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Rosemary for a Forgotten Tomorrow

Chapter Text

She was held tightly in his arms.

The water of the Moon Cell surrounded them along with strings of 1s and 0s. The sound of bubbles echoed around them, the only thing that broke the tranquil silence.

Archer looked down at the girl held tightly within his arms. So very frail and yet so strong at the same time. He could still remember their first meeting, seven weeks ago, when she had summoned him through her own will. He had thought she was pretty pathetic, weak and unable to do anything. It didn't help that she had been lying on the ground and stared up at him with big round eyes either. However, over those seven weeks she had surprised him time and time again with her strength, resourcefulness and will. And how in the end, even when she found out that she wasn't human, she did not give up but continued to fight with even more strength and courage than before.

"Hey Archer?" her voice danced around him.

"Yeah?"

He could see her smiling as she rested her head against his chest. "I," she sighed, "Thank you…for putting up with a dumb master like me."

Archer sighed to himself. If this was any other situation he would have bopped her on the head and made a sarcastic remark about how right she was and list all of the dumb things she had done in the past, starting with summoning him. He couldn't though. Even though he was holding her so tightly he was losing the feeling of her warmth. She was already starting to fade away.

"Idiot," he whispered as he lowered his head to rest on hers. "If I had to do it again, I wouldn't do it any other way."

She laughed quietly. "Well that's good at least."

They fell silent again. She was so quiet. If he loosened his grip wouldn't have known if she was there or not. He looked down at her to check if she really was there or if he was just imagining it. She was, however he could see the waters of the Moon Cell through her.

"I…I think my time is almost up," she whispered. From the way she was blinking her eyes quickly it was obvious she was trying to hold back tears.

"Hey. Don't start crying now," Archer teased lightly as he tried to hold back tears of his own. This was it. There wasn't much time left.

"I…I'm glad my last moments were with you." She lifted her head to look him straight in the eyes with her signature grin but it was stained with the sadness she felt inside. Archer bit back his tongue. There was nothing he could do. Nothing that he could possibly do to stop what was happening to her. "Archer I…" she shook her head before putting her hands on his face. He could barely feel them or see them. She was fading fast.

As if she could sense that her time was fading fast, she pressed her lips to his in a final kiss. "Archer. I love you."

Archer didn't even get a chance to respond before she faded away into the Moon Cell right before his eyes. The last thing he saw of her was her eyes filled to the brim with tears. "I love you too…" he whispered hoping that in some way she would be able to hear him.

He closed his eyes. It was done. There was nothing left for him here. She was gone. He let his conscious fade away as he let the Moon Cell do its job and absorb him. Nothing mattered anymore for now. She was gone forever. The Moon Cell would never interfere again thanks to her and even if it did, the NPC that would appear would not be her. It would be a ghost of her.

The master, the girl he fell in love with was gone forever.

As he faded away he began feeling a tugging on the back of his mind. He tried to push it away however the tugging got stronger and more insistent. He remembered this sensation before. It was the sensation of being summoned again. A small smirk crossed his face. It would be his luck that he would be summoned again after losing the girl that meant so much to him.

He closed his eyes and let the tugging take him to wherever he needed to go. There was no point resisting, it would take him whether he resisted or not. Soon enough he felt the ground under his feet and the wind blowing against his face. It looked like he was here, wherever he was.

"Now what kind of moron would needlessly call a Servant like me?" he smirked as he opened his eyes. It was a hollow comment. He still felt numb inside. It didn't really hit him that she was gone forever. Wasn’t the throne supposed to wipe memories of the previous War? Why did he still have his?

He took the moment to get his bearings. It looked like it was nighttime, wherever he was. An empty street to be more precise. The only light came from the light posts that stood every couple of feet. A sound came from behind him, which probably meant his new master was there.

His emotions rubbed raw by what had just happened, he turned to see who had ended up summoning him, a remark on his tongue ready to abuse whoever it was. The remark died on his throat as he stared at the girl huddled on the ground, her back pressed against a lamppost. She was half-hidden by the shadows but he could still see enough of her. The same stature, the same long brown hair, the same huge brown eyes, everything about the girl was the same as her.

He opened his mouth and shut it again, still trying to process what was going on. She was just staring at him like a deer in headlights. "What kind of idiot manages to summon the same servant twice?!" he blurted out. He immediately chided himself after saying it. What was he saying? It was her! No matter how he looked at it, this girl was her. No. This girl wasn't her. It was like when he met Rin and Shinji in the Moon Cell. She had the same essence, that was it but it wasn't the same girl.

Even though he was telling himself this, at the same time he didn't want to believe it. He wanted it to be her. He wanted to run over and hug her to prove that she truly was standing in front of him.

As if she could sense his hesitation, she took that moment to speak. "What….who are you?"

Chapter Text

Hakuno stepped out of the supermarket with groceries in hand. It was already dark out but she wasn't surprised. She took a small pit stop at home to drop off her school things and change before heading out again to get the ingredients for dinner. "I'm thinking curry tonight," she said to herself as she began walking home.

Now what else should she do tonight? Homework of course. She did need to keep her grades up. Tomorrow was Sunday so maybe she should call Rin over to hang out. Hmmm maybe not. For some reason Rin had been really busy lately. Maybe it was for the best to let Rin do whatever she needed to do?

She fell silent as she walked along the empty road. There was no one around, odd for this time of night now that she was thinking about it. She heard a meow near her feet and looked down to see a cat. "Hey kitty," she bent down and reached out to pet the cat on the head. The cat rubbed against her hand and meowed in response to her touch.

"Wait a second. I have something for you." Hakuno reached into the groceries bag and dug around for the can of cat food she made sure she always bought for any stray she would meet. She pulled it out and showed the can to the cat with a smile. "Hang on, I'll have it open in a second."

The cat arched its back and a hiss tore out of its throat. Hakuno stared at the cat in surprise as it backed up a few steps before turning tail and fleeing.

"What…"

It was then that a sharp searing pain ripped through Hikaru's side. She let out a choked cry and fell to her knees and clutched the spot. She looked down to see blood on her fingers.

Wha…what? Something had been fired at her!?

She heard something hit the ground before her. Looking up, the shaft of a highly decorated arrow stuck out of the pavement.

It was then that she realized that there were the sounds of footsteps behind her. Large footsteps. Powerful footsteps.

Swallowing, she turned around and held back a scream. It was a giant. There was no other way to describe the thing that stood before her. A giant cloaked in red armor with grayish skin. Even in the dim light emitted by the lampposts, she could see his eyes. They were blank, pure white.

Whatever it was also radiated power. There was no other way to describe the crushing feeling that seemed to overtake her. He looked down at her, or at least she thought he did. It was then that he pulled a huge lance seemingly out of nowhere. A loud inhuman roar came out of the beast.

Hakuno's mind blanked and she jumped to her feet and ran. She could hear the footsteps of the thing following her.

This could not be happening.

Stuff like this could not happen.

She darted down a different street. When she did she heard the whistling of air near her ear. Looking to the left, she saw an arrow buried in the ground where she had been a moment before.

No way.

If she hadn't turned at the moment she did, that arrow would have definitely pierced her through the head.

That pushed her to run faster. Why were no one helping? Why did no one hear what was going on?!

She thought she heard a voice, a girl's voice but Hakuno wasn't sure if it was in her head or not. She did not want to stop. If she did, that thing…whatever it was, would get her. Her sides ached and soon her steps got slower and slower until she could barely walk anymore. The wound in her side felt like it was on fire. She slowed to a stop and rested her back against a nearby lamppost and slid to the ground. Her hand pressed against her side, in a feeble attempt to stop the bleeding.

Thankfully it was gone, whatever that monster was. For now at least. Hakuno had a feeling it would be back. And she was just sitting here, against a lamppost, an injury in her side. A sitting duck if it came back.

She curled her other hand into a fist. Why? Was this really it? She was exhausted. She was never really athletic to begin with, sadly. Adrenaline had taken her this far but that was as far as it could go. Tears pressed against her eyes. "I don't want to die…" she whispered to herself as the tears fell down her face.”I don't want to die…"

Her side was still on fire and she pulled her hand away from it to check the blood on it. Why was she so weak? Why were all humans so weak? That thing was not human, that was sure. It would be better to just sit here. Just sit here and wait for her to be killed by that thing or bleed to death.

No.

She could not give up. That wasn't the right thing to do. A part of her wanted to know. What was that thing? Why did it exist? Why hadn't she heard of a creature like this before? There was no way something like that could hide. "What is the truth…what is going on here…" she murmured to herself. What was the truth?

She thought she heard the sound of footsteps from far away. Deep, strong footsteps. Hakuno sucked in a deep breath. It was coming back. It was coming back to finish the job. She pressed her hand against her side again and struggled to get to her feet but her legs refused to hold her weight. She had to run. She had to get away. She fell to the ground, her head dizzy. No. She had to go. She had to move. She had to. She had to move.

I don't want to die.

I refuse to die.

It was then that she felt a change in the air. It felt like power was radiating around her for a few moments before it began to gather in front of her into a form. She couldn’t do anything but stare in shock as a tall tan man materialized before her cloaked in red.

"Now what kind of moron would needlessly call a Servant like me?" he spoke.

A small choked cry escaped Hakuno's throat. This…man had the same sort of energy about him that the other huge creature had. As if he heard her, he turned towards her. For some reason it looked like he was shocked to see her as much as she was to see him.

"What kind of idiot manages to summon the same servant twice?!" he snapped at her.

What? What was going on? Hakuno had expected him to attack her or something like the last one but he was just standing there, looking at her like he was…searching for something. For what? What was going on here?

"What…who are you?" she managed to get out.

That seemed to pull him out of whatever he was thinking. "Of course." A small smile tinged with something else crossed his face. "You're not the same no matter how I look at you."

What did that mean? Hakuno tried to push herself back but the lamppost got in the way as he walked over to her. "You can call me Archer," he said gruffly. "I am your Servant and you are my Master."

Master? It was then that Hakuno felt a searing pain on her left hand. She looked down to see a red tattoo like design etched on the back of it. What? What in the world was that?

"You're hurt."

Hakuno looked up to see the man, Archer as he called himself, suddenly too close for comfort. She sucked in a deep breath in surprise as he gently moved her closer to the light. What surprised her even more was the fact that she wasn't worried he would do anything to her. It was like she knew him before. Like they were old friends despite never meeting before this moment.

"Hakuno," he said, turning to look her straight in the eyes.

How….how did he know her name? She opened her mouth to protest but the sound of footsteps broke her away from those thoughts. They were closer now. Archer's eyes narrowed as he looked in the direction of the footsteps and back at her.

He gently picked up her hand and put it over her side. "Listen to me," he said quietly. "I know this probably will sound weird to you but…do you know what magecraft is?"

"Magecraft…" Hakuno stared at Archer and then she felt like she had to hit herself in the head. "Of course." She chuckled to herself. "Of course. I completely forgot." It's been forever since she heard that word used.

Wait.

Archer.

Master.

 Servant.

Her breath quickened and the pain from the injury in her side faded to the background. Her thoughts raced to the stories she heard when she was a child. With this happening so suddenly, her mind had gone blank to all of the stuff she had been taught and learned on her own. "You…are an Archer class servant of the Holy Grail War. And that thing…" She looked in the direction of the approaching footsteps. "That is another servant I'm guessing. A Holy Grail War has begun." She looked down at her hand. "And this….is the thing called a Command Seal…"

"Huh, you are a lot more competent this time around."

Hakuno placed her hand over her injury and she swallowed. It had been a long time since she had to done something like this. She wasn't even sure if she could pull it off. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She concentrated on the wound and felt her magic circuits open up and her power going to heal her wounds.

"And you can heal as well…" Archer trailed off.

"Not too well," she murmured as her wound closed up. She looked up at her Servant as she carefully got to her feet. "I'm better at healing others than myself. At least, that's what I've been told." She shook her head. The dizziness was still there in full force. Ugh.

She turned in the direction of the footsteps. Now that she had some idea of what it was, it didn't seem that scary anymore. Plus there was the little fact that she had somehow summoned a servant of her own…

She saw him looking at her out of the corner of her eyes. An emotion that didn't seem right on him was etched on his face. It seemed like he was staring at someone other than herself. Her thoughts went to the cryptic comments he had made. What were those about?

"I'll distract the Servant, you go home."

Huh? Hakuno stared at Archer. She blinked slowly. "Uh…what? Hang on. Last time I checked, aren't you supposed to fight in these Holy Grail War things? Like…isn't that the rules?"

Archer sighed and lifted a hand. Hakuno thought he was going to pat her on the head but instead he flicked her in the forehead.

"Ow!" Hakuno clutched her forehead in pain and tilted backwards from his flick. "I thought Servants were supposed to be nice to their Masters and listen to them and stuff!"

"You can barely stand right now without feeling dizzy. Don't try to fool me, you're going to fall over right now but you are using your will to appear strong."

Hakuno opened her mouth to protest but Archer continued on. "If we're going to fight anyone, you need to be able to fight too. You can't do that right now because you were a scatterbrain idiot and completely forgot that you had this ability to heal in the first place!"

She winced. "So….you want me to go home…"

Archer nodded. "Yes. You go home and rest. I'll lead this Servant away." He hesitated for a moment and stared down at her. By the way his arms twitched slightly it was like he wanted to do something but he was stopping himself. He shook his head, the same small sad smile from before was there. "Just go. I'll be able to find you without any trouble."

Hakuno bit her lip but she nodded. She saw Archer disappear in front of her but she could sense him still. He was moving away from her, towards the footsteps. They were much louder now. Way too close for comfort. "You can do it girl," she commented to herself before she turned and began heading towards home. She could hear the cry of the creature from behind but she didn't turn around. She trusted Archer. She knew he would be fine, he would be safe. At least, she kept telling herself that.

Chapter Text

Hakuno let out a cry of frustration. She looked around the living room, now covered with books that used to line the bookshelves. Nothing. There was nothing about the Holy Grail Wars in any of them. There were many about healing magic practice though and she had put those to the side. It was obvious she was going to need to get back into the swing of things with learning magic.

She looked down at her palm. She couldn't believe that she had been able to use her magecraft after so many years of being dormant. Sure, it wasn't the best healing job (her head was still spinning a bit) but she still had it, she still had the skill to do magic.

"If I didn't know any better I would think someone broke into your house."

Hakuno jumped and whirled around to see Archer standing in her living room. He bent down and picked up one of the books that she had tossed. "Huh. This is actually pretty complicated magecraft. Do you actually understand this?" He trailed off as he looked at Hakuno's face. "What's wrong?"

"Huh?" Hakuno stared at him in surprise. "Nothing is wrong," she replied quickly. "Nothing at all."

Archer stared at her and she was afraid he was going to pry. Instead he shrugged and dropped the book back into the mess. When he turned, it was then that Hakuno noticed the gash in his side.

"You're hurt," she said in surprise.

"It's nothing, just as a scrape," he said gruffly before walking over to the couch. He settled down on it, leaning back with one foot resting on the knee of the other. He sighed and shifted over slightly. "I know you want to heal it so just do it already so we can get down to business."

Hakuno stared at Archer in shock. What in the world? It was like he was reading her thoughts. First he could tell that something was wrong with her and now this? Realizing that if she didn't do anything he would probably bleed on the couch, she walked over and sat next to him. Being this close to her Servant brought her a sense of uneasiness. The last time they were this close, he had put her hands over her own wounds.

No. She should not be thinking of this. She needed to focus.

 She gently put her hands on his wound, felt her magic circuits open and her magic began to flow to heal his wounds. Just like how she remembered about how her magic worked, Archer's wound closed up faster than she could heal her own. Once the wound was healed, she scooted to the other side of the couch. She thought she saw a look of hurt cross Archer's face but it was gone as fast as it appeared. "What happened?"

"I was firing arrows at the other Servant." Archer crossed his arms. "I did draw him away from your direction and don't worry, he did not see me at all. However, I was not expecting him to fire one back. He was obviously a Berserker though from what I could tell."

Hakuno dragged up the fragments of what she knew about Berserker-class Servants. They were vicious and probably the hardest Servant class to beat because they were so brutal with their raw power. What the first step to fighting servants again? Information right? She needed to know more about the servant. "Where there any traits to give us an idea of who it was?" She wished she could remember more of what she had learned when she was a child. Most servants were figures from the past right? Then…

"The servant was Lu Bu, a military commander."

"Wha…how?" Hakuno stared at Archer in shock for probably the hundredth time in the past hour or so. She thought this would be more difficult to figure out the identities of the servants. "How did you figure it out? Did the Master say something?"

Archer shook his head. "No. Nothing like that."

She waited for him to continue but it looked like he wasn't going to. "Then…how do you know it is this Lu Bu guy?"

He did not respond. In fact he wasn't even looking at her now. His attention seemed to be focused on the opposite end wall. "Don't worry, as your Servant I won't steer you wrong about this. I know who it is."

Wasn't a Servant supposed to be more open with their Master? She looked down at her left hand to make sure the command seals were there. They were. The weird red markings that were quite prominent on her pale skin.  Speaking of Servants though…who was her servant in life? He didn't look like any hero she could remember from history.

"You have a question on your mind," Archer sighed. "Just ask away."

"How did you know I had a question?" This was seriously getting weird.

"You get that look in your eye. So spill it already."

Hakuno bit her lip. What the heck? "Umm…who were you? In life I mean?"

A small smile formed on Archer's lips. "That did not take long at all did it?" He looked up at her. "Don't worry about that for now. I'll tell you soon enough." He looked away from her to signal the end of the conversation.

What in the world!? That was it? That was all she was getting? This was so…infuriating!

She opened and closed her mouth, unable to think of another coherent thought. "F…F…Fine. If that's all you are going to say…I don't need to know! I'm not curious!" She got up and dusted herself off. "I'm going to go eat something. You want anything?" Do Servants even eat? She had to be hospitable right?

Archer shook his head. "No. It's fine."

Another curt answer.

This was going to be a long Grail War.

***

Archer relaxed as soon as she left the room. He put a hand to his forehead. Damn it. No matter how much he told himself that this girl was not the one he fell in love with, it was so hard to ignore. Her manners, the way she spoke, her habits, the way she looked at him, it was all the same.

No. That wasn’t right.

 The way she looked at him was not the same. This Hakuno did not have the same feelings for him as the other one did. He reached down and touched the spot where she had healed him. It had taken every ounce of his being not to grab her and hold her close.

"She is not her. Get it through your head.”  His head knew it was true but his heart on the other hand could not accept it. He thought his life when he was alive was hard but this was ridiculous. "Just my luck," he chuckled to himself.

Smelling curry, he looked up to see Hakuno walk back into the living room with a bowl in hand. "I found some instant curry in the cupboard. I was going to make some fresh but then…distractions happened." She pushed a couple books out of the way and settled down on the floor across from him.

Archer had a sense of déjà vu. How many times during the last war did they sit like this in their private room?

"So…what's the plan?" Hakuno asked quietly as she ate. "We know who the servant is now but what about the master?"

"We should just wait for now," Archer replied. He had a feeling he knew the Master of Berserker. He did not want to say it though in case he was wrong. Sure the Servant was the same but it didn't mean the Master was. "Just go about your daily life for now. There are five other Masters out there that you need to watch out for too. We should try to gather information on who they are."

Hakuno frowned and Archer was sure she was going to fight back but she went back to eating her curry. "If you think that's best…"

"I know it is," Archer grumbled. Damn it. Just her sitting on the floor was stifling. "Where are your parents anyway?" Unlike the Moon Cell Hakuno, this one had to have a family. Also it would probably be a lot of trouble for her if her parents walked in at this moment and saw a foreign man on the couch. Well, until they found out that their daughter was now a Holy Grail War participant. That could go either way at that point.

"I live with my aunt. She's always on business trips though." Hakuno shrugged. "So I'm usually here by myself."

He stared at her. She lived in this two-story house by herself? "Doesn't it get lonely?"

Hakuno shrugged. "I'm used to it." She took one last bite of curry and stood. "So ummm…I guess I'll pull out the futon for you in the guest room?"

Before Archer could protest that he didn't need that, she was gone. Personality was the same too, always looking out for others. "Damn it," he whispered as he pressed his hand to his forehead as he tried to collect his thoughts. He could not get close to her. No matter what, no matter what he felt, he could not let this Hakuno know about his feelings. And he knew, no matter what, he would keep her alive. That was the one thing he could promise to the Hakuno he had loved. He would let this Hakuno have a life. A great, happy life. That was all he could give her.

"Umm…I pulled out the futon," Hakuno stuck her head back in the living room. "It's the third door upstairs. You can go up if you want. I'll uh…clean my mess on the floor."

Archer shook his head. "I'll take care of it. You go to sleep. You had a long night."

"No, no. I made the mess. I should clean it up."

"And I say, you go bed." Archer picked up the one clean pile of books and held it out for her to take. From the titles, it looked like they were all on magecraft. Healing magecraft to be more precise.

She frowned but she took the books. "But…"

Archer lifted a hand and flicked her on the forehead lightly. "No buts. To bed with you. Don't make me come up there later to make sure you are sleeping."

“Ow!” She glared at him for a few seconds but then sighed. "Alright, alright. I'll go to bed." She turned on her heel but her foot caught on a book on the floor. Without even thinking, Archer reached out and wrapped an arm around her upper chest to prevent her from tumbling to the ground.

He froze and he could feel her stiffen in his grasp. Time seemed to stand still and all he wanted to do was wrap his other arm around her and pull her close to him. He pushed down the urge though. "S…Sorry," he released her and stepped away. There was no way he could look at her now. "J…Just be careful on your way out. Don't want you tripping on any more books."

"Uh...yeah… Umm….good night Archer."

He did not move until he knew she was out of the room. He sighed. This was going to be a long Grail War.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hakuno jerked awake, a small cry dying on her throat. The dream that awoke her was slipping away as fast as it had come. She could still remember the flames and heat though. That was always the thing that stayed behind in her memory.

She moved her left hand to push her hair out of her face. A flash of red caught her eye and she paused to look at the command seals on her hand. For a moment she was confused to what that was and why it was there. And then the events of last night came to her.

She had somehow summoned a Servant and somehow became a participant in the Holy Grail War. She sat up and pulled her knees to her chest and thought about last night. So many things did not make sense now that she was thinking about it.

How in the world did she just summon a Servant with ease like that? From what she remembered, Servants needed a magic circle as a minimum for summoning. She had done it from what seemed to be like pure will. And while she was on the trail of thought…how in the world could she forget all of the information about magic and such? When was the last time she legitimately thought about magic? Why had she not used her powers for years? Hakuno had the strange feeling that something else was going on here. There was a missing piece of information. Or many...

She was unable to continue that train of thought as there was a knock on the door. "Are you up Master?"

Hakuno was surprised how courteous Archer was being. Based on what she knew of his personality, she thought he would just barge in and demand something or other. "Uh yes!"

"Well, breakfast is on the table so just come down when you are ready."

She thought she heard wrong. Wait what? Did Archer say…breakfast was on the table? He had cooked for her? Did S ervants do that? He did not seem like the cooking type either…

"And you better hurry it up," called Archer through the door. "You're going to be late at this rate."

Hakuno glanced at her clock and saw that he was right. If she didn't get moving soon, she wouldn't have time to eat anything. Shaking off the remnants of her dream, she pushed the covers off of her and got out of bed.

After brushing her teeth and putting on the school uniform, she hurried downstairs. She stopped in her tracks when she reached the kitchen. It looked like a feast had attacked the table. There was way more food on this table than she could ever eat in one sitting.

"Hurry up now," Archer said as he looked up from cleaning the pans he had used.

She opened and closed her mouth but no sounds came out. It seemed like her Servant liked to surprise her over and over again. She sat down at the table and began picking at the food that was laid in front of her. "Is this a part of the Servant job description?"

"Not at all," replied Archer. He picked up a bento box and dropped it front of her. "And here's your lunch and please don't tell me you buy food in the cafeteria. That is not a balanced meal. I am not having my Master collapse on me due to malnutrition."

She swallowed some rice and looked away from him. Yeah, there was no way she was telling him she actually did buy bread at the cafeteria. She was just too lazy to wake up early to make breakfast and lunch. "Anyway," she said quickly, trying to steer the subject away from her bad eating habits. "What's the plan for today? Besides me going to school of course."

"Just focus on that for now." Archer crossed his arms. "Don't draw attention to yourself. We have no idea who our enemy is."

"There are six other Masters out there besides me right?" From the fuzzy memories of her past she could remember talking with her parents about the Grail War. Realizing something, she looked down at her left hand. A glaring beacon to everyone around that she was a Master. She was going to need to do something about that.

She was so lost in thought, she did not hear Archer approach her and flick her on the forehead. "OW!" she yelled as she protected her spot with a hand. "Can you stop doing that!? My forehead cannot stand this abuse!"

Archer sighed and shook his head. "You are going to be late for school at this rate."

Checking the time Hakuno yelped and grabbed a piece of toast and stuffed it into her mouth before she rushed to grab her schoolbag and get out the door.

***

Hakuno’s feet pounded on the ground as she crossed the school gates. Panting, she rested her hands on her knees as she tried to get her breathe. Safe! She had made it before the warning bell had rung. Go her.

"We are going to need to work on your stamina. Honestly, I'm actually happy that you don't need to run through an arena for anything. You would not last five seconds in there." Archer's voice came from behind her. He was in spiritual form and she found it unnerving that she could see he was there but no one else could. And what in the world was he talking about? What was an "arena"?

Before she could ask him what that was about she heard the sound of clapping. "Good job Hakuno! You made it this time too and didn't have to scale the school gate."

"Rin!" Hakuno stood up (she had finally caught her breath) and grinned at her best friend.

"No way," Archer murmured. "She's here too? Then can it be possible that…"

There was no way for Hakuno to ask what he was talking about as Rin Tohsaka walked over with her head held high.

Rin had transferred to the school a couple months ago. Sure their first interactions were rocky but in the end Hakuno’s clumsiness and kindness were somehow able to worm into Rin's heart and here they were, the best of friends.

Rin smiled back at her friend. "Just think. Soon you will be able to walk to school at a leisure pace- Hakuno! What happened to your hand!?" Rin grabbed Hakuno's left hand which was now wrapped in bandages, her makeshift way to hide the command seals.

"Oh, you know me," Hakuno said with a small laugh. She rubbed her right hand on the back of her head in a sheepish manner. "I had an accident yesterday. It doesn't hurt though, don't worry. Just a scrape that wouldn't stop bleeding."

Rin sighed. "You need to take better care of yourself Hakuno."

"Hehe."

Hearing the warning bell, Rin grabbed Hakuno's right hand. "Well come on now. I'm going to make sure you don't injury anything else on the way to class."

"Uh right,” she replied as she let her best friend drag her along.

***

Archer stood on the roof of the school and looked out at the city. What a strange turn of events. Hakuno was friends with Rin Tohsaka. Close friends by the way Rin acted around her. What did that mean though? Was there a chance that this Rin was also a Master in this War? It was a huge possibility.

He looked down at the school grounds where students were having gym class. His eyes settled on a blue-haired boy sitting on the sidelines while proudly talking like everyone had their undivided attention on him. Shinji Matou. There was a huge chance that he was also a Master.

He gritted his teeth. Unlike the Moon Cell there was no rules put into place that would prevent Masters from attacking each other. The only thing that was keeping Hakuno safe for the moment was that they did not know she was a Master. And that was going by the assumption that both of them were Masters.

He turned his thoughts to this morning. He was proud of himself. Yes, he had made her lunch and breakfast but that did not mean anything. He was just looking out for his Master, that was all. There was no other ulterior motive behind it. At least that was what he kept telling himself.

Knowing that she would be safe at school for now, he decided it was time for him to do a quick run around the city. He would be able to get his bearings and possibly find out more about the other Masters.

***

Hakuno stretched her arms over her head as the last bell rung for the day. Finally! She could go home and kick her feet back as tomorrow was a day off. She thought of Archer. Maybe not.

They would probably be spending the afternoon information hunting. Speaking of her Servant though…where in the world was he? He had said he was going to do something during second period and he hasn't been back since. He was an Archer class servant though so she wasn't too worried.

"Hey Hakuno," Rin walked over with her hands behind her back. She put them together in front of her face and lowered her head slightly. "I know we promised to hang out after school today but plans came up and can we hold off on that?"

"Yeah, sure Rin," she replied. She noticed Shinji Matou from the class next door was waiting in the doorway of the classroom. His hands were buried in his pockets and he had a very smug grin on his face. Woah. Hang on a moment. Hikaru stared at Shinji and back at Rin. Yup. Following his gaze, he was looking at Rin. No way. She was not expecting this at all.

"Uh Rin…I hate to judge your choices but I don't think this is a good one…"

"Huh?" Rin stared at her in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"Uh, nothing." There was no way she could say anything to Rin about this without making her sound like a jerk. Maybe there was a side to Shinji that she did not know? Shinji did not seem like the type of guy to have multiple sides though…

Well, all she could do now as a friend was support Rin. Yup. That is what she would do! "Well, good luck to you Rin!"

"Uh...thank you?" Rin stared at Hakuno like she had grown two heads. Shaking her head, and making her twin tails fly around her head, Rin slammed her hands down on Hakuno's desk and leaned in close. "You are leaving school now right? And not coming back until Monday right?"

"Uh yeah?" Hakuno said slowly. That was an odd thing to ask. "Why?"

Rin sighed, stood up and threw one of her twin tails over her shoulder. "No reason. Just don't come by the school okay? Go straight home!"

"Uh…sure?"

Satisfied by Hakuno's answer, Rin turned to leave. She watched as Rin walked past Shinji without a word. As if he knew that would happen, Shinji shrugged and walked away in the opposite direction that Rin had went

Maybe they were playing hard to get with each other? "The road to love is a hard one Rin! You can do it!"

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hakuno dug deep into her school bag and her mind refusing to believe it. She grabbed the bag and dumped the contents out onto the bed and began sorting through the various notebooks and writing utensils. Oh hey! There was her favorite pen that had been missing for a while. Wait. Focus. Her math textbook was not in the pile.

"ARGH!" She fell back on her bed. What was she going to do? Yes, she could just not do her homework and hope for the best but she had already slacked off one too many times in that class. She sat up and looked down at her command seals. It had been hours and Archer was still not back yet.

She frowned and mulled it over. Would it be a good idea to go out and get her book? The numbers on the clock by her bedside table glowed 6:30. It wasn't too late so in theory she could get to the school and back before too much time passed. There would still be a lot of people on the streets.

Her thoughts shifted to Rin's strange behavior. Her eyes widen as she realized something.

"Is she going to confess to Shinji!?" No wonder Rin didn't want Hakuno there! Tomorrow might just be Rin's buffer day in case she lost her nerve today (but with Rin, Hakuno knew that was unlikely).

But what if Shinji rejected her? Hakuno needed to be there, as a friend, to comfort Rin! And while she was doing that, she would grab her math textbook.

Plan decided, she jumped off of her bed and grabbed her purse from the hook behind the door. She would not be gone long. Nothing bad could happen in the short time she was out…right?

***

Archer sat on the roof of one of the tallest buildings in the city. He looked out at the breath-taking view. The sun had already set and the lights of the city made it look like thousands of fireflies in a concrete jungle.

She would have loved this kind of view. It was something she could never have seen inside of the Moon Cell. Even in her final moments, when all the knowledge of the world flowed into her and she could experience anything and everything, it was not the same as living it and breathing it. It was not the same as feeling the wind against your skin, hearing the yelling of the cars below, touching the rough surface of the floor and embracing the person that you held dear.

He gritted his teeth and pressed his fingers to his temple. He needed to stop. He could not let thoughts of her consume his mind. He had a job to do. He was a servant in the Holy Grail War. He needed to get the Grail for his Master. The girl that was her but at the same time wasn't…

Damn it. These thoughts were just swirling and colliding into each other over and over again. "Just my luck that this day would end up like this," he muttered. As if the world was mocking him, he felt a sudden surge of magic in the air.

He got to his feet and it took him a few seconds to pinpoint the exact location of the magical power. The school. It didn't take a genius to figure out that a battle was taking place there. Well, maybe his luck was looking up after all. He would have some information about other Masters.

A moment later he groaned. Of course. His luck would have it that his stupid, idiotic Master was going in the direction of the school.

 "Can you stay out of trouble for five seconds!?" He grabbed the railing of the roof and used that to push himself into the air. He really hoped she would sense the fighting magus and get out of there. He smirked. He wouldn't bet his luck on that sadly. All he could hope was that he would make it to her in time.

***

The air felt really heavy all of a sudden.

Hakuno stopped and pressed her hand against the stone gate that surrounded the school to catch her breath. It was a bit difficult to breathe and alarm bells were ringing in her head. What in the world was going on?

"Maybe I really do need to work out…"

The sound of firing guns brought her out of her thoughts What…that sounded like it was coming from the school! What if Rin was still over there!? She ran towards the school gate and scaled it with ease.

Once she was on the other side, she got her bearing and figured the sounds were coming from the side of the school building. As she walked closer to the sounds. she could hear voices and the firing of pistols. As soon as she turned the corner she froze in her tracks.

What was happening!?

There were two humans-no, the power radiating off of them could not be from humans, standing a couple feet apart from each other. One appeared to be female wearing what could only be described as pirate garb with the coat unbuttoned to show off her assets. A long scar trailed down her face. In her hands was a pair of pirate pistols.

The other was obviously a male with blue hair pulled back in a ponytail and a skintight body suit decorated with bright blue lines. Runes? He was holding a red spear at the ready to attack the woman.

What was seriously shocking Hakuno was not the two Servants but the two Masters that stood nearby. Shinji Matou…and Rin Tohsaka.

No way. No way. No way. Rin and Shinji were masters!?

Her eyes were drawn to the battle going on in front of her. The woman was firing her pistols over and over against Rin's servant. Her servant on the other hand was just dodging the bullets along with blocking them with his lance.

"Seriously?" Rin tossed her hair over her shoulder. "When you asked me to fight you, I didn't expect you to be so weak."

Shinji gritted his teeth and stomped his foot against the ground. "What are you doing Rider!? Take out that stupid Lancer!"

"You better pay me more for this!" laughed Rider as she twirled her pistols and her eyes narrowed.

"Go in now Lancer," commanded Rin. "Let's end this before he embarrasses himself more."

Lancer whistled. "You got it Master."

Before Lancer could move, a couple of yellow and black squares appeared behind Rider. Out of the squares, a couple of cannons appeared.

"See if you can handle this!" yelled Shinji.

Rin cursed. "Lancer!"

Her servant ran back to Rin to protect her from the attack that was coming.

It was then that Hakuno realized the problem. The fighting Masters and Servants had not noticed her before because they were too engrossed in their own fight. However, she was in direct range of those cannons. Before she could react and get out of the way, the cannons fired.

The world seemed to slow and all she could focus on was the cannonball that was hurling towards her at an alarming speed. She thought she heard Rin screaming but Hakuno wasn't sure. All she could saw was that cannonball. No way. Was this really how she was going to die?

She shut her eyes. No. She did not want to see the end. She just wanted it to be over quickly.

One second. One breathe. Nothing happened.

She cracked open her eyes. "A…Archer!" she screamed.

Her servant stood in front of her. He gripped his arm, now coated and pouring out blood. It looked like the cannonball had went straight through and left tremendous amounts of damage in its wake.

 It took her a couple of seconds to process what was going on. He had probably deflected the cannonball from hitting her directly but he wasn't able to get it fully off course and it ended up hurting him instead.

"We're getting out of here Master!" Rider ran over to Shinji and threw him over one shoulder before running.

"Hakuno!" Rin raced over, her eyes were wide with shock. "You…you are a…"

Lancer walked up behind Rin and rested the end of his lance against the ground as he watched the interaction.

"Uh yeah…" Hakuno gave her friend a small forced smile. She turned her attention to Archer. He kneeled on the ground, his face twisted in pain. She lifted her hands and gently rested it on the gaping hole arm and opened her magic circuits to heal him. It was her fault. All her fault.

"And…you're a magus…" Rin trailed off.

"Yeah…I kind of re-discovered the magus thing last night."

"'Rediscovered?'"

“I'm not too sure on how that happened either." Archer was being way too quiet. He wasn't even looking at her. She felt like she was going to be sick. She was expecting him to yell at her for being so stupid and just standing there but this was even worse. He was just…so quiet.

"I feel like there's going to be a long story behind this one…" Rin shook her head. "Honestly, why does it always seem like you fall into trouble?"

"I could say the same about you," replied Hakuno. She looked up at Lancer. "I can't believe you are in the Holy Grail War either!" She looked down at her handiwork and nodded proudly. She was able to heal the injury completely. Archer still did not speak in response. Instead he just got to his feet.

Oh dang. He was really mad at her wasn't he?

She got to her feet and almost fell over as a wave of dizziness overcame her. "I'm fine," she said quickly as Rin went to steady her. "I just haven't done magic in a long time so I'm a bit rusty."

"Seriously, you have a lot you need to tell me. You completely healed your Servant too," Rin said with a shake of her head. "You look worse for wear right now though. Maybe we could meet up tomorrow to…" Rin glanced back and forth at the two Servants who were watching each other warily. "…talk about what is going on here. Have you visited the church?" Seeing Hakuno shake her head, Rin ran her fingers through her hair. "Guess I need to take you there too."

She smiled. "Don't worry. Everything will be fine."

"Wow Master. I didn't know you could be so nice."

Rin's smile turned to a frown and she turned to glare at Lancer. "Shut up! Hakuno is my best friend. This is different!" She turned back to her self-proclaimed best friend. "Can you make it home okay? Should I walk you?"

"I'll be fine," Hakuno said quickly. "Just give me a couple of seconds and I'll be able to walk by myself." She watched Archer out of the corner of her eye but he was still not looking at her. "We'll talk about everything tomorrow right?"

"Yeah. I'll text you the location of the church so we can go there together first and then take care of discussing…this. Get home safe okay Hakuno?"

"I will.”

Satisfied by the answer, Rin turned to Lancer. "Come on, let's go. There's no point in going after Shinji and Rider tonight."

Lancer nodded and saluted Hakuno "See you again tomorrow!"

She waved goodbye as Lancer wrapped his arm around Rin and the two took off into the night.

Finally alone with her servant, she turned to Archer slowly, afraid of what he was going to do. "Umm, let's go home now?"

He silently nodded. It looked like she was not going to be leaving in style like Rin. Instead he just went incorporeal. Silently she walked over to the school gate and scaled it and she could feel Archer right behind her like a silent executor.

To push away the awkward feeling that hung in the air between the two of them, she went over the events of the night. So in the end…Shinji and Rin were both Masters. Hang on a moment. She felt information from long ago start to trickle in. Tohsaka…Matou… oh dang. Those were magus households! No wonder those two were Masters!

She inwardly sighed. Thankfully she was friends with Rin. However, how long would they be friends? The Grail War meant that only one would win in the end. Would their friendship last until the end of the Grail War? Would either of them actually survive to the end of the War?

She broke out of her depressing thoughts as she reached her house. Silently she opened the door and let herself inside. Once she closed the door, she turned to look at Archer now standing in front of her, his arms crossed. Finally he was looking her though although his expression was far from happy.

"You…you are mad at me aren't you?" she whispered meekly.

"Mad!?" She winced as his voice rose. "Do you really think I'm mad right now!? I'm furious. What in the world were you thinking? Why didn't you move, do something!? Heck, why did you think it would be a good idea to stick around a battle between two Masters without your own Servant around!? Didn't you sense the magic in the air?"

He grabbed her left hand roughly and lifted it up for her to look at. "What do you think these are for!? Didn't it go through your mind at any point that you could have called for me to come to your aid using these? I knew you were an idiot but this…this is a new level even for you!"

"I…I'm sorry okay!" Hakuno yelled back. She could feel the tears pressing against her eyes but she struggled to hold them back. He would not get the satisfaction of seeing her cry! She yanked her hand out of Archer's grasp. "I know I was stupid for walking right into that, I know I was stupid for just standing there, don't you think I know that!?" She looked down at the ground, unable to look at him anymore. "And as for the 'sensing' of magic-yes, I did sense it. I just did not know what it was!

"I barely even know much about myself or my magical ability. I did not know I was a magus for years. Knowledge that I should know is just coming back to me in bits and pieces. I have not done anything like this since…since…" She trailed off. When was the last time she thought about this? She still could not pinpoint it. She shook her head. "What I mean is, I'm still trying to come into terms with everything!"

She forcefully rubbed her eyes but her tears would not stop. She looked up at her Servant but she realized that right now she just did not want to look at him. "I'm going to bed," she said quietly as she walked around him and raced up the stairs to her room.

She slammed the door behind her and threw all of her school stuff off of the bed before collapsing on it. Her pillow was clutched tightly in her arms as she laid on her bed and let herself break down into a fit of sobs.

***

Archer had not moved from his spot in the hallway when Hakuno had run past him with those tears in her eyes. "Damn it…" He hit his fist into the wall lightly. The anger that had been coursing through him was fizzling out fast.

He was not as angry with her as he was with himself. When he had seen that cannonball fly towards her, all he could think of was the Moon Cell version of Hakuno. He had reacted the same way he would have had with her. That Hakuno would have moved, she would have healed him without a second thought and then they would be ready to fight on. This Hakuno was different. She was a beginner, like how Moon Cell Hakuno was back then. She didn't know how to fight at all. She didn't know what to do.

Who was he kidding? Yes he might have been thinking about that but at the same time he was scared. He was scared that he would lose her again. Lose her again before he ever got to know her again.

Damn it. Just thinking about her crying face made him upset.

He scratched the back of his head. Now that he was much calmer, he felt bad for yelling at her. At least she had learned not to do something like that again. If it was one thing she was good at, it was never making the same mistake twice.

He headed for the stairs. He guessed he would just go apologize, at least to make her feel better. It would be bad for their relationship as Master and Servant if they had an uneasy relationship with each other.

"Master?" he knocked lightly on her door. No response. Oh boy. Why were women so difficult? He turned the doorknob and was surprised to find it was unlocked. "I'm coming in," he warned before opening it. The first thing he noticed was how messy the floor of the room was. The second thing he saw was her asleep on the bed.

He sighed and walked over to the bed. He shouldn't have been surprised. She had used her magic to heal a big injury. Of course she was going to be exhausted. "You're going to catch a cold at this rate…" He saw the wet marks trailing down her face. She had been crying. She had been crying when she fell asleep.

"Damn it," he whispered. He carefully pulled the blankets out from under her and took the pillow out of her arms and fixed up the bed and her in the process. "Goodnight Hakuno," he whispered before he walked out of her room.

Chapter Text

Hakuno cracked open her eyes and saw sunlight streaming in through her window. She rubbed her eyes and slowly sat up. Did she fall asleep while crying? She looked around and realized she was tucked in bed but she was still wearing the same clothes she had worn last night. How did that happen?

Her face began to warm as she put together what probably happened last night. Archer had come into her room? Ack! He had seen her asleep! She hoped she wasn't drooling. She sighed as she thought of last night. Was he still mad at her? Probably not, if he fixed up her bed though right? Or was he just being nice but was still mad inside?

Knowing that she couldn't stay in bed all day, (especially since she needed to meet up with Rin), she sucked in a deep breath and got up. After going through the daily necessities, while taking as much time as possible, Hakuno knew she could not stall any longer.

She slowly made her way downstairs and into the kitchen. She stopped in surprise when she saw Archer in the kitchen, cleaning up dishes. Breakfast was sitting on the table, as big of a feast as yesterday.

"Uh…hi," she said quietly, not looking at him. She watched him out of the corner of her eye to try to gauge if he was still mad at her.

"Hi," he murmured. He rubbed the back of his head with a hand. "I was going to tell you last night but when I went up you were asleep…so umm…I'm sorry for yelling at you last night. I was just…scared."

Scared? Out of everything she was not expecting that one. "Scared?"

"Uh yeah…" Archer glanced over at her and looked away. Was it her imagination or was his arms twitching slightly like he wanted to hold something? "Scared…" he repeated softly. He shook his head and gestured to the feast on the table. "Just forget about it, alright? Now eat up. I heated up some stuff from yesterday's meal as well as made a lunch for you and Rin." He gestured to the two bento boxes sitting on the counter behind him.

Hakuno blinked slowly. "Do...is it in the Servant job description to cook for their Master?" she blurted out. She put her hands over her mouth and looked away. Okay, that wasn't what she wanted to say but it was on her mind…

Archer chuckled. "You always had a way of saying the oddest things…"

Again with the cryptic comments.

"Just eat up." Archer crossed his arms and looked away.

She sat down and silently began eating. After taking a few bites she looked up at her Servant. "Umm…do you want to join me?"

Archer shook his head. "There's no reason for me to eat so you just go ahead."

Of course. Why was she not surprised that he did not take the invitation? Hearing the sound of her phone go off, she fished it out of her pocket. She opened the phone and saw Rin had texted an address and that they should meet up there in an hour.

"It was Rin," she said to Archer. "We're going to meet up with her in about an hour."

"She managed to send you a text…" murmured Archer with a smirk. His expression turned serious. "What is your plan for handling Rin?"

She paused in mid-bite. "'Handling Rin?'"

"She is a Master no matter how you look at it. Even if you have an alliance now, what are you going to do down the line?"

"I don't know…" She noticed that Archer didn't bring up the fact that Rin might betray her. Did he trust Rin enough not to do that? "I mean, we're friends and I don't know if I actually could fight her…" She didn't bring up that she hadn't fought anyone yet. "We don't have to worry about it now right? So many things could happen between now and then." Like one of us dying, she added silently.

"You were always the trusting type." Archer walked over and patted her on the head. "Just eat up. We'll worry about when we reach there. We need to meet up with Rin soon right?"

She nodded and began eating again. Archer was right, this was no time to be thinking "what if". She needed to learn all she could from Rin and go meet up with the church official.

***

Hakuno stood in front of the church doors, gulped, and turned to Rin. "Are you sure we need to go in there?" She looked up at the church's beautiful stained glass windows and spires. "It looks way too fancy to be involved with the Grail War."

"Are you scared?" Rin teased as she pushed open the church door. "Don't worry. We won't be here long. I know the priest that is mediating the War. You just need to check in and we'll be on our way."

Hakuno followed Rin inside.  It took her a couple of seconds for her eyes to adjust. The church looked as impressive inside as it did outside.

"Hello Rin," spoke a priest that approached the two girls.

Hakuno stared. Was this the mediator? He looked pleasant enough but there was something about him that felt off to her. She couldn't put her finger on it though.

"This is Kotomine Kirei," explained Rin. "And this is Kishinami Hakuno. She's the seventh Master in the War."

Remembering her manners, Hakuno bowed slightly to the priest. "Nice to meet you."

Kirei smiled at her but instead of feeling warmth from it, she felt a cold chill. "Kishinami…" He said her last name slowly, like there was something pleasurable in her last name.

"Is something wrong?" Rin asked, crossing her arms.

"No nothing," Kirei replied. "I have to thank you though Hakuno for bringing Rin to see me though. She never does come to visit."

Rin crossed her arms and looked away. "Well, you did want all of the Masters to check in so I decided to bring her since she didn't know about that." What? Did they…know each other more than a Master and the supervisor? Wait a minute…

Now that Hakuno was thinking about it, she remembered Rin once mentioning that an annoying priest was her foster parent. Who would have thought that it would be supervisor of this war?

"Do you have any questions about the War? Anything I can clarify?"

There was the question of what was up with her memory but Hakuno knew that was her own problem and not related to the War in any way. She shook her head. "No. I'm fine." Plus if she did have any questions she knew she was going to ask Rin. Kirei just creeped her out.

"Remember that you can no longer return to the Church unless you seek protection if you lose your servant," Kirei continued. "Your safety will be guaranteed."

"Good then." Rin threw her hair over her shoulder and grabbed Hakuno’s arm. "Now that this business has been taken care of, we'll be going now."

"Uh Rin…" Wasn't it rude to just leave like that? She glanced back but Kirei didn't seem upset by Rin's attitude. Instead he was smiling while watching them go. And that smile was making Hakuno very nervous.

She was about to turn her head so she could watch where she was going but her eyes caught on something-no someone standing near the altar. She couldn't really make out his features since he was standing in the shadows however she could see-no, she could feel his crimson eyes on her. His gaze was unwavering as he stared at her like a specimen under a microscope. However at the same time she felt like he wasn't really looking at her. In fact it reminded her a bit of how Archer had looked at her when she had first summoned him.

Not able to meet his intense gaze anymore, she tore her eyes away and focused on Rin dragging her out of the church. She could still feel his eyes boring against her back as she walked out.

***

"No way!? You just summoned Archer just like that!?"

"Uh yeah,"Hakuno replied weakly. She looked around but no one had heard Rin's sudden outburst. Thankfully they had sat down to eat lunch in a secluded part of the park so they would not be overheard by any passersby.

"Seriously Hakuno, you are just a bundle of mystery aren't you?" Rin picked up a rolled omelet from her bento box and put it in her mouth. Her eyes widen and she stared down at the bento box. "This isn't like your usual cooking…"

"Oh…uh, Archer made it."

Rin stared at Hakuno. "Wow…I can't even imagine Archer doing anything like this. It tastes good."

"It shocked me too. He’s also been cooking me breakfast every morning for the past two days…"

That seemed to shock Rin even more. She shook her head. "I wish Lancer did stuff like that." She lifted up her hand to show her command seals. A part of the red tattoo was grayed out. "I had to use one to make Lancer stop hitting on me." She paused and then turned around. "Shut up. I wasted a command seal for a stupid reason thanks to you!"

"And he does not change either," Archer chuckled. "I'm going to look around the area Master. Don't get into trouble now." She guessed this girl talk was probably boring him.

"Yeah, go ahead," she replied with a quick smile to her servant. She felt Archer's presence move away and she turned her attention back to Rin. The other Master was now shoving more food into her mouth while grumbling about her luck being stuck with a servant like Lancer.

"Anyway, I find it really strange about your memory." Rin crossed her arms. "So you are a magus but you forgot about being a magus for years somehow. And by summoning Archer, this is triggering those memories to come back little by little."

Hakuno nodded. "That's the sum of it."

"I don't know what to tell you. I've never heard of anything like this before." Rin smiled. "However, this does make me happy. We can talk about magus-related things now."

"Yeah," agreed Hakuno with a grin. "Although it might take a while before I can remember everything though. Did you know I just remembered last night that your family was a magus household?"

"So you also have knowledge of magus households too…" Rin said slowly like she was mulling about the thought. "Hey, your family is probably a magus household too! I can see if I can find any information out for you about it. Although couldn't you just ask your aunt?"

"Probably. Although I have no idea. All I remember of my parents are normal parent-child related things. No magic involved." There were those magic related books in the house though… "As for my aunt…she's currently working in America and well, I don't know if she knows about magic or is even a magus. Sure I did find some books related to healing magic but my aunt does like collecting random odd things and it could be that she just took it from my parents' old house so…"

"So that's a dead end for now until you aunt comes home…" Rin sighed. "I guess all we can focus on now is the Grail War."

Hakuno looked down at the half-eaten bento box. She suddenly felt really nervous. "Rin…I need to ask you something…" She gulped and stared down at the box. "What is going to happen to us…as friends?" She glanced up to gauge Rin's reaction.

"I don't know," Rin said truthfully. "However, I do know that we don't need to worry about it now." She smiled gently. "There are other Masters out there that we need to take down first. When the day comes that we are the only two Masters left…no hard feelings?"

It was then that Hakuno saw a flash of the Rin that desired the Grail. The one that would take down anyone in her way and that scared Hakuno. Could she be as strong as Rin in the War? "Yeah," she agreed weakly. What was she doing? Even if she had no memory she was still a Master in this war and she was a magus. She needed to be proud of that fact. She coughed and held her head proudly. "Yeah." She held out her pinky finger. "We will have an alliance till the very end."

Rin smiled and linked her pink with Hakuno’s. "May I swallow a thousand needles if I lie." As soon as they dropped fingers, Rin picked up her bento box. "Well then, why don't we eat up for now? We shouldn't let your Servant's awesome food go to waste."

"Yeah," agreed Hakuno with a grin as she picked up her own box. "Does Lancer want to join us? I mean, I feel bad of him just standing there while we eat-"

"And this is why I like you a lot Hakun," said Lancer, materializing in front of her. Unlike before, he was dressed in a much more casual outfit, a Hawaiian shirt and black pants.

"I told you to not materialize," snapped Rin.

Lancer shrugged. "Don't worry. I made sure no one saw me do it." He reached over and grabbed a sausage from Hakuno's bento box. "Thank you! Say, if you want to switch servants, I wouldn't mind being yours." He winked at her.

"Hey!" snapped Rin.

Oh boy. Hikaru's heart went out to Rin. Lancer looked like a handful. "If you want it…" She held out her bento box.

"Seriously Master. You need to be more like her." He reached out and took the bento box from her.

"Don't encourage him," Rin said with a sigh. Knowing there was no hope, she set her bento box down in the middle for her and Hakuno to share.

The conversation topic then drifted to about school and classes (with Lancer commenting on how boring the classes since he was forced to attend with Rin). If Hakuno didn't know better, it was like the Grail War and the magus world did not exist and both girls were normal, average teenagers dealing with everyday problems. However, that bliss did not last long.

"Pardon me, you are Rin Tohsaka correct?"

Hakuno turned to the voice and saw a young man, about their age with long chin length blond hair. He was dressed in high designer clothes that just screamed that he had money. A foreigner? Behind him was a taller man with jet black hair that reached his shoulders. Even though it was warm out he was dressed in a long black coat. Hakuno froze in place when the man looked at her. His eyes were so dark, so cold, the eyes of a predator and she was the hapless deer that was going to die today.

"Yes I am." Rin's voice was guarded.

Glancing at her friend, she could tell from Rin was on high alert. Lancer looked relaxed but Hakuno could see he was poised to jump into action if need be. Who were these two?

"And you are Leo Harwey," continued Rin. Her eyes flickered over to Leo's partner. "And you must be the black scorpion of the family. Julius Harwey."

She could feel the tension in the air between Rin and the two Harweys. She tried to dig into her memory for any information of the Harwey family. Nothing.

"I just wanted to say hello," said Leo with a small smile. Even though the smile seemed to be warm, Hakuno was chilled by it. She could not relax until Leo turned his attention back to Rin. "We can speak later. I'm sure we will meet each other again in the future."  He waved before walking away. Julius stared at the two girls for a couple of seconds and then looked at Lancer before following Leo.

Rin did not relax until Leo and Julius were out of sight. "Make sure they are gone Lancer."

"Thanks for the lunch Hakuno," Lancer said before disappearing.

It was then that Hakuno realized her back was coated in sweat and she was shaking. "Who were they?"

"Trouble," replied Rin grimly. "The Harwey family is a European magus household. They have been gaining a lot of power recently and it has been rumored that they want to take over the world someday. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that they would be here to participate in the war." She sighed. "At least they weren't sure if you were a Master or not so they didn't do anything."

Oh. That explained Leo looking at her before speaking in that vague tone. "So…Leo is a Master as well?"

"And so is Julius."

Hakuno looked behind her in surprise to see Archer jump down from a tree. How long had he been there?

"They are both Masters?" Rin asked in surprise. She crossed her arms. "I know Leo is a Master, he is the heir to the Harwey family. The assassin of the family is also a Master?"

"Assassin?" squealed Hakuno. She shivered as she remembered Julius's cold, hard eyes. No wonder he scared her.

"Wait. How can you be sure?" asked Rin with a frown.

Archer hesitated and looked away. "I just do."

Again. Archer seemed to know more than he was letting on.

"Well I can't just assume based on your hunch," huffed Rin. "I would rather have proof than risk being wrong about this."

"I trust him on this one," spoke up Hakuno. Both Rin and Archer stared at her in surprise. She could still remember how certain Archer was when he talked about Berserker and identified him. Archer was a bundle of mystery but she knew that he would not steer her wrong.

Rin sighed and shook her head. "Well, if that is true, then things have gotten ten times more difficult."

"They are out of the area," reported Lancer, suddenly appearing. "Got into a car and drove away. Big fancy one too."

"Are you going to be okay Rin?" asked Hakuno. "Leo did say he wanted to talk to you later…" It didn't take a genius to know Leo wanted to do more than talk.

"Don't worry about me," replied Rin. "I'll be careful." She got to her feet. "Thanks for the lunch Hakuno. I'm going to go see if I can dig up any information on Leo's and Julius's Servants. That is, unless your servant can tell me anything." Archer was silent. "You be careful too alright? They don't know you are a Master yet and we need to keep it that way as long as possible. Don't go rushing into things and get into trouble."

Why did everyone think she got in trouble on purpose? Stuff just happened! "Don't worry. I'll be careful Rin."

Rin smiled and then turned to Archer. "You better keep her safe alright?" She waved goodbye and headed out of the park.

"I'll be borrowing this!" Lancer grabbed both bento boxes and piled them one on top of the other. "Gives me an excuse to see your pretty face later." He got up and quickly followed Rin out of the park.

"Exactly the same…." Archer murmured with a shake of his head. "Anyway, what do you want to do Hakuno?"

"Umm well…" Rin had told her to remain low for a while until she could dig stuff up so what was there to do? She glanced up at her servant in his red and black clothes and then had a thought. "Ummm…do…do you want to go clothes shopping?"

"Huh?"

Hakuno looked down at her finger and began pressing the tips of her pointer fingers against each other. "Well…Lancer was wearing normal clothes so I thought maybe I could get some for you? It probably stinks to just be wearing that outfit-not like you stink or anything! I just thought it would be more comfortable for you. Not like you have to listen to me though, what do I know? Nothing really, I just thought it would be nice…" Ack! She clamped her mouth shut. What was she doing!? She looked away, her face warm.

Archer then did something she did not expect. He laughed. "What am I going to do with you?" He walked over to her and gently patted her on the head. She looked up at him through her eyelashes and saw he was smiling gently. "We can do that."

"Great," She smiled brightly. She noticed that Archer's face looked slightly red (although it was pretty hard to tell with his tan skin). Did Servants get sick? Was that possible?

"Anyway," Archer coughed. "Let's go."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Archer had forgotten how much girls could shop.

He looked down at the many, many bags that adorned both of his arms. They had originally come here to get clothes from him but she just kept on stopping at every single store they passed in order to buy something or other. He never pictured Hakuno to be much of a shopper although now that he was thinking about it, Moon Cell Hakuno did spent a lot of time in the commissionary and she did buy a lot of formal wear…

At least she was a smart shopper. She had been using coupons left and right and picked up things that were on sale. "What about this one?" She turned to Archer with a black t-shirt in hand that she had dug out of the sale racks. "I think it's your size…maybe…"

"It looks about right," replied Archer.

She frowned and looked down at the rest of the various articles of clothing she had draped over her arm that she had pulled out of the racks for him. "You know…you've said that to everything I picked."

"Well because you seem to just take forever picking just one thing out…" murmured Archer under his breath.

"I heard that!" She added it to the pile and glared at him. "Don't make me start seriously shopping for myself. All that stuff in your arms? That is child's play!"

Archer stared at her in horror and he had flashbacks of Moon Cell Hakuno threatening to do the same time when he told her to hurry up in the comissionary. He could hear the other women in the store giggle and whisper among themselves. Ugh. Just his luck.

"Well, this should be enough I think," she said to herself as she went up to the counter to pay for it all.

Archer stood awkwardly in the middle of the store. If he wasn't carrying all of these bags he would have gone into spiritual form. Suddenly he really missed the Moon Cell. At least there no one stared and giggled among themselves.

She came back and held out the bag with the clothes in it. "Do you want to change?" she offered. "Cause umm…you are standing out a bit." She winced. "Sorry it took a while…I get…distracted easily."

She stared sheepishly at the other bags Archer was holding. According to her, a couple of things were for her, some of the stuff was for the house and the rest was for her aunt. He hadn't been paying attention what she bought; his attention had been on her.

"Umm, you want me to take the other bags?"

Focusing back on the girl in front of him, Archer nodded and took the bag from her but did not hand the others to her. Instead he walked over to the changing rooms in the back of the store and put the other bags on the ground in front of it so she could watch them before he stepped into the changing room.

He walked out a minute later and Hakuno’s eyes widen to the point that he thought they were going to pop out of her head. "What?" he asked looking down. He had grabbed the black v neck shirt and the black jeans out of the pile that she had bought and put those on. Everything looked pretty ordinary. Was he committing some kind of fashion taboo?

"Umm…nothing!" she quickly. Her head was turned to the side but her eyes kept glancing over at him and then away.

"Look," he said, crossing his arms. "What did I apparently do wrong? Am I committing some grave fashion sin?"

She looked over and him and then away again. "It's just…your hair…" she said quietly to the point that Archer wasn't sure if he even heard that right.

"My hair?" Seriously. Of all the things she could say…

"Yeah. I'm ummm not used to seeing it not slicked back." She made a gesture with a hand to show what she meant.

Wait…really? He just stared at her dumbstruck. He had just let it hang normally because it would be weird to have it slicked back. And that was what she paid attention too!?

"It's not bad or anything!" she said quickly, waving her hands in front of her wildly like it could make everything better. "It's just different and after seeing you in the same thing for three days and I wasn't expecting this. Well, not like what you are wearing is bad or anything! Just different-in a good way-and I'm just going to shut up now…" She trailed off and looked down at her shoes.

Archer sighed and patted her on the head. This was one of the key differences between this Hakuno and Mooncell version. That one would never ramble like this one would. Although it was adorable, Archer had to admit. It was funny seeing her flustered. "Alright, alright," he said with a chuckle. "I forgive you for trailing off and saying weird things."

"It does suit you though," she said quietly.

“Really?" Archer looked down at the clothes and shrugged. He didn't think so but hey if she thought so that's all that mattered. Wait. He shook his head. No. It did matter. This was not the same Hakuno. It shouldn't matter what she thought. "Anyway, I'm guessing you want to shop some more?" He picked up the rest of the bags that he had dropped outside of the changing room and balanced the weight of all of them evenly on both arms.

She shook her head. "No, that's it for today. I feel bad for dragging you around since we originally came here for you." He noticed that her eyes were still cast on the ground.

"Alright, let's get going then." He gestured for her to lead the way.

She gave him a quick smile before she walked out of the store and into the shopping district. Expertly she began weaving through the crowd and Archer had to pretty much push people out of the way to keep up with her. However he ended up losing sight of her in the huge crowd of people that were going about their shopping.

"Does she pay attention at all?" he murmured. No wonder she got into trouble a lot, she was never aware of her surroundings was she? He began searching for her prana signature and used that to help guide him to her.

The number of people thinned out and he spotted her ahead of him in front of a jewelry store. He was about to call out to her when he noticed there were a couple of boys talking to her. Well talking wouldn't be the correct way to describe it. His eyes narrowed when he saw her back up and her hands were clutched tightly together at her chest. Her eyes were wide and she seemed to be searching for an escape of any kind.

"Come on now," said one of the boys, leaning in closer to her. "It'll be fun. You'll see." He reached out to grab her hand.

"Uh...no…I…"

"She's busy," Archer walked over and glared at the boys. He shifted the bags from one arm to the other and then used that arm to wrap around Hakuno's shoulders and draw her close to him.

"Archer," she said in surprise, looking up at him.

Archer’s grip on her shoulder tightened as the boys stared right back at him like they were shocked that he had come to her rescue. They held eye contact for a few seconds before they broke his gaze.

"Come on guys," one said.

Archer did not relax until the boys were out of sight. He looked down at her. "You need to be more careful," he snapped. "If you were Rin I wouldn't be so worried but you stink at protecting yourself so take some precaution. Or speak up for yourself-do something."

"Uh…I'm sorry." She looked down at the ground.

`"Stop saying you are sorry and just learn from it," Archer sighed.

She was silent and Archer checked if she was still there in his arm and did not fade away like the other Hakuno did.

"Um….they are gone," she said softly, her eyes casted to the ground. Hang on, was her face red? "You can let go now."

"Oh sorry!" Archer dropped his arm, his face warm as he looked away from her. Dang it! What was wrong with him?

"I…I'm going to go to the bathroom, I'll be right back."

Archer nodded numbly and watched as she hurried away. What the hell had he done? He leaned against the nearby wall and pressed his fingers to his forehead and silently cursed himself for his stupidity.

***

Hakuno splashed water onto her face from the bathroom sink. She sucked in a couple of deep breaths and looked up at her face in the mirror. What in the world was she doing? What in the world was going on? Today just seemed to be getting worse and worse.

She leaned forward and pressed her head against the glass of the mirror. Her thoughts and emotions seemed to be going through the wringer today. It all started when Archer had changed into that casual outfit. She didn't realize how toned he was since his other clothes covered everything. He was really toned. She didn't want to admit it but he had looked attractive wearing that.

Stupid-idiotic Hakuno who was oblivious to who was considered "hot" and "sexy" thought Archer was attractive. What in the world did that mean?

Then there was also the fact that he had stepped in and put his arm around her when those boys were hitting on her. That was confusing her even more. She...liked it. He had been like a knight in shining armor coming to rescue her. She knew she would be safe in his arms; nothing would harm her as long as he was there.

She could see her face turning red in the mirror as she thought of it. This was messed up! Why in the world was she feeling this way?! These kinds of emotions didn't just happen overnight right?! She frowned as she thought of the first night when she had summoned him. Even then she had trusted him. Even back then she had felt some kind of connection to Archer that should not have been there.

"Is this one of those tall, dark and handsome stranger kind of situation?" she murmured to herself. Didn't those happen in books all the time? But this was real life! That did not happen! That was stupid! What was she going to do? This unfamiliar emotion was starting to scare her.

"Get yourself together Hakuno." She lightly slapping herself on the cheeks. It was nothing. Just a phase. She was just stressed out over everything that happened today, that was it. That was why she had reacted more than she should have to Archer.

She sucked in a deep breath and released it. Sure she was confused now but it should go away soon right? Yes, she was somewhat attracted to Archer at the moment but it was just the clothes! That was all! There was no other reason for it. It wasn't because she felt so safe in his arms and she was happy that he had come to her rescue (although protecting her was his job…).

Knowing that her face would not betray her anymore, she headed for the door of the bathroom and almost tripped over a young girl coming in.

"Oh, I'm sorry Nee-san," said the girl, staring up at Hakuno with bright purple eyes. Her white hair was styled into two long twin braids and perfectly accented her blue poofy dress. In fact, if Hakuno didn't see the girl’s chest moving and eyes blinking, she would have thought that this little girl was a doll.

"No, no, it's my fault," Hakuno replied with a small smile. She stepped to the side to let the girl pass. "Go ahead."

"Thank you Nee-san." The little girl blinked in surprise. "Nee-san. You have a tattoo on your hand."

Hakuno instinctively covered her left hand with her right. "Oh this?" she forced a small laugh. "Oh, this was me being stupid and losing a bet. Don't follow my example and get a tattoo without thinking about it!" Oh boy. She hoped the girl bought that.

The little girl giggled. "You're funny Nee-san." She lifted her skirt up slightly and gave Hakuno a perfect curtsey. "I hope we can play soon Nee-san." With that final comment, she walked into the bathroom.

Hakuno gave her a clumsy curtsey in return before walking out. That girl was so cute! She wondered what the girl was dressed up for. She looked like something straight out of a fairytale. Was there a play going on somewhere close by?

Her smile dropped slightly from her face as she spotted Archer right where she had left him. He was leaning against a wall with his arms crossed. His eyes were downcast and she was not sure if she was reading it right, but he looked sad. Heartbroken even. It couldn't be because of her right?

She sucked in a deep breath and once she released it, she put her cheerful smile on her face. "I'm back!" she said in a loud happy voice like nothing was wrong.

Archer looked up and the sad look in his eyes was gone. He was back to his usual grumpy self. "Took you long enough."

"Well sorry!” She put her hands on her hips. "I'm a girl? What do you expect?"

He rolled his eyes and made no comment.

"So, umm, shall we go?" She began walking but at a much slower speed than last time. She did not want to get into the same situation and need to get rescued the same way.

"I'm…I'm sorry for that."

She was confused for a moment to what he was apologizing for. "Oh no, it's fine," she said, looking away.

"It was the only thing I could think of that would get them away quickly." He smirked, "Well besides actually physically doing something to them."

Yeah. Maybe it was for the best that Archer reacted that way. Even if it did confuse her more than it should. They continued the rest of the walk home in awkward silence.

***

Hakuno crossed the school gate right before the final warning bell rang. "Safe!" she yelled to herself before placing her hands on her knees in an attempt to catch her breath. Dang. She really needed to exercise.

She caught her breathe before heading for the shoe lockers. After they had returned home last night, nothing much happened. He went to do whatever Servants did and she attempted to get her homework (everything but her math since she forgot to get the textbook). The next morning she had woken up to food on the table along with her lunch but Archer was gone.

Sure what happened yesterday was awkward but she didn't think it was this awkward for him. "Maybe I'm just reading too much into it," she said with a sigh. She opened her shoe box and paused when she saw the envelope sitting on top of her shoes. She picked it up and looked it over. No name on it...

Her eyes widen. Was this a love letter!? She heard of girls getting those but this was the first time it had happened to her. Naw. It couldn't be! She opened the envelope and there was a small piece of paper inside.

"Back of the school, after school when everyone has left," she murmured as she read it. What? She guessed this guy did not have a way with words. Although the whole thing about going there after everyone had left was kind of strange. Should she check it out? It would be rude if it actually was a love confession to stand him up. "Although I am going to say no…" Wait. Why was she automatically assuming that she would say no?

She couldn't think of the topic anymore as the final warning bell for class rang. "Ack!" She threw the piece of paper into her bag before grabbing her school shoes.

***

Hakuno headed for the back of the school. Class had been the same old, same old. Rin had been absent today so she was unable to give advice on this love confession letter.

It should be fine right? She looked down at the command seals tattooed to her hand. If worse comes to worse she could always summon Archer to her aid although saving a Master from a love confession was not a part of the Servant job description was it? Plus was that really something she would want to waste a command seal on?

Now behind the school, Hakuno felt butterflies dance in her stomach. Maybe she should go. There was no way she could do this! No! She had to stay here. At least to be nice. Being nice was good.

She put her hands behind her back and rocked back and forth on her heels. He was taking his sweet time getting here. Maybe he was nervous too?

Too nervous to stand in one place she began pacing around. After what seemed like forever (well, it was actually five minutes according to her watch) she stopped pacing. Maybe she was in the wrong location. The note did say behind the school but maybe he was waiting in a different spot.

She was about to check if he was waiting in a different section of the school when something on the ground caught her eye. "Hey! A hundred yen!" she said excitedly, bending down to pick it up.

The sound of a gun-shot echoed through the air and Hakuno felt a sharp pain rip through her left shoulder. She looked at it in shock to see blood gushing out of the injury. Without letting her brain process what was going on, she was on her feet and running.

A trap?

This was a trap!

How could she have been so stupid!?

She needed to find some sort of shelter. Her brain wasn't able to process much due to the fiery pain in her shoulder but the pain was lessening due to the adrenaline that was being pumped through her system. She started running a sort of zigzag pattern to try to not give whoever was shooting at her an easy shot at her.

Somewhere…there needed to be somewhere she could hide. Her eyes scanned around her but the entrance to the school was too far. There was no way she could make it over there.

Another gunshot echoed in the air and pain shot through her right leg. Hakuno fell to the ground, her head hitting against the dirt painfully. She clutched her right leg close to her body as tears spilled down her eyes from the pain. She struggled to sit up. Archer. She needed to call him. That thought pushed through the harrowing pain.

Her mind blanked when she heard the click of a gun right by her head. She turned her head slowly to see Shinji's servant, Rider, looking down at her with her villainous grin. Her pirate pistol was pointed directly at Hakuno’s head. "I may have missed twice but there's no way I'm missing a third time," she laughed.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hakuno's breath came out in short gasps as she stared down the barrel of the gun. Thoughts raced through her mind a million miles a second. One rose above the rest. She did not want to die. Not here, not from a gun.

Her eyes flickered to Rider's finger on the trigger of the gun. No. No. No.

“Don't move." Archer's voice?

She heard something whizz through the air and Rider screamed. It took her a few moments to process what was going on. There… there was an arrow through Rider's hand! The same hand that pointed the gun at Hakuno mere moments before.

"Ar…Archer!" she cried as her Servant seemed to appear out of nowhere. He walked over and stood as a barrier between her and Rider.

“You always seem to get in trouble don't you?" His eyes turned cold as he took in her injuries. "Start healing yourself to stop the bleeding," he ordered before he turned away to face Rider. He held out his hands and two swords appeared in them, one white and the other black.

"You'll pay for this!" Rider ripped the arrow out of her hand and threw it on the ground. Her hand was bleeding profusely but she ignored it. Instead she lifted her other hand, which held her other pistol and pointed it at Archer.

“Don't worry," Archer said quietly so only Hakuno would hear. "This won't take long at all. I beat her without my Noble Phantasm in the past." Before she could ask what he meant by his cryptic comment, he charged towards Rider.

She wanted to watch the battle between the two Servants but she knew she had more pressing matters to attend to first. Like not bleeding out. She took a couple of deep breaths and tried to push away the aching pains of her gun wounds and entered into a tranquil zone. Nothing was here but her and the injuries. She put her right hand over her hurt shoulder and forced her magic circuits open. She could feel the magic flowing through her fingertips and to the wound and she could feel the injury start to close up. Once the wound had stopped bleeding, she did the same to her right leg. She gritted her teeth as she felt her head get a bit light-headed. She really did stink at healing herself. Knowing that that was the best she could do for now, as she needed to keep some prana ready to heal Archer if need be, she looked up to see how the fight was going.

From a quick look, it was obvious Archer was winning. Her Servant was standing in place with a bow in hand. He was firing arrow after arrow against the pirate Servant. Rider was managing to dodge most of them but a couple had found their way to bury into the pirate's body. Rider was not backing down though. She was trying to fire her pistol with her one good arm but it was obvious that she was having major difficulty.

"What are you doing Rider!?" Shinji was here? Hakuno saw he was standing nearby, half hidden by a tree. He stomped his foot against the ground as he spoke. "Why do you stink so much against that stupid Archer? Use it! I don't care! Take him out!"

Rider grinned. "Okay then Master." She backed away from Archer and flipped into the air "Remember my name," she began, "by the death of my passing! Temerose el Draque!" A huge majestic golden ship appeared behind the Servant along with a fleet of much smaller ships.

Was that? "Her Noble Phantasm…" Hakuno whispered in shock.

Archer ran over to Hakuno and stood in front of her and held out his hand and a huge pink flower-like shield appeared in front of his hand. He looked back at her and gave her a small reassuring smile. "Don't worry. It won't hit us."

"I am the woman who set the sun! You rascals, it's time! The king of storms, a swarm of ghosts, this is the beginning of the Wild Hunt!" Rider pointed her pistol towards Archer and Hakuno. A huge grin was plastered on her face.

The sound of cannon fire tore through the air and Hakuno shut her eyes tight as the cannonballs hit Archer's shield. When she realized the first cannonball did not pass through the shield, she watched in shock as the cannonballs hit the shield but nothing else happened. It looked so flimsy but it was so strong. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over. She sucked in a couple of deep breaths.

She had…survived.

"Impossible…" whispered Rider. "You blocked my Golden Wild Hunt…"

"What are you doing Rider!?" yelled Shinji. "You were supposed to beat him!"

“Sorry Master," Rider said through gritted teeth, slowly backing up. "A villain does need to know when they have been beaten."

Archer dropped the shield and lifted a hand to summon his bow along with a sword which was quickly converted into an arrow.

Shinji yelped as Rider raced over and threw her Master over her shoulder. "A villain needs to live to fight another day!" She didn't even look back as she ran away with her Master complaining all the way.

Archer relaxed his arm and let his bow and arrow vanish before turning to Hakuno.

"Aren't you go going to go after her?" she asked. Wasn't this the perfect opportunity to defeat Shinji's Servant?

"And leave you like this?" Archer shook his head.

"But I'm fine!" protested Hakuno. She struggled to get to her feet. However once she put her weight on her right leg, pain shot through it and she could feel blood beginning to flow. She would have fallen if Archer had not caught her. "Okay…maybe not…" She forced a smile on her face but she was still gritting her teeth through the pain that was shooting through her leg. "I really do stink at healing myself."

Leaning on Archer for support, she reached down and touched her leg and forced her magic circuits open to close the gunshot wound. She could feel a headache coming on from just doing that one act.

"Sorry…" she whispered, careful to not put any weight on her right leg.

Archer sighed. "I guess it can't be helped."

Hakuno yelped in surprise as Archer picked her up bridal-style. "Wh…what are you doing!?" she yelled.

"Carrying you…obviously. You can't walk idiot. Now stop struggling before you open one of those wounds again."

Hakuno opened her mouth to protest but thought better of it and closed it. "Sorry," she said quietly. She looked away from him. This was so…embarrassing! What kind of pathetic Master needed to be carried by their Servant like this? Although at least this was somewhat more dignified than how Rider carried Shinji.

"Stop apologizing. It's over now." Archer fell silent as he jumped. She felt her heart leap into her throat and she shut her eyes tight as he ran. How did Rin do this with Lancer? This was frightening! However due to how fast he was going, they reached Hakuno's home in almost no time flat.

"Key?"

Hakuno fished it out of her pocket. She was about to reach down to unlock the door when Archer took it from her and was somehow able to unlock the door while still balancing her in his arms. He pushed the door open and carried her into the living room and carefully set her down on the couch.

"The first-aid kit is the bathroom right?"

She nodded before she focused her attention back on her injuries. She opened her circuits again and tried to heal her wounds up better so at least they would not open up again if she moved around. She was in the middle of healing her shoulder wound when Archer returned with the first aid kit and a tank top.

"I did not see anything," he said quickly, as he handed the tank top to her. He was not looking at her. "It's just that…it would be awkward to wrap your shoulder injury…It was in the first drawer I opened so…"

Oh. She felt her face start to burn up. She was thankful that she put all of her comfortable clothes in the first drawer and not anything else. "Oh, uh thank you." Archer turned around and Hakuno carefully peeled herself out of her soiled uniform and shrugged the tank top over her head. She hissed a bit at the pain of moving her shoulder. "Ready."

Archer turned back around and sat down on the couch next to her and began working on disinfecting and bandaging her shoulder. "Your magic is pretty useless when it comes down to you isn't it?"

"Uh yeah," Hakuno said quietly. She gritted her teeth as the disinfectant touched her skin. She had been able to get the wound more closed up now but it was still raw and she would probably still be in pain until tomorrow. "Like I said before, I'm for some reason, much better at healing other people than myself."

They fell into comfortable silence, both lost in their own work. Archer was working on Hakuno's shoulder wound and she was trying to heal her leg wound as much as she could. Once Archer was done bandaging her shoulder, he got to work on her leg.

When the final tie was put into place, she breathe a sigh of relief. She had tried to not complain during the whole ordeal. It hurt a lot yes, but that was her own damn fault that she ended up like this in the first place.

"You need to get some rest," he said, getting up. "I'm going to go after Rider."

Wait. He was leaving? A wave of panic rose up in her. She didn't know where it was coming from but she desperately did not want him to go. "Hang on!" She reached out and grabbed the red cloth he hung from his waist.

"Master? Come on there is no time for this. This is a great opportunity to-you're shaking…"

"Archer…" her voice shook. She did not know where this came from but she felt like she couldn't breathe. It felt like the world was crushing her under a heavy weight. She felt trapped, trapped and small. She tried to stop her body from shaking but it just would not stop. Her body just would not stop shivering." Please…please don't go…"

Silently Archer sat down on the couch next to her. Hakuno pulled her legs up to her chest as she shivered and collected her thoughts together as best as she could with the crushing feeling pulling her down. "Archer…I think…I think it finally hit me," she said at last. "People…people actually die in this War. I didn't think it was fun and games before but I didn't think it would be like this." She buried her face into her knees. She just couldn't stop shaking no matter how much she tried to stop. "I almost died…" She could feel the tears pressing against the back of her eyes.

She felt warmth around her as Archer pulled her close to him. She did not try to resist, she was too shaken up to fight back. "But you didn't," he soothed. "You are fine. A little beaten up but fine."

"Yeah, thanks to you. If you didn't come when you did Archer…"

She felt Archer's grip on her tightened shut her eyes and took in a couple of deep breathes in an attempt to calm her frazzled nerves. Just being in Archer's arms soothed her. She knew she was safe here, she knew he would protect her. She would be fine as long as they were together and she could fight alongside him.

"This also got me thinking…" she continued.  “This Grail War…people are actually willing to kill for it, to obtain their dreams-get their wish granted."

"That's the whole point of this War, yes."

"I…I don't have any dreams like that-I don't really have any wish that I want granted. Or it is like I never thought of a wish I would want the Grail to grant…" There. She said it. What could she wish for on an omnipotent wish granting device? What kind of wish was worthy for something with that kind of power? She looked up at him. "Archer...what do you want from the Grail?" Servants had wishes they wanted granted too right? Why was Archer here? What wish did he want?

"I don't want a wish from the Grail."

Her eyebrows furrowed as she stared at him. What? He didn't? But…that didn't make any sense! He had to have some wish right? "But then…why are you here?" She winced slightly and sharp pain tore through her injured shoulder. "I didn't mean it like in a mean way-I was just wondering… There is something you want right? World peace? End to hunger? Revival of a loved one…" She could feel Archer wince at the last one. Wait what? Did she hit a nerve there without meaning to? Did she actually guess the wish that he was denying he had? "Oh, I'm sorry…"

He shook his head. "Don't worry about it. The Grail cannot bring her back." There were more to his words than he was letting on, she could tell. Could this have been the reason for his sad expression yesterday? He was thinking of her? Somehow that bothered Hakuno although she did not understand why. Why was she upset that Archer had someone he loved?

"So the Grail has limits to what it can and cannot do…" she spoke to break the silence that covered the both of them. “But…at the same time I wonder…is it really alright for me to trample on others dreams when I don't have one of my own?"

 "You will find one." Archer sounded so sure. "It may take you a while but you will find one."

"If you say so…" She was not sure but Archer seemed to believe she will. She stifled a yawn. It seemed like her exhaustion was finally catching up to her. Her eyelids were starting to get very heavy and she struggled to keep her eyes open. She didn't manage to resist very long and she slipped off into the world of dreams.

“Goodnight Hakuno," Archer whispered.

***

Hakuno did not know where she was. It was black around her and it felt like she was trying to swim through molasses. No matter where she turned her head, all she could see was inky blackness. "Hello?" she called. Her voice echoed around her from all directions. "Anyone here?"

She squinted. Wait. Was that someone ahead? She struggled to swim over to the figure in the distance. She didn't know how far she swam or how long. Time did not seem to exist here, wherever it was. Soon the figure came into view. It looked to be a girl with long brown hair that reminded Hakuno of her own. Her back was to Hakuno.

"Ummm, hello? Where….where are we?"

"It's not time for you to be here yet." The girl turned around and Hakuno froze. The girl looked exactly like her! However unlike Hakuno, the girl was covered from head to toe in very odd tribal-looking tattoos and her eyes glowed with an unnatural golden-brown color. "Don't worry. We will meet someday soon. There's a lot of work that still needs to be done." She smiled and pressed her pointer finger against her lips. "Let's keep this our little secret for right now, okay?"

***

Hakuno opened her eyes. A dream? It felt real though. Just thinking about it, it felt like a memory more than a fading dream. How was that possible? If it was real though, who was that girl? And where did the dream take place? And what was the girl talking about?

Wait. Why was her pillow so warm? And it felt like…it was moving…

She lifted her head slightly and froze, unable to comprehend where she was for a moment. She was lying on Archer's chest. Her Servant's eyes were closed. It looked like he was asleep. His arms were loosely wrapped around her. Feeling her stir, he cracked open an eye. "You're up."

"Uh yeah." She sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Why didn't you wake me?" She glanced at the clock. Ack! Four in the morning!? She had been asleep for hours!

Archer shrugged. "You needed the rest plus you were sleeping so peacefully, I didn't want to disturb you." She felt like there was something underlying his comments that he was not saying. "Although, I'm quite surprised to find out that you snore."

"I don't snore! No way! I don't snore! It isn't possible! If anyone snored it would not be me." Wait did she? She tried to think if her aunt mentioned it at any point. Nope. Her aunt never said anything about snoring.

"Good," Archer said softly. "You're back to your rambling self."

She paused and stared at him. He was worried about her? Oh right. Last night she had a mental breakdown. "I'm fine now. Thank you for last night though," she said quietly.

Archer got up and stretched. "How are your wounds?"

Moving her shoulder and leg carefully she concluded that although they were sore, they were healed enough to not really hamper her in any way. "Not at my best but it could be worse I guess."

She noticed her phone lying on the floor and saw there was a message. She fished it off of the ground and opened it. Rin had sent a text last night. "She wants to meet up today at her house. She found out some stuff. Wha!? She wants me to miss school for this!?" She sighed. "Dang it. My grades are going to stink when this is all over." Noticing that Archer was staring at her in confusion she shrugged. "I mean with this War going on, I shouldn't be wasting time at school right?" She looked to the side. "Plus obviously I'm a sitting duck in school and I'll be distracted from the matter at hand and stuff. I'll make up some excuse that I'm sick-What's that smile for!?"

"Nothing," replied Archer. "I'm going to make you some breakfast."

Hakuno opened her mouth to demand an explanation for that smile but he had already escaped to the kitchen. Knowing there would be no point in going after him, she carefully got up from the couch and headed for the bathroom to take a shower.

Chapter Text

"We're here. You can open your eyes now."

Hakuno sucked in a deep breath and tried to calm her beating heart as Archer gently put her down. In order to get to Rin's house as fast as possible, Archer had decided the best method was to carry her there.

Without her consent.

"You are not allowed to do that anymore!" She rested her hands on her knees with her head bent. Oh sweet ground. How she loved it so!

"Did you really want to take the train here with all of the morning commuters?"

"Maybe…" she murmured. With her heart now calm enough to not rip out of her chest, she straightened and looked up at the huge Tohsaka mansion. "Hang on. How did you know where Rin's house was? I don't remember giving you an address or anything."

"Lucky guess?" He was not looking at her again.

"You're just a bundle of secrets aren't you?" she sighed. How many secrets could one guy have?

"I don't think we should focus on me right now." Archer flicked her on the forehead.

"Gah!" She covered her forehead with her hands. "I thought we were done with this forehead-flicking thing!"

"Heyyy!" Rin stuck her head out of an open window on the second floor and she waved to Hakuno. "The door's open so just come on in! The usual room okay?"

"Okay!" Hakuno waved back before she opened the front door and headed for the living room. She turned to check on Archer and saw he was gone. "Without even a warning…seriously…" She walked into the living room and saw Lancer (in casual clothes again) lounging on one of the couches, his arm splayed out over the back of it. Without even thinking about it, she sat in the wing chair.

"Oh come on," said Lancer, leaning forward. "Don't be like that. By the way, those lunches were superb. You think you could make me something at some point? Rin has told me you cook some pretty good lunches. You could make an extra for me right?"

"Uh…sure?" Hakuno said slowly, leaning away from Lancer who just seemed to keep getting closer and closer.

She heard Archer clear his throat from behind her chair and Lancer immediately backed away. "Sheesh, don't need to get all huffy," he grumbled.

Huh? She looked back but she didn't see any weird expression on Archer's face that could cause Lancer to behave like he did.

"Yes?" Archer's tone sounded very pleasant. A little too pleasant. She turned back and saw Lancer glaring at Archer. A quick look back and she confirmed that Archer was doing the same back to the other Servant.

"What in the word is going on?" she murmured under her breath. The tension between the two Servants was unbearable.

As if Rin could hear Hakuno's distress, she walked into the living room with a tray in hand. On the tray were two cups of tea along with a small cake.

"Awww come on Rin. None for me?" whined Lancer.

"Nope. Get it yourself," snapped Rin. She put the tray down on the small coffee table and put one cup of tea and a slice of cake in front of Hakuno before she took the same for herself. Glaring at Lancer, she sighed and cut a slice of cake for him. "Do you want one Archer?" He shrugged but accepted the slice that Rin gave him.

"Now," said Rin as she collapsed onto the couch that Lancer was sprawled on. "Let's-Hakuno! What happened!? Your leg!"

Oh. That. "Ummm…stuff happened yesterday." Hakuno scratched the back of her head sheepishly. She had tried to put on a pair of jeans in order to not worry Rin with seeing the bandaged wound but it hurt too much and there was no way she was going to wear baggy yoga pants so she ended up just wearing shorts. "I'll fill you in soon, don't worry! What did you find out Rin? From your text it looked like you found out some things."

For a moment Hikaru thought Rin was not going to let her get away with it but then her friend just sighed before she picked up her tea cup and took a sip. "Well, first off, I found out that the Einzbern family has hired outside help again to aid them in the War."

Einzbern…a magus household that was involved in the Grail Wars from the beginning along with Rin's and Shinji's family. More information that just trickled into Hakuno's mind from who-knows-where. "What do you mean by outside help?"

"Apparently they hired someone from the Atlas Academy to be their stand in for the War but the Einzbern also have a member here as well." Rin shrugged. "The one that's participating War is also a homunculus from what I was able to gather. Based on the process of elimination, I'm guessing they either have Caster, Assassin or Berserker."

"Berserker," put in Archer.

Everyone in the room turned to Archer but he was ignoring their questioning looks as he munched on cake.

"Does he always do this?" Rin asked.

Hakuno nodded. "Yeah, I've gotten used to it. But, if it is Berserker…" She thought back to the first night when she had summoned Archer. She had seen Berserker. Heck, she had almost been killed by Berserker.

Rin nodded grimly, guessing what Hakuno was thinking about. "Yeah. Based on what you told me of your brief encounter with him, this is not going to be easy fight. But anyway, besides that, I didn't find much about Leo and Julius that could be helpful. Just stuff related to the family. They probably paid big bucks to keep it hush hush about the Servants." She shifted her eyes to Archer. "Have anything else to add?" Archer was silent. "Other than that, I couldn't find anything about the seventh Master so we're in the dark about that one. That's all I was able to find," finished Rin.

"So I'm guessing you found out nothing about my family then right?" Hakuno sighed. It wasn't going to be that easy to figure out what was up with her was it?

"Uh…yeah. I didn't find anything out. Sorry Hakuno." Why did Rin sound so unsure? Wasn't it a yes or no question? Before she could point it out, Rin had continued speaking. "Anyway, what happened to you Hakuno?"

Was she dodging the issue now? No way. This was Rin. They were friends. She would not hide something from Hakuno if it was important. She took a bite out of the cake slice before she launched into her story of everything that happened yesterday. When she got to the part where she had been shot twice by Rider, Rin's mouth dropped in shock.

"She shot you twice!?"

"My shoulder is fine like my leg," Hakuno said quickly. "Sore but fine!" Before Rin could protest more, she continued her story. She finished off with explaining how Rider had ran away with Shinji in arm.

"I think we should find Shinji and take him out," said Rin. A small devious smile crossed her face. "Rider is probably still not recovered from yesterday's fight. This would be the perfect opportunity to get that pompous idiot out of the running."

"Finally. I can get back at Rider after that first fight." Lancer got up and stretched. "Plus I need to get back at her for hurting a pretty girl like you." He winked at Hakuno.

Hakuno felt Archer's hand on her shoulder. "I have a personal score to settle with Rider as well."

"Well then, let's get going." Rin got up. It was like she was oblivious to the tension in the room between the two Servants.

Hakuno took one more bite of cake before she got up and followed Rin and Lancer out the door. "But where are we going to go to look for them?" she asked.

"We can start at the Matou household to see if he's there. I don't think he would go to school now." Rin grinned. "He's probably scared out of his mind, knowing that there are two Masters in the school that are out to get him."

"You have a sadistic side don't you?" Hakuno commented.

Once they were outside, Lancer transformed into his battle outfit and put an arm around Rin's waist. "Just follow me," said Rin, "I know where it is."

Wait a minute. "Umm, can we uh, not…" She yelped as Archer picked her up bridal style again. "Uh no. You can put me down. I'll take the long way there. It's fine! It's totally fine, we don't have to do this again."

"Just lead the way Rin. My Master has no idea what she is saying. It would be best to just ignore any ramblings she makes at this point."

"Hey!" She glared up at her Servant. "I am not rambling! I just think that it would be better to walk. I need to get exercise remember? You said I need to-" A small shriek escaped her mouth as Archer jumped.

She shut her eyes tight and tried to make herself as small as possible while praying that Archer would not drop her, she would not get sick, she would not fall out of his arms, that nothing would land on her from above, Archer would not trip and she would fall and many more variations of the same thing.

"Master. We're here."

Archer carefully put Hakuno down and held onto her good shoulder until her legs were steady enough to hold her weight.

"That was really funny Hakuno," giggled Rin. "I never thought I would ever see you so freaked out." Even Lancer was staring at her amused.

Hakuno crossed her arms. "I can't believe all of you," she grumbled. In order to ignore their amused looks on her, she focused her attention on the Matou household. Dang! It was huge! These great magus houses were not kidding about being great. "So…what's the plan anyway? It's not like we can go up to the door and ask Shinji to come and fight us."

"I say we play it by ear," Rin said. "You two wait here. Hakuno and I will check if he's there."

They were about to step through the gate when a movement to the left caught Hakuno's eye. She turned her head. "There!" she yelled. Rider had just scaled the gate with Shinji over her shoulder. From the quick view Hakuno could get before they ran, it was obvious Rider was still gravely injured from yesterday's fight.

"He's running. How typical. Come on Lancer!" Rin and Lancer took off after Rider.

"You go on ahead," Hakuno said quickly before Archer could carry her. "I'll only slow you down. I'll run and catch up at my own pace." Archer did not move. She sighed. "I promise to use a command seal if something bad happens to me like getting attacked by another Servant. Now go help Rin."

Satisfied with that answer, Archer took off after Rin and Lancer. He was such a worrywart. She would be fine. She glanced down at her leg and grimaced before she began running.

She couldn't run very far though before her leg started protesting to the abuse. "Dang it…" she murmured. She slowed to a brisk walk but kept moving. She could sense where Archer was and she was using that to figure out which direction to go in. Hopefully when Rider was unable to run anymore they would not be in a residential area. Rules or no rules, there was no way she was going to let ordinary people die for seeing the fight. She blinked to herself. Where did that thought come from? How did she remember that rule all of a sudden?

She was so lost in thought that when someone grabbed her arm she jumped slightly in surprise. She turned to see who it was and froze. It was a man, a couple inches taller than her with short hair the color of gold. What made her freeze were his eyes. Crimson, blood red eyes. The same ones that had bore into her in the church a couple days ago.

"You're really good at hiding, you know that?"

Hakuno opened her mouth and closed it again. Just being in this guy's presence just made her want to curl up into a ball and cry. It was obvious he was not human but he couldn't be a Servant right? If he was, then he would have attacked her. He had to know she was a Master. He was there when Kirei was talking to her and Rin! Plus the way he was looking at her, no, he was searching for something was really unnerving.

"Seriously," he snapped. "What's with those eyes? Why is it that you seem to be looking at a stranger?"

"W…What?" Was he mistaking her for someone else? "I…I've never met you before in my life." She glanced down at her arm. His grip wasn't tight. She probably could make a run for it. She just needed to time this correctly. And if that didn't work she could always call Archer. He didn't seem to want to hurt her…

His eyebrows furrowed as he continued to search for something in her face. "You don't remember anything…" he murmured. His eyes lit up a bit and a very sinister grin crossed his face as he leaned in closer. "Oh I get it. I just need to jog your memory a bit."

"Wha…" Hakuno was silenced in mid-word as he pressed his mouth against hers. She froze in shock as her brain struggled to comprehend what was going on. Wait. What was going on? What was he doing!? He was…he was kissing her!

"YAAAA!" she screamed, getting control of her body again. She tore her arm out of his grasp and gave him a hard push to get him away from her. Without even stopping to check his reaction, she turned and ran away from him while rubbing her mouth. What…what the hell was that about?! She glanced over her shoulder to see if he was following her but he was just standing there, hands in his pockets as he watched her with those red eyes watching her go.

She turned to look ahead, ignoring the pain that was shooting up her leg. She needed to get away from him! He was crazy! A pervert! He just had to be one! She continued to rub her mouth as she ran. She still could not believe this happened. That…stupid jerk! He…he took her first kiss!

***

"They're up ahead!" yelled Rin.

Archer was a couple steps behind Lancer and his Master. Although he was focused on the task at hand, at the same time in the back of his mind he was worried about Hakuno. She had seemed more competent today and she had promised to use a command seal right away if anything happened. However she did have the knack of attracting trouble to her. Maybe he should go back…

"Whoa. Hang on." Lancer slowed to a stop and grabbed Rin's arm to prevent her from running ahead. She didn't look like she was going to though.

Archer could sense it as well. There was something up ahead. Something with a ton of power and he knew exactly what it was. And Rider had ran right into it.

The Master and Servants cautiously moved forward and into an abandoned lot. The lot was surrounded on all sides by a high stone wall that would prevent onlookers. Standing in the large space was Berserker and a young. tan girl that Archer recognized immediately from the last Grail War he was in. Rani. She was here as well. It shouldn't have been a surprise after he had seen the Servant and Rin had mentioned the Atlas Academy. Shinji was sitting on the ground and he was trying to scramble away from the huge Servant as fast as possible. On the end of Beserker's halberd was Rider. It was already too late for her. Rider was already beginning to fade away.

"Hmmm? Looks like someone else came to play!" A young girl peeked out from behind Berserker. Her white hair and red eyes contrasted to Rani's dark skin and lavender hair.

"Ilya-sama, please step back," spoke the tan-girl.

"But Rani," complained Ilya, "They look like they want to play. And it looks like they will be more fun to fight than Rider over here."

"Ilya-sama, we must tread cautiously. They are missing a Master in their group. I do not think Rin Tohsaka is in control of both. Also we are in a very open area. Berserker might be able to fight freely however the causalities from this battle will be incredibly high."

Ilya sighed. "Oh well. It can't be helped I guess." She giggled and put a hand on her hip. "We'll let you go for today out of the goodness of our hearts. If you want to fight though…" She giggled again. "Berserker will just take you apart."

"What are we going to do Rin?" Lancer asked.

"Back down. We were not expecting to fight Berserker. Just going in blind would be disastrous. Plus Rani is right about the causalities that would occur if we fight here." From the way Rin's hands were clenched into fists Archer could tell she was not happy with the decision she made at all.

On Rani's command, Berserker disappeared and the two homunculi walked out of the empty lot with not a look back at the Servants and Master.

About a minute later, Hakuno entered the empty lot. She was panting heavily and she put her hands on her knees. "Wh…what did I miss?"

"Everything," commented Lancer.

"Berserker got here before us and took out Rider," Archer said as he walked over to his very un-athletic Master.

"And Shinji probably ran while we were distracted," said Rin after a quick look around the lot. "Dang it. Today just seems to go from bad to worse."

"Uh yeah," said Hakuno, rubbing her lips absentmindedly.

"Is something wrong Master?" asked Archer. Her thoughts seemed to be somewhere else.

"Huh?" She looked up at Archer and then her eyes dropped to the ground. "No, I'm fine." What was up with her? He did not remember her having this lip-rub habit before. "Hey Rin, what's the plan?"

"I have no idea," said Rin, scratching the back of her head. "Fighting Berserker with no plan would be stupid." She crossed her arms and tapped her foot against the ground. "Or we can just leave it and hope the Harweys remove Berserker…" She groaned. "But then we would find out nothing about the Harweys' servants."

"You're going to get wrinkles at this rate Master," commented Lancer with a grin.

Rin shot Lancer a death glare.

"Maybe we could have a girls night and talk strategy?" suggested Hakuno.

Rin paused and stared at Hakuno. Archer wasn't sure but it seemed like some silent message had passed in between the two girls. "Yeah sure!" replied Rin cheerfully. A little too cheerfully. "Tonight good?"

"That sounds great!" Hakuno responded in the same fake-cheerful tone.

Lancer shot a questioning glance at Archer but Archer just shrugged in response. There was some weird girl-code something or other at work here.

"I'll see you tonight Hakuno. You stay low alright. Don't get into any trouble now. Come on Lancer. We might as well see if we can find anything about Caster."

"See you later Hakuno! Remember to make me a meal next time!" Archer was really getting tired of Lancer.

"Uh…okay?" Hakuno waved goodbye with one hand and was rubbing her lips with the other.

Once Rin and Lancer were gone, Archer grabbed her arm to stop her from doing it. "Okay…what is up with you? I don't remember you having this habit before. Did something happen?" It couldn't be bad right? She did promise to call him if anything bad did happen.

"Oh. No. Nothing happened." Archer's eyes narrowed. She was not looking at him directly. She was staring at the ground and was rubbing her lips still.

"You're lying to me," he said softly. Was he that untrustworthy? Sure he had been trying to distance himself from her but he thought he at least tried to appear trustworthy…maybe?

"It's nothing." She repeated. She looked up and glared at him. "If you are allowed to keep some secrets why can't I?" she snapped. Archer winced. She had struck a nerve there. As if she realized what she said, she turned her body away from him. "Sorry…" she said softly.

"Don't worry about it," he relented. Dang it. Why did this girl confuse him so much? She was not her but he couldn't help but worry about his second incompetent Master. He rested a hand on her head. "When you are ready, I'll listen."

"Thanks Archer," she said softly. After a few seconds, she turned around to face him, her hands behind her back. "So umm…shall we get going as well? We still have the rest of the day to do whatever since we're going to Rin's place tonight. Although it might be smart to go home since I am currently 'sick' at the moment."

"Your choice."

Hakuno frowned. "But what do you want to do?"

There were so many things he wanted to do and her staring at him with those big doe eyes was not helping the situation whatsoever. "Nothing," he replied slowly as he crossed his arms to suppress the urge to hug her.

She scratched the back of her head and sighed. "You never make things easy do you?" She turned around and began walking. "Fine. I'll just have you be my pack mule again today." She turned back and grinned. "I didn't get to shop for myself remember?

"Fine, fine," he said with a shrug and a smile to himself. Yup, some things just never changed.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hakuno hummed to herself as she opened the front door of her home. Today has turned out to be such a good day. She looked back and grinned. Archer was drowning in bags.. He was carrying so many of them that he was unable to carry her back to home. If that wasn't a success she didn't know what was!

"I seriously don't know how you could shop so much," grumbled Archer as he carried the bags to the living room so she could sort through them later.

"Don't underestimate the will of a girl!! Hakuno held her head high. When Archer was out of sight, she sighed and rubbed her lips. She had went through retail therapy to help forget what had happened. She wanted to go on longer but she needed to get the bags dropped off at her place before heading over to Rin's. It didn't really work though. In the back of her mind she kept thinking about it over and over again.

When Archer had asked what was wrong, she really did want to tell him but at the same time she was afraid of how he would respond. "Why should it matter?" she whispered to herself. She really did not understand what was going on with her. Why did it matter what he thought?

She was broken out of her thoughts by the ringing of her phone. She pulled it out of her pocket and saw it was Rin. She flipped it open and put her phone to her ear. "Hey, what's up Rin?"

There was silence on the other end and she thought Rin had butt-dialed her. Wait. No. Hakuno could hear breathing. Heavy breathing. "Hey Hakuno." Hakuno's eyes widen. Rin's voice sounded so strained, so tired. Listening hard, she could hear sounds of clashing weapons in the background. "Rin!? What's going on?!"

"Sorry Hakuno. But I think we're going to need to reschedule that girl's night-Lancer look out!"

"Rin!? Where are you! I can help! What's going on!?"

"Just lay low, okay? And stay out of trouble. I can handle this."

"Rin! Rin!" It was no use. Rin had hung up.

"What's the yelling about?" Archer walked into the hallway.

"We need to go help Rin! She's getting attacked by another Master. We need to help her!" Before she could run out the door, Archer grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

"Where are you going? Do you even know where she is?"

"No, but we can't just leave her there!"

"I'm guessing she told you to stay put. Listen to Rin okay? She'll be fine!"

Hakuno tried to pull her arm out of Archer's grasp but he was like a stubborn rock. "I can't just leave her there! Rin could…she could…" Archer flicked her forehead. "Ow!" She covered the spot with her hands. "Can you please stop that!?"

"Are you thinking straight now?"

She blinked and then looked down at the ground. "Yes," she said quietly.

"Good then." He released her arm. "Rin will be fine. She's an accomplished magus and she won't go down without a fight. Plus she is very stubborn and will be very, very hard to kill."

Again. Archer was doing it again. It sounded like he knew. Like he actually had fought alongside Rin and was speaking from experience. And she didn't understand why but it bothered her. Hang on! What was she saying? That was impossible! There was no way Archer could have known Rin from before right? However, he did make a point. This was Rin! Rin knew more about being a magus than Hakuno did. She had to be fine. She just had to.

"Then what should we do?" Hakuno rubbed her lips with her pinky finger. She had wanted to talk to Rin about what happened with that perverted guy but it looked like that conversation was going to have to wait. There were also the weirdness that she was starting to feel around Archer.

Noticing that Archer was staring at her again, she clenched her teeth and put her hand behind her back to prevent herself from touching her lips. "I'm going to go sort the stuff I bought," she announced before hurrying past her Servant.

***

Hakuno stood on the front step of Rin's house and rang the doorbell again. It had been a day since Rin's phone call. She had tried to call this morning but Rin was not picking up her phone. Thankfully Archer had not protested to visiting Rin's house so here they were.

"I'm sure she's fine," said Archer when Hakuno glanced back at him, worry clear on her face.

"But then…why isn't she picking up? Or opening the door?" She pulled out her phone and called Rin again. After hearing it ring for a long time, she broke the connection and stuffed her phone back in her pocket. She wished she was better at tracking people by their prana. She would be able to find Rin with no problem.

"Come on. Let's go."

She looked up in surprise to see Archer walking away at a brisk pace. Did he have some plan to find Rin? She followed him silently. It couldn't be far or he would have insisted on carrying her there. Where were they going?

Archer turned and walked into the nearby park and waited for her to catch up. "I want you to sit on that bench over there while I get you some ice cream."

"Huh?" She didn't think Archer could make her dumbstruck anymore but it looked like he had done it again.

"Look, you are way too frazzled about this. Yes, you can be worried but you are over-worried. You need to relax a bit."

She bit her lip. She knew she was being a worrywart but she couldn't help it! Rin was her best friend and also an ally in this War. How could she not be worried? "But…"

"No buts." Archer attacked her forehead again.

"Gah!" she protested. "Can you please stop!?"

"Stop giving me reasons to flick your forehead then. Now go sit over there okay?"

Knowing that Archer would not take no for an answer (and she feared for her forehead), she walked over to the bench and sat down while Archer went to get the ice cream. She pulled out her phone and called Rin again.

"Dang it Rin. What happened to you?" she whispered when Rin did not pick up again. She put her phone back in her pocket and tapped her foot on the ground as she waited for Archer to return. What was she going to do?

"Nee-san. Alice has met you again."

She looked up. It was the little girl she had run into on the way out of the bathroom a few days ago. Like before, she was dressed up in a frilly white and blue dress and her long white hair was in two braids. "Oh hello," Hakuno said, giving the little girl a smile. She was so cute that it lifted Hakuno’s spirit a bit.

The little girl tilted her head to the side slightly and then reached out and grabbed Hakuno's left hand. "Nee-san? You want to play with Alice? Alice really wants to play with you!"

Alice? Was she referring to herself? How cute! "I'm sorry but I'm waiting for someone," she said gently. She thought her heart would break when she saw Alice's face fall. "But…I think he should be able to find me with no problem if we don't stray too far…" she relented.

Alice's eyes lit up and she began tugging on her hand. "Yay Nee-san is going to play with me! Come on! Let's go! Alice is waiting!"

"Alright, alright," Hakuno said a laugh. What a cute little girl.

Alice led Hakuno over to a small picnic table in between a small clump of trees. On the table were various pastries on dainty plates along with a beautiful teapot and matching cups. A girl who looked exactly like Alice but wearing a black and purple version of Alice's dress was delicately sipping tea.

"Is that your twin sister?"

"No. Alice is Alice," replied Alice.

The other Alice lifted her head and smiled at Hakuno before she got up. Alice released Hiakuno’s hand and ran over to black Alice. She lifted up her skirt and executed a perfect curtsey. "Welcome to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party!"

The black Alice also curtseyed before she spoke. "Hosted in the Nameless Forest!"

***

Archer's eyebrow twitched as he stared at the bench. He closed his eyes and counted to three before opening them again. Nope. She was not there. Honestly. He needed to keep her on a leash with the amount of wandering this girl did. He was thankful that he forgot to grab money off of her. Who knows where she would have ended up if he had been gone longer?

Using her prana signature as a guide, he followed it to a grove of trees. As soon as he passed through it, he felt the air around him shift. It got heavier and the amount of mana in the air was enormous. There were also trees surrounding him on all sides, even where there were no trees a moment before. His eyes narrowed. There was only one thing that could cause this. A Reality Marble.

"I'm going to strangle her," he murmured before he began running. It didn't take him long to find her. She was sitting at a picnic table that mimicked the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. Sitting across from her were two little girls that looked like they were twins. Alice and Caster.

Archer cursed. He shouldn't have been surprised that they would be here. All of the other Masters had been the same. He should have warned Hakuno to not trust any little girls she met. "Master!" he called, running over to the picnic table.

She just ignored him and continued to sip tea.

"Are you here to join the tea party Nii-san?" asked Alice with childlike innocence.

Archer glared at the little girl and grabbed Hakuno's arm. "Did you hear me Master?"

"Huhhhhh?" Hakuno turned her head to look at him. She giggled. "Who are youuuuuuu? Are you here to join the tea party? You can be the Mad Hatter! We need one!" She giggled and turned to Alice. "Do we have a hat for him? Or he can be the dormouse!"

Archer just stared at his Master. Wh…what? Why was she acting this way? She broke out of his grasp and collapsed back down at the picnic table and began eating cake. Realization dawned on him and he turned his attention to Alice and Caster. "Release her," he commanded in a low, threatening tone. "Release her from the Nameless Forest."

Alice's eyes widen. "How…how does he know about the Nameless Forest?!"

Caster got up and tugged Alice to her feet. "We need to go Alice. This tea party is over."

"Awww…" Alice frowned. "But I wanted to play with Nee-san some more."

"No. We must go Alice. It is not safe here." Caster was watching Archer carefully as she pulled her Master to her feet.

Archer summoned his bow and a sword which he converted into an arrow and pointed it at Alice. Before he could fire the arrow Caster grabbed Alice's arm and in a flash of light the two were gone.

"And those teleportation powers were annoying the first time." He made his bow disappear and turned to his Master. Based on the amount of mana in the area and the fact that Hakuno was still stuffing her face with cake, the Reality Marble was still in effect. There was no time for him to go find Caster to break it though. He had to get her out of here.

"Come on," he grabbed her arm and yanked her to her feet.

"Whhhhatttt are youuuu doinnnngggg?" she wailed, struggling to push him away. "I wassss havvvving a looooot of funnnn."

"No. Sorry. You don't get any fun. Say your name right now."

"Myyyyy name?" She tapped her mouth a couple of times with her pointer finger as she looked up at the sky with a questioning look. She giggled. "I forgot!" She escaped Archer's grasp and began skipping around. "I have no name! And I'm at a mad tea party! I think I'm mad!" She giggled again and turned to Archer. "Are you coming to the tea party? We have cakes!" She skipped over to the picnic table and picked up a slice of cake and began eating.

This was bad. Archer had no idea how the Nameless Forest worked outside the Moon Cell but he knew he had to make her remember who she was. "Mast-Hakuno. Hakuno." He carefully grabbed her by the shoulders (careful not to grip her tightly on her injured one) and made her look at him. "Your name is Hakuno. Can you say that?"

"Hakuno?" She giggled. "What kind of name is that? A silly name. So silly! Now let me go!" Archer tightened his grip so she couldn't escape him again. She winced and let out a small cry. "You're hurting me…" she said in a small voice. He loosened his grip automatically and she ducked and slipped out of his grasp and ran to the other side of the picnic table so a barrier was between the two of them. "I tricked you! I tricked you!" she laughed with glee.

This was getting really old. "Hakuno. You need to listen to me. You have to say your name. Hakuno Kishinami. Say it!"

"No!" she yelled. She picked up the tea pot from the picnic table and threw it at him. He sidestepped the flying teapot. She glared at him. "Meanie! You are a hugeeeeeee meannnnieeee! You ruined the tea party! Now…." She paused and thought for a moment. "Wait…why was I having a tea party?" She giggled and shrugged. "Hehe, I forgot." As if she never saw Archer before she tilted her head slightly as she stared at him. "Are you the Mad Hatter? Are you here to join the party? Or are you the White Rabbit? Your hair is white! You must be the White Rabbit! Am I late?"

Archer knew this could not go long for much longer. She was already losing it. Heck, from the way she sounded, it seemed like she already lost it. "Sorry Hakuno," he said as he leaped onto the picnic table and crushed cakes and teacups. Before she could run, he was on the ground next to her and he grabbed her tightly with her arms pinned to her sides.

"Lemmeeee go! Lemmmmeee go!" she screamed. "Meanie! Nincompoop! Lemme go! I'm going to miss the tea party!"

"Say your name!" commanded Archer as he tightened his grip as she began thrashing around. Why was she so strong right now? Why couldn't she have this kind of strength normally? "Say your name! Hakuno Kishinami. Just say it!"

Hakuno stopped struggling and stared up at him. Was she actually going to comply? "I want to whisper it in your ear," she said softly.

Well, that was alright by him. At least she was going to do it. He leaned in closer to her. A sinister grin crossed her face before she slammed her head against his. He let her go in pain and shock. She had a hard head! Holding his throbbing head with one hand while trying to blink away the stars that dotted his vision, he reached out and grabbed her arm before she could scamper away. "Hakuno. Damn it! Say your name!"

"Let me go!" she screamed again. "I don't want to lose my head! I will not go with you to see the Queen, White Rabbit!"

This was getting him nowhere. Ignoring the pain that radiated out of his forehead, he dragged her over to a tree and pinned her against it in order to prevent her from running again and so it would be easier for him to grab her again if she tried to do anything and run.

"I don't want my head to be chopped off," she said in wide-eyed fear. A moment later the fear was gone and she giggled. "You look funny, whoever you are. Aren't you warm wearing that? I'm going to a tea party!"

She was rambling even more now than she did before! Archer's mind raced to think of a solution. Moon Cell Hakuno had just written her name on her hand and that was the end of that. This one though…he needed to think of a way to make her calm down enough to listen to him. Something. He needed to shock her. Force her to stop talking and listen to him.

A thought entered his mind and he looked down at his Master. She was still rambling on. Could he really do that? To her? He knew there was no other choice. He was running out of options and he did not want to leave her in the grip of the Reality Marble any longer.

"I wonder where the Cheshire Cat is…and the Caterpillar. They were supposed to come to the Tea Party! Wait. I was going to have a tea party?" She giggled. "Since when was I going to do that?"

"Hey. Look up."

Hers eyes focused on Archer as she looked up at him. "Yesssssssssss?" she giggled. "I stretched out the word."

Archer swallowed. "Can…can you close your eyes for a second? It's a game."

"I love games!" She squeaked and closed her eyes.

Before she could forget what she was doing and before he could lose his resolve, he kissed her.

***

Hakuno's mind was fuzzy. She didn't really know what she was doing. All she knew it was a ton of fun. Nothing mattered. Nothing mattered at all. Her mind was blank, unable to take in any new information. Stuff like, who she was, what she was doing, where she was, none of that mattered. None of it.

And then she felt a weird sensation on her lips. Something was nagging at her. Pulling her away from the clouds in her mind that beckoned for her to come back and enjoy being in bliss.

No.

She wanted to stay.

No.

She wanted to go.

No…

She opened her eyes and froze. He was close. So close. Who was he? His body was pinning her in place so she could not move. He was kissing her with intenseness and longing but at the same time was gentle; like he was afraid he was going to hurt her.

What…what was going on? As if he could sense that she was staring at him, he opened his eyes and looked at her. A shiver went down her spine. He was looking at her like he never did before. They were intense, passionate, even. "Say your name," he commanded in a low husky voice.

"H…Hakuno Kishinami," she whispered, unable to think, to do anything else.

She heard the sound of breaking glass and the forest around them disappeared leaving only a small clump of trees behind. The weight that had been pressing at the back of her mind vanished and she could feel that her thoughts were hers again. She also was now painfully aware of how close Archer was to her.

As if he realized the same thing, he jumped away from her. "S…sorry."

Without him to support her, Hakuno slid down the tree until she reached the ground and gently touched her lips. What…what happened? He had…he had kissed her!

"It….it wasn't working." Archer's back was to her. His voice was devoid of emotion. "I was trying to get you to say your name to break the Nameless Forest Reality Marble. Nothing was working and I was getting desperate…"

He trailed off. It was obvious what he had done to help bring her back.

"It…umm…worked. That is a good thing…" She stared at some ants that were making their way through the tall grass. Her memory of the events that took place in the Nameless Forest were starting to come back. She groaned. What in the world had she been doing!? She reached up and tentatively touched her head where she had head-butted him, expecting to find a bump. Nothing. There was no bump. That was odd. She remembered hitting him very hard too.

"Anyway." Archer crossed his arms but his back was still to her. "That little girl, Alice, she is the Master and the other girl in black that looked like her is Alice's Servant, Caster."

"Oh…yeah…" She had figured as much. Her luck stunk so much. Only she would end up in a crazy situation like this!

"They're probably gone now but I think it would be best for me to search the area, just in case."

"Uh yeah. That would be a good idea. If anything happens, I'll run or use a command seal."

"I'll be back."

She did not move until she was sure Archer was gone. She got to her feet but she kept her back pressed against the tree to help support her. She gently touched her lips. No way. It didn't mean anything right? He had said he did it in order to break the Nameless Forest's hold on her. But then…why had he looked at her like that? And why did it bother her so much?

She leaned against the tree until Archer returned and the two walked back home in uncomfortable silence.

 

Chapter Text

Archer could not believe what he had done.

His original plan had been to just transfer a little bit of prana into Hakuno in order to give her magic circuits a shock and hopefully pull her out of madness. However, he had lost control of himself while he had been transferring the prana. He kissed her out of longing for the girl that she mirrored.

His eyes flickered over to his Master. She walked a couple steps ahead of him with her hands behind her back. She refused to look him in the eye and not a word had left her mouth after she had said she was going to go home. What did she think about what had happened? She had seemed shocked after she had recovered her wits but that was all he was able to gather based on her presentation

Reaching her house, she unlocked the front door and stepped inside. Archer followed in after her and locked the door behind him before he turned to look at his Master. She waited in the hallway, her eyes still downcast. Her hands were behind her back and her back was against the wall. "That…k…k…thing you did…" Her voice was soft like she didn't want anyone else to overhear them. "It was just for getting rid of Caster's Noble Phantasm right?"

"Yes, of course," said Archer quickly. "I needed to give you some of my prana to help you break free from the Nameless Forest. That was the quickest way to transfer the little bit you needed." He hoped she would buy it. It was the truth although at the same time it wasn't the full truth.

She bit her lip. "Of course. Of course. That was the reason why you did it." Her voice was oddly leveled. "I understand. It makes perfect sense. You were just looking out and taking care of your Master."

Archer winced. There was something about the way she was speaking that seemed very…off. Like she was expecting more from him. Like what? His eyes widen as he had a thought. "Hang on. That wasn't your first kiss right?"

Her face flushed and she put a hand to her mouth. "Uh…technically no…"

Archer sighed in relief. "Well that's good. At least your first kiss wasn't wasted on a guy like me for something like this."

"Idiot," she whispered. She stepped away from the wall but still would not look him in the eye. "I'm going up to my room. Taiga probably sent me some work to do so I'm going to see if I can get a head start on that."

Hang on. What was going on here? Why did she call him an idiot? Why did she seem more upset now? "Master…"

Hakuno was already climbing the stairs to her room and she did not stop. He clenched his hands into fists and struggled to push down the urge to punch a wall. Why did it seem like everything was going wrong now?

"She is not her," he said like it was a magic spell that would dispel all of the inner turmoil. "She is not. She is just a girl that looks like her. She can't run for long periods of time and doesn't listen to warnings and just attracts trouble wherever she goes." He sighed. However she did care for people and always tried her best and learned from the mistakes she made. "Would you have been like her if you had memories?"

Maybe. That was possible wasn't it? However he needed to stay away. Even if they would be the same, he could not give in to his feelings. This Hakuno needed a better life, no she deserved a better life after this was over. He couldn't be selfish and give in to his feelings for her. He knew that one day they would be separated. He had given in once and she had ended up dying in the waters of the Moon Cell and all he could do was sit there and watch it happen.

Not again. He would not allow it to happen again. He will protect her this time and get her through the War, no matter what happened to him. And he would not allow himself to give in. That was something he vowed to himself.

***

Hakuno collapsed on her bed and buried her face into her pillow. She resisted the urge to scream since Archer might think she was getting attacked or something. That guy! He was such an idiot! Why did he say it like that!? Couldn't he have put it in a better way? She lifted her head and frowned. Why was it bugging her so much about what he said?

She gently touched her lips. It was surprising when she had returned to her senses to see and feel that but she couldn't say she hated it. It was way different from what she felt when that blonde perverted guy kissed her. She didn't…mind that Archer had kissed her.

"GAH!" Hakuno buried her face into her pillow again. What did that mean!? Wait. Didn't it mean that she l…l…liked him!? "No way. No way. No way." She lifted her head but rested her chin on the pillow as she thought it over. How was this even possible? She met him only six days ago. Was that long enough to like someone? However when he had appeared, she felt like she had known him for a long time. She trusted him with her life on their first meeting. Why? That was weird too.

"Why is this happening to me?" She rolled over and stared up at the ceiling. She prayed for an answer to be seen up there but nothing. She put her hands over her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths before she sat up. Even though it was embarrassing, at the same time it was invigorating. She finally understood why she felt weird around him. She actually liked her Servant!

She might have figured out her feelings but what about Archer? She smiled sadly to herself. No way. He didn't like her. He was always yelling at her, flicking her forehead and just overall mean to her.

But…there was that night where he had comforted her when she had her mental breakdown. Even thinking farther back, he had been kind to her at their first meeting. "He knew my name…" she realized. Sure she had questioned it back then but she never brought it up again. He never answered it either,  she realized. How did that fit into the jigsaw puzzle?

"ARGH!" She grabbed her pillow and put it on her head. Why did everything about her Servant just confuse her? Why did he need to be so secretive about everything?

Not able to take it anymore, she sat up. She gently touched her lips and tightened the hand into a fist. Archer probably meant nothing by it but she knew she could see it in no other way. Her memory was foggy on how prana transfer worked but it couldn't involve such an….intense kiss right? Maybe that was just the kind of kisser Archer was?

Wait a minute.

"Why am I thinking that!?" she fell back on her bed and kicked her legs wildly in an attempt to remove the image of Archer kissing her in her mind. Her eyes went to the ceiling again. She wished Rin was around to offer advice on the subject. She seemed like the type of girl who knew how the mind of boys worked. Her throat constricted as she thought of her friend and she yanked her phone out of her pocket and called. Nothing.

"Rin will be okay," she whispered like a mantra before she sat up again and smiled to herself. If Rin was here now she would have yelled at Hakuno for being so stupid and getting hung up over this. Also she couldn't just sit in her room forever. There was a War going on out there. She could not let these kind of emotions get in the way. Even if a part of her wanted them to.

"Stop that!" She lightly slapped herself. Archer did not like her in that way at all so what was the point of thinking about it?

She sucked in and released a deep breath before she got off her bed and opened her bedroom door. She crept down the stairs and peeked into the kitchen. Nope. He wasn't in there. She headed into the living room and spotted Archer sitting on the couch, seemingly oblivious to her in the doorway. He was leaning forward with his arms resting on his knees. His expression was one Hakuno had seen before. The incredibly sad look that he only had on on when he thought she wasn’t looking.

She bit her lip and then took another deep breath before walking into the room. She stood in front of him with her hands behind her back. It took Archer a couple of seconds to realize she was standing there. As soon as her Servant looked up, he was back to his usually grumpy self.

"Did you finish whatever homework Taiga sent to you Master?"

Oh yeah. She had used that excuse right? "Uh…not really…I was doing a bit of thinking." She scratched the back of her head. This was so much harder to do in person. "And umm…I'm sorry how I reacted. I mean, I can understand that all you wanted to do was to snap me out of the Nameless Forest spell." She resisted the urge to touch her lips as she thought about it. "I over-reacted. I…I don't have memories involving prana transferring so I didn't know it could be done like that. I'm thinking like a non-magus about…that kind of thing so…" She trailed off and glanced over at Archer to gauge his reaction. She thought she saw a flash of hurt cross his face but that couldn't be right. She was agreeing with what he had said before!

"Well, I'm glad you understand." Archer got to his feet and turned away from her. "I'm going to see if we have enough food in the house to make you dinner."

She winced. What? He seemed so cold now. Why? What happened? She had agreed with him! "Hang on!" She whirled around to walk after him but when she turned, her left foot caught on her right and she went pitching forward. "AHHH!"

Before her face could meet head-first with the carpet, Archer seemed to appear out of nowhere and he broke her fall with his body. "Only you could trip over your own feet." He held her shoulders and waited for her to steady herself before letting go.

"Not my fault," she murmured, pushing her long brown hair out of the way. Ugh. Running her fingers through it, it was obvious that the day with Caster had made it very messy and tangled.

"Now I'm going to check the kitchen. I'm hoping you won't get into trouble for the few seconds I'm gone."

"Nothing will happen," she grumbled as Archer walked away. Why did it seem like he was acting normal now? Maybe her trouble-magnet did have its uses after all. She headed for the couch and grabbed the hair brush that sat on the small side table.

She had thrown her hair over her shoulder and was able to get a few strokes in before Archer returned. "There's a few leftovers that I could use but I think it is best for me to go out and grab some ingredients…" He trailed off and his fingers twitched.

"Oh okay. I'll get you my wallet then," she said. She threw her hair over her shoulder. Guess she was going to brush it out later.

"Hang on." Archer walked over and took the brush out of her hand before sitting down on the couch behind her.

She looked back at him in confusion. "What?"

Archer's face seemed to take a slight red tint. "Umm…I could go later, there's still plenty of time. So…do you mind…if I…"

Why did he seem so flustered all of a sudden? And why did he take the brush from her? It wasn't like she was going to stab herself in the eye with it or something.

"I…I can brush your hair for you," he blurted out.

"Huh?" She could feel her face turning red so she turned away so he couldn't see it. "Uh, yeah. Sure." What was going on here? He was just being nice. That's it. That was all there was to it.

"If this makes you nervous…"

"No, no. It's fine," she said quickly. This situation just seemed ten times worse now that she realized that she had feelings for her Servant.

"And I'm already breaking my vow," she heard Archer murmur from behind her before he began brushing.

***

What in the world was he doing?

He carefully pulled apart the knotted strands in her hair before going over it with the brush. When he had seen her with the hair brush in hand he thought of all the times, in the Moon Cell after a run through the Arena, Hakuno had brushed out her hair. He could still picture her complaining about how tangled and messy it got. One day he had just taken the brush and brushed her hair out for her. Since then it had been like a ritual they did when they returned to the room after a long day in the Arena.

Why was he doing it again!? This girl was not her. Heck, he had vowed to himself to keep her at a safe distance. However here he was, doing this. He noticed that even though they were the "same" person her hair seemed different. Unlike Moon Cell Hakuno, Hakuno's hair was coarser and it seemed to be a little bit lighter too. Maybe it was just the fact that they were in the real world and not the Moon Cell that made it feel that way. Or it could just be the fact that this Hakuno did not take care of her hair as well.

"You need to use better conditioner Master." He paused at a very stubborn knot and tried to take it apart with his fingers. He didn't want to use the brush and accidently rip her hair out.

"Well I'm sorry if my hair isn't up to your standards," she huffed.

She never changed, did she? He continued to work out the knot. He had finally gotten the strands separated and he began brushing her hair again.

"You've done this before…haven't you?" she asked quietly.

Archer hesitated a moment. "Yes."

"For the woman you loved right? She brushed her hair like this."

Archer stopped in mid-brush. He couldn't see his Master's face from where he was so he had no idea how she was implying that. There was no way she could be jealous right? Naw. That was impossible. He was just going under the assumption that she liked him like the other Hakuno did. She was probably just curious. Nosy was more like it. "Yes."

"Oh."

What was with the tension again? It had seemed to disperse after she had almost fallen on her face before but it was back again at full force. Why? He turned his attention back to her hair but it didn't relax him like before. He sighed and finished brushing the section before holding out the brush for her to take. "Here. I can tell you are feeling awkward by me doing this."

Hakuno looked at him in surprise and shook her head. "Uh no. It's fine. Really. You can umm keep going." She turned away from him and quickly added. "So how do you think we should defeat Caster? That Nameless Forest was really powerful."

Did she give them a topic to make it less awkward? He picked up the next section of hair and began working on it. "The Nameless Forest can be defeated by just saying your name. Just write your name on your hand. That will work. As for Caster, if I can fight her one on one I should be able to win. Caster is not good at attacking physically." Unless she summons the Jabberwocky, he added silently.

"Guess we are just going to need to goad her into fighting us somehow."

This was so different from when Moon Cell Hakuno had to face Alice. She had been so hesitant about the whole thing. However that might be from the one difference between the Moon Cell and here. Here, the Master did not have to die. He would not have to see this Hakuno break down after killing a little girl and for that he was grateful.

The silence that filled the air was more comfortable now. Once the final stroke was done, Archer put down the brush and the tranquility around them broke like a magic spell. "Well, I need to go get stuff for dinner now. Your wallet?"

Hakuno stiffly got off the couch. "Yeah. I'll go get it for you." She headed out of the living room but when she reached the doorway she turned back. "If…" She looked down and pushed her pointer fingers against each other. "If, one day, I made you something…would you eat it?"

He stared at his Master. She was fidgeting and her eyes kept sneaking glances at him and then at the floor. "Yeah," he relented. "I would eat it."

She grinned. "Great. I'll go get my wallet now."

Once she was gone, Archer leaned back on the couch and rested his head on the back of it. This was going to be so much harder than he thought it would be.

Chapter Text

Hakuno hummed as she led the way to the nearby supermarket. Archer was in casual clothes and a couple steps behind her. The whole afternoon had been strange. First there was the whole kiss thing and then Archer had decided that he had to brush out her hair! Her fingers twitched as she resisted the urge to run her fingers through her tangle-free hair. It had been so awkward to just sit there and let Archer brush it out. He had been so good at it though. He was careful to not pull on her hair too much and he was never forceful with the brush.

He had practice, she reminded herself. He had told her that he had brushed the hair for the woman he loved. What kind of woman was she? What kind of woman could put up with Archer's attitude? You do like him though…

She sighed to herself. Just thinking about this was making her brain hurt. Plus what was the point of thinking about this? Archer did not like her in that way at all. He was just being a good Servant and keeping the relationship between them positive.

"So do you have any preference for dinner by the way Master?"

Hakuno shook her head. "No. Anything is fine. I’m not picky."

"Why am I not surprised?" he chuckled and petted her on the head.

"Hey!" She ducked away and put her hands protectively on her head. "What does that mean?"

Archer shrugged and took a couple of large steps so he was walking in front of her now. "Nothing at all."

Hakuno frowned but she knew there was no point in trying to drag an answer out of him. She only took a few steps before she bumped into her Servant. "Ack. Why did you…" She trailed off as she looked at what Archer was staring at. The supermarket was bustling with a steady stream of people coming in and out. She had to face-palm. "Oh yeah. Today is the monthly sale day."

"Of course it is," Archer sighed. "I always wanted to fight housewives for groceries."

"Great!" she said cheerfully. She pulled out her wallet and shoved it into Archer's hand. "Have fun!"

Archer looked down at the wallet and then at her. "Hang on. What are you going to do?"

She pointed to the railing that separated the sidewalk from the busy street. "I'll just hang out there and people watch. Cause you know, I love people watching. Doing an experiment for school you know? I want some fresh air. Outside air. Yum!"

"You can stop with the excuses." Archer shook his head. "My Master is sending me on a suicide mission."

"Oh you'll be fine. You're taller than all of those housewives. Just reach over them and get stuff!" She walked over to the railing and hoisted herself onto it. "Don't worry. The street is crowded, nothing bad can happen right?"

"With your luck, I highly doubt it. Just stay here okay? I'll be back as soon as possible."

"Don't worry." She pulled out her phone. "I will be exploring the wonderful world known as the internet."

"And now I'm going to worry so much more. See you soon Master."

She waved goodbye to Archer and giggled to herself as he pushed his way through the crowd to get into the store. He looked so out of place with all of the housewives storming the store. "You are a brave solider Archer. Hopefully you will make it through this endeavor alive!"

She fell silent as she began wandering various websites on the internet as she waited for him to return. After ten minutes she wondered why she even said she was going to wait. With all of those housewives here, it was going to take forever for Archer to get out of there.

"Too late now…" She did promise him she would stay here and she was going to keep that promise. Every other time she had wandered away something went wrong and she already hit her quota for something-going-wrong today.

She returned her attention to her phone and called Rin. Nothing again. If only there was some way to know how many Masters were still in the War…

No. Rin was okay! She was probably hiding out for now. Tomorrow her friend would be back and she would be complaining about how whoever attacked her was an idiot.

She smiled. Yeah. That was exactly how it was going to happen. She was sure of it! Her butt was getting tired of sitting on the railing so she jumped off and leaned against it instead. She wondered how Archer was doing in there. He was a Servant but he was against the vicious species known as the housewives. Hakuno remembered the one time she went into battle against them. Never again. The housewives could have whatever they wanted.

"Found you," whispered a voice in her ear.

Before she could move, two arms snaked around her body and wrapped around her stomach and she felt weight on her left shoulder, which was still sore from the attack from Rider.

"GAH!" she cried, recognizing the blond hair man that was currently hugging her. No way! It was the blond pervert!

Since he wasn't holding her tightly, she was able to jump out of his grasp with no problem. Or did he let her go? She whirled around and saw that he had scaled the railing. Like before he stared at her with those crimson eyes with an intensity that frightened her.

"What's with that look?" He had his hands in the pockets of his pants as he leaned in closer to her. His eyes narrowed. "You still have no idea who I am, do you?"

Hakuno's mind raced on what to do. They were on a busy street so it wasn't like he could do anything. If he did try she could always scream. She held her arms to her chest with her right hand over the left. It would be a waste of command seals to call Archer if she could not help it. She shook her head. "No…I don't…"

He gritted his teeth and rubbed the back of his head. She had a small hope that he was going to give up and leave her alone. Obviously she was not the girl he was looking for. "Stop looking so pitiful," he snapped suddenly.

"W…what?"

The intensity in his eyes were back in full force. "Hold your head up high like a queen! Stop looking like a commoner." His voice was rising and a few people walking by stopped to stare at the weird foreigner.

She had to agree with all of them. What in the world was he talking about? What did he mean by holding her head high? Why did he care? She jumped slightly as he grabbed her arm and his face got dangerously close to hers. Was he going to kiss her again? Was she going to have to scream and kick him where it hurts?

"Gilgamesh."

"Huh?"

He released her and backed up a couple of inches. Not by much but it gave Hakuno room to breathe and think. "My name. Gilgamesh."

Gilgamesh? What kind of name was-wait! Hakuno’s eyes widen. The half-god, half-human king of Uruk!? No way! She backed up a couple of steps out of fear. He was a Servant! That explained the weird inhuman feeling she got from him. What was he though? The only Masters he could have would either be Leo or Julius. A Saber or an Assassin. She couldn't tell. She couldn't tell what he was.

"Stop staring at me with those huge doe-eyes!" he snapped.

She winced. It did spurn her thoughts into action though. If he was a Servant of Leo or Julius, why didn't he try to kill her? Heck, why did he even approach her? Why did he kiss her!? "Who…" she whispered. "Whose your Master? Is it Leo? Julius?"

Surprise flashed across Gilgamesh's face but it was quickly replaced with a smug look. "You think those weaklings could contain my power? You know better than that."

She should know? What was he talking about? However this did tell her that he was not one of the Servants involved in the War. Then who was he? Hang on…why did she trust that he was telling the truth? She wanted to go with the assumption that he was lying but she just…couldn't. Her brain was telling her it was impossible to doubt him. What was going on?

Gilgamesh sighed. "I thought that saying my name would be able to jog your memory but it looks like that didn't work." He grabbed her arm again and pulled her close to him and his other arm was around her waist to hold her in place.

"W…what are you doing!?" Her eyes looked around for an escape. People had stopped to stare at the two of them. Ack! They were making a scene in the middle of the street! Wait. Why was that important!?

"Maybe the commoner needs something a little more intense to turn into the queen."

Oh no. Gilgamesh's face was closing in. Ack! He was going to kiss her again! No way. No way. This was not going to happen again! They were in public too! People were watching! Her thoughts ran back to earlier today when she had head-butted Archer. She couldn't remember it hurting at all and she hadn't even gotten a bump out of it.

She leaned her head back as far as she could and slammed it against Gilgamesh's. Stars dotted her vision and pain ripped through her skull. "That hurt!" she cried, putting her hands over the aching spot. How did she do this before with no pain!? In surprise Gilgamesh had released her and he was clutching his own head. She opened her magic circuits and used her powers to lessen the throbbing pain so she could be ready for whatever Gilgamesh did next.

"You were always feisty," he said with a chuckle as he rubbed the spot. She was happy to note that it was really red. He was going to get a bump out of this. "Looks like we attracted an audience." He grinned at the people who were staring and whispering among themselves. "I guess that's all I can do today. I'll see you again soon Hakuno." He turned to walk away but he paused and turned back to her. "Before I go…" He was next to her before she could react and he lightly kissed her forehead on the spot that was starting to bruise "You need to be more careful. It would be a shame if you got a scar."

She stared in shock as he disappeared into the crowd. Legs shaking, she walked over to the railing and rested against it once his golden hair was out of sight. What in the world was that?

Someone came up to her and asked if she was alright and she shook the concern away. She was fine. Just confused. So very confused.

Hakuno gently touched her forehead. Ugh. She could feel a bump beginning to form. She would try to heal that but she didn't know how much of her prana that would take and she did not want to risk having to resort to Archer carrying her home because she felt dizzy.

"Gilgamesh…" she whispered, trying to jog her mind. He said she knew who he was but she still had no idea who he was. What was he to her? Hang on! What was she thinking? She shook her head. Why was she worried about that pervert!? Again he had done something weird. But at the same time…she knew he didn't do it out of malice. She pressed a hand to her face and shut her eyes as she thought about it. Even though Gilgamesh was acting like a pervert and was so forward and was a Servant that could kill her without a second thought…she trusted him. She lifted her head in shock at the revelation. She trusted Gilgamesh. How? How was that possible?

This feeling…it was exactly like how she felt when she had first met Archer. "What in the world is going on here?" Now she really wished she could talk to Rin. Rin would know what was going on. And she might be able to tell Hakuno how there could be an eight Servant when the Grail War was supposed to only have seven.

"Wow. I think this is the first time you've actually stayed in one place."

She looked up in surprise. Archer was carrying a lot of shopping bags filled with so many ingredients that it looked like he was getting ready to cook for a huge party instead of for one girl. "Oh, hi."

"Master, those housewives were cruel and vicious. I would rather face down Servants than fight them again-hang on." Archer reached out and carefully moved her bangs. "What in the world did you do? Trip and fall? That's a huge bump."

She could feel heat rise to her face. She wasn't sure if it was from Archer's touch or from the memory of Gilgamesh kissing her there. "It's nothing!" she said quickly. She backed up a step and covered the spot with a hand.

She thought she saw hurt flash across Archer's face but he straightened and pulled her wallet out of his pocket and handed it back to her. "I got enough to last for another week and a half."

"Great." She pocketed her wallet. "Shall we go?" she asked as she began walking in the direction of home. It would be great to get away from the crowds. Maybe then she could clear her head and try to figure out what in the world was happening to her.

"Master," began Archer. "Did something happen?"

She shook her head. "No. Nothing happened." After the words left her mouth, her eyes widen slightly and she began walking faster so Archer could not see her face. Why did she just lie to him? Heck, why was she so hesitant to tell him about Gilgamesh? That was important wasn't it? He was a Servant but not one that was in the War! And I trust him on top of everything else… What was going on with her?

***

Archer knew something was wrong.

When he had walked out of the supermarket she was deep in thought and from her body language he read that she was worried about something. Then there was that mysterious bump on her forehead. Also she had quickly denied that something had not happened.

Was someone threatening her? There was no way that someone could have hit her on the busy street. There were too many witnesses around that it would have caused a commotion. Then…how did she get that? "You know you can trust me right," he said quietly.

Hakuno winced. "Yeah…I know that…" Nothing. No explanation.

The rest of the walk home reminded Archer of this afternoon after the first meeting with Caster. What could have happened in the short time he was inside the supermarket?

Once they reached her house, she silently opened the door and walked inside. She held out her hands to take some of the bags. "I can put stuff away." She was not looking at him again.

He handed her a couple of bags and she disappeared into the kitchen. He followed her and began putting groceries away as well. Every now and then he would stop her from putting something away since he was going to use it for tonight's dinner.

When they were done Hakuno put her arms behind her back. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I'm still trying to figure out stuff myself so…"

It was worrying her? "Well, I'll be here when you want to tell me." He gave her a small smile.

"Thank you Archer." It seemed like a weight had lifted off her shoulders as she looked up and smiled back at him.

"It's nothing bad though right?"

"I…I'm not sure." She bit her lip and shook her head. "No. It's not bad…I think." She gently touched the bump on her head. "This one is my fault." She seemed like she wanted to say more but she stopped herself. From the way it started to shrink she was using her magic on it. Once it was gone, she sighed and put her hand down. "I'm sorry Archer but I…I just…can't…"

He couldn't stand to see her look so miserable. Without even thinking he put an arm around her and pulled her into a hug. "As long as you don't get hurt I can wait."

"Thanks Archer…" she gave him a quick hug back before she stepped away. “Do you need any help?"

Archer waved her away. "Don't worry about it. It'll be faster if I…" He paused when he saw her face fall slightly. Oh well. He pointed to the vegetables. "If you are sure you can hold a knife without cutting yourself, you can prep."

"I can hold a knife without cutting myself, thank you very much!" she huffed but she was grinning to show she was not mad. "I managed just fine before you decided to take over the kitchen." She grabbed the apron off the hook and tied it around herself. "Oh wait. Hang on." She ran over to the pantry and pulled another apron from a stack and threw it at Archer.

He unfolded it and stared at the weird streaky colors that covered the whole apron. It looked like a child had just taken a paintbrush and just threw paint on it in every color possible.

"That's the best one we have." She gestured to the others in the pantry. "My aunt likes to get the weird ones from her travels. Trust me. That's the tamest one she brought back."

He didn't doubt her words. He silently put the apron on. "Time to get started Master."

***

Hakuno took a bite of the fried chicken. Dang! Archer could cook. No matter how many times she had it, she was still impressed that a grumpy guy like him could make such good food. "You really need to teach me how you can cook four things at the same time," she said in between bites.

Archer shrugged. "It's not that hard."

She blinked slowly and shrugged. "Seriously though…" She pointed to the spot across from her. "Why don't you eat something too? It's…unnerving to have you stand there and just watch me."

Archer shook his head. "Master. It's fine. I don't need to-"

"Don't make me use a command seal to make you eat.”

"You wouldn't. That would be a waste of-"

She lifted up her left hand. "Archer. I use my command-"

"Alright, alright!" he said. "You would get really hung up and use a command seal on something like this. Let me go get a place setting…"

She grinned to herself. A small victory but it was something. He was so impressive in the kitchen, like a professional chef. She felt bad for all of the times she had eaten by herself in the past. It seemed like such a waste for him do all that work just for her to eat it. Her smile slipped slightly as she thought of what happened in the kitchen before they had begun cooking. The mystery of Gilgamesh. Archer had understood her hesitance to speak about it, thankfully. However she still felt bad for keeping it from him. I'll tell him after I talk to Rin.

For now though, she smiled at Archer who returned with a place setting for himself, it would remain her little secret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hakuno was floating in darkness.

She looked around searching for any light, anything that could tell her where she was. Where was that girl? The girl that looked exactly like her?

"Hello?" she called into the darkness. No response. She wasn't even sure if her voice had carried in this place at all. She tried swimming forward again but with no context of whether she was moving or not she didn't know if she was actually moving or just looked like an idiot.

She did not know how long she swam (or attempted to swim). The darkness around her was unchanging. "Hello?" she called again.

No response.

She sighed. Now what? There was nothing here. What was there to do?

"I'm sorry."

Hakuno startled and turned around. It was that girl again. The girl that looked exactly like her. The tattoos that covered her body seemed to be a little bit lighter than last time. Finding her voice, Hakuno asked, "Sorry for what? Where are we by the way?"

The girl shook her head and sighed. "I'm just too selfish for my own good…"

Did she hear a word Hakuno said? "Hang on. What are you talking about?"

The girl looked up at Hakuno in surprise. "What are you still doing here? This is no place for you." She waved Hakuno away with a tattooed hand. "I told you, it is not time for you to be here yet. There is still much to be done." She looked around at the darkness that surrounded both of them. "So much work to be done…"

"But that doesn't tell me anything!" cried Hakuno. "Why…why do you look like me? Where are we? And what do you mean by 'you're sorry'? Sorry for what?"

The girl shook her head again. "It is not time for me to explain yet. Don't worry Hakuno. You will know in time." Her eyes narrowed and she looked behind her like she heard something. She sighed and turned back to Hakuno. "Well, I have work to do. Go on. Return to where you belong."

***

Hakuno woke with a start.

That dream again.

She looked up at the ceiling of her bedroom and tried to process what in the world had just happened. Again she had dreamt of the girl that looked exactly like her. Maybe she should discuss that girl with Rin? No. The girl had said to keep it a secret for now and weirdly enough, Hakuno wanted to keep it that way as well.

"I'm going to explode from all of the secrets I'm keeping," she muttered. She turned to check the clock by her bed and saw that she still had a couple more hours to sleep.

She turned over in her bed and shut her eyes. With the War going on she was going to get as much sleep as possible.

***

Hakuno's eyes shot open and tears pricked the edge of her eyes. Her breath was ragged as the flames that raged her dream began to subside. She slowly sat up in bed and pulled her knees to her chest and rested her head on them. She tried to pull remnants of the dream to her but all she could remember were the flames and the heat. And an overbearing sense of fear and sorrow.

"It's more vivid," she murmured. The fear and sorrow were new. What did that mean? Nothing. She could remember nothing else from the dream.

Knowing there was no point in thinking about it; she pushed the covers off of her and got up. It was already nine so there was no point in staying in bed. There was much to get done today.

After calling Rin(no answer again) Hakuno went through her daily morning routine before heading downstairs. She was not surprised to see breakfast on the table. She grinned when she saw the two place settings.

She stuck her head through the kitchen doorway. "Morning!"

Archer looked back at her from the sink. No matter how many times she saw it, it was really funny seeing her tall, manly Servant in an apron. "You can sit down. I'm almost done here." He set the plate he had just finished washing on the drying rack.

"Okay." Hakuno returned to the table and sat down at her usual spot. She waited for Archer to join her before she began eating. They ate in silence for about two minutes before she could not take it anymore. "So," she started.

"So?" repeated Archer.

"Caster," She tried again. Couldn't he see that she was trying to make conversation? "Are we going after her today?"

"If you are up for it. It would be a good idea to go after them since they are probably not expecting an attack after what happened yesterday."

"Who is Caster anyway? She's not Alice from Wonderland right?"

Archer shook his head. "She's the embodiment of nursery rhymes. She just took on the form of Alice, her Master, in this War."

Nursery rhymes? Wow. Hakuno was not expecting that one. "That's such an unique Servant. I'm jealous." She sighed loudly. She watched Archer expectantly. Was he going to challenge her? Was he going to make a comment of how unique he was?

He didn't seem to hear her as he just kept eating silently. Wait. There was a small smile on his face. She grumbled to herself as she continued to eat. "Am I ever going to get any information about you?" she muttered under her breath.

"Master, if you keep talking like that, I'm going to tell you nothing."

Ack! He heard her. He watched her in amusement so she knew he wasn't mad by her gibe. "Well I don't believe you," she huffed. To prove her point, she aggressively ate some rice.

"Alright then Master. I guess you don't want to know after all." She glared at him and he chuckled in response. "Don't worry. I'll tell you soon, I promise."

She munched on rice in protest. When she swallowed, she held out her pinky finger. "Swear on it. Swear that you will tell me soon. Within the week!"

"Master that's just…." Archer sighed. Hakuno mentally patted herself on the back. Oh yeah! This was perfect! A little childish but it was the thought behind it that counts. He linked his pinkie with hers. "I promise to tell you soon about myself-with the week of course. If I don't, may I swallow a thousand needles if I lie."

Satisfied now, she returned to eating breakfast. No matter what, she was going to get it out of him who he was. However, she didn't get to eat much as she sensed a sudden surge of mana.

Archer's eyes narrowed and he got up from the table and headed for the door, breakfast now forgotten.

"Hang on Archer! What's going on?" She grabbed the leftover food and raced to the kitchen to throw it into the fridge.

"It's a Servant battle…" He looked back at her in surprise. "Wait. You felt it?"

She nodded. Wait. Did she just figure out how to do something that she didn't know how to do before? How did that happen? "We're going to check it out?" She grinned when she saw Archer give her another surprised look. Oh yeah! She was being a bundle of surprised today. "We could get some information about whoever fighting."

"That is the smartest thing you've ever said," chuckled Archer.

"What does that mean?" She puffed out her cheeks and looked away. Stupid Archer. She said smart things before! She just didn't do them…

"Well, let's get going then Master. We need to hurry to get there before the fight is over."

Her heart rose to her throat. She had a feeling what this meant. "You are going to carry me aren't you?"

***

"Oh sweet ground. How I love you so!"

"Master. You are embarrassing yourself. Please get up."

Hakuno looked up at her Servant. "Oh hush Archer." She got up and dusted her knees off. "Why couldn't I have a Rider class Servant?" She shook her head. "At least I can ride in style and not in fear. I'm joking," she added quickly.

Archer waved her concern away and gestured for her to follow him. They were in the abandoned section of the harbor. They were on top of a warehouse building and the battle was raging on the ground below. While Archer walked over to the edge without fear, Hakuno dropped on all fours and slowly crept forward until she could see the ground below.

It was Berserker and Rani against Alice and Caster. Wait. What in the world was that? Berserker was not fighting little Caster but a huge red human-like beast. Odd blue lines covered its skin except for the face which had soul-less yellow-white eyes.

"Jabberwocky," Archer stated grimly.

Jabberwocky? She ran through her knowledge of Alice in Wonderland. "The beast from the poem that could only be defeated by the vorpal blade?"

"Yes. That one. Caster summoned it. Smart move to use against Berserker but she is going to lose at this rate." Archer was watching the battle with arms crossed.

She turned her attention to the fight and had to agree with Archer. The Jabberwocky was powerful. It was taking hits from Berserker's lance left and right with no problem. However at the same time it looked like it was unable to throw many punches or fight back well against the other Servant.

It was like watching a car crash happening right in front of her. Hiakuno wanted to look away but she just couldn't. The Jabberwocky was getting slower and slower. She could hear, no she could feel the panic radiating off of Alice. The little girl backed up a few steps like she had realized what was happening. Caster was holding her ground as a barrier between Alice and the fight but once the Jabberwocky fell, Hakuno knew that Caster would not be able to fight against such a monster.

"What will…" she gulped. "What will happen to Alice once Berserker breaks through?" The look on Archer's face told her everything. Her eyes widen and she looked down at the frightened little girl. Even though Alice was her enemy and had trapped Hakuno in the Nameless Forest the day before, she was still just a little girl. She didn't deserve to have her life snuffed out now!

Archer sighed and patted her on the head. "Alright, alright. Stop making that face. Let's go help her."

"Wait really?" Why was Archer being so compliant today? She really thought he would complain for a bit about how stupid she was and then do it.

"Do you want me to change my mind?" Archer summoned his bow along with a sword with a spiral blade. "Tell Alice to have the Jabberwocky protect her and Caster."

"Right." Hakuno sucked in a deep breath and yelled at the top of her lungs. "HEY ALICE! GET JABBERWOCKY TO PROTECT YOU OKAY?"

"I thought my eardrums were going to explode. How can you yell so loud?"

She turned her nose up and held her head high. "Well, I am a girl with many talents. That talent has helped my class win the cheer portion of the sports festival!"

"I wouldn't exactly call that a talent…"

Archer shook his head and notched the spiral sword on the bow. Caster stared at Hakuno for a few moments and then made a hand motion and the Jabberwocky lumbered over to the two small girls and huddled over them protectively.

"What is the meaning of this?" Rani looked up at Archer and Hakuno in confusion. Berserker had turned his attention away from the Jabberwocky and roared. It looked like he didn't like the interruption as much as Rani did.

"I am the bone of my sword," Archer chanted as he drew back the spiral sword. "Caladbolg!" He released the sword-arrow at the monstrous Servant. It flew through the air at an improbable speed for something that was fired out of a bow. Berserker roared and swung his huge lance to try to intercept the sword.

Everything happened so fast. Hakuno wasn't sure if the lance had connected with the sword-arrow or if the sword-arrow had passed through but a huge explosion rocked the area. She flailed a bit and grabbed Archer's leg to prevent her from tumbling off of the warehouse roof from the shockwave of the blast.

After what seemed like an eternity, the smoke and dust in the area cleared and Hakuno saw that Berserker and Rani were gone. She guessed they had escaped somehow. Alice and Caster were sitting on the ground looking up at Hakuno and Archer. The Jabberwocky was gone, probably destroyed from being in such close proximity of the explosion.

"Master. If you want to get down there to speak to Caster and Alice, you should let go of my leg."

"Oh!" She released Archer's leg from her death grip before backing up a couple steps so she could stand without having to worry that a breeze would push her forward and make her fall to the ground with a splat.

Before she could take a breath, Archer had swept her off of her feet and jumped down to the ground with his Master in his arms.

She would have complained about it but Caster had gotten up and stood like a barrier between Hakuno and her Master. "Why did you help us?" Casted asked.

"Because Berserker was going to kill you!" replied Hakuno. "Well, kill Alice…"

"Nee-san, you tried to save me?" The little girl glanced fearfully at Archer. "It is the mean Nii-san. He ruined our tea party last time."

"Don't worry," Hakuno took a step towards Alice with her palms out so she seemed less threatening. "Archer here won't do anything. I won't let him. I'm his Master so he has to listen to me no matter what!"

"Master…" began Archer under his breath.

"Shhh," Hakuno quickly said back in the same low tone. She raised her voice so Alice could hear and gave the girl a gentle smile. "I don't want to hurt you Alice. I thought…I thought we could be friends!"

"Friends, Nee-san?" Alice's purple eyes lit up.

"No Alice. You mustn't listen to her!" said Caster. The Servant glared at Hakuno with mistrust.

Caster's mistrust did make sense but this was no time for this! Hakuno knew that the explosion was going to attract attention and it was best if they were out of here by then. "If I wanted to take you out, I would have done it already!" she pointed out. "Your Jabberwocky is gone, your prana is spent and you are a sitting duck right now." She lowered her voice and added softly. "But I'm not going to."

"Believe my Master," spoke Archer. "She's an idiot but she means what she says." He shrugged. "If I did try anything she would use a command seal to stop me."

Hakunos silently thanked Archer. Caster seemed a bit unsure and Alice got her feet. "I think Alice should trust Nee-san!"

"Alice…" Caster sighed and stepped back. She shot one last glare at Hakuno. "If anything happens to Alice…"

Threat taken. Hakuno walked over to the little girl and held out a hand. "Why don't we get out of here Alice?"

***

"Look at that hippo!"

Archer had to face palm as his Master ran over to the hippo exhibit while bouncing around like a little kid. After they had left the warehouse area (Caster had casted a spell to make them invisible so it was easy to walk past the warehouse workers that were running to the scene) Hakuno had decided the best thing for them to do was to go to the zoo. Her reasoning had been something about a little kid loving animals but Archer had a feeling that Hakuno just wanted to go to the zoo herself.

"That hippo is huge Nee-san!" agreed Alice.

It was like watching two little kids during their first trip to the zoo!

"What is she trying to do?" Caster crossed her arms as she watched the two Masters run to the elephant exhibit and they both began mimicking the huge creature.

"She just wants to be friends with Alice," explained Archer. He had switched into casual clothes but Caster was still in the frilly dress and was drawing the attention of some of the passersby. "Although I think she is more of a kid than Alice is…"

"I have to agree with you." A tiny smile crossed Caster's face. "She is a very unique Master isn't she?"

Archer had to nod and smile at that. "Indeed she is." Why did it feel like him and Caster were the parents to two children? That was an interesting thought…

"Archer! Archer! They have crepes!" Hakuno ran over with sparkly eyes and the biggest crepe ever. It was covered in every possible thing a crepe could have and then some. Heck, it would be easier to list what wasn't in it. Alice was a couple steps behind her with a simple chocolate-covered crepe.

"You are such a little kid." Archer flicked her on the forehead once she was in range.

"Gah!" She jumped back a few steps. "What was that for!?" She rubbed the spot on her forehead but quickly stopped when her crepe started dangerously tipping over from all of the stuff in it.

Archer shrugged. "I just felt like it?"

She puffed out her cheeks and huffed. "Well then. I'm not sharing my crepe with you!"

"You were going to?" What a difficult Master he had. Although she was adorable when she was pretending to be mad at him... "Are you even going to be able to finish that?" The crepe was bigger than her head!

"Of course I can! Don't doubt the amount of dessert I can fit into my stomach!"

"That's amazing Nee-san!"

"Please don't follow her example Alice." Caster rolled her eyes.

"You guys all stink!" Hakuno pouted. "Fine then! Alice and I are going to go look at animals by ourselves with our amazing crepes! You two can stay here and be party poopers! Come on Alice!" Hakuno led the way to the lions' exhibit where she promptly started trying to communicate with one by making weird cat noises. Alice giggled and mimicked Hakuno weird sounds.

"I have to thank your Master," Caster said as Hakuno and Alice went to see the flamingos next. "Alice is smiling now. A real genuine smile. I didn't think she would ever show that during the War."

"Hakuno just brings that out in people," Archer replied as the two Servants followed their Masters as they went from exhibit to exhibit. He remembered the week against Alice in the Moon Cell. Even though Alice was her enemy, Moon Cell Hakuno never wanted to hurt her. Would this kind of thing have happened if she had been able to become friends with Alice without the worry that she would need to kill the little girl at the end of the week? Maybe.

"I think she brings out much more than that in some."

Archer glanced down at Caster who was staring up at him with a knowing look. He could feel his face heating up and he looked away from Caster. "It is nothing like that."

Caster shrugged. "If you say so. Based on what you did to break her free from the Nameless Forest though I think otherwise."

She saw!? Archer groaned. It was bad enough just remembering what he did. "Please don't tell me Alice saw too…"

"No, I just watched using my magic. Alice is too young to see that sort of thing." Archer so wished that Alice and Caster were doing the creepy twin thing they did in the Moon Cell right now. This version of Caster was way too perceptive.

Before Archer could respond, Hakuno and Alice walked back to their Servants. "You ate the whole crepe…" Archer said slowly.

His Master nodded and lifted up the final piece of her monstrous crepe like it was a prize. "The final bite!"

"Don't blame me if you get sick later."

She ignored Archer and ate the last piece. Alice clapped. "Wow Nee-san! You are really amazing! Alice is so impressed!"

"Thank you! Thank you!" Hakuno bowed a couple of times before throwing kisses everywhere. "I could not have done it today with the help of dear Alice-OW!" Archer flicked Hakuno's forehead before she could continue her ridiculous speech. Alice laughed and even Caster cracked a smile.

"Well, we should get going." Caster walked over to her Master. "It's getting late Alice."

Alice frowned. "But…but I want to spend more time with Nee-san…"

"We can meet up tomorrow!" Hakuno said quickly. She thought for a moment. "How about in the park near that picnic table? Where uh…the Nameless Forest thing happened." She glanced over at Archer and looked away, probably thinking the same thing he was.

"Yeah! We can meet there! Can Alice meet Nee-san tomorrow?"

Caster nodded. "Sure. Alice can meet Nee-san tomorrow."

Alice grinned and turned back to Hakuno. "See you tomorrow Nee-san!"

"Yup! See you tomorrow! Bye Alice! Bye Caster!" Alice and Caster headed for the bathroom. Archer figured Caster had recovered enough prana to just teleport them both out of there. Hakuno didn't stop waving until the Servant and Master were out of sight.

She sighed and dropped her hand. The cheerful disposition she had during the whole zoo trip was gone. "Was that the right thing to do Archer? Alice is such a cute little girl. For her to be involved with a War like this…I did try to see if she would tell me anything but she wouldn't. I have no idea why a little girl like her would want to be involved in such a bloody War. Plus even if I'm friendly with her now…"

"Don't worry." Archer patted Hakuno on the head. "You did good Master. Don't worry about defeating Caster for now. We still have common enemies, such as Berserker. We'll focus on defeating them first."

Hakuno nodded. "Okay…" She forced herself to smile. "So shall we go home Archer?"

"Yes. Let's go. I do have to say that your childish excitement when you were taking Alice around was very well acted out."

She winced and looked away. "Ummm…that was not acting…"

Archer stopped walking and just stared at her for a couple of seconds before he shook his head with a small smile. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Huh? What does that mean!?"

Archer didn't respond as he began walking to the zoo's exit.

Chapter Text

Hakuno jumped out of Archer's arms before he could gently put her on the ground. "Come on Archer!" she said with a laugh.

"Why can't you be like this more often? I like this version of Hakuno much better than the one that cries when I carry her."

She puffed out her cheeks and glared at her Servant. It was not her fault that she was so excited. She was going to be hanging out with Alice again today! It was a cause for celebration! That little girl was so cute. Other than hanging out with her like an older sister, she wanted to see if she could get Alice to formally ally herself with Hakuno in the War for now. So it wasn't all play! It was business too!

"Come on Archer! She's waiting for us!" Hakuno ran towards the picnic table. She didn't get very far as Archer grabbed her shoulder and held her back. She turned back to complain but the expression on his face stopped her. "What is it?" she whispered under her breath.

"It's too quiet."

Archer was right. There were no birds singing in the tree branches and after a quick look around the park, she realized that they were the only two people there. What was going on? Her eyes scanned the area around them but she couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. She was about to ask Archer what to do when a scream tore through the air. Alice's scream.

"Alice!" Hakuno ran in the direction of the sound.

"Idiot!" Archer, with his longer legs, quickly overtook her so he was running in front. "Stay behind me!" he ordered.

The Master and Servant reached the picnic table from a couple of days ago and Hakuno's eyes widen in shock and she tried to suppress her own scream. Caster was lying on the ground covered in her own blood. She flew through the air like something had hit her but Hakuno did not see anything there. Near the broken Caster stood the cold assassin of the Harwey family. Julius. Alice was hanging like a rag doll from the death grip he had on her throat. His cold eyes turned to Hakuno and Archer and he dropped the girl on the ground like a broken doll.

"Alice!" screamed Hakuno. She wasn't moving! Alice was not moving!

Archer held out an arm to prevent her from running to the young girl's aid.

"How surprising to see you here." Julius's voice was cold like his eyes. "I remember you were with Rin Tohsaka before. You don't have any presence and yet here you are, as the seventh Master."

She felt her blood run cold as Julius stared at her. Her breath came out in short gasps and it seemed like the world fell away around her. The only thing that she could focus on was Julius's cruel cold face. He was going to kill her! There was no doubt about it.

"Master. Stay calm." Archer's voice tore through the fear she felt. The calm, level voice of her Servant did relax Hakuno slightly. At least she didn't feel like death was going to get her at any second now. Now in control of her body, she turned to check on Caster. A small cry escaped her mouth. Caster was fading away. No!

"Take…take care of Alice for me…" she whispered, her purple eyes locking on Hakuno's. "Please…" The little Servant closed her eyes as her body disappeared.

"Caster!" She could not believe it. Yesterday she had saved Caster and Alice and today…today… No. No. She clenched her hands into fists. She had to save Alice! Even if it pushed her to the brink of her powers, she will save Alice!

"And yet you do not back down despite seeing what I can do." Julius turned his full attention on Hakuno. "May I have your name?"

"Hakuno," she said cautiously but defiantly. Why did her name matter? "Hakuno Kishinami."

Something flashed across Julius's face. Was that recognition? The assassin's eyes narrowed. "Assassin."

She heard laughing. Where it was coming from she was not sure. Wait. Was Assassin invisible!? No way! How was that possible? He couldn't be in spirit form since he had hurt Caster. How?

"Assassin, your real name is Li Shuwen. Master of the Demon Fist." Archer smiled slightly as Julius's eyes widen slightly in shock. "You're using chi to block your presence right now." He looked calm but Hakuno could tell by the way he was looking around that he was searching for the Servant.

The laugh came again. "I am surprised that you were able to guess correctly. Of course how will that help you?" Hakuno felt a presence behind her. She whirled around just as Archer sliced downwards right next to her with his black sword. Had Archer hit him?

"Missed," snapped Archer.

"I am surprised by how you came by that knowledge but your life will end here," said Julius. "Assassin. Take care of them."

Hakuno heard the laughter again. She whipped her head around to try to find the source but could not place it. Where in the world was that laughter coming from!? She felt a presence next to her along with a swish in the air. Time seemed to slow. Archer moved to counter the attack however even Hakuno knew that he would not be able to make it in time.

Suddenly the presence near Hakuno was gone as black hazy orbs exploded in a circle around Master and Servant.

"Now, why are you getting ahead of yourself Julius Harwey?"

Hakuno knew that voice. She turned to it and her eyes lit up. "Rin!"

Rin gave her friend a smile before she turned her attention back to Julius. Lancer was right behind her with his red lance at the ready.

"Now Julius. Do you expect you can take on two Masters at once?" She threw her hair over her shoulder. "Or do you want to check up on your little brother?"

Julius glared at Rin with those cruel eyes for a few moments before he turned away. "We're going Assassin."

Hakuno didn't move until she saw Archer relax. Then she ran over to Alice and kneeled by the little girl. Alice looked so broken just lying there. There didn't seem to be any external injuries except for a couple of cuts and bruises but her abdomen looked funny and warped. She put her hands over the area and forced her magic circuits to begin to heal the girl.

Tears stained Alice's face as she looked up at Hakuno. "Nee-san…" she whispered in a terribly soft voice. "It hurts…Nee-san."

"You'll be fine Alice," Hakuno focused on trying to heal as many of Alice's internal injuries as possible. She needed to push! She forced her prana out faster. She needed to heal quicker! She could not let Alice die. "You're going to be fine. You are! I swear it!"

Rin walked over to Hakuno with her cell phone in hand. "I called a hospital. They are going to bring an ambulance over."

"Nee-san….where's Alice? Alice was over there…" Her eyes shifted to the spot where Caster had fallen before. "Where…where is Alice?"

"Alice…Alice had to go far away."

"She did? She didn't…even…get to…" Alice's words slurred as her eyes closed.

"Don't worry Alice. I have you. I won't let you die…" Hakuno said grimly. She knew she had taken Alice out of the worse of it. At least she would be stable when she was taken to the hospital.

"Hakuno, we need to go." Rin bent down and tugged her friend’s arm when the sound of sirens could be heard. "Let the hospital take care of her. We don't have time to get asked questions right now."

She stared up at her friend in shock. "Rin, I can't just leave Alice here! She…"

"Master. She'll be fine," said Archer. "Your magecraft took care of that. She will not die. However we can't afford to be questioned for what happened to her. How would you explain it?"

She bit her lip. She knew they were right but how could she just leave Alice here? She got to her feet and swayed slightly. The sound of sirens was close now. No doubt the ambulance people would be coming to look for her. "I'm sorry Alice," she whispered.

"I'll hang out here and make sure they find her," offered Lancer.

"Thank you Lancer." Hakuno gave him a small smile.

"Just smile for me more often as thanks," replied Lancer before he went into spirit form.

"Let's go," said Rin.

"I'll carry you Master."

Hakuno silently nodded as Archer picked her up. She was feeling really dizzy from the amount of prana she had used so she knew it would be pointless to protest. "I'm sorry Alice," she whispered as she looked back at the girl lying in the grass. Anyone looking on would think it was just a little doll lying there. "Hopefully you have a nice dream."

***

Archer gently set Hakuno on the couch before taking a seat in the winged chair. After they had left the park, they had decided to go back to Rin's place in order to catch up and discuss what had been going on for the past couple of days.

Rin walked into the room with a tray of cookies and tea. She set a setting down for each of them and also one for Lancer before she sat down next to Hakuno.

"Don't worry. Alice will be fine." Rin patted Hakuno on the back. "You healed her enough and now just let the doctors take care of her."

Hakuno nodded but Archer could tell she wasn't too happy with leaving Alice behind. "I know…but…I just…left her there…if we had gotten there sooner…" She shook her head and gave Rin a small smile. "I need to stop overthinking this don't I?"

"Yes you do." Lancer appeared and sat down on the other couch and took a cookie. "The EMT got her and they are taking her to the hospital now. She'll be fine." He grinned at Hakuno. "You did a really good job at healing her."

Archer really wanted to punch Lancer but he resisted the urge to. Hakuno on the other hand just smiled. "That's good. I'm glad she's going to be okay…" She sighed in relief. "Thank goodness."

Rin clapped her hands. "Alright. Now that we had some good news, let's catch up with we've been up to."

"What happened to you Rin? I've been really worried…"

Rin crossed her arms and leaned back on the couch. "Lancer and I got into a tussle with Leo and his Servant." She bit her nail angrily. "That guy. He is so certain he would win. He calls his Servant by his true name, Gaiwan."

Of course. "You fought him in the daytime didn't you?" asked Archer.

Rin nodded angrily. "Yeah. We couldn't land a hit on him."

"I don't know what that guy had around him but my lance couldn't even penetrate that armor of his at all." Lancer shook his head. "I even tried using my Noble Phantasm but it didn't even reach him."

"But then what did you do?" Hakuno leaned forward slightly, her eyes wide.

"We had to run." Rin gritted her teeth. "Leo followed us for a while but we managed to get away and we've been hiding out for a day to rest and recover." She sent Hakuno an apologetic look. "My phone died so I was unable to call you and tell you what was going on. I'm sorry. I saw how many times you called me."

"At least you're okay.”

"Hey Master. Don't forget that other thing." Lancer grabbed a cookie.

"Oh right." Rin reached into her pocket and pulled out two folded fancy sheets of paper and put them on the table. "Before Leo fought me, he gave me these." Hakuno picked one up and opened it. "They're invitations to a fancy dinner-ball the Harwey family is hosting." She shook her head. "Apparently it is going to be a gathering of all of the big named magus households."

"And we're going to be attending," Lancer said with a grin. "With my Master being a member of the Tohsaka household."

"You should come too Hakuno." Rin pointed to the invitation. "That one is for you." She gritted her teeth. "Leo seemed to know that you are the seventh Master, or he had the feeling that you might be."

"There's no way I could do a fancy party! I'm not fancy party material. I have two left feet!" She shook her head and put the invitation down on the table. Realizing something, she looked up at Rin. "You don't think this is a trap right?"

Rin shook her head. "I don't know. I know that the party is going to be happening but I don't know if Leo is up to something or not. I think it is more of less going to be a way for the Harwey family to get more influence." She gave Hakuno a gentle smile. "If you don't want to go…"

"No, no. I will go. There's no way I can leave you alone there Rin." She nodded. "I promise to not embarrass you much!"

Rin grinned and gave Hakuno a quick hug. "Don't worry about your dress. I'll take care of that." She looked at Archer. "And something for him too."

"What?" Archer stared back at Rin. "Wait…I'm going too?"

"Hakuno needs to bring a date. She is going to a fancy ball," Lancer pointed out. He grinned. "Although…if you don't want to go…" He gave her a happy smile. "If Archer doesn't want to take you-"

"I'll go with you Master." Archer crossed his arms and glared at Lancer. He couldn't wait till the moment where he could fight the dog.

"Uh thanks Archer," Hakuno said softly. She shifted her hair behind her ear and a small smile lit up her face.

Rin sighed "Anyway. The party is going to be in three days so we have time to figure out what we are doing for that. What have you been up to?"

Taking that prompt, Hakuno went through a quick rundown of the events that happened in the past two days. Archer noticed that she quickly glossed over the events during the Nameless Forest. It was for the better…for both of them.

"Wow…" Rin leaned back in her chair. "You've had a busy couple of days. I'm sorry for Alice. I didn't know you had gotten close to her like that."

"It's okay. At least…at least she's okay. And now she isn't in danger anymore." Her eyes widen. "She isn't in danger anymore right?"

Rin hesitated for a moment and nodded. "Yes. I…I will get Kirei to protect her."

Archer had to admit, he was surprised that Rin would lie about how much danger Alice was still in. She was still a Master who could still get a Servant if any of the remaining Masters were killed and their Servant was still around. And he doubted that Kirei would go out of his way to protect the little girl. At least it gave Hakuno a peace of mind.

"That's good," Hakuno’s expression turned serious. "How are we going to take care of Julius? His Servant is invisible and how are we going to fight him?"

"So?" Rin turned to Archer. "You seemed to know exactly who Assassin was. Any tips with this knowledge you have?"

Archer crossed his arms. He needed to be careful here. "You heard everything I said, that's all I know." Oh wait. He leaned forward. "There's also one more thing." He glanced over at Hakuno. His Master was watching him curiously. Oh boy. He turned his focus to Rin. "Assassin, Li Shwen, also has the ability to sever and mess up the magic circuit connection between Master and Servant. So be careful to not get hit by him." He directed the last comment to Lancer.

Lancer whistled. "That is a handy ability."

"But what can you do if you do get hit by him?" Hakuno brought up. "Is there a way to re-connect the circuits?"

Oh boy. Archer had a feeling that she would have no idea.

"You just need to perform the ritual to reconnect the magic circuits," Rin said quickly.

"Ritual?" Hakuno innocently tilted her head to the side. Archer had to look away from her questioning look she gave him. She was so innocent! "You mean like k…kissing?" she squeaked.

"Ohhh man," Lancer laughed.

"Hakuno…no. It's not…well it kind of is…well…" Rin sighed and gestured for Hakuno to lean in closer to her. Archer watched out of the corner of his eye as Rin whispered in Hakuno's ear how the ritual was done. Her eyes widen to the point that Archer thought they were going to fall out and her face turned beat red.

"Oh! Oh. Umm well then…uh." She looked down at her feet. "Oh…" she added softly. Her eyes flickered over to Archer before she continued to stare at the ground. "So that's how it's done," she murmured quietly.

Rin got to her feet and clapped her hands. "On that note, we will continue this discussion on what to do next another day." She waved Lancer away with a hand. "Hakuno and I want to have a private girls only discussion now, so you two Servants can go away."

"Oh come on," whined Lancer. A seething look from Rin made him shut up. He got to his feet and disappeared. Rin turned her seething look to Archer.

"Alright, alright. I'm going." Archer got to his feet.

Before he could walk away, Hakuno had reached out and grabbed the bottom of his shirt. "Uh Archer…can…can I ask you something?"

"Yeah sure Master."

She bit her lip and glanced over at Rin, who was standing by the door of the living room. She tapped her foot on the ground and was glaring at the air. Archer guessed Lancer was taking his sweet time in leaving.

Her face was red as she began poking her pointer fingers against each other. "Archer…have you…" She gulped. "Have you…done this mana transfer thing?" Her eyes dropped to the ground but she kept glancing up at him through her eyelashes.

Archer just stood there frozen. She…she was asking something like that!? In a place like this!? With Rin right there?! He felt like the question had tons of traps hidden under it. If he said the wrong thing he had the feeling that their relationship would get pretty rocky. He also had a flashback of Moon Cell Hakuno. She had gotten really upset when she had stumbled upon him and Rin in the nurse's office in the fifth week. She had not spoken to him for the rest of the day and even after that she was prickly for the rest of the week. He just needed to tread carefully. "Uh, I have…" he said slowly.”Only when it was absolutely necessary though," he added quickly. "No time other than that."

"Oh."

That was it. Just 'oh'. What did that mean? Was that a good 'oh'? A bad 'oh'? "Uh Master?"

Hakuno got to her feet but she still did not looking him in the eye. "I'm going to talk with Rin now…" She bit her lip and turned around. "Hey Rin! Let's go up to your room!" she said cheerfully.

Rin looked at Hakuno in surprise and then glanced over at Archer and then back at her friend. "Yeah sure. We can go up to my room."

She glanced back at Archer and then her eyes dropped to the ground as the two girls left the room.

Archer collapsed back on the chair. Why did it seem like his Master always had to be nosy about the wrong thing?

Chapter Text

"So that's uh it." Hakuno fell silent and waited for Rin's response.

"This…this is….wow." Rin shook her head. "I never thought all this could be happening under the surface of what you told me before." She began counting off with her fingers. "So one, we have this blond pervert named Gilgamesh who seems to know who you are and is really attached to you and then we have Archer who you think you have feelings for but are not sure."

"Uh yeah. That sums it up." Hakuno ran her fingers through the carpet by her feet. Just saying all of this was so embarrassing! Rin had listened to her story like any friend would. She made quick comments throughout the whole thing and gasping at the right moments but did not ask any questions.

Rin ran her fingers though her hair. "I don't even know where to start. Okay, I guess we'll start with Gilgamesh." She crossed her arms and furrowed her brow. "The only reason I could think of for there being an eight Servant is that he is not from this War but the previous one."

"The previous one? The one that took place ten years ago?"

Rin nodded. "Yeah, he's probably from that War. However that doesn't really explain why he seems to want to get close to you. And the confusion you feel around him."

"He said he wants me to remember," Hakuno said. "And he was trying to make me remember…whatever it is."

"Do you think it is possible that you could have met him? I mean, your memories of being a magus are vague."

She thought about it for a moment and then shook her head. "I don't think it is possible Rin. The feeling-this trust thing, I don't think it is from knowing him from my past. It's something…deeper." Her eyes wandered around Rin's clean, western-style room. "I think…it is the same thing I felt from Archer when I first met him. I trusted him with my life as soon as he appeared-I felt like I've known him for a long time." She turned her eyes back to her friend. "Did you feel anything like that when you summoned Lancer?"

"A feeling of trust and familiarity? No. That's why I ended up wasting a command seal on him." She lifted up her right hand to prove her point. "You just seem very special Hakuno. I don't know what else to tell you."

"Oh, great," she sighed. She didn't want to be special!

Rin gave Hakuno an apologetic smile. "Why don't I see if I can find out anything about Gilgamesh? Maybe to give a hint why he is acting that way." She leaned forward slightly. "You don't feel threatened by him right? He never did anything to hurt you?"

She shook her head. "No. I…" She shut her eyes. This was going to sound bad and she knew it. "I don't know how to explain it Rin but I know he would not hurt me. Don't ask me how I know but I just know he wouldn't threaten me or make me do something I wouldn't want to do."

"He did kiss you," Rin pointed out.

Hakuno winced. Yeah. There was that. "I…I don't know what to say about that." She bit her lip and looked down at her hands. "I know he did that…but I just can't hold it against him!" She buried her face in her hands. "I don't know! The logical part of me is telling me I should be upset about it but I just…can't." Just saying it made her realize how illogical this actually was. What was wrong with her?

Rin gave Hakuno a quick hug. "It'll be okay. Maybe he did something to you when he kissed you?"

"I don't think so." She shook her head and gently touched her lips. Her cheeks heated up as she thought of how he had given her a sinister grin before he leaned in and kissed her. "He…he wasn't kissing me for long. I didn't feel anything. I just pushed him away and ran." How did girls talk about this stuff? It was so embarrassing!

Rin shrugged. "I really don't know what to tell you," she repeated. It looked like she was saying that for everything Hakuno said. She ran her fingers through her hair. "Why don't we just leave that one for now? At least Gilgamesh seemed to be more civil the second time around."

"Uh yeah." She gently touched her forehead where he had kissed it. Just remembering that made her feel embarrassed too!

"Speaking of kissing though…"

Hakuno had a feeling where Rin was going with this and she shut her eyes. "He said he was just transferring prana."

"Hakuno. I hate to say this, but that was not just a transfer of prana."

 "What?"

Rin took a deep breath. "Based on what you told me…he…he was not just kissing you to transfer the little bit of prana you need." She thought for a moment. "Basically all you needed was a quick kiss, like what Gilgamesh did to you. That's it."

What? Hakuno's eyes widen. What…what did that mean!? "Wait. Then…why was he?"

Rin looked just as confused as Hakuno. "I can't figure out why he would do that. That is unless…" Rin fell silent.

"Unless?"

Rin shook her head. "No. I don't think that's possible. He barely knows you and he doesn't seem like that kind of guy. However he is…abnormal for a Servant."

"Rin? What do you mean he is abnormal?"

"Archer has information a Servant should not have. He knows more about Servants in the War than he should. There is no way he should have that knowledge. And I feel like he knows more than he is telling us. It's like he is feeding us little bits of information while keeping the rest back. It's like he is toying with us but then he isn't with what he knows."

Oh yeah. There was that. "You think that could be related to Archer's…behavior?"

"Maybe…" Rin tapped her finger against the carpet as she got her thoughts together. "I still don't get how though. Even if he was in a previous War, those memories should have been wiped when he was summoned again by the Grail. But even if he somehow retained those memories, how could he know everything about this War? Maybe this is related to your unorthodox summoning of him? Maybe that is connected…" As if she thought of something she asked, "Who is he? As in which Heroic Spirit is he? Maybe that will give us a clue."

Hakuno winced. "I…I don't know. He hasn't told me."

Rin's eyes widen. "Wh…what!? You don't know who he is!? How…how have you been fighting up to this point?"

She flinched. Ugh. She knew it was bad that she didn't know but Rin was taking it to a whole other level! "He said he will tell me soon. He promised."

Rin sighed. "Seriously? Your Servant is just way too mysterious. Heck, you are just surrounded by mysteries." She got up and began pacing around her room. "And you feel the same way to Archer as you do to Gilgamesh?"

 "Yeah, or in a way it is worse…" She remembered being comforted in his arms when she had her breakdown and then how she had felt when he had kissed her and then said it was all just for prana transfer. It hurt. It hurt way more than a comment like that should. Then there was the whole hair-brush thing. It had felt familiar and was so relaxing even if it did feel awkward to her at the same time. "I…I don't know…how can I like him Rin? How is that possible? These feelings…they can't be this strong right? I've only known Archer for little more than a week!"

"I don't know what to tell you." Rin looked as miserable as Hakuno felt. "I really wish I could help you but I really have no idea what is going on with you." She bit her lip and looked away. "I've never read of anyone having this kind of reaction to a Servant-two Servants even! Wait. You haven't told Archer about Gilgamesh?"

"No. I haven't. I don't know why but I just…can't tell him? Like I'm afraid of what he would say…" Hang on. Now that she was thinking about it, she never thought of telling Gilgamesh about Archer either. What did that mean?

Rin held out a hand to help Hakuno to her feet. "I think you should play it by ear for now. I'll try to look up information about this, but don't hold your breath that I'll find any."

"Thanks anyway Rin. This talk was helpful."

"No problem." Rin smiled and headed for the door. "Well, it's getting late today. We will meet up tomorrow and discuss how to take care of Assassin."

"Yeah," agreed Hakuno, following her friend out the door.

***

Flames danced around her. The heat from the fire singed her back. So hot. The fire was too hot.

She could not see the ceiling above her. There was too much smoke. Was the ceiling still up there? Or was it the night sky?

She was crying. Tears poured down her face. Blood. There was blood in front of her. Whose blood? Hers? No. It wasn't. She was okay. She could move.

Where was everyone?

She looked behind her through tear-filled eyes. The wooden beams of the house were on fire. Her house. It was hers. This was the home she grew up in. Memories were in this house. Fun times were in this house. It was gone. Burning away. It was gone.

Fear.

She was afraid. Afraid of what? He was here. Still here. Somewhere.

A sound?

She looked in front of her and saw something was moving towards her. A person?

Blood. There was so much blood around the person.

A woman. It was a woman.

The woman was crawling towards her. The woman's leg was at an odd angle as she pulled herself forward with her arms. "Are you okay?" she whispered. "Please…tell me you are okay…" A soft pained smile. "Yes. You are okay..."

***

Hakuno's eyes shot open and she sat up in bed, a scream dying in her throat. Her breath came out in short ragged gasps and her heart was pounding so hard she thought she was going to have a heart attack. What…what was that!? She pulled her knees up to her chest. The dream again. However this time she remembered it. Or remembered parts of it. Who was that woman? What was going on? She began shivering. Why? Why did this scare her? Just thinking about it scared her. What was this dream?

"Are you alright Master?"

Hakuno startled as Archer appeared in her room. He was on high alert but when he saw there was no one in the room he relaxed and turned to her with concern etched on his face. "Master. What's wrong? I heard you scream."

She bit her lip and tried to stop her body from shaking. "A…Archer…" she whispered.

"Master. What's wrong?" He walked over and kneeled next to her bed so he was eye-level with her. "What happened? Why did you scream?" He lifted a hand and gently touched her shoulder. "Master. What's wrong?"

The touch was so nice, so comforting. He was being so nice to her. She can feel emotions welling up from inside of her. "Archer…" she whispered. “Archer!" Tears spilled down her face as she threw her arms around her Servant and buried her face into his shoulder.

***

Archer froze when she had hugged him of her own free will. When she had buried her face into his shoulder and began crying, he wrapped his arms around her. In order to not be kneeling awkwardly on the side of her bed, he carefully shifted his body over so he was now sitting on the bed with the crying girl in his arms.

"It…a dream…" she said through her tears.”A dream…"

A dream? "It was only a dream," he said softly as he gently massaged her back. "Nothing more."

"But it didn't feel like that…" she said through her tears.”So real. It felt so real. There was blood…a woman…fire…" She was shaking. "I was so scared…"

"It's just a dream," repeated Archer. "Don't worry. It's over now. It can't hurt you." He had a flashback of Moon Cell Hakuno telling him about a dream she had of a burning city. However Moon Cell Hakuno had never reacted like this when she had woken up from that dream.

Hakuno released her arms from around his neck and sat on the bed in front of him. She rubbed her eyes but a few tears still leaked out here and there. "I'm sorry. I woke you didn't I?"

Archer shook his head. "No. It's fine." It broke his heart to see her so miserable like this. She looked so scared, so vulnerable. She had wrapped her arms around herself and was still shaking. This dream. Whatever this dream was, it had riled her up bad.

He glanced at the clock by her bed. Still a couple of hours before the sun would rise. He knew he would regret this but right now all he could focus on was the scared vulnerable girl in front of him.

"Come on Master, let's get you to bed. You need to get some sleep."

Her eyes widen and she began shivering even more violently. "N...no. I…"

Archer put his arms around Hakuno and pulled her close to him before he shifted so he was lying down on her bed with her in his arms and he put the covers over both of them. "I'll stay here until you fall asleep," he promised. "You won't have that dream again."

She looked up at him before her eyes shifted down to look at his chest. She blinked slowly but her shivering had thankfully reduced in intensity. After a few moments she spoke, "Archer…can…I…I'm going to turn around."

He loosened his grip on her and she rolled over so she was no longer facing him and her back pressed against his chest. "I can leave…" he said softly.

"No. It's fine. Just…stay there…please…"

Archer fell silent as he looked down at the top of her head. He didn't know how long he laid there but soon her breathe slowed and her shivering subsided. She was asleep. "Goodnight," he whispered as he lowered his head and kissed the top of her head.

Realizing what he did, he winced and then froze as Hakuno stirred slightly. When she didn't wake, he sighed in relief. However he realized that he could not move otherwise he ran the risk of waking her. "Damn it," he said quietly but he smiled softly. Oh well. Guess he would be staying for the rest of the night.

***

Hakuno opened her eyes and yawned. Wait. Why was she near the wall? And why did it feel like there was something against her back? She rolled over and froze.

Why was Archer in her bed!?

Her mind was scrambling for an answer. Why was he here!? Was he taking lessons from blonde pervert!?

Oh wait.

Her thoughts ran to what happened last night. A dream. A horrible dream. The one she had for a long time but finally she could recall some details of it. And then she had woken up scared and alone and Archer…he came here and stayed with her until she had fallen asleep. And it looked like he had not left.

She stared at his sleeping face. He looked so peaceful when he was sleeping. The guarded look he had during the day was gone. If only he had this kind of look more often when he was awake. She had only seen flashes of it here and there. Biting her lip, she reached out to touch his hair. As soon as her fingers touched a few strands, she flinched back. When he didn't react, she reached out and gently stroked his hair. It was so soft! It didn't seem like it would be since he usually had it slicked back. This was actually kind of nice.

"Master?"

Her hand shot back to her like a boomerang as Archer opened his eyes. "What were you-"

"Nothing!" she squeaked and sat up "Nothing at all. I just woke up!" She ran her fingers through her hair as she looked down at where her feet were under the covers. She could feel her cheeks beginning to burn. Ack! Why did she do that!? This was…this was so embarrassing!

"Master did you…" Archer trailed off and his brow furrowed. Quicker than Hakuno though possible, he was out of the bed and stood by it with his hands clenched into fists.

"Archer? What's wrong?" Hakuno's eyes widen.

"Shhh."

It was then that Hakuno heard the sound of someone coming up the stairs. Her eyes widen. There was someone in the house!? It couldn't be a Servant as she couldn't sense any unusual prana. A burglar then? She threw off the covers as the footsteps came towards her room. Both Master and Servant were tense as the doorknob turned and was thrown open with a ridiculous amount of force.

"Hakuno-channn! I'm backkkk!" yelled the woman who opened the door with great vigor. Her shoulder length dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail which accented the black pant suit she wore. She froze and her brown eyes widen as she glanced back and forth from Hakuno to Archer.

A small nervous laugh escaped Hakuno's mouth. "Uh hi Aunt Nomi."

Chapter Text

Hakuno's mind whirled. Why was Aunt Nomi back? Usually she would call ahead if she was coming back for a visit. That is, unless she was only going to be here for a day because she was on her way to China or another country over there and she had just stopped by in Japan to visit Hakuno for a couple of hours.

Hakuno opened and closed her mouth. How? How in the world was she going to do this? She looked over at Archer for help but he was just staring at Nomi in morbid horror, like a child that had been caught doing something bad.

Her aunt was still looking back and forth between the both of them and her eyes were shooting questioning daggers at Hakuno. Hakuno gulped. She needed to take control of this situation before it got too out of hand.

 "Uh Archer," she began. "Why don't you go downstairs and make breakfast or something…" A quick glance at her clock told her it was almost noon. Ack! She had slept in so late! "Brunch. Go with brunch."

"I'll do that Master."

Aunt Nomi's eyebrow shot up. Hakuno gave her aunt a strained smile as she waited for Archer to walk around the two women. When he reached the doorway he glanced back at Hakuno and gave her a nervous smile before he left.

"Aunt Nomi, it's not what it looks like!" Hakuno said quickly once Archer was gone. "I mean yes, he was in my room but it wasn't like that. I mean it's very hard to explain but there is a good reason why he is here and I will tell it to you and it's a good reason! A very good reason that will shed some light on what is going on here!" Come on Hakuno! Think of something!

Nomi crossed her arms and shook her head sadly. "Hakuno, I…I did not know you were into that. I mean, I try to give off the vibe that I'm an accepting aunt but that sort of thing…especially with someone like that…" She raised both of her eyebrows and gave Hakuno a catty look. "I have to say you do know how to pick them. He does not look like he would be the kind to obey anyone." She looked around Hakuno's room. "You hide the things very well I would say. The few times I was in here to clean and I found nothing."

Huh? She stared at her aunt blankly. What was she talking about? Into what? What was she into that could be hidden? She thought back to what had happened in the past couple of minutes that could make her aunt react that way.

Wait a minute.

"GAH! NO! It's not like that Aunt Nomi!"

"Oh good," Nomi sighed in relief. "I shouldn't have been surprised. You aren't very dominating."

"Aunt Nomi!" Ack! She hit her head a couple of times to try to remove the mental image her aunt had put in her head. "I'm going to need some brain bleach…"

Nomi laughed but then her expression darkened a bit. "So, if that was not the reason may I ask why a handsome grown man was in your room?" She pointed to Hakuno's bed. "Based on the way your bed looks like, obviously you had just jumped out of it so he was in here while you were in bed."

Her eyes narrowed. "Or were both of you in that bed?" Hakuno opened her mouth to protest but Nomi held up her hand. "Hey, I'm not done yet. Other than that, the house looks incredibly clean to the point that I know it's not you since you clean on Sundays and never as well. I also opened the fridge and noticed it was stocked up more than usual. So I'm guessing this guy has been living here for a while now. Plus you sent him to make brunch so I'm guessing it is normal for him to cook for you?"

Hakuno just wanted the floor to suck her up. Why did Aunt Nomi need to be perceptive of the most random things? "Well…there's a good reason for this. Umm well…"

Nomi looked up at the ceiling and tapped her pointer finger against her lips. "Although, this does explain why you never seemed to be interesting in the boys in your grade." She grinned. "You like older men? Although how old is he? And please don't tell me this is because of money, Hakuno, I raised you better than that. But…probably not."

She made a tsk sound and shook her head. "Hakuno. Seriously? Those pajamas? Couldn't you wear something a bit more sexier if you are going to be in bed with a man? At least something with lace you know."

This was spiraling out of control. "No Aunt Nomi! No! It's not like that! We aren't like….that!" she ended lamely. "And there's nothing wrong with my pajamas!" She pushed some of her hair out of her face with her left hand as she tried to get her thoughts together. "It's just…he is…"

"Hakuno!"

Hakuno jumped as Aunt Nomi grabbed Hakuno’s left hand and yanked it towards her so she could get a closer look.

Ack! Her command seals! "Uh, this is not a tattoo! It's a…thing for the cultural festival! School-related stuff! It should come off soon." Did command seals go away after the War was over? She paused when she saw her aunt was staring at the command seals and not responding. "Uh, Aunt Nomi?"

Her aunt looked up at Hakuno, her expression a mix of surprise and fear. "Are these…command seals?"

She froze as she tried to process what her aunt had just said. No way. It couldn't be.

"Hakuno," repeated Nomi as she shook Hakuno's left hand as if the command seals could be jarred off of her. "Do you know what a magus is?"

"Aunt Nomi…how…" She stared at her aunt, unable to process what her aunt was saying. "You…know about that kind of…" Hakuno trailed off as information flooded her mind. "You…you are mom's sister. Mom was a magus…" She bit her lip as she thought it over. "You weren't though. Your magic circuits did not develop at all."

Nomi sighed and released Hakuno's hand. "Well then. I guess this answers a lot of my questions. That man, he is a Servant I'm guessing? Archer class since you did call him that." She shook her head. "To think you would actually end up as a Grail War participant…"

"Aunt Nomi, what is going on?! Why did you keep this from me!? Why couldn't-why can't I still remember stuff?!"

Nomi bit her lip as she thought it over. "Hakuno…there was a reason for this…"

"What reason?" she snapped. Now that the shock had subsided a bit, anger was seep in. Her aunt knew! Her aunt knew about magus and magic but she had kept it a secret this whole time!

"How much do you remember of that night?" Aunt Nomi asked suddenly.

"That night?"

"The night that you lost your memory of being a magus. How much do you remember?"

What was Aunt Nomi talking about? What night? When was this?

"From the look on your face you have no idea what I'm talking about." Her aunt sighed and turned. "I'm going downstairs. I'm starving."

Eh? "But Aunt Nomi. We aren't-"

"A discussion like this can't happen on an empty stomach," Nomi said cheerfully like the last couple of minutes had not happened. "And I'm starving. Airplane food stinks nowadays. They give you pretzels! That's it! And they hope that holds you for the whole flight!"

Hakuno sighed as Nomi walked out of the room and headed downstairs. Of course her aunt decided to act normally now. Knowing that she should not leave Archer in her aunt's hands for too long, she quickly sent Rin a text that they would need to reschedule the meeting to defeat Assassin tomorrow before she changed and headed downstairs.

Archer had already set up the table with three place settings. Her aunt was alreadt seated. He was hovering near the kitchen walkway and he shot Hakuno a questioning look. She felt bad for Archer. Knowing Aunt Nomi, she had just walked down here and sat at the table while ignoring him so he had no idea what in the world was going on. She just wanted to see him sweat.

"There you are Hakuno! You took forever! I'm starving so sit down already!"

"Sorry Aunt Nomi." She took her place in her usual seat and gestured for Archer to sit in the chair next to her. "Don't worry Archer. She knows….about the magus thing and the Grail War…"

Surprise flashed across Archer's face as he took his seat next to her.

"Dangggg!" cried Aunt Nomi. She waved her chopsticks at Archer. "You can cook sir! Hakuno, you know how to pick your Servant! He cooks and cleans! A double win!"

"Uh Master?" Archer looked over at his Master in concern.

She shrugged. "You get used to this after a while," she whispered to him.

"Now if only I could find a domestic man like you. Then I wouldn't be so worried about leaving Hakuno here all alone in this house while I travel." Nomi shook her head sadly as she ate quickly. She leaned forward and grinned. "How about after this War is over, why don't you and I get together?" She winked.

"Uh…uh…" Archer stammered.

"Aunt Nomi!"

Nomi laughed. "Joking, joking. It's just funny to see you all riled up." Her smile slipped and she began to eat slower. "So I guess you want answers now?"

Finally. Hakuno took a bite out of a fried shrimp. "Why can't I remember?"

"My sister erased your memory six years ago when she passed away in that accident along with your father," explained Nomi. "She removed everything involving magic, magus, all of that stuff."

"But why?" pressed Hakuno.

Aunt Nomi shook her head. "Sorry Hakuno but I can't tell you until you remember yourself." She shrugged before Hakuno could protest. "My sister was specific in her instructions in that regard. Don't worry, you'll remember in due time."

Dang it. Hakuno knew how stubborn Aunt Nomi could get. She was not going to spill what she knew at all.

“Anyway," said Nomi. "I'm not going to bother asking about how this War is going on. I think it's better if I don't know, am I right?"

Hakuno nodded. "I'm sorry Aunt Nomi."

"That's alright," Nomi waved Hakuno's concern away. "I would be really useless in magus related stuff anyway. I'll leave this all up to your judgment." She continued to eat. "I'm sorry I couldn't give you any answers you were looking for."

"That's okay.” Her aunt had always been very open with her. If she couldn't say something then it must be really important. "But…do you know if I will remember everything someday?"

Nomi nodded. "Yeah. Don't worry. You'll remember everything. Just give it time." She tapped her chopsticks against each other as she pointed them at Hakuno. "Now hurry up and eat so we can go a round. I want to beat you again before I leave."

She sighed. Nothing ever changed with her did it? "Alright," she sighed as she began eating faster. She looked over at Archer to check how he was taking this all in but he was just eating silently while not looking at both of them. Oh boy. He probably thought Nomi was a freak. Hopefully Nomi wouldn't do anything else to freak him out.

***

Archer pulled a plate out of the soap-filled sink and began scrubbing it. What a day this morning had been. Thankfully her aunt had been accepting of everything even if their first meeting was on a bad foot. However at the same time it annoyed him. Her aunt didn't seem to be very concerned that Hakuno was currently involved in a blood bath for a holy wish-granting cup.

"Hey, let me help you with that."

"No, it's alright," said Archer as Nomi walked into the kitchen and started drying some of the clean dishes. Based on how Nomi just continued to dry the dishes, she was not going to let Archer do it by himself.

"Thank you for looking after Hakuno. She doesn't look bruised or broken so I need to thank you," Nomi said softly. "She's a good girl but she just seems to attract trouble."

Archer had to agree with that one. "She does seem to have the ability to just draw trouble to her." Did her aunt not want to show her concern in front of Hakuno?

Nomi chuckled. "She has always had that-even when she was a kid. I remember one time, a new neighbor moved in next door and their nice, gentle dog got loose. The first person this dog ever chased and attacked was Hakuno." She laughed. "I can still remember little Hakuno clinging to a tree branch while looking down at the dog in fear. It was really funny. The dog was one of those wiener dogs too!"

Archer tried not to laugh at the mental image that put into his head.

"Thankfully that didn't traumatize her against dogs for life." She fell silent as she dried the dishes. "By the way Archer, I know I said I didn't want to know about this War but tell me this. Are the Harwey family involved?"

"Yes." Why did she want to know that?

Archer jumped as Nomi grabbed his hand with both of hers. "Please then. You must promise me Archer." She stared up at him with an intensity that looked so out of place on the carefree aunt. "Promise me that you will be with her when she remembers. When she finally remembers everything, when she remembered the night that she lost her memories of being a magus, promise me you will be there. She is going to need the support."

"I promise," said Archer automatically. "But she says she doesn't remember anything. How would I?"

Nomi released Archer's hand and picked up the next dish to dry off. "Did she have a dream last night?" she asked quietly. She took one look at Archer's face and her lips were set in a hard line. "I guessed so. There would be no other reason for you to be in her room this morning otherwise. She probably had a hard time sleeping after she finally really started remembering that night."

"What do you mean?" Archer pictured the trembling girl from last night in his head. "The dream, was that not just a dream? She mentioned fire and blood."

"It was no accident that killed her parents." Nomi glanced at the kitchen walkway to check if Hakuno was there. She turned her eyes to Archer. "You need to be there for her when she remembers everything," she insisted. "My sister removed her memory to protect her."

"Protect her from what?" Archer asked softly. He was also checking behind him to make sure Hakuno did not come in during this conversation. "The Harwey family? Were they involved? Is that why you asked?"

Nomi leaned in closer to Archer and whispered under her breath. "To protect her from being killed like her parents."

Archer stared at Nomi in shock. "Her parents…they were killed by the Harweys?" Then could it be that since she had been in contact with Julius and Leo, her memories of that night itself was returning? They did face Julius yesterday and then she had that dream last night. Was there a connection?

"I don't know the full details but I know they were involved," said Nomi. "I had to pay a hefty sum to remove all records of her as a magus." She shrugged. "I think only the head of the magus association knows that she is one. On all other records she is listed as dead along with the rest of her family."

"Is that why you are traveling a lot and never home?"

"And you're smart on top of being domestic!" Nomi laughed. "Hakuno doesn't know any of that though. She just thinks my job takes me all around the world."

"You really do care for your niece."

"I have to. Even if she never remembered it, she is still the head of the Kishinami magus household and we are blood. It's the job of grownups to protect the children. Although in this War thing I cannot protect her at all," she added quietly.

The two fell silent as they continued their teamwork on cleaning the dishes. Archer tried to process everything he had just learned. There was more to this Hakuno than he originally thought. He tightened his grip on the cup he was washing. He had seen how she had reacted to only remembering little bits. What would happen when she remembered everything?

Wait. There was something that Nomi had said before that was odd now that he was thinking about it. "What did you mean by 'there would be no other reason I would be in her room'?" Sure it was good that Hakuno's aunt didn't think bad of him but shouldn't she be a little more concerned for her innocent idiotic niece?

"Well, first off, her clothes were not disheveled." Archer felt his cheeks turn red at the thought. "Secondly, if you did do anything like that, it would ruin your Master and Servant relationship and you don't look like the type of guy to try to jeopardize that. And thirdly, you love her."

Archer almost dropped a plate onto the wooden floor.

"Don't stare at me with those wide eyes. It wasn't that hard to figure out." She pointed to her eyes. "It's the way you look at her when you think she isn't looking at you."

"I just…I…" stammered Archer. How perceptive was her aunt?

"Don't worry," laughed Nomi. "I'm not going to say anything to her about it and I'm not going to hold it against you. Although Hakuno is dense as a rock on matters such as this so don't expect her to pick it up by herself. You are going to need to tell her yourself." She fell silent as she gauged Archer's reaction.

Archer shook his head. "I'm not going to tell her."

It was Nomi's turn to almost drop a dish. "Wait. Why? Look, I don't know too much about the rules of the Grail War and stuff but it is allowed right?"

"It…it isn't that…" Now it was Archer's turn to continue to glance at the door to make sure Hakuno would not walk in. "It's better for her if I don't. I just want to get her through this War alive. That's all."

Nomi blinked slowly before she turned her eyes back to the dishes. "There's something else stopping you right?"

Archer's thoughts flashed to Moon Cell Hakuno. That brave, strong girl that gave up her life so that the Grail would not cause any more problems in that world. He knew what would happen to him at the end of this War. If he did go with these feelings and somehow she felt the same, it would be a reverse of what had happened to him in the last War. He could not do that to her. "Yes," he said softly.

"Well then, I will leave it at that. Obviously there is more going on under the surface here than I understand." Nomi grabbed the towel and dried off her hands as Archer drained the now empty sink.

"I will protect her," Archer promised. "And I will be there when she remembers."

"Thank you Archer," Nomi said softly. "And I hope you find an answer yourself on what is for the best. And you may be surprised but Hakuno is more resilient than you seem to think she is." Before Archer could ask what she meant, Nomi threw her hair over her shoulder. "Now then, you better join Hakuno and me in a round of Mario Kart. That is unless you are scared I'm going to leave you in my dust!" She didn't even wait for Archer's response before she left the kitchen. "Hakuno! Are we all set to go?"

Archer shook his head. Hakuno's aunt was a very interesting woman that was for sure. "You are very resilient yourself," he said softly.

"Hey Archer! Get in here so I can beat you already!"

"And now I know where Hakuno gets it from…" murmured Archer as he walked out of the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Archer stared blankly at the screen before staring at Nomi.

"Uh huh! In your face! You both ate my dust! Were you even trying? Come on! I took it easy on both of you!"

"Aunt Nomi gets very intense when she plays," Hakuno said for the hundredth time.

She wasn't kidding. Countless rounds in about six different games and Nomi had managed to beat both of them with no trouble in all of them.

"Hakuno, you need to practice more." Nomi put down the controller and stretched. "Seriously. Next time I visit, you need to be ready to put up more of a fight than that. That's your homework from me!"

Hakuno sighed. "Yes Aunt Nomi. I will get on that."

"Good." Nomi turned to Archer. "You make sure she does that, you hear?"

"Yes ma'am." Archer held back his own sigh.

Nomi grinned. "See? This is why I like him." She put a hand over her heart. "A man after my own heart. If only you could come with me Archer. That would make my work so much more fulfilling…in more ways than one." She winked.

"Aunt Nomi!" yelled Hakuno.

Archer just looked away, heat rising to his face. Did she find enjoyment in this?

"Sheesh. Calm down Hakuno. I'm not going to try to steal your Servant away from you don't worry." She collapsed on the ground next to Archer and leaned towards him. In response Archer leaned back. Nomi stared at him unamused before she turned to Hakuno. "Go get my bag from my room."

"Huh?! Why don't you get the bag yourself?"

"Because that would take too much work!" whined Nomi. She laid down on the carpet. "Your aunt does all this work to raise you and this is how you repay me?"

"Alright, alright. I'll go get it!" Hakuno gave Archer an apologetic look before she headed up the stairs.

Nomi sat up as soon as Hakuno's footsteps could be heard on the stairwell. She turned to Archer. "Alright. Just as a warning, although I'm not sure how this is supposed to work since my sister was vague on the details but she is going to have dreams from here on out until she remembers everything so please…can you comfort her?"

He needed to do that again?! Damn it Sure, he was okay with it last night but she had been so upset that he couldn't just leave her there. And then she had fallen asleep and he could not move without waking her. He thought it would just be a one-deal thing. He had hoped it would only be a one-time deal. He shut his eyes and took a breath before nodding.

"I'm sorry," Nomi said softly. "I know it is probably hard on you too although for a different reason. Being so close to her but not in that way." She got up and dusted herself off.

"Why are you so accepting?" asked Archer. It had been bugging him this whole time. Other than the fact that he was her Servant, he was technically older than her and even if Nomi knew about the world of being a magus, this was still very odd.

Nomi shrugged. "I don't know, to tell you the truth. I just get the sense that you are a good person and can be trusted. Plus, you keep Hakuno out of trouble and keep her from getting hurt. I need to commend you for that itself. You know as well as I do how hard that is." Archer had to nod at that one. "And I feel like there's more happening under the surface here than I could ever understand. There's a connection between you two that I cannot figure out."

Archer wanted to ask what she meant by that but he heard the sound of Hakuno coming down the stairs made him pause.

"Here's your bag Aunt Nomi." She held a small suitcase out to her aunt.

"Thank you!" Nomi walked over to her niece and took it cheerfully. As if she thought of something she grinned and whispered something in Hakuno's ear. His Master’s eyes widen and her face was turning red in response to whatever Nomi said. Nomi laughed. "Well anyway, you two have fun doing your War stuff. I have a plane to catch."

"Have fun Aunt Nomi. Please don't bring back anything weird."

"Rude," huffed Nomi. "I bring back stuff that I know you will like and use. Anyway, I shall see you soon Hakuno." She turned away from her niece and Archer saw her happy façade slip as she gave Archer a weak smile.

He gave her a slight nod in return. I'll look after her, he promised.

Nomi's cheerful disposition was back as she waved to her niece. "Bye Hakuno! Bye Archer!" With that last farewell, the hyperactive aunt headed for the door. She yelled one last goodbye before she was gone.

Hakuno collapsed on the couch. "Finally," she sighed. She sat up. "Sorry about that Archer, I know my aunt can get very, very intense and I did not warn you about her."

"Don't worry about it. Your aunt visiting was a very…enlightening experience."

She didn't seem to catch the undertone in his comment and instead looked over at the clock. "It's already almost six…" She sighed. "Well, it looks like we ended up getting nothing done today."

"What about meeting up with Rin?"

"I told her my aunt was here so we reschedule the meet up for tomorrow. So we have the rest of the night to ourselves…" She fell silent and began poking her pointer fingers against each other. She wasn't looking at him. Was this because of whatever Nomi had whispered to her? Was her aunt sticking her nose in where it didn't belong!?

"What did your aunt say to you?"

She jumped slightly as she looked down at her fingers. "Umm well…"

Archer scooted over to his Master and looked up at her from the floor. "What. Did. She. Say."

"N…nothing really!" she stammered.

Uh-huh. Like he could believe that with her acting like this. "Really now. What did your aunt say?" He made a show of resting his thumb on his middle fingernail.

She covered her forehead with her hands in defense. "She said…to stop stalling and do something. That I shouldn't wait for everything to just happen by itself," she said softly.

What? That was a very vague thing to say, even for her aunt. "Uh, okay."

"Don't worry about it!" she said quickly. She shifted over on the couch so she could get up without smacking him in the face. "So umm…you want to go a few rounds without my aunt around?" she asked as she picked up one of the controllers. "We have the rest of the evening so…"

The corners of his mouth twitched as he tried not to smile. She looked like a little kid asking for ice cream. "Yeah sure." He picked up the other controller.

She grinned and started the game up again. "By the way…there's no way I'm going to let you win!"

***

She ran down a hallway. The crackling of fire and dancing flames were all around her as she looked for a place where the flames had not touched. Tears blurred her vision but she did not take the time to brush them away.

She looked back fearfully and surpressed a scream as she saw the figure was still following her. The smoke was too thick for her to see the features of whomever it was but she knew it was the figure's fault that all of this happened.

She also knew what would happen if the figure caught up with her.

A beam from above fell in front of her, blocking her path. She jumped back as embers leaped from the beam and tried attack her. Her eyes widen as she struggled to find a way past it.

She looked back. No. The figure was getting closer. Soon the figure would be close enough to grab her and it would all be over. Her eyes searched for an exit. Anything. The closest door was in the direction of the figure. She could not risk going back there. She was trapped. Trapped between a burning beam and the figure that did all of this.

Tears fell down her face as she finally gave in fully to the fear that was overwhelming her. It was over. It was all over.

***

Archer could hear her crying from next door.

She was sobbing. Outright sobbing.

 He got up and went into spirit form to pass through the wall before he materialized in her room. Just like last night she was sitting up with her knees pulled up to chest. She jumped and looked at him in horror for a couple of seconds until she realized who he was and she relaxed slightly.

"Are you alright?" he asked softly.

She shifted over a bit so there was room for Archer to sit down. "It was different this time," she whispered through her tears. She rubbed her eyes and her body was beginning to shake again.

He gently put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her to him. She buried her head into his chest as she shivered. "I…I was running…the house…it was on fire….like before…there was someone there…someone was chasing me…I couldn't see who it was, I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman but…that person…that person did everything."

That person…was that the person that the Harwey family hired to kill her family? His grip on her tightened. What would the Harwey family do if they found out that she was still alive? He couldn't picture Leo doing anything but Julius…

He clenched his teeth. No. He would not let anything happen to her. "It'll be okay," he said softly as he massaged her back again like last night. "It was just a dream. It won't hurt you. That figure-it will not hurt you. It can't hurt you."

She lifted her head and looked up at him. "Really? The figure can't get me?"

"No," Archer said firmly. "The figure will not come after you. That figure was from your dream. That's all."

"Yeah. Just in my dream," she repeated softly. She forced out a quiet, strained laugh. "Sorry for your shirt…it seems like I'm just ruining them every night."

"It's fine. Don't worry about it." He took a deep breath. "Anyway, you want to go back to sleep now? You need to meet up with Rin tomorrow."

"Yeah," she said softly. She moved out of his embrace and laid back in bed. Archer got up and picked up the covers to cover her with them.

"You…you aren't staying?" She reached out and grabbed the bottom of his shirt in protest.

Archer froze but he forced a small smile on his face so she would not see how panicked he was. "Master," he began. She was staring up at him with wide tear-filled eyes. All complaints died on his tongue. He could not leave her like this?

"Move over," he said with a sigh. She complied and Archer got into the bed next to her. Like last night, she turned around so her back was against his chest but he noticed that her shivering had subsided again.

"Thank you Archer," she said quietly.

"Just go to sleep," he whispered back. She fell silent and Archer did not move until her breathe slowed. Thankfully that did not take long and he was smarter this time to not be hugging her when she had fallen asleep. He shifted a bit so he could get up and leave but she stirred slightly. He froze until she settled again. "Seriously Hakuno. How stupid are you to let a man in your bed multiple times with no thought about it?" he asked her softly. No response of course. He gave her a light kiss on the crown of her head. "Have sweet dreams for the rest of the night."

***

Hakuno opened her eyes and rubbed them. Morning already? Hang on. She was near the wall again… She stiffened and rolled over. Yup. Archer was there. Again. He had stayed with her all night again. She blushed as she thought of how she had begged him to stay.

It wasn't her fault. That dream with that horrible figure had spooked her bad and she was comforted to know that Archer was here in the room. But what did the dream mean? This was second weird dream she had that she remembered and it was different from the last one. She thought back to what her aunt had asked. Could it actually be possible that the dreams were actually a memory? Was it the memory of the accident? But if it was an accident…who was that figure? How did he or she fit into everything?

"Master?"

She jumped slightly as Archer opened an eye. "Uh, morning," she squeaked. She was blushing even harder now as she sat up. It was actually hitting home that this was the third time she had woken up and Archer had been right there. Should she start to worry about her "purity"? How did this stuff work?

"Master. Based on the look on your face, you're thinking something weird."

"I'm not thinking anything weird!" she said quickly.

"Uh-huh…" Archer said slowly before he got out of her bed. He stretched. "Well I'll get breakfast started. Take your time getting ready." He was about to walk out of her room but he turned back. "Are you okay now?" he asked softly.

She nodded and gave him a smile. "Yeah, I'm fine now. The dreams just freak me out the most when I just wake up from them. I'm okay now."

"Good then," he replied before leaving.

As soon as he was gone, she pulled her knees up to her chest. "Yeah...I'm fine…"

***

"I can't believe your aunt ended up visiting you yesterday," Rin said in surprise.

The Masters and Servants had met up at the same park, and at the same picnic table where Hakuno had met Alice…and where Alice had lost Caster. Hakuno had not wanted to sit here at first but all of the other picnic tables had been taken by other park goers and the group wasn't up for sitting in the grass again so here they were. They were also secluded which was another bonus.

"Based on what Rin told me, your aunt seems like an interesting woman Hakuno." Lancer grinned. "Introduce me next time to her." Both Hakuno and Rin looked at Lancer unamused. "What…" he murmured.

"You don't know the mood do you Lancer," Archer commented.

Before Lancer and Archer could go at it, Rin spoke up, “Anyway, I'm surprised that your aunt actually knew some things about being a magus and such despite the fact that she didn't take up the family practice."

She shrugged. "I was surprised too but she didn't tell me much. I think she assumes that I will know everything once I remember everything."

"If only there was some way to jog your memory…" Rin tapped her finger on the picnic table.

"I don't know.” She had told Rin everything that her aunt told her. Everything except her dreams. She didn't know why she didn't tell Rin about them. She glanced at Archer out of the corner of her eye. Maybe because she would need to tell Rin about how Archer had been sleeping in her bed for the past two days…

Then there was also the thing her aunt had told her. She should stop stalling and not wait. Did this count?

"Master. Pay attention."

"GAH!" Hakuno's hands went to her forehead after Archer had flicked her there. "Really?"

She noticed that everyone was staring at her. Oh. Whoops. "Sorry. What did you say?"

"We were discussing ideas on how to tackle Assassin and Julius," explained Rin. "Archer here mentioned using a chi-blocking trap but I don't know how to make that so now we are thinking of options that don't involve Assassin and just involve taking out Julius."

"One pair distracts and the other takes care of Julius. Easy enough," said Lancer.

"The problem is finding them right?" Hakuno put in. She had to show she was paying attention to the conversation! "We don't know where the Harweys are."

"But we will," Rin pointed out with a grin.

Of course.

"The party tomorrow is at the Harwey estate." This was perfect! "So we are going to be scouting out the house tomorrow?"

"Yup," said Rin. "No just dancing and eating for us. We need to see the estate layout and I need to see the kind of traps and security the Harweys put around the place."

"Hopefully we can fight them with Leo not home," said Lancer with a tsk sound. "That armor of his."

"We should fight them at night then," put in Archer. "Gaiwan's ability does not work at night."

Rin and Lancer stared at Archer for a few moments. "Of course," Rin said with a groan. "Why am I not surprised that you know everything?"

Watching the three of them talk strategy Hakuno felt like the outsider. She didn't have any special skills besides healing. Her knowledge of magus related stuff was dismal compared to what Rin knew. What was the point of her being here? She looked down at the command seals on her hand. Why did the Grail think she was worthy to be a participant in the Grail War?

"Master?"

Hakuno jumped as Archer leaned in close to her face. "Uh hi Archer," she squeaked.

"Are you sure you are okay? You zoned out again."

"Are you sick?" Rin asked in concern.

She shook her head. "No, I'm fine Rin. I just…didn't get much sleep last night." She knew Archer was watching her out of the corner of his eye in confusion. Yes, she had woken up last night but she wasn't awake for long. She had gotten more than enough sleep.

"That's not good," Lancer said. "You need your beauty sleep, you are a young lady." He leaned in over the picnic table. "Maybe I should come over and help you sleep?"

"Lancer!" warned Rin.

"She's fine," said Archer crossly. He put an arm around her shoulder but thankfully he didn't pull her closer to him like he usually did.

"It was just a joke," murmured Lancer.

"It's never a joke with you Lancer," Rin shot back.

Hakuno felt Archer's grip on her shoulder tighten slightly. Rin and Lancer stopped their bickering.  

The air was heavy.

Hakuno knew this feeling. There was a Servant here.

"How dare you."

Hakuno stiffened. She knew that voice. Only she never heard it dripping with this much venom and hatred before. Four heads turned and Hakuno's breath caught in her throat as she stared at the blond man that stood a few feet away. His crimson eyes were blazing with anger.

"Gilgamesh," whispered Hakuno.

Rin looked over at Hakuno in surprise. "This is blond pervert!?"

"Hakuno…how do you know that name? How do you know him?" Archer was looking down at her with wide eyes and an expression that she could not read. Was it shock? Sadness? Anger? What was it?

"How dare you touch my Queen with your filthy hands!" snarled Gilgamesh. He held out a hand and a golden portal-like wall appeared behind him and various weapons in many different shapes and sizes were coming out of the wall.

Lancer and Archer got up and shifted into their battle outfits.

"What is he talking about?" Rin pulled a few gems from her pocket.

She shook her head. "I have no idea."

"Be careful," murmured Archer. "He likes to throw weapons from the Gates of Babylon."

Gilgamesh crossed his arms and weapons began flying out of the Gate at the two Servants. Lancer blocked a couple of the flying weapons with his lance before starting to dodge while running around. Archer had summoned the twin blades he always used and was using them to deflect the flying weapons.

"Hakuno. Has he ever acted like this before?" Rin held a couple of gems in between her fingers. She had stepped closer to Hakuno and the girls were slowly edging away from the battle so a stray flying weapon would not accidently hit them.

She shook her head. "I have no idea. The past two times he was very civil. I never saw him look so mad." She watched Lancer and Archer try to get close to Gilgamesh with no avail. By continuing to throw weapons at Lancer and Archer it was difficult for both Servants to do anything but block the onslaught.

"Is there something we can do?" asked Hakuno with wide eyes. "They can't even get close!"

"Stay close to me.” Rin stood protectively in front of her friend. "Right now we need to observe, find a weakness that we can exploit. He's currently fighting two Servants with no trouble at all. I don't know how we can fight-"

Hakuno felt something move by her waist. She looked down and screamed. There was a chain wrapped around her waist! She followed the line of the chain and saw it led to the Gate right by Gilgamesh. He grinned at her as the chain yanked her and she went flying towards the golden emperor.

When she was next to him, the chain unwrapped from around her waist but Gilgamesh put his arm around her and drew her close to him. "Hang on a moment!" she said quickly as she tried to move away but Gilgamesh's grip on her tightened so she could not move. Her eyes shifted over to her Servant in horror. He was staring at her and Gilgamesh with wide eyes.

"No," growled Gilgamesh. He glared at Archer before he turned to her with slightly softened eyes. He put his fingers under her chin and tilted her head up slightly. "That mongrel needs to understand that you are mine."

What in the world was he talking about? "I don't-" Her words were cut off as Gilgamesh's lips touched hers.

Chapter Text

Hakuno’s first thought was about how much the kiss reminded her of how Archer had kissed her to break her free of Alice's spell. It was full of longing and neediness however unlike Archer's, which had been gentle, Gilgmaesh was much more forceful, like he needed to show dominance.

She needed to stop him.

Why did she need to stop him?

This was wrong. Completely wrong!

Or was it?

Her mind was torn was in two different directions. One part wanted to push him away in revulsion while the other wanted to just let Gilgamesh kiss her. No. Yes. No. Yes. Which was the correct choice?

"You bastard!"

Gilgamesh lifted his head (and thankfully breaking the kiss) and threw some weapons at Lancer who was running towards them. Hakuno cried out as the weapons buried themselves within Lancer, and the force threw the Servant backwards.

"Lancer!" she screamed.

Lancer could not get up as one of the lances pierced through his leg and into the ground, promptly pinning him into place.

Her eyes shifted over to Archer in horror. He was just standing there with pure shock on his face. She felt like she wanted to throw up. Why was he looking at her like that? It hurt her heart in a way she didn't think possible. No. It wasn't like that. It wasn't like that at all.

Gilgamesh lifted a hand and the chains he had used before to drag Hakuno towards him surrounded and wrapped around her Servant from multiple angles, promptly stopping Archer's movements in place.

"You dare touch my Queen with those filthy hands mongrel. I'll rip them off for that."

Wait a minute. "I'm your Queen?" Hakuno stared up at Gilgamesh in shock. She remembered him mentioning that but she never connected that meant her!

"Of course you are. Although right now you are just a mere peasant girl and not the Queen." He slowly ran his fingers through her brown hair.

Uh what? She still did not understand what he was talking about. However was that really important right now? She needed to focus on the current problem. She saw a flash of red out of the corner of her eye. "Don't come any closer Rin!" she screamed as she turned her head to look at her friend.

Rin froze. Her hands were balled into fists but she relaxed them slightly and Hakuno saw there were gems in them. If two Servants had no chance against Gilgamesh how would Rin, a mere human (although a strong magus) fair against Gilgamesh?

Gilgamesh's attention had turned onto Rin though when Hakuno had cried out. "So there's one more left…"

Her eyes widen. Rin's on the other hand narrowed. "No! She's only human! Leave her!"

Gilgamesh paused and looked down at her. "If that's what the Queen wishes…" He gave her a light kiss on the forehead. Wait. She had power? He actually listened to her opinion? He turned his attention to the two Servants and more weapons began coming out of the Gate behind him. "Give me a moment to remove these Servants from your sight."

Okay. Maybe not.

"No! Don't hurt them!" cried Hakuno. "Well, you kind of already did that but don't hurt them more!"

He looked down at her and the crazed, furious look from before was back. "That mongrel dares to touch my Queen in a knowing manner," he snapped while pointing at the bound Archer. "And the other dares to speak about you in such a…vulgar way."

Vulgar? Oh wait. The bed comment… "He didn't mean it!" Hakuno said quickly. "He was joking!"

"Joking? Joking!?" She winced as Gilgamesh's voice rose in anger. "No one jokes like that to my Queen! No one!"

She needed to do something! And fast! She checked on Lancer and saw he was trying to pry out the lance that was pierced through his leg. Archer on the other hand was staring at her and Gilgamesh in confusion while struggling against the chains. It was obvious that when Gilgamesh fired the next onslaught of weapons, both of them would be done for.

Hakuno tightened her hands into fists and tried to move away from Gilgamesh but as soon as he felt her move, the grip on her shoulder tightened. "Stop it!" she pleaded. "Don't hurt them! Please!"

Gilgamesh seemed deaf to her protests. He was just grinning madly as he summoned more weapons through the Gates.

"This bites," commented Lancer, giving up on removing the lance. He still had his arms free so he held his lance at the ready to try to protect himself as much as possible. Archer on the other hand could not do anything and his eyes were boring into Hakuno.

A lump was in Hakuno’s throat as tears pressed against her eyes. Nothing. She could do nothing. She was useless. Rin could probably think of something if she was in Hakuno's shoes right now. She probably would have a brilliant idea of some kind and use her jewel magic to execute it. What could Hakuno do? Heal? How would that help anything right now? Nothing. She could do nothing.

Her hands balled into fists. Useless. She was completely and utterly useless. Wait. Fists…. She looked down at her fists and thought of what Rin was going to do. She glanced up at Gilgamesh but he was paying no attention to her. Could she? Could she really? She looked at her Servant. He was still looking at her. Even throughout all of this he was still watching her. He gave her a small smile but it was tinged in sadness.

No. She could not let this happen. There was still a War to fight! She bit her lip as she steeled her resolve. Gilgamesh was almost ready to give the signal to release the barrage of weapons. Hakuno felt her magic circuits open and flow into her arm.

Before she lost her resolve, she reared her arm back and threw it forward with as much force as possible. Her fist connected with Gilgamesh's chin with way more force than she put into her arm. The golden Servant released her as he was thrown into the air from her punch.

Everyone fell silent and stared at shock at King of Heroes lying on the ground.

Lancer whistled. "Good going Hakuno."

"Did…did you just punch out Gilgamesh!?" Rin asked in disbelief.

Hakuno looked down at her fist and then at Gilgamesh who was rubbing his chin where she had punched him. "How did I do that?" She lightly punched her fist into her open palm but nothing. It didn't feel any different. How did she uppercut a Servant into the air and send him flying?

Her attention focused back on Gilgamesh who was slowly getting to his feet. He grinned at her. "There's my fiery Queen."

Wait. He was happy about that? She had just punched him the face! Did he like her being assertive? "Gilgamesh…let them go…plea-I mean let them go. They did nothing wrong-well I think they did nothing wrong and I don't want you to kill them so let them go?"

Gilgamesh silently stared at her for a few seconds. Did she do it wrong? He sighed and the chains around Archer unraveled. "If you want it…fine."

He did seem much calmer now thankfully. She took a deep breath and mentally begged Lancer to not make any comments that would set Gilgamesh off again. "Can…can you give me space?" she asked quietly.

"Space?" Gilgamesh's eyes flickered over to Archer and then back at her.

She knew she had to take control of the situation. Fast. "Yes. I…you…have really confused me." She resisted the urge to rub her lips. "I…I need time to think."

Gilgamesh's eyes narrowed. "Your memory is still not there. You don't remember at all do you? I thought a much more intense kiss would make you remember but that didn't seem to work at all."

She held her ground. She knew if she showed any weakness he would jump on it. "No but…give me time okay?" She balled her hands into fists. "Please Gilgamesh. Give me some time."

He watched her intently, his eyes searching for something. She had no idea what it was though. He walked over to her and lightly kissed her on the forehead. "Alright. Fine. For you." His attention shifted over to Lancer and Archer. "You were only saved by the good graces of my Queen. Remember that."

Hakuno did not move. The golden king turned and began walking away without a single glance back. When he was finally out of sight, she sighed in relief and turned to see Rin was yanking the spear out of Lancer. Hakuno hurried over to her friend and kneeled next to Lancer and put her hands over the spear injury and opened her magic circuits.

"That was impressive Hakuno," Lancer said. "Both how you punched Gilgamesh and then how you got him to leave."

"I wouldn't call that impressive.”

"I was not expecting you to pull off something like that. Can you use reinforcement sorcery?" asked Rin.

Hakuno shook her head. "I…I have no idea how I did that."

"Probably related to your memory loss then." Rin put her hands over Hakuno's and pulled it away from Lancer's wound. "I have some gems, I can heal Lancer. You have something else you need to do."

She swallowed and looked back at her own Servant. He stood ding a few feet away, his eyes cast on the ground, apparently in serious thought.

"Rin. How can I?" She did not want to walk over there.

"This is something you need to work out for yourself. This is very important for him to know everything you've been going through. This is horrible timing but…"

"What are the two of you talking about?" Lancer looked back and forth between Hakuno and Rin.

"We're leaving right after I heal you," Rin stated to Lancer. "We'll meet up tomorrow at my house at one to get ready for the Harwey party, you got that Hakuno? Hopefully you two will be…better by then?"

Knowing that Rin would not let her stay here, Hakuno got up and slowly made her way over to Archer. She stood behind her Servant and bit her lip. Was he always this tall? "Archer…" she began.

He did not respond. He did not even turn around. She wasn't even sure if he had heard her. "Archer," she began again. "I know this looks really bad but it is not what it looks like at all. I've only met him twice before-"

"Twice?" Hakuno winced as Archer turned around. His eyes were blazing with anger that she had never seen before. "You've met Gilgamesh twice before and you didn't think to tell me? And from what Rin said, she knew. You trusted Rin with that information but not your Servant?"

Hakuno shut her eyes as she tried to stop the tears that were threatening to spill out. "I know. I know I should have told you but something…something was stopping me. It's weird! I don't know how to explain it but when I'm around him I feel like I can trust him. I know that's wrong, I know it's weird but I know Gilgamesh would do nothing to hurt me."

"So you let him kiss you because of that?" he snapped.

She winced. "No! I mean, yes it did happen and I was very confused but I didn't want it to happen like that!" She wanted to rip out her hair. It was so hard to explain. "I don't know how to describe it! I don't know why I feel this way! My head is telling it is wrong but at the same time it is telling me it is okay!" She reached out a hand but Archer moved away from her.

"So why don't you just have him for your Servant then?" he said coldly. "Just go with Gilgamesh if you trust him that much."

Tears started leaking out of her eyes. Why? Why was he reacting like this? Sure she had expected him to be mad but this seemed weird for him.

"N…No!" Hakuno cried. "Why are you acting like this? I mean, yes it was stupid and yes, this whole situation is my fault but still! This seems odd even for you!"

No response. Again Archer was not looking at her.

She gritted her teeth as a surge of anger raced through her. "Of course! Of course you are going to keep quiet! You don't tell me anything!" She stormed in front of him and glared up at him. "You always keep quiet about all you know! You know what else is weird? You knew Gilgamesh too! How is it you did? Oh, I'm never going to find out! You say I should trust you with everything? Well what about me? How come I don't get to know everything that you do?"

She turned away from her, angry tears freely falling from her face. "And by the way," she added quietly. "The thing I feel around Gilgamesh, the trust and the knowledge that he would not hurt me, the feeling that I've known him for a long time, I've felt the same thing about you since we've first met."

Archer lifted his head and stared at her with wide eyes. "What?" He reached out to grab her arm but this time she pulled away from him.

"I'm going home." She rubbed her lips and her forehead as she stormed away.

***

Archer collapsed on the floor of the guest room with his back against a wall. Hakuno had refused to talk to him on the way back and as soon as she had gotten home she had retreated into her room and locked the door.

He went over everything she had said at the park. She had trusted him the same way she had Gilgamesh? She had trusted him ever since they had first met? She had "known" him in a sense from the first meeting? What did that mean? Then there was also what Gilgamesh had said. He wanted her to remember something.

A thought entered his mind. No way. That could not be possible. Was Gilgamesh like him? Was he, in another dimension, with Hakuno in that way? That would explain why he acted differently from Archer's memories of him. And how did Hakuno fit into this?

"It can't be…" he whispered. Was Hakuno being affected subconsciously by both of them? "Hakuno…" He shut his eyes and thought of the Moon Cell Hakuno. "You…in a way you are still here." What other explanation could there be? He tightened his hands into fists as he thought of the afternoon. He had lost his cool. Seeing her in Gilgamesh's arms, him kissing her, it made him furious, it made him want to kill Gilgamesh. What hurt him more was how she did not react to anything he did to her until a few seconds later. Based on what she had said, it made sense in a way, although he did not like it.

He heard a scream from next door. He was on his feet immediately and he went through the wall to her room. The sun was just setting so her room was bathed in orange and red. She was lying in bed, her knees pulled up to her chest. She wasn't under the covers so Archer assumed she had fallen asleep on top. She looked up at him, the tears pouring down her face. She turned away. "I'll be fine." She rubbed her eyes to try to stop the tears. "You can go. I'm fine."

Archer knew he deserved the cold shoulder. He also knew he could not leave her shivering here. "Look," he said as he sat down on the edge of her bed. She retreated to the farthest point she could possibly get from him on the bed. "I know…I know I yelled at you and all but Gilgamesh made me mad. He was…what he did to you…"

"I know…I know…" She rubbed her lips.

Archer had a flashback of something that happened a couple of days ago. "Did…did he kiss you before?" He reached out and gently stopped her hand from rubbing her lips. "The day that Rider died. You were doing the same thing then too."

Her eyes widen slightly and more tears fell from her eyes. "Yes," she said softly as she rubbed her eyes. "Yes. He…he did."

Archer swallowed. "And you felt this then? This weird feeling?"

"Yes," she responded. "That was the first time I've seen him. He just grabbed me and kissed me. I ran after that. I was just confused and I don't know what I was feeling." She wrapped her arms around herself. "I still don't know," she said softly. "I don't know what I feel like this." She covered her face with her hands. "I know it's wrong. I know it is. I just don't understand why this is happening!"

Archer wanted to hug her but he held back. Not now. "And what about me?" he asked softly.

"Same thing," her voice was quiet. He stayed silent. He wanted to hear it from her. "I've had the feeling of knowing you…the feeling that I could trust you…all of it…from the beginning." She lifted her head and glanced over at him. Her eyes were red and puffy. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Gilgamesh…"

"It's fine" he whispered. He reached out and hugged her. She stiffened for a moment and then relaxed in his arms. "You…you were confused and suffering this whole time. It'll be okay." He looked down at the shivering confused girl in his arms. Was a part of Moon Cell Hakuno within her? Was that the reason why she had these emotions? How was that possible?

"Why is this happening to me? I…I 've talked to Rin and she said she never had emotions like this…so why me? Why do I…" She looked up at him. "Do you know? Why I…"

Archer hesitated and then gently kissed her forehead. "No. I don't." I only have theories.

"Maybe it's also connected to my memories…"

"Maybe," repeated Archer.

"Archer…the memories that Gilgamesh thinks I have…I don't have them. I can't tell you how I know but I just know that the memories he is talking about is something I don't have."

Then maybe it was a connection to a Hakuno from another world. Was Hakuno just sensitive to this sort of thing? There was no way he could tell her his theory though without explaining some things about himself.

"My dream," she spoke up. "This time…I was in a room. There was blood on the floor. And a man…I couldn't see his face but he was dead…I…I just knew he was dead…"

Like every time before, he massaged her back. "It was just a dream…"

"Yeah…" she said but she sounded unsure, like she didn't believe him.”Just a dream…"

"Listen," said Archer. "Why don't I make you some dinner? Sukiyaki maybe? Some food in your system will make you feel better."

"If you say so."

"I know so." He got up. "It'll take a little bit but I should have it ready soon."

"Thanks Archer…" she whispered.”For everything."

"Don't thank me," he replied. I've done nothing at all for you.

"But thanks anyway," she gave him a small smile.

Archer gave her a small smile back before he left the room and headed for the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Hakuno sat on her bed, her wet hair covered by a towel. Her stomach was full of delicious sukiyaki and she had just taken a nice long bath. She felt very relaxed despite everything that had happened today.

She silently began drying her hair with the towel as she went over the days went. She couldn’t believe it. She had told Archer about how she felt around him. Did this count as admitting feelings? No way. If that counted, then it meant she liked Gilgamesh too. Wait. Did she? She touched her lips. It didn't feel the same as when Archer had kissed her but there had been something there. What it was, she could not say.

Her face warmed up as she touched her forehead. Both of them had kissed her forehead today. For two totally different reasons though. Gilgamesh out of his weird twisted love (if it could be called that) and Archer out of…comfort? Was it comfort? Or was it something else? Something more perhaps?

Whoa. Bad Hakuno! She lightly hit herself on the cheeks. That was expecting way too much! Archer just did that because he was sorry about yelling at her, that's all. Well both of them were at fault for that argument though. It was a lot of over-reacting with emotions running amok and both of them were confused. That was all.

Thinking of that though, what in the world was she going to do when Gilgamesh came back? She clenched her hand into a fist and hit it against her mattress. Nothing happened. No extreme strength. She looked down at her hand and thought of what Rin had said. Reinforcement sorcery…

She closed her eyes and took a couple of slow, deep breaths as she tried to sort through her magus-related memories. She could remember various moments where she had done healing magic along with learning from her mother about the War and Grail and the other magus houses. Nothing about super strength came to mind. She needed to look deeper.

Her mental self pushed past all the memories as she tried to go deeper and deeper into her own mind. It was there. She knew it was. The answer was there. She just needed to push for it. Her mental head smacked against a wall. She groped out with her hands and tried to search for a crack in the wall. Nothing. It was completely smooth. She banged her fist against the barrier, wishing that she could punch it with the same amount of force she had used against Gilgamesh. Nothing. The mental wall was too strong.

Wait a moment.

There was a small crack near the bottom of the wall. She kneeled next to it and pushed against it with her fingers. No. Even with the crack there, the wall itself was too strong. It would not budge. She pushed her weight against it. Come on! Break!

"Master?"

Hakuno's eyes shot open as she was slammed back into the waking world. "Oh, hi Archer," she said. She realized that her hair was soaking her back and she returned to drying it with her towel.

"You looked like you were asleep sitting up." Archer walked into the room and leaned against the wall opposite of her.

"I was trying to see if I could remember stuff," she explained. She shrugged. "Nothing though. It's like I'm hitting a wall. I guess I can't really force it…"

"Don't worry, you'll remember soon enough."

She nodded. "I guess…" She fell into silence with her focus set on drying every strand of hair. Why did it feel so stifling in her room all of a sudden? It wasn't like this was the first time he had been in here. "Wait…why are you in here?"

"Just to check up on you." Archer was poking around her desk. He picked up a pen and began clicking the top of it absentmindedly.

She looked up and tilted her head slightly in confusion. Was he referring to this afternoon? "Uh yeah, I'm fine now…" Wouldn't he know that though? They had a very civil dinner; she had spoken to him like she normally would.

"That's good then…" He moved away from the wall. "I guess I will see you in the morning then? We need to go to Rin's house early so you can get ready for the party right?"

"Yeah..." She bit her lip as she had a thought. "Hang on Archer…don't go..."

Her Servant looked over his shoulder from the doorway. "Master?"

She gulped as she looked down at her floral blanket. "Uh well, I had a thought…" She could feel her face turning red. "And well, the thought was that, you always end up in my bed in the middle of the night." Ack! That sounded completely wrong! Although it was completely true. "Maybe it would be easier on you if you didn't have to walk through the wall in the middle of the night…"

She focused her full attention on drying her hair. This wasn't too weird to ask right? Archer had been sleeping in her bed for the past couple of nights anyway. Might as well make it easier on him.

"Are…are you sure that's a good idea?"

She looked up in surprise. Was she imagining it or did Archer's face look a little bit red? "I mean it seems like I have one of those weird dreams every night and you always end up in my room anyway so…this would be easier on you?" Ack! It sounded so weird. Why did she think this was a good idea? Why did she have to be considerate? "I'm a-okay with it!" she said as cheerful as possible. No backing out now right?

Archer tapped his fingers against the frame of the door. After a couple of tense, silent seconds he sighed. "You are a sadist, you know that?" he murmured before he walked over to the bed.

"No I'm not!" She had a flashback of the comment that Aunt Nomi had made.

"Stop thinking of weird things." Archer flicked her forehead before he sat down next to her.

"I wasn't thinking of anything weird!"

"Just to inform you Master, you tend to make a weird face when you are thinking something odd."

"I do not!" She jumped off of her bed and over to her closet where she deposited the towel on the hanger. Before she returned to the bed, she turned off the light, and expertly navigated the dark room. Archer waited until she had climbed under the covers before he joined her.

It was then that she realized how much of a bad idea this was. Out of habit she had laid down in her usual position with her back to him. They were not touching but the space between them was minimal and she was painfully aware of him being so close to her. This was nothing like when she had fallen asleep after having a nightmare. She was comforted by his presence then. Now…this was just awkward!

She didn't know how long they silently laid there. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours, it could have even been a couple of seconds, she was not sure. All she could think of was how she was never going to fall asleep like this.

"Master…" Archer's voice cut through the awkward silence. "If you can't fall asleep, I can go."

She winced. She wasn't surprised that he could tell how tense she was. He always seemed to know what she was feeling better than she did. "N…No," she stammered. She had already offered her bed and he would end up here in the middle of the night anyway! She shut her eyes as her face turned red at the thought.

"Master…"

She was thankful she had her back to him right now. "No, I'm fine. It's just that I'm not used to this kind of stuff…I mean, I'm okay at night but that's different and well…just don't go okay?" she finished softly.

She heard him sigh. "You are such a difficult Master…"

She glanced over her shoulder and gave him a small smile. "I try."

Archer shook his head. His elbow was resting on the mattress and his head was resting on his hand. She turned her attention back to the wall. Why did he look so adorable just lying there next to her? Why did she think this was a good idea?! There was no way she could sleep now!

"Master…" began Archer again.

"No, no! You can stay here! I'll be able to sleep soon!" she said quickly. Why do I want him to stay here so bad? she wondered.

"I was not going to comment about that…it's just…"

He was silent for such a long time that Hakuno thought he had fallen asleep. She turned over to check and saw he was staring at her intently. "Uh…Archer?"

"Nothing," he said. For once he turned over so his back was to her. "Just go to sleep."

Wait what? "Hang on! You can't just start something and not finish it!" She poked him in the middle of his shoulder blades a couple of times. No reaction. She frowned and a sinister grin crossed her face. She raised her hand higher and flicked him on the back of his neck.

"Hey!" he snapped as he covered the spot with a hand. He turned back around and before she could react he flicked her on the forehead.

"Gah!" She puffed out her cheeks as she rubbed her forehead. "Seriously!?"

He then did something she did not expect. He laughed. "You never change do you?"

"I'm happy my pain amuses you so," she huffed. She did give him a small smile though.

When he finally recovered from his short laughing fit, he reached out and gently patted her on the head. "I…there's a story I want to tell you. I don't know if it will help you relax…heck, it probably won't but I still want to tell it to you."

"Uh sure," she said. She shifted so she was lying on her stomach with her arms folded in front of her and she rested her head on them. "What's the story?"

Archer hesitated and shook his head. "Maybe I should wait on it. This might not be the best time…"

"Eh?" She kicked his leg in protest. "Come on Archer! Tell me! You can't just start something and then not finish it!"

"Why am I not surprised you would say something like that," he smirked. "Alright then." His expression darkened and Hakuno suddenly had a very bad feeling about this story. It wasn't going to be involving rainbows and puppies, that was for sure."This is the story of a boy who wanted to be a hero…" he began.

***

Archer fell silent as he finished his story. He had told her everything. How he had won a Grail War himself, how he had vowed to save people, how he was betrayed in the end and then how he became a Counter Guardian. He had kept silent about the "wish" he had with the Grail though. She didn't need to know that. He had also kept quiet about what happened in the Moon Cell.

She had listened to it all silently. She did not ask any questions or asked for clarification. She had just sat there and listened. He had seen it in her eyes though. Even if she did not speak her eyes betrayed the sadness she felt for him.

"This boy…" she began as she looked up at him with her wide doe eyes. Hang on! Was she tearing up?

"Come on Master. That was just a story. You don't need to get that emotional about it."

She put a hand over her mouth as tears started to freely fall from her eyes. "S…sorry. Sorry." She bit her lip as she rubbed her eyes. "Sorry." She reached out and wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into his chest. He laid there, frozen, as she cried. This was the first time she had hugged him of her own free will.

And yet she was hugging him while crying. Recovering from the shock, he put his arms around her as he let her cry.

"You don't need to cry for him Master. He's fine." Was this him being selfish? He looked down at the crying girl in his arms. Moon Cell Hakuno had done the same thing when she had heard the story. Yes. Maybe he was selfish. Even with the conversation they had before, Archer thought about how Gilgamesh had been assertive with her. He had just held her like he had known her; he had kissed her because he cared for her in that way. What did Archer have? None of that. He could not be with her in that way. He would not let himself be like that with her. Then what was left? The only thing he could give her was his own story. That was all. And that just made her cry after hearing it. This was the only selfish way he could have her.

"I'm sorry Master. I shouldn't have told you right now. You had an emotional day…"

"No, no." She looked up at him and gave him a smile but it looked sad with the tears that pouring down her face. "Archer. Thank you for telling me. Even at a time like this…thank you."

"For what?"

"For trusting me with something like this." She rubbed her eyes. "I feel like-no, I am, I'm always relying on you a lot-with these memory problems I have so, it's nice that you decided that I would be worth being told something like this."

"Of course you are worth it." He grasped her hand in his own. "You are brave girl who was thrown into a War with no warning but still pushed on through determination and hard work. Well, and then there's also your uncanny ability to just attract danger. That's just special in its own right."

"Hey!"

"But even with that ability you still push through to come out on top. You learn from your mistakes and you have compassion and that's…" Archer paused as he realized where he was going with this.

"That's?" she prompted.

"That's the reason why you are worth it," he finished lamely. He shut his eyes. Dang it. That was really close. He had just been talking without thinking about it. A lump rose in his throat as he thought of Moon Cell Hakuno. The more he was with this version, the more he felt like Moon Cell version was getting more and more distant from his memory.

Hakuno forced a grin for him. "Thank you Archer," she whispered. "By the way though...what's your real name? I mean the name of the boy. It's not Archer…and you never mentioned it in the story so…"

Archer sighed. He shouldn't have been surprised that she had asked. He never gave his real name to Moon Cell Hakuno and she had just accepted it but this Hakuno, he knew she would not let it go if he just told her that he was nameless. She would complain, she would fight, heck she would make him feel guilty by the sad look on his face. In the end though she would get the name out of him. "Shirou Emiya," he relented.

"Shirou Emiya," she repeated. She tilted her head slightly. "You don't look like a Shirou."

"And what is a 'Shirou' supposed to look like?"

"Not like…you…"

Archer looked down, wondering why she sounded so funny. He saw that her eyes were closed and her breathing was slow and even. "Only you would fall asleep just like that," he said in disbelief. Sighing, he gently kissed the top of her head. What was he going to do with this girl? "Goodnight Hakuno. Please have some good dreams tonight."

Chapter Text

Archer adjusted his tie as he tapped his foot against the ground and checked the clock for probably the fifth time in the past five minutes. When Master and Servant had arrived at Rin's house, Rin immediately kidnapped Hakuno and took her upstairs while at the same time she had given Archer over to a tailor who had custom fit a suit for him right then and there. The suit jacket was a dark subtle red with matching pants, with a dark gray vest underneath.

"The girls are taking forever," complained Lancer from the couch. He was dressed in a dark gray suit. "I knew girls took so long but this is ridiculous even for them."

Sadly Archer had to agree. It was almost six. They were supposed to be there at six-thirty. What was taking so long? "They're women. What do you expect?"

"Expect what?" Rin stepped into the living room and put her hands on her hips. She was in a strapless red gown that went to her ankles. The bodice had black ruffles along the top and it dipped into a sweetheart neckline. She had matching red arm warmers that went from her forearms to the tips of her fingers. Her black hair was down and styled into soft curls. Her makeup matched her personality, bold.

"Well then?" prompted Rin. "Expect what?"

"You are looking nice Rin," Lancer said politely. Archer glanced over at Lancer in surprise. That was the politest thing to ever come out of his mouth. Oh wait. The command seal.

Rin crossed her arms and gave her servant a small smile. "I do don't I?"

"Where's Hakuno?" asked Archer.

Rin looked behind her in surprise. She shook her head in amusement. "Come on Hakuno. Get in here."

"That's okay," Hakuno's voice came from behind the door. "I think I'll wait here."

Rin rolled her eyes. She walked behind the door and dragged Hakuno out into the open. Archer's jaw dropped in shock. She was in a light blue dress that stopped right below her knees. It had just the right amount of sparkle so it drew attention to her but not enough that it looked gaudy. It had thin blue straps and the top of the bodice dipped to a semi-sweetheart neckline. Like Rin, she also wore a pair of matching, fancy arm warmers that went from her forearms to her fingertips. (Archer realized that they were wearing them to hide the command seals on their hands). Her hair was curled and piled on top of her head except for a few tendrils that framed her face. Her makeup was much subtler than Rin but it was still obvious that she was wearing some.

Lancer whistled. Rin pushed Hakuno in the direction of Archer before she walked over to her Servant and lightly hit him on the head. "What do you think of your Master, Archer?" Rin asked with a grin.

Hakuno tugged the bottom of the dress as she glanced up at Archer before looking down at her feet. What could he say to her? To him, she looked beautiful no matter what. It didn't matter if she was in those pajamas of hers with bedhead or wearing her school uniform. This was a whole other story though. She looked radiant, stunning, and beautiful. There was no way he could describe how she looked right now in words. "You…uh…you are looking very nice…." Archer stammered.

"Uh…thank you," Hakuno replied quietly. "You are looking very handsome too…"

"Thanks…" Archer could feel the back of his neck heat up.

"Oh boy…" Rin was about to face palm but she remembered the makeup on her face at the last second. "Alright, let's go. We are going to be late otherwise."

"You ready to go Master?" Archer asked her.

"Y…yeah." She tugged the bottom of the dress again. "Do…do you think this dress is too short?" she asked quietly.

"What? No. It's fine." It wasn't like he knew anything about woman's fashion though. He was about to pat her on the head in reassurance but due to the pins holding her hair he thought against it.

"Oh. Well, that's good then." She looked up at him and smiled.

Archer had to look away before he hugged her or did something more. He had also realized he could not look straight down at her like he usually did. He was now getting a…very nice view due to the cut of the dress.

"Shall we go?" asked Rin. "We are going to be more than fashionable late if we don't leave now. And no comments whatsoever," she warned Lancer. "I will use a command seal if I have to."

"Roger that," murmured Lancer as he got up. "You just ruin my fun don't you Master?" He winked at Hakuno before he shrugged and followed Rin out of the room.

Archer could not wait until the day he could fight Lancer.

Hakuno sighed as she followed Lancer out. "Please don't tell me we are going to be using the usual travel method."

"Of course not," said Rin. She opened her front door and revealed the long limo in the driveway. "We'll be going in style of course."

"Now this is my kind of ride!" Hakuno said with a grin.

***

Hakuno stepped out of the limo and almost fell over if Archer had not grabbed her elbow. "Uh, thanks," she said quickly as she moved to the side to let her Servant get out. She looked up at the Harwey mansion. Why did it seem like all magus households had mansions? There were many people getting dropped off in limos all around them, all wearing more expensive looking dresses and suits than the last.

"It seems like Leo did not skimp on this party at all," commented Rin. She put a pleasant smile on her face as a young man approached her and asked about how the Tohsaka household was doing.

Hakuno stood awkwardly near Rin until her friend gestured for her to head inside with a wave of her hand as she continued to speak pleasantries to the young man.

"Shall we go inside?" Archer held out his elbow. Hakuno stared stupidly at it for a couple of seconds until she realized what she was supposed to do.

"Oh…" she said softly as she gently rested her hand on his elbow. "Sorry…this is a first time for me."

"Don't worry, everything will be fine," he whispered softly to her as they made their way up the short flight of stairs to the front door. She nodded as she carefully walked up the steps. Why did Rin have to insist she wore heels? She felt like if she made one wrong step she was going to fall flat on her face. "Take your time," murmured Archer after she had almost fallen for the fifth time.

"Sorry," she mumbled.

"I never understood why girls would want to wear shoes like that. You can barely walk right now."

"I never understood either," replied Hakuno. She sighed in relief when they made it to the top of the stairs. They slowly made their way into the mansion and followed the crowd of people to a huge ballroom. It looked like something straight out of a movie. Huge chandeliers adorned the high ceiling. An orchestra took up one corner of the huge room and played live music. There were people everywhere. The center of the ballroom was filled with people dancing while the ones who just wanted to stand and chat took up the sides.

"Wow," she whispered.

"It looks like Leo has every magus household in here," commented Archer.

"I bet he does…" Hakuno spotted Ilya and Rani on the dance floor. Ilya was in a cute white dress that fit her young image and Rani was in a more risqué purple dress that looked like it would be impossible to wear without having a wardrobe malfunction. Berserker was nowhere in sight, probably because he was probably not the kind of person you would bring to a formal ball like this in the first place.

Now what though? Hakuno didn't know anyone here and even if she did, she probably wouldn't recognize them since it has been so many years since she had met them. "Buffet table!" she squealed when she spotted it on the other side of the room. She released Archer's arm and began navigating through the crowd towards the buffet table.

"Excuse me?"

Hakunou paused and turned to see a young man. "Uh yes?" she asked. Did she know him?

"Would you like to-never mind!"

Huh? She blinked slowly as the young man turned and began walking away quickly. She glanced behind her and just saw Archer standing there. "Yes?" he asked. "Why'd you stop?"

"Nothing." Hakuno shook her head and continued her quest to the buffet table. Weirdly enough, the same thing that happened with the young man occurred again a couple more times. Each time, the man was in the middle of asking her something before he would break off and walk away.

"Seriously…what is going on?" she murmured after the fifth time. She stopped wondering though as she had made it to the buffet. There was every kind of fancy finger food imaginable. Hakuno wasn't even sure what some of them were, they looked so expensive and exotic. She didn't even hesitate as she began piling a plate with one of everything.

"Master….are you serious?"

She glared at her Servant before she began munching on an egg stuffed with various herbs and tiny black orbs (she had no idea what they were, but they were crunchy). "Oh shhh. What else am I going to do? I don't know anyone here besides the people in the War."

Archer sighed before he grabbed one of the sandwiches off of her plate. "You could dance. Or mingle."

She made a face. How was she supposed to mingle? How does one even do that? It would be so awkward to just walk up to someone and strike a conversation. Plus, everyone here was a magus. It was not like she could talk magus politics, or whatever maguses talked about with each other.

"Don't worry about me Archer. I'm just going to eat, until we enact the plan to find out everything about this mansion."

"That sounds so sad Master…"

Hakuno gave Archer a pouty look before she continued to eat. Surprising to her, Archer stayed with her. He made comments about various people that walked past them and even named a couple by the magus households where they are from. Every now and then someone would come up to her and looked like they were going to ask something but they bid a retreat before they did speak.

Did she smell or something? Why do people keep walking away from her?

"Hey Hakuno." Rin walked over. Lancer was not with her. "Sorry I took so long. It seems like everyone wants to talk to the head of the Tohsaka household." She shrugged. "You seem to be having fun though Hakuno."

"The food here is good," Hakuno protested.

"And you have a good guard dog too!" Rin added with a laugh.

"Guard dog?"

"Anything to say Archer?"

Hakuno glanced over at her Servant in confusion. Archer just shrugged and looked away from her. Rin took pity on the confused Hakuno and leaned in close and whispered, "Archer has been giving death glares to any guy that approaches you."

Hakuno's eyes widen. "What, really?"

"Yeah," Rin giggled. "He's like a protective puppy."

Hakuno tried not to burst out laughing at the mental image of Archer as a small, barking Chihuahua.

"What are you two talking about?"

"Nothing that you should care about," Rin stated as she threw her hair over her shoulder. "Anyway, I did a quick look of the grounds outside. I didn't find anything. We need to look around the house though…" She looked out at the people at the party. She made a face when she spotted Lancer dancing with a girl on the floor. "It should be easy to slip out soon enough I think," she continued. "I'll take the upstairs. The door to the gardens is on the other end of this room. You can check that out."

"How am I supposed to know if I run into anything?" Hakuno dropped her voice lower as a couple went over to get some food from the buffet.

"You have good senses although you don't know what you are sensing. Just tell me if you feel anything." Rin fell silent as she spotted Leo walking over to them. He was dressed in an orange suit that would look ridiculous on anyone but him. On him, it looked like a king though. Right behind him was a man dressed in silver armor.

Based on the way Archer stiffened next to her and the power she felt from the man, Hakuno knew that this had to be Gawain.

"I'm grateful you two could come," Leo said. His voice was pleasant but Hakuno did not feel welcome by it. He smiled at Hakuno and gestured to Gawain. "You have not met Gawain correct?" He turned to Archer. "And I am guessing this is Archer?"

"That's right," Archer stepped closer to his Master.

Leo put a hand on his hip. "Pleasure to meet you then Archer. I'm sure we will be getting to battle sooner or later. I'm happy that you were able to come here too Rin."

"Well, you did personally invite the both of us," Rin said, her voice carefully guarded. "So I could not refuse." She gave him a pleasant smile. "This is a great party. You were able to get many, many big magus households to attend."

Leo gave her a pleasant smile back. "Well, the Harwey family is planning on expanding once we obtain the Grail. It is best if we start the connections now, don't you agree."

"Well, you should not be so sure you are going to obtain the Grail," Rin replied.

"My king is the only one that can hold the Grail," spoke up Gawain. His voice was as knightly as the rest of him.

"And you are loyal as ever," Archer murmured under his breath.

Leo held up a hand and Gawain did not make any more comments. "I am sorry for Gawain. He gets…serious about these things. There is a cease-fire tonight though so you may enjoy the party is peace."

"How kind of you." Rin's voice dripped with sarcasm.

Leo turned to Hakuno and held out a hand. "Would you care to join me in a dance?"

Hakuno's eyes widen and she shook her head. "Oh no I couldn't. I have two left feet for dancing." She looked out on the dance floor. Everyone looked so professional, like they all have danced their whole lives.

"Nonsense, every woman can dance. You just need someone to lead you well, that's all."

Hakuno looked at Rin and Archer for help on what to say. Rin gave her a small nod. "One dance won't hurt. You can do it Hakuno." On the other hand, Archer was silent. He glanced at her before he looked away again.

Well, looked like she couldn't get away after all. "Uh sure," she said. She handed her almost empty plate of food to Rin before she set her hand gently in Leo's outstretched one.

Gawain waited next to Rin and Archer as Leo led Hakuno to the dance floor. "Just relax and let me lead," he instructed as he put one hand on Hakuno's waist and gestured for her to rest a hand on his shoulder. "Now let yourself feel the music."

"Uh okay?"

With that Leo began moving slowly on the dance floor. Hakuno looked down at the ground and tried not to step on Leo's toes.

"Hakuno Kishinami…"

Hakuno looked up in surprise. "Uh yes?" She winced as she felt her foot connect with Leo's toes. "Sorry. I told you I'm not good at this kind of stuff."

"It's alright. What makes you special as a magus Hakuno?"

"Uh what?"

"What makes you special as a magus? My brother has been interested in you ever since he met you. I personally cannot see it myself. You are not remarkable in anyway. From what I can tell, you seem pretty average; your Servant seems average as well. Your name is not big in the magus world. In fact, I can find nothing recent about the Kishinamis. Then…why is my brother interested in you?"

Julius was interested in her? "I have no idea," she said truthfully. She knew she had to keep her memory loss to herself.

"Well, it doesn't matter to me. You have been in the War for this long due to Rin Tohsaka's help. You will not be here long enough to be a threat to me."

Hakuno tried to keep her expression blank as Leo led her back to Archer. "It was a pleasant dance," he said to her. "If you will excuse me, I have other guests to attend to. Come Gawain."

"Yes my king," said Gawain as he followed Leo away.

"Are you alright?" asked Archer. He put a hand on her shoulder. "I saw you tense up. What did he say to you?"

Hakuno put a hand over Archer's. "He just said I was not worth his time and that I'm not a good Master-stuff like that. He also mentioned that Julius was interested in me…" She winced as Archer's grip on her shoulder tightened. "Archer? Hey, what's wrong?"

"Nothing," he said as he released her shoulder. From the furrow of his brow though, something was bothering him. She also knew there was no way she was going to wrangle it out of him without causing a scene.

"Where's Rin?"

"She's somewhere around here. She said she was going to string Lancer up by his ears or something like that."

"Well hopefully Lancer will be able to get away." They fell silent. Hakuno wished she still had her plate of food. At least that would give her something to do. "Hey, you want to dance?" she asked suddenly.

Archer looked down at her in surprise. "You want to?"

"Well uh…" She looked down at the ground and tugged the bottom of her dress. "If you don't mind possibly having numb toes…and it isn't like we can do anything for the moment…"

"Why not?" Archer bowed and held out a hand for her to take. "Will my lady want a dance?"

Hakuno giggled and took his hand. "I would love to."

A couple of dances later, Hakuno felt exhausted as Archer led her off of the dance floor to get some respite. She was surprised to find that Archer could dance and somehow he was able to lead her well enough that she only stepped on his foot twice.

"Is there anything you can't do?" Hakuno asked as she collapsed in one of the chairs that were along the walls of the ballroom.

"There are many things I can't do," he replied. He leaned against the wall next to her. "You just can't see it yet…" he added quietly.

Why did it feel like there was more to what he was saying than she realized? He had told her his life but she knew that was not related to what he was talking about. Was it related to the woman he loved? "Well we should do it again sometimes," she said in an attempt to lighten up the mood.

"Yeah, sure," he replied. He moved away from the wall. "You look dehydrated, I'll get you a drink. What do you want?"

"Ummm wine?" Hakuno grinned as Archer's head whipped to stare at her in shock. "Kidding, kidding. Just some cider will be fine."

"I'll be back. Don't get into trouble until I return okay?"

Hakuno puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms in response. Archer disappeared into the crowd as he made his way back to the buffet table. She crossed her arms and then her legs as she waited for Archer to return. She turned her head and noticed there was an open door out into the garden next nearby. Rin did want her to check it out…and tonight was a cease-fire for the Grail War.

"It'll only be a peek," she told herself as she got up and walked over to the door and stepped out into a terrace. There were a couple of people lingering. Mostly couples whispering to each other. She walked past them and saw the garden had many topiaries shaped as various animals, mostly lions. She could not sense anything out of the ordinary though. There was no influx of mana, nothing.

Were the Harwey family that confident that no one would attack them that they did not put up any barriers? Or were all of the barriers down due to the party? Rin would know exactly what to look for. I really need to go back to magus school…

She knew she would need to get back now before Archer got back and freaked out because she wasn't in the same spot. She turned and walked back to the garden door.

"Now where do you think you are going?"

Hakuno felt her blood turned cold and she whirled around. She knew that voice. There was no one behind her. She couldn't sense anyone near her. "Assassin…" she whispered under her breath. What was he doing? Why was he here? They had a cease-fire tonight right!?

"And you are right little lady."

Hakuno felt something jab her in the back before she blacked out.

Chapter Text

Archer blinked slowly and turned around. "When I look back, she will be there," he chanted like a magic spell. He turned around but no luck. The chair he had left Hakuno in was empty. "Can she ever sit still for more than five seconds?" he murmured. Maybe he should invest in a leash after all….

"Hey Archer. You're looking very sad standing here by yourself," Rin said as she walked over. She took the cider glass that was meant for Hakuno from him and started sipping from it. "Hakuno ditched you?"

"I turn my back on her for five seconds and she's gone." Archer shrugged. "I think I'm used to this by now…" He could still sense her nearby so at least she was not in trouble…yet.

"Hakuno gets distracted by shiny things easily. She's like a cat that way." Rin took another sip. "And I'm guessing you like cats?"

Why did it seem like everyone knew about his feelings for her? Was it stamped on his forehead or something? "Maybe I do. What about it?"

Rin chuckled. "Nothing. I was just making conversation. We both got ditched by our dates after all." Archer noticed Lancer was on the dance floor with a different young lady than before. It wasn't like Archer could blame him. Being with Rin 24/7 was very tiring.

"Did you check upstairs?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah," replied Rin. "A quick look but I wasn't able to find anything. The Harweys are either very smart or very stupid."

"Hakuno's checking the garden right now I think…" Archer trailed off. Wait a moment. He couldn't sense her anymore.

"Archer. What's wrong?" asked Rin as she sensed his unease.

"I'm not sure." He left Rin and walked over to the doorway of the garden and peered out. There were some people lingering on the terrace but Hakuno was not one of them. Starting to get apprehensive, he tried to sense his Master's presence again. Nothing. It was like Hakuno had just vanished. She wasn't dead though, their contract as Master and Servant was still in full effect.

"Is she out here?" Rin came up behind him.

Archer shook his head. "No. I can't sense her at all. It's like she vanished…"

Rin's eyes widen. "How is that possible?"

Suddenly having a thought, he whirled around to face Rin. "Did you see Julius Harwey anytime tonight?"

"No, I haven't. Archer, what's going on?"

This was bad. Really bad. His hands tightened into fists and he pushed past Rin and re-entered the ball room. His eyes scanned the crowd quickly. Once he spotted the orange-clad Harwey, Archer began pushing through the crowd. He didn't care that people yelled and cursed at him. All he could pay attention to was the boy.

"Where is Julius?" Archer grabbed Leo's arm and gripped it tightly.

"Release my king at once," Gawain warned.

Leo did not seem fazed by Archer's sudden appearance. He gave Archer a smile like they were old friends that were meeting again for the first time. "I do not keep tabs on my brother's whereabouts all the time. However," he continued as Archer's grip got tighter. "tonight, my brother asked to be excused for not showing up to the party. He is not here and I don't know where he is."

Archer gritted his teeth as he released Leo. He knew the boy was not lying. "Well I'm sorry for disturbing you then," he said as pleasantly as possible. Gawain was glaring at Archer. It wasn't like Archer cared. He turned away from Leo and headed for the front door since it was closer than the garden door.

He was outside and was about to jump when he heard Rin's voice from behind him. "Wait! Archer! Wait up!" Rin had her skirt hiked up to make it easier for her to run. Lancer was right behind her. "Archer. What's wrong? What's going on? Did something happen to Hakuno?" Her eyes were wide in worry. "She would have called you right if she was in trouble? She would use a command seal, right? Why is Julius involved?"

There was no time for a roundabout explanation. "The Kishinami magus household was assassinated six years ago by the Harweys." Based on how Rin did not react in surprise Archer figured she knew about this beforehand.

"I did read about that when I was searching up information about the Kishinami household, but it listed Hakuno as dead. I thought it was a mistake," said Rin.

"Hang on. What's going on here? What happened to Hakuno?" Lancer was looking back and forth between Rin and Archer in confusion. "You just said that Archer couldn't find her Rin. What's going on?"

"It isn't," said Archer, ignoring Lancer's questions. "Her aunt paid big money to make sure Hakuno was dead on all of the records and her memory was wiped for the same reason."

Rin's eyes widen. "You don't think…Julius…"

"We need to find her." Archer was tired of just standing around and talking. He needed to find her! Wait a moment. "Rin. I need you to make me something with your jewels. And I need it immediately."

***

"Wake up!"

Hakuno opened her eyes. What…what had happened? She was sitting in a chair? It looked like she was in a warehouse of some kind, or an abandoned building. There were a couple of odds and ends such as a desk, a chair, and piles of crates. The walls were devoid of windows so the only light came from battery-powered candles and lanterns that littered the floor.

"You took your sweet time getting up."

Hakuno jumped slightly and looked up to see Julius walking towards her. He was staring at her with those cold eyes and his dark aura made it difficult for her to breathe.

"Don't even think about calling your Servant using a command seal." Julius pointed behind her. "Assassin will kill you before he can materialize."

It was then that Hakuno realized that she could feel a cold, powerful presence behind her. She turned her head slightly and saw it was a man dressed in an orange and black traditional Chinese outfit. His hair was bright red and pulled back in a ponytail. Like Julius, his eyes were cold but they had traces of bloodlust in them. He had his arms crossed as he looked down on her but she had no doubt that he would be able to hit her vital points before she could do anything. She needed to bide her time for now. There had to be an opening, a chance she could use. She just needed to play it smart until then.

"Why have you kept me alive?" Hakuno turned that question to Julius. "If Assassin was able to knock me out like that…"

"Why are you alive?"

"What?" Hakuno stared at Julius in confusion.

"Why are you alive?" repeated Julius. He put his hands in the pockets of his coat as his eyes pierced through her.

"What are you talking about?" She shook her head slightly. "I don't get what you mean! Shouldn't I ask that!? You were the one who kept me alive! You could have had Assassin kill me-" She broke off as Julius's piercing gaze got even more pointed.

"Assassin."

"I'm not one for doing this to little girls but…" Assassin grabbed Hakuno's left arm in his own.

Fear that she had been trying to hold back spilled into her expression. "Hang on a second!" she cried. "What are you…"

"Six years ago," began Julius. He took a step towards her. "How are you alive from back then?"

Six years ago? What did that have to do with anything? Wait. The fire at her home? Was that what he was referring to? Why did it matter to him? "What do you mean? Why am I alive? I…I…don't…"

"The Kishinami household burned to the ground and the whole family died that day and yet here you are, the daughter of the Kishinami household, alive and well. How is that possible? How are you alive? The rooms were all burning…the flames rose so high they could be seen for miles. There was blood everywhere."

"What are you talking about?" Hakuno would have jumped up if Assassin didn’t have a death grip on her arm. "That…how do you know that? It was an accident…" she whispered. "Just an accident."

Julius looked down at her in disgust. "An accident? You think it was an accident?"

At the same time Assassin twisted Hakuno's arm with tremendous force.

Hakuno didn't know how she made it onto the ground. All she knew was that pain was ripping through her arm as she screamed.

"Good lungs on this one," Assassin said with a chuckle.

Julius kneeled in front of her and grabbed her pinned curls and pulled her head off of the ground. Tears stung her eyes as she tried to push the pain away. "How are you alive?" he snapped.

"I…" She couldn't think through the pain. Was her arm still there? She couldn't feel it, she couldn't move her fingers. It hurt so much. She moved her other hand to try to use her powers to stop the pain but Assassin grabbed it so she couldn't.

"Tell me." Julius shook her head like a rag doll. "How are you still alive?" He released her head but he didn't give her any respite. Instead he delivered a sharp kick into her stomach. "Talk girl. How?"

She couldn't speak. She couldn't think. It hurt. It really hurt.

"Master, at the rate you are going, you are going to kill the girl before you get your answer."

Was that Assassin's voice? It was so far away. She felt something jab her in a vital point and suddenly she was back in the present. The pain was throbbing but it was not as bad as it was before. Now she could actually think.

"I numbed the vital points leading to your arm," Assassin said as he stepped to the side. "Wouldn't want you blacking out now."

Hakuno swallowed and looked up at Julius. He looked down at her coldly. She was just an insect to him. A plaything. She was not going to live after he got the answer out of her. But what was he looking for? Why did he keep asking why she was alive? Why did he keep asking her about six years ago?

She suddenly had flashbacks of the dream she had been having recently. The flames, everything burning, the fear, the blood, the bodies and the figure that she knew that caused it all. No way. It couldn't be. That figure…

A scream tore through her throat as she felt the mental wall start to crumble and memories flooded her mind.

***

"Hakuno. Come on now. You've been at it for hours."

"But mommy!" complained ten-year old Hakuno. She puffed out her cheeks as her mother began picking up the pile of books that were strewn all around the little girl. "I want to get better!" She pounded a fist into her open palm. "I want to help you win the Grail War mom! I want to help you win the next one!"

"Oh Hakuno," Mommy said with a laugh. She kneeled in front of her daughter. "The Grail War is not a safe place for children-you know that. It's dangerous. Remember about the incident I told you about that happened because of the last War?"

"But next time will be different!" protested Hakuno. She nodded. "I'll be able to help you mom! I just know it!"

"Hakuno…"

"Oh let her dream honey." Daddy walked in and rubbed Hakuno's head. "She's your daughter after all. Weren't you saying the same thing when we were kids?"

"Oh stop it!" Her mother laughed as she lightly whacked him on the head.

Hakuno giggled. "Mommy and Daddy are silly."

"Hey now. We aren't silly!" Daddy pinched Hakuno's nose.

Hakuno giggled again. "Daddy!"

"Plus she'll be all grown up by the time the next War happens. Let her help you."

Hakuno looked up at her mother with wide, innocent, determined eyes. "Yes! I'll be all grown up so I will be able to help!" she echoed. "I'll be a great magus by then!"

"Of course you will," laughed Mommy. She smiled down at her daughter and patted her on the head. "I know you will be sweetie…"

A thud came from upstairs.

Mommy and Daddy got up. "You stay down here with Hakuno," instructed Mommy. "I'll check it out." She tightened her hands into fists before she headed upstairs.

"Daddy?" Hakuno looked up in confusion as he pulled her to her feet. "What's going on? Why is Mommy is serious?"

"Shhh sweetie." Daddy grasped her little hand tightly in her own.

His grip on her tightened as another thud came from upstairs and then another. Hakuno thought she could smell something burning now.

"It'll be okay…" he whispered. His grip on her tiny hand tightened.

Why did Daddy look so afraid all of a sudden? "Daddy…what's wrong?" Hakuno felt like someone was watching her. She turned around and screamed. There was a man there, no a boy, he had to be only a couple of years older than her. He was holding a lit torch in hand. It was no normal torch as embers were jumping off of it like they had a mind of their own and began burning whatever they touched.

Daddy shoved Hakuno away from him. He yelled at her to run. She turned and ran for the stairs. She looked back and saw Daddy hit the ground, red blood pouring out of him. The boy's eyes turned to her, cold and dark.

Hakuno tore her gaze away and raced upstairs. Flames licked her the higher she climbed. How did this fire spread here so fast? Magic. What else could it be? Reaching the landing, the hallway was on fire. Smoke curled upwards and flames tried to grab her as she ran. She needed to get away. She glanced back and saw that the boy was slowly following her. No. No, she needed to get away! If he caught her…

Hakuno ran with every ounce of her being. Where could she go? A beam from the ceiling crashed down in front of her, blocking her path. She looked around to find an escape but nothing. There was no way out. She could not go back, the boy was there. Tears poured down her face as she tried to think of where she could go. No…no…she was going to die here…

"No…no…" she whispered. "I don't…" She could see the boy through the smoke now. He was coming towards her. She did not see any weapon in his hand but he had taken down Daddy with no problem. What could she do?

She heard a creaking noise from below her. She looked down at the floorboards by her feet and then up to check the boy's progress. He was moving slowly but he would be in range soon to grab her. Hakuno tightened her hand into a fist as she forced her circuits to open and poured prana into her arm. "Reinforcement..." she whispered before she pounded her fist into the floorboards beneath her. Due to the fact that the house was burning, the floorboards easily gave way and fell through them. She forced prana into her legs to strength them as she landed in the kitchen. Thankfully she did it correctly and her legs were able to absorb the shock without breaking.

Not wanting to wait to see if the boy was following her, she raced towards the front door. On the way she passed through the living room and stopped. "Mommy?" she whispered.

Mommy looked up at her. "Sweetie…I'm so glad you are okay." Mommy was dragging herself along with her arms, her legs in funny angles. "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry."

"Mommy…" Hakuno ran over to her mother's side and put her hands over Mommy's legs. "I'll make the booboo go away."

"No honey, please stop." She reached out and took Hakuno's arm and forced her daughter to stand in front of her. "I want you to listen to me. Run from here. Run and find a house-find someone. Call your Aunt Nomi. Can you remember that?"

"Call Aunt Nomi?"

"Yes sweetie. First thing you do, call Aunt Nomi. Don't tell anyone who you are until you see Aunt Nomi. Do you understand?"

"Yes but…we need to go Mommy. That scary boy is coming here…I know it…" She looked back fearfully. Was the boy going to use the hole she made to reach them? "The house is burning…and Daddy…we need to go back for him."

"Don't worry about the boy…I'll take care of him." Mommy pressed her pointer finger on Hakuno's forehead. She could feel the prana flowing from the finger into her head. "I'm sorry sweetie…I'm so sorry…I don't know if you will ever remember this again and I wish you wouldn't. The world of being a magus is harsh…"

"Mommy…what are you talking about?" Her head was feeling fuzzy. Why was the house burning? Why was she so scared?

"Run sweetie. Run."

Something crashed behind her. She turned to see a boy coming towards them. She shivered. Who was this boy? Why was he so scary-looking?

"Run sweetie. Run." Mommy got to her feet (wasn't her legs broken before?). She touched Hakuno's forehead with her pointer finger and a wave of fear washed over the girl. She needed to run. She needed to get away now.

She turned and ran. Why was she running?

Run.

Why was the house on fire?

Run.

Who was that boy?

Run.

Why did it feel like she was forgetting a lot of things?

Run.

Tears poured down the little girl's face but she didn't understand why. Why…why was she so sad?

***

A sharp kick to her stomach brought Hakuno back to the present. "I killed you with my own two hands!" Julius cried. "I felt your neck snap in my hands but why are you are still alive and here now!?"

Hakuno coughed up blood as he kicked her again. Tears poured down her face. He…he was the one! He was the one who killed her parents. Even though he was older now, she could still remember those eyes. She cried out as he kicked her again.

"Master," warned Assassin. "This is too much even for you. Just kill the girl and be done with it."

"I must know though Assassin. How did a mere girl escape me? As an assassin of the Harwey family, I always made sure the deed was done to the end. And yet this girl is a living survivor. I felt her die by my hands but here she is!"

Hakuno clutched her stomach with her one good hand and she blinked away tears. It hurt. It hurt so much. Everything hurt, everything. Julius had killed her family. She would have died if her mother had not protected her all of these years. Her and Aunt Nomi. All these years…Aunt Nomi had protected her.

What was left? She knew the truth now. She understood the meaning of her dreams. They were not dreams but horrible memories she wished to forget. She rested her head on the cold concrete ground. No point. There was no point now. Everything hurt…everything hurt so much…

Her eyes wandered to her left arm. The arm warmers were ripped and Hakuno could see the red marks of her command seal. She glanced up and saw that Julius and Assassin were not paying attention to her for the moment. They seemed to be arguing about her.

"Archer…" she whispered as she gazed at the command seals. "Please Archer…help me…" She shut her eyes as she tried to move. She bit her lip hard as pain ripped through her. "Archer..." she whispered. "Help me..."

The top part of her command seal turned gray as her Servant materialized in front of her. Assassin whirled in shock and he was about to disappear when Archer threw what appeared to be a gem at him. Assassin cursed in response to whatever the gem did.

Hakuno struggled to a sitting position and screamed in pain. It felt like her ribs were broken.

Archer looked back at her in concern when he heard her cry out. His expression darkened when he saw her lying there. "Heal yourself as best you can. It'll be over soon," he whispered softly to her before he turned to face Assassin. Julius was backing up a few steps but he did not seem worried. Archer began to chant, "I am the bone of my sword, Steel is my body and fire is my blood. I have created over a thousand blades. Unknown to death, nor known to life. Have withstood pain to create many weapons, yet, those hands will never hold anything. So as I pray, unlimited blade works."

Hakuno’s eyes widen as fire that did not have heat began to spread to form a boundary. At the same time a bright light masked her vision and when it disappeared, everyone was now in a huge, hazy barren desert that was littered with swords buried into the ground. Huge gears could be seen in the distance. Reality marble?

Archer didn't even hesitate before he started attacking Assassin with the many swords within the reality marble. Why didn't Assassin do his little vanishing act like before? Did it have something to do with the gem that Archer had thrown at him?

"You…"

Hakuno turned her head to see that Julius was glaring at her. He wasn't even fazed by the Servants fighting nearby. She sucked in a deep breath and tried not to scream as pain ripped through her. She put a hand over her abdomen and forced her magic circuits open to heal the injury.

Julius took a couple steps towards her but he ended up having to retreat as swords dropped where he had been standing moments before.

She focused her attention back on healing herself. With her memory back, she finally understood why she was never good at healing herself. She never did that when she was a child. She used reinforcement to protect herself from pain and injury. Her healing skills were for others.

Her head began to spin wildly when she finally healed her abdomen enough to not be in pain whenever she moved. She turned her attention to her arm and bit her lip as she realized it was not in the correct position. She would need to move it into place to heal it. She checked to see where Julius was. He was standing far enough away from her that he could touch her. He was glaring at her though with those cold eyes. She bit her lip and tried to push away the dizziness as she rested her hand on her broken arm. She sucked in another deep breath and gave her arm a hard yank.

A scream tore out of her throat before the darkness claimed her again.

Chapter Text

Archer heard her scream in pain and he whirled around to check on her. Had Julius snuck past him even after he had issued the warning? No. She was untouched. She was just lying on the ground; it looked like she had just fallen unconscious. His eyes narrowed as he noticed that her left hand was near her broken right arm. Was she that big of an idiot that she would try to move it back into place by herself after healing her other injuries? He sighed. Why was he not surprised that she did that?

He turned his attention back to Assassin. The opposing Servant was impaled with tons of blades to the point that it was difficult to see the Servant underneath them all. The fight had been, sadly, incredibly easy. Archer already knew all of Assassin's tricks and once he used the gem he got from Rin to disrupt Assassin's chi to prevent him from turning invisible, the Servant was no problem at all. If only it was this easy the first time.

He turned his attention towards Julius as his noble phantasm began fading away. The assassin backed up a few steps and picked up one of the candles that littered the ground. Archer summoned his bow and pointed an arrow at Julius. He would pay for what he did to Hakuno. Both now and back then.

Before Archer could fire the arrow, Julius threw the candle against the ground. The top part of the battery-powered candle burst and embers flew from it in all directions. Even though the floor was made from concrete, the flames took and began eating away at it. As the flames touched the other candles, they also burst and spread out more embers.

Archer gritted his teeth as Julius began running. He could have fired at Julius and probably hit him but the flames were spreading ridiculously fast and he had a more pressing matter to take care of.

He ran over to Hakuno and gently scooped up his unconscious Master into his arms. Her broken arm hung limply, and he was glad she was not awake so she would not feel pain as he ran. The heat was already burning into his back as he got up and turned around.

Were these the flames that Hakuno mentioned from her dreams? Knowing that he needed to get out of there now before they burned to death or suffocated from the smoke, he began running in the direction that Julius had disappeared.

It seemed like the fire had a mind of its own as it tried to attack him. He dodged the embers and flying flames left and right. The room let out into a corridor and he saw a glass window right in front of him. Shards of glass littered the ground which made it pretty obvious that Julius had used the same window to escape.

He jumped out of the window and ran a couple feet away until he could not feel the heat of the flames pressing against his back. He turned around and saw a house was covered in flames. Thankfully the window had led to the back of the house as many people were already gathering in the front of it along with the fire department.

He checked to make sure Hakuno was alright. She was sound asleep in his arms and other than her broken arm she didn't look any worse for wear. He sighed in relief before he took a mighty leap as he headed for her house. He checked on her every now and then and silently apologized as her broken arm was jarred time and time again.

Rin got up from the front steps as he landed in front of the house. Her eyes widen. "Is Hakuno okay? What happened?"

"Yeah, she's just unconscious," he replied. "Her arm is broken but I think she was able to heal all of her internal injuries." Archer saw that Lancer was keeping watch on the roof. The reason why, Archer had no idea but at least with Lancer up there, the Servant could not make a comment and snap the last of Archer's nerves for the night. Lancer waved at them before he continued his guard duty.

Rin took the spare key from under the floor mat and opened the front door. "I have a gem I can use to heal her broken arm. Is there anything else? Anything internal?"

"I think she healed them herself but just in case, can you do something as well?"

"Sure. Maybe drop her off in her room? I can get her changed too. That dress is probably super uncomfortable to sleep in."

"Thanks Rin."

"No problem." She led the way upstairs. "Was it Julius?"

"Yeah." Archer gritted his teeth as he thought of the state Hakuno had been in when he had appeared in that room. If Assassin had not been the most pressing matter and if the room had not been on fire, he would have done to Julius what he did to her and then some. "Assassin is gone but Julius is still out there."

"I'll see if I can find him," promised Rin. She opened the door to Hakuno's room. She threw her hair over her shoulder. "He's going to regret his whole life when I'm through with him."

"If I don't get to him first." Archer gently put Hakuno down on the bed. "Her pajamas are in the third drawer."

Rin raised an eyebrow but she didn't question how Archer knew that. She pulled a gem out of her pocket and walked over to the bed. "You can leave me with her. She'll be fine."

Archer nodded and looked down at his Master. Barring the messy hair, ripped dress and broken arm, she looked like she was sleeping peacefully. In a way, like a brunette Sleeping Beauty. He tore his gaze away from her and headed quickly for the door before he did something he would regret later in front of Rin. "Take good care of her okay?"

"Don't worry, I will," Rin promised before she held the gem over Hakuno's body.

***

"Thank you! Thank you so very much!"

Hakuno looked up from her coloring book and saw a lady was hugging Mommy in the hallway. She got to her feet and walked over as Mommy closed the front door. "Hey sweetie," Mommy said as she looked down at her daughter. Her eyes were tired but the twinkle was still there.

"You helped that lady Mommy? You made her bad dreams go away?"

"Yes sweetie, I did."

"I can't wait until I can do that too Mommy! I will help soooo many people! I'll make all of the bad stuff go away for everyone in the world!"

Mommy chuckled and kneeled in front of her daughter. "Listen to me Hakuno, even though I helped that lady forget the bad things in her life, it's not good to forget all of the bad things. Those bad things help you grow and become a better person. There's good in them too."

"But…those bad things make people sad." Hakuno tilted her head to the side. "How can they be good too?"

"It's hard to explain but bad memories are both good and bad. You'll understand in time Hakuno, don't worry."

"But why don't you just alter the bad memories so they aren't sad anymore?" asked Hakuno. "So the memories will still be there but they won't be sad!"

"That's…hard…" Mommy shook her head. "It's not something that can be used lightly Hakuno. Blocking off memories is easier than changing them."

"Oh…" Hakuno bit her lip.

Mommy gave Hakuno a quick hug before standing. "Don't worry about that sweetie. Why don't you go find your father and get a lesson on reinforcement?"

"But Mommy…" Hakuno whined with a small frown. Mommy was always like this about her memory abilities. Why didn't she want Hakuno to learn lots about them? She knew she was a good magus! Daddy said she was a prodigy in learning reinforcement. At the rate she was going, she was going to be a reinforcement master by the time Mommy let her learn how to manipulate memories.

As if she could sense Hakuno’s disappointment, Mommy said, "Come to the kitchen. Let's drink some hot chocolate before my next appointment."

Hakuno frowned but she followed Mommy into the kitchen. She sat in her usual chair as Mommy heated up some milk. She kicked her legs back and forth as Mommy walked over to her with two cups of hot chocolate. She set a cup in front of Hakuno before sitting across from her.

Hakuno took her cup and gently blew on it before she took a sip.

"Good?"

"Good," Hakuno said with a grin.

"That's good…" Mommy looked down at her cup without drinking it. Her eyes were no longer twinkling. Instead they looked sad.

"Mommy?"

Mommy looked up at Hakuno and gave her a smile. "Sweetie. I know you are disappointed that I won't teach you about the memory powers I have but…it isn't something I can teach you."

"What do you mean?" Hakuno's eyes widen. "Is it something that I need to read about? Do I not know enough yet?" She clenched her small hands into fists. "I'll learn Mommy! I'll read more! I…I will learn everything I need to know so I can do it!"

Mommy shook her head. "No honey. It's not like that…" She looked into her hot chocolate and her fingers tapped against the cup. She looked up at her daughter. "Hakuno, I...I need to tell you something important."

Hakuno's eyes got even wider than before. Mommy was going to tell her something important? She leaned forward in her chair. "What is it Mommy? What is it?" She fidgeted back and forth in her seat. "I'll listen good Mommy."

"I know you will sweetie," Mommy said with a small laugh. Her smile slipped away. "Usually you would learn about this when you are older but..."

"Mommy?" prompted Hakuno.

"Sorry. Anyway, the Kishinami family has a special…ability, let's call it that. It's an ability that binds people to you and you to them except only you will be able to understand it and take advantage of it."

Hakuno tilted her head to the side in confusion. "Mommy…what do you mean?"

"I know this is difficult to understand but there will come a time in your life when you will meet someone you've never met before but you will feel like you have. You will feel an unexplainable connection to a person and won't understand why you feel that way. Do not be afraid of whenever this happens. It is normal for the Kishinamis. These 'bonds' that tie people together are the backbone of our power. The connections, the truth behind them, that is the true power of our family. Once you understand the meaning, then you will understand why I cannot teach you how to manipulate memories."

Hakuno's little face scrunched up as she tried to understand what Mommy was talking about. "I don't understand Mommy…"

"I know it doesn't make much sense now honey." She rubbed her daughter's head. "Hopefully I can tell you more about it when you are older. It's a great power to have Hakuno although very confusing at first." She laughed as she took a sip of her hot chocolate. "I hope I can teach you how to use it well," she said softly.

"Mommy?" Why did it seem like Mommy was so sad although she looked so happy? Did she have a tummy ache? Hakuno always felt bad when she had those but she would still want to eat cake anyway.

The doorbell rang.

"Oh, that must be my next client." Mommy got to her feet. "Finish your hot chocolate and then go find your father, okay?"

"Okay Mommy." Hakuno took another sip of the hot chocolate.

***

Hakuno opened her eyes and her first thought was that the ceiling looked like the one from her bedroom. She slowly turned her head and realized that she actually was in her bedroom. How did she get back here? She used both arms to help herself sit up.

Wait. Both arms?

She looked down at her right arm and flex her fingers. It was like it had never been broken. She also noticed she was no longer in the dress but in pajamas. How?

"You're awake."

She looked up as Archer walked into her room. He sat down at the foot of her bed. "How are you feeling?" he asked gently.

"Fine…" she replied. "Just confused to how we ended up back here and why my arm is suddenly not broken anymore."

"Rin healed you with one of her gems," he explained. "You've been sleeping for hours now. It's noon."

            "Oh," she said. She poked her right arm. Wow. That gem was impressive. Maybe she should take up jewel magic on the side. She looked up at Archer as a question entered her mind.  “What…what happened with Assassin and Julius?"

"Assassin is gone. I took care of him. Julius though…he got away. Those candles he had in the room, there was something in them. The embers that came out of it burned anything it touched so I needed to get you out of there."

Embers that burned anything? Hakuno wrapped her arms around herself as she thought back to the flames from six years ago. It had to be the same power. "At least Assassin is gone," she whispered. "Julius can't win the War now…"

Hakuno jumped as Archer shifted closer and put his arms around her. "Master…stop it. I know you are trying to not cry right now. Just…let it out, okay?"

"No, no! I'm fine! I….I…" She rubbed her eyes as tears started to fall as the mental wall that she had put up to prevent herself from remembering everything crumbled. "No really, I'm fine…I'm fine…" Her body spasmed as she sobbed into Archer's shirt for probably the hundredth time. "Archer…I remember everything….those dreams I've been having…they…"

"They were not dreams but memories," Archer filled in.

She looked up at her Servant in surprise. "How…"

Archer looked guilty. "Your aunt," he relented. "She told me. Not everything but I was able to figure it out for myself after you explained what you saw in your memories."

She gripped Archer's shirt tightly in her fingers as she tried to stop herself from crying. Aunt Nomi...it was true then. This whole time, Aunt Nomi knew, Aunt Nomi protected her. Her aunt had acted happy this whole time even though she knew everything.

"She didn't regret any of it though. She did it all for you. She loves you Master. She doesn't see anything wrong in what she did." He gave her a small smile. "Besides, do you really think your aunt could be mad at anyone for long?"

Hakuno gave Archer her own smile through her tears. "Yeah. I don't think she could." Her smile slipped as she rested her forehead against Archer's chest. "I…I don't want to remember it Archer…it's just so horrible…and…"

"Shhh, I know," he soothed. Like every time before, when she had the nightmares, Archer massaged her back gently. "Just let it all out."

Hakuno took the incentive and cried. She didn't know how long she cried. All she knew was her tears and Archer's comforting arms around her, protecting her from anything else that could hurt her. He was silent during the whole ordeal as he let her cry it out.

Her eyes hurt and head ached before she felt a little bit better. "Sorry about your shirt," she whispered as she lifted her head. "I'm really ruining all of them, aren't I?"

"Don't worry about my shirts." Archer rubbed her head.

She shifted away from him and rubbed her eyes. "I probably look like such a mess right now. Sorry Your Master is always a big mess. Always crying for every little thing."

"Don't worry about it," he whispered before he got up from the bed. "I'll get you some food. Just stay here and relax."

"No, no. I can get up." She had already been a useless, crying lump all day so far. She could make it down to the kitchen with no problem!

Archer put his hands on her shoulders and forced her to sit back down on her bed. "Relax. You had a rough night. We have the day off so just relax okay?"

Hakuno frowned but she knew he would not be persuaded otherwise, so she just nodded. He walked over to the door and checked back to make sure she didn't move before he left.

She sighed and fell back on her bed. "Mommy…Daddy…" she whispered. She pressed her hands against her eyes as she felt a fresh wave of tears rise up. She didn't think she could cry again after all the crying she did but it looked like there were some tears in her after all.

To stop herself crying again, she thought of the dream she had before she had woken. "A power that only the Kishinami have…" she whispered. "The power of bonds…" What did her mom mean by what she said? How were unexplained connections related?

Archer and Gilgamesh…both men she had an unexplained connection to. How was this related to this "bond" concept? She bit her lip, sat up and grabbed her phone from her bedside table and made a call. She put her phone to her ear and heard it ring. It was picked up on the third one.

"Hakuno? What's up? I don't have long to talk, is something wrong?"

"Hey Aunt Nomi." Hakuno sat cross-legged on her bed. She bit her lip and sighed. There was no way to go around the issue. "What's the 'bond' power that the Kishinami household possesses?"

Silence on the other end. Hakuno checked her phone but the line had not been disconnected.

"You remember everything?" Aunt Nomi's voice was quiet. It was the quietest Hakuno had ever heard Nomi speak.

"Yeah.”

"Give me a moment." Scuffling came from Nomi's end. "Okay, back now. As for what you asked before, I'm sorry Hakuno but I never learned anything about it. I was the useless daughter in the family-my magic circuits never developed enough that I could learn it so I was left out on most of it. Your mother did throw me hints here and there but it isn't anything that could be useful to you. Just stuff like, 'I can do crazy memory things now' and 'bonds are what connect us to others'. Pretty useless if you ask me."

"Well thanks anyway Aunt Nomi." Maybe it was expecting too much for Aunt Nomi to know.

"No problem. Are you okay though? With everything?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Hakuno rubbed her eyes. "It was just a shock mostly, just remembering everything just like that…" She could feel tears starting to well up again. No, no, no. She couldn't start crying again. "Aunt Nomi. I'm…sorry…for everything I put you through and-"

"Now, now, don't you go apologizing to me. I knew what I was doing when I took you in. Probably the only favor I could actually do for your mother, she was the great one in family."

Hakuno bit her lip. "Thank you Aunt Nomi…for everything. Really."

"Now, now, you better not be crying over there or I'm going to fly back right now and slap you."

"Nope, I'm not crying at all." Hakuno forced herself to smile even though Nomi would not be able to see it. "I'm smiling-like you always do."

"Good girl. Be strong over there okay? Go finish this War, beat everyone that stands in your way! Stand proud! We can talk about this once everything is over, okay?"

"Right, I will Aunt Nomi!"

"Oh and one final thing. Hurry up and get married to that Servant of yours. He will make a great husband and I think it would be awesome to have some great nieces and nephews to fawn over!"

"AUNT NOMI!"

Nomi laughed from the other end before hanging up.

Hakuno tossed her phone on the other side of her bed. Seriously, what kind aunt was Nomi? She should not be promoting that kind of behavior! Agh! Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts! She lightly tapped her fists against her head to remove that mental image.

"I'm back." said Archer as he walked in with a bowl. Based on the smell, it had to be rice porridge. Hakuno could not look him in the eye as she thought of what Aunt Nomi said. So embarrassing!

"Did you call someone?" he asked as he handed her the bowl and picked up her phone off of the bed.

"My aunt," she replied as she picked up the spoon and took a bite of the porridge. Like always, anything Archer made was amazing. The porridge was warm and comforting and soothed her aching head a little bit. "I told her I remember everything. And I asked her about…" She trailed off. Did she want to tell Archer about this power that she apparently possessed that she knew nothing about? It wasn't like she could give him any answer though. But why did she want to keep it a secret in the first place?

"What did you ask her about?" he prompted. He rested his thumb against his middle finger. "Don't make me use this."

Hakuno would have covered her forehead if she wasn't holding the porridge bowl. "I asked her about the feelings I've been having. The unexplainable ones..." She bit her lip. "Aunt Nomi could not help but…I had another dream-a memory dream-and in that dream…my mom talked about it."

Archer sat up a little straighter. "So?" he prompted.

"Apparently this feeling I've been having is related to the power of… 'bonds' between people." She shrugged when Archer gave her a questioning look. "I don't know. My mom was not very forthcoming with details, I was only nine. But anyway, it's a power my family has. I don't know what the power is but these feelings are related…" She shook her head. "I don't understand how but, it's something I guess?"

"Yeah. Maybe you can ask Rin for help?" he suggested.

"Yeah…"

Silence filled the air between them.

"I'll be downstairs if you need me," Archer said. "I noticed that a layer of dust was starting to collect on the table downstairs."

"You really like doing housework don't you?"

"No, I don't," he said quickly. "I do not enjoy it at all."

Hakuno grinned. "Oh really? I totally believe that one."

"Just eat your porridge," Archer rolled his eyes and lightly flicked her forehead before he walked out of her room.

Chapter Text

Once Hakuno finished her porridge, she put the bowl on her desk. Now what? Archer had said they had the day off and that she should relax in her room but she wanted to do everything but that.

After pacing around her room and attempting to find something interesting to do in her closet she decided it was probably for the best if she tackled schoolwork. She grabbed her textbooks and opened her math one. She tried to learn the material for the next chapter so she wouldn't be too lost once this War was over but no matter how much she tried to focus on how "x" related to "y", it was not sticking. After about fifteen minutes of trying to solve one problem, she flung her textbook to the ground and got to her feet.

"Screw relaxing," she murmured. She picked up the bowl and left her room. One flight of stairs later, she found Archer in the living room, vacuuming the carpet. She silently stood in the doorway and watched him. It was a very funny sight, she had to admit. Her strong, tall, powerful Servant, was doing menial labor.

"I thought I told you to relax." He turned off the vacuum.

"I couldn't," she admitted. "It feels weird to just sit around and do nothing after we've been running around day in and out. I know, I know," she added quickly before he could remind her of everything she had been through last night. "I know that a lot of stuff happened but…I feel better now…" She looked down and wiggled her toes into the carpet. "I'm sad about everything that happened but at the same time I'm okay. It happened years ago and even if I'm upset now, it isn't going to change anything."

She knew she was probably not making much sense at all. "Anyway," she said, "do you want some help?"

She thought he was going to say no but Archer just nodded. "If you feel up to it, sure."

"Great! I'll just put this in the sink."

After Hakuno dropped off the bowl,Archer immediately put her to work on dusting off the shelves. She was never a huge fan of cleaning the house; it was just something she did to keep the house looking great whenever Aunt Nomi came back for a visit. However, cleaning up with Archer was strangely fun even though he was quiet except to give her instructions on how to do something or tell her she was doing something wrong.

"You know, you are really not helping your case that you hate doing housework," Hakuno pointed out after he had taught her the right way to clean a TV.

"I don't," he insisted. He was going to flick her forehead but she jumped away in time. Ha! She had some athletic skill after all!

"Yeah, sure." she rolled her eyes. Having a thought, she put her hands behind her back. "You don't need me to help you anymore right?"

"I didn't need your help before either and by the way, I don't like doing housework."

Hakuno ignored him. "Well…don't come into the kitchen then. I'm going to be in there."

"You're going to cook dinner?" Archer stared at her in disbelief.

"I can cook!" She puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms. "That's not it though…I'm not going to be making dinner. Just don't come into the kitchen okay?"

"Fine," he said with a sigh. "Just don't make too much of a mess okay?"

"I'm not a little kid!" She cracked a small smile before she headed for the kitchen.

***

Archer was getting really nervous after the fifth crash.

When he had heard the first crash come from the kitchen, he had dropped everything and hurried over to make sure she was alright. Before he could even take one step into the kitchen, she had yelled that everything was fine and that he should not worry, and he should go away.

"How can she expect me not to worry," he murmured after he heard another crash and Hakuno cursed. Whose brilliant idea was this? Why did he think it was a good idea to let her into the kitchen? With her problem-magnet, she would end up cutting her hand off with a knife or worse.

He pressed his fingertips against his forehead. This was ridiculous. Yes, Hakuno may be prone to getting into trouble, but this was too much worrying, even for him. His thoughts drifted to Moon Cell Hakuno. He didn't worry about her as much as he did this Hakuno at all. She was competent, able to make decisions after thinking things through and although she did get into trouble, at the same time it wasn't like trouble followed her like a magnet to iron.

However, even with all the trouble she got into, Hakuno was strong. She had regained her memories and he had thought she was going to mope around for the day but after crying it out she had returned to normal. Well sort of. Her eyes were still troubled and she wasn't as peppy as she usually was but other than that, she was the same.

Even though they were different in so many ways, the same core traits were there. And that made it ten times more difficult for him. If only she was completely different, like more selfish, then maybe this wouldn't be so hard…

He broke out of his thoughts as Hakuno walked back into the living room. After giving her a quick once over, he concluded that she had not injured herself despite all the crashing sounds. She also appeared to be relatively clean except for some spots of flour here and there.

"It's going to take twenty minutes for it to bake," she explained.

"Out of all of the things, I didn't expect you to bake a cake," he commented, more in surprise than anything else.

"What is that supposed to mean?" she huffed. "I'll have you know I can actually bake! I impressed my class in sixth grade with my baking talents!"

"I'm sure those sixth graders thought your cakes were amazing." Archer rolled his eyes but he was smiling slightly.

She puffed out her cheeks as she plopped down on the couch next to him. "I'll have you know I am an amazing cake baker. Honestly, I am the best cake baker of all the cake bakers that all cake bakers are jealous of my cake bakingness."

"I'm not even going to comment on that." He leaned over and began dusting off the spots of flour on her face.

"Stop that!" She flailed her arms in protest in front of her face. She puffed out her cheeks again. "Not everyone can be a clean baker."

"Well not everyone can beat your apparent 'bakingness'." He poked her puffed out cheek.

She flailed again before retreating to the other end of the couch. "Can you stop that?" She rubbed the spot where he had poked her and began dusting herself off to the best of her ability.

"You are always so easy to tease Master."

She frowned as she shifted so her back was against the armrest and she was looking directly at him. "I am sorry that my antics somehow amuse you so despite the fact I'm not doing anything on purpose."

If only she knew what he really thought of her antics! It was so adorable and unique to her. Moon Cell Hakuno never did anything like that. There was no time to relax and have fun there. The War was the forefront of everything they did plus due to her lack of memory, she was not as carefree as this Hakuno was.

"Hey Archer?"

"Yes?"

Hakuno bit her lip as her eyes traveled around the room. "This…this might be a personal question but…if…if you could actually bring back the woman you loved…would you?"

Was she talking about the wish from the Grail? "I told you before. The Grail cannot grant that wish. She cannot be brought back." She was only a string of ones and zeros. Not even the Grail could make her a real-live breathing human. And on top of that, Moon Cell Hakuno was from a different world.

"But if it could, would you?" she pressed.

He thought back to Moon Cell Hakuno's smile, the fear in her eyes whenever they were ambushed in the arena, the worry on her face whenever he got hurt, and her crying face when she was absorbed back into the Moon Cell. A wave of sadness washed over him. She never got to experience anything besides the Grail War. Her original purpose was to be an NPC, there was no way she could have a normal life. What would he do if it was possible to bring her back?

He looked up at the girl sitting across from him. She looked so much like her but at the same wasn't her. He couldn't fool himself with the thought that Moon Cell Hakuno was living on within this Hakuno but at the same time he couldn't deny it to himself either. "Yes," he relented. "If I could…I would. Although, I don't know if that is what she would want."

"What do you mean?"

"She gave up her life in order to save others from suffering. If by saving her, it would undo all of the hard work she had put into to getting that far, I know she would not want to be saved." He thought of how she had held her head high and walked into the Moon Cell even knowing it would delete her existence. "Why are you asking this?"

She put her arms around herself. "I was thinking about what wish I could make on the Grail if I do win. There's only four Masters left in the War now and I think it is really hitting me that the end is in sight." She pulled her knees to her chest. "And well, I realized that I'm going to need a wish for the Grail."

"You were thinking of asking the Grail to revive your parents?"

She nodded. "I was but…after what you said, I don't think they would want that." She looked up at Archer. "You said you won a Grail War when you were alive right? What did you wish for?"

"Nothing," he replied. "It was destroyed and that was the end of that. The Grail could not grant any wish. This one might be different," he added quickly. "Grails in different worlds function differently."

She nodded slowly but she still did not look convinced. "I think what's bugging me is that I still don't have a wish at all. I know Rin wants it for the Tohsaka name, Leo wants it so the Harweys can expand, and I guess Ilya and Rani want it for the Einzberns for some reason or another. Everyone else wants the Grail for their family name, or to grant a wish to help their families but what about me? It's not like I have a magus family that I can give the Grail to, the only wish I can have the Grail grant is something I want and…I don't know what kind of wish would be worthy of using the Grail to grant."

"You will figure it out. You still have time."

Hakuno shook her head. "How much time? The War could be over tomorrow for all we know! I was just thrown into this War with no warning, I was not prepared or anything. I'm just…here…"

She silently looked down at her hands. "About two weeks ago I didn't even know I was a magus. I had no memory of it and now I'm healing and able to use reinforcement. And yet…I still don't know the power that is held by the Kishinami household…" She looked up. "This 'bonds' power…would asking about that be worthy enough for the Grail?”

“No," she answered her own question. "It wouldn't. That's something I can figure out by myself-maybe. I have nothing. I have nothing that I could ask the Grail."

Archer shifted closer to her so her toes were touching his leg. "You still have time," he said. "Stop overthinking it. Even if you can't think of a wish when we obtain the Grail, I will still fight alongside you until the end and I will help you think of a wish then."

She smiled. "Thanks Archer."

Archer stared at her. At the moment she reminded him so much of Moon Cell Hakuno. The way she tilted her head slightly, the way she shut her eyes as she smiled, everything the same. He reached out and gently cupped her cheek in his hand.

"Archer?" she whispered as her eyes widen slightly.

He leaned in slowly. A small voice in the back of his head was screaming at him to stop but he shoved that voice away. She didn't move as he got closer and closer to her face. His lips were mere centimeters away from hers when he hesitated to check her reaction. Nothing. She had not moved, she had not pushed him away, she just stood still, her eyes wide as dinner saucers.

An alarm rang from the kitchen.

Archer jerked back in surprise.

"Oh! That's the cake! It's ready!" Hakuno jumped to her feet and raced towards the kitchen. He watched her go before he pressed a hand against his head. What the hell was he doing? What the hell had he almost done? "Damn it," he whispered.

***

Hakuno's face was on fire. She touched her cheeks and felt ridiculous amounts of heat coming off them. Ack! She didn't want to know how she looked to anyone else right now. What the heck was Archer doing? They had just been talking and then he went and did something like that!

She chewed her lip as she turned off the alarm and checked the cake with a toothpick. Clean. After she took the cake out of the oven and put it on the cooling rack, she turned and leaned against the counter as she thought of what just happened.

Archer didn't like her like that right? She put her hand to her lips. But then why did it seem like he was going to kiss her? Maybe he was just going to transfer some prana? Yeah! That had to be it! She probably looked pale and icky right now that he just wanted to give her some prana. However, the way he had went about it…

"What the heck is going on?" she whispered. It wasn't like she was going to stop him though. She put a hand on her cheek where his hand had been. She had felt something more when he had been leaning in. Her heart had been pounding (heck, it still was) and she actually wanted him to kiss her. Maybe even more…

Ack! What was she thinking!? She hit her head a few times with her fists. "Go away thoughts…go away," she whispered. Even with all that, the one that that scared her the most was the feelings she had when he was leaning in. It was something she had never felt before. It was like there was fire in her stomach along with a sense of something for her Servant. It was like she could put herself into his hands and she knew she would be fine, no matter what he did to her. Trust that rose above anything she could feel with anyone else but him. No. It was different. More than that. What could she call it? What could she call this feeling?

"Love…" she whispered as the word floated into her mind. No way. It couldn't be. It couldn't be that! How was that possible? "I barely know him… but how…" The power of bonds, the unexplainable connection. Why did it get even worse for her now? Why did her feelings get even stronger? Was her power related to it?

She checked the cake and saw it was finally cool enough that she could start frosting it. She grabbed the bowl of frosting and got to work. "It's silly," she whispered. "He wasn't thinking like that…not way." She had seen how his face had softened when he spoke about her. The feelings he felt for her were real. He loved her that was obvious. That woman was competent, Hakuno was stupid and unable to do anything right without messing up the first time.

She rubbed her eyes as she felt tears press against them. What the heck? Why was she getting so upset about this? "Idiot! Idiot!" she repeated to herself. "You are an idiot! Why are you crying over something like this!? He's only your Servant. He doesn't care about you like that even if he did let you cry on him on multiple occasions, slept in the same bed as you for comfort and kissed you like that…"

She gritted her teeth and focused on icing the cake. If only she could talk to Rin about this! They were not going to be meeting up with her until tomorrow though and this wasn't something she could tell Rin over the phone.

Thankfully though, her heart was starting to slow and the burst of love was fading away as well, however she could still feel it, simmering under the surface. "This bond power is more annoying than it is worth," she mumbled. Was it her power at work or her stupid hormones? Either way, she didn't like it.

Once the cake was fully frosted she took a deep breath cut two slices and put them on plates before going back to the living room. "Well, I brought cake!" she said happily. Inwardly she winced at how high her voice was.

It seemed like Archer did not realize that her voice was stupidly high as he just took one of the plates with no questions whatsoever. She knew that she could not stand to sit on the same couch with him for the moment so she decided to sit on the floor.

"So?" she asked quietly as he took a bite.

He looked down at the cake in surprise and then at her. "I…I wasn't expecting that. It's very light. It's obviously a chocolate cake but it isn't dense at all. The frosting also compliments it very well."

"See? I told you I live up to my bakingness!" Why did everything she say sound so forced?

"Yes, you win with your bakingness," he relented.

"Of course I do!" she said proudly. Silence hung in the air as they both silently ate their slices of cake.

"Look," he said. "I'm…sorry. That was uncalled for."

It took her a moment to realize what he was talking about. "Oh no! It's fine!" she said quickly. "I mean of course it surprised me and stuff but you were probably just thinking of transferring me some prana cause it looks like I needed it because I'm a mess right now right? Well I'm fine! Don't worry about me! Everything is fine and a-okay!" She gently bit her tongue to prevent herself from babbling on. What was she saying?

"Transfer prana…" he said softly. "Yes. That's it."

"Archer?" Was she imagining it or did he look hurt?

Archer got to his feet and plucked her plate out of her hands. "You shouldn't be eating cake so close to dinner time. It will ruin your appetite."

"Hey!" she complained. "But you got to eat the whole slice!" She crossed her arms and puffed out her cheeks. "No fair."

"I'm going to go get dinner started. Is there any destruction in the kitchen I should know about?"

"I was very clean!" she complained. "Don't worry."

"Alright. Sit tight then and wait."

Hakuno did not relax until Archer had left. She crawled over to the couch and leaned against it. It was a bit better now but at the same time it wasn't. Why did her life just seem to get ten times more confusing every day?

Chapter Text

Hakuno collapsed on her bed. Dinner had been an awkward affair. Archer was silent, and she had kept her eyes glued to her food. She didn't know what he was thinking about but all she could think about was what he had done, almost done to be more exact.

"What is going on with my life?" She buried her face into her pillow. The War was bad enough, why was a possible love life thrown into the mix? Her face began to heat up and she buried it deeper in her pillow "Stop thinking of this brain! This is so gahhh!"

She paused in her cry of frustration when she heard footsteps on the stairs. She held her breath as she listened as the footsteps came in the direction of her room. They paused outside her door and she stiffened. However, a couple seconds later she heard the footsteps move away and to the room next door. She released her breath when she heard the door close with a loud thud.

Disappointment filled her. Although she didn't want him in her room, at the same time it felt weird for him to not be in here with her.

"I'm like one of those stupid squealing girls," she murmured. What kind of respectable girl wanted a guy in her room? "I'm totally fine!" she huffed as she sat up. She hit her cheeks a couple of times. "Yeah! I'm my own girl! I don't need him in here with me!"

It was still early so she picked up her textbooks from the floor and attempted to learn some of the new material.

***

Hakuno was floating in darkness. "This dream again…" she murmured. She looked around but like every other time she had this dream there was nothing but darkness around her.

"Hello?" she called. Where was the girl that looked like her? "Girl that looks like me? Where are you? Anyone here? Hello!?"

Nothing.

She tried swimming in a random direction, but she didn't know if she was getting anywhere. There was no point of reference, no movement in the darkness around her. She wasn’t sure if her flailing strokes were doing anything at all. However, she did notice that the darkness was lighter now, more bluish in color. "Huh, looks like they got a decorator in. Bluish black darkness is in I guess."

"Bluish black darkness? I guess you could call it that."

Hakuno jumped and whirled around. There she was, the girl that looked like her. She looked the exact same as always but the tattoos all over her skin were lighter than before.

"Oh hey," said Hakuno. "Didn't see you there. Although there is nothing here to see but yeah."

The girl laughed. "Yeah there isn't much here in terms of decoration sadly." Her smile slipped. "I'm sorry. For everything. Things are confusing for you right now isn't it? I'm sorry. It's all my fault. Just a little longer though."

"A little bit longer for what?" pushed Hakuno. "And what are you apologizing for?"

The girl shook her head. "It's best if you don't know for me-trust me, it'll confuse you even more. Or hurt you," she added softly.

The girl looked so sad that all Hakuno wanted to do was run up and hug her. "What do you mean it might hurt me?" She touched her right arm. Would it hurt as much as when Assassin broke her arm?

She shook her head. "Not physical pain." Before Hakuno could ask what she meant, the girl looked back like she thought she heard something. She returned her attention to HakunoHHakuno and Hakuno wasn't sure but it looked like the tattoos on the girl were darker now. "And here I thought I would get a bit more time to chat with you." She sighed and waved goodbye. "Talk to you again soon! Oh, and don't hold it against him. He's having a hard time right now."

***

Hakuno opened her eyes. Another strange dream with the girl that looked like her. Who was she? What was she referring to when she mentioned it being her fault? Also who was she referring to when she mentioned "him"? It couldn't be Archer right?

She shook her head. No way. How could that girl know about Archer? But that girl did look like her. Was there a connection between the two of them that she had no idea about?

She shook her head again. Thinking about this was not going to help anything now. Maybe she would have another dream soon and then she could talk to the girl again and actually get answers.

Hakuno got out of bed and went through her morning routine as slow as she possibly could. However, in the end she knew she was going to have to go downstairs and face him whether she liked it or not.

Once she reached the dining room, she found only one place setting for her. Her Servant was nowhere in sight and she couldn't hear movement in the kitchen. This reminds me of when we first became Master and Servant.

She silently sat at her spot and had breakfast as quickly as possible. When she was done, she took the dishes into the kitchen and washed them. Where was Archer? "Whatever, I don't need him around me twenty-four seven…" she murmured.

"You ready to go?" He leaned against the kitchen doorway. Was he in spirit form before or something? She noticed that he was not looking at her as he spoke. "Rin's expecting us in an hour."

"Oh, right. Let me grab my purse." She hurried past her Servant and retrieved the purse from her room. Once she had it, Archer silently followed her to the door. For once he did not insist that he carry her there. That was a-okay with her but it felt wrong. "So umm," she said as she locked the front door. "Are we taking the old fashion way to get there?"

"Yeah, you could use the exercise." His voice was carefully guarded and he was standing about a foot away from her. Normally she would have protested his comment but right now it felt way too awkward to.

"Oh," she said. "Let's go then." Was he acting like this because of last night? She bit her lip as they walked to the train station. Seriously, why did one little thing make their relationship so strained? Seriously, it wasn't like it was that weird right? Although she was overthinking the whole thing a lot too.

"So umm… nice weather today." She winced at how fake she sounded.

"Yes, the sun is shining brightly."

Conversation over. How was she going to survive a train ride and the rest of the walk with him like this? Why me? The train station was now in sight so Hakuno stopped to dig in her purse for her train card.

"There you are, my Queen."

Hakuno froze and Archer stiffened. She looked up and saw the golden Servant was walking towards them. People around him moved out of the way like he had a force field around him. What was he doing here!?

"What do you want?" Archer moved closer to Hakuno with his hands balled into fists. She had a feeling if they weren't in such a public area she knew Archer would have attacked Gilgamesh with no hesitation whatsoever.

Gilgamesh looked at Archer like he was a bug that was to be squished. "I was speaking to my Queen, not you, mongrel." His expression softened as he turned his crimson gaze to Hakuno. "I've been looking for you."

"Oh, you have?" Hakuno's eyes darted back and forth between Archer and Gilgamesh. She could feel the tension in the air between the two men.

"That's right. I think we should spend some time together. It might help you remember everything." He stared coldly at Archer. "Without distractions of course."

Archer took a threatening step towards Gilgamesh and she knew she would need to do something fast or this whole area would become a bloodbath. So, she did the only thing she could think of. She stepped in between the two Servants. "Sure, why not?"

"What?" Archer's eyes widen in shock as he stared down at her, dumbstruck.

Gilgamesh looked shocked for second before his usual smug grin was back. "Great then." He slid his arm around her shoulders. "Where shall we go then?" he whispered in her ear.

She bit her lip when she saw how Archer was staring at Gilgamesh's arm with fury. If looks could burn Gilgamesh would lose his arm right now.

"Give us a moment please." She slipped away from Gilgamesh and grabbed Archer's arm and forcefully dragged him a couple feet away. Thankfully he went with her with no resistance.

"What the hell are you doing?" he hissed angrily. "You can't go with him."

Oh, now he was talking to her with emotion and stuff. "Well if I didn't do something, you two were going to get into a fight and cause a ton of more problems. Plus I need to figure stuff out…"

"You don't need to figure anything out. You can't go with him." He reached out and grabbed her arm.

Hakuno immediately yanked it out of his grasp. "You have no idea how I'm feeling right now," she snapped. With both Archer and Gilgamesh in the same vicinity, her feelings were being torn into two different directions. On one hand she wanted to run over to Gilgamesh and throw herself at him, while, on the other hand, she wanted to calm Archer down and give him a hug. She needed to understand this bond power and with how strained her relationship was with Archer at the moment, the only way was through Gilgamesh.

"Just go see Rin and tell her the situation," she instructed. "And don't follow me Archer. He won't hurt me."

"But he will do other things," snapped Archer. "There's no way I'm leaving you alone with him."

Hakuno's hands balled into fists. "I'll be fine," she said through gritted teeth. Why was he treating her like a child? She knew what of person Gilgamesh was. She knew she could handle him right now. "I know how to use reinforcement well enough now because I have my memory back. I can punch him again if he does anything."

"So? That doesn't mean-"

"Stop it! Just stop it!" Hakuno threw her arms into the air in frustration. She knew that people were looking on now, curious about what apparently seemed like a lover's spat. "I'll be fine. If you follow me, if I even sense you are there, I will use a command seal. Do not test me."

Before Archer could respond she whirled around and stormed over to Gilgamesh. "Let's go," she murmured.

***

Archer stared in shock as he watched her walk away. Gilgamesh grinned in triumph as he put his arm around her and they walked to the train station.

He took a deep breath and struggled against the urge to run after them and rip Gilgamesh's arm off. What the hell was going on here? Why did she want to go with someone like him? And she had ended up threatening to waste a command seal to keep him away too. Damn it. How did it end up like this?

He had been trying to keep his distance from her after what happened last night, just in case he did something like that again by being near her. It wasn't like he had wanted to do it, but she had not reacted when he had almost kissed her. If only she had pushed him away, screamed, yelled, panicked, anything but sit there and let him do it.

What else could he do now though? He had to just hope that she would be fine. He gritted his teeth before he turned and began heading for Rin's house. If Gilgamesh did anything to her…next meeting, there was no way he was going to hold back.

***

"Seriously. If you wanted to go on these silly roller coasters, we could have just ridden Vimana."

Hakuno had no idea what a "vimana" was and she did not want to know. After she had her little fight with Archer, she had taken the train to the local amusement part. There was no way she was going to let Gilgamesh decide where they were going to go. And when they got here, Hakuno had jumped on every single roller coaster there was in order to not talk to Gilgamesh (well, more because she liked roller coasters than anything else).

However, with her doing that, she was getting no closer to understanding her feelings plus Gilgamesh looked like he was starting to get annoyed.

"I am impressed by your amusement to ride the same thing over and over again."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Hakuno raised an eyebrow.

He didn't seem keen on answering. Instead he just put his hands in his pockets. "You were always amused by the most trivial things."

Hakuno felt something well up within her. It wasn't as intense as what she felt that one time with Archer but it was similar. Alarm bells rang in her head and she quickly turned away from him. "Anyway, let's go over there now!" She pointed to the carnival games section. There were a good amount of people trying to win prizes. More than enough that she knew she would feel safe being among them.

"If you want to," Gilgamesh said with a sigh but he followed her all the same.

Hakuno paused in front of a game that involved shooting a moving target with a rifle. "Wow! That bear is huge!" she squealed. A huge teddy bear hung in the prize section. It was almost bigger than her.

"Would you like to try to win it?" asked the attendant. "You just need to hit the moving target six times."

Hakuno glanced over at the target and at the gun and the cork. She shook her head. "No. It's okay. There's no way I can hit it six times." Maybe once if she was lucky. The small prizes were cute but that teddy bear!

Gilgamesh stepped up to the block. "Give me that gun." He grabbed it out of the attendant's hand and after a moment of trying to figure out how it worked (and grumbling about how cheap it was) he fired six rounds in fast succession. The corks bounced off the target one after the other.

The attendant stared at the target in shock for a couple of seconds before he recovered enough to pull down the bear and hand it to Hakuno "Uh well here you go."

"Thanks." She struggled to hold the bear as they walked away from the booth. She had a feeling that if they stayed in this area, Gilgamesh would just play everything and clean the place out.

"Is there anything else you want me to win?" he asked. "I would just take it by force but I know you would not like that."

She shook her head. "No. The bear is enough-is that a crepe truck!?" She threw the bear in Gilgamesh's direction as she ran over. After a quick scan of the menu she chose, of course, the largest one they had which was covered in every possible type of fruit, sauce and everything else that could classify it as a dessert. There were even some pocky sticks sticking out of it.

She took a huge bite out of it and relished in the flavor. Oh yeah, nothing like a crepe to make everything better. She returned and saw that Gilgamesh was backing away from a small child that was trying to get her little hands on the bear. The mom was chatting on her phone nearby.

"Keep your hands off of the bear!" he snapped. "I won this for my Queen, not you." He was trying to move the bear out of the child's grasp but the bear was just so big that he was failing at it. The child did not seem to be deterred by Gilgamesh's attitude and kept trying to reach for the bear.

Hakuno giggled at the sight. He saw her in mid-tug and he paused to stare at her.

"What?" she asked as she walked over.  The mother saw that her child was bothering him, and she grabbed the little girl by the hand and after a quick sorry to Gilgamesh, she walked away. "Why are you looking at me so funny?"

"I've never seen you laugh like that for me." He reached out and gently touched her cheek. "You should do it more often." He had to return his hand to holding the bear as he was unable to carry it with one hand. "Why am I holding this thing anyway…"

"I'll carry it soon. Give me a moment." Hakuno took another huge bite out of her crepe. "I need to finish this first-hey!" She swung her crepe away as Gilgamesh took a huge bite out of it. "My crepe!"

"That's really sweet." He made a face. "I don't remember you liking this kind of stuff before though."

She didn't like this kind of stuff before? She bit her lip. "What do you mean by that?" she whispered. "Where did you know me before?"

Gilgamesh stared at her in surprise. "What are you talking about? That's what I've been talking about this whole time." He cursed as he shifted the huge bear in his grasp. "Anyway, what else do you want to do in this silly park?"

"Uh well…" Hakuno looked around quickly. What else could they do that wouldn't annoy him? The teacups seemed like something he would hate, the roller coasters he obviously did not like and the carnival games he would be too good at. "How about the Ferris wheel?" she suggested quickly.

"Ferris wheel…" He looked up at the huge spinning disk and then at her. "Alright then. The Ferris wheel."

Why did she feel like she made the wrong choice? He shifted the bear in his grasp so he was holding it over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes before he grabbed her free hand and began leading her to the Ferris wheel. Her eyes shifted down to his hand tightly holding hers. Her heart was pounding, and she glanced up at back of the man who was leading her. She bit her lip. Now she really had a bad feeling about this.

When they reached the base of the Ferris wheel, he plucked her half-eaten crepe out of her hand and tossed in a nearby trashcan. "Hey!" she cried. "I wasn't done with that!"

"I don't want you getting distracted by that. The bear is bad enough."

Bad feeling alarm bells ringing at full blast now.

Since it was the middle of a weekday, they were able to get a car right away. Gilgamesh dropped the bear on one of the seats while he sat across on the other. Hakuno sat down next to the bear without thinking and she saw a flash of emotion go across Gilgamesh's face.

She turned her gaze away from him and stared out the window as the Ferris wheel stared moving. Her heart was pounding so loud that she was sure he could hear it. What in the world was she feeling? She was nervous yes, but this was a different kind of nervous. It wasn't the kind of nervous that should be associated with being locked in a small box with a really powerful Servant. This nervous was like what she felt when Archer had almost kissed her yesterday. What was she doing? This was a bad idea on every possible level.

"Come sit over here."

Hakuno yelped as Gilgamesh grabbed her arm and practically pulled her into his lap. "Uh, hang on!" she cried as she tried to move back to the other seat but the arm around her waist prevented her from doing so. Assertive. She needed to be assertive. "Gilgamesh you-" She yelped as his lips brushed over her ear. She pushed him away. "What…what are you doing!?"

"Why else would you suggest a small box for us to be in? We have time." He grabbed both of her wrists to prevent her from pushing him away again.

She gritted her teeth as he continued where he left off. A small part of her was screaming at her to use her reinforcement to head butt him but the bigger part wanted to let him do continue what he was doing. This all felt familiar, the way his teeth gently nibbled her ear and the way he was holding her. Everything was familiar.

Her thoughts flashed to Archer.

No. She needed to stop. She needed to take control of this bond power here and now. She struggled to push those thoughts and feelings away. "What did you mean?" she whispered. "When we first met, I mean not here, where did we meet before?"

He paused and stared up at her. "We met in the Far Side of the Moon. The Moon Cell."

Moon Cell? Far Side of the Moon? What was he talking about? "And?" she prompted. "We met there but how?" Suddenly having a thought, she gazed down at the golden haired Servant. "Were…were we Master and Servant?"

She felt his grip on her wrists tighten. "Do you remember something?" he insisted.

Hakuno shook her head. "N…No. I don't." She did have an idea of what was going on with her though. She opened her magic circuits and reinforced her arms with more strength which she then forcefully removed from Gilgamesh's grasp and retreated to the other seat. "I...I'm sorry but I don't think I'm the girl you are looking for at all."

"What are you talking about!?" He reached out to her but she shook her head and pushed his arm away.

“Stop it. I'm…I'm not…" She shook her head. "I…I don't think I am who you are looking for at all. You are looking for someone else. A girl who is just like me…" She thought back to when Archer was telling her about his life. Another world, a different Grail War. Could it be possible that she was feeling the feelings of a version of herself from a different world? But what did that mean for Archer? He didn't like her like that, but she did have these feelings. Was it an unrequited love sort of thing? What was going on? What was the truth?

How was it possible though for Gilgamesh to have memories of her though? If that was a completely different world then how could he have the memories? "When did you remember who I was?"

"When I first saw you in the church. It took me a moment, but the King of Heroes would never truly forget someone like you."

So, by seeing her it triggered the memories? How? There was no way that was possible! She needed to talk to Archer about this! Although he had told her everything about his life. She was not in it. Then what could it be?

And weirdly enough, right now, she could feel the strong intense feelings ebbing away. They were still there, under the surface, but it wasn't as bothersome as before. "Gilgamesh. I…I need to confirm something."

"Confirm what?"

She bit her lip. "My feelings…ummm…I don't know…" She sighed and shook her head. How in the world was she going to explain this? "I think they are from a me from another world and you are getting memories from a version of you from another world."

He stared at her like she was crazy. "Hakuno, that's..."

The Ferris wheel rumbled to a stop and Hakuno jumped to her feet. "Listen. I'm going to confirm something and get back to you okay?" She held her head high. Assertive. "I know you feel something for me but I'm still not sure how I feel. Please. I want a little more time."

He looked like he was going to protest but the attendant opened the door. "I'm sorry," she whispered as she hurried out. Thankfully he didn't come after her or even call out to her. It was only when she was near the entrance of the park that she realized she had left the bear.

"Dang it," she murmured as she pulled out her phone. There was no way she was going back now though. He might insist on another ride on the Ferris wheel and won't listen to her protests. She left the park and dialed Rin's number.

"H...Hakuno!? Are you okay?! I heard from Archer what happened! How could you think it was a good idea to go with Gilgamesh?"

"I'm fine!" Hakuno said quickly. Did anyone trust her decisions? "Is Archer there? I need to ask him something."

"We are kind of taking care of a problem at the moment." Hakuno heard Lancer yell something in the background.

"What kind of problem?" asked Hakuno. "Is everything all right?" She lowered her voice. "Is it Leo?"

"Julius." Hakuno's blood turned cold. "He kidnapped Alice from the hospital."

Chapter Text

Hakuno bounced back and forth on the balls of her feet as she stared out the window of the train. Usually she would think that the train was fast in getting from place to place but right now it seemed like it was crawling on the tracks at a snail's pace. After Rin had dropped the bombshell, they had arranged to meet up at the park near Rin's place.

"Maybe I should have asked Rin to send Archer to get me…" she murmured as she leaned her head against the wall. The old-fashioned way took forever! However, it would still probably be very awkward to be around him. So maybe this was better after all...

No. Focus. Right now, that didn't matter. Alice's kidnapping was more important. She put a hand over her abdomen. This time she was not going to let Julius knock her down. She would fight back!

The train rumbled to a stop and Hakuno was first out of the doors. She was about to break into a run when someone grabbed her arm. Was it Gilgamesh? She whirled around, ready to give the Servant a piece of her mind but she stopped when she realized who it was. "Shinji!?"

The ex-Master released her arm. "Where are you off to in such a hurry?"

"Shinji, shouldn't you be in hiding at the church or something?" she blurted out without thinking.

He gave her a disgusted look, but his eyes shifted down to her left hand. "You're still a Master? Wow. Your Servant must be really amazing for someone like you to still be in it."

"I don't have time for this Shinji." She yanked her arm out of his grip. Why did it seem like everyone wanted to grab her arm today? "Now if you will excuse me I have things to do that do not involve talking to you."

"Oh, really then?" Shinji dug his phone out of his pocket and showed her the screen. "Will this change your mind?"

Hakuno's eyes narrowed when she saw the picture on the screen and she glared at Shinji with pure hatred. "Where is she?" she asked in a low threatening voice. She glanced around quickly and saw a train had just pulled in and people were streaming into the station. She grabbed Shinji's arm and forcefully dragged him to a corner (with the help of a bit of reinforcement). "Okay, talk now. Where is she!?"

Shinji adjusted his shirt. "Now, maybe you shouldn't be threatening me. Julius said that if anything happened to me, you can say bye bye to the little girl."

"I knew you were a creep, but this is too far even for you." She crossed her arms. "So, let me guess, there is a reason you approached me here, isn't there?"

Shinji shrugged. "Maybe." He put his phone away. "You need to follow me. Oh, and don't think about calling Rin." He looked around and then added. "Or that Servant of yours either. He's not around is he?"

Hakuno decided not to answer that. "Just take me to Alice."

Shinji shrugged before he began leading the way. She kept a few paces behind him and tried to come up with a plan of some kind. Why did Julius enlist the help of Shinji? In terms of competence, Shinji was the last guy you would want on your team. Couldn't Julius just ask Leo for help?

"What did Julius promise you?" she asked.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" He wasn't even hiding how confident he was right now. All Hakuno wanted to do was punch that smug grin off of his face but she couldn't. Not while Alice was at risk. She looked down at the command seals on her hand. Only two left. If worse came to worse, she knew she was going to need to use it get Archer to her right away. Even if their relationship was strained, they were still Master and Servant. She looked up as Shinji turned into an abandoned lot with a building that was in dire need of repair.

"Come on now. No dawdling."

Hakuno silently followed Shinji into the lobby of the building. She froze in her tracks when she saw the little girl tied to one of the support pillars. "Alice!" she screamed.

The little girl looked up at her. She looked dirty and a little shaken but other than that she looked okay. "Nee-san!" Her purple eyes filled with tears.

"Now don't get ahead of yourself." Julius stepped out from behind the pillar that she was tied to, his hand tightly griped around one of Alice's braids.

"What do you want Julius? What was the point in taking Alice? She has nothing to do with this. You have a problem with me, not her."

"But this girl is my trump card against you," Julius pointed out. He pulled a knife out of his pocket and gestured for Shinji to come over. He handed the knife and Alice's braid to Shinji before he walked over to Hakuno. "I wouldn't try anything," he said.

Shinji laughed as he waved the knife in front of Alice's face. The little girl just stared at the blade in pure terror.

"Don't worry Alice, it'll be alright," Hakuno called. She turned her attention to Julius. "You are not going to get away with this," she snapped. "Rin is going to be here soon along with Archer and Lancer. There's no way you can fight against Servants without any of your own."

"So your Servant isn't here after all," he said softly.

Damn it! She said it without thinking. She bit her lip and tightened her hands into fists. No matter. She could take on Julius by herself!

"I don't need to worry then. You won't be around for long anyway. " Hakuno coughed as the air shot out of her lungs as Julius punched her abdomen. She collapsed to her knees and wheezed as she tried to catch her breath. That was so ridiculously fast. She didn't even see the punch coming.

She could hear Alice screaming but all she could focus on was Julius's foot coming towards her face. Her magic circuits open now, she reinforced her arms and caught his foot in mid-strike and gave him a hard toss. He didn't get far due to the angle, but she was able to get a couple of seconds of respite.

 After healing the pain from the first punch, she scrambled to her feet and ran over to the fallen Julius. Before she could give the assassin a hard kick, she heard Alice scream in terror and pain.

Hakuno froze and turned to the little girl. "Stop it!" she screamed. Shinji was running the blade lightly on the skin of Alice's forearm. A small trail of red followed the knife.

"Nee-san!" screamed Alice.

Julius grabbed Hakuno's leg and yanked her to the ground. Her head banged against the ground and stars dotted her vision. She felt hands wrap around her throat. In the background she heard Alice scream. Hakuno's fingers found Julius's wrists and she struggled to pull the pressure from her neck away. Reinforce. She needed to reinforce.

"I wouldn't do that," Julius said coldly as Alice let out another high-pitched scream in terror.

Hakuno's eyes widen as tears started leaking at the edge of her vision and she loosened her grip on Julius's wrists. No way. There was nothing she could do. She could break free but she would most likely not make it to Alice in time. The other choice, she could let Julius kill her but what would happen to Alice afterwards? Who's to say that he wouldn't kill her anyway?

She couldn't breathe.

She tried to suck in another breath but the pressure on her throat prevented her from doing so. No way. After she finally could fight back, here she was, pinned to the ground, going to die, unable to help Alice. The edge of her vision was getting blurry. Damn it. Damn everything.

She closed her eyes. What was the point of even looking at Julius's smug face right now? This was it. It was all over. The end. If only…if only she could have survived the War longer…

She heard a choked cry come from above her and the grip on her neck was suddenly gone. She coughed as she struggled to suck in sweet, sweet air.

"How dare you."

Hakuno's eyes shot open. Before her was Julius. A couple of swords were sticking out of his body. The assassin's eyes were wide in shock as he backed away. She sat up and turned her head. "Gilgamesh," she whispered.

The golden Servant stood there, like a deity sent down from above. The Gates of Babylon were open behind him. His crimson eyes were blazing in fury that Hakuno had never seen before.

She tore her eyes away from him when she heard Alice cry out again. She didn't even think as she reinforced her legs and forcefully jumped towards Alice and Shinji. Right before Shinji could slice the little girl's wrist, Hakuno was next to him. She tightened her hand into a fist and punched the pathetic ex-Master in the face.

Since she had thrown so much power behind the punch, Shinji went flying. His head banged against one of the support pillars, promptly knocking him out.

Sighing in relief, she grabbed the knife that Shinji had dropped and used it to cut the ropes tying Alice down. "You'll be fine," she whispered as the little girl threw her arms around Hakuno's neck.

"Nee-san!" she cried.

"It'll be fine," soothed Hakuno. She put a hand over the cuts on Alice's arm and healed them. "You're safe now, it'll be fine." She turned her head to check on what Gilgamesh was doing.

Julius was currently tied up in the chains Gilgamesh had used before on Archer. The golden Servant was slowly approaching him and threw a sword at him every now and then. Hakuno noticed that Gilgamesh was missing vital points with every strike. He was torturing the guy!?

She gritted her teeth and looked down at Alice. "Hey, I need to take care of something. You…you should close your eyes Alice. Or not look in this direction…"

"Alice has seen worse. Alice will be okay." She nodded and rubbed her eyes. "Alice will wait here for Nee-san."

"Okay." Hakuno released the little girl and got to her feet. "Wait. Hang on Gilgamesh."

Gilgamesh looked at her in surprise. "Don't you dare suggest that I release him," he snarled. "What he did to you was unforgivable." A small smirk crossed Julius's face.

Hakuno shook her head. "No. I…I can't forgive him myself." She turned to the assassin. He stared at her with those cold, hatred filled eyes, but she didn't fear them anymore. Nothing. Those eyes had no power on her. "I need to ask you Julius. Why did you kill them? My parents. Why did you?" She swallowed. "Why did you try to kill me?"

She could feel the anger radiating off of Gilgamesh with the last question.

"Because the Harwey family wanted one less magus household to worry about." Julius laughed. It was a cruel but pitiful laugh. "The Harweys got wind about how the Kishinamis were planning on entering the next War. So, why not remove one rival out of the way?" Hakuno backed up a step by the level of fury that he threw at her. "And yet you escaped me. Not once but twice." He glanced over at Gilgamesh and turned his attention back on her. "I may not have snapped your neck that night but in a way I could say I did get my revenge. I did 'kill' the innocence you had to the truth. At least you can despair with that. Sadly, it doesn't seem like the injuries I gave you last time are there anymore though."

Hakuno's hand went to her right arm. What was she expecting from his answer? Remorse for what he had done. No. This man was an assassin. It didn't matter to him who he killed, as long as it furthered the Harwey family's goal.

"Injuries?" Hakuno thought Gilgamesh's fury couldn't get any stronger but here it was, blazing uncontrollably. "Hakuno. Tell me. What did he do to you?"

She could barely breathe in his presence right now and he expected her to answer?

"I kicked her until she was coughing up blood and had her arm broken," said Julius. He was smiling softly as the golden Servant's became pure rage in human form. "And I killed her father right in front of her as a little girl. I planned on doing worse to her the second time if I had a chance."

What in the world was Julius doing? Sure it was all the truth but saying that was just going to make Gilgamesh angrier and he knew that! It was going to make things worse for him!

"Hakuno." Gilgamesh pointed to the cowering Alice. "Go over there and don't look. I don't want you seeing this."

Hakuno opened her mouth to protest but one glance at him made her think that would be a bad idea. She took one last look at Julius. The assassin gave her a small smile before he hung his head, completely resigned to his fate. She turned away and ran over to Alice and hugged the little girl tight, her back to Gilgamesh and Julius.

"Don't look Alice," she whispered as she shut her eyes tight. "Don't look."

Her grip on the little girl tightened when she heard screaming and weird noises. She didn't know how long it lasted, but she knew she would hear the screaming in her dreams for days to come. Alice shivered in her arms and tears poured down her face, but she was silent otherwise.

"You can look now," Gilgamesh said softly.

Hakuno swallowed and opened her eyes. She turned around slowly and saw that Julius's body was gone. The only evidence that he had been here was the blood that covered the floor. She didn't even know that the human body had that much blood in it.

Alice's little hand clutched Hakuno’s. "The bad man is gone," she said.

"Yeah," Hakuno replied. "He's gone."

Gilgamesh turned and walked over to her, careful to not step into the blood. He opened the Gate again and pulled the giant teddy bear out of it. "Here. You left this."

Hakuno looked up at him in surprise before she took the bear. "Uh, thank you."

Silence.

"Hakuno…" he began.

"Hakuno!" Rin raced into the room with Lancer and Archer on her heels. She stopped in her tracks when she saw the blood and Gilgamesh.

Both Archer and Lancer pulled out their weapons in response. Gilgamesh made a tsk noise before he returned his attention back to Hakuno. "Give me your answer when you figure it out." He lightly kissed her on the forehead before he turned and began walking away.

"Let him go," Hakuno said quickly in case Rin or one of the Servants attacked Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh gave her one final smile before he was out of sight.

Rin raced over to her. "What happened here!? Where is Julius? Oh, you're here Alice. Wait. Is that Shinji? Lancer-go see if Julius is around."

Hakuno shook her head. "Don't worry about Julius. He's…gone." She pointed to the pool of blood. At Rin's questioning look, Hakuno quickly went through a quick rundown of the events that transpired in the building.

"Dang. I do not want to know what the body looked like after this." Lancer stood at the edge of the pool of blood and poked his lance into it.

"Why don't you get Alice back to the hospital," suggested Rin with clouded eyes. Even with all that he had done, he did not deserve the kind of fate that Gilgamesh had given him. Or at least that’s what Hakuno thought those eyes meant. Rin’s eyes flickered over to Shinji, who was starting to come to. "I'll take care of him."

"Okay." Hakuno looked down at Alice. "Come on, let's get you back to the hospital, okay?" Alice nodded numbly in response. "We'll meet up again tomorrow Rin?"

Rin nodded. "Yeah, that'll be for the best." She tilted her head to the side. "Ummm, what's with the bear by the way?"

"Oh, uh, Gilgamesh won it for me at the amusement park." She bid farewell to Rin and walked over to her Servant. He had been quiet during the whole thing and held back too. "Hey," she said softly.

"Here. Give me the bear." Archer didn't even wait for her to respond before he took the bear from her. He said nothing else.

She bit her lip but put on a smile as Alice looked back and forth between the two of them in concern. "Come on, let's get you back okay?"

***

As soon as she opened the front door, Archer dropped the bear in the hallway. "Wait!" she cried before he could escape with an excuse that he was going to make dinner or something. She reached out and gently touched his arm. "We…we need to talk. About stuff…"

The trip back to the hospital had been uneventful. They had gotten a few stares since Alice was in hospital garb and Archer carried a huge bear.  It was a silent trip as Archer had been quiet the whole time and Alice was still pretty shaken up by what happened to want to talk.

They had dropped Alice in front of the hospital because the little girl insisted that if Hakuno went in it would cause too much of a fuss and that Hakuno had other things to take care of. Leave it to a little girl to understand that something was going on between the two of them. After making sure that Alice got inside in one piece, Hakuno and Archer had headed for home, which was an awkward affair in and of itself

He looked down at her in surprise but he nodded. "Okay."

"Great," she said softly. She led the way into the living room and sat down on the couch. After a moment's hesitation, he sat down next to her.

She looked down at her hands. Ugh. This was so awkward. Why did she think it was a good idea to start this, like this?

"Did he hurt you?"

Hakuno looked up at him in surprise. "Julius? Uh yeah." She touched her neck gently. "He tried to strangle me. I'm fine though," she added quickly when he looked at her with genuine concern etched on his face. "Gilgamesh got there in time so I'm fine. Don't worry! I'm okay now!" She gave him a thumbs up. "I'm a-okay," she insisted again.

"You always were able to bounce back quickly," he said softly as he dropped his hands to his lap. Was he planning on hugging her before or something? "I wasn't asking about him though…"

Gilgamesh then. She bit her lip and she could feel the back of her neck flush as she remembered how he had bit her ear. "No..No."

"You're lying."

Hakuno's hand went to her ear. "He wasn't hurting me per-say. He stopped though. I figured something out about my powers because of it. Well not because of that but it was involved but gah!"

She shook her head. If the conversation traveled down that path she knew she was going to get nowhere. "That's not what I wanted to discuss about at all actually. I…I need to confirm something. About my power." She bit her lip. She turned her whole body towards him. There was no way to be roundabout about this. “I know this is selfish of me to ask, and I'm sorry to pry but…"

She took a deep breath.

"Can you tell me about the woman you loved?"

Chapter Text

Archer did not know what to expect when she told him they needed to talk.

He had unwillingly followed her to the couch because of her pleading look that he just could not ignore. Even if she didn't know it, she knew how to make him do what she wanted. He wanted to speak with her, ask questions about what happened, curious about what she had figured out, but his thoughts kept going back to that morning. How she had walked away with Gilgamesh and then how Gilgamesh came to her rescue. He should have been there for her, not Gilgamesh. And that annoyed him most of all.

He knew that she was lying about Gilgamesh not doing anything to her and that just set his mood darker (it got even worse when she had touched her ear and argued against what Gilgamesh did). The question she asked though, about something she wanted to confirm, shocked him. Of all the things she could ask, she had to ask about her.

"I don't understand how that is related to anything.”

"No, it does!" Hakuno grabbed his hands like she thought he was going to run away from her(which was a tempting option at this point). She leaned forward slightly as she stared up at him pleading with her large brown doe-eyes. "Please. I...I know this is selfish of me, I know that. But can you please tell me about her." She bit her lip, a nervous habit he noticed, as she leaned back and released his hands. "I need to know," she continued softly.

How was he supposed to tell her about a person that she herself knew well enough? Also, what would happen when she found out the truth?

"Please Archer," she begged. "Please…"

He sighed. There was no way out of this situation was there? Even if he avoided it now, she would just bring it up later and annoy him until she got her answer in the end. "She was my Master from a different Grail War," he relented. "She was a rookie, a girl that was just thrown into the War with no warning. She would have died except her will to survive and live on saved her."

A small smile lit up his face as he thought of their first meeting. Her, lying on the ground, looking so pathetic but she still had the audacity to say she was his Master. Everything had started on that day. "We fought alongside each other for seven weeks-that War was different than this one, it played by different rules- and well…I grew to love her. She had been brave and stubborn and she never gave up on anyone."

He shook his head as he thought of the time that he ended up going through a projector to save Rin because she wanted to. Only she would want to save another Master at the risk of her own skin. She also had enough sass to fight back against the cynical abuse he had thrown at her after a while.

"She even almost went into a dangerous zone without me because of a bad incident that happened earlier in the week. She can be reckless, but she meant well." He had dragged himself out of the private room just to go with her into the arena that day. She had given him apologetic looks the whole time, but he had just continued to fight against the arena monsters to the best of his ability. Even in situations like that, they were still a team that fought together.

"She grew so fast as a magus and evolved with ridiculous speed. I wasn't even sure if I could keep up with her." Just every little thing she did made him happy. And that made the end, her trip into the Moon Cell core, ten times worse.

***

Hakuno swallowed the lump in her throat as Archer continued about the great traits of this woman. She was courageous, kind, powerful, everything that Hakuno wasn't. Was her theory wrong? Did she not have the ability to sense about other versions of herself? Or was these feelings that were welling up inside of her from an unrequited love?

Archer paused in mid-sentence. "You're crying."

"Huh?" Hakuno touched her cheek. It was wet. "Oh, I am." She rubbed her eyes but the tears were not stopping. What the heck? Why was she crying? This wasn't something to cry about! It wasn't like she personally liked Archer that much to be affected like this right?

Or was it?

Even though the trust along with something more was there, there was something else, under the surface. Something that she was afraid of, that she didn't understand. Why did it bother her so much when Archer talked about this girl? Why was it that the look he got in his eyes when he spoke about her troubled Hakuno? It shouldn't! This made no sense at all. This was different than what she felt when Gilgamesh spoke about the version of her that he loved. She did not care as much about that. All she had focused on was finding the truth. Here though, it was different.

"What's wrong?" he asked softly, reaching out to touch her cheek. She winced and he hesitated a couple centimeters from her face and drew back his hand. "I'm sorry. This is troubling you isn't it? Maybe we should talk about something else?"

"No, no." She rubbed her eyes. She needed to know. She needed to confirm it. Her emotions be damned, she needed an answer to her questions. "Please Archer. Just…just answer me one more thing. Her name. What was her name?"

He stiffened. She bit her lip as she looked down at the carpet. She flexed her toes as she watched them poke at the fibers. She needed to know but at the same thing she didn't want to know. She held her breath and glanced up at her Servant. He seemed to be as conflicted as her about this whole thing.

However, like before, his shoulders relaxed and he seemed resigned to his fate. "Her name was, Hakuno Kishinami."

***

Archer could see it in her face. Her eyes wider than he ever thought possible, her body ridged to the point that she could be mistaken for a statue. She opened and closed her mouth but was unable to get a sound out. He looked away. He had admitted it. After almost two weeks, he had finally, admitted it.

"You had feelings for her...a girl that was me," she repeated softly.

Archer shut his eyes and nodded. He didn't want to look at her face right now. How would she react now that she knew the truth? Would she run away in disgust or slap him? Or would she just scream and yell?

Nothing happened.

He cracked open his eyes and saw she was staring down at the carpet, those tears in her eyes free-flowing.

"I thought so," she whispered. "I thought so."

"Master…" He reached out to her but he could not touch her. It was like she had erected an invisible barrier around herself through the power of her tears.

She turned to him, a huge sad smile plastered on her face. "I thought so. I had a theory." She rubbed her eyes but the tears were not stopping. "Gilgamesh told me something similar actually. He said he loved me but mentioned a bunch of events that I was never a part of, in a different place, a different world. He was in love with a girl that was me, but a different version of me. And you too. You are in love with a version of me as well."

She buried her face into her hands. "I'm stupid, so stupid. I was hoping it wasn't true. These feelings of mine-I can feel what other versions of me are feeling from different worlds when I meet someone that is important to them. I guess I can only feel pure love due to my ability being so underdeveloped."

So it was true after all. She was sensitive to the other versions of herself. "Master…" He reached for her again but physically moved away this time.

"No, don't touch me." She rubbed her eyes. "I'm stupid. So stupid. I'm pathetic compared to the other versions of me. They all did great things and here I am, unable to do anything myself. I'm pathetic. I wasn't even able to save Alice without help. I'm stupid. That version of me that you fell in love with, she could do everything without help, she could do it." She hit her forehead with her fists. "So stupid. So pathetic. I'm a worthless magus."

"Stop it!" Archer grabbed her wrists to prevent her from hitting herself again. She looked up at him with those tear-filled eyes. "Just stop it okay?" He wrapped his arms tight around her, crushing her against his body. "You are not pathetic, you are not worthless. You have strengths of your own."  He felt her heaving with silent sobs.

"You were comparing me this whole time," she whispered. "To her. Everything makes sense. You only wanted to protect me; you were willing to be my Servant because I am another version of her. I'm just the girl that resembles her. I'm nothing by myself. That's all."

She tried to pull away but Archer just held her tighter. "No. That's not it at all." He had to make her understand. He just had to. "At first, yes, I thought of you as her, as a replacement for her. However," he added quickly. "That's not it at all. Over time, I realized that you are different from her. You have different strengths. Yes, she was reckless, but she would not jump into situations like you would to save someone, she could not ramble on like you, can't cook like you, she did not have magus abilities like you, heck, there was no way she could eat a crepe like you can."

He released her from his tight grip and put his hands on her shoulders as he looked her straight in the eye. "You are different from her. You are your own person, shaped by the events of your own life. That makes you different from her. You and her are not the same." He swallowed as he stared into her eyes, now bloodshot and puffy from her crying. "Honestly, those differences are your own quirks. You are not you, you are not unique without them. And that's what I like about you," he said softly.

***

Hakuno stared at her Servant, unable to comprehend what he had just said. Everything had happened so fast. As soon as he had said her name, it was like a floodgate had opened in her mind. The feelings that were simmering there, the passion had risen up and she  felt it full force. The love that, the other Hakuno felt hit her at full force and she realized that she herself was nothing compared to that Hakuno. Her own personal feelings for her Servant were nothing to what that Hakuno felt.

He had surprised her when he had hugged her tight and spoke to her. His final words had shocked her most of all. "You like the differences about me…" she murmured.

Archer nodded as he released her and looked away sheepishly. "Yes. Well ummm…"

Hakuno swallowed as she watched her Servant. Was his face slightly flushed?  “That time, yesterday," she began. "What..." She swallowed again. "Who was that meant for?"

He jumped slightly like he had been thinking of that himself. "I…I wasn't exactly thinking of her when I did it…but at the same time I was...I noticed how similar you two looked...but that was all." he murmured in an incredibly soft voice. "But I'm sorry for that, it was out of line, my own feelings were getting the best of me. Something like that won't happen again, so don't you worry about that. I know that it was probably incredibly awkward for you, don't worry, something like that will never happen again. Everything can go back to way it was before."

It was like he had taken on her rambling trait. She giggled to herself and softly smiled as she leaned over and gently kissed her Servant on the lips. Before he could react, she had leaned back, her face red.

"Master…" he said slowly, his eyes wide with shock. His face was turning red to the point that she could clearly see it.

"Uh, I…" She twirled a finger around some of her hair. What was she supposed to do next? She looked up at him through her bangs sheepishly.

"Master…you…"

"I…I like you," she admitted. She knew her own face was probably burning at that confession. "I really do. And now I know that these are my own emotions and not being affected by hers. She and I are connected but since I know now what yours and her connection is, I can finally break separate between what she feels and what I do..." She poked her pointer fingers against each other. "You've always been there for me and took care of me and stuff so umm yeah."

She shut her eyes. Did that work? Was her confession good enough? Heck, that wasn't really much of a confession was it? That ending was so wishy-washy! When he didn't respond she continued, "I know this is weird, I know. I know you can see her in me and well that bothers me but at the same time it's you and…" She trailed off before she said something she regretted. Her mouth was dangerous when she rambled.

"Sorry," she whispered after another long moment of silence. She was too afraid to look at him, to gauge his reaction to the whole thing. So stupid of her. Why did she think this was a good idea? "I'll go now." She got up from the couch, but Archer's arm shot out and wrapped around her wrist before she could walk away. She yelped as Archer pulled her close to him and pressed his lips against hers.

He kissed her with the same passion he had done to break her from Alice's spell. She didn't know how she ended up with her back pressed against the couch. All she knew was that Archer was kissing her, giving her a prompt answer to her confession.

He separated his lips from hers as he looked down at her, his hands on either side of her head. Her lips throbbed and she was panting slightly from the kiss. "Damn it Hakuno. You can't say stuff like that and expect me not to react." He gently pressed his forehead against hers.

"You said my name," she whispered. "My actual name."

He seemed surprised himself. "Yes I did," he murmured. He gently rubbed the tears from her eyes.

She lifted a hand ran it through his hair. So soft like before. "I'm new to this whole thing in case you haven't noticed." She batted her eyelashes at him.

He shook his head but he was smiling. "You really have no idea how you look to me right now do you?"

"What does that mean?"

He kissed her again, so feverishly and intently that it left her breathless. She let out a small cry in protest when broke away and he looked down at her in amusement. Her breath hitched in her throat as his lips touched her neck.

***

"I should get started on dinner." Archer got up from the couch as she scrambled to sit up. Her face was flushed, and she tried to tame her hair.

"Ummm yeah," she stammered as she poked her pointer fingers against each other.

He had been a good boy, despite all of his intentions; he stayed above her shoulders the entire time. He had also been careful to not leave any tell-tale signs on her neck cause he did not need Rin getting on his ass about that. "Hakuno," he began. "There is one problem with this. I'm a Servant and once the War is over…"

"I…I know that," she whispered. She looked up suddenly. "What about my wish? I could wish on the Grail right?"

Archer shook his head. "The Grail, if it is like the one from when I was a participant…"

She swallowed and he thought she was going to cry again but instead she gave him a huge smile. "Well then, I guess we'll just have to make due until then right? Plus, there might be another way! And this Grail might be fine to make a wish like that!"

He didn't want to dash the small hope she had so he just nodded. "Maybe," he said softly.

She seemed happy with just that and she twirled a lock of hair around a finger. "Well then, if there is still hope, I'm not going to give up." She got up and put her hands behind her back. "Are you going to need some help with dinner?"

"No, I…" He sighed as she gave him that pleading look again. "Fine, fine. You can help me."

"Yay!" She grinned and slipped her hand into his before she began dragging him into the kitchen.

He smiled at his Master. Even with his best intentions she had snared him and drawn him in. He could have pushed her away, he could have ignored the kiss she had given him. No, he had wanted it as much as she did, heck probably more than she did. I will protect her this time, no matter what.

Chapter Text

Hakuno opened her eyes and slowly sat up in bed. Morning already? She yawned and rubbed her eyes. No dreams of the girl that looked like her. She sighed in disappointment. She wanted to ask the girl so many questions and if she was referring to Archer before.

Thinking of her Servant, she felt heat rise to her face. She gently touched her lips and then her neck. That had been very, very shocking. He could do stuff like that. What would have happened if they had actually kissed a couple days ago?

"Gah!" she fell back on her bed and tightly shut her eyes. Nope, nope, nope. Just thinking about it just made her feel so awkward and she felt like she was burning up from how embarrassing it was. "How do girls do this without freaking out?" she wondered.

"Girls do what?"

Hakuno sat up quickly and forced a smile on her face. Archer stood in the doorway. He looked completely fine, not a nervous mess like she was. Ack! She probably looked like a mess right now since she had just woken up. Wait. Why did that matter? But didn't that stuff matter to guys? Did it?

Archer walked into her room and flicked her forehead. "Stop it. You're thinking weird things right now, aren't you?"

"Ow!" Hakuno covered the spot. "Seriously!? Can you stop doing that!?" She puffed out her cheeks.

"I'll stop doing it when you give me a reason not to," he replied.

Like that was ever going to happen! "You'll always think of an excuse to do it," she grumbled.

"Oh don't be like that." He kissed her forehead, right in the spot where he had flicked it moments before.

Hakuno jumped backwards, her face burning. Archer chuckled at her extreme reaction. "S…s...stop that!" She grabbed her pillow and flung it at him. He ducked to avoid the flying projectile. "Don't laugh at me!"

"Sorry," he said but from the smile on his face, she knew he was not sorry at all.

She puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms. "We're going to see Rin after breakfast right?" She needed to get the conversation away from her. And distract herself from the fact that her face was probably on fire right now.

"Yeah, breakfast is on the table already." As if he sensed the question that was in the back of her mind he added, "I set out two place settings. Come down when you are ready."

She grinned at that. "Okay. I'll be down soon." She hopped off her bed and walked over to her dresser. She opened the drawer and start digging around for something to wear for today. A small yelp escaped her throat as Archer's arms went around her stomach and he rested his head on top of hers.

"Wha…wha…what are you doing!?" she squeaked.

Archer laughed as he released her and raced to the door before she could flail. "See you downstairs Hakuno." He shut the door behind him.

"What in the world?" It was like he was a different person! Or maybe this was the person that he had been holding back this entire time? Was this the person that the other Hakuno saw? Was this the person that she had loved?

She pulled out a t-shirt and a pair of jeans and threw them onto her bed before she quickly changed. After she had finished that, she went through the rest of her morning routine as quickly as possible.

Archer was waiting for her in the dining room. He sat at his usual spot and she bid him hello before sitting across from him. She picked up her chopsticks and then realized how awkward this was. It wasn't the same level of awkwardness as it was before, thankfully. It wasn't a bad awkwardness per say, she just felt really sensitive to whatever he was doing.

"You aren't eating," he pointed out.

She jumped and began stuffing her face. Dang it! Why wasn't this bothering him at all!? He's experienced, duh. He knows about this stuff. You're just a beginner.

"You can relax you know, I'm not going to jump on you or anything." He raised an eyebrow. "Unless…do you want something like that to happen?"

"N…no!" she protested. She stared down at her food. What in the world was up with him today? He didn't act like this before at all! Or maybe he did, and she just didn't notice? Why did everything seem so weird?

"Hakuno," he began. He reached out and grasped her hand. "Relax," he said slowly as he looked her in the eye. "Nothing has really changed between us at all. Right now we're still Master and Servant okay? There's a War to fight. Focus on that."

She bit her lip and nodded. Yeah, Archer was right. Even though their relationship was kind of like that at the same time, right now, she needed to be a Master. They were going to see Rin and figure out a plan of action for what to do next. She could return to being a stupid teenage girl later! Yeah! Good plan!

Easier said than done but she was feeling a little bit better about the whole thing. After breakfast was over though, Hakuno  felt like she was going to panic again when they stepped out the door. He was looking at her expectantly as he waited for her to lock the door.

"We're going to be taking your method aren't we?" she said with a sigh.

"It would be faster," he pointed out.

She shut her eyes tight. "Just get it over with."

She heard him chuckle as he gently lifted her off of the ground, bridal-style like always. "Comfortable?" he asked.

Nope. She was not going to answer that. "Tell me when we get there. I'm trying to not faint here." The back of her neck flushed and she prayed that her face wasn't starting to heat up too. Who knew they could reach a new level of awkward? Or was it just her? She didn't have to think about it anymore as her heart jumped to her throat as Archer jumped.

***

"Okay, seriously, someone please tell me what is going on with you two?!" snapped Rin. Her eyes darted back and forth between the Master and Servant sitting on the couch opposite of her.

"Uh well," began Hakuno slowly. She rubbed the back of her head as she thought about the best way to explain this.

"There's nothing to explain," replied Archer. His arm was stretched over the back of the couch and he seemed amused by Rin's confusion.

"Aww man, did I lose?" Lancer whined. He leaned forward in his seat. "Hey Hakuno-chan. Want to get a bite to eat later and ditch these two?"

Archer moved his arm so it was around Hakuno's shoulders. She could feel the air crackling in between the two men. Hakuno shot Rin a questioning look. Rin shook her head and rolled her eyes.

"Anyway," snapped Rin, her voice displaying all of the annoyance she felt at the very moment. "Shall we move on to much more pressing matters like the fact that there is a War going on and there are only four Masters left?"

"What happened with Shinji?" Hakuno asked.

"Don't worry about him." Rin crossed her arms smugly. "I made sure to give him a piece of my mind. He won't bother us again. Plus, I don't think he will be able to make allies with any of the Masters that are left."

Hakuno had to agree with that one. They were safe from Shinji's meddling at least. "Did he go to the church for protection?"

"That's where I sent him. Who knows if he would listen and who cares?" Rin shrugged. "Anyway, about how we're going to take care of Rani and Leo…"

The rest of the morning was spent tossing around ideas on how to take down the two remaining Masters. There was talk about allying with one of the two to take down the other but that idea was thrown out about how impractical it was this late in the game. Strategy was also discussed on how to defeat Berserker and Gawain. By the time the grandfather clock went off at one o'clock, Hakuno felt like she was all strategy-ed out.

"Why don't we break for lunch now?" suggested Rin. She rubbed her eyes and jumped to her feet. "Archer, there's stuff in the kitchen, why don't you whip something up for us?" Before Archer could protest, Rin had grabbed Hakuno's hands and pulled her friend to her feet. "Hakuno and I have some girly matters to attend to. Lancer, help him."

"Huh?" Lancer stared at Rin disbelief and then at Archer. Archer had almost the exact same expression. "You've got to be kidding me Master. Me, spend time with him?"

"I have to agree with him," replied Archer. "I don't need help."

Rin shrugged. "Well whatever. Come on Hakuno."

"Uh Rin, wait a moment!" Hakuno's protests were on deaf ears as she was dragged out of the room and up the flight of stairs. Rin did not stop pulling her until they were safely in Rin's bedroom.

"Okay, what is going on with you two? Did something happen?" Rin put her hands on her hips and tapped her foot on the ground.

"What are you talking about?" Hakuno asked in her best innocent voice, which sadly wasn’t very good according to her aunt.

"Huh!?" Rin stomped her foot against the ground. "Don't you play innocent now! There is something going on between you two! He's really…happy and you are…" Rin paused and was in serious thought. "I don't know," she finally said. "But you seem different and obviously something happened between you two!"

Did she really seem that different? Hakuno put her hands on her cheeks. She wasn't burning up…yet. "Well umm, last night we talked about stuff and he told me about his old love-which made me confirm what my power is, the power to feel what other versions of myself is feeling about a person-which happened because he was in love with me, well a different version of me but it's different now, maybe. So anyway, after that, I had one of my mental breakdown things-I've been having a lot of those lately and well, one thing led to another and then I kissed him and then he kissed me back and then we were on the couch and…"

Hakuno trailed off as her face began burning at the thought of what happened on the couch. Oh geez, there was no way she was going to be able to sit on it for a while without thinking about that.

Rin stared in what only could be described in pure shock. "I don't even know where to start." She massaged the bridge of her nose. She held up one finger. "So first off, it seems like you figured out what these feelings were about. They were because of the power of your family?"

Hakuno nodded. "Yeah, I have the ability to feel what the other versions of me from different worlds feel for certain people. Because my power is very underdeveloped though, I think I can only feel love which is why I only felt weird around Archer and Gilgamesh. And I asked Archer about the girl he loved to confirm…"

"And then you found out it was you and you had a mental breakdown and something happened on the couch." Rin pretended to wipe a tear from her eye. "My little Hakuno is growing up."

"Hey!" She touched her neck self-consciously.

Rin's hand went to her mouth. "Oh...oh my."

Hakuno could feel that her face was on fire. "Anyway," she said quickly. "I need to ask you something Rin. Is…is there a way to turn a Servant human without the use of the Grail?"

Rin was taken aback by the question. "I've never even heard anyone say that before. I personally don't think it is possible without using the Grail. The Servants were summoned through the Grail. It's probably impossible otherwise."

"I thought so," Hakuno sighed. Maybe it was too much to hope that Rin would know. Guess this meant she needed to put her faith in the Grail. Hopefully it wasn't corrupted like the one from the War that Archer was in. Or the one from the world with the other version of her.

"Looks like you finally have a wish for the Grail." Rin's smile was bright. "Good," she said softly. "I wouldn't want to have to fight you when you have no idea what you want."

That was right. Even though they were fighting together now, it was not going to last much longer. Soon enough, if both of them were still in the game, they would have to fight each other. Before she knew she would hesitate but now she had her own wish she wanted the Grail to grant. Even if there was a chance the Grail was corrupt, she was willing to take that chance.

"Well then, let's get down there before Lancer and Archer kill each other." Rin pulled open her door.

"Rin," Hakuno said before Rin could leave. "Thank you," she said quietly. "I…you knew about my past, didn't you? That I was dead on the records. You hesitated to tell me before right?"

Rin looked back in surprise. After searching Hakuno's face for a couple of seconds, she nodded. "Sorry."

Hakuno waved Rin's concern away. "Don't worry. I'm fine!" She skipped past Rin. "Come on, let's go stop a war from happening downstairs."

***

Archer sucked in a deep breath as he struggled to resist the urge to pick up his knife and throw it across the table right in between Lancer's eyes. The servant was leaning forward slightly as he made small talk to Hakuno. She was replying as pleasant as possible, in fact it seemed like she was oblivious to what he was doing. At least he had to be grateful that she didn't have any of those weird feelings with Lancer.

His eyes shot down to Lancer's hand which was slowly sneaking across the table towards Hakuno’s. That little bastard. He was still trying? He noticed a couple specks of rice at the corner of Hakuno's mouth. He wouldn't normally do something like this but right now he wasn't going to let Lancer do as he pleased.

"Hakuno. Turn this way."

"Hmmm?" She turned to him. He leaned over and licked up small specks of rice. He chuckled as her face turned red and she touched the spot. Lancer had backed up immediately. Rin's chopsticks were halfway to her mouth but it was frozen in place.

Lancer sighed. "Dang. I guess I really did lose after all."

Hakuno's eyes bore into her lunch.

"Not at my table!" Rin stuck out her tongue in disgust.

Archer tried to suppress the smug grin but he couldn't hide all of it. This was turning into a good day after all.

***

After lunch, Hakuno and Archer left Rin's house. The plan was for the pairs to split up and see if they could find Rani or Leo.

"So…where should we go?" asked Hakuno. The city was huge. There was no way they could cover the whole thing in a day. "Oh and don't suggest we take your method to get anywhere!" she added quickly. She backed up a step to prevent him from grabbing her.

Archer shrugged. "I don't know. It's up to you."

Not helpful at all. "Well, let's get walking then." She took off in the direction of the train station. She heard Archer following her but with his longer stride, he was walking next to her in mere seconds. She jumped slightly as his bigger hand reached out and held hers.

"A…Archer!" she protested. Her face was burning for the hundredth time today. She tried to pull her hand out of his grasp but he just gripped her hand tighter in response. "Archer…people are watching," she hissed under her breath. She shot a small smile to a mom and her child that passed by.

"No they aren't," he replied. His eyes flickered down to her. "You're just thinking too much."

He fell silent and Hakuno turned her head to look where they were going. Were they going way too fast about this sort of thing? Or was it alright for the time they had left? If the Grail was corrupt then…this was it. The War was not going to last forever. Heck, with how fast it was going, it was definitely going to end soon. Was this enough time for her to find a backup plan?

Her arm was yanked hard as Archer forced her to stop. "What?" She followed Archer's line of sight.

They were near the park now. His eyes were on the playground, more specifically, the swing set. Sitting on one of the seats, slowly swinging back and forth was Ilya. A quick look around told Hakuno that Rani was nowhere in sight.

"Well that was easy," commented Archer.

"I wonder what she is doing there," Hakuno pointed out. "I don't see Rani anywhere."

"We should take her hostage. It would be leverage against Rani." He shrugged when Hakuno shot him a horrified look. "I had a feeling you would not like that idea though."

Yeah. Ilya reminded Hakuno too much of Alice at the moment. She checked the park area. There were enough parents and small kids running around that even if Rani showed up she would not tell Berserker to attack. At least, she hoped Rani wouldn't.

"Hakuno," warned Archer. "I don't like the look on your face."

"I'm going to talk to her." She pulled her hand out of his and walked over to the young girl with a big smile on her face. "Hey Ilya! Wanna talk?"

Chapter Text

Ilya stiffened when she saw Hakuno approach and her expression turned to one of confusion at the cheerful greeting. The little girl's red eyes cautiously took in Archer and then Hakuno.

Hakuno sat on the swing next to her. "You like swinging? Me too!" She kicked off and began swinging back and forth slowly. "I find this to be a ton of fun, wouldn't you agree?"

"Yes," Ilya said slowly. She eyed Archer, who was leaning against a support beam of the swing, a bored expression on his face. Hakuno could see from the way his eyes took in the park, he was still on alert.

"Don't worry about Archer," Hakuno said quickly. "He's not going to do anything. I just came here to talk. So don't panic or anything."

"Ummm okay?" Ilya said slowly. She stared at Hakuno like the fellow Master was a foreign object.

"So what are you doing here by yourself? I'm surprised to see you without Rani around."

"I can do things without Rani," Ilya scoffed. "I'm not a little kid that needs to be babysat."

"Oh, of course," Hakuno replied quickly. Alice looked even younger than her and she had been running around without supervision. "I'm just used to seeing the two of you together all of the time."

"Rani is good company but she is way too focused on the mission. It's stifling to be with her all of the time." Ilya fell silent as she glanced back and forth between Hakuno and Archer again. "Are you here to kidnap me?" she asked finally.

Hakuno shook her head. "No way, I just wanted to talk. We never really had a conversation since the War began so I thought it would be nice to get to know you better."

"What?"

Was that question so weird to ask? Hakuno stared blankly at Ilya who stared back in shock. Well yes, it was weird to get to know the enemies of the War, but Ilya wasn't technically the enemy right? It was Rani.

"Master. There is really no point in getting to know Ilya here. She's not going to be alive much longer anyway."

"Archer!" Hakuno cried. How could he say something like that? She turned to Ilya. "Don't listen to him. It's not true. You're going to make it through the War just fine, you'll see."

Ilya shook her head. "No. He's right. There's no point in this conversation." She got up.

Hakuno skidded her swing to a stop and got up as well. Before she could reach out and grab Ilya's shoulder Archer reached over and grabbed her hand. She looked up at him in surprise and yanked her hand out of his grasp.

"Ilya, don't listen to him…" She trailed off as Ilya broke into a run. Soon the girl was out of sight.

"Seriously Archer!?" She whirled around and crossed her arms. "What was the point of saying something like that!? That's just cruel!"

"But completely true." Archer lowered his voice. "Once another Servant is defeated, Ilya will no longer be able to function as a human."

"What in the world are you talking about?"

Archer grabbed Hakuno's arm and dragged her over to a corner of the park where they would be less likely to be overheard. "Ilya is a homunculus created to be the vessel of the Grail. She is at her limit. Once one of the remaining Servants is defeated, she will no longer be able to function as a human."

No way. Hakuno shook her head. "That's not…no way…" She bit her lip as she stared at her toes. No wonder the Einzberns needed someone outside of the family to participate. "She's only a little girl though…"

"She's much older than she looks," Archer said. "She's older than you."

"Huh? She…she can't be! She looks so young!"

"She's a homunculus. They don't follow conventional age rules."

How did he know this though? "Was she from a previous Grail War? The one you were in? As a Master I mean." He had skimmed on the details of the War, including who the other Masters had been.

Archer nodded. "Yes, she was." He hesitated and seemed to be mulling something over.

"Wow," she whispered. So Archer knew first-hand what happened to her. "I'm guessing you tried to save her or something like that."

"It wasn't like that," he replied. He shrugged. "It's just weird to think about really. She's my older sister technically."

"Huh?" Hakuno stared at Archer for a couple of seconds. The processing of what he said came in a moment later. "HUH!?" she yelled. Her mouth dropped in shock. "Wha!? Really?!"

"My adopted sister," he put in like it made any difference.

Wow. Hakuno shook her head. That was something she did not expect at all. "But then…wouldn't you want to save her? There must be some way! You must want to save her right?"

Archer smiled softly and shook his head. "It's not possible." He put a hand on her shoulder. "Just forget about what I said, okay? I really shouldn't have told you should I?"

Hakuno bit her lip. On one hand, she was happy he had told her but on the other hand, this was something she didn't want to know. Like, how was she supposed to fight now? But even if I don't fight…Leo and Rani will. And then Ilya…

A scream broke her out of her thoughts. She had a sense of déjà vu. That sounded like Ilya! A quick look around told her that none of the parents and children had heard the scream. An oppressive feeling was in the air along with a surge of prana. Servants. Battling servants. A barrier was definitely around the Servants to keep them away from prying eyes.

The Master and Servant gave each other a look before they took off in the direction of the prana. Well, to be more precise, Hakuno was only able to take a couple of steps before Archer swept her off her feet and began running. He was able to reach the area in a few seconds.

She jumped out of his arms and almost fell over from the sudden movement. He grabbed her arm and held her until she steadied. She looked up and her eyes widen in shock.

Berserker and Gawain were facing off. No. Looking closer, Hakuno realized that it wasn't true. Gawain's sword was shoved through Berserker's body. The huge Servant was on his knees, frozen in place as he began to fade away. Ilya was on Rani's back, it looked like she was asleep but Hakuno had the feeling that it wasn't true.

Leo was standing nearby looking very amused. His eyes flickered over to Hakuno. A wave of recognition washed over him and he took a couple of steps towards her. Archer stepped closer to her and Leo froze. He smiled and put a hand on his hip. "I'm surprised," he admitted. "That you would be able to defeat my brother. I never expected someone like you would be able to do that."

Hakuno backed up a step. The way he was staring at her was intense. It was like he finally saw her as an enemy.

"Be careful," called Rani. "Gawain, he…Berserker could not land a hit on him."

Hakuno's eyes flickered over to Gawain as he pulled his sword out of Berserker and walked over to his king. The Servant's eyes bore into Hakuno as well. Even though he had just come out from fighting a Servant, he looked completely fine, not exhausted at all. She felt Archer's hand on her shoulder as he stepped in front of her.

Hakuno tore her eyes from Leo and Gawain and focused on Rani. "You get yourself and Ilya out of here! Go to the church and you will be safe! We'll take care of this."

Rani stared at Hakuno in surprise but she nodded. "Good luck," she whispered before she ran.

"Will we be fine?" she wondered.

"If only it was night," murmured Archer. A prompt answer to her question.

Her heart dropped. This was bad. Her eyes shifted over to Gawain nervously. What were they going to do? The sun would not go down for hours! How would they be able to fight Gawain? Her eyes nervously traveled to her Servant. Even if Archer knew how to fight Gawain, there was no way Archer could keep it up for hours.

"Where is my brother anyway?" asked Leo. "He has not returned."

Hakuno swallowed as she had a flashback of the bloody floor and the screams.

Leo sighed. "I was not expecting that from someone like you but then again, you seem to be full of surprises."

Was that it? That was all he could say about the death of his brother? Didn't he feel anything else?

"Don't bother thinking about it," Archer said softly. "Leo is not like everyone else. He was raised to be a king."

She didn't doubt it. "That's sad though."

"However, I must defeat you to avenge him as his brother and to uphold the Harwey family name."

Hakuno hands clenched into fists over her chest. Archer held out his hands and his twin blades appeared. In response, Gawain swung his long sword in a test swing as he stepped in front of his Master.

"Take them down," commanded Leo, like the king he was.

"Yes Master," Gawain held his sword in front of him and inched one foot forward.

"Archer…"

"It'll be fine," he replied quickly. From his posture she knew he was as worried as she was.

She bit her lip. She didn't know if her prana could handle it but she would heal Archer whenever possible. They needed to last a couple of hours. If they could, if nightfall hit, she knew Archer would be able to defeat Gawain.

No more time to talk as Gawain launched into an attack. Archer met him halfway and sparks flew as the Servants' weapons clashed with each other. Hakuno tried to pay attention to every strike but it was impossible. Both Servants were moving at impossible speeds. She saw sparks fly as Archer's swords rubbed against Gawain's armor. Nothing. Not even a scratch from the blow.

She didn't know how long it lasted, with the two trading blows. Something seemed wrong though with the fight. It took her a bit to realize what it was. Archer was not tracing. He was relying solely on those twin blades of his. Why didn't he just throw swords at Gawain to stop his movements or something?

He's saving prana, she realized. They had hours to go before the sun set. This was crazy. There was no way Archer could last that long, even if he was a Servant.

"We need to retreat Archer!" she yelled. "This is crazy! There's no way you can fight him!"

She froze in her tracks as Leo's eyes bore into her. Those eyes ripped through her, leaving her soul bare. He would not let her escape. He would track her down, follow her and force her to fight. Leo's eyes moved away from her and back to the fighting Servants and she visibly relaxed.

Leo was ten times creepier than she thought he could be. She returned her attention to the fighting Servants and cried out as Gawain's sword connected with Archer's shoulder. Thankfully, Archer had blocked it enough that it didn't bury too deep but enough that it was obvious he was favoring his other side.

She tightened her fists. This was it. She needed to show off her own ability right now! A few moments later she realized how impossible that was. To heal him, she would need to touch him and put her hands over the injury. Gawain was not backing down in his attacks though. There was no way Archer could get over to her and be healed while also blocking Gawain's long sword.

She bit her lip as her mind raced on what to do. She tried not to cry out as Gawain's sword struck again. A long gash ran down Archer's side. If only Archer could actually hurt Gawain. Then there would be a chance!

Wait a minute.

There was one thing she could do. Her eyes traveled over to Leo. He was a couple yards away. His attention was on the battle in front of them and not on her. Alright then. There was no backing down now. She forced prana into her legs and raced towards Leo with speed that she could not have otherwise.

Leo's eyes flickered over to her in surprise as she reared her fist back, ready to punch him in the face. No concern, no fear though. He just seemed bored that she had even thought of trying this. She saw something move fast out of the corner of her eye, coming right at her.

Gawain.

She turned her head, her mind whirling on what to reinforce in response to the blow that was sure to come. Archer foiled both hers and Gawain's plan though as he was between her and Gawain a few moments later.

She didn't see Gawain swing his sword due to Archer's arms wrapped protectively around her. She saw the blood though.

"Archer!" she screamed as her Servant dropped to his knees. There was a deep wound in his back. So much blood. Without even thinking about it, she put her hands over the wound and opened her magic circuits to heal him.

"You need to get out of here," he whispered to her.

She looked him in the eye, her own eyes wide. No way. He couldn't be serious?!

"Hakuno. Leo will kill you if you are still here. His value for human life is different. Go to the church and have Gilgamesh protect you until this war is over."

Hakuno looked up at Leo and Gawain. The Master looked bored and Gawain stood next to him. It was like they were Gods of Death looking down on prey.

"I'm not leaving," she replied stubbornly as she continued to heal the deep wound on Archer's back. So much blood. Way too much blood. He would be fine though! She would make sure of that.

"Finish it Gawain," commanded Leo like a roman emperor in a gladiator ring.

Gawain lifted his long sword into the air. Useless. She was useless again. What could she do against a Servant? Nothing. She couldn't do anything.

Gawain quickly turned around and raced back to his king as a barrage of black orbs attacked Leo. The knight was able to make it to his king in time and the orbs bounced off his armor harmlessly.

"Hakuno!" Rin raced over to her friend's side while Lancer stood in front of them with his lance ready. "That looks bad," she said when she saw the extent of Archer's injuries. "Can you move?"

Hakuno put her hands on Archer's wound again and began healing it as fast as she could again.

"This saves me the trouble of tracking you down," said Leo. "I can get rid of the final two Masters in one go."

Rin's eyes narrowed. "So Berserker was defeated then…"

Hakuno nodded in confirmation. "Yeah."

Rin cursed. Hakuno would have done the same if she wasn't so focused on healing Archer. This was a huge problem. Gawain was still invincible and there was still too much time until nightfall.

Lancer sighed and twirled his lance around a couple of times. "Well then, I guess I know what I have to do."

"Lancer!" Rin's eyes widen. A silent conversation passed in between Master and Servant. Rin relaxed and got up. "Alright."

Archer got up stiffly. His injury wasn't healed fully but it was enough that he could move without trouble. Hakuno stared in shock at Lancer as she realized what the silent conversation between Rin and Lancer meant.

"Lancer…you can't," began Hakuno.

Lancer glanced back at her and gave her a small smile. "You still owe me a meal made by you."

She bit her lip as she tried not to cry and nodded. "Yeah, I'll make you the best meal ever when you come back."

Lancer grinned. "Good. Now get out of here." He twirled his lance a few more times before charging towards Gawain.

"Come on Hakuno. Hurry," whispered Rin before she turned away and began running.

Hakuno tried not to cry as Archer swept her off her feet. She didn't even complain as blood from Archer's shoulder started seeping into her clothes as he ran. She shut her eyes and tried not to think too much as the sound of clanging weapons got softer and softer until she could hear no more.

Archer and Rin did not stop running until they were safely behind the gate of the Tohsaka household. Archer put Hakuno down and kneeled as she got straight back to work on healing the rest of her Servant's injuries. Rin stood a few feet away and clutched her right hand tightly. From the gaps in between her fingers, Hakuno could see the command seal on Rin's hand turn gray.

"Rin…I…I'm so sorry," whispered Hakuno. This was all her fault. If only she had been faster! If only she could have gotten to Leo before Gawain reached her. If only she was stronger. If only…

"Don't blame yourself." Rin turned to Hakuno. Her eyes were steady and focused. "You two have the best chance of beating Gawain to begin with." Her eyes darted to Archer before settling back on Hakuno. "And I would not mind you winning the Grail Hakuno. I know you wouldn't do anything bad with it." She tried to smile but it was so forced, so fake.

Hakuno had finished healing the rest of Archer's injuries and she got to her feet and almost fell over from a wave of dizziness. It faded as quickly as it came as she ran over to her friend and hugged her tight. "I'm sorry Rin. I'm so sorry."

"Hakuno stop it. I'm fine. Don't worry." She pushed out of Hakuno's grasp. "Now, we need to start planning on what to do next. Night will fall in a couple of hours. This is it. It needs to end tonight."

Hakuno bit her lip as she looked over at Archer and then back at Rin. This was it. She knew they would not get much time, but this was…ridiculous! She chided herself for thinking that a moment later. What about Rin? She had just lost Lancer!

"We will be fine once the sun goes down," Archer said. "Until then, we should lie low until then. And get away from here. Leo is bound to come here next."

Rin nodded. "We'll meet up again after nightfall. You two go hang out somewhere far from here. I'll keep Leo busy until then."

"Rin, you can't."

Rin shook her head. "No Hakuno. I need to do this. For Lancer. I won't fight him head on, don't worry. I'll just cause them to run around a bit."

"Come on Hakuno. Let's go."

Hakuno looked helplessly up at Archer and then at Rin. She knew Rin was right but this was just so hard!

"Go on. Have some fun in the calm before the storm." Rin winked. "You better take good care of her, okay Archer?"

Archer nodded and picked up Hakuno. She protested but he just ignored her. "We'll be back once the sun is down," he promised before he took off in a mighty leap.

 

 

Chapter Text

Archer knew she was annoyed at him.

He had taken Hakuno to the shopping district of the city in an attempt to distract her for the few hours they had left until nightfall. She was currently mumbling under her breath about how stupid the sun was and kept checking her phone. He doubted that Rin would have any time to call right now though, plus without Lancer around, how would she be able to operate a phone to begin with?

He put a hand on her shoulder and she winced and glared up at him. "Sorry Hakuno. I know you wanted to help Rin but she will be fine. Trust me, Rin is not someone that can be killed easily. She won't be stupid. She will be fine. She will stay alive and we will help her when night hits. This will be a long fight, you need to relax now."

Hakuno sighed and her grumbling faded away to a miserable expression. "It's actually almost over isn't it," she whispered. She wrapped her arms around herself. "This Grail War, it's all going to be decided tonight…" She bit her lip and her eyes flickered up to his face before dropping back to the ground.

He reached out and gently took her hands in his own. "If this Grail is corrupt, you must promise me that you will destroy it, okay? You won't try to stop me."

Hakuno bit her lip. "But…what about you…" she murmured. She looked down at the ground. "There's no time…I don't have time for a backup plan…"

"Then this will be it." He gently lifted her chin so she was looking up at him. "That's all okay? We have a couple of hours." Yes. This was fine by him. Once he returned to the Grail though, his memory would be wiped, and he would forget her. He doubted that when he would be summoned in another War he would retain his memories of this one and the one before with Moon Cell Hakuno.

The only regret he had though was leaving this Hakuno behind. She would still have her memories of these past two weeks. He didn't want her to be left with a bad taste after this all was over. "Come on. Why don't we just look around at the shops and such?"

She gave him a small smile but her eyes told him she was elsewhere in her thoughts. "Sure," she said softly. As if she made up her mind she nodded and slipped her hand into his. "Yeah. Rin will be fine," she whispered. "We just need to wait until nightfall."

***

Hakuno munched on the crepe she had bought from a shop as her and Archer made their way down the street. They would stop and Hakuno would make a comment about something in a shop window and Archer would reply back. They didn't go into any of the shops though and the interactions were so forced, so faked.

Was this really how she wanted their final moments together to be? Was this how she wanted to look back on the end of the Grail? Wait a moment. She smiled to herself. She actually thought she was going to make it through this War alive. She glanced over at Archer. No. She knew she would. Archer would not let her down. He knew all of Gawain's tricks.

But what about the Grail? She knew Archer thought it would be corrupt and sadly she was starting to think that that might be the truth too. If it wasn't though…how could she use the Grail for something so selfish? Archer had said he was okay with being with her and that he liked her as herself but did he really? She knew her emotions, despite being able to separate hers from the Hakuno that Archer had loved in the past, were still being slightly affected by Moon Cell Hakuno's. That was the only way she could explain why she had a sudden fear of the end of this whole thing and saying goodbye to Archer.

A hard flick against her forehead broke her out of her thoughts.

"OW!" She rubbed the spot and puffed out her cheeks and glared up at Archer. "What was that for!?"

"You are overthinking again," he replied. He pulled her out of the crowd of people and into a small alleyway. He put his hands on her shoulders and bent down so he was eye level with her. "Don't think of what could be and such. Think about the here and now. We still have some time before the sun sets. If this is the end, I don't want to leave you with regrets."

Hakuno bit her lip but she nodded. He was right. She knew he was right. However, at the same time this was hard. How could she spend the day being happy when she knew where the night was going to end up?

"Hakuno. Stop it. I know you are overthinking again."

She instinctively put a hand over her forehead to protect it from the coming onslaught. He surprised her though. Instead of flicking her forehead, he leaned in and gently kissed the back of her hand.

"Stop looking at me with those wide eyes." He gently kissed her on the lips. "If it was possible, I would want to spend the rest of my life with you. But we need to make do with what we have alright?"

"Yeah," she replied.

"Good." He took a bite of her crepe before he released her.

"Hey!" she complained as she swung her hand to try to hit his arm but he dodged her. She puffed out her cheeks as he left the alley. "Come back here!" she cried as she ran after him. "You owe me a piece of crepe now!"

***

Hakuno sucked in a deep breath and clutched Archer's and tightly as Master and Servant crossed the front gate of the Tohsaka household. The sun was sinking low behind them. Only a few minutes left until Gawain's sun protection would be completely gone.

The rest of the afternoon had been pleasant. They had continued to walk around the shopping district, not buying anything of course but that was alright with her. It was the thought of being together that counted. It was like a normal date and for a moment even Hakuno was fooled that everything was fine and normal and there wasn't a final battle looming on the horizon. However, when the sun was beginning its descent in the sky, that spell was broken. It had been time to return and end the War.

"It's a mess," whispered Hakuno. The front lawn was torn up. Many trees were uprooted or had deep scars embedded into the bark. The ground had small deep holes embedded in it here and there, probably from Rin's gandr and some of Rin's jewel magic. There was a huge gaping hole in the house.

"They are in the back," informed Archer. His eyes narrowed. "it seems like they sensed that we are here."

Hakuno nodded. She could feel the prana coming from Leo and Gawain. However, what scared her was the fact that she couldn't sense Rin's prana from the same direction.

"Rin, I think is inside. You go find her. I'll take care of Gawain and Leo."

Hakuno looked up at Archer in surprise. "Are you sure? Will you be fine?"

Archer summoned his twin blades. "Don't worry. It's nighttime. Gawain won't be a problem. And I know you won't have your mind on the fight if you are worried about Rin."

"Be careful," whispered Hakuno. Archer kissed her on the forehead before he headed for the back of the house. She wasn't even ten steps to the huge hole in the wall when she heard the clanging of weapons against each other. He'll be fine. He knows what he is doing.

"Rin?" she called as she stepped into the living room. The room was completely trashed. The couches were overturned and cut up and the cute glass table that they had tea on so many times in the past was shattered into a million pieces.

She gulped as she hurried out of the room and headed upstairs. "Rin!?" she called. "Rin? You here!?" Once she reached the top of the steps she saw a window that was facing the back. She took a quick look outside.

Archer and Gawain were in a heated battle. Archer was tracing and throwing swords at Gawain, who was now forced to block them using his own sword. Hakuno was happy to note that there were nicks in Gawain's armor now.

She turned away from the window and ran down the hall. "Rin!?" she called. "Rin!? Are you in here!?" She bit her lip and closed her eyes. She had to focus on finding Rin's prana signature. Unfortunately, she could not sense anything. "Well, there's something I need to work on," she murmured to herself as she pushed open a door. A spare bedroom. She moved to the next door and did the same. Nothing.

After about six doors with the same result she wondered if this was even a good idea. Archer might need her to be backup out there! One more door, she promised herself. She pushed the door open, yelped and ducked as black orbs sailed over her head.

"Hakuno!?"

Hakuno lifted her head cautiously. "Yes. It's me." Her eyes widen when they saw Rin. Her friend was lying on the other end of the room. She had a table propped between her and door as a shield. What Hakuno was focused on was the red stain on Rin's side.

"Don't worry about this," began Rin as Hakuno rushed over to her. "I was just stupid and thought I could catch Leo by surprise." She shrugged. "That didn't turn out well." She winced as Hakuno's hands touched the injury. "Hakuno, you need to save your prana for Archer. He's going to need it."

"He'll be fine," replied Hakuno. "He knows what he is doing. He has fought Gawain before…" Hang on. When did he fight Gawain? She realized that she never asked him how he had knowledge about the people in this War. What in the world? Why was she thinking about this now? Why did that matter? This War was almost over.

"You never change do you Hakuno. Even now, you are still the same as you were in the beginning of the War."

"I would like to think that I've changed a little. I mean, I couldn't do this kind of stuff before!" She removed her hands from Rin's side. "How does that feel? Does it hurt anywhere else?"

"No. That's good." Rin got to her feet and gently touched the spot. "You are really good at that now."

Hakuno shrugged as she got up slowly. Thankfully no wave of dizziness overtook her this time. She followed Rin out of the room and checked one of the windows that faced the back of the house.

"Archer seems to be holding his own," commented Rin. "Leo though seems to be not worried at all though."

Hakuno had to agree with Rin's statement. Leo did not seem worried at all that his Servant was currently having trouble defeating Archer. Unless…did Leo have an ace up his sleeve?

Gawain jumped back a few feet and held his sword up into the air. The way he was standing, the way Leo was commanding Gawain, everything suddenly felt very familiar, like this has happened before at another time. She had a very bad feeling about this.

"We need to stop Gawain now," she murmured as she unlatched the window and threw it open.

"What are you talking about? What are you going to do Hakuno?" Rin was staring at her like she had three heads.

Hakuno couldn't even explain it to Rin. She just had a really bad feeling about whatever was going to happen next and she needed to do something. And well, they were on the second floor so this was the fastest way to get down. "I know what I am doing Rin." Hopefully.

Before Rin could stop her, she reinforced her legs and jumped out of the window and let out a battle cry. She saw everyone turn to her but she ignored the looks and focused on the ground rushing up towards her. When her feet touched the ground, she was off running towards Leo.

This time she was ready for Gawain. And it seemed like Archer was as well. When the Servant had turned to attack her Archer had used the opportunity to strike Gawain by throwing those swords of his. Hakuno didn't pay attention to what else Archer was doing. Her full attention was on Leo.

The young king looked down at Hakuno in surprise. His surprise turned to shock as Hakuno reared her fist back and punched him in the face. "Second time's the charm," she commented as she stood over the young king.

Leo seemed to be in utter shock as he slowly got up. Guess no one had raised a hand to him before like this. "You will not use your noble phantasm," ordered Hakuno. "Or your prince here is going to get beaten up by a girl some more and then some." She didn't know how she knew about Gawain's noble phantasm. Could it be knowledge from an alternate version of her? She did not know. All she knew was the extent of Gawain's abilities. Out here, Gawain's noble phantasm was different, it would be much stronger than what she knew. But how do I know that? And what did "out here" refer to?

In any case, Gawain hesitated a few seconds and Archer used it to land a few more hits on the knight. The threat of Hakuno hurting Leo was too great for Gawain to even attempt to use his noble phantasm. With the sun gone, he had to focus on defending against Archer and could not save his king. He also did not know that Hakuno would never go through with that threat. All they knew was what happened to Julius (well vaguely).

"Tell me Leo.” Hakuno backed up a few steps so she was out of arms reach in case Leo had some latent magus power or something but close enough that she could reinforce herself and hit Leo again in case he tried something. "Are you really just getting the Grail for your family?"

"Of course," replied Leo. He straightened out his jacket and got up but didn't move from the spot. "The Harwey family will obtain the Grail and secure a bright future for the world. Gawain will be able to defeat Archer even without the use of the noble phantasm." He smiled softly. "Although, I doubt you would try anything. You could have killed me right now and ended this whole thing but instead you just gave Gawain a handicap and forced your Servant to keep fighting."

Dang it. Leo was observant like always. "Yes, I could do that," said Hakuno. "But I will not kill a Master." She thought back to what happened to Julius. Those screams and those sounds. Alice, who had almost been killed by Shinji. No way. They were all people with lives before this War. They had family, dreams, hope and who knew what else. There was no way she wanted to take that away from them. Even Leo. He had to have something in his life worth living for.

"Well then, that will be your downfall. Use it Gawain. Finish it off now," commanded Leo.

Hakuno's eyes widen. She reinforced her hand again and aimed a punch at Leo's head. Leo's hand went up and he caught her fist before she could reach his face. "That will not work twice," he said. Inhuman strength?

"The blade of this sword is a copy of the sun itself..." began Gawain as he tossed his sword into the air and flames began to gather around the sword.

Hakuno tried to pull her hand out of Leo's grasp but it was like pulling on a rock.. Her wide eyes went to her Servant. He seemed to be thinking the same thing she was and he gave her a reassuring smile before summoning his bow along with one of the spiral-shaped swords.

She needed to do something and fast.

"Hakuno! Don't move!"

Something whizzed by her head and a dagger embedded itself into Leo's shoulder. In surprise, Leo released her hand. Not wasting a second, she reinforced her legs and ran to Gawain. As the sword fell towards him, Hakuno slammed her foot against the back of Gawain's knee, one of the few spots with no armor.

Gawain turned his attention to her. He reached out towards her but she reinforced her legs and jumped backwards as Archer fired Calabolg. Even though she had flew backwards as fast as she possibly could she was caught in the blast and went flying. Thankfully she instinctively reinforced her body as she hit a tree.

"Ow," she murmured, more out of habit. She scrambled to her feet and was unable to comprehend the sight in front of her for a couple of seconds. Gawain was injured. Severely. To the point that the knight was beginning to fade away.

"Gawain…" Leo whispered. Rin's dagger was still embedded in his shoulder as he stumbled to his Servant.

"I'm sorry my king."

"It's alright Gawain." He looked up at Hakuno. "This battle was fun I will admit and honestly this is a weird feeling." He put a hand to his chest. "I…I don't want this to end. I really want to fight against you some more. I want to fight you again."

"And thus this is the same as well," murmured Archer as he walked around Gawain. He quickly checked Hakuno over and when he was satisfied that she wasn't hurt, he flicked her on the forehead. "That's for doing something so idiotic and dangerous."

She puffed out her cheeks and grumbled under her breath about how unfair it was. If she didn't distract Gawain then they wouldn't have won!

"I could never be a good leader could I? Without knowing defeat." Leo smiled softly and pulled the dagger out of his shoulder. "And yet you stayed by my side Gawain."

The knight lowered his head but did not speak. The loyalty to his king was astounding. "Just watching you grow was enough."

"Thank you," Leo finished as Gawain faded away. The defeated king stared down at the spot where his Servant had been moments before. "You are the winner. The winner of the War." He smiled at her. "When I first met you, I didn't think it would be you. You were quite unremarkable in every sense. But now…" He nodded. "Yes. I can see your potential."

He turned to Rin but she waved to show that she didn't care about whatever he was going to say. "Save it," she said. "Now isn't the time to patch up household relations."

"Do you want me to take care of that injury?" Hakuno pointed to her own shoulder.

Leo shook his head and put a hand over it. "I think I want this to heal on its own. It will probably scar but I think I need to have a memento of this. I'll head back to the Harwey family estate and get this treated."

With that the boy who was to be king walked away. Hakuno was silent until she could no longer see Leo's blond hair. She turned to Archer and Rin. "So…now what?" she asked.

"We head for the temple," said Archer. "You can sense it can't you?"

She realized what Archer was talking about a moment later. The air was heavy with mana. She could not tell where it was coming from, just the fact that it was stifling.

"Don't tell me, that's the Grail we're feeling," Rin said in surprise.

Based on Archer's expression, Hakuno's heart dropped. It was true wasn't it? "The Grail is the same isn't it?" she whispered softly. He did not respond. That was all the information she needed. "We need to get over there and take care of it."

Rin glanced back and forth between Master and Servant. "Hang on. What's wrong? Shouldn't you be happy?"

"The Grail is corrupt. It needs to be destroyed," Hakuno shut her eyes as Archer picked her up. She didn't know which direction they were going but she could feel the source of the mana getting stronger and stronger. She tried to ignore the pain that was building up in her heart. This was it. This was the end.

Archer dropped to the ground and gently put her down. Hakuno opened her eyes and stiffened. Before them was a temple. A golden cup was floating in the air and black mud was spilling out of it at an alarming rate.

"That's the grail?!" Rin said in shock.

Archer summoned his swords. "Hakuno. It needs to be destroyed…" He trailed off and shifted so he was in front of Hakuno and Rin. She understood why a moment later.

"Gilgamesh," she whispered when she saw the golden Servant. Unlike the previous times, he was now clad in golden armor. Right beside him was someone that Hakuno thought she would never see again during the span of the War. Shinji.

"What are you doing here Shinji?" snapped Rin.

"I am surprised you are the final Master left," Shinji laughed. "Hakuno! Of all the Masters, you." He put his hands in his pockets smugly. "Kirei let me borrow this awesome Servant! He's not so scary when he's on my side. I'll defeat you and obtain the Grail."

"You were always a cheat." Rin crossed her arms and turned up her nose.

"Watch what you say to my Queen," Gilgamesh snapped. Shinji jumped back nervously. His red eyes settled on Hakuno and they soften slightly. "What did you chose? I am waiting for your answer."

Hakuno opened her mouth to speak but Archer backed up a step and put an arm around her shoulder and kissed her on the lips while his eyes never broke contact with Gilgamesh's.

"Wha…what are you doing!?" squealed Hakuno in surprise. This was no time for something like this!

She felt the rage coming off of Gilgamesh as Archer stepped away from her and towards the golden Servant. "Sorry Hakuno. But this fight is personal. It won't take long at all."

 

Chapter Text

What the heck was he talking about!? This fight was personal?

"Oh come on!" cried Hakuno. "You two don't have to fight. We can figure this stuff out!"

Both men ignored her as they stared each other down. Rin put a hand on Hakuno’s shoulder. " Hakuno, I think this is one of those fights you need to stay out of."

Hakuno stared at Rin for a few seconds. What was she talking about? Shouldn't she get involved? It involved her right? She had the right to get involved! "Do we even have time for this!?" She gestured to the black mud that was oozing out of the Grail. "That seems more like a pressing matter at the moment!"

They were not listening to her. Gritting her teeth, she stepped in between the two Servants and held her arms out. "Stop it. You two don't have to fight it out!" She winced as Gilgamesh turned those venom-filled red eyes on her. She did note that they softened slightly when they gazed at her. She swallowed. "Gilgamesh. I know what Archer did was out of line." She glared back at Archer when she heard him begin to speak. He was not going to mess this up.

"But I did choose him. In this world." She could sense Gilgamesh was getting riled up at that phrase. "But," she added quickly. "if...if I had met you first…then I might have…I might have chosen you. No. I probably would have." She put a hand over her heart. "My feelings, they are affected by the other versions of myself. I can feel what other versions of myself, versions of myself from different worlds, like the one that knew you, Gilgamesh. I can feel what they feel. I can sense how they care about a person. That's why I know this. You were-are- in love with a version of me from another world. And she was in love with you. I don't know how you were able to remember that here in this world but…I'm sorry. However, in another world, it could be possible that you will see her-see me again. And, she might fall in love with you. Heck, I know she will. I'm sorry but in this world…" She gazed back at Archer and smiled softly. "I…my feelings are for Archer."

Did Gilgamesh understand? He had to! "Please Gilgamesh," she whispered. "Please." Could he understand? Was he capable of something like that?

"What are you doing!?" snapped Shinji. "Don't just stand there! Take care of them!"

"Why don't you just be quiet!?" Rin retorted. She juggled a few jewels in a hand. Threat taken, Shinji fell silent and backed up a couple of steps from her.

"So, in the end the faker won," Gilgamesh eyes settled on Archer.

Archer roughly grabbed her and pulled her behind him.

Hakuno’s pleas were unheard as the Gates of Babylon opened behind Gilgamesh and Archer began tracing weapons. "Would you two stop it!?" she cried as they began throwing swords at each other at an alarming speed, both not backing down from the other. She moved away from the fighting Servants and walked closer to Rin so a stray weapon would not accidently skewer her.

Ugh! What could she do!? At this rate one of them was going to kill the other! Even though she could separate her emotions from the other versions of herself now, at the same time she didn't want either of them to die.

Shinji laughed. "Your Servant stands no chance against mine."

Hakuno gave Shinji a withering look and then looked helplessly at Rin. "What should I do?" There was no way she could step in between them now. They were throwing swords at each other at high speeds and she doubted that even with reinforcement she could stop them. All she would get out of it was a sword through her gut and that would not help the situation whatsoever.

Rin shrugged. "I have no idea Hakuno. Sorry." Her eyes settled the black mud pouring out of the Grail. "We could do something about that?"

Yeah. There was that. However, could she really leave Archer and Gilgamesh to their own devices for now? What else can you do though? If the Grail was gone then there would be no reason to fight. Archer will also be gone too…

No. She couldn't think about that. She couldn't be selfish. This Grail was corrupt; it needed to be taken out of this world. However, did she really want Archer's last moments here to be ones where he was fighting Gilgamesh?

"Wait a moment!" cried Shinji as Rin and Hakuno walked towards the Grail. They stopped a few feet away from the black mud that was slowly creeping towards them.

"Be quiet Shinji or I will shut you up myself," snapped Rin. "And don't you dare try to do anything!"

Hakuno stared at the mud and then up at the Grail. How in the world were they supposed to destroy the thing? She stared down at the black mud and felt a wave of dizziness overtake her. Groaning, she put a hand to her head. What the heck? Where did that come from? The more she stared at the bubbling, disgusting mud, the dizzier she felt.

"Hakuno, are you okay?" Rin asked. She put a hand on Hakuno's shoulder.

"I'm fine. I don't know what is going on." She shook her head but the dizziness did not go away. In fact, it just seemed to get stronger. She stumbled a few steps forward. She could hear something now. Was that, a voice? The words were muffled, like someone was speaking through a glass wall. It was calling her, and she knew the voice. The voice was yelling her to come towards it.

She thought she heard Rin scream something but she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she needed to go see what the voice was trying to say. A hand on her shoulder but she pushed it away. The voice, it was calling her. She needed to know about the voice. The voice got louder as she stumbled in the direction of it. The closer she got, the more the dizziness in her head began to fade. Soon, the dizziness was completely gone and weirdly enough, so was the voice.

She felt something slimy against her foot.

She looked down and noticed she was standing in the black mud. This is a problem… she thought before her mind was filled with images, thoughts and ideas and she finally understood everything.

***

Archer heard Rin scream but he ignored it. Gilgamesh was not stopping his onslaught of weapons and Archer needed to focus on countering every single sword. The golden Servant had not used Ea yet but Archer did not doubt that Gilgamesh forgot about that sword. Gilgamesh was just toying with him right now. Even after all this, Gilgamesh did not seem him as a worthy enemy.

He needed to bide his time and converse prana. He didn't tell Hakuno but he had used up a lot of it during the fight against Gawain. Even if he did have knowledge about the previous world, Gawain was a formidable foe and did not back down against everything Archer had used against him.

Gilgamesh seemed to be getting tired of their little game. His expression was darkening every second and Archer knew that soon that Gilgamesh's patience would run dry and that was the moment he was waiting for.

The golden Servant whirled around as the hilt of Ea appeared within the gate. This was it. Archer began tracing.

Then he heard her scream.

He broke off in mid trace and whirled around to locate her. Where was she!? What had happened!?

"Hakuno!" he cried when he spotted her. She was kneeling, in the black mud, her hands over her ears. Her eyes were wide and they were darting around wildly like she was seeing something before her eyes.

"She just stumbled into it!" yelled Rin. She was standing as close as she dared to the mud. "It looked like she was dizzy and just stumbled forward until she walked right into it! I tried to tell her to stop but she would not listen! She just brushed me off and kept going!"

What was Rin talking about? How could someone just stumble into it? He turned back to Hakuno. She was too far in that he couldn't reach out and grab her. He would need to wade in to get her out. However, was she still herself? Or did the Grail corruption and curse get her? Would he be fine walking into the mud to get her out? How would they take care of the Grail if they both were corrupted?

Gilgamesh did not even hesitate. He waded into the black mud and gently scooped her up. As soon as the mud was away from her skin, she blinked and looked up in surprise, a scream dying on her throat. "Gilgamesh?" she whispered.

"I knew my Queen would be able to overcome that," he said with a grin.

She wasn't cursed or corrupted? How was that possible?

"Gilgamesh…" Hakuno shook her head. "I'm not…"

Gilgamesh was about to answer but he paused and looked back at the floating cup. It was like he was hearing something for his ears only. His eyes softened and he smiled. "So that's how it is…" He summoned Enkidu from the Gate and it wrapped around Hakuno's waist and carefully deposited her near Archer.

Archer grabbed her shoulder to steady her as she almost fell over from the sudden lack of support. " Hakuno." He forced her to look up at him. "Are you really okay? Do you feel anything? Anything weird? Are you really yourself?"

Hakuno looked up at him in confusion but she nodded. "Yeah." Her voice was hoarse from screaming but she sounded like herself. Her eyes were clear and bright like always. No. That was not right. There was something off with her eyes. He couldn't put his finger on it but they weren't right. There was something off but something very familiar with those eyes.

"What's happening!?"

Archer looked up at the sound of Shinji's voice. He saw that Gilgamesh was sinking into the mud, like he was being absorbed by it. He wasn't fighting it though. A small smile was on the golden Servant's face. In fact, his face looked completely peaceful.

"Gilgamesh!" Hakuno took a step towards him but Archer grabbed her shoulder to prevent her from stepping in the mud again.

Gilgamesh smiled at Hakuno. "I finally understand what you meant." He shrugged. "This makes a lot of sense. Don't worry about me. You were right, I will admit it my Queen. You were always a smart one once you put your mind to doing something." He glared at Archer. "You need to protect her. Or I will come back and take her back by force mongrel."

Archer did not understand what in the world Gilgamesh was talking about. This was so unlike him. What had happened? What did he see when he touched the mud? What did Hakuno see? Why did it seem like a silent conversation was passing in between the two of them right now?

"I hope you find her someday," whispered Hakuno. She gave Gilgamesh a wide smile. "She'll be waiting for you! I know she will be!"

Gilgamesh lifted a hand and waved before the black mud covered him completely and he was gone.

" Hakuno …what is he talking about?" Rin hurried over and hugged Hakuno. She checked her friend over. "What happened!? You had a weird expression and were screaming. Are you okay!?"

Hakuno nodded. "I'm fine, really." She looked at the cup for a few seconds before she turned her eyes to Archer. Like before, all he could wonder about how they were off. Whose eyes were these? They weren't malicious but they were not Hakuno's eyes alone. "We need to destroy it. The Grail."

"What's wrong?" Archer did not care that the Grail was currently spewing black mud everywhere and would cause death and destruction in its wake. There was something wrong with her. He put his hands on her shoulders. "Gilgamesh is one thing but how are you not affected by it? What did you see?"

"The same thing Gilgamesh probably did," she replied. "He realized the truth." She did not elaborate more on what she meant. Instead she turned and pointed to the cup. "I need you to get us up there Archer. Over the cup itself. I know how to destroy it. You stay here Rin. Someone needs to keep an eye on Shinji to prevent him from doing something else that's stupid."

Archer thought Rin was going to protest but she just nodded. "Okay. But be careful."

Hakuno nodded. "Yeah, I will be." She whirled around to face Archer. "Can you do that Archer? Can you get us over the cup itself? I see a tree that's hanging over it. Can you get us into the tree without touching the mud?"

Archer nodded. "Yeah I should be able to but what are you going to do?" What could she do to destroy the Grail? Was there some hidden, latent power that she just remembered due to the shock of touching the black mud?

"Trust me. I know what I am doing. I have a plan." She looked down at the ground and bit her lip. She sighed, stepped towards him and rested her head against his chest. She took a couple of slow breaths and for a moment he thought she had fallen asleep. "You're a liar," she whispered softly. She opened her eyes and stepped away from him. Determination was etched on her face. "Let's go."

"What did you mean?" He gently grabbed her arm. "What did you mean by that?"

She ignored his question. Instead she pulled her arm out of his grasp. "Let's go before the mud gets past the shrine. Please Archer. There's no time. We need to take care of this. Now."

Something was seriously wrong here. He wanted to cross his arms and demand an answer and threaten to not move until she gave him one. She had a point though. The Grail did need to be stopped. He silently picked her up and readied himself for the jump. As soon as he took off into the air, he confirmed it. She was not herself. She wasn't screaming. She wasn't praying for life nor had her eyes tightly shut. She was just looking up at him to the point that it was making him nervous. It was like she was etching his face into her mind.

He landed on a tree branch that hung over the spot where the cup was spewing out the mud. "Now what?" he asked as he gazed down at her.

She softly smiled up at him as she reached up and gently cupped his cheek in her hand. For a few seconds it felt like they were the only two people in this world. The spell was broken a moment later as she dropped her hand and whispered, "now you drop me into the Grail."

He froze as his mind struggled to process what she had just said. No. She didn't just say that, did she? No. She couldn't have. " Hakuno, that cannot be your plan. How would that do anything? What do you think you can do? That's…" His eyes widen when he saw one of the command seals on her left hand turn gray.

She smiled sadly up at him. "I'm sorry Archer. There's no time to explain. I have to do this."

He could feel the force of the command seal starting to take effect. He gritted his teeth and fought against it. He would not let her go. He would not drop her into the Grail. No matter what. He would fight against the command seal. There was no way he was letting it go through.

"And you cannot come after me," she added softly. "You will return to Rin and Shinji. Take care of them until this is over."

" Hakuno. No. No. No. No. I'm not letting you go," he pleaded. Not again. He could not do this. He had lost her once before, he watched her die once before, unable to do anything. This…he couldn't go through with this! He couldn't-wouldn't let her fall!

She closed her eyes as her final command seal faded away. "I'm sorry," she whispered. His fingers were not listening to him as they began to pull away from her. He tried to fight against it but the more he tried the more the command seal's power pushed back. His arm moved away from her back while the other moved away from under her thighs.

He had a flashback of Moon Cell Hakuno s crying face when she faded away. This Hakuno was not crying but the smile on her face was tinged with the same sadness. "I'm so sorry that I made you do this," she whispered as she slipped between his arms.

"HAKUNO!" He tried to go after her, to grab her before the Grail could take her but her second command seal immediately took effect, preventing him from going after her. All he could do was watch in horror as the girl he loved was swallowed by the black mud pouring out from the Grail.

Chapter Text

Hakuno blinked back tears as she gazed up at Archer's face. If she hadn't used her second command seal, she knew he would have dove in after her. He was fighting against it hard, with the same vigor he had used to try to defy the first one she had used to make him drop her. No matter what he did though, she knew he would be unable to fight against it. Command seals were absolute after all. Plus, if she hadn't done it everything would have been ruined. Not after all this. Not after they had come this far.

"I'm sorry," she whispered one last time as she shut her eyes. Just looking at his heartbroken face just filled her with regret. It wasn't her fault. She had to do this! He would understand. Hopefully. It'll be better soon…everything will be better soon.

She felt herself smash into the black mud. It gave way and accepted her within in. Opening her eyes, she saw she was now floating in darkness. A very familiar darkness. A quick look around told her there was nothing. Just her in what seemed to be a pitch-black ocean. No. That wasn't right. The bluish tone was there. It was stronger than before but black was still the prominent color.

"I bet you haven't been able to decorate much since my last visit!" she called.

A giggle came from behind. Hakuno whirled around and smiled as she gazed at the girl that looked exactly like her. The tattoos on her skin were still there but they were even lighter than before.

"Yes well, my roommate doesn't allow me much room for decorating I'm afraid," she laughed.

Hakuno grinned. "I guess not." She pushed her hair out of her face. "You called me didn't you? You called me to the mud so I would touch it." Her eyes fell to her feet. "And obtain your memories, what your plans were, and the truth about this Grail…" She looked around. "This place, you've been calling me from within the Grail the entire time."

The girl nodded. "Yes. Unfortunately, I am unable to leave the Grail. The only way I could contact you was through dreams, well until now." She cupped her hands over her chest. "I'm sorry. For everything. It's because of me that you were thrown into this War and suffered so much." Her eyes were filled with pain.

Hakuno shook her head. She kicked off and floated towards the girl and hugged her tight. "No. Don't be sorry. You've helped me so much. I…I would never truly be myself and find out the truth about everything if this did not happen." She pulled back and rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. "Although I feel kind of bad now…"

Her eyes betrayed surprise for a moment before she chuckled. "Oh. That. Don't worry about it." She put her hands behind her back. "I knew what I was doing when I decided to go through with this. It doesn't matter much to me at all, as long as he is happy."

A twinge of envy went through Hakuno. "You did this all for love…" She stared down at her hand. "Compared to what you did, I'm a mess. Honestly, I could never do this. You're strong."

The girl reached out and grasped Hakuno 's hand in her own. "No. You are me and I am you. Even if I was never real, we have the same essence. Don't doubt yourself. When push comes to shove, you have strength too."

"I bet no one else has been scolded by themselves before like this," Hakuno laughed.

Her smile slipped away. "I…I left him up there. I made him do it. His face, I knew it was tearing him up inside but I did this…he might never forgive me for something like this. This was cruel…so cruel." She shut her eyes tight. That was the one thing she truly regretted. If only she could have gotten here without his help.

"He will forgive you," she promised. "I know he will." Her expression mirrored Hakuno's. "The fault lies within me in the end. There was no other way I could have this done…ugh." She gritted her teeth and doubled over.

Hakuno reached out to support the girl. "Hey! Are you okay?"

The tattoos on her body seemed to pulse and get darker. "Well, looks like he is getting feisty again. I've been trying to hold him back this whole time but it seems like he wants to try to push back even harder. He should know better than to try something like that."

Hakuno nodded. "Yeah. But that's why I'm here right? To help you fix the Grail."

The smile was back as she straightened. "Yes. That's the reason for everything."

"To grant a wish," replied Hakuno. She also smiled. "Well then. Let's take care of this." The girl grasped Hakuno 's hand in her own. Hakuno almost bit her tongue as she screamed as her mind was filled with knowledge. Lives, history, possibilities, all of it flowed into her mind in a huge jumble. She couldn't extract one piece from another, they were all connected and all flowed into each other.

"Whoops! Sorry! Better?"

Hakuno sighed in relief as the torrent of knowledge trickled to only what she needed. "Yes. Better."

"Sorry. I know I overwhelmed you before by accident too. Transferring this is hard even if we are the same person. You have what you need now correct?"

Hakuno nodded. "Yeah." She shut her eyes as she went through the information given to her on how to truly use and harness the power she was born with. She took a deep breath and focused on opening all her magic circuits.

She felt the grip of the girl on her hand tighten. "Sorry. He's fighting back now. I'll try to hold him off you as much as I can."

Hakuno nodded to show she understood before she began searching through the other worlds for other versions of her, all with their own distinct powers and pasts. She could feel it all flowing through her. All the hardships, all of the suffering, the pain, the hatred, it all flowed to her. Not only that though. The good times, the love, the friendship, the happiness, all of that flowed through her as well. Powers. Magical skills, that they had been born with or acquired throughout their lives, all of that flowed through her as well. All of it. She was a combination of all the versions of her as well as her own person.

"We can do this," spoke the girl. Her voice was weak and distant but it was filled with hope.

Yes. We can do this. Hakuno opened her eyes and stared deep into the darkness that surrounded them. This darkness, this corruption, it was not match for her and she knew it. She lifted a hand and threw the power of her magic circuits behind it, threw every bit of power, every ability that the other versions of her had, all of it she channeled into one blow.

"I knew there had to be at least one," whispered the girl. "At least one who could purify. Even if she died young…this is enough."

Hakuno reared back her fist and punched the darkness before her at full force.

***

Archer stood against a tree near Shinji and Rin. They were arguing about something (well, more like Rin was yelling at Shinji) but Archer did not hear any of it. In his mind he replayed the last couple of minutes over and over again. He could have grabbed her. He could have jumped in after her so she would not have to fall in alone. Something. He could have done something to help her. If only the command seal wasn't in place. Why? Why did she do that? What did the Grail do to her? Was what she did truly her own choice or was it the will of the Grail?

Powerless.

 He looked down at his hand. What was the point of having power if he couldn't use it to protect the person he loved?

"What in the world!?"

Rin's sudden outburst made Archer look up. Even if he didn't want to do it, Hakuno’s third command seal was still in effect. He needed to protect Rin and Shinji. He froze as he stared at the Grail. The contents pouring out of the cup was no longer black and oozing. Instead what poured out seemed to be pure clear water. As soon as the water touched the mud, the mud turned into the water as well.

"It's been purified?" Rin stated what Archer was thinking.

How? How could she do that? How did she remove the corruption of the Grail?

The questions were thrown out of his mind as he spotted Hakuno near the base of the floating cup. She was lying on her back, unmoving. Not even thinking about how dangerous it could be, Archer ran to her. The ankle-deep water splashed in his wake but nothing else happened.

He kneeled next to her body and gently put an arm around her shoulder and propped her up. Feeling his touch, she opened her eyes. "Archer," she whispered. "You're here…you listened to me."

"Not like I had a choice." He gently flicked her forehead. "You idiot. You didn't have to go off by yourself. We're a team."

"Sorry." She shut her eyes and sucked in a shuddering breath. "I'm sorry. But…I need to know. The wish. If…if we could be together, do you still want that? Do you want that granted?"

Archer swallowed. Her voice was so shaky, and it was getting softer and softer with each word. "Yes," he whispered. "Yes."

She smiled and shut her eyes. "That counts…that has to count. She has to make that count." She opened her eyes again. Archer felt a lump in his throat. Her eyes were open but they didn't seem to be looking at anything. "I'm sleepy…so sleepy…Are you still there Archer? I...I can't see you..."

His grip on her shoulder tightened. He wanted to beg her not to go to sleep. He wanted to beg her to stay awake, shake her, and do everything to stop her from closing her eyes. "Well you did just purify the Grail. You deserve a nap," he said instead, giving her a smile.

She giggled. It was so weak and seemed to drain her of all the strength she had left. "I'm sorry," she whispered again.

"Don't be. You did well. You were great."

She smiled again. "You really think so?" Her eyes lids began drooping. She struggled to keep them open but the more she tried the harder it was.

"Just close your eyes," he whispered. "Sleep. You're tired right? Just...take a nap. You'll be fine then."

"Okay..." her voice was like a soft, gentle wind. "...Goodnight...Archer..." She closed and did not open again.

Archer clutched her tightly to his chest. No. No. No. This was not what was supposed to happen. He was supposed to protect her, keep her safe until this was all over. Not this. This was not supposed to happen at all. I never could protect her. Always. Always I am helpless as she sacrifices her life.

"Please don't cry Archer. She's not gone."

Archer heard Rin gasp. He looked up in surprise. That voice. He knew that voice. "It can't be…"

Standing before the grail was her. She looked the exact same, from the long wavy brown hair to her sparkling eyes. The brown school uniform she wore that made her look like an NPC. All the same. It was all the same. She put her hands behind her back as she gazed down at Archer. It was then that he noticed that he could see the Grail behind her. She was transparent, but he had heard her voice clearly.

"How…" he whispered. "how are you…"

"A lot of work went into this," she replied. She pointed to Hakuno. "She's alive. Don't worry Archer. She's just very tired that's all. She ended up expending a lot of her prana to purify the Grail. It might take a while for her to wake but she is alright. I made sure of it."

A quick look down confirmed it. Hakuno was still and felt deathly cold but he could see her chest was moving slightly as she took slow breathes in and out. He sighed in relief and hugged her tight. She had not been taken away from him. She had survived the War. "But you…I saw you disappear…I held you and you vanished. You were crying."

"What is going on here?" Rin had stepped closer. "Why does this girl look like Hakuno?"

"You never change do you Rin?" she laughed.

Rin stared at the girl in surprise. "What? Have we met before?"

She shook her head. "Technically we've never met but I saw from Hakuno that you are the same. Thank you for taking care of me again."

"Uh...you're welcome?"

She rolled her eyes when saw Shinji scramble away. "And Shinji is the same too. Anyway, it doesn't really matter who I am but I guess you could call me Moon Cell Hakuno. At least that's what she was referring to me as." She pointed to sleeping Hakuno. "When I was in the Grail, I was connected to all of the knowledge of the world, including information about other worlds as well. The Moon Cell records all possibilities after all.

"I learned about the Hakuno from this world. As well as the power that she possessed but had forgotten about. And I thought about you Archer. How you were unhappy that I would need to give up everything. How we couldn't be together. I…I just wanted to give you a happy ending to everything."

She gazed down at Hakuno's sleeping form. "I dragged her into the War. While I was fading away in the Moon Cell, I sent a part of myself through the Grail to the Grail from this world, the knowledge to do it was recorded in the Grail as well. I knew the Grail from this world was corrupt and I needed to start attempting to purify it. I'm also the one behind your unusual summoning Archer. I didn't let you rest. I had enough control then to force the Grail to summon you to her."

"So the only reason Hakuno became a Master…"

"Yes Rin. All because I made it so." She shook her head. "I'm sorry Archer. I did this all without asking you. I was watching through her eyes though. When she slept at night, I contacted her through dreams. I couldn't do it often but I tried. I selfishly imposed my own wish onto her." She chuckled. "Although I shouldn't be surprised that she ended up having the same wish as me in the end."

She crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I didn't expect side effects to happen though. Gilgamesh was connected to the Grail through the corruption and since I was bringing information from other worlds with me, he ended up remembering the version of the Moon Cell where he ended up with me- Hakuno, instead of you Archer." She shook her head. "That confused things up greatly-for her at least. Thankfully though, Gilgamesh understood when he touched the black mud-I was able to transfer some information to him. He will find her someday, I know it."

"But anyway, that's it really. I did all of this so that this Grail could grant your wish of being together with me- Hakuno at least. Even if it is not me, she is me and I am her and I am okay with that."

Archer did not know what to say. All this time. All of this was because of her? The reason he was here, it was her. " Hakuno…" he began. "This Grail. Granting that wish..."

She shook her head. "Don't you worry about that Archer. I know what I am doing. I know the limits of this Grail." She winked. "I know how to make it work, don't worry about it."

Of course she did. She had two weeks to figure it out after all along with the knowledge brought over from the other Grail. All he could think of was how proud he was for his old Master. He wanted to talk to her more, talk about old times. He paused in mid-thought when he realized that he could see the Grail clearer through her now. She was fading away.

"Oh. Looks like my time is running out." She looked down at her hands and shrugged. "It seems like I am going to keep being absorbed by Grails no matter what," she laughed. "Although this time I think it's really going to end." She kneeled next to Archer. "I'm hoping you can forgive me. For acting on my own again."

"Always. You were always my idiotic Master," replied Archer with a sad smile.

She laughed as she gazed down at the sleeping Hakuno. "Take care of her." She leaned towards his face and he thought she was going to kiss him on the lips but at the last second, she diverted and kissed him on the forehead. "Those lips belong to her now." She pressed her pointer finger against her own as she got up. "Oh, and one more thing I need to tell you. She obtained my memory when she touched the black mud the first time." She glanced over at Rin and then at Archer and winked. Archer felt heat on the back of his neck. The liar comment made sense now.

"I hope you explained to her about why that mana transfer happened."

"I didn't have to. She knows." She spread out her arms wide. "And with this the Fifth Grail War comes to an end with a winner!" she announced. "And a wish granted as well. Don't you regret anything now Archer. Live please. Live and be happy."

Those were the final words of Moon Cell Hakuno as her body faded away, taking the Grail with her as she granted the wish she had worked so hard for.

Chapter Text

Archer bid hello to the nurse on duty as he walked past her desk. She waved. "You're a couple minutes late today." She made a tsk sound. "A girl does not like to kept waiting."

"That's why I hurried here. I think she will understand," he replied.

The nurse rolled her eyes. "I bet she will."

Archer chuckled as he walked to the room and pulled open the door. There was only a single bed in this room, near the window. The curtains were open, and sunlight lit the room. "Hey Hakuno," he whispered as he closed the door behind him.

He held up the bouquet of flowers that he had brought with him in a small vase. "Your aunt works me hard. I never thought she could be such a slave driver but when she puts her mind to something, you know how she gets." He set the vase on the table before he sat on the chair next to the bed. "She's also been making comments about how she wants to settle down and have a family." He rolled his eyes. "Your aunt never changes, does she?"

No response of course.

Like every other visit, Hakuno looked like she was just sleeping except she was much thinner now than before. IVs and other medical devices were attached to her to monitor every little thing. He reached out and grasped her left hand. The command seals were still there, in gray, the only real proof that she had been a participant in the Grail War. Well, and the fact that he was sitting near next to her.

He spotted a crayon on the ground near the bed. He retrieved it and put it on the table. "Alice came by yesterday after I left didn't she?" He looked up at the wall behind her bed. It was almost covered from floor to ceiling with crayon drawings from a child's hand. He noticed a new one near the ceiling. Alice had probably gotten help from a nurse to get that one up there. "That was the one she drew for you yesterday wasn't it? Fighting a dragon. I can't say I've done that but you make a pretty good knight Hakuno. Well, good bait for the dragon." He laughed. "Only you would trip while running towards a fire-breathing dragon."

"Rin came by the house yesterday. She told me she is holding off her return to the Magus Association. She wants to wait a little longer. Something about scolding you about making her wait so long. I would advise you to stay asleep as long as possible. Rin's wrath is not something you would want to face-although I doubt she will yell at you as much as she did me." He fell silent as he massaged the gray command seals.

After a couple minutes of silence he pointed to some small light purple flowers that were stuffed in between the roses and carnations in the bouquet he had brought with him. "The florist got me today. He said I should add those into the bouquet. Rosemary flowers apparently." He shrugged. "Told me in the language of flowers they mean 'remembrance'. Other than that it could mean that 'your presence revives me'. Silly right?"

No answer of course.

 He gritted his teeth as he pressed her limp hand against his forehead. "It's almost been two months. How much longer are you going to sleep? She said you would be fine. She said you would wake up. So please...can you please wake up?"

Nothing. Like always she did not hear his pleas.

 He gently put down her hand and got up. "I'll see you tomorrow Hakuno." He kissed her forehead, like he did every day. He paused. Did her fingers just twitch? No. It was just his mind playing tricks on him. Just him hoping for something that was not true.

"I need to get more sleep." He turned to walk away but another twitch of her fingers stopped him. He knew he was not imagining it this time. He grabbed her hand and held on tightly like it was a life line. "Hakuno? Can you hear me? Hakuno! Please open your eyes."

No response. No. he could not have imagined it! He couldn't have! Nothing though. She didn't stir. He gritted his teeth. No. Nothing. He just imagined it. Just a muscle spasm. The doctor said that it happens sometimes.

He was about to release her hand when saw her lids flutter. No. He did not imagine that! His grip on her hand tightened and he held his breath. Slowly, ever so slowly her eyes opened. Her lids opened and closed in a slow manner as she seemed to get her bearings. They began to focus, and she looked around in confusion until her eyes settled on him.

"A…..A…Archer?" her voice was incredibly hoarse but it was her voice. He didn't care if she sounded like a dying frog. It was her voice. He could hear her voice again.

"I'm here," he whispered. He pressed her hand against his forehead. "I'm here."

"Are…are you crying?"

Archer rubbed the tears from his eyes, but they would not stop. "No. I'm not. This is…sweat from my eyes. That's all."

She smiled. The same smile he always remembered. The one he fell in love with. "Good morning," she whispered as Archer hugged her tight and refused to let go.

 

Chapter Text

"I can't take it anymore!"

Hakuno flung her notebook into the air along with the various loose sheets that was spread out on her desk. She would have thrown the textbook up in the air too, but it was heavy and with her luck it would land on her head.

This was hard! So hard! She rested her head on her desk. "Why!?" she cried. She stared at the gray command seals that adorned the back of her left hand. "Stupid Grail War," she murmured.

The Grail War had cost her two weeks of school, plus another two months when she was in a coma after she had purified the dang thing. Due to that, she was ridiculously behind in school to the point that it would probably be easier to just take the rest of the year off and try her second year again next year. Unfortunately, Aunt Nomi did not get that memo as she pulled some strings to keep Hakuno in the same grade by using a story that she was being home schooled for a semester and would return to classes in the fall if she got a good grade on her exams.

Hakuno was surprised when the school actually accepted that condition although it was probably because Aunt Nomi had dropped the fact that she had connections to the Harwey family. Since Leo had paid for Hakuno’s medical expenses, Aunt Nomi thought that meant that they could call on the Harwey family for help whenever she wanted. Hakuno highly doubted that the Harweys would care about her education but the threat worked so here she was trying to learn and cram all the information she had missed out on for the past two months, so she would be able to attend school again at the start of the second semester.

"Stupid school, stupid Aunt Nomi, stupid Grail War! I wish none of it happened!"

"You don't mean that do you?"

She jumped slightly and twisted around in her chair. "Oh, hi Archer," she squeaked.

He stood in the doorway with a tray holding cookies and a glass of milk. "I brought you food because I thought you were working hard but it seems like I was wrong."

"I was working!" she said quickly before he could walk away with those cookies. They were obviously freshly baked and still warm. "I'm just tired." She got up and began picking up the papers and notebooks that she had tossed. Archer set the tray down on the dresser before he got down on the floor to help her.

"Why do I need to bother with this anyway?" she grumbled. "I lost two months! How am I supposed to teach myself that much material in a span of a couple of weeks!?" She hated to admit it, but studying was not one of her fortes. Studying for exams was torture normally; this was insane, cruel and inhumane.

She froze in mid-rant when she noticed the look on Archer's face. "Oh, but I don't regret doing what I did!" she said quickly. "Yes, I may have lost two months but that was because of how reckless I was!" She grasped his hands in her own. "I don't regret it one bit." She smiled up at him.

She knew Archer felt guilty for making her lose two months because of him. It wasn't his fault at all though! It was her own, hers and the Moon Cell version of her. Both of them had been reckless to grant the wish. He was just the recipient of the wish! A bystander to her stupidity! "Are you done for the day?" she asked as she got to her feet and set the stack of papers and notebook back on the desk.

Archer had taken up to working odd jobs here and there to help Nomi out plus he said he didn't really know what to do with himself since the job he had when he was alive was not something he wanted to get into again. It kept him busy which was good, but he wasn't in the house much and Hakuno missed having him around all the time. It's different now though, she reminded herself. They were no longer Master and Servant. He was her…her...boyfriend.

She could feel her face heating up at that thought. Although it had been over two months for him, for her it was less than two weeks (she had been discharged from the hospital early due to her healing ability) and it was still weird for her to think about. Plus, it wasn't like they had been doing anything remotely "romantic" since her release. He had been busy with work and taking care of the house and she had been focused on trying to memorize everything and catch up on what she had missed.

Perhaps that was why she didn't feel awkward that he was living under the same roof as her. He had suggested moving out, but Aunt Nomi had none of it. She forced him to stay as a condition of giving him identification and a false birth certificate (Nomi's connections at work again). What surprised her was that instead of taking on the name he had when he was alive he decided to just stick with Archer and tack on Emiya as his last name with his reasoning being that he didn't want to be confused with another Shirou. Whatever that meant.

"You're thinking weird thoughts again."

"Gah!" Hakuno covered her forehead and puffed out her cheeks. "Can we get past the whole flick-forehead thing!?"

He chuckled. "I'm sorry. How about a cookie to make you feel better?" He plucked a cookie off the plate and held it out flat in his hand like one would feed a horse.

She pouted but took the cookie from him and took a huge bite. Oh yes. That was the stuff. It was so gooey and soft and just perfect.

"I think I'm forgiven?"

She nodded. "Yes you are. You didn't answer my question before though."

"I need to work in about an hour."

Hakuno frowned. "But…today is the summer festival…"

"Don't worry. I made sure I would be done by tonight. I'll meet you at the festival okay?" He grasped her hands. "Please don't look at me like that. Tonight, will be great."

Hakuno’s frown of disappointment lifted slightly. "Yeah. I'll see you tonight." Yeah. He was right. The summer festival tonight would be great. She looked down at the ground. "Also. I just thought of something." She sheepishly rubbed the back of her head. "Technically, tonight is going to be our first real..." She swallowed. Could she say it? Actually say it? "d…d…date."

He was silent. Ack! Didn't he see it the same way? She glanced up at him and saw he was gazing down at her. She could feel her face turning red at his intense look, so she turned her eyes to the ground. "W…what's that look for!?"

"Nothing," he replied. "You're meeting up with Rin before the festival right?"

"Yeah. We're going to be putting on yukatas together." Hakuno had been surprised when Rin said she was going to stay in Japan for a while longer. Something about how she needed to take care of an idiot. Hakuno did not get it but Archer had agreed with Rin.

He put his fingers under her chin and gently tilted her head up and kissed her on the forehead before he released her and headed for the door. "I'll see you tonight," he said before he left.

"Yeah," she replied with a smile. She touched the spot on her forehead where he had kissed. "He hasn't kissed me on the lips since…"she murmured. What did that mean? No way. Did that mean he did not like her anymore like that!? No. She was just overthinking this. There was probably a perfectly good reason why and he would tell her when the time was right. Or he would give a reason why he didn't like her like that anymore? Ack! What if Aunt Nomi was forcing him to stay here due to what Hakuno did for him and he was only pretending to be nice!?

Okay. Now she really needed to stop. She turned to textbooks and notebooks on her desk. "Well, I can try to cram a little more before tonight!"

***

"Ack! Can you not trip over your own feet!?"

Rin grabbed Hakuno's arm to steady her before her friend could face plant into the asphalt. "Uh thanks Rin." Hakuno's face was burning as she straightened out and adjusted her yukata.

"Honestly what are we going to do with you?" Rin laughed. She wore a red yukata was accented with a black sash.

She puffed out her cheeks. "Nothing," she huffed. "Nothing at all." She rocked back and forth in her black geta sandals as she craned her neck to look at the crowd of people streaming through the huge tori gates to enter the festival grounds.

"He said he would be here, soon right?" asked Rin. She crossed her arms. "Rude of him to keep you waiting Hakuno."

She shook her head. "He's been busy. I'm sure he would have gotten off early if he could." She instinctively went to twirl a lock of hair around a finger but didn't find any as she had put her hair up in a bun that was held with a long blue flower pin.

"Honestly, he's getting his first real date, and this is how he views it?" Rin shook her head.

"R..Rin!"

"Anyway. You want to go have some fun? Archer has a phone, now right? He can contact you on where to meet later."

"Yeah." That was one of the first presents Nomi had given him along with his identification. "But I think I'll wait here for him. Why don't you go have fun Rin? I feel bad for making you wait on me." Rin was about to protest but Hakuno’s eyes lit up slightly when she spotted Rani in the crowd. She waved, and the homunculus spotted the two girls and walked over.

"Hello Rin-san, Hakuno-san," she said, bowing slightly. Her yukata was light purple with a gold sash. Like Rin, Rani had also stayed in Japan although for a completely different reason. Apparently, since the Einzbern had no use for her, her "professor" had told her to stay in Japan and learn about the world and culture. According to Rin, Rani had transferred into the school as well and Rin had ended up helping the girl out on the first day and a weird friendship had blossomed out of it. Hakuno had met her a couple of times over the past couple of weeks and she had taken Rani under her wing as well. Hakuno was surprised to find out that Rani was actually pretty kind albeit a bit clueless about the world. Not having to fight each other for a magic cup changed a lot.

"I came to enjoy the festival as it seems to be an event that many Japanese go to, to enjoy but I am not sure how one is to have fun at this sort of event."

"Oh boy." Rin face-palmed.

Hakuno had to agree with Rin's sentiments. "Why don't you go with her Rin? You can help Rani learn how to have fun. I'm going to stay here and wait a little longer for Archer."

"Are you sure?"

Hakuno nodded. "Yeah. It's fine. Give Rani a good time. I'll just be slowing you down and stuff by checking my phone all the time."

Rani tilted her head to the side slightly as her lavender eyes looked back and forth between Hakuno and Rin in confusion. "I do not understand why Hakuno-san is waiting. Wouldn't it be fun if all three of us were together? Why is she waiting?"

"She just wants this summer festival to be a special date with her boyfriend." Rin's expression betrayed her amusement.

"I do not understand."

Rin shrugged and put her hands on Rani's shoulders and pushed her towards the festival stalls. "I'll tell you when you are older Rani." Before Rani could begin to argue against the claim that she was old enough, Rin began pushing Rani harder towards the stalls. "We'll see you later Hakuno. Have fun on your date!"

Hakuno waved goodbye to Rin and Rani before she leaned against one of the pillars. She checked her phone. Five minutes. She could wait five more minutes. She smiled to herself. This reminded her the time she had waited for him outside the supermarket during the War. That was such a long time ago. "At least nothing bad will happen this time," she murmured to herself. She looked up and scanned the crowd for Archer's white hair. Nothing.

She checked her phone again. Another five minutes. She could give him another five minutes. She sighed and adjusted her yukata. Maybe she should not have worn this one. It was white dotted with pink and blue flowers with a dark blue sash. "Maybe I should have went with something that was one color only." Maybe that pin in her hair was too much? Yeah. It was probably too much. She reached up to pull it out when she heard her name.

She looked up in surprise as Archer hurried over to her. "You're late!" she scolded but the grin on her face said otherwise. "Hmm? Archer?" He was staring at her wide eyed. "Uh, you don't like it?" She knew she should have gone with the solid blue one instead of letting Rin talk her into getting this one!

"Uh no, I like it," he stammered. "It looks good on you." He looked away sheepishly. "You look…cute."

Cute!? No way. Did he really just call her...cute!? Her eyes locked onto the ground. She knew her face was on fire. "Oh...uh…thanks." She lifted her head once she knew her face was not a tomato anymore.

"Sorry for being late. I got held up." From the look on his face, Hakunou knew he was not lying about being held up.

"But you're here now." She checked her phone for the time. "And we have some time before the fireworks show. There are a couple of stalls I want to check out."

"You actually want to play some of those childish games. You do know most are rigged right?"

Hakuno puffed her cheeks. "I'll have you know I am a beast at goldfish scooping! It requires skill!"

Archer rolled his eyes, but he was smiling at the same time. He held out a hand. "Shall we then? We can play some of these silly games."

"Great! There's usually a huge giraffe in one of the booths. It has eluded me for years but with you by my side I know I can win it!"

"How many stuffed animals are you planning on getting tonight?"

"All of them!"

***

"Hakuno this is-"

"Shhh!" Hakuno lifted a hand to silence him. Her eyes were narrowed, focused on the task at hand. Her left hand clutched the paper net tightly while the right held a bowl. Her eyes darted back and forth as she watched the goldfish swim back and forth lazily in the box.

Archer shifted slightly, and she glared at him. He held up both of his hands in a gesture of apology. She turned her attention back to the goldfish. After a couple of seconds of watching the goldfish swim around, she struck with a battle cry.

"YA! YA! YA! YA!" Every single time she cried out she scooped a goldfish into a bowl. She got ten the bowl before the paper net broke. She grinned like she won the lottery.

"That's a new record," laughed the attendant.

"My skills have gotten stronger!" Hakuno handed the bowl of goldfish back to him. "And here you go! Thanks again!"

"No problem," said the attendant as he put the fish she had caught back into the box.

"I'm surprised," said Archer. He picked up the bag filled with various small trinkets he had won for her along with the huge stuffed giraffe. She had thrown him at every single game booth she laid eyes on and he won something at every single one of them. Even though he no longer had the abilities of a Servant he had the skills he had in life so winning all the games had been child's play for him, even if most were rigged.

"Surprised about what?" she asked. She pulled her phone out of her the small blue pouch that hung from her wrist. "Ack! It's almost time for the fireworks show. We need to get to my super-secret spot so we can see it and not worry about people getting in our way."

"I'm surprised that you wasted your time perfecting a skill such as goldfish scooping instead of something more productive."

She glared back at him unamused. "I'll have you know that it took me a couple of tries to perfect the ability to even get one." A small smile. "Aunt Nomi used to take me. She laughed at me when I tried the first time. I didn't even get one. I spent all the money Aunt Nomi gave me trying to catch one. Took me two years but I did it!" She grinned to herself. "Aunt Nomi was so impressed about that." She shrugged. "Sadly, she never got to see my real skills though. She never came to a festival with me after that."

"Did you go to the festivals alone?"

She nodded. "Yeah. I mean, I usually saw a couple of classmates and I hung out with them for a little bit and stuff but I came alone."

Archer stopped walking and stared at her back. "That's…"

"Oh, don't worry about that. Really. I'm fine Archer! Now come on. We need to hurry and get up there before the fireworks begin!"

He began following her again. That was just…sad. He had noticed that she didn't seem to have any close friends besides Rin. He still wondered sometimes how that was possible with her personality. She should just attract people to her.

"Hang on," he said as she veered to the left, away from the direction that the crowd was traveling to a line of trees that went uphill.

"Oh come on Archer. Let's not make this a pity party about me! We have a fireworks show to watch! We need to get up this hill!" She pointed in the direction they needed to travel. It looked to be the shadiest place possible, with trees that cast long shadows and the only light came from the moon overhead.

Archer shook his head and gestured to her feet. "You're limping slightly."

She looked down at her geta sandals. The area between her big and second toe was red. "Oh yeah. I'm not used to wearing these. I'll be fine though."

He sighed. Why did girls feel the need to wear uncomfortable shoes?

"I don't like that look!" She backed up a step. "You are not going to carry me!"

Why did she have such a hatred of him carrying her? It wasn't like he was going to jump through the trees or anything crazy like that. He was just thinking about carrying her up the hill. That's all "Listen," he said. "At the rate you are going, we're never going to make it there before the fireworks end. Plus, how do you expect to walk uphill on rough terrain in those shoes? And you can barely see where you are going. You are going to trip on the way up!""

She bit her lip as she looked down at her feet. "Well I usually don't wear a yukata when I go to the festival," she mumbled. "So I'm in sneakers..."

Archer's eyes widen. She didn't usually wear a yukata? So, she had ended up getting dressed up for him tonight? He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. Well then. He walked over to her side. She jumped back slightly and stared at him in distrust. He rolled his eyes and kneeled with his back to her. "Get on," he murmured.

She stared at his back dumbstruck. "Wait…what?"

"Well, you don't seem to be wanted to be carried bridal style so piggyback? You do want to see fireworks right? You are going to need to carry that giant giraffe of yours though."

"Oh. Well umm, okay," she relented.

How was this any different than him carrying her bridal style? Even with all the knowledge he had, he had no idea how a girl's mind worked.

She hiked up her yukata as she stepped over him and pressed up against his back. She then grabbed the giraffe and held it under one arm by the neck. "Ready," she murmured as he put his arms under her thighs.

"Hakuno. I have one question. Are…are you wearing a juban underneath that yukata?"

"Huh? No? Why?"

"No reason," Archer said quickly as he stood. He had forgotten how thin yukatas were and Hakuno was pretty well endowed in that area. Don't think about it, he chastised himself. Of course, the more he tried not to think about it, the more he thought about it. Dam it, why did he decide to carry her this way? He should have just gone with his usual bridal carry and ignored all protests.

"You're really quiet," she murmured.

"It's nothing," he replied. "Do I still keeping going up?"

"Yeah. Keep going. We're almost there. The trees will thin out soon." He was painfully aware of her shifting on his back to point in the direction they needed to travel. Stop thinking about it!

Thankfully, like she said, the trees did thin out. They were now on a small hill that overlooked the river. There were many people clustered on the shoreline but there were only the two of them on the hill. "I'm surprised this is even here." He kneeled so Hakuno could stand.

"Aunt Nomi found this spot." Hakuno sat on the grass and kicked off her shoes. "She said it was our special spot and that I was only allowed to bring someone special to me here." Even in the weak light, he could see her face turn red. She began plucking up grass absentmindedly as he sat down next to her.

"Well then, I thank you for showing this to me." He rested his hand on top of hers.

"Y…y...you're welcome."

Like always she was so adorable when she was flustered. He was about to tease her more when the first firework soared up into the sky. Her eyes widen and sparkled as she watched the fireworks dance in the sky.

"So pretty," she whispered.

"Yeah," he agreed. His turned his attention away from her sparkling face and gazed up at the sky. It was beautiful, he had to admit. So many colors and shapes. She had been right about this location. The perfect view.

"Archer?"

He turned to her. "Yes?"

"Thanks for everything," she gave him a wide smile before she leaned in and kissed him on the lips. She retreated and stared at him in confusion. "What?"

"Nothing," he said. He was shocked. This was the first time she had kissed him of her own volition since she had woken up.

She frowned. "Did I do something wrong?" She bit her lip and turned her attention back to the fireworks. "Sorry," she whispered. "Not reading the mood right am I? I really do stink at this kind of stuff. I'm sorry. I'm being a bother..."

What in the world was she apologizing for? "Hakuno. You did nothing wrong. You aren't a bother at all." He interlaced his fingers with was wrong with her?

She shook her head. "But I have to have done something wrong!" she insisted. Her eyes were wide with worry now. "You..you haven't kissed me on the lips since before my coma. I have to done something wrong." She looked away and began ripping up more grass. "You can tell me Archer. You can tell me that you don't like me anymore and that you are being nice and stuff. I can take it."

What in the world? Where was she getting these kinds of ideas?

 "Hakuno, look at me." He put both hands on either side of her head and forced her to look at him. "I just wanted to give you some time. To get used to things again. You were out of it for two months." He didn't want to overwhelm her but it seemed like it did was give her the wrong idea. "Trust me. I still love you." He released her and hugged her tight. "I did not visit that hospital every day for two months for no reason Hakuno."

He let her go and saw that surprise was clear on her face. "Oh. So that's all it was." She smiled to herself. "I feel stupid then for overthinking. I knew I was!" She laughed. "I knew I was." She rubbed her eyes as she gazed up at the fireworks. "Whoa! Did you see that one Archer? It was blue! And that one! Green!"

He smiled as he gazed at her sparkling face. Yes. This was the girl he loved. The one that would get excited about little things and worry about everything. "Hakuno?"

"Hmm?" She turned to him.

He kissed her on the lips. "I need to thank you for everything."

She stared at him in shock for a couple of seconds as she tried to process what he said before she then grinned. "You're welcome! Oh man! Did you see that firework!? It was shaped like a star!"

Yes. Gazing at her smiling face, under the fireworks, everything was perfect. She leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder. He put an arm around her shoulders as they gazed up the fireworks overhead.

"By the way, I'm going to be carrying you home in the usual way."

"Wha!? No!"

Chapter Text

Archer opened his eyes. His bedroom was dark, the only light streaming in from the half-open curtains. He turned his head slightly to check the clock by his futon for the time. Three in the morning. Great. He still had a couple of hours to sleep and he was going to take it. He turned over to go back to sleep, but he paused when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He froze. The door to his room was slowly being opened.

He tightened one of his hands into fists, ready to trace. He didn't move so whoever it was did not know he was awake. Was it a burglar? Was Hakuno okay in the room next door? Damn it. If he was a Servant still he could just go through the wall to check on her. Nope, the only way he could leave his room now was through the door. If it was a burglar though, and he hurt her, then he would pay, big time.

"Archer? Are you awake?" Her voice was barely a whisper.

He relaxed immediately and used his elbow to prop himself up. "What is it? It's the middle of the night, Hakuno."

Hearing his voice, she opened the door wide enough for her to step inside before shutting it behind her. From the moonlight pouring in, he could see that her hair was a frazzled mess and she was wearing pajamas that were a little big on her. She chewed on her lower lip.

"What is it?" he asked again. "Is something wrong?" It wasn't like her to visit him in the middle of the night like this. Oh jeez. Was she on her period? Nomi had instructed him that sometimes Hakuno would sometimes awake in the middle of the night because of it and he was given specific instructions on what to do. Involving water bottles and singing her back to sleep. That was an awkward conversation to say in the least. Nomi hadn't even tried to be tactful about it either. He still was not sure if Nomi had been serious about any of it or not.

She fidgeted. "Ummm," she began. She brushed her hair out of her face and began twiddling her fingers together. "C…can we sleep together?"

He stared at her and blinked slowly. "What?" He didn't hear it correctly right? And she couldn't mean it like that right? No way. She was so innocent about matters like this! This was probably Nomi's doing wasn't it? Or Rin! He could see Rin putting her up to something like this. "Hakuno," he began slowly. "Now maybe we should go much slower about stuff like this…"

"I…I had a bad dream," she murmured, like she didn't hear a word he said. "I tried going to sleep by myself but I couldn't…so…"

So that's what it was. He sighed and sat up. He shouldn't have been surprised that this was the reason she was here. This was something Hakuno would do, not come into his room in the middle of the night for other things.

There was no way he could say no to those pitiful brown doe eyes of hers. Obviously, this was no normal nightmare if it caused her to come to him. If only she realized the problem of her sleeping in the same bed with him.

"You can get in. I'll put a shirt on."

"Oh," she said. Her eyes locked onto the floor as she made her way over to the futon. He rolled his eyes as he got up and grabbed a shirt out of a drawer. When he turned around he saw she was already under the blanket with her back to him.

"Sorry," she mumbled as he crawled back under the warm covers.

"Don't worry about it." He wasn't sure if he would be able to go back to sleep now.

"It was a bad one," she said.

"A memory then?" Sometimes, when she slept, she had dreams of other versions of herself because her mind wasn't as guarded when she was asleep. This was the first time she had come into his room after one though, even though she classified some of those dreams as "bad ones" too.

"Yeah." She was shivering. "I…she…died. Horribly. Multiple times. Over and over. So many times…so many different ways…I could feel it Archer. Those blades…those murder weapons…everything. I could feel everything that killed her…"

Again. She was having horrible dreams again. Feeling things that someone as innocent at her should not have to feel. However, unlike before he didn't have to hold back. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer to him and rested his head on top of hers. Her shivering subsided immediately.

"Nothing will happen to you. You're safe."

"But she's not…"

Archer was silent. There was nothing he could say to make her feel better. There was something odd in what she said though. She had died multiple times? How was that possible? He couldn't ask her though. Not when she was like this. Heck, he probably won't even ask her in the morning either. It was already paining her so much.

"This reminds me of the old times," she whispered and giggled. "Back when I had dreams of my past."

"Only I would be forced to get into your bed instead of the other way around," he replied.

"Remember the time Aunt Nomi walked in?"

"I'm trying to forget that." Even now and then Nomi would bring it up much to Archer's dismay. She also loved connecting it with an S&M related comment as well.

"I know Aunt Nomi still likes to tease you about it. Sorry."

"Don't worry about it. There's no way you could control Nomi's antics."

"But still…"

He lightly kissed the top of her head. "Don't worry about it. Just go to sleep. You have school in the morning. You don't want to be sleeping in class."

"Yeah, Taiga will have my head for that," she laughed.

"Thanks Archer," she whispered after a few moments of silence.

"Just sleep," he told her. "You won't have that dream again." At least he hoped so. Her dreams were one place where he could not protect her.

He felt her move and he loosened his grip as she turned over to face him. "Hakuno?"

She smiled at him and Archer resisted the urge to kiss her right then and there. He had no idea where it would go from there but he knew the both of them would end up not getting any sleep for the rest of the night. He was broken out of his thoughts as she flicked his forehead.

"You are thinking weird things again," she giggled. She ducked and pressed her forehead against his chest to protect it from Archer's retaliation.

"What am I going to do with you?" he sighed. No answer.

No way. She couldn't have.

"And you're asleep," he said in disbelief. He sighed again and kissed the top of her head before he settled to snatch up a couple more hours of dreams.

 

Chapter Text

Hakuno rested her head on her desk as the final bell rang to signal the end of class. She closed her eyes. So tired. Finally, the torture was over.

"Are you okay Hakuno? You look exhausted." Rin stopped by her desk and gave her friend a look that conveyed all the pity she felt.

"Of course I'm exhausted." Hakuno sat up. Somehow, she had managed to learn all of the material and pass her exams (with the help of Archer) so she was allowed to come back for the second term and continue her education in school. It had taken a while to get into the swing of things after being out of school for months. "Taiga went on a tangent about the latest game she bought. Honestly, if she and Aunt Nomi got together, I fear for the future."

"I have to agree with that," laughed Rin. "Anyway. You heading home now?"

"Yeah." Hakuno got to her feet and put the textbooks she would need for tonight's assignments in her bag. "Archer has the night off so we're going to have dinner together…What is that look for Rin?"

Rin shrugged nonchalantly. "Oh nothing." She turned to leave but whirled around a moment later. "But remember that we're going to be staying after school next week to prepare for the culture festival."

"Don't worry. I won't forget," she laughed. After bidding farewell to Rani (who had transferred into her class), Hakuno headed for the stairs to the first floor. She gazed out the window and noticed that clouds overhead were looking very ominous. She frowned. That wasn't good. She quickened her gait as she went down the stairs and almost crashed into Shinji at the bottom.

"Hey," he snapped. "Watch where you are going!"

"Sorry about that Shinji!" she replied as she sidestepped him. She hurried to the shoe lockers and grabbed her loafers out of her locker and plopped them onto her feet. After she had put her school shoes away she headed for the entrance of the school and stopped in her tracks.

"Just my luck." She hung her head in defeat. The rain was coming down in sheets. The morning had been sunny so she had ended up not bringing an umbrella with her despite Archer telling her that it was going to rain. She glanced to her left and right and saw various students leaving the school with umbrellas of their own.

"Great," she murmured. "And now I look like an idiot." She debated on making a run for it but thought against it. The water droplets were huge, and she would need to travel on the train. Plus, she could already hear Archer nagging her about getting sick for doing so stupid. "Guess I need to stay here…"

This sucked big time! This was one of the few times Archer had the afternoon off as well as the evening. She wanted to spend the whole day with him. With her in school and him working they barely had time to spend with each other despite the fact they lived under the same roof.

She wrapped a lock of hair around her finger as she contemplated what to do. Maybe she could find an empty classroom and do her homework? It wasn't like she brought any of her magus books to school so she couldn't even practice that either.

"Hakuno-san. You are still here."

Hakuno turned her head. "Hey Rani. Yeah. I'm still here." She gestured to the rain. "Can't exactly go out like this."

Rani pulled her umbrella out of the stand and opened it. "If you would like, we can share this," offered the homunculus.

Hakuno shook her head.  “Don't worry about it Rani. You live in the opposite direction of me so it would be more work for you if you took me home. I'll wait for the rain to slow down or stop and then I'll head out."

Rani did not seem happy about that but with Hakuno's coaxing she finally agreed to leave on her own. She turned to leave but paused. "Hakuno-san. Isn't that your Servant-I mean boyfriend over there?"

"Huh?" Hakuno looked up in surprise. Archer was walking over with a large umbrella in hand. "Archer. What are you doing here?" she squeaked.

"Getting you of course. You forgot an umbrella this morning and I knew you would be standing here like a sad little puppy waiting for the rain to stop."

She puffed out her cheeks. "I'm not a sad little puppy."

"A puppy?" Rani repeated, confused.

Hakuno could hear students around them whispering to each other. Of course. A tall, handsome man had come to pick up boring, normal Hakuno. Of course, people were going to whisper. Ack! What if a teacher saw!? What if they asked her about this!? The school allowed them to date but Hakuno wasn’t sure if it included men that were obviously in their twenties.

"I'll explain later Rani," she stated quickly. It was definitely better if she got out of here as soon as possible. "Wait," she said when she noticed something, "We're sharing one?”

Archer, who seemed oblivious to the whispering, just nodded. "I was on my way to get supplies for dinner when I remembered that you forgot one, so I came straight here."

"That's so sweet," she said with a smile. Archer could be so adorable at times! However, she had to share an umbrella with him!? They never did anything like that before. And right in front of the school on top of everything!

"Shall we go?" he asked. It seemed like he finally felt the stares on him and he glanced around uncomfortably.

"Yeah," she replied. The faster they got out of there the better. For both of them. She turned to Rani. "If anyone asks, don't tell them that Archer is boyfriend. Make something up or something."

Rani nodded. "Yes, I understand. This kind of situation is troublesome for girls your age. I will keep quiet."

"Thanks Rani." She slid under the umbrella and the two of them began walking. She could feel the question stares on her back until they made it past the school gate. She sighed in relief. Hopefully Rani would be able to give a good enough excuse so no one would ask any questions.

"I didn't cause any trouble right?" he asked.

She shook her head. "No. It's fine. They'll probably forget by Monday." Hopefully. To take her mind off that, she lifted her hand up to try to grab the umbrella handle. In response Archer just lifted it higher, just out of her grasp.

She frowned and held onto Archer for support as she reached up to try to grasp the umbrella with her free hand as she stood on her tiptoes.

"Hakuno…what are you doing?"

"Trying to hold the umbrella," she huffed as she dropped back down onto her feet. "I feel bad. You're holding it and you came to get me and well, I feel bad," she repeated.

Archer sighed. Hakuno knew this sigh perfectly. It was the "what-am-I-going-to-do-with-you" sigh. The one that annoyed her the most. "Hakuno, you are shorter than me. You won't be able to hold it over both of us without trouble so just let me do it alright?"

She frowned but decided it would be best to just drop it. Archer was always stubborn about things like this. She had also noticed that he was walking on the sidewalk closest to the street. Trying to be gentlemanly huh? Not like she minded though. She would have laced her fingers with his if he wasn't holding onto the umbrella between them.

She clapped her hands over her forehead right before Archer's fingers could attack it. Hah! She grinned up at him. "You weren't able to get me that time!"

"Only you would be happy about something like this." He was shaking his head but he was smiling as well. He grabbed her arm and yanked her closer to him before she stepped into a knee-deep puddle. "And you would not pay attention to what is happening in front of you."

"I saw it! I was just…going to jump over it!"

The look he gave her told her he thought otherwise. Well what did he know! She could have. Well, okay, maybe not. "Well anyway! The uh…culture festival is coming up next weekend and my class is having a café and I was wondering if maybe…"

"Don't worry. I won't miss it," he replied. "I already made sure I was off on that day."

"Oh?" She tried to remember if she told him about it before but couldn't.

"Your aunt," he explained. "She called me up and told me I had to go because she couldn't and gave me the date and told me that I had to go in her place."

Oh Aunt Nomi. Hakuno shouldn't have been surprised that she had told him. Nomi loved going to the cultural festival. "Well, that's good then," she grinned. "We can walk around together and stuff!"

"Yes we can. Anyway, what would you like for dinner?" he asked as they reached the supermarket.

"Steak!"

He laughed. "Steak it is then."

***

Archer walked down the hallway on the way to Hakuno's classroom. The school was crowded with people going to check out the different exhibits and other attractions of the cultural festival. It was a lively day to say in the least. He smiled to himself as he remembered the last time he had walked through the school like this. It was when he had been Hakuno's Servant in her first couple of days of the War. Back when he had kept her at arm's length. Oh, how things have changed since then.

He paused in front of Hakuno's classroom. Rani was standing outside the door in a maid outfit. She was gesturing for people to come inside. "Welcome back-oh hello Archer," she said with a slight bow when she saw him.

"Maid café?" Archer shook his head as he read the sign outside. Hakuno did not mention that. She had just said it was a café.

"Based on votes, it was thought that this would be able to get us on the most business. I was put out here because someone in the class mentioned that my way of speech would be considered 'moe' by some."

Based on the amount of people in the café, he guessed that this "moe" plan was working.

"Hey now! Let's not leave a customer standing out here!" Rin walked over. Like Rani, she was also in a maid outfit.

"Where's Hakuno?" he asked as Rin lead him to a table. There were various girls from the class in maid outfits serving customers but Hakuno was not among them.

Rin grinned but did not respond. Archer did not like that look at all. "Just sit," she replied. "She's in the back; I'll grab her for you."

Archer obeyed although he was a bit worried about what Rin was up to. He picked up the menu on the table and looked it over. There wasn't much, just a small assortment of drinks and snacks. Well, he shouldn't have expected much from a cultural festival café. He saw someone approach his table out of the corner of his eye.

"Hello Master. Can I take your order?"

Archer almost dropped the menu in shock. There she was, Hakuno, in a maid outfit like all of the other girls in the café. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She looked downright adorable. What his attention was focused on was what she had said.

She tilted her head to the side slightly. "What's wrong Master?" she giggled. "You're turning red Master."

"Stop it," he snapped as his eyes locked onto the table.

She giggled again. "I guess it's weird for you for me to call you 'Master' huh? Weird role reversal here! We're in a maid café though! I need do it like that…Master!"

"Uh yeah." He took a deep breath and looked at her when he was sure he would jump up and grab her. "I thought you said you were working the back?"

"Oh, I am for now," she replied. She looked down at the outfit and tugged at the skirt that barely made it to her knees. "We all wear this though and Rin said I should serve you myself so yeah. I have the second shift to work out front so yeah." She shrugged.

Well that made him a little bit better that she was not calling anyone else that for now. Hang on. What the heck was he thinking!? He silenced that train of thought before it got too out of hand.

"So umm what would you like Arch-Master," she corrected herself. She winced as a girl from the class glared at her. "That's the class rep. This was all her idea." She sighed. "She's probably going to yell at me later for not doing what I am supposed to. Oh well. Anyway, I'll be back…Master."

"But I didn't order anything," he pointed out.

"Coffee," she replied with a grin as she hurried away.

He smiled as he leaned back in his chair as he waited for her to return. He gazed around at the other tables and noticed that almost all of them had guys. He frowned and checked on Hakuno. Much to his annoyance, he noticed that a couple of guys were watching her as she returned to his table with a cup of coffee.

"Here you go, Maaaaaaaassuuuutteeeerrr!" she stated as she put the cup down in front of him. "I hope you enjoy!"

"Thanks Hakuno," he managed to get out. Could she please stop doing that!? At this rate he was going to grab her and kiss her right then and there.

"Are you going to be hanging around here to check out the other stalls and such? I'll be taking a break soon so…"

"I'll wait for you," he replied. "Are…" He looked away. "Are you still going to be wearing…that?"

"Huh? Oh yeah." She swished the short skirts around. "It's good advertisement for the class." She tilted her head to the side slightly. "Why are you asking?"

He looked away. "No reason." He quickly took a sip of the coffee to avoid speaking to her.

She blinked slowly but shrugged. "Ummm, okay then…I'll be done soon."

***

"Is Archer acting funny or is it just me?" wondered Hakuno.

Rin almost dropped the cup of tea she was setting on the counter for one of the maid waitresses to take. She stared at her friend for a couple of seconds. "Hakuno….you really have no idea?"

"Have no idea about what?"

Rin shook her head. "I feel bad for poor Archer then."

"What? What?!" Really now. What was up with Rin and Archer!? Why did it seem like they knew something she didn't? "Rin! Tell me!"

"If you don't get it, well then, there is nothing we can do about that. Just some advice, don't call him Master when you two are walking around-heck, especially don't call him that when you two are alone."

Hakuno tilted her head to the side but Rin did not elaborate on what she meant by that. Rin sighed. "How in the world are you in a relationship and yet so clueless? Anyway, you get going while you still have time to take your break." Rin waved for Hakuno to get out of there.

Frowning, Hakuno obeyed. As soon as she stepped out of the door she spotted Archer leaning against a window. He stood up when he saw her approach. "Do you have to wear that sign on your back?" he asked.

"Yeah," she replied. "It says which classroom our café is in! Advertising Archer! We need to do it!"

"Alright then," he said with a roll of his eyes. He held out his hand and Hakuno slipped her own into his as they walked down the hallway to check out what the other classes were doing. She yanked her hand out of his when she saw a teacher coming in their direction. They were both in silent agreement that it was probably better if they didn't make it obvious they were dating while in the school.

"Oh hey! A haunted house!" Hakuno said as she pointed. A girl dressed up as a ghost stood outside a black curtain that covered the doorway.

"Would you like to come in?" asked the ghost girl. She made an evil face. "If you dare of course."

"That is a-okay!" Hakuno said quickly before Archer could answer. "We are a-okay out here!"

"Oh come on, I think this would be interesting," said Archer. "Something different at least."

"No way! That is fine! We don't need to go in there!"

"Wait…are you scared of haunted houses?" Archer stared down at her in disbelief.

"No! Of course I'm not!" Right after the words left her mouth, a scream came from the haunted house. She jumped and clutched Archer's arm tightly. Realizing what she was doing a moment later, she released him and took a step forward. "I am not scared at all!" she insisted. Archer's face told her he didn't believe her statement though. Ha! She would show him!

"I'm going in!" she insisted. Before she could lose her resolve, she stepped through the curtain. Another scream came from further in and she immediately turned around and burst out into the warm, safe sunlight.

"You lasted longer than I thought you would. I am impressed."

She glared at him. "Be quiet," she murmured as she straightened out her skirts. "I uh, didn't want to ruin the maid outfit by going in there! You don't know what fake blood could do to this if it got on this outfit!"

Archer rolled his eyes but he didn't fight against her statement. Instead the two headed down the hallway to enjoy the various other booths and events that the other classes put on.

After one circuit around the school, they were back in front of Hakuno's classroom. "Well, that's it I guess," she commented. "I'm going to need to get back to work. I don't want the class rep to chew me out for not doing my job."

"Yeah," Archer replied.

Hakuno tilted her head to the side slightly. He sounded so distracted. It was weird. "Archer? Is something wrong?"

"Nothing," he replied.

She noticed a couple of boys were walking into the classroom and she whirled around and bowed. "Welcome back Master!" she said cheerfully. "Just choose a seat when you get inside."

One of the boys looked like he was going to say something to her but he stopped himself and hurried inside with his friends. She blinked slowly. What was that about?

 Wait a minute.

She turned her head. Her boyfriend was looking quite peachy and happy with himself. "Seriously?"

"I have no idea what you are talking about but I think I'll stay here until you close."

"Oh no you don't!" Hakuno ran behind him and began pushing against his back. "You are going home! Stop scaring our customers!"

Of course, Archer did not budge. It was like trying to move a boulder. A very stubborn boulder. She puffed out her cheeks and ran in front of him. Yes, she could have used reinforcement but that would have raised many, many questions for onlookers. "Come on Archer!" she whined. "You need to go!"

"There is no way I'm leaving." He looked down at her with his arms crossed.

She glared up at him. She heard a throat being cleared from the café and she gave the class rep. a sheepish look before turning her attention back to her stubborn boyfriend. How was she going to get him to go? He was going to be bad for business if he scared away people due to his aura and stuff!

Wait. It was a maid café…

A small smile appeared on her face as she put her hands behind her back and gave him a huge smile. "Can you please go home Master? Or at least not come back to the café while I am working…Master. Please Master? Pretty please?" She batted her eyelashes as Archer turned his head away from her. Even if he was trying to hide it, she could see that his face was starting to take a reddish tint to it. His hands, she noticed, were also twitching slightly.

"Hey Archer, Hakuno." Rin came up from behind and slung an arm around her friend. "What'cha you doing out here? You are coming back to continue your shift right? It's your turn to do the serving. Hopefully you won't go missing in the next couple of seconds." She was eying Archer as she spoke.

He sighed and shook his head. "Fine, fine. I get the hint," he grumbled.

"Great!" Rin pulled Hakuno towards the doorway. "Oh and Archer! We get to keep our maid uniforms after today is over."

Hakuno wasn't sure but it looked like Archer's face was getting even redder. "I'll see you tonight at dinner then Hakuno.” Weirdly, he was not looking her in the eye when he was talking.

"Uh okay," she replied. She gave him a smile since there was no way she could kiss him goodbye here. "See you later."

Archer waved goodbye before he began walking away but it was like he hadn't even heard her.

"Why did you lie about the uniforms?" she asked when Archer was out of sight.

"I'll tell you when you are older," Rin laughed. "Come on. Let's get to work before the class rep. chews you out."

Chapter Text

"Ahnenerbe.” Hakuno turned away from the sign and stared up at the small café. It was cute. Really cute. She whirled around to face Archer. "Why don't we go in here? It looks so adorable!"

Archer shrugged.

That was enough of an invitation for her. "Alrighty then!"

She opened the door to the small café and stepped inside. The first thing she noticed was how cute it was. There were people sitting at every table which had to mean it was popular, right? Why didn't she come here before? She had passed by this street a couple of times in the past, but she didn’t remembered there being a café here.

She blinked. Wait. Was that a cat-person at the counter?

"Hello," spoke a short, blonde, cat person. "We're a bit full right now so would you mind sharing a table with another guest?"

"Uh…" Hakuno glanced over at Archer but he didn't seem very worried about the talking cat-thing. Was this thing in front of her even a cat? Those eyes were huge! "Uh sure."

"Follow me."

"Is something wrong Archer?" asked Hakuno as they followed the cat to the back of the café. She slipped her hand through his in concern.

"Nothing. It just feels like I've been here before…"

The cat-thing stopped at a table that was occupied by two. A boy, about her age, with short orange hair that felt strangely familiar to Hakuno and the other was a blond, foreign woman. Hakuno glanced back and noticed that Archer was staring at both of them in shock and they were mirroring the expression on Archer’s face.

Was she missing something? "Ummm Archer? Is something wrong?"

"I thought you had more class than that Archer," spoke the woman. "Going out with another woman." Her eyes flickered down to Archer and Hakuno’s intertwining hands.

The boy facepalmed. "Does she know about this?"

"Huh?" Wait. Did these people know Archer? She stared up at her boyfriend in confusion. "What's going on here? Archer?"

"This is Saber," Archer relented, gesturing to the woman. He paused and he looked conflicted about telling her who the boy was. "And uh…that's Shirou Emiya," he said quietly.

"WHAT!?" Hakuno ran over to the table and slammed her hands against it as she stared at Shirou.

He leaned back as she leaned towards his face, really studying every little thing about him. She stared at Archer and then stared at Shirou and then did it again. How did this guy turn into Archer!? They looked completely different! Archer looked so capable and this guy looked so…not capable.

"Can you please stop staring like that Hakuno?" sighed Archer. She couldn't believe it, but did he actually look embarrassed?

"When you said you got a tan…you really meant it," she commented before she stood. "Ummm sorry," she told Shirou. Was Saber his girlfriend then? She was glaring at Hakuno a little bit. Sure Archer told her a little bit of his time as a Master but he never said anything about dating Saber…

Oh wait! She was being rude wasn't she? "Sorry! I'm Hakuno Kishinami!" she bowed slightly to try to make up for her rude behavior before.

"Nice to meet you," replied Shirou, smiling.

Hakuno stared. That smile was so familiar it was frightening.

"Alright. You can stop staring."

"GAH!" Hakuno puffed out her cheeks as she rubbed her forehead where Archer had flicked her. "Did you have to do that!?"

"You had a weird expression. I couldn't help it. You were thinking of something strange again and I have a feeling I know exactly what it was about."

"Well you didn't know I was thinking about something like whatever you thought I was thinking about! You can't prove it!"

"I don't need to prove it. That look on your face was all I needed."

She pouted and crossed her arms. "Well you are a poopoo head about that…"

Archer rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes. I am a 'poopoo head'."

"Can I ask what is the relationship between you two?" put in Saber. Her green eyes were glancing back and forth between them.

"Well uh…that is…"

Was Archer actually stammering? Hakuno stared at him for a couple of seconds. Awww. Was he nervous to tell his younger self? Hang on. Would this cause a space-time paradox or whatever? It shouldn't right? Well, what did she know? It couldn't hurt though right? Archer was from the Moon Cell after all.

"He's my boyfriend!" she said cheerfully, completely oblivious to Archer signaling her to shut up.

Saber almost dropped her teacup and Shirou just stared at her in confusion. That was not the kind of reaction she was expecting at all. Did she say something wrong? "Uh…what?"

"We should go Hakuno," Archer said quickly. "Now."

"Does…does Rin know about this?" asked Shirou.

Rin? What did Rin have to do with anything? She glanced over at Archer. "Archer? What's going on?" He wasn't looking at her. In fact he looked downright nervous now.

"Archer?" Her eyes widen to the point of being dinner saucers. Tears pricked the corner of her vision. Sure she knew about the thing in the nurse's office from Moon Cell Hakunos and Moon Cell Hakuno did ask him about it and he had reacted funny but still…this was…

"Hakuno! Please don't start crying!" he said in a panic when he realized what was happening with her. "It's not like that at all!"

"But…but…" blubbered Hakuno. "But they said you are with Rin! I mean I know she's my best friend and you did know her previously and stuff but…"

"I hope you are happy," growled Archer, aiming that at Shirou and Saber. He softened his expression as he turned his attention back to Hakuno who looked like she was going to start pouring out tears at any second.

"I mean, I know Rin is nice and she is capable although very tsundere around boys which I guess is the kind of personality some guys like and I'm not very tsundere at all. Instead I'm pretty klutzy and overthink things and attract danger all the time as you know. And Rin is more confident and stuff although you did tell Moon Cell Hakuno you like girls like this." She moved her hands to make air curves to demonstrate.

Saber looked down at her chest and glanced over at Shirou who was avoiding meeting eyes with his Servant.

“Which is why you aren't attracted to Rin but you were lying to me right? You actually do like girls like Rin but you said that you liked me because you wanted to make me feel better and stuff!"

Archer didn't even know where to start with this one. She was being crazy and overthinking things. Like usual. "Hakuno," he began. "It's not like that. Please don't start crying." He reached out to hold her but she slid back. "Come on Hakuno. Don't listen to them."

"But, but, but, but," she stammered. "It makes sense and stuff!" The tears in her eyes were dangerously close to falling. Any wrong move and the tears would pour out like a waterfall.

The door to the café slammed open.

Everyone turned to the just-opened door as Gilgamesh strode in in all his golden glory.

Saber jumped to her feet, her outfit transforming into a battle gown. Her hands were held in front of her like she was holding an invisible sword. Shirou stood at the same time she did.

The golden Servant's eyes fell on Hakuno, who had a few tears leaked out of her eyes at this point, and they darkened. "Mongrel…," he snarled, his eyes shifting over to Archer. "You made my Queen cry."

"Wait…what?" Shirou stared back and forth between Archer and Gilgamesh.

The golden Gates appeared behind Gilgamesh. "You must be ready to die mongrel. Gates of-"

He never got to finish as Hakuno flung a chair at him. It hit him square in the head and he tumbled to the ground. "You can't use the Gates here Gilgamesh! You'll destroy this place!" she protested.

"But that mongrel made you cry!" protested Gilgamesh, getting up. He rubbed his head where the chair had clocked him.

"But that doesn't mean you can wreck the place! Seriously. You are going to cause so much trouble for the…" Hakuno paused as she stared at the cat people and shrugged. "The people that own this establishment!"

"If my Queen wishes it, fine," sighed Gilgamesh. He shrugged and gave her his signature, dazzling smile. "There's no way I can resist giving you anything you ask."

"Gilgamesh is actually listening to her?" Shirou asked in shock.

"How are you able to control him?" asked Saber.

Gilgamesh walked over, and Saber stiffened. He looked at her with a bored expression for a couple of seconds before turning his full attention to Hakuno. "How have you been?" he asked as he put his arm around her. He glared at Archer, who was now shooting venom with his eyes at the golden Servant. "If you want, I can get rid of him for you, My Queen," he whispered into her ear.

Archer's eyes narrowed and his hands balled into fists as Hakuno slipped out of Gilgamesh's grasp. "Stop teasing him," she protested. "You two shouldn't fight and just get along!"

"There's no way I can get along with him Hakuno. It is impossible," stated Archer.

"For once we are in agreement."

Hakuno put her hands on her hips. "I think you can if you put your mind to it!" She pointed to the table. "I want both of you to sit and have a civil conversation with each other!"

Gilgamesh and Archer stared at her like it was the end of the world. She glared back at them both. "In case you forgot Archer, you were apparently with Rin…" She crossed her arms and glared at him as Archer began to protest. Her eyes shifted over to Gilgamesh. "And you tried to destroy the place! Sit down!"

Archer and Gilgamesh sat down with inhuman speed. "Now have a conversation and talk some stuff out! Seriously! You two get into a fight if you are near each other! Do you know how annoying it is to try to play moderator!? You need to figure out your differences and get over them!"

"My Queen, do you really expect me to have a conversation with…" He trailed off and looked away as Hakuno glared at him. She turned her back to the two of them.

"You better not be fighting whenever I look back or that chair will be the least of your worries," she warned them. With the message clear, she stalked to the other end of the room and crossed her arms.

"Wow," commented Shirou.

She whirled around in surprise. He had followed her? Saber was right behind him with a plate of curry that she was scarfing down at an alarming speed.

"You need to tell me how to control Gilgamesh," stated Saber, in between bites. "You were able to make him obey you without removing your ahoge. I would like to know what you did."

What did that mean? Hakuno shrugged. "It's not like it was hard. I mean you just need to be assertive. He likes an assertive Queen." She sent a glare in the direction of the table. Archer and Gilgamesh seemed to be arm wrestling now. Feeling her glare, and very evil aura, they stopped and resumed to glaring at each other from across the table.

Saber nodded. "I understand. I will take that into account. However, I am already a King…"

Hakuno stared at Saber for a few seconds. "You…a king?" She tilted her head slightly in confusion. She looked like a girl. Who was she in history?

"Hakuno-chan!? You're here!?"

Hakuno looked up in surprise. "Lancer!?"

The Servant hurried over to her. He was wearing casual clothes, with an apron over it. "I didn't know you were here otherwise I would have come out earlier!"

"You know her Lancer?" asked Saber in surprise.

"Of course!" Lancer put an arm around her shoulder. "This is Hakuno-chan! The light in the dark when Rin was my Master! Hey, remember that meal you promised to make me if we meet again?"

She nodded. "Yeah. I would cook you a meal. I didn't bring anything I made though."

"That's alright!" Lancer said happily, "There's a kitchen here." He leaned in close to her ear and whispered, "You know, we could-" He never got to finish as he was thrown backwards as two swords pinned him to the wall.

Gilgamesh and Archer were out of their chairs and were next to Hakuno. They glared down at Lancer. "Well, mongrel, this is one thing we can agree on," Gilgamesh said.

"Yes," replied Archer as he cracked his knuckles. "I have to agree with you."

"Uhhhh," began Hakuno. "What are you two?"

"I would turn away. It's pretty traumatic the first time," Shirou said as he grabbed Hakuno's arm and turned her away from the scene and Lancer's screams.

"He died again," stated Saber.

"Oh, he does that a lot?" That made a lot of sense to. Poor Lancer.

"Can we go now?" asked Archer. He showed her his watch. "We're supposed to be home soon. Alice is coming over remember?"

"Oh right!" exclaimed Hakuno. She completely forgot about that! "I wish we had more time to talk, I really would like to know how Archer was like before he became...himself," she told Shirou. "But we really need to go."

She yelped as Gilgamesh swept her into his arms. "Hey!" She reinforced her arms and pushed him away. "Stop it! Didn't you say you were going to find me-her that will meet you first!? I think you should get on doing that!"

Gilgamesh sighed but he, thankfully, did release her. "Alright fine. Because you said so my Queen."

She sighed in relief. "You ready to go Archer?" she asked right as the door of the café opened again.

Everyone froze. Hakuno stared at the duo who had just entered, Archer and-she rubbed her eyes. No. She wasn't imagining it. The duo that had just entered was Rin along with Archer. They were staring right back at Hakuno and Archer with the same shocked and confused look.

Tears sprung up Hakuno's eyes. "Archer…"

"There's a perfectly good, reasonable explanation for this!" he protested.

"Archer…care to explain?" Rin asked, turning to her Archer.

"I have no idea what is going on," he stated.

"Uh Hakuno…" Archer reached out to touch her shoulder but her expression stopped him.

She stared at him with free-flowing tears. "So, you actually do prefer girls like Rin!?" She ran out of the café without a backwards glance.

"Wait!" Archer raced after her, leaving some very confused Masters and Servants in his wake. He found her a couple blocks down and the tears were already dried on her face. "Hakuno, there's a perfectly good reason why me-him was with Rin."

"Another world, I know," she said with a shrug.

Archer froze and stared at her. Wait what. "Wait…you aren't mad?"

She shook her head. "No…not really." She glanced back in the direction of the café. "It's weird but I felt like I had to act like that. Now that I'm thinking about it…everything that I did in there seemed very weird and I was pretty accepting of a lot of things…" Why was Lancer and Gilgamesh in there anywhere?

Archer shrugged. "I don't know anything about that place either."

Hakuno also shrugged. Whatever. It probably did not matter anyway. “Want to get crepes before we go home?"

Archer sighed. "You really want crepes?"

She nodded like a bobble-head doll. "Of course I want crepes! Plus you owe me for dating Rin in another world!"

"But in the same logic, you owe me one for dating Gilgamesh."

She opened her mouth and shut it again. "Alright fine. We can buy each other a crepe!" She checked her phone. "Ack! Alice is going to be at the house soon! We need to hurry Archer if we are going to get crepes!"

He rolled his eyes, but he followed her to the nearest crepe shop.

Chapter Text

"Nee-san!"

Hakuno turned around and almost fell over as Alice gave her a huge hug. "Alice!" she cried out in surprise.

The little girl looked up at Hakuno with sparkling purple eyes and stepped back a step to give Hakuno room to breathe and recover from the sudden attack.

"Alice! What are you doing!?"

Hakuno recognized the older woman that ran up to them. It was the same woman from the hospital, many months ago. This was Alice's mother. She stared at Hakuno for a few seconds and then her expression changed to one of recognition. "You're the girl that brought Alice back to the hospital."

"And she's Alice's Nee-san!" Alice stated proudly.

Hakuno couldn't read the woman's expression but she did notice that her eyes were a sparkling purple that matched Alice's perfectly. "Thank you," whispered the woman. "For looking after Alice."

"What?" Hikaru didn't understand. What did she mean?

Alice's mother kneeled before her daughter. "Why don't you go pick some flowers for Nee-san in the park?"

"And make Nee-san a flower crown?" Alice turned towards Hakuno. "Does Nee-san want a flower crown? I can make great crowns!"

Hakuno smiled and nodded. Alice grinned and raced towards the park. Hakuno and Alice's mother followed the little girl at a much slower pace.

"I'm sorry if you were busy with something."

She shook her head. "No. Don't worry about it. I was just going to the store to get stuff for dinner." Sadly tonight she would be eating alone as Archer was going to be coming home late and he told her not to wait up for him.

"Alice has always been a quiet girl. She's the type of girl that likes books more than people." Alice's mother and Hakuno sat down on a bench while Alice was kneeling in a small patch of wildflowers. Her expression was serious as she searched for the perfect flowers to use for the crown. "A couple months ago, my husband came back from a business trip with a new book for her. A book of fairytales. Alice was ecstatic to get it, she loves fairytales as you probably know. However, after she got it, she became even more withdrawn. She rarely left her room. I even caught her making chalk drawings on her floor of a circle a couple of times."

No way. Hakuno bit her lip as she watched the little girl happily make a flower crown. She couldn't picture Alice being a withdrawn child. The book. Was that how Alice learned how to summon Caster? It had to be. "And then what happened?" she prompted.

"She just stopped talking about the book all of a sudden. She started going out a lot-saying she had a new friend. She came back home so many times with cuts and bruises. She said she had been playing with her friend but…"

Fighting in the Grail War with Caster no doubt. It was obvious to Hakuno that the family themselves did not know about magic and maguses. Otherwise they might have been able to guess what Alice was up to. Or Alice could have told them what she was up to.

"She did speak about you though." The older woman gave Hakuno a huge smile of gratitude. "She spoke about a 'Nee-san' who was kind to her and took her out to have fun. When she spoke about you, I just knew you were a good person. You gave Alice a smile that I haven't seen in a long time."

"Ah well," Hakuno looked away sheepishly. All this praise was making her embarrassed. "I didn't do much." It was probably not a good idea to admit that her daughter had made Hakuno act like a fool in front of Archer and tried to kill her.

"You have," she insisted. She looked at her daughter sadly. The little girl had a pile of wildflowers next to her and she was beginning to weave them together into a crown. "Alice has been having a bad time at school," she admitted quietly. "You know how kids get when they see something different. Alice was the quiet girl."

Hakuno nodded. She knew how mean kids would be. She was never on the receiving end but she saw it. Poor Alice. If she could find those kids she would teach them a lesson for messing with Alice!

"After her time in the hospital, and after you brought her back, she was more open, more cheerful. You…you were the Nee-san she was visiting the hospital as well right? I never went but my husband went with her a couple of times and the description of the girl matched you."

Hakuno smiled as she thought of all of the drawings that had covered the wall behind her hospital bed. Archer had told her that Alice came by almost as much as he did. "Yes. That was me," she said softly.

"I'm glad that you are looking so well right now. When Alice got that call from a guy-your boyfriend right?-that you woke up, she was so happy that she was crying. She had a friend over too, she's been making a lot of those recently. The friend was so confused but she was happy as well. You've done a lot to help Alice."

Hakuno swallowed. What could she say? She didn't think she did anything. All she did was take Alice out to the amusement park and went after Julius when he had kidnapped her. And even then she was not the one who saved the girl, it was Gilgamesh.

"Nee-san!" Alice ran over with a woven flower crown in hand. "Alice finished the crown!"

"It's so pretty Alice!" Hakuno lowered her head so Alice could put the crown on her head. "You drew picture like this right? It's on my desk."

Alice's eyes widen happily. "Nee-san kept all of Alice's drawings?"

"Yup. Every single one." She shrugged. "Archer complained about it when I made him help me take them all down to take home but you know how grumpy he gets."

Alice giggled. "He is very grumpy. But he said he was going to make me cookies one day when Alice visited Nee-san. Can Alice visit Nee-san?" She looked over at her mother. "Alice can visit Nee-san right?"

"If Nee-san is okay with it, yes."

Hakuno nodded. "Yes. That's fine. You can come over Alice." She grinned. "We'll have tons of fun and make so much noise that grumpy Archer will yell at us!"

Alice laughed. Her mother smiled. "Thank you," she whispered. She got up. "Come on Alice, we have kept…I'm sorry, what's your name? Hakuno Kishinami? We have kept up Hakuno for too long. She has to go back to her shopping."

Alice frowned.

"How about you come over next weekend? We can have lots of fun times!"

Alice grinned and nodded. "Okay. Alice will come over then!"

Her mother bid farewell and Hakuno waved goodbye as mother and daughter walked away hand in hand. She bit her lip and rubbed her eyes as watched Alice and her mother.

She shook her head. "We walked home the same way didn't we mom," she whispered. She sighed and got to her feet and slapped her cheeks lightly. "Dinner! Steak! Steak sounds good! Tonight I'm going to have steak!"

***

"I'm home," whispered Archer as he opened the front door. He slowly closed the door behind him as to not make much noise. It was late and she was probably already asleep. That's all he wanted to do right now too. It was a long day. He took off his shoes and noticed the light was on in the kitchen. "She left the light on again," he murmured.

He paused in the doorway and a small smile crept on his face. "You didn't have to wait for me," he said softly. She was asleep at the table, her arms acting like a pillow for her head. An empty mug stood lonely on the table.

"Come on. Let's get you to bed." He carefully scooped her into his arms.

"Mmmm Mom?"

Archer looked down at her in surprise but she was obviously still asleep. Probably a dream of a time long ago. Hopefully a good one. There have been too many bad dreams related to her family. Outside her room, he carefully shifted her so he would be able to open her door without dropping her. Thankfully she was smart enough to change into pajamas before she waited for him.

He pulled back the covers and laid her into the bed. She cracked open an eye. "A…Archer? You're back." Her voice was groggy.

"Go back to sleep," he whispered as he kissed her forehead.

"Dinner…in the fridge. Bath...drawn..."

"Got it. Now go back to sleep."

She gave him a smile before she turned over. In mere seconds her breathing was even again. He turned and left the room, careful to make sure the door was closed tight behind him. First a bath and then he would see what she had left for him.

Chapter Text

Archer's eye twitched.

He shut his eyes, took a deep breath and opened them again. No change.

"This is temporary right?" he asked, trying to keep his voice level.

Rin looked down at the bottle in her hand and quickly read the label. "Umm I think so. It says it has a short term effect. Ummm. Don't worry. This problem will fix itself." She looked down at said problem. "At least I hope so. You can take care of things until then…right?"

Archer sighed and stared down at Hakuno. His girlfriend looked up at him with big, huge five-year-old eyes which matched the rest of her five-year-old body.

"Do you think she has her memories?" wondered Rin.

Archer watched Hakuno bend down and play with the plush fibers of the carpet in Rin's room. Rin had fashioned a dress for her out of a curtain. It was a toga-like thing and gaudy but at least it was something. She was ignoring the grownups talking above her as she picked up various pieces of fluff and stared at them.

"I doubt it," replied Archer.

Hakuno got up and walked over to Rin's bed. After a couple of tries, she was able to scramble onto it and she began jumping up and down in excitement.

"You better fix this Rin," Archer warned her.

Rin shook her head. "You really don't have to tell me that. But seriously, it can't be all my fault. How was I supposed to know that Hakuno was going to trip, the cork of the bottle would pop off and she would be covered with the liquid from the bottle?!" She made a 'tsk' sound with her tongue. "I should have known getting a present from her was not a good thing…"

"Can we focus on the fact that my girlfriend is now five years old?" snapped Archer.

He heard a thud from behind and then the sound of a child crying. He turned to see Hakuno lying on the carpet next to the bed. She clutched her head as tears poured down her face.

Oh boy. What was he going to do with her?

"There, there, don't cry Hakuno," he soothed as he walked over and kneeled next to her. He began gently rubbing the spot on her head. "It's fine. You're okay." She put her arms around his neck and Archer lifted her off the ground and gently bounced her up and down as he rubbed the spot until her sniveling subsided. "Better?" he asked her. "Did the ouchie go away?"

Hakuno lifted her head and nodded. "Ouchie go away!" She spread her little arms out to demonstrate.

Rin giggled. "You make a good father, you know that?"

Archer glared at her in response. "I wouldn't have to do this if you weren't an idiot and gave Hakuno something that dangerous when you know how trouble prone she is." He put her down as she was getting very fidgety in his arms.

"Well then." Rin threw her hair over her shoulder. "This 'idiot' is going to go out. So…" She held out her hand. "And I don't think Hakuno should be walking outside in something like that."

Grumbling, Archer took out his wallet and slapped a couple of bills into Rin's waiting hand. "You should take full responsibility for this.

"I am in my own way," replied Rin. I'll be back soon. And you may want to pay attention to what your girlfriend is doing."

Archer looked down but Hakuno was no longer next to him. She was on the other end of the room, reaching for an expensive-looking vase on a small table.

"Good luck," Rin laughed as Archer raced over to grab her.

***

Archer sighed in relief as he opened the front door of their house. Rin's house had been a landmine. There were way too many expensive and dangerous things within reach or within sight of an adventurous, curious child. Thankfully, Rin didn't take too long in buying a set of clothes and a pair of shoes.

After struggling to get her changed, (with the promise of ice cream after dinner to make her comply) he took her home. He had wanted to carry her like back in the day when he was her Servant but he wasn't sure how child-Hakuno would react to something like that so he thought against it. Although the ground had not been much better either. He had to keep an almost death grip on her hand to prevent her from wandering away. Anything and everything attracted her attention. He felt like it was worse than taking a dog out for a walk.

"We're going to have dinner now-Hakuno, remember to take off your shoes!" he called after her before she could escape into the house.

"I forgot!" She bent down and kicked off her shoes before she raced away, leaving Archer to put her shoes away. "How in the world did your parents deal with you at this age?" he wondered.

A crash and thud came from the living room. Archer was in there mere seconds later. Thankfully nothing had toppled. She had tipped over one of the side tables and all the books had crashed to the floor. She seemed very proud of herself as she was reading one of the books. Or pretending to as the book was upside down and she was flipping through the pages way too fast.

"Honestly," he sighed as he righted the table and put the books back on it. He bent down to Hakuno's height and held out a hand. "Can I have that book?"

Hakuno puffed out her cheeks and clutched the book tight to her chest. "No. Mine!"

Of course it was. "Well can you and your book come to the kitchen?" There was no way he was going to let her run around the house unattended while he made dinner.

Thankfully she complied and after setting up a small corner of the kitchen for her, Archer got to work on dinner. He decided it was probably for the best to go with something simple since he wasn't sure what her taste buds were like right now and from what he knew, kids were super-picky about food.

"Hakuno? Do you like curry?"

"I love curry!"

Well, curry it was then. After he pulled out the ingredients from various parts of the kitchen, he began on the prep work. Every now and then he glanced over at her to make sure she hadn't wandered away. Thankfully she was still engrossed in the book she was "reading".

However like all children, that did not keep her occupied for long. She got to her feet and walked over to him. "I wanna cut!"

Archer stared down at her and then at the cutting board. "I'm cutting onions, Hakuno."

"I wanna cut!" She stomped her foot against the ground to show how serious she was about cutting.

Of course she did. He sighed. Based on the way she was stubbornly staring at him, he had a feeling if he said no he would have a tantrum on his hand. "Fine," he replied with a long sigh as he grabbed a plastic knife from a drawer and cut off a piece of the onion for her.

"Yay!" Hakuno ran over to the closet and dragged out a small step-stool which she pushed over to where Archer was. She scrambled onto it and stood next to him proudly.

"So Hakuno," began Archer as she picked up the knife and began contemplating on how to cut the onion in front of her. "Do you know who I am?"

"Archer!" she replied happily.

So she did know his name at least. That was good. At least she had some common sense as a kid and didn't go willingly with a stranger. "Do you know how we met?"

"Dunno!" She held the knife in front of her like a paintbrush.

Did she truly not remember or did five-year olds not care about this kind of stuff?

"Hi-ya!" she cried as she attacked the onion with the knife. Two cuts later, with the same intensity, tears were streaming down her face.

"Do you want me to cut it?"

"No!" She continued to cut away at the onion even though the onion was making her cry.

"And still stubborn as ever…"

After all of the vegetables were prepped and the curry cooked Archer set two plates down at the table with Hakuno's only being a tiny portion. Thankfully she was eating by herself.

"Aren't you going to eat your carrots?" asked Archer when he noticed that she was pushing them around her plate after she had eaten everything else.

"No. Carrots yucky."

"But you love carrots."

Hakuno made a face and shook her head stubbornly. "No carrots! I don't like them!"

"Hakuno," Archer warned.

She crossed her arms and puffed out her cheeks, "No carrots!"

"You won't get any ice cream for dessert then."

She stared at him with the most horrified look in the world and the down at her carrots and then back at him. She did it a couple more times but Archer did not retract his statement. Instead he continued to eat his curry, making sure to eat all his carrots. "I guess I'm going to be the only one eating ice cream tonight."

He never knew a child could look so horrified. "Ice cream..." she murmured. She picked up her spoon and prodded a piece of carrot a few times before she got it onto her spoon and then into her mouth. Archer watched in amusement as she slowly and very dramatically put carrot pieces into her mouth, made a disgusted face and then swallowed.

"This is not a punishment at all." Archer shook his head. "Stop being so overdramatic."

Hakuno pouted and ignored him while she continued to eat the carrots. Once she was done she put down her spoon and looked up at him smugly. "Done!"

"Yes you are." He got up and took the plates back to the kitchen. He was back a couple minutes later with two bowls of chocolate ice cream.

"Ice cream!" sang Hakuno. She grabbed her spoon and began devouring the cold treat. "Ahhhhh!" she cried, clutching her head.

"That's what you get for eating too fast," he said with a roll of her eyes.

A thud came from the stairwell. Archer froze. No way, no way, no way. He got up. Please no. He walked into the hallway and saw Nomi stumble down the stairs. She was in her business suit but she was disheveled. Either she had spent time at a bar or had just woken up. Archer was thinking it was probably the latter.

She yawned. "Oh, hi Archer." She stretched. "I was wondering where you two where. I got home and the house was empty. I was so tired I ended up taking a nap and then here you are!"

This was bad. Really bad.

"Archer?"

Archer froze and turned around. Hakuno was peeking out of the kitchen doorway in confusion. Ice cream was all over her face. He whirled around to check Nomi's reaction.

It didn't look good. Her eyes were wide as she watched little Hakuno stumble over to Archer and hug his leg.

"Archer," began Nomi.

"I can explain!"

Nomi shook her head and brushed away a fake tear. "How could you and Hakuno keep this from me?"

"Huh?"

"I can't believe you two hid the fact you had a kid from me! I have a great-niece and you never told me!? Where were you hiding her!?"

"Hang on!" cried Archer. Hakuno, bored of the talking adults began to wander away but Archer grabbed her arm to prevent her from walking around the house without supervision. "Nomi, this is not-"

Nomi lifted her hand. "No. It's alright. You don't have to make excuses to me. I can understand you guys are young. You people have urges and you two gave into them and a mistake came out of it. A mistake you seem to be taking full responsibility for."

"Nomi. No. No. That is not even possible. I would have to have met Hakuno years ago for that to be even possible! And I haven't by the way," he added quickly at the end.

Nomi didn't seem to hear him. She kneeled as Hakuno stumbled over to her. "Why don't you go wash your face sweetie?"

"Yes Aunt Nomi." Hakuno turned and headed for the bathroom.

"Don't worry. She won't get into any trouble on the way there," said Nomi as Archer watched her go.

"Oh okay." He paused. "Wait…" He glared at Nomi and she just laughed at his expression.

"Oh stop looking at me like that. I just had to milk it for what it was worth. Your face! Your face! It was just perfect!" She clutched her sides as she laughed. "I just couldn't help myself!" Once her laughing fit subsided, she took a deep breath. "I'm guessing Hakuno got her hands on an age-younger potion?"

"Rin got it. Hakuno was reading the label when she dropped it and well…"

Nomi nodded in understanding. "She's done something like that before too. Her father had to keep all his potions and such on high shelves to avoid her getting to them. That only worked eighty percent of the time."

Was Hakuno that much of a trouble child? At least she had gotten better when she got older. At least.

"I would go find her now." Nomi stretched, "She's been quiet for a while and it doesn't take this long to wash her face. When a child is quiet…"

Archer groaned and hurried to the bathroom. Hakuno was sitting on the floor in front of it with markers in hand. Thankfully she had not attacked the walls with them. Unfortunately, she had attacked herself with them.

"Why am I not surprised?" Archer kneeled next to her and shook his head. She was grinning like she had won the lottery. "Oh no you don't!" He grabbed her arm before she could draw on him.

"You might want to give her a bath," laughed Nomi as she came up behind Archer. "Here she goes, doing the marker thing again. Thankfully those are the washable kind."

"I need to give her a bath?" Archer plucked the markers out of her hand before she could do anymore damage.

"Yes. You. I need to catch the next plane out of here. I only came home for a nap."

"Of course you did…" murmured Archer.

"So good luck! Keep her entertained and you'll be fine!"

Archer shook his head as Nomi made a hasty escape. "Well then," he said as he picked up Hakuno. "Come on. Let's get you into the bath."

***

Archer never knew taking a bath would be so hard. Hakuno, of course, had to grab all of the shampoo and soap and she had cried a couple of times when the soap got into her eyes. He ended up skipping the usual soak in the tub as he was not going to risk her drowning in it.

"You are more trouble this size than adult," he commented from his spot on her bed.

Hakuno glanced over at him and tilted her head to the side in confusion at his statement before continuing to rummage through her closet. Since Rin had not bought any sleeping clothes, Archer had just grabbed one of Hakuno's t-shirts and knotted it at the bottom so it wasn't too long. Crude but it worked and she wasn't complaining about it.

"Read!" She walked over to Archer with a picture book in hand. "Storytime!"

"No. It's bedtime, not storytime."

She pouted and lifted the book higher. "Story!"

Archer sighed and took the book from her as she scrambled onto the bed with a little difficulty. "One story and you go to sleep okay?" Why did she have a picture book in her closet in the first place?

She didn't seem to hear him as she sat in his lap. "Ready!" she exclaimed.

Archer opened the picture book and began reading. It was a weird story about a squirrel who was friends with a dog, lion and a wolf. The three animals were trying to get the squirrel's attention to invite her to a local party as a date. In a plot twist, the squirrel ended up going to the party with her friend, a tsundere cat instead.

"This is such a weird story," commented Archer as he closed the book. He stared at the back cover. "No way. There's a book series for these characters!?  I really question…" He had to smile as he look down on her. She was fast asleep in his lap. He put the book down and gently picked her up and put her under the covers. "Goodnight Hakuno," he whispered as he kissed her forehead. "Please don't get into any more trouble until morning, alright?"

***

The next morning the first thing Archer did was go check on her. He had been worried that she was going to get into trouble somehow during the night(although a quick call to Nomi told him that she usually slept through the whole night with no problem). He opened her door slowly in case she was still asleep. "Hakuno? Are you up?" he asked softly.

            Much to his dismay, a five-year old Hakuno was still asleep in the bed. As if hearing him come in, she cracked open her eyes and sat up. “Morning Archer!” she said cheerfully.

            He let out a long sigh of disappointment and plastered a smile on his face. “Morning Hakuno. Come on, let’s get you washed up and ready for breakfast.”    

            “Okay!” She hopped off the bed and ran over to him and sat on his foot with her little arms clutching his leg. “Carry me!” she giggled.

            “Fine, fine.” He made his way slowly to the bathroom with Hakuno attached to his leg like a weird koala.

            Thankfully once she was in the bathroom, she was able to do her morning routine without help. Breakfast was a bit of a hassle as he discovered she also had an aversion to eggs like she did carrots. It was only the threat of no crepes later that got her to eat all her omelet.

            “Now what to do with you today…”

            “Park! I wanna go to the park!”

            “Park? But Hakuno…”

            “Park!”

She puffed out her cheeks and Archer had the urge to flick her forehead. However he wasn’t sure how this she would react to such an attack on her forehead.

Instead he sighed again. “Park it is then.” Maybe she would tire herself out enough that she would not be hyper for the rest of the day.”

***

“Oh which one is yours?”

Archer glanced over at the housewife to his right that had spoken to him. She was gently pushing a stroller back and forth, the baby inside being lulled to sleep.

“Excuse me?”

“Which one is yours?” she repeated. She gestured to the group of young children clambering around the various play structures.

“Oh I’m not, I mean…” He trailed off and realized how bad it would look if he did not “claim” a child. He gestured to Hakuno, who was scrambling across the monkey bars. “The one in the pink dress.”

“Oh my, such an energetic child.” The woman put a hand to her cheek. “My son is the one by the slide. How old is yours?”

“I think around five.”

If the woman heard his odd phrasing she did not say. “Mine is around the same age and such a rascal. If you do not mind me asking, where is her mother?”

“Her mother passed away.”

“Oh?” The housewife edged closer to him. “I am so sorry for your loss. Must be hard raising a child on your own.”

“Huh? Not really.” Archer moved away slightly.

“Oh but someone like you, you’re so young and probably have a bright future.”

“Uh…”

“ARCHERRRR!”

He jumped to his feet as Hakuno ran over to him, tears pouring down her face. He barely had time to kneel as she collided into him and buried her head into his shoulder.

“Hakuno? Hakuno, what’s wrong?”

“He said…he said…he was so mean. He said…he said…”

“He said…” prompted Archer. “Come on, what happened?” He eyed the little boys currently playing. One of them had said something to her.

“Hakuno, are you okay?” A little girl ran over, her hair in short pigtails. “Don’t listen to Takahashi. He’s mean! He doesn’t know anything!”

“What did Takahashi do?” Archer asked the pig-tailed girl as he rubbed lazy circles onto crying Hakuno’s back.

“He said I couldn’t marry you Archer!” Hakuno babbled out.

Archer stared at Hakuno, flabbergasted. Wait what. How did that conversation come up!?

“You can marry whoever you want Hakuno! That’s what my mommy told me!” yelled the pig-tailed girl.

“Can I marry you Archer?” Hakuno looked up at him with her huge eyes. “Can I?”

“I uh…Hakuno you’re a little young for that…” He trailed off, realizing she was going to start crying again. “Sure. Sure you can marry me.”

“Let’s get you guys married now!” yelled the pig-tailed girl. She grabbed Archer’s and Hakuno’s hand. “Come on!”

“Wait, I…what.”

He didn’t know how it happened. One moment he was comforting a crying Hakuno and next, he was sitting on the slide with pig-tailed girl. A procession of girls and boys made up the “audience”.

Pig-tailed girl had invited the whole playground but Takahashi. She had yelled at him when he tried to join. Then after Takahashi had almost started crying, she relented by letting him play the “dad” to give up Hakuno.

Archer didn’t know what was worse. The fact that all of these children were into it or that the mothers were watching this whole thing in amusement from the benches.

“Dun, dun, dundun. Dun, dun, dundun!” sang the pig-tailed girl.

Hakuno walked down the sand aisle. It seemed like one of the other girls had given her a barrette to wear and it sparkled in the light. She carried a bouquet of wild flowers. Takahashi grumbled the whole time but he did a good job of “handing over” Hakuno.

“Do you Hakuno take, uh, Archer to be your husband forever and ever?”

“Yes!” Hakuno jumped up and down in excitement.

“Do you Archer, take Hakuno to be your wife forever and ever?”

“Uh...sure?”

“You have to say yes!” snapped the pig-tailed girl.

“Sorry! Yes.”

“Now you married forever and ever!” Pig-tailed girl raised her arms wide and then started clapping. The other children joined in and Archer had to blush at the attention.

Hakuno grinned at him. “Archer, we’re married now!” she chirped.

He sighed and smiled. “Sure. We are married now.”

***

            Archer collapsed on the couch, his feet aching. What a roller coaster of a day. After their “marriage” on the playground, pig-tailed girl insisted they ride off into the sunset, or afternoon, in this case. After having a lunch out at a fast food joint they had come home and Archer had put her down for a nap. Wrestling a sleepy child into her “sleeping clothes” was no easy feat.

            How long did kids nap for anyway? It had only been ten minutes since he had put her down but what if she got up? What kind of trouble would she get into.

            “Damn it,” he groaned as he got to his feet and went upstairs to check on her. He cracked open her door slowly, just in case she was still asleep.

As soon as he saw Hakuno climb out of bed, he froze. That was no five-year-old getting up but a seventeen-year-old. A seventeen-year-old with a tied-up shirt on that was way shorter than it should be.

She stared back at him, blinking slowly as she also seemed to have trouble processing what was going on.

Archer reacted first and slammed the door shut so it was a barrier between them. "Sorry Hakuno! You were a little kid for more than twenty-four hours. We weren’t sure when you were supposed to turn back.” He lightly hit his head a few times to try to remove the image of Hakuno’s exposed thighs out of his mind.

"No, no. It's okay," came her muffled voice from beyond the door. "I…uh…understand…" He could picture her, red-faced on the other side of the door. He heard her shuffling around in her room. "Thanks for, uh, taking care of me. I'm not too sure what happened-my memory is a bit fuzzy but thank you."

His face flushed as he thought of the “wedding” that took place a few hours ago. "It was nothing at all. It was Rin's fault for having something like that lying around in the first place."

"Uh yeah," she giggled. She cracked open the door and peeked up at him. She had untied the shirt and had slipped on a pair of shorts.

"I have to say, I like you much better like this." He pushed open the door and hugged her tight. Yup. He much preferred the older Hakuno.

She giggled and hugged him back. "Was I that bad?"

Archer released her and nodded. "I never thought your ability to get into trouble could be worse than it already is but you proved me wrong."

"Hey!" She puffed out her cheeks. "That's not my fault!"

"I think it is." Archer rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I did promise you crepes when you were a child. You want it now?"

"Maybeeee." She batted her eyelashes at him. "With extra whipped cream?"

He rolled his eyes again. "Fine, fine. Extra whipped cream."

"Yay!" cheered Hakuno as she ran down the stairs, with Archer close behind, in case she tripped.