Azura’s head snaps up from her book, seeing her son burst into the living room. “Shigure?” she says, voice a little high-pitched with worry. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Shigure hurries over, his gold eyes wide. His small, gangly frame is disheveled, and his hair sticks out in all directions. “My voice—something’s wrong with my voice!”
Azura blinks at her son, then stands and puts her hands on his shoulders. “Shigure, calm yourself. You sound just fine to me. First, breathe. Then explain the problem to me.”
Little ‘Gure looks up at his mother, trembling a bit, then takes a deep breath. “I… I was singing to the animals in the forest, and—and something kept happening to my voice. All the animals left because they got scared away…”
“Oh, ‘Gure, I’m sorry…” Azura’s heart squeezes in her chest. She knows how much her son enjoys singing to them. She pats his head, both to comfort him and to sort his hair back into place. “Is it some sort of cough?”
“Um, sort of…” Shigure bites his lip. “Let me…”
He takes another breath, then starts to sing: “You are the ocean’s gray wa—”
His voice cracks, and he gives a little cough, then desperately tries to continue: “Destined to seek life beyond the sho—”
Shigure’s voice breaks again, and he looks up at his mother with tears in his eyes. “I can’t hit the high notes… Why can’t I hit the high notes?”
“Oh, Shigure…” Azura kisses his forehead. “Your voice is getting deeper. It’s natural for boys your age.”
He pouts. “Why, though? I want to sing like you!”
“It just… is that way when you grow up.”
“But… but why isn’t your voice deep, too?” Shigure whines.
That gives Azura pause. She’s been dreading this conversation. “Well… boys and girls grow differently.”
Shigure frowns. “Will…” He starts to tremble again. “Will I be okay? What if other things change? I don’t want to grow up!”
“Shh, Shigure, calm down…” Azura pulls him in for a hug. “Just… hold on for a moment, okay? I think your father will have better answers for you.”
“Dad will…?” Shigure whimpers, hiding his face against his mother’s dress.
“Yes, he will,” Azura promises. “Hold on for a moment, okay, Shigure? Go sit down. Drink some water.”
Shigure nods, still shaken up, and goes to sit. Azura hurries to the nursery and knocks softly, then opens the door and pokes her head in. Sitting in the rocking chair is Corrin, their little bundle Kana securely held in his arms. He looks up with a soft smile at his wife until he notices her expression, and then he frowns.
“Azura?” he says. “What is it?”
Azura bites her lip, equal parts terrified of what she has to say, and excited to see her husband’s reaction. “It’s time, Corrin. You have to give Shigure ‘the talk.’”
And at once, Corrin’s hair goes as pale as his hair.