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Love and Light

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Madara watches as his friend - his best friend - concentrates, carefully twining the stems of the tiny plant in his hands.

Though perhaps tiny is not the right word for it, for the plant has grown to be almost the size of Hashirama's head. It sprouts leaves which quickly go brown and die, falling off to reveal a wooden cage. A complex interweaving of branches and roots, it looks alive because it is - something that could never have been created by human hands.

But, for someone with the mokuton, it was the work of minutes.

As always, Madara marvels at Hashirama's delicate touch, the way he uses the mokuton for battle as much as for beauty.

Death and life, all in the same two hands.

Hashirama presents his creation to Mito with a beaming smile, and she looks amused as she inspects it. Still, she wraps it in paper and wets her ink stone. Her brush strokes are quick but precise, as befits a seal master, and the words take shape as if called into being by her will.

Mito could do that.

Her seals, her chains... they're fully capable of creating something out of chakra alone. But, tonight, her brush is put to a much more plebeian task. When she passes the object to him, now obviously a lantern, Madara reads the kanji and almost laughs.

Of course this would be what Mito wants, of course.

He steps outside, the snow melting under his feet, and beckons them both to join him.

They join hands, all of them supporting the lantern that will carry their hopes and wishes, and Madara blows the smallest katon that he can. It catches, heating the air inside Hashirama's cage, inside Mito's paper, and their creation takes flight.

It floats up into the night sky, traversing a winding path to the stars, and Madara watches it, Sharingan spinning.

Mito pushes into his arms, nestling there, and Madara's hands fall to her waist, stroking the promise of new life. Hashirama embraces them, his enormous haori keeping them all warm, and Madara smiles up into the falling snowflakes.

The year turns and the cycle begins anew.

Their child will be born in the spring.

This will be a good year.