Story: The Sword and the Staff (chapter 13)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 13

Title: Chapter 12

By the time they went down for supper, the dining room of the inn was thoroughly crowded.

It didn't stop the men from making way for her though. For the first time in her life, Saber began to truly appreciate the power that came from being a woman. Perhaps the neckline hadn't been such a bad idea after all.

"Why don't you sit here, lassie? There's a bit of room." A man who was making eye contact with her chest gestured at the narrow space between himself and the wall.

Saber felt an arm curve possessively around her waist. "While I'm sure my wife would fit nicely, kind sir, I unfortunately wouldn't." There was a gleam in Rin's eye at that moment that made the man retreat nervously and hastily.

Saber quickly scanned the room and spotted a tiny table in a corner alcove. She grabbed Rin's hand and tugged her "husband" toward the vacant seats.

"I thought the plan was to blend in with the locals—not antagonize them!" she hissed at the Mage.

"Whatever happened to chivalry?"

"I thought you said it wasn't your code."

"I wasn't a minstrel then."

"You won't be anything for long if you stir up trouble in this crowd."

"Fine, fine," the Mage relented. "Maybe I'm just hungry."

They had only just finished eating when a group of musicians cleared a space in the middle of the room and began to play a jig at one of its edges. Almost instantly, the space was filled with stamping, clapping and dancing bodies.

The rush of nostalgia that assailed Saber then was almost physical.

"What's wrong?" the Mage asked her, immediately alert.

Saber shook her head, though there was a slight film in her eyes. "The tempo is a bit different and so are the words, but they used to play this song in court..."

She suddenly found herself being tugged to her feet.

"Where are we going?" she asked Rin in bewilderment.

"To the dance floor," the Mage replied simply.

"But I've never danced!"

Rin looked at her and smiled. "Fighting is a dance, Saber."

She looked at the Mage for a long uncertain moment.

"Alright," she finally relented with a smile. "But first," she looked around then and suddenly snatched a stranger's mug, "first, I need a drink."


She couldn't remember the last time she'd had so much fun.

There had never been much room for it in her life. Her childhood had been strictly regimented: an endless rotation of one discipline after another, all designed to leave her as the victor of the Holy Grail War.

Then the War had begun and almost immediately things had gone wrong—starting with her failure to summon Saber as her Servant. Then she'd lost her Servant, and that humiliation had been preceded by the disgrace of having to join forces with her enemies. The entire duration of the War had felt to her like the slow unraveling of a perfection she'd worked so long to achieve.

Things had lightened somewhat after the War had ended, but the ingrained habits of a lifetime were difficult to shed. It was only later, when she met the Council Master, that she began to understand what having fun actually meant. He was, quite literally, the brother and the father she never had, though he was old enough to be her grandfather and even more. Under his tutelage, she began to discover the exuberance that had been largely absent from her childhood years.

If she had risked making a fool of herself and Saber that evening, it was only because she'd recognized the look of longing on Saber's face. It was the look of the excluded child.

And so she'd grabbed the blonde's hand and dragged her to the dance floor, and for the last two hours, they had whirled merrily through every variety of jig imaginable. She'd lost count of the mugs of ale she had drunk or that Saber had drunk—all her mental energies being devoted to keeping their legs untangled and their feet untrodden. Finally, the music stopped to the crowd's collective groaning and the exhausted musicians bowed their way to a much needed dinner.

Rin found herself being lowered gently into a seat. She looked up into a pair of amused green eyes.

"Are you actually drunk?"

"Of course not," she said, enunciating each word carefully. "I would never sink to such a vulgar state. I am simply slightly inebriated."

"It doesn't matter how many syllables you use," Saber said, rolling her eyes. "You're thoroughly sodden."

 Rin found herself lifted deftly onto her feet and marched slowly but steadily up the stairs and into their room.

"How on earth can you not be drunk?" she asked the blonde.

"When you've worked with men your entire life, you learn to win at their games," Saber replied matter-of-factly.

They reached the edge of the bed and Saber carefully laid Rin down on its left side before rising up to remove the Mage's boots.

Before the blonde could move away, Rin reached out and pulled her—hard.

She tumbled on top of Rin and the Mage smiled at the sudden cascade of golden hair.

She looked up into a pair of suddenly tumultuous green eyes and without quite realizing what she was doing—ran a thumb over the blonde's suddenly parted lips.

"So soft..." she whispered.

Then with the slightest of sighs, Tohsaka Rin, the most powerful Mage to emerge in recent times, fell asleep.


She lay on her side, listening quietly to the steady breathing of the figure on her left. Everywhere around her, the world was at peace. But her body felt almost the same way it did before a battle: flesh tingling, nerves heightened, senses alert.

She had never felt this way with Shirou.

With the red-haired boy there was nothing but a light, serene and gentle warmth. But when she had lain on top of Rin, the sensations had been dark, wild, vivid, intense. And there was no mistaking the look in the Mage's startling blue eyes then, for she had seen it often enough in Shirou's.

It had been a look of pure desire.

And, heaven help her, she'd wanted to give in—had wanted to give the Mage what she'd always denied Shirou.

She'd been lucky that the Mage had fallen asleep. Alcohol had saved her virtue when her loyalty could not.

Saber closed her eyes. She had bound herself to duty in all her lives. If she had failed in rendering it to Camelot then, she would not fail in rendering it to Shirou now.

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