Chapter 4 - A Shattered Sword

None were exactly sure when or how exactly Shirou first came upon the continent and by extension, first step foot onto the Clover Kingdom. Much speculation has come and gone over the years but the only one that knew the truth was the man himself.

What was definitively known was that the first person to have come into contact with him was none other than Acier Silva. The two would cross paths when the then heiress of the Silva family came across him by complete chance. At the time, she had celebrated her eighteenth name day at the Silva's family personal garden, a private plot of land within the Noble Realm owned entirely by the royal family. She could come across him while she wandered through the forest and found him battered and close to death's door. Seeing the injured young man, she rescued him and brought him back to be healed. She went as far as offering him a place to stay in her family's estate when he finally regained consciousness and helped him recover over the course of a week.

In the beginning, many were unsure of what to make of him and his presence. Many were hesitant and skeptical, claiming him to be a spy or something else on account of him being a foreigner. A few were outright intolerant, claiming the mysterious foreigner was an ill-fortune seeing how he appeared within the Silva property without any explanation. Further distrust festered as it was quickly discovered that he was capable of magic. One that did not require a grimoire.

A mysterious individual stuck in a foreign kingdom with even stranger magic, such an existence did not sit well with the closed-minded aristocrats and nobility.

He was shrouded in mystery and it didn't help that he wasn't forthcoming with what he knew nor where he came from, and how exactly he got into the Clover Kingdom in the first place. Especially when it came to the staunch upper caste that mistrusted him.

For a time, the threat of imprisonment or interrogation hung over him. Torture too, should it ever come to it. Many sought to sweep the ordeal under the rug. However, he was far from alone.

For Acier Silva, as the sole heiress to the previous heads of the Silva Royal Family, vouched for him. Her words carried with them weight, helping to starve off any potential retaliation against him.

That wouldn't be all as the rumor and gossip of a foreigner with foreign magic eventually reached the ear of an eccentric, young magic fanatic with an interest over all things magic. So much so that he broke into the Silva household just for the chance to meet the wayward stranger and to glimpse at his magic. Thus, that was how a Grey Deer Magic Knight by the name of Julius Novachrono came to meet the man that would be considered his equal, Shirou Emiya.

The two hitted off quickly and became close friends in the coming weeks.

With the support of Acier, and by extension, the Silva family, alongside Julius, who was a talented and rising star among Magic Knights, they were able to shield him from much of the scrutiny. Helping him to earn a stable footing within the Clover Kingdom.

For while many within the kingdom disagreed with Shirou's presence, they learned to tolerate it. Especially when his strength came to light.

The Clover Kingdom took the clover as their symbol, with each leaf bearing a significant meaning. That of faith, hope, and love. A four-leaf clover was fortuitous, a symbol of good luck but also one of power and potential. For while the Clover Kingdom may espouse such ideals as fairness and righteousness, there was one universal understanding; power. And that power came from one source, magic. A factor that Shirou had in spades, especially over his contemporaries when compared to their grimoire magic.

Projection or Magecraft as he called it, Sword Magic as it was commonly referred to by others, whatever it may be called its potential was limitless and in turn, its strength was unparalleled.

And so, as the years passed, he worked towards the peace of the kingdom and to prove himself in not just the eyes of the nobility but all. His effort eventually paid off as the Clover Kingdom became his new home.

For a time, all was normal, until a certain piece of news circulated across the four corners of the kingdom. News that shook the kingdom to its foundation as it was announced that Shirou and Acier were to be married.

A foreigner marrying a royal princess. A foreigner would be the next head of the Silva family, one of the three families that could trace their legacy back to the first Magic Emperor and the ancestral royal family. Such a news boggled the mind of many, especially the nobility. It was absurd, likened to that of fiction, yet it was the truth.

Much of the initial reaction and clamor was vehemently against such a union. However, all their barking amounts to little more than hot air and empty words. By this point in time, Shirou had accumulated numerous achievements and feats through his tenure as a citizen of the Clover Kingdom. He has even been hailed as a hero in the last great war between the Clover and Diamond Kingdom. His greatest feat was during the final battle that was known as the Breaking of Dawn Point where Shirou ended the siege on the castle known as Dawn Point near the eastern and southernmost border of the two kingdoms. He alone decimated both the land and castle, defeating and routing the full 150 Diamond Kingdom mage force garrisoned there and sending the militaristic Kingdom in full retreat. A feat that not even his most ardent of detractors could hope to publicly discredit his strength and accomplishment.

It didn't hurt that he held a good relationship with not just two of the royal families, that of the Silva and Vermillion family, but he was also a strong confidant of the recently inaugurated Magic Emperor, Julius Novachrono. A man who was already well-liked and respected by both the common folk and nobility alike.

Many had their own thoughts on the matter but they were smart enough to keep it behind closed doors. Yet, both Acier and Shirou knew that their marriage would be mired with complications and internal politics if they were to marry outright. Which was why they set their plans into motion and action some years ago.

As the daughter of a royal family, she was naturally gifted with a large pool of magic, one that only grew as she matured and developed. With time she grew from a cute and perky girl, blossoming into a gorgeous young woman. Powerful as she was graceful, deadly as she was beautiful.

In time, Acier became the most sought-after bachelorette in all the kingdom, perhaps even the continent. She was a woman with many acclaims. Captain of the Silver Eagles. Regarded as the most powerful woman in all the continent. The silver crown jewel of the Clover Kingdom. Many sought her hand in marriage but she would not give it so easily.

For she declared that she would take none as her husband lest they first prove their strength by emerging victorious against her. A decree that outlasted many of her would-be suitors. It has been said that more than five hundred mages have tried their hand at her only to fall before the silverette every single time.

A fact that persisted, until it came time for Shirou to challenge her.

On that day, The Dancing Princess of the Battlefield dueled The Crimson Monarch of Steel. A fight that would cement itself in the history of the Clover Kingdom as one of the greatest spectacles ever seen.

It was described by those that witnessed the fight to be a fight of epic proportions, with swords and steel flying overhead, explosions and destruction rocking the land as both fought with speed and grace faster than the eyes could catch. A battle that tore the land and ripped the air. The current Captains of the Magic Knight Brigades were even called in to act as safeguards to protect against any potential splash damage or stray attack. A job that saw them straining, trying to keep up against the two fearsome mages.

By the end, it was Shirou that emerged victoriously. The battlefield in which they fought, a once sprawling forest, was reduced to a barren plain. Decorated with scars stretching across the land, a testament to their strength and the ferocity of their duel.

Their exhibition silenced their critics, allowing the two long-time friends and lovers to marry without a hitch with a lavish wedding reception and ceremony befitting a royal. One that beckoned a new beginning and the fortune to come for the newly married couple.


Asta listened intently, captivated by the story. Noelle was of course simplifying the history and events, informing him on the essentials as well as some snippets given to her directly from her parents. Thus, she left some of the more key details out but that did little to dampen the magicless teen's wonderment.

With such a powerful and promising beginning he couldn't help but wonder just how and where exactly it must've gone wrong that led to the future that was the present.

And so, Noelle continued her tale next that would shine the light on the situation and illuminate just where it all went wrong.


Following the union between the two, a little over a decade passed and all was joyous and peaceful for the Emiya-Silva household, or Silva-Emiya, the two were often interchangeable. Much to the fuming chagrin of the staunch noble faction. A year after their marriage they were blessed with a first son, a healthy boy that they named Nozel after her great-grandfather. Nebra followed after him within a few years, and some years later, Solid joined their growing family.

Three healthy children, each blessed with their own magic and strength. Three children to match the three-leaf clover of the Kingdom, a fortune and sign to come, especially when the news that they would be blessed with their fourth child.

However, such fortune would not come to be, for tragedy would soon strike swiftly and mercilessly.

For as long as Noelle could remember, her mother, once hailed as the strongest in the land, was always bound to a wheelchair. Growing up, it was something she considered hardly out of the ordinary, a norm she'd known all her life. Just as how grass was green and water was blue. As a young, growing child, she was none the wiser. It was only when she grew older that she wondered.

In the beginning, she questioned how and why her mother was in the state that she was. Especially when there were pictures that showed her healthy with both her legs functional, as opposed to the paraplegic state she'd known all her life.

At first, it was a curiosity that slowly turned yearning for an answer.

For every time she would ask they would say nothing, avoiding the question and topic no matter the cost. And every time it was mentioned they would her nothing but solemn stares and pitting looks before trying to change the subject or divert her attention. As if they knew something she did not. Which only fueled her desire for the answer all the more.

She would ask and plead, begging for an answer but none ever came.

It would later that she finally heard of the 'rumor' that lead to the crippling of the steel mage. One that involved Noelle, as it was pointed out that around when Noelle was born her mother was suddenly struck weak and bedridden following her birth. A week later, she resurfaced to the public eye, healthier but paraplegic. The most widely accepted conclusion was that there were some complications with the recent birth which ultimately led to her current state. The added fact that neither one of them openly dismissed the rumor nor did they provide anything to the contrary only added more fuel to the fire.

Once she learned of this, Noelle confronted her parents, asking if it was true. And again she was met with tightly sealed lips. Perhaps what stung the most was that they didn't trust her with the truth, their own daughter. For while they never outright answered her; their silence on the matter was an admission of its own. No matter how times they tried to assure and dissuade her.

From that moment onwards, she vowed to herself that she would not allow such a thing to happen again. She vowed to prove herself and bring honor to the Silva name. A vow that would be broken upon when she finally discovered her magic and her first victim would be none other than her beloved father.

Most nobles acquire their magic intuitively due to their innate powerful magic and their naturally large reserve of mana. As a result, noble children typically show their first sign of magic around the ages of five to seven. The same applies to the likes of royals as well, if not to an even greater extent.

Her brother, Nozel, developed his magic when he was but four and was considered prodigious by many. Nebra and Solid manifested their magic at the age of five and six respectively, and both showed great aptitude.

The same couldn't be said for Noelle as for years, her innate magic remained dominant. With every passing year that followed, rumors floated around that spoke of the cursed fourth child being potentially magicless. Malicious gossip that sought to undermine the Silva reputation and while most of the family did not fall for the obvious ruse, the same couldn't be quite said for Noelle. Of whom was the target of it all. Her days were plagued with mocking whispers and haughty snickers spoken behind her back as the years came and went. For a time, she wondered if there was possibly some truth to the matter.

When her ninth name day came, her magic manifested, at last, dispelling many of the baseless rumors once and for all. It would go down as one of the happiest days of her life, especially when it was learned what exactly her magic was. Of their four children, it was Noelle that would take after her father as while she didn't inherit Shirou's magic completely, she possessed a variant of it. Which was dubbed as Arma Magic. The closest form to the foreign Silva's Sword Magic. And just as quickly, the spotlight was on her.

Noelle, the once perceived failure and embarrassment of the Silva family, was now the talk of the nobility.

It was a time of great celebration but also mental hardship and expectation.

As a late bloomer, she immediately threw herself into training, working to harness her magic and power. As the sole practitioner to her father's magic, he would be her benchmark. An already monumental task as Shirou set the standard ridiculously high, yet Noelle strove for it nevertheless. For in her young addled mind, it was the only way to prove herself worthy of the Silva-Emiya name.

Her magic involved the creation of weapons, swords primarily, in comparison to Shirou who was capable of bringing out just about any form of weapons.

Something Noelle learned early on was that her magic relied primarily on her mental fortitude and focus for visualization. In other words, the swords created by her magic were only as powerful as she could make them out to be. And so, she sought the means to grow her magic and expand her expertise on the subject.

She poured over books, studied countless schematics and designs, spoke with master blacksmiths and experts when it came to sword forging, and many more. She devoured every scrap of knowledge she could at a gluttonous pace, seeking perfection. While also building her discipline to visualize and design the "perfect" weapons as befitting a royal of her status.

She studied and trained, day in and day out. Every day for six months straight. There were even times when she collapsed and blackout due to the sheer exhaustion of it all but she endured it all. She had to.

Not even the kind and worried words of her parents imploring her to take it easy could hope to deter her. If anything, it only fueled her fire further.

While admirable, there was only so much a nine-year-old could do and accomplish with pride and stubbornness alone.

It all culminated on that fateful day.


Standing within an empty field, dotted by sparse trees, Noelle stood in silence with poise and dignity, emulating the stature often seen by her brother and father. Despite her cool image, on the inside, her heart was beating rapidly in both anticipation and nervousness.

Standing several steps away was Shirou, watching over his youngest daughter. Further on the sidelines were the rest of Noelle's family. Her mother sat and watched with Nozel, Nebra, and Solid nearby. A few servants stood at the ready, accompanying the royal family on this outing. They were within one of the Silva family's own private, open training fields.

Noelle had been training rigorously for this day and it was time to reap the fruits of her labor.

"Father, Mother!" Noelle addressed. "On this day, I shall show my worth to the Silva family and make you two proud!"

The two parents shared a look, having had no idea before the purpose of the outing until Noelle explained to them only recently as an exhibition of her magic.

Shirou couldn't help but quirk a brow at the odd but passionate declaration from his daughter. Instead, he graced her with his ever-patient smile.

"Sweetie, you know that your mother and I are always proud of you." He said.

A warm feeling nestled with her before the silverette quickly smothered it.

No, she thought. A failure like her needed to earn their praise, not simply be handed it. And the only way to do that was to prove herself to not just her parents and siblings, but to herself as well.

"Of course, Father." Noelle curtsied, accepting it for she knew better to argue when it came to her father. "Nevertheless, I wish to show you my strength and the results of my training!"

With that, she began her demonstration.

With a flourish of her hand, an action she imitated in the likeness of her father when he would call upon his magic and create his Projections, the young royal called upon her magic. The air hummed as streaks of magic flowed freely, condensing and coalescing in the air before forming five swords.

Shirou let out a small impressive sound, a reaction shared by Acier and Noelle's siblings. His eyes appraised the swords to find them of the highest quality.

Noelle smirked, elation filling her. It was only the beginning.

With a flick of the wrist, her swords flew, cutting through the air as if they were dancing. Here, Noelle concentrated, making sure that their trajectory was maintained as she held out for as long as she could. When she could hold it no longer she directed the swords towards a tree where the five swords cut down the tree. They sliced through the thick trunk and dense branches with ease, the leaves scattering to the wind in the wake.

Noelle heaved underneath her breath, a drop of sweat trailing after everything. She of course played it off, keeping strong in front of her father's watchful gaze.

Clapping could be heard coming from her family, showing that they were impressed by her display.

"Wow, that was impressive Noelle!" Shirou complimented.

"You go, Noelle! That's my baby girl!" Acier cheered.

Whatever tiredness Noelle felt then instantly vanished under the warm praise of her mother and father. However, as quickly as it came, so too was it snuffed out.

What are you getting so happy for? A dark voice chastised, one that sounded identically to her own. Father is capable of creating dozens of swords and can do the same with the ease of him drinking afternoon tea. You on the other hand are nearly out of breath just after one showing. Pathetic…

Noelle's face tightened as she shook her head. Her eyebrows twitched as a dull, numbing headache plagued her mind. That was right, she couldn't afford to be complacent. She couldn't settle for mediocrity.

As Shirou was the closest to her, he noted the subtle change in his daughter, his eyes narrowing in worry. Before he had a chance to open his mouth, Noelle continued with her exhibition, showing off her magic and skill.

For a little while, all was going well but despite that, every display was accompanied by the snarl of the dark voice inside her head. Berating her for every tiny mistake and telling her that she could do better; that she had to better. Quickly after, she began to slip.

For every success, she fell short with every other attempt. Each failure only fueled her desperation further, a cyclical cycle, as exhaustion and the thought of failure wore her down. She had gotten little rest the following week, working and stressing in preparation for the exhibition, and now it has come for its due.

"Argh!" Noelle let out, a tired cry as her latest attempt ended up in failure as her knees collapsed in on themselves.

She was panting, her finger digging into the earth as they balled into a fist in frustration.

Things weren't going as planned! She was to show to her both her father and mother just what exactly she was capable of. She was going to prove that she was just as good as her siblings. To wow them, but instead, all she managed to accomplish was showing them just how much she lacked.

"Noelle…" She heard her father say. "I think that's enough…"

"F-father!" Noelle hastily said, turning her head to look at him. "P-please! I'm not done yet!"

"I agree with your father. Sweetie, look at yourself!" Acier implored, wheeling herself next to him. "You're shaking all over! We've seen enough."

The way they closed their eyes and shook their heads ruefully showed that they didn't believe she could continue. This she'd reached her limit.

Noelle on the other hand felt an icy hand grip her heart.

They're probably thinking what a waste of time this was. Father and Mother gotten tired of watching you constantly fail. So much for showing off the dignity of the family name.

"N-not yet! I can still go for one more!" Noelle struggled to her feet. "Please! Just allow me one more chance, Father! Just one more try, Mother!" She tearfully pleaded.

Shirou stopped, hesitation gripped him as he looked to his precious daughter. In the face of his baby girl's heartfelt plea, he was conflicted, his contrite face tightened all the more as he both wished to encourage her while also wanting to end it as he could see the fatigue on her.

"One more…" Shirou answered softly but firmly. "One more, but that's it."

"Y-yes, Father!" Noelle hastily accepted, thankful for the second chance.

"Dear!" Acier hissed. She grabbed Shirou by the front of his shirt and pulled him down closer to her. "What are you doing?!"

His wife's iliac eyes shone with worry, questioning why he would allow this to continue despite their daughter's obvious exhaustion.

"I know..." He took her arms into his, squeezing them gently to show that he understand. "Please, trust me."

Husband and wife locked eyes, golden amber stared imploringly into passionate iliac, asking for her trust.

She would give it. Acier didn't like it but she trusted Shirou and so, she would trust his decision.

Shirou nodded appreciatively, kissing her knuckle to show his appreciation and to soothe her ails. His reassuring smile helped to put her at ease as the two waited for Noelle to finish.

He'd seen such stubbornness before in their daughter and knew that fighting or denying her only led to more trouble in the long run. The reason why he allowed her to continue was twofold. The redheaded father reasoned that with her already drained state as it was, it wouldn't take much before she run out of mana. In which case, they can then bring the demonstration to a close without much resistance should Noelle fail. Should she successfully go through with it, they could end it on a high note and gently coax their daughter to end it on a high note.

During all of this, Noelle took a moment to recover. She quickly employed a breathing technique she learned from her father to restore her breath. She needed to be calm, balanced, in control. Shirou had graciously given her one more chance to prove herself and she couldn't afford to muck it up.

Once she was suitably prepared she pulled out her final demonstration, her pièce de résistance, and the one she was saving for last to cap off the exhibition with.

Calling deep within her, her magic answered as it surged forth from her body and covered the air above them as swords took form. Several dozen in quantity, the largest she'd ever produced at once. With a strained smile, she readied herself for the next part.

Only, it would never be.

Suddenly and violently she was struck with a sensation, a magical backlash, as if electricity was running rampant within her own body before fading. Noelle fell to her knees as an indescribable numbing sensation spread within her.

She knelt there, helpless, as her swords dropped from the sky, clattering against the ground. She watched them as they bounce, cracking before dissipating, much like her hopes of making her parents proud.

'No, no, no, no…!' She thought wildly. 'Stand back up!'

She tried to call upon her magic yet there was nothing.

"Noelle…" She heard him.

Her entire body instantly locked up and she began to shake almost uncontrollably. She dared not turn around to face her parents. She didn't think she would be able to bear the shame should she see the expression he was making. Including those of her siblings, especially Solid, for whom she knew was jealous of her due to her possessing magic that was the closest to their father. He would always be the one to tease and mock her for her being a failure of a mage.

"O-o-ne more time, Father!" Noelle shouted desperately. "I-it's merely a setback! I…I…" She stuttered, making excuses for herself as she fought desperately back to her feet.

She struggled, glaring down at her pathetically trembling arms in anger and frustration as she tried to call upon even a fraction of her magic to little avail.

"Noelle!" Shirou raised his voice, yelling her name.

Noelle flinched as she remained frozen there. This was one of the few times he had ever raised his voice at her and that was what made it all the shameful for her. Slowly, she turned around to face him, cringing inwardly when faced with her father's stern but patient expression on his face and her mother's fretful own.

"That's enough." He said, putting down his foot on the matter.

"You did your best dear, there's no shame in that." Acier soothed.

We've seen enough of you trying and failing so pathetically.

"You've gotten the basics down, far faster than I'd thought. Which is quite the feat, sweetie."

Congratulations, after over six months of hardship and training you've only learned the bare minimum that's required for my power.

"Though it's clear you'll need some more time and training for the more advanced stuff, still, that's excellent progress for someone your age, Noelle."

Then again, it's not as if we should be too surprised. We'd never expected much from you anyhow.

For every word of reassurance, there would be a dark counter that whispered right into her ear. As they continued, Noelle retreated further into herself.

Seeing that it wasn't quite working, Shirou reached out to his daughter with warmth and reassurance.

"It's ok…"

Such words should've been a source of comfort for the young royal.

Instead, they held the opposite effect as a torrent of emotion exploded within her as all the emotion she had bottled up until now erupted forth from her like a geyser.


Noelle shouted coarsely, her screaming echoing across the field as rivers of tears stained her face.

Everyone was taken aback by the raw emotion on display. None more so than Shirou and Acier who rushed forward to help calm her down.

"It's ok…" He repeated more softly, his hand outstretched towards her in the hopes of calming her down but it only incensed her further.

"STOP SAYING THAT!" She shouted directly at her father, slapping his hand away.

"Then what do you wish for me to say?" He placated.

"Yell at me! Call me a failure! Say that you're disappointed or that I should be doing better! I don't know! Something!" She shouted, a pained incoherent squeak leaving her as she grabbed a fistful of hair, looking down and away. "Anything besides those words! It's not ok… It's not!"

Shirou and Acier stood there with their mouths agape, horrified by what they heard from their daughter.

"Sweetie." Acier stepped, or rather, rolled forward, shaking her head in disbelief. "Why would you think such a thing? We would never… Is this about your presentation? It's ok, not everything works out as intended. You're probably just stressed out. Why don't we calm down and head back? I'll even whip up your favorite hot chocolate and some cookies for you to enjoy."

Her mother's words only served to bring her anguish then comfort. Again, they tried to reach out to her, only for her to hold herself back. She whimpered as she fought to reign in her turbulent emotions under control but like everything else, she was failing.

A sight that tore at their hearts at seeing their beloved baby girl so distraught.

'I don't deserve them…' Noelle thought.

She was blessed with kind and loving parents, and was given a life greater and more generous than most could ever dream of. It was why she endeavored to prove herself. To prove herself worthy of their affection and kindness. To show that it wasn't wasted on a failure of a daughter like her, but like everything in her life, it was for naught.

What has she done to deserve such kindness and love from her parents besides being an embarrassment to the Silva name? Her entire life has been nothing failure after failure in one form or another. Because of her, her beautiful and once-powerful mother was left crippled. Her wings were forever clipped and bound to a wheelchair where once upon a time she was known as The Dancing Princess of the Battlefield. This guilt regarding her mother's condition, she internalized, using it as a source of strength to endeavor and prove herself. All she needed was a chance. And that chance came when her magic finally awakened. Her father's magic was respected and envied by all, and it was by fortune or fate that she was the one to be blessed with a variant of his signature magic, surpassing even that of her prodigious elder brother. Thus, she poured her blood, sweat, and tears into proving that it wasn't a mistake. To show that she was indeed worthy of her name. More than her duty as a royal of the Clover Kingdom, she endured to prove that she was worthy of being the daughter of two of the greatest parents ever seen across the continent.

She thought she could endure it all. The guilt, the expectation, the pride, but she could not. And so, she would pay the price for her arrogance.

'If only I never existed, then…!' A singular frantic thought echoed within her. Encompassing all her self-loathing and bitter frustration.

Magic was a curious phenomenon. Despite it being a staple of the world and those inhabiting the continent, much of the core knowledge regarding magic as a whole remained incomplete to some degree. One such facet that was known definitively was that magic was a part of an individual being and could be conjured forth in times of extreme stimuli.

Such as emotional distress.

For Noelle, who was still very much immature in both her age and magical acumen, and with the vast reserves of her bloodline and her magic, that was Arma Magic, her magic reached out and reacted violently in her heavily distraught state.

The family felt a shudder run down their spines as the mana in the air shook across the field. Resulting in streaks emanating from the point of origin, Noelle, as the streaks discharged across the ground.

A rumble was their only warning as Shirou acted on instinct, grabbing a hold of her and lifting his wife off her chair as he leapt back. Just in time too as blades erupted from the ground below all around Noelle.

Once the initial tremor settled, everyone looked in disbelief at the sight in front of them.

All around Noelle, jutting from the ground like weeds, were steel blades. Her swords. Some were short and crude, some were large and sharp, and a few were misshapen lumps but one thing that couldn't be denied was the sheer quantity of it all. They number in the ten of dozens if not in the low hundreds. A surprising feat as the maximum she'd ever created at a singular time was that of thirty. Yet, the armada of blades that encompassed the surrounding to the contrary of her limit and she didn't even feel winded or tired. Or perhaps, she was too exhausted that she could barely even feel it at all.

It was a garden of steel and it would've made for an impressive sight were it not for the danger that it presented.

For the numerous blades that surrounded her were far from the durable and peerless quality often associated with her. They cluttered together, covering the field in a three meter diameter of mangled steel. Even at a glance, all could tell. They were were sharp, imperfect, and most importantly, very volatile. The Silva's could feel the unstable flow of mana surging within them, with arcs of electricity bouncing from one blade to another.

They rattled precariously, looking ready to explode violently and bring with it a deadly storm of steel and certain death upon those unfortunate enough to be within the splash zone.

And Noelle, she stood at ground zero.

Her eyes wouldn't leave ground, unable to tear her sight away from the horrifying reality in front of her.

Surrounded on all sides by innumerable, sharp and unstable blades, the royal dared not to even move lest she accidently set off the blades of steel that rested near her feet.

"Noelle." Shirou's voice called out to her, managing to break her from her stupor.

The Arma mage slowly tore her terrified sight away from the ground to her father.

Shirou and Acier stood at the very edge of the area, having jumped back to avoid the blooming garden of steel at their feet. He looked at her with a forced calm and focus, his hands hugging Acier close to him as she was absolutely terrified for the safety of her daughter.

He needed to be strong, for his daughter.

"Can you dispel them?"

Noelle shakingly shook her head.

No matter how much she tried, her magic wouldn't respond.

In that time, the rest of Noelle's sibling raced up to their mother and father while the servants quickly set off to get help. Shirou quickly set his wife down on her new wheelchair, his hand on her shoulder gently urging his wife to stay back despite her resistance. He paced around the edge, his golden eyes shone with an intensity like none have ever seen before as he looked for a way to rescue his daughter.

"D-d-daddy..." A petrified voice squeaked, coming from none other than Noelle herself.

It wasn't the fact that her entire body was trembling nor that fact that tears were leaking from her eyes that shook him to his core. It was the voice of his own daughter, and how defeated and frightened she sounded. Gone was the façade of strength of nobility and what was laid bear was a scared, little girl.

"I-I-I d-don't want t-to die..." She sobbed, tears and snot running down face.

It was something neither parents hoped to ever put any one of their beloved children through and it broke their hears to see it. However, it only reinforced Shirou resolve to do whatever it takes to rescue her. The rest of the family could do nothing but watch on, praying that nothing happens.

Arcs of mana pooled forth, coalescing in his hands as a short, purple dagger appeared in his hand. It bore an unusual shape, possessing a zigzag blade. The blade's surface shone with a soft, kaleidoscope of colors, one that bedazzled the eyes of everyone around.

"Ok, ok… Sweetie, listen to my voice and keep calm." Shirou continued, his voice serving to comfort for her. "Everything's going to be ok, I promise. You can do this."

Standing at the edge, his eyes flickered back and forth between the weapon in his hand to the outcropping of blades that awaited him, contemplative to whether or not what he had in mind was feasible or not.

His fingers tightened as his eyes flashed resolutely and without any hesitation, he swung the dagger at one of the jutting blades. The rest of his family braced themselves, having no idea what their father's plan was. Instead of an imminent explosion, there was nothing.

The blade he struck dissipated, breaking down harmlessly into motes of lights that drifted away.

Everyone let out a collective sigh of relief. And as for Shirou, he steeled himself to the task to come.

Slowly, and ever so carefully, he made his way towards Noelle. Every swing and cut was deliberate for each jutting blade were individual and separate of the other. Which meant he had to go one by one as he cut a path to his daughter. He couldn't afford to rush it, lest he make mistake that would lead to a chain reaction from the rest that were still just as volatile.

Shirou was making decent progress and for a moment, they held out hope that everything would be ok.

"Just a little bit longer sweetie." He said, reassuring her while his eyes remained focus on the task.

His words would be spoken too soon as he soon noticed the increased trembling in her legs.

"Noelle…!" He called out urgently, seeing the shaking in her legs persisting.

"D-d-daddy... I can't..." Her face was pale with sweating dripping down her face. Her legs looked ready to buckle at any second.

"Yes you can! Just a little longer, you can do this!" Shirou urged, speeding up his work but he was still only a quarter of the way there.

Noelle's face strained, desperately trying to hold on. Unfortunately, her body had reached its limit. Unable to bear it any longer, Noelle's legs caved in as she collapsed to her knees.

Father and daughter locked eyes one last time as the realization set in, one in horror and the other in acceptance.

And then, in the span of a second, everything happened at once.

Numerous shouts crying out Noelle's name ripped through the air. The swords rattled and glow, volatile lights leaking through the cracks as the surrounded hissed. Shirou reinforced his entire body and ran towards Noelle without a concern for his own wellbeing as he felt numerous blades digging into his legs and flesh. Acier and Nozel had to hold back Nebra and Solid from running after their father as the two opened their grimoires to protect themselves.

Noelle watched it all happen in slow motion, her senses heightened like never before when confronted with imminent death.

Shirou reached her first and tackled her, pulling his daughter into his chest as he used his entire body to shield hers.

Through the small gap, the silverette saw him raise his left arm to the blinding light discharging from all around them as a dazzling pink aurora blossomed forth from his open palm.


The last thing she saw was a pink flash of light merging to form something before an all-consuming white light enveloped her.

And then, she woke up.

A gasp left her lips as she shot up from her bed, her face drenched in sweat. It took Noelle a moment before her senses slowly came back to her. She was in her bed, she realized.

Pink eyes wandered, narrowing to find darkness all around her. She looked towards the window, the calm night sky reflecting through the drapes with small stars illuminating the darkened sky.

In an instant, the memories came rushing back to her.

'Father!' Her thoughts ran frantically as she threw off the blanket.

Noelle nearly tripped and fell the moment her legs touched the floor. Her entire vision shook, everything she saw was spinning as a result of a persistent migraine. She clutched her head with both hands, her teeth gnashed together as a soft hiss escaped her lips, as she tried her hardest to suppress the splitting headache. As her senses slowly recovered she noticed that her arms and legs were covered in bandages. Including the one that wrapped around her head. That would explain why her limbs felt weak alongside a persistent ache that burned every time she tired to move.

After a intensive moment she felt confident to stand back, her hand seeking the wall to keep herself from wobbling and collapsing once more. Once she regained enough of her balance she sprinted out the door.

Much of the outside and interior was empty and remained dimly lit, illuminated by soft candles. She trudged forward, even if the destination wasn't clear insight as her legs took her down a familiar path. The direction ahead of her led to her parent's personal chambers.

As she neared the location, ready to round the corner up ahead, her ears twitched, catching the sound of voices. Voices grew louder and clearer as her pace quickened and she turned, her eyes widening to find the rest of her family standing within the small hallway.

Her older sister, Nebra, was clutching to the side of her mother with both their backs to Noelle. Facing their mother was Solid, who held onto a red face of ire. By the looks and sound of it, the two were in a heated argument. Nozel stood within the middle of them, on the side, looking the most stressed and exasperated as he tried to calm his brother down but to little success. All of them sported light bandages on their bodies but looked no worse for wear in comparison to Noelle. A thought that brought some measure of relief for the youngest sister.

A relief that was ultimately short lived.

The moment Noelle rounded the corner, Solid's eyes found hers. His own sharp blue eyes narrowed in anger, burning with such hostility and intensity that she couldn't help but flinch.


The second son matched past everyone, stomping up to Noelle while she cowered in the face of her brother's venomous glare. A look that frightened her, for while she knew her brother Solid could be a bit mean, he never hated her. Until now.

"This is all your fault!" Solid shouted without warning. "I've always known you were a colossal failure and embarrassment to the family but this is a new low!"

"Solid, enough!" Acier raised her voice, her voice cracking momentarily as she wheeled herself around to put herself in between the brother and sister.

"Mother! Surely even you can see that Noelle has been nothing but a menace! First you and now Father! She's a curse I tell you! If only you were never born! It should've been her that died instead of Fat—!"

Whatever he would say next, Acier put an end to it as she did the unexpected.

She slapped him in the face. It was far from hard nor did she put any true strength behind it, yet, it was the suddenness that truly struck them greatly.

Their mother struck him. In reprimand, yes, but the mere notion of it was completely foreign in their mind. Reflected by the slack-jawed, stunned faces of all the Silva siblings. Including Solid, who was nursing his lightly-red stinging cheek as he looked to his mother in absolute disbelief as what just did.

For as long as Noelle remembered, her mother or even their father for that matter, hardly ever raised voice, let alone their hand any of the siblings. Even when they did something wrong or incorrect, they would always smile and patiently coax the lesson out of them, allowing them to come to understand what exactly they did wrong and what to do to do better next time. Rare was it for them to express true anger or disappointment unless it was truly warranted. Something which all of the Silva siblings endeavor to avoid as to not disappoint their beloved parents.

However, this situation they all found themselves in would be the exception.

This was the first time Noelle, or any of the others, saw her mother truly upset. And at one of their own no less.

"A brother should never, never, ever think that of their sister. No matter the cause." Acier laid down.

Solid said nothing, his mind still trying to process what had just happened. He looked away in shame and anger, his teeth grinding together in both hurt and confusion. The young teen said nothing, rising to his feet before bolting away without another word.

Acier watched as he ran away, her heart tearing itself from within as it begged her to follow after her precious son and console him. However, a part of her knew that he needed some alone time. There was one more of her children that needed her more than anyone else.

"I'll go after him." Nozel said softly, earning a somber, thankful nod from the wheelchair bound matriarch.

On the way out, he reached out for Nebra and brought her along with him. Thus, leaving only Noelle and Acier left.


Acier reached out, bringing Noelle in for a hug so tight she nearly suffocated.

"My baby… My sweet little girl…"

Noelle fidgeted within her embrace and resisted the urge to break free, allowing for her mother a moment to rest and collect herself.

"Mother… Where's Father?" She hesitantly asked once she pulled away.

"Don't worry, he's alive and safe now."

Hearing this admission, her shoulders slumped in obvious relief. A great and terrible weight had been lifted from her shoulders knowing that her father was alive and well. However, her apprehension lingered for Solid's words invoked a sense of unease and confusion.

For if Shirou was safe and sound, then why did his brother's word make it out to be otherwise…

Seeing the look on Noelle's face, Acier's hand gently took her daughter's hands into hers, guiding her through the doors and into the master bedroom.

Inside was a lavish bedroom, one fit for a royal couple. There, sitting on the large bed was Shirou. Next to him was a middle-aged man in a white coat with rimless glasses. Noelle recognized the man to be Owen, one of the Clover Kingdom's most premiere healers. A man employed directly under the service of the Magic Emperor and also a close friend of Shirou and Julius.

"F-father!" Noelle exclaimed, the hint of a smile forming only for it to wither upon seeing the true state of her father.

His entire left side was wrapped in bandages, extending all the way down his left arm, or rather, what was left for his left hand and forearm was completely gone.

"Noelle…" Shirou immediately rose to his feet, rushing to meet his daughter only for him to stumble and fall after the first step.

The redheaded Silva hissed in discomfort. He struggled slightly as he propped himself up with just his lone arm, trying and failing to stand back on his two feet with obvious difficulty.

"Shirou." Owen sighed. "What have I told you about taking it easy?"

The doctor reached down, helping him up as he wrapped a hand over Shirou's shoulder to allow for the married royal to stand while leaning onto him.

Shirou paid the man's words hardly any care for his eyes remained solely fixed on his daughter.

It was also here that Noelle noted the oddity in his gait. His stride was more awkward and the way her father would wince with every step told her exactly what she feared.

"Noelle." He sighed in relief.

He knelt before her and took her into his arms, hugging her as his face teared up

"Thank goodness you're safe. I was so worried that I might've not been able to protect you and…"

Noelle did not hear him, in fact, she couldn't hear anything. Nothing but the silent, droning white noise that numbed hearing while her glossy eyes remained transfixed by her father's crippling injuries. Injuries that she caused him.

Quickly taking note of her catatonic state, Shirou mustered up a smile.

"Oh, this? Oh, this is nothing. Now, if I had lost my dominant, right arm then we might have to worry." He jest. "Looks like I'll be getting some more helpers in the kitchen now, for you know, to provide a helping hand…"

Shirou's poor attempt at a joke failed to rouse any humor or reaction from her. It only had the opposite effect as Noelle scooted away from his touch in a slowly building panic.

"It's my fault… It's my fault…" She muttered repeatedly.

Without warning, she collapsed, falling to her side on the floor. Unable to hold it back, she broke down into tears. A strangled cry left her lips as she laid there in the fetal position, crying her eyes out as tears and snot mixed and dripped down her face. She apologized, repeating the phrase "I'm sorry" over and over again despite Shirou's and Acier's best efforts to console her. Noelle remained unresponsive to the world around her, too wrapped up in her melancholy. Her tearful cries echoed all across the empty home. A pitiful wail of a foolish daughter that has taken more than she has given back.


Asta swallowed heavily, his mind processing everything he just learned.

He'd always assumed that Shirou's injuries came about from either an accident or a mission that went wrong. Something or another. Never once did it cross the magicless teen's mind that his own daughter would be responsible for his crippling.

From Noelle's retelling, Shirou chose to protect her over himself as he used most of his body to shield her along with some kind of defensive magic. It was said that he'd taken most of the brunt of the explosion and damages onto himself, and when the others reach them, he was practically on death's door. His entire left arm was bloody and missing while his right was covered in near third-degree burns. His left leg bent at a broken angle and was skewered with numerous broken blades. Much of his right leg was cleaved cut off a loose blade being launched violently from the explosion and was covered in shrapnel. A similar fate shared by his body with it being punctured with pieces of shrapnel and broken shards. Yet, even with his body completely bloodied and in tatters, he did his duty as a father and protected his child no matter the cost.

Thankfully for Shirou, the rest of the family and servants were in administering first-aid as Owen was informed of the situation and rushed to help.

They were able to recover much of his right leg intact, and while it was severed at the thigh and filled with laceration the healers and doctors were able to heal it. Fortunately, the cut that severed his right leg was incredibly clean, allowing them to reattach the limb and reconnect the muscle tissues and nerves through intensive surgery and care, and of course, magic. They were successful in their operation but the damages left him slightly lame, bestowing him with a limp. They managed to heal up his right arm and left leg nearly as good as new. The same couldn't be said for his left which was left unrecoverable and so all they could do was mitigate the damage done.

After the incident, Noelle remained inconsolable for nearly a year. She locked herself in her room and pushed everyone away, including her family. The stubborn royal would've nearly starved herself to death were it not for her parents' persistence in breaking down the walls she erected around her.

Shirou never once blamed her for the incident. He never once begrudged her or looked at her any differently. If anything he blamed himself, citing how he should've been more aware or cautious. The same was with her mother. They blamed themselves, never her. A fact that only made her feel more guilty over the horror she wrought on her family.

It took nearly a full year before Noelle, and by extension, the family, finally came to grips with their new reality and managed to move forward past the tragedy. It involved a whole lot of convincing, some therapy on the side, enough tears to fill up an ocean, and a rousing game of hot potato regarding who was truly at fault with everyone trying to take onto themselves.

In time, thanks to both her parent's patience and gently coaxing, they managed to help Noelle come to grips with what had happened. For only by accepting the present could one finally move towards the future.

However, she wouldn't forget, nor would she fully forgive herself for such a heavy sin.

"Noelle… I… wow…" Asta mumbled, for what else could he say.

For among the few times in his life, he was truly at a loss for words. He'd always known that she had her fair share of emotional baggage but he never once considered just how large her inner turmoil was.

"Noelle, it's not your fault…"

"YES, IT IS!" She shouted back, regaining some of her strength. If there was one thing she hated most in this world, it was that phrase.

"It's always been my fault! I'm the one responsible for Mother's conditions and Father's injuries. They were once hailed as the strongest but now… The crippled couple, that's what everyone calls them behind their backs… Because of me... I always ruin everything!"

Noelle looked away. She could already see and hear them, nobles with their hushed snickers and punitive glances.

"Noelle, you can't think that! I mean, it's like you said your mom and dad forgive you and everything."

"Then why is it that they must constantly remind me of my failure then!" She shouted back, confusing him for a moment.

"Father's always making jests about needing an extra hand, or a helping hand, or whatever else ridiculous joke. Mother's in on it too. They're always bringing it up in one form or another, no matter the situation. I know why. It's because they secretly resent me! They're just pretending to be ok, and using it to remind me of my failures…"

Upon hearing this, Asta fell silent.

"Wow…" Asta said. "You know, for someone really smart you can be really dumb as well, Noelle."

Noelle's melancholy was placed on hold as a sense of bewilderment overwhelmed her at what she just heard. Her head snapped towards Asta, who was staring at her with a deadpan look. A look normally reserved for her whenever it was he that would say or do something dumb.

How ironic it was that it was her turn to be the recipient of such a look.

Asta couldn't claim to know much about the Silva couple, having only met and known them for a day, if not less. However, in the short time that he has been around them, it was abundantly clear that they were filled with nothing but love and affection to their children. To suggest otherwise would be a lie.

While he could not speak for them in their entirety, if what Noelle said was true, then their jokes were the furthest thing from cruel or malicious. If anything they were more whimsical and accepting. It was obvious that they've long accepted it, the tender love and care on display by both her parents were proof of that. If anything, it seemed as if their jokes were more of a way of gentle persuasion in the guise of a joke.

"Now, I don't know much about this whole thing." He said, standing there with a finger pointed directly at her. He was after all an outsider to the Silva family affair but even he could tell the writing on the wall. "But I can safely say that Mr. Shirou and Miz Acier are some of the nicest people ever and would never hate you! If anything, it's you that's the problem!"

"W-what do you know?! I may have educated you on the matter but that gives you no right to criticize me!? I—"

Noelle was cut off by a bonk on the head, courtesy of Asta.

If she was surprised before, here, she was shocked by what he had just done. It hardly hurt but it was the mere notion that he hit her in the first place that left her gawking.

"I… you…! Why did you do that!"

"Because you were being stubborn and dumb! That's not the Noelle I know! Go back to being smart!"

"Why you little…! I'm not being dumb!"

Asta bonked her on the head again.

"Q-quit it! S-stop hitting me!"

"Stop being dumb, first!"

Round and around the argument went, a repeat of before as their argument devolved into a near shouting match between the two teens. One was trying to help the other see sense while they were too busy wallowing in their misery to see past it.

"You're right. I only know so much about the whole thing because of what you told me. And yeah, I couldn't possibly understand what you went through, Noelle. But, even I can see that you're just a brat about it! If you can't see just how amazing your parents are and accept that they love you no matter what, maybe there is something wrong with you!"

"How dare you! What does a rude, barbaric peasant like you know about my pain?! What does an orphan know about disappointment?! What do you know about failing those you love?! You've never had parents in the first place, so how could you possibly ever hope to understand how I feel!?"

The moment those words left Noelle's mouth, the world was smothered in silence.

The two of them stared at one another with wide, disbelieving eyes. Both equally as shocked and abhorred. None more so than Noelle who couldn't believe her own ears as she spoke those words. Aghast, her hand fell over her mouth, unable to justify herself. She had spoken in the heat of the moment but that did little to lessen the cruelty behind her words.

As for Asta, he said nothing. His head was tilted downwards, his ashen hair shadowing his face.

"Asta… I…" She tried speaking up, to apologize for her insensitive words but she failed.

Her eyes shut closed as she pulled herself in, chastising herself once again for royally screwing everything up. This always happens. No matter how hard she tries, she always finds a way to make it all. Perhaps that was her magic, the ability to make everything she touches or say worse.

"Yeah, you're right."

Noelle's eyes snapped open at the casual admittance.

Asta plopped himself next to her. She was afraid but instead of anger or disappointment, what she found was a wistful gaze.

"You know, I always wondered just what kind of people my ma' and pa' would be. I mean, they kind of left me at the orphanage at Hage when I was literally a baby, so there's that… But you never know, y'know? What if they were like super cool Magic Knights and they were about to go on a dangerous mission so they left me at an orphanage just in case something happens to them. Or maybe, some kind of accident or disaster happened and I was found by some strangers and left at the orphanage. Maybe they're still out there, looking for me. Oooh! Or wait, maybe I'm secretly part of a super special and secret son of a royal family or lineage, and they hide me away so that assassins won't come after me. Or maybe…!" Asta talked extensively on the ideas, speaking animatedly on the topic and bringing up different and wild scenarios and possibilities.

"Or maybe, they were just some regular folks and they figured it wasn't worth it to raise a magicless kid…"

Asta trailed off with a somber and longing look. One that wouldn't last for what he would say next.

"I don't know and I don't think I'll ever will. But, I don't hate them for it. If anything, I'm kind of glad that they left me at the orphanage."

Noelle couldn't believe her ears, her head snapping up to face him with a look of complete disbelief. Asta gave a small smile at her reaction, a sheepish chuckle as he rubbed the back of his head, one managed to lighten up the mood if only slightly.

"If it weren't for them, then I would've never met Yuno and have him be my rival. Or even Sister Lily, or Father Orsi or any of my other siblings; like Recca, Nash, Aruru, and Hollo. Oh! And I would've never discovered the taste of Nomotatoes, too! And…" He continued on, giving examples. It was the simplest of things, yet, they were often the most treasured.

"It was thanks to them that I got to meet so many amazing people. Yuno, everyone within the Black Bulls, and even your family, Noelle. Yeah, I may not know my mom and dad but so what? Their loss. I've got a whole new family right here!"

Noelle was quiet, contemplative.

The silverette understood where she was coming from, in a warped sort of way. For as Asta said, were it not for his circumstances the way they were, there was a chance that the two of them would've never met. A domino effect of what-ifs and what could've been.

A comfortable silence settled between them as she mulled over his words and meaning. A peasant and a royal they may be, in that one moment, despite the differences in their circumstances, they felt that bit closer.

"I still can't find it within me to forgive myself entirely for everything."

"But you've got to, eventually I mean. How else are you supposed to move on?"

"You make it sound so easy, Bakasta..."

"I mean, I never said that. After all, when is anything worth grabbing in life ever easy? Besides, this is you we're talking about. You can do it, Noelle. You're awesome like that."

Unbidden, a small true smile graced her lips.

"Thank you. You know, for an idiot, you can be surprisingly insightful."

"Yea… hey! I resent that."

Noelle laughed. The first genuine piece of laughter in what felt like a long time.

Asta pouted, his lips twitching into a small smile of his own.

He stood up, offering his hand to her, one which she accepted as he pulled her up.

There, the two remained for a moment. Their eyes locked onto one another as the warmth of their hands kept them company.

"My, oh my, what do we have here?"

The two Black Bulls were startled, having caught completely unaware and off-guard by the unexpected third voice. The two quickly turned around, their eyes widening to find Shirou and Acier waiting at the doorway.

"We leave you two alone for a few hours and the next thing I know, the two of you have snuck out late into the night. Rendezvousing here, alone within a soundproof room, away from all prying eyes. How romantic!" Acier cooed. "My, my, you kids are fast these days. Ah, to be young again ~" She sighed fondly, leaning comfortably into her husband's side.

Shirou politely smiled along.

"M-mother! It's not like that!" Noelle was quick to deny.

The two parents simply offered a shared, mirthful look as their mirthful crinkling eyes were drawn to the fact that the two were still holding hands. Both Asta and Noelle's eyes tracked their gaze down to their hands before both lifted their heads to one another.

A deep blush overtook Noelle as she wrenched her hand free from Asta. However, what got to her was the fact that Asta was blushing as well. Something she'd hardly seen from the Magicless Knight.

'Is he blushing…?! The musclebound oaf that always has training and fighting on his mind is blushing?! Since when? D-don't tell me he also has feelings... No! Me and Asta…like that?! Impossible! As if! Besides, that empty-headed bumpkin would know what love is even if it hit him upside the head... Uggaahhh! What do I do?! Why now! Why must Mother embarrassed me like so?!'

While Noelle's brain was overheating from that, Asta was quickly preoccupied with an existential crisis of his own. Namely that of the warning given to him by a certain cold, silver-haired Captain.

"Mr. Shirou, please don't tell Nozel about this!"

Asta immediately prostrated on the ground, his eyes flooding with exaggerated tears of fear. His mind already conjured the very real and intimidating image of Nozel looming over him.

"Wait, that's what you're most worried about?!" Noelle exclaimed incredulously.

"I mean, yeah! Have you seen your brother? He's super intense!" Even more than Yami, which was quite a feat on its own. For unlike their captain's sometimes serious and sometimes playful intimidation tactics, Asta had the feeling that the captain of the Silver Eagles would make true on his threat.

During this, Acier wheeled herself up to Noelle. Her hand reached out, gently cupping her cheeks as she looked over her precious daughter.

"Oh dear, just look at you." She said, taking her daughter's hands into her. "Did you train too hard again? I'm happy that you're so diligent sweetheart but you have to take care of yourself. Come along sweetie, let's get you washed up and in bed. You've got a big day tomorrow after all."

Noelle could only nod, unable to argue with her after all that'd been said and done. She was helpless before her mother's unconditional affection as the Arma mage placidly followed her mother as she lead them out of the room

Then, Shirou walked up to him, resting a gentle hand on the young man's shoulder.

"Thank you for looking out for her, Asta." Shirou smiled sincerely.

Asta returned with a heartfelt smile of his own.

"Of course, sir! How could I dream of being the Magic Emperor, if I can't help one of my precious people!?"

Shirou chuckled, patting the Magic Knight on the back affectionately.

"Let's get you back to bed, Asta. We can't have you sleeping on the job when tomorrow comes."

"Yes~ sir!" Asta saluted him, a yawn interrupting him mid-sentence. One which only served to prove the Silva patriarch's word.

And so, the royal princess and the magicless teen went their separate ways. But come tomorrow, they would be reunited once more, the memory of the moment they shared still fresh in their hearts and their spirit just that bit lighter than before. All thanks to each other.