Okay, so I should probably explain my hiatus, since I haven't updated in forever. You can skip if you're not interested and just want to read the update.

For those of you who stayed: I know this is going to sound strange, since this is my idea as well as my own work, but... I can't stand Nyotalia. Like, at all.

Actually, let me rephrase: I can't stand canon Nyotalia, especially fem!England and fem!Japan. Yeah, you can rip into me all you want, but it's my opinion and I will gladly stand by it. My only exceptions to this are fem!France, fem!Germany, and fem!Sweden; none of which make an appearance in this story, by the way.

Yes, I know the female characters in this fanfic are my own interpretations of what I think Nyotalia should be for the purpose of the story, but even still... I just don't really like Kiku in this-and she's the main character. And it's not how she's written or her character, it's her gender. That's literally the only thing that's bothering me, but it's a very big problem when it comes to writing this fic. It's a personal issue with my own values, and has nothing to do with my readers or followers.

However, I do want to finish this, because I enjoy the work I've already put into it. I just have to get through it, and try to put my all into the rest. I'm sorry that I can make no promises.

So here's what you've been waiting for. Sorry it's so short, but there wasn't too much to work with in this scene.


Chapter 9—A Mother in Desperation

This had to be it. He had to be hot on the thief's trail. As Arthur, the palace guard's top horse, sniffed around the forest, he thought about what a delight it would be to apprehend Matt Williams himself, and the reward it would entail. Maybe his own private stable, instead of one at the head of the other! Maybe he'd even be knighted! The first knighted horse in Hetalian history… He could see it now.

Now if only he could find that Matt Williams…

Arthur came across a Wanted poster pinned to a tree near the main road and it looked awfully familiar to him. There was just something a bit off about it…

By placing his hoof on the curl on the portrait's head, Arthur could clearly see that this was the thief he was looking for, Matt Williams.

Enraged, Arthur tore the poster from the branch and shredded it with his teeth, ready to attack. Unfortunately, his rage was cut short by a sharp rustling in the woods—Arthur perked up, immediately suspecting it was just who he was looking for.

Gotcha. Arthur hid behind a large hedge, poised to attack Matt Williams and catch him off guard. It was almost too easy.

As soon as the figure came close enough, Arthur hopped out of his hiding place and shocked the person passing by. He had the thief now.

But… that wasn't Matt Williams. It was a woman. A woman who looked shocked at being surprised. Of course, this only confused Arthur. What was a woman doing all the way out here? And what was she looking for?

Mother Kim almost had a heart attack when that horse jumped out at her. Of course, she regained her composure and observed the horse. He obviously belonged to someone.

But wait… wasn't that the kingdom crest? Mother Kim observed the horse even closer. "A palace horse?" she scoffed.

Then, it occurred to her. The palace. A horse alone. So close to home…

"Where's your rider?" she asked, eyes widening in worry. She immediately connected the dots, since they were so close to the tower…

"Kiku…" she whispered, then started sprinting toward home. "Kiku!" She had to be home. There was no way she could escape; she didn't know how…

The palace horses never came to this part of the forest, not since the guards had searched everywhere for a lost little girl… a princess.


Soon, Mother Kim reached the tower, staying optimistic. Kiku was home, yes. She'd see…

"Kiku?" Mother Kim sang out, a hint of worry in her voice. "Let down your hair!"

Mother Kim waited… And nothing.

No, no, please no…

"Kiku?" Mother Kim tried again. Maybe she was occupied… But no. She wasn't there…!

Quickly Mother Kim dashed to the old brick wall, tearing at the old vines that had grown there over the years. Mother Kim hadn't used this passageway in such a long time—not since Kiku's hair had been long enough to climb. Her hands scratched and bled as she threw off the bricks, but she couldn't feel pain—she just needed to get to the top of the tower and figure out just what was going on.

Once at the top, Mother Kim frantically dashed around the tower, calling out Kiku's name. Nowhere. Then, Kiku's room… her bed was stuffed with pillows! She'd escaped! She'd been kidnapped! Mother Kim feared the worse for her ward—she needed that hair! Mother Kim finally glanced at her hands, which, along with the scratches and bruises, looked much older. She was running out of time.

"Kiku…" she murmured. How could she find Kiku in such a vast space of forest? Mother Kim sank to her knees, defeated.

From the corner of her eye, just as Mother Kim lost all hope, she saw a glitter of something… sparkly. She dashed to the stair board it was under and unearthed a satchel, along with a Wanted poster. Matt Williams, the most wanted thief in the Kingdom of Hetalia. Well. At least she now knew what he looked like, that damned kidnapper.

And, as a "mother," she needed to protect her kin, no matter the cost.

Mother Kim grabbed the satchel and poster, then grabbed a regal silver dagger from a secret drawer in the tower, which she hadn't used since she'd inherited it.

It was time Natalia's dagger be put to good use after all these years.

I had the idea of making Mother Kim connected to Natalia since the beginning. The explanation to their relationship will be explained later; I just wanted to leave off with kind of a twist at the end.

Next Chapter: Kiku and Matt arrive at The Flying Mint Bunny, whose reputation definitely does not match its name. Kiku ends up being stronger than Matt originally thought.