Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 42 – A World Where People Smile.
“And then like this… there! Finished!”
With the treatment completed, the boy’s face shined and he flashed a victory sign. The care was flawless. Preventive measures for the deep scars, medical care for the broken fingers, and treatment for the slashes Archer had received from Saber. He taken all of it into account.
It was nothing more than emergency first-aid, but as firm care as a preamble to movement it provided a sense of relief. With this his magical power would circulate, and there might be enough to heal some parts completely.
“Thanks for the help, boy. I’ll pay you back someday.”
“Then buy me a meat bun. I was playing soccer earlier, and it’s late now, so I’m starving!”
Aware of his hunger now that his task was finished, the boy held his stomach while his eyebrows made an upside down v-shape. It was not unreasonable of him, considering night had fallen already.
“…Hmm. Now’s a bad time.”
The boy’s proposal was dangerous not only for Archer, but for himself as well. When twilight fell, it was time for battle. If Archer acted along with the boy, he might get him caught up in unnecessary danger.
“…Oh, okay… You’re on secret business right now, huh, Mister…”
“No, it’s okay! Just make sure to treat me next time!”
“Okay, I promise.”
“Heh heh, it’s a promise! Ah, I have to go home! If I don’t, my mom’ll worry!”
The boy began to hastily pack up his first aid kit. Rejecting Archer’s offer to accompany him as far as the street, he told Archer the details of caring for his wounds and the ship’s layout while moving busily.
“It’ll be useful if something happens”, he said.
Perhaps you should call him a bother… But when Archer looked at the boy sick with worry while still a child, he couldn’t help but smile. He was going to have a rough time with a personality like that.
“Okay! Are your… Wounds okay? They don’t hurt?”
“Yes, no need to worry. My arm’s doing okay.”
“Okay! Heh heh… Okay, Mister… Good luck!”
The boy waved his hand, and raced back to the pier. Archer watched him go. He kept watching, until the boy’s running figure, so vibrant and full of life, disappeared from sight and into the wind.
And then, a guest room on the third floor deck. In a cabin where the evening sun shined through, he laid down on a bed and thought of the boy… of Shirou.
They had parted, and he had done nothing. That was all.
Just doing that was so… Grand.
“…A dream, huh.”
The Days back when he had recklessly pursued a dream… He reminisced on the days of walking through strong winds, under arid skies.
He was double crossed, deceived, used, attacked, banished and abandoned. But it wasn’t as if everything had betrayed him. There were people he had saved as well. There was the land he had come to love. More than anything, he had believed in the dream.
Why? Why had he turned his eyes away from that?
“Heh heh… I’m helpless. I really am beyond help… I’m such an idiot.”
If he understood the value of what he had lost,the things he had protected, and the worth of what he had accomplished that was tied to the future- he had to keep them in his heart.
He had simply lost, and in return, taken. The sadness and regret weighed on his heart so much that he forgot.
He forgot to believe in the preciousness of it all.
He murmured to himself… He had protected, and was protected. He had received many times over what he had given.
…He was blessed with an irreplaceable year. He was blessed with his two precious masters.
What could he give in return? How could he protect their hearts?
He had decided to become a sword for them. But if he did that and recklessly hurt others, and destroyed, would that save them? Could that dry their tears? To win the Holy Grail War, to protect their future, he would destroy everything else. Was that alright?
In the mountains. The battle with Assassin. His figure that the two had seen was no doubt terrifying. What the children had felt was… the same as the helpless guardian who gazed away from his hell-bound, purposeless self. Ever tormented by his own actions.
A human who would kill someone without hesitation to save another. A way of life that blindly accepted that that was the right way, the right method. It was wrong. What he had to protect and treasure was not the way.
He had a purpose inside himself. He had hope. And most of all, he had a dream he had to prize over all else. And so, what actions could Archer take now?
Think. “Just one correct answer” was impossible. If the paths diverged, there should be limitless answers.
Such as battle. If there was only destruction at the end of fighting, people would have gone extinct long ago. If there was also a path of reconciliation ahead, there might be reward at the end of compromise. Even a method to eliminate war itself existed.
“……? …Eliminate war itself?”
Something about the idea struck him. The Holy Grail War was a battle to claim the Holy Grail. That was the beginning of the struggle.
“…What is it? What’s bothering me?”
Too much had happened these last few days, and he hadn’t been able to put all the information in order. This blessed moment was time to compose himself. He would rest his body, restore his condition, and perhaps discover a path he had yet to see.
So decided, he decided to strike while the iron was hot. He secured a retreat route to be safe, and projected some emergency weapons. The ship may be nearly scrapped, but that did not mean there was no master. In case he was found, he concealed weapons by his bedside, and, restraining the activity of his inner magical power to the best of his ability, he entered a hollow state.
On top of his own awareness, while focusing on a position that would allow him to immediately respond if something happened, Archer spread a dusty blanket over himself and closed his eyes.
“Come to think of it… Saber slept a lot like this too.. So she wouldn’t exhaust her magical power…”
When he recalled the beautiful girl who was constantly eating and sleeping, he smiled in spite of himself.
Saber waiting excitedly for the meal at the dining table where everyone was gathered. Saber, training in the dojo, stern but full of life. Saber, wielding her sword in battle, paying no heed to her wounds.
Saber’s face when he had met her at the Port Side Building… Was still covered in doubt. You can’t save everything. You can’t have everything.
But even so, I want to save her, he thought.
“At the very least, be satisfied with the real world with a smile on her face. I’ll make her remember the value of that desire with my own self now that I have a purpose. I know there will be a chance where I can reach my hand out to her.”
In the face of impossible odds, he had arrived at this world. In the face of impossible odds, he had achieved this answer.
That’s why… That’s why.
Don’t give up, Emiya.
If he closed his eyes, it would be there. He would see the light in his heart.
With that, Archer drifted off to sleep.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 42.
What he regained puts the Bowman through several trials once again.
To protect his dream, to protect their two smiles. What can he do?