Warnings, disclaimers, wtf.

Entirely the wrong solstice for this, and a couple days late to boot, but oh well.

Birthright

She was born as the last dregs of twilight faded from the sky, and the full moon's light streamed past the point of a standing stone, marking solstice in the highland mountains.

She had no name. Her father had been reflected off the snow; her mother shone dappled between the branches of an oak tree. Her world lay between said branches above and the bend of a mossy brook below.

It was enough.

She spent most of that first hour asleep, oblivious to the frigid water soaking her trailing blankets to an inky blue-black. Soon after she woke, she learned to sit up, the blanket coiling around her pale body and freeing her legs. By the time she tried pulling herself forward, using the nearest rock, her short legs propelled her up to take a first stumbling step across the water.

The wind picked up, ruffling her blanket into a dress. As the moon lifted higher in the sky, she stretched, spinning on bare feet and lifting slimming arms to the bare branches overhead. Slowly, the branches loomed closer as she danced. Sometimes she'd mistake her lengthing body, and a toe would skid over the streambed, soaking her foot anew.

Once she nearly tripped over a floating, translucently thin plate of ice; but she picked it out of the water instead. When it snapped in her hands, she frowned, but then... she broke a corner off, and tangled it into her hair. An icy patch by the streambank reflected her thin face well enough, showing her pale hair glittered more like the snow now.

Soon, she'd tangled an entire wreath of ice around her head, and her reflection didn't frown anymore. Pretty. Maybe it would hold up under her dancing...?

A cloud wisped over the moon, and she sneezed, drawing a chuckle from the dark shape on the embankment.

She'd thought it just another piece of the world, but it was alive, and other. That explained why it was the only thing in the world that was golden, like the moon was so many hours ago. Gold staff, gold starburst on the front of its dark robes...

Her foot crunched slightly into the snow as she stepped up off the water. The other was larger than her, considerably so, and she suspected he'd remain so even when the moon reached its zenith. His gentle smile was shockingly not-cold under her fingertips, the skin of his jaw rougher than her own, and the loose strands of hair trailing behind were too black and straight.

His eyes were crinkled to slits.

So it made perfect sense to poke his nose.

His eyes crossed, startling out her first smile.

"That's better," he said, his voice the deepest, warmest sound she'd ever heard. "You've looked so serious all night."

She cocked her head at him. Serious? She'd been doing very important things. Speaking of which, there was a line of dents to investigate in the snow behind him. She glanced behind herself, and found one there too. She took a few darting, spinning steps around him, watching the snow changing underfoot, and his robes brushing the snow away in a wide arc as he turned to watch her.

There was something poking up out of the deepest holes. She knelt and dug away the snow, finding more. They were all long, and thin, and dry... and yet somehow, not entirely unlike moss. She pulled a tuft out of the dirt and held it up to him.

"That's grass," he replied. "It's all over around here."

There was more to the world than what she saw? She frowned, stepping over to an untouched drift of snow, and dug deep until she found it again. And again. Then she jumped back onto the stream and began picking up rocks. What else might be hidden?

"Are you looking for more secrets?" he asked. Absently, she nodded, peering at the tree. What was under the bark...? "I've got something you might find interesting."

People could hide things too?

He reached into a pocket over his heart, pulling out a thick book. It was several shades of gold similar to his own spots of color, and... and.... She tilted her head again, tapping at the background.

"Red," he answered.

Gold and red, and it opened to show a stack of flat, rectangular little people, asleep under her fingertips. She took them out, fanning them to see all the different designs.

"Would you like to meet them?"

Meet them? She shoved the little flat people back into his hands. No. No no no. One other was enough.

"All right, all right." He tucked the little people and their book back into his robes, and she whirled away to create more marks in the snow.

She could feel his amused eyes on her, as she tumbled and stomped around him, sometimes over the stream, mostly over the snow. Eventually, she noticed she wasn't moving as quickly or freely as before...

... and that the snow wasn't coming back.

The gold-and-dark man stood, smile unchanged, at the center of a broad circle of broken snow and tufted grass.

It didn't look pretty anymore. She frowned up at the man. Ugly messy lumps of snow and grass all over.

"There's no fixing it, my dear. It's destroyed." Deeestroyed. What a strange word. But the man's smile quirked a little higher, and he knelt, adding, "Come here."

Well. No reason not to. She dropped to her knees in the messy-ugly-lumpy snow, watching as he brushed long fingers over the grass.

"The destruction isn't bad," he told her simply. "This grass is a living thing. When the spring comes, all the snow will go away, and the grass will grow and be happy. Right here, with all the snow broken up like this? It'll go away faster, so the grass will grow earlier."

Destroy... to make what was left better?

"Of course, it's not fair to the snow," the man pointed out. "So you have to be careful what you destroy... but it's not always bad. Sometimes you can even make the mess pretty, like you did with all that ice in your hair."

... she had done that, hadn't she. Destroyed to... create, yes.

That was good, then. But you had to be careful with it.

"May I ask you something?"

She cast a curious glance, head tilting.

"Do you know what happens when the moon sets?" He pointed up to the sky.

She paused, following his gesture. It had always been there... but it had started out over there, far on the other side of the sky, and been much higher most of the time. Now it was down there, like it was sinking towards the ground. Maybe it would roll down the mountains like it rolled across the sky, and then come towards them across the snow until it reached the other side where it had started?

But there should be a looooong path of messy snow where it had been before. If it went around and around like that. Maybe...

... Maybe it sank on the other side of the mountains. And never came back.

Something deep in her shivered for the first time. She needed the moon, like she needed the water and the cold. So she would be... destroyed, without it?

You had to be careful when you destroyed. It should be done to make things better and create.

How would her destruction create or make things better?

The moon brushed against the mountains, a sliver vanishing behind the sloping peak. And with that, she knew.

She parted pale lips, finding her voice for the first time.

"I need..." Her voice was whispery and faded. "... you to create better."

"I will," he promised, raising open arms. "Come?"

Shivering, she slid forward, letting him unfold her in warm arms. His mouth brushed against her hair, and he whispered, "I bind you to the prime, the omega, and the intangible." She began to glow, weak as moonlight. Under her gaze, her hand against his chest faded, haze and bones. "I bind you to the cycle anew and the secret blood. I bind you to reflection. Your name... is Yue."

She shattered, hazy light swirling and settling into his hands.

And as the first rays of the dawn peeked over the mountains, the white-haired newborn in Clow Reed's arms wrinkled up its little face, and began to cry.

- End -