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After the First Rays of Dawn Pierce the Night Sky

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It's hard, the first year of being human again.

She doesn't go out, much, in the daytime. The sun is too bright. At first, her skin would explode into blisters but more painful than that is the reminder of how it would burn to ash in her yaka days. When she does go, she's clothed from head to toe and with parasol on hand. And until she starts school, she doesn't let go of that parasol.

It's hard, to remember she's not a yaka anymore.

But even more than that, it's hard to know Yorito isn't there anymore.

The night sky comes unfailingly, but her origami dolls remain inanimate now, as they should. The scar on her neck is pale, like her hair, but where Matsumi's blade ran her through is gone like it never was.

It never was, because that was Matsumi returning things back to the way they were.

.

Things can't return back to the way they were. Time only flows in one direction, even if there is a yaka wandering around that can bring the newly dead back to life. And even that had its limitations. It was those limitations, really, that lead to her death in the first place. Because the landslide had buried Yorito and no matter how much she dug, or how much Matsumi dug afterwards, neither of them had found his body.

And they'd needed the body.

Aono had needed Yorito. When she lost him, she lost herself as well. When Matsumi wouldn't let her die with him, she recreated him.

It took Matsumi several hundred years to pierce it together, and maybe if Aono had planned things out a little better, she wouldn't have.

After all, she'd spent so long perfecting Yorito that it hadn't occurred to her to perfect their state of living as well: their home, their way of life, a way to continue on in this world suspicion and bother free. But she'd rushed that part, and stability collapsed with her consciousness and the months she spent in a hospital that could do nothing for her opened the door to Matsumi.

And Matsumi took apart the fragile dollhouse and doll she'd crafted so carefully. Yorito couldn't stay away from her; she hadn't made him faithfully enough… or perhaps too faithfully. The real Yorito didn't always listen to her, after all, and she only had a little extra power over the paper doll.

He was more real that way. And more fragile, more likely to disappear from her sight again. Ripped apart by that magical sword, by the truth and his desire to see her let go of him and her grief, to see her human once more.

Why he thought she would be happy as a human and without him, she didn't know.

.

She's on suicide watch, for a while. They find her bleeding from a wound in her neck and she doesn't say that's several hundred years old and she was actually stabbed through the chest with a yaka infused sword.

History has somehow rewritten itself. She's an orphan who's recently lost her younger brother and nobody knows of a boy called Yorito. Matsumi, she doesn't ask about: she doesn't dare to ask about. She knows, anyway, that the only ones who have any chance of remembering her are Mayuko and Takeshi and she can't chase after them.

So she has to craft a new life for herself, and at least the lie that's told gives her a chance to settle into her grief.

It's two-fold now, after all. She has no magic at her disposal: no paper dolls she's learnt to turn into even human flesh, no foolish hope she can cling to anymore. She can't convince herself Yorito's come back to life because he's gone again, and she can only cling to the belief that he was wrong, that he was her brother in every way that mattered to her.

And with no means to bring him back or join him, she can only grieve.

.

A year later, she returns to the town she'd lived in with Yorito. It hasn't changed much, except there's no trace of Yorito or Matsumi or even the old Aono there. It's not that hard to reconnect with Koyori or Mana… and, finally, she begins to see glimpses of those traces Yorito left behind. He's always in the night sky, of course: his namesake, and for a time the only sky she could travel under, with him. But in the fascination Mana now holds for the sky. In Koyori's curiosity with those strangely shaped dolls. In the way Aono reaches out to these people who couldn't forget him entirely.

With them, she casts her parasol aside. With them, she looks up at the sunrise and remembers the photos that once hung on their walls and she starts filling them up again. With them, she makes origami figures and spreads her fingers out: learns to draw and paint so she can bring Yorito (and Matsumi, one day) back into her home, and this time it's a reminder, a comfort, rather than recreating him once more.

She hasn't let him go. She's not living without him. But she's living in a different world from him: a world that shares that same sky he was so infatuated with.