memories of a time in a certain island with a girl with a short ponytail and tomboyish attitude passed by Kiritsugu's mind. "However, I realized far too late that it is a dream with a time limit and the more I tried to reach it, the worse things got, the more people I killed and the farther my ideal appeared to be."

The man pauses to take a deep breath and Shirou says nothing even as Kiritsugu had a smile on his face. It was the second time he saw his father in this state but unlike the way to Greece the man looked more serene.

'Like he finally found peace.' The odd thought Shirou had confused him but it was the only way he could describe his father.

"I tried so hard to do the right thing but in the end I became like my father in a way; putting the lives I cared for above everything else and burning things behind me." Kiritsugu says with his smile still in place and Shirou couldn't really find in himself to disagree. "That is why I am leaving this box with you Shirou. I can't trust anyone else with its contents. Not even myself."

Looking to the box once again, the redhead blinked. "Then...you gave up on being a hero?"

"More like I can't be one. For years now I had an idea of a hero, someone that killed the wicked and punished the criminals without hesitation." Thinking about his ideal of a hero, Kiritsugu felt that he was close in a way. "When I decided to listen to your mother and protect our family, I thought then and there that I really had failed. But I didn't regret it that much since I managed to save you and protect your sister."

"But you were a hero to me." Shirou holds himself back from shouting but still says the words, noticing that his father twitched but didn't overly react to them. "When you found me in that fire, when you saved me, you didn't just pull me out from that hell. The smile you gave me at that moment...I wished to smile like that, I wish that everyone could smile like that."

And yet, Shirou can't just separate the old man that saved him from the Magus Killer, at least not completely. Regardless of what he discovered about his father later, it still is one of the most important moments in his life, it is that moment that made him want to know more of what happened to his father, how he became a killer.

"That was one of the most important moments in my life too." Kiritsugu says, his smile didn't diminish. "While the tragedy that struck Fuyuki is fault of my inaction-"

"You didn't know." Shirou didn't blame his father for that.

"Regardless," the black haired man said as a fact, "I was really happy to have been able to save someone. It affirmed my beliefs that protecting my family- our family, was the right decision."

As a person, as a man, Kiritsugu regrets many things but not making his family his priority. Despite the work he had to do, the fear he has that some enemy of his wss going to find them or that something will go wrong in their lives and his children will die before his eyes, he doesn't regret having his family, not even a little and not for a single second.

"I dream of a world where everyone can smile like that." Shirou said, a little embarrassed.

"It is a good dream." Kiritsugu smiles at his son, now a little sadder. "But it is not much different from being an ally of Justice and that is a cruel one."

"I won't just kill people."

"Even if it means making everyone else smile?" Kiritsugu's swifty question almost startled Shirou. "I am not trying to be mean or cruel. Being a hero is not something easy, it demands sacrifices and most of the time you hate your own decisions and wish to take most back only to remember that you can't."

"Doesn't matter. I don't want to be a hero anyway." The declaration sounded empty, even for Shirou himself.

"You can be whatever you want, I will support you." Kiritsugu said with the same peaceful smile as before. "But please, don't make me wake up one day to learn that my son died before me." Shirou turns his eyes to his father but the man is just looking to the moon. "Do whatever you want; if you want to be a hero, do it, if you want to be a father, do it, if you want to do nothing, do it. All that I want is to know that my children are happy and well." The man crosses his legs and relaxes his back, his eyes never leaving the moon. "All that I want is for you to be happy, for you to smile. How are you going to do this? I don't know. But as a father, I can only ask you to try."

"Then why this?" Shirou motions to the Grail but he knows his father understood even without looking at him.

"Before we departed to Greece, before we even talked, your mother checked and discovered that the Grail was gathering mana regardless of how many seals and safeguards that we placed to stop it." The explanation is slow and deliberate, Kiritsugu wants his son to understand it. "I thought for a long time about what to do about it. The fact is that destroying the Grail isn't an option, the backlash could either be minimal or sink a continent for as much as we know. Keeping it hidden is our best chance but it couldn't remain where it was, sooner or later someone would detect it."

"And now?" When his father stayed silent Shirou knew he had the answer already. "Is this box better than where it was?"

"It cost me more than the budget of some small countries to gather the materials to have it made." Kiritsugu informs with a shrug. "That is why we gave you a property we already had, our family is a little on the red right now."

"Considering you are technically the owner of an international company, I don't even want to hear what that entails." Shirou was never a big spender and his parents never had to worry about money but apparently now they need to.

"Don't tell your mother that I told you." The man says with a smile, as if he feared his wife more than the payment or the artefact itself.

"Still doesn't explain why you are giving this to me." That is what is eating Shirou the most at the moment. "Why not Illya? Or Sirzechs?"

"Why I am not giving it to Illya should be obvious." Kiritsugu said for the first time his smile leaving as he frowned. "The Hero Faction...the path they are walking is similar to mine and since their beliefs are too close to my own and I don't trust myself with it anymore…" The father lets his son fill in the blanks. "About Sirzechs...he is a good man, a well intentioned one, but he is also the leader of his faction and that means if the Grail can give him an opportunity to help devils prosper he is going to take it despite the risks."

With his father's thoughts voiced out, Shirou can understand why he isn't giving the Grail to Illya or Sirzechs; both are going to use it 100% of the time and the redhead can't disagree with his father on that.

And Kiritsugu has not forgotten the warnings of Irisviel, the dreams that the Grail War, arguably the best way to finish powering up the artifact, will bring out a catastrophe. That fact remains in the man's mind, pushing him as far away from the idea of using the Grail as possible.

There is just one problem. "Illya also had dreams." That finally took Kiritsugu's eyes off the moon. Shirou continues now with his father looking at him. "She said she saw a shadow consuming me and taking the Grail. After that she said there was only extinction."

The older man raised an eyebrow and let out a sigh. "Still more tamer than your mother's vision." After that he looks back to the moon. "Iri told me that she saw fire and darkness that consumed everything and that only evil was left in a desolate world."

Those words didn't calm Shirou, on the contrary they just made him more worried. "Then what should we do? If her dream is right-"

"The Grail is right here and I see nothing trying to get it." Kiritsugu said to calm his son. "Besides, as I said there isn't anyone else to give it to. You are the only one I can trust with it."

"Why?" Shirou finally asked.

"Because when you had a chance to get the easier way or the simple way, the way that both me and your sister would have walked, the way that many have walked before, you decided to save everyone." Kiritsugu shocks his son with those words. "I don't approve of it. You now have a goddess to take care of and there were also those three on the island who were loose ends. You still did it, saved everyone, without fear or remorse. My way of doing things...brought too much misery to the world, that is why I want to give your way a chance." Turning to his son once again, Kiritsugu gives Shirou a smile similar to the one when he saved a redhead boy from a fire. "Maybe your path is the path of a real hero."

For a moment Shirou was mute, then his nasty side that has been developing for the last few months showed its head. "Are you kidding me?" Kiritsugu looks at his son surprised but that doesn't stop the redhead. "You just learned that something else is coming for this bloody Grail, dream or not, and you still want to give it to me for a reason like that?" While that was the question that plagued him the most, that wasn't what irritated him the most. "And a hero? Like those from the Hero Faction who doesn't care about others' lives? No, thank you. I have no interest in being a hero like that."

Kiritsugu laughs, much to Shirou's shock. It wasn't a big laugh and like the redhead the man tried to contain himself to not wake anyone up. Yet it was strained, for the man doesn't laugh much and because he is actively trying to hold himself back it is worse than it actually should be.

Still it was a laugh, an unmistakable sign of joy that Shirou recognized coming from his father who was usually a stoic person. He demonstrates happiness, sure, the man wasn't made of stone, but this laugh comes from reasons that Shirou is having trouble comprehending and that is making things difficult for the redhead to process

"Shirou, no one else would enter a cave, fight a monster and instead of killing them, turn to save them, even if they knew their true story." Of that Kiritsugu is sure, at least in relation to himself. He wouldn't risk breaking a mirror, he would kill the Gorgon and finish the mission in a more safe way. "The same you can say about those followers of Heaven, most would want to just get rid of the variable, including me." But not you, you want to do the right thing and for that I couldn't be more proud as a father."

Taking a couple of deep breaths, Kiritsugu turns to the moon once again, the peaceful smile from before is also back on his face.

"If not you...then who?" Finally the older man asked. "I can't take it with me. A great number of things can go wrong and if they do, then the world ends. No one knows it exists right now besides us and even if Illya had a dream there are ways to avoid disaster." Patting the box once again, Kiritsugu sighs. "This is really a problematic thing, I won't say it isn't. But I have no one else to trust and, like Irisviel dream, we can change Fate once again with Illya's if someone comes for it."

"Changing Fate...Yes, I suppose that it is possible." Shirou can't disagree since Justeazes original prophecy did change with his sister's.

"The box won't let it accumulate anymore mana, this time we are sure." Kiritsugu tells his son. "What we need now is someone to hide it, someone that won't use it without a good reason and that will care more about the world's safety than the Grail's temptation."

"And I am that person?" The redhead asked even if he knew he wouldn't like the answer.

"Someone that cares about people? Yes, you are." The father said with pride. "I know that if I give the Grail to you, you won't use it, or attempt to use it. You are careful and won't risk the world because you understand that there will be consequences."

Remembering Illya's words and that he truly has no intention to use the Grail, he can see his father's logic. "That may change." Still, Shirou looks at the box with weariness. "One day, I may want to use it. I don't know why, or how, but with such a thing like that, an artifact capable of granting wishes...I don't think anyone really can resist depending on the circumstances."

"I know that, but I have faith you will do the right thing." Shirou stays silent, waiting for Kiritsugu to say something else. "There is nothing else Shirou; no second intentions, no plans or stratagems. This is me, putting my faith in you." The black haired man stands, gives one last glance to the full moon and then turns to his son. "I trust you son. I know you will do the right thing."

As his father steps to enter his new home, Shirou finally finds his words. "Not as a hero." That stopped the black haired man from entering. "If being a hero means to be like you or the Hero Faction, don't expect me to do it. I will do better as a villain instead." He didn't think about it but in a way it made sense to him. "Not as an ally of Justice but someone that makes their own Justice."

"Huh." Kiritsugu holds back another laugh and Shirou for a moment believed he was hallucinating. "Sure. Be what you want. I trust you to make the right decisions Shirou." With that the older man slides the door open and moves to his room, going to bed.

And leaving Shirou alone.

The redhead looks at the box again and lets out a sigh. "Just another thing huh?" He asks himself with a frown, picking up the box and holding it with both hands. "I can't get anything from this."

His Structural Analysis told nothing, even with his eyes he could see that it was big enough for a chalice of some kind and it was moderately heavy. He is sure that there is something inside it, the Grail if he believes his father, but he won't know what unless he opens it.

"And now I am Pandora in this situation." He moves the box a little to hold it in one hand. "At least she didn't know what was inside her box. I do and I am terrified." Shirou tries to humor himself with the thought until he realizes something. "But that is why I am terrified. Because I know what is inside."

Turning the box around he can see an lach keeping it close, a crest in the shape of a shield with wings. From what the magus observed there is nothing stopping him from opening the box, no lock or spell from what his senses are telling him.

He looks at every angle, every part that is visible with his eyes, feeling nothing different from the box whatsoever. The magus has no idea what defenses his father placed in the box but he can't figure them out.

'Is there anything even stopping me from opening it?' Shirou suddenly felt extremely nervous.

In his hands there is one of the most powerful artifacts in existence, the Holy Grail that is the cumulation of the ultimate homunculus sacrifice and magic, carrying the potential of a miracle.

And his father gave it to him with no strings attached.

Taking a deep breath, Shirou placed the box under his arm and started to walk to his new room. He is too tired to think too much about the Grail but he is sure what is the right thing to do about it to avoid the 'shadow'.

'I am going to hide it.' The redhead decided without hesitation. 'This is too dangerous and I don't have a clue of how to use it. So I am going to hide it and forget about it.'

Arriving at his new room, Shirou unfolded the futon his parents bought for him and fixed it up in the center of his new space. After taking a couple minutes for a shower and to brush his teeth, Shirou lays down with the box at his side.

He is tempted to open it, so tempted to study the Grail and figure out a way to use it. But instead of doing it, Shirou turns around and goes to sleep, planning to hide the artifact already on his mind and it is the first thing he is going to do after his parents leave for their trips once again.

It didn't take long for Shirou to completely fall asleep once he closed his eyes. His breath calms down and soon enough the redhead is the land of dreams.

After what felt like a moment, the redhead opened his eyes. But he knows he is still sleeping, that he didn't wake up but immersed himself in a place he only visits when he dreams.

Shirou has what he can only call a lucid dream for he has no other way to describe how he always ends up in the same place almost every night. However his dreams are not like the ones described on the internet where one can have some control but still a dream that he is aware of, a dream he won't forget.

In his dreams, he is once again on a hill covered in grass, swords and other weapons on all sides as the sun shines on him.

However this time there was something different, a difference that he has seen more and more for the last few days.

Flying around is a streak of silver, the most shining and polished of its kind that Shirou had ever seen.

The redhead admires its light as it flies around the blue skies, ignoring the heat of the sun or maybe basking in it as the streak flies faster than anything Shirou had ever seen. It goes higher and higher before pivoting and racing towards the ground.

Dream or not, for a second Shirou was worried as it was like watching a falling star or a meteor about to collide on the plains and he ran towards it, to try and do something even if he didn't know what it was or what to do.

He runs and runs, willing his body to go faster but only running as fast as he would on a normal day, much faster than the average human but not enough to make a difference as the silver streak is already close to crashing.

Instead it pivoted again and started to fly close to the hill, the grass and swords not being bothered as the entity passed through them like the winds of summer.

And it started to fly in Shirou's direction at high speeds.

The redhead stopped and watched as the star began to make its way towards him, unafraid. He doesn't know if it is because he knows he is dreaming or simple curiosity that made him curious instead of cautions but he stood imobile as the the star approached him without losing speed.

Once it was close enough it stopped, shining as bright as the sun above them, maybe a little less but not in any way that Shirou could notice as the star stopped in front of him.

Raising a hand, Shirou begins to approach the star. It didn't emit any heat or, at the very least, he didn't feel it as his hand got closer and closer.

The star began to change as his hand approached, it was no longer a streak or a star but a familiar shape he saw only once leaving the mirror of Medusa.

A pegasus, more silver than any of the precious metal he ever had laid his eyes on. The creature is large, Shirou had never seen a horse up close and yet he can tell that the mythological steed surpassed the size of any nof of its breed with its huge wings that could easily envelop ten adults easily and still give them comfort.

Instead of flesh the pegasus appeared made of some kind of a silver fire, from the hooves touching the grass that didn't burn to the long mane that covered a little of his face, a phenomenon that Shirou didn't know how to explain but blamed it on the fact he was dreaming.

Once he took stock of the form of the creature and deemed it harmless, Shirou began to move his hand once again, taking a gentle step towards the magnificent beast.

Carefully and patiently, Shirou is close to touch the pegasus. His hand was just a couple of centimeters away before the legendary mount took flight once more, surprising Shirou with its speed as one moment the pegasus was in front of the redhead and in the next it was flying in the skies above his head.

He began to watch the pegasus as the creature moved around the skies, cutting the clouds that Shirou didn't notice until now were there. But the shining being wasn't flying away or returning to ground level, it stayed in the skies just above his head, flying in circles or cutting the clouds before stopping for a while to look at him.

'Come here.' Was the message that Shirou got, not with words but with an impression. He felt in his soul that the pegasus wasn't taunting him or provoking in any way, it truly wanted Shirou to fly as well, to share the skies with the human.

Still having in mind that everything was a dream, Shirou tried to fly. First he mentaly commanded himself to fly, for his feet to leave the ground so he could reach the pegasus in the sky.

His feet stayed firmly on the ground, no wings sprouted from his back and no wind took him to the heavens. After some time he tried to jump but that also failed and he tried to lift his arms to see if that would help and all he discovered was that if it wasn't a dream he would be ashamed.

Meanwhile the pegasus just watches. It is still moving around and playing in the clouds, showing how fun flying could be, tempting Shirou to keep trying to reach it.

But Shirou couldn't do it, not for a lack of want as he keeps watching the pegasus with a little envy in his heart.

It was the good kind of envy, a desire to reach the legendary steed where it was and partake in the same kind of fun as it was having, swimming around the sky with a smile as he chased the pegasus.

Accepting he couldn't do it, Shirou looked for a sword around the field, one big enough so he could sit and relax.

Once he finds one, the magus watches the pegasus with a smile on his lips as the deeper than silver mount watches him for a second and then returns to play in the sky.

So under a comfortable sun, surrounded by green grass and with his back on a sword big enough to make it comfortable, Shirou watches the pegasus play in the sky. He wishes he could join, he wants to join but for the moment he can't not understand why but resigns himself to stay on the ground.

'This is a dream after all.' The redhead thinks with a shrug, not noticing when his eyes closed again.

…..

Illya lets out a yawn while walking around a building with white walls, now using a lab coat with her purple uniform and Sella at her side and vigilant. 'God, I am so tired.' She just had finished adjusting her lab back to her tastes while scolding her assistants that messed it up in the first place.

Passing by a giant window, the white haired woman looks to the side and sees the sun and the forests that surround the base, a considerable amount of anger flash on her eyes as the light almost makes her blind.

'I swear that the worst thing to travel between continents are the changes in time zone.' Illya scratches one of her eyes to starve off the sleep.

"Illyasviel-sama, maybe you should rest for a while." Sella looks pristine as she follows her mistress at a respectable distance. "I can represent you while you rest."

"No can do Sella. This is the first time the leadership of the Hero Faction is gathering in months." Illya tells her maid with a frown but the homunculus already knew that.

"All you have to do is deliver a couple of reports. Nothing that I can't do in your place." Sella's response did nothing but bother Illya.

"Probably but no, I prefer to do this myself." Regardless of how tired she is, the older Emiya sibling doesn't intend to delegate that task.

"Very well." After the denial she received, Sella decided to stay quiet as her mistress kept walking the hallways of the main base of the Hero Faction.

The whole building hidden in the woods is a giant fortress surrounded by guards and barriers of both mundane and magical origin. Most of the personnel are human or homunculus in positions to guard the place and rarely all the leadership of their faction is together in it since they all have their duties, missions and other bases with their preferences.

Passing by the maze-like hallway and getting ready to turn in the same direction as her, a giant of a man. He is much taller than the women with shoulder length gray hair and a well built body that showed he was trained to fight with muscles almost bulging out of his clothes.

Covering his uniform is complete brown armor that only didn't cover his thighs and part of his arms. He also lacks a helmet so his eyes were visible when he turned in Illya's direction and they grew wide on their blue color as she looked at the woman and smiled at her.

"Illya! It is good to see you." He greets her, trying to appear aloof but the woman already has enough experience with him to know he is slightly nervous with their meeting.

"Herc, it is nice to see you too." Illya greets back with a smile of her own as the man starts to walk with her side by side. "How things have been around here?"

"Ah, same old, same old I guess." Herc replies, his eyes not leaving her as Ilya is looking ahead. "How was your time with the family?"

"Complicated." The sigh that Illya let out made the man feel guilty for asking.

"Your brother isn't coming huh?" Herc places a hand on his neck, guilt pouring out of him in waves as he didn't like making Illya sad.

"Neither him nor dad. Basically our family is letting everyone do their own thing, as weird as that sound." Illya is still a little upset by the turn of events but she also accepts that there is nothing she can do about it.

Didn't mean she wasn't showing her annoyance and that Herc didn't like she was annoyed. "Hey, at least they will be fine, right? If they aren't getting on our way then they are safe, right?" His words get a reaction as Illya looks at him with a raised eyebrow. "I mean, your brother lacks a sacred gear to protect himself, even if he can make Noble Phantasms. It will be safer if he stays away from all this."

Illya decides to say nothing, partially because he is right but also because she knows her brother well enough to know he was potentially wrong. 'I never even see him fight.' And yet she knows her brother is strong.

How else would have been able to bring Medusa back home and the goddess herself declared that he defeated her in her Gorgon form to do it.

"Say Herc...is Perseus around or he already left?" Illya asked with genuine curiosity. The angry sneer on the man's face was reply enough.

"No. That bastard really left us because he disagreed with our methods." Then Herc's face became pensive. "He also said he refused to work with Gilgamesh any longer, especially after...you know."

"Of course. How could I forget?" Illya facepalms but returns her focus to the end of the hallway and the room they just arrived in. "To be fair, I don't blame him."

"To be fair, Gilgamesh was right." Herc throws Illya's words back with a chuckle. He steps forward to open one of the double doors for her.

Illya nods at the demonstration of chivalry while Sella offers the giant a small bow in respect "True, but he could have been more...delicate on that occasion."

"Are you guys talking about what happened last month?" Already in the meeting room are two other members of their group, already sitting down on the huge table where they have their meetings.

"Illya-chan!" One of them, a young woman holding some cards in her hand, greets Illya with a smile and an excited wave. She can easily be called a standard of beauty with long blonde hair and celeste blue eyes and a figure easy to look at despite the orange armor covering her shoulder and breasts. The uniform still makes it easy to see that she is slim and athletic and the sword on the side of her chair spoke of her preference.

It is clear that she wants to jump from her chair and go hug Illya but the white haired woman is one step ahead. "Shouldn't you be focusing on the game Jeanne?"

The blonde woman calms herself down but still motions to a chair for Illya to sit at her side. "Yes, come help me. Let's do a girls versus boys match."

"Are you trying to escape the fact you are losing this one?" The grimace on the blonde's face made the other person on the desk chuckle. "It is good to see you again Illyasviel." The white haired man says with respect, his red eyes turning to the new arrivals and landing in Illya for just a moment before moving back to his cards.

"Good to you too Siegfried." The young man nods again at Illya's words. He is smaller than Herc but taller than her and while he is using their uniform it is below an open priest's coat. He also has a sword close to him but everyone knows he is able to call more from his reserved dimensional space.

"I looked forward to your brother joining our ranks." Siegfried says nonchalantly. "It seems he didn't join us after all." He comments while playing a card and having the blonde of the room whine as she draws one from the deck.

Illya's eyebrow twitches but she says nothing as she starts to walk around the long table to sit by Jeanne's side but still distant from her, Sella right behind her mistress in a respectful position.

While the Emiya heir didn't react much at the words of her ally, someone decided to comment on her behalf. "Oi, Siegfried! Leave Illya's family alone. If none of them wants to join them they don't need to."

Drawing another card and fixing the cards in his hand for a second, Siegfried places his hand on the table, making Jeanne pout at her defeat. "Usually you would be the first one interested in someone strong joining our ranks." The white haired man says with a snide smile. "Or is this because it is Illya's brother that we are talking about here?"

Herc takes a step back with a blush in his face before he advances to his friend aggressively. "Don't bullshit with me. We don't force people to join or stay in our ranks. Why should Illya's brother be any different?"

"You sang a pretty different tune on that meeting before we knew it was Illya's brother involved." Siegfried says with a chuckle and on seeing Herc looking to the side he continued. "When did the mighty Heracles started to act like a schoolgirl with a crush?"

"Herc has a crush on Illya? Why am I the last one to know?" Jeanne's excitent scares the taller man in the room but he ignores the blonde.

"I'm going to show you a crush." Heracles raises his hands towards his white haired friend when he remembers the object of his affection was in the room, hearing them. "Ignore them Illya." He rushes towards the woman's side as the maiden in question is looking at her nails. "Siegfried is just messing around with me, please ignore what he said."

Taking her eyes from her nails for a moment, Illya looked at the giant and asked. "Did he say something?" She was looking straight in Heracles eyes to make sure he sees no deceit. "I was too busy thinking."

"Yes, of course." Heracles lets out a sigh of relief as Jeanne lays on the table, promping Siegfried to approach her.

"Did she really didn't hear you?" The blonde asked but the white haired man just rolled his eyes.

"I am sure she did, she always does." This wasn't their first attempt to get their two friends together or help Herc with his situation. This attempt was the most direct short of tying the giant down and forcing him to say it himself. "Either because she is expecting a confession, doesn't want to harm his feelings or because she legitimately doesn't care; your guess is as good as mine on this,"

Barely Siegfried finished talking and he regretted it as Jeanne sat down again, made a pensive face, looked at Illya and Heracles having small talk and said. "I'll get these two together even if that is the last thing I do." She ignores how Seigfried starts massaging his temples at her declaration, the thought of her two friends hooking up being too tempting for her.

To the side of the meeting room, another door opens and from it enter Cao Cao and Georg. "Everyone is already here?" The leader of the Hero Faction says surprised. "Good, then we can begin."

While both new arrivals move to sit on the table everyone looks weary to the three empty seats of the meeting table, two on one each side and another at the head. No one dares to take that seat.

Once everyone was properly comfortable, Georg began. "I suppose that before we begin we should-"

The door opens again and Gilgamesh strides him with a smile. "I am not late, am I?" His question is met with silence or the shake of heads.

"No, you aren't." Cao Cao is the only one that dared to speak while only he and Illya dared to look in the blond's male direction.

"Good, good. I am hoping for good news today." The man advances on long strides and all eyes are on him as he makes his way to the chair on the head of the table. Once the man sat down, he used a hand to support his head. "So, you may begin when ready."

Wasting time with Gilgamesh present isn't something any of the leadership of the Hero Faction wants to do so they jump to any consideration and decor and go direct to the point. "Our troops are ready. Not everyone was able to reach Balance Break or anything close to it but the majority has mastery over their sacred gears." Siegfried said with Heracles nodding in agreement.

"I managed to successfully gather another Noble Phantasm by negotiating with the Old Satan Faction..." Jeanne goes next, sweat pouring from her forehead. "They are...still irritated by the incident with the blood."

"The barking of dogs is irrelevant." Gilgamesh comments, his smile still present. "But just one Noble Phantasm? Is anything useful?"

"I am afraid not. It is a sword with monster slaying capabilities but not really strong." Jeanne explained with fear creeping on her spine.

"And what did it cost?" The male blond asked and everyone could see that his smile had turned feral.

"Just some assistance for an operation with our mages!" Jeanne is quick to reply. "Georg can explain more."

Having been thrown on the way of the metaphorical bus, the magician fixes his glasses before speaking. "It is more like an IOU kind of deal. Since the number of devils is low they request our assistance in their operations more often than not." Georg is glad that the man isn't interrupting him and that the blond's just raised an eyebrow during the explanation. "Don't worry, I always make sure they pay heavily for our numbers and silence. At this point you can argue that we are running two of the factions inside the Khaos Brigade instead of one."

Gilgamesh chuckles and everyone knows he is pleased with the thought. "Isn't that great Cao Cao. Your second in command is really showing his value by negotiating such deals."

"It would be easier if our numbers didn't take a hit these last few months." Before Cao Cao could reply, Illya spoke with a sharp tone.

"Oh~ and why is that? As far as I know, everything is going smoothly." Gilgamesh offers Illya a gentle smile but the young woman is not fooled.

She knows how dangerous the man before her can be and that she shouldn't push too much. Around her the others are already making signs for her to stop without saying anything.

Until Cao Cao spoke. "Why don't you tell us how your investigation on Fuyuki went?" The change of subject was sudden but kept with the theme of the meeting and distracted both Illya and Gilgamesh. "Is the city good enough for our plan?"

"No." Illya can't keep the frustration out of her voice. She also didn't notice the relief in some people's faces as she accepted the change of topic. "The ley lines in Fuyuki are powerful, really powerful. But they are...stubborn."

"Stubborn?" Georg, the other resident magician, voices his confusion. "How so? Previous operations in the area showed no trouble in using the ley lines."

"They are easy to tap into. If anything they are eager…" Illya stops for a moment, trying to find the right words to explain for those that don't study magic. "But when you try to cross them, to have them work together, they stop."

"Stop? Just stop? I thought the mana of a city never stopped." Jeanne can't stop herself from questioning.

"Maybe I should say that they stop cooperating when someone tries to mix them together. I never saw anything like that before." And Illya studied ley lines for months in preparation for her research, there is no record of such a thing happening. "My mother ended up helping me and even she was stumped."

"So the Magus Killer agreed on assisting us?" Cao Cao is sure that isn't the case but it was better to clarify.

"More like he decided to stay out of our way." Illya affirms with conviction. "If Shirou had joined then he would probably be more active-"

"But since my friend isn't here, he isn't going to be part of our group either." Gilgamesh sounds depressed but brushes it off soon after. "Pity. I wish someone here had the backbone to stand his ground instead of just changing the subject."

"Hard to do with the threat of death." Illya says fast and Heracles gets up with Sella standing close to her.

"The only reason I killed that bitch was because she wanted to use the blood of the devils as steroids." Gilgamesh said almost like he was clarifying something to a child.

"There was still no need to kill a whole department of magicians because of a bad idea." And Illya truly thought it was a better idea but the waste of lives for basically nothing infuriates her.

"And if it was only that then you would be right. But everyone here knows it wasn't." Gilgamesh brushes everything off as unimportant.

"It was hard to explain that to the rank and file of our organization." Siegfried mentions as he noticed that Gilgamesh doesn't look ready to murder everyone on the vicinity. "I had to spin a story that they were all traitors."

"They were traitors." Now the descendent of the King of Heroes looks upset at Siegfried and the white haired man's face starts to match the color of his hair. "Wanting to use devils is one thing, mixing their blood with ours and turning us into monsters? That is a betrayal towards the human race."

Power starts to leave Gilgamesh's body and the air around the room growns heavy with the weight of his fury as an aura of gold surrounds the man. Last time things got like this, someone died.

"Ah, I almost forgot." Cao Cao announces with a shout, making sure the attention of everyone in the room was on him. "I got a letter for you."

"A letter?" The aura vanishes as Gilgamesh looks surprised. "Did another girl give you something to give me? Because if so, I am interested."

"It is from Shirou." Cao Cao said.

"Still interested." The leader of the Hero Faction slides the letter on the table, Gilgamesh easily catches and opens it in a swifty motion. Silently he reads the letter and chuckles. "Short and to the point." He turns to Illya. "Truly a pity that you didn't manage to convince him but he knows you well enough to know that you wouldn't even give me such a letter."

"Illya-chan's younger brother? What did he write?" Jeanne gets up and slams her hands on the table. "Did he threaten you by staying away from his sister?"

"Didn't you fight him?" Siegfried reminds everyone.

"Yes to both, not in the way you are thinking Jeanne." Gilgamesh says with a smile as he passes the letter to Illya. "Basically he asked for a rematch."

"What? You fought him and he asked for a rematch?" Georg found that hard to believe. "Did you go easy on him?"

"Does he know about the Gate of Babylon?" Is Cao Cao's main concern.

"Yes, he does. What of it?" Gilgamesh isn't concerned about people knowing about his family Noble Phantasm, to him it makes no difference.

"And he asked for a rematch?" Heracles, now more interested, leans on Illya's shoulder to read the letter. "'If you are going to threaten innocent lives, I challenge you. Give me the right to get my win back.' Is this man stu-" He stops himself before insulting Illya's brother.

"He is an idiot alright." Illya decides to say herself, reading the letter once again. "He told Gilgamesh in no uncertain terms that he shouldn't touch me and that if we are going to do something we basically have to tell him first."

"He really is an idiot if he thinks we are going to do that." Georg feels insulted.

"And it is exactly what we are going to do for Illya's plan B." Gilgamesh announces, startling all present. "What? Without Fuyuki's ley lines, the next plan is to use the ones from a place where they are more agreeable right? Kyoto if I recall, was you guys first choice since we can use one of its Kings to do the heavy lifting for us?" The blond asked with a smile and an eyebrow raised, that is indeed their alternative plan if Fuyuki didn't pan out, the reason for it being that some yokais of Kyoto could make things easier for them once they were 'persuaded' properly. "Unless, of course, you guys have another alternative."

"Are you trying to engineer a situation where Emiya Shirou has to try and stop us?" Cao Cao demands to know. He may respect and fear Gilgamesh's power but he won't allow his faction to fall because of the whims of the man.

"Do you have any other plans?" Gilgamesh asked again, looking around the room. "Fact is, most ley lines are guarded by armies and gods, Japan's aren't and Kyoto is our best bet on doing it fast before someone tries to stop us." The blond explains his reasoning. "So, do you have any other alternatives?"

"I will begin to prepare the rituals and spells." Georg said with a frown, knowing Gilgamesh is right.

"Don't bother. I need time to prepare the fake Grail." Illya says with a frown of her own. "But we aren't involving my brother on this."

"Why? He is challenging me after all?" And Gilgamesh is practically giddy with the thought. "In such a polite way too, I have no reason to deny my friend's request."

"Bullshit!" Forgetting that Gilgamesh is far more powerful and ruthless than anyone else present, Illya stands. "If you touch my brother I will find a way to kill you, King of Heroes or not!"

Everyone starts to sweat cold, there was a time when Gilgamesh wasn't as feared, when he was just another comrade. It was when someone disagreed with him that he showed how powerful and cruel he could be and everyone was almost waiting for a repeat performance.

"Bwahahahaha!" Instead, the man laughed. "There it is. That fire. I like it!" Gilgamesh declares before standing up. "That doesn't change the fact that we need to begin preparing for Kyoto. Such an operation cannot go unplanned." He gets up from his seat and begins to leave the room. "Call me if you believe that I am necessary." He opens the door and then stops. "Ah and Illya," the way he said the name was friendly. "I will call your brother. While I respect you, I respect his resolve more. After all, he saw the chasm between our powers and tasted my blade on his flesh and he still wants to fight. How can I not respect that? Hahahahahaha!"

The man leaves laughing, leaving the rest of the leadership of the Hero Faction in the room to ponder his words. "Do we have another plan?" Illya asked, almost begging. "Anything outside of Japan at all?"

"Not for this one I am afraid." Cao Cao says with a little more than pity. "The yokai community is mostly isolated and the Japanese gods don't mess with the affair of mortals anymore." Something he approves and that they can use to their advantage. "If we tried something like this in the main continent we would either have to compete against gods, giant armies and legions of magicians trying to stop us. We could win but it would be a pyrrhic victory at best while in Japan all we have to contend with is a bunch of yokai and their leaders."

"The leaders are still powerful." Illya points out but she knew it wasn't enough.

"Yes, and so are we." Siegfried affirms.

"They are known quantities and there are just four of them and even with their retainers we are sure Gilgamesh can defeat one, more probably two, for certain.." Cao Cao reminds Illya of the fact.

"And we can use one of them to speed up the process, securing our victory much faster in a way that even if they rescue the one we use, we still win." Georg may not like Shirou but he respects Illya and reminding her of the plan for their spell isn't something he minded doing.

"We can use Ophis." Cao Cao looked at his ally with pity when she said those words.

"You are grasping for straws now." The leader of their faction affirms.

"I just need time, I will figure out a way to synthesize her mana in a safer source of energy." Illya says with conviction but the black haired man just shakes his head.

"Remember that it was you who said that Ophis mana is incompatible with any form of Heaven's Feel since it is about connecting with beings that found an end where the Dragon of Infinity doesn't have one." Cao Cao doesn't mind being the bad guy on this discussion and he will shut down everything Illya says until she finds a real solution or accept that Japan is where they will attack to reach their goals.

"We don't need to fight your brother." Heracles says with a smile, trying to cheer Illya up. "All we have to do is to do the spell fast enough that he has no time to find us. So we don't need to hurt him."

"That can work. He lives in Fuyuki and we will be in Kyoto. All we need to do is work fast and he literally won't know what happened until it is far too late." Georg confirms Heracles' words.

"If he shows up...we just don't kill him." Jeanne says with a smile and a shrug. "I mean, how hard can it be to defeat a guy without a sacred gear?"

"Able to copy Noble Phantasms or not, he probably can't use them properly." Georg points out with a frown, unsure. "But I may be mistaken. While he is a magus, his disposition reminds me of our estimated leader more than I want to admit."

"Is that right Cao Cao? Is he like you." Siegfried looks to their leader with interest.

"Yes, he is the kind of guy always ready to fight. From the moment we appeared he was always on guard even if he looked relaxed." Cao Cao is experienced enough to pick up the dangerous signs on Shirou's posture even if the redhead was trying to disguise them.

"So he is a fighter." Siegfried sounds pleased with the thought. "We can beat him up a little and let him leave, doesn't sound that hard."

"And it was what he promised to do with us as we proceed with our plans." Cao Cao said, getting many intrigued.

And Illya didn't like that. She doesn't want them talking about her brother and their possibility of fighting against him. There is little doubt in the white haired woman's mind that they would win. Shirou is strong, he needed to be to defeat the Gorgon but she is sure that many in the room could have done the same if they bothered to try.

Yet she doesn't want her brother harmed, she also can't let him stop the Hero Faction either. They are her best bet against the thing she saw in her dream, the shadow that promises to consume her brother and the world.

It wasn't only a matter of their actual power but also their numbers and once Illya's spell is complete she is sure that the Hero Faction is going to be the most powerful faction on the Khaos Brigade, maybe even a contestant against the world in general and able to challenge even the Great Red as Ophis desires.

"It is going to take months to get everything ready." Illya announces, having made her decision. "I will make a list of everything we need. Georg, how long until you can make a spell to control one of the leaders of Kyoto?"

"Depends on the one we want." Now that it is back to business the brown haired man looks more relaxed. "I will need to do some research."

"Do it." Cao Cao orders his second in command. "The rest of us will gather whatever resources we need." Everyone nods at the command. "This year...or the next at the latest, we shall make our own version of Heaven's Feel and then...then all the world will be reminded why humanity is on top."

Everyone agrees with the words, standing up and getting ready for the next few months of jobs and operations. They would work together to reach their goals, an army of humans ready to take down the supernatural by any means necessary. That is what Illyasviel wants. That is what she needs.

Even if her family isn't with her. 'Why didn't they listen?' Illya thinks to herself as the meeting continues, holding her feelings close to her chest. 'If Shirou had joined dad would have too and then we would be able to do this much faster.'

The young woman stays silent through the rest of the meeting, already making a list of tasks she is going to have to do so their plan actually works.

But now she has a new fear, the fear that her brother will ignore her warnings and stop her, not realizing that the Hero Faction is their best chance of stopping the shadow from her dreams.

Illya's fist closes tightly on her hand and her palm begins to bleed. Only Sella noticed that as Emiya Illyasviel prepares herself mentaly for what she will have to do. For she knows her brother will attempt to stop her.

And Illya won't allow that, for his own sake.

…..

Rias' return to the human world after vacations had some surprises, none unpleasant and they were somewhat humorous for the devil and it all began a day before classes came back with a cat jumping in her window.

While Rias' location wasn't a secret under anyone working for Yoruichi, Shirou's location was a mystery to the black cat since she came back earlier in the week, checked the house and once she didn't find him, she got worried.

Unknown to Rias, the cat is Yoruichi herself and upon not finding Shirou and noticing most of the house now empty, made her believe something happened. Unfortunately for her she never bothered to ask for his cell phone number or even one for the residence since she practically lived there most of the time.

So, after going back to Kyoto because she was fast enough that it was a short trip, she came back to Fuyuki once one of her agents told her that Rias had returned since the devil had a number for her to actually call.

The devil and the yokai don't know each other very well but they get along, despite Koneko's problems, and after a quick call both discovered that Shirou had moved out and that he would see them at the clubhouse next day, not the school because he said he is going to skip the first day of classes to cook something to everyone as a welcome back feast and talk with Rias about something, 'nothing dangerous' he had said and both woman accepted that they would spend the night together.

Something that Akeno teased the cat about since it was clear the yokai rushed to Fuyuki because of the food and she didn't bother to deny that fact. The Queen herself was happy to have another taste tester besides Rias and Koneko, the small devil not complaining since it would imply leaving someone outside in the cold.

Now they are in school and Rias is curious on what Shirou wants to talk about. That and the feast later is the only thing the second year student can think of during her class. 'Maybe it was the reason behind him moving from his parents home? Akeno didn't call Irisviel nor received anything from the woman so it can't be anything too concerning.'

Stopping herself from copping the lessons on the board for a moment, Rias places her pen under her chin and begins to try and divine the reason on why Shirou would have moved to another house.

'He must have finally talked with his father.' It was an easy conclusion for Rias to make considering how Shirou was acting because of the eventual conversation. 'At least I hope he talked with his father, maybe the famous Magus Killer was more considerate than my own and respected the wishes of his child.'

Reminding her father made Rias frown a litte, it is barely noticeable for the other students because of the beauty of her face but those that know her, Akeno and Sona who share the same class, know that she is thinking about something that is bothering her.

She didn't realize that there was another person that noticed. "Did I say something that bothered you, Rias-chan?" The redhead didn't hear her teacher. "Riaaaaas-chaaaaan." The teacher tries to be polite but once again the redhead is lost on her own word, making the teacher's eyebrow twitch and she drops a book on her student's desk.

"Ah." Rias lets out a small startled scream and some of her classmates laugh at her. Looking at the teacher with her blue eyes the thing that caught more of her attention were the stripes on her blouse. "Tiger?"

"Don't call me 'tiger'!" Shouts a furious Fujimura Taiga, one of the few teachers that doesn't know about the more fantastic aspects of the world and doesn't walk around eggshells around certain students of the school. "Seriously, I thought I had gotten away from that nickname in Homurahara."

But it is too late for the brown haired woman as most of the class heard her comment and soon it would be part of the rumor mill that one of the most popular students of the school, if not the most popular, personally approved of the name that shall last for generations. The Tiger of Fuyuki legacy is now cemented and it is not leaving any time soon.

Chastising herself for her lack of attention, Rias began to talk quickly. "I apologize Fujimura-sensei, my mind was elsewhere."

"I can see that." The teacher has one hand on her hip while the other has the book she was reading for the class. "I know Literature may not be that important to most students but knowledge of the classics may one day be useful. Even if I don't know how." Taiga admits under her breath and only Rias is close enough to hear. "Anyway, read the rest of the page please."

Standing up, the redhead began to recite the page, a poem written somewhere during the Meiji restoration. Rias wasn't focused on that, she was schooling her features to make sure that no one else caught her mind wandering on other topics.

The reality is that she is deeply irritated about how her break went since her father decided to talk about the marriage, how the date is getting close and the Phenex clan came to visit while she was there. The actual lord Phenex even threw around the idea of pushing to have the marriage sooner.

Since Rias was there at the time she managed to shut the idea down but for some reason the Phenex clan head was more insistent than usual, even if he backed down when her fiance spoke some words that obviously made her quite upset.

'Maybe I should avoid the Underworld for a while.' What happened after didn't help her situation as when the Phenex clan left she and her father had another discussion, another fight. 'Out of sight, out of mind as some people say. Maybe just staying away will make my father forget that idea of marrying me earlier.'

During the rest of the class, Rias manages to keep her impassive face and when the bell rings the redhead's friends are already going in her direction to talk.

"Bad news?" Sona is direct on her approach, knowing Rias well enough that something was really disturbing her.

"The usual." The redhead replies but Akeno wasn't having any of it.

"Her father wants to anticipate the 'thing'." The Queen makes air quotes, keeping the conversation vague enough that the other students that are eavesdropping in the most popular girls' conversation couldn't get the full context.

"Akeno…" Rias warns her friend in an angry tone and Sona just shakes her head.

"Shame that your problem is not as foolish as my own." Sona says with pride and Rias froze.

"Does that mean…" She didn't dare to finish the question but Tsubaki voiced her thoughts with a direct answer.

"He accepted fukukaichou's challenge." Her fellow Queen chuckles a little.

"Is it really going to be chess?" Tsubaki nods at the Gremory's Queen's question. "The poor fool." Is all Akeno has to say for the matter and everyone had to agree.

"Congratulations Sona." Rias says without malice, happy that at least one of them is going to be officially free of their undesirable fiance. "I just wished that Raiser was that easy to bait into a trap."

Fixing her glasses, Sona comments in a lower tone. "From what my sources indicate, it isn't him who is smart but his family who is being cautious. Your contract is worth far more than mine after all."

"Good for me." Rias says with sarcasm as the next class starts. Most teachers in Kuoh are especially rigid with this class because of Sona's presence and do the utmost to show service. 'Maybe next time I should go to a different class. Sona is pushing them too hard and the winter break barely ended. Only Fujimura-sensei was vaguely normal today...her normal that is.'

The thought made Rias chuckle, she was really considering talking with their teacher privately to try and get her as a member of her peerage. If she was stronger, or at least moonlit world aware, she would really consider that possibility. She likes how spirited the woman could be and her attitude to life in general.

Soon classes for the day are over and the devil Kings separate to join their respective groups. Rias is quickly intercepted by the members of the first year. "Did Shirou send you all messages?" Akeno felt she should ask since she notices that the male redhead tends to forget details.

"I didn't get anything." Rin says with a frown while the others reply positively with Luvia letting out her usual laugh.

"Ohohohoho~ Maybe you would have received one if you were more in tune with modern appliances, Tohsaka." The blonde's insult made the black haired magus twitch but in general she gave no big reaction, not in the school where everyone could see an attempt murder.

"I wonder why Shirou decided to take the day off." Setsuna says with a frown of her own. "I really hope everything has gone well with his father."

Rias felt that the way to their clubroom was a good time to impart some information. "Apparently he moved out of his house."

As she expected, everyone looked surprised by the declaration and they would have remained like that if a shadow hadn't landed in Setsuna's head. "That is right." Yoruichi declares on her Kuro form, looking at the other reactions amused. "He didn't even bother to try and warn me. I standed around in the cold for a couple of hours waiting outside the house."

Instead of calling the cat on the lie Rias just rolled her eyes. "Considering he had to move out, he was probably busy." Yoruichi shrugs her shoulders and jumps to the pureblood devil's shoulder.

"Maybe, doesn't mean he shouldn't warn a lady if something like that happened." Is the nekomata's response as Rias scratches her head.

"We could ask Liz." Kiba points out as they all see the short haired woman walk out of the gym with some of her students talking with her with a smile on her lips.

Since it was the first day and her class was the most free in the whole school, Liz decided pretty much to play games with everyone, games that the students would choose. Those that didn't want to participate could sit out but fortunately many wanted to reconnect with friends so no one was alone.

'She looks happy.' Rias notices Liz's smile. It looks more genuine to the devil for some reason she couldn't comprehend and when the teacher saw them and started to walk in their direction, it grew bigger. 'She was more stoic before.'

A mystery, something that Rias doesn't like much but it wasn't necessarily unpleasant. She wouldn't mind discovering the reason for the white haired woman's happiness later in the day. "Hello." For now, the Gremory heir shall focus on replying to the greeting.

"Good afternoon." "Hi." "How are you?"

Everyone trades greetings as they make their way to the clubroom, Koneko joined them halfway and offered her fellow white haired maiden a nod which was reciprocated.

With almost all her household together, Rias felt content. It isn't perfect as she still has her engagement hanging above her head and Shirou is not present but since he is preparing a feast for them the last part is forgiven in the pureblood devil's mind.

Their club in sight, everyone can't wait for the dishes that Shirou must have prepared for them. A couple of months is not enough for any to forget the skill of the magus in the culinary arts, if anything it made anyone anxious for their eventual serving.

When they stepped inside the old school building, Rias felt something odd. The pureblood devil felt as her skin began to crawl and a presence she never felt before was dominating the space of her club. While it wasn't aggressive, it clearly was powerful even if it was trying to hide itself.

Of those present, Rias can tell that only her, Yoruichi whose body grew stiff and Koneko that looked at her with wide and confused eyes. The rest of their club didn't notice the presence, it is too small for that even if extremely potent in a way she never felt before.

In quantity Rias is sure that she is stronger, that pretty much all present are more than a match but the quality was a thing she never conceived before. Yoruichi even drops to her feet and starts calmly walking in the direction of the power, a room Rias quickly notices is her office.

Not waiting for anybody else to comment or open the doors, Liz does it with a huge smile and for a moment the three that felt the energy were afraid. But the fear disappears as the smell of delicious food starts to assault their nostrils.

A huge table was brought into the office, piles of food of many kinds spread around for all tastes. The dishes are all organized as if in a buffet with plates and cutleries on the begining with vegetables followed by pastes, meats and then desserts like a huge chocolate cake.

At their usual couches and chairs, Shirou is setting up places for drinks and looks at them surprised as he didn't notice the time fly.

But the eyes of the majority present aren't on their friend but on the stranger sitting in the middle of their couch in a white dress and long purple hair. Even those that can't feel her aura can tell just by looking that the girl in the office is not normal by any means and hold a considerable amount of power on her small form as she elegantly ate a assortiment of of foods in the small desk of the office.

"You guys are already here?" Shirou shows his surprise before pulling out his cell from his pocket. "Huh. Lost track of time."

"Shirou...who is this...person in my office?" Rias questions with some hesitation as the majority of the present look to the purple haired woman, admiring her beauty but still finding her presence odd.

"She is-"

"I should introduce myself, after all as you described I am here to ask for a favor from lady Gremory." The young girl puts the plate back on the small desk with elegance as Rias raises an eyebrow.

"A favor?" Everyone pretty much was in favor of allowing the King to talk and take her time. They all are confused by the new presence and are still trying to make sense of the new existence inside the office.

Except Liz, who is already moving to the buffet making a beeline to the cake as Shirou moves to intercept her and stop the white haired woman from eating everything.

"Allow me to introduce myself," her voice sounds calm and delicate, carrying a charm that completely catches the attention of all present and brings out their interest. "My name is Medusa, the last goddess of the Shapeless Islands. Because of Shirou Emiya's actions I am now on this form and he is my protector." Then the goddess made a courtesy as a show of respect. "Because of my situation and his alliance with you lady Gremory, I understand that I must request asylum in your lands."

Then the little goddess sat down again, picked up a fork and her plate and started to eat a piece of cake while everyone was slowly processing her words.

The first one to react is Rias as her head slowly turns to Shirou, watching as the magus is scratching his head. "Medusa?" The King questions in utter confusion. "As in-"

"Yes." Shirou didn't need to wait for Rias to finish the question.

Also looking Shirou in the eye despite being much smaller than him in the actual situation, a certain nekoshou bluntly questions. "Wasn't she a giant snake or something?" Yoruichi can't stop herself, her mind finally processed the whole situation and she found it all unbelievable.

"More or less? Kinda a mixture between a woman and a snake, or several technically." Shirou says with a fake smile like he was making a joke.

"My, my, I wonder what Shirou-kun did on his break." At Akeno's question, everyone turned to look between Shirou and Medusa, who now has Liz as company as both eat some delights that the redhead magus made.

"Well...you know…" And Shirou said nothing else as Rias started to massage the bridge of her nose.

"Screw this!" All eyes turn to Rin as she marches to the buffet. "I don't care how a mythological monster turns into a cute goddess, I don't care that there is a goddess here. I didn't get any lunch today and I am starving! You guys decide what to do with this reckless moron!"

And with that the Tohsaka head picked up a plate and started to fill it up.

Others began to follow her example, while smiling in sympathy Kiba was the second to go with Setsuna right behind since she didn't know much or cared about Medusa. Koneko was next, deciding that her stomach was more important than whatever complaints were going to come and while Luvia wanted to show support to Shirou in some way the blonde actually agreed with Rin and gave him a smile and a nod before going to eat.

Rias, Akeno and Yoruichi turn back to Shirou, who returns to scratch his head. "Well...it is a long story. You guys might as well start to eat too."

Yoruichi starts to laugh. "Nyahahaha~ You're kidding right? Of course we are going to eat. But are going to explain eeeeeeeverything." It is clear the nekomata is amused and curious.

"Without skipping any detail~" Akeno starts to move to the buffet with Yoruichi right behind leaving only Rias in front of Shirou.

"Well...I now have a reason to remain in Fuyuki on the next break." The redhead devil says with a sigh.

"Ah, don't worry." Shirou, feeling that Rias was stressed, tries to reassure her. "Medusa is not going to cause any troubles. She just needs some time to recover her strength."

Rias raises an eyebrow with incredulity. "A goddess is recovering her power in my city and I am not supposed to be worried? I know for a fact that Sona would be having a fit." Before Shirou said something she raised a hand. "I am not mad but you are going to explain what you did, why she is here and why I shouldn't get a team to guard you when I am out of town." The King lets out an exasperated sigh. "At least I now have an excuse to stay away from the Underworld for a while." She whispers to herself.

Shirou nods and resigns himself as they move to get some food. He just hopes the food is good enough that Rias stays content until the end of their talk.

He still needs to talk about his business proposition after all.

…..