Crawling to the Dawn
a Fate series fanfiction written by The Overlord Bear
Summary: Shirou Emiya ends up summoning a certain treacherous Knight of the Round Table as his Servant for the Fifth Holy Grail War, and said Servant is a somewhat sane Berserker to boot…a Berserker who then ends up wanting to smack some sense into him and a bunch of other people.
Previous Chapter: Away from the Night
First Chapter: E-Rank Luck
Chapter 12: To the Dawn Again
First, she was a mercenary who betrayed and abandoned his faithful loved ones for an impossible dream. That man’s regretful yet stubborn trudge eventually set a city ablaze.
And then she was a boy who lost his whole sense of identity and gained a twisted replacement because of that mercenary. That boy’s confused yet stubborn trudge was bound to repeat his adoptive father’s mistakes.
Those memories that felt so close also felt so far thanks to floods of memories of curses, which remained even without that blob infesting her anymore. She was not the only human who suffered cruelty, be it in the hands of humans or of monsters, whichever was which. And then she realized that those dreams brought her sleeplessness again, persisting as an inferno within her.
Still, she continued wondering, staring at the ceiling of a familiar warmer house. Should she try to save humanity like that boy she longed for wanted to? She could not give a “Yes” with confidence there, of course. But the thought of what she considered selfishness still brought her guilt. How could she complain about other people being so evil when she could be as evil or even worse herself? Even if kinder people knew and let her be her evil self, she would still ask why they would let her be, for they knew she was evil and worse, and they had to know some way for them all to be better if they kept her around, right?
But Sakura Matou – Sakura Tohsaka – or maybe just Sakura…She didn’t want to be evil. She had experienced more than enough suffering already. She had given her loved ones more than enough hurt already. And those loved ones included her older sister and her crush, loved ones she also loathed and envied like an idiot. And perhaps even that scumbag of an adoptive brother she always felt compelled to care for until that future version of her crush killed him.
And then Sakura wondered if her worm of an adoptive grandfather felt the same way before. Somehow, he had to have had some speck of humanity long before, right?
With that thought burning hotter in her mind, Sakura decided to get up, enduring the twinges her body felt to find answers. Darkness filled the Emiya Residence, but tinges of yellow were starting to creep over the blue. She didn’t look to any of the rooms, but she only aimed for the exit. No one would notice at this time of day, right?
But then she remembered that a big fight happened during the previous night. She looked down, also trying to check her left arm for her Command Spells, only to find a lack of a left arm and realize that she had had it cut off.
“Heh, we have matching looks with our arms. And I guess my white and blue dress there fits better on you.”
Sakura then remembered how she destroyed her older sister’s right arm twice. Shouldn’t her older sister be wallowing in her battered pride right now, then? She was even smiling at her!
“You’ll probably find this weird, but seeing you with me without so much violence feels…relieving.”
What was Sakura supposed to say to that? What could Sakura even say to her older sister who treated her like the real younger sister that she was supposed to be? Memories of kindness and cruelty clashed, leaving Sakura with a stare at Rin Tohsaka.
“By the way, the only thing I regret about your, uh…brother’s death is…well, that I didn’t kill him myself with a lot more discretion. I don’t know how badly he was treating you, exactly, but…”
Sakura’s heart tightened as she listened to her oddly chipper sister and failed to bear her own silence.
“Why do you even care now?” Sakura continued to break and spill, memories of curses and other evils throbbing inside her. “Did I destroy your dreams, Rin Tohsaka?” She couldn’t help a crooked smile from growing on her own face. “Did I humiliate you enough to make you think that you can save your own ego by acting like my own older sister again?”
“Sakura – ”
“Maybe some part of me wants this again, but after all that pain…I can’t help doubting every seemingly good thing coming into my life. Even Senpai…Shirou…”
Tears threatened to spill, but she quickly wiped them off with a white sleeve. She had to steel what was left of her own heart now. So many pieces still needed to be put back into their proper places, though she still had to figure out where those proper places were.
“Take all you want now,” Sakura turned to the exit of the residence, also restraining herself from calling Rin Tohsaka by that one honorific. “You’ve won the war, whatever it was. Just leave me be. If you don’t, then I’ll really kill you. Senpai, Sensei…I’ll kill you all if you try to come after me.”
Silence came upon her surroundings after that. No one stopped Sakura’s exit, and the trip back to the Matou Residence was uneventful.
Sakura entered that accursed house again without a knock on the door.
“You have returned, my granddaughter.”
So did the smiling old worm say as he sat in front of the dark and silent TV in the living room. Sakura also couldn’t help snorting at the picture of such a decrepit piece of evil sparing time for such a modern piece of technology.
“I’ve come to kill you, you old monster,” the renegade granddaughter then declared, sneering at Zouken Matou.
“So it seems,” he continued to smile with such a relaxed tone. “I should be ending your life now, too.”
“Then do it,” she dared. “I’ve got nothing left to live for in this world except for myself, after all. In other words, I’m just a monster like you.”
“And that is why I am sparing your life, child.”
At that, cracks started appearing on the old worm.
“You have been a disappointment throughout most of your stay here, Sakura,” he kept on going strangely. “But then I found myself in awe at your rebellion. My worthless blood spawn, they pretended to be holier than thou, and you seemed no different. But then something transformed you beyond my wildest dreams, and your transformation made me feel as old as I really am now.”
“So I gave the devil some sympathy, and he gave me his throne,” Sakura crossed her arms, still sneering. “Yay.”
Zouken laughed as the cracked pieces of his body started to turn into dust. “All I wanted was love, child,” he sighed while still smiling. “Love from someone I could never hope to see again. And you have my gratitude for your understanding there. Now do as you wish with this inheritance I bestow upon you.”
That declaration ended with the clatter of his cane, which now lay on top of his remains.
Sakura spat on that, and then she reached for a candle.
Later that day, news of the Matou Residence fire spread throughout Fuyuki City.
When Shirou Emiya opened his eyes, he found himself in a strange yet peaceful situation.
To his right was Fuji-nee, while to his left was Illya-nee. The way they clung to his arms made him feel like the kid he never was. He also felt the same way the night before, when they arrived home after saving Sakura. They fussed over him so much that they almost broke out into a fight, but fortunately, they managed to discipline themselves.
As for Tohsaka, Shirou remembered her looking after the sleeping Sakura before going to sleep herself.
And then he suddenly remembered Gilgamesh. Perhaps he was still out on a stroll? He did say that he would give them peace before he put them all back to work again, whatever that meant. The thought made Shirou want to get up and prepare breakfast quickly, too.
With that, Shirou gently unclasped himself from his adoptive older sister and their even older sister figure to head to the kitchen.
Then he found a sitting Rin Tohsaka staring down a table.
“Tohsaka?” Shirou called, startling the girl out of her reverie.
“Oh, good morning…Emiya-kun,” she greeted with an awkward smile.
“Good morning,” he greeted back with concern. “You’re early.”
“Yeah,” she responded, looking to the side. “And so was Sakura.”
“Sakura?” Worry welled up within Shirou. “Where is she now?”
“She left,” Tohsaka looked down. “Don’t go after her, though. She doesn’t want anyone following her. Not even you.”
“Why not!?” he raised his voice. They saved her, so why?
“Some people need a different sort of saving, Shirou,” Tohsaka shot hardened eyes at his own. “Lots of people need different sorts of saving. Now just shut up, stay here, and make me some breakfast. I need to look after you for her too.”
Shirou would’ve protested further, but he relented upon remembering all the madness they had to go through lately, along with all the resolve he gathered from it.
In short, his impossible dreams had to end now. Magus ones included. The War he got roped into had made him feel his weakness a lot, too, after all. Though giving up on those dreams would be easier said than done, of course, so…
“I’ll be in your care, then,” Shirou bowed.
“Ugh, just get to work already!”
Shirou couldn’t help the chuckle he had at that.
“The King returns from his stroll bearing two more puppets! Break my fast now, mongrels!”
“Hello. Every. One. Castle. Re. Paired.”
“A lot has happened, indeed. Now where is Mistress Illyasviel?”
“THIS WOMAN HAS EMIYA LUST! EMIYA LUST, I SAY!”
“I ONLY LUST FOR KIRITSUGU, NOT FOR YOU OR SHIROU! AND I SWEAR, THAT KISS WAS JUST AN ACCIDENT!”
The reformed hero still smiled as he sighed at another eventful yet peaceful day.
“I wonder how Berserker and the others are doing now, though…?” he also asked in a murmur.
“What was that?”
“What – Oh.”
Bedivere and Arturia caught the winds carrying the sound of hoarse yet boisterous laughter.
“Was that…” Bedivere looked to his liege, who was still sitting by the tree he found her leaning on.
“I think so,” she answered with closed eyes and a wide smile. “Leave me be now, Bedivere, and tell the world of our tales. Include the ugly ones too. And live on. Those are your King’s final commands.”
The knight gulped in hesitation, but still, he nodded. “As you wish, my liege,” he then said as he had his horse take him away.
And so, with relieved sighs, Arturia Pendragon, King of Knights, and Mordred, Knight of Treachery, passed away.
Author’s Note: So. Somehow, unlike with the likes of Wandering Weiss, I finally put an end to this three-year-old piece mostly born of and powered by random ideas and wild clout-chasing. My interests have changed a lot over those three years, but my interest in this managed to survive to the creation and publication of some semblance of a sensible ending, which makes me really happy.
Still, it’s not like I think that this work is a well-written one, let alone among those I’d consider my best. I could blame the source materials and say that they’re too complicated for me to go through, but I still have to research a lot even if I do aim to make pieces better than the ones presented by canon. Plus, I found some pretty impressive stuff in Fate/stay night, impressive enough for me to write an essay about it and reconsider whom I consider my Best Girl there.
And then there’s my planning for this work. Until around Chapter 8 or 9 or the second half of this fanfic, I did not make stuff like outlines to help organize my writing process for this. Again, random ideas and wild clout-chasing. And once I started making outlines, I vowed to myself to achieve some semblance of a sensible ending to this with as little rushing as possible. I can’t exactly tell all by myself how well that worked, but still, I’m not that confident in the quality of my output here.
So yeah, in other words, if we consider how I studied and planned for this, I don’t think I had my heart really deep into making this, yet I wanted to make the best show I can make with it, which then resulted into something I consider a cracky and edgy roller coaster ride that doesn’t give a good amount of respect to canon. So yeah, JMP3 probably has all the ammo in the world to shoot at me now, hahaha~
Still, I’d like to give thanks for the appreciation this got. Maybe it’s surprising and even undeserving, but still, thank you very much. Now go post the flak this deserves, flex on me by talking about the ways you think you could’ve done this better, and have more fun with more worthwhile works out there.
Or in more formal and less self-loathing terms: Honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated.