A Different Fate

Chapter 11: Experiences in London


After they returned to the hotel, they went to their respective rooms, even though it was still early in the day. In some ways, they both wanted to be alone for a while.

Gilgamesh wished he could deny it, but he had found it… a little more than interesting to see the grave of King Arthur.

To think that a tiny and delicate-looking woman like Arturia had shouldered the burden of an entire kingdom on her own, and for so many years… he grudgingly admitted to himself that perhaps he had not really seen how much strength had been needed for such a feat.

Nevertheless, he could have no more doubts after that day.

Only someone like her was truly worthy of his love.

In her room, Arturia’s mind was still concentrated on Glastonbury Abbey. She began to go through her daily physical exercises, trying to relax her mind and meditate… but Gilgamesh’s red eyes kept finding their way back into her thoughts.

While using Excalibur to fend through the air, the King of Knights decided to let herself ponder over what had happened.

For the first time, she considered the idea that Gilgamesh might have some genuine interest in her. Not as a mere form of amusement – as she had always thought –, but perhaps something… different. She had always been firmly convinced that when he had ‘proposed’ – or rather, made that completely irrational declaration he called a proposal – he had just wanted to add her to his treasury… and it was probably true.

However, she could not deny that Gilgamesh had changed during the last few years… and she had changed, too. What had just happened between them, that strange connection and understanding of each other… It was something that would never have happened in the past.

However, it had just happened.

What could that mean? Gilgamesh, against everything she could and would have expected from him, had shown his respect for her… as a king and a person equally.

That was… strange. And… astonishing.

Arturia had never met anyone who could begin to understand her and see what her life had been like. He… well, he probably could not either, but in some ways… he could, after all.

The King of Knights reflected, while her invisible sword danced with her through the moves she knew better than anyone else. Other people had shared some of her points of view as well… Irisviel, the desire to help others… Lancer, the knightly code of honour… Illya, the wish to improve… But all of them were very different people from her, and none of them knew anything more than that about her.

Gilgamesh, instead… she was quite confident that they had very little in common, aside from the fact that they had both been kings in their previous lives. And yet, he seemed to have been able to understand her better than other people… people she cared about.

That made her movements suddenly come to a halt. The people she cared and had cared about were not able to see her inner self… but someone like Gilgamesh, for whom she did not care, just could?

She was about to resume her training when her mind and body stopped again. She really did not care about the King of Heroes… did she?

The thought was a frightening one, but Arturia had entered deathly dangerous battles before and she was not about to let random thoughts scare her. She considered carefully, while unconsciously Excalibur disappeared and she sat on her knees to reflect.

He had been mostly a quiet observer for the two years they had spent in Germany with Illya. He had sometimes been pushy when addressing subjects like her past and the concept of marriage… but he had never harmed Illya, and that was already saying something. He had agreed to dematerialize with her quite a few times, and had even taken the subway.

He had definitely changed.

And her thoughts about him had changed, too. She did not consider him an enemy anymore. Actually, she saw him more like… an acquaintance that was often around her. An annoying, arrogant and sometimes cunning acquaintance. She had to amend that thought – he was a little more than a mere acquaintance. Currently, he was her… travelling companion.

Nothing more than that.

Unwavering, the King of Knights refused to let her thoughts linger on him any longer.

Since it was still quite early in the day, they ended up going to the motorcycle festival after lunch.

It was bubbling with people, and therefore quite noisy and confusing to go around. But both Arturia and Gilgamesh had a powerful enough aura to make sure people stayed away.

They were wearing hoods again to hide their identities; Arturia’s was covering her face quite a bit, but also obscuring her view. Without either of them noticing, therefore, they ended up in the area reserved for the pilots – one of which was about to be selected to do the inauguration round with a new prototype of a bike.

Unluckily for her, Arturia’s figure, even though petite, had that knightly, regal pose that made her stand out even in the midst of a crowd. And, just a few seconds later, the presenter chose her, amidst all other skilled pilots, to do the driving. Completely taken by surprise, she tried to protest… but not only the presenter, also other people around her kept insisting.

As she was about to firmly refuse to do what she was being asked to, she saw Gilgamesh ready to open his mouth to intervene in annoyance. Almost in panic because of the very likely possibility of him offending every single person present, she ultimately agreed.

The presenter directed her to go to the bike and the technicians showed her the racetrack but, before they could tell her what to do with the motorcycle and how to use it, she started the engine and took off like a professional.

The woman drove through the street swiftly, and at the first turn, her dark hood fell down because of her speed. Her blonde hair was exposed, and her firm expression caught everyone’s eye.

With precision and total control, she drove until the end and then pulled the breaks while turning the bike around, sliding across the asphalt with ease.

Still with the same expression, she parked, gave a nod to the stunned spectators and went to leave.

There were applauses and shout outs, though, and the owner of the motorcycle came up to her, stopping her to congratulate her, saying she had a career in front of her because of such fine piloting skills.

Then he asked her if she wanted to become the pilot for his company. She politely declined.

However, he was obviously a man with wealth, and gave her a condescending smile.

“Money is not a problem for me. I can make you truly become someone in the motorcycle world…”

He was about to put a bulky hand on her shoulder, but a lean and surprisingly strong grip pulled Arturia back by the arm.

Gilgamesh appeared by her side. He had been the one to take her away from the man’s touch.

“Don’t even think about coming near her, you mongrel,” he said with a haughty expression, staring the man down.

The rich motorbike owner was both intimidated and insulted.

“There is no need to be so protective–..”

Before things could escalate, Arturia quickly said, “Thank you for the offer but I am not interested. Have a good day.”

And she used Gilgamesh’s grip that still was on her to drag him away.

When they were at a safe distance, she gave the King of Heroes a flat stare, then indicated it was time to go back to the hotel. He only smirked at her and, before they left, she heard his complimenting words, even if they were said in such a low tone that she could pretend she had only imagined them.

“Your skills as a driver… are more than just remarkable.”

Monday came, and the two kings could go back to the Mage’s library. Arturia was more careful than the previous week, making sure not to meet Waver unexpectedly, and for that reason, she wore a pale lilac unassuming dress, while Gilgamesh reluctantly agreed to keep the hood of his dark jacket up.

The reading through the large volumes continued, but they were less lucky than they had been on the first day. Most of the information they read – as usual, Arturia read, Gilgamesh listened – was about mana. It was explained in very complicated and redundant ways, but the main concept was that a lot of it was needed for the summoning of the Grail. The reason why usually sixty years passed between each war was that the Grail was somehow in a trance, slowly building up the energy it needed to make a war begin between Masters.

However, Arturia and Gilgamesh knew there was still the energy of five Servants inside the cup, because that energy had not been released… and that meant that it would take the Grail much less than sixty years to have enough power to start another war. At the same time, the energy of five Servants was not sufficient for a proper summoning, because the energy of at least six of them was necessary.

Before they could continue their research, however, another two weeks passed. One Sunday had seen the library open because of some special anniversary of the Association, but the following one, the whole building was closed again. {I am aware of the fact that the British Museum is open on Sundays, but I don’t care.} With no other options, the two kings decided they could go around in London, sightseeing, mainly because it was Arturia’s desire.

The former King of Britain wished to see how her homeland had changed from what she had known in her days, and Gilgamesh didn’t have anything to object, as long as he found himself entertained. And observing Arturia’s expressions as she took in the dynamic and bubbly city that was London, he had to admit that he couldn’t find himself bored.

In a vibrant red dress and black boots, with her usual blonde hairstyle but with a red ribbon in it, Arturia waited for Gilgamesh – in his black and white ‘biker’ outfit and his hair down – to join her in the early morning.

They went around several places in England’s capital, with the King of Knights recognizing some traces of her past.

After lunch, they went to a huge shopping centre, because she wanted to buy a gift for Illya. With her bag with money from Fuyuki, Arturia went straight to the book section of the mall.

Before she could get there, though, someone came running in her direction and crashed into her. Arturia swayed slightly, but had no trouble keeping her balance, and she looked at who it was.

A little boy of perhaps six years of age was standing up, shaking his head to overcome the dizziness. He leaned down again to pick up the toy he had dropped, but then he realized what he had done and his large eyes widened in fright.

He looked at Arturia with a shy expression.

“I’m very sorry, ma’am… I didn’t mean to…”

She gave a slight smile while her green eyes softened.

“Don’t worry, it’s not a problem. Are you all right?”

The boy smiled at her.

“Yes, I am, thank you. I’m sorry again… goodbye!”

And he ran away, a little more slowly than before, waving at her with his hand.

Gilgamesh had followed the scene with interest, and there was a detail that he had not missed. Arturia’s kindness towards the kid was nothing surprising, and it was always… pleasing to observe, but the way her eyes had not left the toy had caught his interest even more. The boy had been holding a stuffed animal in the form of a lion, and the King of Heroes had noticed how she had seemed taken with it.

Hmmm, it appeared that the woman liked cute objects…, lions…, or both.

No longer interested in the shopping, Gilgamesh left the mall and went back to the riverbank, saying he would join her at the hotel later. Arturia raised an eyebrow at his strange departure, but did not question him. She wanted to find something to bring to Illya.

She looked through the children’s books, but everything there was just a little too… childish for someone like the white-haired girl. Therefore, she began to search for a bit more mature storybooks. She did not want anything too didactic because Illya already studied and learned a lot.

Looking through the shelves, her eye suddenly landed on a small book that made her pause in her movements.

The theme of friendship – The story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

After about an hour, as she walked out of the shopping centre, she was deep in thought. She had found a fiction, set in London, which seemed promising for Illya – she was sure the little girl was going to like it. She had not bought the essay about the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, because a few years of continuous reading had made her so good at it that she had devoured the book in less than half an hour.

Reading that analysis… had made a deep impression on her.

She had not known the details of Gilgamesh’s life. She now knew that what she had deduced about him in Germany, the evening in which they had had quite a heated discussion, had been very close to the truth.

Arturia had not imagined that the proud and arrogant King of Heroes had once had such a deep connection with someone. That he had had someone he had trusted, she had been able to guess, but how strong that bond was, she had not been able to see.

A very deep bond… that had been cruelly severed.

She could not hope to understand what an excruciating experience it must have been for him to lose his best friend… because she herself had never had such a person in her life.

She had always been alone, and by her own choice.

Gilgamesh was now alone as well… because after losing Enkidu, he had chosen to be alone, too.

At the hotel, the two kings joined each other for dinner. They ate in silence, without speaking much.

Before they left to back to their respective bedrooms, as Arturia was about to turn around to go, Gilgamesh suddenly threw something small at her. Her instincts kicking in, she caught it… and she stared at it, in surprise.

It was a keychain. A keychain with a small lion hanging from it. She looked up at him in wonder, but he was facing the other way and was already leaving for his room.

“Do not fear, Arturia. You don’t owe me anything for it,” he said.

The woman was not going to let him simply walk away like that.

“That is not where the problem lays, King of Heroes,” she replied, and her words made him stop. He didn’t turn around to face her, though. “Why are you giving me this?”

His head turned slightly to look at her over his shoulder, and the expression he was directing at her was a completely new one. For the first time, he seemed to be looking at her with something close to a smile. A small, strangely wistful smile.

“To this, King of Knights, I have no reply to give. You have to figure out the answer on your own.”

He turned away from her again and went towards the door. Arturia took a step forward. She needed to let him know what she had found out about him.

“I… I have read about your friend Enkidu.”

Gilgamesh froze. She knew that she had brought up a subject that was… meaningful to him. She should say everything she had to say about it before he either became angry or arrogantly dismissed her, therefore she continued.

“I cannot pretend to understand what the loss of someone so precious to you must have been like, Gilgamesh.”

She was not pitying him, and she knew he understood that. However, she was surprised when he turned around and walked back towards her, stopping a few meters away.

He looked at her intently.

“You do know what that kind of loss is like, King of Knights. You may not have had a special friend that you valued above anyone else… but you valued all your subjects even more than your own life. And yet, in spite of all your efforts, you lost your kingdom… That is exactly the kind of loss I felt, too.”

His voice had an edgy tone to it.

“Do you think it is a coincidence that in many ways I can understand you, that I can perceive your struggles, Arturia?” Bright green and blood red were on each other, again. “I am the only one who can truly see all that.”

She was silent for a long while.

Then, slowly, she opened her hand and looked at the keychain. Her eyes landed back on him again, her expression, uncharacteristically, betraying nothing.

Holding the small present up, she said, “Thank you for this, Gilgamesh.”

They both knew that she was not just thanking him for the key-holder her had given her.

He almost smirked… but, surprising himself, decided against it.

Finally breaking their eye contact, the King of Heroes turned around and went to the door.

As he was closing it behind him, he quietly said, “You’re welcome… Arturia.”

Several weeks went by. Every day except the festivities Arturia and Gilgamesh went to the Mage’s Association’s library and continued with the research about the Grail. They collected a huge amount of information.

For example, they found out that the corrupted cup could not be vanquished immediately. The Grail needed to be properly summoned in order to be properly destroyed, and the minimum of seven years after the latest war had to pass before a ritual could be performed again. Not only that, but the summoning could not happen just anywhere – it had to take place in Fuyuki.

Arturia considered the fact that they had to wait before attempting the ritual a positive thing. Only about three years had passed since the Fourth War had ended, therefore they had almost four years of time to prepare for it… especially to stock mana. As they had read in the books, a huge amount of magical energy was needed, and that was why they needed to begin to collect it. The King of Knights knew that the Einzberns were knowledgeable about that kind of magic, and they would be able to provide help in that sense.

Something that worried her was the fact that she couldn’t think about Fuyuki without remembering that both Kotomine Kirei and Emiya Kiritsugu were there. She could not, however, determine a clear course of action from the little she knew about their doings during the last years, therefore she decided to put the problem momentarily aside.

On Sundays and other holidays when the library was closed, the two kings continued to go sightseeing. There was little they could do to collect more information during those days; therefore, they felt relaxed enough to go around the city. Arturia was genuinely curious to see anything about her homeland, and Gilgamesh did not find it too boring to go through the things that the modern mongrels had invented in that era.

The environment in London, as both of them had realized by then, was very different from what they had been used to before. Illya was not there, and that meant that they had to interact more with each other. They were often silent, but the surprising fact was that it was… a companionable silence.

They had both also noticed that they were beginning to be more comfortable with each other. Arturia had realized that she did not hesitate at all when she took his hand to dematerialize… and he was being much less arrogant, at least towards her. He now offered her his hand with ease, and the contact always seemed to linger a little longer than necessary.

And she could not forget that he had done something as unexpected as giving her a gift.

Pondering about the reasons for such changes did not seem bound to produce satisfactory results. The best course of action was to see what would happen – with time.

During those travelling days, the exchanges between the two kings were more spontaneous than usual, even coming close to being called banter. There was a shift in the atmosphere in those moments… they were no longer Heroic Spirits who had been given human bodies against their will, but normal people who enjoyed their free time.

They bought some more presents for young Illya while going around London, and Arturia became interested in mobile phones. She didn’t buy any, but she made a mental note about purchasing such an article in the future. She was aware of its usefulness, and since they were going to go to Fuyuki sooner or later, she thought it might come in handy to communicate more easily.

After reading through all the books that she had selected on the first day and making sure there were no others with more data and material they might need, Arturia considered their work in London concluded. She was quite certain that they had not been recognized by anyone, nor had they raised any suspicions.

A few months had passed since they had left Germany, and they had collected more than enough valuable information. The King of Knights felt a pang of sadness at the thought of leaving her homeland again, but she knew it was not the time for sentimentalities. If they wanted to destroy the Grail – and protect Illya –, they needed to concentrate their efforts.

One cold Sunday morning, after paying the hotel’s bill with the Einzbern credit card, they walked out and turned around the corner to avoid being seen.

The former King of Britain put her small but strong hand into the King of Heroes’s larger and equally strong one, and they disappeared in a swift flash of light.


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