Takumi first sees Corrin, and he doesn't see his long lost sister. He only sees a woman, dressed in the garb of their enemies, her long, dark hair completely out of place though she claims to be related by blood to them.
(She doesn't claim. His mother does, and Ryoma does, but Corrin just seems confused by everything.)
(She must just be good at acting.)
Takumi is loathe to let her in, but he doesn't have a say in this. He's one of the youngest - younger, now, she's shown up - and Ryoma and Hinoka's opinions will always out-value his.
(That fact still stings, but he's used to it. His siblings will always outshine him.)
(They're the sun, he's the moon.)
He deals with the hurt that he doesn't want to acknowledge, the way he knows how, by avoiding its source. And it's so very easy to ignore the imposter, because she's hiding away.
(She's infiltrating, getting close to his mother to spy.)
(She's curious and confused and out of her depths, not knowing what is truth and what is not.)
In the rare occasion that she attempts to approach him, he dissuades her with his loud words and open honesty about how he doesn't trust her, she should return to Nohr, he doesn't want her around.
(She makes him feel weird. He doesn't understand the feeling, and so dislikes it.)
He's convinced that she's only going to bring them harm, and she does, taking away a mother for the second time, leaving a gaping abyss of grief.
(He blames her, because it's easy to.)
(He also blames himself. For not being the one to defend, to eliminate the target, to save Mother.)
(But he blames her more.)
Takumi wakes, as if from a slumber, only to find his yumi in hand, and his sisters surrounding him. Hinoka is hurt, and though she won't tell him, he thinks it was by his hand.
He… Somehow, he let the enemy control him. And he hurt his family.
Weak. Useless. Liability. Weak, weak, weak…
Azura sings softly still, but it is Corrin who crouches by him, coaxes him to set Fujin Yumi down, offers him a drink. Her crimson eyes are full of a concern that he simply doesn't understand.
He's just shown her how weak and stupid he is. All he's done is push her away, yet she wants to help?
(He's amazed by her, and that weird feeling comes again.)
(He ignores it.)
Corrin even offers to stay back with him, whilst the others fight the rogue ninja, but he's shown enough weakness already. He snaps at her, because he can fight, and snatches up his yumi before heading into the battle, taking out two foes in quick succession. Someone cries out behind him, and he turns just to see Corrin cut down a ninja with her yato, one who was aiming right for him.
He doesn't give her thanks, nor does she seem to want it, as she turns to the next enemy as if nothing had happened.
(He is grateful, though. Not that he will tell her.)
After the battle, he joins her group, because his true sisters are there and he knows they can find Ryoma better as a team.
(He doesn't want to be alone after being controlled, either.)
(He joins because of those reasons. Not because of her.)
Takumi avoids Corrin, and he tells himself it's because he's still suspicious of her, but really it's because he keeps getting that weird feeling. It's almost warm, but also uncomfortable, rising in his chest every time he looks at her. He finds himself analysing her moves, from a distance, watching how gracefully she wields her sword.
(Well trained enemy, his mind says.)
(A woman who can hold her own, his heart whispers.)
He's surprised when she eventually approaches him during training, but quickly covers it up with his usual cold front, ignoring her deliberately. It's easier to, as he's trying to focus on his archery, and he's glad she's approached him here. Anywhere else, and ignoring would be difficult.
He lies when he says he doesn't want to know her. He's truthful about his lack of trust, though. And the fact that he doesn't see the point in her learning the bow, when she is already so skilled in battle with her sword.
(He doesn't mention that, of course, his pride refusing to compliment her. He threatens her instead.)
(He doesn't mean it. He's actually glad she wants to spend time with him.)
(He'll never admit any of this.)
Takumi barks instructions at Corrin, correcting her stance, his tone much harsher than necessary. She's doing fine, really, better than others he's coached in the past, but something about her just makes him feel…different. It's probably a bad feeling, not that he can put a name to it, as he seems to grow more flustered around her quicker. He's good at hiding things, though. Ryoma and Hinoka were often busy or stressed and his problems, well, they were his, not theirs. He didn't ever want to worry them.
He's hidden his emotions from his siblings many times before, he can do it again.
(Except Corrin is not his sibling.)
(He doesn't know what she is.)
So he covers up this unknown feeling with his usual coldness and anger, quick to correct and criticise but not offering any compliments or praise. Corrin is persistent, though, and he relents, allowing her a short break in this lesson. She pushes herself hard, he's noticed, and doesn't like stopping.
(She's a lot like him in that way.)
And then she compliments him, and he doesn't know how to take it, at first accusing her of sarcasm, but she persists. Says he makes it look effortless. Him. Not Setsuna, not Mozu, not any of the archers around. But him, Takumi.
(Her admission to watching him brings heat to his face and a weird warmth to his chest again.)
(He's beginning to recognise that feeling now, and immediately despises it.)
Thankfully Corrin brings the conversation back to herself and her own archery progress, which is a topic he is much more comfortable with. Even if he puts too much of a challenge in his tone, and she pushes herself too far, resulting in injury.
(He's just the same.)
Guilt swells in him, for some reason, and he pushes her to rest, though she wants to carry on despite the injury. He's harsh, because that's the only way she'll listen.
(Because he has to be, or he'll betray himself and become soft towards her.)
Maybe he is being too harsh, though. Corrin's come so far, and she's never betrayed them. He's forgiven her for the strife that she wasn't really at fault for, though he won't admit that.
There's a growing fondness in his chest, too, from them spending more and more time together.
(He doesn't think of her as the enemy anymore.)
(But she's not a sister, either.)
Takumi tries not to run into Corrin, but he can't help it. He seems more and more drawn to her, a fact that irritates him greatly.
And when he sees her with a bow, he immediately moves to chide her for practising when she is hurt.
(He knows what it is like to push himself too hard, make things worse.)
(That doesn't deter him. But he wants to deter Corrin, wants her to not get hurt further.)
She appears happy to see him, but he knows that's just his wishful thinking. The blush dancing over her lightly freckled cheeks is due to the chill, or maybe because he's staring and he shouldn't.
What is wrong with me?
He's feeling all weird again, apologising to Corrin for mistrusting her and saying things that he should just keep to himself. To make things even worse, he finds himself offering her a salve for her wound as if he cares deeply and misses teaching her how to use a bow.
(Of course, he does.)
(Of course, he'll continue to deny it.)
Corrin leaves, and he feels empty, so empty, and he pretends he doesn't know why. He picks up his bow and sets up the targets, forcing himself to practice alone like he has done for years.
She has an army to lead, after all, and her injury only hinders her use of a bow, not a sword. He's just taking up her time, no matter if both of them enjoy it or not.
(He decides he'll let her focus on other things, all more important, because that's what she needs.)
(Not because he's beginning to understand what the feeling is, and he wants to run from it, to run from her.)
(He never does, though.)
Takumi looks at Corrin, and he's utterly captivated. She finishes off their foe with a flick of her yato, crimson eyes gleaming, spinning nimbly to take out another. Fujin Yumi thrums in his hands, and Takumi quickly takes out an oncoming Faceless before he can get too distracted.
He can't afford this, not now, not in the middle of a battlefield.
But the way Corrin fights is enchanting, her movements always swift and precise, thin arms surprisingly strong enough to slash the yato as powerfully as she does. Her pale skin, tanned softly by the Hoshidan sun, almost seems to glow, and her black hair ripples out, a mesmerising dark sea behind her.
(If he's the moon, then Corrin is the night sky. Dark and dangerous and captivating, with glimmers of light.)
(He's the moon, and he now orbits her.)
But what kills him inside is that his admiration for Corrin is not for a sister. No, he admires a woman, a fierce, gorgeous woman, and that admiration is too strong, too wild, for any sibling.
But she is. She's his sister, and he… He can't let these thoughts continue.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, his mind chants, as his heart weeps.
Takumi's heart won't stop, his chest tightening every time he sees her now, blood rushing to his cheeks when they talk, hands trembling as he fights to keep his thoughts pure, to stop his eyes from tracing her flushed cheeks and imaging his lips against them, trailing down to the pink blossom of hers, losing himself in the scent that is purely Corrin-
He feels sick, sick at himself, waking in the night from his fantasies and feeling both enamoured and disgusted. If Corrin was any other woman, his feelings would be fine. Natural. Acceptable.
But she's not, she's his sister and yet he…can't see her that way.
He's never been able to see her that way.
But that is the truth, and his heart is both treacherous and disgusting, and he hates it.
(If he needed another excuse to hate himself, he's got it.)
(And he does. He hates himself.)
She's oblivious to it all, continuing to fight beside him in the war, asking him when they can continue their archery lessons. He doesn't trust himself around her, now, so he pushes her away again, like he did at the start.
She's persistent, though, and that only makes things worse. He doesn't deserve to be in her company, not with his disgusting heart and the illegal feelings consuming his every thought.
(He hates it, hates it, hates him.)
(But he still can't stop the way he feels.)
Takumi spirals down into despair, retreating in on himself as much as possible, trying to keep up his normal act when really he's falling apart, self-deprecating thoughts chanting through his mind every second he feels anything towards her.
He knows he needs help, but he's too ashamed to talk to anyone, doesn't want anyone to see the truth of how messed-up he is.
So he's sat in his tent, curled up with his knees to his chest, thick hair falling in front of his face as he tries to settle his thoughts, settle his heart.
Nothing seems to work.
He lets out a yell of frustration, throwing the nearest object across the room. It's a letter, though, so it doesn't travel far, and after a few minutes of glaring at the stupid envelope, he gets up and retrieves it.
Then he freezes, staring at the royal seal and the painfully familiar handwriting.
He recalls, now, her giving him this letter, only a day before her death. Something about if he wasn't sure who he loved? He can't remember her exact words.
He does remember, though, how dismissive he was, shoving the letter away without another thought.
But things are different. He's messed-up and desperate and he tears open the envelope, blinking back tears as he observes her beautiful handwriting, before he reads.
Then reads it again.
(This can't be true, he thinks, because it is too good.)
(But it is true. His mother would not lie about this.)
Corrin is not his sister.
(It's no longer a desire.)
(It's the truth.)
Takumi watches Corrin as her arrow flies true, striking the target for the tenth time in a row. She turns to him with a smile brighter than the stars, a smile that makes his heart stutter and the deepest longing rise in his chest.
(He wants her to smile at him, like that, every day.)
(But she still doesn't know.)
Her excitement is infectious, though he tries to remain calm as he compliments her, do I don't I racing around his mind.
Because he can't keep going like this. Not when they're getting close, and his finds himself staring at her hands longing to take them in his own, to pull her into an embrace and never let her go-
She's warm, and encouraging, and so he confesses.
It quickly turns into an apology, as he knows how wrong it must sound, to her, when she still believes they are siblings. He sees it in her eyes, the confusion, and before it can turn to disgust he tells her about the letter.
She looks hurt, and he remembers how she chose them, thinking them her birth family, when in truth...they're not.
She demands answers and he's trying not to stumble over his words as he begins to think how badly he just messed up, he was selfish, he didn't think how this truth would affect her relationship with his other siblings-
But she surprises him again, seeming to take things in stride, and smiles as she tells him that she's glad he told her the truth, that it doesn't change her feelings towards them.
(He is beyond relieved, to hear that he did not ruin his siblings' relationships.)
(If nothing has changed, does she still see him as a brother?)
Then Corrin speaks the words he never thought he'd hear: "I love you too, Takumi."
He blinks, an exclamation of astonishment escaping him, feeling the heat rush to his cheeks as she blushes, too, confessing her feelings with an unusually awkward, but definitely sweet mannerism.
"If you were aiming for my heart, you've struck true," he says softly, finally closing the space between them, "This was meant to be..."
Corrin's smile lights up his world again, her crimson eyes burning with love, and he pulls her into his arms.
(They're in a war, still, and there's so many other problems that this will cause.)
(But for now, he's happy.)
(He takes this perfect moment, and he cherishes it forever.)