Alright, I got a bug in my brain and if it's going to let me write anything I'm going to.
I'm posting this as I write and I'm not entirely sure where it's going to go but . . .
Kiribaku AU
vaguely inspried by the Filles du Roi or the Orfas do Rei
Arranged(ish) marriage
The graves were filled in and the mirrors were covered in grey cloth, and Katsuki Bakugou watched the rain come down.

He was alone now, and for the first time, he wasn't sure what was ahead of him.
The Bakugous had held this estate for nine generations, but an alpha had to inherit.

And Katsuki's father had only had one child.

His omega son, Katsuki.
It wasn't that he hadn't tried for more children. Mitsuki had borne four other children after Katsuki, but none lived past the age of three. The fever that took the last one took her, and Masaru was heartbroken.
Katsuki managed the estate while his father drowned his grief and watched as neighbors with available omegas visited to try to draw his father out of his grief and into a new marriage.

Masaru would have none of them.
And Katsuki, bound by tradition and the thread of entailment, could do nothing but rage and bargain with his father to try to shake him from his grief.

And when Masaru succumbed to his grief, Katsuki had nothing.
Nothing but six little graves at the temple, his personal belongings, and an entailed estate that left him without means to support himself or a dowry to attract a suitor.
So Katsuki sat in his upstairs room and watched the rain come down, waiting for his father's solicitor to tell him the inevitable.
He could enter a convent or throw himself at the mercy of his father's cousins, the new lords of the estate.
When Mr. Hakamada arrived, he had another man with him. A man with a C-shaped scar on his face and the emblem of the emperor on his chest.

With no staff left, Katsuki opened the door himself and led them into the front room for tea.
Hakamada introduced the man as Aizawa, and explained that he was a representative for the throne.

He had an offer for Katsuki.
Something that would not sentence him to a life behind walls or dealing with his relative's squalling children.
Instead, he could cross the ocean to the new world with a dowry supplied by the emperor.

He could go to the colonies with a chest of clothes and supplies and be married off there, either to an officer in need of heirs or an ugly colonist with the money to support a family.
Or, if need be, he could be married to one of the local leaders as part of a treaty, as a show of good faith.

But that wasn't likely.
Two months later, Katsuki and six other of the Emperor's Omegas boarded a ship for the new world.
The journey was miserable.
The omegas had to be sedated and locked in their tiny quarters to get through their heats, the alphas of the crew bound and drugged on coca wine to prevent ruts.
The food was mealy or over salted, the ocean rough on their stomachs, and the omegas had little to do between their turn around the deck except talk to each other.
Katsuki had never been especially social, and the close quarters grated on his nerves. He had no patience for sailors flirting and he could only hear someone's life story so many times.

He spent his time on deck at the prow of the ship, looking to the east for signs of land.
Twenty two weeks after they left the comfortable port at home, Katsuki wasn't even on deck when the coast came in sight.
He was below deck, vomiting at the head.
By the time they were tied off at the rough dock and the gangplank set down, Katsuki /never/ wanted to be on another ship again.

If he had to stay in the new world forever, it was better than having to cross the ocean.
Once on solid ground, the scent of salt was overwhelmed by the strong scent of alphas who had been without omegas for too long.
The beta sailors formed an honor guard of sorts around the Emperor's Omegas, carrying their baggage and escorting them into the timber walled fort.
The Emperor's Omegas were expected to settle on a suitor quickly, within weeks, have the engagment announced and married before the fall heats started.

The courting started the day after the omegas arrived, three spoken for and planning the engagment announcment within the week
Katsuki was not one of these omegas.

He offended the colonists wealthy enough to take a wife by insulting their fatuous attempts at fashionable parties.
The officers failed to impress him or be impressed by him - when he walked the walls of the fort in the sunlight, he was a picture, but he insisted upon learning to shoot the matchlocks the soldiers were armed with, and while his cooking was good, his sewing was atrocious.
Soon there were only two of the Emperor's Omegas left, Katsuki and a girl of gentle birth but low means named Mina, and they stood with the commander of the fort in painstakingly scrubbed linens to welcome some of the native leaders with trade supplies.
When the party arrived with bales of fur and smoked salmon, Katsuki was initially taken aback by how tall the leader was, looming head and shoulders above even the tallest soldier.
He was introduced to Katsuki and Mina, and beneath the black mask of facepaint, his eyes crinkled
He said something to them in his own language and took their hands in his own and bowed over them, before turning to speak to the corporal who served as an interpreter.
The corporal flushed red at the words and waved his hands, but the huge man laughed and winked at the omegas.
Not knowing what else to do, Katsuki gave a short bow when Mina tipped a curtsy, and they allowed themselves to be escorted back to the omega house while the leader and his men brought in their trade goods.
Katsuki found himself genuinely interested in what was going on in the fort for the first time since he arrived. He and Mina peered out of the oil paper windows to see what was going on and tried to catch bits of the language.
Katsuki went so far as to ask the translator corporal to have lunch in the omega house to teach them a few basic words, as the soldiers did not seem keen to let the only two unattached omegas in camp go wandering around.
They got the chance to use their vocabulary words that night at dinner.
The commander had the long dining tables brought out into the yard, and the native leader sat with the top brass. Mina and Katsuki ate at the same table.
It was there that the course of Katsuki's life changed.
The tall leader from before, still with his face paint on, smiled wide when the omegas took their seats on the the bench across from him, and said something to the translator and guffawed.

The translator blanched.
With a shout, the leader thumped the table and shouted across the yard, and Katsuki turned to see a group of younger native men approach the table.

The leader shouted a laugh, and turned to the translator.
"What did he /say/?" Mina asked.

"Uh - -"

"Stop looking at your fucking feet and tell us what he said."

"He said you were lovely, but he was too old to take another mate."


He spoke up again, and pointed to the men walking toward them.
"But his sons have been waiting for the mates the Emperor promised."
The Red Riot had been a pup when the boat-men had built their fort under the watchful eye of the People, on the plain between the beach and the foothills of the mountains.

They boat-men hudded inside their little hut and tried to talk circles around the People for more land,
but the People would not guide the boat-men more than a day's walk from the shore, and they would not trade the boat-men in knowledge.

If the boat-men wanted their wood and their furs and their fish, they would pay in things just as valuable.
The boat-men paid in iron and matchlocks and strange, bright fruit, and every time the People delivered their surplus, the boat-man in the brightest colored coat would sit with them and try to convince them to sell more, trade for less, let them build more.
The Red Riot had been going to the fort for their trading sessions since he completed his first hunt, learning a few words of the boat-men's language and seeing how Fat would work with them.
Two years ago the boat-men had a sickness run through their town and their fort, and Fat sent his sons with the bark and leaves of a tree that would save them.

The boat-men recovered, and kept their teeth and their eyes cleared, and they promised Fat anything in their gratitude.
The Red Riot's oldest brother had found a beta among the boat-men he liked, and Fat arranged that all his sons should be able to pick mates from the boat-men.
The Sun Eater married his blonde beta and took him to his alpha's lodge, and the Red Riot and the Iron Son laughed when their father told them to keep an eye out for any one they liked.

Mirio knew about matchlocks and helped them repair their guns without the other boat-men.
And between Miro and his Alpha, the Wave Girl, the Sun Eater was finally with pups.

So maybe the boat-men weren't all useless.
The Red Riot and the Iron Son finally found boat-men they liked in early fall, when they helped Fat bring in the salmon and the furs to the fort.
He didn't understand why the boat-men kept their omegas shut up inside the fort or their cramped wooden cabins, especially when they weren't with pups, but they did - especially when the People were around.
But the Red Riot was a good hunter, and good at spotting what he wanted, so when he saw the blond omega with red eyes, he reminded Fat that he had not gotten his pick yet of the boat-men.
Fat slapped him on the back and told him to make sure the blonde boat-man would be happy with him before he took him home.
When Fat called for them, the Red Riot and the Iron Son came to the table and sat beside their future brides, pouring them birch tea in their delicate boat-men cups and smiling at them with dark eyes, because Fat would not take any one who would not be happy at the lodge.
The Red Riot was determined to make his bride happy.
When the leader's two sons took a seat on either side of the Emperor's Omegas, several of the soldiers blanched and moved to stand, but they were silenced with a cough from the corporal and the wide grin of the leader as he took in the sight of his sons paying court.
The hulk with red hair sat down beside Katsuki, smilling and speaking in his own language as he took the thing pewter cup from Katsuki. He drained the small beer and poured a new drink, not the small beer that he had been drinking, pressing it back into Katsuki's hand.
"What the hell is this?" Katsuki said, temper flaring, but the grumpiness was battered back by another smile as a big, warm hand steered the cup to his lips.

He took a sip, and the massive alpha purred something back at him, his voice deep and smooth as a still river.
Katsuki shuddered at the sound, sending spits of energy down his back, and the dark red eyes of the alpha next to him grew darker.

"I have no idea what you're saying," Katsuki said. "But you're better looking than most of these officers, so you can keep sitting with me."
He said something else, stealing a bit of game bird from Katsuki's plate and flashing sharp teeth, letting his tongue sweep the grease from his fingers. He reached for the cup, bending over to sip from it, still cupped in Katsuki's hand.
He was trapped with Mina at his back and the native alpha at his side, and he felt overwhelmed.

Katsuki had known many strong alphas, powerful and wealthy, but he had never known one to get so close and invade his space like this.
The alpha looked at him like a lover and behaved like a groom at his wedding feast, not like a stranger sitting with someone garaunteed safety by the emperor.

He was impertinent, incorrigible, and by far the most interesting alpha he had met in years.
Even if the only word Katsuki had caught was "food."
The Red Riot knew the boat-man omega had no idea what he was doing, but he was willingly sharing drink from his cup and food from his plate, and that was enough to start a courtship.

If he could pull him into a dancing circle, all fire in his eyes and sun in his hair . . .
That would be enough for two of the People to start negotiations for who would be moving to a new lodge.
But the beautiful blonde boat-man was not one of the People, and he didn't understand what it meant to share food and drink from the same cup and the same plate.

The Red Riot looked over to see that Iron Son was also sharing sips of birch tea with the pink haired omega.
The boat-men might not be any wiser, but to all of the People that had accompanied Fat and his youngest sons, their intentions were clear.

These omegas would be joining Fat's lodge before the first snow fell.

They just had to get the boat-men to agree.
And the omegas had to realize they were being courted.

The Red Riot would dance with him tonight and make the stars shine in the omegas eyes.

In the morning, Fat would start negotiatons, and the Red Riot would bathe in the ocean and begin a hunt, to give his bride meat and fur
The Sun Eater's beta had known some of the People's speech, so the Red Riot had a few words to speak to his omega bride while he wooed him and shared his food.

He started slipping them in as he refilled the little pewter cup, starting with "strong" as he raised it up.
He spoke in his own language to tell his future mate about his first solo hunt and the aurochs bull he had slain, and the lodge he would stay in for three days before they married, filled with hot stones and river water to clean himself before rutting with his bride.
The Red Riot called him Fire-Eyes in boat-man, and touched his hair. In his own language it was colored like the tall sweet grass where the geese nest in the fall, but he didn't have the words in boat-man, so he said /sun/ and /light/ and /beautiful./
The omega's eyebrows softened slowly as the Red Riot spoke to him, easing his face from the fierce scowl it held earlier. He accepted sips of birch tea from the cup Red Riot kept full, and opened his mouth to accept a sliver greasy marsh hen from the Red Riot's own fingers.
His mate's lips against his fingers made his cock twitch behind his cloth, and the Red Riot made no move to hide it. It was no dishonor to be attracted to your mate.

He continued to speak, deep and dark, darker than the night above them, to tell the omega of their lives together
After the Red Riot completed his hunt and gave his Fire Eyes the kill, there would be time to butcher the kill and clean it, to dance at the fire at night and share food from their plates, to spend their last day apart and to be tied together at sun up.
He wished he knew what his Fire Eyes was saying to him as they spoke between bites of clam and mushroom and fried turtle egg. His eyes flashed and his teeth were sharp, and the drops of birch tea shone on his lips when he curled them into a wicked grin.
The Red Riot was shocked, but pleased, when Fire Eyes used one of the boat-men's funny little wooden sticks to stab a morsel and raise it to the alpha's mouth.

Fire Eyes' grin was sharp, but Red Riot's grin was wide and open and pleased as he chewed.
Fat clapped the table and shouted at his son, pleased with what was clear progress in his eyes. He threw an arm over the translator's shoulders and laughed, standing up to stomp when Iron Son took the pink haired omega by the hand to lead her toward the fire.
The People who played instruments took Fat's signal for what it was, and pulled out drums and rasps and flutes to play. Iron Son began the dancing, swinging his omega in on his third trip around the fire, laughing out loud when she tried to copy his steps.
More of the People joined in, and even some of the boat-men who had seen the dance before and could whirl around passably. Fat picked up the boat-man in the flashy coat and pulled him into the circle with him, and the Red Riot laughed to see the poor boat-man try to keep up.
His Fire Eyes shocked him when he stood from the bench & stepped toward the circle, turning and looking expectantly at the alpha.

With a whoop the Red Riot swung his Fire Eyes into the circle, spinning and stomping and dancing with the others, showing him when to beat his heels
When the fire burned down, the Red Riot wanted to keep his Fire Eyes in his arms and tug him away to the bed rolls where the People would sleep, but he knew the boat-men would throw a fit. They liked to keep their omegas shut away, after all, and Fire Eyes wasn't his quite yet.
When the boat-men with shiny braids on their coats came to escort the omegas away, Red Riot ran his fingers over Fire Eyes' cheekbones to say good bye, and stood with his brother to watch their mates be shut away from them for the night.
As soon as they were out of sight, the Red Riot and Iron Son turned and ran to their father, anxious for negotiations to begin.
Katsuki knew his face was red where the big native alpha had touched him with calloused fingers, but he didn't care if any of the soldiers and the few colonists scattered around saw. He had already found them wanting, and Mina was redder than he was.
The big native man with silver hair had been stroking his hands over her upper arms as he spoke to her. That - and the red one touching Katsuki's face - was a much more intimate touch than would ever be allowed back home.
They hadn't shifted away from the glares of the soldiers, and the other natives hadn't been watching a show. Aside from the leader with the black facepaint, none of the other natives had even approached the Emperor's Omegas while they were eating and dancing around the fire.
He & Mina both looked back toward the fire, the people there dark against the glow, and each saw their alpha - their alpha? - talking to the leader. The lieutenants escorting them opened the door to the omega house, stirred up the fire in the low hearth, and bowed themselves out.
The omega house was small, but nicer than many of the buildings in the little port town - the loft with their narrow bunks had flannel curtains over the oiled paper windows, and the chimney actually sent most of the smoke out of the building.
The lower floor had two rooms - the storage room was now mostly empty, with a shelf of cooking and mending supplies and only two of the emperor's supply chests remaining, one labeled ASHIDO in calligraphy, and the other BAKUGOU.
The other room had the hearth and a low table, punchboard floors and a salt stained rug. There was a woodcut of the emperor with his dark eyes and bright hair over the hearth, and a small shrine beside the east window.
This is where both Katsuki and Mina sat as soon as they were able, pushing the heavy bar onto the door to prevent unwanted incursions while their escorts spoke to the foot soldiers that would stand outside their cabin until the next bell.
Mina looked at Katsuki across the table from her and gave him a nervous smile before blurting out - "Did the one with red hair feed you? By hand? The silver haired one - he fed me every piece of oyster from the plate, and I don't think he ever looked away from my face."
Katsuki nodded. He did not - normally - seek out conversation with people, but Mina was the only person in the town he had known for more than two months, and he felt like he had to talk about tonight with someone.

He had never felt such intense focus from anyone before tonight.
"He kept talking - I only caught one word in fifty, but he talked about fire and water and the moon and hunts, I think. The sort of things . . . Well it sounded like someone trying to write a love poem and not knowing how."
Mina sat up straight, her curls bouncing.
"Oh, I thought so too! And he never looked away from my face - and - the dancing! I've never seen dancing like that, alphas and omegas so close. My grandmother would have fainted to see it!"
Katsuki agreed. Dancing at home had specific steps and measures, never more contact than
Handholding, or maybe a hand on the shoulder, but as soon as he had stepped into the circle around the fire, the big red alpha had swung him into his arms and against his chest, Katsuki's feet barely skipping over the ground.
The whole night he felt like he was wound tight and tighter under his eyes, from the food to his voice to the dance around the fire to the high stomps and whirls he was guided through - watched more carefully than he had ever been on holidays at the temple or festivals at home.
"They were courting us - weren't they? I mean, I don't know for sure, but I couldn't imagine that being anything /but/ courting."

"Why are you worried about it? You've had attention from plenty of the officers? You don't need to entertain one of the natives if you don't want."
Mina frowned at that. "The alpha officers here are just like the alphas home. They're pushy and they're married to the idea of what I am no matter what I say. Even if the silver alpha couldn't talk to me, at least he was trying to, not thinking about . . . you know."
Katsuki crooked an eyebrow. "What?"

"You know . . . children . . . cooking . . . trying to figure out if I could sew trim on straight while carying pups at eight months and looking at my bust instead of my face."
Katsuki thought back to the firm pressure he had felt against his stomach while the alpha's arms had held him close, but he didn't want to spoil Mina's hopes. He had heard things on the ship, and not all of the omegas had come here out of the same desperation he had.
Some of them faced worse face than life as a spinster aunt or behind the walls of a nunnery when they chose to come here.
"I can't imagine it was anything but courting," he said. "Aizawa did say some of the Emperor's Omegas would be married off to native rulers to help with goodwill and agreements. Maybe they are looking for mates. And the governor will agree to anything to get rid of us.
He's hoping the emperor will send more omegas in the spring for his men, and it won't happen if we all don't get matched."

Mina looked pleased at that - and then nervous.

"At home we'd get a matchmaker and - be checked out - but -"
Katsuki wasn't equipped to comfort people.
Instead, he sucked his teeth - something his mother had always scolded him for - and said, "They were running to talk to the leader when we left. We ought to get some sleep now, cause we might be married in the morning."
Katsuki banked their little fire while Mina used the iron tongs to put the hot stones in the little iron pan they used to keep their blankets warm in the cold night. The wind was turning, and enough cold air crept through the cracks to make their loft miserable at night.
They climbed the steep ladder to the loft and undressed by the sliver of moonlight from the lofts window before Katsuki closed it to sleep.

He was drifting off when Mina spoke up again.

"Katsuki - do you know what we should call them? The alphas? I don't know his name."
Katsuki rolled over to press his feet against the hot brick. "I expect we'll learn their names if it matters, Mina. Go to sleep."
When dawn came, Fat took his sons to the main building in the fort, pounding a massive fist against the door. The little translator was woken up from his bunk and joined Fat, the Red Riot, Iron Son, and the city governor and his aide at the table.
The governor had tea and toast brought in, while the Red Riot and Iron Son brought in a basket of smoked salmon from their stores, and let Fat do the talking. He didn't bloviate like the governor - just reminded him of the promise made after he saved the town from the sickness,
that his sons would be able to choose mates from among the boat-men, and announced that his younger sons had each chosen a mate the night before. And, because this was more sudden then the Sun Eater's choice of Mirio - something that the town had known for months -
Fat offered assistance with the city's fishing problems - helping to build the heavy traps needed to catch the crawling fish at low tide, and showing them how to build shelves to help the clams and oysters grow close to the shore
The governor was anxious for any help feeding the city, as after a dozen years, they were still struggling to farm and fish enough to feed everyone without dipping into the trade fish, and without guides further inland, they had little success hunting.
The governor spoke to his aide, who searched through his records and the ledger kept for the Emperor's Omegas to check - Katsuki had had three offers, turned down publicly and loudly and resulting in every eligible alpha give him a wide berth. Mina had had almost a dozen.
She turned them all down, quietly, for unknown reasons.

Both were a drain on the fort's resources and the Emperor's good will while they remained unmarried - but if the natives took them, it would ensure more omegas sent to the little colony and goodwill from the natives.
The governor barely bothered to haggle except over the number of shelves and traps, and the aide wrote out the agreement using the names they had assigned the native leader and his sons - as they did not know how to write their own names in their alphabet.
To King Toyomitsu's son, Tetsutetsu, the omega Ashido Mina was promised to wed and to his son, Kirishima, the omega Bakugou Katsuki was promised, in exchange for three dozen crab traps and training five fishermen to build them, and assistance in constructing six oyster shelves.
The governor signed with his name in calligraphy, while Fat, the Red Riot, and Iron Son took the brush and carefully copied their boat-men names from the aide, before marking their mons on the paper.
Fat hugged his sons and lifted up the governor, regardless of his dignity, and threw the aide in to the air in his excitement. The Red Riot and Iron Son rushed out to their own camp under the forts walls.
Agreement with the boat-men or not, they had to bathe in the ocean to clean themselves, then hunt and present their mates with a quarry worth their skill before they would be ready to bring them back to their lodge.
They needed a prayer leader for the first part, so they shook Walking Shadow awake to go down to the sea with them, shoving an apple into his hand to make up for the early waking.
The city was quiet as they made their way down to the pebbled beach, most of the boat-men just stirring in their beds. They stripped down from their leggings and waist clothes and the woven jacket and splashed into the surf.

Iron Son scrubbed away his grey body paint with sand,
and the Red Riot ducked his head again and again to clean the ochre and aloe from his hair, letting the red rinse away to leave his natural black.

Once they were scrubbed raw, Walking Shadow lead their prayer and song, and gathered most of their clothing to take back with him.
Iron Son and the Red Riot crouched naked on the stones while Walking Shadow built a small fire and stared out to the sea, chanting out the words that the Moon always said to the Sun before leaving him with the children to go on her hunt.
When the song was done, they wrapped themselves in their waist clothes, took a water skin and their weapons, and said goodbye to Walking Shadow.

Iron Son walked north, and the Red Riot moved south east, and Walking Shadow gathered their other clothing, and returned to the fort.
Despite Fat's excitement for his sons, his primary mission was still the trading trip, and he spent the morning with the boat-men weighing baskets of smoked salmon and letting them quibble over furs, watching the boat-men jump when he laughed.
He pulled Walking Shadow aside five times before lunch to ask him to tell him again how his sons had behaved and what directions to look for them from and what Walking Shadow thought they would bring back for their omegas to seal their betrothal.
Finally, at midday, Fat corralled Walking Shadow and Tall Spine, who knew enough boat-man to get by, and one of the braided boat-men and the translator and herded them all to the door of the omega-house, so he could speak with the omegas that his sons were out hunting for.
The braided boat-man knocked at the omega house door despite the smaller boat-men standing guard outside, and the little omega with fluffy pink hair opened the door, dark eyes going wide at the party at her threshold before moving aside to let them in.
Fat had to stoop to enter the door, moving in one shoulder before the other, and standing before the omegas that he hoped would soon be family.
His sons had good taste in mates - they were both lovely.
He just hoped that the omegas would be as enthusiastic about the match as they hoped.

The braided boat-man sat down at the little table in the omega house and spread out copies of the contracts signed hours ago.
Fat had given his People instructions before they came in - he would talk with the omegas using the translator as normal, while Walking Shadow watched their faces. He wanted to know how the omegas really felt about the match.
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