Shinsengumi Hiyokuroku Wasurenagusa 7 – Toudou Heisuke
CV – Shimono Hiro
It has almost been one and a half years since we recruited other men in Edo and returned to Kyoto. If the new men become part of the Shinsengumi, then the troop will become even more lively. That was what I thought, but it seems that reality isn’t so simple. The Shinsengumi is quietly changing its shape, just like the moon which rises into the sky.
Day by day, little by little, without realising it, I was unable to hide the unrest of my wavering thoughts. I closed my eyes and became lost in my thoughts. What is the most important thing to me? What is that I want to protect most of all?
Hey, are you there? I’m coming in.
Ah, you were doing some sewing?
Are you busy right now?
I see. I wanted to ask you a favour…
I hurt my right arm during training. Sorry for the trouble, but could you treat it for me?
Yes, right here.
I’m used to the pain, so it should be okay, but it was deeper than I thought. The hand which I used to hold the sword with was covered in blood and I couldn’t concentrate.
Huh?! Definitely not! I really don’t want Yamazaki-san to treat my injury! He winds the bandages up too tight, so it hurts!
When I hurt my forehead at the Ikedaya, Yamazaki-san treated my injury, but I felt like I would’ve rather died!
No, I’m sure he made it hurt even more! This is just between you and me, but I suspect that he just likes seeing the expressions on other people’s faces when they’re in pain. Getting my injuries treated only hurt that much when he did it. He looks kind, but he’s weird…
Anyway, that’s enough about Yamazaki-san… I want you to treat my injury. Please!
Thanks. Ah, are there any bandages in your room?
I thought so. I’m sure they’re in the hall. Let’s go.
The way you do it is nice and neat. You’re making sure not to touch the wound either. Asking you really was the right thing to do.
Sweat always drops onto the floor when we’re training, doesn’t it? I slipped on it. I’ve had small scratches quite a few times before, but there happened to be a splinter where I fell. That’s where I got this cut. I’d normally get one of the other men to look at this kind of injury, but today I really wanted to ask you to do it.
Why? I don’t really know… We haven’t had much time to talk together recently, have we? I’m training with the other men until late more often and you’ve just been put in charge of the accounts, so you’ve been busy all this time. I wanted to be alone with you. Weren’t you a little lonely too?
Haha. That’s good! I thought so.
Yes. Thank you. Now I can go back to training.
So… This is to show my thanks.
It’s alright, isn’t it? There’s no one here.
Come on, come closer.
Sorry. I can’t stop.
Hmm? I said my injury doesn’t hurt, didn’t I? You put a bandage on and it’s fine now. So concentrate on me.
You smell nice. I feel calm when I’m beside you. I want to stay like this forever.
Open your mouth. I want to kiss you properly.
Someone else is here? That’s too bad.
We weren’t done yet, but I’m glad we got a little time together. Something good like this makes getting hurt a little more bearable.
I’m going back to training. Thanks for taking care of my injury.
Oh? It’s you…
Ah… I must have fallen asleep without realising.
Hmm? I’ve got marks from lying on the tatami?
Where? On my cheeks?
Whoa… That’s really uncool.
Hey, don’t laugh!
You’re right… I don’t usually sleep without putting out my bed. It was because of the wine. I was having drinks with Itou-san just now. We got carried away with talking and drinking. I don’t really remember what happened last. How did I get back to my room?
Ah… My head still feels dizzy.
I’m alright. I feel much better after sleeping a little.
Why are you in my room anyway?
Ah… I know! Because we got interrupted last time, you were sneaking into my room at night. That’s it! You’ve got more desire than I thought!
Oww! Hahaha! Of course I’m joking. Don’t look so scary. You were probably on your way back from the toilet or something, right?
Well, I suppose you would be curious if someone had their lamp in the middle of the night. I’d normally be fast asleep by now.
I can’t afford to catch a cold right now, so I’ll make sure to lay the bed out.
Right, the bed…
Haha. It looks like I’m still a little unsteady on my feet. Have I become a weak drinker?
Hmm? You’re going to lay the bed out for me?
Sorry, that’d be a great help.
Hmm? Ah… So I haven’t really talked about Itou-san that much before?
Itou-san and I have actually known each other since before the Shinsengumi was formed.
When I was still a wandering swordsman in Edo, we were at the same dojo. So I’ve actually known him longer than Kondo-san and the others.
Itou-san taught me a lot of different things. Like the determination to wield a sword. The way a person should be. What a warrior should be.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Itou-san made me who I am today. I went to Edo to look for men to join the troop one year ago, didn’t I? That was when I called out to Itou-san and asked him to join the Shinsengumi.
Itou-san thinks that political power should be given to the emperor. He thinks differently to the Shinsengumi, who are supporters of the shogunate, but we both support the idea of Sonno Joui.  He’s smart and has the ability to lead others.
To tell the truth, I’ve been having some doubts about the Shinsengumi recently. I thought that if Itou-san joined the Shinsengumi, it might bring about some good.
Well… Now I don’t really know whether it’s good or bad though.
Ah… It’s nothing.
Anyway, thanks for putting out the bed.
Wait. Are you going?
You’re here, so stay in my room tonight. I didn’t get to touch you properly last time and I’ve been holding myself back since then.
It’s alright, isn’t it?
Hmm… Caught you!
Do I smell of wine? But you don’t hate kissing me though, do you?
Come on, relax.
Hmm? I’m different to how I usually am?
I’m sorry. I can’t wait. I might not be that gentle.
How long do you think it’s been since I’ve touched you like this?
Forgive me for being a little forceful. I dreamt about you when I was asleep earlier.
I’m an easy person to understand too.
Hmm? You shouldn’t be agreeing with that! Well, it’s the truth though.
But… That shows how much I’ve wanted to do this.
Hey. It’s alright, isn’t it?
You become more attractive every single day. When I first saw your face, I thought you were just a childish woman. But now I don’t feel that way at all. Of course, I might just be in love with you and you might not seem any different to the people around us. When I see your face, I can’t help wanting to hold you like this.
You’ve got a small mole here, right? On this side of your chest. I like it. I suppose that’s because it’s in a place no one knows about. It feels like it’s something that only belongs to me and I’m happy.
Hahaha. Does that tickle?
Don’t run away. I like doing this.
Come on, show me your legs.
You just trembled. What is it? Did that feel good just now?
In that case, I’ll do it again.
You’re more sensitive than usual today. You’re cute.
Looking at you has made me feel warm too.
You touch me too.
You know how I like to be touched now, don’t you?
You know me well, don’t you?
The way you’re moving your hands is so naughty.
That’s enough now. Put your arms around me.
Hold onto me tighter. You can even dig your nails in.
I love you. I’m not going to let anyone else have you.
I’m sorry. I’m being a little forceful. Did I push you too hard?
Even though it’s just by chance, we finally have some time alone together. Things are peaceful right now too.
You know… It feels like I’m happy for the first time in a while.
When I’m with you, all the things I worry about at night just disappear. It’s strange.
Come on, you can lie on my arm, so put your head here.
You’re worried about my injury again? It’s true that it hasn’t healed completely yet, but you’re lying on my upper arm, so it doesn’t matter.
Everything’s alright now. I think I’ll be able to sleep well tonight.
Right… Come to think of it, I want to get a new netsuke.  The one I’ve been using is pretty old now.
Will you come to the city with me and choose one? I haven’t been shopping with you so often recently. Let’s look round a few shops for once.
Yes, it’s a promise.
Right, shall we go to sleep?
 Sonno Joui became a political slogan during the 1850s and 1860s in the movement to overthrow the shogunate. It translates as “revere the emperor and expel the barbarians.”
 Men would often carrying their belongings in a pouch or box, attached to their clothing with a cord. Netsuke are miniature sculptures which are hung on these cords.
The weather is great today.
Won’t all that laundry at the headquarters dry quickly?
It seems a bit late to be saying this, but you really are doing well as a maid.
Even though your work has increased, you’re doing it without complaining.
I see. If you enjoy doing it, then that’s the best thing.
Ah, did you know? The men were pretty disappointed when you went away to Edo. The atmosphere around here was so depressing because they couldn’t eat your cooking or hear you welcome them back.
Yeah, I laughed at how much they were exaggerating at first too.
But now I think it must really have been like that.
You make people feel happier. When I wasn’t able to talk to you as much recently, I felt like I really was missing something. I’ve got to make sure no one finds out that I’m secretly keeping you all to myself.
Even without the regulations, I’d still be dead once everyone found out. Anyway, I wonder about what it’d be like if we could be together without worrying.
Today I’m going into town to help you with your shopping, right? Thinking of an excuse every single time is annoying. If only there was a good way.
Ah. Can we go into that shop there? I’m sure I bought a netsuke at that shop before. There’s probably a good one there. Let’s go!
Hmm… This shop sells a lot more different things than before. Hairpins and obihimo … They’ve got those things too now…
Hmm? What’s that?
Ah… A comb, hmm? It’s got a beautiful pattern.
Ah, the netsuke are over there?
Hmm… Let’s see… There are actually so many that it’s difficult to choose. Of course this place is popular.
Ah. Yes, putting on a good netsuke is something a man should do. I’ve got to choose carefully.
This one might be good. What do you think about this lion carving? Doesn’t it seem cool?
Ah, but I can’t resist this one either! It looks like a hawk. Oh, which one do you think looks better?
Hmm? They don’t seem right?
Well, which one do you think is best then?
Hmm? Let me see.
Oh, a white plum blossom is something unusual for a man to have.
Huh? Why am I similar to this flower? I’m more masculine and cooler! Isn’t it actually more like you? It’s small and pale, isn’t it?
It’s just like you!
Hmm? If you look at this closely, the carving is really detailed… I suppose this one isn’t too bad.
Huh? It has a cute shape too?
What, this big round thing?
That’s just like you. You probably didn’t know that this round one is called a dumpling netsuke.
Jeez! Just how much do you like dumplings?
You don’t get many coincidences like that!
Ah, I’m sorry! Don’t get so angry!
It’s fine if you like dumplings, isn’t it? I’ll buy you some on the way home, so don’t be in a bad mood, okay?
You’re already in a good mood? You’re too easy to understand!
So where’s the shop owner?
Yes, I like this one. White plum blossoms and in the shape of a dumpling. I’ll feel like I’m always with you if I use the netsuke.
Hey! I’ll take this one.
I found a good one, thanks to you. Thanks for coming with me.
It’s completely different from the ones I’ve chosen before, but this kind of netsuke is good too.
It’s not too showy and it’s a masculine design.
I’ve finished up my errand sooner than I thought. We’ve still got time, so let’s wander around the town.
Ah… The crickets have gotten louder.
When you look carefully, you can see the merchants in town have changed too.
You noticed, right? Firework sellers, fan sellers… That shop earlier had wind chimes.
I didn’t even realise summer had arrived… In Edo, summer was all about taking a boat out onto the Sumida River during the cool evening. Riding those boats sure was fun.
I went on those boats a lot when I was a kid. I don’t remember most of those times, but there’s one I remember really well.
It’s because my dad was with me then.
See… I think I told you before, but I’m an illegitimate child. My dad wouldn’t admit that I was his son. That’s why it was unusual for my whole family to go out somewhere. Having my dad smiling beside me was enough to make me happy. My mom was unusually cheerful, which left an impression on me. Now that I think about it, that might have been the last day we spent together as a family.
Hey! Apparently there are some boats out on the Kamo River, around Shijo Kawara. You can also sit down along the river and dip your feet in too. We don’t have time to take a boat, but you want to dip your feet in the water, right?
It’s summer, so I want to do something summery!
Alright, we’ve gotta go!
Hmm… It won’t be relaxing with all the people around in the daytime. Let’s sneak out of the headquarters at night and go there. We’ll be able to take our time that way.
Sneaking out is no problem! Even if someone does find out we’ve gone, Shin-san and Sano-san will cover for us, right?
Especially Shin-san, because he’s pretty good at ditching his work to go drinking, he knows how to tell those kinds of lies. You’ve got to respect someone that cunning.
I know, I’m not thinking of following his example. Anyway, I’ll make sure we all have the same story. You don’t need to worry about it. So let’s go, okay?
Alright! I’m looking forward to it then!
 Obihimo is a cord which is tied on top of a kimono sash.
Here we are! Just as I thought, there’s hardly anyone around at night.
We’ll be able to relax like this. Let’s sit down on those seats. Watch your step.
The river is cold and it feels good.
Ah… I could sit here forever.
Hmm? What is it? Are you still worried about sneaking out of the headquarters?
I said it’ll be okay. I talked to Shin-san and Sano-san about it.
I actually should’ve kept our relationship a secret from them, but they’ve already known about it for a while.
Yeah. All I said to them today was “I’ve got a favour to ask” and they already knew what I was asking. They said “If you’re going out with that girl you like, then just leave the rest to us”. I didn’t say who it was, but the way things are, both of them probably know. It’s funny how they’ve got even better intuition than Yamazaki-san when it comes to things like that.
Yeah, we’re good friends. When I left for the capital, I received help from the Shieikan, which was run by Kondo-san and the two of them were there. The three of us would always fool around during our breaks and Hijikata-san would tell us off all the time…
Sano-san is a little difficult to understand because of his personality, but it’s clear that he cares about us. They taught me a lot of things too. They’re both great brothers to me.
Hey, look. The moon looks like a steamed bun. When I see a moon like that one, it reminds me of when you first came to the Shinsengumi. One night when I was hungry, you gave me steamed buns from Sasaya Shiori,  didn’t you? They tasted so good on an empty stomach!
Huh? Is that right?
Ah… I do have a feeling that you did that to thank me for something…
Yes, you’re right. There’s no need to pretend anymore. Back then, you were pretty determined to become a maid. I asked Hijikata-san to let you stay at the headquarters. The Ikedaya Affair helped the Shinsengumi become accepted by society and we became busier than before. I thought that the Shinsengumi would need a maid. I’ve said this before, but I really do think it was good that you came to the Shinsengumi. Thank you for everything.
After you became a maid here, we started spending more time together, but now I’m not even sure when I first became interested in you. But I clearly remember the first moment that I fell in love with you. At the riverbed in Edo, when I was worrying about taking the lives of others, you held onto my hand really tightly. Even when I tried to push you away, you wouldn’t let go. Even though my hands were unclean and stained by blood.
I really was saved at that moment. Since then, I’ve loved you to the point where I couldn’t live with you. I’ve remembered the promise I made to you that day all this time…
Ah… A firefly? It’s beautiful… Look over there! There are some yellow lights upstream too! It looks like the fireflies are gathering over there…
Shall we take a look?
We’ve been walking for a while, but of course they disappear when you get near them. I guess we should give up for now, huh?
It’s too bad, but let’s call it a day. It was beautiful enough to see them from a distance.
You’re right… It’d be nice if we could come and see them again next summer.
Where are we anyway?
Ah… That’s probably the Sanjou Bridge  over there. It looks like we walked pretty far without realising it. Shall we go back to the headquarters?
Wait a minute. The candle in this lantern is almost out. It might not last until we get back to the headquarters. There’s a shop where I’m a regular over there, so I’ll go ask for a new one. I’ll be back right away, so just wait here. Okay, I won’t be long.
Sorry I kept you waiting!
Hey! Are you okay?
You got hit pretty hard. Are you hurt?
I see. That’s good. I’m sorry I left you alone. I should have taken you with me to the shop.
That guy was really big though. He looked like he was wearing a sword, he might have been a samurai.
Jeez! What kind of person would bump into someone else and run away?
Why was he in such a hurry at this time of night anyway?
Huh? Yeah, he certainly did look a little suspicious…
He came running from the western side of the bridge, didn’t he?
I think I’ll go and take a look there, just in case…
Sorry. Can you come with me? I don’t feel like leaving you alone again, and we’ll go home right away if there’s nothing there.
Thanks. Okay, let’s go.
Ah… I see… This is it, hmm? It’s a big mess.
Tch… This is a pretty big deal. The notice board put up by the shogunate was torn down. It was cleanly broken in half. There are signs that the ground was dug up again, so it was probably intentional.
Hmm? I see… If you say that you heard the sound of digging and wood being broken, then this only just happened. So it was that big guy from earlier who did it.
Damn it. I should’ve looked more carefully at him.
I’m really sorry you got scared when you were all alone. We’ll go back to the headquarters and report to Kondo-san right now. We’ll have to tell the truth, but I’ll say that I took you here because I wanted to show you a shop I often go to.
Yes, it’s fine. You don’t need to worry about anything.
Let’s go home! Come on, we’ll hold hands.
 Sasaya Shiori could be a reference to Sasaya Iori, a famous traditional sweet shop which has existed since the 1700s.
Hey, have you got a moment?
I’m coming in.
I’m sorry for coming here all of a sudden. There was something I wanted to tell you.
You saw that the notice board on the western side of Sanjou Bridge was torn down the other day, didn’t you? It seems like it’s happened again. Yesterday, another notice board was destroyed in the same place. This is the second time.
That notice board had a statement from the shogunate with an accusation against the Choshu.  Until now, the shogunate have failed to suppress the Choshu twice. It was probably the work of someone dissatisfied that they still haven’t given up yet. Destroying that notice board was a pretty provocative thing to do. They should be putting up another notice board there soon. Because the person who did it might come there again to destroy it, the Shinsengumi will be going there to keep watch.
Yes, I’ll be going there. The first people to be going will be Sano-san and thirty-five other men. I was supposed to be one of the men taking over later, but I asked Kondo-san to let me go first. Although it was dark, I did see the man who did it.
It’ll be fine! There’ll be thirty-seven of us there, it’s a big group. He’ll be outnumbered, there’s no way we’d get defeated. We’ll be getting somewhere to stay near Sanjou and keeping watch there. I don’t know how long it’ll take, so I’ll be away from the headquarters for a while. Just wait here patiently.
Alright… I’ll see you later.
Not long after that, the Shinsengumi made their way towards Sanjou. When the new notice board was put up, I would start keeping watch around the town. I didn’t have to wait that long.
At night, I came across a group of eight men, including a large man who seemed familiar, and told the other men to follow them. When those men tried to tear down the notice board, the tenth troop, who were led by Sano-san, came out from their spot near the western side of the bridge.
What happened next was incredibly shameful. Outnumbered. Why on earth did we say that?
In the end, we made the mistake of letting five of the eight men escape. We only captured three of the men. All the men who did it were from Tosa. 
Hmm? Oh, it’s you?
Yes, I’m back. I came back to the headquarters during the night. I’ve just reported everything to Kondo-san and the others.
Well, I’m fine… But the situation wasn’t a good one.
Yes, I’m a little tired.
Could you bring some tea to my room later?
I’ve finally calmed down a little.
Sorry for making you worry.
Yes. You’re right. You would’ve found out eventually, so I’ll tell you.
A lot of things happened at Sanjou. The Shinsengumi were keeping watch over three different locations, with Sanjou Bridge as the main one. I was going around the townhouses with about ten other men. Several days after the notice board was put up, someone really did come to destroy it again.
The men were from Tosa and there were eight of them. As there were more people then expected, the men keeping watch at the west side of the bridge should have called for reinforcements.
Yes. The message arrived late and we let five of the men escape. The men who were held responsible were forced out of the Shinsengumi.
But I don’t think what they did was bad enough to deserve that.
They tried to guide the tenth troop and the men from Tosa to an uninhabited place. It was meant to make sure the people living nearby didn’t get caught up in everything. But they failed.
When they started moving, the tenth troop was already exhausted. By the time we had arrived, most of the men had already escaped. The reason for them being forced out was because they were “cowards”.
What do they mean “cowards”?! Do they really think that’s true? They might not have done things the right way, but is trying to make sure others don’t end up getting involved “cowardly”?! I can’t agree with that!
Sometimes I can’t understand what on earth the Shinsengumi’s justice means. I’ve felt more strongly about it since Itou-san joined the Shinsengumi. Of course the Shinsengumi have their own way of doing things. I know that too. But…
I’m sorry. I said too much. I thought I’d calmed down, but I might still be angry after all. Let me have some time alone to think.
See you later. Thank you.
 Choshu was one of the powerful clans which was trying to overthrow the shogunate.
 Tosa was another clan that was also attempting to overthrow the shogunate.
Ah… I was given so much, so of course it’s heavy… But it looks good, so that doesn’t matter…
Hmm? Ah, it’s you! You were clearing up the dried leaves. This is perfect timing!
You see… The owner of a shop I always go to gave me some freshly caught sweetfish!
He had to close the shop up early today.
We don’t have enough for all the men, so it won’t be good for dinner, but since we’ve got them, it’d be a shame not to eat them, right?
Let’s use these dried leaves and grill the fish with salt.
Wait a minute! I’ll bring skewers and a flint.
Ah… I guess they should be done soon?
Yeah, they look alright.
Here you go. Try it.
Does it taste good?
Okay, here I go!
I’m surprised you were okay!
I burned my tongue, but the saltiness was just right!
It’s not the best time of the year for sweetfish, but your seasoning made them perfect!
Hmm? There’s a piece of fish on your face. You’re so clumsy when you eat!
Come on, stay still.
Hmm? It’s not like it had any bones on it, so of course I’d eat it!
Don’t be so embarrassed! We’ve done things a lot more embarrassing than that…
Oww! I was only teasing you a little! Don’t get so angry!
These really do taste good though. Since they’re so tasty, I’d like to share them with the other men after all.
Ah… You’re right. Will you give them out then?
Give them to the men who pass by, in the order that they come.
No, not everyone will be happy to get them from me, so I won’t bother.
Well, even though they’d be happy to get some fish…
How should I say this? Everyone has someone they’d rather not talk to.
You see… You’ve noticed that the atmosphere in the Shinsengumi has changed since Itou-san joined, haven’t you?
I thought it might just have been me…
But because of the recent incident at Sanjou, there were several men who felt uncomfortable about other men having been forced to leave the Shinsengumi. There are more men who are asking for Itou-san for advice about that, rather than Kondo-san or Hijikata-san.
It’s probably easier to talk to him since he hasn’t always been in the Shinsengumi. Because of that, the rift between the members of the Shinsengumi has grown greater. All the men are here because they love the Shinsengumi. No one thinks this situation is a good one.
I think there are a lot of different reasons things turned out like this. But most of the responsibility is mine, because I invited Itou-san here. Of course I don’t regret asking him to come here. I think the Shinsengumi needs him. But I suppose there are some men who dislike me for doing something unnecessary.
I want to believe that no one feels that way. You never know what other people are thinking, do you?
It’s fine. Explaining why I invited Itou-san here won’t change the way things are right now.
The troop captains understand that my actions were intended to help the Shinsengumi. If there are a few people who understand, then that’ll be enough.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that people will be happier if you give out the fish instead of me. I’ll leave the rest to you.
Hmm? What is it?
I don’t think things are alright like this. I don’t know what will happen to the Shinsengumi and its men next. Everyone shouldn’t have to keep worrying.
I’ve got to give my answer soon too. The shopkeeper who gave me that fish told me a chamberlain of the emperor had taken a man who escaped the Shinsengumi as his retainer. I began thinking that the Shinsengumi is an important place that accepted me, that I love more than anything. But I feel like I don’t have to stay here forever.
This has gotten a little depressing! I’m sorry a lot of things have been like that recently!
I promised that I’d talk to Itou-san now. I’ve got to go, so I’ll leave that fish to you.
Ah! It’s you…
You scared me, so don’t tap me on the shoulder so suddenly!
My heart is beating really fast…
It’s pretty unusual for us to meet by chance in town. Did you come here to go shopping?
It’s already evening, you know.
There were some ingredients that you forgot to buy?
I’m doing my rounds, like I usually do.
I spaced out for a while just now though.
Yes, there are children dressed up for Shichi-Go-San  walking around today, right? I don’t remember much about the past, but I was thinking about how we never celebrated anything in my family.
That’s what families normally do, isn’t it? So I guess I got a little jealous of the children walking around.
But I’m on a mission, so I shouldn’t be spacing out. Keep this a secret from Hijikata-san and the others.
Hey. Are you listening?
Huh? What are you saying all of a sudden?
You’re going to celebrate with me? All the occasions that’ll happen from now on? That’s impossible! We can’t celebrate Shichi-Go-San and Tango no Sekku  at our age either!
Or… Do you want to have children with me?
I was joking! Don’t blush like that!
You really do say some strange things.
But… Thank you. I laughed because it was so sudden, but I was happy.
Right, I’ve got to get back to my mission. What are you doing now?
I see. If you’re going back to the headquarters now, then we’re going in opposite directions. Make sure you go home before it gets dark. I’ll be looking forward to another good dinner today! See you later!
Celebrating all the different occasions in a year together… Every day would be fun if we could do that. I’m sure our children would be cute.
Okay, here’s the money. Thanks.
I actually bought one. Even though I don’t know when I’ll get to give it to her. Why am I doing this during my mission anyway?
But I’m glad there were still some left.
Right… I really will get back to work now.
Hmm? Did I drop something?
Oh? This is the bag that was attached to the netsuke.
Huh… No way… The cord for the netsuke broke?
Wait a minute! I didn’t buy it that long ago.
At that moment, I had a bad feeling.
I went pale and sweat slowly dripped down my forehead, onto my neck.
I thought I saw the carving of white plum blossoms on its rope, out of the corner of my eye.
It can’t be… Something couldn’t have happened to her, right?
This is strange. I should have caught up to her by now!
She hasn’t gone that far yet!
At the moment that I shouted, I heard the faint sound of your voice from one of the backstreets.
I trembled when I heard what sounded like a scream.
Is she here?!
When I hurried in the direction your voice came from, two figures came into my sight. You were there with one other person. I felt myself burning with anger at the familiar sight of the large man.
You… You’re the man from the Tosa clan who first cut down the notice board!
That’s right. When we tried to capture you, I was the one who gave the orders to follow you!
She’s a maid working for the Shinsengumi, who wasn’t involved with that incident! Get away from her!
You don’t plan on moving? Tch!
You can’t use your right arm anymore?
Ah… Come to think of it, I heard that Sano-san cut up someone’s arm pretty badly. So it was your arm, hmm?
First you ran away, now you’re taking things out on a woman, are you?
You don’t have a lot of balls, considering you’re a man! Trash like you shouldn’t act like a samurai!
Get away from here!
One of the men from the Shinsengumi was forced to leave the troop because of you! Trash like you wouldn’t understand the pain he feels!
I won’t forgive you! I definitely won’t forgive you!
You can’t escape now. Hurry up and come over here!
Let yourself be captured and then punished by Hijikata-san!
Stop! Don’t lay a hand on her!
Ah… It’s you!
What’s the matter?
I see… You can’t sleep either.
I was just about to go to your room.
I should have been the one to go to your room first.
There’s something I’ve got to tell you, but I didn’t know the right way to say it.
I ended up thinking about a lot of things and before I knew it, it’d gotten this late.
I’ve got to apologise to you for what happened today.
I’m sorry. I made you see something terrible.
You were reminded of what happened at the Ikedaya, weren’t you?
I shouldn’t have killed someone in front of you, no matter what the situation was.
I’m really sorry. I did something that hurt you.
Huh? You want to thank me?
I haven’t do anything to deserve that.
That man from the Tosa clan got a good look at your face by the river, didn’t he? I hadn’t realised that.
It was close to night time, so I should have taken you back to the headquarters before going back to my mission. I’m always making you have scary experiences, aren’t I?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you hated me. If there’s something that you want to say, then I don’t mind you making it clear to me.
It’s not like that? What are you talking about?
You see… You really look as if you’re about to cry…
Huh… You dummy! What are you talking about?
You shouldn’t be worrying about me killing someone else! You haven’t done anything wrong. Don’t apologise!
I think there must have been another way to stop him… Even though I did it to protect you, there was no need to kill him.
But when I felt that you were in danger, I just couldn’t think. I didn’t have a chance to do it.
Why are you holding my hand?
Ah… That was quite a while ago… The promise we made in Edo, hmm?
Of course I remember it. I said I would use my sword to protect you.
That’s right. If you got into any danger, then I would be prepared to kill someone else.
If I can protect the person who is most important to me, then I can easily abandon the pain…
But… Fulfilling my promise like that…
You really are a strange person. I was sure you would hate me, but the way you look at me hasn’t changed at all.
The way you hold my unclean hands hasn’t changed either.
Thank goodness. Thank goodness you’re safe.
I’m sorry that my only way of protecting you was such a clumsy one.
But no matter what happens, I’ll protect you until the end, even if it means giving up my own life.
Will you continue to stay by my side from now on?
I won’t be able to leave you behind after all.
 Shichi-Go-San and Tango no Sekku are both festivals which celebrate children. During Shichi-Go-San, boys aged 3 and 5 years old, and girls aged 3 and 7 years old visit shrines with their parents. On the day of Tango no Sekku, families with boys hang koinobori (streamers in the shape of carp) outside their homes and display dolls of famous warriors or other heroes inside.
Hey. Are you still awake?
Right… I’m coming in then.
You were just about to go to sleep, weren’t you?
I’m sorry for coming here at this time. There’s something I really need to talk about.
Yes. It’s something really important. It’s something you’ve got to think about too, so I wanted to tell you as soon as possible.
I was just talking to Kondo-san and Hijikata-san. I’m going to create a new organisation with Itou-san and his men. I’ve decided to leave the Shinsengumi. Several of the other men from the Shinsengumi are coming too.
Of course it won’t be happening right away. It’ll be sometime in the future. But I’ve got to start getting ready now.
I’ve already explained things to Kondo-san and the others. He kindly listened to what we had to say and we have an agreement with him, until we leave the troop.
There’s something I’d like you to understand though. I still love the Shinsengumi and I’m not thinking of turning against them.
I see. I’m glad you understand.
So… I want you to come with me too!
I was thinking that you should stay with the Shinsengumi. You’ll be safer here and most importantly, the Shinsengumi needs you too.
But I thought about a lot of things and I’ve made up my mind to be true to my feelings.
I’ll be more selfish if that’s what it takes. Of course, only if you agree with this. Will you consider it? I want you to stay by my side from now on.
If you’re with me, then I can become as strong as I need to be. You’re the most important person to me.
I promised to protect you forever too. But that’d be difficult to do if we were apart from each other. It might be selfish of me, but this is what I want.
Of course, if you come with me, then I’ll make sure to tell Kondo-san and the others about our relationship.
I found this at the shop where we bought the netsuke before. I thought I would give it to you one day, so I’ve had it with me all this time. Go on and open it.
Yes, it’s a comb. Let me tell you something first… I’m not giving you this as a reason to make you leave the headquarters. I’ve been thinking about doing this for the past year. It’ll be impossible to do while I’m still a member of the Shinsengumi… But… Will you be my wife?
Hey… Why do you look as if you’re about to cry?
Why’d you hug me all of a sudden? You surprised me!
Huh… You’ll go with me?
Wait a minute! Aren’t you answering too soon?!
You really felt that way? That you want to stay with me forever…
When you said to me that we’d celebrate all the different occasions in the year together… You were being serious?
I see… I didn’t think you’d thought about those words as much as you have…
I’m sorry for brushing it off as a joke!
But since I heard you say those words, I’ve felt even more strongly about wanting to be with you.
I want to do a lot of different things with you from now on too. That includes all the different celebrations during the year! I’m sure that we’ll enjoy anything if we’re together.
I’m glad… I can still be with you from now on…
I love you. I love you so much that I could never say it enough.
I’m so happy I could almost lose my mind.
From now on, you and I have to prepare to leave the headquarters, little by little.
I’m sure we’ll be busy. This will probably be the last evening when we can relax like this.
I want to show you that I love you.
Soon we won’t have to embrace each other in secret like this. I want us to be able to hold hands and walk together without having to hide when we’re outside.
Then I’ll tell everyone who passes by that I’m proud to have you as my wife.
It might be embarrassing, but just bear with it. I’m sure I’ll be really happy.
Come on, move your hands.
When I embraced you like this before, you still seemed so far away and I couldn’t bear that it wasn’t enough. But I don’t feel that way at all now.
It’s strange. I suppose this is what becoming a married couple is like?
Hmm? Your face looked really cute just now. I’m the only one who can see your face like this, aren’t I? I want to keep you all to myself.
You’re too cute. You’re all mine. I won’t let anyone else have you.
I’d never thought about being with someone else before. I was probably afraid. I suppose it was because I grew up seeing how my parents were. I thought that loving someone meant another person would end up getting hurt.
But that didn’t happen at all. I’m glad that I fell in love with you. I really feel that way.
Love is a strange feeling. Since the day that I found something to protect, the world looks like a different place. You’re the first person I’ve felt this happy about meeting.
I want us to live together soon. Then I can love you until you’re even more satisfied.
Hey. Come and hold me like you always do.
I love you. I’ll never let go of you. So don’t let go of me either.
In April 1867, we created the Goryoueji and left the Shinsengumi. I’m sure there won’t be much contact between us and the Shinsengumi from now on. That’s why I went to talk to Kondo-san and Hijikata-san so many times. From now on, there will be several misunderstandings between the Goryoueji and the Shinsengumi. However, no matter what rumours are spread, we will never do anything to betray the Shinsengumi. So please understand that we want you to believe us.
I wonder how grateful I should be towards two of them, who accepted everything and gave their agreement. No matter what happens, I’m going to carry out my own will together with the Goryoueji. This is the last thing I can do for the Shinsengumi, you see.
Hmm? Are you back?
Jeez! Where were you?
It’s pretty lonely when you wake up on your day off and your wife isn’t there!
Well, that’s alright…
Did you go into town?
As you can see, I’m lying in the sun on the veranda, while looking at the white plum blossoms.
It’s great how much sun this house gets.
Hey. You know when we went to buy the netsuke together, you said you thought that flower resembled me, didn’t you?
I really couldn’t agree with that. I think it was definitely more like you!
But this netsuke has a simpler look than the actual flower. I suppose it certainly looks more masculine.
This? There’s no way I could throw it out. The rope is broken, but it has a lot of memories. I heard that there’s someone nearby who’ll change the rope. I’ll use it again if it gets fixed.
White plum blossom, hmm… It really does suit you more than me. Well, I suppose we can just say it suits the both of us.
You’re right. If we have a child, I’m sure it’ll be like a white plum blossom.
Well, if we ever get to have a child, that is…
Hmm? We have one? Have one what?
You went to see the doctor just now? So you’re going to have a child?
Is that really true…?
Ah… I see… I see… We’re going to have a child…
What should I do?! I’m really happy! This isn’t a dream, right?!
Yes… It’s not… It’s not a dream!
I’m going to be a father?
Let’s do lots of things together as a family when the child is born! We’re going to celebrate all the occasions in the year!
But all of them is a bit too much… I’d like to have twins, a girl and a boy… Then we could celebrate Hina Matsuri  and Tango no Sekku…
I don’t know! Even though the chances are low, twins are possible… I’ve got to think about a lot of things!
Ah… How much are carp streamers and Hina dolls? They’re probably not cheap… We should start saving now.
Hey! Why are you laughing? I can’t help it! Of course I’d get excited if I heard something like that!
My mind is so full of thoughts that it actually hurts…
Thank you. It’s thanks to you that I can finally have a real family.
I’ll always take good care of you and our future child. I love you. We’ll always be together from now on!
 Hina Matsuri is a celebration for young girls. Families display a set of ornamental dolls representing the emperor, empress and their attendants, during the festival.