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Title: The Moon in Water
Fandom: Onmyouji
Pairing: Seimei/Hiromasa
Rating: PG13
Prompt: #18 – full moon @ [livejournal.com profile] story_lottery
Summary: Seimei breaks a taboo during The Godless Month.
Word count: 1179

The Moon in Water


Hiromasa woke to the sight of the full moon, bone-white and frozen, through the slats of the bamboo blinds. Blinking at the light, he rolled over beneath the heap of layered robes and discovered he was alone.

“Seimei?”

He whispered the name, conscious of the fact that Seimei seemed able to hear his words from half the city away; but when he received no response, Hiromasa untangled himself from the bedding and crawled out onto the floorboards. Immediately he shifted back onto the sleeping mat, the chill of the floor startling him into full wakefulness.

It was halfway through the tenth month, and the court’s summer clothes had been wrapped and stored while winter robes had been shaken out and aired over scented braziers. The tenth month, the Godless Month, had arrived with bitter force, relentless northerly winds clawing down over Heian-Kyo for the last week.

The weather was so unremittingly dreary that the Emperor had summoned a meeting of the Bureau of Divination and demanded an explanation. Despite the fact that no one could catch even a glimpse of the heavens through the pall of grey cloud, the yin yang masters drew up charts and studied the I Ching and checked the almanac. They offered varying opinions: an angry demon residing on Mount Hiei had sent the wind; a star had tilted on its axis and brought the cold; earth had been broken on an inauspicious day and restless spirits clamoured for retribution. The one thing they all agreed upon was that the auguries for the tenth month were bad. People should stay indoors as much as possible and avoid travelling in a northerly direction.

When Hiromasa asked Seimei why the weather had turned so cold, the answer was much simpler. “Because it’s winter,” Seimei had said, and that was the end of the conversation.

Still, it did not hurt to be cautious. Fearing demons, tilted stars, and restless spirits, Hiromasa bought a dozen protective amulets from the Bureau of Divination and restricted his movements around the city, except for his visits to Seimei. He always felt safe within Seimei’s estate; yet now, as he pulled on the first of his padded under-robes, a ripple of alarm went through him. What if Seimei had gone out to fight the demon and the restless spirits without him? And in the dead of night, too!

Dressed in three mismatched layers, Hiromasa crept across the floor and raised the blinds enough to duck beneath them. He caught his breath at the frosted air, seeing the faintest halo around the moon. The bad weather had broken, and the night was without fault. The veranda was a contrast of brilliant light and inky shadows, but it was the sight of Seimei that held Hiromasa’s attention.

Seimei knelt, naked to the waist, his under-robes spread out behind him like shed butterfly wings. His hair hung down over one shoulder, the length of it wet and gleaming in the moonlight, the ends trailing in a large shallow tub of gently steaming water.

Startled, Hiromasa ventured closer, his feet leaving tracks of warmth on the cold wooden floor. As he approached, Seimei stilled and gazed into the tub. Swirls of steam brushed against his face, blurring his appearance for a moment.

Hiromasa stood over him, looking down at the rippling, fractured reflection of the moon in the water. He waited, his breath clouding the air, until the moon resolved itself and became whole again. Though it seemed wrong to break the silence, he had to ask: “Aren’t you cold out here?”

“No. It is a mild night.”

A shiver went through Hiromasa, his flesh forming goose bumps beneath his layered robes. Seimei appeared not to notice the cold at all, his skin smooth and pale, almost glowing white in the moonlight. Hiromasa gazed at him covetously. “What are you doing?”

Seimei lifted his head, his wet hair clinging to his body and dripping water down his torso to soak into the thin white silk of his under-robe. “As you see.”

“I can see what you’re doing, but why are you doing it?” Hiromasa tried not to stare at the wet silk and what it revealed.

“Do I need a reason?” Seimei tilted his head and dipped his hair through the reflection of the moon, then retrieved a wooden ladle and poured warm water over his head. The water, silvery in the moonlight, splashed over Seimei’s shoulders and spilled onto the veranda.

Hiromasa felt the warmth of it on his bare feet and stepped back. “Seimei, stop being obtuse. You know as well as I do that this is not an auspicious day for washing hair!”

From the shadows beside the tub, Seimei lifted a small cup. Its contents glimmered, and Hiromasa realised it was oil. When Seimei tipped it over his hair and started working the oil through to the ends, Hiromasa could smell the release of fragrance—rose and geranium, and something spicier with heat that he couldn’t quite identify.

“The rules do not always apply,” Seimei murmured. His fingers and hair shone with oil.

“Oh.” Hiromasa swallowed, a warm curl of arousal firing deep in his belly. He cleared his throat and added slyly, “I suppose foxes do not need to pay attention to auspicious and inauspicious days.”

“They do,” Seimei said, “but they obey a different calendar, as do all animals.”

Intrigued, Hiromasa leaned back against one of the veranda posts and folded his arms. “What days are auspicious for foxes?”

“Today is auspicious.” Seimei squeezed out water from his hair. “The full moon is always auspicious for foxes. It restores yin energy, just as bathing and washing hair restores the yin energy contained within water.”

“And the scents.” Hiromasa indicated the empty cup. “Rose, geranium... these are yin perfumes.”

“They are also plants good for softening and conditioning hair,” Seimei remarked with a small smile.

“There is something else in there.” Hiromasa went closer and sniffed. “I don’t recognise it.”

“Ginseng.” Seimei twisted his hair, squeezing out the last drops of water. He lowered his gaze, but he was still smiling. “The most potent of yang herbs.”

“Yang,” repeated Hiromasa. “Oh. So you need both yin and yang herbs to wash your hair.”

“It is wise to be balanced at all times.” Seimei’s expression turned serious for a moment. “Of course, on a night such as this, when the yin energy is at full flow, it would be advantageous if I were to acquire more yang energy.”

“Ah?” Hiromasa frowned. “How...”

Seimei looked up at him, invitation gleaming in his eyes. “If you would like to share your yang energy with me...?”

Realisation made Hiromasa laugh. “It would be a pleasure, Seimei. But not on this cold veranda.”

Seimei chuckled and rose to his feet, unfastening the ties on his under-robe so he stood naked beneath the moonlight, his wet hair spread over his shoulders. He held out his hand and gave that secret half smile again. “Then let us go inside, Hiromasa, lest we shame the moon.”

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