She was mine, and he knew it.
She’d come to me one night as I was crying in my room, looking out my window into the darkness. Shinji had been especially bad that day, and the pent up misery and loneliness that I usually hid overwhelmed me. Suddenly hands clasped around mine and a warm body pressed up against my back. She’d come for me, soothing me and drying my tears. Her body was lean and flexible, with neat curves and graceful limbs. Her hair was impossibly long, brushing up against her ankles as she stood. It fell protectively around her face as if shielding her from the world, and a mask hid her eyes from view. She stayed with me till morning, and by then it was clear that we were perfectly matched. Though I had no doubt that she was a Servant, a legendary warrior designed for vicious combat, I saw in her a gentleness and timidity that was unlike anything I’d heard of. Servants are designed to compliment their masters: a strong and cunning master will have a servant to match their personality and skills. Rider had all the qualifications of a warrior, just as I had all the qualifications of a magus, but neither of us were bloodthirsty enough to pursue the Holy Grail.
My brother, however, felt the bloodlust of the grail quest all too well. He’d always wanted to be a magus, always wanted to restore the family’s reputation as a house of magic and power. He’d hated me ever since he found out that I was chosen to revitalize the magic bloodline in our house. From that day forward he’d treated me like his slave, and I’d let him. I loved him, and I hated to see him unhappy. And it was my love for him that led me to give up what I cared for most in the world. I offered him my Rider.
They never connected well. Shinji was cut out for a Servant like Berserker, someone with strength beyond belief and no restraint. He grew frustrated at Rider’s reluctance to feed off civilians to increase her powers. He saw her as an extension of me, and began to treat her as such. One night I passed the study and heard the sharp crack of a blow striking bare skin. The door was ajar, and through it I could see Rider’s twisted form stretched out on the floor. He’d hit her across the face hard enough to knock her over, and she’d let him hurt her even though she could have stopped him. He was in complete control of her, even though I still possessed my command spells burned into my hand. She saw me watching at the door, and I understood then why she was so docile during his abuse. I had commanded her to serve Shinji, to make him happy, and she’d do anything to please me. The thought made me feel sick. I wanted her back so badly, wanted to protect her from harm and have her do the same for me. But it was already too late; she belonged to Shinji now.
I saw the light coming from the skyscraper through my bedroom window, and knew it could only mean one thing: a fight to the death had begun. I ran to the scene, and sure enough Rider and Shinji were fighting a terrible battle against an armored woman with a glowing sword. Rider was high above the roof on a glittering winged steed, hair billowing out behind her and mask removed to reveal ghostly grey eyes. She charged at the armored woman and a blinding column of light filled the air with the crackling buzz of magical power. Fear overwhelmed me and in my panic I shouted a command, hoping with all my heart that somehow she would hear me. Breathless, I waited for a response, a shout, another surge of power, anything to tell me what was going on. After what seemed like an eternity a glowing figure materialized out of thin air. Rider appeared, carrying the limp form of my brother in her arms. He looked stunned but otherwise unhurt. A knot in my chest loosened, but my heart beat faster as I looked at Rider. She was battered and bleeding, barely clinging to life. Her devotion to me was such that she would not even allow herself to die before completing my command. She walked unsteadily towards me, gazing at me almost pleadingly. Her petrifying eyes had no effect on me; however cruel and misguided I was, I was her master, and she could never bring herself to harm me. She reached my side and stood, trembling. I felt a burning on my hand as my last command spell disappeared; I would issue no more orders. We were no longer bound to one another and, as if the breaking of the contract was a signal, she began to slip away, disappearing into the nothingness that had been her fate before her summoning. I was suddenly terrified of losing her. She was the only person who had ever truly cared for me and understood me. Our eyes met and I knew she felt the same way about me. We could have been so happy, at least for a short time. Now it was over, so soon after it began. I stopped myself from reaching out to her: our parting was just as heartbreaking for her as it was for me. Slowly she faded into the darkness. The last thing left of her was her otherworldly eyes, still locked with mine. Finally they too disappeared, and I was left alone with my brother. “Thank you, Rider,” I whispered into the night, and though I knew for certain she was gone I thought I felt the brush of her lips against my cheek and a voice, so soft I could barely hear it, say “Farewell, my dearest Sakura”.