AN: Summary is from "Insomnia" by Elizabeth Bishop.

Vice Versa

Her hands brush the darker hakama and she knows: this is not by choice. This is all that is left to her now. Chikane took her own miko garb, and there isn't another. Chikane took everything.

Perhaps, even as she blots out that radiance she loves so dearly, she might save a scrap for herself, for her descent into darkness. These actions will be the death of her—or so she hopes fervently—but maybe, in the time remaining, she will not lose her heart.

For the coming dark, Chikane dresses herself in the purest light she can find.

Chikane would know what to do. Chikane would have the strength to accomplish it. Chikane would—

Where are you, Chikane-chan? Why, Chikane-chan? Can you really be like that? Were you pretending all along? Did the Chikane-chan I loved ever even exist? Can I exist without her?

And Himeko knows that she is weak.

Her own familiar clothes worn into the shape of her body slip away, and she thinks of the Chikane she wants to exist, needs to exist.

Fiction or not, that Chikane will walk again. It is Himeko who summons her.

I am not myself. My life is forfeit to you, along with all that I have loved. After my sins, it is easiest to embrace this evil, easier to die. Even though I know that you would still forgive me.

But your scent lingers here. I cannot question myself now, not with your fragrance resting on my skin.

Chikane smiles, and the Orochi shudder. She's played a brilliant trick. Switch of costumes, and the order is reversed. Chikane may be ill-suited to play the part of the fair maiden's sacrifice, but the Fates are said to be blind. She only hopes that she has tainted Himeko enough for her to accept the Lunar role.

The Solar Miko's sacrifice, and the Orochi's combined power. She carries her head high, and prays the end is soon.

Her head will not be held high. Instead, Himeko can do nothing but look at her own hopelessly blonde hair, incongruous with Chikane's borrowed clothing. Someday, she thinks, she will look down, and see Chikane's blue-black locks, possess Chikane's courage and bearing, her strength.

The first ceremony goes awry. Ame no Murakumo sleeps, same as ever. But something else wakes.

That determination. Would she ever have even imagined it in herself if not for Chikane? Would she know what to say and how to say it, would she even have the courage to stand now, if not for what Chikane taught her? So she is naked again, naked inside the clothes Chikane always wore. It isn't Himeko that unseals Ame no Murakumo. Even Himeko knows the simple facts. She is weak.

And Chikane is strong.

Sometimes one has to be strong.

Chikane's heart overfills with joy when she sees Himeko's eyes, even as she is overcome with grief.

I did it. I've destroyed her. I've saved her.

There is no light without darkness.

This is a happy ending.