She stepped slowly into the starlight. Far over east, dawn was beginning to gentle the sky, but here, in the little valley, it was still dark. She felt cloaked in that dark, crowned by those small winter stars. She felt like a queen, for all that her dress was stained and her body taut with aching.
The night had been full of blood, dirt, love. But that is the essence of life. It had been sacred. Behind her in the warmth lay a child. Sleeping, dreaming; a beautiful child, a star in the cold morning, a seamless piece of her heart. He was the dirt of the earth, of human life. He was the blood of passage. He was love. She knew he would bless her heart and break it, because that was the way for all mothers - for queens and women in stables. She had decided nine months ago that it would be worth it.
Love is always worth it.
Quietly came her husband, and put his arms around her. His hands on her - those strong capable hands that had caught the child and drawn him into the world. She rested back against the beat of his heart. These past months had not been easy for him, but he had chosen to trust. And she trusted him in turn because of it. He had led her to safety through the long night - delivered her, as he had delivered the child.
But it was an old story, wasn't it? A story told since the beginning of time. Dirt-woman carries forth life, and the Maker-king delivers it through blood, and if between them is love all goes right.
They watched the sky turn to gold like a gift, and then they went back in to the child.