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Mementos

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Kochou Shinobu had always loved the rain and the sunlight piercing through the clouds after it. The sound was calming, after all, and her mother and sister and father prepared their baskets for the next harvest of the herbs they would sell on the market. It was usually when her parents taught her how to mix herbs and compounds to make new medicine. It was also the time when her sister, Kanae, taught her more of sword and breathing techniques and suggested how she can revise the Breath of the Flower to tailor to her skill. Or when they both taught Kanao to help with her stances as well.

The rain reminded her of him as well. His calming, albeit downcast presence, and his rare smile, somehow like sunlight filtering through the clouds.

It was such a time, when the sound of rain had soothed her nerves, and the sunlight has pierced the clouds hovering over the Butterfly Mansion, that her daughter was born.

“She has good lungs hours ago, doesn’t she?” Hinatsuru, Uzui Tengen’s wife, tended to the child, placing her near Shinobu. “Though she really looks peaceful now.”

“Thank you very much for helping us, Hinatsuru-san.” Shinobu and Aoi were both skilled at medicine but were grateful for the assistance in a somewhat normal delivery.

“You have helped us so many times, Kochou-san. I admit I’m a bit curious though… I never thought you, of all people, will give birth without marrying anyone [1]. Was the father your secret fiancé?”

“Amane-sama didn’t tell you, didn’t she?” Shinobu smiled a little, though she was a bit tired. The child opened her eyes as she played a bit with Shinobu’s hair and was making gurgling sounds, her deep blue eyes widening.

Hinatsuru’s eyebrows raised as comprehension dawned. “… I see. So that’s why I was the only one called out to help, besides this great young lady here,” Hinatsuru patted Aoi’s head, whose eyes were lined with tears.

It was a miracle her daughter lived when Shinobu gave birth seven months after her conception [2], but somehow the young child survived to her intake of small doses of wisteria poisoning without any defects as well [3]. For some unknown reason the child has adapted to it, given the fact she was streaked with her blood but didn’t have any rashes [4], unlike Hinatsuru and Aoi, who then got a skin antidote after helping her give birth. 

She didn’t know if this was a blessing amid the tragedies given to her by the heavens, but Shinobu swore she would take everything she can get. Even including stolen moments with this child.

As she kissed her daughter's forehead, she made her final oath. I will protect your future. On that important promise I made to Neesan, I swear. 

And little did she know he was just outside her home, leaving nothing but small steps as another of his letters to her went unanswered.