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in exchange for the sacrifice of your body

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I.

The first time, you struggle: the first time, you plead. Without a blade in your hand, there is little you can do against his greater strength, especially in the heart of his lord’s castle where there is no one who can, or will, help you. He half-drags you into his bedroom and pins you to his bed, coldly undresses you and ignores both your struggling and your pleas.

(You don’t beg for mercy that you will be denied: you don’t beg for your life, because you have no illusions about coming out of this alive and will not renounce your faith. You plead with him to stop, to let you go-)

“It would be very easy for me to kill your entire family,” Yatsuka-sama says, lips pressed against your ear, and with the threat you immediately stop struggling, go silent and still beneath him, even as your heart beats fast as a bird’s wings in your chest. “Your mother’s Christian name is Martha, correct? And I remember your sister is Regina.”

He could kill your family - your father, your mother, your sisters - as easily as he claims: he knows who you are, and he knows who they are, knows enough about them to impossibly know the names they keep secret. He could kill your family, and you stop fighting him immediately, acquiesce without another word, let him do as he will, your eyes and mouth firmly closed.

(Mercy is impossible, and you want your family to live. Your neighbors to live. You won’t beg for your life, but you will do anything for them-)

His sword-calloused hands and mouth are cold and rough on your body, touches you like he’s looking for something that he can’t find, his grip bruising-tight. You try not to shiver away from his gaze or his touch, try to just lie there and let him have you: your virginity for your family’s lives is not such a heavy price to pay, isn’t it, isn’t it, even if you can only buy them a little more time, even if you never truly had a choice. You try not to think about him being the first to touch you, the first to see you like this, pinned beneath his body.

His weight shifts over you as he reaches for something: liquid against glass, then a rustle of cloth and the sound of flesh stroking flesh. A moment later, he forces your legs apart with his knees and settles between them, presses against you, holds down your wrists with all his strength.

(he doesn’t need to hold you down, you half-think, thoughts already starting to spin in circles, there’s nowhere for you to go, you’re not going to try to get away from him, and then his mouth is on yours and-)

It hurts when he thrusts into you: rough, relentless, and entirely uncaring of your tension, the last of your resistance. You press your lips together tightly, trying not to cry out, however muffled, and don’t entirely succeed. You can’t hold onto anything, dizzy with pain: not your thoughts, not even fragments of prayers, nothing, as he buries himself all the way inside you and doesn’t stop.

It’s too much: your body yields to his, too much, too far, not enough oil, stretched unbearably open until the pain is overwhelming. Without thinking, you try to twist away from him though there’s nowhere you can go, pinned beneath his body, and he holds you still easily, just shoves your legs even further apart, as wide as they will go, and sets an even more brutal pace.

You won’t scream: you won’t cry, and all you can do is endure in silence as he takes you, again and again and again, hands curling helplessly. Agony takes your breath and you are silent, silent, silent, you still can’t hold onto anything: your lips move unconsciously, the opening line to the first verse of a prayer, and he adjusts his angle just enough for this to hurt even more, just enough for the words to shatter on your lips.

Too hard, too thick, stretching you open much too far. Again and again and again, until everything has narrowed to the heat and weight of his body over you, the raw aching burn, the sound of cloth against skin and the rhythm of his body against, into, yours. Again and again and again until he groans, low, grip bruisingly tight for a moment before it slackens as he briefly rolls off you.

He isn’t finished with you yet, doesn’t let you up: this time, he turns you over and pins you down, has you that way. Still rough, still painful, but it’s easier this time: you’re too exhausted and in pain to be tense, so you don’t resist him at all.

You’re silent as he takes you again, murmurs a name against your skin. It’s not your name, and at first you can’t focus enough to make out what it is, not with how he rocks into you, has his pleasure with your unresisting body. Your fingers curl into the sheets and you’re still very, very aware of what is happening to you, what he’s doing to you, each and every thrust. You can bear this, you can bear this, you can bear this, God in heaven help you, please-

And then his hand tangles in your hair, almost gently, the gentlest thing that he’s done to you, and it hurts more than anything else he’s done to you tonight, more than even his brutality. You can’t, won’t make a sound, half-choked sob caught, unexpressed,in your throat, just as he tugs the fabric cord from your hair and runs his fingers through the now-loosed strands.

He murmurs that name against your shoulder, as he stills over you again. This time, he’s finished, and it aches as he rolls off you: everything hurts, and you just lie there. He doesn’t say anything to you, there’s just another rustle of cloth before he falls asleep. There’s nowhere you can go, and you curl in on yourself, trying not to cry.

You’d expected him to kill you, when you refused to renounce: you’d expected a lingering, painful death, but not this. Perhaps he’ll kill you in the morning, now that he’s had his pleasure of you: it’s not a comforting thought, but there is nothing you can find comforting in this, and you have no illusions about your survival. You don’t have any prayer beads, or anything to keep track, but you try to pray anyway, lips forming the words silently as not to wake him.

“Our Father, who art in heaven...” You know the words, of course you do, but even they come scrambled to your trembling tongue, you’re trying not to cry but tears are clinging to your lashes and you can’t breathe, can’t even hold onto the fragments properly, until you’re left repeating a single line through silent sobs. “Forgive us our trespasses...as we forgive those who trespass against us...”

When he kills you, you’ll forgive him: you’ll forgive him everything.

II.

Yatsuka-sama doesn’t kill you in the morning. Instead, he doesn’t allow you out of his bedroom, except under guard, and then only to bathe: his instructions were clear and his guards watchful. You wash his seed and a little blood off your thighs before soaking soreness away, and try to get your thoughts in order: you cannot keep crying, no matter what he does to you. You are here, still alive, for a reason: God’s purpose is not always clear, at first, but you know He is asking something of you, even if you haven’t figured out what it is, yet.

You are alone with your thoughts: no one talks to you, not even the servants who bring food you only pick at, at times you assume are correct, because time is hard to keep track of (you’re not hungry, but even that pricks with guilt: this is more food than you or anyone else had ever gotten at home, with how crushing the taxes are) and take away what’s left. There is nothing for you to do but pray and wait, watching how the shadows slant across the wall and the sound of the sea always in your ears: (it always was, growing up on an island, growing up by the sea, but there were other sounds there besides the sea and silence). You are not used to having such idle hands nor your world so utterly narrow: there was always something to do, something to help with at home or you were traveling to Nagasaki to study.

But here, there is nowhere to go and nothing for you to do but wait until the screen slides open: Yatsuka-sama doesn’t say anything to you, just grabs you by the arm and drags you to his bed, throws you down. This time, he doesn’t bother to undress you, just undoes your obi and pushes aside the layers of your clothing, his weight heavy on your back. It’s not any easier the second time, again with too little oil and too much roughness, and the name you still can’t make out mouthed against your shoulder, your neck.

(You don’t cry, after, when he’s fallen asleep besides you: you still can’t form the words properly when you try to pray, afterwards, but you don’t cry.)

For the next several days, it’s a pattern: you wake up, alone, out of shallow fearful sleep, bathe under guard, spend your days in silence and prayer and alone with your thoughts, barely eat. Yatsuka-sama comes back, uses you roughly, falls asleep beside you afterwards. It gets easier when he has you, or maybe you’re just used to the pain. Finally, you can focus long enough to figure out the name he grunts into your ear, mutters against your skin: it’s a girl’s name, Natsuki.

(who is this Natsuki? Was she someone he knew? Was she someone he loves?)

For a moment, afterward, as you sit up, and pull your hair back, Yatsuka-sama stares at you with a lost, uncertain expression on his face, and you realize: he doesn’t see you, but sees someone else, whose face is the one he most wants to see. (that girl, whose name he calls? Natsuki?). It’s only for a moment, as the uncertainty breaks, shatters into cold harshness before his grip on your upper arm turns tight enough to bruise, hard enough to make you gasp. But it’s the moment you need.

That same night, you finally realize what God has asked of you, why you are here, alive, instead of dead: He wants you to try to understand this man, to try to help him: you have always been a good Christian boy, quiet in your faith and devotion, you have always tried to do what God has asked of you, but this is the most difficult thing that He has ever asked of you.

Yatsuka-sama has hunted down and murdered so many of your fellow Christians, he holds you captive, threatened your family, and rapes you every night. This is the most difficult thing God has ever asked of you, but you think you understand why He asks this of you. Maybe if you can reach him, maybe if you can help him, then you can gain an ally for the local Christians, for your family and friends and kin, who so desperately need allies.

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

You can do this, no matter how much it hurts.

III:

It is up to you to reach out: if you waited for Yatsuka-sama to say more than two words to you, then you would be waiting years, you suspect, and you don’t have years to spare. The next time he has you, you talk to him afterwards, even as you’re trying not to tremble or gasp in pain, trying to draw the threads out of him.

(“Who is this Natsuki? Is she someone you like?”)

And so you regard him thoughtfully, ask careful questions and listen to what he has to say, fold your hands demurely in your lap so he doesn’t see your hands tremble. Patience and endurance, because getting through to him - if you can - will take time, and effort, like coaxing a dove to your hand. He doesn’t respond to you at first, silent and angry, but you keep trying, again and again, and eventually he cracks beneath your kindness, talks to you each night before and after he rapes you.

You make a nightly ritual of it, shape yourself into a companion for him (no matter how much it hurts), turn your gentleness and open heart into a shield for those you love. Serve him tea and listen to his troubles, though at first he didn't take the tea but instead knocked the bowl out of your hands and forced you on your knees, would rather take your mouth than have your tea or talk to you, but you were persistent, picking up the bowl and remaking it, night after night, until at last he took the bowl from your hands.

(Like coaxing a dove to your hand, except that this bird bites you every time. A falcon, rather, like his nickname and the bird he hunts with.)

And you begin to understand: you'd heard, dimly, of his foundling, mysterious reputation when you were growing up, overshadowed by his cruelty, but as he talks, night after night, you begin to put the pieces together, from what he says and doesn't say. A boy, taken in by your daimyo, far from home, who wanted to survive at any cost, who could either die or become what he did, hard and cruel and who will never see his home or his loved ones again.

(You almost have that in common, because you know that you will never leave here: you will never see your family or home again. You long for your parents, your sisters, your friends, your neighbors, a longing that settles in your chest and sinks into your bones and never goes away. But you cannot, will not, ever forget that he is the reason you will never see your loved ones again, done to you on purpose what chance did to him).

But there is something there for you to reach for: something there for you to try to bring out, to turn to another path. Even as your hands tremble, even as you grow paler and sleep only fitfully, and still can't do more than pick at your food, even as everything hurts, you still try. Still reach out, still try to understand him, still try to soothe his temper and cruelty directed at others.

(At first, he doesn't see you, but the girl you look like, the girl he left behind. You realize that fairly quickly. But you don't see at first, don't realize, when he starts seeing you, instead.)

There are little kindnesses, occasionally. First, Yatsuka-sama brings you a book, from his lord's library. Soon after the first long, slow days of captivity with nothing to do but pray and wait, he'd occasionally left books he'd been reading behind in his bedroom, on the rare occasions he'd felt like reading at night, and you read them during the day, careful not to move them from their place and even more careful not to let him catch you. This book he hands to you and orders you to be careful with it, as if you would be anything other than careful: you lower your eyes and thank him, grateful for even this small thing.

You've been hungry for books and knowledge since your early childhood, as devoted to your studies as you are to God: learned the classics as a child, first traveled to Nagasaki to study when you were twelve and begun learning Western medicine, and demurely talked your way out of service with your daimyo until your education was complete. You can't study like that, here, but you cling to what you can and try not to think too hard about what you cannot have.

He brings you more books, when you finish the first one, and then allows you to go pick out whatever book you want and the freedom of movement to match. You'd missed being able to read openly, and this helps make everything hurt a little less, at least for a little while. Sometimes, you read him poetry in the evenings, either kneeling at his feet or sitting in his lap: you keep your mind on the words and the rhythm and not his fingers in your hair, undoing the cord that keeps it tied back before running through the long strands, or his hands on your body, caressing possessively, keep your mind on the words to keep yourself still and not try to shudder futilely away from his touch.

(For all that you almost never speak of yourself, he knows more about you than you expect.)

He is no kinder in bed than he was: that doesn’t change, but you didn’t expect it to. Better that he take it out on you than on someone else, after all. You’re used to it, now, used to the pain and the bruises and the bite marks, and only want to cry occasionally, instead of every night. Patience and endurance, because you are still alive, after all. Your body, your sympathy, your forgiveness: you offer it all, because it is all you have to give to try to make a difference.

IV.

You don't quite understand, at first, that your body is the only coin you have: how can it be coin, a tool of leverage, when Yatsuka-sama takes you as he pleases and will force you if you don't yield? You don't understand until the first time you beg him on your knees, in private, to save some captured Christians, and his gaze lingers hungrily on you.

"Come here, Shirou," he says, and you obey, close the distance between you with careful steps: he reaches out and grabs you, pulls you into his lap, hands already beginning to untie your obi before pushing your clothes open. After a moment, he presses a vial of oil into your hand, which you stare at for a moment. "I want you to get yourself ready for me," he says, his mouth quirking upward into a cruel smile. "If you're going to convince me to let them go, you have to put some extra effort into things."

...oh. You realize, then, what he really wants of you, and close your eyes for a moment. It takes a couple of tries for you to get the vial open: you'd managed to keep your hands from trembling earlier, but your fingers are shaking and won't cooperate at first, even though you know the stakes at hand. Once you get it open, you nearly drop it before you manage to pour oil across your fingers.

You don't know what you're doing: you'd been a virgin before and never really considered sex, nothing beyond vague, inchoate adolescent longing, and you've been nothing but a passive vessel for Yatsuka-sama's lust since. You don't know what to do, and you try not to wince at the unfamiliar feeling of your own fingers inside you, awkwardly try to work yourself open while he watches.

Finally, he catches your wrist. "That's enough," he says, roughly, his voice uneven around the edges, and you pull your fingers out, just before he takes the vial from you, pours oil into your palm, and guides your hand to him. You'd already felt how aroused he was before, pressing against your thigh, but it's different with your hand on him, more immediate.

You don't know what you're doing here, either, clumsily stroking with sword-callused fingers as you try to slick him with oil. He catches your wrist at last with a low, ragged groan- "enough,"- and moves you where he wants you, just before he rubs against you, slow enough to make you shudder and your skin crawl. But he's not taking you, at least not yet, and you're confused.

He presses his lips against your ear. "May I?" he asks, and your breath catches in your throat. This isn't like before, like every other time: he's demanding you play at being a lover. That you give this to him instead of him just taking it from you. And if you don't, if you can't convince him, he won't save those people. (It doesn't matter the cost. It doesn't matter how much it hurts you.) "May I?"

"Please," you say, voice shaking with desperation, "Go on."

His hands on you are almost careful, a contrast to his roughness as he pushes into you, but despite more oil and actual preparation, it hurts as he fills you, and you're very, very aware of what he's doing to you, more than you've been for quite some time, more aware than you've been since the first time. He stills all the way inside you with one of his hands on your hips, digging in and leaving bruises, and the other in your hair, running his fingers through the long strands, before he presses his lips against your ear again. "Move with me, Shirou."

You're conscious of what is at stake and so you do what he says, because there is no other choice: you have to save these people. You move the best as you can, though you don't know what you're doing and can't match his rhythm until he helps you with the hand on your hip, you're dizzy and much too fully present in your body, and you want to cry all over again. Normally, you're silent as he has you, but this time you can't be silent, not if you're playing the part of a lover, so you let him hear your little pained gasps, and Yatsuka-sama mutters, in your ear,

"Now, don't be shy, Shirou."

His grip tightens on your hip and he holds you still as he comes, groaning low in your ear, but doesn't let you up until he goes soft, his hands trailing all over your body. Careful and gentle. He doesn't tell you his decision until later: just gets dressed and leaves you alone. After he’s gone, you cry silently, hoping against hope that you've satisfied him, that you convinced him, that at least then this will have been worth it. Try to pray through your tears, but stumble over the lines, again and again and again.

He tells you later that night, after he's had you as normal (almost comforting, the normalcy of it, even as your heart twists thinking that way about how he rapes you), that he took mercy on them. If your body is your only coin you can offer in trying to get him to have mercy, then you will offer it without holding back: he can, and has, force you any time he'd like, but only you can play the part of a lover, however unwilling you actually are. You will never love him, nor will you ever actually be his lover, but you can play the part. (But why does he want that, and why now?)

You don't think he'll be satisfied with your fumbling for more than once more: you have to learn, somehow. You turn, first, to the books in his lord's library to help you learn. Yatsuka-sama catches you as he returns one night, reading a text on how to please men: it is not a book that you would ever have read in your life before this one, but you cannot simply be a passive vessel for his lust, not if you want to be able to sway him. You must learn to please him, even if it hurts you (it doesn’t matter how much it hurts you).

“I thought that you didn’t find sex pleasurable,” he says, flatly standing over you: it’s not a question, because you both know the answer. It’s in every night you spend lying under him as he roughly takes you, gasping for breath through the pain, it's in how you played the part of a lover, given much of the same consideration, and it still hurt. There is nothing pleasurable in it or in his touch, but at least he's started using more oil.

(It’s not a kindness. You are grateful, anyway.)

You demurely lower your eyes. “I am a wakashu, my lord.” you remind him, gently, your fingers tightening on the book’s spine. You’re very conscious of exactly how close he is, of where his hands are: he isn’t touching you at the moment, but it would be very easy for him to reach out and seize you. “I am not meant to desire.”

What you say would have been true if things between you had been other than what they are, if he had been your lover and not your rapist. Wakashu were not meant to go to their lover’s bed out of desire, but submit to him out of love and affection: he is not your lover, and while you do not hate him, while you forgive him over and over again each night, you will never love him. You speak soft words in the space allotted to you but do not speak the truth you both know: you submit because you have no choices, here.

The expression that briefly crosses his face is confused, before it smooths out, and you wonder, all over again, where he came from that he doesn’t quite understand. “Then why are you reading that?”

“For your pleasure.” you keep your eyes lowered, and open the book to a random page, turning it to him after a moment. “There are diagrams.”

You don't know what page you opened it to, but he goes bright red and takes the book from you, closing it.

"You don't need to read that," he says, and carefully sets it aside. "If you want to learn how to please me, come here."

He is not a gentle teacher, and you do not expect him to be. He has you on your knees, his fingers tangled in your hair, and roughly takes your mouth: it's far from the first time he's done so, but it's the first time you've had to be an active participant, to think about how to please instead of just allow yourself to be used. Tells you to mind your teeth and how to suck and how to use your tongue, yanks your hair to make you take him all. You swallow his seed when he comes and lick him clean afterward, lower your eyes when he runs his fingers through your hair.

You've always been a quick study, and you pay attention to his reactions, careful to note what he enjoys and what he doesn't, the same way you figured out how to get him to speak with you, how to draw him out of his silent, angry shell. Learn how to anticipate his physical needs, as well as you learned his emotional ones, learn just how prettily to beg him for clemency for others (but never, ever, think to ask for yourself) and how gracefully to yield. Start tying your obi in front, like a courtesan, in order to make it easier for him when he's impatient, be complicit in what he does to you. Make his tea, listen to his troubles, smile gently and always speak kindly even when he digs bruises in your hips or doesn't use oil, is more vicious than usual. Play the part he and God demand of you and save lives, even as you keep trying to turn him through kindness and compassion: this is why you are here. This is why you are alive, and not dead.

(You will never love him. You will always forgive him. No matter how much it hurts.)

V.

His fellow retainers never questioned your presence in his bed, before: it was only natural he should take a wakashu lover, especially one as beautiful as you. Your consent did not particularly matter to them either: you were a Christian, who did not renounce his faith, and as such barely a person, without the legal recourse that wakashu of your class normally possessed against rape or attempted rape. You were lucky enough to be beautiful, and if Yatsuka-sama wanted to take you as his concubine instead of killing you, he had a right to your body.

(Yatsuka-sama keeps you even closer when one of his fellow retainers comes for a visit. You sit at evening meal with them once - silent and demure, only speaking when you are spoken to, barely picking at your food, serving them both tea and sake- and are conscious of the man's eyes on you and the weight of his lust, making a tense situation only more tense. Compliments about your beauty: at first bad attempts at poetry, and then more ribald as time passes. You sit as close to Yatsuka-sama's side as decorum allows, even as your skin crawls. You don't want either of them to touch you, but you've spent this long enduring Yatsuka-sama's touch: better the awful that you know, rather than what you do not.

Deep in his cups, the other man suggests that Yatsuka-sama share you with him. Before he can lose his temper, you whisper in his ear and touch his sleeve, trying to calm him down. Yatsuka-sama calms down after a moment, but sends you back to his bedroom and doesn't allow you out even for books except under guard for the rest of the visit.)

It becomes a problem for him when rumors of his repeated clemency towards the Christians he's captured and your undue influence over him reaches his lord, spread by jealous men who want Yatsuka-sama's position: you were careful to be discreet, to beg him quietly and in private, but there's a pattern to be found, and the easiest person to blame is you.

(After he is called to account by his lord, Yatsuka-sama hurts you the moment he returns. Drags you into his bed by your hair and tears your clothes off.

He's never gentle. He's worse than he ever was, even the first time when you were still and silent beneath him. Even though you don't fight him. Even though you yield immediately. And-

Your throat is hoarse, the next day, too hoarse to speak. You can barely walk, and you have bruises and bite marks everywhere. You wash his seed and a little blood off your thighs the next morning before you soak in the bath and cry silently into the bathwater, unable to even pray properly because you're trembling so much and can't form the words with your lips. )

And again the next night.

And the next.

And the next. He's even colder and angrier than before: won't accept your tea, takes his anger and pain and uncertainty out on you. He's terrified, caught between his obligations to his lord and something else, and you don't know what to do to reach him: anything you try, each and every overture, only seems to make it worse.

(You still don't see it, because you can't see it, because it hurts too much to see it. You've spent so much time anticipating his needs but you don't see what he needs from you, that he wants from you. Because you can never give it, because he's hurt you too deeply and in too many ways and he knows it, though you've given him everything else you could possibly give. Your body and your sympathy and your gentleness and your forgiveness, and your forgiveness, and-)

And the next.

(You clutched the empty oil vial in your hand hard enough to break: your hand bled, but when you touched the cut trying to get the glass out of your hand, the wound closed like it was never there).

And-

You finally reach him, even for only a moment, at your most vulnerable. You are only fifteen years old, trapped in an impossible, inescapable situation: you've held out for as long as you could, everything drawn much too thin and much too tight, but you have nothing left, entirely overwhelmed and too heartsick. You manage not to cry while he's still in bed with you, but you can't stop crying after he's gone, silent sobs. You bathe and dress, but that's the limit of what you can force yourself to do: you can't eat at all, can't even bear to read, murmur rote prayers that bring you no comfort. Just lie there in the dark, with the lantern unlit, and cry, with the sound of the sea and silence so loud in your ears.

The sound of the screen opening is almost impossibly loud in the silence, but Yatsuka-sama stops in the doorway. "...Shirou?" he asks, harshly at first - and then, surprisingly, softer. "...Shirou, are you ill?"

"No, Yatsuka-sama," you manage to say, very quietly, and force yourself to move your hands, to rub your eyes. "I'm just very tired."

It's not a lie, because you are very tired. You know you're not ill: you've had training as a physician, after all, even though you'll never finish your education. You need to rest, but you can't rest: not here, not now, and not with him. But you don't expect that he'll ask much of you, in the mood he's been in: he's almost impossible to placate, but very simple to satisfy. You just expect him to come to bed, maybe undress before he has you: it'll hurt, but be over quickly.

Instead, he lights the lantern and kneels down beside you as you blink against the light, rubbing your eyes and trying to hide the tear stains, and sets down a bundle wrapped in cloth. The expression on his face is strange, for a moment (almost like regret) before it disappears as fast as it came, and his hand in your hair is strangely gentle.

You don't say anything, at first: this moment is so fragile that it feels like it could break at any moment (But it doesn't matter what you do or don't do, with how uncertain Yatsuka-sama's temper has been), and the idea of speaking is difficult. Equally difficult, however, is how he's looking at you: he's never soft and never kind, but you can't shake the feeling that he's actually seeing you and not someone else.

"Yatsuka-sama," you finally begin to ask, unable to bear this tension anymore, when he puts a finger to your lips and you go silent, immediately, not wanting to risk his anger.

"You don't have to do anything tonight to please me." he says, quietly, and strokes your hair: you're too exhausted to tense or flinch away, and just mutely accept it, even as your skin crawls. "I've been...difficult, and you're tired." his fingers keep running through your hair, a slow, careful cadence, though you expect any moment for him to harshly pull your hair. "I want to try to be kind to you, for once. Will you allow me to try, Shirou?"

The kind thing would have been to leave you alone, tonight: to have let you rest, even if you couldn't actually rest around him. The truly kind thing would have been to let you go, let you go home to your family. But Yatsuka-sama is not a kind man: maybe he was, once, before he went adrift and was washed up on shore, alone, and maybe he could be again, if you can manage to turn him, but he is not kind, and even his attempt at kindness is cruel. You can't say no to him: you have no choices, you've never been able to say no, and if you said no, he'll just be angry again and force you anyway.

(He wants to play the part of a lover. But why?)

"Of course, my lord." you murmur, and lower your eyes, demurely.

He strokes your hair and tries to smile at you, though there's something conflicted in his eyes. "I'll be gentle." he says, and it's not reassuring, almost a threat as a promise.

After another moment, he reaches for your hand and pulls you to your feet and a couple of steps away from the bed, before he reaches around you to untie your obi and push your clothes off. You're confused, at first: he could have just done that while you were still in his bed, until he picks up the bundle and unwraps it.

It's a furisode. Expensive. Your family could have never afforded anything like the quality of the white damask silk cloth with white and pink painted camellias blooming on their branches against the white cloth and painted blue swirls for the sky. The most beautiful garment you’ve ever seen: only wealthy girls and wakashu from either wealthy families or with wealthy lovers could ever wear anything like this. (Where had he even gotten this?)

Mother had been making a furisode for you before, proud of having such a beautiful son, but she'd been remaking one of her girlhood kimono for it. Cautioned you to not wear it here when it was finished: wear it in Nagasaki, but not here. (You're certain now that she'd wanted you to catch the eye of one of your fellow Christians, one of the older samurai in Nagasaki, but not at home, where you could catch the attention of the wrong man. Your heart aches, remembering.)

Yatsuka-sama dresses you like a doll, and you allow him to do as he likes, trying not to shiver as his hands linger on your body as he settles the heavy furisode on you, adjusting how it falls. You just remain still, even as his hands on you for so long, slow and lingering, make you want to cry: not caresses, not quite, but he touches you far more and far longer than necessary in order to dress you. He ties your obi properly, in back, instead of in the front where you've been tying it for ease, but doesn't fold up the extra cloth beneath it: the kimono trails to the floor, and you know without him having to say that he doesn't mean to allow you to walk in this.

It's almost a relief when he steps back, away from you, and you stand still for him to look at: though the weight of his gaze is nearly as heavy as his hands, you are thankful, at least, that he isn't touching you. You aren't sure who he's seeing when he looks at you, whether he sees you or the girl he left behind, and you don't want to know. After a moment, he reaches out and pulls the fabric cord from your hair, lets it down, before his hands settle on your shoulders, drawing you back towards him. It's only a couple of steps, but you nearly trip over the floor-length hem of the kimono, not used to such a long garment.

"Beautiful," he says, his eyes dark, as he draws you back down into bed. His hands are patient, for once - he's never been patient, at all, all this time - as he undresses you, layer by layer, trailing kisses down your exposed skin, inch by inch, touches you far more than necessary and entirely as he likes. You don't shiver away from him, just let him do what he wants, but you also don't respond to him, either: he touches you like he's looking for something he can't find, and you just lie there and let him have you.

Yatsuka-sama casually shoves the furisode to the floor, where it pools into a pile of white, expensive silk that was worth more money than your village would see in months (bitterness, silent and gentle on your tongue), and kneels between your thighs, parting your legs with his knees. He reaches for a vial of oil, the sound of liquid against glass clear in the silence, before he opens it and pours oil over his fingers. You expect him to be perfunctory, to use just enough oil that you won't bleed: instead, he takes his time and works you open slowly. But even slowly it's uncomfortable and hurts, stretched open too far, too much, even with just three fingers in you: you've gotten used to the pain, over these months, but it's never stopped hurting.

He adds more oil and keeps working you open, keeps taking his time: you want this to be over, but he's taking this as slowly as he possibly can, twists his fingers and makes you gasp: with another man, it might have been pleasure, but with him it's only a sharp ache. You close your eyes and wait, until he pulls his fingers out of you and you can hear the sound of flesh against flesh as he strokes himself.

After a moment, he pushes into you: slow and gentle, with a strange consideration that hurts even more after all these months: his mouth is soft, over yours, and he strokes your hair. You'd learned to get used to the pain, but you haven't learned how to get used to agony wrapped in gentleness, not how to get used to each moment he pauses until he's all the way in you. He fills you slowly, little by little, and even slick with oil and with actual preparation it hurts, it aches, pinned like a butterfly beneath his body and spread so prettily open for his pleasure.

You endure his painful gentleness with the same silence you did his roughness, offer up your body to whatever he wishes to do to it. You’re too exhausted to be tense as he takes his pleasure with your body, plays the part of a lover (for what? for what reason?), and he murmurs your name against your skin as he comes, grip on your hip tightening for a moment before it slackens, doesn’t withdraw until he goes soft. Startled, you open your eyes and look up at him: he still holds you, gently (and your skin crawls) but you can see the conflict in his eyes, and at last, you understand.

He doesn’t say anything to you, his expression shuttering as quickly as you’d seen it: just rolls over, throws a possessive arm across your waist, and falls asleep. You stare down at your shaking hands as the lantern flickers and goes out, clasp your trembling fingers together in the dark and pray, silently, too exhausted and past the point of endurance to even cry.

“F-forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us...”

When Yatsuka-sama kills you - because you know he will, you’ve known since the moment he first dragged you in here that he would kill you - you will forgive him everything. You had no illusions about your survival, and even less now: you are both trapped in impossible situations, (though his impossible situation is much of his own making), but where you endure, he lashes out, unable to reconcile or bear his contradictions. He might not kill you tomorrow, or the next day, or even the next: but you know that someday, someday soon, when he has nothing left, he will kill you, and you will forgive him.

You’ve done your best to do what God has asked you: offered your body, your sympathy, your gentleness, your forgiveness, sacrificed everything you had to give. And in the end, you will only have one question for Him:

(Was it enough?)