It had been completely by accident the first time. A flash of light out of the corner of her eye, or at least it had seemed like that at the time. Of course, it would be him. Ieyasu-sama. After weeks she'd finally remembered his name, by her own sheer force of will or his, she wasn't entirely sure. He always looked so sad when she called him Happy-sama. All she wanted was to see him smile… It was the best she could do, when she couldn't smile herself.
The sun had been bright that day, and she'd been walking along one of the outdoor walkways that were so abundant in this castle, and saw a flicker of movement in one of the unused rooms through the slightest crack of the door—apparently not so unused as everyone thought. It had taken her a moment to realize what it was he was doing. It had been so long since she'd seen anyone dance, and he had no music.
There was always an undertone of the martial arts in his movements, though it was as if it were all slowed down. The hakama swayed with his steps, and his face was peaceful, and there was almost no sound. It had been several weeks since she'd begun her silent observation, quietly sitting outside that room, watching through the slightest opening into a world she could never hope to enter. So bright, nothing like her own, where she was so lost in the darkness. Lost, except for when he was there.
It became habit to trail after the young lord and watch. Ichi didn't know how often he came here; the days ran into one another, the nights a blur of nightmares and silence, as they always were. These moments were enough, watching quietly from the shadows.
As the dance went on, a smile crept over her lips. The first time she had smiled since her brother's defeat. The first time she had smiled since her descent into her dark abyss of madness.
Unexpectedly, the dance ceased, and Ieyasu glanced towards the doorway, and before Ichi could stand and flee, he slid the door open, looking down with some surprise at her, sitting there on the floor in the fine kimonos he had given her—though this was not unusual behavior for her—and blinking up at him in surprise.
"I thought I heard something out here," he said, the usual warmth in his voice as his smile spread across his features. Ichi looked hastily away, flushing in guilt and embarrassment at being found.
"I-Ichi is very sorry to have interrupted you," she murmured, "Please continue, if it pleases you."
What she did not expect was the laughter at her words, and a hand extended towards her. "You interrupted nothing important. What would please me the most is if you would join me, Oichi-san."
"Ichi couldn't possibly," she said in an even quieter tone, hands closing into fists in her lap.
"You've been watching me for weeks now." That made her look sharply up at his face, horrified at being detected so long ago. How long ago would that have been? She had no idea. "I was waiting for you to approach me about it, but I suppose that's a little much to ask…"
The hand didn't move, there in front of her, like an invitation to the light. She couldn't possibly go. But a quiet voice assured her. That quiet voice that she always attributed to her Nagamasa-sama. Her hand lifted from her lap, hesitating for a moment, before resting in his hand.
It was broad and warm and reassuring, like the sun, his smile bright and welcoming. When he helped her to her feet, and she stepped over the threshold of the room, onto the tatami, she realized what had been keeping her back for so long.
This place had started to feel like home. It had frightened her so, but that quiet voice spoke to her, a whisper in her ear. Ichi, it will all be all right. You don't have to cry anymore, you're home.
As Ieyasu taught her the steps to his dance that had no music, the tear that ran down her cheek was one of joy.