Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 50: Together with Archer the House Husband: The Beginning.
His two masters clung firmly to him. In the gale, his arm, splintered with swords, gently embraced their backs in order to not injure them.
Holding the two, Archer leapt to the highest area of the bow, the end of the roof of the bridge.
“…You two… Why?”
“A-, Archer, I… Eek!?”
Rin saw Archer’s left arm, and her face trembled in surprise.
He nimbly lowered his frightened masters to the roof. In order to hide the atrocious wound from them, he would quickly leave. Then, on the overlooking side of the ship’s funnel. Saber and Kiritsugu had sensed that something was going on, and knew of his own condition. He couldn’t let them learn of his masters.
“We’re splitting up, you two.”
A moment’s silence. But the two showed no signs of moving, and what was returned was only the sensation of his cloak being pulled on.
He sent a fleeting glimpse to his feet. Even as it made their eyes cloud with tears, the two stared at him with all their might. Their eyes looked as if they were calling for something… Mourning for something…
“…No. We’re… Separating, you two.”
He wanted to leave, and most of all he did not want to meet those eyes filled with pain. Archer put his feelings into his words and spoke. But the two did not loosen their grip on his coat.
Nothing had changed. Archer knew better than anyone else that the two wouldn’t move at times like this, even with a lever. He was gradually becoming resigned to holding both of them and making a play at a hopeless escape, when-
The presence of someone right beside Archer appeared. When he quickly drew his sword to protect the two and looked back, there was a gentlemanly, good-looking man, his coat flapping.
“…Eh? Who are…”
“I will restrain that mage and his servant. More importantly- Servant Archer. There’s something you must accomplish.”
In a flash, the man in the coat slipped right by Archer’s side and stood on the edge of the roof to confront Saber and her Master.
That man was none other than Tohsaka Tokiomi himself.
He had entered Archer’s space and simply slipped through it, despite the fact Archer being vigilant. That was all he did… And that was why it was stunning. How much skill went into movement like that? It was no ordinary achievement. Tokiomi had not been exaggerating; he truly possessed the power to “restrain” Kiritsugu and Saber.
But even having caught a glimpse of Tokiomi’s strength, Archer could not move.
A dull pain assaulted his chest even more now. What would he have to face, and what must he do?
Two small hands grasped his own as those thoughts swam around in his mind.
He looked backwards over his shoulder timidly. Rin and Sakura had seized Archer’s hand. He could not escape. He was captured.
Resigned, he squatted down in front of them, watching their childish eyes cloud with tears, full of anxiety.
“…I made them cry again…”
There was so much he wanted to say. But… As long as he was the one who said it, it would only frighten them, no matter what he spoke.
The children seizing the grotesque hand frayed with swords just continued to stare at him without trying to speak, their eyes wet. Unaware of what he should do either, Archer simply stood at a loss.
His figure closely resembled his self when he had been summoned to this city.
“…Both of you…”
More than wielding a sword, or protecting others and being inured. He exhausted his courage and organized his words.
“I don’t approve of you walking around at night.”
He manufactured a smile with all of his ability. A smile so the two would not be afraid. However, the smile he created was closer to a frown, his mouth alone warping into an unusual shape, a clumsy expression that appeared angered or troubled.
Like the children on the battlefield frightened long ago by that smile, Rin and Sakura grew even more timid, and afraid.
“…What can I do…”
He was gradually running out of ideas. Trapped in a blind alley, the degree of Archer’s distress showed in his expression. Looking at Archer, making a face so troubled as to say he no longer knew what expression he had, Rin took one step forward and spoke.
Her two small hands hit both sides of Archer’s cheeks.
“Why would you smile when you scold someone? Of course that would be scary.”
She grasped his cheeks. Focusing, Rin pinched both of Archer’s cheeks with all her strength.
“—Wha!? S-, shtop it!”
“S- H- U- T- U- P!”
The sudden attack dealt more pointed damage to Archer than even a bullet, and his heart, hardened with fear and doubt, shattered and disappeared with that one move.
A smile spilled out from Sakura’s face. Rin stared at archer with a worried and angry face.
“…Why are you apologizing? The one who scared you was me.”
“…Ah…Oh… Yeah… It was scary…”
Of course. How could she not be scared? What Archer was doing was murder, plain and simple. What he had shown them was nothing more than that.
“…It was scary… It was. You were like a stranger… A scary person. You were scary, Archer… That’s why! …That’s why I just felt that… Just that…”
Rin spoke and hung her head. Her small hands gripped the middle of her blouse tightly. It was as if she was mustering her courage.
“I, I really… I really…!”
“I really, really… Like you, Archer…! I love you…! But still… Because I was scared, I buried it all… I-, I hurt you… I made you sad…! That’s, that’s why…”
“Archer, I’m sorry…!”
“It, it really was… Scary. I’ll never like people killing each other… I’ll always hate it…”
“But…! Even if I just feel like I don’t like it… I don’t want… To hurt the person I love! I don’t want to leave you alone, Archer! So I’ll take it out and face it! I have something much more dear, so I’ll bear it!”
Right before his eyes….
“And then, then, I’ll move forward! I’ll hold onto the hand of the person I like, and go forward!”
The young girl in front of him… There was no doubt- Tohsaka Rin was a child no longer.
Even though in truth, she hated hurting others. The magician dressed in red stored it deep in her heart, and kept on running forward, just as clumsily as she always had been.
And because of that imbalance, she blundered at the last possible moment.
That way of life, that kindness; how many times had it saved her?
The young girl known as Rin Tohsaka… had already become a splendid sorcerer.
“That’s, that’s why… Archer… Let’s be… Together… Sniff… Uwaaaaaah!”
Overflowing with emotion, Rin burst into tears.
“Ahh… Sniff… There there, Nee-san…”
“…Haaah… Honestly… You really slack off towards the end. …That’s why I can’t leave you alone.”
Archer’s hand, now unrecognizable, gently caressed the two’s backs.
It was monstrous hand. One that should have only been able to hurt others. But the children knew otherwise. They knew it had continued to protect them with a warmth far greater than any other.
Even a sword had a heart. Even a tool had emotions.
Even if he was born as a sword. The feelings he felt for others could not be fake.
“Ahh, sniff… Archeeeer!!!! You idiot! Stupid stupid stupid! I was lonely! Stupid!”
“Ohh… Archer-san… I was, worried…!”
Be he a blade, or a monster, it made no difference to the people he loved.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 50.
The answer lay inside. No matter what catastrophe may come, no matter what hardship may befall him, the days that passed could never be a lie.
A year of living… caring for others more than anyone else… That could not be a mistake.
Those feelings were stronger than any amount of fear or sadness. They were the feelings meant for the people they loved.