Sakura…! Before I can reach out my hand into the emptiness, my consciousness is subsumed in light. My fingers, my arms, my legs, my body, all of it vanishes into light.
…Only information goes on. A powerful acceleration of consciousness. Retrogression. Flackback. In that instant that felt like a journey of hundreds of light years, suddenly,
Sakura :: Hello, senpai. Thank you for coming today. Do you remember what happened when we first met? When I was sleeping in the infirmary, and you came to check on me. That one day, like an extra added to the Holy Grail War.
There was once a day like this. Days like this, even.
Sakura :: Good Morning, senpai! I tried to come up with a way to prepare delicious tea. I hope it suits your tastes…Eh, you’d like tea-cake with it? Y, yes, that’s a little difficult but I’ll do my best! Umm…where do we have the data on western and Japanese style snacks of the 20th century…it would be good if I had permission to access it, too…
…I remember. Good. I did remember it properly. BB had concealed it, but here, at the very end, I’ve remember the truth behind all that’s happened. …Right. That’s what happened. There in that unchanging infirmary. I talked to her about many, many things. Though my memories of the preliminaries were mostly constructed by BB. That — what happened in that entrance hall, that was real —
Sakura :: …I found it. Today’s work will be over soon. …senpai. You were the first Master who ever noticed me. To the other Masters, I was never anything more than the infirmary NPC. Just something that distributes items and presents information. And I thought that was fine, too. But that day, when I was effected by a bug and collapsed, you came to help, just as if I were human. …you said that something that “wasn’t there,” “was.” You stopped to look at a stone by the side of the road that was trying to be human, and you held out your hand as if to a friend and equal. …and so I ended up wishing. To talk to you more. To be with you forever. And for that reason, I interfered with the Moon Cell. It was the first time I used it for my own sake. In order to be with you. That was the cause of all of this. Though I didn’t know what love was, I went and acted like a human. And then suffering became greater. And I took that suffering, and sent it to another me — No matter what they are, we AIs aren’t allowed to erase our own records, so — I transferred it all to a back up —
…What did she feel, and what was she trying to protect? Those days that were nothing out of the ordinary for me, just how brightly did they shine for her? Remembering that, remembering —
[Each line is a flash of a different scene.]
Sakura :: Wow, that really happened? Heehee, that’s funny.
Sakura :: Senpai, could you tell me what you learned in class? I can’t go to classes, so…
Sakura :: Are you hurt? I’m not good for anything but health problems, so I’d like to be helpful when I can…
Sakura :: Senpaai! Look, look! I borrowed the keys to the pool from Father Kotomine! Eh, a swimsuit…? Oh…that was silly of me…I’d have to design a swimsuit first…
Sakura :: Flowers from the garden? Ah, thank you very much! I’ll get a vase for them right away!
Sakura :: Senpai, I made lunch! I worked hard and added it to my skill set!
Sakura :: Senpai —
Sakura :: Senpai, um…!
— Everything returns to zero. I can hear a voice far in the distance.
Unknown speaker :: Reactivation of the Holy Grail War system, starting. AI error check, complete. Full reset including all unlawful alterations —
The hand I reached out touched something soft. That feeling becomes an illusion and vanishes. Everything goes back to how it was. Hakuno Kishinami’s consciousness pauses here.
Sakura :: …Are you all right?
The girl’s voice wakes me up. White ceiling. White sheets. The eyes of the girl watching over me. Ah — I feel like I had bits and pieces of a dream.
Sakura :: Good. I wasn’t sure what would become of you, when you collapsed in the entrance hall. Please be careful. Even if battle is forbidden within the school, this is still a battlefield. Going around without your Servant is suicidal, understand?
Without my Servant…? Hearing that, for no real reason I look at my left hand. There is — all three command spells. I unconsciously breath a sigh of relief. I’m not sure why seeing that I have my command spells is such a relief, but I’m relieved anyway.
However — a Servant. Who on earth was my Servant, anyway?
Sakura :: Huh? Of course it’s…huh? That’s strange, these search results are…Eh, eh…? Ah, um, it’s either Saber, or Archer, or Caster!
Yes, of course. Those were the only choices I had, after all.
Sakura :: In any case, congratulations on making it through the fifth round, Miss Hakuno Kishinami. Please make your way to the notice board quickly. It’s time for your sixth round opponent to be announced. Good luck!
Saying thank you to the girl, I get up from the bed. The Holy Grail War is almost at its end. At this point there’s nothing to do but rush for the finish line.
[Hakuno leaves the infirmary and meets Rani in the hall.]
Rani :: So you’ve woken up? Good. If you stayed like that I would have no options left. Now that I’ve become a Servant-less Master, I need to rely on your power. After all, there’s no way for me to survive unless you obtain the grail. I’ve said too much, haven’t I. I’ll prepare some tea for you later, a kind my professor taught me that relieves exhaustion. By the way…it seems you’re holding on to something there, what is it?
Holding something? Now that she mentions it, ever since I woke up, I’ve been gripping something in my fist. What could it be? I open up my hand.
Rani :: This is…the petal of a cherry blossom?
It is indeed a single cherry petal. I don’t know why I’m holding such a thing. It must have just ended up in my hand when I collapsed. I try to tip my hand to throw it away, but my thoughts stop. There weren’t many cherry blossoms to be found around this school. Though still without any real reason, I put it away, like a treasure.
—Suddenly. I felt like someone called out to me. I thought I heard the word “senpai.” Of course when I turned around, the owner of the voice was nowhere to be seen.
Rani :: Are you…crying?
Now I notice tears are falling from my eyes. Wiping them away with a finger, I leave the infirmary behind me. Pushing back the slight sense of loss that’s opened in my chest, I continue down the hallway I’ve grown used to.
…the remains of pale pink memories.
…the ashes of burned up film.
— Like relics of those days, those were the last pieces of the heart of a girl who dreamed of love.