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Ikémen Sengoku: Romances Across Time One Shots

Chapter Text

It was impossible to deny the passion in the sizzling kisses we shared. I was left breathless at each one, especially with those wandering fingers of his. An apparent expert of undoing women’s clothing as he left me dishevelled within seconds of merely spotting me in the corridors.

 

It still amazed me that Shingen had called a truce with Nobunaga for the sake of being able to keep himself alive and to move forward with me. Kai was a tiny province by many standards, but it was a hard working one that Shingen would do anything for. After travelling back to the present and curing his illness, the wormholes had allowed for us to come back to where we belonged in time.

 

Yukimura would spend most of his time scolding his lord and then resort to telling me off when it had no impact on the way that Shingen behaved. The pair were like brothers, though Shingen was the roguish younger brother by his behaviour as his strong arms wrapped around my waist from behind whilst I was carrying some completed work orders back to my study.

 

His throat was growling softly against my neck as he pulled me back into his chest, making me laugh before I could draw enough breath. “Shingen, Yuki’s scoldings are very boring to listen to because of your behaviour,” I giggled, happily accepting the affection.

 

“Well, we’ll find him a woman, then I can do what I like with you and where I like,” the tone in his voice told me more than his words ever could.

 

“No, I have a backlog of the clothing orders,” I laughed, trying to get out of his steel grasp.

 

Without warning, I squealed as I was lifted deftly over Shingen’s shoulder, dropping all of the wrapped orders with a loud thud attracting the attention from everyone nearby. A few of the maids smiled knowingly and went to gather the orders before distributing them amongst themselves as I was swiftly carried towards our room. It was futile to resist, but tickling the man under his arms was the only way sometimes to remind him that I wasn’t just accepting everything he did.

 

I was laughing as he pinned me to the futon, the desire burning in his eyes. Something had happened, but right now, this was what he needed.

 

My fingers were combing through his sweaty locks as his head was resting against my chest. The only words that had escaped us were those of joy, and now the sounds of a summer’s night were filtering through the screens. Shingen was still restless beneath my embrace.

 

“I’m ready to listen when you’re ready to tell me,” I broke the silence and startled the warlord out of his deep thought.

 

“What?” He asked, sitting up to look at me in the moonlight.

 

“You’ve been acting strange all evening, there’s something that’s been said or done that’s got you thinking,” I explained, searching his eyes for a hint to the answer.

 

“I think you have the ability to read minds,” he charmed, taking my hand and kissing the back of it.

 

“Not anyone’s mind, I just know you,” I corrected, my free hand stroking his cheek.

 

“It’s something I need to take a few days away to do, and I hate the thought of leaving you open for someone else to swoop in and kidnap,” the warlord finally replied, settling back down and wrapping me tightly in an embrace, whilst sounding like a sulky child visualising their favourite toy being played with by someone else. My laughter was not appreciated as he then buried his head into the futon to hide what I suspected was a blush.

 

“Normally you would insist I accompany you on these trips, so it’s something you won’t take me with you, suggesting that either it is a surprise for me, or the trip is a little too dangerous to take me along on. Yukimura will be staying behind then I am assuming, and you will likely just be waiting for Sasuke and Kenshin to appear to also act as guards,” I guessed, unable to suppress my smile as I kissed the top of his head.

 

“Stop reading my mind,” Shingen’s voice was muffled as he continued to pout like a young boy, indignant to my response to the situation.

 

“I’m sorry, you’re adorable,” I giggled, nuzzling his exposed neck. “And do you really think that I’d let anyone kidnap me?” I teased, nipping at his ear.

 

He grumped something about ‘better not let anyone take you’ before we did finally settle down, though not before Yukimura yelled at us that we were making too much noise and keeping everyone up.

 

Several days later and Shingen was delaying letting me go from a tight hug to get on his horse and leave with a few of his spy network. He kept peppering kisses on my cheek and forehead, whispering endless sweet nothings in my ear whilst enjoying the blush that was plaster across my face.

 

“My lord,” Yukimura was getting embarrassed just by watching the scene and practically broke the embrace by forcing Shingen’s hands off me. “You can’t delay it much longer.”

 

“The sooner you leave the sooner you’ll be back,” I laughed, using the favoured vassal as a shield. “I have Kenshin, Yuki and Sasuke here just to protect me, I think it’s a bit of an overkill,” I grinned as the warlord begrudgingly got onto his patient horse.

 

He blew me a kiss before they departed, and then I felt the weight of everything resting on my shoulders. I was hopeful that it was simply meant to be something for me, but I couldn’t let go of the nagging doubt that in reality, it was just too dangerous to take me along.

 

“Shingen always had that look about him whenever you’d leave,” Yuki commented from the sides, frowning. “Stop being a dope, you’ve said yourself there’s a backlog of clothing orders from the seamstresses that you need to do.”

 

“More like every warlord in Japan has put a specific request into me,” I replied, shrugging my shoulders. “I assume our sake stocks were invested in heavily,” I asked Yuki, smiling in Kenshin’s direction.

 

“Of course. There’s likely to be a feast on Shingen’s return anyway, so I’ve sent out for a good supply,” the vassal replied briskly before turning on his heel and going to catch up with his friend.

 

Kenshin eyed me with a sidewards glance, and then took it upon himself to disappear into the grounds. The only thing I could do to speed up the time I would spend waiting would be to work on the clothing orders that had been dropped into my study.

 

I couldn’t even face trying to sleep in our room. The maids had already put a spare futon in my study from the start, so it was easy to just avoid going back there and smelling him. My heart was lurching but I had to keep busy. All of the orders were completed as it was coming up on two weeks since his departure. Sasuke had suggested taking all of them to Azuchi as a distraction, and Yuki practically pushed me onto a horse, whilst Kenshin merely complained that his drinking partner was abandoning him for some miniscule reasoning as the maids finished checking that the orders were secure against our horses.

 

It was a peaceful ride, as Sasuke idly passed the time discussing how easy it had become for us to return to the past and to fit straight in without our modern day amenities to hand. It made all the difference if you had everyone you cared about around you apparently as we approached the gates of Azuchi castle.

 

We were ushered straight into the main chamber, where a very amused looking Nobunaga was sat at the head of the hall as the orders were all given to the appropriated warlords. Then a voice I wasn’t expecting to hear came from a deep discussion outside with Mitsunari. I froze up unexpectedly, halfway to giving Masamune his haori.

 

“Natsuki,” Shingen breathed my name as they entered the room, and virtually all of the present cast had a knowing set of smiles on their faces at the situation. My fears were unfounded about a dangerous journey as I righted myself up and smiled widely.

 

“Sasuke suggested I deliver the orders personally, apparently after two weeks I was getting slightly unbearable,” I explained as everyone seemed to take great interest in our conversation. “I’m glad you are safe at least if nothing else,” I finished and went to leave the room, pausing momentarily to kiss Shingen’s cheek before exiting. Sasuke was stoic as always once we departed, and left me to my own thoughts.

 

It was a few days before Shingen returned, and I had to resist running down to the gates and greeting him as he was expecting. I was a little angry that he had been so close but away, all the same, the seamstresses had passed on some work that had been requested by the locals at my own request. And no one was to tell Shingen where I was, I had even bribed a few of the maids with tea room visits to purposely mislead him. A little cruel maybe.

 

“Goddess, you are a very trying woman,” he was a little out of breath once he had taken searching room by room for me, making me feel a smidge better about the whole scenario.

 

“You are the one who went to Azuchi for nearly three weeks without telling me,” I replied, my tone sharp as I continued working on the kimono.

 

“Well, if I had told you that I was going to be there, then I had the feeling we wouldn’t have actually achieved much,” Shingen was ignoring everything and pulled me tightly into his embrace. His smell was too inviting for me to ignore, especially when he started kissing and biting at my neck.

 

I was pinned under a dead weight when the dawn broke through the open shutters, and there was very little room in my single futon as I was half out of it. Then I heard a snore from the lord of the manor and had to muffle a giggle. Shingen was graceful in virtually everything he did, except sleeping. He would wake up in positions that a contortionist would be proud of, though I would always get the blame for it of course as I scrounged around to find my clothing. I quietly left the study and found that the kitchens had barely even started their work as I started on my duties to check supplies for everyone before sending out the usual orders for restocking.

 

It was a few hours before Shingen brought himself down, and looked surprised to see that I was in the middle of a discussion with some of the cooks and maids about somethings that had caught their eyes at the market. He patiently waited, and then waved me over with an assisted smile.

 

“Someone has taken on the role of chatelaine,” he flirted, and gestured for me to sit with him.

 

“Someone had to,” I snorted. “Apparently the market stalls have had a sudden burst in their produce, some new things have come from the docks and they’ve piqued interest. I was just considering leaving to investigate.” I didn’t even realise when I had been pulled down to sit on Shingen’s lap, never mind when he had wrapped me into a tight embrace.

 

“No, you’re staying here,” he replied brightly. “Yuki can go and do that. Kenshin needs taking on a walk before he starts propositioning me for a fight.”

 

“You make him sound like a badly trained pet,” I exasperated, rolling my eyes though I made no attempt to leave his arms.

 

“You are also learning, my beautiful goddess has yet to make an attempt to break free,” Shingen grinned, leaning in for a kiss.

 

“Can you at least wait until breakfast has been cleared away before you start all this,” Yukimura was our loudest complainer about the public displays of affection, but the quickest to draw his sword on anyone who said a word against us. “And I know Shingen started it,” he tagged on, giving us both a half-hearted glare.

 

The vassal was fairly quick to accept the task that his lord provided, and even agreed to taking Kenshin and Sasuke with him. It would definitely make his day much more difficult, and there was a silent acknowledgement between the two men that this was an ‘I owe you’ agenda. The staff were swift to clear up the dishes and get on with their daily tasks, without a report to me or Shingen about any abnormalities, and when the lord mentioned that he had a plan for the day which would keep him busy in his study until tonight, and no look of apology on his face, I was more than a little suspicious.

 

He told me that I needed to go and check on the gardens, a reminiscent from my kidnapped time here and the failed bet that had us working both so hard. It was a little too peaceful, the flowers were beautiful and in full bloom as I smelt the nearest ones to the pond. I checked that no one was nearby, before sliding off my sandals and rising the hem of my kimono, and dipping my feet into the cooling pond water. The scent of summer was in full burst, and it was going to be another scorcher of a day most likely, which did usually mean hiding away in my study which was kept out of the path of the sun. I bit my lip as I began to think things over, if Shingen was really going to be busy all day then our room would need a good airing with all the shutters being opened. Especially since we never made it there last night.

 

I was disappointed that Shingen had indeed been busy until the welcome feast that was being held for him that evening started. He was gracious in acknowledging everyone, but rushed to join me at the top of the room after momentarily gawking in awe at my new kimono I had made for the occasion. Yuki had been teasing me relentlessly during the afternoon, as we caught up with Sasuke on Kenshin’s latest ideas and also what had happened during their event out to the market. I would need to go and smooth some feathers down with my usual graces over the next few days it transpired, something that didn’t surprise me to any degree.

 

Shingen’s compliments were lost to the kiss he then planted on my lips in greeting, which his vassals responded with a resounding cheer of approval whilst I went bright red in response and lightly scolded him. The sake and food were flowing freely as everyone expressed their relief to see Shingen back where home was.

 

I was almost certain that Shingen was filling up my cup when Kenshin wasn’t. I was starting to feel light headed, and kept leaving my cup on the table to see who would bring it back to me first. Then Shingen just handed me the bottle, and I knew something was going off.

 

I excused myself, feeling the heat of the room and the sake as I went to find our room and enjoy the view from the balcony. Just as I went to open the door, it became apparent that I was not the only mind reader in our relationship. His embrace was home, especially with the way he would always kiss my cheek in greeting, it was these little things that made my heart swell so much I thought it would burst.

 

“You nearly spoilt all my hard work,” he chuckled in my ear, and covered my eyes with his hand as the door was opened, and he gently pushed me forward before closing the door to shut the world out. He refused to let me see anything until I could feel the cooling air on my cheeks, and then we were greeted by the sight of the beautiful moon out, another hawk back to my original days as a kidnapped ‘princess’. “I had to do a lot in Azuchi, and today was the last of the preparation. There’s just one last thing I need to do,” Shingen’s smile was as charming as ever, and made me suspicious, my eyes narrowed at him. “Well, you had to be the former-chatelaine of Azuchi, Nobunaga Oda had to give his permission for this,” he was teasing me now as our hands found each other’s, and entwined naturally.

 

“Shingen,” I replied in a warning tone after he left a heavily pregnant pause between us.

 

“I have everything sorted for us to get married,” he eventually replied, bringing my knuckles to his lips. “Nobunaga and Hideyoshi are the worst at being overprotective of you,” he chuckled as the words sunk and I began to realise what that meant, and leapt at him, throwing my arms around his neck. Tears threatened as I squeezed him hard, happiness robbing me of any ability to speak as Shingen wrapped me in his loving embrace.

Chapter Text

Things had been far too quiet around Azuchi for my liking. I had hardly any requests coming in for my seamstress work, and everything had been kept immaculate whilst all the servants had apparently gotten all their roles and routines suddenly in order. I could smell someone’s influence, though it was hard to pin it down. All of the warlords that I babysat were absent at this moment in time, and even with Kenshin and Shingen eventually coming to a turbulent truce with Nobunaga, it was never this quiet.

Sasuke let himself in through one of the ceiling panels and dropped to his feet gracefully in front of me. A rare smile graced his lips as he bowed respectfully to the ‘Princess’.

“I’ve told you before about that,” I gently reprimanded him, and bowed slightly in greeting on automation. “I’m surprised Kenshin isn’t up there with you. I am sure you keep everyone’s ninjas on their toes.”

“It never occurred to Nobunaga’s ninjas to use the ceilings as a way of getting about unseen in Azuchi, so I’ve been helping them build it,” Sasuke shrugged. “I was wondering if you had seen Shingen or Kenshin, but since you were expecting Kenshin to follow me down, then you obviously haven’t seen Kenshin.”

“I haven’t seen any Warlords so far today, I am highly suspicious of whatever they are planning, but then again it does give me an excuse to go down to my favourite teahouse. Would you like to join me?” I offered.

“I have been meaning to try out the sake there that Kenshin keeps raving about,” Sasuke replied and gestured for me to lead the way.

The owner waved at me as I approached, looking excited to see me for some reason. “Princess! We have some new sweet dough in, you must try it! Lord Nobunaga acquired some thing called ‘cinnamon’ and instructed us to use it for your next visit.”

“I would be delighted to try it, but you must let me pay my bill this time, or you will run yourself out of business. My friend would like a bottle of your house best sake as well as the usual for me please,” I beamed, letting the owner seat me at a shaded table next to the open doors as various faces glanced over to see what the fuss was about.

We were sat in comfortable silence, enjoying the bright spring weather as the sake and three cups were brought before us.

“Three?” Sasuke queried, as I frowned at the gesture, and then a shadow loomed over the table and plonked himself on the seat next to the ninja. Yuki had returned to Azuchi as we had arrived at the teahouse it seemed. “Yuki, glad to see you are safe.”

I poured the sake out for us all whilst the dumplings were made up. “Yeah, Lord Shingen wanted me to check on Kai whilst he’s stuck here,” the vassal sounded far from impressed but was then glaring at me. “And you can stop staring at me, and stop looking at Sasuke like he’s lunch all the time!”

“For heaven’s sake! I do not look at Sasuke like that, that’s my normal expression!” I exclaimed hotly. This was just the way we got on, and apparently, Yukimura had his ideas all tied up on who occupied most of my thoughts.

“You don’t look at any of the warlords like they’re lunch,” he snorted as the dumplings arrived, and then eyed the batch put in front of me with suspicion.

“Nobunaga had a new ingredient bought for me to try out in dumplings, I was beginning to wonder why he was insistent I came here recently,” I explained, though I wasn’t sure why I was trying to justify anything to Yukimura.

The dumplings were delicious, but the cinnamon added that extra twist that I missed from five hundred years in the future. Spices and herbs were a luxury here, where I was used to them being a commodity. Nobunaga had taken the news surprisingly well when I spun the tale about what had happened, and he had been very understanding about why I behaved so strangely at first. He had taken a couple of the maids to secretly instruct me in the manners of a ‘Princess’ when I was required to be on display in front of the daimyos and important strangers. And recently he had been hiding from me mostly.

“Natsuki?” Sasuke questioned, prodding my arm gently.

“Sorry, I got lost in my thoughts there,” I smiled apologetically, and brought the sake to my lips for a taste. “Plus I’m still in awe that Nobunaga got hold of cinnamon, and then used some just for me.”

“What’s cinnamon?” Yuki queried, looking interested in my dumplings before I put one on his plate and one on Sasuke’s before eating another one. “That’s…. really really good,” he muttered, looking a little abashed about the situation for some reason.

“I had some years ago, and I mentioned it in passing, he must have remembered,” I smiled at the dumplings. “Anyway, we have sake, and I have no sewing, so drinking it is,” I cheered, filling the cups back up again.

I wasn’t sure who was the drunkest out of the three of us. We were all starting to waver a little in the street as a slightly irritated Hideyoshi and Mitsunari came out to find me, and then found the two men as an added bonus. The world was spinning a little, and I found myself piggyback style carried back by Hideyoshi as Mitsunari had to deal with a drunk ninja, who kept using smoke and noise bombs because it seemed funny, and the vassal who kept encouraging him.

“You seem all worried,” I mumbled, and poked at Hideyoshi’s head, though I missed and poked his ear.

“You hadn’t been seen all afternoon, and now look at you. How many bottles did you have?” He was short with me because he was worried, that was the way that Hideyoshi worked as I squeezed him in a hug from my ride back to the castle.

“I dunno, I paid up, I didn’t get much change,” I slurred a little. “Nobunaga told me to go to the teahouse, and I had nothing else to do, he got me some cinnamon! It’s so delicious!” I giggled.

“And the sake?” He sighed.

“It’s the best sake, and with their dumplings, it’s the perfect pairing,” I beamed, and nuzzled Hideyoshi’s cheek in affection, unaware of just how red he was getting from it.

“Nah lass, I think I’m looking at the perfect pairing,” Masamune was waiting at the gates for our return as I waved a little over eagerly and toppled over Hideyoshi’s head. He caught me in his arms, a stern look on his face as I couldn’t stop my giggles and smiles up at the vassal. “Nobunaga was beginning to think you’d ran off with Natsuki,” the one-eyed dragon grinned.

“I would never,” Hideyoshi automatically replied, gently putting me down. “She’s the princess.”

“Stop being mean Masamune,” I poked at his chest as both men went to steady me. “I think I had a few too many bottles…” I trailed off as I ended up looking up at the warlords whilst leaning against Hideyoshi.

It was warm and comfortable where I woke up. And not my room as I opened my eyes. Nobunaga was sat out on the veranda and buried deep in thought. There was some water next to the futon, a very unusual move for my boss I figured as I lifted the cup to my lips.

“I heard you enjoyed the dumplings,” he stated, coming back into the tenshu.

“I can’t believe you remembered me talking about cinnamon. Thank you, it must have been a dear purchase,” I replied, and bowed my head.

“I heard you were getting a little close to Hideyoshi,” Oda’s eyes were level with mine, and there was a new fire I hadn’t seen in them before.

“He was just giving me a lift back,” I trailed off. “Wait, are you jealous?” I laughed, realising the problem. “You thought I was flirting with Hideyoshi?”

Nobunaga was going red across the cheeks at my statements after I’d explained to him previously regarding the more modern terms in relationships. And then turned away to hide the obvious as I tried to stifle my giggles.

“I’m sorry, I should have realised you cleared my schedule on purpose yesterday so I’d go to the teahouse to try the dumplings, thank you,” I repeated.

“Apparently you were looking at Sasuke like he was your choice according to Yukimura,” Nobunaga was sounding possessive, and it was the most adorable thing I had yet to encounter in my time in the Sengoku.

“If you ask Yukimura, then any time I look at Sasuke I’m looking at him like he is lunch,” I corrected the Devil King, and moved to sit next to him. “And if you heard about that part of the conversation, then it’s likely you know what the truth is. Plus, I don’t think anyone else would truly accept the truth about me being from five hundred years in the future,” I added on, my hand resting on the floor millimetres from his.

“The only person you’ll be looking at like they are lunch is me,” Nobunaga was gruff in his response before I was swiftly pulled in for a heavy and passionate kiss.

My fingers trailed over my lips after we parted, I was tingling all over, and I could barely think straight. Then I couldn’t stop myself from kissing him. I was in his lap to get closer to him, and he was drinking everything I could give him greedily like I was his favourite sake bottle.

It was comfortable in his arms as we lounged in the rising morning sun, my eyes closed as my head rested against his chest and enjoyed the simplicity of the moment. These times would be few and far between, so it was important to savour them when you did get the chance.

Chapter Text

Nobunaga was forever hosting feasts in his prolonging absence from Azuchi it seemed as the maids came to me to quietly explain that the cooks were struggling to cope with the workload and were asking for additional staff. I agreed and said that anyone who could be approved by one of the warlords was fine to work in the kitchens. A ceiling panel above my head started to move as I showered in the finest rain of dust, and shook my head at Sasuke to let him know that the corridor wasn’t clear yet.

“My lady?” One of the maids saw my head movement and caught me off guard as I jumped. “Is something the matter?”

“I was just thinking that Lord Nobunaga managed to go away for a while and not give us a chance to recover from his usual feasts,” I smiled, “Please don’t worry about me, I’ll be in my room if anyone needs anything.”

Sasuke was already moving the panel as I sighed at him, though I couldn’t shut the door quickly enough, and greeted him with a big hug. He kissed the top of my head and brushed the dust out of my hair from his original attempt to see me.

“I’m guessing Kenshin is in town then? Or nearby at least?” I asked, sitting next to him on the mats.

“He’s sent me to scout out Azuchi again since even he’s querying the number of feasts that Nobunaga has started throwing,” Sasuke replied stoically, holding my hand as he began to ponder upon a thought.

“What is it? Do you think a war is brewing?” I anxiously enquired, trying to look into his eyes for his theory.

“Actually, I think we’re the safest we’ve ever been in this time period, I can’t explain it. I think he’s planning something completely different and will be sending the warlords all to their home fifes,” the ninja replied eventually as I readied the tea for us. Our moments would be carefully crafted to appear as unintentional meetups in Azuchi, and most importantly, none of the warlords or guards had ever gotten a clear enough view of his face. The public kissing was definitely out of Sasuke’s comfort zone, but it did the job.

“Surprise,” Yukimura opened my door, grinning as Kenshin and Shingen loomed behind him, draining all of the colour out of my cheeks. “I told you we recognised her,” he snorted.

I was going with them to Kasugayama castle. A note was left behind before Sasuke whispered his apologies to me, and then bundled me into his arms and ran off with the others as the maids started alerting the empty castle to my ‘kidnapping’. I was clinging to the back of my boyfriend as we galloped off through the countryside and forests, wondering exactly what exactly had occurred in the short space of time. Our first stop was at daybreak, it had been early evening when I had been talking with the maids.

“Can I get some sort of explanation here?” I asked after we had all dismounted. “Mostly because Nobunaga would probably like one when I get back to Azuchi. And I’m not sure he’d accept ‘I don’t know’ as an answer.”

Yukimura looked abashed about the whole situation and refused to look me in the eye, instead bending over to take a drink of water from the stream. Shingen looked between me and Sasuke wistfully, as Kenshin merely ignored my question. I turned to face Sasuke with one of those looks on my face, demanding an explanation as for the second time in our relationship he was blushing.

“Yukimura and Shingen caught us last week on our date at the tea house, and with using the kissing technique, I managed to obscure most of your face from them as Hideyoshi was coming the other way, but apparently they refused to drop it,” he mumbled. “I didn’t realise they had worked it out until Yuki opened the door to your room at Azuchi.”

“So why am I here?” I queried, looking back towards the most guilty party of Shingen.

“Just listening to him referring to it as the ‘kissing technique’ makes my heart bleed for your love,” the Tiger of Kai would have made a fantastic actor, putting an arm around both of us.

“That’s because there is a technique to it in obscuring the facial recognition, and why Sasuke’s glasses are usually not on during them, so he can’t always be fully confirmed by visual identity,” I replied, looking at Shingen with a growing suspicion.

“We need to move,” Kenshin was cold and blunt as always. “The Oda forces will be on us soon enough.”

The men around me moved at the instruction, as Sasuke mounted his horse, and then turned to me with an embarrassed look on his face. “I feel that you may be more comfortable sitting in front of me rather than behind,” he stumbled out as I realised what he was trying to explain.

“Having travelled that way on horse a few times, I will find it more agreeable to sit in front of you,” I smiled, and accepted his outstretched hand.

The pace was nearly as furious as it had been during the night, but it was easier now that I had an idea of how to extract answers and when I would be getting them, and being in Sasuke’s arms was a definite improvement. He persuaded me to sleep if I could since it was a few days ride from Azuchi to Kasugayama.

I was more suspicious that we hadn’t been followed on our way out, and after sleeping properly in a futon overnight, I found it very strange that two enemy warlords and a vassal had managed to kidnap a ‘princess’ from an empty castle. There was definitely something missing from this equation as Sasuke let himself into my room.

“I’m glad you’re up, I’m sorry for the abruptness of the past few days,” he apologised and bowed to me. “Shingen and Yuki are planning something, and I believe they’ve roped Kenshin into it. There’s a feast tonight, I got the impression that we may be getting some answers then,” he gravely finished.

I smiled, and gently cupped his cheek before leaning in to kiss his other one. “There’s nothing for you to apologise for, unless you knew more than you really let on,” I laughed. “I’ll spend the day resting, I presume you’ll come and get me for the feast later then?”

“The maids are getting you a selection of kimonos to choose from, and they’re preparing for you to get a hot bath later,” he smiled in response. “Unfortunately Kenshin has called for me, so I won’t be able to see you until later.”

“Go and do your ninja things,” I teased a soft and brief kiss on the lips as a promise to find out more later.

As promised, I was given both a long and hot bath, and a beautiful selection of kimonos to change into. All of them had princess-like qualities to them, and also had a combination of Shingen and Nobunaga touches to them, it was all a bit too coincidental. Even more so when Sasuke looked like he wasn’t too happy with what he had been instructed to do.

“We both need to be blindfolded outside the room and it’ll all be unveiled when we step through,” he sighed.

“They’re making a spectacle of this all,” I humoured and kissed his cheek before tugging on his hand to show me the way to the hall.

Yuki was impatiently waiting with the blindfolds and kept muttering that we couldn’t take them off until we’d been told so. After Sasuke promised that he had no ninja tricks up his sleeves, the doors were finally opened and a blast of cheers nearly swept us both off our feet. Hideyoshi was patting me on the head with a knowing smile after taking off my blindfold, and Shingen was wearing a similar one to Sasuke.

I was speechless, seeing all the warlords and their vassals squeezed into the hall and cheering us both on before I realised what the banner at the top of the room read. And then Sasuke went very white and pale as he read it, our hands finally intertwining.

“I get the impression they found out,” I laughed.

“Blame the teahouse owner,” Nobunaga smirked patting the cushions they’d saved for us. “Told us exactly what you two were up to anytime anyone asked, you would think he was a proud parent to one of you,” he added with a laugh. “I came here to investigate the chances it was true, and Kenshin reluctantly agreed that he had reports stating that his ninja was getting involved with a girl from Azuchi.”

Sasuke was still struggling to get his head around the banner as Kenshin, Shingen and Yuki kept filling his cup with sake, whilst Mitsuhide was trying to replace Masamune’s water with sake, and then Nobunaga and Kenshin kept refilling mine with every sip I had. Oda had all the questions that unearthed to Sasuke that he knew the truth behind our origins and then asked how on earth he kept getting into my room.

“The roof,” I smiled, having had far too much sake for me. “He’s a ninja, he uses the roof, it makes perfect sense.”

Sasuke kissed me on the cheek, which silenced the entire room, and me, instantly. Before Shingen let out a loud cheer of approval and tried to start encouraging us to express ourselves more freely in public.

“We still need to come to an agreement on how we’ll be splitting them,” Nobunaga stated in a business tone to Kenshin, bringing me back to a state of sobriety.

“Excuse me, splitting us?!” I exclaimed, falling off my cushion to rush into the conversation.

“Yes, you will be spending time here as Sasuke will be in Azuchi. It seems unfair to make him do all the travelling all of the time,” Nobunaga replied, looking at me as though I had grown a second head. “Yukimura made the comment that Sasuke was always doing the travelling for you two, so it seems reasonable that a marriage is built on two people making compromises.”

“Who mentioned marriage anyway? Neither I nor Sasuke had even broached the topic,” I retorted, raising my eyebrows at the two warlords.

“Shingen and Hideyoshi were the main agitators of the conversation, the rest of us merely agreed they had a point that Sasuke would never ask, and you would happily plod along at your current pace without outside interference,” Nobunaga’s smirk was the most infuriating part of that conversation.

“How long has this been planned anyway? You haven’t been at Azuchi for weeks,” I finally came back at the Devil King with an exasperated reply.

“Because I’ve been here sorting out the agreement to sharing Sasuke and you,” he shrugged casually. “The wedding ceremony has already been planned and sorted, the seamstresses at the castle were most helpful,” he added on.

The questions about dress designs and patterns were now making sense. I merely thought they were just conferring with me for clients, turns out it was to get my personal opinion. “Do I at least get to find out when it is?” I asked, my smile tight across my cheeks as Yukimura was prodding Sasuke back into a form of consciousness.

“In a few days, we’ve had all the preparations made,” Kenshin snapped, irritated at the thought of not having Sasuke at his constant beck and call.

“I’m going to rescue Sasuke from the sake,” I motioned, leaving the two of them to their negotiations as I helped Yuki to lift the slight deadweight of my boyfriend from the floor.

Sasuke had been more than a little mortified the following morning when I told him he hadn’t been imagining the evening’s events and unearthing. He had spent most of the preparation time for the wedding trying to uncover details by hiding in the ceiling panels, only to find that Kenshin had already predicted his course of action, and had the others laying traps, decoy conversations and simply blocking his way through the passage system he had built up over the years. Whilst I got to know some of the maids, and introduced myself to the seamstresses, who were giddy as anything, and had me blindfolded so they could make sure the kimono was a perfect fit without revealing anything to me in the process. I should have been more surprised at the level of planning that had occurred, then I started to recall how quiet things had become. They were all likely grateful for the challenge.

Sasuke was sat in the middle of the balcony in my room when I returned, looking despondent that he hadn’t been able to unearth any credible leads to the following day. I could only giggle and kiss him softly in condolences.

“We only have to wait until tomorrow, and then all will be revealed,” I soothed, sitting next to him, and watching the sun begin to set. “Not exactly what I planned, but I know they all care for us both deeply and will have our best interests at heart,” I added, my head resting on his shoulder as the ninja twined his fingers with mine.

The whole day was chaotic, the only person who kept a level head about anything was Kenshin, and I suspect that was largely because he was drunk on sake from the start. Sasuke had managed to get the ceremony out of the way without upsetting anyone, though he was stunned still whenever he looked away from me in the specially made kimono and was regularly being left speechless in the middle of a sentence because he caught a glance of me. Shingen had taken to trying to flirt with me and ended up with Hideyoshi’s sword at his neck. Masamune wasn’t watching his glass carefully enough, and Mitsuhide successfully filled it with sake, whilst Mitsunari and Ieyasu were bickering of sorts (Mitsunari was naturally oblivious to the whole situation he was in), whilst Nobunaga decided that he was in charge of the whole event much to Yukimara’s disgust. It was late at night before I was able to even sit with Sasuke for a drink without someone else intruding.

“I think they’ve all enjoyed themselves,” I giggled as Sasuke nodded in agreement. “I think we should be able to guilt them into a few days peace and quiet for us,” I added, looking at my husband with a hopeful expression.

“I’m sure there’s some excellent hot springs we will be able to slip away to,” he quietly replied, whilst blushing furiously at the implication of some time on our own.

“At least it won’t be surrounded by a load of men this time,” I teased, referring to the heats of passion in a tent in the middle of a conflict where I had managed somehow to sneak across to the opposing camp.

“You what?” Shingen looked startled and then paused as though vaguely recalling something. “I wondered why Sasuke was looking as though he was overexerted,” he trailed off.

I burst into laughter as Sasuke turned the shade of a tomato, and tried to hide himself from the inevitable teasing of the warlords.

Chapter Text

I quickly made my way through the castle, aware of the timings and that I was likely keeping Ieyasu waiting. The maids had mentioned a festival, and then Nobunaga told Ieyasu he was escorting me to it once I expressed an interest. Ieyasu acted like a hedgehog, all prickles and growls as I caught my breath just before the gates. I was surprised that he wasn’t there and then heard his sandals clacking against the ground. A smile broke my lips as I realised that for once I wasn’t the only one who had lost track of a time.

He made a noise in greeting and then made a gesture to follow him closely. In our previous meetings, there had always been someone else there and Ieyasu was incredibly quick to keep pawning me off on anyone else he could. The noises of the festival were a delight, the chatter of sellers as music was free flowing from a platform somewhere near the middle, and the smells were to die for. I felt like a giddy school girl, whilst I was in the presence of the grumpiest individual who never wanted to be there.

“Why are you even trying to keep this close to me?” I asked after I was pulled back into arm’s range for the third time, only to find a different warlord tilting his head at me. “Hideyoshi? What are you doing here?”

“I came to find you. I figured Ieyasu would have tried to lose you by now,” he sighed tiredly.

I popped a warm dumpling into his mouth as he yawned. “He’s just been looking for the chance to dump me with someone I think,” I corrected, not being able to see the blonde Ieyasu in the immediate vicinity. Hideyoshi nodded as he chewed and swallowed. “He’ll probably be trying to sneak out without me at some point-”

“Natsuki!” An angry voice interrupted me, and a disgruntled Ieyasu appeared. “I told you about staying within arm’s reach,” he scolded.

“I have a castle full of warlords who are all apparently quite happy to go to war to get me back, I really don’t think there’s any idiot that’s insane enough to take you guys on and kidnap me again,” I smiled, referring back to Kennyo’s attempt to lure Nobunaga out on the ex-abbot’s terms for a battle. It had been the sly techniques of Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi who had gotten me back unharmed and without an all-out offensive.

Both Ieyasu and Hideyoshi paused at that point, realising that I was most likely in one of the safest places I could be usually.

“Actually, I wouldn’t put it past Masamune to try kidnapping you now and taking you back to his manor,” Hideyoshi eventually replied as some of his female fans spotted him and were heading over to get him to hang out with them.

“Or Mitsuhide,” Ieyasu briskly added, then firmly took hold of my hand. “Don’t get any ideas, I’m just keeping you where I can see and feel you.”

“You’re a hedgehog,” I snorted. “Though I think even they have soft bellies once you get past all the prickles.”

Hideyoshi waved at us as he left with his followers, and then we were interrupted by Masamune who was spending time with his vassals and trying out all the food. Ieyasu was steered towards a stall that specialised in spicy foods as he left me at the mercy of Masamune.

“You two were looking pretty close there,” he smirked, his blue eye glimmering dangerously under the lanterns.

“Yeah, he insisted on holding my hand so we wouldn’t keep getting separated after the first five times it happened and then we ran into Hideyoshi and now you,” I laughed, waving it off. “I shouldn’t be that surprised to find you amongst all the food stalls should I?” I smiled as Ieyasu returned and sat himself directly between me and Masamune. “I’m not sure there’s enough wasabi on any of that,” I lightly teased as Yojiro pointed me in the direction of a sushi stall, and escorted me with the permission of his lord.

I watched them both with avid interest from afar as Yojiro smiled knowingly. “I think they’re all trying to push Ieyasu to admit the truth, Lord Hideyoshi and Lord Masamune were discussing it in depth this morning with Lord Nobunaga.”

“I think warlords are the worst gossipers possible, if there are any feelings on Ieyasu’s part then it’s only in the minds of those three,” I laughed, grateful that it was soon my turn to order the food.

The sake had come from nowhere it seemed, and Mitsuhide along with it. Masamune was judging the man with vivid interest and kept his cup well away from the serpent. I smiled as Ieyasu began a very one-sided argument with Mitsunari who had met up with his lord, Hideyoshi, at some point and rescued him from the fangirl group. The stall holders began to circle us as a group, ensuring that we were all topped up with food and drink as the evening went on. I was starting to feel the effects of too many cups of sake and was considering how to get back to the castle when Mitsuhide suspiciously offered me a hand.

“Was it that obvious?” I sheepishly asked as we stepped away from the festival, my hand hanging onto his arm.

“You do have the delightful trait of wearing your emotions openly, it makes you an easy book to read,” Mitsuhide smiled.

“Your smiles never reach your eyes,” I blurted out without thinking and stunned Mitsuhide out of his next quip. “You smile all the time, but you look so lonely,” once I started apparently I couldn’t quite stop myself as I found that I was being backed up into a wall by the warlord who had taken my words as a slap to the face.

“And if I said I was lonely?” He somberly asked, his arms blocking me from escaping from his searching gaze.

I began to stutter out a response, but couldn’t form a thought to even start a coherent sentence with. His eyes were whirlpools and I was drowning in them as they drew closer.

“If I said I was lonely, would you stay with me?” He whispered into my ear, his breath hot on my skin as I could feel the blush light up my cheeks.

“Hey!” An irritated voice broke the spell Mitsuhide had woven, and a scary looking Ieyasu was now storming over to us, and practically threw the other warlord across the street. He then was glaring menacingly at Mitsuhide as he hoisted me into his arms bridal style and carried me off to the castle. “Honestly, what were you thinking, going off with Mitsuhide in that state?” He muttered to me.

“I thought he was just going to take me back to the castle,” I meekly responded.

“Well, you should know better by now,” Ieyasu sighed. “We’re going to my manor, Nobunaga will be back in a few days and he’s entrusted me to look after you so it’ll be easier there.”

“Yeah, easier to look after me there,” I replied, trying to hold the disappointment back in my voice.

The maids had a room set up for me a few rooms away from Ieyasu’s as soon as we arrived. In the morning, it was a lot easier to look at things with a sober head. Ieyasu definitely had no feelings for me, he just didn’t want to get in trouble with Nobunaga and let Mitsuhide mess with my head. I stretched out before getting changed into some clothes that had been laid out for me. Staying here would only lead to boredom as I opened the door of my room, and Ieyasu was paused about to knock and announce himself.

“I was just about to look for you,” I said, surprised that he was here so early.

“I was beginning to think you’d never get up,” Ieyasu snorted. “How much sake did you have to drink?”

“I thought going with Mitsuhide was a good plan, so I’m going with enough to disrupt my judgement,” I replied in a snarky tone.

“Doesn’t take much to do that,” the warlord replied.

“I did also then make the decision to let you decide to bring me back here instead of Azuchi, so definitely got my impaired judgement,” I added, raising an eyebrow at him. “I was going to ask about going back to Azuchi, I have sewing orders to work on.”

“I’ve been told you’re staying here, there are repairs happening to the castle so the staff took on Nobunaga’s advice, and he told them that you would be under my care anyway,” he rolled his eyes. “One of the seamstresses said she would bring by your things later.”

“Fair enough, I’d be bored otherwise, and annoying you,” I smiled.

“Stop smiling at men,” he gruffly ordered, immediately looking away. “They’ll get the wrong idea.”

“I smile all the time, no one gets the wrong idea,” my confusion was clear in my tone, and even more so in my expression as Ieyasu lifted my chin with a finger. His eyes were of the darkest jade, jewels sparkling with the sunlight as I started to recall the emotions he had shown the previous night in the alley. “...they’re all right about this aren’t they?” I whispered as electricity soared through me.

“You’re more oblivious than Mitsunari,” Ieyasu muttered before his lips crashed against mine with a scorching passion that swept me off my feet. My arms locked around his neck to give me something to hold onto in the storm, my fingers tangled in his hair as his arms kept my body flush against his. Every parting of our lips was to gather enough breath to fuel the next kiss.

He introduced me to a little fawn that he kept outside of his room once we were sat on the veranda and enjoying the afternoon sun. She was adorable, and the jealousy was apparent from miles away once she took immediately to my affections and accepted the food without a second thought from my outstretched hand.

Ieyasu was being sulky and insisted I sit on his lap as the sun sunk into the evening hues of the sky. The back of my head was resting against his shoulder with his arms around my waist as the air was peaceful around us.

“I still think you’re a hedgehog,” I murmured softly. “Once you get past the prickly outside, it’s a soft belly,” I smiled and nuzzled my nose against his cheek.

“If you tell anyone else that then I will leave you in Azuchi,” he grumbled before planting a kiss on my forehead.

Chapter Text

I had refused to stand by and learn no useful skills whilst I was in this time period. War was a constant threat, and swords were common place. I abhorred the violence, but it came to be beneficial to everyone around me as I continued to pester Ieyasu for lessons in medicine. Nobunaga kept referring to me as his lucky charm, and after my first terrifying experience on the back of his horse in battle, if I was going to be coming along to these things, then the very least I could do was something that would keep me off the front line of battle.

 

The casualties wouldn’t stop, but the stifling silence was the most unnerving part of everything. There was nothing to report and no movements, the guards were uneasy which made me suspicious. The stampede shattered the atmosphere, a group of men all dressed in black from head to toe, and started shouting about ‘finding the girl’ as the horrible realisation came to me that I was the target.

 

“Run to the front lines, shout and scream and I will come and get you,” his words echoed in my mind as I legged it out of the tent and bolted over to the edge of the camp. I had to go and find someone if I couldn’t find him. The sounds of battle were enough to make me terrified, but it was definitely the lesser evil in this case as one of the enemy managed to grab me as I was meters from a layer of safety.

 

“Hideyoshi!” I screamed, trying to keep my tears back as I was struggling against the man, trying to break free from his grasp. I had to keep fighting, I couldn’t just accept this, I wouldn’t let this be my destiny. I tried to stomp on his foot but I was lifted clean off the floor before the horse and rider I was with galloped off through forests, ignoring my screams of Hideyoshi’s name.

 

My eyes were raw from all the crying as I keep pulling at the bonds. I was in a tiny wooden cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere. My feet and hands were bound with rope that was cutting into my skin, but I couldn’t just stop fighting.

 

“This is Nobunaga’s concubine?” A deep and vaguely familiar voice broke the continuous spell in my actions. “Interesting, a woman that has broken through the barrier of the Devil King,” his smile was as cold as Oda’s. All of the warlords couldn’t afford to stop and grieve their emotions, it would cost them too much, as a way of coping they simply locked them all away and the man in front of me was the same. The scar across his face brought me back to my first night, I had met this man in the forests after scrambling and trying to escape from Nobunaga. Our eyes met, and then he realised the same thing. “Huh,” he snorted and promptly turned about.

 

“I’m not anyone’s concubine, someone has their information wrong,” I exclaimed. “Please just send me back, I work as a healer that’s all,” I begged.

 

“It’s heartbreaking to separate lovers,” the monk mocked, his face twisting into a cruel form of delight. “I have sent a note to Nobunaga that you are my captive.”

 

“Nobunaga won’t come for me, you have it all wrong,” I pleaded if I had any tears left they would have been falling. “Please, I need to help the soldiers.”

 

“Why did you run from the camp then if we have it wrong?” The scarred man accused, startling me and sending me flat against the wall. “Why else would you even be that close to a battle if you mean nothing to Nobunaga?” He snarled.

 

My breath hitched in my throat, my fear paralysing me as I began to feel as though this could be my end. I had heard talk from the warlords that there was a blade in Kennyo’s staff, and it was now pressing lightly against my neck. I couldn’t remember him even moving to unsheath it. My heart felt as though it would throw itself out of my body if any more excitement happened, and then the sounds of disturbance began.

 

A cruel and satisfied smile broke across the monk’s face. He was getting what he wanted, as the door crashed open, and revealed a furious Hideyoshi.

 

Not exactly who Kennyo had been looking to draw out, but I shook my head at the warlord to tell him I was fine before there was nothing but the clash of blades swiping through the air. One of the vassals broke through part of the wall next to me and grinned at me as he cut my ropes, then flung himself into the path of the monk as Hideyoshi snatched me by the waist, and threw me over his shoulder.

 

I was too startled to ask what on earth was going on when I spied Masamune having the time of his life gatecrashing down on the man who had kidnapped me whilst Ieyasu was parrying off several of the followers at once. Everything had my head swimming, and Hideyoshi immediately whisked me back to the camp, keeping one arm tight around my waist whilst he urged the horse on.

 

“Natsuki,” He finally breathed once we got back to familiar ground, and held my head in his hands whilst checking for himself that I was okay.

 

“It’s just the rope burns, I’m fine,” I replied shakily, my hands resting on his biceps. “He thought I was Nobunaga’s concubine, so he’s had some information from someone but it’s not right,” I murmured, not noticing that the man froze up at my words. I sighed and leant against his chest, exhaustion beating at my body as I closed my eyes.

 

“That’s not the first time someone’s had that information fed to them,” Hideyoshi’s voice was like ice, though his arms were now tight around me, his large hand cradling the back of my head as a weak attempt to stifle a laugh forced me to open my eyes.

 

Mitsuhide was smirking broadly at us as Nobunaga nodded to his vassal in acknowledgement. “I presume the same false fed information as last time?” He nonchalantly asked Hideyoshi as the snake bored his eyes into me.

 

“Indeed, I am wondering where the leak is that needs plugging up,” Hideyoshi replied, his voice stiff.

 

I poked the man gently to get his attention. “Where’s the best place to sleep?” I asked, knowing that my tent would likely be out of the question.

 

Nobunaga had a knowing smile on his face as Hideyoshi was torn into two. He wanted to go back and rip off Kennyo’s head, and he wanted to look after me directly. He froze, unsure of how to answer.

 

“Get a roll set up in the main tent and you can sleep there, we will look after her whilst you finish the plan,” Nobunaga finally replied, as Mitsuhide looked disappointed that Hideyoshi hadn’t been left to suffer.

 

I was asleep as soon as the mat had been rolled out for me, regardless of who was looking over me at that point in time.

 

It was dark when someone was shaking me awake. “Natsuki!” Hideyoshi hissed, “You can’t let your guard down that much on the battlefield,” he scolded.

 

“I did what you told me to, I heard mention of them looking for the ‘girl’, knew it was me and immediately began heading to the front lines,” I replied, confused at the sudden awakening before he sighed and picked me up bridal style.

 

“I meant sleeping that heavily whilst I’m not about,” he bristled. “I know you did as I told you otherwise.” He was warm and smelt faintly of sake and campfire smoke as I nuzzled against his chest, my eyes closing already in the warmth of his body.

 

“Mm, I tried,” I murmured, losing the battle I was fighting against sleep.

 

Hideyoshi was more protective than usual as the camp was packed up. He was loitering whilst I made sure that any wounded were adequately cared for and patched up, whilst the rest of the warlords decided that it was a perfect time to start teasing him. Masamune came over with a faux injury and tried to kidnap me onto his horse to ride back to Azuchi with, whilst Mitsuhide was playing dumb as my supplies kept disappearing the second my back was turned and then making Hideyoshi look away so I wasn’t where I was meant to be. Nobunaga found the whole facade amusing despite the thunderstorm of a look on Hideyoshi’s face.

 

“Hm, I think we need some time alone in your manor,” I mumbled, still feeling drained from my excursion as I snuggled up into Hideyoshi.

 

“I get the feeling that everyone else is planning otherwise,” he replied in a low voice.

 

“Hm, we could just disappear,” I giggled, listening gratefully to the sound of his steady heartbeat. “Gallop off somewhere for a few days and then reappear,” I teased.

 

“Don’t tempt me,” Hideyoshi growled.

 

“Like I shouldn’t tempt you on whisking me off to marry me?” I innocently poised the question, making sure that when he did look down at me, he was faced with the big doe eyes that he could never resist.

 

Nobunaga was laughing as Hideyoshi’s horse broke formation with us tightly on it, and waved at us whilst the rest of the army looked a little stunned at the bold manoeuvre by the usually level-headed man. I was gripping on tightly to both man and saddle as the wind whipped through my hair, and left wondering what had possessed Hideyoshi in such a manner.

 

I was pinned to the floor by Hideyoshi in his manner, his breathing heavy after running through all the corridors with me in his arms. His kisses were passionate and demanding, pouring all of his emotions and needs into it as his fingers removed my clothes expertly.

 

We were cuddling and basking in the afterglow, knowing that we would be disturbed at some point as Hideyoshi made sure that every part of me was covered by something. I felt like purring in contention as exhaustion started to creep in again.

 

“Hideyoshi?” I asked sleepily.

 

“Go to sleep Natsuki,” he gently replied, stroking my head as it was resting against his chest.

 

“I can’t wait to get married,” I mumbled, slipping into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Mitsuhide and Mitsunari were both pouring over books, leaving Masamune and Hideyoshi to babysit them as I arrived with the requested scrolls from the main library. Ieyasu popped up behind me, then sidestepped me to ensure he could get a good tug on Mitsunari’s cowlick. The man didn’t even flinch or appear to notice it, even when I practically poured all the requested information into his lap.

“Good, you can give me a hand in the kitchen lass,” Masamune called out, as I followed the delicious smell.

“I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask,” I faltered, seeing all the various dishes on the go at once, my eyes widening a little at the sight of the one-eyed Dragon chopping through the vegetables without a thought.

“Nonsense, a good luck kiss wouldn’t go amiss,” he winked roguishly and then stole a kiss anyway. “More like I’ll need a hand to feed them both, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu have to go and report back to Nobunaga.”

“Are you sure that Mitsuhide won’t simply fill your cup with sake again?” I asked, stirring one of the bubbling pots as I lifted the lid from another to check the rice had enough water.

“If he does then I’m holding you to the promise you made,” Masamune looked serious and straight at me.

“Anyone would think you had a reputation to protect,” I snorted. “We end up in the same futon all the time anyway, people think it’s strange if I don’t end up at your manor or you end up in my room,” I pointed out as his body encased mine from behind, with the obvious pretence of checking on the food. “And you can just ask for a hug, you know?” I laughed and kissed him on the cheek.

“Time to go and feed the Mitsus,” he grinned, plating the food up as Hideyoshi and Ieyasu left with a brief wave.

It was like feeding a toddler with Mitsunari. He was far too engrossed in his scrolls to even notice that I was instructing his body on what to do, whilst noticing that Mitsuhide was being liberal with the sake and telling Masamune he might want to hold off on a drink for now. The serpent glared at me for taking away his amusement and continued to mash his food up all together into one bowl for ‘easy eating’. I had often joked that taking care of these two was just all practice for the future, but there was now a different take to that joke. It was a strange aura to it, as though Masamune had never truly considered that future. He lived for battle, and I accepted that.

Once we’d finally gotten most of the food down the two men, I cleared the clutter away and snatched the sake out of Masamune’s hand before he could down it. Mitsuhide grumbled about me not playing along and went back to his book.

“Natsuki?” Masamune was sounded a little tense as I put the dishes down in the kitchen. “When you say about those two being training,” he paused, trying to find the right words.

“I don’t mean it in a bad way, it’s just a good trial run to remind me that any kids are going to be pains in their own way as well, like Mitsuhide and replacing your water with sake,” I smiled, trying to figure out the best way to reassure Masamune.

“We should really tell them at some point,” he groaned, wrapping me up in a tight hug, his large palm splayed over my womb and slight bump. “Or they won’t let us live it down.”

“I’m fine with telling them,” I laughed, my hands resting on his arms as I listened to the comforting sound of his heartbeat. “You are absolutely terrified about letting them know.”

“Yeah because they’ll want the baby growing up here in Azuchi where they can all spoil you and it, and that’s my role,” Masamune sulked, refusing to let me get out of the hug.

“If you aren’t careful then my kimonos will just give the news away for us,” I pointed out. “Anyway, we need to arrange to leave for your fife soon,” I reminded him, slipping out of his arms. “Especially if you want the baby to be born there,” I laughed and left to find my room. Being pregnant and trying to hide it was taking all of my energy.

A few days later, there was a large feast and gossip spreading of a massive surprise. Nobunaga wouldn’t let me help with anything, and Masamune was being kept especially busy with the set up for food. I was ordered back to my room after a bath by Oda, with especially strict instructions that I wasn’t allowed out until someone came to get me.

Mitsunari was extraordinarily gentle in his waking. He smiled and apologised profusely for disturbing me, but everything was now ready for me to arrive at the feast. Nobunaga was refusing to say what the surprise was, and apparently was wearing his serious expression, which was beginning to make me think that someone had been found who shouldn’t have been. Masamune was immediately to the ‘rescue’ of me from Mitsunari the second I set foot in the busy hall. The smirk that Nobunaga was wearing was the suspicious part, he was entirely looking too comfortable and cocky about his situation as I was sat with Yojiro and some others who worked under Masamune.

Hideyoshi called for quiet, and the room was feeling tense about the pending news. My hand found Masamune's and entwined our fingers out of nerves. He was looking directly at us, and attracted the attention of the room to us both, especially from the smirk that he was now wearing.

“I believe congratulations are in order,” he said, raising his cup towards me and Masamune.

My ‘boss’ knew exactly what he was doing as the room turned to us in complete confusion. Masamune’s head was now in his free hand, whilst I blushed a shade of red that would have complimented a tomato well.

“We’re expecting our first child,” Masamune finally broke the spell, and the whole room practically burst into rejoicing.

Hideyoshi immediately stepped into the mother hen role, demanding to know when we’d be getting married and when exactly were we planning on telling anyone. Whilst Ieyasu joined Mitsuhide in drinking heavily at the thought of a mini-Date running around. Mitsunari was oblivious to the world, and happily congratulating us along with all of the vassals of Masamune. Whilst Nobunaga was sat happily watching the chaos and problems he’d created unleash themselves.

It was dawn before anyone was able to escape. And Masamune was insistent that I rest up at the manor now that everyone knew. His arms were too cosy to resist whilst he carried me bridal style from the castle, and I slipped into a light sleep.

It took just over a week to make the arrangements to start leaving. We wouldn’t be able to travel at Masamune’s preferred pace to protect the baby, though he wouldn’t budge on the front that I would be riding with him as I had done when I first arrived in the Sengoku. Nobunaga would only let us leave with promises that we would send our fastest courier with the news once the baby had been born, and we visit Azuchi as soon as we could afterwards. I was beginning to suspect that our child would be treated to the ‘secret’ candy stash of the Devil King, a soft spot already forming in a hardened heart.

Everything just started to get difficult as I got bigger. Then the baby started kicking me hard, and it just made Masamune laugh when I got winded on occasion. The wedding ceremony was simple and quiet, more to please Hideyoshi and stop him from coming out to drag us to get married instead of setting the manor up for a child.

“That sword is going out of little hand’s reach,” I warned Masamune as he toyed with the short swords on the rack.

“They’ll have to learn at some point lass,” he grinned.

“Yes, but they need to learn to walk first and to not grab at anything they see,” I snorted, trying to blow off a twinge. The staff had been amazing as soon as I had arrived, and would usually drop the Lord of the manor in hot water with me when I needed them to. I hadn’t been able to do a lot of sewing recently as I couldn’t get comfortable in any position for any length of time. “I’m beginning to feel like a beached whale,” I groaned, laying back on the futon as another twinge smacked me hard.

“Lass, are you sure those feelings aren’t contractions?” Masamune asked with deep concern.

“They are coming a bit frequently,” I admitted as a nearby maid was flagged down with hurried instructions to find the doctor.

The birth was never going to be easy. It wasn’t easy even with all the conveniences of modern medicine, but I felt as though I had been run over with a bulldozer several times. Masamune looked so proud as I cradled our son, wrapped up in various layers of swaddling. Several messengers had already been dispatched with the news and a name, Tadamune Date.

“He is going to be spoilt by the most feared and ruthless warlords of Japan,” I smiled, knowing exactly what the others would be like.

Chapter Text

Sasuke had whisked me away on a whim when we met in the forest. Kenshin was keen to ignore me for my entire stay, whilst Shingen would flirt with me given any chance. Yukimura was blunt about everything, but he complimented Sasuke well as I ended up in the role of Chatelaine and seamstress at Kasugayama. Shingen and Sasuke both openly admired my work as a seamstress and would request various garments, whilst Yuki did so usually through Shingen. Kenshin was just baffled by the attention the other three men would give me, though the regular sake drinking contests were starting to increase my stamina.

I was looking through the fabrics one stall holder had available when a gorgeous male drifted through. His hair was dark, and his eyes held that similar air to Kenshin. He had suffered greatly in his past but had no time to grieve so he simply locked it deep away in himself. I busied myself by bringing my focus back to the fabrics, deciding on two rolls to be delivered up to the castle. The stranger hadn’t said a word to anyone, merely just glancing at the goods for sale as I spied a new medicine stall, and eagerly went to inspect it. Kenshin was threatening to bring me along to the next battle as a way of seeing if I could attract Nobunaga the same way I had managed to save him on the night of my arrival. I knew that the God of War would make good on his plans soon, and had taken it upon myself to learn medicine in order to make some use of myself, and hopefully keeping me out of the direct line of the battle.

Shingen was patting my head at the camp that had been set up. Apparently, Nobunaga Oda had been drawn out much to the delight of both warlords, and I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sounds and sights I was now witnessing. Crying would only agitate those around me as I fought back on my fear and focused on bandaging up the current soldier. They kept referring to me as an angel with a smile, and it felt as though I was giving them some form of hope. Appearances meant everything in this delicate balance.

Yukimura suddenly shouted to attract his lord’s attention, and the camp was stormed by a slightly familiar face wearing a cocky smile. I couldn’t remember where I had seen him, but Shingen was now blocking his blade and calling him a coward for attacking the camp where all the wounded and injured were. I had to hide as I dashed through the tents, and straight into the arms of an attractive man wearing an eyepatch.

“I didn’t take Shingen to be this casual about things,” He smirked, locking his gaze and grip around my waist. “Good taste though,” he finished.

“I’m not Shingen’s plaything,” I snapped back, struggling against his hold.

“Oh I like the feisty ones,” he laughed merrily, loading us both onto his horse. “I’d hang on tight if I were you lass, I only have one speed.”

“Shingen!” I yelled, gripping tightly on the sleeve of my kidnapper.

“Natsuki!” Yukimura paled at the sight, though still ferociously locked in battle with the commander’s men.

“Withdraw!” My kidnapper bellowed, the familiar male smirking at the sight of me as the enemy turned abruptly and galloped back to their camp as the Takeda forces began their chase.

I was tightly bound around my wrists and ankles and kept in a heavily guarded tent for what felt like forever. They got sick of my yelling and shouting because it wasn’t too long before I was gagged as well. I just had to get myself out of this and back to Kasugayama, though I was starting to feel the doubt as to how easy it would be in practice when I could barely move my wrists.

“Why is she gagged?” My attention was drawn to the tent opening, and the man that Shingen had called a coward, and I swore I had seen at the market now I got a better look at him, was stood there in full armour.

“She wouldn’t cease her shouting my lord,” one of the guards answered, bowing his head to the dark haired male. “She’s been incessant in trying to break through her bonds, we could hear the constant fidgeting from outside.”

“Hm, ungag her and bring her to the main tent,” he ordered, his clothing swishing as he abrupted turned around and vacated. The guards both glared at me as they approached.

“Just because Lord Oda wants to see you and have you ungagged doesn’t mean we have to treat you nicely little girl if you misbehave,” one of them sharply stated a blade at my neck to show how serious they were. Unfortunately, Kenshin was rather particular to this treatment and it didn’t have the intended effect on me that was expected.

The rope around my ankles was cut so I would walk to the tent, though the swords at my back were a bit uncomfortable as they had to keep pushing me forward. Complying with their demands was never going to be on the agenda until I was shoved into the tent containing all the warlords of the Oda forces. The mutterings started immediately as my fear overtook everything else I knew at that point in time. If they figured out who I was, then this was me saying goodbye.

The armour was clamped onto each individual, and they were all studying me with different intentions. Some hostile, some flirtation and others were just plain interest.

“It’s out of character for Kenshin to keep a woman,” the dark-haired male smirked, breaking the ice on ignoring me.

“I’m not Kenshin’s woman, I’m a healer,” I snorted and went to fold my arms before realising they were still bound.

“Your disappearance lit a flame under Sanada,” my kidnapper laughed.

“I’m no one’s woman!” I exclaimed hotly, stamping my foot on the ground in anger at the assumptions being thrown about.

“We leave for Azuchi tonight. She will ride with me,” the man at the head of the cluster announced suddenly, surprising those around him as attempts to otherwise influence him came out of the woodwork. “We have a prisoner, she will work well as bait to lure out Kenshin and Shingen on our own terms,” he smirked, staring me down as I could feel the fury bubbling deep within me. I was being reduced to bait at someone else’s leisure.

The cells in Azuchi were as spacious as could be expected. Damp and cold, though my only condolence in the entire part was that all the leering men in other cells were kept away from mine. My kidnapper was more than happy to introduce himself as Masamune Date, and could barely keep himself away from my cell. He would usually be followed by Hideyoshi, who would threaten me with all sorts which he received either silence or sarcastic remarks. The bars were well built, I had some faith in them otherwise I would have been slain on the spot many times over by Hideyoshi. He didn’t trust me, didn’t believe that I was ‘just a healer’. I was on the battlefield, so it had to mean something. I couldn’t tell them that Kenshin was using me as a good luck charm to bring Nobunaga out to fight.

Nobunaga must have had a change of heart about somethings because I was sent a decent futon and some basic commodities for my cell. Not that I was allowed any movement out of the cell as the Devil King finally came to see me.

It was the man I had seen at the marketplace, and the one I had inadvertently rescued from the fire on the night of my arrival. He looked a little surprised, but nothing compared to how I was currently processing the news.

“Interesting,” he murmured, a cold finger tracing over my cheek bringing me out of my trance as I jerked back from the bars. He smirked, “I do not mean you any harm,” he laughed haughtily.

“Hard to believe when I’ve been kidnapped, bound and now imprisoned,” I replied, glaring at the male as I skulked towards the back of my cell.

“Well, it’s not exactly a sensible idea to let the enemy roam freely,” Nobunaga shrugged casually as I spied Hideyoshi lurking in the background. “Then again it was you who pulled me from the flames at Honno-ji, was it not?”

I faltered, my wrists were still very sore from the rope that had bound my hands together, and slowly nodded my head to the statement. It took Hideyoshi by surprise, looking between me and his lord. “Are you sure my lord? She’s tiny, how would she easily have done it?”

“As a species, we can commit great acts of strength when required,” Nobunaga sagely replied. “I may come to a compromise. You will be situated in the castle, but any moves from your room without consent and you will be back in here, and I will not be so forgiving.”

It was a much cleaner cage, and I could breathe the fresh air and see the daylight. The maids would regularly come in unannounced, as would Hideyoshi and Masamune, the former to make sure I wasn’t plotting against his lord whilst the latter was trying to pull a Shingen on me. The two were far too similar to comprehend, as I thought about how Shingen would react to being told that. Then the sadness came at the thought of never seeing them all again. I had already been fighting the inevitable decision about going back to my original time period, now it seemed like the decision had been made for me.

I would be brought two meals a day, nothing would be poisoned and I was adequately allowed an escort on request for bathing and outside walks as well. Even though Hideyoshi didn’t trust me, at least I was well cared for. I had been informed that Shingen and Kenshin had been told of my kidnap and nothing more. I wanted to go home, but then one day Hideyoshi came by with a surprising response for me.

Nobunaga had requested me in his private chambers. I recalled the various little tricks that Sasuke had taught me if he got a little grabby and out of my comfort zone. Hideyoshi left us entirely alone, which shocked me the most. Nobunaga was out on the balcony.

“Natsuki,” he abruptly called out, leading out into the cool night air. My sandals clacked against the floor as I approached, feeling as though I was teetering on the edge of my sanity and control.

Nobunaga wouldn’t even look at me, he kept staring out over the land. I could hear the bustle of the town, the traders haven’t yet shut up and it reminded me of Kasugayama. My heart lurched, as I bore the weight of my sorrow. He was drinking some sake from the faint whiffs I got, my alcohol tolerance would be at an all-time low now, as a smile escaped at the thought of the daily routines I was missing. We were stood in a silence that was stifling us.

“I’ve had my research done for me. You didn’t exist prior to pulling me out of the flames,” he calmly stated, as Sasuke’s warning about not letting anyone know where we really came from came to mind.

“I was wandering to find a new life to set up, I walked into Shingen and Kenshin who took me on and I learnt my trade as a healer,” I replied, making sure to not look at him. “I come from Kyoto, you have probably not heard of it.”

“Hm,” was the only verbal response I got, before finding that he was forcibly turning my head to stare into my eyes. They were just like Kenshin’s. Cold and unfeeling. He must have suffered as greatly as he had, and the only way to protect himself from breaking was to lock everything away deep inside himself. I couldn’t stop myself from feeling sorry for him as tears started to escape from my eyes. “Why are you crying?” He demanded his tone firm but without any bitterness to it.

“Because you can’t,” I murmured, trying to stop myself before I could get into any bother, and looked back away. I wiped my eyes using the sleeves of my kimono and purposely faced away from Nobunaga. I was swiftly returned to my room after that and kept away from the leader of the Oda forces.

It was after that I was visited by Ieyasu and Hideyoshi, who quizzed me on my medical knowledge before begrudgingly agreeing that my role was definitely as a healer, though refused to expand on anything that had lead to it. The following morning was my most interesting to date, I was bundled onto a horse with Hideyoshi, and the only reason my hands weren’t bound was on Nobunaga’s orders, though the vassal made it perfectly clear that it would be my end if I attempted anything.

Kenshin and Shingen were biting at the bit to get going as I realised that I was there for display purposes only, looking all homey on Hideyoshi’s horse, then suddenly ending up in the lap of the Devil King. His smirk was the part that was driving me nuts until he suddenly kissed me hard and passionate in plain view. Shingen decided that was the breaking point and charged, Kenshin wasn’t impressed that he had been left behind and went into the heat of the battle. I was practically chucked off the horse of Nobunaga, a discarded rag, and hit the ground hard, just remembering to roll in my lessons from Sasuke.

I was dodging through men and horses, heading towards the familiar flag of Yukimura, but I was swiped up onto a horse with a haughty laugh before I could reach safety. Nobunaga was cradling me as one would protect a lover. I was there for bait and show, and it worked as Shingen yelled out his name in a tone I wish I could unhear. I was back in the Oda camp and in the tent with Nobunaga whilst he left his vassals to direct the battlefield. I was curled up in the corner, happily being ignored as I silently wept for hearing the way that Shingen had reacted. I was the reason this was currently happening. People were getting hurt because of me.

“Why?” I croaked out to the Oda leader, attracting all the attention of the tent. “What did I do to make all these people deserve to die?” I demanded to know, jumping to my feet in anger at the thought of the waste of human life. The warlords gave pause to my words as I glared at Nobunaga, I was shaking with fury.

“Withdraw the troops,” Oda finally stated, refusing to look at me. “And get my horse.”

I was following the horse whilst under the guard of Hideyoshi, my hands bound as they had been on my first capture. Kenshin and Shingen came out unarmed, much to the disgust on the former warlords face. Nobunaga and Hideyoshi were also unarmed, hence why it had been reasoned for my hands being bound.

“Have her back, she’s more of a pain than either of you,” Oda smirked as I was pushed forward over the torn up battlefield. Shingen was quick to dismount and catch me before I could fall face first into the mud. He brushed the hair out of my face and kissed my forehead as he kept repeating his relief at the fact I was okay, whilst Kenshin was glaring down Nobunaga.

“I thought you would be better than to stoop to baiting us by an innocent,” his words were as sharp as his sword as Shingen lifted me onto his horse and turned to leave the field. “We both withdraw, we have what we came for.”

“I came for your head, the woman was just there,” Nobunaga laughed coldly and turned about abruptly and ordered the withdrawal of all his forces.

I was exhausted, letting Shingen wrap me into so many hugs must have been showing how tired I was as Sasuke finally came to my rescue and had me ride with him. My wrists were raw from the rope, they had barely healed from the first time and then they had just been agitated by all the fuss we had gone through.

The camp was packed up quickly, with only Yuki staying behind to oversee the transport of the wounded. Neither Kenshin or Shingen would even let me consider staying with him as I usually would help, I was put on Kenshin’s horse so that everyone could make sure I didn’t move until we’d left. It brought a smile to my face to see everyone working so closely, and the familiarity of it all was overwhelming. This was home. For now anyway.

******

“Are you sure they didn’t hurt you?” Shingen was paranoid in his checking for injuries. My wrists were raw, but I had already got a salve on and bandaged them for protection from any infection.

“Aside from being bound and gagged, they didn’t do anything until I arrived on the battlefield,” I shook my head. “It was virtually the same as when I was brought here. Thrown into a cell for about 2 hours before furniture was added to it, and then a few days later I was given a room and constant guard,” I shrugged. “The only thing that will need work is my alcohol tolerance, I haven’t touched a drop since I got kidnapped.”

Shingen looked puzzled and shared a look with Yuki as the five of us were sat together in the main hall. Nobunaga’s tactics made little sense to parade me and then suddenly give me back after I threw a temper tantrum. It would have made more sense to throw me back in the cell.

“Well, might as well start working on that alcohol tolerance,” Kenshin smiled and five bottles of sake were put straight in front of him.

I was slower in my pacing, something that Shingen didn’t help with as he kept tipping the cups down my throat, and then as a dribble escaped my mouth and down my throat, he licked the path it had carved. He was back on the path to get in my bed until I was sat between Kenshin and Sasuke, whilst Kenshin and Yuki were either side of Shingen. The man could pout for Japan at the sight of me being put out of reach. He had several play things that would frequent the castle, and I had seen at least two of them about since I came home.

I was sat outside and enjoying the cooling night air. I didn’t want to go to sleep just yet, it could all be a horrible dream and I would wake up in Azuchi still. One of the maids had made me a cup of tea and insisted I have a blanket over my shoulders if I had to stay up and outside.

“What did you really find out?” Sasuke was definitely a perfect ninja in his moves, I had no idea he was even awake.

“That Nobunaga and Kenshin have that same look about them,” I softly paused. “They’ve suffered through so much and had to keep moving forward, it was quickest to lock the emotions away. That kiss nearly seared my lips off. After I told him I was crying because he couldn’t,” I laughed quietly. “God I’m an idiot. Telling the enemy commander that I’m crying because he’s locked his emotions away. That’s what warlords do because they have to, or they’re going to fail,” I sighed and took a sip of my tea, wiping the tears away once I realised I was crying again. “How long until the wormhole opens?”

“Just over a week,” Sasuke murmured, sitting next to me as we looked up at the moon.

It was the night the wormhole was due. Storms were making everything impossible, especially as we were holed up in tents over another skirmish that Kenshin was batting for. I daren’t leave Sasuke alone in case one of us missed that wormhole, but it meant trying to ignore the battering weather. Perfect conditions for it to appear. Kenshin was in the middle of the fight, though he was loudly complaining beforehand that it was ‘only’ Ieyasu who had been sent out.

“Natsuki,” a voice came from behind me and made me topple over the soldier I was currently treating for a gunshot wound.

“How the hell does an enemy commander get into the main tent in the middle of camp?” I yelled, before I was gagged and swiftly carried off over his shoulder. Going back to the present wasn’t truly going to be an option, and was definitely something that I and Sasuke had been discussing last night. I had never truly felt as though I belonged anywhere until I arrived in 1582, even with all of the extra dangers and none of the commodities.

Nobunaga’s ninjas were developing something similar to Sasuke as I came about. It felt as though I had a team of miners in my head and it took a few minutes for everything to come into focus. I was staring into a pair of hazel eyes, that belonged to Hideyoshi as my brain began to work again.

“What am I doing back here?” I groaned, rubbing my forehead as I went to sit up.

“You’ll be better off lying back down after having some water,” the vassal replied, giving me a cup. “Whatever they use is a bit hard hitting,” he sighed. “Lord Nobunaga decided that he shouldn’t have let you go, so he brought you back here after letting a skirmish occur.”

It was all a trap. And Kenshin was so bloodthirsty, he had walked straight into it.

“Why me?” I choked after taking a sip of water.

“Apparently you said something to him, it resounded with him, so you aren’t going far,” Hideyoshi clearly didn’t agree with his lord, but was going along with it for his wants.

“Please, I just want to go home,” I quietly replied, playing with the hem of the kimono I had been changed into.

“I can’t, you’re to stay here. Guards will be posted, same rules as last time. There will be a feast in a few days, Lord Nobunaga said that he would be inviting you,” Hideyoshi looked as resigned to the fact I was staying as I currently felt. I settled back down in the futon, too tired and hurting too much to do anything but go back to sleep.

Nobunaga slipped in after hearing I had woken up from Hideyoshi, only to find I was out cold again. He gave a cold smile at first, then recalled what had been said on the balcony. I cried for him because he couldn’t. It had made me special, too special to let go now. He needed to know more about me as his fingers carefully combed through my splayed out hair. He would arrange for a bath and all the soaps I would need at a whim, whilst recalling something that he had heard about me being a seamstress as well as the chatelaine of Kasugayama.

It was a few days before I was able to do anything aside from sleep, eat and drink. And the maids were very eager to please when I mentioned about getting a bath. The oils and soaps that were then presented to me as presents blew my mind, none of this came cheap, and yet as a prisoner, I was being rained on with these options. The kimono the maids picked out for me was a beautiful soft pastel floral pattern in pinks and whites. It seemed very polar to the colours that Nobunaga was associated with as the Devil King of the Sixth Kingdom. My hair was softly dried and brushed gently by a maid, all while I was still trying to process just exactly what the thought process behind this was.

Hideyoshi knocked before entering and advised that the feast would begin later on, and I would be escorted by Mitsuhide to the hall. He paused after reeling the information off, as though realising that I could clean up slightly better than he anticipated and nodded to the maids in approval before abruptly leaving. The maids left me shortly after, there was nothing to do for me except look over the gardens as I spied a koi pond fairly close by. If I wasn’t so fearful of the wrath of six warlords, and the fact that one had purposely started a skirmish as a distraction to then kidnap me again, then I would have considered escaping out to it.

“Natsuki,” a voice distracted me from my thoughts, as I found Mitsuhide standing right in front of me. “Something must have you occupied, you let the enemy walk right up to you and shouting your name several times before you responded,” he stated. “Follow.”

I felt like a kitten in the lion’s den. Masamune was eyeing me as hungrily as Shingen did when his usuals weren’t up to parr. Nobunaga was practically cradling me in his lap, whilst Hideyoshi had a murderous look on his face as though I had chosen to be there. The only thing I was currently aware of was that I was hungry, and the sake was looking good, especially once Nobunaga had parted my lips and tipped my head back to empty some in.

“That’s good sake,” I murmured, enjoying the taste as the black haired male smiled broadly, and had a cup brought for me.

It was a bottle or two down that Masamune made his way over, and filled both of our plates with food, and began to try and steal my attention. They didn’t realise how much being around Kenshin had led to this being my nightly ritual as I gave Masamune a sorrowful smile.

“Flirting with the girl on your boss’s lap? You either think you’re something special, or a special kind of stupid,” I beamed, tilting my head to the side and patting the formidable warlord on the head.

Nobunaga roared with laughter as the Date leader was taken by surprise, and Hideyoshi looked stunned to hear me speaking so clearly.

“Kenshin is a big sake drinker then,” Nobunaga replied, refilling my cup.

“A few bottles of tolerance in me yet,” I added, quietly confident that they couldn’t be as bad as everyone at Kasugayama.

Nobunaga decided that it would be a private drinking competition between me and him, despite the obvious advantage to him, and would hear nothing against it from anyone. I think we all had the suspicions about his motive, but he wouldn’t be refused as I was escorted to the tenshu by Hideyoshi, who was naturally reminding me about what would happen if I disrespected Lord Nobunaga.

Once we stepped through to the tenshu, Hideyoshi was quickly dismissed and I was invited out onto the balcony and a cushion was next to Nobunaga. He was still drinking the sake, though at a much more leisurely pace than in the main hall.

“It’s all a ruse about the competition. You wanted to talk to me in private without interruption,” I guessed, taking the cushion as instructed whilst a cup was filled for me.

“Some people open up more under the influence,” Oda replied stonily. “You aren’t involved romantically with any of them, yet they clearly all dote on you to the point of going to war for you. Shingen is willing to risk his life to make sure you are safe.”

“They’re my family, I have no one else. I’ve always spent my life drifting, and then I found somewhere it felt like I belonged,” I said with a shrug, thinking nothing of it as I sipped at the fresh sake. The only problem with drinking this long is that I would always end up in Sasuke’s, Kenshin’s or Yuki’s room, and cause the most gossip with Shingen. “I wasn’t a burden, I ran the castle well and would help out with any job going, and then I got to do my seamstress work on the side. I… was happy for the first time,” I smiled sadly. “Now I’m sat pouring my heart out on a balcony with the enemy command who is a complete stranger and I have yet to feel more like an idiot,” I grimaced, knocking the cup back.

“I had heard you create beautiful works. You cried for me, and I don’t understand why,” Nobunaga was straight to the point.

“I’ve seen that look in your eyes before. It’s the haunting effect of having to lock away how you truly feel because if you give yourself time to process all those emotions then it’s going to get you killed as a warlord, and you can’t do that. And it made my heart so heavy I had to cry for you,” I replied eventually after an extended silence, accepting the refill of sake. “I understand why some people have to fight, but it gets people hurt and killed. Which is why I made them train me as a healer. I can help on the battlefield where I’m needed. And many of the soldiers find it a comfort to see their chatelaine with a smile on her face whilst tending to them. They don’t feel so alone, so far away then, because I’m there and I’m patching them up and they’re going to be okay. So it’s half the injury dealt with.”

“Why only half?” Nobunaga was puzzled by my modern way of thinking.

“Because otherwise they don’t get the chance to emotionally process their injury, so I’m stopping them from turning into Kenshin and you, who can’t process their emotions. So you fight because you know what you’re protecting and fighting to achieve, and you aren’t underestimating the power of a human life, you just know it’s worth. But you can’t process the emotional grief of that because it would stop you and that would get you killed,” I rabbited on, the sake beginning to work its way through my brain as I realised during my monologue I was resting my head on Nobunaga’s shoulder, and more importantly, he wasn’t moving me.

“You’re the first person to compare me to Kenshin,” Oda finally said.

“You both have that haunted look in your eyes. Kenshin had a sword at my neck when I started crying because he didn’t know what else to do in that situation. I definitely prefer this one of drinking sake,” I dryly humoured.

“You responded to my kiss,” a complete change of subject, and a haughty look on his face.

“You nearly burnt my face off with that passion,” I retorted, sitting back up straight. “Even Shingen was jealous.”

“I was just marking my territory,” I didn’t notice until then, his fingers trailing over my lips as they tingled in anticipation and vividly remembering the scorcher from the battlefield.

“I am no one’s property or territory,” I sharply asserted, glaring at the man.

His laugh shocked me before his second kiss blew the first one clean out of the water. My fingers were digging into his shoulders as I clung on for dear life. I’d never known such a whirlwind of fire before, as I eagerly responded in kind. My body was cradled against his, sharing the faintest hints of sake with each kiss. I was gasping for breath as we finally parted, and I realised that the smile he had could reach his eyes.

“Suddenly it makes sense as to why you kidnapped me,” I gasped, trying to steady my heart.

“I was merely going to suggest warming my bed tonight, but I don’t think that could ever be enough,” the Devil King had the slightest blush on his cheeks that was visible under the moonlight.

“Well, there’s a lot to discuss,” I breathlessly replied, “But sleep, definitely sleep…”

***

Hideyoshi was the first to report to Nobunaga that I had never returned to my room the previous night and a look of disgust on his face as I peered from my hiding spot behind the commander. I waved at him with an agitating smile as he began to piece together what had happened. The vassal was on his knee, bowing in respect.

“My lord, do you truly think it is wise that she stays with you?” He asked, lifting his head enough to only glare at me.

“Do you not trust my judgment?” Oda’s voice had a new depth of iciness to it that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“No my lord!” Hideyoshi exclaimed in surprise and a hint of shame.

“Natsuki is to be treated as a princess of Oda,” my eyes immediately widened at the implications of the title, and my jaw went a little slack. “She is not allowed to leave the grounds without consent, but she has the freedom to roam within the gardens and castle.”

The vassal left promptly, presumably to share the news that my status had gone from prisoner to princess, something I was still struggling to process as the commander turned back to me with an amused look on his face. “What?”

“Slight change in my status then?” I asked quizzically, raising an eyebrow at the male.

He smirked in response, and then raised my hand to his lip, kissing my knuckles whilst his eye contact never dropped. It made my skin feel electrified, and my inner temperature definitely rose a few degrees. My breath was hitched in my throat at the raw exposure in his expression, before he stood up suddenly.

“I have things to do today. You are free to roam the castle and grounds, but I will not tolerate you leaving without a guard,” Nobunaga stated firmly, as I took it as my cue to leave.

My head was spinning at a million miles an hour with everything that had happened. I somehow managed to find my way back to my room, to find it had been completely revamped since Hideyoshi had been told of my new status. I had one of the best futons I’d experienced since coming to this time, and a sewing kit that any seamstress would be jealous of. The box was intricately made, and the tools inside were immaculate. There was a note stating that someone would be taking me to the market soon for some fabrics if I so wished, and all of the doors to the gardens were now open.

I needed to think, and I needed some quiet space as I remembered seeing the pond on my last visit. It was a slightly secluded space, and shady as I double checked around me before taking my sandals off to paddle my feet in the water. The sensation of water was one of my calming techniques. Nobunaga clearly touched something deep inside of me, it was obvious from the way he could blaze a path straight to my heart and it also confused him. He was used to people falling at his order, where I had been the opposite from my initial kidnapping. He had been a pure gentleman the previous night, and nothing had gone further than the sizzling kisses that made me melt. I wasn’t sure which heart to believe and following, the one that burned bright with the newly found passion, or the one that was aching for my family.

It was evening before I knew it, and I could hear the bustle of the staff start to increase as I rubbed my eyes to keep them open. I quietly stood up, drying my feet on the grass before putting my sandals back on. A hushed silence fell over the gardens as I emerged, and I saw two very unhappy warlords glaring at me.

“What?” I asked, looking very confused. Hideyoshi and Masamune had faces of thunder. “I didn’t leave the grounds, I’m not stupid enough to run away then come back,” I snorted, folding my arms defensively.

I was dragged by them both to the central hall, where Nobunaga looked like a combination of relief and furiousness at the sight of me. He stormed over and pulled me into a tight embrace, hiding the flush on his face as I slowly returned the hug, still feeling very confused. Hideyoshi was explained I had appeared out of a small thicket, a frown permanently engraved on his face as Oda lifted his head with a pause.

“She found the koi pond then?” Were the cooling words that silenced all the buzzing.

“I didn’t go off the grounds, I just wanted to find some place quiet to think and I thought I saw a pond when I first got here, so I just went looking,” I explained, still tucked under Nobunaga’s arms. It was then it struck me just what exactly was in Oda’s eyes.

Fear.

He was terrified that I had fled the cage the second that the door was left open out of trust. He needed to keep me against him so he could understand I wasn’t just his imagination being cruel as I gently squeezed him around the waist and brought his focus back to me.

“I didn’t leave,” I softly repeated.

He stormed away from the hall, cradling me in his arms in a similar way that he had in the heat of battle. A knowing smirk rested on the faces of Masamune and Mitsuhide, whilst Hideyoshi looked angry about what was happening. I was trying to brace myself for what was going to happen, but there was such a whirlwind of emotion for the man to process as I was pinned to the futon as his anger and fear bubbled to the surface.

Then his head was buried in the crook of my neck, breathing in my scent deeply as I was encased in his arms underneath him. He couldn’t understand why he was feeling the way he was, as my arms snuck under his haori, and rested around his waist. It seemed like an eternity as our heartbeats fell into sync along with our breathing patterns. I didn’t realise when I’d started running my fingers through his hair, or when his grip had relaxed a little, but words weren’t needed in that moment.

It was warm and cosy, a blanket was covering me, but there was a heat source as I snuggled up to it in my sleepiness. A deep chuckle started to bring me about to consciousness as I lazily opened one eye. Nobunaga was smirking as I had wrapped myself around him in my sleep.

“Well, it’s one way to prove I’m not running away,” I mumbled, and buried my head into his chest, refusing to move from my now claimed spot. Everything had been turning me inside out lately, I was craving some simplicity as Nobunaga slipped his arms around me, and kissed the top of my head as my eyes fluttered back shut.

“You are a difficult one little fireball,” he murmured, his fingers playing with the ends of my hair. “I felt as though I was going out of my mind yesterday when no one had seen you. My heart was being torn out of my chest, and I was afraid you truly had run.”

I could sense the blush on Oda’s cheeks without needing to look up at him. This was as confusing and hard on him as it was for me. We were technically enemies, yet there was an undeniable connection.

“Well, I just like to keep you on your toes,” I softly replied, tilting my head up as we shared a gentle morning kiss.

Chapter Text

Everyone around Azuchi was very much on edge. There were rumours flying about amongst the maids like gossip was going out of fashion, and a few of them had even stopped talking as soon as I was in the vicinity. We were expecting some very pretentious guests from what had been described to me by Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, the latter who was always keen to please while the former couldn’t have given any flying monkeys as to their impression. Mitsuhide had only just returned from one of his silent trips and seemed more determined than ever to make everyone suspicious of him with his slinking about behaviour.

I was trying to make sure that all the kitchen staff knew what they were doing, then Masamune showed up and I was shooed out of the room with a single gesture. Nobunaga had instructed me to ensure the staff were on top of their tasks and the guest rooms were prepped, then Hideyoshi started adding on the various criteria that he didn’t believe I was capable of holding anyone to a standard. A couple of vases had gotten knocked over in the last minute frenzy to present the castle at its best, and I had ended up banning Hideyoshi from being near the hysterical maids until after the guests had gone.

I was suddenly pulled away by a few of the maids in the early afternoon and back to my own room. I had forgotten that I was meant to be the princess as well as the chatelaine. The dress, hair and makeup would take hours, I was merely glad that this was never done on a regular basis as I had to fight the urge to break out from the painted doll role constantly. The other warlords had muttered they preferred me in my usual role and outfits, this one was never one I was comfortable in, and the guests would likely glean that during the evening’s activities.

I was presented and announced at the feast. Nobunaga had made some new alliances with some daimyos, and this was a celebration of it. I couldn’t stand them from the second we had been introduced, but I had to play nice for my ‘brother’s’ sake. My boss had taken on the absent role of playing big brother more and more, though Hideyoshi was excellent at playing it as well. And they both immediately sensed my discomfort at the new individuals, and had Mitsuhide rescue me to bring to Nobunaga’s side, he had to have his little sister pouring the sake and drinking with him for social reasons.

“They’re going to offer a marriage partnership,” Mitsuhide whispered loud enough between me and Oda for us both to hear, bending over in pretence of fixing the back of my kimono. “They’ve been looking at Natsuki like a piece of meat and discussing who’s son she would suit best since she arrived.”

The dark haired man merely smirked broadly as the silver-haired male tweaked part of my hairpiece into place for added effect before standing up straight and resuming his seat with his aides. His eyes would never stray far from what I was doing, though I was more than keen to stay under Oda’s shadow and side for once, even when the mother hen of Hideyoshi came up to lecture us both on the amount of sake we were drinking.

“Lord Nobunaga,” One of the daimyos was bowing before us both. “Princess Natsuki is simply a wonderfully beautiful young girl, one whose beauty far outshines her reputation for her kindness and willing ability to work as chatelaine,” he had done his adequate snooping, I would give him that much credit, but his smug look was leaving me fighting the desire to smack him across the mouth. “I believe my eldest son-”

“She’s already promised to a vassal,” Oda calmly interrupted, looking uninterested as he gestured to me to pour sake into his currently empty cup. “And I do not believe anyone else could be a better match for her than he is.”

The whole hall went silent at the mention of me already being engaged, stunning both me and Hideyoshi equally as silent, and turning the attention all on the stubborn daimyo. “Have you asked her what she thinks of her future husband then?” he challenged, a stupid move considering he was surrounded by several warlords.

“I don’t have to. I can see it in the way they communicate and look at each other, and the glances they give when they think no one else is truly looking,” He smirked, as a blush crept across my face. I knew exactly who he was talking about on my half, he was relentless on his teasing when it was just the two of us at any point. “Plus his fife is always close by anyway, so she will never be far.”

I hated that Oda could read me so well, I was trying to remain graceful in the sudden news. I could see those around us start to place the puzzle pieces together, but this daimyo wouldn’t take no for an answer. “And who is he exactly my lord?” He pressed, his teeth gritted tightly together.

“Mitsuhide Akechi of course,” Nobunaga smirked, especially as my response was to immediately down my full cup of sake. I was in a nightmare, this wasn’t happening, and I refused to look at anyone to keep that fence up. “That they’ve managed to keep things so unassuming that this appears to be news to the hall does surprise me,” he was mocking me now and enjoying every second of it. The daimyo was spluttering in surprise and trying to protest.

Until Mitsuhide kissed me passionately in front of the entire hall.

A few lewd cheers from the men around us was the immediate response, though it did get the incredibly persistent daimyo to shrink back away. And he sat on the other side of me, blocking me off from any direct pursuit at least. This was just pretend as his fingers were brushing over mine and then tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear, it was all for show, I just had to keep telling myself that as I was refilling the sake cups.

Most of the hall had emptied, and most of the sake was gone as Hideyoshi came back from escorting the daimyos to their chambers for the night. Everyone’s party faces were gone, and it was back to being warlords.

“So aside from starting gossip and rescuing me from a life in hell, for which I am very grateful,” I opened my mouth before Nobunaga smirked broadly at me. “Why?”

“Because I’ve been on their tail for a while, and I believe they’re actually planning on kidnapping you tonight if you go back to your room, so you’re coming to mine so we can make sure it doesn’t happen,” Mitsuhide calmly replied, emptying another bottle of sake. “By kidnapping you, it gives them some leverage over Nobunaga so they’d be able to get away with whatever they desired,” his eyes were narrowed. “By spinning the tale of you already being promised to the left-hand man of Nobunaga, then they’ll either be so desperate they’ll try it from my room, or they might actually fall in line,” there was no usual smirk or cold detached air about the serpent. He sounded involved in this, and I felt a pit of unease in my stomach. “Don’t worry, Hideyoshi made me promise to be a gentleman about the whole situation.”

“That doesn’t put me much at ease,” I smiled wryly. Both of my self-appointed brothers knew very much who my daydreams were based on, and right now it was proving to me that my feelings were one-sided. At least as chatelaine, I was kept busy, once I was back in a routine I would be able to ignore the ache in my heart.

We were all sent to the appropriate rooms that night, Mitsuhide paused half a corridor up from his room and told me that he had forgotten something and would be back shortly, and then tagged on in a highly sarcastic voice that it would be great if I could not be kidnapped in that time. I gave him a half-hearted glare and replied that it would be at the top of my priority list along with removing all the faff and makeup.

“Make sure the futon is warm, will you? You know I hate cold sheets,” he smirked, enjoying our situation far too much before he breezed past me.

The maids had already been told to expect me in Mistuhide’s room, as all of my night clothing and bowls of water and cloth to remove the makeup were all presented and ready on my entry. The maids assisted in disassembling my hair and ensuring I hadn’t left any visible traces of makeup by candlelight before wishing me a good night. I was alone and wary as I began to change out of the overly fancy kimono I had been pulled and pushed into.

I was brushing my hair when a gag was slipped over my mouth. I had to restrict my breathing, it was likely to be dipped in chemicals to make me easier to deal with. Then I heard a sword being drawn out of its sheath.

“I do believe you’ve already been told,” I had never heard Mitsuhide’s voice so cold or threatening. It was as though he was actually upset at the thought of me being kidnapped.

“The doting future husband role isn’t one you play well,” the daimyo sounded far too sure of himself and left himself open to attack from me as I sharply elbowed me in the stomach to give Mitsuhide the opening to overpower the horrible little man.

Leaving him tied up was the vassal’s idea of a present for my ‘brother’, before sweeping me up in his arms and deciding that going back to his manor was a better move. I didn’t even get a chance to protest about my clothing or lack of.

It had been a long time since I had visited Mitsuhide’s manor. It was mostly in preparation for a family that wasn’t planned, many rooms with many spaces and potentials as he carried me straight to his room.

“Right now I don’t trust them to not try again, get some sleep,” he gently lowered me to the floor and gestured to the freshly made double futon.

“This is going to sound so needy, but can you please just lie next to me?” I begged, realising that the thought of someone sneaking up on me again was starting to terrify me.

The man was stumped into silence, a look of surprise on his face as his mask slipped. Then he sighed and complied with my request. His smell was comforting, my eyes closing as he kept glaring at the door as though daring it to reveal that our enemies had come for another attempt.

I was definitely the hot topic of conversation over the next few weeks. Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide had apparently decided to let the rumour regarding my proposed marriage to Mitsuhide run around the fifes and daimyos, it would help them with the latest splurge of unrest and give them a chance to focus things again. We had to keep the little ‘slips’ up and keep getting ‘caught’ by staff, like my things being discovered in Mitsuhide’s room, or apparently, the better one was when a maid couldn’t find me in my room and found me creeping out of Mitsuhide’s. Nobunaga was insistent we would also go into town on occasions, under false pretences of shopping for things and then staying a little too long at teahouses and the likes to make it all appear as though we were trying to get time on our own.

I had to keep reminding myself it was all pretend. I was happy to just be spending time with the frequently disappearing man, and there was never a complaint to be heard from him anyway. It was just another task for him to do in order to weed out those seeking to undermine his lord.

“I need to go back to Tanba,” Mitsuhide calmly announced on one of our ‘dates’ as I looked up from the bottle of sake we were sharing with slightly narrowed eyes. “I’ve been told I can’t leave you this time,” he smirked.

“I wondered why Nobunaga was enjoying himself a little more around me and dropping hints about ‘not disappearing on him’,” I replied, taking a large mouthful of my drink.

“He is the one who’s enjoying this the most,” Mitsuhide added on, looking a little sulky as my stomach and heart both began to sink.

“We should get back, the seamstresses have been begging for these samples all week,” I shrugged, trying to ignore every fibre of my being that was screaming in pain after how close I’d imagined we’d been getting.

Hideyoshi escorted Mitsuhide from the gate, stating that Oda had requested their presence. I had a look telling me to be ready once it was all done from the silver-haired male, and they immediately departed in the opposite direction to my room. I couldn’t let my guard and facade down yet, people wouldn’t understand and it would blow just about everything out of the water.

It was the middle of the night before Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide dropped by, both of them looking more than a little concerned as they came into my room.

“What’s happened?” I asked, my stomach knotting itself over.

“The thorn in our side is continuing to push for you to be married to his son,” Mitsuhide had a frown that was worthy of killing anyone, and his tone was dripping with venom.

“So what’s the plan?” I pushed, looking between them both anxiously.

“We’re leaving for Tanba now, we’ll be a few days at least there, and by then Lord Nobunaga will have thought through things and we’ll all come to an agreement,” the silver-haired male sighed. He was tired from the sounds in his voice, and I merely nodded as I picked my things up.

Tanba wasn’t that different from Azuchi, just a smaller scale. The staff weren’t surprised to see that I was accompanying Mitsuhide, but apparently, none of the descriptions they’d heard were adequate. It was completely overwhelming as I was shown to his room, and my stomach lurched as I spied a double futon. Keeping up pretences is all it is, I had to keep repeating to myself before dropping into the clean sheets, a low groan escaping my mouth as Mitsuhide stepped through and closed the door.

“Just get some sleep,” he laughed and then proceeded to start working at his desk. Having him in the same room should have made it impossible to sleep, I just felt safe instead as I kept cursing myself for falling for the serpent.

Several of Mitsuhide’s aides kept coming and going, delivering messages on an hourly basis it seemed. I was playing the part of Oda princess and going out around the town with appropriated escorts, and then being stopped constantly to congratulate me on my impending marriage to their lord. My cheeks were aching from all the smiling I was doing, everything just had to look the part, feelings can be dealt with later.

“You’ve changed,” Mitsuhide was quiet on his sneak attack. I was reading out on a veranda in the sinking sun and enjoying the sounds of trickling water from a nearby mini-waterfall. “You’ve closed yourself off,” his fingers brushed my hair behind my shoulder as I turned to look at him, surprised that he had been able to get in the room without me noticing.

“It’s all just a pretence right?” I said softly, trying to find the answer in his eyes.

I wasn’t expecting to find pain there, then the soft kiss shattered my world and emotions. It was more loving than the one at the banquet, the sort that would make any girl melt as it slowly deepened. My arms slipped around his neck as my book was discarded off somewhere, my body cradled against his as though I was really a princess and he didn’t want to make the wrong move.

“That’s why we needed to have the meeting after Tanba,” he dryly commented, I could barely form a coherent sentence in my head. “Get some rest, we’re leaving in the middle of the night again to get back for an early morning council.” His orders were gentle, and he traced my slightly puffy lips with his fingers.

I didn’t realise I was included in the early morning council as Hideyoshi was waiting impatiently for us both to arrive the following day. He was pacing about restlessly and then glared at Mitsuhide for no reason. The other warlords were already assembled, and Masamune had a foreboding smirk on his face once we entered.

“Glad to see you could make it,” Nobunaga teased, lounged in his usual spot. “We’ve established that the daimyos from the previous feast are a problem, and they seem to still have the idea in their head that they can kidnap Natsuki to have some hold over me.”

Right, they were still on that path. “They broke in last night after we’d faked sightings of Natsuki on Azuchi grounds, though the individuals managed to escape after pursuit,” Hideyoshi had a disgusted look on his face. “They knew she’d gone away, so they have somehow got a handle on some information from inside,” he finished and stared straight at Mitsuhide.

“I thought this was going to be a private discussion between the four of us really,” Mitsuhide lightly breezed aside the accusation. “Seeing as it affects me and Natsuki only, I’d say to go as far as it should only be between the two of us.”

“She’s doted on you from the start, will you put her out of her misery?” Oda’s tone was unusually heavy, as though tired from dealing with someone, and turned the entire room’s attention to me.

Mitsuhide muttered something before grabbing my hand and dragging me out to the privacy of the gardens, ignoring the taunting laughter of Masamune and Nobunaga in the background. He ensured we wouldn’t be disturbed, keeping us in view from the hall whilst out of focus enough to avoid any lip reading. Then his kiss was fierce, taking the wind out of my lungs and blocking the entire world out as my body was pulled flush against his. My hands were scrunched up in his kimono, whilst his were resting on my back.

“I’m sorry I had to keep you at arm’s length,” he whispered once we broke for air. “The daimyos forced me to face somethings I just wasn’t willing to accept.”

“No pretences and me just imagining things?” I asked, still a little stunned by the whole development.

“Well, the wedding is a lot sooner than generally, I would have arranged,” Mitsuhide slyly added, as it began to sink in.

“Wait, the marriage is going ahead?” I squeaked.

“That’s what I wanted you to be okay with,” it was the first time I had seen Mitsuhide looking so unsure of himself. He was at home being undermined and misjudged, and yet he was nervous whilst waiting on my reply.

I couldn’t stop myself from kissing him hard, “It’s more than okay,” I whispered, smiling at him.

Chapter Text

Ieyasu was frowning at the herbs in front of him. He remembered asking Natsuki for several items the next time she visited the market, and rather unlike herself, she’d forgotten them all and brought everything he didn’t need. She was starting to resemble Mitsunari, she was always spacing out or reading whenever he saw her these days as well, and she wasn’t eating. The last part came as a bit of a jigsaw to the blonde and started packing his things to head to Azuchi castle, going via the market for the goods he did need.

Nobunaga was frowning and glancing about the corridors as Ieyasu bumped into him and then Hideyoshi, who was wearing a similar expression. The princess had gone missing and had left no traces. Nothing was missing from her room, and it hadn’t been ransacked, there was no demand notice anywhere and no threats had been issued, so she hadn’t been kidnapped. When the maids had been questioned, she hadn’t been seen all day. It was beginning to appear as though she had simply disappeared.

“Are you sure that the others won’t notice I’ve been gone all day?” I narrowed my eyes in a suspicious manner at Mitsuhide, even if he was teaching me how to use the matchlock rifles in a quiet place and had a legitimate reason for taking me to his manor, there was something very snake-like about his actions.

“You have no sewing orders and the castle is in good working order,” Mitsuhide laughed my query aside. I had been training for self-defence from Hideyoshi and Masamune, and even though I was not unaccustomed to guns from my original time, the matchlock rifles required a different touch. The recoil into my shoulder was something I couldn’t get used to, and the bruising was getting worse with each lesson. I had to find a way to get around my modern way of thinking if only to protect myself since I kept ending up on the battlefield. The enemy would be able to spot a woman from miles away, and I was always an instant target.

I stank of gunpowder and fire as I tried to wipe the black soot off my face as I trudged into the palace. I was suddenly surrounded by maids and a mother hen Hideyoshi and whisked off to the tenshu before I could even fathom my situation.

“So Mitsuhide took you to his manor for firing lessons?” Nobunaga repeated slowly, his nose wrinkled at the smell I brought with me.

“He pointed out that I had no sewing orders and that the castle was all in order, so he assumed it would be fine,” I shrugged, trying to hide my embarrassment at the state I was in and the fact that I’d trusted Mitsuhide and it’d gotten me into trouble. Again. Should really try to learn on that front.

Ieyasu looked the most frustrated of the three of them, I was surprised that he was there, but then again I was due to stay at his manor for a few weeks whilst Nobunaga went on a brief tour of the fifes. He was just trying to cover himself from being found out I think at this point.

“Apparently you’ve been quite forgetful and distracted the past few weeks,” Nobunaga added on, carefully studying me as I froze up. “The maids have been telling Hideyoshi today that you keep coming back without things from markets, and sometimes it takes several trips around the rooms for things to be done. And you’ve been increasingly ill and refusing food mostly,” he was glancing between me and Ieyasu. “Take care of her in my absence,” was his departing order as I started to backtrack on my thinking of my cycle, and was then stood pinching the bridge of my nose at the slightly obvious that had just slapped me in the face.

“I thought it was just me you were being all forgetful to,” Ieyasu muttered as we cleared the corridor to the tenshu.

“I think they figured it out before I did,” I sighed, folding my arms against my body as all the nauseous moments were now making sense.

There wasn’t any more to be said as we headed to Ieyasu’s manor. I went to go to my room, but then the blonde surprised me and brought me in for a hug under the moon on his veranda. His heart was pounding in his chest, my head was next to it.

“See what you do to me?” Ieyasu muttered under his breath, as I couldn’t stifle my laughter in response.

His hands trailed down my back, over my hips and started to trace lightly over my womb. He was silent in his motions, but very precise. “Ieyasu?” I asked quietly.

“Still very early on,” he replied, cupping the slightest of bumps that I didn’t even realise had begun to grow until then. “We have time to adjust everything, including both this manor and the orders to fix Okazaki so it’s ready for the baby by the time we arrive.”

“You’re processing this a lot quicker than I am right now,” I stared in a combination of awe and puzzlement. “There’s a baby growing in me, how the hell am I the last one to spot it?!” I repeated, angry at myself.

“Careful,” Ieyasu said gently, pulling me back into his arms, my back resting against his chest and kissing my cheek softly. “You’re very busy and have a lot of things to do, and you just put it off to being sick and over-exerting yourself,” he explained, “We all did, now we’ve had a few more pieces of information, and we’ve gotten the full picture. Also, no more training lessons with Mitsuhide” he gruffly added as a final part.

“You’re jealous,” I said, looking up at the man with a smirk. He grunted and buried his head into the nook of my neck whilst I couldn’t hold back my giggles. “I also think the rest of the castle will know the news by morning, and if we didn’t have everyone over the second Nobunaga’s back, then I will be highly suspicious.”

Ieyasu made a noncommittal noise before dragging me back inside to the futon, whilst I failed to stop my laughing at the sight of his jealousy.

Chapter Text

I had to pretend to not notice the growing fan club Hideyoshi had throughout Azuchi. It made everything tight inside and brought out a side of me I was quite happy to pretend didn’t exist. Having to share him was Nobunaga was tiring me out a lot of the time, and now this group of girls who were worshipping him were following him about and he was doing nothing to discourage it. Mitsuhide was having a field day once he found out I was incredibly jealous of it all, and would now go out of his way to have his fun by taking me out so we would ‘casually see’ the girls around Hideyoshi.

Hideyoshi was the perfect gentleman to everyone, and I had nothing to worry about, but it was hard to explain twenty-first-century complications about an ex being rather open with his affections. And me finding out the hard way of course. I had practically bit a finger off, when Kenshin, Shingen, Yuki and Sasuke all seated themselves at my table at the teahouse.

“I’m fairly certain you look like you’re considering going to war,” Kenshin calmly stated, the bloodlust in his eyes lighting up at the prospect.

“Unfortunately, even if I went to war, I am almost certain it would change nothing,” I sighed as the teahouse owner brought over dumplings and sake for us all.

“I did not have you pinned as a goddess of war,” Shingen charmed, taking the back of my hand and kissing the knuckles with a wink.

“I’ve always been handy with knives,” I warned the flirt of Echigo, taking my hand back from the dangerous whirlpools of his gorgeous eyes.

“Probably a good thing with Masamune and Shingen about,” Sasuke added in calmly, knowing that both men were openly envious of Hideyoshi, and continued to pursue me on the occasions that presented themselves.

The truce had proven beneficial to everyone even after Kennyo had been defeated, so they decided to continue it, and even start openly trading between the towns. I twirled a lock of hair around my finger, and bit my bottom lip subconsciously, only releasing when I heard a deep groan from Kenshin and promptly flushed a bright red colour. Unfortunately, it had also attracted the attention of Hideyoshi from across the street.

He disappeared within seconds, taking the fangirls with him, and leaving me with a dark foreboding in the pit of my stomach. Knowing Hideyoshi, I wouldn’t be able to find him if I did go back, so there was little point to rushing the dumplings and sake, plus I would have the inevitable escort back to Azuchi at the very least.

I was changing into my sleeping kimono when a maid disturbed me, she was highly apologetic, but advised that Nobunaga had called for me in the tenshu. I knew it was probably incredibly inappropriate, but to change back again was already looking like too much effort as I made sure nothing would come undone before leaving my room. It was the depths of night, and the castle was largely silent, apart from the lecturing tone of Oda as I approached his quarters. I knocked briefly, and then found myself faced with Masamune, whose face was lit up like a child’s at Christmas upon seeing me.

I ignored the one-eyed dragon and bowed to Nobunaga. “You requested me?” I asked politely, wanting to go back to my room as soon as possible since I could feel the Date leader already undressing me with his eye vividly.

“Yes, I need you to go as an intermediary back to Echigo with Masamune,” he instructed, offering no explanation. “You leave at dawn.”

I was dismissed and shook my head as I walked down the corridor. Masamune would definitely be getting grabby with his hands after this, and Shingen would be pushing his luck even more if he ever caught wind of the fact I went to see Oda in my night kimono. I spied Hideyoshi slipped back around the corner, muttering ferociously to himself. My heart was heavy as I immediately began to chase after him, only to find an empty corridor. I stamped my foot in irritation and then found the very man glaring at me for doing so.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” I accused, not caring who could hear.

“And you think it’s appropriate to be going about dressed like this?” Hideyoshi hissed back, immediately swaddling me in his haori.

“It’s late, I was just about to get into bed when a maid said Nobunaga wanted to see me,” I protested.

“I’ve told you before about late night castle trips,” he sighed, sounding like a disappointed parent.

“I’m being sent to Echigo with Masamune tomorrow,” I said after a brief silence. “I don’t know how long for.”

Hideyoshi made a noise and then left me alone in the darkened corridor. Tears were escaping down my cheeks as I began to realise the inevitable, things weren’t working out like a fairy tale. I had to hurry back to my room, dropping the haori on the floor.

I slept fitfully and packed several outfits into the satchels provided by the maids. Anything more I would need I wasn’t in doubt would be provided by Echigo, as Masamune swung by a little too enthusiastically for such an early start. Unluckily for him, I was perfectly capable of riding my own horse and chose purposely to do so. He was scowling a little that he wouldn’t be able to tease me as much but then realised that it would be more of a game for him to play. He would purposely speed up and force me to play catch up, until I’d had enough and galloped way past the Date clan leader, laughing loudly as I did so. I knew to hold on tightly to the reigns, but the parts that still amazed me were that any of the warlords could easily do this whilst holding me firmly in one arm and controlling the horse entirely with the other. I was just about able to keep myself upright on a horse these days as we pulled over for a stop. After several minutes, the sound of hoofbeats was encroaching on us, turning Masamune into the battle mode he lived for, and making me feel very exposed.

Hideyoshi was looking flustered and flushed as he practically fell off the horse on his arrival. “Don’t do it,” he growled at me, pulling me straight into his arms and leaving me very puzzled.

“Do what?” I asked, my eyes wide as I searched his for any clues.

“If you go to Echigo, it’s to negotiate your marriage to Shingen,” he spat out.

Masamune couldn’t help himself, and broke down into laughter, attracting both of our attention. “No, it’s to negotiate rice prices, Sasuke was saying he had some news and would like to see Natsuki at Echigo during that time,” he grinned. “I don’t think Shingen would get a chance to propose, she’d have his head off like she wants the heads of your little fan club in Azuchi.”

Hideyoshi paused and turned to look at me, I was looking guilty as hell at the last part and glaring hard at the one-eyed dragon.

“Can’t really blame her mate,” Masamune finally stopped laughing enough to be able to walk and clapped his hand on Hideyoshi’s shoulder. “You have been leaving her alone all the time and spending time with them. I was beginning to think I’d have a chance again.”

“You’ve been more trying than usual of late,” I cooly added to Date, glowering still at him as Hideyoshi tightened his grip on me subconsciously.

The kiss that Hideyoshi gave was worthy of a movie coming after it. The unbridled passion was nothing I’d felt before, and he was definitely dipping me in a dramatic fashion. The fire he’d started would never extinguish as I threw my arms around his neck just to give me something to hold onto. I could barely get my thoughts straight as we came up for air, and then the right-hand man of Oda promptly put me on top of his horse and turned everything about to take me back to Azuchi.

“Right, so Nobunaga won’t be too happy to see me back I don’t think,” I posed the question to him. I was blown away by the fierce kiss I then got as the horse was immediately pulled to a stop.

“Right now, I don’t want you to say another man’s name,” he grumpily replied.

“But it’s fine for you to keep disappearing off with your little fan club?” I quipped back, fed up completely of the double standards.

“Fine, you’re ruining your own surprise,” Hideyoshi snapped, jerking my head back so we were looking into each other’s eyes. “I love you, I love you so much, I was getting some advice on what to do for a wedding and how to plan it, but I wasn’t sure you’d say yes. You’re always surrounded by other men, and I know you’re too captivating for your own good, so I wanted to make sure it’d all be perfect for you.”

“You are an idiot,” I stated, before kissing him softly, pouring my love and affections into it. “Plus, Nobunaga is one of our biggest supporters, do you really think he’d let anyone else even try and get a foot in the door to marry me?” I tilted my head and raised my eyebrows. “Let’s just get home,” I sighed. It had felt like a long day.

We were back at his manor before dawn, as I realised I had barely slept now in over two days, and my body was beginning to sway with exhaustion. Hideyoshi could easily go for another three or four on minimal sleep, but I wasn’t the battle-hardened warlord in this relationship. Usually, I would have had to keep pretences going, and sleep in the nearest guest quarters, but Hideyoshi wasn’t having any of his normal antics and carried me straight to his quarters. His futon was warm and just smelt of him as I couldn’t even be bothered to change my clothes before I slipped into sleep.

Nobunaga was looking far too amused to be innocent in the whole plot as we gathered in the tenshu the following evening. Then again, most things like this would have Oda’s interest. Hideyoshi wouldn’t let me sit anywhere but right next to him, and would keep mothering me to make sure I was comfortable.

“I hope you two have sorted yourselves out now,” Nobunaga calmly announced amongst the other gathered warlords, setting both me and Hideyoshi off in a dark shade of red. “I was actually getting prepared to marry Natsuki off just to get monkey moving,” he smirked.

“Not a chance of that happening,” Hideyoshi said, taking my hand purposefully. “If she was lined up to marry anyone else, I would storm the ceremony to rescue her,” he declared, as though daring his lord to test him.

Oda’s smirk grew wider. “Do not worry monkey, I only let that rumour about Natsuki being married to Shingen reach you to get you into action.”

“Thank you then,” I smiled, and bowed to Nobunaga in a surprise move. “I don’t think anything would have been resolved if you hadn’t.”

Chapter Text

My father was a military genius. Held high in respect for everything he had ever done, and now me and my brother faced a reputation to meet. Ieyasu and I were only young when the same accident that had killed our mother had left me permanently disabled. Not that it had persuaded our father to treat me any differently, he just had to adjust the course for me so I could meet the standards he was expecting. I was largely restricted to a wheelchair, crutches were in use on the good days, and sometimes I was left unable to even get out of bed without a hand. It was frustrating, to say the least. I was fit as ever, and I was still dependant on others to help me.

The nickname that I was given from the day I was born was ‘Princess’, though my father would only call me that outside of the daily training regime he established. Ieyasu was my senior by a few years, though he was normally always prickly on the outside, he cared deeply for me. When I was learning to walk again, he was always pushing me that little bit further with some warming encouragement and was the first to catch me when I stumbled. Then when I was out on the courses in the manual wheelchair, he was the one taunting me to push beyond the invisible barrier I had. He did it because I needed him to, I didn’t need someone to mollycoddle me, I needed my brother to keep being annoying so I could beat him.

We grew up amongst some of the biggest names in the military. Oda, Date, Toyotomi, Akechi and Ishida. I was the youngest, but that meant nothing as everyone enlisted as expected. My father had taken to reverting to outside help for my lessons, I was fluent in several languages and computers were part of me it seemed, where my brother was a brilliant army doctor, nothing ever phased him on the training, and even the prospect of being amongst the front lines practically had him salivating. When we all grew into ourselves after nearly thirty years of being around each other, the radio calls would practically become indecent to our higher ranks, though as the lowest ranking one of the seven of us, I never once addressed any of them with their appropriated ranks as I should have done. They treated me as their equal, it would be the biggest disrespect to treat them any other way.

Masamune Date had taken over the catering divisions and was as handy with a sword as he was with a knife. He knew how to run the kitchens on deployment and wouldn’t hesitate to extend his stays beyond plausible reason except for the fact that his friends were swapping units. Mitsuhide Akechi was one of the leading espionages for our forces, often so far hidden that we wouldn’t see him for months on end, and then he’d turn up in someone’s kitchen and steal their coffee. Hideyoshi was the right hand to Colonel Nobunaga Oda, and their forces were considered combat specialists. All of them were battle crazy, and Akechi would often answer to Oda as well. Well, all of us did really. Oda had taken the reigns of many things and would say we were the only ones he could truly trust when things got hectic. I was always based in the labs in the background, often left behind with Mitsunari Ishida. He was lovely but always buried in his research for the next tactic, the next weapon and the next threat. When I had no translations or codes to break, I would be delving into his pile for something to do. As well as the lab being probably one of the safest places for me to get out of the wheelchair and on my crutches. I was also frequently sweeping for the next recruits to join the specialist forces.

“Tokugawa!” Came over the radio one morning, as Ieyasu was inspecting my latest x-ray and MRI scans for any further deterioration.

“Yes, sir?” My brother sounded bored to talk, though the frown on his face at the MRI scan wasn’t putting a lot of faith in me.

“Wrong one,” the voice sharply corrected as I shook my head and lifted my radio.

“Yes, sir?” I enquired, rolling my eyes. This person clearly had never interacted before with us, otherwise, my code name would have been called.

“Needed you in the lab five minutes ago, where are you?” The angry voice demanded. “I could have you done for this!”

“As per the agreement with my commanding officer sir, I think you will find my monthly health checks are a vital part to the team,” I crisply responded.

“I am going to have you,” he growled before the noise had then apparently disturbed our officer.

“General, I do believe I brief you regularly on where to find Tokugawa if you need her on this specific day of the month,” Nobunaga was clearly bored of his superior’s antics. “I am beginning to suspect that you have it out for her.”

“Come to the lab once you’re done,” the general spat, and turned off his communication device as I pulled out my military phone to check the team messages that we sent privately.

NT: So which general am I in trouble with?
NO: No one important. He’s got it out for you, so be wary of what you say. I can’t protect you all the time princess, especially if you violate orders and commands.
NT: I assume Ishida is there already?
MI: Yes, he’s disturbing my work.
NT: Sorry Ishida! I’ll bring coffee.
MI: Apology accepted.
NO: And me?
NT: I thought you were going to abandon me all alone.
NO: I don’t trust your smart mouth to not get me in trouble.
NT: I can feel the love from here.
IT: Shut up, the MRI and X-rays are inconclusive. I’m going to need some time with Princess to determine where we are on the scale exactly. No physical problems than already we don’t know about, but you’ll get the full report in your inbox, Oda.
NT: Great, hang me out to dry with the Generals, will you?
IT: You can save yourself, you have done on many occasions even without a wheelchair or crutches.
NT: And then you nag me lovingly about straining myself. Actually, you all do that if the time comes.
NO: Get your backside in gear and get here Princess. Bring enough coffee and anything to calm down this lunatic.

I shrugged to my brother in response as he eyed me up wearily. “I’m asking for another MRI, full spinal. The pins and needles aren’t a new thing, but the weakness is. I want to just check anything out before it gets serious, we can always physiotherapy something out.”

“I’ll go and stop the potential war then,” I grinned, and slipped back into my chair from the medical bed I had been sat on. “See ya!” I waved before pulling and pushing on the wheels to get my movement going. Starting was always the hardest part, my arms had been trained as soon as my father had learnt that I was going to largely be wheelchair bound. He made sure I could handle the pressure of getting myself about, not relying constantly on anyone else was all part of the determination to uphold the Tokugawa name as I hit the lift button to get me down to the labs.

The doors slid open to reveal a smirking Date in the corner. He was chuckling at me as he waved his phone about.

“Now I know you’ve definitely not been called in for anything,” I snorted, spinning my chair about to reverse in before Masamune tugged my chair back to get me in before the doors closed. The military hadn’t been particularly designed with limited mobility in mind.

“Actually, Oda sent for me, something to do with poison. We’ll just have to see which General we’ve all upset now. He was pissed when he couldn’t get you on the first attempt,” Masamune grinned.

“It’s not the calling name, otherwise I’d have answered straight off if he thought to listen to Nobunaga,” I pointed out. “Though this guy will have it in for me for two reasons I reckon, I’m a woman and I’m freaking disabled.”

“You do anything you want to and you’ve proven yourself over and over in the field anyway. If he has a problem then you’ve got us all as backup anyway,” Date’s confidence would always cross the line into flirtation with me, he was relentless, but I knew he was the same with any female. “I still remember when you literally pulled yourself from the enemy’s hole with some expensive data because they’d broken your walking suit in an attempt to stop you.”

“Ieyasu chewed my ear off about that for days. I tore some leg muscles,” I grinned. “And he told you all off for congratulating me on doing it, didn’t he have you cater my meals specifically for several weeks after?”

“Don’t remind me, I had to do it all personally too,” Date grumbled half-heartedly.

The ding of the elevator had Masamune pushing me out for a start to the movement, sticking his tongue out at me before the military side kicked in and we got down the corridor together. The coffee machine was a mystery to just about everyone to work as I pulled myself into the tense room, and headed straight for it, offering the general a salute in passing as I poured the ground beans into the top of it and added the water for the pot to start processing.

“General Saito apparently thinks we have a leak,” Nobunaga was looking more than pissed off as he physically faced me. “Someone broke through our brand new tactics on the last mission.”

I knew he was thinking it was either me being loose-lipped when it came to the recruitment, or it was Mitsuhide who hadn’t been seen for about five months at that point. I narrowed my eyes slightly as I opened the files on my computer, typing through all the passwords at light speed before the report was available.

“So what was the point about the poison then?” Date asked wearily, as he leant over my shoulder with a frown, scanning the document for anything that would jump out.

There were some samples out on the light up table in front of Mitsunari, each individually contained in a sealed box. They all looked exactly like the rations that Masamune had established for the units on deep deployment. They would last forever and a day, and they didn’t taste that bad. “They got compromised,” Saito snapped. “So someone knew exactly what food to give them all, and how to switch it out.”

The provisions were changed on a regular basis, and these were definitely the latest batch. Date would stroll in at all hours to make sure that both me and Ishida were fed properly on a daily occasion during operations. This was his latest recipe from the outside, but Saito wouldn’t even let us think of breaking a seal before he could snatch them all back into a briefcase.

“With all due respect sir,” I started, taking a breath to try and keep myself from getting immediately court-martialled and a dishonourable discharge. “What is it you are expecting from us? A breach in a new tactic means that the tactic needs revision, Toyotomi is the best person to address that, a breach in someone poisoning our food needs Akechi.”

“I am expecting to find out how the enemy knew what to do to break our tactics Tokugawa, you are supposed to be brilliant at infiltration,” he sneered. “Get into their systems and find out exactly how Uesugi knew!” He stormed off, leaving us all in a bother, whilst Oda gave me a side on glance.

“I asked in the manner I’m meant to, if he files anything, I will come back with my own harassment case,” I promised Nobunaga, swinging my chair back to the computer to have a look at the report from the latest mission.

“Don’t worry Princess,” Date patted me on the head. He was the same rank as my brother and Oda, though Ieyasu and Masamune would follow Nobunaga without question. “Three Colonels against a General would stand a chance,” he grinned.

“He’s already on watch for targeting you,” Oda admitted, leaning against a surface as Mitsunari was already buried back in a book on espionage. “Just have a look and see if you can figure out how they’d know so quickly. If you can get hold of Akechi then do so, he responds to you where the rest of us are ignored.”

“Anyone would think I’m his superior,” I grinned, mock saluting my boss in the process before turning back to the screen.

***

“Hey!” It was late apparently, as Ieyasu stuck his head in the room, and looking extremely grumpy. “What have I told you two about installing a meal alarm in here?” He scolded and noticed the coffee pot was virtually empty.

“Why?” I asked in puzzlement as I glanced up to the clock. “It’s only eleven thirty,” I shrugged.

“Yes, at night. You’ve both missed lunch and dinner,” my brother retorted.

“Oh,” I nodded my head and then looked towards Mitsunari. “Ishida, my tablet broke, you want to break for food?” I loudly asked, throwing a pencil at him as well.

“Your tablet always breaks around meal times,” Mitsunari slowly questioned, his brow knitting together as he looked at the clock. “Will they be serving this early?”

“It’s nearly midnight you moron,” Ieyasu snorted, grabbing the handles of my wheelchair.

“And this is why I wanted them sawn off,” I grumpily added as Ieyasu pulled on Mitsunari’s arm to get him to his feet.

“We’re going to Date’s quarters, he’ll have something prepped for you both, and then you’re both going to sleep,” he ordered, getting very snappy as I wasn’t allowed to move myself until we got to Masamune’s place.

I was hobbling about on my crutches that were left there on purpose. Anything to get out of my brother’s control over my movements as Masamune was happily pulling the chicken hotpot he had currently on the go out of the slow cooker. He had a theory that this would happen and had prepared accordingly. Whilst I thought about it, I was quick in sending a text to Mitsuhide, knowing that he would likely be busy at this point in time.

What’s happened?

His instant response startled me and showed in my expression. “Princess, you are far too easy to read, did Akechi reply?” Date chuckled, putting my bowl in front of me.

“Straight away,” I nodded, tapping a reply out.

Useugi was able to immediately break through some new tactics that were tried by the specialist unit. He thinks it was leaked from our side to theirs. Our food supplies also got compromised.

On it. Don’t push yourself x

It was hard to hide the blush as I put my phone face down on the table and immediately dug into the delicious food. I hadn’t realised how hungry I was until it was in front of me. I was practically breathing it in, much to my brother’s amusement as I would always insist on the opposite. Then Masamune choked on his drink, and shoved the screen in front of Ieyasu’s face, as I recognised the slight difference in phone casing, and realised it was mine.

Ieyasu went white and then flushed bright red.

“Still nothing going on between you two?” My brother was icy in his tone.

“I see him three times a year at most, and you guys are always with us. There’s nothing going on!” I exclaimed as Mitsunari tilted his head in confusion at the scene before him. “Ishida, eat your dinner, you’re worse than me,” I grumbled, and willing to take the attention back off me. “Plus when would I get time to date anyone? My job isn’t exactly flexible.”

“Easy to date someone in the military,” Masamune considered, smirking knowingly.

“I am not dating anyone. He’s been gone for nearly six months now,” I replied, pointing out the obvious.

“And yet he only responds to you,” Ieyasu side-glanced me.

“Hey, if Nobunaga can drop this subject, then you two can,” I snorted, and reached for my crutches.

“You’re staying here, Oda’s orders,” Ieyasu shook his head.

“And Ishida?” I sarcastically asked.

“Is next door in my quarters. You two are worse than children,” my brother grumbled. His dislike of my lab colleague wasn’t hidden at all.

NT: I could date Mitsunari…
IT: Do so and I will skin you.
NT: Why are you assuming I’m dating anyone? I’m barely out of the sight of you, Nobunaga or Masamune anyway.
IT: I saw that blush, and Akechi doesn’t reply to his superiors, but replies to the girl who is a rank below him without a second thought to the point our commander knows to get in contact via you?
IT: There’s something going on and I’m not blind. Dad would be on you in a second.
NT: There’s nothing for anyone to get on to me about. I work eighteen hours a day, seven days a week when it’s needed. And most of the time I’m working regardless because I have nothing else to do outside of my health trips with you.
IT: I miss the obvious sometimes with you, that’s why Oda and Date are about you as much as I am.
NT: Trust me as my brother, if I was dating, you’d know about it.
IT: Fine. Go to sleep.

I smiled and closed the private chat. It would have likely made more sense for me to sleep in my brother’s quarters, but then Date liked to get the base talking as I pulled out my spare clothes that were kept there for these ‘emergencies’.

“Tell me again why you keep clothes across everyone’s quarters?” Masamune laughed idly, finishing his sake for the night.

“Because I end up sleeping everywhere else but my own quarters. So mine are more like a storage unit, and where I get the laundry done. Plus keeping them where I’m likely to sleep means I don’t have to keep going and fetching things,” I pointed out with a shrug, and then narrowed my eyes at Masamune as I went to get changed. “I’m going to the bathroom.”

“Spoilsport!” The Colonel laughed.

NT: Why do I have my own quarters? Date just pointed out the obvious. I never sleep there, it’s effectively a holding unit for my clothes.
NO: Because we have to give you one, it’s like Ishida’s. He never uses his but his clothes are kept there on rotation for laundry. We can’t leave the pair of you to your own devices.
MD: I thought I got the special pyjamas for a reason Princess, don’t get me all excited now.
IT: Hands to yourself, I’m only in the next set of quarters, and I will break the walls down if I have to.
HT: I leave you all alone for a day and you devolve into this…
MI: I have quarters?
MA: The special PJs are in my place ;)
MD: Stop spoiling my fun Akechi
NT: They’re next to mine Mitsunari, I keep spotting the laundry staff on occasions with your clothes.
NO: Akechi, back to work. There’s no report in my inbox.

There was a sharp rap on the door to Masamune’s apartment, startling us both from our phones. I drew my pistol from the back of my wheelchair as Date softly unsheathed his prized samurai sword before flinging the door open.

The silver-haired male smirked at us both and had what had been dubbed my 'special pyjamas’ hanging off his finger. I glared and snatched them off Mitsuhide whilst Masamune was roaring with laughter. Ieyasu looked pissed when he opened the door and was unimpressed to see that Akechi had finally returned.

“It’s the middle of the night Mitsuhide,” Oda sounded tired of his usual antics, though he was engrossed in reading a report on his phone.

“Well, I found out they got hold of a crate of food supplies after it had left the lab, so I’ll let you deal with a new supply line,” the sly male grinned. “I also forgot my keys,” he looked entirely dastardly about it and was fooling none of us. “So I figured Princess would have the keys to her place and would let me crash there-”

“You are not sleeping there on your own you perv,” I snapped, my finger pointing accusingly at the silver-haired male. “You go through all my lingerie and pyjamas to find something to kidnap for your next trip.”

“Sleep in Ishida’s quarters,” Ieyasu sighed, massaging his temples with his fingers at the chaos one person was causing.

“Does he even have any keys for his quarters?” I asked, tilting my head back to look at my brother.

The three Colonels all paused in thought and hung their heads. It was likely the only people who had keys were the laundry staff, who’d all be off base now. “I’m not letting him sleep in my quarters alone,” I argued, grabbing my keys from the wheelchair before Mitsuhide beamed and pushed me into my wheelchair, then taking off at the speed of light.

I rolled my eyes at him as I grabbed the handrail near the door and uprighted myself. I only had a double bed, where the Colonels had spare beds in their rooms. So everyone knew that we’d be sharing a bed tonight as I got to my crutches before running out of support.

Akechi was smirking again, and going through my bag, caught in the act of stealing the same pair of pyjamas that he had just returned.

“Ieyasu is convinced we’re dating. I had to point out the slightly obvious point that you were never about,” I said. “Stop putting kisses on the texts, you know my phone is watched like a hawk, I have no private conversations.”

“It’s just fun to tease,” Mitsuhide laughed, and then swayed slightly, using the corridor to support himself. “Ugh, what time is it?”

“Two am,” I replied, glancing at my clock on the nightstand. “Officially it’s Wednesday.”

“Hm, three days I’ve been up then,” he scratched his head.

“And you’re going to get changed and go to bed like now,” I ordered, pulling the pyjamas I kept for him out from the drawers under my bed. “We’ll have the meeting tomorrow to catch up,” I snorted.

Mitsuhide was snoring quite comfortably in my bed as I put the morning cup of coffee on. Mitsunari was meant to be developing a new walking suit for me, but our recent upsets would have put that on hold as I started to think back over the previous day’s medical visit with my brother. A full spinal MRI was slightly concerning, but I’d had them on a regular basis when the brief ones hadn’t proven any deterioration or improvement. That Ieyasu was requesting it was my main concern. He never coddled me as I found myself enveloped in a warm hug. Mitsuhide was frowning at me.

“Care to share why you look like someone’s died? You look a lot prettier with your smile Natsuki,” Akechi was stroking my cheek, as a tight smile came in response to the use of my actual name.

“Ieyasu’s ordering a full spinal MRI. The one he was looking at yesterday wasn't giving any answers. Makes me a little worried when my brother’s the one sorting those things,” I replied, not trying to escape the slight bit of comfort. “How long are you back for?”

“A few nights probably. Oda will have the uppers breathing down his neck to get this breach solved, especially in response to our food supply being contaminated,” he shrugged, holding me close with his head resting on the top of mine as I sipped at my coffee. “Have you had your morning medication yet?”

“I was about to get some breakfast then have them. Can’t really have my pain cocktail on an empty stomach,” I shrugged, putting my half-empty mug on the side. “If you don’t let me go then I can’t really get anything.”

“Hm, but this is rather cosy,” he murmured, sending a shiver up my spine at his tone of voice, his breath hot on my ear.

“And you wonder why people talk,” Date interrupted us with a lazy tone, having let himself in with breakfast packed for us both. He gave me a lopsided grin. “Ieyasu wants to see you once you’ve had all your medication, something about the MRI.”

Akechi was laughing as he sat down. He famously had no taste buds and would simply eat just for sustenance so he didn’t collapse on the job. Something that had happened on a few early missions, luckily Oda had recognised the pattern and already started sorting it out by the time we got back to base. He mashed the food together on his plate as I got out the pillbox I kept for organising my medications. I paused as I had a closer look, and noticed that it was likely that Ieyasu had actually slipped in a birth control pill for my midday medications.

I sighed loudly, attracting the attention of the silver-haired male. “What?” He asked, swallowing his current mouthful of food.

“Ieyasu added a birth control pill to my medications, I’ve only just noticed,” I replied, my eyebrows threatening to lift off my face. “I swear he interferes when he doesn’t need to,” I snorted, and sat down with the mini mountain of pills. I had some just to counteract the fact I was on so many pills.

“Stop looking at the pills in a depressed manner, or I may have to come over there and correct that expression,” Mitsuhide’s warning was thinly veiled flirtation.

I stuck my tongue out in response and then made my way through breakfast.

*****

I was sat on the medical table in my brother’s study yet again. I couldn’t even pretend to smile as he was on the phone to the nearest hospital with an MRI scanner.

“Yes, I know I only ordered one last week. I need a full spinal and lumbar though. For a special forces soldier. You know exactly what that means,” he was losing his patience, his wording said everything. “Monday at midday? That’s fine. Book it in for the special forces, no further information is needed. I’ll be there about 11 am for patient information purposes.”

He hung up and glared at the phone.

“Glaring at the phone won’t do anything. She was probably just trying to do her job,” I reminded my brother. “Monday at 10.30 am then I’ll have specialised transport waiting for me?”

“11:30 am, there’s no need for you to come off base for the patient information,” he corrected with a wave of his hand.

“Stop interfering with my medication. I don’t need birth control,” I snorted as I got into my crutches. The meeting room for our reconvene was only down the corridor and I didn’t need to hurry to it.

“Yes you do, it helps for missions if you go into the field. Nobunaga recommended it for monthly regulations,” my brother wouldn’t look up from his phone, furiously tapping something out at a speed I’d rarely seen outside of our little cliche.

“At least tell me next time,” I rebutted, grunting as I pulled the door open. I was glad for an empty corridor, it was getting harder sometimes to watch them all go galavanting off on their careers, whilst I was stuck at the top of mine. I couldn’t go higher, not without the walking suit, and even then it would take a miracle to get me that next promotion. I didn’t usually allow myself to drown in self-pity, but it made me feel a little more normal as I heard the bustle of soldiers approaching, and put myself back into military mode. Some had claimed it was a miracle that I had made it this far given my limited abilities in the physical sense, but I knew my father had intervened just to get me into the forces, then Oda snatched me up the second I was officially through with basic training. I had hated every second of basic training. The other soldiers would see me getting the ‘special treatment’ and wouldn’t associate my name with my father until he came to the graduation ceremony and would personally hand me my awards. I hadn’t seen anyone in my graduating class since then, I was all too happy to stay under the familiar umbrella of one of the people I had grown up around.

Nobunaga was the only one in when I got there, and I frowned when he made the motion to take a seat. He had dark bags under his eyes and a seriously thick file under his hand.

“Everyone else will be here in twenty minutes,” he opened, looking torn in two about what he was about to broach. “I can’t trust anyone but you with this task Princess, and I need you to lie to everyone. I hate that I’m doing this, but I need to sort this leak out. And I’m terrified currently it’s one of those under my command. You were the only one I could rule out. We narrowed down the time frame, and you’re the only one we’ve got logged onto the computer and completely active in that time frame.”

“What am I looking for?” I softly asked, pouring the coffee out as Nobunaga rubbed his eyes for the millionth time.

“Anything, everything. Something,” he mumbled as I moved to the seat next to him and gave him a hug. “I can’t trust any of them right now Princess,” his voice broke, hiding his face in his large hands.

“I’ll dispel everything and prove you have nothing to worry about,” I whispered, kissing his forehead as he had done on my many breakdowns. “You’re overworked and I’m willing to bet my current clothing that you didn’t actually sleep last night. So what’s going to happen is, I will be at yours starting my research, whilst you get some sleep. I will wake you if anything major stands out to me, m’kay?” I soothed, beaming brightly at my commanding officer.

Nobunaga wrapped me in a hug, needing to feel something that was real after feeling like he was about to be stabbed in the back.

“I’ve got your back,” I whispered, my head resting on his shoulder. “And we’ll not give my brother a hernia when he walks in shortly and finds us embracing,” I laughed, giving Oda one last kiss on the cheek before pulling away. “I’ll make sure Date doesn’t find out either, he’ll be trying to gatecrash,” I wryly smiled as the Colonel immediately returned to form.

“Make sure to bring enough things to last for a few days at least. Staying in my quarters is the only way to make sure things aren’t tampered with,” he sighed, agreeing with my plan as I started to make a mental list of the things I’d need from my quarters.

It was a few minutes of idle chatter before Ieyasu and Mitsuhide turned up, the former slightly ruffled as he pulled Oda aside for a brief murmur whilst Akechi sidled up to me to look far too cosy on purpose. Masamune wasn’t far behind, as Hideyoshi brought Ishida along, though Mitsunari had yet to look up from his current book to the room. The meeting room started recording as the debrief for Mitsuhide’s most recent absence was covered.

“Next target is these breaches we’ve had, and how they’re finding out what tactics we’re using so quickly and then breaking into our food tracks without us knowing,” Nobunaga stated, not looking up from his papers. The folder was threatening to burst if he put in any more paper. “Date, I need you to start marking all the batches you send out and recording that they’ve not been tampered with, and I need it doing personally. Toyotomi, I need a complete revision of the tactics used, and several backups recording and the troops trained thoroughly on them all. Tokugawa,” he paused and looked directly at Ieyasu, “I need antidotes for all the poisons showing in the food, Ishida has already started his investigations to break them down. Akechi, you know what to do and where to go. Rest up and resupply and head out in the next few days. Spend what time you need to making any leads but I don’t want to see you here by next Tuesday. Tokugawa,” Nobunaga paused to look straight at me. “Research assignment. We’ve found something but can’t crack it. I need to know if it’s worth anything.”

It was code, everything was code. I couldn’t trust anyone and had to keep a front up as the room immediately vacated. Oda had passed me the file as he left the room, it included all the information on me as I flicked through it. I slipped it into my satchel and made sure it was fastened before getting to my crutches. The next people who would need to use the room wouldn’t appreciate finding the cripple in it. My quarters were the next scheduled stop, only I found Nobunaga already waiting in them, and going through my stuff like everyone else.

I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at the sight, and Oda flushed red at being caught. “Seriously?” I asked, hobbling over. “Akechi bought me those ‘special pyjamas’ you all are so desperate to see, just for this purpose,” I snorted. My usual pyjamas were simply shorts and a t-shirt as I threw all my toothbrush, toothpaste and shower things into a wash bag whilst my boss went to collect my laptop and all the necessary chargers. He also managed to find my missing set of headphones and shook his head as I beamed enthusiastically at him.

“Guest room has been cleared for you. Now get into the chair and I’m wheeling you across whilst you make sure all of your things don’t fall off. I’ve already ensured a clear route, and worst case, we’re now an item,” he gritted his teeth as I laughed at the speed he set off at.

IT: Has anyone actually seen Princess lately?
NO: Yes. She’s in a private room doing the research. I’m making sure she’s eating and taking her meds.
MD: I thought she was just avoiding me.
HT: No, that was just the rest of us having some wishful thinking. Did Akechi leave?
MI: He cleared his computer from the lab this morning and I haven’t seen him since.
NO: I’d say he’s left base again. I don’t need him here for this to get sorted.
IT: As long as Princess is taking her meds okay then I guess there’s nothing to worry about really, but her MRI scan is tomorrow and her private lift has been booked for 11.30am. And I know what she’s like.
NO: I’ve just programmed the reminder into her phone, she won’t miss it.
IT: Why have you got her phone?
NO: I’m standing right next to her currently, she’s got her headphones on and is working on something. I’m not interrupting her until it’s next dosage time.
HT: Haven’t you got plenty to be doing without babysitting Princess?
NO: This is something that’s urgent, so I need to babysit her for now, it’s not like I’m not doing my work.
IT: If you need someone to take over the babysitting let us know.

Oda’s private line was ringing just after lunch the following morning. He didn’t recognise the number that popped up on the screen, but something was pulling at him to answer.

“Colonel Oda speaking,” he sharply stated, hoping it was just a wrong number.

“This is the MRI department. Ms Tokugawa never turned up for her urgent MRI scan. We need to send the bill to-” the woman on the other end was completely impersonal.

“She never turned up? Her transport collected her,” Nobunaga went into a blind panic.

NO: MRI are saying Princess never turned up at the appointment.
IT: WHAT?
HT: Did transport collect her?
NO: At 11:28. Had to sign everything.

“Mr Oda-” the woman began again as he realised that he had become focused on his mobile rather than the landline.

“Colonel. Right now I am missing a specialist in the armed forces, I don’t care who you bill, send it and we will sort it,” he snapped and hung up abruptly.

NO: Meeting. NOW. My office.

Ieyasu practically ran there, panting in a panic as Hideyoshi and Masamune were hot on his heels, with Mitsunari managing to vaguely navigate his way up from the labs. They were all on the edge of losing their minds.

“Ishida, track all the cameras, you can the vehicle registration from the security cameras on base,” Nobunaga reeled off, his pacing not ceasing. “Tokugawa, get into the hospital, find out if she’s checked in anywhere, see if anyone’s seen her. Toyotomi, get everyone prepared for a rescue mission if we need to. Date, I need you right now to keep everyone’s heads calm and keep us all fed on a personal level.”

The men all nodded and immediately dispersed. Nobunaga was blaming himself for this, he shouldn’t have ignored his gut feeling to let her go alone to this appointment.

***

My head was pounding as my vision slowly started to come into focus. The last thing I remembered was getting into the transport to go to the hospital, and this definitely wasn’t the hospital I was at. It was cold and sterile, but in the military not healthcare terms. It was hard to think straight as someone’s footsteps started to approach.

I vaguely recalled his face as he delicately shone a torch into both my eyes and started to hook me up to monitoring machines. He kept pushing his glasses up his nose and kept a stoic face throughout as I had to keep blinking to try and keep the world in focus. I finally realised I was lying down on a bed, and my hands were bound so I couldn’t get up as I went to rub my eyes.

“You’d be better going back to sleep, it takes a long time to wear off,” the man calmly said, not looking up from his clipboard as he wrote down the vitals information. I had stayed in hospitals enough to recognise what he was doing.

“Strange man,” I murmured, and slipped back into sleep’s grasp.

“Sir, this is definitely a turning point in the war, I am just trying to figure out if it’s worth the chaos this is about to unleash,”’ the tone and wording were all familiar, but everything was still in too much of a haze for me to start making the connections. “How strong did you make the mix Sarutobi?” The same man questioned, bending over to get a good look at me as my jade eyes blearily gazed back. “She’s awake and conscious, not fully with it.”

“I didn’t take into consideration the mixture of pain relief she’d be on, so it’s harder hitting than anticipated,” the stoic man from earlier shrugged, a flash of regret in his eyes before they hardened over again.

“I heard Princess was stirring,” that flirtatious tone, it was too familiar.

“Date?” I croaked out, trying to force myself out of the fog. The temperature dropped a few degrees as the third male casually strolled across the floor and bent over me to give a dramatic scene.

“I’m wounded you wouldn’t know me by voice now Princess,” Shingen Takeda, one of the enemy’s commanders, alongside Kenshin Uesugi. I wasn’t sure who I would rather deal with, the relentless flirt or the battle crazy self-proclaimed god. I was completely at their mercy as I closed my eyes again. “Are you keeping the morphine going?” He asked in a serious manner.

“It helps keep the pain at bay for her, until General Uesugi has made his choice on what we go about doing,” Sarutobi was the first person I could get a semi-decent look at. An almost typical ‘nerd’ like appearance, slender build, tousled mousey brown hair and glasses that had been thinned down despite the high prescription. “Plus it has the added effect of making her docile.”

“Bit addictive though,” I smiled, closing my eyes again. “The peace it brings with it from the agony is something you can get far too used to. Then you just need more and more,” I murmured, knowing that all three men were currently staring at me. “Good way of keeping control of someone.”

The three of them were deathly silent as the neverending wariness beat at me. I felt like I was trying to fight the inevitable until the General himself showed up, and looked slightly pleased with the results.

“Tokugawa,” he murmured. “You were half machine last I saw you,” he loudly commented. His eyes were captivating, and not just for the obvious reason of heterochromia.

“Well, you practically tore it off me, took a while to get back after that,” I smirked, closing my eyes again. “Shouldn’t leave your precious data lying about, the enemy might get it,” I laughed.

“And as mouthy as ever,” he snarked, ripping out my cannula. I had to bite my lip hard as the blood poured from my hand, and then the side of his blade kept me from lifting my arm up. I was forced to glare at him after opening my eyes. “Transfer to a prison cell,” Uesugi snapped, and stormed off as though he had better things to do.

The only consolation I had was that I knew everyone would be on the tracks to find me. But I figured that the plates on the transport had been obscured by a film, and they’d had tinted windows to make features harder to work out, and I definitely had no clue as to where I was exactly aside from in the enemy’s hands. Sarutobi had bandaged my hand up swiftly once the general had left and then Takeda had escorted me via a strapped in a wheelchair.

I was stuck in this cell, even with the door unopened. The previous mission where my walking suit had been activated, had destroyed my thigh muscles when General Uesugi had torn it from me and left me to crawl out of a foxhole across half the battlefield. I was also starting to become aware of the pain that racked my body as I flopped down onto the ‘bed’. It was a thin straw mattress on top of a lump of concrete. I was going to be spending a lot of time here unless the battles didn’t go to plan.

MI: Plates reflected every bit of light going, and no one remembers anything specific. It was a transport with tinted windows. I reckon they had gas deployed and the passenger area sealed off.
NO: Who has her?
IT: Uesugi and Takeda I’d say. Uesugi was pissed after that mission eighteen months ago, she stole so much data and he ripped that walking suit off of her out of sheer rage.
NO: I want to know how they figured out she had a transport booked. Because nothing else showed up.
MI: A lot of planning. Taxi driver paid off, just an average guy so there’s nothing to recall about him. Then they tampered with the car to make it effective.
NO: They’re trying to get us to make a bad move to get her back.
MA: Ishida, check your inbox.
IT: Akechi, the only thing I want you to be able to say is that you know where she is.
MA: I know what cell she’s in, and I know Takeda is flirting with her relentlessly, but she’s also in a lot of pain. They pumped her full of morphine for a few days, and now she’s on nothing. I’m still working on how to get her out.
NO: Stay where you are, send your coordinates over, this is not a one-man mission.

It was hard to tell if it was merely days or weeks I’d been here. Everything was a sharp throb. I was curled up in a ball, and the second my discs would start to flare up it was agony that I couldn’t stop myself from screaming in. I’d just about managed to get over the morphine cold turkey, I had soaked the mattress through with sweat and tears. But now I was just trying to fight the survival.

Shingen Takeda strolled past for his daily ritual, smiling at me like he was an angel of mercy. “Princess, I have all the drugs you could need and want, you just have to do me a favour,” he cooed, his strong arms linking through the bars.

“No,” I gritted my teeth. “I’m not paying the price you’re after,” I growled.

“It’s just sex,” he taunted. “I think you’re scared you’ll like it.”

“You sound like you think you know me,” I cruelly laughed, finally dragging myself to the bars, using them to keep myself upright. “You know nothing of me Takeda, I have survived everything so far, and I will not break now,” I smiled.

“I’m not sure you realise how dangerous you are Tokugawa,” his breath was hot on my lips. I was determined to stand my ground, glaring hotly at the annoyingly handsome offending man. “That look has failed many men in their tracks, but I am beyond them,” he paused millimetres away and stared into my eyes. “Huh, wouldn’t have put you as that,” he murmured, tracing my lips with his fingers, breaking my deathly glare and sending me into confusion. “You’ve never had sex,” I flushed bright red at the truth and recoiled from pressing my face against the bars. “Now that adds to you,” he charmed, and left abruptly, leaving me feeling very open to attack now he had that piece of information.

When the usual time for scraps came about, a voice yelled for my attention. It was Yukimura Sandara, Takeda’s second in command, as I began to recall that he had been the one first poking at me when Sarutobi had been monitoring my vitals. The tray he had was full of actual food, and a pot of medication next to it. I frowned suspiciously as my door was opened, and the tray was placed on my bed and he snarled something as he left. I was starving, but I knew so much about not eating anything unusual. I check the medications carefully, I was being wrecked by the pain, I couldn’t sleep, and if I stayed awake much longer then it would kill me, I was certain.

Takeda wasn’t one to patrol the prisons, but with a high profile prisoner, he was keen to keep an eye on Tokugawa. She was fast asleep for the first time since her arrival, the medication pot was empty, but the food barely touched. She was exhausted and had been racked by debilitating pain since coming off the morphine eight days earlier. Yukimura had shared that she didn’t trust anything they gave her, and had officially reported that she had practically dissected the medications before taking them. She looked everything like her brother in the facial structure but had light brown hair that was usually in a low bun and jade eyes that threatened to swallow you in her charisma if you would let her. He watched her curiously from the guard’s station, she was only in sight because she was physically incapable of escaping without help. He had heard the rumours that when Kenshin Uesugi had ripped the walking suit off her, she had torn her muscles to shreds to get back to her side of the fight.

Then the alarms blared. A breach, and the sound of gunfire. They’d found her as he smirked. Hopefully the idiot Nobunaga Oda would be leading it so he could have his head. The only thing that was stopping him, was the entire plan. The opposing forces were meant to find out, as he pressed the button to open the gates to Tokugawa’s cell. The drugs would just make this easier, she was pliable in his arms as he gently shifted her. He was to let her brother see him carrying her away and then disappear.

Takeda walked through the maze of corridors without a thought, the slumbering female secure in his grasp as he cradled the vital piece of information to him. She had grown up in a military regime, exactly the same as he had. She knew exactly what it was like to have your loved ones disappear for months on end, just waiting for them to come home, and knowing there was always the chance that they would never come home. And you had to continue on as normal. It was all expected.

He gently lowered her to the bed in the back of the lorry. Sandara was on the lookout for anyone as Sarutobi secured the straps of the bed.

Then the gunfire redirected himself, and Oda was smirking at them as the tyres deflated immediately. Takeda couldn’t let this opportunity slide, and his sword was out in an instant before slamming the door shut. Sarutobi and Sandara were the only people guarding the unconscious woman whilst the tornado roared around them. The lorry was shaking, but the opposing forces knew that Princess was in there, and they couldn’t do anything except incapacitate the enemy to get to her.

It was loud, everything was shaking around me. It was also pitch black, and I couldn’t move. I remembered taking the painkillers and laying down on the mattress, now I was strapped down against a medical bed, again. A simple gag was stopping me from calling out as my sight started to adjust to the darkness. I could feel the usual vitals hooked up to me, and started to stare at the looming figures over me, both of them facing what I assumed to be the doors.

“Give her up!” My heart jumped in elation. The commanding voice of Oda shook the van before the bolts were shattered, the blazing sunlight driving the dark away with a force that I had never experienced before.

He smirked, spying me on the table, and a gun pointed at the slighter form of Sarutobi. Sandara grimaced before his commanding officer bowed into the scene.

“Get her out of here!” Takeda yelled as the scientist was tugging on the bed, undoing my straps whilst Yukimara sliced me free of the machinery, ignoring the noises from his colleague.

I had never been happier to see my brother as he locked his elbow around Sarutobi’s neck, and one of the specialist forces took on Sandara in a stupid act of bravery. Akechi swooped me up without a second to gather my thoughts and then leapt clear away as Toyotomi was calling for the retreat as Mitsuhide tightened his grasp. The only thing I could do was loop my arms around his neck.

It seemed like everything had happened in a flash, I was sat on the back of one of our lorries, my brother checking my eyes and vitals as the truck pulled out at a flying speed. I could hear the gunfire bouncing off the sides, as we were all pulled down to the floor. I couldn’t hold the tears back, sobbing into the nearest shoulder as the facade I’d held up crumbled in the face of escape.

Ieyasu and Nobunaga wouldn’t let anyone see me. I was locked in my quarters. The medical equipment had all been brought in, and right now it was a case of managing the lack of food and drink, and getting me back on track with the medications. I had trouble sleeping now. I was used to the fight, going in behind enemy lines. I felt so vulnerable and weak as I sat up in bed for what felt like the millionth time, shaking after a nightmare.

“Tokugawa,” a gentle voice broke my thoughts, bringing me back to the present. Oda never called me by my surname as I stared up at him. “They’re calling for a discharge,” he sighed, sitting on the edge of my bed.

“I can’t do this,” I burst into tears, sobbing openly into my hands.

“You can,” he firmly replied, grabbing hold of my shoulders and making me look into his eyes. “You just need to get back into that lab and do what you do, because that is everything you are. You are brilliant, and no one will ever take you again,” his tone softened, and then hugged me tightly.

***

It took a few weeks, I was hobbling about my quarters on crutches. Ieyasu had been playing around with my medications, put me on antidepressants and some sleeping tablets for now. And I was being made to go to therapy and talk my nightmares through. The man was a specialist, something I scoffed at, even after meeting him for the first time. Then he got me talking about why I was there.

“I’m here because my commanding officer told me I was going to be discharged if I didn’t come,” I snorted.

“That’s not what I asked,” he smiled sadly. “Why are you here Natsuki? Why did your commanding officer send the best in?”

“That’s saying something if you insist on calling yourself the best,” I warily replied, idly playing and tugging at my fingers.

“The military keeps telling me I’m the best, I’m just repeating what they say,” he continued. “Why are you here?”

“Because I was stupid enough to get kidnapped by our enemies,” I snapped. “I didn’t look closely enough at the transport to take me to my hospital appointment, and it meant I ended up costing my team a fortune and distracting them from what they need to be doing.”

“You’re here because you don’t realise what you mean to anyone,” he sharply added. “You make it sound like you aren’t worth anything.”

“I don’t go out and do any reconnaissance work, I don’t fight. I’m sat in the lab, I am the weak link,” I pointed out, raising my eyebrows at the man as he leant forward.

“So, you don’t do anything to crack codes or translate the languages that secret messages are sent in? Or help Ishida with his research to build the team’s next weapons?” He pushed. “You’ve grown up trying to meet some invisible standards due to your name and gender. You do realise that most people with your problems wouldn’t have even fought to get into the army and fight their way through the ranks the way you have? Virtually every other person on this planet in your situation would have given up. You are a vital part to your team, you have a family in your team,” he reeled off, a fire in his eyes.

“I shouldn’t have been kidnapped,” I replied, still struggling to break that barrier, still back in my wheelchair.

“Your commanding officer was there with you and noticed nothing amiss. He covered everything as he should have done, and protocols have all been followed, there was nothing wrong,” the therapist continued. “You need to realise your self-worth and value you bring to the team. I suggest getting back into that lab.”

“You sound just like Colonel Oda,” I laughed.

“Brigadier, now,” the therapist corrected absently, scrawling something out on his clipboard. “He was promoted for the diligence shown in your rescue and proven that there was nothing that could have prevented it.”

“His head doesn’t need to get much bigger,” I grinned. “He won’t be fitting through doorways.”

“I’ll let him know you said that,” the therapist smiled, and handed me a card with my next appointment on it. “You are coming back, or I will come to the lab and pester you there.”

“Feisty,” I smirked, wheeling myself out.

I was on edge as I swung to the elevators, knowing that they’d be full of the administrative personnel who would be muttering about the person wanting to go down from the ground floor to the basement, and then getting all abashed when they saw it was me in the wheelchair. The stares never stopped. Everywhere I went, regardless if I was in the chair or on my crutches. I stood out. I could feel the embarrassment as the doors opened, and a very full lift peered back at the one person on base who needed it. There were mutterings about meetings and forced the doors to close as I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

A familiar arm swung itself over me and swiped his card into the elevator slot. “It’s a bit hard to get the elevator if you don’t swipe it,” Oda chuckled.

“I just had ten seconds of judgement from a full lift, I was giving myself a breather,” I replied. “I also heard that congratulations are in order Brigadier, I trust my research proved fruitful?”

“I don’t think anyone could ignore your evidence. It was buried that deep no one should have been looking. That’s why you’re the best at this Princess,” he patted my head affectionately.

“I’m guessing we’re all heading to the lab for a catch-up?” I asked as the lift returned, now devoid of people.

“Something like that,” Oda smirked.

The poppers surprised me on our entrance to the lab, and I grinned at seeing the whole team together. A hastily strung banner scrawled congratulations and welcome back, as a tall glass of champagne had been found from somewhere and shoved into my hand. Even my brother had a smile on his face, though it kept souring every time he passed a glance towards Mitsuhide. There was a shifting and passing of items about as well as I kept drinking the champagne, knowing they were all up to something.

I wasn’t expecting Akechi to drop to one knee in front of my wheelchair.

“Natsuki, our Princess, seeing you kidnapped was the most harrowing moment of my life. I couldn’t think of anything worse than to live a life without you in, so will you give me the grand honour of becoming my wife?” His words were sincere, and there was a waiver in his eyes as he knew the giant risk he was taking.

“...Yes, yes!” I whispered, tears immediately brimming at my eyes as I flung myself excitedly out of the wheelchair and into Mitsuhide’s arms. Then another cork was let loose as I kissed Akechi on the cheek, happily wrapped up in his arms whilst my brother mock glared at the espionage specialist.

“Huh, I’ll go from having two Tokugawas to two Akechis,” Nobunaga spoke, sipping at the champagne like it was nothing.

“Did you figure out the end pieces of the kidnapping by the way?” Ieyasu spoke up, sulky at the thought of not being able to boss me about as much.

“Takeda interfered with that original MRI, knowing that if you couldn’t determine anything, you’d send for another one and was able to pull strings at the hospital by sleeping with a few people,” Mitsunari replied, his tone sounding as though he was discussing the weather. “Best guess as to motive was to make us overreact and remove part of the infiltration team,” he shrugged.

“Let’s just be glad we’re all here and onto the next one,” I suggested, emptying my glass.

-Six months later-

IT: Have you done everything?
NT: I’ve planned this entire thing on my own with no input from Akechi. Trust me, if there’s anything missing, it’s not worth it.
NO: I had to label this as a mission…
NT: It kind of is one? We all need getting to a specific spot at a specific time and navigate everything around it.
NO: No, to the higher-ups. This is officially down as Mission: Tokugawa to Akechi. That’s why we’re all able to be there.
NT: Love it.
IT: I am drinking your bar dry tomorrow.
MD: Cake is done.
IT: Could you have left it any longer?!
NT: And I thought it was meant to be the bride that gets stressed.
NO: Ieyasu decided he was taking on the parent role left in your wedding. His speech is impressive.
NT: There’s only the seven of us there for the whole thing, who said anything about speeches?
IT: That speech is just for Akechi. I was testing it out on Oda to make sure it sounded scary enough.
MA: I’m literally on base in two minutes, can you stop with the threatening messages about abandoning your sister at the altar?
IT: I’ll never stop threatening you.
NT: Ieyasu…
MI: Is it tomorrow the mission? How exciting, I thought it was a while away yet. Princess, I need to borrow you urgently in the lab, Ieyasu too, please.

I shared a worried look with my brother, I was staying in his quarters for the night as I dropped myself into my wheelchair and he picked the speed up to get me there. Mitsunari was looking a little embarrassed and had a cloak covering the table.

“What’s going on?” I asked wearily, trying to decide if I needed to look at my lab colleague or the table more.

“I finished the walking brace,” he softly said. “You’ll be able to walk down the aisle tomorrow,” his smile was so pure as he unveiled the new invention. I couldn’t stop the tears from escaping as both the men helped me onto the table so it could be fitted properly.

Taking steps in the new support system was something altogether different. I was terrified and elated as I began to walk without crutches for over twenty years. I wasn’t fast, there were turtles that would have won races on dry land quicker, but I was walking on my own steam.

IT: We’ve got a massive surprise for you all tomorrow.
NO: Oh?
IT: If I told you now, it wouldn’t be a surprise. If none of you are crying then I’m punching you all until you do.
MD: I’m definitely intrigued now.

Mitsunari was adjusting the settings a little to account for my shoes as I dried my tears on the ends of my sleeves. “Thank you so much, I couldn’t ask for a better colleague with better timing,” I laughed, and ending up pulling Ishida in for a hug. “I can’t believe I’ll be walking again, without crutches. Even the last suit couldn’t do this!”

“Save the tears for tomorrow,” my brother clicked his tongue, blushing a little.

“I can’t cry tomorrow, I’m spending a fortune on having someone come and do my makeup!” I snorted before we all started a casual walk back to my brother’s quarters.

MD: Akechi looks like he’s about to wet himself from nerves.
NO: Stop teasing him. You’re meant to be the best man.
MD: I’m just here to see the big surprise mainly, and everyone’s reaction to the cake.
IT: Natsuki is getting all jittery.
NO: How does she look? Is she ready?
IT: You won’t believe it’s her. She’s ready, just with the registrar and I’ve been shooed away.
MI: Couldn’t have really picked a more suitable venue for these two.

It was the ruins of an abbey, a strong sunshine on a late spring day as five of the men were gathered in a small room that was usually filled with people instead of their tiny numbers. Then their local had been booked out with a free bar for them all, with the intention to run up a world record holding tab for the newlyweds to pick up.

Mitsuhide’s nerves were turning him into a wreck. He’d been discussing every option with Natsuki through the chat programme they used as a collective, and never there to help with the load. Then every doubt he had about anything to do with their relationship disappeared as soon as she stepped into view. He went slack-jawed as did the rest of the room aside from Ishida. She was walking, no crutches or any support, and looking as radiant as any person possibly could. Her dress was something that would have suited a medieval princess, a corseted middle with a long train, her top was squared off, and she had long flowing sleeves from the elbow. All in a beautiful ivory silk that was intricately designed with flower patterns. He suddenly understood why the bill for that was so high, and he was very grateful for every penny spent on it. He lifted her veil and lost all ability to think. She was done beautifully like a porcelain doll. His porcelain doll.

They repeated the vows dutifully, and the exchanging of rings was done with little fuss. The kiss just promised him to wait until later and then she would surprise him.

Mitsuhide was on his fourth bottle of sake by himself quite easily and still wouldn’t stop staring at me.

“What?” I laughed, shutting his mouth with a finger as I sidled up to him.

“I’m still trying to process how I caught such a beauty in my honied trap,” he replied eventually after giving me a long and sizzling kiss.

“Your honied trap was only ever designed to catch one specific beauty,” I teased, rubbing my nose against his. “Do you like Ishida’s wedding present?” I beamed, still trying to process that I was freely walking.

“I don’t think I could have asked for a better one than the one your brother gave me,” he smirked, pulling me against him.

“What present did Ieyasu give you?” I queried, raising my eyebrow suspiciously.

“You,” he whispered, catching my earlobe between his teeth and nibbling on it momentarily, as I flushed a bright red underneath all my makeup.

“So, I’ve got two Akechis now,” Nobunaga strolled over, getting a fresh bottle of sake. “Though I doubt we’ll have the same problems on radios as we did have.”

“Given that someone is notorious at never answering, then we all know it’ll really be me,” I shrugged, keeping my arms looped about my husband. “Or we could keep tradition going and I’ll keep my call signal?” I grinned.

“I was more thinking that it’s going to be double the trouble for Mitsuhide since he’ll always have you keeping track of him,” Oda laughed.

“I was always doing that,” I replied, and gave the game straight away, looking incredibly embarrassed.

Mitsuhide was chuckling as he pulled me into a tight squeeze whilst Nobunaga was roaring with laughter. I turned about and buried my face into the crook of Akechi’s neck.

“I always knew you fancied me,” my husband crooned.

“You were always away on missions,” I grumbled, thumping him in the chest. “I couldn’t get my hopes up.”

“Mm, well, I know a good way of apologising,” he murmured, his tone setting my blood on fire.

We waved goodnight to our ‘family’ and disappeared back to the hotel room that had been booked for us. Ieyasu and Mitsunari had already swept the floor for any problems as Mitsuhide couldn’t keep his lips off me.

“Ah, oh, Mitsu-” I interrupted myself with a loud groan in the elevator. “Mm, I need, oh god,” I whimpered, practically clawing at his suit as we finally got to our floor. Our lips unable to keep off each other as though we had been starved for years whilst fumbling to get the key in the lock. It slammed behind us as Mitsuhide made sure it was locked, and then pounced on me again.

His lips were leaving blazing trails over my exposed neckline as he expertly loosened the corset from the back. I gasped as he undid the last front fastener, not realising how much I had been trapped in the dress. He paused and stared at my body before his fingers trailed over the faintest marks that had been left by the bones in the corset.

“Mitsu-” I tried to interrupt again until his lips were hard on mine, I moaned into the kiss before being able to break it. “I need to tell you-” he couldn’t stop kissing my neck and nibbling at my ears.

“You saved yourself for me, I know,” he whispered, pushing his hips into my thighs, so I could feel him. “You were always waiting for the right person, my little Natsuki,” he framed my face with his hands, looking down at me with the most adoring of looks. “I’ll be gentle and thorough,” he murmured before kissing me hard again.

I wasn’t sure where the sheets had ended up by the time I stirred in the morning since Mitsuhide had thrown his suit jacket over me. He had fulfilled his promise over and over, insatiable for me until we’d both dropped off out of sheer exhaustion. I stretched gently and realised I was alone in the bed.

I could hear the tapping of keys as I slowly sat up, and tried to pinpoint where exactly my husband was. My clothes were nowhere to be seen as I gently padded through to the ‘living area’ of the suite we’d booked, only wearing the suit jacket to protect myself.

“AKECHI! CLOTHES!” Was the only thing I heard before Mitsuhide slammed the laptop shut, and turned to face me with a jealous look.

“I saw more of my sister than I ever needed to,” I could hear the muffled tones of my brother through the shut screen as I sat on my husband’s lap with an innocent look.

“The walking suit seems to fit well,” the innocent mind of Ishida I was forever grateful for as I planted a soft kiss on Mitsuhide’s lips.

“Also survived the first night,” Masamune’s laugh was rich and perverted as my husband ran his fingers through my hair, then pressed me against his chest so nothing of me would be exposed. “Now you’re a spoilsport tease,” Date laughed.

“We have a honeymoon to sort, Princess is fine,” I waved as Mitsuhide continued his quick report. “Let me know when married quarters are sorted,” he mocked saluted Oda before shutting the laptop down swiftly. “Now my little Natsuki, we need to do a lot of learning about each other I feel for a long marriage,” he murmured against my neck and taking a teasing bite.

Chapter Text

I was racing back from a council meeting with excitement. Nobunaga was taking me on a reconnaissance mission to Echigo, hoping his good luck charm would bring him the information he sought, though I would be free to roam about in the market whilst he and Hideyoshi attended to the actual work. I was hastily writing a note out as a knock came from my ceiling.

I beamed at Sasuke, who was a little taken aback as he dropped to the floor gracefully.

“Just the man I was hoping for actually,” I grinned. “Can you pass a message to Kenshin for me? I’m coming to Echigo for a trip-”

“Lord Kenshin is away currently,” Sasuke interrupted me, breaking the news gently as my heart fell. It had been a long time since I had a chance to meet with the heterochromia, and when the chance appeared on my end, it seemed that he was already preoccupied. “I’m sorry,” he murmured.

“No, it’s not your fault,” I tried to smile, before noticing that Sasuke was now scrawling a note out to Nobunaga on my fresh ink set. “Sasuke? What are you doing?”

He smiled, and then hoisted me directly over his shoulders before leaping back into the ceiling. He made the gesture to stay silent as he dashed through the maze of corridors and vents that inhabited the roof, he had a mental map of the place memorised, as he never once made a wrong turning. We landed outside of the walls behind the kitchens, and I was thrown into the arms of a very unexpecting Yuki.

“What?” He was shocked as I was clinging to him in surprise at the sudden gesture.

“Sasuke kidnapped me!” I exclaimed, pointing at the guilty looking ninja.

“With good reason, we need to go and find Kenshin,” Sarutobi replied, looking straight at Yuki as he mounted his horse. “I’ll take Natsuki from here.”

“That’s the princess!” One of the maids recognised me, and then both men spurred their horses into gallops and flying out of Azuchi before the Oda forces could get a good trace on me.

I was scowling at the stoic man as we finally took a break, and Yuki was looking just as unimpressed at his friend. “I guess I owe you both some form of explanation,” he murmured.

“Just a smidge,” I replied, my eyebrows threatening to disappear into my fringe.

“Why are we dragging a wild boar woman to Kenshin?” Yuki had been stuck with me clinging onto him once the ninja had set the pace, and this was the first chance he’d had to get the blood flowing to everything properly again.

“The note I left at Azuchi tells Nobunaga where to find you,” Sasuke finally said, as Yuki froze up a little.

“Yes I work for the enemy, I’m the Chatelaine for Azuchi,” I sighed, burying my head in my hands. “Kenshin knows that I’m guessing he’s not shared that information with Shingen then.”

“I told him you’d be found at the best teahouse in Echigo at the end of next week,” the ninja continued.

“You’ve bought me time with Kenshin?” I paused, conflicted about how I’d gotten here, but the prospect of getting to see the snowy-haired man was too exciting as my smile got so wide it made my cheeks ache.

Sandara made a dismissive noise as Sasuke climbed back on his horse, and then offered me a hand. “I thought that because Kenshin knew, that Shingen would as well Yuki, it wasn’t information I purposely held back,” the ninja bowed his head in apology.

“Might as well tell Lord Shingen, then he might stop actually flirting with her,” the vassal sounding resigned to his fate. “She’ll be our chatelaine then in time,” he grumbled as I settled on the back of Sasuke’s horse, and flushed bright red at the implications.

Kenshin was eyeing our approach with suspicion, his sword out in greeting before Sasuke pulled his horse around so I could safely dismount. Though I was only halfway to the floor before Uesugi swept me up in his arms, much to the amusement and amazement of most of the soldiers watching. I laughed and gave him a soft kiss in greeting.

“Nobunaga was going out on a trip for a few days, so I persuaded him to bring me so I could come and see you, then Sasuke said you wouldn’t be around, so he brought me here and left a half threatening note saying I wouldn’t be available for quite a few days,” I laughed as he wouldn’t let me go. His eyes lit up at the prospect of a fight over me with Oda before I tapped him on the nose to get his attention back to the present. “So, training with the soldiers?” I asked, gesturing to the audience we’d gathered, most of the camp watching on with avid interest.

“You wound me Kenshin,” A familiar voice broke through the crowd, and Shingen wandered over, a smile on his face. “You stole the goddess’ heart and never told me.”

The heterochromian male sulked and shielded me from the ‘lethal’ smoulder of his current ally, his cloak blocking all of my face from the view of Takeda. “Because you’d go and kidnap her for yourself,” he accused, like a child who wouldn’t share their favourite toy.

His smell was so welcoming as I happily stayed locked in his arms for a little while on the outskirts of the camp. Kenshin had found a spot for privacy and insisted I sit between his legs and then lean back, so he could see my face properly whilst in a field of wildflowers. His touches were so gentle they were almost like ghosts as I couldn’t stop smiling in the belief that I was seeing him again.

“I think you need some nourishment, but that means everyone else being able to see you,” he grumbled, tucking my hair behind my ear.

“Yes, but I didn’t come here to see anyone but you,” I reminded him. “Sasuke didn’t kidnap me except to see to your happiness and mine,” I stroked his cheek softly, as a smile broke through and won the day. “We’ll get the food and then go and hide back in your tent,” I offered as a compromise, “Minimal amount of people will see me then.”

Kenshin had other ideas apparently, as he picked me up bridal style, without a warning and my arms looped around his neck to try and keep steady. And then I was covered by his cloak as I couldn’t help but laugh. I could hear the bustles of camp and the awe that Kenshin generated in his vassals and soldiers, even when carrying his lover through camp, and then Sasuke’s long-suffering tone as he was instructed to bring food straight to Uesugi’s tent for both of us.

I was still giggling as I was uncovered in the tent and shook my head playfully at the slightly befuddled male. “The lengths you go to to keep me a secret,” I smiled before he pouted and sat cross-legged across from me, and then patted his lap.

It was like coming home every time, my legs laying over one of his thighs as my back was supported by his arm. His kiss was deep, probing and needy. He turned my world upside down the second he touched me, and from the start, I would never have said he was the kind who needed open affection all the time. I was only too glad to help him as we were disturbed by a smug looking Shingen, followed by a slightly embarrassed looking Yuki and a very shameful Sasuke. Kenshin would never have let me move if I’d tried, so it was more graceful to accept the bowl of food from Sasuke than to slide off his lord’s lap.

“When did you even have time for anything to happen?” Shingen was probing for information, and a possible weak spot to exploit.

“Sasuke would bring Kenshin along half the time, and I knew where the best sake was in Azuchi,” I shrugged, “Then Kenshin was turning up on his own after learning my schedule and would insist I made the sake taste better somehow. Sasuke would enable most things, Kenshin would know when my lords were out of town for any extended period, and when to avoid Azuchi, so we found places nearby that I could always sneak out to without getting caught.”

A light bulb suddenly went off in Shingen’s head. “I did wonder where you’d gone to during that battle at night,” he paused, then had a sudden look of approval as I flushed bright red remembering the night when we’d not been able to keep our hands off each other despite knowing the exact truths of the other’s loyalties. It wasn’t the last time we’d done it in such a manner, but we’d yet to make it to a bed and building for the occasion. “I did wonder what secrets you were keeping, apparently the enemy’s chatelaine,” he smirked.

Kenshin was grumbled, burying his head into the nook of my neck to hide from Takeda. The latter chuckling to himself as he brought out some sake and some cups. “To celebrate the temporary kidnapping of the chatelaine of Azuchi,” he grinned, passing them out.

We passed some time with idle chatter, though Kenshin was still not saying much, apparently deep in thought as he suddenly stood up and forgetting I was on his lap. I landed ungracefully and with a thud, bringing the warlord back to the current scenario, he immediately bent over to make sure I was okay before giving a mischievous smile.

I needed to weigh more than I currently did it seemed, as I was hoisted up yet again into a man’s arms. “Pack up camp, we’re returning to Echigo!” He called out into the middle of camp, walking up to his horse and gently placing me on her. “Wait here like a good girl,” he made me promise before going to make sure that everything was packed up promptly. The soldiers were bleary-eyed, and many of them had been sleeping as they performed the collapse of camp with a precision I had never seen outside of the battlefield. I was mesmerised, until Kenshin swung his leg over the horse, pulling me tight against him and kissing me softly. “I need to have you completely to myself,” he murmured in my ear.

Kenshin was on the edge for the hours of riding. I could feel him fighting the urge to take off back to Echigo and leaving everything to Shingen and Sasuke. His retainer caught up with a quick canter through the soldiers and slowed down then to match our pace. They shared some quiet words and a nod as Sasuke dropped back to where Shingen was and had some form of conversation that even had Shingen taken aback.

“Are you sure about this Lord Kenshin?” Sasuke asked as he met back up at the front with us.

“Completely,” his body was stiff against mine, and ignored the puzzled look on my face as Sasuke waved his arm, the sign for Shingen to come to the front of the soldier group. The other warlord was looking very amused and gave me an overly animated wink before Kenshin spurred his mare on into a gallop without thinking to warn me.

“Kenshin!” I yelled, tightening my grip around his waist as I tried to accustom myself to the speed we’d gathered. “What are you doing?!”

“Taking you back to Echigo, I can’t wait any longer,” he huffed, edging the horse on even faster as the countryside blazed past us in whirls of green and brown.

I was never more grateful to see a castle than when Kasugayama came into view. It had been a very long time since I had last seen it, I was here with Nobunaga as his good luck charm from a distance whilst he sought out confirmation that Kenshin and Shingen were alive after being believed to be dead for so long. I had admired it from afar that time, now I was just going to be whipped through to Kenshin’s quarters. He jumped off the mare and impatiently made the gesture for me to dismount.

It was a blur of corridors before I was dropped onto a futon. His kiss was passionate, and his fingers were burning a path across my skin as he nipped and kissed at my exposed body. He was discovering everything, and for once I didn’t need to hold in any sounds I made. His fingers worked like magic, finding a sweet spot without much trouble, and the smile he gave as he heard my moans and screams of pleasure made my heart burst with love.

I was exhausted, but unable to sleep, just gladly cuddled up to Kenshin and wrapped in his arms. Our clothes were strewn about the room, and he had forbidden me from getting anything back on. The skin to skin contact made him realise I was real and there, and I hadn’t left as he trailed his fingers up my back, making me shiver a little.

“If I had known how beautiful you sounded, I would have kidnapped you a lot sooner,” the warlord muttered, his fingers tracing my slightly swollen lips.

“It was nice not having to worry about being overheard,” I admitted, nuzzling his neck with my nose before resting my head against his chest. His heartbeat was steady and soothing. “And not needing to remove sticks, leaves and stones,” I humoured.

“You aren’t going back,” Kenshin declared, hugging me closer to him. “I can’t give you up now.”

“Mm, negotiate with Oda over that,” I murmured sleepily, losing the fight to keep my eyes open.

The rest of the soldiers returned the following day, very much bemused as Kenshin and I greeted them all at the gate. The maids had found me a kimono to wear since the one I had been wearing was in need of washing and repair. Shingen was chuckling as he dismounted and clapped Kenshin on the shoulder in a friendly manner. Then the atmosphere turned to ice as a messenger from the Oda forces was galloping into the middle of the soldiers, determined to find Kenshin as the missive was handed straight to the heterochromatin.

He grunted in disgust, and snatched the paper from the man’s outstretched hand, reading it swiftly before throwing it at Sasuke. “Tell him I won’t concede, she’s mine and she’s staying here,” he then did an abrupt turnaround and dragged me with him, leaving Sasuke to deal with the political fall out.

We were waiting in the main hall, the warlord sulking and refusing to even talk to me about anything, never mind what the missive was requesting. Shingen came in looking wary and sighed as he sat opposite his ally.

“The request was fairly straightforward,” he opened.

“I’m not giving Natsuki up,” Kenshin snapped. “It’d be a trap, and I’d never see her again.”

“I get a say in this too!” I argued, breaking Uesugi out of his trance. “Meet with Nobunaga, and negotiate for me to stay, but holding me here without some form of communication will only lead to losing your best soldiers over something that could be resolved easily. I don’t want to leave you either, but we need to sort something out and make sure I don’t become a target for you to lose in the future,” I affirmed, staring down the warlord.

“You even look beautiful when you’re so angry,” Shingen admired before I threw a cushion at him to shut him up.

“Let’s write a proposal for a meeting on neutral ground, where we will discuss this without blades,” I put my foot down as Sasuke and Yuki both entered the room, looking a little surprised to see Kenshin agreeing to the peaceful settlement. “Sasuke, can I leave it with you to write to Nobunaga to arrange a meeting, please? State it’s definitely no weapons, and that I will be present.”

Kenshin was more determined than usual to hide me from everyone and even had me buried in his cloak whilst we were riding to the meeting spot. The weather was turning a little bitter, so I was grateful for the warming layer outside of the warlord, even if he did keep pulling the material up over my head whenever he felt any of the guards or Shingen were looking in my direction too often.

Nobunaga and Hideyoshi were already present as our horses sauntered onto the field, though I was hidden under the cloak again and a look from Kenshin told me to not push it given the situation. He dismounted and told me to stay put as Sasuke initially scouted the area out. They had soldiers in waiting, just as we did, in case of things going wrong as always, but the two warlords that were waiting were unarmed as agreed. Now it was a case of persuading Kenshin to leave the sword behind and take me with him.

Shingen gave up on the argument, and swept me up in the cloak bundle, with an icy instruction that he would run off with me if Kenshin didn’t leave the sword behind. Forced into a corner, Uesugi ran up and snatched me back, muttering under his breath about Takeda not playing to the rules.

Hideyoshi looked relieved to see me as the cloak was finally removed when we all sat down, and Oda offered me a smirk in greeting before the stony faces all came back to stay. “So, what do we get in return for letting you have Natsuki?” Oda had a point, it seemed like a very one-way bargain to me as my stomach dropped, not that Kenshin was phased, and merely gave a cold smile back to Nobunaga.

“Her happiness, and our Chatelaine,” he offered, producing a letter of recommendation from the insides of his kimono. “A chatelaine for a chatelaine.”

Hideyoshi was taken aback and then looked furious as I was pulled onto Uesugi’s lap. All I could offer the man was a slight shrug whilst bound up in Kenshin’s warm arms, I had been starting to shiver in the cold air and the white-haired male had noticed the subtle differences in me. Nobunaga was reading the letter over with interest.

“And if your chatelaine is not up to Natsuki’s standards?” He asked, drilling his eyes into his enemy’s.

“Please, the woman could run an army out of the Kasugayama staff,” Shingen snorted. “And as competent as Natsuki at keeping Kenshin from splattering the halls with blood.”

“A praise you wouldn’t expect from another commander,” Hideyoshi added as he scanned the recommendation.

“We accept on the basis that Natsuki returns to Azuchi on occasions, or brought to battles so we can see her,” Oda smirked. “We have made no enemy of her, but of you. I agree on the basis that it is her happiness we are considering.”

“Sasuke will collect her belongings,” Kenshin shortly replied. “And bring the chatelaine with him.”

I was in the air and in his arms again, waving to the opposing warlords before I was swiftly carried out of sight and back under the cloak.

It was a few weeks of figuring out the ropes of Kasugayama, and a few tantrums from the maids until they realised I was the one who Kenshin was attached to on a romantic notion. I wouldn’t even let him or Shingen get by with upsetting things, and had stood there openly shouting at the man who believed he was a gift to women about sneaking candy in the middle of the night and leaving jars open as evidence won over a lot of the respect of the staff it seemed once they realised I didn’t care about status. I was regularly going about Echigo market, talking to the stall holders to find out if there were any problems that Shingen or Kenshin needed to address such as poor harvests or bandits becoming a problem on routes, and I felt as though I was constantly sourcing sake for my other half.

“Natsuki!” Yuki was running to catch up to me one morning, “Kenshin’s going mad and won’t put his sword away, you’re the only one he’ll listen to,” he panted, taking the basket off me so I could get back quicker. “He’s in the main hall and trying to goad everyone into a fight.”

I ran as fast as I could, knowing that this mood would likely need some excess energy working out. I was barely able to catch my breath as I threw the doors open, and found an equally confused looking Kenshin with no sword. “You’re meant to be wielding your sword and trying to get everyone to fight you,” I stated, breathing heavy as I was trying to work it out. “Yuki said-”

“Sasuke told me that you needed help with sorting out some of the staff,” my partner replied, and narrowed his eyes as Shingen and the two very guilty parties walked in. “What’s the meaning of this?” His tone was cold as I glared at the three of them, my breathing still a little laboured.

“We’ve decided it’s time you two got married, so we’ve got it all sorted for you, and now you just need to go to the official who’s waiting in the training hall,” Shingen beamed. “We knew Kenshin would never ask, and Natsuki would stay out of loyalty and love without question.”

“I am going to kill you all slowly and painfully once this has been sorted,” I swore, pointing at each of the men in turn before going to the training hall to see if there actually was someone there.

I was shocked to find an expecting individual sat behind a makeshift table, beaming as I opened the door. Kenshin was not far behind me, and just as stumped. Then we were shoved in from behind and the doors all locked around us.

“I’m having their heads,” I grumbled to my partner as we took seats in front of the table. The questions were basic, and then it was all done, about as unromantic as it could have been imagined, but it did the job. I rubbed my eyes as the official left the room, announcing loudly to everyone that we had been wed, and the number of cheers made my eyes widen. “They had the whole damn army waiting?” I growled, whilst Kenshin was already moving to start the fight without me.

A few hours later, we were all sat in the main hall, enjoying the food and sake. Kenshin had practically pummeled Shingen into the ground for an apology for the deceit and made some form of excuse that I would have been asked eventually because that was the proper thing to do to stop someone else running off with me. Though my counter argument was that they’d always bring me back because he had started to train me with a sword for self-defence and I could run my mouth off at them to the point they’d give me back for some quiet. It was nice to know we had each other in a broader spectrum, but it hadn’t changed anything, now we just held new titles of husband and wife.

Chapter Text

Everyone was acting very strangely around Azuchi as I finished up the latest request from Masamune, a new kimono for formal events, not that we ever seemed to have any as I recalled the near constant state of drinking that occurred. The maids were nowhere to be found as I left the castle, and I couldn’t even find any aides as I approached Date’s manor. Frustrated, I found his room and left the completed piece on his desk.

I had brought some money with me and decided to nip into the fabric store, my previous emotions wiped clean as I spied some new fabrics in. The store owner greeted me with his usual enthusiasm, as I began to place a large order to be delivered up to the castle the following day. I paid him everything, and my purse was considerably lighter as I practically skipped back to the castle.

The halls and rooms were pristine, especially the main hall as I heard the scurrying of maids doing something in the room, but found the door barred as I went to see if they needed any help. I frowned before Hideyoshi spied me and waved me over.

“I need a favour Natsuki,” he patted my head in the usual brotherly manner. “There’s a new shipment of sugar candy that’s just come in, go and buy as many as you can please,” he smiled, handing me the coins expectantly. I had nothing better to do.

I had a few small bags of the sugared candies, finding it strange that Hideyoshi wanted me to buy them as he was always limiting the amount that Nobunaga could have. Then again, they were rare in this era, and it was a possibility to keep him in good supply.

“Natsuki!” The kimono store owner startled me out of my internal monologue, cheerfully getting my attention. “I have a present for you, will you come in please?”

“Of course,” I smiled, gracefully entering the store before she ushered me straight into the back.

“I need you to change into this please,” she asked, and then promptly left me with a new kimono that looked nearly finished. I was puzzled but had no one to ask any questions to as I tried it on. It was a perfect fit as I tried to make sure my obi wasn’t crooked and ended up doing a mini-spin set much to the owner’s delight. “Oh my, it suits you so well. He did choose marvellously.”

I was ushered straight back out onto the street and then found her closing up before I could ask who ‘he’ was. I was highly confused and found that Azuchi was closing up in general as I started to head back to the castle again.

I was blindfolded suddenly by a group of maids, who were in fits of giggles as I heard Hideyoshi’s voice telling them to be careful, and relieved me of the candies. I was guided through the corridors and had no bearings before I was promptly sat down, and they only took off the blindfold to groom my hair carefully into a curled updo. I was looking suitable for any wedding at the rate everything was going. It was the first chance I got to properly study my reflection. The kimono was made of silk and was dyed in a hue of pastel pinks and blues. Then the blindfold was carefully reapplied.

“No peeking,” Kina teased lightly, taking me by the hand and leading me to wherever I was next required.

I was sat in silence on a cushion and bit my lip in anticipation. Then I felt the familiar hands of Mitsunari removing the fabric. Seeing his angelic face never failed to make me smile. He brought the back of my hands to his lips and gently kissed them whilst looking at me in adoration.

“Princess,” he beamed, cupping my cheek with his hand. “There is so much I often want to say to you, but we are too busy to spend the simplest of time together as much as we wish,” he paused, as I noticed the concern in his amethyst eyes.

“I do hate to see that look on you, my Mitsu,” I murmured, my fingers stroking the back of his other hand that was on my lap. He blushed a little at my words, but it brought him the steam he needed to continue.

“I have been busy lately for a reason,” he announced, the doubt wiped from his expression as he cradled my face lovingly with his hands. “I have been preparing for you to move into my manor, with your agreement of course,” he bashfully added.

“As chatelaine?” I queried, tilting my head to the side, his fingers sliding down to my neck and resting on my shoulders.

“She’s as oblivious as he is,” I heard a hushed and fierce whisper from behind the closed door, followed by a loud shush. Ieyasu and Hideyoshi were there at a minimum.

I blushed darkly at the outside comment, as did Ishida whilst we became more entangled in each other. I gently kissed him as he entwined our fingers together. It wasn’t always the easiest for us to express ourselves in words, as I focused on pouring my love into the kiss.

“Will you be mine?” He asked breathlessly, his forehead resting against mine. Tears pricked at my eyes, falling as I could only muster the ability to nod eagerly in response. His kiss was heated, threatening to break loose under the cool exterior.

“Did he ask yet?” Another impatient whisper, as the door gave way to the crowded gathering of warlords and staff.

“He asked,” I finally replied, refusing to let Mitsunari have his hands back. A communal sigh of relief.

“Finally, no more longing and uncomfortable stares,” Ieyasu scoffed, as the vassals and aides all started to pour into the room, producing food and drink as it had all been prepared.

“No, just the kisses and affection,” Masamune smiled broadly, and turned Ieyasu’s mood instantly sour again, and the dark blushes across my face and Mitsunari’s only caused further laughter.

Nobunaga was continually looking over in our direction whilst discussing something in detail with Hideyoshi. Mitsunari was carefree and oblivious as he talked with the aides and other vassals, I still refused to let go of his hand. I was terrified right now it was all a dream as the moon rose high into the sky, and the sake stocks were dangerously depleted.

The gardens had a pleasant wind for a summer’s night, as I was drinking some tea out on the veranda of my room. I had stepped away from the crowd to settle myself, busy situations were always a little overwhelming when you weren’t expecting them. One of the maids had already kindly prepared a tea set for my return, knowing my penchant for calming down after these sorts of events. A knock at my door attracted my attention, and Nobunaga let himself in after I called out for him to enter.

“Nobunaga, what do I owe this pleasure?” I asked, confused by his appearance.

“I need you to look after Mitsunari, for me and Hideyoshi. He serves us both diligently, but fails to take care of himself at any stage,” he calmly stated, taking a seat next to me and producing sake from what appeared to be nowhere.

“Would I do otherwise? I will take care of him out of love,” I smiled. “As you live for war, I care only to see to Mitsunari’s happiness. And Ieyasu would be pulling a face if he heard me say that,” I added on with an embarrassed laugh.

The smirk I received in response was traditional of Oda. I was beginning to think he wanted to make sure I was okay as I sipped at my tea whilst gazing up at the moon. “I never did thank you properly,” I spoke, and noticed that I had surprised my ‘boss’ in the middle of his sake. “For taking me in, and listening to my tale spun about where I’ve come from despite all the reasons to not believe me and hang out in the dungeons to rot as an enemy.”

“Have you told him the truth yet?” Oda’s question was hung heavily in the air.

“Not yet,” I eventually replied. “Finding any time with Mitsunari has been difficult.”

Nobunaga left my room shortly after, making me promise to tell Ishida before we completed the move.

The next few days were very strange. Mitsunari seemed to be avoiding me, all of the maids saying he was somewhere, and when I managed to get to that place, he had moved on. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something that didn’t bode well.

Especially when Hideyoshi comes storming down the corridor and drags you into a room with a face like thunder.

“What are you hiding?” He accused, back to the man he was when I first arrived. I had a sword at my neck, and to breathe was becoming harder. “One of the maids reported to Mitsunari that Nobunaga was in your room and asking if you’d told him the truth,” he snarled.

All of my fear suddenly vanished. “First off, get that sword away,” I snapped, pressing my skin lightly into the blade. Enough to redden the skin, but not enough to break it. I could play the game dangerously well as the sudden fire ignited shocked Hideyoshi into giving me space. “Second of all, I need to speak to Mitsunari to tell him that secret, and it’s not that me and Nobunaga are together!” I hotly spat and glared at the stumped warlord. “I’m not telling you before I tell him. Mitsunari deserves the truth, and it’s nothing like what you’re thinking,” my fury was barely contained, as a maid was hailed to go and fetch the vassal, whilst Hideyoshi was now looking afraid that he had lit a literal fireball that was ready and prepared to burn the building down in an instance.

Mitsunari had the smile of an angel until he saw I was present. “Forgive me, I’ll come by later,” he bowed, and went to leave. Only for both me and Hideyoshi to grab his shoulders, forcing him to face me.

“I’m waiting on guard outside the room, make sure you aren’t disturbed,” Hideyoshi gravely stated, and also blocked the only exit his vassal had.

“Hideyoshi had a sword at my throat, demanding to know the truth,” I opened, knowing that Mitsunari was hurting for no reason. “Nobunaga came by my room to make sure I was okay, I’m not used to any of this around me. Because I’m not from this time Mitsunari, I appeared from 500 years in the future and saved Nobunaga from Honno-ji because I just happened to literally appear at that point in time. I say strange things, and I don’t understand how anything works because this isn’t where I started my life,” I explained, watching as Ishida’s face went through a rollercoaster of emotions. “The story I vaguely spun to you all was to keep you focused on what you needed to do. I was transported through time, and I don’t even understand it, and then I met you. And suddenly everything made sense. I never belonged where I was because I’m meant to be here, with you at your side.” I softly rested my hand on top of his, terrified this would be the end of everything.

Hideyoshi opened the door, the same mind blown expression on his face as Mitsunari. I was desperate for them to say anything, and then I felt Mitsunari entwine his fingers with mine, a weight off his shoulders before I leapt into his lap for a cuddle. Tears were streaming down my face as I sobbed my apologies at hurting him.

“I often wondered why you never knew how to do a kimono and obi up straight when you first arrived,” Hideyoshi stated after a few minutes, things starting to line up.

“And all the strange things I say, and the reason I had to relearn the alphabet,” I nodded. “Japan has moved on, and you were all names in my study books. Essential to the unification of Japan,” I smiled. “You all made the way I was brought up possible.”

“Why spin the tale?” Mitsunari asked after a pause. “You said you wanted us to keep our focus, but why the tale?”

“I’m not the only person here from 500 years in the future. I had already told Nobunaga the unbelievable reality, and then my friend was able to meet up with me and we decided to make it all sound more plausible to give ourselves a background from a tiny village far away,” I replied. “And Nobunaga was kind of busy giving you guys orders on finding out information about Honno-ji, so I didn’t want to overload you all. I’m so sorry you got hurt in all of this Mitsu,” I softly added, tilting his face to look at me as I stroked his cheek gently. “I never meant to hurt you or deceive you, it’s just a hard thing to talk about and not really something easy to drop on anyone.”

“I think you ought to tell the others,” Hideyoshi sighed.

“I will, before I leave, but only the warlords, I don’t need a million questions from vassals. I can see some heads getting very inflated though with the line of history I know,” I chewed on my bottom lip before Mitsunari sharply tapped on it.

The kiss we shared was overpowering to all of my senses. I was clinging to Mitsunari’s shoulders before wrapping my arms around his neck before coming up for air.

A mischievous smile broke across the angel’s face. “No damaging anything that is mine,” he whispered before holding me close against him.

The following night, I was summoned to the war council, finding all of the warlords on edge. I bowed in greeting and was pointed to a cushion in front of them all.

“Hideyoshi has informed me that you have some vital information to share,” Nobunaga had a deep frown on his face. “Are you sure it cannot wait?”

“You may wish for the sake to be present, but this information has waited long enough,” I confirmed, hoping that Oda would catch on to what I was hinting at though I couldn’t be any vaguer if I tried.

Several bottles were bought in for each warlord, the atmosphere getting tenser by the second.

“I’m not really from a small village-” I started, and found Date’s sword at my throat this time.

“Now lass, you wouldn’t happen to be from Echigo would you?” He growled. “I have seen you with someone similar to that damned ninja Kenshin keeps in Azuchi.”

“That’s because we’re from the same place,” I calmly continued, pushing the sword down with a finger and a challenging glare to the warlord. “I do come from around here, only it’s called Kyoto in 500 years time. And it’s a huge sprawling city.”

A pin drop would have been heard in the room as they processed the news. “And to inflate everyone’s ego, you were all names I studied at school as Japan’s unifiers,” my gaze resting on Hideyoshi and Ieyasu. “Especially you two. I changed the timeline in coming here, in my version of history Nobunaga was killed by the fire at Honno-Ji, and Hideyoshi found out that the culprit was Mitsuhide,” I uneasily added, knowing that not all suspicions had been cleared. “Or claimed it was at the very least, and started to bring about the unification that Nobunaga desired, but was unable to complete it, and so Ieyasu was the great leader into the moving forward with Japan as a united country.”

I was starting to feel far too nervous as the warlords were all trying to process the information. I’d never even told Nobunaga this much, he just knew I came from 500 years in the future. I dipped my head to stare at the floor, closing my eyes as I tried to settle my jittery nerves.

“I thought you were reckless,” Ieyasu finally muttered, shattering the tension as he reached for the sake, and went to down the bottle.

“500 years in the future?” Masamune was suddenly very close, as though not quite believing I was real.

Then the most surprising part occurred. I was sharply pulled into Mitsunari’s lap, an angelic smile on his face as he slipped his arms around me in a protective manner. Nobunaga was roaring with laughter the second he realised just exactly what had happened, and Hideyoshi was smiling, whilst Date straightened back up and gave Ishida a mock salute of sorts. “Message received,” he chuckled and went to sit back down with his sake.

“So I was pursued as the guilty party,” Mitsuhide was looking unusually serious about it.

“It’s not very clear at all about your motives. There were discussions as to why it was done, and who you had collaborated with. Kennyo never was considered a suspect,” I nodded, getting into a more comfortable position with my back pressed against Mitsunari’s chest whilst expecting more probing questions from the men. “Hideyoshi basically went mad with rage and stalked you down.”

I described some of the modern day views, as well as my day to day life. The sake was helping me to keep talking despite the constant barrage of demands, even if it did make my eyelids heavier. Naturally, they were interested about the development of weapons and warfare, and even more so when I explained that guns weren’t exactly a new part of my life.

“She’s fast asleep,” Masamune grumbled, poking her cheek before Mitsunari twisted her body slightly so he could lift her properly. “Japan being a peaceful country with no fighting does sound a little dull to me.”

“Though the advances in healthcare are intriguing,” Mitsunari replied, making sure his grip was secure. “Anyway, good night gentlemen,” he smiled and left for his room.

He could hear the lively discussion continuing in his absence, Natsuki had given them a lot to think about as she cuddled up closer to him, and then her eyes fluttered open slightly. “Mm, Mitsu?” She was slurring her words a little, and unable to keep her eyes open.

“Go back to sleep,” he soothed, entering his room. She mumbled something as he laid her on the futon, but fell straight back into the arms of unconsciousness as her head hit the pillow. Usually, he would have left her and gone to sleep in another room, but something wouldn’t let him leave her. He changed his clothes and then slid in next to her sleeping form. She smelt soft and floral and snuggled up happily to her new heat source as he drifted away into sleep.

My head was throbbing a little as I woke up, there was a weight across my torso, and as I blinked the room into focus, I realised I definitely wasn’t in my own room. Startled, I spun about, and smashed my head into Mitsunari’s unexpectedly, and woke him up. Reeling off my apologies, he was trying to calm me whilst sitting up in the futon to rub the spot I’d hit. I was looking sheepish when he smiled at me, and then I felt as though I could forget everything else and look forward to seeing him every morning.

“It’s still early,” he paused, before I snuggled into him, and pulled him back down against the futon. He laughed softly and wrapped me up in his arms happily, resting his chin on my head. “I thought it would be easier to bring you here then to try and navigate to your room after that much sake.”

“Your sense of direction does need some work on once you’d had a few,” I admitted, “Though I might end up getting lost for now and having to sleep here,” I added, content in the arms of Ishida and basking in our growing love.

“Don’t make promises you won’t keep,” he humoured and kissed the top of my head.

It was a few weeks before we were all packed up to go back to Mitsunari’s manor. Hideyoshi was making a mother hen of the entire mission, whilst I was being perched on top of a horse and not allowed to help for some bizarre reasoning. The wedding was taking place once we arrived, nothing expressive and extortionate, just the bare minimum, and more for us to enjoy our time as husband and wife before anyone else could decide to descend on us. I was grumbling as Nobunaga and Hideyoshi insisted on seeing me off as an Oda princess, sticking my tongue out at my self-appointed brothers as Mitsunari waved like the gracious individual he was.

His staff were eagerly awaiting our arrival and said they had notified all his allies regarding his arrival back home. I was formally introduced as the Oda princess and conducted myself as such, especially amongst his men and allies whilst I was learning who I could be safely around. Some of them were eyeing me up as a piece of meat, until Mitsunari affectionately kissed the back of my hand, and smiled that angelic look of his at me, and announced our wedding would be in a few days. A shock wave rippled through the room before many of them started to loudly congratulate us, and I wasn’t able to move from his side then for the remainder of the feast.

“You did that on purpose,” I accused as we finally made it back to ‘our’ room, and gave him a knowing look.

“I have no idea to what you are referring,” Mitsunari beamed, taking me into his arms.

“The marriage announcement,” I laughed and kissed his cheek. “You were getting jealous weren’t you?” I teased as I dragged my teeth over his earlobe.

“Maybe,” his reply was husky, and his grip tightened around my waist. “You belong to me as I belong to you,” he murmured, our lips hovering over each others. “Who would I be if I wasted that 500-year trip you made just for me?”

A squeal escaped me as we gave in to our desires, a hungry kiss igniting a fire underneath us and starting off a very long night.

Chapter Text

I swayed as a growing body dashed through the corridor over-excitedly, a hand placed automatically over my ever growing bump. “Tadamune!” I scolded, shouting after the disappearing boy as my husband appeared. “No, wrong one,” I sighed, rubbing my head.

“Don’t get yourself worked up lass,” Masamune soothed, wrapping me up in a hug, and then a palm splayed over the bump with an expectant smile. “Hopefully not too long until we meet this one,” he smiled.

“Where’s Hiroto?” I asked, looking up wearily before Masamune chuckled and kissed me on the top of my head. “Where’s there’s one, there’s usually the other. I’m sure they’re just your clones.”

“They’re just excited we’re going to Azuchi,” he replied. “Hiroto will probably already be where Tadamune is going. If they have any sense about themselves they’ll be making sure everything has been packed,” the fatherly tone he took on meant that at least one of them was listening to the one-eyed dragon as I shook my head at the thought of a possibility of bringing a third boy into the family.

“Speaking of, have you made sure the message told them I was pregnant?” I warily eyed my husband, who looked innocent. “You haven’t, have you?”

“Well, they’ll have a reason for celebrating for more than one night,” he chuckled. “We’ll be riding slowly anyway.”

“Yes, because we have the boys with us,” I scolded, knowing exactly what speed he had been teaching them at the horse riding lessons.

“You’re no fun,” Masamune sulked before I kissed him on the cheek and went to go and make sure the maids were certain of what rules of my husband’s instructions to ignore in our absence.

The following morning everything was being strapped to the carts and attached to the horses. The boys were happily astride their horses, as Masamune checked the carts for the last time. I had barely slept and was hoping to catch up a little on the journey. It had taken some serious negotiation to get the one-eyed dragon to use a cart, but he was definitely looking guilty now he could see how restless and tired I was getting. I smiled at the maids and told them to use their judgment with regards to Date’s rules in earshot of my now glaring husband, and innocently beamed back at him.

“One Oda princess to be returned I think,” Masamune grumpily added as I settled down in the cart, and blew a kiss at him.

“You wouldn’t survive with our two on your own,” I laughed, making a pillow from his clothes.

The steady pace was driving the one-eyed dragon mad, as well as his sons. He had a feeling that Natsuki was going to have a girl this time as he glanced backwards over his shoulder, and was surprised to see she had fallen asleep. A smile crept across his face at the memory of her falling asleep in his arms whilst they raced back to Azuchi not long after she had appeared at Honno-ji. He halted the horse gently, noticing that the wind was picking up, and dismounted at the side of the path much to the bemusement of his sons. He found the thick haori that Natsuki had made him as a wedding present, it was a necessity during the nights when it got cold and wrapped it around her. He then tapped his finger on his nose to the boys and they continued forward, keeping the pace steady as before.

It was dusk when I rolled over and felt something fall off me. I yawned as the cart jolted to a halt, and spied my husband checking on me briefly before going to set the camp up for the night. Tadamune and Hiroto found the whole idea of a long journey exciting, especially since they knew Azuchi was at the end of it. We’d never taken them, as this would be the hardest part to keep them going for. I made Masamune promise we’d be making night stops just so they would get some sleep. I knew that the overprotectiveness in the one-eyed dragon would mean he would be very deprived once we reached our destination, but he was a hardened veteran at these tasks.

It wasn’t long after they’d eaten that both of them were crashed out on their mats. I smiled and leant against Masamune, enjoying the quiet around us.

“A bit like the old times hey?” I lifted my head to look at him, only to find him gazing deeply into the fire. “Care to share the burden?” I asked.

“Just about how they’ll cope with the repetitiveness of the situation,” Date sighed, looking concerned as he shifted to the direction of the tent.

“It’s practice for them anyway, they’ll be expected to follow in your steps,” I reminded him, linking our fingers together. “It won’t be that long and you’ll have them in your armies.”

“You aren’t allowed to grow up once you’re born,” Masamune threatened my stomach, sulking as I was pulled in for a cuddle.

There were few occasions I was relieved to finally see a castle, this was definitely one of them as Hiroto had been trying to join me in the cart and leave his horse behind for the past few days. Masamune had stuck to his point and made the youngest ride his horse, the option had been given before we left, now he had to see it through. Nobunaga and Hideyoshi were present at the gates and surprised to see that we had a cart. Though nothing raised their eyebrows as much as when Hideyoshi helped me out of the cart and found the surprise Masamune had kept.

“Masamune,” I growled, glaring at my husband before he could disappear into the grounds. “I told you to tell them!” I scolded.

“Glad to see everything seems to be suiting you both at least,” Nobunaga smiled, before stoically turning to both the boys and gesturing for them to follow.

Hideyoshi was a little stumped, and then I put his hand on my prominent bump just in time for a swift kick. I smiled as we hugged in greeting. “Someone was threatening to leave me here, so we’ll see how long that lasts. I’m guessing Nobunaga has taken the boys for some kind of part tour?” I asked as the staff began to unload our things. “And I assume the same quarters as always?”

Toyotomi ruffled my hair and chuckled. “You haven’t changed at all Natsuki, everyone still calls you the Oda Princess too. Yes, Masamune’s quarters we daren’t let anyone else use really, not entirely sure what we would find really if we dared to.”

“Probably his other eye that Kojiro took out with his sword,” I teased, much to my husband’s displeasure.

“Everyone’s waiting in the hall for you two anyway,” Hideyoshi sighed, realising that Masamune’s surprise could go one of two ways.

We took our time, especially as the maids and staff would joyfully greet us before returning to their tasks. I was still involved with a lot of the seamstress work and would often be sent requests from the warlords still. The doors to the main hall were thrown back, and we were nearly knocked off our feet with the cheers. Vassals and soldiers everywhere, as they noticed the slightly obvious withheld information much to Nobunaga’s amusement as he chuckled from his dais at the top of the room, with our two boys next to him.

“Someone clearly doesn’t have enough to do,” Mitsuhide slyly interjected as I was gently lowered to the cushion with Date’s help. “I heard adding a third one to the mix kills off just about everything-”

My glare stopped the snake in his path, my two sons were currently listening with avid interest whilst their father was catching up with Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. Mitsunari came over with Ieyasu, the latter insulting the vassal to Hideyoshi without Ishida being aware of anything. Ieyasu’s eyebrows shot up as he realised why I didn’t get up to greet them, and then made a gesture for the sake to be brought to him.

Very little had changed, everyone had come back to meet our boys finally, whilst Hideyoshi’s wife was adamant that no one could be as bad as Masamune around children. Suki was as headstrong as Hideyoshi, though he would often back down to her, especially concerning his little girl. I joked that my title as Oda princess was being threatened when Hiroto piped up.

“Does that mean that it’s Uncle Nobunaga?” He asked, and I had never seen a hall silenced as quickly since the moment where Masamune announced he was going to marry me.

The smile Oda gave made me suddenly regret bringing the boys. “Only if you join me to defeat the evil monkey who guards the sugar candies,” he announced. I struggled to hold back a laugh as Hideyoshi’s face turned to thunder at the idea, whilst both my sons were eagerly agreeing to the terms. Masamune was chuckling as he came back to sit with me, followed by Ieyasu’s wife, Asahi. She was positively beaming when she noticed my pregnancy and began animatedly talking about babies, much to her husband’s disgust. She was bright and bubbly where Ieyasu was all gruff and prickly, opposites apparently attracted in their case as she carefully placed her hand to wait for a kick.

Suki was quick to help save me from the warlords, as they began their usual pastime of trying to outdrink each other, and suggested we take the boys back to the quarters and share some tea. She winked, which meant there were definitely some treats for us that had been organised behind Hideyoshi’s back.

“Does he still ration the sweets for Nobunaga?” I asked Suki once we’d left the hall, knowing that at least one of the men would notice our communal absence and likely have the entire castle scouted. Hiroto was dragging his feet before I picked him up piggyback style and started to march towards the quarters to make Tadamune follow quicker.

“You’d think he was never allowed any by the way Nobunaga acts,” Suki laughed as she linked her arm through my eldest son, and gently pulled on him to keep up.

“That’s never changed,” I grinned, glad to be opening the door to drop off the heavyweight my son was becoming. It didn’t take long to get them in bed, the travelling was something new for them both, and it would take time for them to get acquainted with it in the manner the adults did.

As Suki had promised, there was a mini sweet tea laid out for the three of us with tea gently brewing in the main room. Ashai had picked up the slack where Masamune had left and would spend the majority of her time in the kitchens with the staff experimenting with foods the way Ieyasu experimented with herbs to make medicines. She was eager to get us to try something she’d recently acquired, before scoffing half of it down by herself, a new sweet paste spread across a small bit of roll.

“Natsuki!” Was yelled down the corridor, startling us all and waking both the children as the door to our quarters was flung open, and Masamune was stood there in the opening mid-move. “Oh, you’re… Hideyoshi! I found them!” He yelled for his longtime friend’s attention as the three of us women shared a look.

“Who won the bet then?” I sighed, trying to figure out the time.

“We burnt through two-thirds of this candle,” Suki replied, “So, Ashai got the closest bet that it’d take them two hours to notice.”

Hideyoshi and Ieyasu were looking equally ashamed as Masamune tried to glare at me, as though it was my fault I couldn’t get to him to point out the obvious. Tadamune and Hiroto had gone back to bed once they’d realised it was just their father being overdramatic. Afternoon tea would be a daily thing for us whilst we were all in the same castle as I waved them both off for the night, amidst all the grumbling from our respective husbands.

“You scared me,” Masamune pouted, wrapping me up tightly in his arms, sulking as he buried his head into my shoulder.

“I was more surprised to find out that Mitsuhide hadn’t replaced your water with sake, I hope for our sons’ sake they’ve at least inherited my alcohol tolerance,” I laughed. “We do this every time, you should know the ritual by now. If Nobunaga had a wife I’m sure we’d rope her straight up into our mini-club to rescue ourselves from the male head bashing you all insist on doing.”

“Bed. Now,” the one-eyed dragon growled, bringing a knowing smile to my face as he dragged me there without waiting on a response.

The boys were at a training session with Hideyoshi and Masamune whilst I was sat out in the sunshine in the garden. I had invaded Mitsunari’s library and found plenty to read since I wasn’t allowed to do anything it seemed, so catching up on my imaginary reading list was my main priority before the baby arrived. Masamune was insistent that we still had plenty of time before they arrived to get back to Iwadeyama, though I was increasingly unconvinced as the baby was growing more restless by the day. I was very much aware that it would prolong our stay vastly if I gave birth here, and made the decision to have an argument with Masamune about leaving shortly.

“Lass?” the one-eyed dragon was immediately at my side as I reached the outskirts of the training hall.

“I think the baby wants to get here soon, so either we stay here for longer than we anticipated, or we leave now,” I hissed, feeling great discomfort at that point in time.

I was surprised to find that Ieyasu was gently stroking my bump as Nobunaga was leaning over us.

“You said we could stay as long as we needed to right?” Masamune asked his ally with the greatest concern in his eye. Nobunaga’s retainers had recognised the situation and lead the boys away to distract them.

“I’m sure Ashai won’t mind an extended stay either,” Ieyasu added, as Nobunaga gave my husband a look which clearly stated that he was an idiot for even asking.

A sharp and sudden pain ripped through me, causing a scream to burst from my mouth, setting all the men immediately on edge. It was turning into a military operation with Masamune carrying me in his arms, and Ieyasu following as they both ran through the corridors, much to Hideyoshi’s upset before Suki dashed off in the opposite direction as we’d previously agreed to look after the boys.

It seemed like a lifetime had passed before a baby’s cry broke the sounds I had been making. Sweat was pouring off me and Ieyasu as the baby was washed with some water before being swaddled up and passed straight to me. “Guess we get our little princess after all,” I laughed breathlessly, stroking the head of our baby girl. She had Masamune’s dangerously charismatic blue eyes as a thought crossed my husband’s mind.

“She’ll have all the boys chasing after her,” he sulked, already preparing for the future.

“Just like Tadamune will have all of the girls falling at his feet like someone else I know,” I grinned.

“Yeah, but there’s only one girl for me,” Masamune softly replied, “Well, two now.”

“Irohahime Date, I am only hoping you will not be worse than your brothers,” I smiled.

Chapter Text

It was hard to process sometimes that several years had passed since I had refused to go back to the ‘present’. I was in a slightly melancholy mood, my parents had always been distant, I was simply the result of faulty birth control. I was chewing the inside of my lip subconsciously as I gazed out over the gardens. It was early spring, and we were just coming out of a frost as the snowdrops were threatening to bloom. Azuchi was the only place I could even consider home after those three months I’d first spent here, it began to all make sense as to why I never truly belonged anywhere. I was born 500 years too late it seemed as I realised that I had some work to be done on a kimono.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a quiet gathering of the warlords in the main hall at the same time.

“Natsuki has been more withdrawn than usual,” Hideyoshi agreed as they all gave their reports on the chatelaine. She hadn’t been as interested in going to the town of late, even her passion for the fabrics and designing had slowed. The maids said her smile didn’t warm her eyes as often, and she was running off instincts and use of the routines rather than to actively investigate. The deep frown on his lord’s face was the main concern of them all, he was unusually serious regarding the chatelaine’s mood.

“Tomorrow we hold a feast for her,” Oda announced. “We have her favourite foods available and make sure she is spoilt. I will have the maids and townspeople keep her in the town for the day. Masamune will be in charge of the kitchens, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu will be in charge of making sure the castle is clean and decorated, Mitsunari will ensure that a new kimono is made to her specifications whilst Mitsuhide will spy on Natsuki and use delaying tactics if needs be,” he reeled off, as though mentally checking off on a list what needed addressing.

“And you my lord?” Hideyoshi queried, surprised to hear how thoroughly Nobunaga was organising the event.

“I will be sourcing the gifts,” he smiled. “You are all dismissed.”

I felt as though I was trying to walk through a fog as I sat on the veranda outside my room. I was enjoying a lazy breakfast, brought to me by the maids after they’d told me that there was nothing to be done at the castle, but there was talk of a potential problem in the town with supply lines. All the warlords were too busy to go and investigate, plus they all agreed that the merchants spoke a lot more freely with me than with any of the men. It also gave me a chance to practice my good luck charm skills as Nobunaga called them since rohins and enemy spies would often be attracted to the areas I was in, to the point I’d even had to start carrying a short sword after daily training with Masamune, Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide.

I let the maids know I was leaving, they requested some general items and to see if there was anything new in the herb and spices that took my fancy. Nobunaga ensured I was never wanting for money, but I was happier to earn it. Everything was starting to become the same in my daily life as I quietly contemplated how my life had been turned upside down. I hadn’t failed to notice the increasing letters requesting my hand in marriage with various daimyos and other lords as I pondered the mere thought of leaving Azuchi behind. It was expected of the era for women to bear children as it was starting to feel like a crushing weight seeing as I had yet to even form any romantic attachments. I loved everyone dearly at the castle, I was just struggling to push over that sentimental attachment and find anything deeper.

Cinnamon had made its way onto the market, as I purchased enough to keep me in dumplings for a while to come, and I cleaned them out of the sugar candies to keep Nobunaga occupied for his night excursions. The stall holders were all a little cheerier than usual, even after I was done probing the spice merchant about any possible problems that we’d heard up at the castle. Everyone was being quick to deny anything, and I had to agree that if anything the paths seemed safer given the larger selection available from most of them.

I paused as I came to my favourite teahouse. The dumplings made here simply couldn’t compete as I went to find the owner. He was beaming as I went to hand him over some cinnamon until he laughed and said that he had already purchased some in anticipation of my visit. I was ushered outside and sat down as they prepared the dumplings and graced me with some tea whilst I was waiting.

Mitsuhide was chuckling to himself as he took a seat opposite me, a slippery smirk on his face as I continued to sip at my tea. There was some sake brought out for him instantly, and the idle chatter began before the special dumplings were brought out.

He looked a little stumped at the smell, trying to process it.

“Cinnamon,” I calmly stated before taking a mouthful and savouring it slowly. It had been months since it was last available, and it was never predictable. Vanilla was the other spice I had the merchants on the lookout for, though many of them appeared confused when I asked but agreed to be prepared for it since the price was rarely a problem when it was me asking.

“What?” the serpent asked, looking even more confused.

“That smell, it’s cinnamon. Reminds me of home,” I shrugged, biting into another dumpling. “Try one,” I offered.

Mitsuhide pulled a face at the treat. “I don’t like sweet things,” he grumbled, as I rolled my eyes at the man. “Anyway, it’s getting late and I’m sure you’ve bought most of the market,” he teased.

“It’s only getting late because you’re on your third bottle of sake,” I snorted, jabbing straight back at him.

We quibbled the entire way up to the castle before he lifted his hand to announce his departure, whilst walking in the completely opposite direction to my room. I was feeling like the whole day had been a distraction, it wasn’t unusual for me to see none of the warlords, but the smells drifting from the kitchens told me that Masamune was busy at the very least.

I hadn’t told any of the warlords that I was getting written proposals from anyone, they’d be going mad, which is why all the blood drained from my face when I found a brand new kimono in my room on top of them all with a note saying ‘wear this and we need to talk’. Hideyoshi had found out at the very least, which meant that everyone was going to know soon enough. The kimono made me feel like the Oda princess title I’d been given, which brought a dark blush to my skin, I’d been acting more like the chatelaine than the princess of late, though apparently, I fit into both roles like a glove.

I was nervous when I heard a knock, and Ieyasu opened the door. “Come on,” he gruffly bristled and jerked his head in the direction of the main hall.

All of the daimyos who had sent marriage requests were present, along with some very pissed off warlords. None of them were pleased to be there, though several faces turned instantly to one of hope at my appearance. Ieyasu was playing the escort as he held his hand out to guide me through the masses.

“Everyone present has made a bid for the princess’ hand in marriage, without consulting me,” Nobunaga was not happy as I was seated next to him, a blaze in his eyes telling me that as soon as the daimyos were dismissed, I was in for one hell of a talking to. “All of you are now to leave and will never be considered for marriage to the princess,” he claimed. Some of the men looked ready to argue until they noticed that Masamune, Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu all had their hands on their swords, and even Oda was not far from his blade.

Once it was confirmed they had all left the building, the warlords all turned their attention onto me as I gave them a weak smile.

“I didn’t want to bother you guys,” I explained. “I had no intention of accepting any of their offers because it would mean I couldn’t stay here.”

“Regardless, you should have told us you were receiving that volume,” Hideyoshi was turning into the big brother role. “It may look to undermine Lord Nobunaga’s role if it is left to run this far. I noticed that many of them were from the same men, they take silence as a potential yes,” he sighed.

“Some of those letters were getting downright rude too lass, warning you about your age,” Masamune added in, there was still a hope for a fight in his eye, but there always was that air around him.

Nobunaga wouldn’t look me in the eye anymore as Mitsunari appeared. The two men muttered amongst themselves, and a glance was given to Mitsuhide who then promptly disappeared. Masamune took this as a hint to take me to the kitchens, especially since I’d bought the cinnamon in from the market. He was playing with the dough that he had been in the middle of making when we had all been summoned to the hall. The silence was natural, I was just studying his technique, intrigued as to how he made it so the dough was light and fluffy.

“Why did you really hide all those proposals from us lass?” Date brought me out of my stupor, surprising me a little.

“Because it just felt like I would be causing problems. I don’t want to be continually reminded of my age and Nobunaga has enough on his plate without me adding that to it. I have no intention of leaving Azuchi after this long, it’s my home now and I didn’t think that any of you would be bothered since I had no intentions of accepting them,” I shrugged with a sigh.

“Care to share the burden as you frequently ask us?” He continued. I was picking at the hem of my kimono sleeves in an attempt to focus on something.

“Where I come from, there’s pressure to excel in a career, you aren’t expected to have children. My parents only had me, and I wasn’t exactly a wanted child, there were developments made that could mean you didn’t just end up with children like you do here, but it all failed and I happened,” I shrugged, refusing to look up from my sleeves. “Now I’ve been here for a few years, everyone’s expecting me to get married and have kids, and I don’t think I could do that to Nobunaga,” I quietly added. “This is my home, has been for a while, and now all these lords were piling their expectations onto me. Just wondering if I need to get back through the next wormhole,” I paused. “I wouldn’t fit in there anymore. And I’d miss you all too much to function. I guess I just feel like I’m stuck in a limbo between two sets of expectations.”

“Nobunaga’s been turning down proposals for you since you arrived,” Date chuckled, adding a pinch of salt to the broth he had boiling. “I guess they got bored of hearing him say no, so they went to you hoping to override him effectively. I don’t think I’ve seen him do anything for anyone like he does for you.”

“It’d have been a lot easier for him to throw me in a cell and just to leave me to rot than to take me on as he did,” I admitted, wrapping my arms around my abdomen and leaning forward a little. “Getting it out in the open just makes it sound ridiculous,” I sighed. “That I’m worrying over nothing.”

“Other’s expectations are a huge weight to bear lass, especially in the case of marriage and children,” Masamune gravely replied. “But for now, you have us all, and you need a good meal. I know you haven’t been eating properly for weeks,” he growled and shooed me out back to the main hall as the servants came in to take all the dishes out.

The sake was flowing freely between me and Nobunaga as we watched the rest of the hall with interest. Any vassals, aides or staff who had been present were all invited since Masamune had gotten overzealous with the quantities of food and there was enough to feed an army. I was sure I was imagining the gap between us getting smaller until I realised I was sat on his lap quite comfortably. I was pouring him the sake constantly as he kept tipping the cup back without a thought until he tipped an entire cup into my mouth and then kissed me to get the sake back.

His lips were soft, his fingers holding my chin up as the sake disappeared between us and it wasn’t until we parted for breath that we realised that the whole room had fallen silent and was staring at us now.

“Finally!” Date cheered, as Oda faintly blushed whilst I turned the shade of a tomato. “Only taken five years,” he grinned, holding a cup of water up to us.

“That’s sake!” I yelled to him, though Nobunaga wasn’t letting me go anywhere to stop him drinking it. “Idiot,” I muttered before I was pulled back in for another kiss. The faint traces of sake still on Oda’s tongue and lips as I was left mind blown.

Moving into the tenshu was the only thing to be done, my sewing kit took up a corner of the room as Nobunaga grumbled about making compromises. He’d been turning down the proposals and not telling me to keep me happy, he’d heard about the various romantic attachments of my modern era and wanted me to find my own way. Turns out I’d just gotten so lost in myself he had to come and find me anyway.

The gossip spread quickly through the domain, as some of the merchants passed comments on to me whilst at the market that made me blush. There was always the outside pressure for children and to make things ‘right’ between us. Everything had to be done suddenly in this era, life was so fleeting and fragile, but I was still trying to break out of my modern expectations of a relationship. I had time still for children, but with every battle, Nobunaga raged in, there was always that chance he would never come home. The thought of him not coming home still terrified me as much as it did when I first arrived as I scurried back to the castle after some hurried goodbyes, just to get out of the prying eyes and ears of the townsfolk.

“They mean well,” Nobunaga patted my head as I let out a sigh, glad to be back in the castle. “Just take things as you’re prepared to,” he kissed my forehead and left for the war council in the main hall. A brief passing in the corridor was all I was likely to see him until he woke me up when he got into bed. He had heard from the maids what was being said in the town, and Mitsuhide had confirmed the same things after a little snooping about. It made me feel as though I was sitting on top of an invisible timer, and everyone else could see it except for me.

“Natsuki,” someone was shaking my shoulder gently, waking me from my slumber. “You really need to be more careful,” Oda chastised as it turned out I’d fallen asleep on my sewing, again. It was the middle of the night as I peered up at him. “Come on, the bed’s this way,” he chuckled, having already changed his clothing.

Once we were settled down in the futon, he was stroking my hair softly as I listened to his steady heartbeat. It was all soothing and comforting to be there with him as I sighed softly in contentment.

“That’s a better noise,” he murmured in a humoured tone.

“Mm, you’re my favourite,” I mumbled in response, sleep winning the battle I was fighting.

“Should hope so,” I could hear the smug look on his face without even needing to look up. This was where I was home and meant to be.

Chapter Text

Oshu was a vast castle, and I was losing track of how many training rooms Masamune decided that he needed. I had no idea that marriage was apparently meant to keep you on your toes when both your husband and son would randomly come out of ceiling panels, rooms, closest and corridors wielding the wooden training swords. Tadamune was easier to spot, but still on occasions caught me off guard, as he was standing in front of me with the biggest grin a seven-year-old could muster, whilst I had my hands on my hips and was trying my hardest to not look impressed that he had hidden in the floor.

Masamune was currently absent from the castle, visiting Azuchi to keep up the alliance with Nobunaga strong, and the only reason we hadn’t been taken along was the possibility of going straight to war from there. Kojiro was wearing the look of a proud father as he stumbled upon the scene. He was often involved in Tadamune’s training, and would never hesitate to scold my husband for being too soft on our son, and then would laugh when I would use the ninja techniques to evade ‘capture and torture’ by scattering the spikes and disappearing myself into the various rooms. There were many occasions where we’d roped the staff into our games, bribery was never above either of us and to our surprise, there were always some who would take the bribes off us both and collect in at the same time.

“I wondered where you were,” the retainer laughed as I shook my head at the two males. “You’re late,” he lightly scolded.

“A Date is never late, everyone else is just early,” Tadamune retorted. My husband’s influence was strikingly clear from miles away as Kojiro tipped his head to me before escorting my son away.

I tucked a loose lock of hair behind my ear before turning around to go back to the kitchens. The staff had reportedly got a problem and needed some help.

They needed help for sure. Masamune had returned and was covered in flour and in the middle of making the biggest batch of dough I’d ever seen. I wasn’t even sure what he was thinking of doing with the sheer volume of it and intervened as the staff were trying to tidy up around the warlord.

“Lass?” He paused as I put my hands over his, bent over in front of him. And distracted him as my kimono was gaping a little unintentionally. “I am really glad no one else can see you at this angle right now,” he sternly added, though not lifting his gaze until I straightened up and pulled my kimono together with a blush.

“The staff were asking for my help, I can see why now, what are you doing aside from making a big mess?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at the situation my husband was causing.

“It’s a surprise,” he huffed, scowling as I adjusted my kimono properly.

“Letting me know you’re home is the first call, and you know it,” I frowned, crossing my arms under my bust. “So either this is really bad news-”

I was suddenly swung about in a hug from behind, and caught the faces of Hideyoshi, Nobunaga and Mitsunari in a blur, as I deduced that Mitsuhide was behind the ministrations. After several loops, I was unsteadily put down, and faced to the white-haired male who was smiling at me as he usually did.

“Right, someone is telling me something,” I scolded them all once the dizziness had faded, and I was able to stand somewhat upright.

“You would have thought that being away from us would have dulled her a little,” Nobunaga pouted a little.

“Apparently I need to remind you that I’m married to Masamune and have birthed his clone,” I snorted, looking less than impressed at their invasion. “I have five warlords currently present. I’d like to know why so I can hide enough information from Tadamune if I need to. The little guy is a ninja,” I shook my head.

“How did he get you this time lass?” Masamune laughed.

“Came out of the damned floor, luckily I wasn’t carrying anything this time,” I sighed. Sasuke had been training him as well, as parents, we weren’t that daft to not recognise his techniques being replicated.

Mitsuhide was openly smirking at the idea of me dropping everything after being startled, and Oda’s expression wasn’t much different.

“Yeah, you won’t be finding it that amusing once he realises you are all fair game,” Masamune grinned, before continuing to knead all the dough roughly.

“So aside from having a castle full of warlords, anything else you want to share?” I sarcastically asked, tilting my head expectantly at my frustrated husband.

“Right now, I want to make a lot of food and get my head straight,” Masamune had a warning glint in his eye. “I will talk to you later kitten,” he finished the conversation, as the rest of us took the hint. I summoned some maids to dust out a few guest rooms whilst trying to not to dwell on Masamune’s bad mood.

I screamed bloody murder when it rained dust on me, and Tadamune leapt from the ceiling panels whilst wrestling with a much smaller looking Sasuke. The big ninja was wearing a sheepish smile from the hole as Kojiro slid into view, wearing a relieved smile at first then catching sight of my ready to kill expression. The fully grown ninja coughed to get the attention of the two boys, and both of them immediately separated and bowed to me.

“Sasuke, I am going to have you killed and strung up for all to see the next time our children try to kill me,” I calmly stated, as all of the warlords present had appeared to see what was going on. “And I know Kenshin is up there with you, and he is one of the instigators of this,” I added on, glaring at a panel.

“Sorry Natsuki,” the ninja profusely apologised before glancing at the two boys. “Kenshin gets a bit excited to see the potential in the next generation and they couldn’t not listen to him apparently,” he sighed.

“So I’ve got at least six warlords in the castle, and my husband is definitely in warlord mode, so he won’t talk to me. I’m hoping someone fills me in soon, otherwise there’s a wholly different kind of warfare about to happen,” I smiled, my tone sickly sweet before I swiftly departed for my study.

I had a few commissions and requests in progress and waiting to be started as I had a look through the packages that had arrived for the projects. The silk fabric I’d requested for a haori was the heaviest thing to move, the current one that Masamune was using as his ‘best’ was about to be slipped into his battlefront outfits the way things were going. I ran my fingers through my hair, pushing it out of my face as I went searching through my sewing box for the correctly coloured threads to finish the half-done yukata that was splayed over my desk.

I never realise the time when I get in my sewing zone. My study was known as off-limits to everyone. Tadamune had gone in once and been caught, and the lad had soon picked up that it was the only part of the castle outside of the dungeons that I ever forbade him from going in to. I was pricking my fingers a lot with the needle, as I sucked on the end of it and wondered why I was being so clumsy as a knock drew me out of my stupor.

“Come in,” I replied, making sure to put the nearly finished piece down where I couldn’t stab myself.

Hideyoshi was surprised to see the room scattered and disorganised as it was, and I only offered a smile in response. “Is there anything you need Hideyoshi?” I asked, hoping the maids had been swift in the room preparations.

“Nothing, everything’s fine. Masamune is just finishing up and has announced that the food will be ready shortly so it’d be best to disturb you now whilst there was still a chance to get you away from the seamstress work before night fell,” he smiled, that brotherly smile that was hiding a lot from me as I merely gave him an expression that told him I was only playing along because food sounded good.

The whole room reminded me of when I had first arrived from the wormhole, only this time I seemed to be hosting all of the warlords. Kenshin and Shingen had an unsteady but long-standing alliance with Nobunaga after defeating Kennyo, and I was nearly certain that Takeda would be trying to take advantage of the fact that my husband couldn’t drink sake. Yukimura was looking tired, but I was willing to bet that his newborn daughter was the likely cause of that one, whilst most of the warlords stubbornly refused to get involved with making any lineages. I kept swapping Masamune’s glass for a fresh one the second that Mitsuhide was even glancing past, whilst making sure that the food was going around everyone, instead of getting hogged at sections by various individuals. I was surprised at the lack of wives or anyone else present, which told me something was definitely wrong.

“Kitten,” a low voice spoke in my ear and nearly made me smash my husband’s head in with the tray I was carrying. “Easy, it’s only me,” he soothed, taking the ‘weapon’ out of my hand as he casually escorted me to the gardens without it being too obvious in his head.

“Are you ready to tell me what’s going off yet?” I asked, feeling exhausted about being kept in the dark.

I was wrapped up tightly in a hug, his head in the nook of my neck as I automatically looped my arms around his torso. He was trembling, and it wasn’t the cold. He needed to just know I was there and alive as I managed to find my pulse and put his fingers over it, bringing him back little by little.

“I keep having the same nightmare,” his voice was low and gravely, this wasn’t something normal. “That you’re kidnapped and used against me,” he squeezed me tighter into him as his teeth scraped at my neck in a twinging bite.

“You’re talking about the same woman who willingly goes to attack her warlord of a husband armed with only a tea tray?” I queried, trying to ignore the pooling heat between my legs at the sensation of his teeth on my skin.

“You keep screaming at me to kill you so they can’t use you against me,” he whimpered, clutching at my head as he bit my ear hard.

“Just as I should,” I gasped as his fingers were pulling at my clothing. I couldn’t help as a groan escaped and realised that we were still in the garden. I pulled at his hard body, trying to direct him to an empty room at the very least.

We finally made it to our room, though there were a few occasions I thought Masamune was going to win and get my clothes off before we had gotten somewhere private enough. He kept biting harder and harder, desperate to hear my sounds of pleasure and pain whilst his fingers were forever finding my pulse. I was panting and sweat was pouring off me in the end, and Masamune was in a similar situation as he locked his arms around me, my body held flush against his.

“Who are you seeing in these nightmares?” I whispered, terrified of the answer.

“Everyone,” he replied, his throat dry as he had to keep touching me to make sure I was real and there. “Kenshin, Shingen, Nobunaga, Ieyasu,” he whispered.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I softly asked, knowing that he was living it out all again in his head as he stared at me.

“I’m meant to be the one-eyed dragon, I’m not meant to be scared of my wife being used against me,” his response was muffled as he buried his head into the nook of my shoulder. I ran my fingers through his hair as I could feel him start to nip and bite at my skin again.

Natsuki was exhausted after their third round and was asleep now in Masamune’s arms. He couldn’t let her go, she’d disappear and the Sandman was starting to pester him, even though he was fighting what felt like the inevitable.

He could see her struggling in the arms of Nobunaga, the Devil King smirking broadly at his former ally. Hideyoshi was staring on at the one-eyed dragon with a hatred he had rarely seen in the man as Masamune was trying to keep himself from charging head first into certain death.

Natsuki was able to distract the dark-haired male enough to slip from his grip and free his sword from the Devil King’s waist. She was a firecracker at the best of times as she dove and danced around her captors as the Date leader roared his troops into the chaos she had started.

Someone jumped onto the back of his horse as he clashed swords with Hideyoshi, a slender set of arms around his waist as a familiar and soothing voice whispered, “You can retreat now,” into his ear.

He woke up as Natsuki snuggled back down into his grip, a smug smile on her face as the male had to give his wife credit and kissed the top of her head. She always made the burden easier to carry.

Chapter Text

Masamune was grumbling as Megohime was taking her time on following him to the castle, whilst Ashai was dragging Ieyasu in a mission to get him to start moving quicker. Nene was attempting to distract Hideyoshi from his mother hen duties, whilst also taking on Mitsunari who was happily oblivious to everything. Hiroko was helping Nene since Mitsuhide had decided to evade his wife for some reason. Getting everyone together at Azuchi was chaos that Nobunaga thrived in, whilst it kept me on my toes to arrange all the staff at the manors and keeping everyone stocked up on sake more appropriately.

One of the maids ran up to me, looking flustered. “Lady Natsuki! The cooking staff are unable to keep up with the demands from Lord Nobunaga-”

“Don’t worry, I’ll find Masamune,” I smiled, and turned to waddle away.

“And where do you think you are going?” Hideyoshi appeared with a huge frown on his face as I turned the corner to head to the kitchens. “I know Lord Nobunaga was telling you to rest,” he scolded.

“Then go and find Masamune for me and get him into the kitchens to organise everyone please?” I smiled sweetly with a head tilt. “And Nobunaga is turning into as much of a mother hen as you are over me.”

“It’s his first child,” Nene appeared, hands on her hips. “And you need to stop nagging at her as well, I can vouch for how boring it is when your husband keeps forcing you to ‘rest’ when you’re so used to organising the manors. You go and find Masamune, and let Megohime know we’ll be in the sewing room since Masamune will be trying to get her to sit still as well,” his wife instructed.

I couldn’t hold back a laugh as Toyotomi went off to do as he was told, though he didn’t look happy about it as Nene beamed at his retreating back, before turning on me. “And you are coming with me to the sewing room to sit down and put your feet up,” she instructed.

“Yes mum,” I teased, though I followed at my own comfortable pace.

Megohime was already seated, and Masamune was loitering to make sure that I was present as well. “I’m sure you two are determined to upset me and Nobunaga whilst you’re both this pregnant,” he growled, his wife with a glowing smile at the possibility we were really planning it.

“Actually I just don’t like sitting down and doing nothing, and the staff just come to me because they can’t find Nobunaga,” I reminded him. “And let my husband know that avoiding me is not appreciated,” I finished as I ungracefully lowered myself to the floor. “I’m sat, and Megohime is as well, will you go and sort out the kitchen staff now?” I impatiently pointed out. The one-eyed dragon grumbled and swiftly left, whilst Nene was giggling as she prepared the tea. “Are you sure you can leave Mitsunari alone for that long?” I asked.

“He’s in the library, so I know where he is and can go and fetch him when he’s needed,” she brightly stated. “Hidekatsu is with him anyway, so it’s keeping two boys out of the way for now.”

“I still remember Hideyoshi practically following you around the second it worked out you were pregnant, anyone would have thought you would break at any point,” I teased.

“It’s his instinct to mother us all. He likes to worry, so just giving him something to worry about makes sense,” Nene announced proudly.

“Masamune’s getting worse. I’ll be glad when this child is born, then he’ll have either a son to look forward to training or a daughter to protect as well as me,” Megohime added, sympathising with my position. “And he’s just as bad as Nobunaga, he’ll disappear off so the staff have to come to me and I’ll get the scolding for getting involved.”

“Anyone would think you were both invalids,” A silky voice replied, as Mitsuhide graced the manor with his presence. “Though looking at the size of you both, I would argue you are,” he smiled.

“That’s never a combination of words any woman wants to hear,” I glared at the vassal. “And you’ll find something to moan about I’m sure when Hiroko gets pregnant.”

“Oh he does,” the woman smiled, poking her head into the room with a face that would light the world up. “Much smaller bump though,” she giggled, sitting excitedly between me and Megohime, whilst Mitsuhide slipped back away into the corridors. “I’m sure he’s excited as well,” she ignored the sulky look. “He just doesn’t want to turn into Hideyoshi,” Hiroko rolled her eyes before excitedly looking back to us. “I understand you two are banned from chatelaine duties?”

“Yes, and have useless husbands who disappear the second they issue the command, and leave the staff with no choice but to involve us,” I smiled.

“I object to being called useless,” Oda sulked as he opened the door.

“My point still stands, the staff come to me to report problems because you are off being yourself,” I replied, unphased by the glare that would have frozen most people to the spot. “Have you seen the kitchen staff or Masamune? If you keep insisting on adding extra dishes and making things complex then you will need to at least either remove some options or give them more hands to keep it all running smoothly.” The baby promptly gave me a kick as though telling me to calm down.

“Masamune has started organising them, and I have told the staff exactly where I am all the time, they insist on going to you though,” Nobunaga argued, crouching next to me and kissing my forehead. “I will send someone to fetch you when things have been sorted, but right now you are carrying my child and you will listen to me.”

“It’s our child, and it will be the most stubborn person born yet,” I stated. “Go and finish whatever you were doing,” I sighed as Ieyasu came looking for Oda.

A couple of hours of catching up happened, it had been several months since we were last all present when Ashai found the room in question so we could all be ‘resting’ as instructed from our rather bullheaded husbands. Our communications were often requesting assistance in deceived the men for celebrations or to relieve each other from very wound up and bored warlords who had no fighting to do for various reasons. To mock up confrontations between them would provide us for entertainment when they would return and moan about the other’s strategies.

Megohime was in the final stages of her pregnancy, and Masamune had been terrible at waiting since they found out. Though as she grew, he was getting tighter on what he would ‘allow’ Megohime to do, even if she would politely nod and then ignore him and carry on as normal in her routine. Nobunaga had been a little better, mostly because Hideyoshi was following me around the times that he wasn’t able to make sure I wasn’t doing anything I shouldn’t have been doing. I had another couple of months I figured, though I would regularly go and find a quiet room to have a sleep in at any time of the day now.

Ieyasu was looking grumpy even as Ashai jumped up to hug him in greeting when he arrived to tell us the main hall was all prepared in our forced absence. Nobunaga was looking a lot more relaxed as he helped me to sit next to him and kissed the back of my hand.

It was likely to be the last chance before the majority of the next generation were birthed that this sort of occasion could be celebrated without absent wives. I knew what the expectations were once our baby was born, and Nobunaga had promised he wouldn’t let my nightmares become a reality, where I was forced to constantly find sanctuary with our child because he’d get himself killed in battle. It was a daily occurrence, and it would end up with us both awake as Oda would soothe me back to sleep in his arms. Megohime punched Masamune and was glaring at him for a comment as I couldn’t help but smile. We had our friends all currently around us, and even with families starting and growing, those bonds and alliances had never faded only strengthened as I was surprised to see Nobunaga openly putting his hand on my bump whilst the baby kicked at him. He had learnt to section himself off when he needed to in battle, but would always come home and I would help him open back up. It was part of our ritual, but I had never felt such love for the man in my heart as in the moment he publically looked excited to meet our child.

“I bet it’s a girl,” I teased, knowing that Oda would always have to be right in his bets, those nearby us knew I was baiting the great leader, and listened in with interest.

“It’s a boy, and he will protect all of his little sisters with everything he has,” he declared.

“Well, we’ll need to agree then at the birth who wins, and what they win,” I replied, purposely lowering my voice a fraction.

“We will discuss the terms later,” Oda huffed, turning to get his sake as I noticed his ears were turning red.

“I’m sure we’ll both end up happy regardless,” I whispered in his ear, smiling broadly up at my husband, as he kissed my cheek briefly. The love between us flowed without words needing to be expressed as our hands intertwined, ready to face the upcoming challenges together.

Chapter Text

Yukimura was being stubborn as I continued on with my daily life. He was as pig-headed as possible at times, and this was definitely the news I needed him to process in his own way as I continued my work with the seamstresses for an exceptionally large amount of orders that had suddenly inundated them. Sasuke popped in to hide from a particularly bored Kenshin and was hiding under my table that was covered in fabric, when the heterochromia male appeared, and glared at me specifically with the intent to unsheathe his sword and threaten me. Again.

I gave him a look that made the God of War think otherwise, and he sulked off straight away, resuming his search for the pesky ninja as Sarutobi peered out from the fabric with relief. “Get Yuki involved,” I advised our modern day friend, “He’s in a foul mood too,” I smiled.

“You told him then?” Sasuke froze, the other women listening in with avid interest, I merely nodded in response, as the man disappeared.

“My lady?” One of the seamstresses next to me was getting excited to find out the news.

“I refuse to tell anyone until I’ve at least given my husband a chance to speak to his Lord,” I smiled, giving the message in a tone that stated it was not up for debate as I picked up the measurements for the next yukata to be completed.

Shingen was surprised to find me on my own as I left to return to Yuki’s quarters, and slipped his arm casually around my shoulder as he would, a charming smile on his face. “I am really not in the mood for this,” I stated to the male, a tired smile on my face. “I am tired, and I just want to go to sleep.”

“And what about our celebrations?” The God of Charisma paused.

“I really don’t want to eat,” I replied, slipping out from his grasp. “Good night Shingen,” I finished the conversation, slightly amazed I was able to have the last word as I shut the door. Yuki would likely be taken up with Kenshin in my hopes as I settled down onto the futon. Most smells made me feel nauseous, and food wasn’t something I was willing to confront in company, plus exhaustion was beating at me constantly. I was sure that Sasuke would piece the puzzle together for the other two men, whilst Yuki would be silent in getting his head around the idea. It was too much work to stay awake.

“Natsuki keeps refusing to attend our celebrations,” Shingen pouted to his vassal, who was looking a little flushed after spending most of the afternoon being chased by Kenshin. “She says she doesn’t want to eat.”

“Mm,” a noncommittal noise was all that the Lord could get out of Yukimura, his mind clearly elsewhere as Sasuke was watching them both with avid interest, whilst also keeping pace with his Lord’s drinking.

“And you’ve been very distant today Yuki, I was able to sneak all the sweets from the kitchens,” Shingen was testing the younger man on purpose, and had it confirmed something was wrong as his vassal didn’t start on his usual scoldings. “Did Natsuki tell you she was pregnant or something?” He paused a concerned expression on his face, and then smiled when Yuki dropped his cup in a fluster and split the sake everywhere. “Oh, I see,” he chuckled. “A toast then?” The Lord proposed as the whole room turned their attention to the pairing, confused as to the sudden proposal.

“I’m leaving,” Yuki huffed, standing up suddenly as the ninja gave the man a smile. “She told you first?” He gawped, anger starting to flare.

“I figured it out first,” Sasuke corrected, pushing his glasses up his nose. “The illness, exhaustion, forgetfulness,” he listed off. “And then I asked her a couple of questions and got to the answer which lead to her telling you.”

The conversation had the rapt attention of everyone, even the usual staff were waiting avidly for the news to be shared. “It is a joyous occasion, one I think you should fetch Natsuki for,” Shingen interrupted, a gleam of hope in his eyes as the blushing male was finding himself increasingly cornered. He glowered in frustration at his Lord before departing swiftly from the room as the sake and talking resumed.

“Oi,” Yuki hissed as I was being shaken awake, he was looking rather sober to say he’d been drinking with Shingen, and looked pretty pissed off.

“What?” I snapped a little defensively, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

“They figured it out,” he sulked, sitting next to me on the bed. “Or Lord Shingen did,” he specified. “And told me to come and get you and there’d be a toast.”

“Yuki,” I stated, making my husband look at me for the first time all day. “This is no easier for me to process than it is for you to. It’s going to be a complete change to us.”

A kiss on my cheek was the only response I received, as he held his hand out to help me stand. He was fidgeting with his kimono sleeves as I changed from my night clothes to something more presentable and realised I’d need to allow for changes in my clothing for all the growing I would be doing. I shook my head and brightly smiled at my husband as I went to leave the room.

I was tightly pulled in for a hug, his head buried in the crook of my neck. This was new territory for us both, I wrapped my arms around his waist to try and calm him. It was a few minutes before he uprighted himself, scowling a little after I stole a brief kiss and giggled at him.

Shingen spat out his sake as Yuki appeared back with me, his face falling when the room’s attention focused on us. “When I said… are you serious?” He was a little pale as the rest of the room was looking on in confusion.

“Yes,” I laughed, unable to keep a straight face at the response the Tiger of Kai was currently giving. “I really am pregnant,” I smiled, squeezing Yuki’s hand and pretending to not noticing how darkly he was really blushing. Kenshin’s response was to make sure there was sake in his bottle before it was downed suddenly, and Shingen had a similar reaction as we moved to sit next to the Lord.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” Shingen admitted, Kenshin following Sasuke and complaining loudly as we were all sat together.

“Neither was Yuki a few days ago,” I replied, making sure to navigate for the water. “That’s why I suggested setting Kenshin on him,” I shrugged, as my husband turned to tell me off. “You needed to fight to clear your head,” I pointed out, and made sure to not look at Yuki.

“How long to wait do you figure?” Sasuke asked as the other three men looked at the ninja with surprise.

“About seven months,” I shrugged, as they realised it was a conversation that would make sense about 500 years in the future. “Maybe more towards six,” I added after a pause.

“Fewer hospital visits to navigate,” he smiled and offered a silent toast to us.

The news spread like wildfire over the town, I was congratulated endlessly as I went to place the orders for some fabric and threads, and all the women were offering help in what to set the baby’s room up with. I was started to definitely feel like I was being treated as a princess, until a messenger from the Oda forces appeared, requesting an audience with Kenshin, Shingen, and me. The tone of the letter was urgent, as the two warlords asked if they thought there was any reason to accept it.

“They may have heard about my expecting news,” I paused, “If they turn up and it goes horribly wrong, feel free to slaughter them,” I offered, a nervous smile on my face.

It was a few days before Hideyoshi and Nobunaga were approaching with their guards. It had the whole of Kasugayama on edge, practically snarling at the enemy commander who kept himself aloof of it all. Hideyoshi was prepared to slash at anyone who even breathed towards his Lord, then the whole atmosphere was turned on its head as I went to greet them. Sasuke had purposely told the rest of the ninjas to hold things as I hugged Toyotomi, and a smirk was offered from Oda before showing them into the main hall where Kenshin and Shingen were impatiently waiting.

“We had heard some disturbing news,” Nobunaga opened. “That Kennyo has gotten himself loose again, and was circling Echigo for an opening,” he paused, the two Lords of Kasugayama eyeing him with distrust.

“And where do you come into this warning?” The Tiger of Kai was bitter. “You requested Natsuki’s presence specifically, just to tell us about Kennyo?”

“We had heard of a rumour,” Hideyoshi outlined, looking directly at me.

“And what was that?” I asked, wondering if I should really have been there.

“That you are with child,” Nobunaga had his eyes narrowed. “And we had not been informed.”

“It was announced four days ago!” I argued.

“You are still an Oda Princess,” Hideyoshi huffed, the entire atmosphere dissolving as it turned into a scolding for me from my self-appointed big brother. “You should have sent a message to us before it was announced here.”

“Well Shingen thought Yuki wasn’t being serious when it was guessed at, and we weren’t expecting it to be talked about as much as it has!” I sighed, my head in my hands as Takeda was struggling to withhold his laughter at the situation. “Stop enjoying this so much,” I grumbled to the Tiger.

“So, you’ve come to tell us about Kennyo because you heard a rumour I’m pregnant,” I confirmed, still unable to quite get my head around the reasoning.

“Yes,” Hideyoshi firmly nodded, Yukimura and Sasuke had joined us once I had confirmed that my scolding was finished with, and frowned at my husband who had insisted I sit right next to him. I had noticed the massive attitude chance in Yuki over the past few days, he was following me the second he didn’t have any duties to attend to, and I was being relieved from carrying anything from all the maids and staff constantly as though under orders from the vassal.

“I’m guessing you want to propose something in order to ensure my protection,” I wryly proposed, catching the opposing commanders off guard as Hideyoshi nodded in confirmation. “I will leave you all to it then, battle is not my forte and I need a rest,” I bowed politely and stood up to leave.

“Natsuki,” Nobunaga ordered, staring at me firmly. “I will expect updates.”

“You will get them, my duties are dwindling all of a sudden, I really don’t get how,” I replied, looking directly at my husband for the latter part of my sentence.

Shingen was laughing as Yuki was preparing for the upcoming battle, a dark flush across his face when I appeared with the requested tea. The Lord had been banned from fighting after coughing up a lot of blood and over-exerting himself and was to stay behind to guard me in a compromise. “Shingen,” I warned him, lowering the tea tray over the slightly pronounced bump.

“I’m sure you’re growing every second I don’t see you,” Takeda admired.

“Not a phrase any woman cares to hear,” I reminded the man before taking a seat between the two. “How are the plans going?”

“The only reason I’m working with them is because you are their reasoning for coming to tell us,” Yuki was sulky at the thought of needing to leave me alone with his Lord, especially with Shingen making gestures towards me in an effort to agitate his vassal.

“I think we can all agree that if Kennyo gets hold of me then both sides are in dire straits,” I pointed out. “So take out the mutual threat to the mutual asset and then you can come back to some form of normality,” I explained patiently, whilst Shingen looked over us both with some form of fatherly appreciation.

“Stop looking at me like this,” Sanada hissed.

“Huh?” I asked, tilting my head to the side, my husband’s ears turning red.

“He wants to spend some martial time together,” Takeda chuckled and waved us both away. “I need you with a clear head, go and do what you need to,” he grinned knowingly as I was escorted out by the crook of my elbow.

It was quiet in the absence of the majority of the soldiers. Shingen was the main protector of me, and we had been left a minimal guard. Sasuke had left me armed with various weapons of his preference to allow me to escape into the network of roof tunnels that had been established, even if Yuki was not impressed with the idea then he had at least admitted it would be effective.

Takeda was carrying me after a rumour, and I couldn’t move quickly enough for the man. He was firm in his hold, knowing that his vassal had entrusted him with his life and future whilst I was being left completely in the dark. The loud cheers and celebrations reached the balcony without issue, and I could see Sasuke and Kenshin clearly, though Yuki’s absence made us both tense.

The idiot was blushing, he had gotten himself shot in the shoulder in the process, as I changed his bandage the second he arrived with the rest of the wounded. I was scowling and telling him off until he interrupted me with a furiously passionate kiss, it left me unable to form any words, never mind continue on my path of scolding.

“I wasn’t leaving you with Lord Shingen, he’d have you,” the man grumbled, and pulled me into his lap. Before he hesitantly placed his hand over my bump, almost in a trance state as he marvelled at the growing human inside of me.

“I think you forget I’m my own person at times,” I sighed, kissing his forehead.

Chapter Text

I could feel the weight next to me shifting, as I raised an eyebrow without needing to open my eyes. “Shingen,” I warned, freezing the movement. “It is early, what do you think you are doing?”

The pause was his fatal error, as I spotted our son at the open doorway, and Yukimura just behind him when I opened my eyes to see what was going on. “No,” I stated, sitting up from the futon.

“It’s just a scouting mission!” Katsuyori argued, ignoring the look on his father’s face that it wasn’t a good idea.

“Yes, in Kenshin’s territory. You know what he’s also called? The God of War,” I glared at my very guilty looking husband. “I can’t believe you said you’d take him.”

“Well, I can’t take you,” Shingen was trying everything to not look me in the face.

“Yes, because I’m pregnant, you are not taking Katsuyori, he’s too young,” I stated, folding my arms. “And don’t think you’re getting out of a scolding Yukimura,” I warned him, pointing my finger at the vassal. “I said you could take him to a friendly territory, Kenshin is not friendly! He thinks unless you can die then it’s not worth being called training,” I argued as Sasuke coughed for attention. “Oh, I give up,” I snarled. “All of you out!”

Natsuki had been more than a little temper prone during this pregnancy, which is why they’d all approached the trip out with an act of secrecy. Even Sasuke was wary of approaching the fireball. A complete turnabout on her previous pregnancy with Katsuyori, where she had been so tired all she did was sleep. The ninja was hinting at a possibility that maybe it would be a girl this time, and Shingen’s heart wasn’t sure it could cope. He’d have to fend all the boys off his princess and his goddess, though at this point in time his wife was very much able to take care of herself. If anyone kidnapped her then they’d bring her back swiftly. She’d fallen back asleep before they left the grounds, and the staff were advised of where to find them in case of problems with Natsuki.

“We can’t bring them all along,” Yukimura said, reading his Lord’s mind with some humour.

“I feel as though we’re escaping and leaving them to face the Goddess of Anger,” Shingen laughed as they all mounted their horses. Sasuke was poised at the back as the protection for Katsuyori whilst Sanada insisted on taking the front position. “Might as well go before she turns into a crying wreck,” the man grimaced and urged the horse forward.

This pregnancy had been far from easy. I was constantly being sick, I was always hungry because I wasn’t keeping anything down, and I was ballooning faster than anything. It didn’t help that my emotions were constantly on war mode, and Shingen would take any excuse to get away from me for a while. They’d left to practice scouting which had been set up by Kenshin in his territory, as I toyed with the lethal idea of some medicine of their own. I wasn’t large enough to stop me riding anywhere, I would just need to take my time. And after all the time with Yukimura, Sasuke and Kenshin in training halls, I definitely wasn’t defenceless as I made sure to pack a couple of swords for my trip to Azuchi.

Hideyoshi was smothering me in brotherly love and scoldings about not having an escort, and demanding to know where my husband was whilst I passed a comment off that he was training somewhere, and then told off for travelling alone after he realised how pregnant I was. I was struggling to hold a laugh in as I was brought up to Nobunaga’s tenshu.

He was in the middle of a game of Go with Ieyasu, the latter looking very sour about it as I could see just how badly he was losing. “The only person from Kai who could walk into Azuchi and not expect to end up in the dungeon,” the blonde sulked as I flicked his ear in response.

“The last letter I had was stating how much you all missed me, so I figured I had time,” I grinned.

“Does your husband know?” Oda didn’t even look up from the board until I smiled.

“No, I decided he needed to learn about how it feels,” I shrugged. “He leaves without telling me, including an attempt to this morning. I just need to relax, and it’s hard to do that when I’m building up anger whilst I’m staying in Kai.”

“How many are you carrying in there?” Ieyasu went a little wide-eyed, and gently stroked my bump. “You should have given birth already by all appearances,” he frowned.

“I’ve still got a lot of time, I don’t feel that big, I was fine riding a horse,” I replied, looking puzzled. “A couple of months to go at least,” I tagged on after a thought, whilst the men all shared a look. “Oh don’t you lot start,” I groaned. “Also I may have found out the only thing I can currently eat is Masamune’s cooking, and I know he’s here because my nose is fantastic.”

“He was sending packages then?” Nobunaga chuckled. “I wondered why he kept on disappearing.”

“He was sneaking into the castle and making me food,” I grinned.

“Kitten!” Masamune ruffled my hair as Hideyoshi escorted me down to the kitchens. “Hang on a minute, I’m fairly sure you should be at home,” he paused, looking down at me. “Wow, you’ve grown.”

“I know, Ieyasu thought I should have already given birth,” I shrugged. “Got anything going?” I asked, lifting the pots carefully.

“Not for you, I’ll whip you something right up though,” he smiled. “What did Takeda do this time?” He warily opened, noticing that I was effectively alone.

“Took Katsuyori on a scouting trip, without telling me and trying to leave before I woke up,” I calmly explained, as even Hideyoshi froze up in anger at the idea of our son going into that stage of the battle. “And I can’t relax in Kai, so I figured a visit here would do well,” I smiled.

Hideyoshi sighed warily. “A boy of his age does need to start getting experience, but not the best way to go about it,” he diplomatically replied. “Let’s get you settled down in your room and get some tea and food in you,” he offered, knowing that the maids would have already sorted my room out the second I was sighted approaching Azuchi.

Nobunaga and the Oda forces were extremely accommodating of me just turning up from nowhere. It was soothing to not have to worry about a rebellious husband, a tricky son or a very one-sided vassal. The gardens reminded me of my early days arriving in this time period when I was scared and I simply didn’t understand anything. Then after taking Shingen back to the present, I realised just how much I missed it. The simplicity and its people. I didn’t fit in the present anymore, I barely coped during my time there, and it was a relief to arrive back. Masamune loved being able to dote over me it seemed, and would make all of my meals on every request to satisfy the cravings I was going through, and Mitsunari would often bring books to discuss with me, though it did take Hideyoshi pointing out I was pregnant for him to realise why I never stayed still for long. Mitsuhide was absent, apparently back at his fife as Ieyasu had taken to carrying out daily health checks on me, saying it was probably not helping that I was so stressed that the babies were restless.

“I’m sorry, you mean baby,” I replied, not wanting to face the thought of everything being doubled.

“I just got kicked by four feet at once,” Ieyasu replied with a straight face.

“It just felt like four,” I argued, keeping myself laying flat on the futon.

“Natsuki,” the blonde male warned, locking eyes with me.

“I will raise a bet with you,” I replied.

“Fine, if I’m right you have to name one of them after me,” he taunted.

“If I’m right you’re coming to Kai for a year to work,” I replied, my hands on my hips.

Hideyoshi looked strained as he interrupted us, rubbing at his forehead. “Natsuki, Shingen is yelling at the gates for you.”

“What?” I frowned, going to stand up.

“Remember, more than one in there,” Ieyasu reminded me as I swayed a little. “Does he at least have a cart or something? Because there is no way it’s physically possible for Natsuki to sit on a horse and stay on.”

“I couldn’t see, but we’ll sort something out, right now we’ve got an angry warlord and it’s not one I’m used to really dealing with,” Toyotomi mumbled.

“Natsuki!” Shingen’s voice was fierce as I appeared at the balcony, and waved with a cheery smile to the man. He froze up, and eyed up the size of me before groaning far too loudly.

“Hideyoshi, can we have that trailer please?” I asked, smiling pleasantly at my ‘brother’, who was muttering about having words with us both.

“Just what exactly were you thinking?” Shingen bitterly complained as the trailer was attached to the horse.

“That I wasn’t going to be relaxing if I stayed in Kai, so I thought I’d come somewhere I could since apparently it’s absolutely fine for you to do that to me at any point,” I snorted. “You made sure the staff wouldn’t listen to me anyway, so I came here for you to realise just what it’s like!”

Takeda looked as though he realised my point, but it was a bitter taste to swallow as Hideyoshi finished hitching the cart. The journey back home would be in silence, especially as Toyotomi had padded the cart out well to allow me a chance to sleep.

The silence continued once we reached Kai, as I began to wonder if it was worth leaving Azuchi at the current rate, when Yuki would continue to avoid me as well. I took one of the ground rooms with a veranda opening onto a pond area, moving around was becoming extremely difficult, and the maids would bring everything to me on a regular basis as soon as my size was spied on my return. I’d barely slept for a few nights, and it wasn’t the weather. I called for the maids, and stated that the birth was imminent if they would care to get the towels and water and to notify Shingen and Yukimura regarding the situation.

I wasn’t expecting either of them to turn up, so to see them both bundling in with the towels and water was a shock, as a sharp contraction ripped through me. Katsuyori was disturbed by all the chaos, and to be yelled at by his father to go back to bed was definitely low down on my expectation list. Yukimura kept wiping our heads as the maids were constantly changing out towels and water bowls, whilst one of the older maids was assisting with the birth.

Hearing the cries of a baby should have made things easier, as I continued with contractions, and immediately started to curse out Ieyasu much to both men’s confusion. It felt as though it took forever before I was granted the chance of seeing both our small bundles. Shingen kissed me on the forehead as he cradled his little princess, awed over how small she was, whilst her brother was comfortable in my arms.

“Hey, Shingen?” I drowsily spoke up. “I may have made a stubborn bet with Ieyasu.”

“I’m guessing he was telling you it was more than one, and you were adamant it was just a big baby,” he chuckled.

“Hey, don’t judge me, you don’t go through the whole giving birth part,” I sulked. “And his part of the bargain may have been to name one of them after him,” I paused.

“Well, they’re in Kai, and I’m overriding it,” Takeda smugly replied, before a knock at the door brought the guard out in Yuki.

“I heard that,” Ieyasu was sulking, and gave me a look. “I was sent as a present from Masamune and Hideyoshi to help with the birth, but looks like it’s all good,” he shrugged, ignoring the daggers he was getting from the two men. “And you did bet on it.”

“Yes, because who wants to face going through birth twice?” I pointed out. “You can let them know I’m fine and it’s Kikuhime and Nobusada,” I added on sticking my tongue out at both my husband and friend.

Ieyasu let out a chuckle and patted me on the head. “Get some sleep, I’ll get the babies washed up and go through some basic care plan for you with Shingen,” he said, initiating command much to my husband’s displeasure.

Chapter Text

Being in a cell in Kasugayama was never in my plans as I slammed the flat of my palm against the bars. Kenshin had unintentionally recruited me as a drinking partner whilst he was visiting Azuchi, and I had spun the usual vague response about being a seamstress in a warrior’s household, missing out the part where it was Nobunaga Oda’s household I was protected by. I had been chased out onto the battlefield by some of Kennyo’s forces who were looking to make a surprise attack, and Kenshin had rescued me from their grips, completely confused as to why a village girl would be on the battlefield, and then Mitsunari appeared, and tried to bargain with the God of War.

He looked so heartbroken when the heterochromia wouldn’t peacefully hand me over, I had the basics in my cell, and now the resident flirt of Japan was approaching. I resigned myself to the usual attempts and gave a slight grimace to the male. Kenshin wouldn’t stay away from me for some reason, making excuses to come and see me to the other commanders, even if it was to just drink sake in idle chatter it seemed. He was fighting an internal battle over me it appeared, especially when he arrived and saw Shingen attempting to flirt with me, though it was becoming apparently obvious that it was definitely not reciprocated.

I gave a wave to the opposing warlord, as Takeda frowned at us both. “So a God of War gets a casual greeting from a goddess of beauty, whilst I get nothing? I’m wounded,” he jested.

“He brings sake,” I shrugged. “You bring flirtation. Sake definitely wins.”

Kenshin was grumbling, and let himself into my cell as he dropped the bottle into my lap whilst settling down on my futon next to me. The Tiger of Kai left, chuckling to himself about what appeared to be a fantastic joke whilst we shared the bottle and talked about nothing specific.

When Shingen next appeared, he offered the chance to escape, the only condition being I couldn’t look back. I could feel how heartbroken the commanders would be in Echigo, but I had someone I needed to get back to, just to tell him I’m fine. I nodded, much to the surprise of the Tiger of Kai.

“Please, I need to be back in Azuchi,” I begged quietly as Takeda immediately nodded to the bribed guards, and set the chain off.

The wind was rushing through my hair as I was being chased by Kenshin’s vassals. That man inspired a mad amount of loyalty, and he was likely trying to recruit Sasuke into tricking me and capturing me. I could see the boundaries of Azuchi, my horse just needed to keep up a little longer.

“Natsuki!” A voice I’d been hearing my dreams, as Mitsunari had some of the men of Azuchi gallop out to meet me. I literally flung myself onto his horse, my arms clasped around him as the sides met in a furious clash of swords. Ishida was trembling a little as he ensured our retreat back to the safety of Azuchi, shouting at his men to allow for no one to get to me as we made it through to the castle.

It was chaos.

Hideyoshi was mothering me, and Mitsunari was refusing to leave me alone, even to the point of saying I would be staying with him. My confusion and wariness were battling it out as the rest of the warlords had been immediately summoned. They were all eager to hear about how I got out as the guards reported that Uesugi’s vassals had finally retreated, but it was to be said that it would just be the start to an upcoming attack somewhere. Nobunaga grimaced and argued that all forces needed to be prepared to move out at the first news of any enemy movements.

Hideyoshi chuckled suddenly, looking over at the young woman who had caused all the fuss. She was asleep with her head on his vassal’s shoulder.

“All these problems she causes, and she falls asleep in the middle of a noisy return,” he smiled. “Take her back to the manor,” he patted Mitsunari on his other shoulder, noticing the miniscule movements that the grey-haired male was making in an attempt to tell the rest of Azuchi she was off-limits.

It was daytime when I opened my eyes, and this futon was definitely more comfortable than the one in my cell, as I began to realise, this wasn’t a cell in Echigo, and last night hadn’t been a dream. Mitsunari was pouring over some books, the threat of tea probably next to him, as I rubbed my eyes and sat up.

He looked relieved when I startled him, and a smile that would melt any barricade when he saw I was fine.

“I don’t think you understand what you put us through,” he said, tucking a lock of my hand behind my ear as he sat next to the futon.

“I took the first chance to come home,” I replied, a gentle smile in response as I tried to think of how to reassure the angel in front of me that I wasn’t gone on purpose. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop hearing your voice in my sleep. I wanted to just come back if nothing else to tell you I’m okay,” I rambled, then my words failed me as his fingers cupped my cheek. “I’m okay Mitsunari,” I whispered, trying to figure out why I was so desperate to reassure him in any means possible. “I came back.”

Hideyoshi opened the door with a start, and we immediately jumped apart, blushing heavily as we averted our gazes from each other. He chuckled at us both, before spying the stew that his vassal would attempt to pass as tea, and immediately dumped it out to make a fresh batch. I smiled at them both as Toyotomi gifted me with a clean kimono and advised that the maids had set everything up for me to change in the room next door.

I began to realise that I had slept in Mitsunari’s room and futon, and it was likely that the man hadn’t gotten any sleep as I changed as quickly as I could. Being on my own was making me feel very wary for some reason, and it made my fingers fumble on my clothing.

“Natsuki?” Ishida was making sure it was okay to come in, as I couldn’t properly explain my feelings when I opened the door. His expression must have matched mine. “We’ve just had word there’s a problem likely to be caused by Kenshin,” he paused.

“And you want me to come with you?” I softly added, keeping my kimono together with fingers at the time. He paused, and nodded, blushing darkly as he didn’t realise I could completely rationalise his thinking. “I’ll just finish getting ready,” I offered, automatically kissing his cheek without realising. “I won’t be long,” I promised, as he placed his hand over the spot I’d kissed.

I flushed bright red once I’d realised what I’d done, and just about managed to get myself dressed before Hideyoshi would come and see what was taking so long.

We needed no convincing that I was to ride with one of the warlords, though Masamune was looking a little too hopeful until I stated that I’d be most comfortable with Mitsunari, and explained that it would also be the best trigger to draw out the God of War since his vassals would be reporting back about Ishida’s interventions. Even Nobunaga couldn’t resist a smirk, and I could feel my ears turning pink at the unsaid words. Though I thought I caught an expression of relief on the face of Mitsunari, I couldn’t be sure as we all prepared to leave.

Hideyoshi was talking about something with a sharp tone as I approached his vassal, who was looking uneasy about the whole situation. Both men nodded in agreement before I surprised them both with my presence. Ishida was quiet in contemplation as I went to slide up behind him on the horse before he flushed bright red and made a quick suggestion that I would ride in front of him.

Everything was tense as we rode steadily towards the rumoured battle. Mitsunari’s arm was snug around my waist, and my head was resting against his shoulder as my arm looped around his back. I knew the soldiers would be talking, all the glances we were getting from the other warlords wasn’t helping anything. I kept needing him to just touch me, or I had a horrible feeling it was all just a dream as I shifted slightly in Ishida’s lap.

“We won’t be long,” he gently whispered and gave me one of his angelic smiles.

I wasn’t sure who initiated what, but I could feel every worry in me drain at the sensation of his lips on mine, my hand resting at the base of his neck whilst his fingers had gently lifted my chin. I gave a broad smile once we broke apart, and settled back down into him, and then realised that everyone had been watching us, and buried my head into his shoulder as the vassal flush tomato red and just looked up to avoid all forms of eye contact.

There were still bouts of chuckling to be heard as we set camp up for the night, and Hideyoshi then decided to approach with his big brother face on and whisked Mitsunari off for a discussion as I ensured we still had all the medical supplies. Ieyasu was glaring at me for the entire time, whilst somehow still managing to ensure that the salves were all labelled correctly.

Then I had the big brother treatment from Toyotomi. “You aren’t going into battle, you’re staying right here where you’re safer,” he dictated as I put all the bandages back.

“I’m going where Nobunaga says to,” I shrugged. “Last time I was on the battlefield was to escape from Kennyo,” I pointed out. “If I can avoid the battlefield, I will, honest. Now stop loitering to scare Mitsunari away,” I laughed, seeing straight through the man as his vassal popped in much to Tokugawa’s annoyance.

I had to pretend to be surprised when I wasn’t sleeping in my own tent. Tension and testosterone were rampant in the camp, and the urge to protect me was running riot through the usually level-headed Mitsunari as I was settled down in his tent. I should have been too nervous to sleep, but there was just something soothing about the sounds and smells of Ishida who was scribbling by candlelight, and I let myself drift off.

I was cradled to Oda’s chest as the battlefield raged around us. Kenshin had seen through the tactics and was constantly pushing towards Nobunaga after he announced every intention to retrieve me. I could occasionally see Hideyoshi’s blade and hear his battle cry, as I forced myself to look on in terror.

“You seem a lot more at home with Mitsunari,” he muttered, looking a little jealous as Mitsuhide rode up to make a judgement on the outcome.

“Maybe you should try kissing her,” the snake teased, a broad smirk on his face. “That may be the key.”

Oda had a thought, and angled us away from Ishida, pretending to look over the other side of the battle as he was well aware that the strategist would have his eyes all over me. And the commander was laughing victoriously as it drew the attention of the person he wanted it to.

Kenshin had broken through and I was definitely in the last place I wanted to be. I had to give credit where it was due to Nobunaga, he was more than able to protect me, keep me on the horse, guide the horse and fight off Uesugi without any second-guessing to his actions. I hide the whole fight my view, burying my head into the warlord’s shoulder.

Then the cold air was hitting my skin, and both of the currently feuding men were staring on in horror. Kenshin had managed to get through Oda’s defences, and sliced my kimono open and taken a large chunk of my hair with it. It stopped everything, as Uesugi realised I was starting to bleed, and the pain began to win its fight with the adrenaline in me.

Ieyasu was rushing me back, I couldn’t explain what I was feeling or what was really going on about me as my kimono started to feel sticky against my skin. Yukimura was escorting their best healer as well I heard, but it was starting to feel like I was searching through a fog to find out what was going on, and my eyelids felt really heavy.

Natsuki was pale, and her skin was clammy, it shouldn’t have even been possible for such a wound to be inflicted on her. Ieyasu was packing it all to stop the bleeding, and she would need to rest for a while that was certain, whilst the Echigo healer had carefully bathed the area and cleaned it to try and prevent any further fever setting in. She needed moving back to Azuchi urgently, as the entire armies moved around the woman, two men, in particular, watching and urging her recovery in silence.

Messages were tense between the two sides after a few days. Consciousness was something that Natsuki was floating in and out of, and Ieyasu refused to even let Nobunaga in to see her. The bleeding had finally stopped, but there was a chance the fever was winning at that point.

He gave them all a weak smile finally. “She’s fine. Just resting up,” he announced to the main hall, and the room let out a collectively held breathe. “No visitors until tomorrow, she still needs her sleep.

Ieyasu was explaining for the millionth time I needed to rest as I stood up from the futon, and rolling his eyes as I nearly fell into his expectant arms. “I need to just get onto the veranda,” I argued, “I’ve been in here forever,” I sulked.

Tokugawa sighed loudly, but then assisted me so I could sit in the sun just outside the room, and I was instructed loudly to not move without assistance. Then just about every warlord in the castle was present, and Hideyoshi had even thought to bring a hairdresser with him as my hair was tidied to the same length.

Toyotomi and Nobunaga were looking over the pair of them with a smile. Natsuki was fast asleep with her head on Mitsunari’s chest, whilst there was a book that had been dropped when Ishida had fallen asleep next to them both. It had been a very draining few days for everyone involved, and then Ieyasu was muttering to himself about it ‘having to be Mitsunari’ that she chose as he went to disturb the woman to change her bandage and salve.

Tokugawa was more than pleased to shove me out of his manor, as Mitsunari was waiting for me outside. He wrapped me in a hug and kissed my cheek in greeting. I’d been promised many things during my recovery, and it had always been Ishida I’d fallen asleep on during the evenings. Nobunaga had laughed and said that it was obvious to a blind man that we needed to be together as even Kenshin had threatened war if my happiness wasn’t seen to.

It just seemed to make sense, I was just born 500 years too late and had to travel through a wormhole, but I found my home.

Chapter Text

Azuchi was tense, no one was to be trusted as Mitsuhide slipped into the princess’ room. She was still alive, but asleep. They were all hopeful that the poison had slipped through her system. It had been a torture to watch over her as he gently bathed her forehead and neck with a cool, damp cloth. Her screams had struck deep within the man, as he’d known it was entirely his fault.

Natsuki had been helping him with delivering the tribute. He’d received it all from his province, and someone had left the smallest of needles in a haori that had been made especially for Akechi. The poison was designed to torture someone, she hadn’t taken a lot into her system it seemed, but it was enough to cause this amount of agony. His eyes were wavering as he swore he saw her eyes move a little.

Her face scrunched up slightly, and she slowly opened her eyes. She was barely conscious, and that soft dopey smile that made his heart skip every beat was present. “Battle’s not over yet,” she whispered and fell back to sleep.

The snake disappeared again, much to the disgust of Hideyoshi as the left arm of Nobunaga took over the caring duties of the princess. The screams were less often, and she appeared to be resting better as her conscious moments started to occur more frequently. She was slowly becoming more coherent, and always asking for Mitsuhide who had taken it upon himself to exact revenge.

The guilty parties were being held in the dungeons of Azuchi after a hunch was followed. They would pay dearly in time as Mitsuhide immediately headed to Natsuki’s room.

Akechi had such a relieved look on his face when he burst into my room. Everything still hurt, but I felt like the worst was out of my system. It was a particularly brutal toxin that had been used, one known to make the inflicted suffer greatly without a promise of death or relief. I had seen the needle in the neckband of the haori and gone to remove it, but my hand had slipped when Mitsuhide had nudged me and it broke the skin on my finger. I was sat upright, a blanket wrapped around me and sipping at some tea. I had heard how much of a guilt he had felt, to the point he was either caring for me in my screaming hallucinations of agony or hunting down the party responsible. He sat opposite me, an unusually serious look on his face as I gave him a small smile.

“War still wages,” I croaked, and blew over the hot tea.

“They’ve been caught,” he abruptly stated a deep frown on his face. “They’re in the dungeon.”

“It’s not your fault,” I soothed, taking hold of Akechi’s hand. “You didn’t poison the needle.”

“I may have just as well stabbed you with it though,” he sulked and pulled his hand back. “Recovery isn’t swift. And Nobunaga is talking of removing you from the castle for a while to ensure you aren’t made a target.”

“You also made me bleed out most of it,” I argued, “You recognised it early enough to avoid it being a guarantee of death. And if you insist on feeling that terrible about it, then have me moved to your manor or fife,” I mock glared, before dizziness overtook me.

“Easy,” he gently said, holding me by the shoulders. “Let’s get you back to bed.”

It wasn’t long before the princess was asleep, and Oda stuck his head in to speak to his right arm.

“She suggested staying at my manor,” Mitsuhide stated, refusing to look up at his lord.

“The guilty parties are in the dungeons, but others may be looking for a weakened part to attack,” Nobunaga replied. “Take her back to yours, you have been in charge of looking after her anyway, and you have the most knowledge in this particular area,” he ordered. “Take her when she feels ready.”

The staff were fretting about receiving such a high-level guest once the aides had delivered the news. Whilst Mitsuhide was ensuring that no traces of the ‘questioning’ had been left visible on his clothing before departing. The Princess being moved was a highly delicate operation and taking place in the middle of the night to ensure as few people knew as possible. Natsuki’s arms were looped around his neck as Akechi carried her tightly in his arms. He didn’t even trust this task to anyone but himself, he needed to repay her for saving him from death as her head was resting against his shoulder. Her breathing was steady, he could feel it on his neck. He was trying to rationalise everything, she was even staying in his room, and all of the necessary medicines had been bought and were prepared as she shifted her weight a little.

“Go to sleep,” he murmured.

“Mm,” the princess made a noncommittal noise as they entered the manor. A few staff members were about, but they had all been told they were receiving a guest who their lord would be seeing too personally. No rooms were to be set up, and he had sent one aide to fetch all the salves from Ieyasu to be placed in his room as he navigated the maze of corridors.

It felt like sleeping on a cloud would. It was cosy but cool as I started to stir. Sleep was my main thing to do, Ieyasu had said it was the best way to recover and give my body the best chance to fight the poison, though he said I was probably too stubborn to let it win anyway. There was a weight across my waist as I began to turn over, and came face to face with Mitsuhide.

“Hm?” He asked, lifting his head from the pillow, and then moving to place the damp clothes back into cold water before replacing them on my neck and forehead.

“I thought it was just another delusion,” I murmured, blinking rapidly as my confusion became apparent. “You appear in a lot of them.”

“I think you can safely call last night reality,” the serpent replied, getting out of bed smoothly. “Don’t leave the room, I’ll be back in a little while, sleep if you can.” His tone was soft, almost caring as he disappeared. There were all the herbs left out, and tea was semi-prepared as I took the chance to sit up slowly and have a look around.

It was minimalistic, a desk though was overflowing with letters and the ink pad looked regularly used and aside from the futon, there was very little else present. I was surprised to see that he had a veranda and a small garden outside his room, though even Mitsuhide would occasionally need something to look at. I left the doors open, smiling as I lay back down in bed as the late spring morning crept into the room.

Akechi was surprised to find that his guards had yet to report anything, and came back swiftly to his room. Natsuki had opened the doors to the private garden he kept and was fast asleep in the futon facing it. She looked revived in a manner he had only dreamed of as he bent over her, his finger stroking her cheek in a soft caress as her eyes slowly opened.

“You look happier,” her voice was sleepy as her fingers captured his.

“You’re safe, and it was looking at times as though you wouldn’t make it because you insisted on interfering,” his words were cold, but his tone had melted at the sight of the dozy woman before him. She was holding his hand to her cheek and struggling to stay awake. “Go back to sleep, I’ll make sure no one hurts you,” he murmured, stroking her hair out of her face as he navigated himself and ended up resting her head on his lap to keep himself comfortable since she was refusing to give him back his hand.

Chapter Text

Ieyasu was pacing restlessly for the return of the troops, and Natsuki. Something in him wouldn’t settle. Nobunaga had taken the young woman along as his good luck charm, but between him and Hideyoshi, neither of them were content to wait in the hall once they’d heard that they were victorious.

With the victory, relief was meant to come. So why were they both on edge?

They had an intuition about things, Natsuki was cradled in Nobunaga’s arms on his horse, thankfully asleep as the commander refused to let any of the staff touch the woman, and gestured for both his retainers to follow. Ieyasu was feeling his stomach knotting over as he spied the blood on her kimono.

“The person who inflicted this didn’t survive,” Oda gave as a low warning.

Natsuki had been stabbed in the stomach. The bandages were soaked through as Ieyasu’s mind started to play out all of the chances of her not surviving. Hideyoshi and his Lord retreated, as Tokugawa immediately set to work. He applied pressure around the wound once he’d removed all the clothing from the area, the bleeding had nearly stopped when he applied the new bandage on tightly. She was still breathing regularly, but she looked even paler than before as the moon continued its ascension in the sky.

He glanced over the soaked fabric after dressing her into one of her night kimonos and was surprised to see it was what he had bought her a few months previously. Natsuki was always finding new ways to tug at his heart as he stroked her cheek.

“Don’t you dare give up on me,” he dared her, kissing her forehead before leaving the room.

He was surprised to find that none of the warlords had left yet, and they all looked up at him expectantly. “She’ll live,” he nodded. “And she’s not doing that again,” he scowled at Nobunaga, who was immediately amused by the declaration.

“You never had a problem with it before,” he smirked, leaning against his dais casually.

“She’s never been stabbed before,” Ieyasu pointed out. “She’s not exactly wearing armour. Anyway, good night,” he abruptly turned around, leaving the brewing brainstorm between the others.

Natsuki was cuddled up to Ieyasu when he woke up in the morning light. She was recovering well it seemed, she wasn’t as pale and her movements in her sleep were up to parr. His fingers were trailing through her hair as she began to stir.

It was a pleasant haze, with an occasional feeling of agonising pain. I was cuddled up to a heat source, and it smelled just like Ieyasu did. My head was being gently massaged as another wave of pain made me groan.

“Do you need something?” Ieyasu’s voice was concerned as I slowly opened my eyes.

“What happened?” I frowned, I was trying to remember what I could.

“You got hurt,” the blonde male was giving me short answers because he was furious at someone.

“I didn’t mean to break that promise,” I began before I was suddenly smothered in a hug by the male.

“It’s not you I’m mad at,” he whispered. His voice was trembling and close to breaking. “I’m meant to protect you, and I failed.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s Nobunaga who failed, he promised I wouldn’t get hurt,” my reply was muffled as my face was buried into his shoulder, then a wave of pain made me audibly wince.

“Stay still, I’ll need to change the bandage again,” he instructed and disappeared before I could ask much more.

I was deep in thought, trying to remember what had happened. I was behind the lines, there was one of Masamune’s scouts who had gotten badly hurt and I’d just gotten the bullet out of his thigh when another soldier had turned on me. I couldn’t recall any of his features as a cough brought me out of the trance. Tokugawa was frowning and gestured for me to lie back down.

He was careful in undoing my kimono as I realised I’d been changed from what I last remembered wearing. “No one else was allowed to see anything,” Ieyasu muttered, as though reading my mind. “And I’ve told you before about wearing your emotions on your face,” he flicked me lightly on the forehead. The bandage was weeping a thin red line across my stomach as the blonde male started to gently lift off the bandages. It looked angry and red in the skin around it as I paled a little at the sight. “It looked a lot worse yesterday when I hadn’t had the chance to start treating it,” he said, before softly applying warm water to the area. He was frowning, as my fingers smoothed his forehead out, attracting his attention instantly. “Don’t give me that look,” he snorted, a faint blush across his cheeks.

“What look?” I puzzled.

His kiss was sizzling and overpowering, the promise that he was storing all his emotions up inside. “That look where I want to ravish you until you can’t think straight or walk,” he whispered. “Now lie still, I need to get this bandaged again.”

A few days later, I was moved back to Ieyasu’s manor, and when Tokugawa wasn’t doting on me and refusing to let me do anything, and Hideyoshi wasn’t playing the big brother and keeping up the same treatment, then I had the staff who all had a sixth sense about what I was doing. Lying in bed was frustrating me, as was Ieyasu’s paranoia about me opening the wound up again.

One of the maids from Azuchi was able to slip away one afternoon and brought some of my sewing projects with her after I’d sent a message up to the castle to beg for a reprieve from the boredom. She made some tea as I was looking over what needed doing. My movements were still limited by the pain, but I knew that doing nothing would do me little good, especially given that I was meant to sit back and let the men go and get themselves hurt again shortly after injuries had been received.

I don’t think that it was possible to tell who was madder when Hideyoshi and Ieyasu both entered.

They were seeing red, until I stood in front of the poor woman who had just become the target of their tunnel vision, and glared at them both until they’d suitably apologised.

“She was doing me a favour. You two have been the worst hypocrites!” I started. “Ieyasu, I’ve had to nurse you back after you got captured, and then I had to sneak out with Mitsunari because your wounds had reopened and you lied to me,” I listed off on my fingers. “And Hideyoshi, how many times have you ignored my resting up orders after a battle?” I snapped. “At least with bringing me the sewing I have to do then I’ll still be sitting and lying down,” I pointed out with a glower of fury.

“It was a deep wound-” Hideyoshi tried to start reasoning.

“No, you don’t get to boss me about,” I scolded. “I’m letting you both look after me, but there was a point about three days back when you both crossed the line and you’re stopping the recovery now and just irritating me. I’m also going to point out that when I go onto the battlefield, I’m not wearing any armour! So I’m going nowhere near one without some armour and some bloody pistol training,” I pointed out, my eyebrows now threatening to disappear off my face. “You two act like I can’t look after myself, but I’m the first one who looks after you two idiots when you get hurt.”

Both of them muttered something, and Hideyoshi left the room promptly as I thanked the maid for her assistance and told her to take the day off, orders from the chatelaine. Ieyasu was sulking heavily and making fresh tea for us both, waiting impatiently until she had left, and then patting his lap in hope.

It was comfy in his arms, his head buried in the crook of my neck as he just needed to make sure I was okay.

“Stop trying to treat me like I’m going to break all the time,” I scolded lightly, planting a kiss on his cheek. “I’ve travelled 500 years into the past, I think we can all agree I’m made of tougher stuff than you think,” I grinned.

“I’m not letting you out of my sight,” he huffed grumpily, pretending to not be happy that I was cuddling up to him.

Chapter Text

My three months was nearly up. I was only on this battlefield because Sasuke had long warned me that this war was inevitable, and the wormhole was due in a few days. He would come and get me in the middle of the night from the camp. I’d just about survived, but I was already desperate to resume my life. I’d made enough friends with the castle seamstresses and maids, but the warlords themselves had been constantly relentless. Nobunaga viewed me as a lucky charm to parade around and nothing more, whilst Hideyoshi still occasionally thought I was going to murder his precious Lord, though it had drastically improved once he’d seen how hard I worked around the castle to try and make life easier for everyone. Mitsunari was lovely, but he constantly had his nose in a book it seemed and would talk well beyond my understanding. Mitsuhide would only tease me when he was around, which was rare thankfully, Ieyasu would just ignore me or insult me for not understanding what was happening around me, and then Masamune was just constantly trying to get me in his bed. It was exhausting when they were all together.

Sasuke was only able to touch base when his Lord gave him space to, which wasn’t as often as I’d liked, and we had three failed attempts to get me from Azuchi to Kasugayama. After that point, we mutually agreed I wasn’t going far and we just ensured to keep in touch as often as we could. I would also spend as long as possible down in the town, chatting with the merchants and store owners. I’d become fast friends with the man who ran the fabric stall, and would spend most of my time there whilst we discussed just about everything we could. I was so careful to ensure I didn’t slip up about coming from 500 years in the future, as I finished bandaging up a wounded soldier.

Since Nobunaga insisted on dragging me to the battlefields, I’d taken up learning medicine, much to Ieyasu’s disgust. It meant I would often be left at camps with him, though he would always try and put as many soldiers between us as possible until he needed a second pair of hands of course, at which point my name would be the one on his lips and bellowed incessantly across the camp.

The retreat had been made for the night, as a general grumbling about the opposing forces began. I’d had one of Masamune’s recipes wrangled from him to make dinner cooking over a fire, and saw that the warlord hadn’t even bothered to take his armour off before he began dishing it out. I ran a double check around the wounded, they were all sorted for now as Nobunaga approached me with a sullen look.

An arrow had been stuck in his shoulder as he instructed me to his tent. The tip was embedded still after he took his armour off impatiently. I gave him a bottle of sake as I gently started to remove the remains of the arrow, and ignored his complaints until the entire bloodied thing was out. I was meticulous in the cleaning, trying to ensure that all the splinters and anything foreign had been removed before bandaging it up tightly.

“Natsuki,” his voice was gruff as I went to leave the tent. “Warm the bed tonight,” he instructed.

“Not with all these men about,” I shortly replied before departing.

I was the only person who refused to bow to any of these men. They all expected obedience because I was a woman, and they did nothing to earn my respect until I started fighting back as usual. It had led to me being single 500 years in the future for that reason, and that was with all the ‘improvements’ made. Though living on my own for some time did make me very stubborn as well. No one else would do things for me, so I had to rely on myself alone. I was getting ready for some sleep when I heard my name being shouted from the other side of camp.

I groaned but made sure I was decently covered before making the trek.

Sasuke slipped out as I passed some bushes, and quietly tucked me in a dense part, making the gesture to be silent whilst the warlords realised I wasn’t coming and heard comments about warming Oda’s mat. I had my purse nearly constantly tucked away on myself anyway as we began to sneak away. Every movement was small and designed to attract no attention until we were far enough away from any camp and spots of scouts and made a break for the horses that the ninja had stowed away.

What we weren’t expecting was to run into the secret third army that was encroaching on the battlefield.

Kennyo had me in his arms before I could figure out what was going on, and tightly bound in rope as I yelled for anyone to help. Ignoring the cackling laughs of the soldiers around the man as I couldn’t find Sasuke anywhere around me. I was gagged swiftly, as I couldn’t stop the tears flowing down my face as I was swiftly kept flush against Kennyo’s torso. To say the man was a monk, he was terrifyingly strong and more than able to manipulate me without a thought. I was with him on his horse as they made camp for the night, and I was bound up around the ankles and wrists as the monk grinned at me deviously.

“I hope Nobunaga’s concubine is comfortable,” He mocked. “I was praying to Buddha for divine intervention, and it was delivered straight to me.”

It was exhausting, I daren’t sleep at any point, and the rope was starting to cut my blood supply off. Then dawn broke, and the battle was looming. It was electric in the air, and it was scary how the likes of Oda, Kennyo, Kenshin and Shingen could instantly rally men around them for their causes. I had a staff pointed at me, and the ropes around my ankles were cut with a sword, followed by my wrists. Though the same blade was then poked between my shoulder blades, and I was forced to follow the great leader as he mounted his horse. I was tightly held again, as the blood was starting to resume its normal flow. It was too painful to move far, as I could only hope that I would be safe in the back part of a battle.

I was stunned to see the sheer rage from the Oda forces. The amount of anger to see me bound up and helpless in the arms of their unknown enemy. Kennyo was feeling on top of the world until he realised that he’d sparked enough of a fire in both sides to then turn them into allies to get me back. We missed the wormhole, I was stuck here for now as I continued my struggle to break free of the cursed ex-abbot. Anywhere would be better than here, even to make it to the Takeda or Uesugi forces would be an improvement as I managed to get my gag to fall down and screamed at such a high pitch that I made the man drop his hold on me.

I was dashing through the clashing forces, desperate to get anywhere as I slid through the field. I could hear the shouts of ‘get the girl’ from all sides, the battle focus shifting to find me as I started diving through open sets of legs until one of Kennyo’s men grabbed me by the hair.

Then there was a sudden relief from my head, the sound of blades clashing as I was swooped up onto another horse.

“Nobunaga,” I gasped, and he was holding me tightly to me, as I realised that I’d had an impromptu haircut on the battlefront. He was glowering at the man who had dared to touch me as I was trying to calm myself and convince myself I was okay at least.

“Charge,” He coolly instructed, turning his horse about to take me back to camp.

He insisted that Ieyasu check me over, and never let me out of his sight as the messengers kept coming back and forth. My hair was swishing around my shoulders as I was then promptly escorted back to Oda’s tent. He was silent in company and waited to make sure that no one was near enough until I was suddenly against his unarmoured chest. His heart was pounding, threatening to burst out of his chest as my face was tilted upwards.

His mouth was dominating and searing with passion and unbridled emotion. I was stunned as he kept me cradled against him. My hands were scrunched up in his clothes, as we finally separated for air, gasping as I realised that all of his passing comments were his way of trying to register his interest.

“We have a whole lot of things to catch up on from 500 years in the future,” I groaned, my head resting against his chest after a moment’s breather, ignoring his chuckles as I didn’t attempt to move from his embrace.

Chapter Text

“Lady Natsuki!” One of the seamstresses called out to me as I was due to leave for the market in Echigo, she looked a little flustered, and quite relieved to find me before I left. “We’re close to running out of white and silver threads, and there’s an order of fabric that should have arrived at the store, would you be able to collect it please?”

“Of course,” I smiled gracefully. “I didn’t realise we’d had a request in using white though,” I frowned.

“It came in this morning,” the seamstress shrugged.

“I’ll be back later then,” I replied, “I’ll get what I can.”

I was beginning to think it was all planned. Virtually every store I was passing had to ask for my opinion on different things, from styles of clothing, to the type of fabrics, to which sake I prefered the taste of and what foods I liked best from their selections. Once I’d reached the marketplace, and found the fabric holder, I was struggling to think straight with a combination of all the sake and foods I’d been trying. Luckily, Yukimura ended up coming to my rescue and flicked my forehead to ask me what I thought I was doing since it’d been several hours since I’d left the castle for a simple errand.

“I’m sure there’s a much easier way of organising it,” Shingen was chuckling to himself as a now unconscious Natsuki was carried back into Kasugayama as Kenshin was looking strangely at his ally. “If you would just ask her-”

“No,” Uesugi replied instantly, a deep frown on his face as he stole the woman from Takeda’s vassal.

The whole scene reminded the two men of a child sulking about not getting his way as Kenshin took Natsuki back to their quarters, before disappearing back into the town to collect all his research. They shared a mutual look of understanding, the God of War was processing his own emotions in his own way.

I was trying to figure out what was going on exactly after ensuring everything had been delivered to the seamstresses when I finally woke up the following day. I hadn’t seen Kenshin for a few days, though there was plenty of evidence that we’d shared the futon the previous night from the pile of his kimonos on the floor. He was a complete manchild at times, and this was one of those moods as I spotted Shingen turning a corner.

“Shingen!” I called up, jogging to catch up to him, as he looked surprised to see me so clear headed. “Something’s bothering Kenshin, can you help him clear his head please?” I asked, ignoring the knowing look on his face.

“I’ve been trying to,” he chuckled and patted my head affectionately. “But he seems determined to do whatever this is his own way.”

“I’m glad it’s not just in my head,” I sighed. “He’s about to overload the seamstresses I swear, and I’m not allowed to help, and then I don’t know what he’s been getting anyone to order in Echigo, but I have no idea how I got back last night. It’s all really suspicious,” I complained with a frown.

“Yuki brought you back last night, you’d been so heavily piled with sake and food you’d fallen asleep,” he explained, a knowing smile on his face. “I’m sure we’ll all find out what he’s planning over the next few days.”

I felt someone waking me after several days. It had been over a week since I’d last since Uesugi, and I was getting irritable about the lack of physical contact from the man. The maid apologised and said she’d been instructed to fetch me by the seamstresses. The other side of the futon was still warm, so Kenshin hadn’t been gone long, but it was infuriating that he was apparently happy to keep doing this. I went to change when the maid advised that it wasn’t necessary and draped one of the large haoris around me before I was dragged to the sewing room.

I was stripped and shoved into a warm bath, as the smells of various oils and perfumes filled the room and were applied to my skin and hair. In the early morning confusion, I was swiftly dried and dressed into a beautiful new kimono, in ivory white as I noticed the intricate flower design in the various whites and silver threads I’d picked up. And the fabric was one that I’d been asked about previously as well. I was gently sat down, and they began to work on my hair and makeup, whilst I was careful to not ruin their hard work and excitement about what was going on.

“Natsuki?” I opened my eyes slowly and found a very surprised looking Sasuke facing me, as though stumped by the revelation. “I, er, wow, you look amazing,” he blushed a little. “I’m escorting you from here,” he smiled, as I realised he was wearing his best clothes. “And you might get the answers you’ve been after for a while,” he chuckled.

Our arms were linked together, as I was taken to the main hall, and the doors were opened to reveal a complete transformation. I was taken aback in shock, as I started to realise exactly what was going on.

“I thought the bride was meant to be the controlling part,” I laughed, whilst not quite being able to process the emotions on Kenshin’s face in front of the vassals and allies. I could see the familiar faces of Hideyoshi and Nobunaga, amongst the crowds, and then Masamune and Mitsunari as Sasuke walked me through the room.

We were sat at the top of the room, as Kenshin was constantly trying to fill up my cup with sake instead of the water I was opting for. I kept stealing kisses as a distraction technique, whilst our fingers were joined together.

“If you wanted to get married you just had to say so,” I smiled, my nose brushing against his cheek in affection, whilst enjoying the flustered reaction I was getting from the God of War. “I was beginning to think the opposite with avoiding me constantly.”

“I wanted it to be perfect,” he sulked a little, realising that the room was not so subtly watching us, especially Shingen who was noting down future blackmail use I figured. “And you’ve not been very well recently anyway, you insist on working so hard,” Kenshin pouted, though he refused to let me go despite all the attention that was being focused on us.

“Yeah, there’s a reason for that,” I smiled, leaning to whisper into his ear. “I’m pregnant.”

I’d never seen the man spit sake out before. It was sprayed across Yukimura and Sasuke who were in the unfortunate path and drew the room to a standstill, whilst Uesugi was definitely not processing the news well. I was suddenly in his arms and carried bridal style off sharply whilst I was shouting for Sasuke and Shingen to help, and dying of laughter in the process. Yuki followed the other two as they finally managed to surround and corner the warlord.

I was struggling to stop laughing as I was finally put down on the floor. The three men were looking at me expectantly as I took a deep breath. “We’re going to have some small feet pattering about soon,” I smiled. As I heard the sound of the rest of the warlords appearing on the scene. “I think it shocked Kenshin a little that was all, but he kept trying to switch my water with sake.”

“Let’s leave the two lovebirds to it,” Shingen finally broke the spell, a fatherly look on his face as he guided them all back to the main hall.

Kenshin was still processing the news as my stomach grew, and he would spend his time between visits to allies and trying to make sure I wasn’t over-exerting myself. The townspeople were getting more excited every time I went down, and many of the wives would offer up pieces of advice for the upcoming birth. I was the most grateful that I convinced Kenshin to allow Sasuke to turn into my personal guard in his absence, as the scientist in him was already calculating the best way to navigate the event when it occurred. I regularly would be begging for foods that simply didn’t exist, and somehow he would find something to fix the cravings for me.

Ieyasu was passing through on the way back to his castle one day and came straight in to Echigo just to see how I was doing after the wedding day announcement. He was almost marvelling the bump and asked where Kenshin was with a slightly testy tone.

“He’s doing the work out on the edges of the territory so he can be about when the baby’s born,” I explained, taking a seat comfortably at the teahouse as a couple of orders of dumplings were being made for me.

“Hm, I would have thought he’d be constantly attached to you with the way he planned that ceremony,” Ieyasu grumbled and was surprised when the ginger tea was placed in front of him by the owner.

“I think he’s not sure of how to react still to being a father,” I shrugged. “He’s going to take it on as having two of us to look after instead of just me.”

“Until they’re able to walk and hold a blade at least,” Uesugi’s voice was the last one I expected, as he took the seat next to me, and already came prepared with a sake bottle. “Any child of mine will be a God of War,” he declared.

“I think you both need your heads looking at,” Tokugawa mumbled, though I caught the edges of a smile before he sipped at his tea.

I was beginning to think that my son was as bad as my husband. I had never had as many complaints about anything until the pair of them started training. I’d find maids running from the insanity of their sudden sword fights in the corridors, and Sasuke was definitely joining in. Though my only evidence for the involvement of the ninja was the spikes I was usually left picking up.

Kenshin had been terrified of holding Kagekatsu when he was first born, that he was so small and fragile he would be broken just by holding him. It took a while to get that idea out of his head, but then he decided that his son would need to be as formidable as he was in battle, and the second the three-year-old was able to walk in a straight line properly, a training sword was a part of his routine. Now he was seven, and I was certain that everything was being ramped up as I was now heavily pregnant with our third. Tamiko was our second born and so far our only daughter, as part of me was dreading if we had a second son then she would find herself surrounded by the Gods of War as I struggled to pick up the last of the spikes.

The maids and staff were entirely sympathetic, as Tamiko ran to me, and had her father hot on her heels, and then clung to my legs as Kenshin caught the expression on my face. Apparently, the only thing that would make the notorious God of War think twice about anything, was a slight woman of a wife in a bad mood.

“Seriously?” I exasperatedly asked, and awkwardly bent over to pick up the four-year-old girl. “Stop trying to force a sword into her hand, she’s a princess who has you and Kagekatsu for immediately family protection, and I’m pretty sure most of Oda’s forces wouldn’t think twice about charging in to help,” I pointed out, whilst cuddling our middle child, angling her over the bump.

“And this one will be another boy,” Kenshin’s smile was so affectionate as he placed a hand on my expanding stomach that it was virtually impossible to stay stern, and a smile escaped behind the mad wife mask I had been wearing. “And I believe that not even Tamiko can overtake you as the most protected princess of Japan,” he corrected, planting a kiss on my cheek as our daughter kissed my other one.

I laughed, “I’m literally surrounded by love at this point,” and nuzzled my husband in response as his arm slipped around my back. “I am slightly eager for this one to come out,” I admitted. Everything was uncomfortable, I could barely sleep, and I know Uesugi had taken to finding quiet spots in the daytime for naps to make up for the two hours he was currently getting at night.

“He’ll be here when he’s ready,” Kenshin confidently announced as Shingen came looking for us both, and carrying Kagekatsu.

“I’m returning a failed ninja,” Takeda frowned, as I noticed that his kimono had been torn by the sword that our firstborn was wielding.

“He got you, I wouldn’t technically say failed,” I pointed out the ruined fabric, and Kenshin had a grand smile on his face at it. “And I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be encouraging Kagekatsu to attack Shingen unless Shingen is actually prepared for it,” I told my husband with a shake of my head.

Both men’s faces fell, as a huge contraction was apparent on my face. Shingen picked Tamiko off my waist and made a huge fuss about going to find Yuki and his daughters, Kiku and Ichi whilst Sasuke was being yelled for as I was being pulled towards the bathing room I’d insisted on utilising for the past births as well.

It felt like an eternity before the screams of a child broke my monotonous screams. I was panting as Sasuke handed me over our son. Kenshin was swaddling us both in cuddles as the ninja finished up, clamping off the cord and helping to bathe off the mess from the birth. I could feel my husband kissing my head as I was trying to catch my breath still, whilst smiling almost in disbelief that our third born had finally arrived after so long of waiting.

“Kagetora Uesugi, you are going to be invincible,” Kenshin whispered, as I couldn’t help but laugh as my husband was smug at the fact that he’d been right.

“I think Tamiko is going to be the most protected princess in the world,” I grinned, kissing my husband on the cheek.

“You are already the most protected princess and Goddess in this world,” Kenshin corrected as I began to move so I could rest in the comfort of a futon.

“I am also known as the Goddess of War,” I reminded him with a smile of the early times in our relationship.

“Yup, still going to be sick seeing the sweet side of Kenshin,” Yukimura complained loudly as our other two children were impatiently waiting in our room to meet their sibling.

“I’m sure Akihime would love to hear about any complaints about showing affection,” Shingen teased his vassal as they all began to coo over the newborn.

“Mm, who wouldn’t want a dysfunctional family like this?” I smiled broadly, cradling the babe to my chest.

Chapter Text

I was trying to keep my panting down to a minimum whilst hiding in the bushes. I was watching the scene unfold, a burning blaze of a former temple after I had pulled someone from the flames. I was running on pure adrenaline and had transformed into my alternate form to stay hidden. Wolves were common in this era at least, so I didn’t stand out like I did in the modern world as much.

“Any sign of the girl?” His voice was rough from all the smoke inhalation.

“Nothing, Lord Nobunaga,” was every report back.

They had my curiosity, I didn’t even know what year it was, much less where I was as I padded through the forest carefully following them. I just needed to find a safe settlement, and this was the best chance I currently had. I had to resort to stealing a kimono that had been left out to dry, though I tried to remember where I had taken it from so I could at least return it with some money once I had myself sorted. Before falling through the wormhole, I’d been discussing with a friend about them, he’d taken on a job in the muggle world to pursue his passion and I’d come to visit him to see how he was getting on. Magic definitely wasn’t going to mix well with this world was my intuition, and I had nothing of the local currency on me.

I persuaded the local teahouse owner to give me a job as a waitress and then he also found me a room to rent and call home. As soon as I could, I returned the borrowed kimono, along with a small coin purse. Sasuke found me easily enough after I sent a strange cloud up over Azuchi, he was working for someone else and ended up introducing me to Yuki and Shingen. The latter had been scolded on many occasions for trying to flirt with me, not that it had gotten him anywhere except very friendly with the tray I used to carry orders about on.

My nights were usually spent sneaking out of my accommodation unnoticed, and turning into my animagus form. It was freeing to run as a wolf through all the forest, with little fear of being found out. It was a ritual for me, I would work through my days hard and then play hard at night.

A tiger cub was the last thing I was expecting during my nightly run.

My paw was stuck in a trap regardless of how much moving I did. The tiger cub wasn’t scared of me, he just kept making a lot of fuss until someone appeared. He had a scowl on his face until he noticed me. The pain was fierce, but I needed to keep this form. I had learnt the year, and revealing magic would definitely get me killed. A whimper escaped before I could catch it.

“Easy now,” he soothed, using his sword to cut the trap straight off the ground and picking me up like I weighed nothing. I wouldn’t gain anything by struggling, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to see him heading back to a manor attached to the castle over Azuchi. The case was mounting up that I’d need to stay in wolf form for a little while it seemed as the man put me down in an empty room. He didn’t say a word, but he worked diligently on removing the trap with intent to cause the least amount of damage possible. It was something he was experienced with, as he occasionally stroked my fur.

“Ieyasu?” A voice broke the silence and startled me.

“Easy,” ‘Ieyasu’ soothed, stroking me and trying to push me back down against the floor as the door opened to reveal the tiger cub and a strange man with an eye patch. “You’re disturbing her and I haven’t got the trap out yet,” he snapped, a completely different turnabout from the tone he had used with me.

“Her?” The strange man enquired, inviting himself into the room and studying the scene with interest. “That’s a nasty trap. Designed to catch a wolf do you think?”

“Probably, her fur would be prized for certain,” Ieyasu admitted, resuming his work without much thought. He worked in silence for a little time, then sat back with a sigh. “All I can do now is bandage it up and see how she gets on over the next couple of days,” he nodded to the one-eyed man.

“You might want to tell the maids,” the one-eyed man chuckled, picking the tiger cub up. “I’ll bring Shogetsu by in the morning, he seems attached to her,” he grinned.

“Sure, it’s just the cat,” the blonde haired man grumbled as he did one last check of all the bandages and stroked me softly. I was struggling to keep my eyes open as he kept up the slow and repetitive movements, before giving in to the Sandman.

A scream ripped me from my sleep, and I tried to bolt. Agony seared through my leg as I remembered what had happened, though a terrified maid was now forcing me to try and escape from a small confined room. I kept dashing either side of her, but she seemed to be too scared to think properly until we were interrupted by Ieyasu.

He thoroughly scolded the maid and sent her off to another part of the manor before turning his attention to me. He was extraordinarily gentle in his touches, unwinding the bandages to try and make sure no extra damage was done before sighing dramatically.

“If you eat Wasabi then I will skin you,” he grumbled, picking me up yet again and carrying me to another part of the manor.

I lolled my head on his shoulder, the throb in my paw was going to kill me now that the adrenaline of trying to escape was gone. He put me in a room where he seemed to have a lot of things, including a desk, books and writing equipment scattered all over the place. He also had a medical kit of sorts sprawled over the desk as I was placed on a futon with such a care that this prickly man didn’t seem capable of.

Then I discovered what he meant by ‘eat Wasabi’ as a deer stumbled in through the open veranda doors to try and get at the basket full of greenery.

“Honestly, you’re still hopeless,” his smile was so pure that my heart skipped several beats as he began to feed the fawn. I rested my head on my front paws, watching the scene with interest until the one-eyed man appeared again, this time with two trays of food and a smirk as he spotted me on the futon.

“You’re getting a soft spot for her already,” he chuckled, setting the breakfast food down in front of the blonde. “It’s strange that she’s not even looking like considering eating what should technically be her prey,” he paused, as the second tray revealed a combination of raw and cooked meats. “I was wondering if she was semi-domesticated, like Shogetsu,” he frowned, leaving the selection in front of me.

“With a coat like she has? I would be more surprised that she was let out if she is a pet,” Ieyasu snorted, prodding at the food.

I carefully pulled out the cooked meats of the pile as the two men watched on with avid interest.

“She’s definitely not wild,” the one-eyed man stated, taking back the raw cuts of meat.

“What are you thinking?” Ieyasu sighed as Wasabi came up closer to me to see what was going on.

Normally, she should have been running far off, but she had a leg injury as well. I was trying to keep things calm and didn’t dare initiate any kind of interaction. Then she was snuggled up in my fur like she would to her mother, and quite happy to fall asleep there much to the surprise of us all.

“Masamune, what did you put in my breakfast?” Ieyasu sharply demanded to know.

“I put it in mine as well, and the wolf seems to be just as surprised,” the one-eyed man replied with a slack jaw.

I nuzzled the fawn gently before resting my head around hers in a sheltering manner. At least if she wasn’t scared of me then we could make good progress.

“She needs a name,” Masamune chuckled after studying the scene.

“She has one,” Ieyasu huffed. “Sansho.”

“It shouldn’t surprise me,” the brown-haired male grinned, turning his focus back to the food.

As my movement increased, it was getting impossible for me to be kept a secret from the other warlords. Shogetsu was always wanting to play chase, and it would take us all over the manors and castle. I’d startled Hideyoshi on more than one occasion, and Mitsuhide was admirable at first of how snowy my coat was. Masamune had been the victim of many of my pranks, including the time when I had grabbed his hamaka and pulled it free in the middle of a war council that was getting very tense, leaving the one-eyed dragon semi-naked whilst I ran off with his clothing. Mitsunari was often absorbed in books, so I found pouncing him in greeting was the best way to get his attention since a fully grown wolf could easily knock the books out of the way. Ieyasu really didn’t like that I did it, his eye twitched slightly when he saw it happening which made me laugh on the inside. He was a jealous one for sure as the bandage finally came off.

I’d spent so long as a wolf, I needed to remember I was a human.

I slipped out in the night and ran through the woods, enjoying the feeling of everything running through my fur before I approached the teahouse. It took some serious energy to return to my human form, and I stumbled in a little ungracefully.

I was all apologies to the owner, but it wasn’t uncommon for people to just go missing in this era as they were simply glad to see me safe and returned. I took the meal they offered graciously and resumed my ‘life’. I found my hair was definitely fluffier now, which was really annoying, but I kept my eyes hidden under the shade of my bangs. They were really piercing chocolate ones, that everyone seemed to remember whenever they’d seen me in wolf form. I missed the chaos of the castle as Sasuke appeared with the biggest relief on his face I’d seen to date.

“I got injured and discovered in wolf form,” I whispered. “So I had to keep my form.”

“I see, at least you’re safe now,” he smiled as I served the tea.

Then I was serving an empty seat as three faces I recognised entered the teahouse.

“What’s different about this one?” Ieyasu snarked to Hideyoshi, who was ushering the blonde and Mitsunari to a free table. Then Ieyasu caught sight of me, and couldn’t stop his staring.

I served their tea and dumplings, making sure to keep my graceful act up and to hide my eyes from them all.

“Go and talk to her,” I could hear Hideyoshi trying to push Ieyasu into doing what he didn’t want to. “You haven’t stopped staring at her since we arrived.”

“I was just wondering how someone so clumsy got such a graceful job,” he snorted. It made me smile as I recalled everything he’d said whilst caring for me, but I had to keep focused on my job.

They stayed for a couple of pots of tea and some dumplings, before leaving whilst Mitsunari was still oblivious to what his Lord was implying with the tsundere male. It was endearing to me as I cleared up after their little trip. The warlords all cared for each other as the teahouse owner now took his turn in teasing me about the glances I was giving the blonde during his stay.

I loved being near the river as I dipped my feet into the free-flowing water. I had a day off and decided to enjoy it in nature in my human form, it was a beautiful day, and I always enjoyed getting away from everyone. Then there was a sudden shift in the air. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I heard the faintest rustling of leaves, and I could feel the predator in me begin to rise. I couldn’t ignore it any longer as I quietly crept towards the noise.

A group of bandits were after something, they weren’t being careful enough as I spotted their target with a dread.

Ieyasu was on his own and only had a sword at his hip.

They pounced before I could. In his form, I was useless as I jumped straight into the action in my wolf. I heard him gasp a little, but fighting off the rohins was the priority. It was easier than I thought, my teeth were sharp enough to tear at flesh and material. Ieyasu was also well versed and hadn’t even broken a sweat until I went to put my weight on the same paw I’d caught in the trap.

I lost my balance and hit the floor in human form.

I kept my head down as I breathed through the pain. It had probably been a fracture that hadn’t quite healed when I pounced before I thought things through. It was a stifling silence as I waited for the killing blow from the warlord.

Much to my surprise, he picked me up and scoffed at the state I was in. “Such a pain aren’t you, Sansho?” The name rolled off his tongue without a thought.

“I thought you were going to kill me,” I whispered, trying to keep my hands to myself and ignore how at home I felt with the man.

“I would like to double check I’m not hallucinating,” Ieyasu grumbled.

“Well, I can prove that once my foot is sorted,” I weakly smiled.

“You’ve really done some damage this time,” I was being scolded by Tokugawa as he splinted up my ankle. “You need to keep the weight off it and keep it tightly wound up.”

“Yes,” I breathed. It was difficult to think with the blonde so close, and his fingers touching my skin as I bit my lip to try and calm my heart.

“How do you do it then?” He asked, locking his jade eyes with my chocolate ones.

“Magic,” I smiled.

“I’m calling you on that,” Ieyasu scoffed, and then he was staring at the same white wolf that had cuddled with Wasabi and Shogetsu, ran about the castle without a care, and pounced on virtually every warlord going. “Okay, I’m hallucinating.”

I changed back and shrugged my shoulders. “I guess working at the teahouse isn’t happening right now,” I sighed, looking at the support around my foot.

“If you’re concerned about work-” the blonde began, then looked at me more carefully before we were interrupted by Masamune.

“I didn’t think you had it in you,” the one-eyed dragon smirked, caught off guard by my presence.

I huffed and changed back into the wolf, pulling at his hamaka as I kept my injured ‘paw’ off the ground and free of any weight, whilst Ieyasu was desperately trying to hide his amusement. Before my tiredness got the better of me, and I ended up changing back into my human form. I stuck my tongue out at the stunned dragon before crawling back to the futon to rest up my ankle.

“Wait, what?” Masamune gawped.

“Magic, Ieyasu asked how I managed it, and I don’t think it quite sunk in, so your interruption was a good show,” I replied, closing my eyes with my head resting on a pillow. “I would have run off again to find Shogetsu, but it’s hard to keep everything together when I’m hazy with pain. It took a lot of effort last night,” I yawned.

A kiss ghosted my forehead, much to my surprise. “Stop fighting it you idiot,” I heard the blonde mutter before he ushered Masamune away, closing the door behind him.

It was a few days of complete rest before I was allowed to even leave the futon aside from the usual bathroom breaks. Ieyasu had been there for the entirety of my stay as well, which I found strange, he liked to see me in the wolf form and would just change in the slightest of ways. He found it easier to express himself to an animal it seemed as Wasabi and Shogetsu were nearly constantly attached to me in either form. Masamune even teased that he had seen Ieyasu smile because of the scene in front of him, where I had Shogetsu as a pillow and Wasabi curled up against my side, using my stomach as her pillow. I had a hand on either pet’s head until we were disturbed by the door opening, and a quickly soured Tokugawa.

Neither of them had told any of the other warlords about what was going off, much to my surprise. Ieyasu agreed that walking in my wolf form may be easier, and I was let loose again into the manor and castle grounds. Hideyoshi smiled and patted me on the head in greeting, saying something about he thought I had left, whilst Mitsunari even started to put his books down when I sat on his lap. Nobunaga was laughing as I resumed my usual appearances at the war councils, much to Ieyasu’s disgruntlement. Including a repeat performance of stealing Masamune’s hamaka once my strength was starting to build up.

It was only him who saw my weaknesses at nights, who saw the falls I kept making, as I only saw his rare patience. He kept helping me, checking on my foot and applying what medicine he knew to try and assist my recovery. It was definitely an unspoken agreement between us, as the forehead kisses continued on a nightly basis. I couldn’t read his intentions, but I was desperate to trust the prickly man.

“Ieyasu?” I whispered as his lips left my forehead.

“Hm?” He grunted and I sat up, trying to see his expression in the dim light.

“You missed,” I murmured, lightly pressing my lips to his.

His hands were tangled in my hair, and we couldn’t get enough of each other. I had opened Pandora's box as we finally separated our mouths. His forehead was resting against mine as we caught our breath.

“That took you two long enough,” Masamune chuckled from the doorway.

“I will run off with your hamaka again!” I threatened as Ieyasu chose to ignore the imposing man.

Chapter Text

“Natsuki!” Sasuke and Yuki waved me over one morning as I gave them a tired smile in response, moving the current shopping load about to balance properly in my arms.

“It’s been a few days,” I laughed, before glancing over Yuki’s stall. Sasuke had introduced me to Yuki as someone from the same village as him, and I found out that Yuki was a travelling merchant, who was selling women’s accessories for some reason. His personality definitely didn’t scream about being a good salesman, but he obviously did well enough for himself.

“How’s everything going with your job?” The ninja turned serious.

“I’m pretty sure Hideyoshi still thinks I’m going to try and kill his Lord,” I sighed, trying to keep the worry off my face. “The rest of the staff and the warlords are fine, but it’s like having a second shadow so much of the time and he constantly thinks I’m doing everything to poison or undermine Nobunaga.”

“I’ll see about getting you another job somewhere,” Sasuke nodded with certainty.

“Your boss and mine are pretty close, I’m sure mine wouldn’t hesitate to offer her a job,” Yuki was poking fun at his boss for certain as I saw a glimmer of a smirk in Sasuke’s eyes.

“I’m guessing your boss has a thing for any female then?” I joked.

“Don’t, he’s terrible,” Yuki pulled a face. “Even for boar women like you,” he snipped.

“I need to get back to work, I’ll see you about soon enough,” I laughed them both away as I traipsed back up to be met by the maids to help with all of the goods they’d requested.

“Are you okay, Lady Natsuki?” One of the maids frowned as I felt the world start swaying and going black.

Hideyoshi still didn’t want to believe that my illness was anything but a ruse to try and trick the castle into letting their guard around me. I needed to get out of the place, just for some fresh air and headed straight for the market. I’d been continuing with all of the maids’ chores as soon as I could stand up for long enough. Lying around in bed was just going to make Hideyoshi think I was milking for the other men’s affections and make it even worse for myself as I ended up standing in front of Yuki’s stall again.

“I’m not sure you should be here,” Yuki interrupted my haze. I gave him a small smile before I suddenly started burning up. “Hey,” he was concerned as I tried to wave him off, and ended up stumbling into the merchant.

“Is she okay?” Yuki was frowning down at the fainted woman in his arms, and several of the merchants around them were now concerned.

“I’ll take her for a lie-down,” he reported, holding Natsuki in one arm as he gathered his items together on the material. Then he swung her up bridal style into his grip whilst another man helpfully put the goods on her lap. He jilted his head in a sharp nod of acknowledgement before leaving the marketplace.

Sasuke was expected back in Azuchi that evening after going back to make sure that Natsuki would be safe in Kasugayama. She had clearly been very overworked as the warlord was able to get a closer look at her. She was ghastly pale and had lost enough weight judging from how easy it had been to carry her, and then her kimono was too big for her as well. He could feel how hot she was through his clothing. Sasuke had explained that because she had appeared at the time of the fire at Honno-Ji, Hideyoshi had taken to accusing her of trying to take down Nobunaga. No one else even considered it, since she had been the one to get him out of the flames according to Oda himself. But Hideyoshi had continued to suspect her it seemed, including making any excuse for her to taste test any food she’d been remotely near in case there was a chance of poisoning. He would make sure she wasn’t making the floors too slippery because then Lord Nobunaga could be set up for a fatal accident. She was meant to be talented as a seamstress, but that left it open to poison needles.

Yuki laid her down on the bedroll, whilst racking his brains on where to get some fresh water from. She needed to cool down for certain.

“What happened?” Shingen’s voice was the last he was expecting to come from the doorway.

“She passed out from the way she looks,” the ninja spoke up. “I have her personal things here, but I’d say she needs some rest for certain. But I’m not sure Hideyoshi won’t have the village combed for her.”

“Let’s get her back to Kasugayama, we have healers there, she just rides with one of us that’s all,” Takeda declared. “Clear out,” he instructed to them both as he turned about to leave.

Waking up in the middle of what was meant to be enemy territory was more than a small shock. Then I had Sasuke explain that Yuki the travelling merchant, was actually Yukimura Sanada the warlord. He had been spying at Azuchi for information, but the only thing that had properly come of the whole trip was a concern for my welfare as I was forced to rest up properly. The maids were eager to introduce themselves, and Shingen would insist on calling me a ‘Princess’ much to all of the confusion of the staff. Kenshin had only agreed to bringing me back here because of Sasuke. As far as anyone knew, we had grown up in the same place, and when they asked about some of the things he’d come out with, it made me smile and say yes that I understood what he meant.

It was strange, I wasn’t being accused of anything. No one doubted anything I did, even though I’d panic the second something went wrong and expect to find Kenshin or Shingen there to behead me from what I’d heard around Azuchi. Instead, Shingen just seemed to take me on as another vassal and almost like a daughter as he kept making sure I wasn’t working too hard and kept taking frequent breaks.

“Princess?” He smiled at me as I jumped at being caught. “What are you watching?”

“Nothing,” I went to rush off back to help the maids, but his large hand caught my shoulder, and then he peered at the group I’d been watching.

“Oh, my kunoichi?” He asked. “I should introduce you,” I really didn’t get much of a choice in the matter. “Lady Chiyome!”

“Lord Shingen?” One of the women who had looked the most impressive and precise had lowered her training sword with a puzzled expression. “I didn’t think you liked to watch us after the last time,” she smirked, slinging the wooden blade over her shoulder.

“I’m not willing to repeat that lesson,” Takeda laughed nervously. “Actually I wanted to introduce you to the one who was watching,” he grinned, pushing me forward as I blushed bright red.

I bowed swiftly in greeting, already feeling very nervous and out of my comfort zone as the head of the kunoichi was sizing me up.

“Your latest bed warmer?” The coldness in her voice was enough to make me regret everything.

“Hardly, this is Sasuke’s friend, the princess,” Shingen shook his head. “I think Yuki would actually have my head if I tried anything,” he added on with a smile.

“Oh, the rescued Princess from Azuchi,” Chiyome returned my bow. “I’m used to Lord Shingen’s excuses if you’ll excuse my rudeness.”

“I was just admiring your forms, I feel quite defenceless is all,” I gave a small smile in return.

“I was thinking you needed someone small and light to help,” Takeda was dropping me into this.

“Let’s get you dressed into something more appropriate and give you a test,” Chiyome and Shingen were wearing matching smiles. “You know the enemy loosely as well, might as well use everything we can,” I was being dragged off to the woman’s quarters before I could properly comprehend what was going on around me. “Relax, Sasuke would kill me if anything happened to you,” the other woman laughed as Takeda was waiting outside.

The outfit was something similar to what I usually saw Sasuke in, but it definitely would need alterations.

“It’ll do for a test of your abilities,” Chiyome brightly said, and then I found myself being dragged along again. It was hard to not smile, her enthusiasm was contagious.

“Sasuke, where’s the princess?” Shingen yawned as yet another breakfast came and went without seeing the stolen woman.

“I believe Lady Chiyome has her inducted into their training regime,” Kenshin’s ninja darkly chuckled. “I forgot how athletic Lady Natsuki could be.”

“I heard my name?” Chiyome stuck her head in the room. “Anyone seen Suki?”

“We thought she was with you?” Sasuke froze momentarily before the two men and the head kunoichi went belting towards the training rooms to get a scouting party ready.

It wasn’t below me to take out the ankles as I kicked the ninja opposite me, I’d gotten my times confused, and ended up with Kenshin’s ninjas instead of Chiyome. But it was a good chance to test out what I knew as the man winced and hit the floor hard.

“Not a bad strategy,” one of them lowered his mask, grinning broadly at me, “But you left yourself open to attack from behind. So you need to work on picking yourself up quicker if that’s the attack formation you’re going on.”

“Any other suggestions?” I asked, tilting my head back as I was trying to catch my breath a little. My form had improved drastically from my initial trial, but I still felt vulnerable against men. I had wanted to arrange this sort of training session but ended up just walking straight into one.

“Gentlemen!” Shingen was panicked as he practically ran through the door, and then gawped at me. “Oh, er, Lady Chiyome?”

“Okay, I’ll rescind the false alarm into a full training session,” the kunoichi sighed at the sight.

“I thought you told me to be here an hour ago,” I shrugged. “Besides, I told you I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of going after men in battle or any situation that happens, so I thought it would be a daft chance to turn down the sarcastic offer to train with them,” I smiled.

“She’s good, but needs work,” one of Sasuke’s fellow ninjas nodded. “Daisuke wasn’t expecting her to be able to kick out his ankles,” he chuckled, gesturing to my still down opponent. “Lord Kenshin will be embarrassed that he was taken out by a woman.”

“I’m sure Sasuke will help us then,” Chiyome sighed, but smiled at me. “I’m glad to see that you’re comfortable enough now around here at least. You’ve spent weeks flinching anytime someone mentioned you’d done something wrong.”

“You ought to tell me the wrong time more often then,” I teased.

“I’m not below getting Sasuke’s spikes out,” she laughed.

Chiyome and the rest of the kunoichi had to go out on some reconnaissance mission for information since Yukimura had come back early because of me. I went to apologise when Chiyome immediately went to chop me for daring to think of it. I had ducked late enough for her to not stop it, and Yuki spent his time cursing us both since he was hit in the throat.

Sasuke continued on with my training, and we were in the middle of a spar. Sweat was soaking my clothes as I leapt to wrap my thighs around his neck, only to end up smashing my knee into his shoulder as he moved and I misjudged the height. It hurt us both, but I needed to keep out of the path of those damn ground spikes he favoured using. Chiyome had reminded me that if I didn’t get used to them now then it would be something I’d have to coordinate on the field. At least I could take the time here to learn how to navigate it all.

“I thought I trained you better than that,” Kenshin’s voice made me jump a mile, and I ended up stabbing my palm onto a cluster of spikes. “A kunoichi able to nearly take you out around the neck,” the man scoffed until I utilised the spikes left in range to stop the path between me and the notorious God of War. I had heard enough that he wouldn’t even use anything except real blades in training, and I wanted to keep my distance. I was still getting used to dealing with the sheer force a man could muster and counteracting it, Kenshin made me nervous, he wasn’t a predictable factor. I didn’t want to take my eyes off him as he glanced me over. “Go and rest, and take care of those injuries,” he instructed.

“Yes, Lord Kenshin,” I replied, bowing swiftly and leaving as quickly as I could.

“Just what made her so ill in the first place?” Kenshin had purposely waited until he knew the woman was out of hearing range before turning to his ninja.

“It was Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Lord Kenshin. He simply didn’t trust that she wasn’t going to kill Nobunaga Oda if he let his guard down. She worked herself to sickness and didn’t give herself the chance to recover before resuming her work, hence how she fainted into Yukimura’s arms,” Sasuke darkly explained, pushing his glasses up his nose. “She’s been left with a vulnerability and she’s fighting now to change it.”

“Hm, make sure you train her and kit her out with anything that suits her fighting style,” Uesugi instructed. “Lady Chiyome has done well so far, but I believe it is I who is technically her Lord, and I will be inducting her as my own kunoichi,” he stated to the silenced room. “Everyone will treat her as you would each other. Do not go easy on her,” he ordered before leaving with a swish of his haori.

The formal announcement that I was to be taken on as Kenshin’s kunoichi came that night over sake and a banquet. I nearly broke my own sacred rule about wasting alcohol and spitting it back out when he said it, and it was such a genuine smile and pride that I couldn’t think of anything to say. Shingen was pouting that he hadn’t been quick enough to ‘snatch me up’, but I was immediately surrounded by ninjas, who all knew where and what I needed work on before I could work effectively on the battlefield as one of them.

Sasuke had me with the seamstresses the following day to make an outfit that matched his and then got them to make me a few adjustable kimonos too so I could hide in plain sight like a kunoichi could. We didn’t even discuss the potential wormhole and going back to the future, this felt like a purpose to us and we were where we should be in history.

Hyosuke frowned as we saddled the horses up. Facing the Oda forces straight on was definitely the way Kenshin liked to fight, and Shingen really hadn’t made any attempt to talk him out of it. I had braided my long hair to keep it out of the way, but it was still nearly a good give away that I was a woman in the company of an army of men. Takeda had been fed various bits of information back from Lady Chiyome to form a strategy, but there was still a largely unknown factor as to what to expect exactly. Hideyoshi had been seen circulating the marketplace on a daily basis, which I had confirmed as being very out of his character. He may become a problem, but then again, his devotion to Nobunaga would be the thing we could always count on as I mounted my mare. A dark bay horse to hide amongst the forest if necessary.

“I don’t like the feeling of you coming with us,” Hyosuke had designated the entire ninjutsu regiment as my brothers not long after Kenshin had taken me under his care, and he took lead brother after Uesugi. I had been pushed long past my limits on many training occasions and followed the instructions that Kenshin lived by including to use real swords to train with.

“There is something in the air,” another ninja, Tadashi, commented from his horse next to us.

“Just means we all need to be prepared to act,” I nodded in confirmation to them both.

“It’s not like I will let Natsuki ride into the heat of battle anyway,” Kenshin had overheard us and scoffed at the men. “Stop trying to mother her, she can take you both out in training without straining herself.”

“That’s only because you insisted, Lord Kenshin,” I reminded him before he gestured for me to come next to him. Then I had a flick to the ear.

“It’s Kenshin to you,” he huffed.

“Yeah, that’s not happening, Lord Kenshin,” I laughed and ducked out of range of his arm as the army began to move. Acting like a bratty little sister to them all on occasions like this made the atmosphere easier to breathe in. I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t incompetent. Sasuke stuffed a flare he’d manufactured especially for me into my obi sash. The men had insisted I was paired with a sash to use to hide things like throwing daggers and spikes in, and it seemed that Sasuke had been instructed to make me a distress signal. “I’m not a damsel in distress,” I whined.

“No, you’re not,” the astrophysicist agreed. “But you are a target, anyone can be overwhelmed by sheer numbers,” he frowned.

“Except Lord Kenshin,” I snorted.

“He’s the God of War, he doesn’t count,” a rare smile graced the face of Sasuke. “It’s just to make the rest of us less worried about keeping an eye on you.”

“I’m taking you all out in the next training session,” I promised them, glaring at the back of my Lord’s head.

Sasuke and I were sent out on our own. I had my fellow time traveller currently as my shadow and silent guard as we traversed through the forest. We kept to the edges, making sure to sight what Nobunaga and his forces were doing on a regular basis before we split. All of the warlords were present, which meant this was something that Kenshin needed to know. He was going to be biting at the bit to get going, and Sasuke was the best handler to send with the news as I made the decision to follow some interesting tracks that led deeper into the forest.

I dropped in on two scouts purposely from a branch over them. It didn’t take much for me to deal with them, but it was on the edge of a clearing, and apparently, I’d only gone and stumbled on the headquarter camp for them it seemed.

Every man there had the desire to die for their cause. I could already tell that these weren’t Oda forces or allies, they had spoken of disgust for both sides, this was someone else interfering with Kenshin’s plans for an all-out battle.

Blood was thick on my sword and splattered across my outfit. It wasn’t mine was the only saving grace to this point, though it was obvious I was beginning to tire, as a kunoichi I wasn’t trained for an extended period of fighting, but I had to prove that I wasn’t weak. My teeth were tightly gritted as I persevered through the tightening of my muscles, parrying each attack as I tried to take more of them out.

“She’s as insane as the God of War!” One man grunted as I ducked under his swing, and then slashed him across the torso.

A pain went through my right side. The swine had gotten lucky before he was too late. I had to react defensively now. My left arm was pressing down on the wound to stem the flow of blood as I kept fighting them. Each adversary was wearing a sneer that I wanted so desperately to slice off their faces personally, but to keep moving through the stabbing agony that was radiating through my torso was going to get me killed if I wasn’t careful.

“Natsuki?!” A voice I would happily never hear again broke the tirade. I could already hear his expression as I threw the flare up. Hideyoshi was no friendly individual and I couldn’t fight two armies on my own with this injury. “Stay against that tree,” he ordered, pushing me against a thick trunk and standing over me with his sword out.

“I’m not your damned princess,” I hissed through clenched teeth. My jaw was starting to ache from all the inner mouth biting I was doing, but I kept the pressure up on my stomach.

“I was wrong, okay? Is that what you want to argue about right now?” He was scolding me in that tone I’d heard about. “No, keep your eyes open, stay with me,” he was panicking as I let a laugh escape my throat before I lost the fight to stay conscious.

Her outfit was sticky with blood, Hideyoshi could only hope it wasn’t all hers. He was dashing back to camp with her cradled in his arms. The army she had been fighting had been Kennyo’s, sent to destroy both the Oda and Uesugi-Takeda sides whilst they were all locked in battle, it was a plan that Mitsuhide had uncovered at the last minute. Kenshin had been shouting to all of his ninjas to ‘find Suki’, and there was currently a very shaky alliance formed to react to the disgraced Abbott.

“Ieyasu!” Toyotomi was ungraceful as he stormed through the camp, then all of the attention fell on the woman in his arms.

“Natsuki!” Kenshin looked horrified and had his sword drawn instantly at the man.

“She was attacked by Kennyo’s scouts,” the vassal shouted as Ieyasu immediately began assessing the situation, then lifted her out of Hideyoshi’s arms.

It was a nightmare for them all. It was just a waiting game, Tokugawa let them know that he had stopped the bleeding, and had changed her clothing. It was thick and heavy with so much blood before Uesugi’s attention turned back to Hideyoshi.

“You say she was attacked by Kennyo’s scouts,” he scowled.

“They lost a lot of scouts, but she was fighting them on all sides in a clearing where they’d established camp,” he frowned. “She only released this thing into the air when I arrived, but she had already suffered the blow by that point.”

“Sasuke, get a group of them to ascertain the actual damage done,” Kenshin muttered to his devoted follower, who nodded silently to the instruction.

The air could be cut with a knife. It was thick with tension as Uesugi continued to glare at Hideyoshi as though everything was entirely his fault.

“Lord Kenshin,” Hyosuke and Tadashi both dropped to their knees. “How is she?” The former was begging for an answer, sweat beading across their foreheads as their rush to return to the camp was apparent.

“She’s got a long night ahead,” Ieyasu came out from the tent, carrying her stained clothes. “I’ve dressed her in some of my spares, they’re too big but they cover the necessities,” he shrugged.

The material was stiff with how much blood had soaked into it. Kenshin had his sword out and went to strike Hideyoshi in fury until his blade was blocked by Mitsunari.

“This is all your fault,” he growled.

“I didn’t get there quick enough and now she’s paying the price, don’t tell me what I already know,” Toyotomi’s voice was thick with regret. “But she’s a fighter, she took out so many of them before I had even arrived. She was dealing with the problem before the rest of us knew about it. And I was constantly accusing her of waiting to assassinate Lord Nobunaga when she came barreling into our lives,” he barked.

“You had nearly killed her when Yukimura found her,” Shingen’s voice was cool, breaking the invisible barrier. “She was terrified of being accused of trying to kill anyone, and worked herself to serious ill health.”

“And right now, because of my decisions, she’s now fighting for her life,” Hideyoshi wasn’t shying away from anything. “I’m completely at fault here. Please don’t think I don’t know it.”

“That’s enough,” Masamune broke the spell. “Swords away, we’ve got enough fighting to do without fighting each other right now. We all agreed on that.”

“Kennyo will pay for his scouts hurting Natsuki,” Shingen nodded to his ally. “We all know that.”

“I will have his head on a plate if she doesn’t make it,” Kenshin cooly promised before leaving the campfire.

It felt like I was pushing through treacle when I opened my eyes. I could hear the beeps of machinery, and it smelt of an awful cleanliness that was only ever associated with a hospital.

“Natsuki?” A voice to my left was hesitant before I tilted my head in their direction.

“Hey, I must be on something really good to be seeing you,” I smiled, my eyelids were feeling heavy still. “This looks like a hospital, but you’re a warlord,” I laughed softly.

“No, you’re definitely not imagining things,” Kenshin was grasping my hand tightly, a weak grin on his face as his mismatched eyes crinkled. “Sasuke explained everything about where you are both from. And it was our best chance to save you. Stop fighting things and go back to sleep,” he soothed, pulling his chair up to the bed as I squeezed his hand gently and decided to let him have his way for once.

“How is she?” Sasuke stuck his head in during the afternoon, his work had been keeping him busy since their return to the present but he had been rather insistent on being able to keep tabs on his ‘little sister’.

“She woke up, and thought she was seeing things to see me here,” Kenshin stated as a matter of fact. “Then I told her to stop fighting it and to go back to sleep. So we have progress,” he nodded. “The doctors are pleased with that, and everything’s remained steady, so nothing to report.”

“Hopefully she should start to come around more often. You should come back to the apartment for some sleep in a bed,” the scientist said, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“Not until Natsuki is out of here,” Uesugi refuted, keeping his arms folded.

“I overheard the nurses calling us the pair of most devoted brothers they’d seen for a long time,” Sarutobi smiled. “I feel sorry for anyone who wants to marry her, they’d have to convince you,” he chuckled.

“As soon as we’re back, I will not hesitate to cut you,” the warlord firmly replied. “She’s never mentioned wanting anything of that sort anyway.”

“She’s a woman shrouded in mystery,” Sasuke nodded. “At least we caught the wormhole in time to save her.”

“Indeed, we shall see,” Kenshin agreed.

It was dark when I turned over. Uesugi was dozing in the chair I had last seen him in, and there was another figure asleep against the wall, but it wasn’t the shape of Sasuke.

“Kenshin?” My voice was croaky from lack of use.

The figure against the wall moved first. “Natsuki,” Hideyoshi’s voice was the last one I expected, his hand enclosed over mine.

I flinched as Uesugi stirred, turning the nighttime lights on to get a look at me.

“It’s late,” he grumbled, though his hand rested over the top of Hideyoshi’s on mine. “But it’s only been just over a day and a half since you last woke,” he then smiled. “You’re making good progress.”

“But I couldn’t win,” I mumbled.

“You took out over twenty of Kennyo’s scouts before they could hurt you, and you took out another four after a serious wound,” there was an element of pride that I’d never heard before in Kenshin’s voice. “And you only sent the flare up when Toyotomi came your way,” he chuckled.

“What are you both doing here? What happened?” I murmured, leaning to get a drink until Hideyoshi brought the glass of water and straw to me.

“Sip at it,” he mothered. “Little mouthfuls.”

I was feeling too tired to argue and did as I was told for once without question.

“Sasuke told us about where you both really came from and said that they had the ability to save you, but we had to get you to the wormhole location,” Kenshin explained. “It’s been a week you were unconscious, but it was a waiting game to see how you were,” he sighed, and then I felt his head resting against my arm.

“I get the feeling that I owe Sasuke my life,” I chuckled. “But why are you here?” I directed my gaze to the man I’d spent so much time trying to please that had nearly cost me my health.

“Because it’s my fault you’re here,” Toyotomi sighed.

“How is it your fault?” I frowned.

“I didn’t move quickly enough to protect you from that attack,” his voice was steady.

“Right now, I’m calling bull,” my response startled both of the men. “You had no reason to trust me when I initially arrived. You’d just seen someone try to kill your Lord, and then a small, weak girl coincidentally appears and claims to have saved him. Then she spends all her time trying to win you over?” I laughed. “I really don’t blame you, I should be thanking you because it meant I could go and train as a kunoichi and learn so much more.”

Hideyoshi’s lips were on mine in an instant. How he managed to keep a cool exterior on all of that passion, it was puzzling.

“Toyotomi,” Kenshin let us have our moment, especially since I was grabbing onto his collar, and then warned him.

“I know,” he sighed. “Get some more sleep,” Hideyoshi kissed my forehead, taking his position back up against the wall.

I was glad to be discharged from the hospital over a week later. Sasuke had the three of us in his apartment as the calculations began on when the next wormhole would be. Sasuke and Kenshin shared the main bedroom, whilst I took the guest room and Hideyoshi slept in the living room. Hideyoshi would also do most of the chores around the places, whilst Kenshin was taking all the older brother things very seriously as I was constantly escorted to all of my appointments by the warlord. The police had made me give a statement without any of the boys around, they heavily suspected they had something to do with my injuries when I said that I was jumped by a gang and I wouldn’t be able to do anything to help them find them.

Hideyoshi brought me back to the present as we finished leaving things to cause enough confusion about our ‘disappearance’. The police had mentioned coming by the following day and would break into the flat to only find references to our Sengoku era selves. He squeezed my hand before we had to quickly follow the bad weather pattern. I was being given a piggyback by Kenshin to avoid aggravating my wounds. It was largely healed, but I needed to spend a fair bit of time resting up still and we had established it was safe enough for me to leave modern medicine behind.

“Princess!” I was practically bowled over by Shingen as we arrived.

The relief was apparent across everyone’s faces, I smiled at them widely. And then realised whose hand I was holding when the grins turned to disbelief.

“We talked a few things through,” I mumbled, trying to wave it off.

“Let’s get back to Azuchi first,” Kenshin broke the silence, pulling his horse off Hyosuke.

Toyotomi was bright red, offering me a hand after mounting his own mare. I raised an eyebrow at him with a grin as Tadashi went to dismount his horse.

“It’s fine, he’s been dying for a chance to do this,” I laughed at the ninja, finally accepting the outstretched hand of Hideyoshi. He was careful in lifting me, with Sasuke hoisting me up by my hips to avoid any unnecessary strain on my stomach before I was settled in his arms.

“Let me know if anything hurts,” he mothered.

It had been an uneasy three months in our absence. Everything had been hindering on my successful return to the Sengoku it seemed as all of the warlords took to looking over me, and taking a leaf out of Toyotomi’s book to mother me.

“It can’t have been that bad,” I finally snapped at Ieyasu after several days of them refusing to let me do anything. The blonde glared at me, and then stormed off.

He returned holding a bloody material and thrust it at me. I scowled and took it, before studying it carefully.

“That’s what you were wearing when Hideyoshi came storming into camp,” Tokugawa scolded me. “That might not be all your blood, but that hole is where they stabbed you. Hideyoshi was covered in your blood just carrying you back, I had to burn what I was wearing it wasn’t salvageable after trying to save you.”

“Just give me something to do, send Mitsunari in and teach me to read then!” I exclaimed hotly.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Masamune interrupted, and then paused seeing what I was holding.

“She was getting irritable and said we didn't need to be so concerned,” Ieyasu bristled. “So I was showing her what she looked like when she was carried into camp that night.”

“I’m still saying I need something to do, send Mitsunari in and teach me to read since I’m not allowed to go anywhere,” I sighed. “I’m under no illusions that I wasn’t ill, to take me back to the future with Kenshin and Hideyoshi showed how much of a problem it was. I’m saying I can’t just stay here with no company and nothing to do.”

“Hideyoshi will be by shortly,” Date nodded, producing lunch for me as always. “He’ll mother hen something out,” he chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything bother him so much as you do lass,” he grinned, enjoying making me blush.

“Leave Natsuki alone,” Toyotomi sighed, letting himself into the room, pausing only to brush a kiss on my forehead in greeting. “What’s going on? I heard shouting.”

“I’m bored,” I sighed and rolled my eyes as I began to eat the prepared lunch.

“I’ve got nothing on for the rest of the day,” he waved his hand. “I’ll keep you company.”

It was a peaceful lunch, aside from Masamune’s teasing to Ieyasu until they both left. Hideyoshi was making some tea, a frown on his face as I left him to his fretting.

“Kenshin wants you to return to Kasugayama,” he finally said. “Nobunaga asked for a reason why you should stay here,” he explained.

“He was trying to get you flustered,” I smiled. “Both of them actually,” I blew on the hot tea. “Kenshin likes to remind you that he is seen as technically my Lord and unofficial older brother. And Nobunaga doesn’t get this sort of response out of you often so he’s enjoying it. Plus I enjoy the expression when I’m explaining it to you,” I giggled.

“All of you are like children,” Toyotomi sighed.

“Mm, and you love it,” I grinned.

Chapter Text

It felt like it had been years since I’d properly played my piano. I was a tutor for pleasure more than making any sorts of money, and I’d whined recently to Sasuke about missing the only expensive piece of ‘furniture’ I owned in the modern era, my grand piano. I was also being escorted to the docks, apparently, a ship from the West had arrived and there were all sorts of rare goods for sale. Hideyoshi was scolding me as he struggled to keep up, even after all of the warlords had learnt about my true origins, they hadn’t changed as I stayed in the Sengoku. It was impossible to try and explain an instrument to them as the self-imposed brother caught up to me when the docks came into view.

It was an extravagant Japanese ship, and I thought I heard Toyotomi mutter under his breath about ‘not him again’, but when I looked up at him, the man had his usual smile on. The docks were teeming with excitement as Hideyoshi took hold of my hand, just to make sure I wasn’t lost in the crowd as we began to part our way to the front. One of the perks of being the Princess at least was that everyone seemed eager to move for me.

“Lord Hideyoshi!” A jovial voice laughed and called out over the crew, and I glanced up to see a man with white hair and a tanned appearance waving at the warlord who was standing over me as a guard.

“Who’s he?” I asked, but my question went unanswered as Toyotomi was glaring at the ship. I was curious about all the things being unloaded that I hadn’t seen since my arrival in the Sengoku.

The man jumped down onto the docks with a flourish and then bowed deeply in time for Masamune and Ieyasu to show up.

“You showing off in front of the Princess now, Motonori?” The one-eyed dragon laughed and clapped the white-haired man on the shoulder.

“Princess?” The sailor paused, as I then peeked from around Hideyoshi’s bodyguard stance with a smile. “Oh, Princess!”

“Come here, lass,” Date had me slip around the scary big brother, and stood in a less threatening manner in front of the stranger. “Motonori, meet the Oda Princess, Natsuki,” he grinned, and I remembered to bow since I was in front of everyone.

“Oda Princess?” Motonori frowned.

“She saved Lord Nobunaga from a fire that would have killed him,” Hideyoshi finally snapped out of his trance, as I was distracted by what I could barely believe coming off the ship.

The crew were rightly terrified of handling the grand piano, and set it down unsteadily on the docks as I ran over to inspect it.

“It’s probably all out of tune now,” one of the men groaned. “Lord Motonori’s going to kill us.”

“If you’ll allow me?” I interjected, immediately playing out a swift chord on the keys, before frowning and lifting the lid. “Yes, out of tune, but if it’s not done with moving then you may as well leave it until it’s settled,” I smiled. “No damage otherwise done.”

The crew were slack-jawed, and then I had a large hand on my shoulder.

“Where does a girl learn piano?” Motonori frowned at me with great suspicion.

“Hands off Mori!” Hideyoshi snapped, intervening physically. “Lord Nobunaga will have the piano, and you know he’ll pay beyond your original buyer,” he declared, much to my surprise.

Everyone was staring as the instrument was brought to the castle. I was blushing deeply when a free room was found, and the piano installed near to my room. I was impatient for them all to leave so I could tune it before attempting to play a single thing. I was feeling rusty as I had to recall every note from memory, but given how much of my life had been dedicated to this, then I knew little else in the same depth that I breathed music.

“Has anyone seen the princess?” Hideyoshi was calling for her through the corridors.

“Sorry, no Lord Hideyoshi,” the maids admitted, as did the seamstresses. She was always helping someone as he took to looking through each of the rooms.

Then the most beautiful sounds drifted through the air. It brought goosebumps to everyone and made those in earshot pause. It was like nothing they had ever heard before as Hideyoshi needed to remind himself that she had come from so far in the future and this was the result. She had been missing something, but now it felt like the only thing that could tempt her into stepping through the next wormhole was now in her life here in the Sengoku.

“I’ve never heard anyone play like that, even in the West,” Motonori was the first to break the silence once the song had finished playing. He was frowning with such suspicion. “Who is she exactly?” He asked the warlord.

“An Oda Princess,” Toyotomi reminded the pirate before knocking on the door and entering the room.

“It’s been three days since you were last seen, Natsuki,” my big brother called out.

“Oh, I was busy,” I sheepishly smiled at him. I’d been so engrossed in making sure the piano was tuned I simply hadn’t noticed how much time had passed, and then my stomach grumbled loudly in complaint.

“Right, so we’re getting you something to eat and then we need to bring you to the council,” Hideyoshi announced, already gesturing for me to follow him promptly. I was surprised to see the pirate present, and then I realised how many of the staff were giving me looks of awe.

“Motonori has been asking too many questions about Natsuki’s ability to play and tune a piano,” Hideyoshi sighed in the council. “And he overheard the same song I did, so you can’t even claim it wasn’t her or he must be mistaken.”

“Just tell him the truth,” I spoke up, surprising them all. “I come from 500 years in the future,” I shrugged. “Worst case, he’ll pull a sword on me, and if you’re all here then I won’t be unprotected,” I pointed out.

“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Nobunaga decreed and called a servant in to bring Motonori to the hall.

The pirate looked unimpressed at being ordered about but complied to keep the Lord of the land happy. A brief flick of his eyes over me made me shiver slightly, but I kept my composure.

Everyone was staring at the pirate until Nobunaga smirked and broke the tension.

“I heard you were asking questions about my lucky charm,” he calmly addressed Motonori.

“I think that’s quite understandable,” Mori shrugged, still on his guard. “A woman suddenly appears at your side, announced as a princess, and then plays the piano better than any experienced European? She’s raising a lot of questions to have you all blindfolded.”

“All very valid points,” Oda agreed. “But she’s not from our time.”

“Excuse me?” Motonori asked after a long pause. “Not from our time? That makes no sense,” he argued, his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“She’s from five hundred years in the future,” Nobunaga was doing nothing to help my case at this point, and I could see myself getting beheaded very swiftly unless the situation was defused.

Hideyoshi blocked the sword aiming for me as my breath caught in my throat.

“She fell through a hole in time, saved Lord Nobunaga from the fire at Honno-Ji and has chosen to stay here with us as princess and chatelaine,” Hideyoshi’s tone was warning the pirate about overstepping his boundaries.

“So she’s a witch,” the white-haired male laughed and glared at the room.

“Hardly,” I snapped, my furious gaze landing on the strange man. “In my timeline of events, Nobunaga was killed by the fire I saved him from, and if you’re so unconvinced by your allies words, then maybe the clothes I arrived in may suffice as evidence,” I glowered at him.

“She’s my fireball,” Nobunaga smirked and then nodded for me to retrieve my belongings as ‘proof’.

Motonori studied the fabrics and items with vivid interest, whilst Nobunaga stated what they were. The pirate was intrigued, as he then looked to me.

“Why stay? Your future sounds precious,” he asked.

“Because I felt like I’d be leaving my friends and family behind if I went back,” I shrugged, “I couldn’t bear it at all, so I decided to stay. I mentioned a long time ago to Nobunaga about pianos, so I guess you were busy,” I smiled.

“I thought it was a strange request,” Motonori finally spoke after putting down my long dead mobile phone back into my purse. “So, who are you marrying then?”

Masamune’s arm was slung over my shoulder instantly, whilst I was still reeling at the bluntness of the question. And everyone seemed to have switched on their ‘protective brother’ mode.

“Oh?” The pirate smirked broadly as I stuttered some form of response.

“I’m not marrying any of them!” I finally declared with a hot glare at Date. “They’re all just really protective of me,” I frowned.

“That’s quite obvious,” Motonori laughed and waved his hand dismissively. “You can all stand down, she’s a pretty face but that’s about it,” he smirked.

“A pretty face that had you stunned when she started to play the piano,” Hideyoshi corrected.

“How did you tune that thing by the way?” Mori was trying to disguise his interest.

“By ear,” I shrugged.

“No way,” the pirate couldn’t even have tried hiding the obvious.

“It took her three days,” Hideyoshi sighed, sounding like the disappointed older brother. “And she turned into Mitsunari,” he complained.

“We should put a lock on the door,” Ieyasu grumbled. “Having one of him is bad enough.”

“I’m not that bad,” I sulked.

“I had to pick you up from the piano,” Hideyoshi pointed out with a sigh.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” I argued.

“Oh she’s spirited all right,” Mori was laughing, then he was in my personal space as Nobunaga had been when I first arrived.

“If you like everything to not be rearranged, then take a step back,” I glared at the pirate.

Oda was laughing at the whole scene whilst all of the warlords were dispersed, and I was immediately sent to my room for resting up.

I couldn’t stay away from the piano. The castle was used to me doing my chores, and then the maids started to take more on before someone admitted that they loved listening to the music and it helped them to work quicker if I was playing. Hideyoshi would take to dropping by on a mealtime basis to make sure I wasn’t the same level of absorbed as Mitsunari was when he started reading and preparing strategies.

An arm slipped around my waist as I continued playing a song that I was still trying to recall from memory. A favourite of mine, but it hadn’t been one I had memorised before arriving here.

“Some sheet music for the princess,” Mori’s voice was soft and made me jump, and bang the keys in discord.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” I scolded and glanced at the sheet music. “I don’t think I know this one,” I frowned, placing it gently on the holder before trying out the keys in a steady fashion instead of the way I would usually flow in those I had confidence with. It was always the same with new music, it took a few times to get comfortable with the patterns and then pick up the appropriate pace of the piece.

“I was watching you for ten minutes, Princess,” the pirate laughed once I’d had my first go at the song. “You look stunning whilst so focused,” he murmured, brushing a loose lock of hair out of my face.

I turned bright red as he kissed the strands of hair, his eyes were heated with passion as I felt the full brunt of his emotions.

“Natsuki!” Hideyoshi’s voice broke the spell and threw himself into the room.

“Yes?” I asked with a small smile.

“I thought I heard something upset you,” he sighed and eyed up the pirate, who hadn’t moved his hand at all.

“Motonori just surprised me, apparently he was trying to get my attention at the wrong time,” I explained, trying to get Hideyoshi to step away from the room.

Then the pirate made the most surprising move yet.

I was picked up bridal style and had to loop my arms around Motonori’s neck to hang on to something as he dashed through the castle and then the town. He was laughing and thoroughly enjoying himself, whilst I was squeaking and squealing in fear of what was about to happen. I could hear Hideyoshi yelling in the background, but there wasn’t a safe spot to try and jump out of his grasp until he literally threw me into the arms of his first mate aboard the ship.

“Pull away!” The Captain cheerfully claimed, jumping on board in my wake as I realised that everyone had been waiting to go, and then the obvious dawned on me.

“Motonori!” I screamed, storming across the decking to get the pirate. “You can’t kidnap me!” I yelled much to the amusement of all of his surrounding crew.

“I haven’t kidnapped you, Princess,” the pirate smirked. “I’m taking you to the West with Lord Nobunaga’s permission to and see more pianos,” he laughed. “I just thought I’d do it before anyone could change his mind,” he smiled brightly. “I’ve already prepared everything for your stay anyway,” the man waved off.

Chapter Text

The main hall was bustling with activity as I tipped back another cup of sake. It was all in celebration of the continuing alliance of Nobunaga with Shingen and Kenshin, drinking and eating was usually the best way to go about it. Not that my boyfriend would let me go far from his side as I filled up his cup from the bottle and grinned at him.

He pressed the cup to my lips, and I parted them whilst staring down the wicked glimmer in his eyes, the real trick to this was not to swallow the sake but to just hold it in my mouth. His lips were covering mine as his tongue teased for my lips to part. It was always a messy affair and sake would inevitably escape, but it always took my breath away to see him afterwards. He had the confident smirk on his face, whilst I could feel the blush radiating off me since half of the room had watched the display as well.

“My Lord,” Hideyoshi interrupted us before Nobunaga could pour out another cup, and placed some food in front of us with a concerned gaze.

“Fine, fine,” Oda sighed, before a shared, silent thought passed between us.

I delicately picked up the snacks that Masamune had prepared and fed him the food whilst trying to ignore how turned on I was by his hidden hand creeping up my kimono. I was sat in his lap and everything below my hips was obscured by either his body or the tables around us, and he loved to exploit that fact. I swore that Mitsuhide always knew what was going off, he would usually turn up to discuss something as I was inevitably close to orgasm and delay it long enough to send me into such a frustration that I would end up dragging my boyfriend off to finish the job properly.

His fingertips brushed my clit, and I was biting the inside of my lip to try and keep my calm outward demeanour going. It spoilt the game if Hideyoshi ever found out what we were doing. He sucked on my fingers to get the ‘food’ off them, whilst staring me down with such a heated gaze that I wasn’t sure if I was drunker off him or the sake.

I was presented with another cup, gently pressed against my lips as a single digit slipped into my throbbing core. I couldn’t let any sort of noise out to give anything away as I complied and parted my lips whilst sliding further forward onto Nobunaga’s lap and finger. His eyes were dilated with lust as I finished my liquor, and then licked my lips slowly to make sure I hadn’t dropped any.

A whine escaped as his fingers withdrew from me, and he gave me a short glare.

“We are retiring for the night,” he declared to the main hall, before taking my wrist firmly and leading me out of the main hall.

Once we were in the corridor, I was sucking on his fingers that had been inside of me. The sake had warmed me up, but I was far from drunk as my tongue wrapped around his digits before I was dragged up to the tenshu. He wouldn’t stop at any point and didn’t care who saw him as we practically ran through the corridors, ignoring all the passing looks from any staff member who saw us in such a state.

He was an expert at swiftly removing my kimono, my obi sash went flying somewhere and I was naked against his skin. His kiss was hard and dominating my senses, a hand cradling my head to keep me flush against him as the other hand resumed its light teasing and stroking over my throbbing clit. He had me pinned to the wall, not caring who could hear us as he teased out another groan of pleasure and frustration from me.

“You were so eager,” Nobunaga chuckled down my ear before nibbling on my lobe. “You didn’t care who was looking at you,” he teased before a single digit slid back into my gushing core. “I think I ought to do it more often, you’re soaked,” he murmured before moving onto to ‘taste’ my exposed neck and throat.

A groan slipped out as my hand slid down his firm torso, and then wrapped around his hardening cock. I gently began to tease him, making sure to slide at a decent pace without bringing him too quickly to his peak. He was making sure to return the favour, one of his long fingers was stroking every part of my quivering cunt as his thumb was circling my clit.

“You won’t win,” his voice was confident as he pressed a little harder into my exposed nub, smirking as a whimper and a moan was dragged out of me before he resumed his nibbling on my collarbone. It wouldn’t surprise me if I had to fashion scarves again to cover up the evidence of his markings whilst I went about my chatelaine duties. “Ah, focus on me,” he frowned, speeding up on his thumb gestures.

“Please,” I whispered, “I’m so close,” I begged as my hand slid off his member and clutched at his head to bring him in for a fierce kiss.

His teeth grazed my tongue and lips as I tried to navigate our bodies for my pleasure. I was on the edge of a coil, and so close to getting my reward as a second finger finally slid in to my dripping core.

Nobunaga swallowed my screams of pleasure as my body shook with my orgasm. I clutched at him, my nails digging into his back as my cunt spasmed around his intrusive digits.

I was gasping for air as he lay me on the futon, after carrying me over from our initial spot next to the doorway. His expression was cocky, it was the first orgasm of many as he kissed me again. His fingers were soaked in my essence, and now sliding over his hard cock in a scene that made my breath hitch in my throat. He looked so in control at that moment in time before he lifted my legs up. My ankles were resting on his shoulders, as he thrust his hips into me. His cock filled me up swiftly in one move and pushed all of the oxygen out of my lungs.

His body was hammering into mine, his nails digging into my hips to keep me close to him as he was furiously attempting to break me into nothing more than a puddle of pleasure. I slipped a hand between us and deliriously began to play with my throbbing clit as sweat dripping off Nobunaga’s abs landed on my stomach.

I was feeling drunk off my boyfriend as he gave me a sloppy open mouth kiss, making sure to enunciate every movement of his tongue with his hips. There was nothing outside of us and our furious fucking at that moment in time. His hands lifted from my hips and pinned my hands over my head. He smirked as he swallowed yet another noise of complaint from me, before ensuring that both of my wrists were under one of his hands.

Then he began the slow and tortuous journey of dragging his index finger over every centimetre of my exposed chest and torso. His tongue twirled around my nipples to bring them to a hardened peak before pulling on them with his teeth in coordination with his finger brushing against my clit.

“Please,” I gasped.

“Cum for me then,” he finally released my tortured nipple as my orgasm burst through me. My vision clouded over as sheer bliss rocketed throughout me. My spasming cunt brought my boyfriend close, and then I recognised the strangled groan of his own release which sent me into a sensory overload. I screamed out his name, my back arching off the bed and pressing into him as no gap existed between our hips.

He was a little out of breath and lying next to me, staring at me with those wine-red eyes.

“You look thoroughly fucked,” he smirked, trailing a finger through my hair.

“I feel it,” I smiled, giggling before I rolled over to cuddle up to him. I sighed in contentment with my head on his shoulder as he wrapped an arm around me to keep me close.

“I ought to tease you with sake more often,” Nobunaga laughed.

“You’re a tease enough without plying me with alcohol,” I pouted.

“Mm, but it does make you more open to things,” he smirked before kissing me on the forehead. “Go to sleep, you’re going to need it.”

Chapter Text

“My word is final, Natsuki,” it was a heated glaring competition between me and my boyfriend during the war council. Unfortunately for me, my boyfriend had the upper hand as Nobunaga Oda before he turned to face the rest of the warlords. “Hideyoshi, you will be staying behind to protect her,” I could see the conflict as clear as day on Toyotomi’s face, but the vassal bowed to accept the missive. “We leave in three days.”

The entire castle was avoiding every chance of seeing me and my boyfriend interact. It was literally like trying to cut through the atmosphere with a knife whenever a conversation did occur, and I’d even taken to sleeping in my own room instead of the tenshu.

My skills as a healer were always needed on the battlefield, I’d learnt them just because war wasn’t going to stop but I was going to be damned if sitting about and worrying about things would solve anything. I hated war, but I understood why Nobunaga fought for what he did. He didn’t want me coming to this particular battle, because Shingen and Kenshin would be there, and he thought they would try and kidnap me. I had tried to point out that they could damn well do that at any point, so why it was so special I couldn’t be brought to a battle I didn’t understand, but it was stuck in Oda’s head that I needed to stay at Azuchi.

I was stood next to Hideyoshi as the troops departed. I’d barely slept the previous night, and Hideyoshi had asked me on several occasions about going back to bed, but I’d refused each time. Watching my boyfriend leave was heart-wrenching, even if I didn’t agree with his decision to leave me behind. Our eyes locked momentarily, and he gave me the briefest of nods. He wasn’t allowed to die out there.

Once the castle grounds were clear, Hideyoshi was staring off in the same direction I was, and I glanced up at him.

“Have you got that same awful feeling I have?” I asked tentatively.

“It’s been screaming at me since he declared we were to stay here,” the vassal admitted.

“So I’m stealing a horse and following them, I believe your job is to look after me,” I smiled brightly. “I already packed our things.”

“He’s going to kill you,” Toyotomi chuckled and hung his head. “And you’re riding on the same horse as me, it’s the least I can do to protect you.”

“As long as I’m on a horse and following that path, I’m fine with it,” I shrugged with a cheeky grin.

It took us most of the day to set the staff up accordingly, and many of the aides who stayed behind spent their time begging us to reconsider for fear of Lord Nobunaga’s response. I promised them all that it was me running off with the horse, Hideyoshi was merely doing his duty and I wouldn’t let any of them experience any repercussions for my actions and decisions. Once we set off, it was tunnel vision for us both, we knew that camp would be set up by now as we made the decision to ride through the night for the best chances of getting there without any problems.

War was already underway when we landed the next morning. I grabbed bandages and medical kits to trade spots with Ieyasu, he was clearly needed out on the front to help direct Nobunaga and ensure it wasn’t a total slaughter. He stuttered at the sight of us but bolted to go and do what his instincts said.

“Princess?” A soldier frowned and let out a dry chuckle. “I’m definitely seeing things if Lord Ieyasu looks like you now.”

“Rest up, and I’ll get you back on your feet,” I smiled, trying to think of a way to reassure the man he wasn’t hallucinating as I got some of the camp staff to bring me over water for him. “I’m in more trouble than you are just for being here, trust me,” I gave him a dazzling smile.

“Natsuki?!” My name was roared over the camp, and I knew that voice anywhere.

“Get angry at me all you like later,” I snapped at my boyfriend, before realising that he was being held up by Masamune and Hideyoshi. “Lay him straight down in his tent,” I instructed. For anyone to see their commander like this was bad for morale. “And for God’s sake get straight back out there, you don’t want to give Kenshin or Shingen ideas do you?” I ordered, thrusting my arm back out in the direction of the battle.

The arrowhead was broken off inside his shoulder. I’d undone his armour just to get to it, and I was silently grateful for all the times that Nobunaga had insisted I help him get into and out of his armour. There was one particular fracture that was easy to get to, but I paused before grabbing it with my bare hands. I used a bandage to grasp at it and removed it slowly. I frowned, realising there was a strange odour in the air, and brought the broken piece to my nose.

I could feel the blood draining from my face as I rushed to get the rest of them out. It wasn’t just any arrowhead, it was poisoned and likely to be fast acting.

“Natsuki?” I glanced over to see Sasuke lifting the tent flap. “There’s a wormhole-”

“We need to take him then because I don’t know what your friends have used, but it’s probably going to kill him,” I snapped, instantly lifting one arm over my shoulder as I gestured violently with my head for the ninja to take the other side.

“Look, a prop just went wrong,” I smiled to the nurse, trying to keep things unsuspicious. We were both still dressed in our traditional wear whilst the operating theatre was busting themselves to make sure the poison was flushed out. “He’s got a few people who really don’t like him, but I don’t know who they are, I never had any details of anyone and I’ve only just started joining him on these recreational things,” I shrugged, trying to keep up the delicate air of a fashion designer. “To be honest, you might understand once he wakes up and starts ordering you all about,” I laughed.

The staff didn’t believe us, but they had nothing to prove otherwise as we finally took a seat in the waiting area. A shower was long overdue, I was filthy, bloody and sweaty from the battlefield chaos and then dragging my boyfriend to the wormhole and then across modern Kyoto, but I didn’t dare leave until he was out of surgery at the very least. We were getting some very strange looks, especially at shift changeover, but I couldn’t leave just then.

“Miss Yoshimoto?” A new voice called out over the waiting room.

“Yes?” I smiled, trying to keep an outward appearance together.

“He’s okay for now, we’re flushing whatever it was out of his system and using the antidotes. He’s asleep and we don’t want to let any visitors in for now. Go home, and come back in the morning, you both might want to shower and bring some spare clothes for your boyfriend,” the doctor nodded, trying to discreetly tell us that we stank.

“Thank you,” I gave a quick bow to the man, blushing furiously that I’d been oblivious to the obvious.

“When was the last time you had a boyfriend?” Sasuke brought up hesitantly as we got outside the hospital.

“Not recently enough to mean I’ll have any men’s clothes that fit him,” I paused. “Let’s get back to our apartments and shower before we offend many more people,” I blushed, eager to stop all the stares that we were attracting in the streets.

I exchanged phone numbers with Sasuke before returning to our respective apartments. It felt like forever before my shower water wasn’t grey in colour after coming off me, and I was definitely feeling the need to take modern shampoo back with me. Getting into jeans and a hoodie was the weirdest feeling after months of wearing a kimono, as I made sure to take my handbag with me to pay for my boyfriend’s new clothes.

Stretchy stuff was definitely my best bet on the tops, as I made sure to buy several t-shirts, a couple of pairs of jeans and then some more relaxed sweatpants before glancing over the pyjamas and deciding on something simple. I went to pay before realising the obvious part of underwear, and it began to dawn on me that I would need to explain all of this to him whilst keeping up the smokescreen about where we really were from. Exhaustion was making me sway, I’d picked up something to eat from a convenience store on the way back, I mostly wanted my bed at this point.

I woke up early the following morning out of habit and checked my phone. I text Sasuke to let him know I’d gotten all the clothes and was heading to the hospital in time for visiting hours to open. I wasn’t that all surprised to get an instant response. He had some messages and needed to check in at work but would meet me at the hospital later on in the day. It was strange to have all this technology back at my fingertips as I made one last check that I had anything Nobunaga would need and made my way back to the hospital.

“You look unrecognisable,” the nurse looked slightly shocked. “I was about to turn you away,” she admitted.

“It’s a wonder what a shower and change of clothes does to a person,” I nodded. “I brought some things for him, how is he doing?”

“He was asking for you when he woke up in the middle of the night, we had to give him something to make him sleep,” the nurse looked uneasy.

“He’s always stubborn, I’ll have a word,” I tried to reassure her before I was shown into the room.

I took the change of clothes out of the bag, they’d told me a shower wouldn’t hurt as long as he kept the IV in and the bandage was kept dry. And then I heard the rustling of sheets.

“If you think you’re getting out of that bed, then you are sorely mistaken,” I sharply instructed him, tilting my head backwards slightly to address the man.

“I’m almost certain I told you to stay put at Azuchi,” Nobunaga grumpily replied, though the movement stopped as I finished sorting out his things before nodding to the nurses and closing the door to his room.

“If I had then you’d be dead, instead we’re in a hospital in the future and my decision to follow you probably saved your life,” I shortly replied. “Now, get up and come with me, you need a shower because I can smell you from down the corridor,” I ordered, ignoring the frowning warlord.

“Just what are you wearing?” He asked, finally getting a full body look at me.

“Something I will explain to you once you are clean, and in something more comfortable than the hospital gowns,” I sighed.

I forgot how sharp Nobunaga was, he got the whole point of working the shower and then what needed to stay dry before admiring the modern modernities of clothing and elastic.

“Much more convenient,” he had to admit before I ushered him back to bed in the pyjamas I’d bought for him. The man also had to look good in it too, much to my imagination’s delight.

“Indeed,” I nodded, taking my hoodie off after all the faffing around I’d done in the wet room with him and then realised that my t-shirt was a lot more form-fitting than he was used to. “You are going to be staring so much,” I laughed as his eyes bogged out momentarily. “Right so, long story short. I told Hideyoshi I wasn’t staying at Azuchi and that I was getting on a horse and following you, he refused to let me go alone, because his task as you put it was to look after me. You took an arrow to the shoulder, the arrowhead broke off and fractured into pieces, and it was poisoned. Luckily for you, the wormhole was about twenty feet away and my friend from here came to warn me that it was going to try and take us. The poison looks to be out of your system, and you’re recovering from it,” I shrugged, draping one of my legs over the other and tilting my head towards the man. “Any further questions?”

“When do we go back?” Nobunaga sighed.

“I’m waiting to find out how you are and when the next wormhole is due,” I admitted. “I don’t want to take you back if there’s a decent chance of you dying. And yes, I will be ordering you about because this is where I’m from and I understand this whole place.”

“Tricky fireball,” he laughed and closed his eyes with his head against the pillow. “I will concede you were right on this occasion,” he muttered.

“Damn straight you will, and don’t you dare tell Hideyoshi off when we get back either,” I added on.

Chapter Text

I made it essential to keep my eyes off the kitsune of a warlord who was skulking around the edges of the main hall during this banquet. I was acting as an Oda princess in the presence of some new alliances made recently with traders. The whole point of dressing up as I had was to impress the visitors, though my role was actually in assisting Masamune with handing the food platters out around the room until Nobunaga had decided that I was to join him and pour his sake out.

“It’s unusual for you to not be attached to Mitsuhide,” he smirked, holding his cup out for a refill as the retainers around us dispersed at the wave of a hand.

“We weren’t on the same page about ourselves,” I stiffly replied, making sure to not spill a drop of the sake. “It’s clear that I’m nothing more than a convenience to him.”

“I see,” Oda was short on the topic with a nod before resuming his drinking. I resumed my people watching, mostly of the Portuguese traders, and in specific a young gentleman around my age who hadn’t taken his eyes off me since I had entered the room and placed a plate of Masamune’s favourite desserts in front of them.

Hideyoshi ended up coming over to tell us both off for drinking too much sake without eating. I rolled my eyes at the man and gracefully tried to hide how tipsy I really was, before spotting the mostly untouched platter of food in front of the Europeans.

“Gentlemen,” I smiled at the traders, surprising them and all of the room by slipping into Portuguese and taking the empty seat next to the young man. I heard a couple of bottles of sake drop and decided to ignore the room. “I believe you aren’t eating properly, a concern to us as your hosts of course,” I sympathised. Nobunaga would have the biggest smirk on his face to see what tricks I’d been hiding up my sleeve for sure, and I know most of the warlords I could have opened my kimono to flash them before they’d break out of their trance.

“It’s simply food we aren’t accustomed to,” the young man spoke next to me.

“This is fairly basic and should accommodate any taste,” I explained, picking up some of the ‘sushi’ and then taking a bite of it to show it wasn’t poisoned.

The young man turned out to be the son of a prominent advisor, looking to make his own way in the world instead of following his father’s footsteps like his older brother had done. I made sure to limit my sake drinking in the presence of strangers, especially since I knew that in my studying years I was the sort of person who had a second personality whilst drunk which had included getting me into some stranger’s homes. He was perfectly charming in his own right and knew enough of Japan to be intrigued, though naturally my name had never been mentioned before.

I bowed and left to get some fresh air, the sake was beginning to get to me much to the amusement of my ‘Lord’ as I shared a look with the smirking male on my way out.

The night air was cool on my face, as I began to wonder about getting out of the heavy and overly fancy kimono. I loosened it a little, exposing my skin to bring my temperature down under the heavy fabrics.

A finger trailed over my exposed shoulder, making me shiver before I snapped myself around to face the owner of the digit.

“Oh, I do apologise,” I smiled to the trader, putting a little gap between us. “I was expecting someone else.”

I was keenly aware of my situation. This was a prime opportunity for him to overpower me and take me off with him. I either needed to move myself back into the main hall or at least within range of the staff hearing me.

“You look absolutely stunning,” he smiled, kissing the back of my hand. “I was wondering if you were already spoken for.”

The look in his eyes made me nervous, but I had to keep a calm and collected exterior.

Then a hand slipped around my waist, and I was pulled away from the charming stranger.

“She’s very spoken for,” Mitsuhide’s rough tone in the Japanese tongue scared the boy off before he could do any further damage, and then glared at the trader’s retreating figure before entwining my fingers with his. I was then promptly dragged back to his manor without a chance to protest, his hand feeling hot over mine.

“Really now,” I scoffed, folding my arms across my chest and sticking my bottom lip out in protest at my situation as he promptly shut the door to his room in his manor. All of the staff were mysteriously absent I had noticed on my flying visit through the corridors.

“Since you neglected to let us all know that you spoke the same language as the traders did, and then by that show I caught sight of, I would saw you need some punishment,” Mitsuhide’s silky voice was a complete change from earlier. It made me pool and unable to form myself in time to stop him from beginning to kiss and nip softly at my exposed neck. He had already pulled down onto the floor and into his lap, I was putty in his hands and to his commands it was clear. “And I clearly need to remind you that you aren’t available to other men,” his voice was hot and low in my ear as he deftly undid my obi sash before I could understand what was going on.

“I thought you didn’t want commitment,” I snapped back, trying to get out of the clutches of the kitsune, though I found myself reluctant to leave his touch as I struggled to make sense of the series of events that had led to this.

“Mm, I changed my mind after seeing you with another man,” his white hair was tickling my shoulders as I realised my kimono was barely hanging on to my shoulders already. “You’re mine, and everyone will learn that. For tonight, I shall start with you,” his fingers were inching up the inside of my thighs as the last shreds of my clothing fell into his lap. “You are going to be taught a lesson, my dear,” I could hear him promising me many things with that tone of voice.

A finger traced lightly over my slit, a gasp escaping from my throat as Mitsuhide was thoroughly enjoying the view. His head was tilted over my shoulder to allow him full sight of my body, and his free arm was hooked around my elbow to stop me from being able to move my hand. The slightest of breaths escaped from his lips as my free hand palmed him through his clothing, though he was allowing me to continue for now as the tip of his index finger dipped into my soaked core.

“You’re so eager, you’re practically begging for me to take you,” he whispered as my hips bucked up to try and get more than just the first joint into me. A whimper came out as he resumed feather touches along the inside of my thighs. “Ahh, you don’t want to attract the attention of anyone do you?” He teased, his teeth scraping at my earlobe.

I bit down on my lower lip as he delicately traced over my throbbing clit. He was learning how to play me was the opinion I was already quickly forming. He was keeping a straight face and a mask on before he decided to move me to the futon for his comfort. I was picked up in his arms bridal style, making sure to touch as much of my bare skin as possible whilst watching my expressions carefully.

“Mitsuhide?” I gasped.

I had been arranged almost delicately. He had been gentle in laying me out, making sure my head was propped up by a pillow before spreading my legs open for him. I had never felt so vulnerable as I did under that piercing amber gaze.

Then he disrobed swiftly, and my breath caught in my chest. His muscles weren’t well defined like some of the other warlords, but they were more than present in his slender figure. His chest was marred with scars from the close encounters, and I wanted nothing more than to trail my fingers over his skin in that moment.

His lips claimed mine roughly, nipping for entrance to my mouth so he could thoroughly map it with his tongue. His hands kept mine pinned to the bed, stopping me from doing what I desperately wanted to do as he began to overrun all my senses.

“You’re absolutely soaked little mouse,” he finally broke the kiss for air and lifted one hand to trace over my slit.

A whimper escaped as I bucked my hips up to meet his touch. A smirk ghosted his lips before I then felt the movement of his weight, and his cock replaced his finger.

I threw my head back as he slowly entered my core. He was stretching me out in ways I didn’t think was possible, and then I couldn’t stop the wanton moan as he brushed past my spot with the head of his member.

He paused, withdrawing his cock slightly and then pushing back in firmly as though testing a theory as another dirty groan escaped. I was clutching at the sheets, my back arching off the futon to try and provoke Mitsuhide into the desperate kind of fucking that would leave me unable to walk for days. He kept the thrusting at a steady and slow pace, finding out which angles would leave me in the hottest of messes. His thumb was brushing against my clit in the same manner, I felt like he was trying to attack me like a different kind of target.

Then his body was framing mine, hooking one arm under my arched torso. His teeth pulling on my nipple roughly as he lost the patience to tease himself. His hips were thrusting hard and fast into me with his free hand pushing down in hard circles on my clit.

My first orgasm hit me like a freight train. It came out of nowhere, my coil springing after being wound up so quickly I couldn’t prepare for anything. My legs were hooked around his waist, keeping his cock deep in my spasming core as I screamed his name. Then I felt his pace slow for a minute.

“Oh I’m not done with you princess, I need to imprint onto you exactly who you belong to,” he promised me, lifting his lips from my now sore nipple and smirking over my lips before he resumed his thorough and swift pounding into the futon.

Mitsuhide smirked as dawn broke through a slither in the window. Kit was fast asleep and laid out next to him in the futon. Her cheeks were flushed from the very thorough fucking that had taken up most of their night, and her hair was definitely a mess compared to normal, but it felt like a privilege to the man to be able to see her in such a naked manner. He had tried pushing her away for her own good, and then he saw the way that the trader had been watching her and talking to her, and his jealousy made sure that he couldn’t actually let anything happen. He was stroking her cheeks as her eyes fluttered open.

“Mm, Mitsuhide?” Her voice was thick with sleep, and oh so sexy as the kitsune found himself frozen slightly by her.

“Go to sleep, little mouse,” he smirked.

She surprised him one last time. She closed her eyes and snuggled up to him, using his chest as the pillow and draping an arm across his stomach. His heart stopped in his chest at the gesture before he wrapped her up in his arms, determined to protect her to the very end.

Chapter Text

Sasuke watched the Princess of Kasugayama carefully as Kenshin was preparing to leave to eliminate a growing problem in the far reaches of his territory. She had been shutting herself away in seamstress work since it had been announced that some daimyos had been causing scuffles and the God of War would be needed to go himself to settle them. Kenshin rarely took the chance to satisfy his bloodlust, though the ninja had definitely begun to understand the changes in his Lord, and it was all down to the Princess’ presence. From his observations though, it seemed like his fellow time traveller was having issues processing her thoughts and feelings about the situation. She was straight-faced, wishing them all luck as the party departed through the gates.

Yukimura prodded Sasuke out of his trance, and the ninja noticed that Natsuki had already retreated inside to the castle.

“What’s up with you? Normally you won’t let Kenshin go anywhere without you,” Sanada snorted as they walked through the corridors back to their respective rooms.

“I’ve got another mission,” the time traveller replied. “Looking after the Princess,” he gave the smallest of smiles.

“Lord Shingen can get rather persistent,” Yukimura agreed, watching as the aforementioned man approached the woman with a garment that the vassal knew required some talented work for repairing it. Her smile didn’t reach her eyes, it was obvious even from their distance.

When she turned away with the clothing, the Lord locked eyes with the two men and nodded his head. They all could see the same thing wrong with the Princess, she was lacking that spark, and it was probably something going off with Kenshin that had locked it away.

Sasuke took a few days of ninja stalking Natsuki through the ceiling passages to see what she was doing. The Princess was eating her meals regularly, and drinking enough as well, so she was taking care of herself physically as she worked through some sewing commissions in her room that she had commandeered near her shared room with Kenshin. The Lord had been very confused and vocal about her doing so when she had arrived until it was pointed out that she wanted a workspace effectively. All of her sewing things, including a grand box made for her by Shingen as a welcome present, and fabrics were constantly strewn around the place. Everything had its place in that room, and it was easy for her to find it. It didn’t surprise the ninja that she had a futon in there either, but it broke his heart to hear her crying at times when she thought she was truly alone.

She was more than a little suspicious when Shingen invited her to a party.

“A banquet, whilst Kenshin’s away?” her doubt was shining through.

“Of course, just because he isn’t here doesn’t mean we can’t drink and have a good time,” Takeda was laying the charm on thickly, and both Yukimura and Sasuke were surprised when Natsuki finally relented and agreed to it. The three men watched the retreating woman in silence before they all joined back together. “Something’s bothering her, and last time we got our Princess drunk, we got it out of her,” Shingen reminded the two men as soon as the woman disappeared to the kitchens to make sure everyone was okay with preparations for the evening.

“She hasn’t really changed then,” Sasuke sighed, pushing his glasses up his nose. “She was like that all the time when we were younger.”

“All the more reason to get our precious Princess drunk,” Shingen beamed before taking off. He was running off with the idea and nothing could stop him now.

Sasuke was surprised at how enthusiastically the staff all took to the idea. Sake had been found from the deepest parts of the cellar, and it wouldn’t surprise him to find out that all the traders had been cleared out as well. Everyone’s favourites were on offer on platters, including a crude kind of sushi that the Princess definitely favoured whilst she was drinking. Yukimura had apparently told the staff to focus on Natsuki’s favourites instead of Shingen’s, and then it had all been backed by the Tiger of Kai when he overheard someone talking about it. Everyone had pulled things from what seemed like nowhere, though Shingen hadn’t made anyone dress up for it.

The Princess looked surprised when she arrived at the main hall. Everything was already in full swing from those who stayed behind, including a few of Kenshin’s retainers and vassals for her protection. Shingen wouldn’t let her linger and insisted loudly that she come and pour sake for him. Yukimura instantly started piling food in front of his Lord and the two began their usual routine as the ninjas slipped into a seat next to Natsuki with ease. It was the first smile that had crossed her lips since it was announced that Kenshin would be leading the party against the problem.

He was surprised when she poured him some sake.

“Can’t have you slacking off now,” she smiled so innocently. And it very nearly reached her eyes. “Kenshin will be running all over you when he’s back if you aren’t careful.”

Sasuke held his cup up to the Princess, knowing that it shouldn’t take too much sake to open up her on the emotional side. The retainers and vassals had all been told they were to retire early, no one outside of the three men were to see her in such a manner and anyone who listened in would be punished severely.

It was getting a little desperate, they were going to be running out of sake it seemed after Shingen was now glaring at the ninja. They hadn’t expected the Princess to be so hard to get drunk, but it seemed that all she had been practising in quantity with Kenshin. She was still upright at the point that previously she would have already passed out.

Sasuke was prepared to give up, then the tears had started and wouldn’t stop. Natsuki wasn’t even trying to talk, she was just sobbing into her hands. The ninja was feeling more than a little awkward, as Yuki looked like a deer frozen in headlights. Shingen’s fatherly intuition took over, his arm around Natsuki’s shoulders as they shook.

“He’s always leaving me behind now,” her voice was broken and cracked, slightly muffled by her kimono sleeves and hands. “He’s shutting me out constantly. I’m not allowed to know about what he’s doing, and he’s always hiding his plans from me,” it made Sasuke’s heart heavy listening to her. “I’m scared that he’s going back to his old self,” the Princess’ tears were flowing down her cheeks.

“He wants you to be safe, that’s all,” the ninja was trying to soothe the woman.

“I feel more like he’s closed me off,” her misery was hitting them all hard. “It’s like I’m back in the cell because he doesn’t know how to process how he feels. And the only reason I’m not physically back there is because you three are present,” she added.

“Natsuki,” Shingen sighed, giving her a brief squeeze. “He cares too much. He’s not felt like this for a long time.”

Her sniffles were endearing, and then she abruptly stood up. “I’m going to bed,” she announced stiffly and brushed them all off before she disappeared. It never gave anyone a chance to interfere.

“They are either going to have a massive argument involving swords, or she will leave,” Sasuke sighed into his sake once enough time had been given for the Princess to be out of earshot. “And I’m almost certain that neither will lead to a perfect outcome.”

Kenshin’s return was subdued. Natsuki had been hiding from all three of them since her sake-fueled confession. The ninja was beginning to wonder if Shingen’s kunoichi had been training her in private to even evade him. His lord was looking pleased with himself until he almost instantly noticed that his lover was absent from his welcome party. The mood changed in the blink of an eye, and Uesugi went storming through the castle, leaving the rest of the soldiers behind to deal with the staff.

The temperature of the room dropped as he flung the doors open to Natsuki’s sewing room, she was focused on a kimono, one that she would regularly wear he noticed.

“Welcome home,” her voice was stiff, and she didn’t lift her eyes off her work.

“What’s going on?” He asked, his voice demanding before he shut the door behind him, giving them as much privacy as possible. “You always can’t wait for me to return.”

“Well, I’m busy,” she shortly replied, still refusing to look at the God of War.

He could see how hard she was trying to keep herself composed in his presence. He sunk to his knees, and gently lifted her chin so she couldn’t keep avoiding him. Her eyes were brimming with pain as he stroked her cheek. She’d been hiding this for so long, and he had been oblivious.

“I’m sorry,” he wrapped her up in his arms, pressing her into his warm body as the dam broke. It tore him in two, to know that he was the cause of all her tears as he held her shaking and sobbing body flush against him. “I want you to be safe,” he whispered into her ear, “I just want you to be able to grow old without any threats,” he was begging for her forgiveness.

“You promised you wouldn’t shut me out,” she sniffed. “You can’t do this to us.”

“Us?” Kenshin paused, everything in him broken as the possibility started to sink in.

She felt so fragile in his arms, her head buried deep in his shoulder as his hand stroked through her hair. He kissed her forehead and then picked her up bridal style.

“So you were adding fabric panels?” He asked in disbelief, walking out of her room and towards their room.

“Yes,” she quietly admitted, her arms looped around his neck. “No one else knows.”

A mischievous smile erupted over Kenshin’s face. “Well, I already need to punish you,” he darkly said, sending chills up Natsuki’s spine.

The ninja was smiling at the banquet that night, the lovers had clearly made up since Kenshin wasn’t letting the Princess go anyway without him that night. She was being doted on by the warlord, and it was soothing to see that everything had been sorted out between them. The only thing that was odd was the lack of sake being poured between them before Uesugi called for the room’s attention, and Natsuki seemed to suddenly be very interested in what was in her cup.

Kenshin took hold of the Princess’ hand, such an expression of love and adoration on the warlord’s face, it was almost impossible to remember that the whole relationship had started with the woman being locked up in the cells to stop anyone else getting close to her. Uesugi’s thumb flicked over the back of the female’s knuckles before he faced the room again.

“Our first child is due in the spring,” he proudly announced.

The room burst into laughter and life, overjoyed at the news as the ninja was stumped at how he had managed to miss that option. And then felt all the guilt at getting the Princess drunk several nights beforehand. He caught Natsuki’s eye and saw a twinkle of mischief.

She hadn’t been drinking sake, that’s why she hadn’t been affected and it took so long to get her to admit to anything as he saw that one of the maids was always giving her a sake bottle. He raised his cup to the woman before her attention was demanded by Kenshin, her smile lighting up the room before they shared the briefest of kisses.

Chapter Text

I lifted a tray of baked goods as small feet were running about impatiently to get to the training rooms. I was still surprised at how much life had changed in general, the majority of the warlords were now married and had their offspring, which meant that any visits to Azuchi were chaos. As the next generation, they were expected to surpass their fathers as I spied a very sheepish looking Hideyoshi who was following in the wake of his two sons, Hidekatsu and Hideyori, and shook my head at him before heading for the kitchens.

Masamune was trying to hide in there, apparently, Tadamune and Hirdemune had developed his battle ability, and were determined to protect Irohahime without failure. Unfortunately, it meant they wouldn’t leave their father alone, and it really didn’t help that Megohime thoroughly encouraged it. The kitchen was his only reprieve as I was greeted with an affectionate head ruffle and an exchange of goods on the tray for the now prepared rolls that Masamune was trying out as I then headed for the main hall where most of the men were gathered.

I was treated with the utmost respect throughout Azuchi, and many of the vassals had placed me aside their lords as I ensured that sake levels weren’t running low as Ieyasu appeared with Nobuyasu, his eldest son that was the spitting image of the man. Asahi was currently pregnant with their second and had retired to their room early as I made a mental note to check that she was comfortable. Nobunaga was looking bored as he was constantly fawned over, though I piqued his interest as I came to replace his empty sake bottle.

“I’m surprised your husband hasn’t cornered you yet,” he humoured.

“Makes two of us. Where’s Nohime? It’s unusual for her to be hiding,” I frowned. Nohime was like a big sister to me and would smother me in motherly affection whenever she could, and then protect me from the mother hen Hideyoshi whenever I was working through a tough project or workload.

“She’s gone to keep Asahi company since pregnancy and Ieyasu aren’t very compatible,” Oda humoured, gesturing his head towards the irritable blonde with a smirk.

“I have no idea how she puts up with him,” I laughed. “If you see Mitsu then let him know I’m still alive,” I grinned, waving the now empty tray at my boss.

Gracia, our only daughter so far, was running in the corridors as she collided with me, and then clung to me as a koala would to a tree, and had turned on the same doe eyes I would use with her father. “Gracia,” I warned, folding my arms and raising an eyebrow.

“Mitsuyoshi was being mean,” she pouted, as I resigned myself to playing referee between two children.

“You have all of Azuchi castle and our manor, do you have to rile your brother up?” I scolded as the aforementioned son appeared. He was the eldest of the offspring of the next generation of warlords and was apparently taking straight after his father in his snake-like techniques. His network of spies and information was impressive, but I didn’t dare tell him that. His pride needed knocking down on occasions and Mitsuhide would spend long enough away that it was usually down to me.

“She was eavesdropping,” he whined, as I was starting to regret finding my children and rubbed my forehead with my fingers.

“Look, you have everyone else here, Gracia, I’m sure Irohahime would love to play dolls with you, and I heard Tatsuhime is here as well,” I said, pushing Gracia in the opposite direction and waiting for her to clear the scene before turning expectantly to my eldest. “Stop playing innocent. I know exactly what you are doing, why are you covering for your father and where is he?” I demanded, glaring at the boy.

“I bribed him far too easily,” Mitsuhide slipped his arms around my waist from behind and kissing my cheek in greeting. “I was just curious to how long until he’d be able to give himself away to you. I should really remind myself that mothers that are also chatelaines tend to know everything,” he humoured.

“Nobunaga was finding it strange that you’d be letting me move so freely after last week’s surprise,” I commented before turning back to Mitsuyoshi. “Stop baiting your sister. Or I’ll tell Masamune you want to learn cooking from him.”

The boy scrambled at the thought, and my husband was struggling to hold his laughter in. “Well, I’ve been busy making sure you’ll be well relaxed as things start changing,” he smiled as I was spun around to face him.

“I’m still surprised this is only our third,” I admitted, our lips hovering over each other as though to tempt the other to bite.

“It’s like Ieyasu and Asahi are only just having another, though I heard a rumour Nene is pregnant again,” Mitsuhide shrugged, and then looked annoyed when I pulled out of the game.

“I have things to be sorting, go and talk to Nobunaga,” I laughed, resuming my route to the kitchen as I heard Masamune shouting about things being done.

A few weeks later, Ieyasu and Asahi had returned to Mikawa, Nobuyasu was staying behind to train with Oda’s troops, whereas Masamune had sent Megohime back to Oshu and channelled the children’s love for fighting into training with the troops as well. I wasn’t use to the castle being so full of vassals, and everything was tiring me out. I decided to head back to my room in the castle, I had made Nobunaga keep it as is for me for those long trips where Mitsuhide wasn’t nearby, and then with each pregnancy, it also gave me a small hiding spot as I went to find Gracia for a nap.

Mitsuhide and Mitsuyoshi were both frowning as they approached Azuchi castle. There was a buzz in the air, something was amiss, especially when as soon as they were spotted, they were immediately summoned to go and see Nobunaga.

“Gracia and Natsuki are both missing,” Oda confirmed, a deep frown on his face. “If you’ve upset anyone recently then now would be a good time to let me know.”

Akechi was surprisingly straightforward and shook his head, before turning to look at his son, who wasn’t looking quite so certain.

Gracia was clinging to me tightly, we were tightly bundled in some cloth and were on the back of a cart. A small tear in the fabric allowed for some fresh air to come in after I’d forced it to rip, but otherwise all I could confirm is that it was nighttime. Our captors were strangely silent, suggesting that all of their communication was being done visually as I tried to calm my little girl. Getting both of us worked up in this situation wouldn’t help, as the chatelaine of Azuchi then it wouldn’t take long for me to be found missing.

“Let me get this straight,” Nobunaga was rubbing his eyes in disbelief, whilst the entire hall was hanging onto the conversation. “You were expanding into Kenshin Uesugi’s territory, and IGNORED his warnings?”

Mitsuyoshi merely nodded. He’d never seen his adoptive uncle so fuming, and he was almost certain that his father was about to blow the cool exterior over the consequences.

“You do not realise how lucky you are in this situation,” Nobunaga gravely warned him. “Your mother has friends on the opposing sides, they are rather fond of her. But this will be your only warning from them.”

I was surprised to see Sasuke with a wry smile once we arrived. I immediately relaxed as Gracia beamed to see the ninja, and leapt at him for a hug. “Okay, Kenshin ordered for us to be kidnapped?” I suggested as Sasuke helped me off the cart, Gracia happy to have her ninja hugs and stay attached to the man as Uesugi, Takeda and Sanada all appeared at the entrance.

“Do you know Mitsuyoshi?” Kenshin calmly asked, bending over to give Gracia a flower that had just been picked and put it behind her ear.

“Let me think, do I know my own son?” I returned, “Okay, I’m pregnant, can I have a futon and some food and maybe even a bath and we all go through things tomorrow?” I suggested with a sigh.

Shingen chuckled and let me know where to go for a bath and organised for all the changes of clothes.

Yukimura’s daughters were thrilled to have a new playmate as Chikurin-in appeared with their newest baby, and I cooed over the little boy, Daisuke. Kiku and Ichi quickly disappeared with Gracia, as I marvelled at how different my two children were. Mitsuyoshi was the replica of his father, whilst Gracia was quickly taking after me in making friends all over. Shingen had recently married Goryanin, a rather stubborn young woman I had come to understand from the letters I exchanged with Sasuke, and I was looking expectantly at the warlord, who then pouted.

“If I’m staying here until my son arrives to apologise, then I’m meeting the woman who tamed you into marriage,” I laughed. Kenshin purposely stayed out of the idea of marriage and children, though Gracia was definitely the exception to the child rule. Sasuke was then blushing furiously at my comment. “Seriously? You got married and never told me?” I was gawping at the ninja, as a slight young woman ‘attacked’ him from behind and jumped onto his back.

“Oh, you must be Natsuki!” She gushed, beaming brightly and forcing Sasuke to move forward so we could greet each other properly. “He mentioned that you were coming for a visit!”

“It’s a pleasure, unfortunately, he never told me he was getting married or even considering it,” I laughed.

“My name’s Kikuhime,” she hopped right off the ninja. She was full of energy and wore every emotion on her face. “I was hoping we could spend time together sewing,” she batted her eyelashes at me and paired with doe eyes.

“If you don’t teach my daughter that move will work on me, I’ll do anything,” I joked. “But yes on the sewing. Even with all of the Oda warlords bearing down on him, it will take Mitsuyoshi time to be prepared to come and apologise.”

Kasugayama and Echigo were always a second home to me. The place made my husband on edge, the warlords were friendly with me, but not him, and I never pressed that line. My daughter appeared to be quickly following in my footsteps, and then I heard the strangest of rumours that Kenshin had adopted a boy a little older than Gracia, as I went to pester Kikuhime for any kind of confirmation.

It was almost exciting as we both peered around the corner, and spotted the pair of them acting awkwardly adorable in their first meeting. Kagekatsu had just picked the same sort of flower that Kenshin had put behind her ear on our first night, and I swore I saw the slightest of blushes on my daughter’s face, and then Uesugi coughed loudly enough to attract the two children’s attention, as we grumped at him.

“I was enjoying watching that, I thought you didn’t want children,” I pouted, folding my arms across my torso.

“Kagekatsu was abandoned nearby a few years ago, and he shows considerable talent so I’m merely showing him the way,” Kenshin was aloof, but I caught the blush on the tip of his ears, I was one of the few who could and would call him out on his contradictions, I was certainly treasured on both sides of the forces.

Everything seemed to be running normally as Goryanin would frequently join me and Kikuhime in the sewing and tea circle we’d inadvertently created, and Chikurin-in would join whenever the baby would let her. It reminded me of home, where I would forever be running into Megohime, Asahi, Nohime and Nene, and we would always be having mini-meetings much to our husbands’ annoyance as my modern way of asserting myself spread like wildfire. I was almost beginning to think I wouldn’t be going back to Azuchi until after our child had arrived when a distinct noise alerted the guards to the towers.

Mitsuhide had an instant change of expression as I appeared on a balcony overlooking the gates, and Mitsuyoshi was next to him with a very sulky look. Nobunaga was also present, and if looks could kill then I wouldn’t have a son that was certain. My whole life had been turned around with the wormhole, then shortly before the chance to return to the present had arrived, I was strongly suspecting I was already pregnant and decided to take the chance to stay here. Now the two reasons I wasn’t 500 years in the future were both in front of the barred gates, as Kenshin leisurely approached. He had sent a messenger dictating where the talks would take place, just outside of Echigo the following day.

“No you can’t,” he stated before I could even open my mouth. “Letting you go and see Mitsuhide defeats the object, I let you two see each other.”

“I hate that you can read my mind at times,” I grumbled, but accepted his point. This was all a technical negotiation, and just handing me back over without talking would negate the whole point of teaching my son a lesson.

“The offer to stay here is still open,” Uesugi’s approach was soft and unexpected, as he kissed the back of my hand. I realised why he wasn’t married, as his eyes were desperately searching mine whilst I shook my head.

“I don’t want to give you false hope,” I smiled sadly. “I know I am always welcome here, and I know I am safe. Should anything change, you will be the first to know. But I am going back to Azuchi if I have to leave my son tied up for your troops to deal with.”

Shingen assisted me the following day to the negotiation tent, whilst Yukimura held back and kept Gracia entertained with Kagekatsu as ‘personal guard’. I knew Mitsuhide was going to baulk at that idea, but time would tell how things went. Kenshin was already glaring at Mitsuhide who wouldn’t let me sit anywhere but next to him, and was trying to hide his excitement at my growing bump. Mitsuyoshi was the focus of the tent, and he was already facing various punishments once we got back to Azuchi.

“Stop trying to get Sasuke to join you,” Uesugi opened sharply, leaning forward with his sheathed sword openly in his lap.

“You were going after Sasuke?” I interrupted, my anger showing as Kenshin sat back with a slightly smug look on his face, this had all been planned, but my fury at my son outweighed any I had for the heterochromia. “I told you that he may be an adopted uncle to Gracia, but you promised you would never twist my relationships with the enemy to your advantage,” I snapped. “My relationships have been built up over your lifetime, and they are the only reason right now me and your sister are still alive. Anyone else would have us killed in an instant for your insolence. You were caught trying to recruit from the enemy, you are an idiot for doing that!” I raged, standing up and yelling straight in his face as Mitsuhide even paled a little at the sight. “Now, the right thing to do is actually hand you over to Kenshin for punishment, but I think everyone right now is just enjoying watching you be put back where you need to be. If you are trying to recruit from the enemy, then you don’t get caught!” I lectured. “I daren’t actually imagine what it was like when your uncles found out I was kidnapped along with Gracia, but that was knowing I was safe as well. What if I wasn’t? Do you think everyone would just let life go on?”

Mitsuyoshi was sufficiently leant back as my husband brought me back to ground, and made me sit back down. All of the men looked at the boy, a serious look on their faces as my words sunk in. I sighed angrily.

“When you all were my age, you had your own territories and armies,” Mitsuyoshi sulked. “I just wanted to live up to it.”

“We built our armies up ourselves, and we didn’t poach from the enemy, we trained them ourselves,” Nobunaga calmly spoke up.

“If that’s what you want to do, then go out and find a place to get training and recruit your own soldiers, don’t go after the God of War,” I pointed out, trying to fight everything I had been brought up with as I was reminding myself this was an entirely different time period.

“I’m sorry,” he finally uttered to Kenshin and stunned the whole tent into silence.

“Fine, I return one Lady Natsuki, chatelaine of Azuchi, and one Lady Gracia, on one condition,” Uesugi calmly added, locking eyes with me. “Lady Gracia and Kagekatsu are to be betrothed.”

“And you told me off for ‘interfering’,” I side-eyed up the rather smug looking God of War, before turning to my husband. “It’s seriously cute when they’re together,” I smiled. “I’d accept the terms with the understanding that they will keep meeting and staying with each other as they grow up,” I suggested to my husband, who was struggling to keep his lid on at the thought of his daughter marrying anyone.

Nobunaga was smirking. He came along solely for the entertainment value it seemed, knowing that I was a wildcard to play at any point and could even upset the coolest head in his armies. Mitsuhide finally agreed once he had spied the two of them, though he kept the sulky look once all agreements had been made and glared at Kagekatsu as Gracia was escorted down the field to us.

“Relax, he’s a good kid,” I murmured, wrapping my arms around my husband’s waist from behind, as the baby kicked us both firmly. “Besides, you can test his worth on the next visit,” I reminded him as we all went to return home.

Chapter Text

I couldn’t believe it when I’d fallen through the wormhole. I was so close to getting a cure when I’d been placed 500 years in the past. I’d remembered seeing an old friend from college, just before I landed amongst all the flames and smoke. Rescuing Nobunaga Oda was never happening in my wildest dreams, and my outfit was definitely raising a lot of questions.

I went from being a doctor to a chatelaine. And I wasn’t sure I could cope until I learnt that Ieyasu was well versed in the basics of medicine to treat soldiers.

He was cold and refused to lend me anything when I asked, and so I just scoured the library, before realising I could barely read the scripts. I stomped my foot in frustration, and then promptly fell over Mitsunari who was sat down in the middle of studying battle techniques.

“I am so sorry,” I opened, helping the man with an angelic smile to gather all the scrolls together. “These look like battle reports,” I posed as I had to remember that Mitsunari was as much of a warlord as the others.

“There have been reports that the Tiger of Kai didn’t die as we thought,” he explained patiently. “And that the Dragon of Echigo is alive as well, our confrontations are inevitable.”

“Confrontation means casualties,” I murmured, recalling my first days as a doctor where I was located in the emergency room.

“Unfortunately,” Mitsunari replied and handed me one of the books I had originally been considering. “I did not realise you had an interest in medicine,” he smiled softly.

“I am a doctor where I come from,” I gave a slight smile. “Something very unusual for yourselves here, but we focus on abilities rather than any physical defining features. Women and men are meant to be equal in status, but then getting past the whole settling down, getting married and having children expectation is incredibly difficult still.”

“You look wistful when you talk about your home place, don’t you want to return?” There was a serious concern in Mitsunari’s voice, a hand placed on my arm for my attention.

“It’s not safe for me to do so just yet,” I shrugged. “A few months and I hope to return. But depends on many things,” I vaguely replied.

Mitsunari nodded before leaving me to return to the battle examination. I had one of the simpler books in hand, and the one on medicine that Mitsunari had handed me, and was apparently turning into Hideyoshi’s vassal as I bumped into Toyotomi whilst flicking through the medicine book.

“I thought it was bad enough having Mitsunari,” he emptily chastised, taking the books off me. “Come on, I’ll take you back to your room so I know that you won’t be falling over anything.”

“I am not as bad,” I laughed. “I remember to eat and drink on occasions.”

“On second thoughts, I’m taking you back to the library, then at least it’s one job and not two,” the man complained.

Ieyasu was irritable when I corrected one of his bandage wrappings on the soldier on the battlefield, and promptly left with a swish of his kimono, whilst I made sure the injured were at least drinking water. I had mixed up some different salves to the ones Ieyasu was using, and there were definitely some bitter complaints when I was cleaning up wounds and removing any remainders of weapons, but I was more concerned about not chancing infections. I had braided my hair back as I usually did for any of my long shifts in hospitals, the research I was interrupted from was something I did when I didn’t have many patients, and I had the feeling I was on the brink of discovery of a new antibiotic. Something that hadn’t happened in over thirty years, despite all the new strains of bacteria that were constantly evolving.

Fevers could kill in this era, I had to keep reminding myself that as I was continually changing out cool cloths for those that needed them. I’d erected a small barricade in the nearby stream, and soaked the cloths in the water, with two sections, one for the ones that were being cleaned, and the others were already clean. The warlords all came back when it was dark, and carried a wave more of wounded that we hadn’t been able to get back off the battlefield. I needed to keep smiling, then they wouldn’t think it was too bad as I kept nipping off with the arm fulls of cloths to the stream whenever I didn’t have enough in my clean pile.

Masamune noticed my pattern and then insisted on coming with me on the fifth trip I was about to make since their return and pointed out that the enemy could be lurking for an easy target. He was impressed at the setup, and said it would be quicker to have a few of the soldiers running the trips for me, and a lot less risky. His scouts were happy to have a fairly boring job of cleaning the clothes and keeping something resembling a factory line going to the stream for Ieyasu and I to keep our focus on the soldiers.

One of them wasn’t sleeping, he kept screaming whenever he closed his eyes and irritating the others around him. When I asked Masamune for help to move him to a more remote part of the camp, I was watched very carefully by Nobunaga for what I was planning on doing.

He was married and had a kid on the way. He couldn’t close his eyes in fear, he was seeing the blood splattered across the hut they lived in. I put a damp cool cloth on his head and took his hand gently.

“Listen to my voice,” I softly began, making sure my tone wasn’t threatening. “Lie back down, your wife is safe back in Azuchi. The reason you are here is to stop that from happening, and Lord Nobunaga will never let anyone attack Azuchi,” I soothed, trying to install the faith back in the whole system as I gently pushed him down to lie on the mat, realising I was going to be there most of the night, and very uncomfortable. “She’s just waiting patiently for you to finish protecting her, and then you can go back, and you two are going to have so many children,” I smiled. “Every one of them will grow up happy and healthy, and you won’t know what to do with them all. But it’s going to be a house of love, and you two are going to grow old together,” my voice was barely a whisper as I was stroking his head with my free hand. He had finally calmed and was asleep, as I kept talking in a low voice about what his children would be like.

I glanced over my shoulder as I kept talking about the future for him, and saw that all the warlords were watching me with interest, and smiled back at them, making sure to not pause in my fantasies. I didn’t want to leave him, just in case. I finally stopped talking, but kept stroking his hair, and was hoping dawn would bring a new outlook for him.

I hadn’t slept when everyone left for battle, and could barely keep my eyelids open.

“You’re an idiot,” Ieyasu snorted. “Men like that don’t recover.”

“They do,” I quietly replied, “They just need help.”

I left for my tent, knowing that staying awake for the rest of the day was pointless, I’d be of no use to anyone if I couldn’t stay on my feet.

A loud noise startled me, as the red flag of the enemy was storming the camp. I peeked out a gap in my tent flaps and was unfortunately caught by a vaguely familiar face as he threw the material back, and hooked his arm around my waist. I was hoisted with him onto his horse, as though my flailing and attempts to break free from his hold were nothing. I was tempted to slap his face until he gave me a look that made me reconsider. He cleared the battlefield through a wooded area, as we passed the stream I used to clean the cloths in, and Masamune’s warnings came to mind. Branches and leaves whipped and snagged on my clothing and skin as we finally broke cover and ended up in the enemy’s camp.

The man who had captured me, carried me straight to the main tent of the battlefield, and I was forced to face two men I swore I had seen before, and then Sasuke appeared with a slightly guilty look in his eyes. The ‘friendlier’ of the two warlords appeared more surprised than his statue of an ally.

“Apparently you are not a ghost,” the former chuckled, before turning his head to cough.

“We heard of a woman on the battlefield, and thought it was unwise of the Oda forces,” the statue stated, looking back at Sasuke, who was bundled up in ninja gear. “You told me that she is the reason we are seeing so many injured soldiers back on the lines,” he glared.

“I’m a healer, yes, but I fail to see why I’ve been brought here,” I frowned before a sword poked me in the back to remind me I wasn’t on friendly ground.

“They know the truth about our origins,” Sasuke lowered his face guard, “That we come from 500 years in the future. And that you could save Shingen.”

“Let me examine him then, see what I can diagnose,” I offered, “But my medical equipment is still 500 years in the future.”

“There’s another wormhole, appearing shortly. You could treat him if it’s possible,” the ninja pointed out.

“It’s all a possibility, but I need to examine him thoroughly because I can even make a guess at what it would take to heal him,” I shrugged.

“Well, I’m right here princess, so you could start,” the warlord in front of me chuckled, and then coughed up a large amount of blood.

“Right, first of all, privacy in your tent, a jug of cool water, and I need some heated water,” I ordered, looking directly at Sasuke as I gestured to be shown the way by the flirt.

A couple of hours later, I was fairly confident in my diagnosis, and it was likely to be curable if we took Shingen back to the future. I shared my findings with Sasuke, forgetting that I was technically in the enemy’s camp as I went to find the vassal who had initially kidnapped me.

“So, you expect me to just trust you?” Yukimura snorted in disbelief. “That you’re taking him back through this wormhole, and he’s coming back completely healed?”

“Sasuke is coming with us, so it’s not like you’re just leaving Shingen with me alone,” I calmly replied and pointed out the obvious.

Three months had passed in the modern world when we came back out. And the hospital had apparently been searching high and low for me and Sasuke. We explained that we’d been involved in an accident and had been recovering elsewhere, though we had been registered as Doe patients since there was a lack of ID on us when we arrived unconscious. Shingen was impressed as we headed back to my apartment. It was mostly unnecessary to have an apartment given that most of my time was spent at the hospital, but my mail had to go somewhere, as I had a call from the owners of the building leaving various voicemails about the sheer uncollected volume.

His eyes were wide, especially when he saw that the modern clothing left a lot more skin open to gawp at as he was practically hanging out my window to start flirting with every passing woman on the street below. I pulled him back in for a scolding, as I realised he would need to be brought up to date on modern views regarding women as well.

Not that it would stop him flirting with all the nurses it seemed. They were like a giggling bunch of schoolgirls, and they’d often be fighting over who would be assisting me during our examinations to confirm my theory of a tumour in his lungs. I took several x-rays and prepared everything for surgery. It wasn’t a huge one, but I’d seen ones that were a lot trickier to navigate to.

“Dr Yukimura?” Shingen humoured at the nameplate I had on the door, and I blushed bright red.

“Nothing of relation to your vassal I’m afraid,” I defensively replied. He was fascinated by the modern technology and was begging to be kept awake during the surgery. Until I started explaining thoroughly what I would be opening and breaking during it. “I can record it though so you can watch back,” I suggested, knowing that these sorts of tumours liked to be studied anyway.

I was constantly explaining things, as I was thinking that taking my books with me might actually help, and then realised I wasn’t thinking of my future here and stopped mid-sentence whilst I was explaining what mobile phones were. Sasuke was calling me, he’d confirmed that wormholes would be reopening, and it wasn’t a one off as long as we kept playing everything correctly.

“Sasuke,” I stopped him hanging up. “I keep thinking like I’m going back to the Sengoku era,” I paused. “Like about which of my books to make sure I have with me.”

A soft chuckle surprised me. Shingen was listening in on the conversation and loitering in the doorway. I turned the tv on and tried to usher his attention back to it with the scantily clad girls in music videoes, but that was a huge failure.

“I think it wasn’t a coincidence that we fell through that first wormhole,” Sasuke confirmed. “Since coming back, it’s just felt like a small trip to tie things up. I’ve told everyone that I’m leaving, and handed my notice in,” he explained. “I’ve given vague details out.”

“I’ll hand my notice in once Shingen’s recovered. No one else is about to worry about me,” I shrugged as the warlord couldn’t disguise his interest at the conversation.

“So you don’t need to be in person to have these conversations?” He asked, admiring the device.

“No, he could be anywhere in the world and we could have that conversation,” I replied, and left to find a bag big enough to carry my ‘essentials’ back through the wormhole.

It took a few months for Takeda to fully recover, but my notice was handed in with immediate effect as soon as he was deemed healthy enough to leave the hospital. I’d packed enough of the books to even be able to make my own medicines to help on the battlefields of Japan. And Shingen was chuckling at them until he realised that I was expecting him to help.

The wormhole appeared in exactly the same conditions. It was in the middle of a thunderstorm, and we were soaked to the bone before coming back out in the now ruined temple of Honno-ji.

“Isn’t this where you came out?” Sasuke calmly asked me as I brushed down the kimono I had changed into for the travel.

“Yes, smoke and all,” I coughed, as we began to drag ourselves out of the disaster.

Yukimura could barely believe his eyes and was poking at his Lord constantly to believe that he was in fact fully recovered. I felt a sense of peace for the first time in my life, watching over the two of them, as the ninja placed a hand on my shoulder.

“I think you should be looking at going back to Azuchi,” he quietly suggested, then looked over at my things. “I’ll get you a horse and cart,” he smiled before Shingen wandered over.

“I never did say thank you, and offered any reward,” he smiled, the charm turned up to 11.

“I do it because I can, I don’t do it for the thanks,” I replied, ignoring the attempts at flirting with me. “I’m going back to Azuchi, you don’t need me here anymore.”

“We always need a good healer for the field,” Takeda offered, making me pause in thought. “And my bed’s rather comfy.”

“No thanks,” I laughed as Sasuke arrived, and was quickly loading the books onto the cart for me. “I have a castle full of warlords who will want to interrogate me waiting,” I smiled, and bowed to them all. “Thank you for your hospitality. I hope by saving Shingen then I have repaid my debts,” I said.

“More than a lifetime over, princess. We will always welcome you back,” Shingen replied, and bowed back to me in a shocking showing of respect, as Yukimura hastily copied his lord’s moves.

“Well, I will hopefully not see you both on the battlefield for a long time,” I waved them off, and began my steady ride back to Azuchi.

I was greeted with the expected hostility. It had been several months since my disappearance, and I came with possible ‘presents’. The guards searched through my books, as Mitsunari came to see what the fuss was about, and stopped them destroying the medicine books. His brow furrowed at the script, as he understood why I had opted for looking at the simpler books, and I smiled in response. They wouldn’t cease taking each one out, and then begrudgingly admitted that maybe they were wrong as Nobunaga was called from a meeting to see that I had actually returned.

I was in for the scolding of the era from Hideyoshi until they all spotted that Mitsunari was pouring over the books I’d brought back.

“I went home after I was kidnapped by Yukimura, and I was able to retrieve what I need to save lives on the battlefield,” I explained. “I only had a small window to go home, which is why I just disappeared. I had the opportunity to stay, but it didn’t feel right, so I thought if I bought all my things with me, then I could stay here properly?” I asked, looking directly at Oda with doe eyes.

“Fine,” he sighed after a few moments of hanging silence. “See that all of her things are taken to her room.”

Mitsunari followed dutifully whilst reading the most basic manual I had, trying to translate into what he could understand. I had to laugh as I splayed my hand over it, and suggested that he waited until I had a chance to unpack all my books and we could go through them together. He smiled like the angel he was and agreed eagerly before I suggested he go to bed and rest up so we could work with clear heads.

“I don’t think he even listens to me like that,” Hideyoshi sounded vaguely impressed and patted me on the head. “After all that silence, it’s great to see you back,” he warmly smiled. “I missed having my little sister about.”

“And I missed having my big brother,” I laughed and hugged him tightly. “I brought all my stuff, so I’m home,” I smiled up at him.

Chapter Text

I couldn’t quite believe it. We’d been on a battlefield a moment ago, now I was sat in the nearby park in modern Japan and around the corner from my apartment. Masamune, Ieyasu, Nobunaga, Mitsunari, Hideyoshi, Kenshin, Yukimura, Shingen and Mitsuhide were all present with me and Sasuke. The warlords were stunned by the atmosphere, and then people began to stare and point at the armoured men.

“My apartment’s just around the corner, but I really don’t have anything that would help them,” I whispered to Sasuke. “We get them there and you can go get some clothes?” I begged.

Rounding them all up and getting them into my apartment was a job in itself, but then all the technologies had them fascinated as I had to hope no one would question too much about how many people had just got into my apartment. I managed to find my phone charger and get it operating again after months. I was picking at my lips, fretting as I saw that my job had been trying to get hold of me obviously in the missing months, and then a very embarrassing email stating I no longer had the job. My apartment was all paid for, I wasn’t the daft type. I’d turned the tv on to catch up on what was happening, and then heard the sound of a sword being drawn.

“Right,” I shouted, attracting the attention of every warlord present. “Swords are all to be handed over to me, and now,” I glowered. Every man was hesitant until I actually went up to Nobunaga and forcibly took his from his waist, and went to do the same to Kenshin. All of them had a reluctant and sour look, but no one was left with any weapon, and I decided to store them safely in the bottom of my wardrobe, as I had a knock at the door.

Sasuke was thankfully back, and we would definitely need to figure out how to get them all back to their original time. I had them all currently entranced by the tv before our names were suddenly shouted from my living room.

It was showing photos of an atrocious war scene, and even Kenshin seemed to be double thinking things. Mitsunari was looking a little pale before I turned the tv off.

“War isn’t fought in Japan, but it’s fought across the world. The guns you guys are used to are very old-school,” I tried to explain. “It’s fought using explosives, and it’s not pretty, and it tends to look like that. Civilians get hurt all the time,” I weakly offered, before Nobunaga scoffed.

“Hurting civilians offers no rewards,” his lip curled in response.

“It’s about getting governments to move these days, so you make it as terrible and destructive as possible to get them to give in to your demands,” I added and then realised they had no idea of what a government was. “Right it’s late, and I’m tired. And is your apartment capable of housing at least Kenshin, Shingen and Yukimura?” I asked, scratching my head and facing Sasuke with a frown.

He nodded. “If it wasn’t a chance of a pillow fight going wrong then I’d be able to split them evenly,” he joked.

“I have no idea how much this must have cost,” I groaned, going through all the shopping, that included some spare mats for my apartment.

“We’ll worry about that later, for now, we’re about to blow their minds with modern clothing,” Sasuke sighed.

It was nearly midnight by the time we’d gotten Kenshin, Shingen and Yukimura all to have a shower and get changed into modern clothing, and explaining that it was now essential to blending in. Not that they all understood why we were so desperate to stop them all being noticed. Then I was left with five similarly minded warlords, who had heard all of our arguments and shrunk a little under my gaze.

“You are all going through the same thing tomorrow, I am going to bed, and no one is sharing it with me,” I stated, looking specifically at Masamune who was apparently getting some ideas with the glimmer in his eye.

I didn’t realise how much I had adjusted to futons, as my bed felt like the most comfort I’d had in months. I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow, but it felt like seconds later when I was woken up by my phone ringing.

Sasuke was already struggling to keep three warlords entertained and explain the modern world, as I looked over my living room. It was covered with bits of armour, and five men looking back at me as I openly had a conversation on the phone.

“Showers, now,” I politely smiled, “And you are all going to really struggle at the current rate.”

Masamune was enjoying the modern clothing on women, it let him leer a lot easier, and Nobunaga wasn’t exactly being a gentleman about the entire situation. I was in jeans and a blouse, but wearing a bra definitely enhanced my ‘assets’, as I realised that they’d never seen me in such a manner. Mitsunari was trying to figure out my books on the coffee table, as Mitsuhide was eyeing the coffee up in my mug with suspicion.

Sasuke brought Shingen, Kenshin and Yukimura over, and the three of them had similar reactions to Date and Oda regarding the modern attire. I wasn’t feeling it, but at least being back in the same era as coffee made me a little more patient. We shooed the warlords back into my living room, and Hideyoshi had somehow managed to understand how to work the remote and change channels, whilst I faced the astrophysicist uncomfortable about our situation.

“You need time to work on the wormholes, find the location so we can get them all back home. Our apartments aren’t big enough, and if this is going to be a longer-term thing, maybe we should be getting somewhere bigger,” I posed, knowing the route to go through, much to my displeasure.

My mother was positively beaming to have me back home on the farm in the country. It was work they could all do, and were used to in exchange for the barn conversion into a large scale property to house farm hands, and feed them, clothe them and then some pocket money for spending into my account which I separate out for them. Mitsuhide was amazed at the things I would organise on my phone, as I thoroughly discussed money with Sasuke over the eight warlords.

Marriage was a topic she wouldn’t drop, comparing each of the men to their compatibility with me and how beautiful her grandkids would be. It startled Mitsunari as he had his nose buried in a book and then she suddenly had her arm around his shoulders and started trying to marry us off based on how perfect our kids would be. I was sure I couldn’t have been any redder, until Shingen entered the kitchen, and my mother decided that he was a better fit and tried to talk to him into marrying me.

Thankfully Sasuke knocked on the back door before walking in and interrupted before Takeda could get swept up in the whole fantasy.

“She has all these gorgeous men in her life, and still isn’t producing any kids,” my mother had officially now made me more embarrassed at that point than I could have been at anything else, as she complained to Sasuke, who was trying to hold in his laughter under his usual stoic demeanour.

“Mum!” I yelled, practically stabbing the knife I was using to chop up the vegetables to make lunch with into the chopping board. “Drop it, I am not a ticking time bomb,” I complained.

The usual farmhands came in, along with the warlords and were amused to see the familiar scene between me and my mother playing out.

“She been going on about grandkids like you’re nearly forty again?” Daichi had been working at the farm for a few years, and when he had first arrived my mother was persistent in trying to set us up as a couple.

“Apparently there are too many good looking men currently in my life for kids to not happen,” I snorted, thrusting my hand for them to all take their seats in the farmhouse kitchen.

“Aw, I have competition,” he joked, and I swore all of the warlords immediately glared at the man in question. “Hey, you got a minute?” Daichi quietly asked, taking me by the crook of my elbow.

I waited until he’d taken me out of earshot, and then faced him. “Apparently I do,” I scoffed, forcibly taking my arm back.

“Where did you find these guys? They all have names I studied in history at school, and the attitudes to match it seems, I have them pretty much divided into different parts of the farm,” he frowned at me.

“What’s your understanding of wormholes?” I asked, folding my arms defensively.

“You are kidding me,” he muttered, rubbing his forehead. “They are the warlords?”

“Yeah, that’s where I’ve been whilst I was missing,” I added. “I don’t understand anything about it at all, and I don’t know right now where I even belong. I came back here because I needed to find somewhere for them all to stay where they wouldn’t cause many problems, and I needed to do some thinking whilst giving Sasuke the space he needs to get them back to where they’re needed,” I sighed. “And right now my head is going to explode if my mother keeps things up.”

He ruffled my hair affectionately. “They all care about you, and I’m going to be watched very carefully from this point,” he chuckled and pointed in the direction of the kitchen. All of them were glaring at Daichi, as I waved cheerfully at them. “If you need to choose, go for the one with his nose in the books,” he teased. “Your mum won’t stop fawning over how angelic he looks.”

“If they don’t kill you, I may,” I warned the farmhand as we walked back to the house.

Lunch was served without any problems, the passive aggressive comments between Takeda and Oda I let slide, and then coughed the second either of them tried to up it above that. Wrangling warlords was definitely a skill I’d obtained in my absence, though not something I was certain could go on my CV. Even my mother noticed the power I wielded over them all and was starting to ask a lot of questions. I would pass it over as they had all looked after me, whilst I had run their ‘farms’ and kept many things going. It explained how my cooking skills had suddenly evolved, and kept the truth from surfacing, as I had a knock at my bedroom door that night. Mum had insisted I stay in the family house. Ironically, she was a terrible cook, it was always burnt whenever she tried, and so I’d taken over basic dishes as soon as I was able to reach the surfaces and hobs safely.

I opened the door slowly, and was surprised to find Daichi on the other side, and gestured for me follow him. Luckily I was still in shorts and a t-shirt, as I was led outside to the yard.

“We couldn’t talk in the house,” he laughed, patting for me to sit down next to him on the garden. It was a clear night, the stars were all out, as I realised I hadn’t done this in years. “And having eight warlords glare at me as though I was a threat is incredibly off-putting,” he chuckled nervously. “They all admire you so much, the second they step over the line and you just look at them and they all set straight back. It’s amazing. I’ve known you for years, and you can keep eight warlords in line with a few words, or a gesture or a noise, and I can’t believe it,” he smiled.

“I had to learn. I wouldn’t bend to their expectations, it was against everything I know as a person,” I laughed. Our shoulders were brushing against each other, and gazing into each other’s eyes. “You ever think my mother was right?” I softly asked.

“The second I heard you weren’t at your new job, I was terrified,” Daichi admitted, his lips then closed over mine possessively, as my arms were wrapped around his neck.

Then I had to laugh as we were interrupted by torches all brightly shining on us. Daichi was very lucky I was in the way, with eight glaring warlords, and a nervous looking Sasuke by their side.

“A little privacy guys?” I asked, failing to hold in my giggles, my arm held up to try and stop them all blinding me.

“Ah, erm, we were looking for you,” the scientist flushed. “You weren’t in your room. I got an answer-”

“He knows about who they really are,” I waved my hand dismissively. “So there’s a wormhole to get us all back?” And then realised what I’d said and my body tensed up.
“Hey, I don’t belong here as much as you don’t,” Daichi shrugged. “I’m all for going back to whenever.”

“And who said we’d even let you,” Masamune would have had a sword at the throat of the farmhand if he could. I’d brought all the armour and swords with me, and had it stored in the ‘guest’ bedroom, and decided to lock the door and ‘lose’ the key to stop my mother snooping.

“Because otherwise, I’m not,” I stood up finally, my arms folded across my torso. “Now, wormhole?” I asked and faced Sasuke.

“It’s due near Kyoto in a few days,” he smiled faintly. “You can’t really wash 1582 from us now,” he chuckled.

“Right, so we take a day trip, and fake something about leaving permanently,” I nodded.

“We leave to go and farm somewhere abroad. Vietnam is desperate apparently,” Daichi spoke up. “We’re all terrible with technology,” he gestured to Sasuke, “With one exception.”

“Mum would hate me leaving, so we do it in secret,” I nodded. The warlords were silent, before turning to face me. “Hey, it took me long enough to get my feet planted as chatelaine, I’m not giving that one up,” I argued directly to Oda.

There was nothing to discuss when I told mum we were going on a day trip the following day. Daichi was helping no one, openly kissing me on the cheek and pulling me in for hugs around everyone and anyone, and my mother was definitely getting her hopes up. She was so excited about her ‘matchmaking’ working, that any news went over fine.

I left the note carefully placed on my perfectly made bed, stating that we had left for Vietnam to get away from technology and find our own way in a quieter country than everything that shrouded Japan over. Daichi was driving the third truck, whilst mine was full of the armour and swords and had only Hideyoshi and Ieyasu with me. Sasuke was following with his three warlords, and then Date and Oda had insisted on riding with Daichi and had Mitsuhide and Mitsunari for back up. I couldn’t persuade them otherwise as we used the time to quickly get to the specific spot, of Nobunaga’s grave as flashbacks started to come back. They were all in their armour, whilst I had quickly fashioned Daichi an old-fashioned kimono and had myself dressed in the one I had arrived in and repaired after all the problems we’d had in our arrival. My boyfriend was hiding behind me a little, seeing them all armed made him slightly nervous as the rain came from nowhere.

Lightning had struck the temple again, and flames and smoke were threatening to choke us all before we could navigate our way to freedom. Daichi was staring in amazement, as swords were all immediately drawn and at each other’s throats.

“Er, Sasuke?” I gestured, diving straight into the middle of the mess. “Let’s get back to Azuchi so you can all terrorise Daichi,” I offered, knowing that his expression would have sharply dropped and gone pale. As the ninja dropped the smoke bombs to get the three warlords back to Echigo.

I was giggling as it cleared, and left no trace of the four men. Then all attention was on me. “What? Let’s get back to Azuchi, I’m hungry,” I smiled, and headed straight in the direction I remembered being carried back on my first arrival.

Daichi settled in a lot quicker than I had, he truly was comfortable with the old farming ways as Nobunaga granted him the ability to start up his own farm. He kept the castle supplied with food easily, though I was finding all the sneaking back into the castle before my duties were due to start in the morning was getting harder. It was as though they were all determined to catch me not staying in my room, not that it was at any point made mandatory, but it was like having some very overprotective brothers who had decided that my boyfriend wasn’t good enough for me.

“Natsuki,” Hideyoshi’s voice came through the dark corridors, a heavy tone to his voice as he approached me warily. “Where have you been at this hour?” He frowned.

“Where else would I have been?” I sighed. “I’m here for my chatelaine duties, does it really matter?” I tried to evade the questioning and the man until his hand was on my shoulder.

“We’ve told you before that you’re a princess as well,” Toyotomi frowned. “Daichi needs to put a plea before Lord Nobunaga.”

“That’s a bit hard when every chance he’s had, Nobunaga has gleefully suddenly not been available,” I pointed out. “So either arrange for Daichi to come here and meet with him, or go to the farm and do it that way,” I replied. “We’ve been seeing each other for this long, might as well stop delaying the inevitable,” I shrugged and left to attend to the kitchen staff.

Masamune was in a bad mood that evening, as I stepped in to help with the preparation of a feast. One of the maids had come to beg for my assistance, there was no preparation or warning, and it would be for as many individuals as possible it seemed. I was helping with all the rice cooking, and slicing the fish off for the sushi that Date was insistent on recreating from his visit to the modern era.

“Natsuki!” I was starting to get sick of hearing the brotherly tone in Hideyoshi’s voice. “What are you doing now? You need to get ready,” he chastised, dragging me off and handing me over to a handful of the seamstresses. The bath water was barely warm, but I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in it as I was then pulled into a beautifully made lavender kimono. Something I would never have worn for a normal feast. It was perfectly fitted to my form, as I noticed I was starting to look a little bloated.

Daichi had a little too much sake by the time I arrived, and he was gushing over me, whilst we were sat amongst Nobunaga and Hideyoshi and their retainers. Our hands were interlinked naturally, whilst food and drink flowed freely, as did conversations and laughter. It felt all homely, as though we were where we were meant to be.

Oda was starting to drink a bit heavier than usual, and Hideyoshi was definitely fussing to make sure his lord was eating properly, and then started on me with the food, and taking my sake away. I narrowed my eyes a little at the vassal, who blushed slightly before Nobunaga finally came to look me in the eye.

“Fine, you get permission,” he sulked, as the hall fell deathly silent. “It’s slightly obvious you two are doing everything anyway when I saw you walk in.”

Daichi was blushing bright red, and I was left puzzled but squeezed his hand in reassurance as the celebration now had a purpose out in the open.

It was a rare morning to wake up in my room, the sun starting to break through the slits in the shutters on the outside doors as I realised that Daichi was sprawled out on the other half of my double futon, and snoring his head off quite happily after all the sake he had put away the previous night. I smiled, as I started to try and figure out what Nobunaga had been pointing to during the feast and me walking in revealing something. Waking up at dawn was natural for me, it was when things began to move in the kitchens, and I would always go to see if help was required, especially after impromptu feasts which would deplete our food stocks and make a list of what we needed replacing. The staff were all fussing over me and asking how I was feeling all the time, and the women were getting excited very easily. And then I overheard about little feet pattering and juggling my duties.

“I’m sorry, what are you talking about?” I interrupted, as the maids’ faces fell.

“My lady, forgive me,” Kina was one of the chief seamstresses, and arrived at the time to let me know what was in the schedule, leading me away to a quiet corner on purpose. “You’re showing that you’re pregnant,” she bluntly stated and had hold of my hands to trail over my lower stomach. “I heard you made a comment about being bloated last night, but I don’t think it’s just that,” she smiled gently. “And that’s what Lord Nobunaga saw last night as well.”

“That…. I…. wow,” I stuttered, unable to ignore the now obvious. “Oh god,” I whispered. “How the hell do I juggle a child with all these warlords?” I was staring at Kina, as she smiled widely.

“With help. You know you have myself to rely on for the seamstress side, and Akira will always help with the maids, you just need to get someone in on the kitchen staff,” she smiled in an affectionate manner. “Go back to Daichi’s farm for a few days, we will cover for your absence, and I am almost certain it will be endorsed by Lord Hideyoshi.”

“What will I endorse?” Toyotomi’s voice carried and spied us both. “Ah, what are you dropping me in now Kina?” He teased lightly.

“That you would support Lady Natsuki going back to the farm for a few days of recovery and processing the news that she may be pregnant,” the seamstress laughed. “She didn’t realise it herself.”

“That’s because she’s always working herself despite the warnings to look after herself,” Hideyoshi sighed. “Go and get Daichi, and I don’t want to see you for a few days,” he smiled, ruffling my hair.

My boyfriend was barely stirring as I shook him awake violently, and gave him a look that told him he was a dope for drinking so much. “Hey, we’ve got a few days to spend at the farm,” I opened with. “So you might want to get yourself together. Everyone else has figured out I’m pregnant anyway,” I shrugged.

“I thought you said they hadn’t?” He groaned, collapsing back against the futon.

“I’ve played dumb. So we have a few days at your farm without me needing to come back,” I laughed, waiting impatiently by the door.

“Only I would get involved with a princess under Nobunaga Oda and then get her pregnant before daring to ask to marry her,” Daichi sighed, smiling at me as he joined me to leave my room, kissing me softly on the forehead.

Chapter Text

I swallowed nervously as I looked back at my reflection. It wasn’t very often I was paraded as the Princess, but today was one of those events. Nobunaga was hosting some foreign travellers and had deemed that it was necessary for this occasion. The maids’ smiles were tight, and I was feeling tense. Something was giving me the need to flee into the back, as I tried to reassure myself that all of the warlords would be present, and they had already proven that they would go to virtually any length to ensure I was safe.

I took a deep breath, as I realised that the room was watching me. The feeling of unease was linking us all as I bowed politely, and let them introduce Hideyoshi in so I could be properly escorted through to the main hall where the banquet had already begun. I was appropriately seated next to Nobunaga, who was wearing the face of cockiness as I began to act the part of meek Princess, and poured sake into his empty cup whilst he continued a discussion of battle tactics with the Portuguese guests. I had read about marriages as political agreement and ties and was feeling increasingly watched in the room as the drinking continued. Oda wouldn’t let me pour sake for anyone else, and would only let me sip occasionally at my own cup.

It was a strange move on his behalf. I would normally be encouraged to keep pace with the man, but then again, I didn’t usually feel as though I was being eyed up as prey by anyone aside from Masamune who was looking for a bed warmer. But even he wasn’t doing anything of the sort.

I offered a tight smile, as one of the guests took a seat next to me, and then traced the back of his figure over my cheek.

His hand was swiftly removed by the force of a blade, and I was in the corridor with Hideyoshi. I didn’t even remember how I got there, as he lifted my head gently, just to make sure that I wasn’t hurt. He sighed, and ruffled my hair affectionately, before taking me back to the tenshu. A set of wash bowls had already been set up, but Toyotomi wouldn’t let me do anything except sit and wait with him. I was pulling on my fingers and the sleeves of my outfit, trying to calm my nerves, I was protected under one of the main vassals of Nobunaga Oda, despite that he was clearly itching to go and serve his Lord by his side.

“This was all expected, wasn’t it?” I asked after an extended and stifling silence.

Hideyoshi let out a sigh and gave me one of his brotherly smiles. “Lord Nobunaga had a feeling that it may be an attempt to get more than just an audience with him for trade,” he admitted. “I wasn’t expecting it to be done so boldly and right in front of Lord Nobunaga as well.”

“Stupid move to think that a Princess as dressed up as this wouldn’t have the protection of every warlord in the room,” I allowed myself a smile. “Especially given the lengths you’ve all gone to before,” I giggled.

I had barely escaped the clutches of Kennyo in two ways. He had poisoned the food supply whilst we had stayed at a daimyos palace, and then I had physically needed to run away from him and into Nobunaga’s protection to warn them of a sneak night attack. It had definitely sent a message that I wasn’t going to be going anywhere without a fight. For every time I had saved Nobunaga’s life, he had saved mine, we were currently two for two as it stood.

The moon was high in the sky by the time we had any company joining us, Nobunaga taking the possessive, and forcing me to sit in his lap. I never knew where I stood with him, until that moment. His hands were bloody, but it was the desperation in his eyes as my head was tilted upwards so he could see for himself that I was fine.

“You need to change,” I softly reminded him, and gestured to the bowls.

He was startled out of his tunnel vision, and his ears blushed red as his vassal was present for the exchange. Hideyoshi smiled at us both, before wishing us good night.

“I’m fine,” I soothed, my hand cupping his cheek. “I’m beginning to think you aren’t though,” I softly added, and dropped my gaze to his bloodied hands. “All they did was lay a finger on me, what did you do?”

He swallowed loudly, and couldn’t take his eyes off me. “They touched you, and had every intention of taking you back with them for their own benefit and use, they weren’t going to leave without you. They told us that much under Mitsuhide’s questioning,” his voice was rough, and wouldn’t stop stroking the same place where the Portuguese male had dared to touch me.

“You need to wash, and I imagine I do now too,” I was trying to lighten the atmosphere, feeling the wet liquid on top of the makeup that had been plastered on me. “Let me get a bath and come back,” I suggested, kissing his cheek gently.

It was the quickest bath I’d taken in a long time. I made sure all of the makeup and any traces of blood were gone before changing into one of my night kimonos and then slipping through the castle. I was covered by one of the haoris I’d made for Nobunaga, and it was our private signal that every time I slipped through the castle I would wear that haori, and drop it if anyone grabbed hold of me. It soothed me, it smelled of him and felt like a physical representation of his protection to me.

When I re-entered the tenshu, I saw the warlord pacing incessantly. Our meetings were constant, but I’d never put a label on anything either my feelings or our actions. Then the expression of relief on his face, and I was pulled straight into his embrace.

“Natsuki,” his voice was broken and muffled as his head was smelling at my hair. “I don’t understand what I’m feeling,” he mumbled, desperate to know I was truly there as his hands slid up my back to rest on my neck and tilt my face up towards his. His eyes were a turbulent whirlpool of emotions, and threatening to swallow us both.

“You’ve locked everything away,” I reminded him, one hand cupping his cheek and stroking his skin gently with my thumb, as the other rested on top of his hand. “You don’t allow your heart to open itself,” I said, smiling softly. “I’m fine, I’m unharmed, and you’re okay,” I continued, making sure to not move away from him. He needed me to stay close, he understood the burden of taking a life and had adapted himself to close himself off from the emotional side effects of doing so.

His kiss was possessive and dominating. He poured all of his unknown feelings into it, his thumbs keeping my head tilted up to allow him full access to my mouth. He took my breath away, as my arms slipped around his neck to steady myself. I was feeling liable to floating away if I didn’t hold on to something.

I nuzzled gently at his neck with my nose. Dawn was breaking, and neither of us had slept. It was normal for Nobunaga, as I was fighting my exhaustion. His fingers trailed over my back lightly, as though still unsure that I was present, despite the skin to skin contact at that moment in time. I rested my head against his chest, my eyes refusing to open any more as I raised an eyebrow at the chuckle that came from the man.

“Go to sleep,” he sounded amused, keeping his arms around me as I slipped under the sandman’s influence.

I stopped going back to my room at nights. I would be frequently called to the tenshu for discussions, reading of fairy tales or games of go to pass the night, and end up sleeping in Nobunaga’s futon. After a few times, I just decided to change and came up to the tenshu without being summoned, and made Hideyoshi jump, whilst Oda was slightly jealous that someone else was present to see me at ‘his’ time as he made me laugh and sit out on the veranda to make sure I was out of the line of sight of any other person.

I couldn’t stop my amusement showing, as Nobunaga finished up swiftly and dismissed Hideyoshi before sulkily joining me under the slowly rising moon. I was trying and failing to stop my giggles as he glared at me.

“I thought you usually waited for me to call you,” he grumbled.

“It’s become a habit that I end up here, so I thought I’d save the staff to actually sleep,” I grinned, entwining our fingers together. “And I didn’t think you could get any more possessive of me, but that story won’t take long to go around.”

“Good,” he stated and then smirked at the confused expression on my face. “Because then everyone will understand that you are mine,” his words were cold, but the tone was affectionate.

“We really need to work on your communication,” I shook my head, smiling at the warlord.

Nobunaga frowned and kissed me hard, pinning me under him before I was carried back to the futon, trying to stifle my laughter as they turned into gasps and sounds of pleasure.

Oda had to leave me behind in Hideyoshi’s care to go out to a skirmish. He was afraid of losing me in the same manner that had nearly cost my life with Kennyo’s techniques. I hadn’t been with him on any trips unless they were necessary and he couldn’t leave a vassal or ally behind to protect me. I was changing from the lucky charm to something else, and everyone else was only watching as their Lord was struggling to understand his thought processes when I was involved. I wasn’t rushing him, I was just trying to guide him through it and to let him understand at his own pace without upsetting him. His mind was volatile when it came to these feelings, it wasn’t something he really understood as I waved them off on this trip, only to frown as Oda halted within seconds, and dismounted to come back to me. The maids had apparently already expected it as I was swooped up into the man’s arms, and a bundle of my things attached to Nobunaga’s preparations.

Hideyoshi was apparently also predicting it would have turned out like it did, and was on his horse that was prepared to leave seconds later, shaking his head at his Lord, who was happily ignoring everyone’s glances and whispers. I was tucked tightly against him, and I could hear ‘princess’ and ‘Natsuki’ amongst the soldiers whilst I was firmly unable to truly move. I had my head rested against his shoulder, peacefully watching the scenery go by as we travelled at a pace to suit the walking soldiers. I knew everyone was watching us as we pulled up at the first stop off, a daimyo who was a long-term servant to Oda, not that it meant betrayal would never occur as Hideyoshi, Masamune and Ieyasu thoroughly searched the place and forced the staff to test all food and drink before it was served to anyone.

Nobunaga thoroughly searched ‘our’ room, as I wasn’t allowed out of the sight of the man it seemed before settling down for the night. His actions spoke of him thinking himself as my protector and romantic partner, though it had never actually been discussed. It wasn’t a conversation for the way to battle as I went to settle down to sleep.

“Natsuki,” Sleep wasn’t going to be my plan it seemed, as I tilted my head up to look at the man who was stood at the window overlooking the inner courtyard where most of the soldiers were sleeping. “You have that look on your face.”

“A strange statement, what does the look say?” I asked, frowning with curiosity.

“That something is bothering you,” he finally looked to me and away from the window.

“It’s not a discussion for here or now, it’s for when we are back at Azuchi,” I smiled. “Come to bed anyway, you might not need to sleep, but I find I can’t really sleep properly without you in bed.”

He grumbled at my thinly veiled reasoning and slid under the covers as I was wrapped up in his arms. It was soothing and grounding to me, I knew nothing would hurt me.

“I’m not dropping it,” he suddenly said, as I lazily opened one eye and glanced up at him.

“Only I would fall for someone, who is that much of a bullhead, he won’t let me sleep,” I teased. “You treat me like a princess, and enforce it as a rule to everyone around me,” I softly explained, my fingers stroking his cheek gently. “And shower me in affection, and you get so jealous of time with me that you refuse to even let Hideyoshi get a glance of me,” I giggled. “You don’t understand everything you feel, and having this conversation with all of your allies and vassals listening wasn’t really my plan,” I added on a little louder, followed by the scrabbling sound of warlords trying to disappear whilst I refused to let Nobunaga go after them and kept him in the bed with my arms around his waist.

His head was buried in the crook of my neck, muttering bitterly in complaint as I couldn’t hold my laughter in.

“I know you don’t understand what you feel towards me, which is why I keep nudging you into communicating,” I soothed, my fingers running through his hair. “But everyone else can see what you’re feeling in what you do,” I explained. “It’s so clear you care so deeply about me, and I’m mostly surprised that Hideyoshi hasn’t asked you to just marry me and put yourself out of your own suspense.”

I felt his body tense up, and then my kimono was loosened off around the waist as his fingers lit a heated path on my body. I bit my lip as his hand rested on my lower stomach.

“I never thought I’d create life,” he murmured, as I kissed his forehead.

“Which is why I was also trying to get you to leave me behind this time,” I smiled. “You gave me the title of Princess, so you could just upgrade it to Queen,” I teased as I was pulled tightly into his body.

“Mm, I intend to,” Nobunaga's voice was gruff, the cogs in his head turning rapidly as I was finally allowed to sleep.

Chapter Text

The uneasy truce was certainly felt throughout Azuchi during the visits made by Yukimura, Shingen and Kenshin. Kennyo was the common enemy to eliminate, though it was going to be a free for all once he was captured as to who would get the ultimate decision as to what to do with him. Most of the warlords had intercepted a plan from the determined man to kidnap me, though Ieyasu and Yukimura were now viewing it all as a personal battle to one-up each other after they’d both had to rescue me twice from hired rohins and devoted followers in an attempt to lure out the rushed alliance before everything was decided. After Yukimura had carried me back a second time, Ieyasu had told Oda to put a ban on me going anywhere alone.

Nobunaga had agreed to it and issued the order immediately. Which meant that I now seemed to have all of the warlords around me most of the time. I was summoned to war councils every day and then added in to bring some of my sewing along to do since it was basically ensuring that I wasn’t being left out of their sights. I had been moved into Ieyasu’s manor just before the final order, and he was looking a little grumpy that I was being constantly moved about now as to where I was staying on a daily basis. It was strange, he was moody whenever I was under his care but even more so when I wasn’t. Mitsunari was able to spare me an hour or so and was taking me to one of the tea houses for some dumplings to escape the oppressive atmosphere.

Just to get out of the castle was a relief, though my happiness was short lived as Yukimura came running down the wooden ramp to catch up with us.

“Mitsunari, the whole castle is looking for you,” he huffed, “You’re wanted in the hall.”

“I do apologise Natsuki,” the angel smiled sadly and bowed as well.

“It’s not your fault, I was just looking forward to spending some time outside of the castle,” I replied, trying to reassure the man. “It’s okay, another time.”

“I’ll take you,” Sanada spoke up suddenly, then blushed a little at how eager his response had been as we both looked at him. “I mean it’s not like I’m needed currently and getting out of the castle sounds good.”

“You are too kind, you’ve already rescued me twice,” I smiled broadly. “You might want to bring your sword with you.”

The three of us walked back in a slightly uncomfortable silence. I was the inevitable buffer between them and somehow had managed to become quite a treasure on both sides, even if I wasn’t sure any of us understood how I’d done it. I had quickly learned that Shingen natural reaction to any woman was to flirt, so to handle him was the same line of technique as it was to when Masamune started getting a bit hands on. Kenshin’s instant response was to kill first, ask questions later, but Sasuke was his handler for certain as the usual distraction was to mention sake or pickled plums. Yukimura was I trying to figure out in many ways, he was brash and referred to me as a wild boar on many occasions, but was also the first of the Uesugi-Takeda forces to offer me protection. He would go out of his way for me at times and had spent our entire second trip back from the final rohin capture complaining to me about how I made myself an easy target by not knowing how to defend myself. I got the inkling that he didn’t understand his feelings either on the scenario.

Ieyasu had already started teaching me medicine since it was becoming quite clear that Nobunaga had no intentions of leaving his lucky charm behind for any skirmish or battle. And that way I wasn’t being a hindrance to anyone in his words. It would generally also free him up instead of being the main healer in the troops. But my lessons had ceased with the constant movements, and I was starting to miss my time with the prickly male as I loitered in the entrance way of the castle.

It didn’t take long for Yukimura to reappear, his face relaxing as he saw I hadn’t wandered off and I gave him a little wave. I felt like I’d been in the castle for months as we left again. My coin purse was slipped away securely in my obi, and then halfway down the bridge, Sanada paused and the frown on his face told me that he was thinking too hard as I couldn’t hold back my laugh.

He blew the air out of his mouth and then offered me his hand, the tips of his ears blushing. “You know, just so we don’t get lost, you’ve had enough adventures and caused enough problems,” he replied, trying to brush it off as nothing as I couldn’t stop my laughter and put my hand in his.

“Sure Yuki,” I teased lightly.

I felt as though I was being watched, but glancing back over my shoulder proved my theory to be false. The vassal shook his head at me and pulled me along to get down into the town.

All of the vendors had been more than relieved to see me safe and well, as I made sure to take enough time studying the newest fabrics and patterns and discussed getting a delivery up to the castle for me. Yukimura was constantly on the lookout and trusting no one as his hand was resting on the hilt of his sword. Then one of the seamstresses passing by noticed I had donned one of my latest creations, a doubled over band of fabric that sat comfortably around my head and kept my hair out of my face, a type of headband that didn’t dig in as I’d found that it was annoying to needing to keep styling my hair out of the way on a daily basis. It also acted as a good cover in the rain since I would usually be caught without an umbrella. So we had stood and chatted for a little while about that. It took us a long while to get to the tea house, and then we were seated at the high point of the covered seating, where no one could sneak up on us or get to me without attracting a lot of attention. The whole town it seems had heard of my misadventures and targeting.

The tea was refreshing as the dumplings were as sweet as I remembered them, and even Yuki looked to be enjoying himself as everyone was keeping their distance and creating a barrier of sorts around the entrances. His smile softened as he tasted the dumplings, and I remembered that it must have been a long time since he was last here and posing as a merchant when I had talked him into coming here with me.

“It’s refreshing to see you with that smile on your face,” I commented, and then watched the vassal close back up. “Aw, I was enjoying you relaxing,” I teased, poking his cheek.

“Pfft,” he retorted and shoved a dumpling into my open mouth. “Eat these, though I swear you are as bad as Lord Shingen for sweet things, I’ll probably need to start rationing you as well,” then he eyed me up and down.

“Putting some weight on might stop me being carried off so easily,” I scoffed, feeling a little sulky at the comment.

The male immediately started trying to backpedal. “No, I didn’t mean that!” He panicked. “Too many sweets isn’t good for you is all I’m saying.” His eyes were threatening to pop out of his head as I gave him a side look.

A scoff attracted both of our attention as Ieyasu plonked himself down on the cushion next to me. Another pot of tea came over as the two men were silently weighing each other up as I rolled my eyes and found I had another serving of dumplings in front of me, the tea house owner giving me a wink.

“Thanks,” I smiled generously. “You are going to run yourself out of business if you keep spoiling me this way,” I laughed, clearly ignoring the chest beating that was going on around me.

“Who knows how long until your next visit? Might as well lavish on you now Princess,” he replied, waving any attempt at payment I was going to make, though I was given another subtle wink as he jolted his head towards the men.

“Who knows indeed, thank you kindly,” I replied, taking the hint and the fresh dumplings.

Ieyasu was asking me about various herbs and medicines, purposely trying to keep Yukimura out of the conversation and my attention focused solely on him. I was feeling sorry for him as the three of us were soon joined by Shingen and Sasuke, and the sake was brought out. Tokugawa was definitely going nowhere it seemed as Takeda swapped my tea for sake, and ramped the charm up. Whilst Sasuke was simply there as damage control it appeared.

It was a couple of hours before I could convince any of them to move. Apparently, I was attracting a lot of attention as the situation kept going on, and it was making me feel a little uncomfortable. It was bad enough having all of the spotlight on me with the six warlords I was used to, never mind another three and then all of the townspeople too. It was an odd feeling to be so treasured as Sasuke escorted me back to the castle. Ieyasu apparently needed to go to the market and Shingen was staying for more sake which meant that Yukimura wouldn’t leave him unsupervised.

Sasuke was looking vaguely amused once we were clear of the chaos. “So, you’ve got everyone looking at you it seems,” he smiled.

“Tell me about it, I thought having my parents phone me a few times a day was bad enough, but having nine overbearing warlords definitely beats that. Especially when there’s a genuine reason for concern,” I groaned, my head tilting back and looking up at the sky. “I thought Mitsunari was the only free one today anyway,” I paused and frowned as I looked back at Sasuke.

“He heard that Mitsunari was needed, but he was meant to be escorting you, and Lord Shingen apparently said something about ‘go and spend time with her’ according to Lord Kenshin,” he replied eventually after a heavy pause.

“You all can’t keep sacrificing things for me,” I sighed, rubbing the back of my neck.

“On the contrary,” Masamune and Hideyoshi greeted us at the gate, as Date’s arm was slung around my shoulder with a slightly perverted grin. “You are the key to this mystery currently. So getting you out in the town is now the game plan, especially if you keep attracting such a crowd so that people will pay attention to you without looking out of place.”

“So, I get to deal with all of Azuchi focusing on me?” I replied nervously, and watching where Masamune’s hand was going as he nodded. “Great.”

“Don’t sound so worried,” Hideyoshi sighed, taking Date’s hands off me. “It just means you’ll be going into town with at least two of us as guards most days,” he smiled and patted me on the head. “We’ve already been hearing reports of what was happening in the tea house when Ieyasu appeared after Yukimura was already with you. So it means they’re more likely to come and study us all for openings.”

“But if I’m constantly out with at least two of you,” I frowned. “Then that’s no guarantee you’ll get anywhere.”

“No, but you’ll have a regular routine, and then all of a sudden we drop the guard,” Masamune explained.

“Right,” I nodded. This was going to be really awkward for me, I could usually handle having all of the warlords' attention in the castle, but add in the publicity, and I had a feeling I was going to be put on a stage effectively.

Mitsuhide was relishing in embarrassing me as much as possible the following day as we walked around the market with Hideyoshi in tow. I wasn’t sure if Toyotomi was trying to mother me more or scold Akechi for his antics as I didn’t try to show them both how much I was enjoying the show they were performing for me. A few of the merchants had comments about unusual activity on the trade routes, but nothing concrete as Mitsuhide would slip them a few coins and Hideyoshi would make a mental note of who to chase up on his next visit.

Ieyasu was pacing outside my room as we returned. The fabric had been delivered from yesterday’s visit as he stalked me straight away from my room and to his manor, muttering about having time for lessons.

He was as close to me as possible, his hand shadowing over mine as we trailed through books on disguising poisons. His choice of topic was a little macabre but necessary as he advised on coating weapons and how to ensure nothing caused a mishap. I was practically sat in his lap as a knock startled us both, and Yukimura entered without waiting, a very unusual move for the man. The glare he was giving to Tokugawa was making me feel uncomfortable as it turned out I was staying with Shingen that night and to tell us both that dinner was ready as Nobunaga had called for all of us to be present.

I was happily sat adrift of the glaring duo, and placed between Nobunaga and Hideyoshi as all of the food prepared for me was taste tested by a young maid. She would take miniscule amounts, enough to show that if poison was present without overdosing on anything, despite my protests to Oda. I had to sulkily accept it as the rest of the warlords immediately agreed with him, and then Nobunaga surprisingly replied that the maid was being appropriately rewarded in monetary terms for the job.

Yukimura insisted on escorting me back to Shingen’s chambers, under the facade that he didn’t trust his lord to not be a gentleman. I could see Ieyasu practically turn green with envy, which was starting to concern me.

“Have you realised it yet Natsuki?” Shingen humoured himself after I was stretched out in my futon, my head turning towards him as he was enjoying a bit of sake whilst watching the moon and stars.

“Realised what? Why I’m constantly under guard?” I queried, sitting up to look out over the scenery from where Shingen was at his ‘post’.

“Why Ieyasu won’t leave you alone,” he corrected with a chuckle.

“He does,” I replied, frowning.

“He was really busy yesterday, and then heard that Yuki was the one escorting you around Azuchi, so he wore such an expression that Nobunaga suggested he go and find you,” Takeda was enjoying this far too much.

“I really doubt that,” I shook my head, a sigh escaping in the meantime.

“And then how do you explain the look he was giving Yuki when you were escorted from the hall to here? I know you saw it,” he teased.

I was blushing and was immensely glad it was dark enough that the warlord couldn’t see. “I don’t know!” I scoffed before laying back down and turning onto my side so Shingen couldn’t see any further reactions to his jests.

I was yawning incessantly the following day. I had been so flustered by Takeda that it had taken me forever to get to sleep, and then it was constantly full of dreams of being kidnapped again when I did drop off. I was beginning to think of hunting down to Sasuke to find out when coffee would be brought into Japan as I walked straight into Yukimura.

“You really are hopeless,” the vassal sighed, patting me on the head. “Come on, this way,” he joked, taking my hand and leading me to the hall where everyone had already assembled for the next meeting.

I was then snatched by Ieyasu, and seated promptly next to him, as Shingen gave me a look of ‘I told you so’ whilst I remained completely confused. Sanada backed off and went to sit next to his Lord, whilst some food was passed to me by Tokugawa, though he was busy ‘warning’ off the others with his bitter expressions.

“She’s asleep?” Hideyoshi sounded surprised as Ieyasu was shifting about in discomfort at the position she was using as her pillow. They had been thoroughly discussing how best to confront the rohins and how much longer to continue the facade of the warlords' guards when she failed to answer a question that Nobunaga asked. Shingen was looking smug, especially as Ieyasu was torn between pummeling the man into the ground and storming off with the slight woman.

“She keeps having nightmares,” Takeda spoke up. “I couldn’t sleep, she woke up after screaming every time,” he was serious, and looking at her with concern as Natsuki’s face began to twist and scowl. “I’d take her somewhere quiet and get her something to eat and drink,” he shrugged.

Oda nodded merely to Ieyasu, who carried the Princess in his arms back to his manor. The rest of them were ceased in any movement by Nobunaga and Shingen.

“This is something they need to sort out,” Nobunaga announced. “Masamune, I’m sure the kitchen could do with a hand to fix up a nice batch of Okinawa soba,” he suggested, looking at the one-eyed dragon. “And maybe some okayu as well.”

It smelt homely when I began to stir, and there was someone next to me as I slowly opened my eyes. I could just smell the food from the kitchens as my stomach made a loud grumbling noise in response.

“How long have you been having those nightmares?” I froze at the sound of Ieyasu’s voice and realised I was clinging to him as the heat source. “Natsuki,” he sounded tired and lifted my chin up so we were looking each other in the eyes. “What did I tell you about other men?”

“That you’re all the same?” I was trying to think of anything except how close we were.

“You started to have a nightmare until I held you, then everything calmed down,” he frowned. “And everyone else reported something similar, despite that you were passing it as one-offs to them all.”

“I guess you’re the lucky one?” I tried to smile, but my heart was threatening to burst from my chest.

“Apparently so,” he murmured, his lips closing on mine softly. “Stop touching everyone else, it makes it harder to tell them you’re mine,” he scoffed, wrapping me up in his arms tightly. “Especially with how easy you are to read, stop it,” he muttered as everything in me was glowing with happiness.

Chapter Text

My first three months came and went, I was well adjusted to being the chatelaine and had most of the warlords wrangled under my control. Nobunaga gave me his respect in regards to the day to day running of the castle, which allowed him to focus elsewhere, even if he then tried to intervene on my accommodations almost constantly. Hideyoshi was the mother of the castle, I had been caught out in sudden rainstorms on occasions, and I had always been greeted with a towel to dry off with in the entrance to the castle. He had begun to look like he was having an internal fight with himself whenever he saw me of late, so we’d naturally taken to avoiding each other as much as possible. Mitsunari was the one I needed to check in on a daily basis. I would take him food, and make him step away from the books for a little while to stretch his legs around the castle before going to get some sleep. Masamune could be hands on if I let my guard down, which meant I was usually armed with a tray of sorts whenever I had to go near him at the very least as I placed a glass of water in front of him at the party we were having. I wasn’t sure as to the occasion, but I was surprised to find Ieyasu present as I took away the dishes piled in front of him and Nobunaga. Mitsuhide was absent to the surprise of no one as I caught Hideyoshi staring at me as I thought about the strange man. I put my head back down and kept clearing up around the vassals and retainers. I knew that it was likely I was being watched by the warlords, I just didn’t know why.

I wasn’t keen to drink that night, I was known to get far too honest and affectionate as I made sure to fill my drinks in the kitchen. Then I was summoned by my boss when I came back in with the fresh batch of sake bottles. He smirked and patted the now empty cushion next to him, and produced a second cup as he gestured for me to pour his sake.

“I sent Mitsuhide to check something out for me that should be happening around now,” his voice was low, but demanded every ounce of my attention. “You should have gone back to the future tonight. And from what you were telling me, it should be at the same place where you saved me. So I’ve sent him to do some observations. Doors work both ways I believe,” he closed sagely. “Now, we drink,” he smirked. “I have questions you won’t answer whilst sober.”

“Goodnight Lord Oda,” I replied, putting the full cup of sake down and rising to leave the room.

“Are you refusing my order?” He coldly questioned.

“Yes, if you wish to know the answers to questions I won’t answer without enough sake in me, then this is clearly not the place for them to be asked,” I pointed out and swiftly left the room. I had had enough of playing doll for the night.

Mitsuhide’s return a few days later was a shock to us all. He brought someone very unexpected along with him as I dashed through the crowds of staff to get to the party. Hideyoshi was a step behind me, eager to keep me back.

“Natsuki!” I was enveloped in a tight, warm hug, the smells of the twenty-first century hitting me like a train as my brother kept hold of me. He was trying not to cry, as I blubbed enough for us both. “You’re okay, this, this is insane. What the hell is going on? I was tracing your last known steps to Nobunaga Oda’s grave, and then I suddenly ended up in a temple on fire and this guy grabs me and starts asking me what my intentions are,” he gestured to Mitsuhide, who was looking like he had eaten a bunch of lemons.

“This is going to take a lot of sake to explain,” I replied, my smile faltering immediately. “But Hideyoshi is going to have my head if we don’t get you in front of Lord-”

“Natsuki!” Toyotomi admonished me, and I was torn away from my brother and behind the warlord. Then my brother was carted off straight to the dungeons. “He needs to spend the night in there-”

“No, he spends it with me,” I argued. “He’s no more dangerous to anyone than I am.”

“Men are dangerous,” he reiterated to me, reminding me of one of the conversations we had during my early stay.

“Apparently you’re no different,” I snorted and swiftly left to go and gather some basics for his cell at least.

I was sat on a stool on the other side of the bars. No guard would open the door for me to enter for fear that Hideyoshi would have their head. Toshiro was able to ruffle my hair through the bars as my ‘presents’ were all escorted through by the guards as I had to stay outside of the cell.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get you a better place,” I smiled sadly. “Unfortunately Hideyoshi overrides me in terms of seniority.”

“It’s okay, you brought me things to make it a little easier, and knowing you, you’ll end up falling asleep here just to keep me company,” he replied.

“You always did it for me, time for me to repay the favour,” I shrugged. “How’s everyone?”

“Fine. It wouldn’t surprise you to find out no one else came looking for you, would it?” He hesitantly asked, not looking me in the eyes.

“That you were able to come looking and retrace me does surprise me,” I admitted. “That no one else did, that’s just the standard,” I shrugged.

“Natsuki!” I heard Hideyoshi’s voice from the corridors, as I pulled a face. “I know you’re here, the rest of the castle hasn’t seen you,” I could already hear the mother of scoldings coming as I kissed my fingers and put them through the bars to land on Toshiro’s cheek.

“Looks like I’m being summoned, sorry, I’ll sneak back later,” I whispered, slipping off to find the agitated warlord. “Yes, Hideyoshi?” I drawled, appearing at the end of the corridor, and making him jump. “You missed the turning,” I shrugged.

“Come on, war council and Nobunaga has requested your presence,” he sharply said and walked off at a quick pace without giving me a chance to react.

As I appeared, I realised this was no normal council, Mitsuhide and Masamune were getting far too riled up and had their swords out.

“Gentlemen!” I quickly admonished before Toyotomi could open his mouth, and bringing the room to silence. “Everyone sits down now,” I ordered before heading to the seat that Nobunaga was pointing to between him and Mitsuhide.

“I was hoping someone would throw cold water over them all,” Nobunaga sighed, rubbing his forehead. “So, who is this man?” His voice struck me straight through my core. It was ice cold, and the room turned its focus to me, as I realised that they were all feeling threatened.

My laughter burst out before I could stop it, curling over and holding my stomach for a few minutes before I could get my hysterics under control. “Sorry, he’s my brother. We were always close before the wormholes interfered. He didn’t hear from me for three months, so he went looking for me, and he came through. There is no romantic attachment,” I managed to say the last part through giggles. I wasn’t sure who looked more embarrassed, Hideyoshi or Mitsuhide. “I don’t think he realises who you all are yet, he might do this fawning and following around of Hideyoshi and Ieyasu,” I smiled.

“Well, if they’re preoccupied lass with your brother lass,” Masamune was straight up next to me and tilting my head back to look up into his bright blue eye.

“I have the castle to sort,” I slapped away Date’s hand and shooed him away as Nobunaga let out a hearty laugh.

“I forgot how fiery you are,” he stated and mimicked Masamune’s movements in lifting my chin up so our eyes were looking into each other’s. I was too stunned to react until his head started to move in towards mine, and I jerked backwards. He smirked broadly. “I will have him brought before us all tomorrow. Natsuki will take him some food down now I imagine, and then again in the morning.”

“Stop reading me,” I frowned. “And if I could go and do so?” I asked, and then bowed as Oda gave me the head inclination of permission.

It was a simple bowl of rice and whatever I was able to scrounge as scraps in the way of meat and vegetables from the kitchens, along with a jug of water before I headed back to the dungeons. I glared at the guards, who looked as though they were considering refusing me entry until something moved behind me and they immediately granted my access.

Toshiro tucked in like a man who hadn’t eaten in weeks. He’d been given the usual scraps for the prisoners, the basics for them to survive on for further questioning but nothing of any real sustenance. I shook my head and laughed at him.

“What was your first night like here?” He asked.

“I was terrified. But I was given my own room in the castle straight off and appointed chatelaine and the lucky charm of Nobunaga Oda after I saved him from a fire in a temple at Honno-Ji,” I softly replied. “Plus as a woman, I’m hardly intimidating enough for the warlords to not be able to easily overpower me. Then I’ve intercepted a couple of poisoned pins that were meant for Nobunaga, and I have the title of Oda Princess.”

“I’m sorry, you SAVED Nobunaga Oda? As in the one, Mitsuhide Akechi killed?” Toshiro nearly spat his food back out.

“It’s a long story, but I get the feeling I won’t be present for your interview tomorrow with the warlords. In this timeline, Nobunaga didn’t die because my wormhole spat me out at the fire of Honno-ji where he dies in our timeline. And Mitsuhide is the one who had you captured because he was watching for the wormhole that was predicted. Turns out he had nothing to do with it, it was an ex-Abbott called Kennyo,” I explained. “We’ve not heard anything from him for a while, but we’re expecting him to try something soon. He normally stirs up Kenshin and Shingen something awful against us,” I added, my mouth pulling to the side as I dwelled on it. “Oh, we do have another comrade from the future here, he appeared four years before I did, and saved the lives of them,” I was trying to not overload him with information and names, but it was impossible. “So you’ll probably get asked if you work for them as well. The warlords you’ve met so far are Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Mitsuhide Akechi. Nobunaga Oda, Ieyasu Tokugawa, Masamune Date and Mitsunari Ishida, in theory, will also be present tomorrow. It’s more than likely I will be sent off on a fool’s errand, or Mitsuhide will actually have set something up to go wrong just to occupy me long enough to keep me away,” I sighed. “I’m sorry, drink up and finish your bowl. I’ll be back tomorrow with breakfast. I hate it when Hideyoshi gives me the lectures, and I’m about reading to drop dead on my feet,” I apologised, kissing my fingers again and putting them through the bars.

Toshiro grabbed hold of my hand and whimpered a little. “Please Suki,” he begged, reverting to my childhood nickname.

I had a crick in my neck from sleeping in a draughty dungeon against the bars, I slipped through to the kitchens to make a bowl of miso soup paired with some rice and whatever I could find. Masamune was already present and spied me in the same kimono as the previous day as I got underway with the cooking. His arm was around my waist before I realised what was happening and tried to jump away.

“Nice try lass,” his laugh was deep and had half the kitchen staff swooning. “You appear to be having some trouble-”

“No, please just leave me alone. The bars in the dungeons don’t make good pillows,” I grumbled, deciding to just continue forward in my task as if the male wasn’t there. I was surprised it worked as he stepped back to leave me alone. I delivered everything down to Toshiro, who was looking a little better with a couple of actual meals in him and some sleep on a mat.

“Do you have to go?” He asked anxiously.

“I have a castle to run, and a boss who’s a warlord. I’ve already had Masamune trying to interfere,” I mumbled, suddenly feeling quite light headed as darkness quickly came over me.

Toshiro was surprised to see the same man who had apprehended him at the wormhole appear just in time to stop Natsuki collapsing to the floor. “Don’t worry, just a simple sleeping potion. We figured she’d be down here with you all night and wouldn’t rest,” he calmly stated. “Someone will be back for you,” he instructed, as Toshiro felt himself start to wither under the intense gaze of the man. It was impossible to miss the way Mitsuhide looked at Natsuki, and the way he cradled her spoke volumes. She certainly appeared to be treasured by at least one person here in the castle, as Toshiro was left alone with his own thoughts.

Akechi was roaming the corridors back to his own room, making a mental note to let them all know she was safe. He paused as she shifted about in his embrace, the small sigh of contentment, and he swore she murmured his name as she got herself comfortable again. This woman had turned the entire castle upside down since her arrival, and they would all endeavour to keep her there at any cost as Mitsuhide’s mind wandered back to the male in the dungeon. He wouldn’t be taking her anywhere as Natsuki was laid out in his futon. The chatelaine looked exhausted now the snake was able to get a closer look at the woman, as he tried to recall about anyone raising anything about her not sleeping.

“Oh Natsuki,” he murmured, and stroked her hair as she nuzzled against the touch. “Whatever shall we do with you?”

I didn’t remember falling asleep, and I was definitely wearing more clothing I frowned as I turned over, and froze as I saw Mitsuhide fast asleep, and as unclothed as me.

“Go back to sleep,” the snake murmured, not even opening his eyes. “Nothing has been done yet to worry you, we made you a sleeping assistance.”

“Why am I virtually naked?” I hissed, feeling very vulnerable as the warlord sighed, and turned me back over before spooning me tightly.

“Because a maid walked into us when I was carrying you here and sleeping in wet clothing will guarantee a nagging Hideyoshi,” Akechi was able to read me without seeing me. He had my arms pinned under his, and I realised that we had individual covers over ourselves. “And you’re with me because Nobunaga decided that I wasn’t needed to interrogate your brother.”

“Why was I drugged in the first place?” I was fighting the inevitable, his hand was gently massaging my head in the spot that Hideyoshi had first discovered when I had a fever. It made me go to sleep.

“Because you’re overworked, and need to rest,” Mitsuhide’s voice was low in my ear. “And it’s fun watching Hideyoshi get all worked up about you as well. That’s why you’re with me.”

A maid brought me a clean kimono from my room and I dressed in a hurry before heading straight for the kitchens. Hideyoshi was hot on my tail the second I left Mitsuhide’s room and then was happy to corner me as I began on breakfast for my brother.

“Will you stop making eyes at each other this early in the morning?” Toshiro’s voice surprised me, as he was dressed in some of Mitsunari’s clothes, and rubbing at his eyes to try and wake up. “Or go somewhere private at least?”

“I thought you were still in prison,” my eyes widened as my brother leant over to ruffle my hair.

“No, we let him out,” Toyotomi sighed, though he kept himself between us.

“And you’re feeling threatened for some reason?” I sighed at Hideyoshi, rubbing my forehead.

“He still thinks we aren’t siblings,” Toshiro grinned, “Just make a move, it’s obvious she really likes you.” He laughed, swiping up the pot of tea I’d just made, and left with a flourished wink, leaving both me and Toyotomi dark shades of red.

I turned to leave when he grabbed my forearm and was looking even more embarrassed.

“You’ve been avoiding me all the time lately,” I said, “I assumed one of the maids had told you and left you feeling awkward,” I finally admitted after an extended silence.

The man wouldn’t let go of my hand as I was dragged through the castle and back towards his manor. I was struggling to keep up as he apologised when he finally stopped at his room and ensured that we were alone.

I was confused as to the complete personality change whilst he made tea as he went through the ceremony automatically. It was soothing to watch and almost made me forget that he had just effectively kidnapped me and I frowned at him as a cup was pushed towards me.

“I didn’t mean to give you the wrong ideas, I’m sorry,” he opened. “I needed to get my head straight because it never is around you,” he mumbled, staring into his teacup as I moved next to him to give him the attention he deserved for this conversation. My hand crept over his, as I tried to reassure him and squeezed it gently. He finally looked at me, our bodies gravitating closer, and his free hand lifted my chin up.

I could feel how close we were, but Toyotomi was out of his depths despite his apparent popularity with women. I had to make the final move, his lips were hot as his hands were on my hips and pulling me into his lap to get me closer to him. The tea went flying as I was lifted to rest on the table, our frenzied passion unable to cease now it had the pressure top lifted from it.

I was dozing against Hideyoshi’s chest as his fingers combed through my hair. I could hear someone approaching the door as Toyotomi pulled the screen in front of the futon before it was opened. He had pulled one of his kimonos around me since mine was soaked in tea, and it didn’t properly cover everything on me. I giggled, and he glared at me as one of the maids passed over a couple of my kimonos, making me raise an eyebrow until I saw my brother appear, with Mitsuhide in tow. I tightened the covers around me automatically.

“I told you,” my brother scoffed, spotting the kimono I had been seen in that morning strewn over the floor next to the table, as I could feel Hideyoshi’s blush radiating whilst getting my clothes adjusted.

“Ugh, disgusting,” Mitsuhide’s voice was definitely aimed at me. I bit my lip to stifle my giggles as I finished fixing my obi, and then came out from behind the screen. I offered all of them a smile as my brother mimicked the tea ceremony perfectly for us all. “I should have made things more fun when I had my chance,” he smirked.

“Don’t,” I patted Hideyoshi on the head. “He’s just annoying you,” I reassured the vassal, squeezing his knee to remind him of earlier.

“Not as much as I will be,” Toshiro calmly reminded us. “I am the official older brother and will make sure to assert myself as such around here with Natsuki.”

I shook my head at my amused brother as some food was brought through by the staff.

Chapter Text

I wasn’t sure if it was going to be me losing my temper, or Shingen losing his brain first once we’d gotten back to the future. I rubbed my brow as he realised that the attire myself and Sasuke were wearing was the norm, and flashed me an incredibly perverted smile. I knew he was enjoying this far too much as the height of summer meant the smallest pieces of clothing on occasions. It didn’t help that Shingen was stupidly handsome, and would get the attention of just about every person we passed on the way to my apartment. Time hadn’t passed in the modern era during our absence, it was simply the day after and around lunchtime judging from all the smells.

“Don’t you have a new job to start in a few days Natsuki?” Sasuke asked me, as I realised everything had changed for me in no time.

I covered my face with my hands as I pushed them both into my apartment. “Right now, we need to focus on getting Shingen the medical attention he needs,” I sighed. “And then figure out how to get back to 1582,” I was puzzled, where I had originally looked forward to starting my new career, now I was actually dreading it. We were surrounded by technology, as I dug my long dead phone out from my purse and put it on charge. My mother would have been trying to call me for nearly a day, and if I wasn’t careful she would be hammering the door down despite living out on an established farm in the countryside. Explaining why one of the men were in my apartment would be a job in itself, never mind two, as the foreboding banging brought me out of my self-absorbed thoughts.

I opened the door slightly and then shut it again. I had one sibling, a much older brother and unfortunately, he had married his type of woman. One that looked excellent on his arm as they paraded themselves in public, and I was now being faced by my sister-in-law.

“Natsuki! Your stupid brother’s phone has been blowing up all day because of your stupid mother!” She screeched, making all of us wince as I had to let her in to stop the neighbours complaining. “God, anyone would think you had something… to hide,” she trailed off on spotting Shingen who was sat on the couch and turned her charm on. “Oh hi,” she purred.

Takeda was looking stunned, and then his eyes were flicking between the two of us as I just kept mouthing apologies to him. “Er, hi?” He responded, standing up from the sofa to walk over to us. I was highly grateful that Sasuke had gotten him to change into modern clothing, as I then realised just how good he looked in everything.

“I’m Akihime,” she offered her hand out and had the coy look on her face that said she wanted to bed him.

“Shingen,” he replied, briefly taking the offered handshake. “I think Sasuke wanted you for something,” he ruefully added to me, but his expression gave me every bit of trust as I nodded and disappeared up the stairs.

Then I heard a resounding slap as I reached the scientist, and we both immediately dashed back to the living room. Where the sight of Takeda holding Akihime’s hand away from him to repeating the gesture greeted us, and a cold hard look that I had never seen before.

“What happened?” I asked, knowing that my sister-in-law was going to pull the usual ‘he tried something’ act.

“Apparently if you refuse to warm a woman’s bed and refuse to bow to her threats, it’s perfectly fine to slap a man,” Shingen coolly responded, glaring at the peroxide blonde to dare to fabricate anything else. She withered under his gaze before he let her wrist go and she promptly stormed out.

“Are you okay?” I flustered, tilting his cheek to find that one of the gaudy rings Akihime donned had split his skin.

“I’m fine now,” Takeda wrapped me up in his arms, much to the amusement of Sasuke. His head was buried in the crook of my neck, breathing me in deeply. “I have no idea what that smell she had on was, but it’s giving me a headache,” he grumbled as I linked my arms around him since he wasn’t letting me go it seemed.

“Perfume, some people bathe in it instead of the intended use,” I smiled.

I spent a few hours going over the basics of modern living with Shingen, including how much food had come along. I had missed a few things and was beginning to wonder about making versions of them when we back to 1582 as I opened my fridge and cupboards to see what I did have in. I knew I would need to introduce him to some European foods, especially in the sweet department, even if it meant I’d be putting up with him pouting constantly at me when we went back. I explained that weapons weren’t a thing anymore, because Japan was unified and not under individuals for areas, which is why I’d not let him bring his sword with him. Then I amazed him with showing him my phone, then the television, and I broke his brain when he spied me on my tablet when I was on the internet. I needed to get out of starting that job, but I needed some way of funding our stay and Shingen’s healthcare costs as a thought crossed my mind that made a shiver run down my spine.

Travelling back in time exhausted us both, as Takeda eyed my bed up suspiciously. I flopped down into it and sighed happily. It was a shame you couldn’t take a mattress back through a wormhole. He poked at it and gave me a quizzical look.

“It’s what you sleep on. European beds tend to win over the futons,” I shrugged, and realised I had yet to shower and get into my sleepwear. I made a noise and had Shingen looming over me in concern. “I need to change at the very least,” I admitted. “These clothes are not comfortable to sleep in.”

My pyjamas were a simple satin short sleeved shirt and shorts that came to my mid thigh, but I knew as soon as I put them on that my other half would be refusing to keep his hands to himself. But they were the only clean set I had, laundry was definitely my priority for tomorrow as I let myself out of the bathroom, and found that Shingen was already changed into a t-shirt and shorts. It was official, the man looked amazing in anything.

“I’m definitely making you bring some of these outfits back,” the sultry tone brought me back to the present instead of me just staring at him, and now blushing furiously as I went to get into bed.

“Only if you’re the one perving,” I grumbled, trying to hide my smile.

“Oh, I wouldn’t let anyone else see the vision that I just had,” he chuckled in my ear before wrapping his arms around me.

Getting Shingen too and from the appointments wasn’t the problem as I had to wake him early again after yet another night without much sleep. He had soaked through three handkerchiefs with blood since the last appointment a few days previously, and they were certainly now preparing for surgery.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he whispered, his hand cupping my cheek.

“I hate disturbing you to put you through more tests and pain,” I replied, kissing his hand.

“Anything for a chance for a life with you, my goddess,” Shingen smiled. He would have all of the nurses falling over themselves most likely during his inpatient stay, not that he had even glanced twice at anyone whilst we’d been here despite all the temptations for him. I handed him the pill cocktail for the start of the day and a glass of water, before going to make sure that the water in the bath was warm without being able to scald him.

I had told work that a shocking diagnosis to my fiancé had changed everything, and I was no longer able to take up the position. We had moved in with Sasuke in the meantime, he had a large two bedroom apartment and had kindly let us have the master bedroom with an attached en-suite. My only way to repay him in any sense was to keep the apartment clean and cook for us all. My mother was constantly asking me when she’d get to meet the man that Akihime wouldn’t shut up about, but it was hard to explain things as I said we were spending a lot of our time currently at the hospital before we’d be able to come out to the farm.

The consultant was apologetic and sent us down to the x-ray department for this trip. I was struggling to stay awake, and bought a large coffee on the way back up to the office, failing to stifle a yawn as I felt my body being pulled into Shingen’s. The doctor was scrunching her face up in all directions at the images, and then said we would need to go ahead with the previously discussed surgery, as it looked as though there were lumps in the lungs causing the problems. Surgically removing them would stop the immediate problem, but then there was the question of it being cancerous. I nodded and explained that obviously everything would need to be done if it was cancer, but radiation and chemotherapy would just kill him outright if that was started without confirmation.

“Mr Takeda?” She hesitantly called out to get Shingen’s attention. “All of this is ultimately your decision.”

He looked straight at me. “I trust Natsuki, whatever she agrees with, I agree with,” he stated.

When we got back, we found Sasuke already waiting for us, with a very patient expression, and a home testing kit in his hand. We discussed about what was happening from this point at the hospital, and that there was almost certainly no point in rushing in to chemotherapy or radiotherapy without confirmation of what was happening as I went to start dinner.

It was then that I was passed the box by the ninja.

“Seriously?” I asked, looking up at Sasuke.

“Do I need to start listing off your current symptoms?” he replied, looking over the top of his glasses.

“What’s that?” Shingen queried, but not understanding it as I stood up to go the bathroom. “You can test for that?”

“It gives you more time to prepare as well,” Sasuke smiled.

I was waiting impatiently for the results and then paled as it popped up. I was in a daze and walked through back to the living room, where they were both barely able to contain themselves.

“It’s positive,” I mumbled, blinking rapidly at the pregnancy kit. “About six weeks…” I trailed off, rubbing my face as I was trying to figure out what that meant for our current situation.

“So either we stay longer than we promised, or return as soon as we get the all clear,” Sasuke smiled as I was lifted off the ground by Shingen.

“You aren’t allowed to have cancer,” I bitterly told Takeda, who was too busy happily spinning me around to hear a lot of what was being said.

I had to beg the maternity unit to bring forward my first scan, otherwise, it was to be at the exact same time as when Shingen was scheduled for surgery. They were reluctant to until his consultant wrote to them and suddenly we got one for the day before that had mysteriously appeared from nowhere. Takeda was so confused as to why we had to go together for it, and then his face lit up as he realised that he would get to see the baby on a screen.

“I couldn’t let you miss out, this will probably be the only child we get to do it for,” I whispered, as the ultrasound brought up the image.

“They’re so tiny,” he murmured, squeezing my hand.

“Trust me, you’ll wish that babies stayed that size when it comes to the birthing,” the nurse chuckled. “It’s not often I get to see newlyweds like yourselves,” she beamed.

“Oh, we’re not married,” I blushed.

“Yet,” Shingen corrected, his expression telling me everything I needed to know, as I went a darker shade of red.

She printed the photos off for us and wished us good luck before we were allowed to leave. Our hands naturally found each other’s, as I gazed over the scans. I couldn’t quite believe it, as we then walked into my mother, and I could feel all the blood drain from my face.

“So this is who you’ve been hiding?” She immediately started eyeing him up after she broke up apart. She was a typical farmer’s wife, blunt and strong as even Takeda was making sure he didn’t underestimate her. “Akihime wouldn’t shut up about you, you’re probably all looks,” she sneered.

“Mother!” I snapped, glaring at her as her attention turned to me, and then she noticed what we were carrying.

“Grandchildren?” She asked, looking between us.

“It wasn’t planned, my birth control failed,” I shrugged, wary about handing over the treasure. “I wanted to make sure everything was okay before we told anyone.”

“When’s the wedding then?” My mother had turned into demon mode, and straight onto Shingen.

“Well, he needs to get through his operations first and get his health sorted before we get there,” I was trying to save him, but I felt like I was only digging him deeper. Then I wasn’t expecting a coughing fit, I dove straight into my handbag, getting some cloth out to catch as much of the blood as possible. I was rubbing the back of his chest, massaging it gently as I tried to help clear the problem.

Various staff ran over, as I screamed for them to call his consultant, Dr Saito, whilst I was being restrained by my mother and another member of staff. They got a bed out as they were throwing the oxygen mask over his face, I was wailing like a banshee at the scene.

My mother didn’t even ask anything as he was rushed into surgery. I glimpsed a sight of Dr Saito rushing out instructions before she dove in the area to scrub for surgery. We just needed to wait as I was made to sit down and drink some water.

“This isn’t a passing fancy then,” she broke the silence after half an hour or so. “I’ve never seen you react like that even when your dad died,” she quietly said.

“I needed to keep my head for your sake, you were beside yourself, and needed me to be the pillar of strength to lean on,” I replied, staring into the empty cup. “It’s been like this for the entire relationship, we’re finally closing on the answer, and he was scheduled for surgery tomorrow. We got them to move the scan forward, and that’s the only reason we were here. To see how our little bean was,” I smiled at the ultrasound photo as my mother moved next to me and squeezed my hand in solidarity. “They’re doing great, we were so excited, and now I’m terrified he won’t be making it to see them,” I started to cry again.

I was enveloped in a hug before I heard someone else’s footsteps approaching. “Natsuki?” Sasuke was nervous as I looked up at him.

“He’s been rushed into surgery,” I said. “The baby’s fine,” I waved my hand as my mother narrowed her eyes at me.

“I was the one who figured out she needed to take the pregnancy test, Ms Yukimura,” the scientist explained and bowed in greeting. “Outside of the three of us, no one else knew. Did they give any indication on time?” He asked, a frown creasing his expression.

“Unfortunately not,” I sighed, leaning back in the chair. “You’d also think they’d give you more comfortable seating,” I nervously laughed. My arms were subconsciously covering my lower abdomen.

We stayed in silence for hours, just waiting and waiting. My mother had looked over the ultrasound photos and gave me an approving smile for what felt like the first time since I was a child.

“Miss Yukimura?” Dr Saito emerged after ten hours, looking exhausted, but there was a trace of a smile as I stood up, and she glanced to the photos in my hand. “He’s going to be fine,” I couldn’t stop myself from hugging the doctor, tears in my eyes that everything was going to be okay and allowing myself that glimmer of hope. “He’ll be rough tumbling with your child before you know it,” she laughed. “He’s asleep at the moment, but he should be awake tomorrow for visits. I can’t let you see him right now, the first twelve hours after surgery it’s protocol to not allow any guests. But tomorrow morning,” my mother had removed me from the doctor, an apologetic bow. “Any problems I will let you know, but I think it’s best that you all go and get some rest, and some food is heavily recommended.” Her gaze was directed at me with a smile.

“Thank you so much,” I bowed in thanks, unable to stop my tears of happiness as I wiped my tears off my cheeks with my sleeves.

My mother agreed that she would give us a few days to ensure things actually had settled before she would be returning. It tugged at my heart to see him wired up to so many things, and even had an oxygen breathing tube up his nose, he was still fast asleep when I arrived. I smiled to see him alive and breathing on his own and took a seat next to him. I stroked his cheek gently with the back of my fingers.

“I could do with waking up to your beautiful face every morning,” Shingen smiled, turning his head to look at me.

“I could do without you collapsing on me,” I replied. “We have a baby on the way, that is stressful enough,” I reminded him as he shifted about so I could lie on the bed with him. “I’m just glad you’re okay,” I sighed contently as he pulled me in for a hug.

“Yeah, now we just get the recovery part,” he grimaced. “And then get back to Yuki before this little one appears,” he pondered, his hand lingering on my stomach.

“Sasuke is looking to see if the pattern is every three months,” I frowned, “Or if there’s just an abnormality going off in the way everything had been lined up. But you need to get out of here and strong first before we’re going anywhere,” I reminded him before he stole a kiss from me and I lost my entire train of thought.

“I have no intentions of doing otherwise,” Shingen chuckled. “What are we doing about your mother? I must admit, she’s slightly intimidating,” he nervously added.

“She’s coming by once you’ve had a few days to stabilise. Then she’ll be nagging about the wedding,” I shrugged. “She’s had the shock of seeing me fall to pieces in a way I didn’t think was possible, so she knows it’s not my usual passing fancies,” I admitted.

“What do you think about getting married?” It was strange to see Takeda acting so serious, his hand tilting my chin upwards so our gazes locked.

“I don’t care where it is, or when it is,” I smiled. “As long as we get married, that’s all that matters to me.”

“At least you’re conscious and talking now,” Dr Saito knocked to announce her entrance and smiled as she saw how Takeda wouldn’t let me go. “We’re keeping you in just to monitor everything. There’ll be a few tests we do of course to make sure you’re fit and healthy enough to be released, but we’ll keep things to a minimum. Rest is the best thing for you right now.”

I could feel Shingen’s arousal pressed against me, as I kept on my best behaviour until the door was closed again, and I turned to face the man. He had one of his ‘irresistible’ smirks on his face, as I raised an eyebrow. “Rest does not include your favourite activity which makes babies,” I snorted.

“Aw, but I like the practice,” he pouted.

“You don’t need any,” I laughed. “We have one on the way,” I reminded him as he flicked the tv on for background noise.

“Get some sleep princess, I can feel your exhaustion from here,” he chuckled, keeping me tight in his arms.

My mother’s visit was expected. Shingen was hooked up to a lot fewer machines, although he was still on the oxygen feeder. She was stood in her ‘formidable mother-in-law’ position. This conversation had terrified and terminated every relationship I had been in, though I had been single for a long time before being sent through the wormhole. Takeda was looking confident about himself whilst sat up in bed.

“So, since you both decided to do this in completely the wrong order,” she glared at us, I had moved the chair next to the bed as she decided to address us both. “What makes you worthy of being the father of my grandchildren?”

“Mum, I’m pregnant with one child,” I replied.

“And seeing how quickly that happened, then I know you won’t be satisfied with one,” she snorted. “Answer,” she shortly stated, glaring at Shingen.

“Oh I’m not worthy of your daughter,” Takeda laughed, shocking us both. “She’s amazing, I’ve never met anyone like her, and seeing as we’ve both done some fair bit of travelling to even just get the coincidence to meet,” he paused to kiss the back of my head. “I’m still stunned every time I see her, and I can’t believe it’s my child she’s carrying.”

“Stop smouldering at me,” I grumped, blushing darkly as he chuckled in response.

“I fear though, that I will need to take your daughter from you,” he paused. “I’m a Lord in another country, and my region will cease to exist properly without me I am afraid,” he gently said.

“I figured something like that,” I was more surprised by my mother’s reply than by Shingen coming out with the twisted truth. “You carry yourself in a way that suggests you are not a commoner. I am surprised that you believe yourself to not be worthy of Natsuki when socially it is her who is not worthy of you.”

“She is worth ten of any other suitor I have even remotely considered,” Shingen praised. “None of them would even light a candle compared to how stunning she is.”

“Would you both object to a quiet ceremony then before you left? Presumably, once you are discharged from the hospital?” I wasn’t sure who was looking more shocked, me or Shingen.

“We had just been discussing the same thing actually,” I replied slowly.

“Then I will arrange it, nothing fancy, I just expect you both to be present and on time,” my mother kissed me on the cheek as Shingen gave her a short bow from his position in bed.

Yukimura was amazed when we returned and glared at us. “What were you two thinking?” He snapped and gestured to my pronounced bump.

“It just happened!” I argued.

“I will willingly face any opponent after facing your mother,” Shingen smiled. “She made us get married before we left.”

“You didn’t miss a lot,” Sasuke added on as he clapped Yuki on the shoulder. “I’ll bet with you it’s a girl,” he distracted the vassal.

“No way, it’s a boy,” Shingen chuckled.

“Definitely a boy,” Sanada replied after looking at my bump. “She’s carrying the weight forward.”

“Well, we’ll find out who’s right in a few months. Shingen, don’t bet the castle,” I warned him as I went to find our room and write to the Oda forces to advise them of the success when my arm was pulled back, and I heard the sound of approaching forces.

“They worked out when you’d be arriving back,” the vassal sighed, “They wrote to inform that they would be arriving to see you today,” he sulked a little.

“Did you get the maids to sort rooms out?” I immediately panicked. “And the kitchen staff?”

“What?” Yukimura looked a bit shocked. “Do you have no faith in me whatsoever?”

“Not in any chatelaine duties,” I snorted.

“It’s all done and prepared for, I think the only thing not prepared for is this,” the vassal gestured to my bump, frowning deeply as the guards escorted the Oda forces warlords in. “In fact, we should probably warn them before they all die from shock,” he made sure he was speaking loudly enough to get the attention of the visitors, making me flush bright red.

“What warning do we require?” Nobunaga was looking cocky as always, whilst Shingen had purposely kept me turned away from them.

“A surprise for you all,” Takeda smarmed, and spun me about swiftly, making sure to support me after making the sudden movements would take me off balance. “We’re expecting our first child in a few months,” I couldn’t bring myself to be mad at Takeda, he was positively beaming with excitement at the prospect.

It was as though chaos had suddenly erupted. We were bombarded with various questions, including the marriage one by Hideyoshi, as I tried to steer them all to the main hall where at least we could all socialise in comfort.

It was the early hours of the morning before the welcoming committee was disbanded. Shingen had kept his drinking to a minimum as part of his sympathy for my pregnancy since most of the time I was just drinking water. I had the maids all ensure that everyone got back to the appropriate rooms before starting out to our room.

My husband was waiting patiently as I stepped in to get changed. The surgery scars were slightly raised on his exposed chest as I swapped out for one of the maternity night dresses that had been brought back with us.

He wrapped me up in his arms the second I was on the bed, and we both sighed softly in contentment whilst gazing down at my bump, our hands linked on the top of it. We liked the quiet, feeling out for the kicks as we drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

It was hard to think of a time when I didn’t know Lord Kenshin. He’d seen past my gender long ago and honed my natural talents into being a personal assassin and protector. No one would suspect that a small woman would be able to take a warlord out, it was easier for him to ensure that his back was covered at all times. It was a fog of memories for a long time, I just remembered being taken under his wing. He was a young adult as I was a child, but he saw something in me.

I was bitter about training Sasuke, I had failed in my task to protect Lord Kenshin at all costs, and this man was proof of it. I would ensure that I would catch him off guard at all times, and then he did the unexpected. He offered me some companionship. He mentioned how he saw that I was aloof of all the others and that I trained extra hard to make up for my shortcomings.

“She is my main protection,” Lord Kenshin had his hand on my shoulder, as I tensed up. “She doesn’t realise how much I do rely on her, and I know that she’s blaming herself for my illness,” he offered a rare smile before ruffling my hair like he would a little sister. “She’s always the first to know anything and the quickest to be there for me.”

“You are my Lord,” I pointed out. “I will do anything for you. I have to protect you from afar since you always have to go charging into battles headfirst like an idiot,” I snorted and tried to hide my blush at the praise from Uesugi.

“You do technically have my family name,” Kenshin reminded me, “So you’re not really my vassal, just my little sister.”

“I’ll stick to being your vassal, or you’re going to have people trying to marry me off and expect me to be like those women you see about Echigo,” I waved my hand. “And Sasuke, stop messing with the ceiling over my room, the boys all try to peak in. I’m keeping my bow next to me to shoot the next one in the eye,” I shrugged, walking backwards from the men.

I sighed as I got out of the way. I didn’t really fit in. That’s why I liked my job. I had no official title, but I was often out of the way and protecting Lord Kenshin from afar. I was an experienced archer and assassin, a poisons expert. I was also a surprising diplomat, but then I was always able to pummel someone twice my size into the floor as I heard Shingen approach my room.

I opened the door as he was poised to announce himself.

“I should stop being surprised,” he chuckled.

My room was the best seat to watch the sunset, and then to watch the stars. “We do this whenever we’re both here, you should know I remember things like that,” I reminded him. “You got past Yuki?”

“Did you get past Kenshin?” Shingen teased as I produced the sake bottle. He grinned broadly and showed the sweet buns as we settled down for some quiet and a beautiful scenery. I could remember when Takeda first came here, it was an alliance that no one was quite expecting, but it was to eliminate the common enemy Nobunaga Oda. He appeared at my door a few nights into his stay and asked to see the view from my veranda as he had spotted it was about here in the castle that were the spots to watch the sunset and moonrise. I was so curious, I let him in, and made him stay on his mat and had a sword in my hand constantly. Since he kept behaving as he promised, the sword stayed nearby but sheathed, and then we got talking about nothing in particular. One evening had been particularly bad, and I was drinking sake straight from the bottle, and there were a couple of empties by the time that Takeda came by. He had missed the sunset but insisted on watching the stars. He never tried anything that night. I was vulnerable and he simply made me sleep with my head on his lap as he watched over me. I leant against him in reminiscence, my head on his shoulders as he peered at my sake bottle.

“I’m just remembering how this all started,” I stated, my eyes watching the stars appear.

“I was absolutely terrified you would castrate me when I first met you,” Shingen chuckled, and forced a sweet bun into my mouth. “Kenshin said you were off-limits for romancing. I was tempted to after that warning, and then when we finally meet, you’re happy to hold a sword to me constantly and I don’t ever remember doubting you would kill me if I made a wrong move,” he patted me on the head.

“You must admit, when I’m dressed up to play a normal woman, I really don’t look like I could take anyone down,” I grinned, sitting back up.

“You look wonderful regardless of what you’re wearing,” Shingen replied, as I shot him a warning look. “Sorry, my flirt side comes out around beautiful women.”

“Especially ones who can and will castrate you?” I reminded him, my head jerking towards my sword.

“You must be so lonely, you never speak to anyone else,” I had my sword out and pointing at Takeda. I was trying to keep my breathing and senses level.

“Get. Out.” My voice was barely a thread in the air, but I was more than prepared to follow through on any threat I made.

He scarpered quickly, knocking the empty bottle over. I kept forgetting I was a woman, the way Kenshin saw me meant I felt like an equal. I needed to get out of Echigo soon, or I was going to go mad.

I wasn’t surprised to be summoned to the war council the following morning. I wasn’t surprised to see Sasuke already present, and that Shingen was avoiding me.

“Natsuki, I need some infiltration,” Kenshin calmly stated. He was staring at the board in front of them. “Nobunaga is planning something, his scouts have been snooping through my areas, and I’m sure they’ll have heard the rumours that we are alive after hearing we were dead some years back,” he explained. “I need you to go and get into Azuchi on the staff, I’d avoid being a maid if I were you, you’re terrible at cleaning. The kitchen staff have loose tongues, and I hear Date spends his time in there as well,” he looked at me. “Sasuke will find ways for you to keep in contact. I don’t want to see you for a while.”

I bowed and swiftly left. This was the breather I needed.

The stench of smoke made me choke as I urged my horse on. I could feel something was seriously wrong as I spied the old abbey on fire, and not just for the obvious reasons. I had to go in there. I leapt to the balcony, using the mask that Sasuke had helped me to make to try and limit the smoke. There was a man slouched over, he was conscious, but in a trance.

I shook him hard, bringing his attention to me. “You need to move, now!” I urged, tugging on his hand to get him to follow me out of the building. He seemed stumped, and he was heavier than Kenshin to move as I shoved him from behind towards the fresh air. We both gulped in the air, as I pulled my mask down.

“Do you know who I am?” He calmly asked me.

“Not a clue,” I shook my head. “As long as you don’t have my head either then I don’t care,” I shrugged, going to leave to get back to my horse.

“Why save a stranger?” He asked.

“Why not?” I asked him before two other men came storming in, and I realised it was most likely my horse would have now bolted back to Echigo by now.

“My Lord!” One of the men exclaimed, relief on both of their faces. They dismounted and knelt before him as I went to leave again to search for my horse.

“Wait,” the man was used to everyone obeying him. I was seeing a lot of similarities in him and Lord Kenshin as I turned to face him, and then found one of the men who had dismounted now had a sword pointed at my throat.

“I’m waiting,” I pointed out, my hand resting on my own sword hilt.

“Hideyoshi,” the dark-haired male warned, and the retainer backed off, as I started to feel the blood drain from my face. If this was Hideyoshi, then I had just saved Nobunaga Oda. “I am Nobunaga Oda, the unifier of Japan,” he smirked. It reminded me of the confidence that Shingen had around all women, I would need to be extra careful. “And you are?”

“Natsuki,” I offered and then bowed in polite greeting. “And I think my horse may have bolted in all the confusion,” I sighed.

I could see that Hideyoshi was as protective of his lord as all of our intel stated. He was glaring at me, and I would be at least twelve feet under and digging if looks could kill.

“She just saved me,” Oda’s words changed everything. I was finding that the vassals in front of me were now bowing. “Where were you headed?”

“Azuchi actually,” I slowly replied.

“What’s your trade? You are dressed in a strange manner,” Hideyoshi frowned, looking me up and down.

“I am a poisons expert, it is easier to travel and examine things outside of towns whilst dressed as a man,” I explained. “Wearing kimonos and women’s clothing makes you stand out to opportunists, I just appear short, and then you can fool anyone with appearances.”

Someone snuck up on me and grabbed my rear end. I spun about immediately, twisted his arm and had the man on his knees whilst I was pulling on his arm in a submission pose. They were all stunned and staring at me gaping.

“I’ve learned a lot, I’ve been on my own for a long time,” I stated, looking Nobunaga in the eyes. “And I heard that you were looking for someone who could test for poisons.”

The man I was holding onto was wheezing a little and struggling against my vantage point. Then he was tapping against my arm to admit defeat.

“To see you currently getting the one-eyed dragon to submit, I don’t think it’s just that position you should be offered,” Oda’s smirk was not a comforting one, as I finally released the man. “Masamune, I would suggest apologising,” he sneered.

I was like a deer in headlights to see the gleam of the blue eye glaring back at me from the leader of the Date clan. I swallowed and tried to calm myself as I formally bowed, much to everyone’s amusement.

“She’s a firecracker,” Masamune was eyeing me up and down, and definitely undressing me. “Tries to break my arm when I sneak up on her and then gives all the formalities of a princess.”

I gave no verbal response, my face curling in disgust at his expression as my horse was brought out from the forest by some excited soldiers. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or not, but I’d apparently curried Nobunaga’s favour and bought myself direct access to my target as we made our journey to back to Azuchi castle.

I had to try and hide my surprise to see how grateful the townspeople were to see their tyrannical lord return. They were lining the streets and cheering for him, but they were all eyeing me with curiosity, and a hint of suspicion. I was dressed strangely, and never met the expectations of marriage and childbearing as those around me did. I had even heard the rumours I was going to be Kenshin’s wife back at the castle.

“They just aren’t used to seeing anyone strange with Lord Nobunaga,” Mitsunari was going to be helpful on occasions, he was brimming with innocence. If I hadn’t protected Lord Kenshin from his strategies on multiple occasions, it would be incredibly easy to forget that he was a warlord too.

“I’m used to the stares and hostility. I’m just surprised I haven’t had Hideyoshi’s sword at my throat yet on more than one occasion,” I humoured with a shrug of my shoulders. Though I did get a brutally vicious glare from the mentioned vassal a few horses ahead. “Yeah, like that,” I replied. The smile I got in response from Ishida made my heart flutter momentarily. This was definitely going to be a learning curve.

Masamune was enjoying having a woman around Azuchi who could fight far too much. My official job was poison tester, as I tested everything at the edge of the room before it was brought forward to the warlords and soldiers. It was rare anything was actually tasted, as I developed a series of kits and spent the time that I wasn’t being randomly attacked by Date, in the kitchens to check out their supplies.

I was called to the tenshu one evening and found my new boss spinning a pistol on his fingers, looking at it with vivid interest.

“You’ve been tailing a few of the staff out on their visits to markets,” he commented as I forced myself to relax. I had found that my automatic reactions around Oda were not those that fit into the relationship between Lord and Vassal, more that of a man and woman. I realised that he was staring at me, waiting for an explanation.

“Someone is trying to subtly poison one of you or all of you. I’ve had to stop a few bowls of rice being served, I’m just narrowing it down,” I shrugged. “I had nothing definite, so I didn’t believe that you would need to hear anything until I had some evidence.”

“I want regular updates, and you are to join me later here,” he smirked.

“Excuse me?” I asked, not liking the implication of his tone.

“I need to pass the night, you will be the entertainment,” he stated, glaring at me to dare to contradict him.

“Fine, have a goban board ready. I have heard you are a master of the game,” I bowed and left swiftly. Go was a game I regularly played in inns whilst tracking down poisoners’ routes. It was a handy way to pass the time and get information out of people as I passed Hideyoshi at the end of the corridor. He glared at me, still believing I was going to be the one to poison Nobunaga as I returned to my room.

I heard a knock from the ceiling panel and coughed in response to let Sasuke know that it was clear for him to come down. I made tea and explained about what I had found out thus far.

“Did Lord Kenshin send anyone to infiltrate the kitchen staff? Because someone is definitely trying to poison Oda,” I asked in a low voice, determined to keep things quiet in case Hideyoshi decided to pass by and ‘check up’ on me.

“Not his style, you’re here for information only,” Sasuke replied. “Not Shingen’s way either, they’d rather have Nobunaga out in the battlefield.”

“Then someone’s going to be making it look like Shingen or Lord Kenshin is trying to poison Oda,” I muttered. “I’m still confirming things, I can’t promise when I’ll have an update but I’m hoping to get out in the next few days and monitor the marketplace. Let Yuki know I’ll keep an eye out for sugar candies even if I did just threaten to castrate his Lord,” I grinned, taking a sip of my tea.

“Shingen has been moaning about the lack of ladies, and how you would always brighten the place up in your outfits,” Sasuke was humoured at least. “Something’s changed in you, I can’t tell what, but something’s changed you entirely.”

I smiled sadly. “I know. The problem is I’m not entirely sure myself,” I admitted.

The ninja disappeared into the ceiling after a little while. I refilled my teapot and got out my notes on the kitchen staff that I had my suspicions about. None of them ever worked on the same meal preparation together, they were always separated out to different dishes. If I started to linger around them too much they would get suspicious and stop doing anything that would give them away as my fingers drummed against the desk. My forehead creased into a frown as I started thinking that involving Masamune might be the way forward, but then could it also scare the perpetrators away?

A maid knocked on my door to let me know that Nobunaga had summoned me. He was taken off-guard by my suggestion of go. If he wanted entertainment then I would bring it literally in the terms of drinking sake, playing games and telling stories.

He looked fairly comfortable and relaxed as I was passed a cup, and he filled it with sake before the maid had even closed the door. I took one sniff and knocked Oda’s cup out of his hand before dashing down to catch the maid.

The ‘maid’ was one of the kitchen staff who had used the darkness to his advantage as I hooked my elbow around his neck and jumped onto his back. My knees were squeezing his ribs as I kept tightening my arm whilst the rest of the staff were alerted to the drama by Nobunaga shouting loudly for his vassals. Hideyoshi was staring at me wide-eyed as the man finally passed out from a lack of oxygen and collapsed to the floor. I wriggled out from under his dead weight, groaning a little as he had been stabbing at my arm with a dagger and the blood was making my kimono wet and sticky now.

“He’s not dead, just subdued, so Mitsuhide can question him later,” I explained. “And he was one of the staff I was after, I have a feeling the other two may have already bolted after hearing the commotion, so I apologise for my failings in that aspect,” I bowed to Nobunaga.

I wasn’t expecting him to start laughing in response when I straightened with a confused look on my face. “You have just stopped me being poisoned, taken down a man much larger than yourself and then apologised because his associates may have fled like cowards,” he smirked. “Ieyasu will attend to your wounds, you will change and then you will return to my tenshu,” he smirked. It was an order as Tokugawa snorted and lead me back to his quarters.

My right arm was now firmly bandaged under my changed outfit. I had a mimicked version of male clothing that was modified for my height and figure if I stood a chance of needing to chase anyone else down then this was definitely easier than needing to rip a kimono to lock your legs around a man’s ribs as I knocked on the door to the tenshu.

“Enter,” Nobunaga sounded weary as I came in. I wasn’t surprised to find Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi there, I wasn’t expecting to see Masamune, who looked at me like a piece of meat, and Mitsunari, and then Ieyasu followed me in, looking reluctant about the entire situation.

“His two associates didn’t run quick enough,” Mitsuhide confirmed, there wasn’t any sense of humour and slithering about him. He was completely serious as Tokugawa forced me to sit down on a cushion next to Hideyoshi. “They’re working for Kennyo, and gave us some interesting information actually.”

All of the room turned to face me as Akechi smiled in a very cold manner. “What’s your surname Natsuki?” He forced my head upwards, drilling his eyes into mine.

I gave him a cool smile in return. “Uesugi,” I replied, raising my eyebrows up at the white-haired man. I could hear Hideyoshi unsheathe his sword, as did most of the room. “Lord Kenshin sent me here to do some intel work for him,” I looked directly at Oda, as I couldn’t suddenly explain how we both felt. “I wasn’t the one planting the poison spies. I routed some out from his kitchens recently, and Lord Kenshin had the feeling that someone would be doing the same to Nobunaga. He doesn’t want someone else to take his chance to destroy him in battle,”’ I explained, cursing myself internally for wounding my strong hand earlier.

“Did she, or did she not, capture one of the men intending to kill me?” Oda’s voice was cool and made his vassals and allies reconsider everything. “She could have easily allowed them to kill me earlier, but kicked a cup of tainted sake out of my hand and then took off to capture the individual.”

“Who would believe a note from their enemy that there was a third party trying to invoke war?” I asked. “I don’t know who the third party is, they departed before they would give us any name. You may have had more success,” I was looking straight at Mitsuhide.

“Kennyo.” Was his only word, glaring at me. I had all of the room against me, and it was getting hard to breathe.

“All of you, leave. I have questions to ask Natsuki,” Nobunaga’s orders were absolute. Toyotomi was considering arguing, but then caught the expression on his Lord’s face and chose otherwise. It was several long moments of silence before he moved himself and sat opposite me. The pistol he was playing with earlier was on the table. And it was fully loaded and ready to go. “You saved me from Honno-Ji, I have just saved you from my vassals and allies. You have also saved us all from the poisonings. Why? It would be easier to let us all perish at someone else’s work.”

“Lord Kenshin does not believe that is the way you are to perish,” I replied, feeling very relieved that it was a one on one situation, whilst starting to become unable to deny that I was very aware of his attraction as a man with him so close. “He believes that such tactics are not the honourable way, but the ways of a rat hiding in the undergrowth.”

I swallowed nervously as he tilted my head up. “You look nothing like Kenshin,” he frowned.

“He adopted me as a child, I was gifted the Uesugi name and trained as a poisons expert and ninja. I was the ultimate weapon. No one expects a woman to be any threat, so I can get a lot closer than most men,” I smiled faintly with pride. “He is more like a brother but I am far too aware that the politics of acknowledging it will get me married off to someone who wants their son to progress or push the family up in Lord Kenshin’s favours,” I shook my head. “I am a little too much of a free spirit,” I asserted.

Nobunaga had a smirk on his face suddenly and kissed the back of my hand as I felt my temperature rise by a thousand degrees. I was certain I was blushing and almost close to exploding as his eyes reflected a similar expression in him.

His fingers trailed over my back under the covers as I was laying on my front and looking over the scenery from his room. He kissed my shoulder to get my attention and smirked at me as I raised an eyebrow and turned over to face him.

“I’m not sure I can be sated by one time,” he murmured, his fingers tracing my lips. “I may need to send word to Kenshin that you won’t be returning,” he teased before capturing my lips in a passionate and breathtaking kiss.

“Pretty sure the whole place should be on fire after that experience,” I laughed. I stroked my fingers through his damp, dark locks as we met halfway in another kiss.

“I may need to twist things, but you are not leaving my side,” Nobunaga gruffly asserted as he bit my neck. I knew I had to be covered in bite marks, apparently, I tasted nice as his fingers dipped lower with the intention of making me pool again.

I continued to develop the poison kits in junction with Ieyasu, as we began to work our way through the known dictionary between us as to what anyone could try to use. Then we were both suddenly summoned to a war council. Nobunaga was looking unusually sombre, and the room was extremely tense as we entered. I had never been needed at these before, and then saw Kenshin was present, along with Sasuke and Yuki. I was immediately torn between which side to go to until Oda flicked his wrist for me to take the cushion next to him. Sanada and Sarutobi were surprised to see me in a council, I had very limited uses on the battlefield, and would frequently be the one left behind to manage the castle in everyone else’s absence. Uesugi could tell something had changed with me, his eyes narrowed slightly, and then flicked between me and Oda as I gave him an apologetic smile in response to our silent conversation.

“There was a secondary reason to this meeting aside from removing the mutual thorn in our side,” Nobunaga didn’t even look up from the board and strategies, as his hand found mine, and I flushed bright red. Most of the vassals and allies didn’t even know, I had kept silent on whatever it was between us, and Oda had seen no need to explain to anyone it was apparent. I was trying to figure out if it was more anger or shock on the face of Yukimura, but nothing surprised me as much as Kenshin’s calm and collected look.

“I figured as much,” Uesugi gave me a smile. I was going to die if I kept getting any redder from blood rush to the head. “There was something different in her the second I was getting my reports from Azuchi.”

“What reports?” Hideyoshi growled to me, his sword at my throat.

I calmly pushed it down, trying to stop being so embarrassed by the other two warlords. “The ones where I was sharing what patterns I was finding in the poisoners and to see if we could figure out who the third party was before they attacked and made it out that you had attacked us and vice versa,” I explained plainly, my eyes never leaving Hideyoshi’s.

Oda was chuckling at his vassal’s overprotectiveness. “I would be careful Hideyoshi, you could end up being the next poison taster, I heard Natsuki was after volunteers,” he grinned as I smirked wickedly at the man. “Anyway, I was explaining that Natsuki will not be returning to Echigo,” he shrugged at Kenshin.

“It’s quieter without her about, but I can see her response to this all without even needing to ask,” I glared at my Lord, who smiled in response. “I expect regular correspondence, however,” he added on with a serious expression. “Or I will be sending my ninja task force to return you.”

“I think this is the weirdest wedding agreement I’ve heard yet,” Masamune laughed, passing the sake and food out amongst us all.

“Wait until the wedding,” Nobunaga shrugged, a cocky grin on his face as we all shared a toast.

Chapter Text

The smell was the same as I made sure all the bandages were ready, there had been a loud explosion, and a hell of a reaction from the sounds that made it back to us at base camp. Ieyasu was usually left behind with me, but I was on my own for once. I’d finally started to understand the brute of a warlord that Nobunaga Oda was, and I couldn’t even deny my feelings to the enemy about him. There was rain threatening, and an ominous atmosphere to the whole event as soldiers were pouring back in. It was delicate work, and not the clean sort of shrapnel as I had ‘invented’ tweezers a few weeks back for this precise kind of event.

Then I saw Sasuke and Yukimura practically running through whilst carrying Shingen between them, and shouting for my name.

“Keep the pressure applied to this man’s leg,” I instructed one of the helpers. “Bathe it gently, but do not bandage it yet,” I ordered before picking up my kimono to run across the now muddy campsite.

Shingen was pale, and clearly in bad shape. His hands were soaked with blood, and I could see that clots were being washed from his palms with the pounding rain. He was dancing with death.

I shared a look with Sasuke. I could only save him with the conveniences of modern medicine and all of my knowledge. We were running out of time on the battlefields of 1582, and the wormhole was due tomorrow.

“I can’t do anything now, I’ve done all I can. The wormhole appears tomorrow, I can save him with my status in the hospital. I’ve seen the signs before, I can’t guarantee that he’ll survive now,” I was arguing in the main tent. All of the warlords had gathered, including Shingen and Kenshin. It was a tense atmosphere, even with the only common ground being that they all knew I was from the future and a doctor of modern medicine.

“There is the more pressing matter of the enemy bearing down upon us!” Hideyoshi declared, his hatred flaring in his eyes as I was torn between my two passions. I was being watched by one of those loves as I couldn’t do anything but watch this clash of male egos out.

“So make an alliance!” I finally snapped, interrupting the bickering that was going off around. “I am leaving through that wormhole to heal Shingen tomorrow. We will be returning. You clearly can’t face this adversary by yourselves, you need to work together.”

“In exchange for saving Lord Shingen, the Takeda forces will ally with Nobunaga,” it nearly broke Yukimura to propose it, watching over his lord with an anxious expression as he slumbered at the edge of the tent.

“As will the Uesugi,” Kenshin was strangled in his voice but knew I spoke with reason.

“We will return,” I promised them all, my mood tense and sombre.

I was lying on the floor after the thirteen hours of surgery to resuscitate Shingen’s lungs. There were more tumours present than candy in Nobunaga’s secret stash, and I had made sure to get each of them. The nurse bent over me with slight concern and then smiled as I moved and groaned.

“Why oh why did I do that?” I moaned and finally lifted myself from the floor. “‘Get a second consultant in Dr Sanada’ and I declined. I’m an idiot,” as the nurse helped me upright. “Get me information on Takeda’s condition, and for god’s sake make sure I get woken up from my berth if anything goes wrong.”

I sighed and threw my scrubs into the communal pot. I was exhausted, but this was merely the beginning of the uphill struggle. I had no idea how Shingen had survived so long in the past with such a chronic stage evolved. I had my head resting on my arm as I lay on my back. I was desperate for sleep, but it was evading me it seemed.

I found myself watching Takeda slumber, his vitals were all constant as I watched through the window. He was in the intensive care unit and had a nurse constantly to hand as I smiled at the thought of him being conscious, and flirting relentlessly. I had to get him well, and then back to where we belonged. My heart ached to feel Nobunaga’s touch again, it was a mere memory now. We had been stubborn enough to play each other’s games and tried to deny the obvious.

Someone was shaking my shoulder, and I found the head nurse of the intensive unit glaring at me. I had fallen asleep on the reception desk, and it looked unprofessional.

“I was looking over my patient,” I mumbled, rubbing my eyes.

“Your patient is being moved,” she complained, eyeing me up and down as I stood up. I was hardly the best dressed, and there were now members of the public milling around. “For heaven’s sake, at least look professional,” she snapped.

I made a noncommittal noise and rubbed the back of my neck. “Has he regained consciousness yet?”

“Yes,” she snottily replied and departed, leaving me feeling a little relief at the confirmation.

I followed the porter to the ward, ignoring the exhaustion beating at me as I realised that I had only caught up on a few hours of sleep. I had to ignore the shared glances between other staff members. I knew exactly what they were thinking, but my heart was elsewhere. I had a purpose as Takeda dozily grinned up at me.

“Heh, you did it, princess,” he croaked softly, his hand resting over mine on the side of the bed. “And I’ve never woken up to such beauty before,” he added.

“This is merely the start of things. We need to rebuild your lung capacity back up, it’s going to be a long process, you may be regretting ever meeting me,” I replied with a smile. “That you can call me princess and talk to me the morning after surgery, it’s one of the best things I can experience.”

I patted his shoulder and told him to rest before heading to the nurses’ station.

“I never realised that beautiful men were your thing, Dr Sanada,” Yuki smiled and hip-checked me as she laughed.

“He’s a friend from childhood, there’s no romance,” I corrected her with a look. “I’m going to sleep before my shift starts. Any changes in his condition I need to know,” I waved them all off and went to leave the ward.

Unfortunately for me, Shingen was definitely determined to get out of the hospital and escape from the attention of all the staff. It wasn’t long until he was a fixture in my apartment, and the staff’s tongues would not cease. I had heard just about everything possible. Including that we were married, especially since it was very common knowledge that we were sharing an apartment.

I had to admit to myself, it was lovely to come home to someone. Shingen was usually cooking something for my regular clinic days, and there was always something packed in the fridge for when I was working on rotation in the emergency departments or in surgery. He was seeing one of my colleagues now, there was no need for me to oversee his recovery, and it was simply now a case of waiting for him to be perfectly healthy. I wouldn’t risk anything and taking him back five hundred years where there were no antibiotics, simply my abilities and a lot of luck. I wasn’t willing to risk it.

Takeda greeted me with a bunch of flowers and a kiss to the cheek before he ducked back to the kitchen with a grin and speed to avoid the presumed slap. I shook my head, and smelt the flowers. They were a bright bunch of carnations, a combination of pink, white and red and I couldn’t help but smile.

Then I had to double take when I came through to the kitchen area.

It was a lovely duck dinner, set up as a romantic evening for two, and I felt my heart twinge.

“For me princess?” Shingen asked softly, his eyes dilating as I licked my lips subconsciously. I could feel my temperature rising as he tilted my head back with his finger. His breath was hot on my lips until I was able to get to my senses and pushed him back gently.

“I’m sorry, I can’t,” I whispered and shook my head, dashing out of the way to my room. The temptation was real, but the pain in my heart remembered the promise we’d made to each other.

It was an awkward few days, as I made everything look like we simply had just disappeared. The apartment was in order, and we were both in the clothes we had arrived in. Shingen was disgusted to see the dedication to his enemy as the weather sharply turned. We were both soaked through with rain, and thunder and lightning cracked around us.

Then it was the thick and acrid smell of burning wood. I pushed Takeda out first, I had spent months working on his respiratory system to get to this point, before we were both faced by some people we hadn’t seen in a long time.

The guards around the warlords were uncertain as to their lords' reactions, looking to them for guidance.

“Natsuki?” Yukimura was looking lost for words. “Lord Shingen?”

“Just how long have we been gone?” I asked, afraid for the answer.

“It’s 1592,” Sasuke gently replied, patting us both on the shoulder. “We need to catch up, back at Echigo. And word will be sent to Azuchi,” he reassured me.

***

I was speechless as I was on the back of Sasuke’s horse. It had all been an instinct on the ninja’s behalf that they were even in the area. Word then spread faster than we did. As half of the castle were waiting for our arrival when we reached Echigo. Yukimura had gotten married and had a couple of sons now, and even Kenshin had adopted a son apparently whilst there was a rush to arrange for a guest room for me to stay in. We had become nothing but memories and whispers in our absence as Shingen was struggling to process it all as much as I was.

“How did we lose ten years princess?” Takeda asked me, his voice broken after we were both left looking over Echigo and Kasugayama.

“I don’t know,” I replied, feeling very small and insecure. I knew my feelings hadn’t changed, but it was a long time to wait for anyone.

“You’ll be getting something to eat and then you’re both resting up. There’s no point in doing a catch up until you’ve both slept,” Sasuke announced, and made us both jump.

“I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep knowing there’s ten years worth of catching up to do,” I sighed dejectedly.

“As a doctor, you’d agree you’d need to rest,” the ninja solemnly replied.

“I hate when you use the logical reasoning against me,” I sulked.

Word had travelled much swifter than either myself or Shingen could have predicted. The following morning had Hideyoshi banging at the castle gates demanding entrance, and he was allowed entrance after a lot of bargaining to leave all their weapons behind.

I was swept up into a tight hug as soon as the vassal spotted me, and he was going to start crying with relief if he didn’t look like he had such grave news to share.

“I think it is best that we all migrate to the hall, we haven’t updated Natsuki or Shingen on any developments in their absence,” Sasuke spoke up to us all.

The staff had put on a fantastic breakfast spread, and the way everyone was tiptoeing around myself and Takeda was making me incredibly nervous. Hideyoshi wouldn’t let me sit anywhere but next to him, and Shingen was feeling a little vulnerable as well it seemed as he was seated on my other side.

“When you both left, we found out the common enemy we were facing was Kennyo. He had managed to stir up something no one could comprehend,” Sasuke opened. I didn’t know when I had started holding hands with Takeda, but it was the only way to ground myself at that moment in time. “He had a never-ending stream of resources, and even as an alliance we were beginning to struggle.”

There was definitely something that Sasuke didn’t want to tell us, as Hideyoshi let out a slightly annoyed noise next to me.

“Lord Nobunaga had to break his promise,” he softly said, turning my head to face him. I could see the sorrow in his eyes. “There was a daimyo who had the numbers of men to help us, but he would only do on one condition. His youngest daughter was wed to Lord Nobunaga a few years ago, and it allowed us to cease Kennyo’s reign of terror and put him where he belongs in the dungeons.”

I could feel the tears and my heart breaking, I was sandwiched in a hug from Hideyoshi and Shingen on both sides. I couldn’t blame anyone, it was a logical decision. It secured the safety of Japan as a whole.

It took a few minutes, but I ran out of tears and offered the room a weak smile. “Thank you for telling me,” I quietly said, “If I could be left alone for a while,” I bowed and left the room. I needed to find somewhere quiet and secluded in the gardens, just to be with myself for a while and get my head out of its dizzying cycle.

I couldn’t face Nobunaga yet. I would do in due course, that much I knew. Azuchi was my home, and I would resume the role of Chatelaine, without my additional title of princess was all. My cynical and desperate side was murmuring about becoming a mistress to Nobunaga. I couldn’t do that to him just yet as I heard the commotion of Hideyoshi leaving. He would be giving the word that I had returned as promised, and in time it was likely I would return to Azuchi. I would need to keep in written contact with the vassal, it was no one’s fault after all about what had happened. They had likely assumed that we wouldn’t be returning after such a long absence.

It was getting cold when I finally returned to Kasugayama. The maids were rushing about me and insisted on drawing me up a hot bath before bed. I thanked them quietly, and let them fuss over me. It was easier than trying to refuse them with such an idea I had found out previously with maids at Azuchi. I was in luck with Lady Akihime being about the castle, and being of a similar build to me, she had gifted me some clothes that had been recently made but she was not keen on the patterns and thought they may suit me better.

I wasn’t all that surprised to find that Shingen was waiting in my room when I came back from the bath.

“Princess,” he gave me a slight smile. “Please do not feel any rush to leave here, you are more than welcome to stay,” his words were sincere. “Anything you need, I will be more than willing to provide,” he surprised me a little with an affectionate kiss on the forehead and then bowed before leaving. I had to remember that Nobunaga was never my sole suitor in this era, and Shingen had been through it all with me. He understood the shock of finding out that ten years had passed in our absence.

I spent a few days getting back into the routine of the sixteenth century. Which was mostly enduring the caffeine headaches from the sudden withdrawal of coffee. Luckily Takeda was suffering in a similar manner, and we were both asking for daily steaming hot baths of an evening to try and help. Sasuke was sympathetic with us both and kept plying us with tea in an attempt to keep us from shying away from everything at once.

Akihime introduced herself to me as I was wondering about the castle one afternoon. She had barely seen her husband since Shingen had returned, and she was curious to find out why the notorious flirt was so obsessed with me. I smiled and suggested tea before I found myself back in the family quarters that Yukimura had commandeered before they would be returning to their home.

“Thank you for those kimonos, by the way, I forgot I didn’t have any clothes here,” I smiled weakly, trying to figure out the glamorous looking wife in front of me.

“Everyone keeps buying them for me, I have way too many here,” she brushed off with a laugh. She looked like nothing I expected from Sanada’s wife. “I think Yuki is behind half of them, but I can never get him to admit it,” she smiled. “I heard that you were Nobunaga’s lover and an Oda Princess, but then took Shingen away to cure him?”

“Yes, I’m a healer, but I knew where he could be cured. So we needed to go away for a while,” I shrugged.

“So you helped the enemy commander?” Akihime was sceptical at the best of it, and to be honest, I couldn’t blame her either.

“Sasuke and I come from the same place. Shingen is important to Sasuke, and as a healer, I take the view that it’s my point to save lives regardless of which side they belong to,” I explained awkwardly whilst staring into my tea. “I didn’t want to risk Shingen’s life by bringing him back before he was back to full health, so it turned into 10 years,” I lamely finished.

“You did look rather cosy with him,” she smirked, referring to the initial meeting on everyone’s return.

I shrugged casually, not sure what to make of the conversation as I went to leave.

“Shingen’s feeling just as lost as you are right now,” Akihime warned me before I ventured out of the room. “It’s not just your world that moved on without you.”

I changed my direction and missed the slightly smug look on Yuki’s wife’s face. I knocked on Takeda’s door and waited patiently until he slowly opened it. There was a look of surprise before I was quickly ushered in, and I saw there was a small pile of sweet buns on the table as Shingen grinned unabashedly at me.

I took a seat as he resumed heating a couple on the brazier. It was early autumn, and the evenings were getting cool as I got as close as I dare to, ignoring how amused Takeda was at the sight.

“I forgot that you like to be all cosy,” he chuckled and leant past me to heat a couple more of the buns up, before putting one into my mouth as I opened it to retort. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, just an observation,” he gently added, sitting next to me to share body heat. “After having been five hundred years ahead, I suddenly understand why both you and Sasuke had problems getting used to the weather. You did have it sorted so you were always comfortable,” he smiled as I chewed through the sweet bun.

“I’m still struggling to understand how we missed ten years,” I quietly stared at the hot coals. “I’m sure everything’s fine at Azuchi without me since he got married.”

Shingen tensed a little, before putting an arm over my shoulders in condolences. “I told you, there’s no need for you to leave ever,” he sighed, as his chin was resting on top of my head. He was warm, as I slowly snuggled into him. He shifted me into his lap and faced me to the brazier as he stuffed another sweet bun into my mouth. “I don’t have a chatelaine at the moment at my castle in Kai,” he opened, stroking my cheek and lifting my head to seek his.

“I’m sorry Shingen, I can’t offer you what you’re after,” I whispered, tears already falling. “And I’m not leading anyone on.”

I finally sent word to Hideyoshi regarding returning to Azuchi after a few weeks of feeling uncomfortable around Akihime, who didn’t trust one bit of me and trying to avoid the romantic gestures from Takeda. I was waiting in the castle with my things, not that I had many of them, and Kenshin was pacing impatiently in front of me. I hadn’t seen much of the warlord since our return to the past, he had been spending time out training soldiers and the ninjas since Sasuke had also been with him for the most part. I was picking at the skin around my nails as a messenger ran through to us.

“Hideyoshi Toyotomi has been spied, Lord Kenshin!” He announced, looking scared as I realised that neither warlord had actually shared the information that he was expected.

“Excellent,” Uesugi smiled, and it was one of his genuine ones which threw the man off the pace. “Come along Natsuki,” he casually gestured as I picked up my bag and offered an apologetic look.

Hideyoshi was unarmed as it had all been agreed beforehand. The Oda soldiers would be further down the road to pick us up and rearm the vassal. I could see flecks of silver amongst the mousey brown hair as I was settled into Hideyoshi’s arms. The two warlords kept the conversation minimal before Kenshin faced me.

“Make sure to keep in contact, or I will send Sasuke to kidnap you,” he instructed before leaving as I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Lord Nobunaga has been very withdrawn without you around,” Hideyoshi was keeping his voice quiet. “He married a daimyo’s daughter, Lady Mariko, though she’s left the role of chatelaine open, so that is to be your role again,” he explained. “There’s a lot of things that have been happening lately that can’t be explained, and I’m not entirely sure I trust her,” he admitted, stopping his horse before we reached the waiting soldiers. “I don’t think you understand how much of a hole you left,” he lifted my head up so I could look at him properly. “I can trust you, your room is in my manor, otherwise you would be trailed constantly by Mariko. And you might want to change the rouse to being my lover to shake her on occasions,” he offered.

“If we go with that front from the start, then it may make her less suspicious and I might be able to move around a little more freely,” I offered weakly, trying to stop my heart from aching.

“Don’t worry, it’s just between us,” Hideyoshi smiled, and patted my head in understanding.

***

Azuchi hadn’t changed much from the outside as we approached. Toyotomi gave me a gentle squeeze. I couldn’t believe how hard it must be for him to be in this situation to not trust his Lord’s wife. I was struggling to not stare when Nobunaga and a beautiful woman appeared on the tenshu balcony.

“Yes, that’s Mariko,” Hideyoshi murmured in my ear, and then kissed my cheek as I realised it was all for show.

“Do they have any children?” I asked consciously.

“Thankfully not,” Toyotomi chuckled.

Oda was glaring at his vassal, especially since Hideyoshi kept his hands around me, but refused to meet my gaze. Mariko was glancing me over and scoffed before leaving. She never came down to greet her new chatelaine as Toyotomi took my things and me through to his manor. I was surprised to find all of the other warlords gathered there, and ended up in the middle of a celebration. Masamune had his heart stolen by a lovely woman called Megohime, who was busy drinking what her husband couldn’t, whilst Date was dishing up all the food. Mitsunari didn’t have a book in hand for the first time ever, and Ieyasu was as prickly as ever. I smiled as I realised what I had been missing since I left, Hideyoshi sat himself next to me comfortably as Ashai entered and immediately started to tell Ieyasu off about leaving her out.

Mitsuhide was the last person to show. He was looking worn down, and immediately grabbed a bottle of sake as the rest of the room looked on with concern.

“We’re right, we’re all right,” he sulked. “She’s behind all of the disappearances, she’s slipping different poisons into the kitchen supplies. And she was even behind the surge in Kennyo’s men,” he stated.

“Who is he talking about?” I asked, and startled the serpent.

“Ah, our princess and the piece we need returns,” he cynically raised his cup to me.

“Mariko,” Masamune gravely explained. “We’ve had staff dying suspiciously. And then someone started to tamper with the food supplies. Not enough to kill someone instantly, but to drag it all out and make it look like an illness that kills them,” he looked at me. “Do you still love him?”

“I only stayed away because I was told he was married and had to break our promise to win against Kennyo. I completely understand why, it was a logical and peaceful decision,” I shrugged. “If I didn’t love him, I would have run off with Shingen. It was offered to me on several occasions.”

“I think that’s just made things easier at least,” Mitsuhide let one of his snake-like smiles out. “Because I’ve found out the marriage has never been consummated,” he sipped at the sake whilst staring at me. “So is the plan to rile up Lord Nobunaga to the point he runs off with Natsuki then?” he smirked at Hideyoshi.

“That front is just to keep Mariko off Natsuki’s back whilst she reinstates herself as chatelaine,” Toyotomi sighed. “I’m not intending to do anything of the sort to Lord Nobunaga.”

“But it will have that side effect,” Masamune was amused.

“Perhaps,” I shrugged. “So no one outside of this room knows right?” I asked, feeling my brow creased with worry.

“And that’s always going to be the case,” Hideyoshi patted my head in reassurance. “For now, eat, drink and then we’ll get some rest.”

It was a couple of mornings later before I was brought before the war council. Nobunaga couldn’t avoid me any longer, as I was formally reinstated as chatelaine. I swore I could hear the entirety of the staff sigh in relief, whilst I was then being icily glared at by Mariko. Up close, I could see that she was the image of perfect beauty, but her aura was something else. I needed to keep my calm around her, she would be relentlessly harassing me I could sense as Oda dismissed me quickly.

“Do not be so hasty husband,” Mariko had a sickly sweet voice, and immediately commanded the attention of the room. “I have heard of you,” she sauntered towards me, her hips slinking from side to side as she eyed me up with suspicion. “That you simply disappeared last time,” she sneered. “What stops you from doing it again? Or having a motive?”

“My Lord, I do object to this,” Hideyoshi’s interruption surprised the Lord and ‘Lady’. “I begged for Natsuki to return once I had found her. I professed my love for her, and she is staying in my manor with the intention of becoming my wife,” he declared. I went bright red at the public announcement, and Mariko stepped back from me with a look of disgust.

“You would settle for her?” The ‘Lady’ of the manor was trying to discredit me.

“There is no settling involved when it comes to Natsuki,” Hideyoshi had moved himself to stand protectively next to me. “She has arrived home, and just wishes to make things as they were.” I was too busy being embarrassed to notice that the vassal was glaring his Lord down.

“Hm, dismissed,” Mariko snorted with a little wave of the hand.

I found some of the older staff members who did remember me, and were gleeful at my return and reinstated role. Mariko had let a lot slide, as I went to ascertain what the staff as a whole needed help with. It was never above me to grab a rag and a bucket of water and soap to clean the floors if that was what was needed. And I was spied on occasions by the Lady of the manor. I could feel her contempt for me, though Hideyoshi was perfect at holding onto the painted picture of a happy couple and would make sure to come and help me towards the end of the day or send for me on occasions to get me out of some work. We had a shared futon in his room, and would naturally end up cuddling at nights. Nobunaga was avoiding me at all costs it was confirmed.

Mitsuhide and Masamune were present in Hideyoshi’s ‘office’ as I let myself in after getting lectured by Mariko for not cleaning the tenshu personally. They both looked amused, until I dropped my weight onto a cushion, and face planted into Hideyoshi’s back.

“What did she want you to do this time?” Toyotomi knew my routine and continued pouring out the tea without finding it unusual.

“Clean the tenshu personally, even though Nobunaga won’t let me in to clean it, so I have to send other maids to do it,” I shook my head after a moment of feeling some warmth. “I spent the afternoon combing through the spices again, and found some more of these in with the wasabi, so I imagine that Ieyasu was going to be the next target. When did he upset her?”

“He was being his usual self, he proved that one of her suggestions was futile,” Masamune had lost all sense of playfulness. “She doesn’t like being wrong.”

“She’s a disease on this place,” Hideyoshi spoke bitterly.

“We’re working on ridding her,” I calmly interjected. “I could do it quickly gentlemen, but I fear that it would force Nobunaga to execute me.”

“I am sorely tempted lass,” Date frowned. “And that is the worrying part.”

“Could she have been involved with the reason that Kennyo was suddenly defeated?” I poised.

I was met with silence.

Mitsuhide was the first to look at me. “My my, a smart little chatelaine aren’t we? I will have to investigate.”

Mariko was determined to push me past my limit. I was finding everything I had to do was ruined the second I turned my back, as I returned in the middle of the night yet again to Hideyoshi’s manor.

“Natsuki?” Mitsuhide’s voice wasn’t one I was expecting to pass. “She knows you’re the person between her and complete control,” he confirmed. “You were right. She convinced her father to swap sides. He was helping Kennyo to defeat Oda, and then she saw Lord Nobunaga, and decided she wanted him.”

“Now she’s taking you all out,” I added on in realisation.

“She’s trying to remove you as much as the rest of us, make Nobunaga the most powerful and secure herself,” Hideyoshi chimed in, his arm pulling me in to him.

“If I didn’t know you two weren’t involved, I would say you had plans of marriage,” Akechi had a playful tone but caused us both to blush.

“That is an interesting thing to overhear,” we all froze at the sound of Oda’s voice, and the man turned the corner. “That my vassal is not actually involved with my chatelaine. Why the rouse? I called for you several days ago Mitsuhide, but I was told you were away on business, yet I was not informed.”

“Because I asked him to,” I interjected, and turned all the focus onto me. “I heard about how quickly things had turned around in the war. I studied the tactics and reports. There was something very wrong, and I had the feeling her family were the cause. I didn’t realise that Mariko was the root,” I argued, glaring at the man who had refused to face me since my return. “She’s trying to kill everyone off in this castle!”

I was expecting a slap, or to be stripped of everything.

I was encased in love and passion, his lips hot and demanding on mine as I clutched at his kimono in surprise. I was dizzy with lack of air as we broke apart, though he refused to let me go physically. Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide had smiles on their faces as I blushed furiously at the situation I was in.

“Now this feels more normal,” Mitsuhide was looking satisfied with himself. “I have the necessary proof my Lord of course. I never return empty-handed.”

“I know, for now, I will be borrowing one of your guest rooms and your fronted lover,” Oda smirked, picking me up in his arms and stalking off in the other direction.

I could feel Nobunaga’s tension drain from him as we basked in the afterglow. His head was resting on my chest as I drew patterns with my fingers on his bare back.

“I don’t think you have any idea what morals of mine I have just broken, and how many,” I murmured.

“You are mine alone, as I am yours,” Nobunaga was refusing to move.

“I know you have never consummated it,” I gently replied, moving my fingers up to run through his hair.

“Much to her disgust,” Oda lifted his head and kissed me deeply. His lips were soft yet demanding. “I should really go and look over the information that will allow you to regain your rightful place as my Lady and Princess,” he shrugged, and reluctantly rose from the futon. I had to admire the muscles he still had.

“We still have a lot of catching up to do,” I warned him, staying under the sheets.

“We do, stay here and sleep, I have kept you up all night, and you will be up tonight as well,” he instructed, kissing my forehead before leaving.

It was late evening before I was summoned to the castle, and I had just bathed. I dressed as the chatelaine would, and found out that it was a war council being held. Mariko was a storm of fury and stood in the middle of the room. I made eye contact with Nobunaga, and a slight hand gesture told me to take the dais next to him that was currently free.

“Oh, I knew you’d be behind this!” Mariko was sounding hysterical as I took my instructed seat. “All of a sudden, you appear after being missing for over ten years, and then I’m being ‘dethroned’!” She gasped and then flung herself suddenly at me.

It wasn’t the first time I had to wrestle with someone as I tried to recall the urgent pressure points. That she had me pinned to the floor was currently her advantage, then I twisted her leg to move her centre of balance and caused her to topple. I scrambled to my feet in an attempt to gain some distance, and hopefully for the insane woman to get any perspective and realise that she was attacking me in front of a room full of warlords.

I deflected her next punch and made sure to keep light on my feet. I knew the basics of self-defence after being taught as part of my course as a doctor. You had to be prepared for the worst and taught to subdue any patients who did get violent. This was something that was ingrained more into the men ironically than the women, even if statistics showed it was the women who were more likely to be attacked and hurt. I kept aiming for her face and legs. Either to discombobulate her or unsteady her so I could get her pinned on the floor. She was quick, I had to commend her.

Then she drew a blade on me.

Blood was dripping onto the floor as I wrestled her arms behind her back, and Hideyoshi swiftly took over. I wiped my split lip and realised that my nose was flowing just as freely. Nobunaga had a proud look on his face as I turned around.

“You could have helped,” I sighed, and using my kimono sleeve to try and stem the blood out of my nose.

“I needed you to show your strength. She saw you as the threat, not anyone else. She was point blank refusing to acknowledge a single truth until you entered,” Oda replied. “Her reaction proved her guilt, and pulling a blade is a dangerous offence,” he kissed my forehead. “You are not seriously wounded anyway, I wouldn’t have allowed it,” he chuckled. “The divorce will be finalised swiftly, and her father will be deposed. The lands will be absorbed and I dare say the quality of life for the peasants will increase if they are no longer forced to become soldiers,” he shrugged confidently.

“If that is your way of proposing-” I began before his lips cut me off swiftly. His tongue dominant as my head was cradled in his hand.

“I would never dream of such a thing Princess,” he haughtily replied. “I expect to see you later in the tenshu once you have tended to the wounds though,” he smirked as he left to sort out his soon-to-be ex-wife's situation in the dungeons.

Chapter Text

“Natsuki, just what are you wearing?” I looked up from my current position on the floor, to find Hideyoshi staring at me.

“Trousers, they’re designed for this sort of work. We keep getting rats and snakes in the stores, so I’m looking for nests,” I calmly explained. “But wearing a kimono means I can’t move quickly if I stumble on a nest by accident and get attacked.”

He was quick to stand me up. “It’s not a good idea for the Princess to be doing this work,” he scolded.

“I know generally what I’m looking for,” I was in disbelief that Toyotomi was dragging me back inside. “I grew up doing this sort of work!” I argued, eventually pulling my arm back. “My brothers were busy out collecting crops, and I had the slim wrists to get inside holes.”

“It’s putting yourself in unnecessary danger,” I was being reprimanded still as we entered the kitchens again. “Get one of the staff to do it.”

“Great idea, except they didn’t grow up on farms looking for these things,” I scoffed.

“I told you he’d find out before you could finish the job lass,” Masamune was busy laughing, and slung his arm over our shoulders. “There’s a visitor for you in the main hall Hideyoshi, something about marriage?” He frowned as I stiffened up slightly.

The vassal flushed bright red and quickly disappeared.

“I’m going back to snake hunting, we need the food supplies if someone’s getting married,” I bitterly stated to the room and stalked straight back outside.

It took me and Masamune a few hours, but we had the snakes skinned and ready for eating once I came back in with a bag full of them. It seemed a shame to waste the meat when there would appear to be an occasion to rise up to, and then Hideyoshi burst into the kitchen with his eyes a little frantic.

He didn’t even tell me off as he ducked under the covered counter we were working on, as a young and highly decorated girl popped her head in. She was all smiles and covered in very expensive fabrics.

“Have you seen Hideyoshi? He ran off when I kept asking him why my letters were being ignored?” She sighed.

“Sorry,” I smiled, “He’d be giving me a lecture if he was here, I went back out and did what he told me not to,” I chuckled. “I didn’t realise we had a guest tonight.”

“Sorry? ‘We’?” She looked me up and down. I was still in the trousers and top I’d made for the outdoor tasks, and I was being judged heavily for it.

“Yes, ‘we’,” Masamune grinned, enjoying the tension. “This is Lady Natsuki, Princess of the Oda,” he announced, waving his knife around flamboyantly. The woman snapped to attention almost and blushed faintly as she bowed.

“Oh many apologies, I thought you were a servant,” she mumbled.

“I take my duties as chatelaine seriously, and I am not one for formality. You are not the first to make the mistake and will not be the last,” I smiled, and bowed in response. “I’m sorry, who are you?”

“I am Lady Nene,” she proudly announced. “I am to be wed to Lord Hideyoshi,” she smugly added as I stabbed my knife into the chopping board. “I really need to find him,” she swiftly disappeared after my little display.

I stepped back from the counter and lifted the covers up. Masamune was already glaring at the vassal from the other side, as Toyotomi had the decency to look ashamed.

“I wondered what all those letters were,” I icily broke the silence. “I guess congratulations are in order then.”

“It’s not like that. Nene thinks we’re getting married because it was mentioned in passing years ago,” Hideyoshi started.

“Just get out of here,” I scoffed, going back to the meal preparation.

Nobunaga enjoyed the snake soup as did most of the hall. I purposely kept away from Toyotomi, and Masamune was very helpful in assisting me. Nene was able to corner Hideyoshi and made it clear that she assumed that the wedding would be taking place as soon as possible. She hadn’t made herself very popular unfortunately with the decision, as Nene either ignored or just didn’t notice all the glances in my direction every time it was mentioned. Oda summoned me suddenly and made a fuss over ensuring I was going to his tenshu, and then smirked as the comment was made about ensuring the sheets wouldn’t be cold for him in a short while. I glared at the male as I left the room, ignoring the intended effect it had had.

I poked the brazier that Oda only ever had going when I was needed of an evening or night time. He occasionally needed someone just to play go with at stupid hours, or reel off ideas to who wouldn’t be battle minded about the situation. It looked suspicious as hell, especially when you’re spotting coming out of your boss’ room at stupid o’clock. Hideyoshi had bust in on us one time and was surprised to find us in the middle of a game of go. It was at that point that Nobunaga had told his vassal to stop being so obvious about things and that it had taken him long enough to act on his feelings.

The Lord got the familiar board out along with all the pieces. “It’s been a while, I hope you haven’t stagnated in your abilities,” he casually shrugged as I was passed the black pieces automatically.

“Well, we’ll just have to keep playing all night if I have,” I replied, my feelings on events clear.

Dawn was threatening to break as we finished our third game. I never won, but I could make it difficult for Oda and use different strategies to make him plan otherwise. It was a good way for his mind to be sharpened.

A knock at the door surprised us both before Nobunaga called them in. Nene was surprised to find me there and then spied the board.

“Apologies, you are clearly busy,” she went to leave.

“Not as busy as I’d like to be, what is the matter?” Nobunaga’s voice was like ice and demanded obedience instantly as even I straightened my posture.

“I was searching for Lady Natsuki, there is a problem with my accommodation,” she replied and looked a little afraid.

“You need to meditate before starting the day,” this was my way of telling Oda I had to fight my own battles on occasions, even if it hurt every one of them around me to see me do it. I drew Nene away from the tenshu until we were out of hearing range. “The only problem you will have with your accommodation is that it is not in Hideyoshi’s manor, which is not in my domain, I suggest talking to Hideyoshi,” I sharply replied and went to leave.

“Does Hideyoshi’s manor not come under your domain then?” She questioned snobbishly.

“Hideyoshi’s manor is his domain. I am Nobunaga Oda’s and Azuchi’s chatelaine. I leave each of the warlords to manage their own manors, as I generally do not assume them incapable of running them,” I snapped, irritable from the lack of sleep. “Now if you will excuse me, I have my own quarters to return to-”

“You can’t have all of them to yourself,” Nene’s tone was haughty, and stopped me in my tracks. “I noticed that every time I mentioned my impending marriage to Hideyoshi, then at least half of the people around me would look at you, and you were purposely avoiding me and Hideyoshi last night,” she pointed out. “Then I saw how relaxed Masamune was with you, and you’ve just spent the night with Nobunaga!”

“Don’t talk like you know what’s really going off,” Masamune’s voice made us both jump, and he had a deep frown on his face. “You’re trying to ruin Natsuki and get Hideyoshi to yourself,” he had his arms folded and stood next to us both. “Natsuki plays go with Nobunaga through the night to help him think out problems and come up with new battle plans. Or she goes through them all with him, and always after working a full day in the castle too. Then she’s always helping me with the cooking when I need it, and she’s always a good person to come up with new dishes and has great ideas about food preservation for the troops. And I can’t blame her about avoiding you and Hideyoshi last night, this is the first any of us are hearing about marriage.”

“What?” Nene’s voice was small.

“Hideyoshi never told anyone he was due to get married,” I repeated to her. “More than a bit of a shock to find out you’re the mistress,” I shrugged and left swiftly, making sure to find one of the maids to tell them to not disturb me after a night of playing go again.

Nene was a long-staying guest and acted as her standing in society demanded. Where I acted completely as the farm girl I had grown up as. There was definitely no competition between us, especially when her father made a special visit to Azuchi to meet with Hideyoshi. Virtually all of my time was spent between Nobunaga and Masamune these days. I was either focused on cooking, or playing go between my chatelaine duties anyway.

“Out of my way!” A middle-aged man roughly pushed me aside, and the snake I was holding bit me hard on the opposite wrist before I could smash its brains in.

The maids instantly starting yelling for Ieyasu and Nobunaga much to the stranger’s surprise, and to see the icy glance of his lord froze the male to the core. The snake was luckily identified as not venomous, but there was still the matter of removing the teeth carefully so that minimal damage would be done.

“She’s just a maid, I do not understand the reason for this-” I overheard as Ieyasu led me to the war council.

Nobunaga looked relieved to see me as our arrival interrupted the whole process. “She’s our Chatelaine,” Oda casually corrected, and issued the directive for me to sit next to him. “And the Princess of the Oda,” he drove home. The man was pale.

“Why was she carrying around a live snake then?” He spat. “With such prestige, I would never allow my daughter to do anything like that!” The man gestured to Nene, as it became obvious as to the intentions of his visit.

“To identify if it was venomous or not, so she could react accordingly and either find the nest to get rid of it, or make our next meal,” Oda was casual about the whole matter, which was making everyone even more nervous. “It’s something that is just part of Natsuki’s charm,” he smiled, lifting my head up so our eyes met. He was definitely planning something from the gleam in his eye, and I was involved deeply as well. “Not becoming behaviour from my future wife, but I fail to see what harm it truly does, she has the devotion of all the staff naturally from her actions.”

The whole room did a spit take.

Ieyasu was ordered to escort me back to the tenshu after cleaning up from the day’s activities. I was desperate to find out the play on this one, and Nobunaga was making me wait.

I was dressed appropriately, my hair loose for once instead of styled out of the way, and in one of my basic kimonos which was covered over by a haori on my trip between our rooms. I was certainly eager to find out what the master plan was that Oda had as I made some tea in preparation.

It was some time before Nobunaga came up to the tenshu, and appeared to be humoured by the developments more than anything as he picked up the sake bottle left by the maids. Word would be all over Azuchi by morning as we made eye contact.

“It will either ensure that we have no repeats of incidents like that, or it will make monkey aware of what he needs to do,” Oda shrugged, and pulled back his covers on the futon. “You may as well get in,” he stated. “It will be warmer than staying out all night.”

I had to reluctantly concede. Nobunaga pinned me to him, his hands staying in friendly places as my head was resting against his chest. We said nothing as Oda was making me calm down, his fingers running through my hair in a soothing pattern.

“I have no intention of making anything change,” Nobunaga reassured me. “But it has been a few nights since you’ve properly slept, and I wasn’t intending on making the announcement so suddenly until that man made a terrible mistake. I needed to make a statement of sorts.”

“Hideyoshi didn’t look like he was going to object,” I sulkily added. “He worships the grounds you walk on. You announced the intention to marry me, he won’t dare contradict it.”

“He’s told me off on a few occasions,” I could hear the smirk in Nobunaga’s tone. “Over you nonetheless. But for now, you are to sleep. We need to make the monkey truly consider his situation, or I’m sending him far off,” I had to remember that the man currently looking over me was a warlord as much as the next male in this castle.

I was dressed as the princess over the next few days. Nene paled a little any time she saw me and realised that it wasn’t just a slip of the tongue about my status. She made all the formal efforts in greetings now as we passed, which I dutifully returned. The scars from the snake were still tightly bandaged, mostly to keep them clean especially with it being an area of the body that was frequently moved so the skin was liable to breakage. I hadn’t seen her father since the announcement, and I noticed that a lot of the staff were whispering behind our backs.

“They’re just shocked,” Masamune drew my attention from some distant murmurings. “I didn’t realise this was the plan he had to be honest,” Date kept his voice low as he tried to draw me away from everyone. “Hideyoshi has been staying at his manor since the announcement, and I saw Nene looking proud and accomplished this morning.”

“He didn’t?” I whispered, tears threatening.

“I’ve got people on it,” Masamune reassured me. “Come on, let’s go out to the gardens. I’ve been told Nobunaga is out there anyway and we don’t need anyone gossiping more than usual,” he gave me a sad smile and escorted me accordingly.

Oda was looking furious as we approached. I was almost expecting him to declare war on us as his head snapped up. I was tightly hugged in a surprise move.

“He’s an idiot, an absolute idiot,” Nobunaga growled, keeping his voice low as Date was staying close enough to listen. “He’s going to marry her-”

“What?” I was speaking in tandem with Masamune, both of us shocked and staring slack-jawed at the dark haired male.

“He’s marrying Nene, her father has something, I’ve already got Mitsuhide on it,” he bitterly complained.

“We’re playing go tonight,” I grumbled. “And can I stop being paraded as a doll yet? He’s marrying her, so it’s fine,” I complained, whilst gesturing to my overly dressy kimonos.

“No, it’s not fine,” Date frowned.

“But yes you can resume your unusual outfits again, I imagine the staff are missing your help as well,” Oda sighed, and I was released from their interfering for now.

Officially, there was nothing to be done. I had the maids draw me a bath, only to be told that Nene had apparently commandeered all of the amenities.

“Seriously?” I asked, looking surprised. “I thought she was staying at Hideyoshi’s manor?”

“Sorry, Lady Natsuki,” one of the girls apologised. “She insisted that she hadn’t been formally handed over yet.”

“Just get me some wash bowls then,” I sighed. “And if she’s got all of them just bring me some clean pots with hot water in,” I shrugged and departed swiftly.

I was absent-mindedly playing with my hair when the maids entered with a makeshift answer, an apologetic look on their faces. A brand new trough had been made, and they brought it in to fill it with the hot water much to my amusement.

“That’s one way to send it into service,” I laughed, slipping behind my screen to get changed.

I was already in bed when someone knocked at my door. I grunted and turned over, determined to ignore it until it was opened regardless. I wasn’t sure who was more surprised, Nene to find I was actually in my room, or me to find out that one of the warlord’s future wife’s was about to try snooping in my room. She bolted, only to not realise that I was a lot faster, and also stronger than I looked as I yelled for Masamune and Nobunaga. Hideyoshi was looking pale to find Nene pinned to the floor, especially considering how furious I had to be looking.

Half of the castle was awake, and Mitsuhide had returned. He wasn’t looking impressed, as all of the warlords were now gathered in the main hall. Nene was looking the picture of grace in the middle, as though there was a perfectly logical explanation for being caught in my room in the middle of the night.

“One of the maids mentioned she may have left my kimono in Lady Natsuki’s room,” was the best she could come up with. A collective groan erupted before Nobunaga was able to silence us all with a look.

“Why are you so insistent on marrying Hideyoshi? He made no mention of getting married to any of us,” Oda calmly asked.

Her smile was calculating. “It was the long-standing agreement between our parents-”

I couldn’t stop my laughter, as the whole room stared at me. “Sorry, an amateur mistake is not knowing the background of your target,” I grinned unapologetically.

Nene’s face fell, as Nobunaga turned his gaze to his other vassal. Akechi was calmly waiting his turn.

“Turns out that Nene’s father has been telling some blackened truths,” he smiled and reminded me a lot of the snakes I had been looking for. The one thing about snakes is that they were highly protective of their own, and that was Mitsuhide all over. “I have the evidence naturally, and the man is also in our dungeons as we speak.”

I left the main hall as Nobunaga nodded at me, and I was surprised to hear someone following me seconds after I left.

Hideyoshi had me in a tight hug from behind the second he caught up.

“I hated every second of that,” he muttered, unwilling to let me go. “Especially when I had to stop seeing you at nights, I didn’t realise how lonely it got,” he sighed, squeezing me softly. “She was very trying the entire time, I have no idea how you kept your head. I was losing mine when Nobunaga deviated from the plan and declaring that you were going to be his wife.”

“I am never letting Nobunaga pull that one again, and we both know that was his signal to you to step up the resources and find out what was going on,” I admitted, and started to lead Toyotomi towards my room before I was up in his arms.

“Your room may be closer, but I’m not letting anyone near you,” he sulked and promptly stalked off to his manor.

Chapter Text

“Oh, you poor thing,” Kina, one of the maids was holding my hair back, as I couldn’t keep my stomach’s contents in anymore. “We all thought you were getting better too,” she sympathised, patting my head down with a damp, cool cloth as I continued to throw up into a bucket. “You’ve been looking really pasty the past few days. I wonder what on earth is wrong?”

“Buddha knows,” I groaned. Ieyasu had taken the time to leave me in Nobunaga’s care, he didn’t trust to move me to his castle in Mikawa just yet with Kennyo having escaped from his capture. “I just need to go back to bed it seems. Can you send someone in with ginger tea, please? It’s about the only thing that helps.”

Something twigged in the maid’s head as I left to go back to Ieyasu’s manor. He had been gone for several weeks so far, and this illness had been lasting for the past several days. I would feel fine after so long, then I’d get a smell of food and it would just come straight back.

“Natsuki,” that familiar voice and its annoyed tone brought me some warmth as I opened my eyes slowly. I didn’t remember going to bed as I turned over on the futon. Ieyasu was cross with me, as Hideyoshi was next to him and wearing a similar expression. “The maids said you wouldn’t let them send any word you were sick,” he scolded.

“It comes and goes,” I grumbled, sticking my bottom lip out in a pout. “There was no need to call you back just because you’re my husband. They’re all making it out to be a big deal.”

“You fell asleep at the table before they could bring you your ginger tea,” Hideyoshi was joining in now. “And it’s not the first time they’ve had to do it.”

The reheated ginger tea was pushed in front of me. Ieyasu and Hideyoshi meant well and worried for me, but they had more than just me to worry about as the faintest smells of cooking wafted through.

I grabbed the nearest bucket as I reacted violently, only to find there wasn’t anything left to come up again. I was just making the horrible retching noises, and my body was trying to force something that wasn’t there.

Masamune was made to stick ginger in everything for me. He made me a bowl of sticky rice with ginger infused into it, and a lot of it, as Ieyasu looked smug about it working, and then began to calculate something on his fingers as I ate it delicately. Hideyoshi was watching my husband with vivid interest, as Ieyasu went pale and rushed off somewhere. Date and Toyotomi both exchanged a look, but stayed with me, as I was encouraged to finish the rice.

“You’ve only eaten rice and ginger for three days now,” Masamune was complaining about it all to me, as I shrugged and went to get on with the cleaning as far away from the kitchens as possible.

“It stays down, it works, it’s fine!” I laughed. Ginger was just about the only thing I could face, and it was puzzling me. Ieyasu wasn’t even about currently to talk to the medical side of things, he was spending a lot of time avoiding me it felt like as I started scrubbing the floors at the far end of the manor.

Kina was resolute in her theory to Ieyasu. Lady Natsuki was pregnant, there was only one thing that she obviously couldn’t confirm, which Ieyasu would need to approach with the woman. She would work little and often and end up asleep in corners of the manor that most servants didn’t think to check, and then there was the craving for ginger it seemed. And more than a couple of maids had to be rescued from being fired before she had collapsed in a sobbing heap on the floor. The two of them felt like it was getting slightly obvious as the maid left Tokugawa with the idea.

At least with keeping food down, Natsuki was less of a walking temper prone bomb as Ieyasu was absorbed in thought. Then he heard her stumble and drop the bucket she’d been carrying.

I blinked as I looked up to find that Ieyasu had caught me before I could go far.

“Are you okay?” He frowned, looking very concerned.

“Yeah, I just came over a bit dizzy,” I waved off. “I just need to rest,” I weakly smiled, and then squeaked as I was hoisted up bridal style in his arms. “Ieyasu!” I scolded and threw my arms around his neck to keep me steady.

“We need a chat in private and away from prying ears,” he explained, swiftly walking off to our room.

He made sure that no one was about, whilst I was eating some ginger rice, and drinking ginger tea. I wasn’t allowed to move from my spot at the table, and I had an inkling I needed to humour him on this occasion.

“When did this all start?” Tokugawa sat himself down next to me after satisfying himself that no one was close.

“Just over a week ago,” I shrugged and sighed as he gave me a look to tell me to continue. “I woke up in the middle of the night, and I was just violently sick. I’ve been tired a lot since then, aching in various parts, and unless I currently have ginger near me I struggle to eat.”

“Natsuki. I love you, but you should be more aware to the symptoms than I am,” Ieyasu was giving me the look that told me I was missing the obvious. “Could you be pregnant you think?” He sighed.

“That… kind of explains things if I am,” I slowly admitted.

“For now, take a few days. If you are sick, then you clearly aren’t over it, so stop trying to help the maids. You’ll just create more work if you keep this up,” he pointed out. “You keep falling asleep, so just nap when you need to,” he cuddled up to me, sighing loudly. “You really do like to make things hard for yourself, don’t you?” He murmured as I rested my head against his shoulder.

A few weeks later, I was largely back to normal on the food front. Ginger was still my preference, and Ieyasu was complaining loudly about the sheer volume I was capable of consuming to anyone who passed by him. I was doing some of my usual work about the manor, though not as much still as before. I had reduced duties as I was so tired all the time, and would frequently disappear back to our quarters for some rest and sleep. Kina was the only maid who had any ideas, and just tapped her nose as a signal to me whilst the others would be commenting on my change in behaviour. I was surprised to find that Tokugawa was in our room as I came back for some tea and relaxation.

He was looking a little stunned before wrapping me up in a hug, and then pushed me towards the bed.

His intentions were pure, which was what was making me laugh the most. My obis weren’t done up as tightly, and I had to have some breathing space in everything I wore as the most ungracious part of him couldn’t wait and pulled the bottom of my kimono up. His hand smoothed over the growing bump in my abdomen. He was transfixed by it, I could feel the love in his movements. It always needed to be skin to skin for him to keep believing it before he kissed me on the forehead.

“If I could spend all afternoon here with you two I would,” he mumbled and dashed off to what was likely another council.

It wasn’t the perfect environment to raise a child in. But if you kept waiting for the perfect chance, it would never come. I smiled as I thought of the love that Ieyasu was constantly showering me in, I had always made the promise that I would be the home he wanted to return to. And I wasn’t letting that one go.

Chapter Text

No one expected that me and Hideyoshi would be inseparable. Our parents were always trying to distance us, and get me into the ‘girly’ things, whilst encouraging my twin brother to pursue the ‘boy’ stuff that I would inevitably follow him into, or even better, I’d lead him there. Then we found that we had a mutual passion in fashion. He would be eager to show off my work and strut his stuff on the catwalks. When his agent realised that Hideyoshi had a twin sister, he got far too excited. I wasn’t into makeup or becoming a model in any sense. I was simply good at understanding colours, making clothes and getting my brother dressed to kill. He had taken care of his appearance, where I had spent many late nights slaving over projects to ensure perfection. As a result, most people just thought I was his manager or PA. Though on a couple of occasions, I had been used as practice by the makeup artists, and then apparently the fact we were twins shone like a lighthouse in the dark.

We were just taking a break together, we’d bought our first apartment, and I’d managed to land my dream job at a fashion designers. I was dubious that it wasn’t solely down to the fact that they thought I might get Hideyoshi to come and model for them, but it got me in to where I wanted, and out of my brother’s shadow for a little while.

I had dragged Hideyoshi out for a late walk. I wanted to see the park at night, and we passed the monument to Nobunaga Oda. I paused and tilted my head as I absorbed what it was saying. The font was intriguing me somehow as another gentleman came in passing and discussed it lightly, and then we ended up in a burning building full of smoke after a storm had appeared from nowhere. I was coughing heavily and pulled a man out from the flames.

“Natsuki!” Hideyoshi wrapped me up tightly in his arms, and then we were surrounded on all sides by horses and armour, and a lot of soldiers. I didn’t understand what was going off as a horse was found for Hideyoshi to ride, whilst I was secured in the arms of a retainer. I had rescued Nobunaga Oda from the fire which was meant to have killed him.

The gentleman who had been discussing things with us before the sudden change in the year was now a ninja who let himself in through my ceiling. He explained that a wormhole had transported us five hundred years into the past and that by saving Nobunaga Oda, history was changed for now at least.

I was appointed the chatelaine of Azuchi, and given the title of Princess, whilst Hideyoshi was then taken on as a vassal of Nobunaga Oda. Masamune took to training him, with an over-enthusiastic form, whilst I found that the seamstresses were always after a hand. I was able to learn the traditional techniques of kimono making that had been lost to machinery, and I was a little too excited as the girls teased me in good taste.

I was surprised to walk into Nobunaga one evening, and he had a wicked grin on his face that made me highly suspicious. I was dragged along to the kitchen storage area, where he had a supply of sugar candies. I opened my mouth to object when a couple were pushed past my lips, and he shut my jaw with a slender finger.

“There you are,” Hideyoshi scolded his Lord, and then turned on me with despair. “Your brother is going out of his mind looking for you and here you are stealing candies away,” he lectured.

Oda merely smirked and swaggered away, letting the tellings off slide off his back like oil on water as his retainer turned to face me.

“Yoshi would be here normally by now,” I shrugged, there was no point in denying what had happened. “He’d smell that there was a man that close to me with no supervision,” I replied as my brother finally appeared, with a very similar look on his face to Hideyoshi. “You’re late,” I chuckled and patted his shoulder as I brushed past to go to bed.

It was getting harder to remember that we didn’t belong here. I was watching Yoshi and Masamune during a practice match, the wooden swords were given by Hideyoshi at the vassal’s insistence, much to the dismay of the two opponents. I felt the slight draft of a haori and turned my head to see Nobunaga joining me.

“I have heard you’ve had Mitsunari teaching you to play go,” he humoured, looking over the practice.

“I figured it would help understand the battle plans that you usually discuss,” I explained. “I spend enough of my time listening to what you are doing, I may as well try to understand to stop irritating Ieyasu,” I smiled.

“Then I challenge you to a match tonight,” he smirked and leant over to whisper in my ear. “My tenshu, after dinner. I heard you beat Mitsunari,” his breath was hot on my skin as I nodded in response, trying to ignore the flush of my skin as he left as swiftly as he had arrived. And then glanced over to see that all three warlords in the practice area were watching me with vivid interest. I stuck my tongue out towards my brother and departed, eager to get away to somewhere a little quieter to cool my blush down.

Masamune was calling for a hand in the kitchen, as the staff were being useless apparently. I found them all trying to avoid the overly eager and swift man, who was looking amused to find that I had responded to his message.

“I think it’s more that you are upsetting the staff, then they aren’t helping,” I scolded Masamune, taking the sword off him swiftly. It was part of the lessons that Yoshi was going through with me when we had some time of a morning. I needed to learn to strike quickly and early whilst their guards were still down against a woman and sheathed his sword before handing him a clean and sharp knife with a raised eyebrow.

“I heard you had been challenged to go by Nobunaga then,” Date finally conceded, and the kitchen staff resumed their duties but kept a wide berth around the man.

“Yes, he somehow heard that not only was I getting Mitsunari to teach me the game, that I had started to beat him,” I glowered, making my accusations clear.

The one-eyed dragon couldn’t pull off the innocent look in any situation. He chuckled at me and continued to prepare his current dish. “You got me kitten. I overheard Hideyoshi and Yoshi trying to find you and Mitsunari, so I tried the library to let Mitsunari know. He wasn’t there, so I found it suspicious and thought to head to his room, where I heard the clack of the go board. And then you had a smile on your face as Mitsunari confirmed that was his third defeat against you,” he shrugged.

“Then instead of telling my brother or Hideyoshi, you just told Nobunaga to irritate both Hideyoshi and Yoshi?” I asked, keeping my gaze firmly on the blue-eyed male.

“Stop being mad kitten,” Masamune grinned. “You’ll enjoy it with Nobunaga,” it was impossible to tell if he was winking or just blinking. But it got a flush out of me, and I left the kitchen to avoid digging myself much deeper before the evening came.

“Lord Nobunaga!” Hideyoshi broke into the tenshu and was shocked to find I was there, and cornering Oda on the go board. “Oh, er-” he stumbled, as my brother flew into the back of the vassal. “She’s here,” he muttered to Yoshi.

“Explain,” Nobunaga stated, and then glared at me. I was to continue the game it seemed as I assessed the situation on the board and made my move.

“We couldn’t find Lady Natsuki anywhere, and none of the staff had seen her, and we were worried for the worst,” Yoshi blurted, not as accustomed to the glower of Oda as his counterpart.

“She has been helping me plot out tactics for the past few nights,” Nobunaga shrugged, as though it was perfectly normal for a woman to be involved in the military planning of the time. “And to assist in my relaxation,” he smirked, knowing exactly how it sounded, as it became my turn to glare at the man. “Now, if there is nothing else to report, then we are in the middle of a game,” he scowled.

The expression had its intended effect. Both men bowed and took their leave. After a few seconds silence, Oda was chuckling to himself.

“Care to share the joke?” I asked, placing my piece down carefully.

“They don’t approve of this,” he smirked, and gestured to the battle plans and go board.

“My brother did have a sense for knowing when I was in close contact with a male, and would always interrupt. That seems to have been dulled since our arrival,” I shrugged. Oda was the only warlord who knew our true circumstances, I had been too scared to make up any cover when the dark-haired male had cornered me initially.

“I’ve had him kept busy, and being surrounded by men constantly has probably interfered,” the warlord replied, frowning at the board.

“We haven’t snuck any sugar candies out in a while. We should lay a trap for them and see how long it takes,” I smiled, and then placed my last piece triumphantly. “And that game was mine,” I chuckled.

“Hm, for that,” he smirked, and swiftly picked me up. The board was knocked over in the process and all of the pieces went flying. I squealed in protest and clung to the amused warlord. I glared at him before I was dropped suddenly onto the futon, and pinned against the sheets. “I’d heard that you’d been training with Yoshi,” he calmly stated, tilting his head in interest. “And then I heard that you disarmed Masamune before he realised what was going off,” there was something stirring deep beneath his eyes, and his face was frowning deeply. “And I felt jealous that they had a chance to spend time with you like that.”

“So you started spending time with me by playing go?” I asked softly, trying to keep my tone submissive. This man was fragile at this point, he was trying to understand his emotions that had been locked away for so long, and I couldn’t bring it upon myself to be anything but kind to him.

“At first,” he grumbled. “Why do I feel so possessive about you?” Nobunaga was stroking my cheek, and he resembled a small lost boy.

“Because everyone deserves someone they can trust and love,” I whispered.

His eyes were sharply on mine, and drilling straight through them. I felt his grip tighten on my wrists, I had no hope in trying to force him away. I had to keep outwardly calm and force my breathing to stay steady.

“I don’t deserve these feelings,” he replied, still fighting himself. “I’ve taken so many lives, and will take many more.”

“Everyone deserves someone,” I repeated, my eyes searching his as I racked my brain for anything to say that would ease him off his guard hopefully.

I was bundled into his arms swiftly, his head buried in the crook of my neck as I hesitantly began to stroke his hair with my other arm around his back.

It was morning when I stirred, and there were definitely two glaring faces as I poked Oda to disturb him. “Hey,” I mumbled and had my breath stolen as he kissed me firmly.

“What?” he grumbled to Hideyoshi and Yoshi, making no attempt to move or allow me to shift out.

“We came to find Natsuki after the maids were looking for her, and then there’s a war council that we were waiting on your appearance,” Hideyoshi scowled, clearly unimpressed at the sight before him.

“Fine, then allow us a chance to get changed then,” the warlord casually shrugged. “Unless you’re fine with an audience,” he smirked at me. I smacked him in response and then glared at the others to leave, much to the amusement of Oda.

Chapter Text

Natsuki was a brilliant chatelaine and had long taken the load of caring for Mitsunari off the hands of Hideyoshi. The vassal appreciated her abilities and knew that no matter how absorbed Ishida was in his work, he would be fed and walked appropriately, which did make him sound more like a pet than a person. Though it was the first time that he had poked his head in the library and not found his vassal and Toyotomi went through the castle to find him.

I nearly dropped the plate I was carrying as someone’s arms slipped around my waist from behind. I was cursing heavily as Mitsunari looked far too angelic to reprimand.

“Someone will catch us,” I laughed softly, kissing him on the nose. “I’ve heard all of the women scuttle off to the gates, so Hideyoshi is back,” I smiled, unable to resist the smooth lips of the man as I leaned in for a kiss.

“Hm, means that we’ll have to coordinate the night time visits a little quieter then,” the contrasting glimmer in his eye to his pure features told me more than I could ever need to know before he gave me a short but powerful kiss on the lips. I was left with a stupid smile on my face that much I did know. I was sure that the maids had already been gossiping that something had changed with me, but it was just about trying to keep it secret whilst we enjoyed ourselves for now. We didn’t want any pressure from anyone to define anything or change it for now. So we had to be careful. That I was the one ‘looking after’ Mitsunari meant that no one would ever question seeing us together, or seeing me head towards either his room or the library. We had a cover of sorts, it just didn’t explain our entirety of actions if we were caught.

“Natsuki,” Hideyoshi looked relieved to see me as I smiled at the man. “I can’t find Mitsunari,” he was panicking.

“You just missed him,” I shrugged, “I think he was heading back to the library after our walk,” I smiled. “How was your trip?” I resumed the washing up that I had been in the middle of.

“We have maids to help with that,” he frowned, and I could sense a reprimand coming to me.

“Yes, but not with the best things,” I explained, and showed the patterned plates that I was carefully washing to remove the dust and dirt from.

“I see,” the vassal nodded. “The library you say?”

“That was the direction he was headed in I believe. I did disturb him on purpose,” I replied.

I was relieved when Toyotomi left. I was getting more on edge about being caught after hearing that a maid was leaving to get married after being caught with a man in a similar situation to the way our relationship was developing. It was hard to take Mitsunari anywhere in secret without attracting his fan club of women, it would gain me a lot of problems for certain if things ever came out.

Another hand was admiring the cleaned plates and earned themselves a glare from me as I swatted it away with the clean cloth I had. Mitsuhide was looking proud of himself, as though he had discovered the treasure of a lifetime. And I was beginning to feel like the prey in the situation.

“Mitsunari has been acting more than a little strange lately, don’t you agree?” He posed the question.

I tilted my head in response and raised an eyebrow. “I have been doing as asked by Hideyoshi. He is eating regularly and taking breaks from the library. It is probably doing him more than a little good,” I shrugged and turned back to finish my chore.

“And you have that satisfied glow about you,” he murmured in my ear.

“If you would not do that whilst I am holding things that cost more than my life I would be grateful, as would Nobunaga I believe,” I scolded, and securely put the plates down. “I am certain that you have better things to do than tease me, so let me finish this in peace at least,” I snorted, frowning and resuming my task.

I was certainly glad when I was left alone again. I was feeling on edge, something wasn’t right, and it was more than an inkling. I finished the chore swiftly and went to put them all back when I spied a couple of the other maids gossiping at the end of the corridor.

“I heard he’s being made to marry a daimyo’s daughter, and she’s visiting soon,” one of them whispered with a smirk. “Our so-called chatelaine will need to find another bed to warm,” her laugh was cold.

I took a deep breath before coughing and attracting the attention of the three gossipers. “Sorry to interrupt, but I do believe you all have things to be doing,” I smiled sweetly, though my tone implied there would be repercussions if they didn’t disperse. The looks they all gave each other hurt the most as I sighed again, and continued about with my current task.

I kept myself busy, checking that all of the guest rooms were adequately cleaned, and which would be best for a visiting daimyo’s daughter if the rumours were true. I forgot the time, I just kept wanting to be alone, when Masamune surprised me by arriving with some food.

“You’ve not been seen all afternoon lass,” he frowned.

“I overheard some maids talking,” I shrugged. “I forgot that some of them have tongues that don’t need sharpening. I just wanted to be on my own,” I reasoned, peaking at the food. “They mentioned I would need to find a new bed to warm,” I eventually broke down after Date had kept studying me in silence.

“It’s just jealousy lass,” Masamune tried to soothe.

“They all say it, so the townspeople must believe it too. There’s no reason for me to go into the market any more. I just get side glances and the likes,” I snorted.

“Hideyoshi’s having a visitor lass, I think the maids are just assuming that because he has no love interest in any of his current flirts, that you must be the one in his bed,” Date patted me on the head.

“Hideyoshi is a mother hen to the castle. He has no time for romance,” I replied, my eyebrows raised high.

“You know that, I know that, and most people do. But those who are refused are generally the ones who wish to spite whom they believe to be the cause,” he wisely said. “Anyway, I heard you were being taken off Mitsunari babysitting,” he chuckled.

“What?” I squeaked.

“Apparently he’s not himself, Hideyoshi thinks there’s a woman involved,” he grinned lewdly. “Eat, and then I’ll bring you to the council.”

I practically inhaled the food, much to the warlord’s amusement, and then dragged him out of the room.

The council fell silent, and all eyes were on me as we entered.

“Masamune?” Nobunaga was curious as to why I had been brought along.

“Crucial evidence,” Date grinned knowingly, as I frowned up at the one-eyed dragon.

“Proceed,” Oda replied, offering the girl in front of him the chance to continue her plea. She was well dressed, but in the family way, that much was obvious, her father glaring from behind.

“Lord Mitsunari is the father, Lord Nobunaga,” she pleaded, as I felt myself go ice cold. Then I listened closely to her dates and frowned. I looked straight at Mitsunari, who was avoiding my gaze. I was going to hate myself in the morning, but right now, I was getting him out of a terrible attempt at a marriage.

“Masamune?” Nobunaga sighed, rubbing his forehead as the daimyo’s daughter was waved aside.

I was surprised to be brought to the centre of the room, and Date was smirking at me knowingly. “I don’t think it’s possible at all that Mitsunari was with Lady Takuhime on those dates, mostly because I know who he was with,” I was glaring at the overly confident male. “Our lovely Oda Princess, Natsuki, to be precise. And you know how loose the maids’ tongues are,” he laughed. “I even double checked with them her patterns in mood changes. And it was shortly before that she took over from Hideyoshi as the one to take care of Mitsunari,” he crooned.

“Natsuki?” I had the whole room staring at me, and I could feel the heat of the glare from Hideyoshi.

“It’s true,” I sighed.

“Hm, I do feel more inclined to believe my fairly loose-lipped staff, allies, and princess than your daughter,” Oda smirked haughtily, knowing that the next trap had just been sprung on myself and Mitsunari. I was certain that I was going to die from blushing so hard as I left the centre of the room to let the council dismiss the daimyo appropriately. Then the extras all left, leaving just myself and all the warlords behind.

Hideyoshi was clearly torn between who to scold first, as Masamune was looking very proud of himself. Mitsuhide had a slightly sullen expression, and Nobunaga was intrigued for certain, whilst Ieyasu was determining how much sake was in the nearest bottle. I was just trying to avoid everyone’s gazes and took to staring at the floor. I was keeping my hands to myself and went to leave. Date stopped me with a hand on my shoulder and a chuckle, as we were sat in the centre of the room.

“Why keep it hidden?” Nobunaga always had to be the first.

“I didn’t want any pressures of anything to come of it,” I replied. “I just wanted to enjoy the relationship for what it was without any expectations of marriage and family, or even just the hopes of it.”

“How long has this been going on then?” Hideyoshi was already resigning himself to not liking the answer.

“Nearly a year,” I eventually replied, my fingers finding Mitsunari’s and entwining with his.

“Hence why Mitsunari couldn’t be the father,” Masamune shrugged casually. “Well, not of her child anyway,” he chuckled, and we both blushed. “Wait, what?” He gaped, and the room went slack-jawed.

“I’m definitely not due as soon as Lady Takuhime,” I smiled weakly.

“Apparently some things can be kept secret for a lot longer than the maids think,” Nobunaga laughed.

Chapter Text

I was definitely in deep here, I had saved Nobunaga Oda from the fire that was meant to kill him in the original timeline. But his time wasn’t due yet, I had that instinctual feeling, and had slowed time down to get us both out of the flames safely. In return, I had then tried running as I normally do, but these warlords were better than I’d originally given them credit for and I ended up on the horse of Nobunaga Oda. Once we were all in Azuchi Castle, then the fact that I had rescued Oda was brought to all of the warlords’ attention and my appointment to Princess, and then Chatelaine as I refused to spend my time doing ‘girly things’.

Hideyoshi was incredibly suspicious of me at first until I worked myself into illness trying to do everything. Then he was the one who had caught me as I collapsed in the kitchens, and had carried me back to my room whilst organising for cold cloths.

I knew that the wormholes that brought me to this time period were irregular, and something far outside of my control. Regular humans had become obsessed with my kind and labelled anything outside of their own as ‘alien’. The crash in Roswell in the sixties had made everyone crazy about outsiders, and all sorts of films and TV series had started. Then one of my kind had been leaked, there was an entire show named after us, though a few things were completely wrong and obviously made for the audience. They called us ‘timelords’, when we were just Temporals. We couldn’t regenerate, though we had no natural life cycle. We are born, and then we are killed when it happens. Our abilities are nothing as fancy as the human imagination, and we definitely exist in smaller numbers. We have a deeply ingrained moral code that we cannot deviate from, and we can only intervene if our instincts allow it on situations. All we do is guide them out of the danger by slowing time down. We don’t have any fancy time machines that take us anywhere, but we look just like any human does. It’s rare to meet another Temporal, and all of our abilities are personalised. I tend to find myself escorting people out of death, whilst others can force death, force a meeting of special individuals and pull people away from others. I was sure there were many others out there, these were just the abilities I knew of. I could feel the trail of another Temporal faintly in the same country, but all I knew is that he was present. I recalled the same trail was what drew me to the wormhole before falling through, which was making me curious, but I couldn’t just disappear from Azuchi. It would bring up far too many questions as I wandered back to my room after a day helping the maids clean the floors leading to the guest quarters which were suffering from the recent wet weather and men trudging their muddy feet through it all.

“That’s a fairly murderous look,” Mitsuhide was chuckling to himself and brought me out of my thoughts.

“If people don’t stop trudging mud through the castle, then I may end up murdering someone to send a message,” I gave a wide smile, and momentarily surprising the kitsune of the warlords. “Were you looking for me, or did you just want to comment on the obvious?” I asked, realising that this wasn’t his usual path to cover.

“Nobunaga was after a word with you, though I imagine you have Hideyoshi running all over looking for you by now,” the white-haired male smiled silkily.

“Is he in his room, or do I need to go hunting for him?” I replied, tilting my head to the side as Hideyoshi appeared. “I assume you’re after me to go and speak to Nobunaga?”

Toyotomi looked shocked that Mitsuhide had actually delivered a message, before gathering himself together and nodding his head. “He’s waiting for you in the tenshu,” he confirmed.

“Let’s not keep the big, bad Oda waiting then,” I laughed and started to make my way to the room.

Nobunaga looked bored and slightly annoyed as I beamed brightly at my boss, and Hideyoshi came in slightly after with an abashed expression on his face. “You called?” I announced, bowing slightly to Oda in greeting.

“Yes, I recalled promising you showing you places outside of Azuchi once things had quietened,” he started.

I frowned in suspicion. Kennyo had been identified as the one behind the fire I had saved Nobunaga from, and he was still at large, whilst the usual problems with the Uesugi-Takeda forces reigned as well. Things were far from quiet, as he smirked broadly and looked at his vassal in a tell-tale manner.

“I’m guessing that I’m needed to play good luck charm and lure out Kennyo on a trip that’s being masqueraded as a lovers’ retreat?” I sighed, crossing my arms as I tilted my head back towards my boss. “I think I can handle myself if things get hot,” I smiled. “I run and hide, I haven’t forgotten that tactic from all the lessons,” I reminded them both. I had insisted on being taught enough self-defence to get me out of any trouble I may get into since they insisted on bringing me to all the battles.

“I told you she wouldn’t recoil at the true meaning,” Nobunaga smirked. “We leave in the morning,” he shrugged, dismissing us both from his presence.

It wasn’t my prefered way of travelling, that much I knew. I was secure in Nobunaga’s arms, needing to ensure that the rouse of being lovers was kept in place. I swore that I had seen a flash of jealousy on Hideyoshi’s face, but I wasn’t certain that I was just seeing things because of the sheer early hour it was. It was comfortable to doze in Oda’s grasp at least, he had found it humorous that I offered practically no retort and took him up on the offer when he made the suggestion.

Something made me stir. There was a change in the atmosphere, something alive from the stillness we had travelled through.

“What’s the matter?” Oda took me seriously at least.

“I don’t know yet, something’s changed,” I murmured. “It could just be my imagination,” I added with a frown.

“I don’t think you’ve been wrong yet about anything like this,” he replied, sitting a little straighter.

It was almost as they had heard us all. We were literally surrounded by men, all of them with swords drawn and I wasn’t that fond of the look in their eyes. We weren’t expecting them this soon in our journey, but we knew that we’d be vastly outnumbered, and I was a liability for certain.

I was shocked when they took the horse out from under us. I tucked and rolled away, desperate to avoid the grasps of any of them. The glimmers in their eyes told me everything I needed to know, if they got their hands on me, I was not in for a pleasant time. Ducking, diving, punching and kicking, it was all I could do, before my heel slipped and I nearly dropped off the cliff edge. I had never known fear like this. My heart was threatening to burst out of my chest, as I realised the god awful high pitch scream was coming from me as I clung into the dirt. Oda was swift to come to my aid, pulling me straight up into his arms before realising that we’d fallen straight into their trap.

“Do me a favour right now, and just trust me,” I gasped, gathering everything I had in me as I pulled the power out from within. It wasn’t Nobunaga’s time just yet. I dragged him through the treacle trickle of time for us, avoiding every slow action move and blade to get the warlord out of danger before my exhaustion caught up to us. The men all looked perplexed as I was swiftly picked up into Oda’s arms and he ran off deep into the forest.

We were huddled deep in some foliage, covered well as I fought my ability to stay conscious. I would need to explain everything, but right now we were trying to simply survive.

It was evening before Nobunaga dared to move, I could barely stand as he carried me again into a small village that we knew was nearby. The villagers swarmed us, concern rife for my condition as I mumbled out a request for a bed before I passed out.

There was a strange smell when I stirred. It was the middle of the night, as I lifted my head gently, and I wasn’t on my own in the futon. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see it was Hideyoshi who was fast on next to me, probably meant to be looking after me as I shut his jaw gently with a grin.

“Huh,” I jumped a mile at the noise emitted from behind me. “I thought he’d do that,” Nobunaga shrugged. “I think you need to do some explaining,” he frowned.

“Yes, I do, but not wherever here is. I’d rather not wake Hideyoshi and end up being given a bedtime,” I smiled before easing myself out from under his arm and slowly standing up. I was in the room at the bottom of the corridor to the tenshu, and I was offered some sake under the moon. “How long was I out?”

“Two and a half days, you snore if you didn’t know,” was the casual jab.

“Normally do after extending myself like that,” I dryly chuckled and sipped at the sake. “I’m not what you call human, and that you’ve already accepted the wormhole that I fell through, so now I’m going to stretch your mind. I have the ability to slow time, as you saw with those men, and I also did it to save you from the fire,” I explained, trying to pause to gather my thoughts. “My race is called the Temporals, and we all have an instinct that we are born with. Mine is to usually save someone from an early death, as I was brought back to you I think,” I sighed, rotating my empty cup in my wrist. “I can’t use my powers without my instinct kicking in. It’s an ingrained code, and it keeps all of my kind inline,” I lamely explained.

“So you slowed time down to get us through the flames and then past Kennyo’s men?” Nobunaga was processing this as well as he’d taken the whole wormhole appearance. “Was the wormhole your doing then?”

“No, I don’t know of anyone who can make wormholes as part of their soul,” I replied. “It’s unheard of in our race, and it’s certainly nothing I can control. I merely slow time down, and I can turn back time as every one of my race can. But we suffer terribly if we act without instinct, I have grown up on stories of Temporals whose souls were torn from them because they misused their powers,”’ I smiled sadly. “And then I experienced it, and it’s not something you forget.”

“So can you just call on your powers when demanded to?” his mind was one of curiosity and it nearly always blew mine at how open-minded he was about my outlandish explanations.

“Technically, yes, but it’s certainly not without repercussions,” I shrugged. “I’ve heard it’s incredibly painful to do so, so there’s no incentive to use them when you shouldn’t be. I’d also like to keep this between us,” I smiled politely.

Nobunaga nodded, taking a sip of his sake. “It would cause some problems if everyone knew about it, I’d imagine that it wouldn’t just be Kennyo now trying to kidnap you.”

“The fewer people who try to kidnap me, the less work for you guys,” I agreed.

It took a few days to convince the other warlords that I was fine after sleeping for such a long time, and I was apologising almost constantly. The whole marketplace seemed to breathe with relief as I made my first appearance back at the stalls after our excursion. Then a new merchant caught my eye, he was selling a variety of women’s accessories and the likes. There was something familiar about him as I bought the hairpins that I couldn’t stop looking over.

“Princess!” The fruit merchant was calling for my attention with a bright smile, and a treat I could never resist in the form of kyoho.

“I thought these were out of season! I must be lucky,” I gushed, immediately beginning to peel them and taste a couple before I left the stall.

My head was feeling thicker as it was getting harder to move my legs as I walked up to the castle. I didn’t remember my body feeling this heavy before I collapsed into someone’s arms.

Freezing water woke me up with a gasp. My hair and clothes were now soaked through, and it wasn’t that warm to start with. The scruffy hairstyles told me all I needed to know, Kennyo had gotten his mucky hands on me.

“Abbot! She’s awake!” One of them called gleefully out of the doorway. I assumed it led to another dingy room, in the abandoned hut that we were currently occupying.

My theory was proved right as the scarred face came into view with a twisted smile. I was restrained with my arms behind my back, and I was firmly tied to a secured pole. My ankles were attached as well, as he tilted my head back to get a clear look it seemed.

“You can turn time back,” he announced, the colour draining from my face. “You interfered with my plan to kill Nobunaga in that fire, so you will be helping me to rectify your mistake,” he whispered. This man had already accepted his own damnation, and he was now determined to take me with him as I gathered the courage to spit in his face.

His slap was so fierce it cut my lip open as he straightened up with a frown. “Boys, make her change her mind,” he announced and left the room to the sound of weapons being drawn.

Night and day cycled past. I was gasping for breath as yet another freezing bucket of water was emptied over my head. I had apparently passed out from the pain they had been inflicting on me, I just had to keep thinking about the experiences I’d gathered with the Azuchi warlords and the sight when I’d seen another Temporal’s soul ripped from them. A masked man was grabbing my chin to lift it to face him. I’d been thrown naked into the river and ducked under until I was struggling to breathe before they’d ‘save’ me just before I’d pass out. They left me covered in small nicks and scratches, beat me senseless and I was certain that my ribs were broken in more than one place. They only fed me enough scraps to keep me going to survive through their next round of torture. I was currently sporting two black eyes, and I don’t think my bottom lip had healed since my first slap from Kennyo. He kept coming and asking me the same question if I’d do it. I had to refuse and keep my faith that they’d find me eventually as they finally broke my humerus bone after trying for hours. I didn’t even have the energy to cry or scream as the pain raged through me, all I could do was collapse to the floor, and not move.

“All you have to do is turn back to that time,” a tempting whisper in my ear as I breathed the dirt in that was smashing into my face.

“You’ll kill me first,” I croaked.

“We’ve had enough now,” his tone growled, and I knew he had his sword was raised high above me.

Then the sound of splintered wood burst through the atmosphere, breaking the imaginary hold they had. Relief was the only thing I could feel as my head was gently lifted off the floor by Ieyasu. He was scowling, presumably, at the state I was in. I could only hope that Nobunaga hadn’t explained my abilities to anyone, just to stop anyone else overhearing it and trying to kidnap me for their own gains.

“Kennyo,” Oda’s voice was on a new level. I hadn’t heard so much loathing from anyone before as Tokugawa was quickly assessing my injuries it seemed as the battle raged around us. It hurt to move, but I needed to see what was going off. I had a horrible feeling that Kennyo would have it set as a trap.

Swords clashed just over my head, making me hesitate to survey the scene. Ieyasu was protecting me with his blade, one of my captors had decided that I knew too much and had to be parted with my head. My breath was caught in my throat as the blonde was quick to get to his feet, parrying every blow his opponent had to give. All of the warlords were here as I managed to drag myself to the edge to the hut, I could hear Masamune laughing maniacally, as Mitsunari’s silvery locks flashed into my view. Mitsuhide would be somewhere as I tried to stand on my own two feet. This was too much blood as Kennyo’s men wouldn’t cease. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I needed to ignore the pain right now.

I could hear their confusion as Nobunaga realised what I was doing, and called for the warlords to retreat. Mitsunari was my support to get out of the chaos, I was focusing on getting all of us out of there alive. I was clinging to their individual threads and dragging them with mine as I trudged my feet forward.

“You’ve done it,” Oda murmured close to me. “Good job, now you can sleep,” I could hear the smile in his voice as Mitsunari ensured that he had a secure hold on me.

Natsuki was as white parchment, her skin almost translucent in the light as the five warlords all looked to the only man who wasn’t surprised or not understanding the situation. Nobunaga shrugged and motioned to get on the horses. Hideyoshi had already volunteered to carry the Chatelaine back with him, aware that they didn’t even know the extent of her injuries yet.

The fruit merchant had been working for Kennyo and reporting back on the movement of their beloved Princess and was now being worked over by Mitsuhide in the dungeons. He had been loitering around the castle and overheard Natsuki explaining her abilities to Nobunaga before letting the former Abbott know. He then drugged her fruit and made sure no one else could get to her as he took her to the agreed meeting point.

“Numerous broken bones, bruises and cuts all over, she’s malnourished,” Ieyasu was listing off in the war council what he had discovered. Her arm was bound and supported, though there was little he could really do for her ribs. She was barely moving, even if her snoring was horrendous at times. “What happened? It was as though time slowed for us alone,” the man frowned to Nobunaga.

“Natsuki will explain to us all once she is better,” Oda replied with a shrug, and ended the conversation at that point with a look around the room.

It took a few days after I’d been out to be able just to sit up in bed. I was smiling and trying to reassure all of my guests that things weren’t as bad as they looked and I was over the worst of it now. Ieyasu and Hideyoshi were the most suspicious of me and kept ‘surprising’ me with visits at all hours of the day and night to make sure I wasn’t faking anything before I was allowed anywhere. Not that I wanted to leave their sights right now anyway. I had considered all of the regular merchants friendly, and now my faith was shattered outside of the six men who had taken it upon themselves to rescue me.

“Are you sure you should be here?” Masamune asked as I was present in the war council.

“If I spend any more time resting then I fear I may become useless to you all,” I smiled falsely. I was sick to death of Hideyoshi and Ieyasu checking up on me, and not having anything to do. No purpose in life left me drained of my will to continue, and it was better for anyone to start moving little and often than to cease for a long period of time.

“I think they are waiting more for your explanation,” Nobunaga chuckled, as I noticed that all of them were now judging me with narrowed eyes.

“I expected as such,” I sighed. Taking a breath as I made sure I wasn’t putting too much weight on my left leg before I started. “I’m not human, you may have already figured that much. I look exactly like any human, as all my race do. We have a few key differences,” I opened, knowing I was about to blow their brains. “When we’re born, we don’t have a finite lifespan like you do. Our lives end when fate has decided it, it’s not that unheard of for our ages to span a few hundred years, and in some cases nearing a thousand. We also have the ability to ‘correct’ time,” I paused. “I corrected time when you were all saving me, if it had played out like Kennyo wanted it to then we would all be dead, and history would need a chance to replay because it would be too much of a blow to lose all six of you at the same time,” I continued, knowing that it wasn’t going to make as much sense as I wanted it to. “I’m originally not even from this era though. There are holes in time, called wormholes, which take you from one point in time and deposit you in another point. I am originally from five hundred years in the future-”

“So you can make time leap that far?” Mitsuhide was frowning as he interrupted me. He was the most suspicious of them all, and he had every right to be.

“No, I can’t. You saw the extent of my abilities partially. I can move time back, but certainly not without reason,” I hesitantly replied. “Every being has a thread that points to their existence, and I’ve never moved so many people at once before for that length of time,” I tightly smiled. “Kennyo wanted me to go back to the night I arrived, and stop me from saving Nobunaga, so he would perish in the fire. He wanted me to stop the correction of fate,” I said. “One of his men must have overheard my brief explanation to Nobunaga, and gotten the completely wrong idea. I’m almost certain I wouldn’t be able to go that far back in time anyway. Not without causing my own death anyway,” I casually shrugged. “I have instincts, morals and protocols attached to my very being. If I break them, then I cause my own premature death.”

“But Kennyo was going to kill you eventually,” Oda reminded me.

“Nothing is as painful as having your soul ripped from you,” I smiled. “That’s why fate likes to screw with us and ensures that we experience it whilst we are still young. It’s just to remind us that we all answer to something.”

My leg was oozing, and I had the attention of the room as I was caught in Hideyoshi’s arms. He swiftly lifted me up and left the room whilst carrying me bridal system.

“I told you that you needed to rest,” he was scolding me already, as all the times I’d had to look after him coming back from battles came to mind. “You’re going to do yourself more harm by pushing yourself like that,” he continued, before laying me down on my futon and waiting for Ieyasu to arrive with his medical kit.

I wasn’t expecting a searingly passionate kiss from the vassal. He made sure my body was flat against the floor as he held his body just over mine, clear of any chances of catching any of my injuries and making it worse. His lips were soft as I kept drinking in his passion and heat, my hand resting on the base of his neck as I needed to feel something to make sure that this wasn’t a delusion of mine.

“And now you know how I feel when you come back and try to pretend,” I gasped once we had parted.

“Are you done being sickly sweet? I have a patient to look after,” Ieyasu shocked us both into remembering our situation, and left us blushing like kids caught with their hands in the candy jars.

Chapter Text

I kept double checking over my shoulder with a frown. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had at least one warlord currently tailing me through town as I went into the kimono store that apparently had my order ready.

“She’s suspicious, abort!” I heard whispered fiercely before catching a glimpse of Masamune’s coat fleeing from the scene, much to my amusement. Though it did confirm that I needed to have a word with my ninja and tell him that I was being followed on my excursions out of the castle now it seemed.

I had kept my dating life quiet from the warlords, mostly because Sasuke is the enemy, and I didn’t want them going into overprotective mode either, though apparently, I had given enough of the game away that they were following me about on my chores. Sasuke would need to think up of something new now, but he was always after a challenge outside of living with Kenshin anyway as I smiled and paid for the new outfit.

Hideyoshi was suspiciously loitering about as I returned, and looked surprised to see me.

“You look as though you’re waiting for someone,” I comment idly, and watched him start to squirm under my gaze.

“Just one of the servants I sent into Azuchi,” he fidgeted.

“Hmm,” I replied, giving him the expression that I clearly didn’t believe him, but I had things to be doing as I went on to my room. The guest rooms were all in dire need of being thoroughly spring cleaned, and I was trying to get the idea through to some of the maids to give me a hand, not that I was having much success as I pondered about how to tackle it on my own.

Nobunaga was having daimyos visiting over the next few weeks, and I wanted to make sure that nothing was wrong. I had a feeling that some people looked for things to complain about, and I wasn’t giving these men a chance. I felt like a vulnerable and easy target since I was well known as Chatelaine and Oda Princess. Oda would always stick up for me and swat down anyone who tried to get above their station, but if they had to go hunting for a complaint then I could at least rip them out for it as well with confidence.

Masamune was watching the woman with interest. Her mood changes had been brought up at the last council meeting, and they were now all intrigued as to what could possibly have brought it on. She had a new fire burning in her, though there seemed to be no actual reason for it as he pondered on the previous day. He had been following her around the town, trying to see if any of her interactions had changed, but she caught on to him as she went into the kimono shop that Hideyoshi had sent her to. He had commissioned for a new Princess outfit for the visits next week, and she needed to make sure it fit before they started. She had returned back to the castle after that, so the whole attempt had been a failure anyway. He had been asked about ration cooking a few weeks previously, and how he made food last longer, as well as which foods to avoid. It wasn’t something she’d ever expressed interest in previously and seemed to come up in line with her mood changes. Mitsuhide had been trying to rile her up even more than usual without any success and had now resorted to teasing her via moving things on purpose as she was working on them, though he’d said this morning it was irritating him that there was no reaction.

He perked up, seeing Hideyoshi approach the Chatelaine, and knew exactly what was coming her way.

“Natsuki, do you have a boyfriend?” The one-eyed dragon smirked at the bluntness the vassal had taken.

What surprised him was to see the woman scoff and wave her hand dismissively. “What makes you think that?” She asked, frowning and giving the clear expression that it was idiotic for anyone to think of it. “I’m not seeing anyone.”

“You’ve had a complete personality change recently,” Toyotomi was continuing on his route, determined to catch the female out. “Mitsuhide can’t get a rise out of you regardless of what he tries,” he began to list off.

“I’ve been in a good mood recently, and ignoring Mitsuhide means I can actually get on with my work,” she smiled. “Now, these rooms need cleaning and the maids are too busy with the day-to-day work to help, so unless you’re going to get down on your knees and scrub with me, then I think Nobunaga would have things for you to do.”

The exchange made Masamune chuckle before Hideyoshi retreated. It was a complete loss for them and only confirmed to Natsuki that they were suspicious of her recent actions and changes. She was going to make things interesting for them now, but then again, she had a day off in a couple of days as the dragon began to plot out something in his head.

It was the kimono shop trip all over again. This time however I had a different destination, and I really didn’t want any of the warlords to see a thing. I ducked into a fabric store and caught sight of the kitsune looking for me. I shook my head mentally at the man, and carefully avoided him, changing my course immediately.

I was pushed against the wall suddenly in an alleyway and kissed forcefully to silence anything I could say. Sasuke had his arm obscuring our faces as one of my arms slowly snaked up around his neck. I was a little out of breath as Masamune and Mitsunari passed the entrance without looking too hard at us.

“I’ve just had to avoid Hideyoshi and Ieyasu to get here,” the ninja softly spoke, constantly glancing around us.

“I’ve just had to outmanoeuvre Mitsuhide,” I admitted. “Shall we observe from the rooftops?” I asked, already looking for the nearest way to get off the street level.

The ninja was already halfway there it seemed, poised on top of a stack of crates from the nearby stalls as he offered me a guiding hand so I wouldn’t rip anything. I was nowhere near as sneaky as Sasuke yet, but I was able to avoid the detection with his help as we moved around the town. They had made a net with the warlords, cornering off all escape routes out of town as Sasuke admired their determination, whilst we loitered near the teahouse for a quick breather before making our next move.

“Natsuki hasn’t been sighted since the fabric store,” Mitsuhide was sounding sulky for the first time in forever, and I felt Sasuke’s shoulder lean over to shade my face.

“She is a clever one,” Nobunaga was smirking, I could tell without even looking at him as I shared a glance with my boyfriend.

It was easy on what to do. It was just a case of slipping me past the cautious eyes of Hideyoshi to get me back into the castle. Luckily, Sasuke had several ways into the roof system that he had developed just to see me on occasions. Oda would be fuming if he ever found out that an enemy ninja was able to scale the castle without detection, and my head would be on a pike for certain since I was technically aiding said enemy.

“Not what we had planned,” I sighed, sitting back down in my room and heating up some tea.

“No, but we got to spend some time together at least,” the smiles Sasuke would give me always made my heart threaten to burst out of my chest, and I kissed him softly on the cheek. His blush was adorable since apparently, he hadn’t been expecting me to do anything.

“I imagine that they’ll be back soon,” I said, grimacing slightly at our time completely warped by my overprotective warlords.

Sasuke chuckled much to my surprise, and then kissed me on the forehead before leaving back through the ceiling. It never ceased to amaze me what that man could do, as my thoughts were instantly startled by Hideyoshi throwing my door open.

“And what gives you the right to just barge into my room?” I scolded him, jumping to my feet in anger.

The vassal was completely thrown off his pace, and couldn’t retract himself quickly enough as he dashed off. The rooftop travelling had been a success at least since they clearly hadn’t been expecting me back at all. I sighed and looked over at my room. I hadn’t gotten the chance to spend my free time with my boyfriend as I liked, and I was feeling more than a little disappointed. We would always just have to try again was Sasuke’s motto, as I started the routine to get ready for bed.

I noticed that the warlords were actively avoiding me over the next few days. I was left to clean the guest rooms, which meant I was productive at least and the maids were also appropriately busy with making sure all of the pantry stocks were adequate for hosting the mystery guests. I had heard that Masamune was preparing the menu as well for them, so I got the impression that they were certainly important individuals. I groaned internally as I realised that it probably meant I had to get made up like a doll for the evening on their arrival as well.

The night before they were due, I jumped a mile as Sasuke knocked on the panel overhead. I was just about to get changed, and he didn’t have a bad view down my open kimono from his vantage point. He blushed slightly in response to my humoured glances before dropping down to the floor silently as I adjusted my clothing.

“I nearly mistimed things,” he smiled slightly. “I wanted to make up for the botched attempt the other day,” the ninja offered his hand.

“Like I could ever refuse,” I laughed. “They’ll think I’m in bed anyway, so they won’t be expecting me to be anywhere.”

It was a cool night as Sasuke led me through the network of tunnels. I was beginning to regret not putting another layer on, as we weaved out into the free air of the town. Everything was beautifully lit in the rising moonlight, the town slumbering as it should be. It was the first time I was seeing Azuchi in such a light, and I wanted desperately to memorise it before I had to practically be dragged away to see where my boyfriend wanted me to be.

I didn’t even know the meadow existed, nevermind that it was so close to the town. It was beautiful, and in full bloom still. The pale petals were lit up by the shining moonlight as Sasuke pulled me into his arms. I was shivering slightly, and I hadn’t noticed when he had produced a haori but we were now snuggled under it. I usually hated being so short, but at that moment in time, I fit perfectly under Sasuke’s chin and into his body as we looked over the peaceful scene.

“Mm, I love you,” I softly said, tilting my head up to meet the ninja for a kiss.

“I love you too,” Sasuke murmured before capturing my breath in a kiss.

“Caught you!” Hideyoshi shouted, making me bump into the ninja and send us tumbling over to arrive at the feet of Kenshin.

I froze at the sight. We had two different sides of warlords having found us in a situation that neither of us could deny any misunderstanding, and they weren’t looking like they’d been expecting to see each other as well.

Whilst Kenshin and Hideyoshi were glaring each other down, Sasuke and I eventually got back to our feet in a very awkward situation. I was absolutely freezing, as the ninja made sure the haori was secure around me before stepping back slightly. Yukimura and Shingen appeared as ‘protection’, though I had the impression it was definitely more to do with Kenshin being happy to slash down their opposition as Masamune and Mitsuhide caught up to Oda’s vassal.

“No wonder you were trying to keep her quiet,” Shingen was amazed and staring at us openly as I was still shivering under the haori.

I was definitely in for the lecture of a lifetime off Toyotomi when this silent match was over with. Sasuke couldn’t ignore how cold I was anymore, and had us both back under the haori, warming me with his body heat. I had no idea how he had adjusted so well to the cold nights whilst I was still attached to the braziers when I wasn’t swaddled under blankets and layers of clothing.

“Well this isn’t awkward,” I said, breaking the silence and bringing the attention back to us.

“Natsuki, do you have any idea who-” Hideyoshi started.

“Sasuke is Kenshin’s ninja, yes I know,” I sighed, interrupting the warlord to save us both the energy. “That doesn’t change anything,” I shook my head.

“It changes everything!” Yukimura exclaimed. “You’re dating a wild boar woman,” the vassal to Shingen snorted, which made me laugh.

“You’re an Oda princess,” Mitsuhide frowned. “You can’t go around dating enemy ninja.”

“I’m pretty sure you all think I can’t be dating anyone,” I replied, narrowing my eyes a little at the three Oda warlords. “Since I know every attempt for anyone to take me on a date has been picked to pieces and denied, hence why I knew I had to be sneaky about this one, but that failed tonight,” I sighed.

“You shouldn’t wear such a light coloured kimono at night,” Shingen chuckled, as though it was obvious, and then laughed as both of us checked under the haori to find out what colour my kimono was. “Especially when the moon is out, illuminates you for miles, that’s how we were able to track you,” he explained.

“I didn’t think of that,” Sasuke frowned, and sighed. I could tell he was blaming himself as I prodded him in the chest to stop him overthinking it.

“Well, Nobunaga won’t be pleased to find out about this,” Masamune pointed out, breaking our little bubble again. I was considering getting out the smoke bombs for us to escape for some privacy away from the reality of our situation. I hadn’t even considered what would happen if we were caught, I couldn’t let go of the ninja, I was desperate to keep my fairytale and childish dreams alive for moments longer. “Don’t give us that look,” Date groaned, covering his eye and rubbing his forehead.

“We have some very important guests coming tomorrow Natsuki, what were you thinking?” Hideyoshi asked me.

“I was thinking I’d get my date that you ruined the other day,” I replied, glaring at the man. “Yes, I have a boyfriend. Yes, you’re all right about that. Yes, you ruined our date. And now I know that things are all completely out in the open and I’ve got no hope of anything going well,”’ I snapped, tears threatening as the Azuchi warlords began to realise what I was feeling in that moment.

“I think we ought to let them say goodnights, and then escort them back,” Shingen spoke up cautiously. “You all clearly have things to be doing which don’t include us, and we should commune afterwards to discuss this.”

“I fail to see why anything needs discussing,” Kenshin spoke up, and went to draw his sword out.

Sasuke had his out and protecting me without thinking. I was cradled against his chest with his off-hand, and the moonlight reflected off the exposed blade.

“I will fight with you later when Natsuki is safely back in her room,” the ninja dictated, his eyes boring into his Lord’s. “But I will not have her put through any unnecessary danger.”

Uesugi stepping down was nearly as much of a shock as finding out exactly who my boyfriend was. The six warlords all gave us some privacy, I knew that my chewing out would be epic, but for now, I needed to know I wasn’t alone in the moment. Sasuke was gentle and loving in his small kisses, before walking me to Hideyoshi, leaving his haori around me before departing back to deal with Kenshin.

Masamune was sulking because it meant I wasn’t going to ever be accepting his flirtatious passes, as Mitsuhide was frowning and trying to work out how long we’d been evading the warlords’ knowledge. Hideyoshi had the disapproving brother expression on his face but said nothing to me as we all returned to Azuchi. I was escorted straight to the main hall, where Nobunaga, Ieyasu and Mitsunari were waiting for us.

“It’s nothing like who we expected,” Hideyoshi announced with a renewed frown and worry. “It’s one of Kenshin’’s ninjas.”

“No wonder she was keeping it secret,” Ieyasu scowled before the attention turned to Nobunaga.

“Shingen and Kenshin suggested dealing with this after we have received the daimyos,” Masamune interrupted the looming silence.

“Aside from Princess duties, you are confined to your room. You will be fetched when you are required,” Oda was being torn into two. He had to react as a warlord, regardless of my position.

“Understood,” I quietly replied, before turning to leave.

Mitsunari rushed over and bowed before departing. I was going to have fun over the next few days for certain.

Any of the staff who had to talk to me over the visit of the daimyos would only use my title of ‘Princess’ through gritted teeth, something the visitors definitely picked up and looked a little shocked to see. Though I ensured I was constantly the vision of grace and refinement whenever I was present, much to the relief of the warlords. It was a tense atmosphere outside of the official visits and the banquets in the main hall, and apparently, it had been noted that I wasn’t seen without Mitsunari as my escort.

I made sure to defect any questions the daimyos asked regarding my relationships, and my status in the castle, instead talking about the trade relationships of the area. It usually shocked the men to know a woman was fully capable of understanding such things, though Nobunaga had always encouraged it once I had shown an interest in how the politics worked. I was given the silent signal from Hideyoshi that it was time for me to leave for the evening, as I politely excused myself to meet the vassal at the edge of the room.

It shocked everyone as one of the visitors immediately grabbed my arm and stopped me. The attention was now on us, and I wasn’t sure I had the strength to win if he decided to pull on me.

I was in the rafters before I could comprehend my situation, and there was definitely a ninja about to slap the inappropriate daimyo.

The Azuchi warlords couldn’t react quickly enough to my intruding boyfriend putting the visitor back in place. Then Sasuke was back up with me and pulled me swiftly away from the main hall. It was best to follow now and then ask questions in these situations. We dropped down into my room, and I was immediately wrapped up in his smell. It was such a welcome scent, that I couldn’t stop my tears. His lips brushed my forehead as we waited in full knowledge that there would be six furious warlords after they had dealt with the daimyo.

It could have been hours or minutes, I had lost all my sense of time before Hideyoshi and Yukimura appeared at my door. The latter definitely to my surprise before we were walked back to the main hall. Kenshin, Shingen, Nobunaga, Ieyasu and Masamune were currently in a stare off. Mitsuhide was probably dealing with the daimyos, with Mitsunari’s help.

“How long have you two been hiding this?” Oda’s voice broke the stifling silence.

“Four months officially, and since Natsuki’s arrival unofficially,” the ninja replied straight off. I couldn’t bring myself to look anywhere but the floor focused on the weaving pattern of the mats. I didn’t need to look at anyone to feel the room freeze, to realise that we’d been seeing each other for around six months without them knowing.

“Six months?” Shingen slowly said, his disbelief clear as I couldn’t bring myself to raise my head. “How on earth have you two kept yourselves quiet for that long?”

“He’s a ninja,” I reminded them and reminded the room that I was present. “I was always the liability, and if I wasn’t wearing that kimono the other night, then none of you would likely know.”

It was almost a slap to the faces of all the present warlords. We hadn’t wanted to be caught before we were ready to face this scenario, but because I’d worn the wrong clothing, we were now in front of the opposing forces with a great deal of hostility from both sides.

Then they started to think about what hadn’t changed in all that time we’d been dating. I’d never run off, and neither side had leaked information from the other.

“You never knew he was here,” I softly said to no one in particular. “You only saw his lingering affections because I was so happy,” I couldn’t stop my tears as I held my kimono sleeves up to my face.

“Natsuki,” Sasuke lifted my head, gently wiping my tears off my cheeks, and giving me one of his rare smiles.

“If someone doesn’t marry them soon then they’ll be having children just from sharing those looks,” Ieyasu snorted, breaking the warlords’ silence. “Just share them, or send Natsuki to Echigo, the maids are fine here without a Chatelaine,” he glowered, avoiding looking at us.

“She’s an Oda Princess, you can’t just ship her off,” Hideyoshi started, looking straight to Nobunaga.

“Kenshin,” Oda opened. “I assume you need a Chatelaine or at least a princess for your castle,” he said, looking straight at the mismatched eyes of his enemy.

“Every castle needs a Princess,” Shingen was looking a little too enthusiastic for my boyfriend’s taste, I was pulled into him a little sharply which made me smile.

“Fine, but no using her for spying,” Uesugi finally relented.

“Actually, I may have one request before we leave,” Sasuke speaking up was surprising to us all, making sure he had everyone’s attention before blushing as he tilted my head to meet his fiery gaze. “I know we’ve not known each other for that long, but I’ve never been happier, will you marry me?”

“Yes!” I squealed, jumping and wrapping my arms around his neck as he made sure to catch me around the waist and take my weight. My tears were ones of joy, as smiles were seen all around the room.

“Well, I suppose we could get it organised before she leaves,” Nobunaga smirked, glancing towards his vassal to tell him to start preparing.

It wasn’t anything fancy, a simple exchange in front of a shrine with the sake and Kenshin and Nobunaga glaring at each other. It was everything we’d known, before the celebratory reception that evening.

“Just because Kenshin and Shingen are our enemies, never means you are,” Hideyoshi had drunk a little too much sake, and it was adorable, as I smiled in response.

“I’m an Oda Princess,” I laughed and patted him on the head. “I’m just relocating to be with my husband, it doesn’t mean I stop being friends with all of you here at Azuchi,” I finished for him.

“Don’t set him off lass,” Date chuckled as he came over to feed us some sushi.

“I think between me and Hideyoshi, we’ve had tears all day,”’ I smiled at the dragon before I had a Sasuke draped over me from behind. I kissed him on the cheek as I was enveloped in a sake smelling warmth. “Anyway, I do think my bed is calling for me,” I smiled, starting to edge backwards to let my husband know I was listening to him.

“Sure it is,” Masamune grinned, taking Toyotomi off our hands as we waved to the room.

Chapter Text

Ieyasu sighed as he arrived back at Azuchi. He’d had to return to Mikawa for some meetings, and was glad to be home as he glanced about the familiar place. Not that any buildings could count as home as the Chatelaine’s dopey smile came to his mind. It was the middle of the night, he would likely find that she had done something for his return once he got back into his manor.

“Ieyasu!” Hideyoshi was wearing a serious frown and looked like he was ready to scold the blonde. “You need to know-”

“I need to sleep,” the man gruffly replied, instructing his vassals and aides on what to do with the goods, keeping a bag particularly close to him.

“It’s about Natsuki,” Toyotomi sighed, and caught the full attention of the man. “One of the merchants got ideas in his head with your absence, he proposed to her in front of everyone and made a big deal about you not being here.”

“What did she do?” Ieyasu bristled immediately, like a cat preparing to fight.

“She declined naturally and said that he shouldn’t judge what he doesn’t understand,” Hideyoshi was smiling fondly at the thought of the scene. “But it’s definitely the hot topic of all of the market and staff that someone’s going to steal her away.”

“They’d bring her back,” Tokugawa gruffly replied, turning his back and walking away, leaving Hideyoshi to shake his head at the obvious.

I rubbed my eyes as I was being shaken awake. I frowned as my other half came into view. “Ieyasu?” I mumbled. “You weren’t due back yet.”

“We got the speed up,” he grumbled, then pulled me up out of bed. “Come on,” he impatiently said, trying to usher me somewhere.

“What is going on?” I asked, trying to get my head around the problem, until I was suddenly lifted into his arms bridal style, and carried straight off to his manor. I was flushing bright red, and feeling very lucky no one else saw us before I was dropped onto his futon. I was trying to fight going back to sleep, and then Ieyasu started properly waking me up as his delicate fingers undid my kimono to start stoking the fire I always carried for him.

It was mid-morning when I next stirred and saw Ieyasu looking at me from his little desk. I gave a little smile, rubbing my eyes, whilst making sure that the sheets still covered everything.

“Morning,” I sleepily greeted him.

“It’s nearly afternoon, but sure,” he snorted.

“What was last night about?” I asked whilst sitting up, trying to locate my clothing.

“I missed you, is that a problem?” He was being extra prickly, as I laughed.

“Oh, Hideyoshi told you then?” I smiled, using one arm to keep the sheets from exposing me whilst I reached for my clothing with my other arm. He pressed himself into my exposed back, his breath hot on my neck as I couldn’t help but giggle at his possessiveness. “I told him exactly where to shove his ideas,” I grinned, kissing his nose after turning my head.

“Mm, they’d only bring you back anyway,” he mumbled, tracing his fingers over my thighs as he nipped at my neck.

“I love you,” I softly said, turning around in his arms to meet his burning passion with my own.

“Mm, I know,” his husky voice said more than he ever would in words.

It was early afternoon before I was back at Azuchi castle, Hideyoshi and Nobunaga were amused by my belated showing as Ieyasu appeared with the look that he knew nothing of the teasings. I laughed and went to see how the staff were doing with their daily tasks as war council started.

“So, you heard then about the merchant?” Masamune was chuckling to the blonde, who was doing his best to ignore his gut instinct to punch the one-eyed dragon.

“She might not wait forever,” Hideyoshi frowned. “Women dream of being swept off their feet,” he said, recounting of the conversations that he had overheard from the maids since the incident.

Nobunaga was finding the whole situation very amusing as it was brought up at every point possible about marrying off the Chatelaine to many possible allies. Ieyasu was getting grumpier and grumpier until he abruptly left the hall.

It was the middle of the night as I found Ieyasu poking at me again. I laughed and groaned at the same time.

“Are you going to start making a habit of this?” I asked, rubbing my eyes and managing to grab a clean kimono for the next day before I was swept back up in his arms.

I knew that Masamune and Mitsuhide had been teasing me relentlessly about the proposal, nevermind how all of them would have pounced on Ieyasu on his return. It had gotten under his skin regardless as he rushed us back to his manor again, whilst managing to avoid any other warlord and staff member. I had the distinct impression I was going to be for his eyes only for the night again.

Waking at dawn was the natural thing. I was cosy and comfortable in Ieyasu’s grasp, as my movements disturbed him slightly. His arms tightened around me, and I figured I wasn’t going to be getting up straight away.

“You’re staying here today,” his tone was giving me goosebumps.

“And what about Nobunaga?” I asked, purposely trying to get a rise of him for my own amusement.

“He’ll understand,” was the growled response. It was an alpha’s way of telling his mate that she was pushing it for sure as I was pinned to the bed again.

It was late morning before we ventured beyond the bed. Not that I was objecting to getting Tokugawa’s attention all to myself for once, as he took my hand and led me out into the gardens. It was a beautiful summer’s day, and everything was in bloom and well kept. Colours were vibrant and everywhere as I wasn’t sure where to look first.

Wasabi came barrelling at me from nowhere, eager for some food as both of us fell ungracefully to the floor. She licked at my cheek in apology, before looking up to Ieyasu for the food as I stroked her neck.

“I don’t think either of you two would survive without me,” he huffed, going to fetch the basket that the maids had put together for the deer.

I grinned, not bothering to move from the floor as Wasabi was torn between getting her fuss and being fed until the basket was close enough for food to win. It was peaceful, and I had definitely missed being near Ieyasu, even if he was being funny about everything. But then if he wasn’t all tsundere about things, he wouldn’t be himself as I smiled.

“Stop smiling like that,” Tokugawa gruffly said, scowling as he looked towards the setting sun.

“I’m happy, I can’t help it,” I laughed, latching onto his arm as Wasabi decided that she’d had enough of us and wandered off.

“Well, I suppose we should get married before someone else tries to ask you,” he grumbled, as I paused to process what he was talking about.

“Did you just propose?” I asked, blinking rapidly as I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t hearing things.

“Well, everyone else will just return you,” he said.

“Yes, I’d love to be your wife,” I grinned, kissing him as the blush on his cheeks lit up with the sky behind us.

I nearly had heart failure as six warlords jumped out of the bushes in congratulations, and Ieyasu had his sword drawn in protection as well.

Hideyoshi had done all of the fretting for us both I felt when the eve of the wedding approached. He’d been too busy threatening all the merchants and suppliers to make sure we had everything to even worry about what Mitsuhide and Masamune were planning.

The maids were gushing over me, whilst the whole castle was bursting with life as the last minute thoughts were running through everyone. Ieyasu was busy with Hideyoshi and Nobunaga, probably making the last preparations before we left after the wedding to go to Mikawa. I had left him to it, having both of us stressing over some things weren’t going to be worth it as I had taken to making sure that the maids and seamstresses all knew what they were going to be doing in my absence.

I was used to the early starts as a couple of maids made sure to disturb me with enough time for a long bath. I should have been used to the level of attention they were giving me, but after all of the preparations that had been made, it felt almost surreal. It didn’t feel like anything would change, just our titles and where we were living, but all of the effort that had been put in was coming to be displayed.

Being glued to Ieyasu’s side after the ceremony wasn’t anything new either, but his outward signs of possessiveness were absolutely adorable. He was purposely ignoring the looks from Masamune and Hideyoshi, whilst refusing to lift his arm from around my waist. I was politely sipping on the sake that Mitsuhide would occasionally fill my cup with, and trying to look interested in all of the daimyos who had weaselled their way into Azuchi on this day.

Then it almost felt inevitable, that we had a little too much sake and we weren’t as alone as we thought.

Ieyasu was passionate in his kisses, and they would always steal my breath away, and then we suddenly found out that we’d been the entertainment for the moment. I flushed bright red, before my husband tilted my head back up for another kiss, muttering something about the rest of them giving the newlyweds no privacy. The cheers and chinks of cups around us only made me blush darker once we parted, and Nobunaga was laughing deeply at the state I was in.

“What are you looking so red for? It’s nothing new,” Ieyasu snorted, as Masamune was grinning wildly next to us after serving up some form of dessert.

“No, but having an audience is a taste I will never acquire,” I replied with a smile, unable to resist giving him a small peck on the lips.

Chapter Text

Mitsuhide was enjoying himself far too much for my liking. We were on the way to a small town near Echigo where there had been reports of Kennyo and his men staying, but we were posing as a married couple to avoid the suspicion of sending Akechi anywhere by himself. He did stick out like a sore thumb with the air of a kitsune around him, but then again, he never returned from any of his trips empty-handed either. So how he did it, I would never know or understand. I was sat in his arms on top of the horse with our things bundled onto the saddle.

I was wearing a heavy and almost permanent blush on my face. Mitsuhide was using me as his entertainment on the long trip, whispering into my ear about the sort of things married couples do, and teasing me with the lightest of touches. It was all a reminder that I hadn’t been intimate with anyone since long before my arrival in the Sengoku era, and I was finding it impossible to ignore the alluring tone that the kitsune was able to play like a sweet melody to me. I was fidgeting in the saddle, squeezing my thighs together, and nothing got past the sharp gaze of Akechi.

“A little frustrated?” He murmured, his teeth grazing my lobe and his hot breath on my skin sending shivers down my spine.

“We can’t be much further away,” I snapped, eager to get some space between me and the man.

“Luckily for you, we aren’t, kitten,” the last word was practically a tantalising gasp of anticipation. I was starting to think that walking there would be a much better idea. “And I won’t let you get off the horse until we’ve arrived.”

“Get out of my head,” I grumbled, turning my head out of his range.

I leapt off the horse the second his arms weren’t around me anymore. I gave a tight smile to the man in the stables who was handed a small pouch of coins, presumably to deny all knowledge of us and look after the horse. Then my hopes were all dashed as we were shown to a room with a double futon it in.

“We are married,” Mitsuhide chuckled at my fallen face as we unpacked our things. “Don’t worry, Hideyoshi made me promise on Lord Nobunaga that I wouldn’t do anything improper, so you’re safe from my night time advances,” he smirked.

“Do I at least have something to spend at the teahouse and in the market?” I sighed. “I didn’t get a chance to pack anything beyond my clothes and necessities with the five-minute warning I had.”

Mitsuhide was stunned as I turned to look at him with raised eyebrows. “Yes, I was given your babysitting money,” he added, handing me a pouch of coins.

“I’m going to change behind the screen, peek, and I tell Hideyoshi about everything,” I threatened, picking up my night clothes.

Mitsuhide was a surprisingly good actor I found as we perused the market. I was looking at the things on sale, whilst Mitsuhide was listening for information to buy. His hand was respectable, around my waist telling other men that I wasn’t available. I picked up some of the local produce, and I was made to jump when Mitsuhide handed the money for it straight over to the stall holder, and then sensually fed me just to make me blush it seemed.

“I will tell Hideyoshi if you don’t stop it,” I scolded him, careful to keep my voice down as we walked to the teahouse. I knew that he needed to disappear and have a scout about, and I was more than ready for a chance to cool down.

Once my tea and sweet rolls had arrived, Akechi slipped off, making a comment about preparing for tonight. It sounded romantic and mysterious to those around us, and the only reason for a man to leave his young wife alone.

I nearly dropped my cup when Sasuke appeared with a sheepish introduction.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in shock.

“Probably the same reason you and Mitsuhide are here,” he admitted. “Though it’s more that you are his cover,” he added with a shrug.

“Sounds like those rumours are coming from the same source then,” I replied, pouring myself out a top-up of the brewed tea.

“Lord Kenshin has been asking about you,” the ninja gave a glimmer of a smirk, as I paused and blushed whilst remembering our last meeting. “I don’t think he wants to admit you’re an Oda princess yet.”

“Well, I wasn’t keen on coming to terms with him being an enemy warlord,” I stammered. “But that didn’t seem to stop either of us when we found out,” I added on with a slight smile.

“I’m still working on stopping his plan of riding over in the middle of the battle and kidnapping you from the Oda camp,” Sasuke chuckled, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“It’s romantic in a Kenshin manner,” I conceded after pausing for thought. “Anyway, I should go, I have time to use the hot springs and I wanted to abuse it,” I smiled, waving at the ninja as I left.

It was dark, and I was dozing by the time Mitsuhide came back. He had been involved in a scuffle and staggered through the door. I rubbed at my eyes, before leaning over to get my first aid kit.

“I didn’t think you’d be that prepared,” the kitsune sulked whilst I cleaned his wounds. “Given that I ran into a group of Kennyo’s men, I would say that the rumour has some base to it at least. What did you get up to today anyway? I heard that you were talking to someone in the teahouse before leaving for the hot springs.”

I was glad it was dark, just so that I had that extra bit of cover for my expressions. I had to remember that Mitsuhide had ears everywhere. “It was no one important, a passing conversation that didn’t involve me being teased,” I frowned, making sure to add a touch of frost to my tone. “Which was a refreshing pace.”

“Touchy, touchy, princess,” Akechi breathed and then laughed as I packed the medicines away in a huff.

I made sure to leave without the kitsune the following day. It was my routine to wake up at dawn, and I knew that nowhere would be open yet, but it would be my chance to see the town before it started. I loved to admire sleeping places and watch as everyone started their day. The guesthouse owner was already a little suspicious of how we were acting, a married couple that came and went separately, especially when it appeared that the wife was trying to escape the husband.

I was standing on the edge of the market and saw the fruit merchant from the previous day. I paused and smiled as I wandered over to his stall. He was stronger and swifter than he appeared, a rag had covered my mouth and nose before I could comprehend what was going on.

Sasuke was perched on the edge of a rooftop at the fringes of the market. He was blind to those who weren’t looking for him, but he hadn’t seen Natsuki all day. The ninja had seen Mitsuhide wandering around, which meant that the princess was also meant to be here. It was starting to concern him as he then spotted his own Lord wandering the streets. When he had returned to his hut the previous night, it was to the ninja’s surprise that Kenshin had already invited himself in, and was waiting patiently for a report. Sasuke had tried to avoid letting the God of War know that Natsuki was present, but he seemed to sniff out that a detail was being withheld from him, and the ninja was forced to confess that the woman who Uesugi was desperate to kidnap constantly was within reach. Kenshin then made the bold declaration that he was staying, because the rumour clearly had enough of a base that Oda would send someone to check it out, and it had nothing to do with the presence of the Princess.

Kenshin and Mitsuhide never met, and Sasuke could breathe as they both left in different direction. He made a note that the fruit merchant hadn’t turned up that day, something that he had gleaned from conversations that was out of the ordinary. Then he caught a glimpse of another scout behind all the stalls, he went into the forest as the ninja followed without another thought.

A hut in the middle of a forest, it seemed quite cliché really to the ninja, and he would recognise the hairstyles of disgraced monks from a mile away. He had the location now and the enemy as he practically flew back to the town. He needed to find his Lord, and also the enemy.

Kennyo was sat opposite me. My feet were bound and attached to the centre pole, there wasn’t a lot of movement range available but at least my hands weren’t bound so I stood a chance of trying to get comfortable on the straw that was laying around me. He was trying to break me down into tears, stop me being so stubborn as I cocked an eyebrow at the man.

“It’s been nearly three days, what’s the point in clinging to hope? You clearly aren’t missed,” he sneered.

“You’re using me as bait, so you’re just getting edgy about the fact that no one has tried yet,” I corrected him, holding my head high.

“And your escape attempt?” He snapped.

“Give a girl some credit,” I scoffed. I had been fed and watered on a regular basis since my arrival. It was never anything fancy, but it was better than the way that many would treat their hostages. “I’m not a warlord, you can’t attack me like one,” I reminded him. “I haven’t locked my emotions away.”

“Why are you so insistent on knowing what I feel?” Kennyo was pacing like a caged animal, and snarling at me. Staying calm was the key as I kept watching him.

“Because to want to kill someone is a strong desire, so I’m trying to understand your point of view in all of this,” I replied. I couldn’t back down, I couldn’t appear submissive at any point in this, or all of my efforts would be futile. “If I understand you, then maybe I can help you and stop all this bloodshed.”

A noise escaped the former Abbott’s throat, and he stormed out of the room. It was going to be a fight to get him to see me as anything but a threat, but he was also trying to threaten me as he would one of the warlords, who had all shut away their emotions in case of scenarios like this. I imagined that Mitsuhide had thought I may have just run away, the only way to escape his teasing as I pondered on the thought of Sasuke having noticed, and tried to stake the place out.

I knew that I had a small army of sorts outside, but then an image of Kenshin turning his God of War mode on made me smile. He had sent me a letter promising that I would be kidnapped from the Oda forces soon enough to live as the Lady to his Lord in his castle, and I never doubted for a second that Sasuke had talked his Lord out of a few ideas. Then for some reason, Mitsuhide’s teasings all came to mind. Kenshin had never made a mention of anything physical, but I knew that he was a man as much as anyone else, and it was going to be needed under that exterior he kept. I smiled as one of the aides brought me in a small bowl of stew and some water. They kept their guards up around me and never uttered a word, but I just needed to stay friendly.

“Why do you care so much?” Kennyo was back again, it was late evening as he walked into the room with a candle to guide his way.

“I hate war, it’s necessary, and I understand that. But I work as a healer, and I see all the injuries and all the hurt that comes from it,” I softly spoke. My head was resting against a ruined haori that was fashioned into a straw-stuffed pillow, and I kept my eyes closed, I had been about to fall asleep when he came in. “I can see the hurt in you. Something killed a part of you, and I want to understand that, so I can stop it happening to anyone else before you all annihilate each other through war.”

“Stop talking to me like I deserve salvation,” he snapped loudly, making me bolt upright and flatten my body against the nearest wall.

“You are the only person who thinks you’ve damned yourself,” I corrected him. “You can still be saved, you’re leading everyone around you onto your path, and it’s constant destruction! You can stop it all if you admit you are hurting, and I can help!” I shouted.

“I’m not sullying you with my damnation,” the former Abbott declared, slicing through the bonds on my feet and then shoving me out of the hut door. “Go back to safety, and don’t get yourself dragged back onto the battlefield, you’re too pure for all of this!”

“You’re hurting and grieving,” I was shouting at the top of my voice, disturbing all of the soldiers around me. “You can stop all of this and get your life back!”

I was suddenly in a familiar set of arms. “Natsuki!” Kenshin was swaddling me with his body. “You’re okay,” he gasped, tilting my head back and kissing me passionately in the moonlight. All of Kennyo’s men were frozen in time, unsure of what to do. Their enemy was stood in front of them, but he didn’t seem to have even noticed their existence. Especially when I was swiftly picked up in his arms and walked to the forest where his horse was waiting.

“Don’t tell me it’s just you and Sasuke,” I groaned as he mounted the horse behind me.

His smile made my stomach flip and my heart melt. “Don’t be silly, it’s just me,” he corrected, turning his mare around and heading towards Echigo. “I told you I was going to kidnap you soon,” he breathed down my ear.

“I wasn’t expecting this soon,” I admitted, holding onto him and the saddle as the horse pounded through the terrain. “I think Nobunaga may need to know so we can collect my things,” I smiled up at him.

“Maybe,” the God of War shrugged his shoulders.

“Also, I know you had Sasuke with you,” I tapped him on the nose, “I assume you put him on clean up duty,” I sighed.

“Stop being so good at reading me,” Kenshin’s lips brushed my ear, and sent a shiver up my spine. “No one will escape unpunished for hurting you.”

“I wasn’t hurt,” I replied, leaning closer into the man to reassure him. “He’s hurting, just like you were before I started to help you. He didn’t hurt me.”

“I still want his head for daring to touch you,” Uesugi muttered with jealousy.

“You can touch me all you like once we get to some privacy,” I teased him, rubbing my nose along his neck. My laughter escaping through the air as I felt the pace of the horse increase from under us.

Mitsuhide had been too late it seemed to play the knight in shining armour to rescue the princess. He had seen the way she looked at Kenshin, and the way they interacted made him green with envy. She had been right in his arms, and it had never felt more right for the kitsune. The way she reacted to his every word, the way she tensed up and squirmed about. Her voice wavered on occasions, and it was honey to him. He slipped back away into the shadows, his Lord would not be happy about the loss of his Chatelaine, but seeing the Princess’ smile in her lover’s arms was all that he could hope for.

Chapter Text

I had to smile as Sasuke popped into the kitchens to check up on me. I was the Chatelaine of Kasugayama, and currently around six months pregnant. Shingen, Kenshin, Yukimura and Sasuke were all desperate to find out who the father was, whilst I kept my relationship very much on the quiet side. He placed his hand on the top of my bump to feel for the kicks and smiled as my little one obliged the ninja with enthusiasm.

“Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” I teased him, wishing for a fleeting moment about being back in the future and having the technology to find out.

“I’ve heard all the maids say you’re having a boy,” he replied, “But birth is the best way to ascertain,” he straightened up. “Are you resting enough? I’ve heard the staff talking about your trips out to market on a daily basis,” the ninja’s concern was adorable.

“If I wasn’t up for it, I wouldn’t have bothered,” I replied, patting him on the cheek. “I don’t do any lifting of anything, I barely bend over, I generally only supervise,” I shrugged as I went back to looking over the state of the pots and pans.

“Lord Kenshin will start restricting you if you aren’t careful,” he warned with a smile.

“Lord Kenshin will be answering to a very grumpy chatelaine then,” I giggled. “And we both know I get away with virtually anything in this castle under Lord Kenshin and Lord Shingen,” I smiled.

The ninja waved his goodbyes before I entered the pantry, definitely needing to check on the sake levels.

“I should be more surprised to find you here,” I sighed, slinking my hips to the side as Masamune smirked from behind the crates. “Are you all that worried about me? I swear I may soon be restricted to my bed if any more overbearing warlords get involved,” I snorted, making a note to get an order in to the sake suppliers.

“Well, you’re growing a very important little baby, lass,” the dragon replied, admiring my size it seemed. “Have they figured it out yet?”

“No, but they’ve noticed I go into the market on a daily basis,” I explained. “Try not to get caught, I will have to play dumb if they find you,” I turned around to leave, before he caught me by the wrist, and pulled me in for a hug. “Okay, this is strange coming from you,” I frowned, but didn’t try to pull away. “Normally it’s me who’s all emotional and clingy.”

“You’re pregnant, we all worry about you,” the one-eyed dragon said, letting me go with a loving caress to my bump.

“I take care of us both, and trust me, you will all know when they decide to arrive,” I tried to reassure Date before he disappeared back to do his work.

Sasuke had rescued me after I had rescued Nobunaga Oda from the flames of Honno-Ji. Apparently, the Oda forces had searched the forest thoroughly for me after the ninja snuck me away, but until it was confirmed I existed after being sighted at Echigo by their scouts. Kenshin had been highly suspicious of me, if it hadn’t been for Sasuke vouching for me then I would have been locked away in the dungeons and the key thrown away. The maids had taken me in with enthusiasm, glad to have a Lady’s touch amongst the male headbutting and I often dove in helping with the seamstress work that came in batches. I quickly got friendly with the fabric merchants in town, and would often find that they reserved bolts for me that were my type.

It had been one of those afternoons when I had gone to the teahouse for a break after a long week of working through making some kimonos for what felt like everyone in Echigo. The one-eyed dragon was the least subtle person you could meet, though having an eye patch wasn’t the only feature to define anyone in this era. He reminded me hugely of Shingen, not that I would dare tell either of them that shard of information. Their flirting was relentless as I was casually discussing the weather and workload I had with the seamstresses. He was genuinely interested in me, which did surprise me somewhat, and then he ordered me the sweet dumplings before leaving on that occasion. It wasn’t the last time we met in that teahouse, he liked to make a habit of it as I would always find that he was either present or left an instruction for some tea and dumplings from him on every visit I made. He knew how to make a girl feel special for certain. The way his eye would linger, glimmer and express way more than his smirk did, it was always about learning to read the man. He was passionate, and he knew how to live for the moment. I had slipped away for a ride with him on more than one occasion, and the thrill of the speed was always a reminder about living life for yourself. I hadn’t gotten on his horse since I had found out I was pregnant, and it was something he never challenged.

It was the same afternoon that I met Ieyasu that I met Masamune. Yukimura mentioned that the healers had seen a new medicine stall pop up in the market, and I was eager to ensure that we had everything possible in the castle stocks. I refused to be anything less than prepared for everything as the prickly ‘merchant’ recognised me from the description of the person who had rescued Oda and began asking me hostile questions about my intentions. He had an impressive range of salves and even challenged me on an intellectual basis about my knowledge of medicine. I admitted to him that it was limited, but as Chatelaine then naturally I needed to be an all-rounded help in the castle. I merely smiled through his barbs about being soft and daft, and he leant me an advanced book, expecting me to give up. Only to find out that I was always hunting him out to go through various sections so I could push myself to become better. His prickly attitude was similar to that of Yuki’s, he simply didn’t want to let himself be open to attack so he responded with sarcasm and barbs.

A few weeks later I was picking up some fabric from the stall, and quite a few bolts at that. If I’d had any idea how much had been ordered, I definitely wouldn’t have come alone. The merchant gave me a sympathetic look but helped me to balance it all before letting me leave. Someone bumped into one of the bolts of fabric, and it was a domino effect. I closed my eyes with the full expectation of hitting the floor, but instead, I was encased in a warm body and a silky laugh. Mitsuhide chastised me for carrying so much at once and immediately helped me to pick it all up. He froze a little when I said it was all going to Kasugayama Castle, but then I said if he could just help adjust the load again then I would be most grateful.

Ieyasu had been the most interesting one of the three that had been sent to survey Echigo. I refused to tell any of them of the workings of the castle, saying that it was my home, my friends and my life that they were investigating. I had to admit, that all three of them would always respect my word. Though as soon as it was common knowledge that I was pregnant, I was forever getting visits in secret from the three enemy warlords, mostly to genuinely see how I was getting on. My hand glided over my growing bump as a smile graced my lips. I could practically feel the heat of his lips on my neck before I had to focus myself and resume my usual duties.

Between the three of them, I was never short of friends, even if they refused to tell me their names for a long time. It wasn’t easy to get any of them to trust me, then I was kidnapped by Kennyo during a confrontation between Kenshin and Nobunaga. Kenshin immediately lost interest in Oda and went hell over heels to get me back. Mitsuhide helped out in the shadows I later found out, citing that it wasn’t any fun if they couldn’t be all out against each other.

Kennyo had kidnapped me with the intention of keeping Kenshin and Shingen in line to do his bidding during the confrontation. What he hadn’t even considered is that I had the ability to bring the sides together unintentionally. I had no idea who he really was until he fought off the Abbott's men with his sword and in the heat of battle with ease. He was clearly in his element, as though finding him in a town doing any espionage was him out of his comfort zone.

That had been our first time, we hadn’t even made it out of the forest. I was certain my back was still imprinted with the tree bark, whilst I had spied the scratches my nails had left recently from it. It wasn’t the last time we consummated in the open, but indoors at least offered less chance of being caught unawares.

“Lady Natsuki?” One of the maids interrupted my wandering thoughts. “Lord Kenshin has requested your presence in the main hall.”

“Thank you,” I patted the girl on the shoulder and brushed past her to leave.

Yukimura was looking exasperated as I appeared, and found Shingen, Sasuke and Kenshin locked in a three-way sword fight.

“Am I needed to play referee?” I asked with a frown at the sight before me.

“No, just to help us settle a bet,” Shingen chuckled as they resumed their graceful dance, it appeared almost choreographed. “Yuki is being the judge,” he grinned.

“I said that you are pregnant from a fleeting visit in the night, you are far too independent to allow any man to tie you down,” Kenshin spoke with a matter of fact. He had been busy scolding everyone for me since it was clear I wasn’t attempting to leave or cover up anything. I was happy in my situation, and he was keen to play my big brother as long as I would stay at Kasugayama.

“But I think you simply don’t want us interfering with your private life and scaring the boy off,” Shingen retorted. “Your looks of wistfulness aren’t as unnoticed as you think.”

“I think you both have too much time on your hands, Yuki and Sasuke are here to deal with you two, I am going to rest,” I replied with a sigh, knowing they wouldn’t be giving up until they found out the truth.

I sighed at the lump in my futon, rolling my eyes before shutting the door quietly.

I poked it sharply, and sat down next to it, as Mitsuhide’s head popped up with a glimmer in his eyes.

“You’re treading in very dangerous waters,” I said, raising my eyebrows at the imposing warlord.

“I had to see how my baby was growing,” he fondly kissed me, his palm resting on my bump as our baby eagerly greeted him with a kick.

“They won’t stop asking who the father is, and you’re going to start wanting to see me more than just for fleeting visits,” I reminded the kitsune before I was drawn into his arms for a cuddle.

“Mm, but it’s probably easier to just kidnap you from camp at the next battle and gallop back off to Tanba with you,” he pondered, his teeth dragging over my ear in a reminder of how we ended up in this situation.

“It will be a long time before I am allowed at any battle, never mind when it will be with this little one,” I snorted as his slippery brain was set to work. “Do Hideyoshi or Nobunaga know yet?” I broached, knowing that this wasn’t the most straightforward of things for either of us to approach.

“No, but if any of my features are present and staring everyone in the face I imagine that it will be the perfect time to admit it to them both,” Mitsuhide gave me one of his infamous smirks.

“I think Hideyoshi may just kill you on the spot there and then,” I chuckled. Mitsuhide was purposely riling up the other vassal of Oda for his own amusement. “Nobunaga will be on to you soon though, I swear I can smell his intelligence from across the field during battles.”

“He may already be aware of the possibility, especially since all of our reports have mentions of you expecting. War councils are getting harder to keep hiding you from though,” he pouted slightly as his finger trailed lightly over my neck.

“I bet you keep wanting to shout it out, though I find a lot of men now don’t bother asking me because I’m pregnant,” I smiled.

“At least I can tell everyone that you are mine without being present now,” Akechi murmured, wrapping himself around me from behind.

“I’m still waiting for something to slip,” I admitted. “For someone to walk in on us, or for you to be caught whilst coming in or out,” I tilted my head up to look into his amber eyes.

“If I get caught, then I am clearly terrible at my job,” he was trying to settle me down, his hand stroking over my stomach.

“I love you,” I broke the extended silence and worry that was flitting around my mind.

“I know,” Mitsuhide smirked, brushing a kiss against my temple.

I wasn’t sure who was more shocked after I was summoned to the war council, me, Shingen, Yuki or Sasuke. Kenshin was wearing one of his usual smiles, that told me none of us were going to like his plan.

“You want to bring Natsuki along as a target?” Shingen repeated, looking very serious, and there was definitely some anger in him.

“I believe that it will tempt Kennyo out of whatever hole he has bolted to, if he gets a scent of being able to take her,” Uesugi was looking pleased with himself.

“So, the idea is to put me and my baby in danger?” I asked sharply.

“You wouldn’t be in real danger,” Kenshin sulked.

“You are still asking me to risk us both,” my eyebrows were in danger of leaving my forehead for certain. “And right now, I’m inclined to say I am going nowhere. What if Nobunaga takes the opportunity to kidnap me or something?” I argued.

The room tensed at that sentence, and the warlords were all sharing a look I didn’t like in the slightest.

“Nobunaga thinks you’re involved with someone from Azuchi,” Sasuke broke the silence, albeit refusing to look me in the eye. “He said that a few individuals have been acting slightly strange in regards to your presence.”

“How would I even know anyone from Azuchi?” I puzzled, “I don’t leave Echigo.”

“No, but he does have people lingering around Echigo as we have people in Azuchi,” Shingen stated.

“I’m going back to my room, when you all feel like apologising then you know where to find me,” I shortly replied, leaving in a huff.

I was scared at that moment, but I couldn’t admit it to anyone as I retreated back to my sanctuary. Technically, I wasn’t meant to know Masamune, Ieyasu or Mitsuhide, but all three of them had treated me with kindness and friendship since my arrival. I never treated anyone any different as to what they treated me with. I wiped my tears away with the sleeve of my kimono, I wasn’t expecting to need to be on my guard as I was gagged, blindfolded and restrained in half a second before being carted off somewhere.

“Natsuki hasn’t been seen since she left the council,” Sasuke’s concern was showing through his limited level of expressions. “There’s no note in her room, but I am almost certain she’s been kidnapped. We just need to determine if it’s by Kennyo or Nobunaga.”

“My Lords!” An aide to Lord Kenshin ran through the closed doors, a panic clear in his voice. “A message was delivered,” he bowed at Uesugi’s feet and handed the paper over.

‘Your Chatelaine has been a very naughty girl. I am holding her to confess to Buddha.’

“We can only hope the baby isn’t hurt,” Shingen said, the concern clear in the room.

The ninja was surprised to find that Oda’s forces were present as they encroached on the last known spot where Kennyo had been. Sasuke had been sent ahead to scout out the area and found themselves alongside Masamune’s scouts.

“What are you doing here?” Kenshin sounded absolutely disgusted with the thought of not being able to take the former Abbott’s head along.

“We received a message, saying that a woman was being kept here,” Date growled, knowing that if they gave the game away about the relation with Natsuki, then it was likely she wouldn’t just be in danger from Kennyo, but also from Kenshin.

“Either way, Natsuki isn’t here,” the ninja reported to his Lord, kneeling at his feet.

“He lied on purpose, and why bring the enemy along?” Shingen was refusing to look at Date.

“Because she doesn’t know who she’s involved with,” Yukimura spoke up, startling the whole group. “He was right, I’m betting the father is someone from Azuchi, and Natsuki just doesn’t know,” he paused, as the whole group was holding their breath.

“Or she did know,” Kenshin slowly frowned. “And didn’t want to admit it,” he paused, scrambling around to get the note back out. “Why would she need to ‘confess to Buddha’ if she didn’t know anything?”

Masamune paled at the mention of the note that had brought the Uesugi-Takeda forces to the site. He knew that Natsuki had been playing a dangerous game with her friendships, but he didn’t think that anyone outside of those involved knew. Apparently, something had been noticed.

“Right now, let’s focus on getting her back, then we’ll question everything else,” Sasuke interrupted and brought their attention back to the problem at hand. “What we do know is that Natsuki is being held by Kennyo. She’s also six months pregnant, and she adores that child, so we need to get her out of his grasp and then start the questioning about who she knows.”

“Sasuke has a point,” Shingen smiled and started straight off into the forest ahead of them. “And Kennyo won’t be far from here, he’d want to see the face off.”

It was a small hut, and there were guards all around. The only way in and out was through the door, that was really rickety. But there was always someone on the other side of it. I had my hands and feet tied together, but I hadn’t been mistreated aside from being left in the dark on a straw bed. No one had raised their hand to me, or even their voice, but then again I had always done as they’d demanded. The door being so thin and gaping meant I had a good flow of air coming through at least.

Kennyo was ensuring I was getting some food and water on a regular basis. I was just the catalyst, but he needed me in good stead to stop the two sides from turning on him. I was simply the carrot on the stick. If they all played to Kennyo’s tune then I would be returned safely. I didn’t want to think about if things didn’t go the Abbott’s way as I closed my eyes and lay on my side. I kept my arms around my bump, I needed to keep calm for us both. Stress would just hurt the baby. I kept repeating it over in my head that it didn’t matter who rescued me, but someone would definitely come to fetch me.

The sounds of scrambling feet, breaking twigs, crunching leaves, various voices and swords clashing broke the peaceful atmosphere. Something else was keeping the hut under guard, as I could hear the frustration in Kenshin’s grunts. The plan would be to break in, get me and get out. Then obliterate everyone involved.

“Get clear of the door Natsuki!” Mitsuhide’s voice was the last one I was expecting, and it wasn’t calm and collected as usual. I shielded myself where I could naturally keeping my bump well covered as the wood shattered like metal under the pressure of ice.

Tears escaped as he embraced me tightly. I buried my head into his shoulder as he ducked and dove around the field whilst making sure nothing could hurt us. I couldn’t breathe probably until we reached Ieyasu, who was waiting impatiently for me it seemed. The whole battlefield had been waiting for me to be taken behind the lines, there was a sudden increase in the pressure and attacks on the enemy, whilst Mitsuhide refused to leave my side. Tokugawa was muttering to himself whilst checking me and the baby over.

Kenshin was fighting alongside Masamune, whilst Hideyoshi and Shingen were focusing on another section. This was all because of me, as Mitsuhide and Ieyasu then shared a look.

“Right, we’re withdrawing you,” Ieyasu spoke, bringing me straight back to him. His bright green eyes staring into mine. “You need to be far away from here.”

“Don’t even consider blaming yourself,” Mitsuhide’s voice was stern, a tone I hadn’t heard from him before. “Kennyo did this, not you.”

I was on the back of a cart, protected by Akechi and some crates before the blonde sat over us. We were heading straight back to the camp that had been quickly established, though it was clear from their conversation beforehand that there would be no hesitation in taking me further towards Azuchi if necessary.

There was definitely going to be a lot to answer as we unloaded at the camp. Oda had a smug look on his face, whilst Yukimura had stayed behind for some reason. The vassal was relieved to see me, but then puzzlement came across him to see how the enemy warlords were then treating me.

“I imagine that the birth will give away who the father is anyway,” Nobunaga smirked, before turning his attention back to the map for their plan of attack.

“We’d just have to wait and see for that,” I snorted.

I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere except the main tent. Ieyasu had a bedroll brought in, and between him and Akechi, I was never without a guard. Kenshin briefly returned from the battle to physically see me for himself, as Mitsuhide was keeping me warm by wrapping me in blankets whilst I slept. There wasn’t much else to be done in my situation, especially since I had mostly been awake since my capture a few days previously. And this was the safest I could be at this moment in time.

It was a few days before they managed to get through the forces and capture the monk. He was glaring at me as he was brought into the tent, a sneer on his face to see me in such ‘comfort’.

“No one ever questioned it at Echigo, did they?” He laughed cruelly and brought all of the attention to me.

I gave a small, tight smile. “I’m not telling anyone anything until there stands a good chance I won’t lose my baby,” I shrugged, making eye contact only with Kenshin before I dropped my focus to the floor, and tightened the blanket around me.

The camp was packed up around us all as Kennyo was taken back to Azuchi to stew in the dungeons. The warlords were always keeping an eye on me as I helped the kitchens to make sure that everything was secure. I refused to sit back and do nothing until that was my only physical option.

“Natsuki,” Uesugi’s tone was serious, and he had a hand on my shoulder.

“Once we aren’t in a field, and I’ve rested properly I will explain,” I patted his hand.

“Then you’re riding with me,” Kenshin firmly stated, and I nodded in compliance.

This was my first time of riding in Kenshin’s arms, and I noticed there was a definite look of green on Mitsuhide’s face as we all headed to Azuchi. The terms of his imprisonment would be agreed between all of the warlords, and then I’d likely end up in the dungeons next to Kennyo once I’d explained everything as well.

“If your baby has his eyes and your hair,” Uesugi’s voice was sulky as I was brought out of my daydream abruptly. “Then they will get away with nothing, but if they have your eyes, I get the feeling they will have us all tied around their finger.”

“Well, we don’t have a lot longer to wait,” I smiled, rubbing my stomach gently.

The main hall was all about formalities, as everyone was dressed in their best attire, whilst I had the maids trying to get any kimono to fit around my bump. They were really excited to say I was technically the enemy, and wouldn’t stop bickering as to the gender of my baby, whilst treating me like they would their own princess.

“Are you sure about letting them know?” I turned my head to look over my shoulder. Mitsuhide had been sent to fetch me.

“Well, they’ve probably figured it out,” he sulked, kissing the back of my hand before leading the way.

Shingen and Kenshin hadn’t stopped drinking sake since I’d arrived, and Ieyasu and Hideyoshi were on a similar path. I was sat with my Lords before Nobunaga asked who the father really was.

“You sent three warlords to Echigo,” I opened, and then got the attention of all the room it seemed. “And I knew all three of them,” I continued, dragging things out. “Masamune liked to meet me in the teahouse, he found the tea and dumplings to his taste. Ieyasu would often teach me about medicines and anything that could help with running Kasugayama Castle on the medical front. Then Mitsuhide would normally pop up as I was doing any kind of shopping. He had no pattern, except that he would never be near Ieyasu’s stall, and never in the teahouse that Masamune favoured. So he was more of a wildcard.”

Kenshin and Shingen were mad that I knew all three enemy warlords had been in Echigo and never said a word to them, as I smiled and continued in the long-winded tale.

“They would ask me on occasions about the castle, and what I did in it, but they also respected my boundaries. I would normally just talk about my problems with the maids, and what the harvest was doing. Or even about the sake suppliers, and then about the fabric problems if we had them, or the patterns in orders we were receiving,” I took a sip of water from the cup. Hideyoshi wanted to have more than one set of eyes now I had exposed them all for their espionage. “But they never asked for any tactics, they were simply seeing what life was like in Echigo was my impression. It wasn’t worth reporting that they were present. They never made so much as a challenging glance to anyone, except if someone became a little persistent about trying to ask me out, then they’d never hesitate to jump to my defence. The teahouse owner loved Masamune, he’s been asking after him recently since he’s not been past.”

“So who’s the father?” Oda had developed a playfulness after listening to me it seemed.

“I am,” Mitsuhide had apparently grown bored of watching me from across the room, and I was sat in his lap, next to his Lord before I could comprehend anything.

“It had to be the snake,” Hideyoshi was chuntering under his breath. I was blushing furiously, whilst the room was now glaring at us.

“Yeah, it’s Mitsuhide’s,” I smiled, trying to be cute to make them remember what I had done for them in the past as I looked to my Lord.

“So, she may be staying here,” Kenshin looked at Nobunaga, a strange expression on his face. “But she is still our Princess, regardless of who she gets married to.”

“Who mentioned marriage?” I exasperated.

“I think they decided for us,” Akechi whispered in my ear, his hand resting on my bump as our child started wriggling. “It’s a bit hard to say otherwise now.”

“What about my things then?” I sulked, pushing my bottom lip out in a pout.

“We’ll be sending them over with Sasuke,” Uesugi gave me the last thing I expected from him, a genuine and warm smile. “He will report as to how you are settling in naturally as well.”

“I’m so glad I get a say in my life,” I grumbled, noticing that Mitsuhide was refusing to let me get out of his lap.

“Well, you chose to get pregnant,” Yukimura grunted back at me, with a completely non-threatening glare. “And you definitely chose the father,” he smiled. “So, you kind of led yourself to this point.”

“Stop being right,” I stuck my tongue out at the vassal, whilst feeling very much at home in my situation.

Chapter Text

I was beaming as everyone was gathered together to leave. The sole thing I hadn’t gotten my way on for this trip was riding my own horse. Nobunaga had deemed that it was too dangerous for me to ride alone as it could make me a target for rohins along the way and seperate me from the warlords. I was starting the journey off on his horse, and I was sat in front of him since I was then the designated entertainment for the trip.

We were heading up into the mountains towards a small village where a daiymo was struggling apparently with rohins and stragglers along the borders of his regions. So Hideyoshi, Nobunaga and Masamune were originally going to sort that problem out, since the borders were near Kenshin’s regions of Echigo. Then it was mentioned that there was a festival there, and I had asked Nobunaga about attending with them to see the festival. Masamune had joined straight in with approval, much to Hideyoshi’s annoyance, then he pointed out that if it was a Kenshin problem, they wouldn’t have to leave Mitsunari and Ieyasu behind to look after me.

Nobunaga had mentioned that things had been fairly routine lately, and it seemed like a good idea to bring me along with them. Apparently word of the Oda Princess had spread far across his territories, and seeing me would perhaps stir attention in a good manner. Then again, attention would bring people out of the woodwork and they could be removed according to the way that warlords thought.

It was an informal party, though it looked deadly serious to have five warlords and a princess all travelling together. After a few hours of dealing with Nobunaga’s relentless teasing, I jumped into the outstretched offer from Mitsunari, believing that the angel wouldn’t be a devil in disguise.

He was intriguied as to how ticklish I was after it was mentioned by Oda, and kept testing out his theories. I nearly fell off the horse on three occasions until Hideyoshi scolded both men and said that this was prime rohin area, and the most likely place where we would be ambushed as the mountains loomed over us.

We stopped to check all the supplies, and Masamune wrapped one of his haoris around me before I was put back on Mitsunari’s horse. There was a change in formation, with Hideyoshi and Nobunaga slightly ahead of us, and Masamune and Ieyasu had dropped back a few strides. Everything was on edge.

An arrow flew through the air, and narrowly missed me and Mitsunari. The silver-haired angel fell off his horse, and the sound of following gunshots startled the mare. I was very glad for horse riding lessons as I grabbed hold of the reigns and saddle before she suddenly bolted by the sound of a large amount of snow collapsing.

“Natsuki!” I could hear the panic in Hideyoshi’s voice as the reigns then snapped from the bridle, leaving me to cling to the mane of the horse. Masamune’s haori was long gone, leaving me in only a kimono in the middle of a snowy mountain pass. I could hear the sounds of swords clashing in the background, and cries of ‘follow that horse’, though nothing seemed to follow me.

The mare reared up as a squirrel popped up out of the snow. I closed my eyes and tried to brace for the impact, before I felt my body thud and darkness consumed my consciousness.

Masamune picked up his haori, there was enough of a dusting of snow that the hoof prints had been covered. The rohins were just that, but there had been enough of them to cause a fuss. They simply saw the opportunity for food and goods to make money of. He frowned and looked forwards, where there was a distinct lump further ahead. He spurred his mare towards it, his heart in his throat as they approached it. The horse had been found further down the trail as relief flooded through him.

The snow bank had likely shielded Natsuki from the worst of the snow, but she was freezing as he carefully picked her up. She was cradled next to him and under his dry haori, they would both need to change clothes soon in this weather as he pondered on the distance to the village whilst galloping back to the main pass with the good news in his arms.

Someone was poking at my cheek as I stirred, and I blinked into focus to find Masamune smiling down on me. I swatted his hand away and groaned as I went to sit up more.

“Nice try lass, we’re a few miles out on the village, where you and I are getting straight into the hot springs,” he chuckled, and for once, he wasn’t being a letch about things. My kimono was wet, and I seemed to be making him wet. “If we’d been any further out then it would have been a fight to get you changed as to who had the priviledge,” he added on.

“I think Hideyoshi would be the only gentleman out of you all,” I grumbled in response. I was tightly wrapped up in extra layers just to survive the journey. “It’s freezing,” I mumbled.

“You chose to nap in a snowbank kitten,” Date grinned as the sounds of civilisation reached our ears. Not that it made a difference to his speed naturally.

The villagers were all eager to greet us, and surprise was the sole expression I caught on the speed Masamune was going, whilst I then heard apologies and formal announcements being made for us by Hideyoshi as we pulled up to the accomedation. The inn owner was all smiles as we dismounted, and had the rooms prepared anyway.

I couldn’t get out of my kimono quickly enough. That it was winter was bad enough. All of the warlords had already made fun of my preferences to sit next to a brazier, and then my penchant for wearing several layers of clothing as well. They were accustomed to this, whilst it was my first winter 500 years in the past. Nobunaga and Masamune were the only two who knew of my true origins and they both loved to take the lead on the teasing.

I sighed loudly in relief at the hot water against my naked skin. My towel was waiting on the side, and I submerged my entire body in the hot springs.

“You sound like you’re enjoying that kitten,” Date’s voice brought me out of the water with a start, and I was instantly looking around for him. “Don’t worry, there’s a rocky divider,” his chuckle made me feel warm inside as I leant against the wall of rock.

“Thank you, for saving me,” I spoke up. “I don’t think I did ever say that yet,” I smiled.

“Don’t use that tone kitten,” Masamune groaned.

“Have I found the Masamune Date’s weak spot?” I laughed, my palm splayed over the wall as I heard him get out of the springs.

“Maybe you did kitten, but I have a council to get to, make sure you stay in the springs and warm yourself through properly. And dry off quickly. I’ve had them stoke the braziers so your room is warm, though someone’s sharing with you, there’s only five rooms,” his deep laugh set me on edge, and made me think of many things that definitely flushed me brighter than the water did.

“I have a feeling it’ll be you by the sounds of things,” I responded, trying not to let him know how much he did fluster me.

“I’m not making any promises lass,” then I heard the door open and shut. I was alone again, though this was just about the only time I was safe.

Masamune wasn’t that surprised to find them all waiting for him in Nobunaga’s room. The princess wasn’t sleeping alone, that was already decided as he smirked at them all.

“She’s fine, the water is doing its job,” he announced, taking a seat.

“It would take more than that to extinguish my fireball,” Oda smirked, though it was impossible to miss the glimmer of relief in his eyes, as the whole room took a breather.

I was towel drying my hair as the door opened, and Masamune let himself in with a chuckle at the sight.

“I’m guessing you are my guardian of the night,” I smiled.

Then he put his hand against my forehead, as I had done to others in the past. “You’re burning up kitten,” he frowned. “I told them all you were fine. I think lying in that snowbank has done more than chill you.”

“So are you going to run and tell Hideyoshi?” I sulked.

“No, but I’m swapping guardian duties with Ieyasu for the festival to save you a bother, and it won’t cost you much,” Date whispered in my ear.

“I’m afraid to ask with that tone of yours,” I admitted, my voice coming out in a breathy thread.

“Just a kiss kitten, and the festival we parade as a date,” he murmured. “And you spend tomorrow sleeping.”

“I get the feeling I am really going to regret this,” I groaned, my head turning around as our lips met in a heated kiss.

His lips were rough from the cold air we’d been riding through for several days, but his tongue brought forward a heat that made any brazier seem freezing cold. His arms were around my waist in an instant, and I was pressed to his burning body. I didn’t know when my arms were wrapped around his neck, but they were there when we parted for air.

“I have no idea where you learned to kiss lass, but I really need to thank them for your practice,” Masamune laughed. “Now, to bed, and for once clothes are kept on.”

“You’re looking peaky this morning,” Date was frowning as I was swaddled in layers of blankets, and he wiped the sweat off my forehead. “That will be impossible to hide from Hideyoshi and Ieyasu, and you’ll be made to stay here.”

“But the festival, I’m fine, it’s just a small cold,” I croaked.

“You’re staying here today and resting up. And heading to the springs before the festival,” it was strange to hear Masamune with such a parental tone, but it made me smile. “And I get the impression you aren’t going to argue.”

“It’s a date if you keep everything quiet,” I smiled, especially as he kissed my forehead.

I was bouncing as the evening came to. Masamune had somehow managed to get some herbs and potions off Ieyasu and they were helping, along with a nice soak in the hot springs again. He opened the door and I practically bowled him over in a hug.

“I thought I’d brought Shogetsu then,” he laughed, his chest reverberating through mine, as he gave me a soft kiss in greeting. “I’d ask if you were ready, but you’re clearly getting annoyed from being cooped up all day.”

“Ieyasu would make a fortune in the future,” I smiled. “Why are you shieldling me?”

“Because seeing you so happy made me feel something I haven’t in a long time,” he smiled, stroking my cheek.

“Well then, we should go and live up to those expectations,” I replied, linking our hands together.

I didn’t have enough pairs of eyes in my head, and I was simply too joyous to be annoyed by the sound of Masamune’s laughter. I kept dragging us to each of the brightly coloured stalls, and then realised that this region was also known for some spicy foods.

“I didn’t think you did these types of foods lass,” Date was amazed as I began to sweat out after putting in some vegetables in my mouth.

“It helps with colds,” I smiled, “Gets you to sweat it out.”

“I’ll have to remember that,” he smiled, patting me on the head after handing me a cloth to wipe my face with.

“Ieyasu probably already knew,” I laughed, and pulled him to the next stall that was selling brightly coloured sweet rolls.

“Aren’t you two a pair of sweet newly weds?” The stallholder was an older woman, and smiling with such joy it was liable to give our resident hedghog a toothache if he sensed it.

“Oh, we aren’t-” I began, only to be pulled swiftly into Masamune’s side and smothered in a hug.

“She’s embarrassed that everyone can tell,” Date gave one of his charismatic smirks, and the woman swooned.

“He’s a charmer for sure,” the stallholder gave us some sweet rolls, and Masamune had to tuck the money into her hand when she wasn’t looking before we disappeared.

“You are getting us into trouble,” I snorted, pulling out one of the rolls.

“It’s cute to watch you get flustered,” he chuckled, ruffling my hair as we quietly surveyed the festival from our little dimmed corner. It warmed me to see that it wasn’t always death and destruction in this era, and to hear the range of joy from kids laughing and running about, to other couples sharing in the simplicity of each other’s company and to the old married ones who were reliving their youth and love for each other. “Natsuki?” Masamune sounded serious as I looked up at him.

The kiss was powerful, and I could taste the sweet rolls combine as our tongues began the battle for dominance.

Then a deep laugh caught me off guard as Date waved at the incoming warlords. I was turning red, and buried my face in my hands as Hideyoshi was wearing his disapproving motherhen look. His hand was instantly on my forehead as soon as he was close enough, and then turned straight to the expectant Masamune.

“She should be tucked up in bed with that fever,” he immediately argued.

“I have been all day, and I’ve used the hot springs, and Masamune got some remedies off Ieyasu,” I interrupted. “I’ve been kept warm all day, I needed some fresh air and good food to help me.”

Toyotomi was definitely not happy as I smiled at him. “You need to rest,” he stated.

“Which I have done, all day, now I’m getting out for a little while before we go back to the room and rest up before we start our return journey tomorrow,” I smiled, as Ieyasu bumped both Masamune and Hideyoshi out of the way to check my fever. “I’ll go into the hot springs again before bed, and I’ve been eating spicy food to help clear the airways.”

“How does spicy food help?” Ieyasu paused, looking a little confused.

“Your spices aren’t in danger, it’s not my preference. It just helps to sweat it out and flush it out of the system. It’s a common thing where I’m from,” I replied, leaning against Masamune as I was trying to hide my dizziness.

“You need to go rest,” Tokugawa sighed, catching on immediately. “No wonder you were begging me to swap for Princess babysitting duties,” he muttered at Date.

“You would have been a dampener anyway, she’s so cute when she’s excited,” Masamune laughed, his arm casually around my waist in support. “Anyway, you’ve been found out, so let’s get you into the hot springs before bed,” he chuckled, turning me around so we could leave the warlords to enjoy themselves. “And don’t think you’re riding back with anyone else kitten,” he added to me in a low voice.

“I don’t know, Hideyoshi looked quite prepared to mother me,” I beamed before I started coughing in laughter.

“Sure, and you won’t be going anywhere for the next three weeks without him checking up on you if you do,” he grinned, knowing exactly what I was trying to do.

Chapter Text

I could feel him moving before he was officially in the room, and then the pot I was holding was liberated from my grasp very quickly. I had to brace myself for the next scolding off Hideyoshi as I raised my eyebrows at the vassal who was looking irritable.

“It’s empty,” I pointed out.

“No bending over to pick things up from the floor,” he repeated to me, and I stuck my tongue out in response. “I’m pregnant, not sick,” I scoffed, folding my arms across my torso and over my bump.

“I still haven’t given up on sourcing the father,” he glowered at me in a very disapproving manner.

“I feel like you’re my father,” I laughed, turning around to get the next pot until Toyotomi interrupted and picked it up for me. “You cannot be serious,” my mouth dropped open as I was practically pushed out of the kitchen.

“You need to rest, you’re going to give birth shortly,” he frowned.

“I’m not, I think I’ve still got plenty of time, and unfortunately a lot of growing still to do,” I argued.

“Please don’t tell me I’ve got much longer of listening to Hideyoshi’s mother-henning,” Masamune leant in on the conversation with a dramatic flair.

“Possibly,” I smiled, glad that I wasn’t alone at the very least throughout this pregnancy. “We will have to just wait and see,” I replied. “I do enjoy having my own personal chef though, a girl could get used to that,” I teased, referring to the part where the one-eyed dragon had decided I wasn’t eating anything he hadn’t prepared as soon as it was discovered I was pregnant.

The warlords had been badgering me constantly since I had begun to show, wanting to know who the father was as I merely shrugged my shoulders at them. It was only recently I was starting to get alarmed by the sheer size I was ballooning to, and Sasuke had passed a comment on his last visit about having more than one baby possibly. It shocked me, but with Hideyoshi’s comment about being due soon, I was wondering if that was a possibility since I knew I had a couple of months left easily before the baby would arrive.

I should have been surprised to find Shogetsu already waiting for me in my room with a grumpy expression. He liked to lay across my lap, protecting my bump with his head resting against the side. Masamune was always coming to my room now out of automation whilst looking for him and had passed a comment that he was my cub now. I was finding myself getting tired easily as time went on, so it wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate all of the interventions that the castle were doing for me, it was more that I was spending half of my energy trying to not get caught rather than doing things.

“Am I allowed to go out to the market tomorrow then mum?” I teased Hideyoshi as he went to leave.

His blush was cute as I had caught him off guard. “Fine, but no chores in the castle, I’ll have the staff on guard to not let you anywhere,” he conceded as I grinned in response.

Sasuke and Kenshin were already present as I entered the teahouse. Virtually every stall holder had stopped me on the way down, and there was now enough being sent back to the castle for me to kit out every manor involved with the Azuchi warlords. They both smiled at me, though Uesugi was quick to try and hide it as he remembered I couldn’t drink anymore.

Then the ninja’s eyes widened a little at my bump.

“If you say I’m due soon, then I think you may need to re-evaluate things because it’s not possible,” I told the man, much to Kenshin’s curiosity.

“Not enough cycles?” He asked, keen to keep the subtlety of our conversation.

“Definitely not,” I agreed as some green tea was placed in front of me. “How’s Shingen and Yuki?”

“Yuki is desperate to escape away from Shingen,” Sasuke gave a brief smile. “Something about his moping skills getting worse each day.”

“Well, Shingen always was in his own class,” I smiled before handing the ninja a thick scroll.

“He keeps threatening to break in and steal you,” Kenshin added nonchalantly.

“Getting a very pregnant woman out of a heavily guarded castle? Good luck Shingen,” I smirked. “I would say give him a kiss from me, but no one will play that game,” I pouted at the two men opposite me.

“No, we won’t,” Uesugi snapped, glaring at me as I couldn’t suppress a giggle.

“You’re no fun,” I smiled.

“Natsuki!” Hideyoshi’s voice was echoing through the market as the two opposite me did a complete disappearance, and I casually knocked the empty cups off the table before the warlord entered the teahouse. “You’ve been summoned to a war council, by Lord Nobunaga’s orders,” he explained, offering his hand out to help me to my feet. “He said it’s urgent.”

“He thinks everything is urgent,” I grumbled. “I will be stealing his sugar candies if it isn’t,” I promised the vassal as I started the unfortunate process of waddling.

All of the other warlords were currently gathered with very serious expressions on their faces as we entered. Mitsuhide was even missing his trademark smirk and glimmer in his eyes, which made me think this might actually involve me.

“Shingen Takeda has invaded Kai,” Nobunaga announced and made everyone sit up that bit straighter. “It’s an all-out attack, and he wants to take it back from my control.”

“With all due respect,” I spoke up swiftly, “Why am I here?”

“We can’t leave you behind here with a guard, we need everyone present,” Oda glared at me.

“No, no, no and no,” I interjected. “You are not taking me to the battlefront, where Shingen can then target me and kidnap me from the camp,” I argued. “I’m a liability there, and riding on a horse is certainly out of the question. What if I start giving birth there? Mitsuhide is never at any of these fights, he can stay here with me,” I continued.

“Natsuki does have a strong point regarding giving birth,” Ieyasu spoke up, taking the heat off me. “It would then take the focus off the battle and give Shingen the advantage and potential to domineer us.”

“I will stay behind, my Lord,” it was an offer through gritted teeth, but Hideyoshi made it anyway. “I will take care of Natsuki to ensure that the battle isn’t a distraction technique. Mitsuhide and Mitsunari may be able to outmanoeuvre the dirty techniques that Takeda uses on the battlefield.”

“I do currently have a theory that would be proven about Shingen,” Mitsuhide spoke up in an unusually straightforward tone.

“Then you will stay here with Hideyoshi,” Nobunaga stared at me. “Monkey, I hope your theory about this being a distraction technique is wrong.”

“I hope so too, Lord Nobunaga, but I fear they may use anything to get to us,” his vassal nodded in seriousness.

I was lying on my back on a futon that had been set up in the main hall, where Hideyoshi had also set himself up for constant surveillance of me. I had a screen for privacy, he wasn’t a complete loss, but I had to talk to him consistently when I was behind it. Shogetsu had his head next to my bump, just listening to the baby it seemed as I dozed during the lull we had. The others had arrived and were now fighting at Kai. Shingen had been sighted there, but that didn’t rule out the possibility that it was still a distraction apparently since there was no sighting of Nobushige, one of Shingen’s trusted generals and his younger brother. This was the most alarming bit of information it seemed to Toyotomi, and he had tried to keep a steady level of communication going around the castle in the days following.

“My Lord!” One of the guards broke in before he was knocked unconscious with a blow to the back of the head.

Hideyoshi was going to be overwhelmed when they poured in from two sides. The soldiers were decked out in black ninja kinds of outfits, and I could smell their intentions to kidnap me from a mile away.

“I hate it when you’re right Hideyoshi,” I muttered, my back pressed against his, completely unsure of what to do.

“It makes two of us in this case,” the vassal agreed. “What are you doing?” He demanded before a path was made, and one of them lowered his mask.

“The lady is handed over, and we leave without a fuss,” he smiled, and it reminded me of Shingen in the way he carried himself. He was far too casual, and then he winked at me. “It won’t be long princess, I promise.”

“Why would I hand an Oda Princess over?” Hideyoshi snarled, whipping his sword out as the two men started duelling one on one. It left me without a guard, and without any help surprisingly, I was in the unmasked man’s arms before I could comprehend my situation. “Natsuki!” He growled.

“I don’t know what happened!” I exclaimed, absolutely terrified for my life as I was already trying to protect my baby with my arms.

“Leave her alone, she has nothing to do with this!” Toyotomi barked as I was pulled out of the room.

“She has everything to do with it,” the strange man laughed. “She’s carrying the heir of the Takeda Clan!”

I was carried off on that bombshell of information, the soldiers were swarming in to protect me from getting hurt whilst keeping Hideyoshi firmly back at Azuchi. The man who had his arms about me was moving as quickly as possible, and I was beginning to think he forgot I was pregnant at the speed he was apparently expecting from me.

“Natsuki! Nobushige!” I heard a familiar voice much to my relief as we hit the forest outside of the town.

“Yuki,” I smiled in return as the vassal suddenly hoisted me up onto his horse.

“Sorry, this is the only way to travel at speed,” he apologised, keeping me tight in his arms as the rest of the soldiers were being followed by the remains of the Oda forces. “Lord Shingen and his plans,” the man complained before the horses were set off at a speed that would have made Masamune jealous.

“I daren’t actually ask,” I gasped, using Yuki’s chest as a shield from all of the passing branches and leaves.

“Doesn’t Shingen trust me anymore?” I could hear the pout in Nobushige’s voice, and I had to smile as it immediately reminded me of Shingen

“Not with Natsuki,” Sanada snorted, kicking his horse to try and speed her up.

It was my first time seeing Echigo, and I didn’t get to really see it as Yuki thundered through the streets of it in haste to get me inside the castle. Hideyoshi had been on our trail constantly, and it was likely that there would be a clash of troops just outside the town. I was quickly unloaded to the staff, who had all been expecting me it seemed from the manner in which I was taken to a quiet room. A bathtub was already established as I stopped caring about where I was and couldn’t wait to get clean and rest after my haphazard journey.

“Natsuki,” a voice whispered through the dark, disturbing me from my sleep. I was encased in warmth, and the familiar scent of someone was starting to permeate my nose. “My little angel, you seem to have ballooned,” he chuckled, his chest reverberating through mine as a hand stroked my bump protectively.

“It’s not very comfortable, trust me,” I groaned as I was kissed on the temple. “Mm, what time is it?”

“Time for women who are carrying my child to go to sleep,” Shingen replied, brushing my hair out of my eyes. “I couldn’t wait any longer for you when Sasuke told me how big you were, and if you didn’t know then it would look less suspicious on you,” he grinned.

“We’ll talk about it when I’m actually awake,” I grumbled, wanting to turn around in his arms, but knowing the baby bump would just get in the way.

The castle was alive with activity when a maid disturbed me with fresh clothing the following morning. It was a tired smile, but not an upset one as Shingen was merely an imprint on the sheets when I glanced backwards.

“Lord Shingen has asked that you attend the main hall, the staff will assist you once you are ready,” the maid smiled, leaving me to get sorted in peace.

“What now?” Kenshin was irritable when I appeared, “Oh, I was hoping for a fight,” he grumbled.

Shingen was quick to take me into his arms and guided me away from the God of War, who was definitely on the warpath. I was seated in Shingen’s lap, something inappropriate for such a serious event, and then I spotted the person who had kidnapped me the previous day from under Hideyoshi’s nose. I wasn’t seeing things now I could see him in broad daylight, he was virtually the spitting image of Shingen.

“I should really introduce you to my brother formally,” Takeda chuckled in my ear, apparently having noticed where my gaze way. “I did threaten to steal his wife if you didn’t make it,” he grinned, and mock waved at Nobushige.

“Lord Shingen,” Yukimura hissed and poked his Lord in the side.

“The Oda forces will be here soon, to backup Hideyoshi, so Kenshin gets his fight, what’s the problem?” Shingen spoke up and shrugged his shoulders. “We have the ability to take them down,” his gaze was smouldering at the thought of killing Nobunaga, especially since he had been the last thing stopping me from being with him.

I kept quiet, nervous at the thought of any of my friends being hurt. Someone was watching me, but I couldn’t look up from staring at the floor in case it would give me away in the heat of the moment.

“The healers want to check you over later Natsuki,” Yuki managed to whisper in my ear, as the baby kicked me and Shingen at the same time, our hands were in two different places and both of us felt the other kick. The room was staring at us it seemed until a messenger burst into the room, holding a demand aloft.

“They want to talk, but they are requesting the presence of the Princess,” it didn’t sound right for Kenshin to be talking in such an aloof manner, especially as he scoffed at the reference to me.

“No, Natsuki stays here,” Shingen immediately argued.

“If they just want to talk, I need to be there,” I replied straight off.

“And what if it turns out into all-out war?” He snapped, baring his teeth at me.

“Do you think they will honestly lay a finger on me?” I yelled in response. “I am still being referred to as their princess!”

Yukimura didn’t give his Lord a chance to reply and led me straight out of the room towards the gates. All of the Azuchi warlords were prepped on their horses, and everyone relaxed to see me well, though I wasn’t exactly going to be in the best books with everyone.

Shingen was reluctantly present, and glaring at Nobunaga constantly as Hideyoshi made me some tea to warm me up a little in the tent.

“Hideyoshi was correct then that the all-out offensive on Kai was the distraction?” Oda coldly asked.

“Yes, the real plan was to take Natsuki from Azuchi to Echigo,” Kenshin replied, his hand still on the hilt of his sword as he was begging for a battle. “We knew that you couldn’t resist the call of fighting us both over Shingen’s homeland.”

“So, Shingen beat us all to it, Natsuki?” Mitsuhide’s voice was silky smooth as I froze in the path of lifting the cup to my lips. “I did wonder where you had gone on that night from camp,” he slyly added in, much to Hideyoshi’s surprise.

“Yes, Shingen’s the father,” I eventually found my voice and looked straight at Oda.

“So why take Kai?” Hideyoshi snapped.

“Because I mentioned how wonderful it would be to raise our child there in our last letter,” I interjected. “I was lost in fairytale land thinking that I’d get some happiness, but it’s always war,” I glared at the floor. I couldn’t get too angry, it would hurt the baby as I took a deep breath. “I had heard about how wonderful it was, and I let myself get absorbed in the fantasy that maybe our children could be raised in the same place their father loves. It was code for me, he was trying to make my dreams come true.”

Everyone froze as I kept focused on my breathing. Getting upset would benefit no one as I slid my hands up and down my thighs to set my breathing rate to.

“Why not a joint rule?” Shingen offered, startling everyone. “Natsuki is the perfect mediator for us, so we don’t need to fight. And she gets to live out her fantasy.”

I was struggling to keep my eyes open as they kept dissecting the minor details until Shingen pulled me into his lap. I was covered with a haori and the whole tent was now watching us.

“Go to sleep,” he chuckled, much to my embarrassment.

“It’s the baby’s fault,” I murmured, already losing the battle.

It went surprisingly fast, and there were definitely moments where both of us had kicks that were surprisingly strong that felt like we were both being kicked from opposite sides of my stomach.

Ieyasu was visiting to check me over, I was starting to get contractions.

“Have you got some water and towels?” The tsundere male asked nonchalantly to the nearest servant. “And you might want to get the Lord of the Manor,” he shrugged.

“Natsuki?” Shingen had a slight sweat on his forehead, and out of breath from rushing to the room.

I grabbed his hand forcefully, and slightly out of character as his startled expression amused Ieyasu until I grabbed his as well.

Some of the maids kept a rotation system going of the towels and clean water, whilst Yukimura refused to let anyone else even near the wing of the house we were in.

“How the hell did you even manage this?” Shingen brushed my sweaty hair off my face before he kissed my forehead. “They’re beautiful.”

“I was trying to stay ignorant,” I sighed as Ieyasu grinned at me. “You’ll let Nobunaga and everyone know?” I smiled tiredly.

“Naturally, they’ll be waiting for me already,” he shrugged.

“Katsuyori and Obai-in,” my other half was a typical proud dad, his son in his arms as his daughter was struggling to decide if she wanted to fight sleep or not.

“You’re going to outshine everyone soon,” I laughed. “Ugh, I need sleep,” I mumbled.

“Yes, you do, where is that ninja with the baskets?” Tokugawa was eager to get going.

“Here,” Sasuke still got starstruck whenever he saw Ieyasu, and his eyes widened when he realised the blonde was there. Shingen took them off him, grinning knowingly at his friend as he lowered our little boy into one.

“Why do I just get the feeling that our children are going to be the most spoilt in Japan?” I groaned, my eyes already closed as the maids came in with a bathtub full of water for me.

“Well, Masamune and Hideyoshi may have something to do with that,” Ieyasu casually replied. “Get a quick bath, and rest,” he instructed, then looked at Shingen. “And make sure she gets the rest part.”

Takeda shrugged casually before Yuki punched him in the arm and nodded in response to the instructions.

“Any problems, you know how to find me,” Tokugawa left without any further instruction.

“Shingen?” I said, slowly sitting up.

“Yes, my angel?” He asked sincerely.

“I hate you right now,” I glared at him. “One baby to push out was bad enough, I had to do it twice!”

He pouted as Yukimura snorted before dragging out his Lord to leave me to clean up in peace.

Chapter Text

“How the hell did I get to this?” I hissed to Sasuke as we crept through the alleyways of Azuchi.

“You lost a bet with Masamune,” the ninja chuckled.

We’d both fallen through the wormhole several months ago and made the decision irrespective of the other to stay in the Sengoku. I had been taken on as Princess and Chatelaine at Azuchi, where Sasuke had made his career as a ninja to Kenshin. Technically, we were enemies, but that never once to occurred for it to be the case to either of us. Masamune had come into my room one night after I had been playing the violin that had come with me and ended up discovering the instrument. He knew I came from the future, as I admitted that it had come with me and begged for him to keep it quiet. His only stipulation to my request was that I would play for him at his manor on occasions as our friendship started to spiral into trouble for the rest of the castle.

Our pranks had been spanning for weeks. No one was exempt. Nobunaga was delighted that he was included when we had put spices in his sake. It was all completely harmless, no one was ever in danger. Shogetsu was forever being misplaced, and messages constantly mixed out as I had quickly learned to arm myself when I went near Ieyasu or Mitsuhide after the first three times. It was a complete rush of enjoyment.

“I bet you can’t prank Hideyoshi without being found out, lass,” the one-eyed dragon was cooking dinner for us and the two Mitsus, as I was chopping up some vegetables for a dish.

“What’s the prize?” I asked calmly. Hideyoshi was a hard one to prank, neither of us had managed it recently, he always found out somehow.

“If I win and you don’t manage it, then you have to play your violin for everyone at the docks,” he laughed.

“No, I want to know what I get if I manage it,” I grinned, tipping the prepared vegetables into a pot.

“I’ll take you to Oshu for a holiday as you called it,” he laughed.

“Everything’s out on the line then,” I smirked.

“You have to use Shogetsu is the only stipulation,” he added on. “And before you argue, you know it’s a big thing I’m offering.”

Everything had been set up perfectly, then I didn’t counter in Ieyasu finding out and telling Hideyoshi because the pair of them were bored of our prank war. I’d had to listen to the scolding of a lifetime, and then deal with the fact I’d lost the bet. I made Masamune promise I could do it wearing a disguise at the very least, and I roped Sasuke into finding me a good spot that would mean everyone could hear me and see me, but I could escape with my identity intact. I didn’t want them questioning me about the instrument after all, and now I was creeping through the streets under a black cloak with a ninja to get to my stage.

There was a new ship in the dock in the evening light as I climbed quietly. I had been here on enough occasions to know that the size and state of the ship meant that this was someone important, but I couldn’t stand here gawking at it. I was already attracting attention for being on the roof.

The bet was to play three songs. It made me smile as I looked over the port, and a particular video about one of my favourite violinists dancing about in a fountain whilst dressed as a pirate came to mind. It had been a long time since I’d attempted such a piece, but I had the crowd captivated within seconds.

“Sasuke, get me out of here before anyone comes looking,” I hissed urgently before we took off back towards the castle.

“You did well, lass,” Masamune caught up to me a few days later whilst I was cleaning the hallways in preparation for receiving a high-status visitor. “All anyone is talking about is how beautiful whatever you did was. I’m sorry I was caught up in a council and couldn’t see you perform,” he teased.

“I’ll drop by later then, you’ll likely enjoy one of the songs you missed,” I replied nonchalantly as I wrung out the rag I was using. “And get your muddy boots off the floor, or you’ll be cleaning it with me,” I scolded.

“I have a better idea,” I really didn’t like the look in Masamune’s eyes, but I knew he would just threaten to tell Hideyoshi that it was me on the rooftops the other evening for the mother hen to start up.

“This is ridiculous,” I hissed. I was back under my cloak and this time I was with Sasuke and Masamune. I made the dragon promise to not kill the enemy ninja since he was the one who got me up and down. “Why did I agree to this?” I groaned.

“Because you don’t want everyone knowing it’s you playing that sweet music, kitten,” Date chuckled as we slipped through to the middle of nowhere again, and I was hoisted up to the rooftops.

I didn’t know how many fans I’d acquired since my last performance. I heard Hideyoshi scolding someone, and saw a flash of white hair next to the vassal before I began playing some different songs. I was more nervous this time, I couldn’t explain why, but everyone had stopped and fallen quiet just to listen to what I was doing.

“You are amazing lass,” Date was full of praise as we turned to leave the alleyways.

“Date! You owe me a fight!” A new voice broke our escape route as I hid the violin behind my back and the bow was already up my kimono sleeve at the sound of a newcomer. “Oh, hello, you’re a new face,” the stranger took note of me the second I realised my hood had fallen down.

“I’m also needed back at the castle by Nobunaga,” Masamune grinned, “I’ll give you the fight when I’m not at a council, come on,” he laughed, pushing me forward until the strange man caught my free hand, and lifted it to his lips.

“I will meet you again, princess,” he winked, and I blushed before the dragon rushed us back off towards the castle.

“He calls all the girls ‘princess’, he doesn’t know who you are,” Date was good at reading my mind when I was feeling panicky.

“Who is he?” I replied in an exasperated manner.

“Oh, yeah, you haven’t met him yet technically,” he laughed. “Motonari Mori, pirate of the high seas as he likes to think of himself, he left before you arrived.”

“Why do I get the feeling he’s you but just in pirate form?” I groaned, struggling to keep pace with the much taller man.

“Don’t compare me to him,” Masamune grumbled, an instant shift of mood which lifted mine swiftly.

I wasn’t that surprised to be called to council the following day. I was surprised to see that Motonari was present, and sat between Nobunaga and Masamune, now with a shocked expression on his face to see me in such circumstances.

“This is Natsuki, Oda Princess, and Chatelaine of Azuchi,” Oda was waving his hand in my general direction before I bowed politely. “Natsuki, this is Lord Motonari Mori, he rarely stays on land for long enough to require any introductions,” the dark-haired male shrugged, whilst the white-haired man wasn’t able to find his tongue as I left to resume my usual duties.

The maids were all swooning over the pirate warlord, which tickled me as I helped a couple of them sort through our linen storage. Then there were sharp gasps of admiration, as I then found myself alone and surrounded by sheets.

“I wasn’t far off the mark calling you princess then,” Motonari’s voice was rich now he had found his tongue, and a deep chuckle escaped him as I continued folding the sheets.

“No, you weren’t,” I replied with a shrug, choosing to continue focusing on my task at hand.

“I heard you saved Nobunaga from the flames of Honno-Ji, and decided to stay here,” he added on, his hand placed over mine as I was forced to look at the admittedly handsome man in close quarters.

“I was rewarded for my troubles, and here I am,” I shrugged. “Now, can I finish my work, or are you going to help?” I smiled.

“Masamune confirmed that you are that beautiful musician my dear, so because we know none of your brothers would allow you to go on any kind of date, I will meet you outside the castle tomorrow night and we will go on one, and you will be bringing that lovely violin of yours,” he murmured into my ear. The tiniest of threats were woven into it.

“Fine,” I retorted through clenched teeth. I had to admit to myself he was devilishly handsome, but I didn’t need to agree with anyone else about it as he kissed the back of my hand before slipping away.

I was grateful that Sasuke had shown me the corridors in the ceiling as I used them to coordinate my night time rendezvous with the pirate. Masamune would most likely have a sneaking suspicion about my absence, but right now that wasn’t my concern as I finally made it out of the grounds of Azuchi. It was my first time escaping at night on my own, and I was wearing a cloak to cover the violin on my back. It wasn’t that bad of a job as I quickly made my way to the waiting pirate.

What did surprise me, was apparently how bold men could still be in this era, as my cloak and violin were discarded carefully before he boldly kissed me whilst pinning me to the grass. It was brief, hot, passionate and dominating before he offered me a hand up, with a cocky grin. My violin was carefully held in his other hand with my cloak over his arm.

“You have no manners,” I grumbled in complaint, though my blush was illuminated by the moonlight as he showed me the way to his ship. “And I assume you’re just going to take me to your bed for your fun now?” I drawled, fully prepared to kick him where the sun didn’t shine if that was his plan.

His laugh was full of life, and then he shook his head. “No, I just thought you needed a kiss and I wanted to taste you,” he grinned. “I’m not that much of a brute that I wouldn’t kiss a lady who didn’t look like she wanted it.”

“I’m pretty sure I didn’t look like I needed a kiss,” I responded with a slack jaw, hesitating to accept his outstretched hand and jump onto the deck.

“You still followed me,” he smiled.

“Yes, I need my head examining, probably by Ieyasu with a healthy dose of Hideyoshi,” I grumbled.

“I’m not taking you below deck, I promise, I’m not that low,” he said earnestly, the expression on his face making me feel a little cruel for doubting him.

His hands stayed on my waist as I was put down onto the deck. I was left to my own devices it seemed as I kept my distance from the pirate. It was my first chance to see what vessels were like in this era. I had seen all the replicas in museums, but there was never anything that came close to experiencing the real thing as I admired all of the sails and the aspects of the deck. Motonari stayed near where we had boarded, just watching me with an undisguised interest before I came back to him.

“So, you said this is a date?” I asked him, desperate to break the silence. “And you wanted me to bring my violin.”

“I’ve seen violins when I visited the West,” he said. “But nothing made or played as beautifully as yours. I was hoping you’d indulge me with a private serenade.”

“I’m surprised you know what it is without my explanation, but then if you’ve been to the West, you would know,” I replied.

“How did you get hold of such an instrument and learn to play it?” The pirate was far too interested in me for my comfort.

“Did you want me to play it for you, or did you want to spend the time asking me questions?” I jabbed with a slight sulk.

“By all means,” I was surprised that he was such a gentleman, leading me to a little-raised deck where there was a couple of cushions and some sake present. “I’d rather hear you play if that would make you feel better.”

I couldn’t stop my blush as I dragged my bow over the strings before deciding that Master of Tides wasn’t a bad way to start with a pirate. He was a silent audience, sipping at the sake as I continued through the songs, letting myself get lost in the music before I could realise I was dancing across the deck.

I was smiling shyly before trying to catch my breath after a, particularly energetic song. His lips were on mine before I could gather what was going on, and his strong arms were around me. His passion was contagious, I couldn’t stop kissing him back as my arm that wasn’t holding a violin was thrown around his neck. Not that I wasn’t flustered when we parted, I was short of breath for certain.

“Now, that’s a look I could get used to,” the pirate murmured, this thumb dragging across my lower lip. “You look more beautiful with every passing moment.”

“I really should get back to the castle,” I said, trying to find my feet in everything.

“Just a little while more, please princess,” he begged in a sultry tone down my ear.

‘A little while more’ ended up with me falling asleep on the ship, and waking up below deck to find Motonari bent over a desk with some maps out in front of him. And everything rocking more than it had been the previous night.

“I couldn’t stand to send you back to those hooligans,” he pouted after I clipped him around the back of the head in greeting.

“They’re going to kill me when you get back!” I exclaimed. “I’m an Oda Princess, I don’t even think Nobunaga would look over this nicely!”

“They’re going to kill me first,” the pirate laughed. “I’m enjoying life, and you looked too peaceful to wake up, so I kidnapped you for this trip,” he grinned. “It’s just a few days, then we’ll arrive back in port and have them all there to greet us,” he beamed enthusiastically.

It wasn’t the most conventional of first dates, I had to admit that fact. But it was thrilling and so exciting. None of the crew would dare speak out of turn to me, and they all knew exactly who I was as I watched them all with vivid interest as they carried their daily duties out. Then I heard them complaining about the food. I was intrigued, so I disappeared to see the cook, who was struggling by himself. I took the knives off him and began to cook in the way that Masamune had taught me.

“This is edible! What’s going off?” The first mate yelled off as the men were reluctantly beginning to eat their food. Motoharu was narrowing his eyes in suspicion before he broke into the kitchen. I grinned sheepishly at the accusatory glare.

“I didn’t give him a choice,” I shrugged as the cook held his hands up in surrender.

It felt a little too peaceful, Motonari was a busy man at all hours of the day and night, but it almost felt like I belonged on that ship. Then we came back to port, and as I had predicted, we definitely had a waiting party.

“Lord Motonari!” Motoharu called for him with a frown. “You didn’t perhaps steal the Princess without permission?” He asked hesitantly.

“He stole me without permission and knowledge, and under the cover of darkness too,” I added, putting the nail in the coffin as the pirate grumbled at our situation. “I had fun at least,” I grinned. “We’re both getting a Hideyoshi scolding.”

“Oh I know princess, but yours will not be as bad as mine,” Motonari frowned.

“No, it will,” I shrugged, waiting for the aforementioned Toyotomi to rush forward so I could get off the ship to the expected telling off.

The vassal was eager to get me back on solid ground, and lifted me off without a word of warning before I was escorted back to the castle, along with my captor. I couldn’t help but laugh at Motonari’s facial expressions. Hideyoshi was the only one walking with me, and we were walking in front of the pirate.

“What’s a violin?” Hideyoshi frowned when I was finally dragged in for my berating of a lifetime. “Motonari said that you played it, and Masamune confirmed it.”

“Then Masamune can go and get my violin from Motonari’s ship, and I will play it for you all,” I replied, giving a half-hearted glare to the dragon.

“Huh, so it was you who was performing then,” Nobunaga was definitely taking this far too well and casually as mother Hideyoshi started to fluff up another speech about how dangerous it is running about on the rooftops. “Then again, I’m guessing we won’t need to worry about that happening now,” he smirked, attracting all of the attention in the room. “Since you have Motornari’s devotions anyway,” he teased out as I was trying to figure out what he was getting to.

“The old man is letting me steal you, princess,” the aforementioned pirate broke into the room with a grin, hooking his arm around my waist. “I’ve had them pack your things up, so we’re going on a long trip. The lads can’t wait for your cooking,” he laughed.

“Wait, what is going on?” I asked, my head flipping between the two smirking warlords as everyone else remained as clueless as I did.

Motonari chuckled, picking me up into his arms bridal style. My violin was resting against my stomach before a passionate kiss stole all of my breath, and any more questions I had.

“How did the pirate manage that?” Ieyasu squawked as we left the room. “He was here for 2 minutes!”

“Well, I’ll keep your secret princess,” Mori was grinning to himself as we left. “You clearly have a thing for pirates.”

Chapter Text

It certainly hadn’t been an easy road to get down as I began to walk up the stairs to our new apartment. I was tired from starting my new job, and finding that it was going to be a constant fight to get the recognition I deserved was exhausting me. I clutched all my folders to my chest as I finally dragged myself to our front door.

I wasn’t sure who reached me first, but I was in the middle of a hug between their broad chests. I couldn’t help but giggle at the familiar and safe feeling whilst I was being showered with kisses in greeting, not that I stood a chance at getting away without giving each of the boys their own kisses anyway.

It had been an administrative error when we had started university, and I had ended up sharing an apartment with two boys. When I had the chance to move, I really didn’t want to. I’d ended up slotting right in with things and I found out that I never had to really deal with unwanted advances since if it wasn’t one of my two roommates around, then one of their friends who had adopted me into their friendship group would never be far. Then it had been far too much to drink one night by us all, and we’d all ended up sharing a bed. It had been awkward as we all took to avoiding each other for a few days until Masa took the initiative and cornered me and Shingen at the same time to say he wouldn’t mind if it became our thing. It was like all of us were terrified of the same thing, rejection. Shingen and Masa took time to properly come to terms with each other, and then I walked in on them frenching in the kitchen one evening and I had to laugh. I wasn’t sure who had been blushing harder, but it was adorable to see them finally comfortable with themselves.

“Let’s get you to the bathroom now,” Shingen had me picked up straight away as Masamune was already collecting my things together to leave them on a chair to be picked up tomorrow.

“I can walk,” I protested, grabbing hold of Shingen’s t-shirt to keep myself steady in his arms.

“Yes, but I don’t want you to,” the man teased. I could smell the wood that was deeply ingrained in his scent, as a carpenter, he would spend his days building and creating sets and furniture, and it was something I found welcoming and reminding me of home after a few years.

I pouted in protest as I heard the gas light up in the kitchen. I was gently lowered as though I was made of glass to the floor of the bathroom, where a tub full of hot water was waiting for me. A simple kiss to my forehead and one of his smouldering smiles would always have me putty in his hands.

“Get yourself sorted, princess, dinner is being prepared,” he winked and purposely left me alone knowing exactly what those expressions made me want to do.

I shook my head before indulging myself in the fresh, hot water. There were just occasions where I needed to work late, it was the same for my boyfriends, it was strange for me to feel so pampered. I knew that both of them had been contracted to work for the next modelling show, so it would be a struggle for me with my jealousy to keep things professional. Not that Shingen or Masamune would even bother to try and keep it to themselves anyway.

The only thing that had been left for me to get into once I was dry, was one of Shingen’s bathrobes. They were plotting something as I wrapped myself in the massive robe, and opened the door.

“You’re meant to be cooking I’m sure,” I had to giggle as I’d caught them mid-kiss yet again in the kitchen, and I leant over to stir the pot that was beginning to bubble.

Masa tapped me on the nose and chuckled. “You aren’t the only one in this relationship that struggles to keep her hands to herself,” he grinned before switching back to stirring the pot.

“I’m irresistible,” Shingen declared and then wrapped an arm around my shoulders and guided me out of the kitchen. “Get into the outfit we picked out for you on the bed.”

I could hear his inner tiger already coming out at the prospect and then sighed as the door shut behind me. I was definitely on the menu that night as I picked up the silk pyjamas. It was a short sleeve shirt with buttons up the front and some very short shorts. My arse would be hanging out a little at the back, and I didn’t miss the fact that there wasn’t any underwear for my protection from the two boys. They were going to enjoy this, so I decided to put them through hell after dressing in the selected outfit, and used some ribbon to tie my hair into two pigtails.

“Princess?” Shingen called as I made sure my hair added the air of innocence to me.

I smiled and bounced out of the room. I had checked in the mirror in our room, and the shorts barely covered everything, and if Masa hadn’t already put everything on the table then we would have had some smashed dishes. I beamed before taking a seat at the table, determined to play the innocent card for as long as possible to get back at them. Masa was trying out some new flavouring in his stir fry before taking it to next week’s show. Not that either of them were truly processing it as I chatted animatedly about the fashion side of our plans.

“Kitten,” Masamune gave up on trying to be polite or win. His voice was deep and gravelly, and I had him on the edge.

“Yes?” I smiled at the one-eyed chef, leaning forward and resting my head on my hand with my elbow on the table.

“You win,” he announced, swiftly standing up from his chair and then picking me up like I weighed nothing before marching us both off to the bedroom.

I could help but laugh as I was dropped on our extra large bed, bouncing against the mattress and giving Masa a wicked grin in time for Shingen to close the door behind him. I knew I was in for a treat as they began to shower me in kisses before discarding of my clothing.

A soft kiss to my forehead disturbed me, and I felt one of my sources of warmth move from under the bed. I whined and try to cling to the moving figure, though I refused to open my eyes.

“Unfortunately, Princess, I need to go and start work, I’ll see you and handsome later on set,” Shingen’s voice was still thick with sleep, though he was able to avoid my ministrations and tucked me back in Masa’s arms under the duvet. He briefly kissed my forehead again before leaving.

“Mm, it’s early, kitten,” the chef mumbled from next to me, pulling me in a little tighter.

“But I’m awake now,” I pouted. “It’s all Shingen’s fault.”

“Go back to sleep,” Masa muttered, already falling back into dreamland as I rested my head against his chest and listened to his soft breathing and steady heartbeat before drifting back off.

I was really trying to focus on my job, but hearing the models talk almost constantly about the hot chef and the hot handyman was making me more than a little flustered.

“Seriously? What on earth are you doing?” The leggy model snapped at me, snatching the fabric out of my hands as I tried to stop her from ripping it anymore. “You just stabbed me with a pin, I can’t believe they’d let someone so incompetent near me!” She was in full rage mode. “I’ll have your job if you’ve broken the skin!”

My boss was glaring at me and came to sort the situation out, silently sending me away to check on another model and their outfits. I sighed in defeat as my boss managed to salvage the situation and the dress adjustments as I decided that checking everything was ready for the next change of clothing during the rehearsal.

“Kitten?” Masamune’s voice was soft, as I glanced up from the repair work I was doing on a hem that had dropped. He was holding a plate of stir fry out for me.

“Sorry, I can’t risk getting any on the dress,” I smiled apologetically.

“You need a break and to eat,” the chef wasn’t taking ‘no’ as an answer, as Shingen suddenly lifted the item out of my hands carefully.

“If I have to spoon feed you-” Shingen started.

“No, I can feed myself,” I was flushing bright red as I took the plate out of Masamune’s hands. The boys were sharing a knowing smile, and then a silent conversation before the chef went back to the kitchen.

“We’ve heard them all talking about us, constantly,” the carpenter said after a few minutes of silence between us. “And then talking about who the lucky ladies are,” he planted a kiss on my temple on purpose I felt. “And how we could do better by dating one of them so we can stop working like we do and get famous for our looks.”

“I’ve been told to keep professional,” I quietly commented between mouthfuls.

“You’ve been more than that, Princess,” he looped his arm around my waist and gave me a small squeeze. “If I heard any man talking about you in the pretext I’ve overheard them talking about me and Masa, then I would have punched them long ago. You’ve kept it together listening to all of the models talking about us two and you only slipped a needle on one occasion when the bitch moved on purpose.”

I frowned. “She wouldn’t have done that,” I paused, my fork halfway between the plate and my mouth.

“She had noticed that you were getting our glances, she wants you off-site to get her talons in,” Shingen corrected me, keeping me close. “And I’m not going anywhere until you’ve finished eating. Masa made me promise.”

“Natsuki?” One of my colleagues came rushing over, looking flushed from rushing all over the set.

“Sorry,” I apologised, giving Shingen the half-eaten plate of food and running back off with my colleague. My head was likely to be on the block, but it was all run of the mill.

Shingen sighed as he watched his girlfriend’s retreating figure. She’d been stressing about this event for a while, and the bitchy comments flying around were irritating the carpenter as he realised that she wouldn’t be coming back whilst the food was still edible. It was the most they’d managed to get her to eat in the past few days at least as he headed to the kitchen. Masa was looking annoyed with someone, and then his attention was all on his boyfriend.

“She was called back to work,” Shingen dejectedly explained, putting the half-eaten lunch down on the side for one of the kitchen hands to pick up before running a hand through his damp red locks.

“I think it’s time we unleashed the dropping into conversations plan,” the chef firmly stated, frowning at the amount of food left. “She can’t resist my cooking normally,” he sulked.

“She can’t resist you normally,” Shingen chuckled and looked over his shoulder to see the poor woman trying to keep her tears back as a model was tearing into her for some unknown reason. “Sod it, I’m not standing for this.”

Masa couldn’t do anything but follow, his heart was breaking at the scene. They interrupted without much effort, the chef was wrapping his arms around the small woman as Shingen stood in front of her protectively to block her from view.

The smell was so welcoming as I couldn’t stop the tears anymore. Masa had practically picked me up, and wrapped me in his arms with my face buried in his chest. His fingers were gently stroking through my hair as Shingen started off on a rant that made me do nothing but blush furiously. He was having a go at the entire place it felt. My boss for letting the models rip into me, my colleagues for not sticking up for me at any point and then the models seemed to get the most vicious part.

“She’s just a lowly assistant-” The one who I had accidentally stabbed with a needle finally spoke up.

“She’s the assistant head of fashion design actually,” Shingen was frowning. I didn’t even need to look at him to know what expression he was wearing, as the scathing gaze was most likely now on my boss. The whole temperature of the room had dropped by a few degrees.

“So what? She’s just a plain looking girl!” The model retorted with scathing.

“She’s the best girlfriend either of us could ever hope for actually,” the chef interrupted, refusing to let go of me.

“And we’re taking her home, she’s had enough. We’ll see about tomorrow,” Shingen declared.

The car park air was crisp in the winter afternoon. Shingen was refusing to let go of me whilst the chef was gathering all of our things together.

“You’re both going to lose your contracts,” I sighed, resting my head against his chest.

“We’ll find others,” he shrugged. “The way they were treating you was disgusting, and your boss shouldn’t have let them do that just because of who they are,” he frowned. He was stroking my head as Masa returned, wearing a massive grin.

“The models were desperately trying to get my attention to ditch you two,” he laughed. “We all might not have jobs now.”

“Masamune!” I groaned, burying my head into Shingen’s shoulder.

“They didn’t appreciate you anyway. Assistant Head of Fashion Design does not run around with the disrespect they were showing you back there,” the chef argued straight off. “Your boss was intending on ripping your designs off under her name. Oh, we aren’t allowed back on set now Shingen,” he laughed on the final point.

“It’ll get us talked about at the very least,” the carpenter sighed, before sliding me into the car. “I’m going to load up my stuff then, you take Natsuki home. We’ll find out soon enough about her so-called boss being a chicken.”

“I’m glad you two hold me in such high esteem-” I started, trying to process the problems as the models were then spying on the situation.

“We’re not hearing it kitten,” Masa declared. “You’re better than this, we’re going home and sorting things out.”

Shingen grinned as the chef got into the driver’s seat, not giving me any chance to get out and try to undo what had just been done. I huffed and glared at the waving man through the glass whilst Masa drove out of the parking lot. I refused to even glance towards Masa, stubbornly sulking out of the window as we drove back to our apartment.

I should have been more surprised to see Nobunaga and Hideyoshi waiting impatiently in our living room.

“It’s the middle of the day,” I sighed before I was swaddled up in a Hideyoshi mother hen hug.

“And you’re too important for us to ignore like this, plus you’re going to likely need my advice,” Nobu was laughing haughtily whilst also sprawled across our sofa and managing to look like he owned the place.

“Well, they’ll do something to me and Shingen since we’re only technically contractors, but technically, Natsuki hasn’t done anything, since it was all us two and we carried her physically out of the room,” the chef shrugged.

“Anyone would think you two were sat on a windfall,” Hideyoshi frowned. “You didn’t think about Suki’s career, you’ve seen how much effort she’s taken to get here.”

“Actually, I have a solution for that,” Shingen was back and had a model I’d seen on more than a few front covers with him. My eyes were wide and my jaw must have been slack because Hideyoshi closed it for me. “Princess, meet Kenshin Uesugi,” my boyfriend was looking very pleased with himself as we exchanged greetings. “She was being pushed around by some lowlist model on set, and her boss was letting it happen.”

“Hm, I always need a personal attendant on sets,” Kenshin was a god in the modelling world as he glanced me up and down. “And I’ve been shown your work,” he frowned. “I’d expect you to look the part-”

“This is her boss’ choice,” Masa interrupted. “We showed you the photos of her normally.”

Kenshin nodded, and finally gave me a smile. “Hand your phone over,” his tone was commanding, as I did it without thinking, unlocking it without being asked. “That’s my contact information, you’ll be briefed tomorrow by my manager as to what to do, he’ll be coming here. Shingen, I expect you to be free for our next drinking session,” he stated before leaving swiftly.

“I expect you to put the contract in front of me before anything gets signed,” Nobu interrupted my little bubble, before answering my phone for me as my boss’ name came up.

“Do I get control over anything now?” I blurted out with a frown before I was yet again pulled in for a Hideyoshi hug.

“This probably will help your career, and Nobu’s just taking the strain off you right now,” the other lawyer was trying to soothe. “He’s talking them down out of virtually anything they would normally try, especially when he’s going to give them the office where to send all the paperwork to,” he smiled. “And now, you’re going to eat this, because I bet you’ve been running yourself ragged again,” the smile was swapped for a frown as Masa appeared with a bowl of steamed vegetables. “So eat this,” I was sat down on our sofa, and sandwiched between Hideyoshi and Shingen, whilst Masa went back into the kitchen to cook dinner for everyone.

Ieyasu came over with a grumpy expression and his doctor’s bag, whilst Yuki then dropped in to whinge at Shingen about being banned from the set and ended up staying for the food. Mitsuhide was one of the last I was expecting to see, and he kissed me on the head before saying the model was already being dragged through social media trash for her behaviour. I was feeling very glad that my friends were on my side instead of opposing me as I let myself wallow in the warmth of our friendships.

It was late by the time everyone had vacated. Natsuki was wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa and fast asleep thankfully after the day she’d had. Shingen sighed, and shared a look with his boyfriend before the carpenter bent down and picked the woman up. She snuggled into his warmth, a sigh escaping her lips as he paused in the middle of the living room.

“Hey, Masa?” He called out, a tone of uncertainty in his voice as the chef appeared with concern all over his face. “Did you look into those ceremonies?”

“Yeah, nothing’s legal, but it might be much better if we are wearing something,” Masamune sighed. “Go and put her and yourself to bed, you’re as exhausted as she is,” he chuckled, pushing the man towards the bedroom.

***

I’d woken up alone in the bed. It was nearly midday when I got a shower and managed to start processing the issues. Masamune and Shingen would both have lost their contracts due to the behaviour, and it sounded like I no longer had a job as well. My phone wasn’t anywhere to be seen in the bedroom, so I made sure to just get dressed into something that covered everything, before beginning my hunt into the living room.

My phone was plugged in on the side of the kitchen, next to the coffee machine as I began to make a fresh batch. I ran a hand through my damp hair and then saw that my phone had practically exploded overnight.

I had emails, texts and then fifty-nine missed calls.

Most of the calls were from my ex-boss, whilst texts were from new numbers. One had introduced himself as ‘Sasuke’, and that Kenshin had told him to text me to arrange an induction. Another was Yuki who had managed to get his old number blocked, it was badgering for me to get Shingen in and then the last one as an apology saying he had turned up at the office. I plucked Nobu’s text out from the masses, telling me to call him before the end of the day, and then a follow up one from Hideyoshi with the same content. Then some empty threats from my ex-boss about ensuring I would never work again in this industry after the embarrassment caused.

I was going through everything mostly to get rid of the notifications. I sighed and leant against the counter, taking sips of my coffee before the door was unlocked.

My head sharply jolted up to see Nobu and Hideyoshi.

“Coffee?” I offered, a bit stunned to see the two lawyers.

“Your ex-boss is going to be a problem,” Nobu opened straight up. “They don’t want you back in because of someone else’s actions, but then it could technically be classed as your resignation if you agree to it,” he explained.

“Can they not just fire me with the implications of other’s actions then?” I tilted my head to the side.

“No, they need you to have done the offensive,” Hideyoshi explained. “But you could just say you have another job and drop everything,” he sighed, before gulping at the coffee.

“I just need to get the confirmation then off Kenshin, or rather, Sasuke is the guy who text me this morning,” I shrugged, picking my phone up to show them both the text.

I wasn’t surprised when my phone was now in Hideyoshi’s hand and picked my mug back up as I leant against the counters.

“You’re surprisingly calm considering everything,” Nobu brought me out of my internal thoughts.

“Well, there wasn’t going to be much chance of stopping those two really,” I pointed out. “And it’s not like I don’t kind of have a job offer to walk straight in to from all this, so even though they made the mess, they also gave me something from it. And I know their hearts were in the right place when it was all going off, so getting mad at them isn’t going to solve a single thing.”

The CEO ruffled my hair with a smirk. “You’ve come so far from surprising us all at our first visit to the apartment,” he praised me. “You don’t look so young, lost and innocent.”

“I’ll take it that was meant to be a compliment,” I smiled as Hideyoshi reappeared.

“Sasuke Sarutobi is Kenshin Uesugi’s manager, and he’s been desperate for a personal assistant for Kenshin for months. No one has lasted more than a day, and Kenshin has never approved of a single one. Natsuki is the first one that Kenshin has apparently liked the look of, both in paperwork and in person,” Toyotomi stated. “I told him to get over here with the contract and we’ll go over things and then get her ex-boss off everyone’s case with that,” he nodded firmly.

“In that case,” Nobu smirked and picked his phone up to make a call. “We should be adequately catered for.”

Masa had apparently been looking for any excuse to get out of paperwork when the CEO lawyer had made the call. His boss was far from impressed at the situation that he had put the company in, but then again Masa was one of the head chefs and they were never short of clientele asking specifically for the man. They were returning the appropriate funds, and now he had to find himself a job to bring something in when Nobu gave Masa the perfect excuse and outlet. At least with Shingen being a partner in his business, then he didn’t really have a boss to argue with, just his other business, Yuki. Then again both of them appeared to be swimming in demands as Shingen was talented at networking to ensure the business would stay steady.

Sasuke was a slender gentleman, who also appeared to be referred to in the business as ‘Kenshin’s Handler’ for some reason. He managed the events and showings that Kenshin was showing up to, but Kenshin needed a stylist and personal assistant who would overrule anyone on set as to what he would be wearing, and also make the connections for when he appeared at events to ensure that he was wearing nothing but the best. Natsuki learned that she was likely also going to be photographed and would need to be media coverage ready at all times in her life, even when Kenshin wasn’t around.

“The contract sounds fair. No set work hours but that’s the demand of the job,” Hideyoshi nodded as he went through the contract with a fine eye, picking each page apart appropriately whilst Masa had served them all some sake and coffee after the lunch spread. “Hotels, when required, are paid for by Natsuki and then reimbursed in her next monthly pay,” he frowned.

“It’s to save Kenshin getting agitated, especially later on at nights after events,” Sasuke spoke up, carefully swilling the sake. “He has no head for money, he simply lets everyone else deal with it. Technically, I am listed as your boss for all purposes because it will be me ensuring your pay and benefits, but it is Kenshin you will be answering to for your actual work,” he explained. “But you are expected to travel on a whim’s notice, and your passport will always need to be up to date. I will be sorting visas, but you must be able to meet at Osaka airport with a couple of hours notice.”

“Sounds like Kenshin doesn’t worry about a lot of things,” Masa spoke up, eyeing up the manager with a dubious glimmer.

“He doesn’t. He has the funds to not worry, he simply will be paying me and Natsuki to do that,” Sasuke nodded in agreement. “As you can see, there is a handsome salary minus expenses to compensate, and there will be times to holiday of course. Kenshin likes to take frequent breaks, so you will rarely find that you’re working for more than a couple of months at a time.”

I glanced up at Hideyoshi and Nobunaga, who had just finished looking over the contract. “There’s nothing in there we can see that’s amiss,” Nobu nodded to me and slid the document over.

I flicked to the last page and signed my name before handing it back to Sasuke with a smile. “Please just let me know when I’m needed to start.”

Natsuki was away on her first abroad business trip, and the apartment felt more than a little flat as Shingen’s fingers were stroking through Masa’s shaggy locks, the chef’s head resting on his lap. A cup of sake was resting in Shingen’s other hand, and they were both staring into their fireplace with blanks looks.

“She’s back in a few days at least,” Masa broke the silence.

“We should get the rings ready,” Shingen laughed. “And organise to take her on a date to the restaurant near the seafront, she loves it there with the seafood.”

“Maybe,” the chef was a little hesitant.

“She’s not staying with us because it’s convenient handsome, she loves you and me. It’s the same when you walk in from work late, you clearly don’t notice how her face lights up and it’s always a competition between us to see who gets to hug you first,” the carpenter was soothing Masa over, his hand never ceasing in his stroking of the locks.

“Don’t you look at the photos of her in the media with Kenshin?” The chef pouted. “And they all say about how well she aesthetically suits him.”

“Because she spends just as much time attending to her own makeup and wardrobe as she does to Kenshin’s,” Shingen was trying to remove as much of the doubt as possible. “I did tell you to not listen to the gossip rags, mostly because you’ll get upset.”

“She’s shot into the frame and looks like she belongs there,” Masa sulked, turning over and hiding his head in Shingen’s lower abdomen, both men ignoring the stimulation of the carpenter at having his boyfriend in such close quarters after a prolonged abstinence.

“She’s a beauty who works in fashion and now has a job where it gets her properly recognised, I hear that her old company was trying to pay her to return with ridiculous amounts of money and she still refused. Natsuki isn’t the type who gets swayed by looks and the gossip rags, she’ll come bounding back home and it’ll be like she never left,” Shingen smiled down at the pouting male. “I’ll book the restaurant for a couple of nights after her return, she’ll have jet lag and need to catch up on sleep.”

Kenshin managed to look amazing even when we were jet lagged to hell. He had threatened the staff on the airline with many lawsuits because he saw how exhausted I was that I could barely even keep my eyes open the second we boarded the plane, so photos were definitely something I didn’t need to be worrying about. A pair of oversized sunglasses were my only protection when we landed, but they would cover the sins that a change of clothing wouldn’t as we walked through the airport.

Though the bodyguards apparently weren’t doing their job as a microphone was shoved into my face about the rumours I was warming Kenshin’s bed. I merely brushed it aside, not saying a word as Kenshin then pulled me into his protection, glaring at the offending journalist as the bodyguards then closed around us. Sasuke was speaking about being careful about what was published.

“Princess?” Shingen was sounding shaken as I opened the door to the apartment.

“Hey,” I smiled, dropping everything to get my welcome home hug.

“I can’t find Masa,” he whispered, trembling as he was holding me. “He’s not answering his phone, he’s not at work, and I can’t find him anywhere,” Shingen’s head was buried into the crook of my neck after he sat us down on the sofa, straddling me across his lap. “I think when the gossip rags started breeding stuff about a romance between you and Kenshin, it broke him.”

“What did the gossip rags say?” I was panicking.

“There wasn’t any denial from you or Kenshin about the romance, and a photo of you in his arms at the airport,” Shingen sighed.

“Yeah, a journalist had just broken through the bodyguards and shoved the microphone in my face,” I replied, my nails starting to dig in to Shingen’s back. “You don’t think,” I paused, and then both of us looked at each other. “His dad always was stubborn,” I could barely get my words in order, and I was willing to bet we both looked a state as the carpenter grabbed the car keys. There was only one pace for us as we headed for the garage.

***

“Yes, we’re here to see Masamune,” I was trying to appear calm at the electric gates, talking into the mechanical camera and speaker. I hadn’t changed out of the clothes I had been photographed in at the airport, and Shingen wasn’t looking much better.

“Master Date is currently indisposed, but you are welcome to wait in one of the reception rooms for him I have been informed by the mistress,” the guard replied, opening the gates so we could get the car up the drive.

It never failed to awe me how large and sprawling both the grounds and manor were at the Date compound. This was the last place we had checked, and we had both been silently hoping he wouldn’t be here. His parents were very old school and had never approved of the fact it was a polyamorous relationship. If I had a child, there was never a guarantee about who the father would be for starters, and his parents were still after an heir.

“Natsuki,” I was given a fairly warm greeting by his mother, Yoshihime, as there was still hope at least with me being a woman that they would finally get their way. “You look so pale and rushed.”

“Well, I just came from the airport,” I tried to brush off.

“Ah yes, apparently you have another lover,” she nodded. “According to the most unreliable sources that my son has decided to listen to,” she was scornful of the ideas running loose at least in Masa’s head.

“He’s my boss, there’s nothing going off between us,” I shook my head. “The photo taken at that angle that probably convinced Masamune was when he pulled me out of the reach of the journalist who had shoved himself between the bodyguards in an attempt to get a cheap story, and they were just going to run the story regardless of what was said. If we denied it, it would be run that we were just lying to get them away,” I sighed with a sad smile. “As is the way with gossip rags. Kenshin’s manager will get that sorted, but the damage has been dealt already.”

“How did you meet Kenshin then?” Yoshihime didn’t always approve of everything in Masa’s life, but generally, I was considered to be a positive influence where Shingen was the negative.

“I know his manager, we used to be on the same business courses during university,” I heard my other boyfriend speak up. “Natsuki had been on Sasuke’s radar for her fashion sense and the knowledge that she can handle me and Masamune, so Kenshin wouldn’t be a stretch. We sent Kenshin her mood boards and various photos of her from events and just random days out, and he was definitely interested. So when we saw exactly what her boss was letting happen on set, it was already agreed that I would be fetching Kenshin to meet her to guarantee that she would have a job doing what she enjoys since it would be as a result of our actions that she wouldn’t be going back,” Shingen explained.

“So your actions weren’t entirely uncalculated,” Yoshihime rarely had an approved look for the redhead, but it was present right now as I learnt that they had been looking out for me from the start.

“Also, Natsuki is really not Kenshin’s type,” Shingen smiled. “He’s a bit taller than her, has blonde hair, tends to be snarky and is a stupidly brilliant doctor. That’s Kenshin’s type.”

“That shouldn’t actually surprise me,” I sighed. “I wondered why Kenshin was always saying he needed to see a doctor,” I hung my head in embarrassment.

“Have you heard enough to change your mind yet, Masamune?” Yoshihime was scolding her apparently present son. “I may not always approve of the way you do things, but even me and your father have to admit that this simply cannot be a passing fancy given that it has never been anyone since Natsuki and Shingen since you all came out.”

I was then in the middle of a sandwich, Masa had wrapped himself around one side, and then Shingen had enclosed me from the other side with his arms around Masa. I could feel the chef’s tears wetting my shoulder, and all I could offer was a pat to the head as Shingen made sure that his arms encircled us both at that moment.

“I’m still surprised that nothing else has become of you three yet, you’ve outlasted many other relationships and even some marriages,” Yoshihime made us all freeze and tense up. “I’m sure you could be blessed by someone and unofficially married in that sense. Legally, it won’t protect you all, but then again you have Nobunaga Oda and Hideyoshi Toyotomi as friends and your lawyers. So I don’t doubt for a second that anyone will suffer in that regard.”

“I’m therefore taking that as permission,” Shingen had a devious tone to his voice, and suddenly took a step back from us both. “Natsuki, and Masamune, I never expected you two to turn my life upside down in the manner which you both did,” my jaw dropped and eyes widened, the redhead was now on one knee in front of us both. “I was planning on making this a lot more romantic of a setting, but seeing as Yoshihime as just given me permission to run off with her eldest son, then I’m taking advantage before anyone changes their mind,” he chuckled. “I love you both, I could never have imagined anything like this happiness you both bring me, and I would be honoured if you would both marry me, please?” He had a ring box in hand, and open to show three rings.

“Yes!” Fell out of my mouth. I could feel the tears building already before Masa dropped me and bowled Shingen over in a hug, trying to hide his tears in the chest of the slightly taller man. I couldn’t stop the tears anymore and then added myself into the pile by jumping on top of Masamune with a laugh.

“Look, there’s a ring box somewhere,” Shingen was trying to hide how relieved he was, his hand scrambling around on the floor to find the dropped box to complete the whole affair. Chuckles drifted over from Yoshihime and her husband before we were able to locate the item.

For the boys, they had platinum bands with small amethyst, sapphire and blue topaz gems encased in it, before my engagement ring was slid onto my finger delicately. An amethyst in the centre, a sapphire to one side and blue topaz on the other for the boys’ birthstones, all in a princess cut and on a simple band. I was back in the centre of a cuddle before I realised that Yoshihime had already been taking photographs without our knowledge, and blushed bright red when I pointed it out. It was at that point she allowed us to start posing and taking close up photos of the rings on our hands.

We weren’t allowed home until all the appropriate drinks had been drunk, and then none of us were in any shape for driving. So two servants were ordered to take us home, with one of them driving us in one of ‘their’ cars and the other following in Shingen’s so we wouldn’t need to worry about fetching it back for work.

Masa was smiling softly down at the woman in his arms. Natsuki felt so precious and frail at times, this being one of them, but she was as determined as they got. Then a squeeze from behind him, and a sneak attack kiss to the back of his neck surprised him.

“Go to sleep Masa,” Shingen’s voice was thick with sleep. “Or you’ll agitate Princess.”

“That’s the true threat here,” the chef laughed softly as he was wrapped up in Shingen’s arms, their girlfriend snuggled up tightly to him. “I just panicked.”

“We know, that your mother gave us permission was the biggest surprise, so let’s go to sleep and go and terrorise everyone with the news tomorrow,” the carpenter promised, nuzzling his partner’s neck to lull him into a sleep.

***

“If you pull on that collar one more time,” Kenshin irked at his longtime friend as the redhead laughed nervously in response. “You’re going to crumple the shirt, and I refuse to have you standing on this day in a shirt that isn’t perfect,” he snapped.

“Just because you never thought this day would come,” Shingen replied, letting the model fuss over his state of dress. Yuki and Sasuke let themselves into the room, the former with a slight flush on his cheeks. “How are they?” He blurted out.

“Natsuki is probably the calmest out of you all,” Sasuke countered. “And she’s still having the last of her makeup applied.”

“At least it’s not just me getting into a state,” the carpenter grumbled.

They had managed to fashion a ceremony together that would suit their needs and had signed a document the previous day at Nobunaga’s office that meant everything would go to the other two in case of any accidents and the likes. It wasn’t a marriage in the eyes of the law, but this would suit them for what it would be. The responses from all of their friends had been along the tones of ‘we were beginning to think it would never happen’, and that they had the backing of Masa’s parents made the preparation a lot smoother as well. Natsuki had chosen the theme, and the men hadn’t been given much of a choice in what suits they were wearing as she told Sasuke and Kenshin to have fun with them on a shopping trip. Grey and blue were the main theme colours of the wedding amongst all the white.

“I will cut your fingers off if you touch that tie again,” Uesugi never made light on his threats before the ‘official’ came through the door to let them know that they were all ready for the ceremony to start.

It had all been agreed that Shingen would be waiting first at the top, then to be joined by Masa and finally, Natsuki would be walked down the aisle by Nobunaga. Her family had ostracized her during her years at university when she wouldn’t pick one of the boys, and she had left them to that decision saying that they had all become her family anyway. Shingen’s dad had long left the picture, his mum was surprised at first but that it had lasted for this long, then she had become very comfortable with gaining another son as well as a daughter.

The venue was beautifully decorated. A marque covering the venue to any passing rain showers, with a grey carpet covering the aisle, and white fold out chairs. All of the seats were full with guests, everyone’s eyes on the redhead as he walked down the aisle with Kenshin at his side. Blue bows were covering the chairs, and Natsuki’s attention to detail was shining in his eyes. She had refused to let either of them see her dress or anything she was wearing, stating that they would get the full effect on the day. He knew that Masa was dressed in the same style of suit as he was, though seeing the chef finally walk down the aisle in all of his glory stumped the carpenter, accompanied by Hideyoshi who had likely been mother-henning the entire lead up this point. Kenshin was fixing both their buttonhole blue roses before he took his seat in the front row next to Ieyasu and Hideyoshi. Then the whole atmosphere changed as the music altered.

There wasn’t an adequate description for the beauty that was in front of their eyes. To complement her personality and the event, she was in an ivory dress, lace sleeves down to her elbows with the chiffon material drawing from her shoulders to her bust and a high waist with a slender belt of dark blue to match their ties, before the A-line skirt dropped to the floor. A bouquet tightly arranged of white and blue roses in her clasped hands, and Nobunaga had definitely been crying from the way his eyes weren’t as white as his shirt as they approached.

There was a big show of handing her over, both of her hands given to each of the men, before Shingen took Masa’s hand as well, linking the three of them together as they repeated the vows. Kenshin had insisted that making the vows personal was the best thing they could do, and it had meant dragging out the creative aspects of all of them late into a few nights as they bickered back and forth. And each of them would do it all over again to see the sheer happiness at the prospect of spending all their lives together.

It was kisses all around, before both Masa and Shingen swiftly picked Natsuki up into a chair lift between them and carried her back down the aisle as the two men had private agreed to with consulting the bride. Tears of joy were everywhere, as were smiles as bright as the sun which had decided to grace them in time for the photos.

Even Ieyasu was caught with a smile on his face on film.

The real pains came with changing all of their names. The three of them had decided to take a modern approach, and hyphenate into ‘Takeda-Date’ as the family name. Nobunaga had already found a law for them to use to help them change it without the proper wedding certificates and then used his name to get it through without a problem.

And then the media storm hit them. It claimed of all sorts. Shingen and Masa found that their businesses were never more popular because of who their wife was, though it did also lead to some nasty comments from clients, and there was more than one occasion where Natsuki had been sent death threats in the post. Then the unfortunate incident where a bomb had been left in their mailbox. Moving was the only option after that, and Shingen sensibly decided that maybe opening a second branch of the business was a good idea. Yuki would be left to manage the Kyoto branch, and the three of them instantly seemed to be moving to somewhere with more of a garden space.

“Natsuki?” I had to stifle my giggle as I was hidden out of the way on purpose when the boys were getting home from work. I was nervous, but it was hopefully the reaction that wouldn’t get the house torn down. We’d moved from Kyoto to Otsu to get away from the attention, but still staying close enough for all business purposes. “Hey, Masa, she’s got us some presents,” there was a lingering question in the air.

“And it says to open it…” the chef was sounding wary, but then I heard the pull of the ribbons, undoing the boxes as I kept my fingers crossed. “Natsuki!” was all the Masa could bellow out.

“Seriously woman?!” Shingen had me straight in his arms the second I appeared from hiding in the hallway. I couldn’t stop laughing as Masa was sobbing like a babe into my shoulder from behind, and then I saw that even the carpenter was starting to cry. “You couldn’t tell us straight out?”

“Oh there’s no fun in that when I found all of this information out,” I was trying to comfort the chef, but all I could manage was some head pats from the current age. “It wasn’t a virus after all that was making me so ill.”

“Twins,” Shingen was in awe as he stroked my slightly bloated abdomen. “And both of us have a child?”

“The doctor said it had been a long time since he had seen it, but yes, both of you are genetically involved,” I giggled. They each had a hand over my bump as I started to wipe Shingen’s tears away. “This would probably be more comfortable on the sofa guys,” I grinned, trying to work my way out of the iron grips of my husbands.

***

“Papa and Dad are home!” I couldn’t even try to keep up with the twins. I mostly worked from home these days after an extended agreement with Kenshin and Sasuke, I would attend in person for the red carpet events and for any big name photoshoots, but otherwise, I was shown around by some poor girl and told her what to dress the demanding man in. It was a different girl every time as well, which made me feel extremely special as I trailed behind the two boys to see my husbands pull up in the car with Masa’s parents in the back.

Tadamune and Katsuyori were both on Yoshihime and Terumune without a thought, both of the kids were doted on, despite that only technically Tadamune was any relation to them. It made me smile to see such a happy scene before the cold was making me shiver whilst I was stood in the doorway. I rubbed my arms as everyone came up to the backroom, smiles all around.

“Natsuki, you shouldn’t be out in the cold like this,” Masa frowned and scolded me, ushering me straight inside before anything else could be said. Shingen’s expression told me I couldn’t argue and I was straight into the warm living room before much else could happen. The house was heavily decorated for Christmas, tinsel and garlands strung in abundance along virtually every space in the ceiling and walls, and the spray on snow was in every window as well. I was very outnumbered in the house when it came to all of the decorations, but then I never had to put anything up. Except for the tree topper, I had been carried onto the shoulders of my husbands and made to put it up and it was all photographed by the twins as well.

Shingen took all of the luggage through to one guest room before the doorbell went to announce that Kasuga had made her arrival. We had tried to convince her that we would pick her up around Terumune and Yoshihime, but it was fairly apparent where Shingen had inherited his stubbornness from. All three grandparents adored our boys, even though on the technicality that one of the twins wasn’t theirs, then again nothing about our little family was all that normal. I had insisted that we host Christmas this year and that everyone would stay over Christmas eve and then go home the morning after Christmas Day. I opened the door as Masa stayed to keep his parents and the kids entertained, though he yelled that I wasn’t allowed to carry any luggage as soon as I opened the door to get Kasuga in out of the cold at the very least.

“Mum!” Shingen came barreling back down the stairs and bear hugged the poor woman, I had only just sidestepped in time to avoid it. “I told you before about spoiling the boys,” he sighed.

“Oh, most of this is for you three actually,” there was a devious tone to her voice which made us both pause. “Shall we get out of the doorway at the very least?”

I left Shingen with his mum to sort her out before she came into the living room to greet the two terrors. It had been interesting when they had started school since seeing me in the schoolyard had caused some stir and a brief flicker of the media before everyone got bored again very quickly. I hadn’t been photographed with Kenshin for some time, and his very public marriage to Ieyasu helped I had to admit. Kenshin wasn’t a fan of women in general, so I considered myself amongst the elite that he wouldn’t simply dismiss me at any point.

“Right, we have some early presents to share!” Shingen had set our parents up in the right rooms and was now getting antsy, which made me smile. “Mum,” he opened and gestured for her to stand in front of the tree, “Yoshihime and Terumune?” he was asking them before positioning them appropriately as Masa was now holding the chalkboards that had been hidden behind the sofa. The twins had excitedly dashed off and reappeared with the camera for me and I was making sure to not damage Masa’s work camera as I set it up to capture the whole event.

“No looking at the boards,” the one-eyed chef grinned, making sure to keep them all high enough that nothing would give the game away. I was getting more than a little nervous, and more than grateful when my husband took the precious camera off me. “Three, two, one,” he counted down and took them until he had a handful that he was happy with.

“Now you can look at the boards,” I smiled, already stepping to a side to make sure that the camera wouldn’t go flying.

“Seriously?!” Yoshihime was practically screaming as Kasuga was more than a little slack-jawed, not that anything stopped the two women from embracing me tightly. It was all being recorded by photo and video. “That’s our surprise?” She was laughing heartily now.

“Another little terror on the way,” I grinned, happily taking all of the hugs whilst Terumune was still more than a little stumped on his own. I didn’t tell any of them, but I was hoping for a little girl though she would probably be worse than her twin brothers, and I had safely opted to not know who the father was biologically. The child would be adored and loved regardless as the twins then pointed their grandparents to the top of the tree. A twelve-week scan done a week ago as Masa plucked it down for them to get a closer look at the biggest picture we had than the scaled-down versions on their boards.

The kids had gone to bed, as had all the grandparents, and it was now just the three of us collapsed on the sofa. My head was resting on Shingen, and Masa was massaging my feet since my legs were draped over his thighs.

“Tomorrow is going to be the longest day,” I murmured, gazing over the piles of presents that were crowded around the tree. “And keeping sugar away from the twins is never happening.”

“At least you’re past the throwing up at all hours stage now,” Shingen sympathised, his fingers stroking through my hair as I snuggled in closer to his warmth.

“I think it’s bedtime for you,” I felt Masa move, but my eyes were too heavy to open before I was picked up.

“It’s not,” I whined, forcing my head back so I didn’t need to open my eyes as much. “I can see you perfectly fine,” I pouted.

“Which husband am I?” Masa teased, kissing my forehead.

“The mean one,” I grumbled, my head using his shoulder as a pillow.

“Grumpy princess,” Shingen chuckled, making sure to turn off all the lights as I was carried through to our sprawling room.

“It’s that awful stage of pregnancy where you just feel like you’ve eaten too much,” I was chatting with Yoshihime over some tea whilst the boys were terrorising my husbands and Terumune, Kasuga had disappeared for something in her room, and then reappeared with something I hadn’t been expecting.

A very old style pregnancy dress. In hideous colours. It was effectively a tent.

“I love that you’re so expressive,” Kasuga was laughing. “I brought it more as something to prompt your mind. This sort of thing is really practical for pregnancy, but it’s clearly not designed with how the woman feels in mind, so I brought it along for you to redesign,” she smiled.

“You two just knew,” I shook my head before the twins came barrelling through into the kitchen.

“Shingen worries too much for it to be a well-kept secret. I suspected it, but finding out you’re about five months from seeing your next grandchild is still thrilling,” Yoshihime smiled at me, whilst budging up to let my boys sit next to me. “And I thought you two were busy,” she tapped Tadamune on the nose. There was never any trouble with distinguishing between the boys, they took after their respective fathers in looks and personality, so I knew that I was going to end up with a string of girls to deal with in twelve or so years, and many broken hearts would likely be involved.

I was the middle of the group hug, a twin on either side.

“Our little sisters are going to be princesses!” Katsuyori brightly announced, their head resting on my bump.

I froze. The scan had only confirmed one baby, and then Yoshihime went to get the big scan picture off the fridge.

“There’s only one baby in the scan,” she shook her head, and I patted the boys on the head. “You’re only getting one sibling,” she gently corrected the five-year-old.

Who promptly started to scowl and glare at her before they both slipped away. We returned to inane conversation, as I tried to desperately put the statement to the back of my mind.

“Princess?” Shingen was a little sharper of the two men, pulling me into his arms as I had spaced out in the kitchen.

“I’m fine,” I broke my thoughts and smiled up at the man.

“What’s been said?” He asked, his head resting on top of mine as he refused to let me go out of his hold.

“Katsuyori and Tadamune, they came up to me earlier, had me in the middle of a hug and then Katsu announced that his sisters are going to be princesses. There’s only one baby in the scan, but that’s not a guarantee,” I trailed off.

“We’ve got another scan in a few weeks,” he soothed me, kissing the top of my head. “It won’t happen again as much as we would love for it to be. Medical miracles don’t happen like this,” he was hurting about the thought that the kid wasn’t his, but it would never make a difference when it came to loving the children.

“Part of me is hoping for twins and a complete repeat,” I admitted, burying my head into his chest as my body was twisted to be embraced into him completely. “I love you both so much, and I was so happy when I found out it was twins and you were both involved.” I could feel the tears starting already, and then my back was covered in a second warmth as Shingen’s calloused fingers wiped her tears away.

“It was a medical miracle what you did last time,” Masa softly repeated, and then kissed my temple. “One of us might hurt briefly if it’s clear who the father is, but that’s not going to change a single thing. We love you more than you love us,” he was trying to make me smile now. “This child is not going to be shown any less love than the boys, regardless of the situation.”

Kenshin was in a rush as I held out the outfit he needed to wear, and I was starting to get more than a little grumpy with the man. He had insisted I come to his house and deal with this issue in person like a spoilt brat. He had already loudly complained that he’d needed to change the scents in his house to stop upsetting me, though his husband had already gone through the house to make sure nothing would hurt me or the baby. I was feeling quite round in the shadow of the well-defined model, especially given that he had already paused at the door upon seeing the size of me. And the only reason I hadn’t gone home was because I’d made the effort to get this far.

“I don’t like the cut-” the model was in one of his bad moods. Unfortunately for him, I was in a hormonal bad mood as well.

“You’re wearing it,” I cut in, already tugging the shirt to undo enough buttons to look fashionable without looking sleazy. “The press won’t tear you to pieces. You own this,” I argued, before wincing as I felt a twinge.

“Natsuki?” Kenshin had forgotten his own temper tantrum.

“Just being told to calm down,” I waved him off, sitting against a dresser.

“Yasu?!” the model forget his composure, desperation in his voice before the doctor came running through in a panic.

“It’s just likely to be Braxton Hicks,” I grumbled, gritting my teeth against the contraction. I also realised that the blonde was already up my skirt without a sexual reason before much else could be said.

“Early stages of labour,” he shook his head and glared at his husband. “I told you to video chat this one,” he scolded Kenshin. “There’s no point going to the hospital yet, they’ll just send you home. I’ll go and babysit the twins and send the lugheads over here whilst Kenshin waits for those two to arrive before going to the shining red carpet event,” he laid out the plan without hesitation.

“You hate kids,” I frowned as the two started to move me out of the dressing room and towards the lounge.

“Well, I’m not leaving those two in the hands of any babysitter. Who knows what they’ll get away with,” he huffed.

“Thanks, Yasu,” I waved after they had both lowered me onto the sofa. The twinges weren’t helpful when they occurred, but they were easily fifteen minutes apart. “Kenshin, don’t you dare crease that suit,” I ordered the model, knowing that he would be trying to pace about.

“It’s something of a medical miracle indeed,” the doctor was smiling. “And we would appreciate if you would consent to being referred to as the subject of a paper since there is great medical interest in both your pregnancies now,” he was explaining whilst I was propped up in the bed.

“Two sets of twins, both with different fathers,” Masa was definitely having more than a little of a proud father moment, scratching Irohahime under the chin as Shingen was trying to soothe Kikuhime in his arms.

“Don’t you hate it when you have to tell a five-year old that he was right?” I smiled, my gaze resting over part of my family.

Chapter Text

There was a light finger touch to the back of my neck, disturbing me from my sleep and making me turn over in the futon. It was the middle of the night, as I blearliy gazed up into the amber orbs looking back over my slumbering form.

“You shouldn’t let your defences down,” my partner whispered, his teeth grazing over my ear as I went to rub my eyes, but found that my wrists were tied behind my back.

“Mitsuhide?” I drowsily asked, not quite realising my situation and I kept pulling on the bonds, just thinking they were stuck under something.

“You let your defences down, little mouse,” he reiterated, grabbing my hair back into in a ponytail before kissing me fiercely. He nipped at my lips whilst his tongue dominated over mine, demanding my complete submission to him. He had managed to strip me before disturbing me, leaving me open to his attacks.

I wriggled under his touch, I was bound in a very interesting position as my hair was tied up with a silk ribbon, and then a swift tug was given to make sure he could grab hold of it easily enough. I gasped at his surprisingly firm touches, making sure that I was being played like a violin before my legs were spread before him.

Then a smirk brought my attention to the fabric in his hands. I wasn’t sure where he had gotten all this silk from, but it now left me entirely in the control of my boyfriend.

“You’re enjoying this,” his voice was soft next to my ear, one finger plunging straight into my pussy as though to prove a point. He curled the tip, making sure to leisurely fuck me with it and safe in the knowledge it would merely wind me up.

My back arched out, a whine escaping my lips before I was devoid of all contact.

Then a brief flick of a tongue over my exposed clit. I gasped, my hips thrusting in the direction I thought I could get more stimulation only to be met with air.

“You’ll get what you deserve, don’t worry,” I was trying to place where Mitsuhide was, but unfortunately, this was definitely his forte and I was just prey flailing for him.

I gritted my teeth, trying to not play straight into his hands as a sole digit slid straight into my open cunt. I tried closing my thighs, only to find that my boyfriend had strategically placed his knees so that I couldn’t stop him that way.

A moan escaped as his finger slipped back out, he was teasing me to test me, and then before I could move out of his reach by pulling myself up the bed, I was turned onto my front. I was propped up on my knees and he had a hand on the ponytail he had made.

And his cock was thrust straight into me without any warning.

“You’re loving this too much,” I complained, my head tilting back as Mitsuhide pulled on my hair.

“You’re thoroughly enjoying it as well,” Akechi murmured, his body framing over mine, keeping his cock deep as he started to rotate his hips.

“You can’t prove that,” I was going to agitate this man for disturbing my sleep and reading my mind too much.

His hips ceased their rocking, and I felt him slowly begin to kiss lazily up my spine. Each kiss was followed by a swift nip, not enough to mark but enough to make me squeak. Then his teeth sunk into the crook of my neck with a passion I hadn’t felt from the man before. “I can prove many things, Aerion,” using my name was a warning. I was trying to not give him the satisfaction of knowing how heated he got me, but I knew my pussy had been clenching around his cock. “Including how badly you want me to just fuck you into this futon.”

“Mitsuhide,” I complained, arching my back to push my hips back into his. His grip was still firm on my hair and then he yanked my head back to roughly kiss me. An attempt to show dominance as I kept wriggling my hips about, knowing that if I could bring him close enough to his own orgasm then I would get my relief. His tongue was rough and relentless in dominating my mouth, and his thrusts were more instinctive than controlled. I was bothering him, and I loved it.

He practically threw my head forward, both of his hands grabbing at my hips as he changed tactics. His finger trailed over to my clit as his ruts were short and sharp. He was trying to make sure that he was in control of when I could climax as he began to grind a finger into my exposed nub.

My groans were wanton, and I knew that anyone nearby would know exactly what we were up to, but it was the noises I was making that seemed to encourage the rougher pace and thrust of the warlord.

“Mitsuhide,” I whimpered. “Please, I’m so close, I just need-” I began to beg as I felt him explode deep in me. The orgasmic bliss that followed encased me and blinded me. My hands were being pulled back to keep my hips against his, prolonging both of our orgasms as his fingers pulling and dug into my clit on purpose.

I had no way to go but forward, panting as my boyfriend let go of my hands.

The blindfold was eventually taken off, and Mitsuhide was covered in a slight sheen of sweat, and I’d never seen him looking so sexy as he was in the satisfied afterglow at that moment.

“What about the rest?” I laughed, still panting to catch my breath.

“Oh, I’m just catching my breath,” his voice full of promise as the all familiar smirk graced his features. “I need to do some very thorough investigation.”

Chapter Text

I had definitely had too much sake. A nose was brushing up against my neck, sending shivers down my spine as a pair of arms slid around my waist to bring them closer to the warmth.

“I thought we said we would keep it on the quiet,” I heard Nobunaga’s voice with a tinge of humour over the throb of the party in the background, though I could then feel his fingers tilting my head up to meet his lips in a dominating kiss. I was putty in his hands, opening my lips at the request of his pressing tongue so he could thoroughly ravish my mouth as I felt teeth scraping at my neck. My noises of pleasure swallowed by the man in front of me.

“She looked too good to resist,” Masamune chuckled as though making it an attempt of an apology. My clothes were itchy against my skin and I needed to get out of them. “Besides, most people won’t say anything,” the one-eyed Dragon grinned, and then swiftly picked me up bridal style the second that Oda had broken the kiss. “We need more privacy, those noises are for us to hear alone,” he grunted and then groped a hand at my rear end before any complaints could be made or registered with him.

I threw my arms around his neck, clinging to the man for dear life as he dashed through the castle. I could hear Hideyoshi yelling about not running in the corridors but that never made any difference on a normal day, never when Masamune and Nobunaga had one thing on their minds.

My body hit the futon heavily, and then I was devoured by one set of lips. Masamune’s fingers were teasing at my collar bone and gently tugging on my kimono to open up more of my skin to his advances. A scoff came to my ear, and my obi sash was being undone to free me from the constraints whilst I was busy making light work of Masamune’s kimono.

“Always in a rush to be in charge,” Nobunaga’s voice was dark and heavy in my ear before I was practically torn free of the constricting fabric. I was at the mercy of both men now.

“She’s soaked,” Masamune was nibbling on one side of my neck, his long fingers probing at my gushing cunt. “And we haven’t done anything,” he was pouting in disappointment, I could hear it in the tone in his voice. His tips were teasing my slit, refusing to let anything more than a tip slip inside my pussy whilst it was always a ghost of a touch over my throbbing clit.

A whine escaped my throat, and then a sharp slap to my inner thigh made me squeal. I glared at the two warlords. Both wearing confident smirks before Nobunaga began his thorough investigation of my breasts with his tongue. He lapped continuously over the skin, purposely avoiding my nipples as the cool night air and the prolonged state of my arousal was hardening them.

“We barely need to touch her,” Nobunaga was enjoying this teasing session far too much, and then bit down hard on a nipple. My back arching involuntary, a loud gasp of surprise echoing around the room as Masamune plunged two fingers straight into my waiting cunt.

As quickly as they’d begun to please me, they withdrew. Masamune’s fingers were being cleaned by Nobunaga, both men having taken a step back from me. I was being watched as the sight of Nobunaga’s tongue flicking over the other warlord’s fingers was too much to resist.

“No touching yourself,” the order was given firmly by Oda as my fingers were half a second away from giving me some relief. “I do believe that’s our job,” he smirked, finally finishing off by sucking Masamune’s fingers and then shrugging off his kimono without a thought.

Date was already lifting me off the futon, nuzzling at my neck and sliding his fingers up and down my slit to coat them liberally in my own essence. I had a fleeting impression about what they were going to do, but then my mouth was busy being claimed again. Nobunaga was always able to distract me with a kiss. They were passionate and demanding and would sweep me off my feet if I allowed him the possible illusion that he could manage that.

I had fingers teasing at my ass and my clit, I couldn’t tell who was where before I could get a break from Nobunaga’s hot lips, and then I was immediately stolen with my head tilted back. Masamune’s kisses were all about stoking the fire, teeth nipping at my lips and tongue to remind me who was the dominant one on occasions, and the marks were constantly on show to everyone anyway after a night together. Especially when one had been away.

Someone was pulling on my nipple, and then I winced as Masamune pushed at my back passage. He had lubed himself liberally, but I clenched without any warning he was going to do it.

Nobunaga dropped straight down to my clit, his tongue lapping slowly at my exposed nub as he slid two fingers into my waiting pussy. He nibbled and sucked on my clit, my back arching off Masamune’s chest as his cock was able to ease into my ass. I could never quite get over the feeling of having anyone back there, and then Nobunaga’s tongue started to fuck my pussy in hard thrusts.

My legs were locked open by Masamune’s arms, leaving me defenceless against the two horniest individuals that had possibly ever existed. My clit was pinched, squeezed and pulled on mercilessly whilst Date’s entire length was settled in my ass. Nobunaga was lapping and thrusting his tongue relentlessly, and then I felt like the inevitable was going to happen. The coil was beginning to tighten, and my walls were closing in on the invading tongue. My head was resting against Masamune’s shoulder as my lewd moans were getting louder and louder. My hips were bucking into Nobunaga’s face as much as possible before I clutched tightly to hold one of my boyfriend’s head in place. My orgasm hit me like a tornado, lifting me up into a chaos of sheer bliss as his tongue and fingers refused to cease their work.

“That’s number one,” Masamune was laughing as my heaving chest was coming down from the high, before Nobunaga was kissing the other warlord heatedly, groaning as they shared the taste of me. Then I could feel Oda’s cock teasing at my slit before gently pushing forward into my steamy pussy.

I had felt full before Nobunaga had joined in. I was now feeling so stuffed that I wasn’t even sure how I was going to move. I had hands and fingers teasing my nipples and pulling on them until both men were in up to the hilts.

“Fuck,” I groaned, they were taking their time, enjoying the sensations of how I felt clenched tight around them both. I wriggled my hips slightly and grinned as they both let out an obscene noise.

“For that princess, you aren’t getting the easy way out,” Nobunaga growled, his hands tight on my hips before he began to plough me relentlessly. Masamune’s fingers were clenched over Oda’s, both of them working in sync to fuck me relentlessly, but it also meant my hands were free to tease over my throbbing and desperate clit.

I had never felt so exposed as I did in that moment. And I was loving it. I was at the mercy of them both, and they were taking no prisoners in the game of ruining my body from pleasure.

My holes were tightening around their cocks as I kept grinding down hard on my clit, my hips thrusting and bucking to meet them both in an attempt to bring my orgasm home.

“Are you going to cum all over our cocks then?” Masamune was panting in my ear, he was close. “Are you going to scream so that all of Azuchi knows who you belong to? That it’s you who warms our beds at night, and you’re so insatiable that you need us both,” he was provoking me. I couldn’t even formulate a response, the cusp of my orgasm approaching.

Then Nobunaga and Masamune both changed to thrust in at the same time.

It wouldn’t have surprised me to find out that I was heard clear as day in the main hall over the party. I didn’t care at that point in time.

My mind was wrapped and warped in sheer bliss, desperate to milk both cocks for all their cum as they couldn’t hold off any longer.

I was in the middle of a sweaty cuddle when I finally gained back all of my senses. Nobunaga had his face buried into the crook of my neck and had me pulled back against his chest, whilst Masamune had my head on his chest, and his arm over both me and Oda. His free hand was stroking my hair and he chuckled as I lifted my head.

“That sounded like a good one,” he grinned and then kissed me softly.

“Mm, I think all of Azuchi might have heard,” I replied, blushing as I recalled how loud I might have been.

“I don’t doubt it, but it saves us any problems,” Nobunaga’s voice was muffled by my skin, and then began to lazily plant kisses up my shoulder and neck before resting his chin on my shoulder. “You are marked enough anyway,” he smirked before admiring a couple of red marks that had been recently made.

Masamune chuckled at my blush and kissed my forehead before we all settled down for some sleep, though I was already feeling like I wouldn’t be asleep for too long knowing these two.

Chapter Text

My parents had often despaired at my nature. I was usually referred to as someone who had the most innocent of personalities and would be taken advantage of if I wasn’t careful. It wasn’t unusual to find me in a library surrounded by books. I couldn’t pen them, but I was excellent at reviewing them and figuring out what would capture the minds and imaginations of any audience. I was usually the person who my publishing house would send out to review works of new authors and any big names who were looking at changing publishers since I would know what would suit our branding. I was sat in the middle of a garden in Kyoto when I ended up in the Sengoku and had saved Nobunaga Oda from the fire that was meant to kill him.

The resemblance between myself and Mitsunari was incredible, we both had the same silver hair (and stubborn flyaway locks) and amethyst eyes, never mind getting onto our personalities. Hideyoshi despaired at the time he had sent me into the library to find his vassal, only to then follow a couple of hours later, and find us both immersed deep in books. Neither of us were able to hear him until the items had been physically removed from our hands and we were surprised to learn that hours had passed since my arrival. I found the vassal to Hideyoshi such a pleasure to talk to, and would often forget he was as much of a warlord as the other men in the castle.

“Didn’t you have a younger sister who disappeared when she was six?” Hideyoshi was frowning over something as I was about to turn the corner. “Natsuki does bear a frighteningly similar resemblance to you, including how she acts,” Toyotomi explained.

“I doubt it’s her,” Mitsunari sounded the most serious I’d heard in my stay. The heartache was clear as day, and this was obviously something that he had locked away to forget. His hopes long gone on finding his missing sister, making my heart bleed for him.

I knocked on the door, plastering a smile on my face as I brought along the food tray that Hideyoshi had me make for Ishida. I was certain I’d gotten away with my eavesdropping until Toyotomi gave me a look that said I’d definitely been caught.

“What was your childhood like?” He asked, looking me straight in the eyes.

I froze, remembering the vivid conversation with Sasuke about not telling anyone where we really were from 500 years in the future, not that anyone would believe me if I told them anyway. Both warlords were staring at me before I gave an uneasy smile.

“I don’t like to talk about the past, I’d much rather look to the future,” I eventually replied and swiftly left the room before anything else could be asked.

I spotted Ieyasu up ahead, who wore a frown the second he saw me and then did a prompt turn about to get away. He was such an interesting individual, a fire burned deep within him that made me curious, but apparently, everything that even made me glance towards him was definitely only felt on one side. He would always do everything to avoid me, and when he was cornered into any kind of conversation, it was sharp answers that usually led to insults but he probably didn’t mean it that way. It made me think of my childhood, where I often was in the playground with my nose stuck in a book and enjoying the fantasy world. Apparently, those around me had long been trying to get me upset, but they’d never got anything but the sincerest responses from me. And then they decided to start taking the books off me and start trying to get me to jump for them even though they were out of my reach. My parents at this point had decided that I needed to learn something as a self-defence mechanism for some reason, I didn’t see the link even now, but aikido was the best one they decided. It was an art that was designed to protect someone without injuring any attackers, and that it used the attacker’s strength and force instead of my own also made it an advantage for my smaller build.

I had been visiting Kyoto to look at some new aikido studios, as well as visiting a potential new client when the wormhole opened. And now I felt very out of place in the Sengoku under Nobunaga Oda as his Chatelaine and also as an Oda Princess. I shook my head to break my melancholy mood and decided that I needed to get out of the castle for a change of scenery.

The stall holders were as cheery as normal, and then someone attracted my attention to a new merchant. He was selling off books, on topics that I didn’t recall seeing in the vast library. A group of men were crowding me out, but I didn’t realise until they virtually had me pinned to the stall. I guessed that their intentions weren’t honest, but I knew that if I started an all-out brawl here in the centre then it would upset everyone and possibly cause a lot of damage.

“Now then, we are going for a little walk, Princess,” one man had his hand firmly on my wrist whilst the others were following his lead from all appearances. I nodded in compliance, ignoring that as soon as we left the immediate vicinity, there would be a stampede running up to the castle to tell the warlords.

I let them think I wasn’t capable of anything as I studied them in silence. Six men to one woman wasn’t the fairest of ratios, whilst I listened in on their conversation. There was mention of ‘Kennyo’, a name that I had also heard frequently around the castle as we reached the outskirts of Azuchi.

Now my struggle started, I pulled my wrist free from the man’s grasp which had gone lapse in his confidence that I was subdued. I ducked under his expected punch to try and concuss me before I pulled his arm backwards and one of his comrades ran into it whilst attempting to catch me. My arms were thrown around my initial attacker’s waist as he went to restrain me, and he toppled easily off balance before I had to dive to the side, using my momentum to power my headbutt to yet another man’s stomach. Winding them was my best target, I didn’t have the strength in me to break their bones or stop them in many ways. If I could get them to keep running into each other’s attacks then it would help me in just about every manner possible. I kept weaving out of their grasps, dancing about to make sure they hit each other instead of me when possible, and I had dislocated one of their shoulders by pulling a submission hold that I never thought I’d use in real life. His arm was pulled back to an unnatural angle, all I had done was make sure to grab hold of it and use the sheer force he had charged me with to pivot against his torso. I was constantly ducking and sliding under arms and legs as they didn’t think to start working together with a collected mind. They clearly were just hired rohin who barely scraped by it seemed.

I had one man charge at me, to which my natural response was to absorb the energy from his hit. My legs spread out swiftly in one fluid motion and gave me the motion to lift up off the ground before using the power to smash him into the hard floor. They weren’t trained in any specific manner, it was a brawl for them as a new set of footsteps came dashing my way. I swiftly analysed that he was going to charge me, and I ducked to bash my shoulder into his stomach which sent him flying over me as I heard the footsteps skid to a stop.

“Natsuki?” Ieyasu’s voice was the last one I was expecting to hear. His sword was drawn out of its sheath and down at his side, his expectation of needing to protect me clear.

The men staggered to their feet, holding various body parts and tried to escape, only to find that the soldiers of the castle had already encircled the clearing. And the soldiers were looking just as confused as Tokugawa was. I shrugged casually and smiled apologetically before I was marched back with authority straight into the main hall, where the rest of the warlords were currently waiting for us it seemed.

“She took them out herself,” Ieyasu was still in disbelief at the situation he’d stumbled upon as I smiled in embarrassment. “She’s not got a scratch on her!” He exclaimed.

“Explain,” Nobunaga frowned, as Hideyoshi and Masamune were also starting to glare at me.

“I was taught to fight as a child,” I slowly started. “I was being picked on and my parents believed that if I could defend myself physically, then I would be left alone as I wished,” I paused. “Turned out, I was a natural and I quickly progressed to high-level competitions,” I shrugged. “I knew that if I responded to the men when they immediately surrounded me, then it was likely people would get hurt, so I let them take me to the clearing. It made them think I was weak and couldn’t do anything, so they let their guards down. Then I started to struggle, but I made sure to struggle in the way that they wouldn’t pick up that I knew how to defend myself. Then it was simply a case of using their own power and weight against them,” I explained. “If someone hits your shoulder at a certain height below their centre point, then it’s going to be their own power that sends them flying. And half the time it’s most ducking and diving out of the way and analysing the way they fight to pre-empt what they’re going to do next. It’s fairly simple when it comes to the brawling styles like they were. So I could use their own moves against them and tire them out without hurting myself.”

“Interesting,” Masamune broke my monologue, with a sly smirk on his face. “Now I feel like we should be testing you kitten,” he growled playfully and encroached onto me.

Ieyasu pulled me back much to my surprise, as most of the room grinned in response.

“Marking your interest?” Date laughed.

“No, just saving her from your awful attempts at flirting,” Tokugawa bristled. “Come with me,” he instructed, as Oda waved us both off. I was confused but followed the blonde with interest as to what everyone was smirking about in the main hall.

“Don’t you need to go and talk to the men?” I asked, trying to keep pace with the wide strides he was making.

“Mitsuhide will get the information out of them,” he snippily replied.

“They mentioned ‘Kennyo’,” I added, trying to be helpful but ran into the back of the warlord.

“And you didn’t think to mention that?” he snapped and glowered at me.

“No one asked!” I exclaimed as Ieyasu did a 180 turn about and dragged me back to the hall.

“No need to find out who they work for,” the blonde announced, a frown on his face as I was confused to why he was so irritable. “They kept mentioning Kennyo around Natsuki whilst dragging her off, so either he’s getting desperate to resort to hiring such a load of useless men, or he’s running out of forces,” he frowned. “And what are you doing?” he asked me, turning around.

“You won’t let go of my hand,” I pointed out, feeling very confused about the whole situation. He snorted and practically threw it, before I could leave the hall swiftly.

Hideyoshi came by later to my room. The maids had been checking in on me all during the meeting, and had made me a large bowl of soup, and insisted on practically drinking my weight in tea as I gave him a weak smile from under the thick blanket I had been wrapped up in as well.

He smiled and patted me on the head before sitting down, and making another pot of tea as Mitsunari appeared much to my surprise.

“I thought we should actually discuss the obvious that is staring us all in the face,” Hideyoshi announced. “That Natuski is your sister,” he looked at his vassal, who refused to look his Lord in the eye. “She has that same cowlick,” Toyotomi smiled, and tugged slightly on my flyaway locks, “And the colour of your hair and eyes, nevermind how mild-mannered you both are,” he chuckled. “And that the chances of Natsuki not being your sister are minimal,” he pointed out. “Why don’t you like to talk about your childhood?” He poised to me with a frown.

“Because I don’t remember it,” I was blunt. “I can only remember from around the age of seven, before that nothing exists in my memories,” I shrugged, and avoided looking at anything but my teacup.

“Nobunaga said that you didn’t come from here, you come from 500 years in the future,” Mitsunari spoke and startled me.

“Yes, I fell through a wormhole,” I eventually replied. “I was displaced in time, so how can I be Mitsunari’s sister then?” I frowned at Hideyoshi.

“Your ninja friend dropped by,” Hideyoshi sighed. “And apparently explained things to Nobunaga before disappearing to explain your origins after the fight, but before that council we just had. There were a spree of wormholes around your location in the future, and it’s likely they were trying to correct themselves. Hence you disappeared from here twenty years ago, and then came back when you’re needed,” he patted me on the head. “Though I’m sure Ieyasu is the most grateful.”

“Why?” I frowned, trying to make sense of the man.

“You’re as oblivious as Mitsunari,” Toyotomi chuckled. “Anyway, after today’s antics, you need to rest,” he ordered, clearing everything away.

It