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Certainly, it is jarring to find that the claws you so proudly brandished have been reduced to soft flesh and delicate fingers. That there are no more scales; in their stead a milky white skin. He, he was a dragon dammit! But there was a cute face and fluffy hair instead of his own fearsome visage no matter how much he blinked in front of the mirror.

He looked like a pri… hmmm.

He believed, he probably just looked like one but was still a dragon inside. Yes, that must have been the case. And there was one easy way to prove it.

He raised his very small hands a bit above his head and concentrated. It took a bit longer than usual, but within minutes a flame surrounded his skin, orange and bright, proof that he was still one of the rulers of the sky.

He grinned proudly and recalled the flames inside himself. Just in time that was, as not a moment later he heard a cooing sound and the footsteps of the human castle's queen and had to mentally sigh in relief.

He had always thought queens had to be kept away from the fights and powers, otherwise he feared for the life of all involved. This one queen, absentminded though she was, was still plenty fearsome and was not excluded.

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Princesses were hard to find, Tsuna - what sort of name even was that, not dragonly at all- soon found out, and he was sorely disappointed. As a dragon he didn't have many hobbies. He just liked collecting treasures, scaring knights and kidnapping princesses. And he didn't kidnap them for no reason either. But lonely was the dragon life and he found that princesses were the best conversation partners and companions he could find.

Most people were a bit stupid and started screaming when they saw him. Princes were arrogant and annoying, knights were righteous and annoying, kings were just plain annoying and queens were a bit scary. As for princesses, they were smart and kind and brave and strong and generally unique from everyone he had seen before, and he tended to like them a lot after conversing with them a bit. He even used to let them go after a while if they wanted to return home with their (annoying) knights.

But here he was, and he hadn't even seen a princess let alone kidnap one. Was it a wonder he was feeling grumpy?

“Ara, Tsu-chan, what is wrong? Does your stomach hurt?”

No. He was just surrounded by extremely loud human children, somewhat stupid and already menaces to the world, one of which shouted loudly while pointing at him.

“Look at that crybaby, sticking to his mommy!”

… His teeth weren't sharp enough to bite the offending finger, and he was only pouting, two uncomfortable truths he had to accept about himself.

He felt a pat in the head and he raised his eyes to meet warm brown and a soft smile.

“Don't worry, Tsu-kun. I'm sure you can make friends too. There are many children in this park so don't be sad, ne? Why don't you go looking for one?”

Tch.

He did reluctantly unstuck hims,- uh, left the queen for a bit to wander around the new terrain. He was walking aimlessly and feeling uncomfortable, still not used to having to raise his head to look at things. He stared at all the tall trees and tall humans and then tall walls and tall buildings…

And then he stopped, somehow having walked further away than expected. Turning his head, he couldn't see the queen or the loud crowd of human children. He mentally poked at his dragon flames for a bit, felt a slight tug from the left and unhesitatingly followed. Walking slightly speedy steps towards his destination, Tsuna only stopped when he heard the sounds of fighting.

And there he saw.

His very first princess.

The human boy couldn't even be that old, maybe two-three years older than his current human body, and was taller than Tsuna. Black hair, grey eyes and a bloodthirsty grin. The boy brandished two strange iron weapons and hit mercilessly, hits as strong and decisive as an eagle, and movements as graceful as a fairy tern. He was surrounded by angry humans from all sides, all taller and bigger than him, but Tsuna witnessed in awe how they all continued falling and losing to that one child. To that one black haired princess.

That's why Tsuna loved princesses. Because they were so surprising and bright and made him enjoy life so much more... the never ending solitary life of a dragon.

Watching the fight, Tsuna furrowed his brows. It seemed the princess had received a few hits and wasn't in top shape. The black haired boy stumbled a bit on his feet and in that moment a still conscious angry guy appeared at his back, a blunt metal weapon raised and ready to hit.

Tsuna might have been in a rather weak human body, but he could indeed use his flames to power up his muscles for a short period of time. Just enough time to pick up a stone, slightly big for his human palm, and shoot it towards the sneaky man. It hit him on the hand and startled him enough to warn the princess, who swiftly turned, beat him up too and emerged victorious.

Then grey-silver eyes turned in Tsuna's direction and something tugged at Tsuna's heart, a type of anticipation. Not waiting for the black haired boy to go to him, he just approached first. The boy narrowed his eyes and spoke.

“Herbivore, don't interfere.”

Herbivore? Sure, Tsuna liked his salads but his food intake usually depended on the skills of the chef- which happened te be himself before becoming a human. But unique nicknames aside, Tsuna finally stepped next to the princess and smiled. First impressions and all that.

The boy tensed and readied for an attack but had to stop as he hissed in pain and clenched his teeth. Now that he was close, Tsuna could smell the blood on him, and although the clothes covered most of his wounds, Tsuna could see an ugly bruise on the side of his jaw. He almost on instinct reached out to touch his hurt face and started to get even closer.

“Does it hurt a lot?” he asked and before the surprised boy could react he landed a soft kiss a bit to the left of the bruise.

“Humans are weird,” Tsuna spoke again sounding somewhat thoughtful and suspicious, “The queen told me that this helps with the pain, but does it actually hurt any less now? How does this work?”

He looked in question at the princess but the other had for some reason completely frozen and was looking at him, the same way Tsuna sometimes had looked at knights, like the crazy idiots that they were.

Then, after he finally seemed to respond, the words that came to his mouth were slightly strange.

“I'll bite you to death!”

That is how Tsuna started, day after day, to have somewhat strange conversations with a slightly violent beautiful princess. He sometimes didn't understand what the other said and so he started to study the language in depth as a consequence,- the queen was overjoyed,- started to train his body too and even started to learn the actual human ways to tending to wounds.

“Kyoya, help me bandage this guy. I need more practice.”

“Hn,” the boy would answer and then go to practice first aid on his victims with Tsuna.

@@@

The second princess came as a surprise, if only because Tsuna wasn't expecting to meet another one any time soon, as spending time with Kyoya was what most of his day consisted of and he hadn't thought of searching for one.

Still, he found pearly tears sliding off shiny eyes and was immediately entranced. And then worried. Because the princess seemed so very sad and it was Tsuna's first time seeing such a heartbreaking expression on a princess. He approached the boy sitting on the lonely sling without much thought, and stopped his feet in front of him.

The boy didn't raise his head, didn't even try to look who came as he wallowed in silent sobs, but Tsuna wasn't bothered. Instead he searched his pockets for the gift the queen had given him a while ago, and soon found a clean, blue handkerchief, very soft to the touch. Then with as much care as he could muster,- and it was a lot when it came to his princesses,- he dabbed lightly on one wet cheek and then the other.

Brown wide eyes finally stared back at him and Tsuna put the handkerchief on the boy's right hand and took the other on his own and slightly pulled at the other to make him follow. The boy slid off the sling and followed without much resistance and with only slightly hesitant steps.

They walked in silence.

Tsuna led them both to a Japanese-styled house and rang the bell. The door opened to a sleepy Kyoya, who only blinked once at the other boy's appearance, and then stepped aside to let them both in.

After sitting in one of the rooms, around a low table, Kyoya threw a few blankets at them and left for a while.

Tsuna opened a blanket and put it around the boy's shoulders, then turned to look at him. The blue handkerchief had become crumpled because of his desperate grip, a visible try to stop his tears from coming. It looked as if he was managing it, for now. Eyelashes trembled slightly and eyes only stared down, once again not raising his head to look at Tsuna. And again Tsuna didn't mind. He only felt a slight stifling worry that couldn't really be explained and also felt stumped about what to do.

A bit later Kyoya entered the room again, holding a tray with three cups of steaming tea. Each of them got one placed in front of their sitting place in the table, and to not make the sad princess even sadder, both Kyoya and Tsuna got their own blanket to keep out the chill of late Autumn and focused on their teas.

The room remained in silence. Nobody spoke; Tsuna felt he just wanted to be there for them, no, all of them just felt like keeping each other company. The almost entirely muted sniffles of the brown-eyed boy made for a sad scene, but there was a soft sort of warmth in the tea-smelling air.

It took a bit of time, and maybe the tea got cold, but before Kyoya could even think about replacing that one untouched cup with a freshly made one, a trembling hand picked it up and the boy took one sip.

Unexpectedly, more tears started to fall, big and fat and this time unstoppable.

“It's hot,” the boy said, clenching the lukewarm tea with both hands.

Tsuna wanted to panic, but he settled for mentally roaring in distress, and then got up and sat again right next to the boy, opened his blanket covered arms like a bat and threw them around the boy for a slightly awkward sign of offering protection. He would have liked his wings for this, but as it was he'd settle for a blanket and human arms.

Then he turned to look at Kyoya. The other was looking at them wide-eyed, but averted his eyes the moment Tsuna looked at him.

“Kyoya,” Tsuna had to call for his attention. And then extended an arm for an invite.

It was a promise of protection.

The same resolution he saw not a moment later shining in gray eyes.

His name was Takeshi. Tsuna would have thought this princess to be shy, but in fact, the next time they met, he was in school, and he was approached by a brown-eyed, black-haired boy with an easy smile, who looked a lot more lighter when not accompanied by the heavy sadness.

“Yo,” he greeted. And Tsuna once more felt awe and a tug in the middle of his chest.

“Hi,” Tsuna greeted back and felt his lips pull in a smile, pleasantly surprised he would be in the same class as the younger princess for the new school year. Kyoya had advanced some time ago to another level of human schooling and Tsuna had been feeling a bit lonely during lunch breaks. As it was he still hoped to advance quickly too so he could share lunch and converse with Kyoya again, but now he wouldn't be advancing by himself. He had a new companion to brighten his journey.

@@@

Tsuna was a decade and one year old when he met the third princess. It was one of the rare days when he was walking by himself towards home. And as he slowly went through the neighborhood, a hurricane ran towards him.

“JOIN THE BOXING CLUB!” A white-haired boy came to a screeching halt in front of Tsuna, handed him a yellow pamphlet, and encouragingly patted him on the shoulder, a bit too strongly, before running again while shouting.

Tsuna stumbled a few unexpected steps, turned to look baffled at the disappearing back of the boy, and then looked at the pamphlet.

It was a cutely decorated thing, done with visible care, clearly by hand, and with patience that probably didn't belong to the hurricane princess. Tsuna suddenly felt a familiar bout of anticipation and couldn't help grinning, turning around, and running speedily towards the location written on the yellow paper.

It wasn't far or anything he hadn't heard of before. In fact, the place was the gymnasium of the Namimori middle school he was going to be joining in the near future. It was spacious and empty except two young girls that were quietly talking to each other.

And, wow, okay, today must have been a lucky day... Tsuna recognized princesses when he saw them and the two of them were both shining of that light. However they were different form his own princesses. Because Tsuna could see in these two the potential to become queens above all others, but in his own, in Kyoya and Takeshi, he saw the potential to burn and blind and without a doubt surpass and become even dragons if they so wished, together with him in the sky.

In fact, after meeting Kyoya and Takeshi, Tsuna had become a bit possessive. The myriad of feelings he went through every day left him breathless when compared to the lukewarm emotions of a different lifetime, and he unexpectedly found himself looking forward every time to meet them again the next day. He couldn't even bear to think of them leaving and would make sure they wouldn't leave unless it was by full choice of their own. And if that day ever came…

Tsuna, then, would make sure they'd grown into dragons who could rule the sky on their own, without needing him.

“Oh, a new person?” A cheery voice shook him from his thoughts and Tsuna turned to look towards the two girls. One was smiling and waving towards him enthusiastically.

“Are you here to join the boxing club?” she asked him happily, but before Tsuna could answer, the brown-haired one next to her interrupted.

“Kyoko, he isn't a student of this school.”

Then she looked at him with a rather uninterested expression.

“Monkey,” what did she call him? “Aren't you from the class next to ours?”

No, no. Back to what she called him. He felt quite insulted, he couldn't help but glare just a bit. They weren't queens yet, he'd survive it.

“Hana-chan,” scolded the first girl, with soft voice, disappointed eyes and all things that would make a weaker person cry. As it was, the brown-haired one didn't cry, but she softened a bit and explained something to her friend quietly.

Kyoko suddenly clapped, “I remember now! It's Sawada-san from class C. Are you interested in boxing, Sawada-san?”

A bit bewildered, because they clearly knew him but he couldn't remember them, Tsuna nodded a bit absent-mindedly.

The almost-blonde princess smiled at him brightly.

“Then will you join when we become middle-school students? My brother has just opened a boxing club in Namimori Middle. I'm sure there will be a need for more people in the future and someone reliable like Sawada-san would be a big help.”

The other girl snorted but didn't speak.

Tsuna contemplated for a bit. Takeshi would be joining the baseball team, but he had also expressed interest in kendo, both of which Tsuna was only interested in watching, and that as long as the boy was there. Kyoya had opened a disciplinary committee and had actually made some friends without him, so Tsuna was reluctant to join and interfere with those budding friendships. Boxing was a sport he knew close to nothing about, but could potentially consider as a way to get to know three princesses he had somehow missed until now.

“KYOKO, I AM OUT OF PAMPHLETS!” The door to the gymnasium flew open abruptly, the hurricane princess finally arriving and tearing it down. Tsuna's eyes turned immediately to see short white hair, eyes a shade of dark grey and an equally bright smile as Kyoko, just with a different kind of intensity.

Kyoko ran up to him happily, followed by a walking Hana, and gave him a bottle of water before anything, waited until her brother had drank and then began introductions.

“Brother, this is Sawada Tsuna-san from our school,” then she turned at him. “Sawada-san, this is my brother, Sasagawa Ryohei.”

“You can call me Tsuna,” Tsuna finally spoke, suddenly feeling slightly shy standing in front of three princesses, all of their gazes directed at him. Kyoko's smile grew warmer after hearing him speak and she continued.

“Then, you can call me Kyoko.”

Tsuna was really feeling shy as he said, “K-Kyoko-chan.”

He felt more than saw Hana's eyes narrow, but Ryohei was even more exuberant than before, if not as loud.

“Call me big brother, Tsuna!”

And just to not continue feeling as uncomfortable he called, “Ryohei,” instead.

The older boy blinked once surprised, but then he grinned again, threw an arm around Tsuna's shoulders to lead him to a temporarily drawn boxing rink.

“So, Tsuna, you're here to join the boxing club, right?”

The person himself, who found he couldn't move away from the impossible grip of the other, could only helplessly follow. It seemed, this princess was also one he wouldn't say no to.

He was doomed.

Ah, but in a good way.

@@@

Tsuna met a dragon when he was thirteen. The world tilted in its axis, his heart squeezed impossibly, and, even though the skin was also that of a princess and he could indeed see it as a past self of the one who stood before him, Tsuna still starkly remembered the feeling of apocalyptic fire and too big a presence in too small a shell and also… the tears that washed his own cheeks as he stood in front of him.

A sob got caught on his throat; inexplicable really. He wasn't really sad, or even that mad, or anything beside emotionally overwhelmed with something that maybe was joy, maybe was hope or maybe sheer satisfaction in front of the irrefutable truth, that his own treasures could and surely would grow to fly on their own wings and fire.

He wasn't sure what the baby-looking dragon princess before him was thinking, expression hidden behind a strange hat and unreadable. And he didn't have much time to think it through, as a rather murderous Kyoya was waiting for him outside the door, together with a slightly frowning Ryohei and a smiling a bit too brightly Takeshi. The girls were a bit further away and had yet to notice the strange atmosphere, instead he saw the castle's queen approaching.

“Tsu-kun,” his mother put a gentle hand at his shoulder and nudged him towards the stairs as she walked to stand between him and the dragon princess, “go get ready for school. Don't leave your friends waiting.”

Tsuna nodded a bit dazed and walked to his room to dress. When he walked down from his room again, the dragon princess wasn't there. And even after leaving for school, he didn't in fact see him again, only felt his gaze from time to time. It was only after he had reached home again, separating with his friends outside of his front door, and after having reached his room, that he came face to face with the baby-looking dragon princess.

“Color me impressed,” the baby said with a smirk. “I didn't think you'd have so many guardian candidates already. But you're still far from being a proper mafia boss. And that's why I'm here, crybaby-Tsuna.”

A lot less emotional than before, Tsuna could now properly think, as opposed to that morning.

But what mafia boss?

As if reading his thoughts, the baby spoke again, “Vongola Family Tenth Generation boss.”

That didn't make any more sense than before and he made a face to show just that.

Dragon princess with an evil smirk shot a bit past his head with a gun. First time seeing that human weapon in real life or not, he didn't appreciate it aiming at him. The only ones he'd forgive for aiming weapons at him were knights. Only knights. He glared at the baby trying to convey that written-in-stone truth. The baby, in response, shot again a bit closer to his head than before. And Tsuna glared again.

At that point the dragon princess lowered his green gun,- which, why?- raised a cocky eyebrow at him and said, “Stop pouting.”

…Look how far he'd fallen. Even his glares were considered pouting now.

“Who are you?” he decided to ask, ignoring the earlier comment.

The other didn't answer though, just raised another eyebrow and expected Tsuna to read his mind or something. Tsuna didn't really like using his divine sense for such things, so he also ignored that and simply tried again.

“My name is Sawada Tsunayoshi. Who might you be?” Because Tsuna would at least try to respect another dragon, no matter the form of the other.

“I'm Reborn, professional hitman and your future home tutor,” the baby finally answered.

That evening, during dinner, Tsuna shortly told the queen his apparent future career.

“Mama, I'm going to become a Mafia Boss.”

Her chopsticks stopped for a moment, her gaze focused on him thoughtfully. It took a few moments for her to speak, “That's nice, Tsu-kun. Don't get hurt, okay?”

Tsuna nodded, and continued eating again, not missing the other intense gaze targeted at him. It was a gaze he recognized, one he sometimes threw at knights, somewhere between wanting to feel proud and wanting to bash their heads to the walls. A rather complicated gaze.

The same night, Reborn even told him he'd be sleeping in his room. Since there was only one bed, Tsuna did the logical thing and picked up the dragon princess, together with the strange reptile that had appeared at some point in time, ignored the subtle twitching, and lied down on his bed, threw the cover over them and promptly fell asleep. Since he now knew, human bodies were even weaker without proper sleep.

The strange gazes rose in number after that.

@@@

Explosive princess was a bit different from others. Because differently from his precious five, now becoming six, this one approached him first, and approached reeking of the same anticipation as Tsuna. Anticipating growth and maybe an ideal of a man rather than the dragon himself. But there was anger in there too, a raw feeling without a proper recipient, which made Tsuna worry for a possible backlash.

Angry green eyes glared at him, frowning brown stared warningly at the green, and Tsuna looked between Takeshi and the explosive princess somewhat speculatively.

“Your seat is the one behind Tsuna-kun, Gokudera-kun,” Kyoko interrupted the staring match firmly, making the green-eyed boy ‘tsk’ in irritation. And Hana grinned with too many teeth, irritated back.

He passed the day with that continuous glare at the back of his head, and when the school day ended, he happened to be a bit too conveniently alone.

“Hello,” he greeted the explosive princess when the silver-haired boy, not any happier than before, met him at the back of the school building.

“You aren't fit to be Decimo!” the boy almost growled at him and Tsuna tried to think back on Reborn's short history lesson that had a general message of ‘Congratulations, everybody died, you're the only one left to take up the mantle.’ Humans were weak like that, Tsuna supposed, that's why he was a bit adamant in keeping his princesses safe until they became stronger. The princess before him though…

“Stop!” Tsuna ordered. Hands filled with red sticks stopped, and while he recognized them as a human weapon that could cause quite a bit of damage, Tsuna was in fact unsure about their real capabilities so he had to do something. “We can't use weapons here. This place is precious to Kyoya.” Although he heard a lot of humans wishing for it to burn down or something.

Tsuna's words seemed to have stumped Hayato for a moment. Not much later, though, the glare returned. Tsuna ignored it the same way he ignored hidden Reborn's slightly stalkerish tendencies, approached the boy swiftly and caught his hand to lead them both away from the place.

They somehow arrived at the riverside, where Hayato finally pulled his hand away forcefully.

“You!” the boy shouted even angrier than before. “Go to hell!” He lit up his dynamite sticks and threw them at Tsuna. Tsuna, now a human aware of his mortality, dodged, ran towards the boy with flame boosted speed, and turned just in time to witness the explosion.

“So cool…” whispered the suppressed pyromaniac in him. It took him a few moments too long to notice the resulting silence and its apparent cause. He had unconsciously thrown an arm over the boy's shoulders. The silver-haired princess had frozen, looking at him wide-eyed, and Tsuna maybe wasn't best at telling emotions but there was something unsure written in the other's features.

“Hayato,” Tsuna called– because there really was no better form of acknowledgement than calling one's given name,– and if it was possible the boy's eyes opened even wider, “can you show me what can you do with those fiery bombs? They were awesome!”

Okay, Tsuna, maybe, really liked explosions, but even better than explosions, the light in the other's eyes made his heart beat so strongly.

After that, Tsuna maybe invited the other over too many times, but the slow thawing of that frozen wall, revealed yet another majestic heart.

Tsuna never stopped to wonder why time and time again, he fell in love. It was really obvious, when it came to his princesses.

@@@

The divine sense was somewhat stranger of an animal in this plane of existence. It wasn't always in Tsuna's control, and sometimes it lit up rather randomly. That's why Tsuna, in response to a random such case, raised his hands in front of him, palms facing upwards and…

Caught a princess.

This time it was a genuine baby princess.

“Lambo-san flew,” the baby princess mumbled while trying not to cry. “Lambo-san flew and didn't fall.”

“You didn't fall,” Tsuna easily agreed. After all, he had caught the little boy before he had met the ground. That agreement was all it took for the baby princess to do a 180 and push Tsuna away, for all the good that did. He still managed to get off Tsuna's arms, blow a raspberry at him and run.

A few moments later, Hayato came running at him.

“Tsuna-sama,” and he had finally evolved from Tenth to Tsuna-sama apparently, “are you okay? I thought I saw a missile come this way.”

“Hayato…” Tsuna frowned at the other, “it is advised for humans to run away from weapons of mass destruction.”

“No can do Tsuna-sama. I have to be there if I want to protect you.”

“Hayato,” and it came a bit too harshly making the other flinch. He wasn't used to shouting at his princesses so he softened his tone, “I don't plan on dying anytime soon, so you have to live on with me.”

“I-…” the silver-haired boy seemed to want to say something, but even after waiting a while, Tsuna didn't hear the other speak.

“Do you want to make me sad, Hayato?” he asked.

“No!” the boy almost shouted immediately, looking horrified to even think like that.

Tsuna finally smiled, feeling all sorts of manipulative.

“Then take care of your life, okay?” And stared at the other until he nodded in acceptance.

“Let's go then,” he spoke again, catching the boy's hand and leading them both away. He seemed to be fidgeting a bit in his hold, somewhat embarrassed.

“Where to, Tsuna-sama?” asked the boy, in an almost shy voice.

“To find the flying missile princess.”

They did find the baby princess some time later. In fact, they found him in Tsuna's own home tied in a one-sided death match with Reborn of all people. Tsuna was worried, because the queen was very much present in the house and he wasn't sure how bad she could react if her castle got destroyed by way of thrown grenades and other questionable weapons.

“Stop throwing grenades in Tsuna-sama's room, you cow-print idiot!” shouted Hayato at some point and his shouting voice startled the baby princess enough to make him take out yet another weapon that was suspiciously pink and dangerously unknown. Tsuna was left perfectly baffled when the little boy shot, for some reason, at himself, cow-print suit and afro and everything disappearing behind similarly pink smoke.

It really only took one blink for him to be surrounded by a pair of warm arms, a hug that reminded him of something and left him feeling all sorts of confused and surprised and with a glimmer of joy and a sensation of protection that he didn't know what to make of.

“Tsuna-nii,” a boyish voice called and Tsuna startled all over again, something stuck in the back of his eyelids that was suspiciously wet,- that was one human habit he was still trying to get over.

“We're your dragon brothers. We can protect you, okay?” the other continued all but ignoring the strange noise that came from his throat. There was a strange silence from the other people in the room and an even stranger glint than usual in Reborn's eyes. It took maybe a bit too long for everybody to process what had happened, and for Hayato to decide to push the grown up version of the flying princess away, pull Tsuna behind his back and growl at the boy in cow-printed pants threateningly.

“Bastardo, what are you trying to do to Tsuna-sama?!”

The boy tisked disappointed and insulted back, “Stupid-dera, are you jealous that I got to hug Tsuna-nii first?”

Hayato spurted indignantly and made to take out his own explosive weapons, more than ready to hit the other out of existence, or, if Tsuna had understood Hayato's sudden inclusion with the Disciplinary Committee, at the very least send him to Kyoya's violent care. As it was, Tsuna was unsure whether to be amused or proud or exasperated. But if possible, he just wanted to know a bit more from the new princess so as not to remain feeling as if he had grown an extra heart in an already much too cramped space.

It only took an absentminded blink for him to miss the exchange between the two boys. All he saw was Hayato fuming and cursing something under his breath, and the new princess standing right in front of Tsuna, catching his hand to give him some grape flavored candies before disappearing the same way he came, behind light pink smoke, leaving in his place a green-eyed baby princess.

The little boy stared at him with teary eyes and maybe Tsuna has gotten weak– blaming the human body for that– but he did almost crumble facing them, until the candy on his hand proved to be very useful in erasing even the slightest traces of tears on said boy.

…Tsuna thought, if the grown up princess wanted to be spoiled a bit more growing up, he wouldn't mind spoiling him rotten.

@@@

Haru was perhaps more like a knight than a princess, that's why the first time they met, Tsuna had the bright idea of scaring her a bit. Not in a mean way, but mischievous he could be when he wanted to.

It proved to be too effective in a way. Because similarly to a knight, she didn't in fact get scared, just decided to stick herself to him and remain there without thoughts of leaving in the foreseeable future.

He flicked her forehead an afternoon, three days after their initial meeting. It had been rainy that day and the roads were somewhat slippery, resulting in the young girl falling on the wet road with a splash. Uniform dirty, knee scraped, Tsuna really couldn't resist a head flick, a small punishment for following him around and getting hurt. Then, he carefully took her hands, helped her to her feet and slowly led her towards his home,– with a strong sense of déjà vu.

“It's closer,” he explained to her, though she probably knew from yesterday. “Mama always keeps the first aid kit fully supplied, so we can patch up your knee there.”

The girl answered with a dazed nod, and he knew for a fact that she hadn't hit her head. Still he gripped her a bit more securely until they reached his home.

The first aid kit was in one of the counters in the kitchen, easily accessible as long as you weren't Lambo. He offered the slightly scatter-brained knight a chair to sit and after a few short minutes with the kit, there was a sunflower-themed band-aid on a clean wound.

“Wah, so cute!” the childish knight said finally after getting rid of her shyness. Then she raised her head, and beamed at him with a smile that reminded him a bit of fireworks.

“Thank you, Tsuna-san!”

…Ah, Tsuna could see it now, the princess hidden behind a knight's hand-made armor. She had yet to grow into one of the protectors, but if it's a knight she wanted to become, he wouldn't mind watching her grow.

A knight princess: that would indeed be a sight to behold. Ah, anticipation…

@@@

“Ladies,” he kept the door open and motioned for them to enter first in a slightly exaggerated manner. Kyoko giggled, Hana rolled her eyes and he found himself smiling, content to bask in one happy and one grumpily satisfied presence for that afternoon.

He had promised the two princesses to help them with the boxing club's budget allocation calculations and they had chosen a quiet café as their temporary office.

Normally there wouldn't be a need for him to help as the girls would have finished the paperwork early and handed the documents over to the club advisor. As it was, there had been an accident of the exploding kind in the office with the papers, so they had to redo everything.

They all sat next to a window seat with natural sunlight, Kyoko and Hana side to side and he in front of them, and ordered.

“Thank you for this, Tsuna-kun,” Kyoko said gratefully, taking out the papers from her bag.

“Oy, lizard Sawada,” it had upgraded to that, Hana's nickname for him, “be sure to do it properly. If you make any mistakes, we'll have to waste even more time on this.” She sounded annoyed, but Tsuna had gotten used to harsh language before she even existed in his life. Rather he felt once again proud, for she was strong enough in wit to protect herself, though she used it more to subtly protect Kyoko.

He answered with a grin to both of them and then focused on the part of the work he was handed. They all started working in earnest,– it was sort of fun, Tsuna thought; he had never done anything similar before becoming a human,– exchanging information from time to time, with one or two jokes thrown in between and little laughs and grumpy snorts.

It was after they were nearly at the end, starting to lose concentration, when Tsuna raised his head, stretched his neck a bit to remove the stiffness turning it to the side in the process, and saw outside the window a little girl in a white dress, with a bandaged eye, looking at them curiously from the other side of the road.

Tsuna was… entranced.

“There he goes again,” he thought he heard Hana almost exasperatedly sigh, but because his focus wasn't there he couldn't be sure. Still he turned to his two companions apologetically.

“Go ahead, Tsuna-kun,” Kyoko told him before he could speak, a smile on her face. “We'll be with you in a minute.”

Tsuna turned to look out the window again, his eyes meeting one violet. He waved at her from inside and only witnessed the slight widening of her own eye for one single moment, before turning the girls again and giving them both a hug made painful from the table in between. Then he ran outside the café and before the illusive purple-haired princess could react, he was standing in front of her. Or at least, in front of a magical purple flame given form, so much resembling his own. And Tsuna recognized a dragon flame when he saw one, a different colored fledgling though it might have been.

“Hello,” he squatted in front of the girl, who blinked blankly at him and looked around in slight panic.

“My name is Tsuna. Would you tell me your name?”

After a slightly stretched silence, where Tsuna waited patiently “…Nagi,” she answered.

Tsuna smiled wholeheartedly at her.

“Where are you, Nagi?” he made another question. The illusive princess was startled, violet eye going impossibly wide. She didn't answer this time, but Tsuna wasn't discouraged and continued.

“Would you like me to find you?”

“…ah…” Perhaps she indeed was too startled, but that slightly lost voice made Tsuma especially resolute. Kyoko and Hana reached them on that moment, he turned to look at them, and he felt warmth all over again when they nodded in understanding without him even needing to say anything, approached the girl together and he only heard until the tail end of the introduction before disappearing in another direction, divine sense turned on fully.

Reborn joined him at some point before Tsuna boarded the train for another town. He remained silent on Tsuna's shoulder, as Tsuna led them to a large grey colored building that couldn't be anything but a hospital. He entered swiftly, ignored the busy receptionist, following instead his own sense.

It was coincidence that the room in front of which he stopped was left open, just enough to hear the conversation inside.

“I've paid thousands for her treatment already! I don't care how those transplants could maybe save her! The potential for failure is too big; all those money down the drain if the surgeries fail. NO! Keeping her in life support all this time has already wasted so much-”

Tsuna didn't care to listen to a word more. He pushed the door wide open with more force than needed startling the doctor, the nurse and the stupid human woman that he was going to pretend didn't exist.

He approached the single bed in the room where lay a thin frame, a bit older than the crafted illusion, maybe Kyoko's and Hana's age, tied to too many tubes and machines that he didn't recognize.

…And for the first time since coming here, Tsuna felt fury. Still, he grasped a thin hand as gently as he could and said softly, “Found you, Nagi.”

Tsuna's first actual kidnapping of a princess in this life was a lot more legal by human standards although there was a blackmailing Reborn involved behind the scenes.

Nagi was transferred to the Namimori hospital and was adopted officially by Nana.

Since he was still unable to properly help Nagi out of the hospital yet, Tsuna was instead escorting the small version of her to sight see.

“You can't use your flames to create your own organs?” he asked the little princess at his back. He felt her arms slightly tighten around his shoulders and her head shake at the side of his neck.

“I'm not strong enough yet.”

Tsuna would beg to differ. She was one of his princesses; she was beyond good. The small lady version that kept walking around and was now living with him and Nana had been going for days without wavering an inch.

“You don't believe?” he asked her.

The silence was very telling.

“Then I'll believe for you,” he finished. Because it was that kind of flame, wasn't it? And he was sure that Kyoko and Hana would believe too. And Ryohei also would, kindly. And Haru would protectively. Takeshi would happily and Hayato would seriously. Then Lambo would, innocently. Kyoya also would, violently. Surely even Reborn would believe, secretly.

Ah.

Tsuna was feeling too much love again. He was going to drown. Willingly.

@@@

The last princess was trying to hit him with a trident. Tsuna was happily dodging. The very pretty princess, who was a lot like Nagi in some ways, had been for the past ten minutes trying to scratch him with his weapon only to fail, trying to use his friend to do it, again to fail, but still managing to force Tsuna to tie said friend the old fashioned way to keep them out of the fight.

Kyoya was trying to kill him with his eyes right now. He was ignored. Though Tsuna swore he was going to treat him to high quality steak later to make up for it. He hated it something awful when he had to stop Kyoya from doing something he wanted.

“Your attention is wavering, Vongola,” the trident princess said while smiling coldly. Tsuna dodged again to the side, mentally drawing the lines for where reality ended and illusion began.

He called orange flames to his will, met the wary eyes of the other, and maybe there was no place for a smile when facing the cold hatred in one red-one blue gaze, but Tsuna had the softest spot for princesses and really, truly couldn't help smiling.

The odd-eyed princess was lying on the ground, breathing heavily and clutching his trident with a deathly grip in his tries to get back on his feet. There was something desperate in both him and his two downed companions,– which reminded Tsuna of Haru in the way they felt like knights.

Tsuna itched to just lend the boy a hand to help him get up. But there really was no time for that. It was instinct really, half a moment faster than even his own divine sense, the split second movement that landed him with his back to the fallen princess, facing a mass of blackness and chains materializing in front of him. He felt more than saw the whole room freeze, breaths held and heartbeats quickened.

Whatever it was that appeared in front of him felt a bit like Reborn, a dragon already made, but there was a dead tree where there was to be a flame and the roots went deeper than Tsuna could see. Something ached inside of him, painful and wounded, but his priorities lay elsewhere in that moment.

Rokudo Mukuro, you are to come with us,” a voice like the bones of a dragon graveyard spoke and chains rattled as they approached.

Tsuna walked a few steps back, picked the princess up by the elbow and threw an arm around his shoulders.

“No can do. He's mine now.”

There was silence around him for a moment longer than what was normal. Then the rattling of chains became more ominous and the dragon bones ensemble spoke again.

Vongola Decimo, going against the Vindice is grounds for punishment. Leave, before we are forced to remove you.

“He's really mine,” he said again with furrowed brows, somehow offended they didn't seem to believe him.

He was interrupted by an unexpected person.

“Oya, is the entire Vongola as stupid as you? You disappoint me Decimo,” mocking and full of something Tsuna couldn't explain. “Even thinking that you could own me if you beat me or if I owed you enough, I-”

“You,” Tsuna interrupted, “are really pure, aren't you.” And it wasn't even a question. There was another round of incredulous silence that Tsuna didn't know how to explain, and a surprised ‘what the hell’ expression on the princess next to him, which soon changed to a calculated mocking one.

Before the conversation could evolve and continue, Tsuna turned his attention to the Vindice. If his eyes happened to be shining flame orange, and if he happened to be more dragon and less human in that moment, well, nobody would fully understand. Still, Tsuna faced blackness and he was understood enough.

… We agree to let him under your watch. If he leaves, we'll detain him. Otherwise any mistake of his falls on you now, Decimo.

With the leaving of the chain holders, there was silence for the third time around him. Staring at his armful of princess, wide-eyed as he was, Tsuna could see the resemblance with Nagi.

“Thank you, Tsuna-sama,” he heard her soft voice and Tsuna turned his head to witness Nagi arrive with a flurry of indigo flames, no more restricted with the blackness gone.

The odd-eyed princess almost snapped his head in her direction and the connection was instant.

“Nagi…” he called her softly, almost kindly.

“We finally meet face to face, Mukuro-sama,” the girl smiled almost shy, but happy in a way that Tsuna was overjoyed to witness; yet another reason to appreciate the latest princess.

Before he could speak to the both of them, there was another thing to deal with. “Herbivore,” Tsuna turned immediately the moment he heard that very old nickname, finding Kyoya untied and standing behind with a murderous look.

Tsuna didn't notice it though. Instead he approached the boy with quick steps and threw his arms around the other for a hug as he was wont to do when he was feeling very happy.

“…I'll bite you to death,” the boy gritted out slowly. Still, he let Tsuna hug him for a few moments and returned the gesture with an almost reluctant tightening of arms of his own.

“Oya oya, I didn't expect the skylark to have such a weakness. Don't tell me, I fought you for naught when you had such a soft spot.”

Kyoya growled. But before he could do anything, Tsuna raised a hand and motioned for the other boy to approach.

Mukuro was hesitant, and then very cautious when he decided to walk closer. Still he walked closer step by step, missing the slightly amused smile pulling at Nagi's lips. The moment he was even remotely within range of him, Tsuna maneuvered a bit and used his raised arm to pull the boy into the hug.

There was a strange noise, or maybe more than one.

But, un, Tsuna wasn't about to let him run away after that.

Ay, he was getting a bit possessive again.

________________

-Tsuna is actually a Tsundere towards knights. Also towards kings.
-Tsuna calls the others by name almost immediately, because he wants them to be his equals (although it would normally be rude in Japan).
-Tsuna just wants his friends to grow into dragons safely under his protection. He doesn't in fact realize the others are also trying to protect him. He also doesn't realize they probably won't leave him. Like ever.