"Saya," Chihaya says, "Do you think she's Morning Star?"
It takes Saya a few moments to even realize that he's spoken, so fascinated with the tiny new life is she. Their daughter is healthy and pink. The crop of downy black hair on her head is thick and her eyes tip as sweetly as Chihaya's do. "She's our daughter," Saya says finally, "How could she be Morning Star?"
"She could be both, couldn't she?" Chihaya asks. He leans over her to nuzzle at their girl's dimpled hands, clenched fitfully in her loosened blankets. Chihaya had reacted with horror to her swaddling and promptly pulled it out without listening to Saya at all. "The wheel turns all the time."
"I don't think so," Saya says. She privately thinks that she would not be as pleased as Chihaya to have a horse for her daughter.
If anything, Saya sees Princess Teruhi in the sweep of one fat cheek, or perhaps Prince Tsukishiro in the elegant slope of a small nose. She has given birth to a Child of the Light, never mind that none of them have ever died.
"Maybe she's someone new," Chihaya says, "Someone nobody's met yet. Do you think the Goddess can still do that?"
"I think the Goddess can do anything she wants," Saya says. She rolls the babe's foot in her free hand and smiles to feel the tiny toes flex against her wrist. She made this, this little person who looks so much like Chihaya.
One small hand unfurls to show the pale pink mark in her palm, as though she was cradling a flower petal. "She's seen a fire," the midwife had said briskly, but she'd been of the Light before the end, and both Saya and the other midwife had just laughed.
This little life was a blending of Darkness and Light, their unbreakable earthen vessel.
"Hello," Chihaya says very seriously. He takes the baby's hands in his own, one arm around Saya's shoulders to reach them both, and kisses the mark in her palm the same way he sometimes does to Saya's own. "Toyoashihara is a very beautiful place; you'll like it here."
Saya rests her head against his side and watches their daughter yawn expansively in response to Chihaya's sudden playing.
"Say hello, Saya," Chihaya prods. "I don't remember you saying it before."
"I said hello when I was giving birth to her."
"Well, I wasn't here to hear you say it. How do I know if you did or didn't?"
"I know," Saya says. "She'll have her official welcoming in a few days, but I've already said hello." She leans over to kiss their daughter's forehead in greeting anyway, murmuring her welcomes under her breath.
She doesn't think she'll ever stop welcoming this girl.
A finger comes to poke the babe right where Saya's lips had been. "Look," Chihaya says gaily, "She has your forehead. Though hers is mashed."
Saya finds herself laughing. She has learned, over time, that it is either laughter or tears with Chihaya. "She's beautiful," she says chidingly.
The baby's forehead wrinkles as she flushes an unattractive red. Saya hurriedly loosens her robe to allow the babe to eat even as Chihaya lays one finger against her newborn cheek. "She's not very pretty," he says doubtfully. "Her eyes are crossed, I think, and her skin is all red."
"What a horrible thing to say," Saya says, but she is still laughing. "Our daughter is beautiful, Chihaya. She's perfect."
"I guess," he murmurs. He lays his hand on her chest as he watches their baby eat, the tip of his smallest finger just brushing the corner of their daughter's mouth.
Saya still wants to blush at the absent way he touches her. Nobody has ever taught Chihaya to be leery of what is and is not appropriate. She isn't usually embarrassed, but her body has changed and she is flushing with self-consciousness.
There are new red marks on her skin that Chihaya hasn't noticed yet. They are glaringly obvious to her as she feeds her daughter, stretched red and raw where there had only ever been clear white skin.
Chihaya bypasses them entirely to poke at the baby's nose. "And her nose doesn't look anything like yours," he says, disappointment clear in his voice. "She looks too much like me."
The amusement that sprinkles down her spine makes her forget all about her stretch marks. "That is exactly why she's beautiful."
"Maybe," Chihaya says. "My sister was beautiful, but I still think you're prettier, Saya. She should look more like you."
"You're comparing me to the Princess of Light?"
Chihaya looks up and smiles. It is as sweet as it has ever been, still lit from within by gold flecks that even humanity hasn't completely taken away. "You're so pretty, Saya," he says, "Who'd want a Child of Light when they could have you? I wish she looked more like you."
"I'd want you," Saya says. "I'm glad she looks like you, it means she's the most beautiful girl in Toyoashihara."
He makes a noncommittal noise at her and stares down at the life they made together. "Do you think the next one will look more like you?" Chihaya asks wistfully.
"If not the next one," Saya says, reaching up to cover Chihaya's hand on her breast with her own, "Then the third, maybe. Or the one after that."
"Or the one after that one."
Chihaya laughs. He touches the baby's cheek with his free hand as she suckles, and tucks his head against the top of Saya's own. "Then I guess it's alright if she looks like me."
Sudden foreboding rises in Saya's chest and she asks, "You'll still love her the same, won't you?" She couldn't bear it if Chihaya didn't love this daughter as much as she did.
She can't see Chihaya's face, but his voice sounds startled when he says, "Of course I will. She still came from you, even if she doesn't look like you. I love everything about you, Saya."
Saya turns her head so they are face to face. "Even my stretch marks?" she asks.
Chihaya kisses her, a brief touch of lips that reminds her of their first kiss amid the gypsy roses in the Goddess's embrace. "What are stretch marks?" he asks seriously. "Whatever they are, if they're yours, I'm sure I'll like them."
What a silly, stupid boy, Saya thinks fondly. She doesn't respond, content to watch their daughter finish greedily eating.
The baby slurps off with a milky yawn. Chihaya's fingers wipe her mouth clean before Saya can use the blanket to do it, thumb stroking soft over the baby's small mouth. "Messy," he chides gently.
"Perfect," Saya disagrees.
"If you say so, Saya."