Fandom: Ensemble Stars
Character(s): Anzu, Shinobu Sengoku
Summary: Living Weapon AU. The first weapon she crafts with her own two hands is a shy one, isn't he?
“He’s not a very large blade, Anzu. No, perhaps...what is he?”
“Perhaps? Anzu, a craftsman cannot be unsure about the product they produce. Your weapon is to be used by hunters, and these weapons are a rarity that we must put our heart and soul into!”
“If you are unsure, then the weapon is unsure. Has this weapon even formed properly? Where is its energy?”
“Uhm...it’s in there.” Anzu bows her head. “I have followed all the steps that you have shown me, but perhaps I am still lacking in the ability to make a proper blade. I shall take it back to the workshop and try again.”
“Do not waste, materials, Anzu. You have talent, we do not want to see it go to waste.”
With these parting words, her father leaves to head back into his workshop. Anzu stares at the ivory sheath of the tanto she had spent hours forging, the gold inlaid flowers and twisting vines staring back up at her. She had spent hours upon hours braiding the golden cord that decorated the tanto’s hilt, and the blade had been forged by her own blood, sweat, and tears. Countless times she had been offered help, and countless more times she refused.
Subaru had watched, had dropped off food and maybe said something now and then, but even he was not allowed to interfere with her work.
Anzu picks the tanto up with shaky hands, getting up from the floor and making her way back to her room. She could use the family workshop, pore over everything she could have possibly done wrong, but she--
“Ah, it’s the young heir. Talent, he says, but we all know the true talent will only shine in the next generation.”
“Why does her father even bother trying to teach her? It took far too long for her powers as a craftsman to come in, and the first blade she forges is a dud. I feel sorry for the hunter that had to collect that Malice for her.”
“The hunter? Think about the young Hasumi--he was the one to purify it! Requested by the girl’s father himself! Does she think, because of her family’s reputation, she can get away with such selfishness?”
But she didn’t ask for any of it. Her father had chosen everything on his own--Anzu would have been just fine using Malice purified by anyone else.
“She should just wait until her younger brother’s powers mature. He will be a much better craftsman than her.”
“It is always something that the men of the family were more talented at.”
She’s shaking by the time she makes it back to her room, the tanto trembling violently in her hand. She hadn’t asked for any of it. She hadn’t asked for the special treatment, the excitement in her father as her powers first came to be, or how Subaru latched on to her almost immediately. She hadn’t asked for any special treatment because it means that she will continue a long line of proud craftsmen and represented a beacon of hope in the face of her father’s waning strength.
She brings her hand back, the tanto still gripped tightly, and tears starting to sting at the corners of her eyes.
Her father had always looked upon her with pride and love, her mother even more so, and her younger brother had looked up to her.
One day, I want to be like you, sister!
You are such a brilliant girl, you will make such beautiful weapons!
Be proud, Anzu.
Be proud, she thinks bitterly. Of what? Her father’s words she has always taken to heart, but behind them come the barbed words of other. At first, it had been enough to shake off but slowly--
Anzu can’t bring herself to throw the tanto. She can’t, no matter the anguish she suffers it had been something she had made with her own two hands. Instead, she cradles it close to her chest, and she sobs. Heaving breaths and choked noises, her knees buckling under her and hitting the floor.
It is something she had made, with her own two hands, and despite everything her father had told her she had seen--briefly--that glimmer of pride. How pathetic she is to cling onto something like that.
The voice is unfamiliar it startles her. Subaru has never been so formal with her, and it’s too high pitched. She turns, yelping as she comes face to face with a young boy with a gold eye, the other covered by the sweep of his black hair decorated by strands colored the same shade of gold as the braid on the tanto’s hilt. The same braid that rests elegantly along this boy’s neck, accenting the ivory clothes embroidered with winding vines similar to that of the sheath of her tanto.
“Are you okay!? I’m sorry h-have I startled you!” the boy is panicking, hands coming up to touch her shoulder.
She looks at the tanto in her hand, then back at the boy.
“--the tanto--but I thought--”
“A-ah, no, you did wonderfully, Anzu-dono!” the boy says, a flush on his cheeks. “B-but, your esteemed father, he is quite scary! I was too scared to come out…”
She stares at this boy, his powers forged into a blade by her own two hands, with his hands in his lap and his eyes looking at the floor. This small boy, who represents a power that can slay the most terrifying of beasts, had been too scared to come out and see her father.
Anzu can’t help it. She laughs and laughs and laughs, cheeks turning rosy from how much she’s laughing and the tears spilling from her eyes for entirely different reasons than before. The boy starts panicking again, hands unsure of where to rest.
“You’re--my father--” she gasps, bringing the boy into a hug. “You were afraid of my father!”
“W-well, he is quite scary! With how he scowls and how his eyes look, and he doesn’t say nice things to you at all! I...I am very grateful for the life you have given me, Anzu-dono!”
His voice is so earnest, his fingers gripping the back of his shirt so tightly.
“I-if not for your efforts then...I would have still been a Malice with no purpose…”
Anzu leans back, “That...would be Keito’s doing. If you have anyone to thank it would be him.”
The tanto shakes his head, “No, Anzu-dono, it is you who made me, so it is you I must thank! A-and, it’s such a wonderful blade, too! The edge is sharp, and the size is perfect for you to use!”
Breaking the news to the boy had been hard, the look he had given her sheer devastation. But, she had said, don’t worry, for you’ll find someone you like! Though he hadn’t look convinced--
“Ah, right,” it’s Subaru who brings this up, a slice of watermelon halfway to his mouth. He had returned shortly after the tanto’s panic, a plate of watermelon fresh from the kitchen in his hand. His expression upon seeing the boy had been delighted, and he had told Anzu he always knew he had it in her. “Name,” Subaru says. “Did you name him, Anzu-chan? A weapon always has a name!”
“Uhm...hmmm...do you have any memories of before?” she asks.
The boy blinks, “Vaguely...Anzu-dono, are you letting me name myself?”
She smiles, “Of course.”
“T-then...Shinobu, please! I used to be called that a lot, and it’s kind of cool, right!”
Subaru laughs, “It sounds kind of like a ninja! Well, you are a tanto.”
“Shinobu, welcome to the family,” Anzu says. She smiles, and Shinobu returns it. Until they find someone Shinobu can call a master, and who Anzu can hand him to in good faith, she will look over him for now.
(Afterwards, a few months into his stay, Shinobu finally mustered up the courage to present himself to Anzu’s father. He had not expected the surprise on his face, or the hug the man had swept him up in)