Note: Since so much of Kambei and Nasami's early relationship has been rather firmly established, I have been writing what happens after THE SWORD OF THE SOUL. By the Epilogue of TSotS, they have agreed to marry, because Kambei has been given Sememasu by Shujiro, Nasami's father. In 'Seishin no Samurai,' they have journeyed to Kyuden Shiden'issen to marry, and by 'Dancing with Snowflakes: Snowfall and Shadows,' they're married and expected their first child. And by the time you get to THE SEVEN FLOWERS OF AUTUMN, they have SIX children! (Then again, considering all the erotica I've written for these two, I guess it's not really that big a surprise.)

But then I got to thinking about a statement I'd made in 'With the Setting of the Sun,' of how Kambei proposed to Nasami up on the cliffs near Kyuden Shiden'issen. And I realized that I had never actually done a story about the proposal. So, as the companion to 'With the Setting of the Sun,' I offer you this story.

And yes, this story has music, too - the lovely "Magdalena no Yogen" from Gospel 2 of CHRNO CRUSADE.


With the Rising of the Sun

It had been six months since they had arrived at Kyuden Shiden'issen, Nasami reflected as she stood on the cliffs near her family's castle beside the sea, watching the sun as it rose. Six months of planning, of negotiation, of preparations for a wedding that would take place in a week's time.

During her long years of traveling, she had sorely missed standing on these cliffs to greet Lady Sun, feeling the sea breeze on her face and in her hair and on her lips. Now that she was again home, whenever she could, she would steal away just before the dawn and make her way to the top of the cliffs, feeling young and hopeful and free.

Idly she reached up and pulled the combs from her hair, so that it fell down to her hips, then ran her fingers through it to let it blow loose and free about her. Then she carefully removed her clothes and sandals, resting her sword on top of the pile, so that she stood naked on the cliff. She spread her arms wide and let her head fall back, feeling the earliest rays of sunlight touch her skin, ignoring the cold of the dawn. Her toes curled around the dewy grass beneath her feet, and her hair streamed out behind her like the banners atop the Kyuden.

As the sun rose fully over the horizon, a smile lit up her face and she closed her eyes, savoring the feeling of the wind on her body and the sunlight on her skin.

Suddenly she was drawn into a strong pair of arms. With a long sigh of contentment, she leaned back into Kambei's warm embrace.

"What were you doing?"

"Bidding good morning to Lady Sun."

"Aren't you cold?"

"I don't mind it."

Together they stood on the cliffs, watching the sun as it slowly climbed into the sky.

"You looked so beautiful, just now," he murmured, his chin resting on top of her head. "When I saw you like that... it just took my breath away." Then he drew back slightly to look down at her bare back, where a glorious tattoo of a crane covered her back from shoulders to hips. "My beloved crane..."

Then he pulled her close again. "Although... a part of me feels some sadness that you'll not wander free. Not anymore."

"Don't feel sad," she told him quietly. She tilted her head back to look at him. "It's true that once we marry, Sasuraitsuru will be no more. But I would rather have you with me and never travel again, than see all the glory of the Empire without you by my side."

He gently nuzzled her hair. "Although... to be honest... I don't know which one of us actually proposed to the other."

She thought for a moment, and blushed hotly when she realized he was right. Even before they had left Kanna, when her father had sent Kambei the katana Sememasu, she could not remember when the actual subject of marriage had come up. "I guess... I just assumed that we would marry." She looked back over her shoulder again. "Should I not have?"

He laughed and hugged her tighter.

"Well, I did have every intention of proposing to you."

"Propose to me now," she suggested. "You're here, I'm here... and Lady Sun is watching." She moved out of his arms and turned around so that she stood facing him, then waited. He moved forward so that only a handspan separated them.

Slowly he reached out, and brushed her hair back from her face, his eyes memorizing every curve, every line, every scar on her face. And not for the first time, he wondered how he had ever lived without her.

"I actually had a whole, long speech planned," he admitted. "Something romantic and elegant, like you deserve."

She arched one white eyebrow. "Romantic and elegant?"

"Well, I happen to think so."

Nasami grinned. "I think that description better fits you than me, personally."

Kambei shrugged.

"So what was it?" she asked him, moving closer and sliding her arms around his neck.

"What was what?" he said, momentarily distracted by the warmth of her against him.

"That whole, long, romantic and elegant speech you had planned?"

"Um..."

For some reason, he was finding it hard to remember. As his arms went around her waist, he had the feeling that he was missing something obvious.

"Well?"

Then it finally caught up to Kambei's brain that Nasami was curling up against him in a most appealing, most warm, and most naked way.

"I... forget..."

She chuckled, low in her throat, and kissed him, slowly but with great promise.

"Kambei?" she whispered into his mouth.

"Hmm?"

"Yes."

And as he kissed her even deeper, drawing her down with him, she sighed happily.

"Yes, oh yes..."