Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 26 (Interlude 3-1) – Lacking.
Beyond the window, a blanket of weeping rainclouds shrouded the sky… The clouds they had thought had finally cleared called forth flocks of new ones the very next day, masking the orb that was the sun.
Even for fall, all this rain was unusual.
Seated in a chair by the windowsill, I kept looking and looking outside. I had been looking since that night.
Archer hadn’t come home. Even when I searched the magic circuit in my body, I could no longer feel the connection to him. I couldn’t feel the current that had always tied us together since a year ago.
On rainy or windy days. During frightening days, when earthquakes struck. On warm, sunny days of happiness.
I couldn’t feel the large presence that meant we had been together all that time.
I wonder if you’re wet from the rain. I wonder if you’ve caught a cold. I wonder if you’re hungry. I wonder if you’re lonely by yourself…
The Holy Grail War.
Archer had said it himself from the very beginning. He was a Servant, summoned by the power of the Holy Grail.
The war itself was a rite to obtain a miracle; one that had gone on and on in the land of Fuyuki for two hundred years. A battle of magicians, in which the fates of seven Servants and seven Masters were intertwined.
I had always studied together with my father in order to win that battle. It had begun. It was what I was set on. For that reason, Archer… Archer fought for us. He got hurt for us. When Archer was like that, I…
“Nee-san… Ahh…it’s cold.”
My eyes raced at the sound of the door. There was Sakura, holding a cardigan. She walked towards me slowly, a troubled expression on her face.
“You left the window open… Geez. Here… Put this on. You have a runny nose too!”
Sakura put the cardigan in her hands over me and wiped my nose with a handkerchief. Ugh. I’m a mess. Somehow, somehow. It wasn’t like me at all.
“Haha… Sorry Sakura, I made you worry…”
“…No. …I think… The one hurting the most is Nee-san, so…”
“Nee-san, you told me… ‘The Holy Grail War has begun, so you’ve got stay quiet within these walls. I am the representative of the head of the family, so I assure you, Sakura, that I will protect you. That’s why you’ve got to be patient.’…”
“But… Actually, Nee-san…”
“…It doesn’t hurt.”
“That’s… all. It doesn’t hurt at all. It’s a fact that if we go out, we’ll be killed. We’re safest when we’re at home. We can use this place and the hill’s barrier, so we can fight a little.”
“So… obviously… it doesn’t hurt. You needn’t worry, Sakura. It’s alright. Everything’s all right. Even if Archer’s not here… I’ll protect you…”
With a shaking hand, I patted Sakura’s head. She looked like she was going to burst into tears.
Yes, facts are facts. I’m inexperienced as a magician. My body, the amount of magic I can use, my savings, the number of fancy clothes I had, my battle experience… they were all lacking.
It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough at all.
This way… I would just be killed.
I won’t go out. I’ll stay here. That’s all.
“Nee-san… N-, Nee-san…”
Like something was sad, Sakura hiccupped and started crying. I stroked her head as hard as I could. Don’t be scared, don’t be scared, I told her.
Yes, it’s not scary. There’s nothing to be afraid of-
At that moment came the sound of the front door opening.
An enemy? But there hadn’t been any reaction to the barrier being penetrated. I couldn’t even think of any way to come in through the front entrance. If you didn’t use a full-blown dispel incantation, it was impossible to reach the front without triggering a response at the front gate. Then… The person knew a dispel charm.
…Archer? Archer, Archer, Archer! Had he come back?
I was happy. I was so, so happy. Even though… I should have been. My body didn’t move.
Why, why? Why won’t it move? Why-
Sakura’s voice startled me.
Whoever had come in through the front was coming up the stairs. What evidence was there that it wasn’t an enemy? Realizing the possibility, I confusedly snatched at a bag of gems on top of the desk, choosing my magic weapons in order to attack.
“Sakura! Hide under the bed!”
We took preparations for a noisy counterattack. My back to the bed Sakura had hidden under, I glared at the entrance to the room.
I can’t hit him. If it’s Archer, I can’t hit him. But if it’s an enemy, what do I do? What do I do what do I do what do I do? I clasped the jewel in my hand tightly.
But, if it was an enemy… If it was an enemy.
Could I fight them?
Right, I was-
The door opened. Drained of the will to fight, I stared dumbly at the opening door.
Standing there was-
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 26. Interlude 3-1.
The Tohsaka Residence, without Archer.