Prologue: Inter spem et metum (Sawada Household / Namimori / Current Day)

Author's Notes

I'm not a huge fan of lengthy author's notes in fan fiction, but in this case I feel that some early clarifications are necessary, as I've diverged here and there from canon in some ways I'd like to explain, to avoid a flurry of questions about why I might have done that.

Ownership: I don't own Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, and never will. So this is all done for my own fun and entertainment.

Title: This is a direct sequel to Vivi memor leti. The title of this story, "Ex umbra in solem" translates to "from the shadow into the light". It refers to the transition from the early nightmares and pain of Vivi memor leti that led to Tsuna's choice of actions there into his current and ongoing transitions into a young mafia boss. Chapters and future additional story arcs will be titled in a similar way. Latin is good for the soul.

Ratings and pairings: This is an NC-17 story. There is sex. Specifically it contains yaoi, yuri, and heterosexual interactions between a variety of characters. There is a lot of it. Be prepared. If you don't like it, don't read it.

More specifically, the primary relationship focus through this story and its following story arcs is Reborn/Tsuna (R27). However, Tsuna and others have physical and emotional relationships with a lot of people in this set of stories. You'll see pretty much every Guardian (including Chrome) in some way with Tsuna at some point in time and possibly with each other. You'll see Xanxus and Tsuna as well. Again, if you don't like that idea, don't read it.

Timeline: This is set directly after Vivi memor leti ends, which was set close to two years after the Ten Years Later story arc in the manga and anime. Tsuna and most of his friends are sixteen or seventeen now, depending on the range of ages starting out. Lambo and I-pin are nine years old and Futa is just barely thirteen. The two younger kids are in primary school and Futa is in middle school. The older teens have moved up to high school.

Back Story: The initial premise of the original story arc was that when the Ten Years Later arc ended and they returned to their own time, their memories were altered. So they simply believe that they'd been at one of Reborn's training camps and that's where the box weapons and additional skills have come from. The girls' memories are altered to have been cooking and providing cheering and so on for the training. This is done to prevent them from doing anything rash in an attempt to change the future.

Unfortunately, Tsuna's Sky ring retains the memories and emotions of the events in the future and he starts having nightmares of those events that haunt him for the next two years. As a result of those dreams, he's started changing his relationships with the people around him. Over time his desperation to avoid losing the people he cares about starts changing him as well.

Relevant Notations: This was written after episode 158 aired and after chapter 251 in the manga. So anything happening in canon past those points might not appear or apply in this story. This is to avoid any attempts by me to go in and backfill facts, which I am very likely to do as I watch or read new canon materials. I have to cut myself off at some point and understand that things will become AU after that point.

Which brings me to the next note: This story is AU. I am changing the story away from the canon deliberately in many places to work on the portrayal of how Tsuna would or will evolve after these events as a person and a leader, and how it affects his relationships with the people around him. Not to mention all the sex.

Textual/Content Notations: I've diverged from the current canon in several ways. First of all, you'll see in the story that Tsuna refers to most of his Guardians by first name now. After almost four years together, I believe this would be the case. The children have all taken to calling Tsuna "Tsuna-nii".

I've retained the common Japanese naming structure, in that introductions for Japanese characters is last name, first name. For characters of other nationalities, it is first name, last name. I've also retained Japanese suffixes where I feel they are appropriate. In regards to the naming of various Vongola leaders, I'm sticking with the Italian structure (Primo, Decimo, etc.), rather than incorporating too many Japanese words.

In addition, I'm using the word "family" in two different contexts and so I will do my best to be consistent about differentiating between them using capital and non-capital letters. "Family" refers to a mafia Family, and "family" refers to what most people would consider a normal family unit. So when Tsuna refers to a person being "family" and "Family", it means that he considers them to be a part of both parts of his life.

Feedback and Length: Lastly, this is a long story. Chapter length will vary between 2,000 – 6,000 words on average, and like Vivi memor leti, it will stretch to 40 or so chapters. It will also contain similar interlude chapters.

Feedback and comments are always appreciated, constructive as well as opinions. Character attacks and inflammatory comments, however, will be deleted. No one needs to see people bashing the things that they care about, most especially in regards to sexuality, communication and feelings.

"Mom," Tsuna started, hands clenched nervously in his lap, "I need to talk to you about something."

"Tsu-kun?" Nana looked up from the sink where she was washing the dishes and smiled at him sweetly. "What's on your mind?" Drying her hands, she settled in across from him at the table instead, waiting patiently for him to start.

Tsuna looked up at her and couldn't help but smile a little bit. There was always something so solid, gentle and reassuring about his mother. She'd never be a rocket scientist, it was clear, but she was the steel and concrete foundation that held his Family together. The children clung to her like she'd given birth to them, and the teens circled around her like she was a sun and they were caught in her orbit. On any given day, he'd find at least one of his friends settled at the kitchen table, chatting with her. All of which made what he had to say that much harder for him.

"Well, it's just that I noticed it's getting really crowded here these days, as Futa, Lambo and I-pin are growing up," Tsuna started again, biting his bottom lip. "Dad and I were talking about it the other day. There's just not enough room for everyone. So I was thinking that maybe it's time for me to find my own place to live." He hated doing this, just hated having to tell his mother that he was leaving her, especially when he had to do it in a way that wouldn't make her worry about the real reasons he was leaving.

"Iemitsu thought this was a good idea, Tsu-kun?" His mother was frowning at him slightly, eyes narrowing and Tsuna flinched internally, knowing that boded poorly for his father. Personally, however, he thought his dad could use a good whipping, so he wasn't about to make it easier on him.

"Reborn and Dad found a place for me that's closer to school and to my job," Tsuna told her, smiling warmly to reassure her. "I can afford it, and some of the others might decide to share it with me." Reaching out, he captured her hands with his own, squeezing them gently. "It would mean that Futa could have his own room, and Dad said he'd stay in town a few months and help reorganize part of the house to even give Lambo and I-pin their own rooms. Little girls need privacy, you know."

Nana watched him silently while she processed his words and her every emotion flashed across her face, tearing his heart apart into little pieces at the thought that he might be hurting her. It was time, he knew, for him to move into the safer living space that his father and Reborn had arranged beneath his offices. Moving would mean that his mother and the kids would be safer, without the risk of incidents like the one that had left him scarred front and back.

"I wouldn't be far away, and there's no way I can feed myself all the time," he added, playing on her need to care for people by feeding them. "I'd come back all the time for dinner and stuff. I'd be here to play with the kids, too. But they need you now, more than I can tell you, and it's time for me to grow up a bit and let them have their time with their Mama." He grinned at her, knowing how much she loved hearing the three young children call her that.

"You'll come for dinner at least three times a week," his mother stated, and he could see her calculating ways to make sure he visited. "You'll still be responsible for picking the children up after school and getting them home safely, too."

"Of course, Mom," Tsuna agreed immediately. The greater risks in him staying in the house were in the late hours when the rest of the world around them wouldn't notice an attack on the house. The chances of a daylight attack were almost zero, according to Lal and Basil. "We both know I'm a failure at laundry too, so you'll see me when I have dirty clothes, too."

"This would be a good time for you to learn to take care of yourself like a proper man," Nana told him, reaching over to ruffle his hair. "So I'll teach you to do your own laundry. I'm sure you can figure out the cleaning part yourself."

"I'm sure I'll figure it out before I die under a pile of garbage bags," he replied, smiling. "Reborn will make sure I behave myself, too. He'll be staying with me."

"Well, if Reborn will be there, then I won't worry too much," she told him gently, patting his cheek before standing again and brushing the small wrinkles out of her skirt. "I have so much to do, if your father is going to be staying for a while! I'll have to get more groceries! Oh, and we'll need to have a moving away party for your friends." He could see her already making lists in her head as he stood and kissed her cheek before heading up to his room.

Reborn looked up at him from his armchair where he was drinking espresso and reading the daily paper. "Did you handle it, Tsuna?"

"I told her," Tsuna replied, settling on the floor next to him and making a failed swipe at his coffee mug. "She took it better than I thought. Dad was right. Knowing that he'll be here for a while seems to be a good trade for my moving out. She's planning menus and a moving party."

"It takes a good boss to be able to break bad news in a way that makes someone happy," Reborn told him, lecturing tone firmly in place even as he took a smug sip from his mug. "You're finally learning, Tsuna."

"Does everything I do relate back to becoming a good boss, Reborn?" Tsuna asked, grinning at him as he tried again, hand faster and the movement sharper this time, getting him within millimeters of snatching the mug, but still failing.

"Of course," Reborn replied, nodding sagely. "If you're going to become the kind of boss I would want to follow, you still have a long way to go." He did, however, relent and offer Tsuna his espresso, clearly feeling magnanimous now that the task of breaking the bad news to Nana was over with.

"It's strange," Tsuna mused, taking a slow sip before handing it back to him, "they always talk about opening a new chapter of your life on television and in books, but that's kind of what this feels like. One door is closing but another's opening. Only the door isn't really closed. It's not like I can't visit Mom any time I want to. I just can't live here anymore to protect the people I love."

"One of the hardest things you'll have to learn to do, Tsuna, is to isolate yourself at times. You're never going to be the first line of defense, or the first person heading into battle for your Family. You're the Vongola's big gun, our nuclear weapon, our weapon of last resort. Most of your time is going to be spent sending the people you care about into dangerous situations and praying that they come home safely." Reborn looked sad for a long moment as he sipped at his espresso. "Your battles, for the most part, will be fought from behind a desk, unless the situation is so dangerous there's no other option. Of all of us, you'll have the hardest job, because you'll be the one left behind to worry."

"It's hard enough now," Tsuna said, head tilting until his cheek rested on the back of Reborn's chair. "Sending the Varia out to capture or kill was hard, and I know how close to invulnerable they are. It's going to be awful, sending out my friends."

"You'll learn over time," Reborn replied, taking his hat off and setting it aside, then watching in amusement as Leon crawled first through his hair and then made his way up to explore Tsuna's. "You'll learn to evaluate a situation and decide who to send, and how to prepare them. You'll see what needs to be done and what risks you can afford to take. I'll make sure of that."

"As much as I'm already a part of the mafia world, it all still seems so distant in some ways," Tsuna mused, reaching a hand up to rub Leon's head gently. "Not the big, dramatic parts, obviously, but the day to day operations, the more practical parts of it."

"Don't worry, Tsuna, I'll make sure you understand it when the time comes, even if I have to beat it into your skull." It was nice to see Reborn back in a teasing mood, and Tsuna couldn't help but grin at the taunt. Then Reborn mellowed slightly and looked at him directly. "I'll be by your side through all of it, Tsuna, but I can't make the decisions for you. I can give you advice, and explain the risks, but you're the boss. The decisions are yours to make."

"Thank you," Tsuna said, grin gentling into a smile.

It wouldn't be easy, but things were already painfully hard in many ways. Some part of him believed that with Reborn there to teach him, he could actually learn to do this, and do it well. That meant he could eventually protect the people he loved the most by being what they needed the most. A leader who loved them for who they were, let them use their talents to the absolute limit while always encouraging them to grow, who always gave them a home to return to.

*Title translates to "between hope and fear".