Loop 34

Day 1

Town・Day 1 Matou residents

―――Although it's an abrupt question...

With the excellent housekeeper known as Sakura being monopolized by the Emiya residence, just how is the Matou household holding up, I wonder?

“In other words... what do you usually eat, Shinji?”

“Ahahaha. This guest sure asks some surprising questions right after showing up without an appointment.

If you weren't an old friend, I'd have you hanged for that.”

With a broad smile, Matou Shinji gives a gentlemanly response.

As expected from a son of the bourgeois, he's been brought up well.

“So. What do you really want, Emiya? You couldn't have come here to ask such a pointless question.”

“It's not pointless. After all, I have Sakura helping me with dinner. If the Matou family's meals are suffering because of that, I have no excuse.”

“Aah, that. Just like always, only thinking about unnecessary things.”

"Ha," Shinji lets out a dry laugh.

His cynicism doesn't have its usual bite.

“...You seem down, Shinji. Are you really not eating enough when Sakura's not around?”

“Of course not. We employed a housekeeper to take care of meals. Well, I usually ate out, so the housekeeper just took care of Grandfather.”

“Ohh. You hired a housekeeper?”

“...Well yeah. Our place is bigger than Tohsaka's. It's hard to manage without one or two housekeepers.

Before Sakura started going to your place, she just left everything to the housekeeper too.”

Huh, that's unexpected... or maybe not?

Sakura only took up cooking after she starting coming to my place.

In the beginning, she couldn't even make onigiri well. She was on the verge of tears.

“But that was only until recently, right? Sakura can do anything now. When it comes to cooking and cleaning she's at least as good as me.

She comes here once in a while, so isn't she cooking and stuff?”


The right to remain silent has been invoked.

Shinji stays quiet like a cornered criminal.

As though he wants to get something off his chest, but is scared of what would happen later if he said it.

“...Didn't mean to put you on the spot.

Well, it's fine as long as you're eating properly. Where's that housekeeper now?”

“Already gone. Sakura said something like, "Nii-san, we're not children anymore so I don't think we need her," and had her resign.”


Sakura does have a point.

She has a point, but the Sakura Shinji is telling me about is making me vaguely uneasy.

“...Hey, Shinji. Could it be that Sakura doesn't cook here?”

“...Heh. Aren't you inexperienced. That way of thinking is the naivete of one who has yet to see hell. Did you know, they say that true fear comes from giving rather than taking away?”

“......don't really get that, or rather I don't want to think too hard about it, but is it correct to say that Sakura does all the housework?”

“About every two days. When you're in charge of cooking, she comes to cook and clean and such. She's making dinner today too, so I'm waiting at home.”

“??? I don't get it even more. Isn't that a good thing? What's wrong, you've been shaking for a while now, Shinji.”

“What do you mean, what's wrong?! I'm shaking because I'm scared! This is horror, horror I tell you! Emiya, aren't you scared?! Of Sakura?! Of eating food made by Sakura?!”


uuugh. Normally this is where I'd throw something like, “don't be so rude, you stupid brother!”, but Shinji's fear is 100% that of a victim.

“......What? Does Sakura's food taste bad or something?”

“No, it's not bad. I wouldn't say it in front of her, but the taste is better than the family restaurants around here.”

“Well, it's too common for my tastes. No matter how hard she works on her techniques, Sakura is still Sakura after all, hah.”

...And no matter how scared he is, Shinji is still Shinji.

I wonder if you could call something like this brotherly love?

“Well, leaving that aside.

Then what are you dissatisfied with? All I'm hearing is you boasting about your sister.”

“No way.

Why would I ever boast about Sakura? I'm trying to say it's about her behavior, not how the food tastes!”

“......That's right, this is a good chance to ask.

Say, Emiya, when you eat her cooking, do you feel like you're being watched?”

“Watched...? No, I don't get that feeling. Do you?”

“I feel it, or more like, it feels like it's stabbing me. She's too sensitive about table manners.

If I leave some salad she looks away like she's unhappy, if I eat fish with a spoon she looks depressed, and if I don't help clean up afterwards she mumbles complaints.

Honestly, is she a child?”

“You're the child, you moron. Anyone would be angry about that, not just Sakura. Even if you can't help but leave the things you don't like, you could at least help clean up. If you did that, not even Sakura would complain.”


“You're completely at fault here. I won't stop supporting Sakura.”

“......You can only say something like that because you don't know what it's like here, right? Isn't that nice, sounds like everyone sits in a warm happy circle at the Emiya residence.

Over here, it's miserable thanks to Sakura. It couldn't get any lower, or should I say it's already at absolute zero?

It's so bad that Grandfather says, "unheated frozen dinners would be better," and shuts himself up in his room.”

“That's probably because Zouken wastes Sakura's cooking too. If you thanked her like you should, she wouldn't get mad.”

“Ha, easy for you to... Hmm, that's right. Emiya, if you're going to say that much, come see for yourself.”


“Don't "huh" me. I've been afraid to look on my own, but if you're with me, we can do it.

You're supporting Sakura, right? In that case, let's go check together, okay?”

Don't "okay" me.

Just what are we supposed to go and check?

“Sakura's room. It seems she's keeping a diary. If we read it, we can find out what she thinks about us, right?”


No, reading someone else's diary is bad regardless of the circumstances.

Plus, sneaking into Sakura's room isn't good (for our lives).

“You're not going to refuse, are you, Emiya? This is all because you taught Sakura housework in the first place.

If she hadn't learned to cook, we'd have peace at our dinner table. As the teacher, take some responsibility for your student.”

“No, that's not my responsibility...”

“No, it is your responsibility!

Sakura was bad at the essentials to begin with. To keep someone like that from doing anything is for the sake of the world!”

“But, but because you went and tempted her, me and Grandfather have to tremble like chickens on a poultry farm...! Aahh, I'm way past my limit! Come on, Emiya, if you saved Sakura then save us too!”

Shinji leans towards me like a zombie.

In the dim Matou mansion, that performance isn't funny.

“I, I get it, I get it, so hands off!

...Sheesh. You're overthinking this, Shinji. Fine, I'll keep you company.

But on one condition. If we find Sakura's diary, and it says something like, “if only Nii-san would help out,” you'll reform your way of thinking. Do this, and we'll come to an agreement.”

“Ugh...... Fine. It's a bit irritating, but I can do that much.”

“Good. It's a promise, Shinji.”

Then this will be for Sakura's sake.

If this gets Shinji to help with the housework, it should be fine.

Sakura would forgive even something as terrible as sneaking into a girl's room without permission... right?

We ascend the stairs of the Matou mansion, dark even at noon.

Shinji's face doesn't look so good.

He's the one who said "let's go check," but it feels as though he'll run away at the first opportunity.

“―――Emiya. There's one thing I forgot to mention.”

In front of Sakura's room.

In front of the firmly locked door, Shinji whispers to me.

“For about half a year there's been a weird barrier around Sakura's room. Grandfather says it seems like magic she learned from Rider. "Be careful if you want to come back alive," or something like that.”


What's with this foreshadowing that feels like a Bad End flag?

“W-Wait a minute, you never said this before! All I said was that I'd look for Sakura's diary with you...!”

“Hahahahaha! You really are stupid, aren't you? Do you think I'd beg you over something like that?! Sakura will know someone's intruding as soon as the door opens! But if you're my accomplice, maybe she won't go too hard on us!”

The school's idol begins desperately laughing and dancing.

“Y-You tricked me, Shinjiii!”

However, Shinji-kun does not understand in the slightest.

Sakura-san's anger does not change no matter who it is.

If I'm the accomplice in this situation, this may be the point of no return...!

“――――wait, huh? Somehow it hasn't changed at all?”

Shinji peers restlessly around the room.

Perhaps judging that there was nothing out of the ordinary after only ten seconds of investigation,

“Tsk, what an anticlimax. If this is it, I should have snuck in sooner.”

Shinji barges violently into the room.

“...Shinji. The thing you lack most is caution.”

I have no choice but to carefully follow him.

We have no time.

If what Shinji says is true, Sakura will have noticed that there's someone intruding.

Assuming Sakura is at the Emiya residence, it would take thirty minutes to run full speed to the Matou residence.

I have to finish this operation, retreat as far as I can and come up with an alibi within those thirty minutes...!

“Shinji, for the time being, let's search the desk.”

If it's a diary, it's gotta be in the desk.

If it's not, then it's not a diary. A diary that's hidden where no one can find it is not a diary, but something much more frightening.

“Ah, I'll leave the desk to you. I'll search this closet over here.”


There's a lot I'd like to say about that, but for the time being, if I find the diary it will all be over.

......Fun Home Economics - Beginner's Course.


......Simple Three-Minute Poelling.


......Don't Tell Anyone! How To Relieve Your Stress!


......100 Chinese Cooking Traps! How To Defeat Chinese Chefs!


......Caring For The Elderly At The End. Grip The Neck Tightly.

That's wrong as well.

“...I can't find anything that looks like a diary... Shinji, how are you doing?”

“.........What's with this size? That Sakura, is she still growing?”

"Outrageous," says the hopeless big brother as he checks the size of the underwear.

Hahaha. If someone were to take a picture of this scene, we would have to obey that person for the rest of our lives.

“Quit fooling around! It's been ten minutes already, if we don't find it in another ten minutes we're getting out of here!”

“Okay, I got it. If it's not in the desk or the closet, then next we'll look under the bed, or...”

Shinji removes the painting adorning the wall.



There it is.

The notebook that was hidden behind the painting falls at our feet.

“Honestly, that idiot really doesn't think, does she!

Isn't hiding it there like saying "please find it"!?”

“No, it's not like thieves can come into your house. I think she really did put some thought into it.”

Speaking our minds, we drop our gazes to the floor.



―――lay an indescribably ominous item.

gasp!!!? T-This notebook, could it be? Just as the cover says, that rumored notebook in which the user writes down the names of those they plan to asassinate, DEATH NOOOOOOOO**!?”

Shinji cries out.

Due to shock, his tone raised to that of a young lady at the end there.

“No, that's not quite it... but I wonder. It's my first time seeing this, but I think I recognize this series.”

...I pick up the notebook.

Anyway, I should confirm whether or not this is what we're looking for.

“......W-Wait, show it to me too. I don't want to look, but not looking is more scary.”

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆

Today's events.

Nii-san has been coming home past midnight.

From now on, I'll tell him in advance when I'm making dinner.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆

Today's events.

Nii-san is leaving his unwashed clothes around.

From now on, I'll leave him a note on how to use the washing machine.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆

Today's events.

Nii-san is spending a lot of money.

From now on, I'll tell him precisely about the monthly spending limit.

The trifling memos in the notebook continue on.

“Huh. Isn't this a completely normal diary?”

“Is that so?”

“It is. This really is just like Sakura. She warned you like she said in this diary, right?”

“Ahhh... now that you mention it, I think she did tell me off about a lot of things. Like, "make your own dinner today" or, "I'd like you to bring out your dirty clothes" or, "your allowance for this month is 20,000 yen."

Hahaha, she was annoying so I forgot.”

“Why you. Then of course Sakura was in a bad mood.

And even so, she admirably did all the chores herself. There's nothing to blame her for.

You were so freaked out that I almost started believing you, but Sakura is the same as always. From now on, help her out around the house like you promised.”

“...Hmph. It's a bother, but I did promise.

Fine, if you say it was all my imagination, I'll help at least.”

Shinji reluctantly accepts my conditions.

Sneaking into Sakura's room and reading her diary was reckless, but if this is the result... wait, huh?

“What's wrong, Emiya? You look like you just saw a ghost. There's nothing threatening here.”


I silently turn the page.

It seems there was more written in the notebook.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆

Today's events.

Nii-san spilled soy sauce on my new clothes.

He laughed and apologized, saying, "Sorry, that didn't go well."

I'm glad he apologized, but what didn't go well?

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆

Today's events.

Grandfather complained, "why does our Sakura have such a poor memory? In that case, I should have chosen the older sister."

...I think if I don't improve my skill at magic, it would be unfair to Grandfather.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆

Today's events.

Nii-san left his entire omelet rice uneaten.

I don't really understand why. When I asked, he just repeated commoners, commoners, commoners.

What should I do?

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆

Today's events.

Grandfather was ringing the buzzer in the middle of the night.

I thought he had to go to the toilet or something, but he was just hitting it half-asleep. Even so, when I came running, he kept repeating, "the older sister would have been better."

What should I do?

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆

Today's events.

Nii-san threw away all of the dinner I worked so hard on.

I don't really understand why. When I asked, he just repeated commoners, commoners, commoners.

Really, what should I do?

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆

Today's events.

Nii-san left coffee gum into the stew pot.

Up until now I've been trying to think of why, but maybe there was no reason.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆☆

Today's events.

Nii-san ate all of the dinner without telling me.

I was waiting until Nii-san came home, so I went without dinner.

My stomach is growling.


As though something is urging me, I turn the pages.

This is dangerous.

I must not read past this point.

Or rather, I have to leave this notebook and run away from the Matou mansion, but my hand won't stop turning the pages.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆☆☆

Nii-san has been coming home in time for dinner lately.

Very good.

Today's events.

He forgot to say thanks for the meal.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆☆☆

Today's events.

Grandfather hired a new housekeeper as a mean prank and made me cry.

I think there is something wrong with the men of the Matou lineage. I think I'll change my way of thinking a little.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies ☆☆☆☆

Today's events.

Nii-san left one piece of lettuce and one tomato uneaten.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He smacks his lips while he's eating. I don't like it.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He eats udon while lying down and spits it out. I want him to stop.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He came home two minutes late. I don't think it will happen again.

Month ○, Day ○  CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He boycotted cleaning the bath. Unforgivable.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my grandfather

He left one grain of rice uneaten. Unforgivable.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He threw away a magazine after he read it. Unforgivable.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He ate my hamburger. Unforgivable.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He left his salad uneaten as usual. Unforgivable.

Month ○, Day ○ CLEAR ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Today, my brother...

He has bad posture during meals. Anyway, it's unforgivable.

Today, my brother (unforgivable)


Although your behavior is the main cause of this...”

I close the notebook.

I prepare for a full-power sprint and take a deep breath.

“W-What? If there's something you want to say, come out and say it.”

“―――You were right about Sakura being scary. There's nothing more I can do for you.”

“Wha- that's dirty, Emiya...! You're in this with me now that you've come this far, so let's think of a way to calm Sakura down!”

“Sorry, I can't agree to do something impossible!

Besides, I don't think an outsider should be butting in on the Matous' problems...―――eh, huh?”

Somehow, my arms and legs seem numb.

And my head is starting to ache...?

“...ugh... What is this, it's like―――”

I can't stand straight.

“Th-Th-The barrier has been activated!?

I-I-I-I see, it was made to switch on when someone takes out the notebook and runs away...!”

So this weird feeling is because of the barrier?

But the door isn't locked.

If I can get out into the hallway before the barrier is completely activated...!

“...Huh...? Even if my limbs are numb... this is, kind of weird...”

I can't cover a distance of only two meters.

No, it feels more like the door is getting farther away.

“...My head, hurts... there's no way this could, be a hangover―――”

...That's right.

This dizziness is like severe drunkenness, or maybe like tripping―――Ahh, so that's why the door looks so big.

“Ahahaaa. Isn't this fun, Emiya, we've been drugged, huh? Hallucinogenics? LSD? Disn*y? Woow, cooool, the room's getting bigger~?”

Shinji is pleasantly drunk out of his mind.

I see~, so the door's not getting farther away, it's getting bigger~. No, wait. Maybe me and Shinji are getting smaller~. Ahh, then we just won't be able to reach the hallway~

...huh, what was that sound just now?

“Heeeey Shinjiiii. What do you think that shound was?”

Oh no, my speech is getting slurred.

It's an illusion. This is all an illusion, but I can't oppose the effect on my central nervous system.

This is unmistakably Rider's suggestion... There's a pattern of cursed eyes mixed in with the wallpaper, so I fell for the trap just by opening my eyes~

“What do you mean "what," you're such an idiot, Emiya. That was the sound of the front door, sooo, it's obviously the sound of Sakura coming home~”

“I see~. It's already been 30 minutes after all~”

"Ahahahaha," we both laugh.

A merry pair of intruders, reeling with dizziness so strong they no longer cared what would happen.

The footsteps going slowly up the stairs echo.

“Hu―――uhuhuhuhu. There sure are some troubled people out there, breaking into a girl's room without permission.

How shameful, how unforgivable, even if we're siblings I don't think I could let it pass ”

Danger! Danger!

There's an aura of rage that can't be hidden even if mixed in with that unnatural monologue.


I've sobered up.

My limbs are still numb, but I've come completely back to my senses.

“Shinji, we're getting out of here!”

I grab Shinji's hand as he rolls around laughing and run for the door.

My head, my head's going to breeeak, this drunkenness I've never felt before makes it feel like everything is flying around.

And so the death sentence gradually draws nearer.

“Gyahahahaha! It's like we're in a different world now, huh!? By the way Emiya, when it comes to ketchup I'll only take Del Monte, y'know? But Sakura goes and buys this co-op ketchup, goddamn it, it's delicious, I've changed my mind about co-op ketchup! But I don't approve of it, 'cause I'm the prince of the stars! I'll never approve of the commoners' tastes!”

Shinji is pleasantly panicking.

It's no use.

There are lights flashing inside my head.

《―――Although it's an abrupt question...

With the excellent housekeeper known as Sakura being monopolized by the Emiya residence, just how is the Matou household holding up, I wonder?》

I wonder? I shouldn't have...!

Ahhh come on, why did I have to go and worry about that? I'm so stupid stupid stupid!

“Oh? I thought it was just Nii-san, but there's quite an unexpected person with him.”

Sakura smiles sweetly.

The glint in her eye reminds me of Rider's Mystic Eyes. Even if it doesn't paralyze the senses, it certainly has the same impact.

“No, Sakura, I can explain this.”

“I'm surprised. To think that Senpai would join up with Nii-san to sneak into my room. Normally I'd be happy, but now I'm a little sad.”

She's not listening.

Making the ground tremble with a thud, Sakura picks up the diary-like notebook.

“Nii-san? I can tolerate everything else, but I told you only to stay out of my room, didn't I?”

She glares at him.

“Ah, er, I don't know, maybe Onii-chan didn't hear that...”

Maybe he sobered up. Shinji is shaking nervously.

“I told you. It's written clearly in this notebook.

Month ○, Day ○ Clear skies. ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Today's events. I told Nii-san I didn't want him to go in my room, but he didn't take me seriously. I'll consider this an ultimatum.

―――See? I didn't remember wrong.”

Sakura laughs happily.

Incidentally, I wonder what those ☆ marks in the diary stand for?

“Oh yeah, now I remember. I did remember that, hahaha.

But it's awful, Sakura.

I told him to stop, but Emiya wouldn't listen and said he wanted to search your room!”


He's invoking the Emiya Shield at the last second...!

“Nice backtracking as ever Shinji! You were the one who said you wanted to see Sakura's diary!”

“Me? Ha! Only the main character would do something so reckless! Isn't it a tradition for them to search the heroine's room while she's out and get Dead-Ended!?

Yeah - The only people who would do that are those with the protagonist's ability to not die even when he's kiiilled!”

“Bastard, you've got an argument for everything. But you're just embarrassing yourself, Shinji, your end has already been determined, so face it on your own like a man! Don't drag your friend into this!”

“Booo! You're not my friend at all!

Die with me as a kindred spirit insteeead!”

Shinji is unbeatable when seized by panic.

No matter how hard I try to shake him off, he won't let go of my arm.

Wait, the shadow! Sakura's shadow is coming closeeer!

“Kuh, I can't abandon someone who calls me a kindred spirit. I can't, but the one at fault is obvious here, give uuup!

My only crime was coming into Sakura's room. She'll tell me off for that later, so for now, pay for all your misdeeeds!”

“Those weren't misdeeeds! I just have a lot of likes and dislikes, that's aaall! I meeean, don't put cherry tomatoes in salad, that's just cutting corners!”

Shinji unconcernedly shows what a picky eater he is.

...Well, certainly half of his sins were something of that nature, but I doubt he can talk his way out of the other half.

“Give up, Shinji. Take this as a chance to be reborn.”

“Yes, it's just as Senpai says. You'll have to make amends through the punishment written in this notebook.”

Sakura's shadow captures Shinji.

Goodbye, Shinji. Our short team-up was fun, huh?

“Don't "huh" me, Emiya! Hiiiii, Bad End 39!”

“Now now, there's no need to be so afraid. Relax, Shinji, even Sakura doesn't hate you. She just wants you to mend your ways. She won't go as far as to take your life.”

“Huhu. Huhuhu. Huhuhuhuhu.”


That's strange, you're not supposed to laugh there, are you, Sakura?

“That's right, Senpai. I won't take your life, I just want you to mend your ways. Well then, please prepare yourself.”

“Huh? Am I missing something weird here, Sakura?

Shinji's the one who should be preparing himself, I haven't done anything that bad...”

“You have. On close inspection, Senpai's lifestyle has maaaaaaany more problems than Nii-san's.”


Sakura takes out a somehow familiar-looking item...

“Kyaaaaaaa!? It's the legendary assassination book...!

Th-Th-Th-There was another ooooone!?”

“Absolutely. And not just me, but Saber-san, Nee-san, and Illya-chan write in it too ”

The shadow comes closer.

My kindred spirit grabs my left leg firmly as I try to run away.

“Wait, you're still alive, Shinji...!?”

“Hu, huhu, huhuhu... relax, Emiya, Sakura's not a monster. You're the one who said she wouldn't take our lives, right?”

“She will! She most definitely will! You don't know what Sakura's like when she snaps! I got it, I'm to blame too, I'm sorry so LET ME GO!”

“Too late. It's fine, it's fine, let's die together once in a while, Emiya. Ah. Come to think of it, dying in Sakura's room is kind of like fate for me, huh?”

Please don't make me go through that fate with you.

...Ah, my consciousness is slipping away.

This sucks, to think there was such an absurdly traditional Dead End waiting for me...

“――――――, huh!?”

Suddenly, I wake up.

When I rush to check the time, it's already past midnight.

“......Woah, I'm really sweaty.........”

My whole body is drenched in a cold sweat.

I must have had a terrible nightmare.

I shake my aching head, trying to remember what the dream was about, but...

“...Let's not. It can't have been anything good.”

I collapse onto my futon with a thud.

I have to be up early again tomorrow. I'll just forget about the nightmare and go back to... sleep...?

“―――Hu. Huhuhu, uhuhuhuhuhuhu―――”*

“Wha, kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!?”

It, it wasn't a dreeeeeeeeeam......!

Day 2

Town・Special A siblings' game

...I promised to go out with Rider.

The promise itself was for us to go shopping for clothes together with Sakura, but Rider seemed reluctant to go.

“Rider, got a minute?”

“Shirou? Of course.”

As I hear her typically cool reply, I open the door.

Rider has been idly resting in her room. It doesn't look like she has anything especially important to do.

“That's good. Are you free today, Rider?”

“That is a difficult question. I daresay there are no tasks for me today.”

She's absorbed in her reading as always. It's a convenient time to invite her out.

“In that case, do you want to go shopping with Sakura? Well, I'll be going as well.”

“...Me too?”

She gives a dubious reply.

Well, naturally, it's unusual for the three of us to go out shopping together.

“Yeah. Look, didn't I make all those promises before?”

sigh... I understand. Let me go check with Sakura first. Shirou, could you go wait by the entrance?”

Like Sakura's servant that she is, Rider stands up.

Girls always have to make all kinds of preparations. I guess I'll just have to go ahead and wait for them.

Somehow, Rider doesn't seem to be in a good mood.

As I thought, she suspects something... during the promise that night, Rider seemed disinterested to the very end.

I feel a tinge of guilt for pushing her regardless.

...And it's together with both Rider and Sakura, huh?

I wonder what somebody watching us would think.

They would probably guess that Rider is our guardian... or maybe that Rider and Sakura are friends, and I'm Sakura's older brother... I wonder about that.

...Sakura is taking a pretty long time to get ready.

The phone in the living room rang, but somebody picked up before I could get up.

“...I wonder if we should have just met in Shinto.”

I've been sitting by the door for a while now, checking the foldout ads in the morning newspaper...


Rider was suddenly standing behind me.

Startled, I jump back.

“W-What's wrong, Rider?

Did you see an interesting ad?”

“...Well, this is rather difficult to say, Shirou.”

She's speaking strangely.

Is there some kind of trouble, or―――

“Sorry, Senpai!”

A very flustered Sakura comes running in her school uniform.

As I'm thinking "Hmm, going to Shinto in uniform? Well, it's not that strange" among other things, she hastily puts on her shoes―――

“Sakura, here's a shoehorn.”

“Thanks, Rider! Ah, sorry, Senpai, some urgent business came up at the archery club and I need to run to school... so...”

“Sakura is saying that we cannot go shopping together.”

Rider adds, as Sakura flies out the door. Just as she's leaving the house, Sakura turns back―――

“Senpai, please take care of Rider for today!

Alright, I'm off~!”

“Have a good trip―――Watch out for traffic.”


Sakura runs off in a big hurry.

Since being appointed the captain of the archery club, she's become a lot more spirited.

Before, she would have been really dejected about not being able to go. It's a very welcome change.

Uh, anyway, telling me to take care of Rider...


“So, looks like you're left with me, Rider.”

The silence is painful.

The original plan was to go with both Sakura and Rider. However, the crucial member, Sakura, has now gone missing. I don't want to exaggerate, but I'm not good at dealing with sudden accidents like these.

“Seeing as she was in a hurry, I have only offered to see her off, and did not have a chance to ask about the two of us.”

“I'm wondering if this is really okay too.

...Hmm, what to do...”

...I'm a bit lost here.

We stand by the door, utterly bewildered. There's definitely something off about just the two of us going shopping together.

It doesn't even compare to going out with Illya. No, even if it was someone like Saber, this is still weirder on a whole new level.

Rider, whom Sakura left in my care, is just as confused.

“...What will we do, Shirou?”

“...We could put off shopping until another day.”

“I think that would be fine, as well.”

“However, after Sakura told me to take care of you, if we just spend all day eating snacks in front of the TV, you know how disappointed she'll be.”

“That is...”

“"Geez, why wouldn't you go with Rider, Senpai!? We've waited so long for a chance like this, so please escort her properly."

"Rider is a girl too, so she needs to spread her wings in Shinto once in a while. Senpai, even though you always bother with Saber, you treat Rider so coldly. Fine, fine, I guess I've misjudged you all along, Senpai. Hmph, Rider and I are just good-for-nothing outcasts to you, figures!" is what she'll say!”


That's not right.

This is more than just disappointment, it's plain sulking.

“I am personally fine with it, but...”

“Sorry, my bad. No, Sakura had a point... Umm, Rider.”

"What?" her gaze says as she looks at me.

Well, time to gather up my courage.

“If it's all right with you, let's go out together.”

“...Just with me? What about Saber or Taiga?”

Adding more people to our party now would be strange.

Shaking her head, it looks like she's finally given up.

“...I understand. If that is your wish, Shirou, I shall accompany you.”

“It's decided, then―――are you ready to go?”

“Yes, I am always prepared.”

Somehow, naturally beautiful women speak differently.

You'd think that one would wear something more fashionable or bold for an outing like this... but then there's Rider.

“What is the matter? Shirou, you seem worried.”

“It's nothing. Why don't we go to the Mount Miyama shopping district... no, how about Shinto?”

In my haste our schedule has returned to a blank slate once again.

Well, I'll take her out to Shinto, and I'm sure I'll think of something there.

Now then... I notice this all the time, but Rider will attract attention. It's a somewhat different matter than with Saber.

Saber just has that charming air about her, but with Rider we're more likely to inspire looks of jealousy.

“Shirou. We have finally arrived, but do we have anything planned for today?”“Hmm. I haven't thought that far ahead.”

At first, I had only thought of going shopping with Sakura.

Her first and foremost worry would be to make sure the three of us are enjoying ourselves together.

Unfortunately, Rider and I are a poor match for just having fun.

I'm just the way I am, while Rider thinks of Sakura first. How we would have fun together is beyond me.

“...This city is quite busy, as always.”

“Rider, what about your hometown... ah, it wouldn't be the same at all, would it.”

I can't even begin to imagine what the Mediterranean Sea was like during the Age of Gods.

“Well then, we'll only be getting in people's way if we stand here. Let us move, Shirou.”

“I agree. Yeah, let's go over there.”

For now, there's still some time before lunch.

It will be hard to find our way around during lunchtime however, so first―――

“Let's have lunch, while the crowds aren't too bad.”

“Understood. If you could recommend a place, I would gladly follow you, Shirou.”

Even after being told that, I still don't know what to do... it figures that the pub I used to work at wouldn't be open, so I've no choice but to choose from the places I've heard about from Tohsaka and Sakura.

“Shirou? I am not as picky as Saber when it comes to food, so please relax.”

Rider easily says something that would make Saber indignant with rage if she ever overhears it.

...No, Saber isn't with us. A big relief.

We order the early hot sandwich lunch set.

I brought Rider to this cafe, doing our best to not stand out. Whether it's with Saber or Rider, when we stand in line together I just make her look even better.

I already dread the inevitable "Hey Emiya, who was that beauty with the super long hair you were together with during the weekend? A new girlfriend?"

And if you're going to call her my new girlfriend, just who is my old girlfriend supposed to be?

“..................No way, would that be Fuji-Nee?”

“Up until now it has certainly seemed that way, but saying so would be a disservice to Sakura, would it not?”

How did Rider answer that so precisely?

I'm worried if I haven't been seen through by the Mystic Eyes behind her glasses, and haven't blurted out something I shouldn't.

“In a setting like this, Sakura matches you even better than I. However, for you to say that I do not suit you as well as Taiga makes it a matter of my personal honor.”

I weakly sigh in response to Rider's assertion.

In her head, Rider has constructed a hierarchy of the people in my house, with Sakura at the top. Though Rider puts herself lower down, she doesn't seem too impressed with having Fuji-Nee above her.

“Fuji-Nee and I are like brother and sister... I guess it's that way with you too, Rider.”

Suddenly, I imagine us as an office lady cousin or sister and younger grade school brother.

Rider casually looks around the inside of the cafe. "Is that so," her tone of voice says, though it isn't really clear.

“In truth, I may be more of a younger sister...”

Rider blurts out something incomprehensible.

If my sister ends up superior to me, the big brother, in every way, I wouldn't know what to do.

That's not meant to copy Illya in any way, but I would have no idea how to deal with this.

“Shirou. Your face says that you would be troubled if I were your younger sister.”

“Ah―――well, you're pretty sharp, Rider. Sorry.”

...I reflect.

Not on whether Rider is like a sister right now, but on how immature I am.

If Rider says "I'm a younger sister too," then that's the way it is.


...So, what should we do after this? Rider?”


I don't think it was that unexpected of a question, but there's no response either.

“What would you like to do, Shirou?”

“Me? Well―――”

We were really supposed to head somewhere with Sakura. Umm, that would be...

“I remember. We were supposed to pick some clothes for you, originally.”


She stiffens so much that even a passerby would notice.

Back then I recommended that she go shopping with Sakura as well, but Rider was obstinate right up to the end.

“It is nice of you and Sakura to go out of your way for me, but I can pick my own clothes.”

“No, you could do that... but Sakura and I decided that we wanted to see you in different outfits.”

I try putting on a downcast face that says "Is it no good?" as I ask her.

Even though I hang my head, Rider's reply is cool.

“...I do not think you will get to see what you hoped for.”

“Sure I will. You're underestimating yourself, Rider. It'll be fine; some people are still cute even though they're tall.”

“I would not go so far as to say that. Sakura is definitely the cute one. I don't mind that.”

How blunt.

Looks like all I did was make Rider hate it even more.

I play with my leftover sandwich and pickles, wondering what we should do.

“In that case, hmm... Ah, how about a movie, Rider?”

“While I have watched a few, it's not something I do often, even on TV. Saber would probably like that kind of thing.”

Saber does spend a lot of time in front of the TV, but does that means she likes it? Anyway, Rider doesn't seem to be against the movies.


“It's been a long time for me as well, so let's go see something.”

“...Understood. Do you have any recommendations, Shirou?”

It's decided. This will take up a good amount of time.

Even after I went through such trouble to come here with Rider, it's pathetic that we got bored so quickly.

―――But, wait.

I just realized that at this point, it might as well be a date.

The movie theater has... "Fate/ZERO" and "Tiger Dojo - The Movie."

Which one should we see?


Rider's expression says that she would be fine with either one.

It's up to me, so whatever, there's no turning back now―――!

―――"Hah, hah―hah..."

―――"Nee-san! Big trouble!"

"She's not here... oh no..."


"Terrible news, Nee-san! Senpai died in the storehou―――"


―――"How could this be..."

"Even Nee-san got..."


"Ah, N-Nee-san, hang in there!"

"Argh, Sa-Sakura..."

"I, I screwed up... those guys actually left...

Take care of... the company..."

"Hold on, Nee-san! Head.

Don't speak! Right now, we need medical―――"

"Fufufu, fufufufu."

"W-Who's there!?"*


"A-Another Nee-san!"

"What sort of trick is this!?"

"Oh, looks like this Sakura is just as pathetic."

"She's just like a stuffed doll, hahaha."

"Hm, but Rin, this Sakura is a little more charming than the one I know. Friendlier, too."

"You said it, hahaha."



"Well then, I wonder if they died?"

"Wha―――Strange, this is strange!"

"Could it be that this person isn't Nee-san!?"


"I'm so moved! I unconsciously forgot about all the sad parts!"

"I can't even remember the good parts!"


"Oh, geez. Even I, Kohaku, can't stop my tears! It's such a merciless take on love!"

"Right? Hisui-chan!"

"The movie is a masterpiece."


It's... kinda hard to comment on what we just watched.

A two-hour daydream, about the wrong choices someone made in life.

Even Rider looks like she doesn't know what to say.

“......What kind of movie was that, Shirou?”

“Don't ask me, I honestly don't know.”

I wonder if it's all right to make a movie like that. No, is it okay to show such a movie? I wish the movie theater would be a little more conscious of the fact that it's expected to offer entertainment. Or rather, I'd like them to stop showing this right now. Before there is a second or third victim!!

“No, but...”

I should be the one taking responsibility for choosing this to begin with. It's my fault for charging into a worthless movie just because the showtime was close.

“...Do you think Taiga or Saber would have enjoyed it?”

“I wonder about that. I have a hunch Fuji-Nee would have been ecstatic...”

Why do the two of us have to think about such difficult things after a movie?

After waiting so long to come out to Shinto with Rider, it makes me a little sad that our date is going to end.

“At any rate, I actually found it quite interesting.”

“Thanks for that... oh, we still have time.”

It's still too early for the 3 o'clock tea, though.

Again, we've got nothing to do.

At this rate, we could wander around the seaside park and then hit the pool, but we didn't bring our bathing suits.

“Shirou, could I ask a favor?”


“After this, I'd like to drop by that bookstore over there.”

What Rider is pointing at is Shinto's largest department store, Verde.

If I remember correctly, Shinto's biggest bookstore is in there as well.

“That's right, it's been a while since I've been there―――”

I think Rider might be interested in a new book.

Somehow, this still resembles a date... right?

“Ahh, so this is already out... hmm.”

We walk around the bookstore together.

Though I'm wondering what book Rider is looking for, we first look at the news section. Then, we go through the history, sports, monthly magazines, and so on.


Rider is really serious about looking for her book.

I'm just casually paging through the magazines, but I'm more worried about the woman next to me.

Well, what should I do now?

The two of us pass by the fashion magazine corner, paying no attention to the colorful racks around us.

“As I thought, this is just wasted on me.”

Trying on clothes, deciding whether this or that fits Rider well... that's difficult for me.

When it comes to fashion, it definitely would have been better if Sakura or Tohsaka were here.


Her voice startles me.

A mysterious pair of eyes are gazing at me from the other side of the rack.

Did she figure out what I was thinking?―――I wave my hands hurriedly in an attempt to distract her.

“No, it's nothing―――Did you decide on what you're going to buy?”

“Not yet, I'd like some more time to choose. Is there anything you wanted to get, Shirou?”

Don't ask me, because there really isn't.

Rider is just looking at books, but I feel like a nuisance by hovering around her this whole time.

“Nah, I'm just going to take a short walk. Let's wait for each other by the entrance.”

“Understood. Just give me fifteen minutes.”

I'm sure this is best for Rider, too.

Leaving her behind, I leave the store. I check the directory to see what else Verde has.

“The upper floor is an amusement area... huh.”

After this, maybe we can check out the arcade upstairs.

I'm not especially good at video games, but Rider would probably be good at the physical games. Her motor skills and reflexes far exceed those of a human... no no, wait, if Rider goes all out then this will turn into something absolutely ridiculous.

“...It's no good. If Rider does something crazy I won't be able to make any excuses for it.”

In that case, we could try some coin-op games... it's not a bad idea, but it just doesn't feel right.

That doesn't really fit.

“Men's fashion, ladies', culture, restaurants, and... groceries & eat-in fast food are at the bottom.”

The women's fashion floor is in the middle, huh?

If I bring Rider there―――


I had originally given up on the idea, but I'm having second thoughts now. We really should do something date-like for once.

To just go home now would make all of this in vain. I've gone through all this trouble to be here together with Rider, after all.


I think about what to do as I head back to the bookstore.

Since it's come to this, I'm taking drastic measures. Rather than making some half-assed explanation, I'll just drag her straight there!

“Welcome back, Shirou. Did I keep you waiting?”

“No, I should be the one saying that. Well, come with me, Rider.”

“...Very well, is there something you need to do, Shirou?”

“I'm not sure if it's something I need, something Sakura needs, or something you need. Anyway, you'll understand when we get there.”

“...? I don't quite understand. But are you trying to say, essentially, that it is a problem affecting all of us?”

“Yeah, you could say that. It's something I promised Sakura.”

―――Movement complete.

Having successfully avoided saying anything to Rider, we arrive at the ladies' floor.

“W-W-What is this place!?”

“What, you say? As you can see, it's the women's clothing and accessories section.”

“Were you plotting against me this whole time, Shirou......!?”

A baseless attack on my reputation.

It's impossible for me to pull off a gambit as risky as trying to deceive Rider to begin with.

“I didn't trick you. I just didn't explain anything. Verbal persuasion might be Tohsaka's specialty, but I'm useless at it.”

“Then does that not make you a pupil of Tohsaka Rin? That a master would pass down such artifice to her student...”

“No, I don't think I've become that kind of student.”

"Really," I gesture as I reply.

I wonder if she believes me. Rider grits her teeth as she glares at me.

“...Shirou, this is cowardice.”

“I think so too. But I don't think you would have come along if I didn't do this, Rider.”

As soon as one even says the "fa" in "fashion," Rider refuses immediately. To put it frankly, my desire to see Rider dress up outweighed my fear of her anger.

“Besides, I promised Sakura. "Look after Rider for today," she said. Just going to the movies and dropping by a bookstore hardly qualifies as "fun," does it?”

“That is true, but it's a completely...”

“Either way, coming here to try out clothes was the whole point of our trip from the beginning.”

Although I had completely given up just a little while ago.

Even if Sakura were here, I have a feeling this scene would have played out the same way.

“And so, if I'm going to be looking after you, then I have no choice but to help you pick some new clothes. Sakura entrusted me with your care, after all.”

“...That is some weird logic you're trying to convince me with.”

“This is more about sentiment than logic.

Besides, I want to see what you look like in different outfits, Rider.”

It's something I sort of had been thinking about for a while now.

Just once, I'd like to see Rider in a change of clothes.

...Well, if I put it like that, then Rider is sure to answer like this:

“...But Shirou, I'm not...”

“That cute?”


It seems I've hit it right on, as Rider suddenly sinks into silence.

It's not true, of course, but Rider's inferiority complex isn't something that can be wiped out in one day.

When it comes to this, Rider is pretty stubborn.

...Recently, how should I put this, she's been needlessly self-conscious and claiming that she "has no charm."

“You just need to try on everything. First of all, anything looks good on you, Rider.”


...When she gives me that look, I feel guilty, like I'm bullying her.

Speaking of which, it must look like I'm hitting on her or something.

“Uh, no, don't misunderstand, Rider.

It's not like I'm picking on you. It's more of a, "What would Sakura think?" situation. It may be for my own personal interests, but I would never do this just to make fun of you...”


―――Crap, even I don't understand what I'm saying anymore.

I'm just going to screw myself over at this rate. And embarrass Rider. In that case, this calls for some truly extreme measures...!

“Dammit, anyway, just come with me!”

I seize Rider's hand.

“―――, ah...”

...I feel her soft palm.

In my haste, I think I'm turning this into something it shouldn't be.

...This is bad. Rider has such gentle hands, and they're unexpectedly tender.

I wonder which one of us is blushing more. Once it dawned on me what I'm actually doing, I immediately took the lead to conceal my face and prevent Rider herself from noticing.


Without looking back, I leap into the store in front of us.

If the store clerk in front of us noticed anything strange, she stifled it with a smile.

Ugh, did she see everything that went on back there?

“Welcome. Is there anything I can help you with today?”

“Er, ummm, I don't really need anything, that is, but she, erm...”

I'm mentally panicking while I speak to the clerk.

I hadn't thought of anything to say.

“I don't think Rider has any good-looking clothes.”

“Rider? Would that be the customer over here?”

That's right, it's not like she knows who that is just by the name.

"Yep," I nod.

Now all I have to do is sit back and watch as those two try on different outfits.

I lift my head up in relief, knowing that the clerk will take care of everything after this.

I thought that Rider would be shooting me unhappy looks since I forcibly dragged her here, but―――

“......That's right.”

? Rider, who had been so unhappy right until now, is smiling.

Thinking that she had finally settled back into a good mood, I was about to breathe a sigh of relief, when...

“My boyfriend is saying that he would like you to make me look cuter.”



Instead of calling me by the name, she says "my"...

Wouldn't that be "My Darling" in English!?

“No, um, Rider and I are...!”

The clerk keeps up her smile. Although I half-tricked Rider to get her to come here, right now she's smiling warmly at me, too.

Why is it that even though the atmosphere has suddenly gotten so friendly, I'm the only one that feels helpless!?

“No, no, no! She's like, like an older sister to me!”

“Shirou... please do not say such cold things to me.

Is not that exactly the kind of cuteness and charm you were talking about earlier?”

There's no lie in what she just said, but it sure has some undertones to it.

It almost sounds like I sweet-talked her into it...

“She is very beautiful. I am sure that not even a model could compare to the young lady here.”

“T-That's true. Anyone can see that she's the real deal. But that's another matter. The fact is that Rider and I aren't like that...”

In my panic, I vehemently deny everything.

That is, I'd be really happy if I had someone like Rider for a girlfriend, but I'm afraid that would be frightfully good luck. She really isn't my girlfriend.

But here she is, twisting reality around and teasingly snuggling up against me.

“Isn't it cute?

He is so nice to me, but he's actually very shy.”

Her whispers aren't directed at the clerk, but at me.

...In any case, I probably do look like I'm trying to cover up my shyness.

―――It's more effective on me than even a Noble Phantasm.

My heart is beating past its limit, and I've become red up to my ears.

“Normally he is so assertive when nobody is around, but in front of other people he calls me his sister or his guardian. So cold of him.

Therefore, I would really like to make him call me his adorable girlfriend for once.”


Without thinking I wildly look around, as if scanning for enemies.

I think I would start crying if anyone were watching this, but I can't help but hope that someone out there might give me a helping hand.

No friends or enemies to be found.

Meanwhile, up close, Rider's lips melt into an elegant smile.

“Say... Shirou? Will you not say how cute I am?”

“N-No, that would just lead to a pretty big misunderstanding.”

“...I see. If words won't make it clear enough, I shall just have to speak through my actions.”

My feet are glued to the floor like toffee.

Is Rider seducing me?

Wait, from the clerk's point of view, the one doing the seduction would have been me, so Rider looks like she's just returning the favor.

“In that case, we do have some lovely outfits from this year's fall and winter collections.”

“Might you have any recommendations? Do you have something in... this size?”

“Yes, I think that style suits you perfectly, miss. In fact, you would probably do well in some of our imported outfits.”

I should take a deep breath now that the subject of attention has changed―――


I don't even get a chance to do that.

At the sound of my name, my brain somehow responds.

If she would just come out and say, "Forgive me, Shirou, it was all a joke"―――I would gladly give her a year's worth of gratitude.

Heck, I'd build her a temple and offer her a sacrifice right there.

“No, look, I'm going to wait here, no, I'll be outside.”

“That will not do.”

She's blocked my only escape route. Stubborn.

But I still feel like I can get out of it by challenging Rider.

“What do you mean, "that will not do?" I think it's just fine.”

“Were not you the one who promised to see whether I am cute or not? If you will not tell me, then I would not know how cute I am, either.”

What is she saying!?

That clerk over there has been trained to compliment you as much and as elaborately as you want!

But now Rider is actually clinging to my arm, if not just nuzzling up to me. It does make me kind of happy, but this can't be good for me.

“Shirou, I have a suggestion...”

“W-What is it? I'll listen to whatever you have to say, but first would you take your hand―――”

“Picking out new clothes is fine, but I hear that fashion is best approached from the ground up.

Would you help me out over there, too, Shirou?”

...Foundation? A base of something?

Filled with dread, I look in the direction she's pointing.

“――――――――That's, uh, bad...”

My legs begin trembling.

Why am I frightened to the point of tears, you ask?

Because she's telling me to go into the lingerie section―――that's why!

―――My body is assailed by a fit of shivering that turns my pores inside out.

“N-No way, you know I can't do that, Rider!”

“Do not be so cold. You do not want to see me in my underwear? I guess I am really not lovely after all.”

“That's not what I meant, you're pretty enough as it is!”

...Jesus, I just blurted that out reflexively without even thinking.

I've dug myself a hole so deep you could build a temple on top of it.

“If you think I am pretty, then by all means come and help me choose, Shirou.”

“Nononono! I'm a guy, and that's right in the middle of forbidden female territory! I'm telling you, I'll definitely be kicked out!”

“Of course not, sir. There are plenty of customers browsing the underwear section together with their significant others.”

...Is this damn store clerk, with the worst timing, tag-teaming me with Rider now?

Speaking of which, do such men even exist!?

My highest possible respect for them, no joke!

“See, there is precedent for it after all, Shirou... Do you not want to see me?”

―――The enchantress from the Age of Gods smiles innocently―――

This is unfair. There's no way I can go against that.

One by one, various social obligations disappear before me.

Ah, should I admit that I really want to see her, my sense of reason will surely start melting away.

The reckless excitement I feel about seeing Rider is threatening to swallow me up, to the point that I doubt if I'll be able to go home.


I'm at a loss for words.

Rider's hand is grasping my arm so affectionately.

Even though her whispers are soft, her grip is quite firm.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. Once you get a look at me, Shirou, it will all be clear.”

And so, she starts to drag me along―――

Even though I plant my feet and resist with all my might, she's so strong that I might as well resist being towed by a truck.

“Ah―――no, really, just sto----p!

Waitwaitwait! Is this really okay with you, Rider!?”

“I do not mind. Actually, I do not have much fashion sense when it comes to underwear, so I would be grateful if you watched.”

“That's more about function than form!”

Even against my yells of protest, Rider doesn't ease up at all.

I'm being pulled straight into the lingerie section.

“Of course. But in addition to that, you can add a personal taste to it, Shirou.”

“Eeeep, don't speed it up, waaaait!”

The land of lace and frills stretches out before me.

I'm greeted by the world that dazzles the senses, and with Rider at that!

“Now... where should we start? There is so much to choose from that I feel a little lost.”

“―――, ―――,, ―――,,,......!!!”*


―――No, it was more like a hellish paradise.

I don't really remember what happened after that.

Anyway, all I'll say is that Rider was incredible in many ways.

“It's going to be a rough night. I don't think I'll be getting any sleep...”

I'm worn out in more ways than one.

As we were getting off the bus, Rider had her usual cool expression on.

“Shirou, this is just common advice, but I'll let you know that a cornered mouse will bite a cat.

Keep pressing on like that, and your luck will end up in a catastrophe instead.”

...That really is how it turned out. I tried my best to get Rider to try on some different clothes, but she turned the tables on me in the end.

“Besides, women are not to be teased too much.

I stopped there because I'm me, but had it been Sakura or Rin, you can be sure that the retaliation would have been severe―――”

As we walk in line, I nod "yes" to each point of Rider's sermon.

Eventually, she did try on a bunch of different clothes, but I had gone into such a useless state that we didn't end up buying anything. I think I just kept saying "yeah, okay" or something towards the end.

“...That's all. Thank you for taking care of me today.”

“Ah, yeah...”

I notice that it's evening, and we've reached the road home.

Like I promised Sakura, I was Rider's companion for a day.

“But I'm still glad you had some fun, Rider.”

At first I wasn't sure how things would go.

Not only did lunch go by uneventfully, the movie was pretty strange, as well. And nothing good came out of forcing the situation at Verde.

Still, if Rider really had fun firing back at me, then maybe it wasn't so bad after all.

“Did you have fun, Shirou?”

At hearing the question, I can't help but wonder.

Rather than enjoying it, in the end I worked my tail off accompanying her. But even then, I dare say that―――my answer wouldn't be much different than the above.

“As for me―――as long as you enjoyed yourself, Shirou, I am satisfied.”

An answer that considers the feelings of the other.

Timidity, or just lack of confidence―――no, it's rather because we don't really know how to feel about all this.

With a sigh, I think about Sakura, who should have been with us.

“Sakura would have had fun if she were here.”

“――――You think so?”

A vague reply.

I don't know. But if Sakura were here, I have a feeling that this peace and quiet right now on the familiar road home would have an entirely different feel to it.

In a way, it's a bit of happiness that's also hard to come by―――

“Well... we're just about home. I wonder what should I tell Sakura?”

“Why not tell her the truth?”

“...If we do something like that, I know I'll regret the anger and jealousy that's sure to follow.”

If she said something like, "Next time, please look at me, Senpai!" I'd be in really big trouble.

"I'm just beat for today"―――as I sigh for the thousandth time―――

“Thank you―――for today, Shirou.”



She's just kissed me lightly on the forehead.

“Uh... W-What was that just now, Rider!?”

“Please calm down. If you make such a fuss, Saber and Sakura will pick up on it right away.”

“That's not what I meant. Hah, what a shocker...”

Touching my forehead, I sigh.

Stuff like this is just too unnatural for me. Sure would have looked cool if she was my girlfriend, though.

Beauty is just something to be exploited, by all means.

“...You're beautiful even now, Rider. Even if you were a guy, I think you'd be good-looking enough to make me jealous.”

“Shirou, if you were a girl, I think you would be the noble type who just can't leave someone alone, like Sakura.”


...She's patronizing me again. Rider is without peer when it comes to that.

“Welcome back, Rider. How was today?

Thanks for your hard work too, Senpai. Dinner is ready―――”

“We are finally home. I definitely had enough fun for the both of us, Sakura―――”

Day 4

Emiya's・Day 4 Dragon trance military history

We've just finished our lunch.

As I relax with a cup of tea,

“By the way. Did anything interesting happen while I was gone?”

All of a sudden, a question comes up.

“Not really... wait, didn't Sakura's letter say anything about that?”

“All she wrote down was what you dictated to her, Emiya-kun, and in really exacting detail.

She did write "everyone's doing well here," but that had to be her just sugarcoating everything.”

...I see. Whatever actually happens, Sakura wouldn't want Tohsaka to worry, and that consideration went into her letter.

Looks like Tohsaka knows that, too.

“I heard that Sakura wasn't feeling well, but there wasn't anything about that in the letter. So I got to thinking about it.”

“Ah...I see.

Sakura did catch a slight cold, but everyone else's been just fine.

And I've never seen Fuji-Nee come down with so much as a runny nose.”

That brings to mind the adage about how idiots don't catch colds, but rather than that, it's more like the discipline she subjects herself to every day is on an entirely different level.

“So it seems like you want to hear whether Saber or Rider have been feeling unwell, I take it.

Saber's doing great, actually. She's as hale and hearty as a horse in clover.”

“And do she and Sakura have appetites befitting the season?”

“Both of them eat so much I wonder whether they are gearing up to hibernate during the winter.”

As the one who has to prepare the food for them, it's quite troubling.

...Well, even I am bound to have times when I worry about how much rice I have to cook.

“Ahaha... No matter how much of a dragon-type element Saber has, I don't think she'd retreat into her den and hibernate over the winter.”


She's used a word I've never heard before, and it brings a puzzled frown to my face.

“Huh...? Emiya-kun, you didn't know?

One of Saber's most important elements is the highest of the illusionary types, the dragon-type.”

“No, that I know.

Saber is similar to a dragon in some ways, right?”

Actually, you could say that's the only thing I know.

“Hmm... Emiya-kun, when you hear the word "dragon," what comes to mind?”


Out of all the creatures in fantasy, the dragon is undoubtedly the one at the top, or so I've heard.

“...One thing for sure, it's not something a human can fight against, the king of all animals.

Dragons have eyes kinda like a lizard's, whiskers and tusks, they can breathe fire and fly, and they demand sacrifices of young maidens... that sort of thing.”

“Fufu. It'd be quite amusing if Saber was really like that.”

“...I can't deny that.

I can certainly imagine Saber spitting out flames whenever Fuji-Nee tries to snatch her afternoon snacks.”

“So they're still at it, I see.

I should do an elementary analysis of Fujimura-sensei sometime... It wouldn't surprise me if she were part fairy...”

Were she actually to do that, I don't think I'd be brave enough to look at the results.

Back to the main topic―――

“Oh. And dragons also hoard gold and shiny objects.”

“Tales of the treasure hordes in dragons' lairs is what lead them to be classified as illusionary―――but do you recall Saber ever saving up anything?”

“Hmm, I'm not sure. She does seem to be into proper hygiene and household economizing, so I feel like that might fall in line with her interests.”

But even if she has that in her disposition, I doubt she'd bother to actually start saving.

“Besides that... living thousand years in the sea, thousand years in mountains, swimming up the Yangtze river to leap up the Dragon Gate...”

“Clouds rising, a dragon will appear? Is it an oriental dragon this time?”

“A "king of beasts" and "god of beasts" isn't quite the same thing, is it.

Other legends of dragons, let me think...”

“Saber does have five claws, being a king and all.”

Uh, a joke has been taken.

What else? Oh yeah―――

“This one concerns the oriental version, too.

It is said that every dragon has one special "gekirin" scale.”

There's always a single scale growing backwards on the dragon's body. Legend says that if you happen to touch it, no matter how gentle he may be, the dragon will lose himself in rage.

“Oh my. Do you suppose Saber has one of those, as well?”

I'm let down by her all-too-quick reply.

Holding the teacup in my hands, I keep staring at Tohsaka.

“Seeing how well she fared with regards to all the positive qualities, there's no way she's gotten off without inheriting something like a gekirin.

It's nothing like an Achilles' heel, but it does restore some sense of balance, doesn't it?”

“An Achilles' heel is a weakness, right?

No matter how you look at it... a gekirin is more like a fault, or a defect of sorts.”

“Fault, weakness and defect are all the same.

What I am talking about isn't Saber's individual balance, but the overall balance of nature.

If a being that is flawless and eternally invincible is allowed to exist, the cycle will grind to a halt. A being stronger than anyone else will surely have a flaw that is worse than everyone else's.”

“...I get it. Let's see, for example,”

someone who can master just about everything, but will stumble upon the very last hurdle, making a big mess.

“Hey, why are you being quiet all of a sudden?

Do you have something to say?”

“No, not really. I was just thinking that you sure did well breaking it all down.

That aside, a gekirin, huh...?”

...Does Saber really have one?

If she does, and I just happen to brush against it in public...

...Is that what would happen?




Somehow, it looks kind of fun...?

“What's the matter, Emiya-kun, daydreaming?

What, did something interesting cross your mind?”

“Eh...!? Ah, no, I haven't reall-, nothing like that!”

I cover it up by drinking some tea.

...This is bad, real bad.

I've been corrupted by Tohsaka's malice, finding ways to tease and make fun of Saber, what was I thinking?!

“You are acting way strange today.”

“Huh!? W-What are you talking about!?”

“Nothing~. Just my personal observation. So you don't have to worry even a tiny bit about it, okay?

I'll be your backstage support and just give you a little push.”

“So what's that all about?!”

"Beats me," Tohsaka feigns ignorance as she stands up.

“Well then, do excuse me.

It's really none of my business, but I do have some sympathy for you, Emiya-kun.

You are a Master, therefore, you have to manage your Servant properly.

If you come upon something that could possibly invite trouble, then you have to check it out, no matter how unappealing it may be.”

"See ya~," Tohsaka disappears into the hallway with a spring to her steps.


...M-Master's duty, is it?

I was only a bit curious about this "gekirin" business, but she's right. Perhaps I should investigate it a little further...

“Shirou, are you heading back to your room?”

“Huh, Saber...!?”

What a great timing.

Speak of the devilSaber...


A single scale growing backwards, "gekirin."

So somewhere around her, there is a spot which will land me into hot soup if I touch it...?

“What's the matter? You look rather pale.”

“...Sorry. I was just thinking.”

...I can't.

It's gotten into my head, and it's no use putting the brakes on it now.

Does Saber have a gekirin? And what is it really? I can't let it go until I find out.


Saber, can I borrow you for a sec?”

“Yes, Shirou?”

“Your collar is a bit crooked.”

I reach for Saber's neck.

My fingers gently touch the silky white skin.


“Don't move, it's all wrong.”

Saying that, I caress Saber's nape.

I can't feel anything out of place with my fingers... They say that the gekirin grows on the underside of a dragon's chin, but I guess it's not there?

“You are acting way strange today.”


...Today... doo-dee-day.

I refrain from any further remarks.

“Ah... Shirou... Mmh... m-my collar...”

“Just a little more. Your ribbon is also a bit off.”

Using straightening her already straight ribbon as an excuse, I touch her nape.

“Ah... ha, ah...”

I gently brush the loosely hanging hair behind her neck, and my heartbeat rises for no apparent reason.

I am just looking for Saber's gekirin, so I don't have to feel guilty―――do I?

Sorry, teacher! There's no gekirin in sight, and my sanity won't hold much longer, either...!

“Ho, ho, ho.

Then you shall aim for her back! When a besieged castle refuses to surrender, call in the heavy artillery!”

W-Wow, she had anticipated this way ahead of time...!

My eternal gratitude to you, oh Grand Master Zhuge Rin!

“Shirou, you can't, that plac-”

I get closer to her, and graze her standing hair with my face.

“Ugh, this―――”

Out of the way―――!

Don't struggle, let me feel your back! I push the strand aside―――


For some reason, I am lying on my back, facing upwards.

“Oh no, are you alright, Shirou!?”

“Eh―――ah, gh.”

I silently assess the damage.

Having landed the right way, there are no injuries.

“I am very sorry, I instinctively...”

“Were you the one who tossed me?”

“...Yes. I held your wrist and tossed you away with all my strength, much like how Lancer does it...”

I see it now.

It was a six-meter mega-glide from the veranda down here.

“I should have informed you earlier.

I have carelessly allowed an old habit to surface, and caused you to get hurt―――”

“I'm alright, umm...”

Being touched by a man, she became embarrassed and flung me away... no, that's not it.

The moment I brushed that one strand of hair aside, I was instantly hurled away, as if activating a conditioned reflex.

“Are you able to stand? Let me he-...”

“I'm fine.

You said you ought to have... ouch, told me something. What is it?”

“...It is about this strand of hair jutting out of my head.”

“You do not like that to be touched?”

Saber nods deeply.

...I've taken a fancy to that strand since a long time ago, but looks like it is important to her, as well.

“It is a rather long story...”

“Alright, let's go back to the veranda.

Ouch, landing on hard floor is no easy experience...”

“This story goes back to before I united all of Britain.”

“During that time, I was engaged in battles against various lords who were opposed to my enthronement as king.

With the good advice of old man Merlin, my teacher, and the divine protection of the Lady of the Lake, I went from one battlefield to another accompanied by brave, loyal knights, all for the sake of the country and its people.”

“I fought against eleven other kings―――but in reality, they were all forced to kneel before another powerful monarch.

His name was King Rience. Together with his younger brother Nero, the powerful king assumed lordship over the northern land.”


I know this story.

Is it the one about the famous King Rience and his robe?

“King Rience's messenger arrived at my castle, and declared haughtily,”

“"The great King Rience has conquered eleven kings, exacted oaths of fealty from them, cut their beards and used them as decorations for his robe.

With the last beard his robe will be complete. King Arthur, hand over your beard and swear undying loyalty to the king, or else you shall perish and your entire kingdom will be destroyed!"”

...As I thought.

Yeah, that's not going to work.

Saber can't grow a beard, you see.

“This was my reply to the messenger.

“"I regret to say I have neither a beard in my possession, nor a knee that would bend in King Rience's presence.

In fact, soon enough King Rience shall bow to me, and it will not be just the beard, but his head that shall be separated from his person."”

Yep, that's definitely Saber.

After being told off like that, King Rience would have no choice but to return quietly...

“King Rience was incensed when he heard my reply.

And after having my appearance described to him by the messenger, he sent him back with this pompous reply.”

“"How haughty you are, o King Arthur.

Now I shall shave off the hair standing on your head, and use it to adorn my robe!"”


Hold on, isn't it just the beards he was after?!!

“W-W-Wait a second----!

That hair, don't tell me he was referring to THAT strand of hair!?”

“Obviously. Is there anything else King Rience would possibly want?

Shirou, please do not interrupt my story with trivial questions. This is where things get interesting.”

“O... Okay, sorry. I was distracted.”

“That's fine.

Well then, after that, a part of our battle became a fight to see whether I could defend my hair or not.

Since then, my opponents have always provoked me by sneering at my strand of hair, threatening to cut it off, tie a knot with it, decorate it with a ribbon, or even plant a flower on top.

Consequently, I had a duty to guard my strand of hair well, for the sake of my country.”

“The battles were long and fierce, but I ended them with a dignified victory.

Ever since then, my hair became a symbol of my kingdom's prestige. It was as important as my life itself. Yes, even the queen herself was not permitted to touch this strand of hair. That was how it was.”

“Do you understand now, Shirou?

Because of that, I would like you to not touch my hair.”

"Ahem," Saber says so proudly.

......Let me see, um.

I was tossed into the air and landed unconscious just now, right?

“...Shirou, what's the matter?”

“......Well then, one question.

The battles ended with your victory, right?

If so, did you get even by shaving off King Rience's beard?”

“He was taken prisoner. I wanted to chop off his head but I was stopped by my teacher.

Repaying malice with malice will only deepen the hatred. You should not demand a head for a head, or a beard for a beard.

Therefore, I did as my teacher said―――”

“As your teacher said?”

“We used magic to restore King Rience's sideburns and mustache. His younger brother, Nero, was let off after having his eyebrows connected into one.

We made sure he would remember the price of his boast every time he looked into a mirror.”


You can call it a bloodless victory, but it is still a very childish solution.

Poor King Rience and his brother Nero must have been made a laughing stock for the rest of their lives.

“...I see. I didn't know there was such a deep history to that strand of hair of yours...”

“Yes. So my humble apologies for that―――brief outbreak of an old habit just now.”

“Ah, don't worry about it. I'm the one at fault here, anyway.”

I mean, it's my mistake for carelessly intruding on such a history-laden sensitive spot.

“Thank you for your understanding.

You can also say that a woman's hair is the symbol of her magic powers.

If it is stolen from her due to her carelessness, it is sometimes used as an amulet for curses.

A curse on the king brings calamities to the kingdom. Consequently, you can say that this piece of hair is doubly important.”


I see, this is grave indeed.

...Wait a second.

If that's where Saber's weakness is, then don't tell me that...


Hearing my name being called, I look up.


Why does Saber look so grim...?

“You were kind enough to straighten my ribbon for me... but I do wonder, why would you feel the need to stroke my neck repeatedly as you did so?”



So that wasn't a very good excuse, was it...

“Going as far as the nape... Shirou, what on Earth could be the reasoning behind your actions?”

“N-Nothing really, Saber. My hand slipped a bit, that's all.”

Well, it wasn't really my hand, but my morals that slipped first.

“Oh really? Shirou, does that mean you would simply stroke around a girl's neck, as if it was nothing at all?”

“No, really, there's nothing to it.

Oh yeah, I'll bring some snacks and tea over so just make yourself comfortable here.”

“Please wait.

―――Shirou, I'd like to ask you to please look me in the eyes one more time and answer my question.”

I-I have a foreboding of certain doom...!

D-D-Don't tell me that Saber's immune to the allure of afternoon snacks!?

“Shirou, you are averting your eyes and being very quiet. I cannot help but develop some dark doubts.

Now answer. Why did you do such a thing? Do tell.”

The intimidating atmosphere, having developed a tinge of bloodthirst, is threatening to suffocate me.

...Ugh, looks like I'm stuck.

Oh Master Zhuge Rin, I do not know what to do.

I don't think I can escape even if I tried. Looks like I have to answer her honestly.

“...Umm, err. I was looking for a "gekirin."”


“Umm, seeing as you're the dragon type, I thought you might have that one scale on your body growing backwards...”

I steal a glance at Saber.

...Ugh, an icy look.

“I see, a scale, is it.”

...Ugh, an icy cold voice.

“T-That's right.

Legend says that if one touches it, the dragon will fly into a rage.”

Feeling awkward, I try to avert my gaze... but I can't.

I think I'll see sparks fly off her any moment now.

―――Here she comes.



“Who do you think I am...!!?”

“To catch me, a knight and a swordsman, and check for a scale! There is a limit to how rude you can be!

During those days, I would have thrown down the gauntlet and duel the one who dares to humiliate me in such a way!”

Her body is shaking.

She's mad, mad like never before!

“Besides, how could you possibly mistake me for a dragon!

Yes, I inherited the element of a dragon, but to treat me as one? I can't believe you're so ignorant!

Making such a mistake, as a Master, you are pathetic!!”

A storm rages on.

Alas, so is this how I'll meet my end, killed while being scolded? Dizziness assails me―――

《Ha, ha, ha. Do not give up, Emiya-dono, there is still a chance for survival.》

――― No way.

I'm still seeing these nasty illusions, even now.

“Finally, what on Earth possessed you to start amusing yourself by looking for others' peculiarities! Such improper behavior is completely out of line!

A sudden transformation after being touched? Do you really think that there is such a dark side to me!?

I do not hide my personality at all. You should know that very well, Shirou...!”

Saber's tension keeps rising with no limit in sight.

At this rate, it won't be long before I'm kneeling for ten hours straight, forced to prepare a Manchu Han Imperial Feast, the grandest meal taken over three days and three nights, for all attendees at once.

Ugh, are you saying there's still a way out of this bind, oh Grand Master...!

《Aye. The enemy is pushing forward recklessly, neglecting to guard the rear.

Sun Tzu once said: "During battles, use the orthodox to engage, but use the extraordinary to attain victory."

Basically, if you want to defeat her, you must make her stronger for a while, okay?》


W-Wait, Grand Master...!

No, you evil culpritttt!

“Shirou, are you listening!?”


“If you are listening, then I want you to correct your statement. That you made a mistake by assuming such "scale" ever grew on my body, and that I possess no such dark side. Say it!

That you will never aspire to such delusions ever agai...!?”

“An openingggg!

You were far too preoccupied with Emiya-kun, Saber. Hohoho, your back was wide open, hilariously so!”


What are you doing? There is a limit, even to pranks...”

“Fuu, nope, that won't do.

Emiya-kun, this is your last chance!

Well, I do wonder where Saber's gekirin could lie―――!”


Aah, I see. Her gekirin is her weakness. So I just have to imagine a monkey being exhausted after having its tail caught---!

“Needless to say, Saber's gekirin is―――!”

The next instant, I stretch out my hand.

“Ah! No! Don't do it, Shirou...!”

“Go, go!

I'd love to see a weakened Saber~♪”

Encouraged by the irresponsible cheer, my left hand grasps victory.


I firmly seize the golden strand of hair.

At that moment,


An ominous chill courses through my body as if the entire house turned into a freezer.

N-No, this is no mere chill, this is the sound of Excalibur being releaseeeed!!!!?

“U-UWAAAaaaaa, Saber...!?”

“KYAAAaaaaaaaaaa, Saber...!?”

The commoners are being blown away.

God was here. He made sure to deliver the divine punishment and departed like the wind.

“Aah... O-O-Ouchhhhh...”

I gingerly lift my body.

Thanks to Tohsaka's mischief, I was flung into the air again.

“It huuurts, I actually hit my back... Ughh, that was horrible, what did I do to deserve this?”

“...How can you possibly ask that with a straight face?

You definitely reaped what you sowed.”

And successfully tricked me into becoming your accomplice.

“W-What? We did achieve our goal in the end, didn't we?

From what happened, we know without a doubt that Saber's gekirin is that curly strand of hair.”


That's how it ended up being.

Saber vehemently denied having anything like a gekirin or flying off the handle because of it, but it turned out to be exactly that.

“...Looks like it is far from being a weakness, though.

Or rather, it may seem like a fault to the individual, but to the opponents like us, it is the worst strength ever.”

Saber actually blew both of us away indiscriminately.

“That's okay.

One reason why Saber's the best in her class is the ability to remain calm. Getting angered easily means more openings for the enemy to attack.”

Yeah, looks like she's itching to take Saber head-on.

“I see. So that's why you wear red, Tohsaka.”

“? Do you gain anything by me wearing red?”

“It's not so much me gaining as you losing.

By the way, I thought Saber would charge towards us any moment now... but she looks pretty calm.”

“Now that you mention it...

I thought she would definitely come after you in her rage.

...Well, you just touched it, right? I wonder if her gekirin only activates for an instant.”

That'd be fortunate of us.

It's great that we found the spot we were looking for, but I don't think I can bear with her raging on for the entire day just because her hair was touched.

She'd be switched from Saber to Berserker class.

“―――You're absolutely right.

Saber being mad, the whole time...”

I can't imagine it. If such a king exists, then I really pity the people working for him.

“Since we got our answer, let's go back. I bet Saber is still angry. We better apologize to her.

Tohsaka, we'll do it together.”

“Alright, I get it, I understand the situation perfectly.”

Her rage may have subsided, but her feelings are still hurt, I'm sure.

I have to make a honest apology and swear to not touch Saber's curly hair in jest ever again.

“Heyyy, Saber?”

I call out to her.

Saber responds calmly,

“Shirou, is something the matter?”

Huh!? Her dark side is---!!??

The corridor distorts around her.

A suppressed killing intent.

Her gekirin-induced rage, mistakenly assumed to be her weakness, has subsided... but our Saber ended up undergoing a total killer-style transformation. She icily glares at the prey which foolishly returned to the lion's den.

“Ah, ahh, ahhhhhh, Saber...!?”

“Wa, wahh, wahhhh, Saber...!?”

We shudder in utter fear.


Saber does not twitch a single muscle.

Her doll-like pretty face has turned into something extremely terrifying.

“T-Tohsaka, I-I pass! I can't do it anymore, I really don't know what to do...!”

“H-H-Hey, that's cheating, Emiya-kun. You're the one saying we should apologize together!”

The prey goes around in circles.

Finally, after seeing the "Tohsaka-Shield deployed," "Emiya-Shield deployed" cycle repeat for the nth time, the lion gets fed up with our antics.

“―――Shirou, Rin.”

Black Saber steps in with no hesitation.

“Eeeeekkkkk, I-I'm going to get eaten!!! I-I'm so sorry Saber, I took the joke too far!”

Using Emiya as a shield, Tohsaka flees Saber's view.

“You are annoying, Rin.

Did something happen to justify such a racket?”


Saber sounds completely indifferent.

...Ummmm, the prey exchanges stupefied looks.

“...Ummm... Saber, about what happened just now...”

“I don't remember anything. Shirou, do not ask me about it.”

She answers plainly.

It is difficult to comprehend, but Saber is not angry in the slightest... or is she?

“S-Saber? C-C-Can I ask you something? What happened to your usual violence, or the usual, umm, color...”

“Are you saying there is something wrong with me?”

“N-N-Nope, not at all!! Not the slightest bit out of place. You're the usual Saber!

I-Isn't that right, Emiya-kun!?”

I frantically nod in agreement.

“Then there is nothing to discuss. Let us eat now. I shall change.

Rin, provide a change of clothes for me.”


W-Would my clothing be acceptable?”

“I like your attire, but I shall have some variety today.”

Tohsaka energetically shows Saber the way while making sure to maintain a healthy distance between them.

“Emiya-kun, Emiya-kun, I'll buy us time somehow, just take care of the lunch, please! Give it your all, alright...!”

“...You have my word. Our lives are at stake here.”


“Yes ma'am, I'll be there in a flash!!”

Weeping, Tohsaka assumes the role of Saber's guide.

“...I'm counting on you.”

No matter how much time I have, I will never be able to cook a meal that would fully satisfy Saber.

But not even Tohsaka can keep stretching her patience for more than thirty minutes.

According to a Japanese legend, it was alcohol that an eight-headed giant snake, Yamato no Orochi, was eventually appeased with.

Yeah, that's right. Meat, alcohol and money are what's always been used on those guys since ancient times.

“Heh. Hehehehe, he―――!”

This has somehow fired me up.

So my cooking will be used to calm down an angry, giant dragon?

The true worth of my cooking, my skills that I honed over ten years, everything's being put to test...!

“It tastes horrible. Shirou, it took less than half a day for your abilities to disintegrate.”


That was way too harsh.

I don't know what's worse... that my ten years of cooking experience have just been dismissed with a single bite, or that the one who did it was Saber, who always eats with a beaming smile, Saber, of all...!

“Emiya-kun, you're crying. I understand how you feel, but now's not the time. We need to do something fast.”

“Oh, leave me alone! Do you have any idea how wonderful the time I spent eating with Saber was...!! Spare me some sympathy!”

“...Ah... It's true, I have no idea.

Alright, alright. Sheesh, just cry all you want.”

“Rin. That shoddy food that you never make right.

Show it to Shirou.”

The king's command is heard from the living room.

“Umm... You don't mean THAT??”

“Obviously. With lots of mustard.”

“Tohsaka, what is "THAT"? You can actually make something that Saber likes more than my seafood hotpot?”

“...There's no way she'd like it.

Well, I'll teach you the recipe, seeing as that's what she desires. I'm sure you'll have no trouble at all making it.”

Tohsaka opens the refrigerator with a disapproving look on her face.

The ingredients are ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, ketchup and mustard.

“―――Geh. D-Don't tell me it's a―――!?”

A dirt cheap, simple food that fills one's stomach and nothing else. One of the top-three contenders on the list of "crude" food that Saber hates the most, it is none other than...!?

Munch, munch.

A powerful rhythm echoes around the living room.

I made "THAT," exactly as instructed by Tohsaka. Saber does not say anything, but there's an extremely satisfied look on her face.


Is that what they mean by "takes a king to know one"?

Her Majesty Saber is eating the king of junkfood, hamburger, as if it was a mere snack.

Munch, munch, munch, munch.

The refrigerator is almost empty now.

Grasping the gravity of the situation immediately, Tohsaka brings out her bicycle for a provisioning run.

“...Uu, is this the punishment for playing along with the devil...? Had Tohsaka not said those words, surely this wouldn't have...”

Still weeping, I continue to make hamburgers.

I'm glad that Saber's eating my cooking happily, but why hamburgers, of all things... (sob)

“Shirou, seconds. I want a "value set" next.”

It really is like Saber to have such vocabulary stick in her mind.

“One value set, coming right up!”

I need to smile even as I'm kneading the meat.

An hour passed.

Until Saber is full, lunch does not end, and a, "Smiles: Free!" policy remains in force at McEmiya's.

Emiya's・Day 4 Dreaming cooking Caster

...It's almost time.

We have quite an unusual guest coming to visit today.

Actually, it looks like they're already here.

Standing up, I make my way to the entrance.


...What? No one's there?

...Yep, no one's there. Was it a prank, after all?

“Sheesh, ding-dong dash? Who DOES that these days? Even kindergartners and Fuji-Nee are too mature for... wait, whoooaaahhhh!”

I couldn't tell when or how Caster got in, but there she is, in our entryway, counting the shoes.


“Oh, there you are, boy. If it's why the intruder-alert barrier didn't react that you're wondering about, I simply asked it to ignore me.”


She doesn't spare so much as a glance my way, but keeps glaring at the shoes with a pensive look on her face.

Does it bother her if the heels aren't all lined up neatly?

“By the way, does Sakura-san happen to be here?”

“What, is that it?”

To Caster, this is the home base of a former enemy. Things between her, Tohsaka, and Saber are precarious even now.

So she's asking if Sakura, who might be on her side, is in.

“No, she's out shopping in Shinto today. She said she won't be back before nightfall.”

“Well, that is a relief.”

“Yeah, if you asked me ahead of time, I'd have tried to hold... wait, what?”

“I'd much rather not be seen here by that girl.”

“You see, she believes that I'm a model wife, doesn't she? If she knew that the model wife had come here to ask a boy for a favor like this...”

“Oh, I see. You don't want to destroy the beautiful image she has of you.”

I recall a certain incident that went down in the shopping district. If Sakura were to find out, she'd be disappointed, to say the least.

“Hardly. I simply wish to avoid the embarrassment that would result.”

“...I think I get the idea.

I won't let on to Sakura that you were here, and all the others are out right now, so come on in.”

“Good to hear. Then let me say it properly: good afternoon, boy.

No, wait, today "Sensei" might be more appropriate.”

“No. This―――umm, lots of these have "hollow hearts" inside, so you shouldn't be so quick to just choose the biggest ones.”

I'm instructing a veritable authority in magic on how to select the best potato.

Honestly, how did my life end up like this?

“W-Why, I―――yes, I already knew that, of course. This rule is the very embodiment of basic, after all.”

"Hohoho," laughs Caster, flashing me her standard bewitching smile.

But there's barely a shred of her usual bravado in that laughter today.

“Then let's go with meat and potato stew. That more or less falls under the heading of Japanese food.”


I'm going to help out Caster in her pursuit of cooking skills, just like I promised her before, but―――


Smack in the middle of this ordinary Japanese kitchen, clad in a fantastic outfit of multilayered cloth, stands an unbelievably gorgeous woman... The discordant contrast is making me severely uncomfortable.

“I wonder if Souichirou-sama likes meat and potato stew...”

“You're asking me?”

“Didn't you say that single males love a good homemade meat and potato stew, boy?”

“I said that it was the kind of dish that most would probably like. Call it a widespread delusion, or the self-centered dream of all men, or something like that.

Actually, quit worrying about that and roll up your sleeves so we can get started.”

“Eh? Ah, oh my, me with my head in the clouds. I heard you, really. I really did.

Fear not. All I need to do is use a little water/stain/grease-repelling magic and we'll have nothing to worry about. And my antibacterial protective shield is of course flawless.”

“...Eh, I guess that couldn't hurt.”

Everything should be fine at this rate... should be.

Pulling myself together, I start by instructing Caster how to dig the eyes out of the potatoes, and find myself impressed by the skill with which she handles a kitchen knife.

“Hmm, looks like you're used to dealing with cutlery.”

“Whatever could you mean?”

“I'm talking your control with the knife. From the way you handle it, I'd never have thought that you weren't good at cooking.”

When I first started teaching Sakura, a knife in her hands was so dangerous that I couldn't take my eyes off her for even a second, but you're so deft I don't see any reason for concern.

“There are all sorts of blades used in magecraft, so isn't it perfectly natural that I'm accustomed to it?”

“Now that you mention it, you took up making ships in bottles, didn't you? That requires a steady hand too.”

So, her fingers are skilled enough―――but how should we apply that to cooking?

“You should relax more. Think of it the same as making a magical potion.”

“Cooking and mixing medicinal compounds aren't even on the same level of comparison.

Pharmacology, where effectiveness is of the utmost importance, and cooking, where flavor and nutritional value must be in harmony in one dish, are two different things entirely. Like a five-dimensional sense of intuition.”

“Really? But isn't the way you make them by following a recipe the same? I'd think it would be easy for you.”

“If it were so simple, I wouldn't need to be taught like this, now would I!?

...Sakura-san said so too, that love is the most important spice in cooking.

It's not the cooking itself, but the emotion you put into it for the person who you want to make it for. That's half the battle. It is nothing like preparing medicine, where you concentrate all your thoughts on a complex formula that you develop as you mix ingredients together.”

“Hm... is that so?”

Cooking is part of my daily life, but I can't say I've ever thought about it that way.

The only emotions that went into my cooking were those of a village chief trying to keep a hungry tiger from descending on the people of the tribe.

...I wonder if I haven't wasted my life.

“It is. Were I to use the same method, seeking only results, and somehow made delicious food that way, even if it were enough to delight Souichirou-sama, I myself would not be satisfied.”


“And if the only one who gets any enjoyment out of my cooking is me as I make it, then there's no point at all.

It's for both of us that I have to improve.”

I can only nod in admiration.

There's nary a hint of the cruel and capricious witch of before in her as she stands cutting vegetables, her knife making a satisfying sound as it strikes the cutting board.

“Shirou, I am sorry for the trouble, but I wonder if I might request a small snack―――”


Caster gulps.

Too late. Saber and Caster have already locked eyes.

“Oh, it's you.”

“Caster... what reason have you for coming here? Shirou!?”

“Hold on, she's not an enemy, at least not today! She's here for cooking practice.”

“It's as he says. Thank you for having me, Saber.”

“How can you be so carefree...? Were you really deceived by her, hiding her real intentions with such straightforwardness!? It couldn't be... Shirou, does Caster have you under her power!?”

“Of course not. Also, I'd really like you to keep the fact that she was here today a secret from Sakura and others.”

“Hmph. The quickness with which you attempt to conceal the truth only reveals how deceitful you truly are, Caster!”

Whoa, at this rate I might not be able to talk her out of this!

“Caster is not to be trusted. Have you forgotten already, Shirou, the terrible things that befell me while this woman held me prisoner...?”

“Well, I suppose some pretty unfortunate stuff did happen to you back then, but... what are you looking at?”

Saber has stopped talking all of a sudden and is now staring intently at something over my shoulder.

I glance behind me to see Caster, fiddling with a 200 gram package of sliced beef.

“Ahem... what is it... that you will be making?”

“Ah, I'm teaching her how to make meat and potato stew today.”

“Meat and potato stew, is it...?”

"Meat and potato stew, meat and potato stew," murmurs Saber, over and over again.

“Thanks to this boy's skill, you've been allowed the luxury of becoming very particular about food, haven't you, Saber?

If I can make a meat and potato stew that meets your standards, then Souichirou-sama is sure to be delighted by it too!”

Saber's eyes immediately lit up at those words, just as though they were a magic spell.

That's the artifice of a magus for you.

“It would certainly seem that you are no enemy of mine today, Caster.”

“Yes, a simple stew would be a small price to pay to gain you as an ally, Saber.”

Hey, if you're gonna put it that way, isn't it way too cheap?

“...I understand.

Leave the vanguard to the swordsman, and in the rear, the magi can safely devote themselves to the art of cooking.

I give you my oath to fight to the last against prying eyes that might discover the existence of this meat and potato stew.”

Umm, Saber, what I'd like you to hide is the fact that Caster was here, not that we're making stew.

“...Well, whatever. It's not like it makes much difference either way.

Then I'm counting on you, Saber. You can have this in the meantime.”

Opening the cupboard, I take out some bean-studded mochi and hand it to Saber.

“Way to go, Caster. Saber gets really stubborn when it comes to things like this.”

“There's nothing out of the ordinary about Saber. The only strange one here is you, boy.

You're still willing to go along with my requests, even after everything I've put you through in the past?”

“Mmph. Speaking of that, even Rider's now living with us.”

“Heh, indeed. Just how many times has she tried to kill you, boy?”

She snickers to herself.

That laughter is so delicate in its nuance that I can't tell whether it's meant to be agreeable or mocking.

“It's all fine. It's all in the past.

Lancer said the same thing. There's no reason to hate someone just because you're enemies. By now, we're not even enemies, so there's no problem at all.”

“...I suppose there could be something to that.

There are things I've done to you, boy, that I couldn't have Sakura finding out about, for example.”

“That's okay. You've made your feelings clear too, Caster. That's why I have no problem teaching you to cook.”

“...That's not it. I came here on Souichirou-sama's recommendation.

I'd even go to Berserker for help if that's what Souichirou-sama asked me to do!”

...That she says that with such a straight face is making me, the listener, embarrassed in turn.

“You sure are earnest when it comes to Kuzuki-sensei...”

“Oh my, but isn't it the same with Sakura?”

“Hey, what do you mean by that?”

“Sakura sure has a hard time, too―――and just so you know, it's not that I hate to cook.

When you love someone, you'll do whatever it takes, even lie, to stay by their side. But food is something you want to make sincerely, and without falsehood, just for them.”

Caster gently seasons her dish, as though flavoring it with the contents of her heart.

Standing close and seeing that gentle expression softening her face warms my own heart too.

“...I wish I could show it to Sakura as well.”

“Oh my, what did you just say? Didn't you promise that this would be kept a secret from Sakura............!?”


“Oh, it's only Saber.”

“Sheesh, don't startle me like that.”

“Shirou, Rin has returned.”


“Oh, you must mean that uncivilized ape of a girl.

...What a nuisance. I really don't do well with these brawn-over-brain types like Berserker or that girl. Settling everything through reasonable conversation like I did with Saber will likely be impossible with her.”

“Yes, she is a formidable opponent indeed.”

...This is unexpected.

To Caster, Tohsaka is even more of a handful than Saber.

“Well, I don't know. I admit Tohsaka is moody, but...”

“"Moody" doesn't even begin to cover it. Do you truly understand? Never in a million years would I have believed there was a magus who would abandon the use of their craft in a fight and attack with their fists, but that's exactly what that girl did to me!”

“Indeed, she is a magus of a new breed, the likes of which never existed in the olden days.”

“Ha... haha.”

...I guess I can't really cover for her... I'd be lying if I said that her tendency to settle things with her fists hasn't caused a lot of headaches for me as well.

Wait, this isn't the time for that.

I can hear Tohsaka's footsteps drawing closer by the second.

“Caster, isn't there some handy spell you can use and, I don't know, hide yourself or teleport to another room or something?”

“Too late. Using any magic in here now would be as good as setting off a signal flare. She'd know in a second.”

Crap, she's almost here―――

“She approaches!”


“Hey, Emiya-kun... hmm?”

“H-Hey there, Tohsaka, welcome back.”

“What is SHE doing over there?”

The second she enters the living room, Tohsaka's brows knit―――

She must have noticed something was up right away thanks to the saucepan gripped in the hands of the nervously sweating Saber, which is clanking in her hands like an alarm bell as she trembles.

“Now this is a curious turn of events, seeing Saber in the kitchen. Isn't it a little early to be starting the dinner preparations?”

“Oh, we're holding a bit of a cooking class. There's all kinds of things you could use meat and potato stew for, y'know?”

“Hmmmm... Hey, Saber, that's not a wok.”

Saber, who's vigorously stirring the ingredients in the pot―――brings to mind her country's rough heritage.

“Anyway, as you can see, I'm a little tied up with this at the moment. Come back a little later if you need me for something.”

“I see... By the way, what's this cloth-wrapped purple thing down here getting underfoot? Garbage?”

...I can't very well tell her that that's Caster, trying to hide by crouching down on the floor with her robe turned inside out.

Tohsaka has been been repeatedly poking the Caster-bundle with her foot.

She hasn't so much as twitched the entire time. Caster has actually done a pretty remarkable job of disguising herself.

“A-Actually, go ahead and ask me now!

I'll submit utterly to any request, so please direct your scorn at me rather than the garbage!”

“That's right. I didn't come all the way over here just to talk about garbage bags. I was hoping I could borrow Saber for a bit, but it looks like now's not a good time.”

“Indeed, I cannot withdraw from the kitchen at this time. It is my sworn duty to protect this place.”

“And I was going to let you sample the souvenirs I brought back, too...”

“Well then, Shirou, I leave the rest to you.”

“Geez, it didn't take much to change your mind!”

Saber's eyes and mine silently meet.

―――I shall lure Rin away from here.

―――Ah, yeah, please do... Alright, leave the rest to me.

―――Understood. So please make plenty of stew.

―――Roger. I'll take great pains to make at least 20% more than we'd planned to.*

Eye contact, completed. Transmission, over and out.

“I see. Then come to my room.”

The two of them exit the kitchen one after the other. Once I've seen them leave―――

“...All clear, Caster.”

“A garbage bag... I have been called a witch before, and an enchantress, surely, but a garbage bag...”

She trails off into sobs.


I knew Caster has always viewed this house as an enemy fortress, but I didn't realize just how dangerous to her it really was.

It seems her road to mastery in the kitchen is filled with hardships yet to come...

Emiya Residence・Start of Night Things to do