Intermission

I'm back again.

As I said, Q1 and Q4 of the year would be the busiest time.

I'm still continuing my stories but I don't really have the time to put my all into them since my works are taking it.

Blade in Kivotos' new chapter is already up in WP and AO3 if you didn't know.

As for the other fics, I'll keep my lips sealed for now. :|

This chapter hasn't really proofread, etc. So i hope you bear with the grammars, spellings and else.


Shirou Emiya was in a trouble.

He had never encountered a situation like this before since he knew what his sister Miyu loved.

Things were never difficult with her.


FLASHBACK – A DAY AFTER THE HUNT-

"So… what will it be kid?" asked the older redhead to his apprentice while they were having dinner in their forge.

Shirou looked up and blinked.

"What?"

Crozzo cast an unbelieving glance at his pupil.

"What do you mean by what!? It's in another week y'know!?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about…"

Crozzo shook his head and groaned out loud.

"Aiz's birthday is coming…"

The younger redhead's eyes were wide open the moment he heard that.

"Her birthday is on the 25th of December, the same as Christmas… so you better prepare presents for the girl."

"Wait… presents? As in plural?"

The older redhead gave a 'are you being serious' look toward his apprentice.

"Birthday and Christmas."

"Oh…"

Shirou sighed. The redhead had only known the girl for two days and had no idea what she liked or disliked.

"Can you help—"

"NOPE!" Crozzo made an 'X' with his hands in front of him. "You've got to do this on your own!"

"Tsk."

"Oi, did you just click your tongue!?"

"…Huh? Did you say anything, Crozzo?"

The older redhead slapped the back of his apprentice's head playfully before mumbling his way out of the forge with the plates.

"Disrespectful brat."

The redhead, who had been left alone in the forge, rubbed the back of his head, thinking about the upcoming week.

"Presents huh…"

"I wonder if I can just forge her a sword as a gift…"

Crozzo had only taught him the fundamentals of smithing the day before. However, Shirou had knowledge of every weapon he owned in his Reality Marble, so forging each weapon wasn't too difficult - minus their capabilities, of course.

He also used different materials because he didn't have the same resources.

"…If I apply the smithing techniques from each weapon, maybe… maybe I can try to make my own original ones…"

The redhead smirked.

'it would be nice if I could make a sword that is unbreakable and can cut any type of hardness…'

FLASHBACK ENDS


It had been 5 days since that day.

While Shirou couldn't really make a sword that can cut any type of hardness, at least it was unbreakable.

He had no name for the sword yet but It had a silver blade, a blue guard shaped like S, and a blue grip. (AN: Aiz's main weapon, Desperate.)

Crozzo had given him a material called 'Orihalcon,' claiming that weapons made from it would be unbreakable, a term called 'Durandal' by the older redhead. While it wasn't quite as good as her father's weapon, it was certainly the best Crozzo had ever seen, barring his own creation. Shirou's creation was highly praised by the older redhead, who predicted that if he continued down the path of smithing, he would eventually surpass him.

"…" Crozzo placed the sword on the table. His eye twitched as he shifted his gaze from the sword to his apprentice.

"What?"

"…You're cheating with your magic…" the Master groaned. "You basically have the knowledge of every kinds of smithing technique and you just applied them to this one sword…"

Shirou looked away, eyes not meeting his master's.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

Crozzo sighed.

"Well, at least you got one present down. What about the other one?"

Shirou frowned upon hearing that.

He had planned to make something to eat for the blonde friend of his but he didn't know her preferences. Sweets would usually worked well for girls.

"I'm planning to cook or bake something, but I don't know whether she will like it…"

"Heh, I'm sure you won't disappoint." Crozzo stood up from his seat. "Aiz-chan will like whatever you give her, you don't have to worry about that. You proved it already in our dinner nowadays."

Shirou sweatdropped as he remembered the dinner lately.


FLASHBACK -THE SAME EVENING AFTER THE HUNT-

A little blonde girl was running, looking for Shirou with snacks in her hands. She spotted the redhead boy talking with one of the adult hunters and sped up toward the boy.

Unfortunately she tripped on some pebbles resulting the snack to fall over.

Shirou who heard her yelp quickly approached Aiz and helped her.

She began to tear up as she saw the snacks were all over on the ground, but the redhead told Aiz that he would make some replacement for her and told the girl to wait with her parents.

After taking Aiz to her parents, Shirou immediately left for the kitchen and asked the staff to lend him the stove.

They were hesitant to lend the kitchen to a youngster like him, especially since he was a boy. However, after a quick taste-testing of the quickest dishes he could whip up, the kitchen ladies gladly lent him the kitchen.

=25 minutes later=

Aiz had stars in her eyes as she looked at the dish in front of her.

She poke the fluffy dish with her finger, and like a spring, it bounced back.

Aiz then cut a small part of the dish and used the fork to put it in her mouth.

The girl squealed. Her eyes glittered from the fluffiness and the sweet taste of honey.

Aria who was sitting beside her daughter was also curious about the dish Shirou called pancake, therefore she tried to take a bite.

The mother squealed before letting out a small sigh of joy. She had never tasted this kind of food before.

Albert who watched his family's reaction turned at the redhead boy sitting in front of them.

"You didn't poison it, did you?"

As soon as Albert said that, Shirou lowered his head, eyes covered with his bang.

"…You're walking on a thin ice there…" replied the redhead with a small growl.

"Huh…?"

"If there's anything that I hold my pride in, then it will be my cooking." The redhead looked up and narrowed his eyes at the black-haired man. "If you dare to say those disrespectful comments again about my cooking… trust me, you won't get a good night sleep…"

Albert nodded dumbly.

Before her husband could say anything else, Aria cut in.

"Shirou! Can you teach me how to make this dish?"

The boy nodded at Aria before Albert began interrupted.

"Hmph. I could have make it much better, I bet."

"Oh?" Aria looked at her husband before glancing at Aiz who was enjoying the pancake. With a devilish glint in her eyes, she continued. "Why don't you try to make it then dear? Shirou, could you give the instruction to my dear husband here?"

Shirou agreed and then walked away with Albert into the kitchen.

Aria knew that her husband was not that bad in the kitchen, but she doubted he could make this kind of dish even with Shirou's guidance.

Moreover, she would enjoy how Aiz reacted to his dish and then comparing it with Shirou's.

Unknown to the mother, a certain red-haired smith had partaken the pancake with Aiz, praising it highly.

=Another 25 minutes later=

The two blondes were sitting eagerly on the table with different reasons. The daughter couldn't wait to eat more pancakes while the wife couldn't wait to see her husband's reaction when Aiz said that she preferred Shirou's pancake.

"Here you go, Aiz-tan!" Albert came up with a plate of pancakes and put it in front of his daughter. In a glance, the pancake looked the same as Shirou's, but Aria knew better that the taste would be lower than the previous one they had.

The blonde woman took a glance at Shirou who shook his head before taking his seat in front of the blondes.

A single bite later.

Aiz frowned.

She looked up at Shirou.

"Did you make this Shirou?" she asked.

Then Albert cut in happily.

"It's your daddy's cooking Aiz-tan! How is it? It tastes much better right?!"

Aiz looked at his father before frowning again at him. Aria meanwhile, was trying to stifle a laugh from looking at her daughter's expression.

Crozzo who was still sitting with the family took a bite of the pancake after her.

*SPLURT!*

The red-haired smith threw up everything he had had this morning immediately.

Albert who saw that quickly look at her daughter right before she commented.

"Horrible." Aiz said.

As if struck by a log, Albert fell on his knees with a depressing aura around him and rain clouds formed over his head.

"N-no way…"

Aria laughed at his husband, drawing attention to the other mercenaries nearby who then began to laugh after hearing the reason that made the leader's wife laughed so hard.

After having enough of the entertainment the wife turned to the younger smith.

"Do you know any other dishes that you can make, Shirou?"

"Yes, actually, tonight I'll be helping the staffs in the kitchen to cook for dinner."

Aria nodded in satisfaction before trying the pancake her husband made. She too frowned at the taste saying "This is indeed horrible, dear…"

Albert cried.

=Dinner Time=

"OKAY! WHO MADE TODAY'S DINNER!" shouted one of the mercenaries on the dining table.

None of the other mercenaries said anything as they were busy devouring their own portion.

"AH! OI! THAT'S MINE YOU'RE TAKING!" yelled the same mercenary.

"SHUT IT! YOU'RE NOT EATING IT ANYWAY!"

It was chaos and only Feena, Ryulu, and some other girls and housewives in the kitchen knew who caused this to happen.

It was expected since the girls had tasted the dishes the boy created. 'Karaage', a dish based on chicken meat sliced into bite-sized pieces, coated with flour and spices, and then deep-fried in hot oil.

The girls were extremely pleased when they exchanged recipes with the redhead boy.

The latter did not only exchange but also improved the recipe they had and the results were outstanding and very well received by the mercenaries.

Albert, Crozzo, and Evelda themselves barged into the kitchen demanding to know who made the dinner. The girls swiftly pointed at the redhead who was busy dicing the meat.

"SHIROU!" the three yelled. However, what greeted them was not the boy but several swords hanging in front of them.

"Those who aren't staff aren't allowed to enter the kitchen."

The three swallowed hard from the threat.

"A-Anyway! We're here to tell you that you can use all the meat to make more of those Karaage!"

The redhead nodded confirming their request before dismissing the swords and the group immediately returned to the dining table.

FLASHBACK ENDS


Shirou let out a wry chuckle as he finished remembering it.

"If you're making something, I suggest you have Yuri and the others gather the ingredients, I'm sure they'll be glad to help if it's about good food."

Shirou nodded as he watched his master wave his hand, leaving the forge. The redhead then returned to the table where Desperate was wrapped in its blue sheath, admiring it once more before he too left the forge and prepare to hit the bed early.


Meanwhile

Aria was washing up the dishes after their small family had dinner.

"What's wrong? You seem a bit down…" Albert asked the moment he went down after taking their daughter into her room.

"Oh, nothing dear…"

Albert sighed before approaching his wife from behind and wrapping his arms around her waist.

"You're worried about our little princess, right?"

A slight nod from his wife was enough for Albert to comfort her.

"That kid will be with him… He will protect her in our place."

"I know…" Aria sniffed. "It's just…it's just we'll miss a lot of things that will happen in her life…" the blonde woman finished as tears started to fall from the corner of her eyes.

Albert winced as he heard that.

"If we were to face it, we have to keep our daughter safe in case we failed…"

The two couldn't help but stay still, thinking about the incoming future. After a few minutes of silence, Aria wiped her tears with her sleeve before changing the topic.

"Enough about it, let's…just talk about something else…"

Albert nodded before letting go of his wife.

"Her birthday's coming up soon and this will be the last birthday we spend with her… Have you thought about what you will give to her?" Aria asked as she continued to wash the dishes while Albert went to make some coffee before sitting on the chair.

Albert smirked when he heard the question.

"I had Crozzo make me a sword for her!"

Aria made an unladylike snort when she heard that before stifling a giggle.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, it's just…" Aria giggled again before continuing. "Shirou also had a sword made for our princess, you know?"

"…Aiz-tan is not going to choose his present over mine, isn't she?" the husband whined.

Aria smiled at his husband's antics.

"Oh, you should've known the answer to that, dear," Aria said while drying her hands. "After all, we were the same." Aria gave him a wink before proceeding to make tea for herself.

"…shit…"

"Language."


With Aiz at the same time

The little blonde girl was trying to get a sleep after her parents tucked her into the bed, however she couldn't help but be excited for her birthday.

She had been trying to spend more time with Shirou but the redhead told her that he had something to do.

When Aiz asked him about it, Shirou asked her to wait for it on her birthday.

That alone made the little girl bubbled with happiness and excitement.

Aiz by no mean was a stupid girl like those fan girls coming for Shirou. She knew that the redhead had been spending more time in the forge with her uncle and he could guess what he would get her for her present.

"I can't wait for my birthday!"

She giggled imagining the present and since her father was going to teach them about wielding a sword, she could guess that her present would be a sword forged by Shirou himself.

Speaking of present, Aiz immediately stood up and went for her cabinet and picked up the present she had wrapped before looking at it lovingly.

"I hope Shirou likes this since he likes to cook."


The Next Morning (1 day before Christmas)

It was the busiest morning ever since all the hunters had been notified that their new chef would be making a lot of tasty dishes for the evening. Yuri the usual chief of the hunting team were accompanied by more people than usual, even Galmus and Evelda came along with them to procure the necessity while some others proceed to get some herbs and spices needed.

"FOR THE FOODS!" shouted Yuri the werewolf man followed by his huntin team.

With that one yell, everyone left immediately, hoping to return early for the chef to start cooking.

In the kitchen, the staffs too were busy preparing everything needed for the evening. Housewives that were usually busy also poured in their help under the chef's command for today which was Shirou himself.

None of the staffs complained about it since he had proven his capabilities.

"Shirou,"

The redhead turned at the owner of the voice, Ryulu.

"What will we do with these chickens?"

"Oh, I was planning to share them with our staffs and extra helps since we'll get busy for tonight and probably won't have the time to make our own foods."

Hearing his answer, the elf nodded, giving him a small smile before helping the redhead preparing the dishes. She knew that everytime Shirou was the head chef in the kitchen, they wouldn't be able to get some free time to make their own foods, not that they mind it since they do enjoy watching people eating their cooking with joy.

The other staffs and helpers who heard that too gave the redhead a smile, grateful for Shirou's thought.

Not long after that, a little bit in the afternoon, the hunting team returned with multiple wagons, full of their wild game, with the blood drained which ease the kitchen staffs' duty.

Younger kids who saw the amount were amazed and excited since they knew they would be having tasty treats for the evening. Aiz herself was surprised to see it and immediately realized that Shirou was in the kitchen since she wasn't able to find him in the forge today since it was empty.

Other teams who had gone to nearby settlements also returned a bit later and brought back the spices, herbs, and other ingredients that the kitchen needed. They immediately went to the kitchen dropping the stuffs before leaving to help the hunting team skinning the wild game they brought back.

One thing that Shirou was glad for was that the hunting team knew how to skin them properly and knew which part was consumable and which parts were not.

"…I can't imagine if I have to do this all alone…"

The redhead deadpanned at the hunting team, busy with their works before greeting Aiz and having a small chat before he returned to the kitchen.


==Later at Night==

Dinner went extremely well with everyone and none complained about the foods served since they were improvised by a certain redhead in the kitchen along with his modern dishes.

A bit later after that, Shirou was finally done with the dishwashing before joining Aiz and her family. At first the girls and the housewives insisted that he should take a rest and leave the dishwashing to them, but Shirou persisted that as one of the cooks tonight, he should helped until the end. The women knew that he wouldn't budge, therefore they agreed with the redhead boy much to their delight since they could have some talk about recipes and what to cook for the next meals.

He arrived at their table and found Aiz was reading a book.

"What are you reading there?" the redhead asked as he sat down on the seat in front of the family of three.

"It's Dungeon Oratoria!" Aiz replied giddily. "This book contains stories of various heroes from Ancient Times."

"Heroes huh…"

"Every kinds of heroes are recorded in the book." Aria added. "Either they were anti-hero or not, because of their achievements, they were included there."

"Papa, Mama, and the aunties and uncles are also in the book!" Aiz cut in happily while giving Shirou the book about the story of his father and companions fighting strong monsters and won. It ended right there with no more entries. There were no information such as Aiz being the daughter of Albert or the latter having a daughter. It was a possibility that Aiz wasn't included because she didn't participate in those achievements or her parents didn't want people outside of their group knew that Aiz was their daughter.

"There was also the time when Albert here took my hand from my father by defeating monsters in the coliseum for a whole night." Aria continued. "Too bad since it was a national matters, it wasn't recorded in the book." The married woman ended before pecking her husband's cheek.

Shirou sweatdropped at the married couple while Aiz was staring at the two before looking back at the young redhead.

"Mama?"

"Yes, dear?" Aria turned to her daughter with a smile while Albert was sipping his coffee.

"Can I do that too with Shirou?"

Aria froze in her spot.

Albert spat out his coffee to Shirou who luckily dodged it by an inch.

Shirou closed his eyes and prepared to run in case the protective father wanted to maim him.

"Oh dear, oh dear," Aria hold her cheek with one of her hands with a bright smile. "Of course you can-"

"NO, YOU CAN'T!" Albert cut in before glaring at the redhead with fury.

"Mou…but papa, you said since you are mama's hero, no other girls except mama can do that to you… and since Shirou's my hero, shouldn't I be allowed to do that to him?"

"NO! You're still too young!"

Aiz pouted at his father. Her cheeks inflated like a chipmunk making her look adorable that Aria poked them.

"Fine!" she crossed her arms and turned away from her father.

"My, my, Aiz-chan." Aria giggled. "You may not be allowed to kiss Shirou on the lips yet, but you can kiss him on the cheek~"

Aiz turned to her mother, nodding happily.

"Wha-! No, no, no! No kiss allowed!" the father interrupted.

"But dear, you stole my first kiss when you were around Shirou's age."

"That's irrelevant!" Albert crossed his arms. "Aiz isn't allowed to kiss that boy no matter what until I say so!"

"Unfair!" Aiz said, indignated at her father decision. Not that she will listen to him since she had her mother's support.

*COUGH*

The family turned to the direction of the sound.

"Is there anymore of this book?" Shirou looked up at the family, trying to change the topic. "I think it would make a great read in my free time."

"Yup! There are multiple volumes! I'll lend you the first one Shirou!" Aiz answered before picking up the book again and turned to her mother. "Mama, can we go back to pick up the book?"

Aria nodded at her daughter's request before the two left Albert and Shirou alone.

The two kept their silence to their own as Albert was sipping his coffee while Shirou was tracing his weapons. Unknown to the redhead, the mercenaries' leader was glancing at someone behind a tree. The figure had a blonde hair and wore a purple and yellow clothing with a spear strapped on his back.

The two nodded and the figure behind the tree walked toward the table.

Shirou looked up at the boy…young man in front of him.

He had blonde hair and wore white pants, and a knight's armor. Under the armor, it could be seen that he was wearing long sleeved blue shirt. (Basically Dim/Finn in Danmemo anniversary's looks.)

He had a spear which was strapped on his back.

Shirou automatically registered the weapon in his Reality Marble.

"Greetings, Shirou Emiya." The blonde young man greeted.

Shirou dumbly nodded at him. He didn't really know how to address this young…man since he looked like a teenager around 15-17 but from his weapon alone, he knew that he was around Albert's age.

"The name's Dim." The now proclaimed Dim said. He noticed Shirou's confusion and continued. "In case you're wondering, I'm a Pallum which is why I'm not that tall, but my age is the same as Albert's."

Satisfied with the explanation, it was Shirou's turn to open his mouth.

"Nice to meet you then, Dim-san…" He took a glance at Albert who was still sipping his coffee before turning back to the blonde man. "Is there anything that I can do for you?"

Dim grinned ferally at the redhead. Shirou actually shuddered at how the kind-looking man could grin like that.

"Actually, I want to fight you." Dim paused, letting Shirou to process what he said before continuing. "I heard what you can do from Albert here, but we know you were holding back, a lot."

Shirou narrowed his eyes at the newcomer, dispersing the weapon he had traced.

"I don't know why you're holding back, but to join our group, we need to scale how strong you are in case something happened to me or Albert here since you could say that we're the top in the food chain here."

"You see…" Albert chipped in. "I know that you're holding back since you don't want anyone to know your limit since you don't know about us. But it goes the same for our group."

"We want to ensure the group's safety and you holding back is just making yourself untrustworthy." Albert paused, looking at Shirou in the eyes. "Sure you got my wife and daughter's trust, even some of my friends, however, in our eyes, you haven't earn it yet."

Shirou closed his eyes and sighed inwardly.

He really didn't want to show all his skills. However, what Albert had said has its own point. By holding back, he might endanger everyone in the group.

"Midnight, meet us in the dungeon's entrance." Dim said with finality. "We'll head to the 17th floor with you in charge."

Shirou sighed. 'Looks like I have to accept it.'

"Fine, however, I have my own condition." The two mercenaries perked up. "I don't want too many people know what I can do. Only your most trustworthy friends can come."

They glanced at each other before nodding. It was an easy request.

"Very well, I'll be seeing you later, Shirou Emiya."

With that, Dim left the table and went to wherever he was needed to as Shirou's gaze never left the weapon strapped on his back.

"Sorry about Dim." Albert began with an awkward grin. "He had always been like that, it was always about business around him."

"Don't worry about it. If It was me, I would probably do the same thing."

Albert chuckled at the boy. He had always known that Shirou was too mature for someone his age therefore the reasoning he gave the boy would make sense to him.

"Anyway, I still don't approve my daughter going after you."

Shirou deadpanned at the black-haired mercenary.

"You're still going with that?"

Albert shrugged.


=Later at night=

It was hard for the young redhead to slip away from his blond friend.

Shirou had told her that he would celebrate Christmas tomorrow, but no, the girl wanted to wait until the midnight. Luckily for him, Aria managed to convince her daughter to sleep off the day early so that she could wake up early and spend the next day with Shirou from morning til evening.

Shirou himself didn't have any problem with it since he had reserved himself tomorrow for Aiz. He had her presents ready, well, not all of them since the second present would still need some time to cook.

Anyway, since he had some time to prepare himself, he took some rest before the time to meet Dim and the other comes.


Shirou was walking together with Albert in the direction of the dungeon's entrance. When they arrived, the redhead saw some people he knew, Crozzo, Dim, Yuri, Galmus, Evelda, and Celdia. Then his eyes turned to a tanned woman wearing a really revealing outfit similar to Evelda and a face veil. She had long hair tied into ponytail and was pressing her womanly chests into Dim's head.

"….." Shirou blanked at the blonde young man.

"…Do not speak any word of it…" replied Dim casually as if this was normal occurrence for him. However, Shirou could see the annoyance in his eyes before he turned back to the tanned woman.

"Her name's Elmina, one of my sisters," Evelda stepped up as she saw the confusion in Shirou's eyes.

"…I see…that explains the attire…"

Hearing her name was mentioned, Elmina looked at the young redhead. She let go of Dim and walked to Shirou before circling him as if probing him.

Satisfied with what she saw, Elmina turned to Albert. A small grin crept behind her veil.

"Your daughter chose a fine man."

Albert splurted.

Crozzo grinned.

Yuri, Galmus, and Evelda laughed.

Celdia chuckled behind her sleeve.

Shirou deadpanned at the amazon woman.

Dim… there was no visible reaction from him, but the corner of his lips curled up a bit.

"The name's Elmina. A proud Amazon sister of Evelda, pleasure to meet you."

She reached out a hand and Shirou took it.

"The pleasure's mine." He said before letting it go and turned to the blonde young man. "Are we going now?"

Dim nodded and without waiting any further, he and the others went inside the dungeon, heading to the 17th floor for the young redhead to demonstrate his full power without holding anything back.

'After all, if it is for the future of the next generation, we will need more chance to win against It.' Thought the blonde pallum.


Author Notes

I'm back!

Shirou revealing his true power, he didn't have any choice.

Dim or Finn here is someone that wanted to defeat the Black Dragon at all cost for the next generation to live without that apocalypse. That's why I'm having him to have Shirou reveal all his strength but only several trusted members know it. Unlike the previous chapter's before it got revised.

And as you know, since Shirou will be revealing his cards -not the class cards since they don't exist, and yes I decided to remove it- Shirou will be staying behind with Albert and the others while Aiz is kept safe.

There's no way Dim will let Shirou put in the backline after he knew what he can do.

I really want to make some fluffs between Shirou and Aiz, but since they're still kids right now (AIZ), I'll just have to write the Christmas one where they give gifts to each other.

As for the question from some reviewers, Win or Lose against the Black Dragon, this is actually quite easy since my spoilers from the previous chapter should answer it. Bell is not with Hestia, then what Familia would he be with? His family or whoever left of them. You should probably know already.

Anyway, see you next time.