Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. Be thankful for that.

Author's Notes: ::grins: My poor beta, Aithril, had a heart attack while reading this, especially when I told her that the grammatical yowch-ness is deliberate. So no flaming the poor girl, since I told her not to correct the errors as this is a fic in journal format.

Anyway, I wrote this in response to Catesy's fanfiction contest – the Inu Family Challenge – which is why it's so different from most of my other fics. It sort of slots into the 3rd movie's plot, but you don't have to have seen that movie in order to understand what's going on.

So enjoy!

Nightshade Tea

7th Day of Yayoi, Muromachi Year 142 (7th March 1480)

I was promised to Lord Meio's son today. I wish I wasn't. I hate that greasy little fat man and his stupid son. But my father and Lord Meio came to peace a few days ago and have been talking a lot about the "conditions of their allegiance", and just to prove my father's loyalty, he's promised me as a gift. I told him that if Lord Meio really was a good ally then he wouldn't demand this marriage between me and his son… but ever since mother died, there have been very few people who have managed to change my father's mind.

At least I can rest easy in the knowledge that the marriage won't be for another six years. Even my father realises that perhaps ten years isn't old enough to marry. I'll be sixteen when I leave to be Miyataro's wife.

I just shivered.

If Miyataro is a stupid little grease ball now, then how much greasier will he be in six years? At least he may be a little cleverer.

I'm not looking forward to my wedding.

17th Day of Uzuki, Muromachi Year 142 (17th April 1480)

Something incredible happened today! I'm still trembling from excitement!

It happened while I was down by the river with Fukimi, my retainer. She was helping me pick some flowers to leave in the Shrine when I heard Fukimi screamed. I was scared, because she screamed something about a demon, and everyone knows that when you cross paths with a demon, you've pretty much had it by then. But when I looked up, the only other person I saw was a man on the opposite side of the river. I didn't understand why Fukimi was screaming, but she seemed to be scared of the man, and when she tried to run away with me, I shook her off and stayed where I was.

Fukimi's a bit of a coward, I suppose. She left me by the river.

But then I realised that Fukimi had been right. That man was a demon.

I was more nervous than scared, when I looked at him. He was tall and probably the most beautiful person I'd ever seen. His hair looked as white and pure as newly fallen snow, and he wore clothes that would make my father choke on his jealousy. But he was very old, in his thirties perhaps. I shouldn't have mistaken him for an ordinary man, even if it was for only a moment. The man seemed to radiate unearthly beauty and even though he looked human, I could tell that he was anything but.

He watched me with an impassive curiosity… or maybe it was indifference? He looked at me the way my mother had looked at my father – she hadn't really liked him. So I did the first thing that came to mind and bowed deeply.

When I straightened, he was gone.

He must have been some kind of demon lord. A powerful one. And very, very rich.

I'm going to go down to the river again tomorrow. Maybe I'll see him there? I hope I do.

13th Day of Kaminazuki, Muromachi Year 142 (13th October 1480)

I never did see the Man in White again, as I've started to call him. I still go down to the river, and sometimes I go further into the woods, but I never see him. It's disappointing… but I just have this feeling inside my chest that we'll meet again one day. He seems like a deity, one that isn't to be sighted lightly. You'd only see him if he was the last thing you saw, or if you were very special.

My birthday has been and gone. I turned eleven this Autumn and as a surprise present, Lord Meio and his son paid us a visit. I still hate them as much as ever. Stupid little fat man and his equally stupid and little son. At least the father has a hint of brains. His son just stares at me stupidly and then stares some more when I try to be polite and ask him a question like "How old are you?"

But maybe his father is worse, after all. All Lord Meio does is walk around the castle and leer at me every time he sees me. I keep seeing him nudge my father and say "She'll be a pretty one!" as if I don't have ears to hear him. My father seems to take this as an encouraging sign of peace.

What can I do? I'm just the daughter of a humble daimyou and it is my duty to help my father and keep our province safe from the other daimyous. And if part of my duty is marrying another daimyou to keep peace, then that is what I'll have to do.

However, I've already considered slashing my face to destroy the 'beauty' that Lord Meio keeps sniggering about. Will his stupid son want me then? Will Lord Meio? Will I get to stay here until I am an old maiden who no one wants to marry because I'm ugly and old?

It's a tempting thought.

But Kohana reckons I shouldn't bother. She says beauty isn't as important as people think it is. Lord Meio's son will still marry me, even if I was disfigured, she says. Destroying my face would be a big price to pay for such a small chance at freedom.

Kohana is full of wise words. It's because she's a miko from the Musashi domain. Apparently, it's very peaceful there so people can sit around all day and think up wise things to say. My father assigned her to look after me when Fukimi left. Since Fukimi happened to mention that I was a magnet for 'terrible youkai', my father thought a powerful miko was the only way to go.

I'm not sure about Kohana. She's so distant and powerful that she might be a youkai too for all I know. But she's kind and she teaches me how to identify herbs and make basic medicine, so I suppose she's a nice person.

21st Day of Minazuki, Muromachi Year 146 (21st June 1484)

Disaster has struck.

Lord Meio and my father are going to war against another daimyou, and in order to confirm their friendship, they want to push the wedding up to this year. During Lord Meio's visit, I saw his son and I'm sad to say that he looks twice as retarded as he did when I last saw him. But he seems to have made up for his lack of brains with doubling his muscle.

I quite honestly hate him and his fool of a father.

Perhaps it would be less painful if I drowned myself in the river tomorrow? In fact I will. I can't stand my father and I can't stand the man I'm supposed to marry. What choices do I have left? Be miserable and married or feel nothing and be dead?

I'll miss Kohana. She's probably the one person who actually cared whether I existed or not.

22nd Day of Minazuki, Muromachi Year 146 (22nd June 1484)

Perhaps I overreacted yesterday. I've been angry at a lot of things lately and the news of an earlier wedding rattled my nerves.

That still didn't stop me from going down to the river again, even if I didn't plan to drown myself. I just wanted to get away, and perhaps give my father a good scare in the process.

And perhaps it was a good thing I did so. Because I saw him again.

He wasn't on the other side of the river this time. He stood before me, facing the water with his back turned in my direction. I knew it was him, even without seeing his face and four years between meetings, because no one on earth possessed such a splendid head of hair and such a velvety cloak of cream fur.

At first I wondered if he'd even heard me coming, so perhaps he would be angry if I spoke up and surprised him.

But just as I was hesitating over what to do, he said. "State your name, child."

At first all I could do were a few uncanny impressions of a coy carp with my mouth, but eventually I remembered what my mother had named me. "I-Izayoi…"

"It fits." And for the first time, I discovered how rich his voice was. It was the kind of timbre that would carry across a meadow with only the barest of whispers, and could shake the foundations of a palace when he roared. I stared at the back of his head unapologetically and hoped that he would turn around to look at me.

And he did.

I can still remember how warm his eyes were. Like two drops of honey, flecked with gold to reflect the richness of his clothes. I don't think I'll ever meet anyone again who contained so much beauty and elegance in the same breath.

"Why are you here?" he asked me evenly. A question that I wanted to aim at him, but I thought it would be politer to answer his questions before I made some of my own.

"I'm…" I decided to tell the truth, although I knew that I was venting a little anger on this stranger. "I'm trying to get away from the man I'm supposed to marry." I said, and I'm still ashamed of the sullenness in my voice. "He's stupid and vain and I don't want to marry him."

"So you've run away?" He gave no hint of amusement or interest, just looked at me seriously.

"No… I suppose I'm going back later." I sighed. "I can't escape my fate."

"Unless it is not your fate."

When he said that, I looked up at him with a frown. I was sure what he'd meant by that and his calm expression gave nothing away. "Who is your intended?"

"Lord Meio's son, Miyataro Meio." I said dutifully. "From the Kazusa domain. But the only reason I have to marry him this year is because Lord Meio and my father want to go to war together against the Hitachi domain."

I wanted to ask him what he'd meant by the 'fate' comment… but then he was walking away from me and I knew I didn't have much time, so I asked the question that I'd been wanting to ask him since I was ten years old. "What is your name?" I called after him.

"I am the leader of the dogs… the Inu no Taisho…"

That was all he left me with and nothing more. I now knew he was the leader of the dogs… but I still didn't know his name. I watched as he disappeared into the trees, and at almost the exact moment his form had faded, Kohana arrived behind me.

"Your father will be worried." she told me gently.

"Good." I said, somewhat callously, but I followed her back to the castle and came up to my room to update a journal I haven't touched since I was a little girl.

I hope I see him again.

26th Day of Minazuki, Muromachi Year 146 (26th June 1484)

Incredible news arrived today and the whole province is alive with whispers and gossip.

The daimyou of the Hitachi province, the man my father and Lord Meio wanted to wage war against, has fallen in battle by the hand of a phantom army. According to the messenger who arrived this morning, the daimyou's armies have been laid waste and the lord's castle was desecrated and reduced to nothing but ash. No one knows which powerful daimyou must have destroyed the Hitachi province, because so far, no one has owned up and claimed the land as their own.

People say a phantom was at work… since there is no trace of any invading army, and I expect all the other daimyous will be too cowardly to try and take control of cursed land. Perhaps it will turn out to be another province controlled by peasants, given time? More power to them. It has nothing to do with me.

Except… now that there is no province to invade, my father and Lord Meio can't go to war. There is no reason to push the wedding forward and my stupid 'intended' will be going home tomorrow.

Thank the god who must have listened to my prayer last night…

3rd Day of Shiwasu, Muromachi Year 147 (3rd December 1485)

It has been a while since I've logged my activities and thoughts on paper. Unfortunately, my father discovered my last journal and was enraged to discover that I was against his war plans and that I had been 'consulting' a demon behind his back. For some reason he seemed to think that Inu no Taisho was responsible for the desecration of the Hitachi domain… and maybe he is right, but now he thinks that I am cursed too and has tried to make Kohana watched me more closely.

It's hard slipping away from the watchful eyes of the miko, but I am a grown woman now and I can do what I want, can't I? I'm sixteen and it has taken me over a year to find the time and privacy to start another journal. My father took the last one away and I fear he destroyed it.

At least I don't have to bother hiding my feelings about a certain 'intended' anymore.

Speaking of which, I am soon to marry the vain fool next year.

It's difficult to stop the shudders of repulsion these days.

I'm surprised Meio's son still wants me for himself, especially after all these rumours flying around about me being cursed. Apparently, my father wasn't the only one who read my journal when I was fourteen, and it has been spread around that I associate myself with unholy creatures.

People have been avoiding me ever since… and… it stings…

But that is a small price to pay, especially when my gift is freedom and privacy and more time to myself. I spend it by the river, every day, in hopes that I will see my Inu no Taisho again.

Shortly after my father took away my last journal, I went down to the river and I met him again. It was so long ago that I barely remember what conversation passed between us. All I remember is the simple pleasure at being allowed to look upon his beauty and have him even remotely interested enough to acknowledge me in return. We had spoken of polite things… and I remember asking him about the desolation of the Hitachi daimyou… but he had avoided answering the question so cleverly that I hadn't noticed what he'd done until a few hours after we had parted company.

I went down to the river every day of every week and sometimes he was there, but mostly I sat there on the river bank for hours by myself. I kept wondering what it was by the river that kept bringing him back. More often than not, I arrived to find him gazing quietly at the water. I worried that I was disturbing him, and that was the reason why he left my company after an hour or two… but if I did bother him then he never said.

And he always returned.

Time flew past. A harsh winter detained me from going to the river on some days, but the winter melted into a fresh spring and I was back, faithfully visiting the river every day. And as always, Inu no Taisho visited as well.

From our conversations, I learnt that he was an inu youkai, and that he had a son, older than I was. He told me about his travels and what he'd seen, and from what I gathered I came to realise that he was even older than my great grandfather. I hung onto his every word, drinking in his beauty and his gentle manner and struggled to tell him stories that matched his. What had I seen in my short, constricted life? He was a free spirit and I was a princess in a box… what was he doing talking to me?

I learnt many more things about Inu no Taisho. The main one being that he doesn't really have a sense of humour. He's very serious and I suppose that just comes with wisdom, but at first it was disconcerting when I would say something and expect a smile or a laugh and all I would get was a thoughtful look. I'm more used to it now. I think I do amuse him, but only in the way a man would smile over a child who is trying to impress.

A few months ago he asked me this question. "When are you to be married?"

And I answered. "Next year, in spring."

He asked. "Have you come to like your intended any better?"

"He'd a stupid little man." I said that often and I said it loud. "He's greasy and vain. I can't stand him and if I marry him I'll try and poison his sake. And if I fail, I'll poison my own sake."

He had smiled in that quietly amused way. I liked it when he smiled. Even though it made me feel like a child, I still liked to know I pleased him in some way. He'd said, "I don't doubt it for a moment."

"He repulses me." I added vehemently. "He's ugly and brainless. I shudder at the thought of him touching me."

Inu no Taisho hadn't seemed so amused anymore after I'd said that, and I wondered if I'd irritated him because he was frowning.

"But I have to, don't I?" I said uncertainly, trying to amend his temper. "It's my duty as the hime. The people of this province work and keep me in the life of luxury that I live in…" Except, I'd never found such constant solitude and constriction a luxury. "I have to repay them by keeping them safe from war."

"You have a kind heart." He told me gently.

I knew that. I've always known that my heart was soft and kind… and how many times have I wished it wasn't? I was so sheltered in this life that the sensitivity I'd had inherently as a child had lasted until now. But If I'd just been toughened up a little more then perhaps my loneliness wouldn't hurt so much, and the suspicious glances of the other nobles and retainers wouldn't make my lungs freeze.

And if I wasn't so kind then maybe I could allow myself to be selfish and run away from this province without ever looking back.

But I knew I wouldn't. Couldn't.

So I smiled at Inu no Taisho. "It's my duty." I said humbly. "And if that involves marrying a slimy human toad who thinks he's the finest specimen a woman could ever want, then so be it." I shuddered again and hugged my knees. "I'll do what I must."

"Even if he repulses you." Inu no Taisho said.

"Yes." I squeezed my eyes shut. "When he kisses me I shall have to close my eyes and imagine someone else."

That was when he'd kissed me. Gently, on the lips. My eyes had popped open like a fool's and I had stared at him as he'd sat back. The question must have been obvious on my face.

"Remember that whenever he kisses you." He'd stood and drifted away like a dream.

"I'll try…" I whispered after him.

I tried to remember that kiss whenever Miyataro tried to kiss me… but I ended up thinking about it all the time.

Even now in the depths of winter, with that kiss so long ago buried in summer, I still think about it and wonder if he remembers it too. I don't think he does. He never mentions it and he treats me the same as ever.

Ever since that day he kissed me, I believe that I've grown to love him. It feels forbidden and wrong, but I won't bother lying to myself and saying I'm not in love. Because I am. My father would probably disown me if he ever found out. Sometimes I found that appealing, but mostly I realised that I wouldn't survive alone like that. Inu no Taisho wouldn't be able to help me, even if he felt motivated enough to bother helping. From our long talks over the months, I've gathered that he has no home… he's a wanderer without need or desire for shelter or warmth. He goes wherever his feet take him and he owns whatever he walks on. I've realised that a home would be a weakness to him – a weak flank that would be susceptible to attack.

He's a loner, and better off that way. He doesn't need or want a silly human child tagging along with him.

So I pray that my father never finds out, and I shall have to keep this journal as safe from his hands as possible. I must also keep the truth from Inu no Taisho… for while I don't fear he will laugh at me, I worry that he'll think me weak and childish and leave me for good.

I think I hear Kohana coming to bed… I'll stop now. But I don't know when the next chance to write like this will arise…

22nd Day of Shiwasu, Muromachi Year 147 (22nd December 1485)

It's incredible. I never thought I'd actually meet him… but I did.


I went down to the river yesterday. I had to wear an extra layer because it was so cold and the snow made my feet sting, but I went nonetheless. It was actually warmer within the trees and beside the flowing water that made the snow melt, so I sat on a outcropping rock over the water and waited.

A white haired inu youkai arrived shortly after… and I only mistook him for Inu no Taisho for a fraction of a moment. Then I was scared.

Inu no Taisho's eye were as warm and rich as his voice… but this inu youkai radiated nothing but iciness. A coldness that put the world around us to shame. His eyes were sharp, and when he spoke his voice was smooth and young… so I realised who he was in an instant.

"So you're the human whore my father has been wasting his time with."

His words cut deep, and I felt ashamed. Compared to this man and his father, I was un-kept, dishevelled and the cold had tinged my nose and cheeks pink. I was a sore thumb compared to these magnificent creatures. So I bowed. "My name is Izayoi." I told him humbly.

"You're a child." he said coldly.

"I'm sixteen." My hands shook, but I was annoyed at his patronising tone. He looked to be only a couple of years older than myself… even though I knew he was far older than that.

His cold gaze narrowed and his eyes swept over me. He said nothing for a while, but then in his silky monotone he said, "Nothing will come of this."

I frowned, not understanding. Nothing will come of what?

But just like his father, he turned and melted away into the darkness of the trees like the snow melting on the river bank.

So I spoke to Inu no Taisho today and told him about his son's visit. I omitted the part where I had been quite frightened that I wouldn't see the next sun rise at the time. Inu no Taisho told me his son's name was Sesshomaru and that his mother was another inu youkai who died when Sesshomaru was a child.

I thought Inu no Taisho was trying to reassure me… but I soon realised he was warning me.

"You must keep clear of Sesshomaru." he told me. "It is in his nature to be jealous and he can be ruthless in attaining what he desires."

"Jealous…" I had gaped at Inu no Taisho. "Does he… desire me?"

He'd shook his head. No.

"Then what is he jealous of?"

Inu no Taisho had just smiled. Now that I am remembering our conversation, I realise that he sneakily avoided answering my question without me knowing. As much as he infuriates me sometimes, I would still prefer him over Sesshomaru. I'm not sure I feel quite safe when his son is around, but Inu no Taisho assures me that he doesn't linger in the same place for long and it will be a long time before I ever see Sesshomaru again… if ever at all.

That's comforting, at least.

15th Day of Kisaragi, Muromachi Year 148 ( 15th February 1486)

March is approaching. Supposedly it rolls in like a lion and out like a lamb… which means that we enter March in Winter, but leave in Spring.

I have a feeling it will be the other way around, as I am due to marry Miyataro next month and my life will be nothing but turbulent afterwards. But like a lamb, I will go and marry my intended and like a lion I will keep my husband at bay.

But even so… I don't want to marry him.

"Have you considered running away?" That's what Inu no Taisho asked me yesterday. It wasn't really a question, it was a suggestion.

"I can't…" I sighed miserably. "It's set in stone and I can't avoid it. I don't want to marry him… but I have to. It's as simple as that."

So he said. "There is nothing to stop you leaving."

"And where would I go?" I pointed out. "My father will hunt me down and bring me back, and even if I do escape his province, what would I do then? Where would I go?"

Then I cried. I hated crying, and I hated it more that I was revealing another of my silly human weaknesses to Inu no Taisho. But I couldn't help it. I was about to tie myself to a man I couldn't stand and I would be leaving the home I'd known for the past sixteen years in order to do so. I would be in an unfamiliar environment… and worse? I would never be able to see Inu no Taisho again.

It was awfully sad that my only friend happened to be a demon.

Maybe I am cursed?

17th Day of Kisaragi, Muromachi Year 148 (17th February 1486)

Kohana can't come with me to Kazusa. She has to return back to the Musashi domain where she was born. It's because she fell in love with one of my father's retainers and now they're having a child together. She's lost her miko title and is no longer able to watch over me… and she apologised for it. But I think it is better this way. If I were her, I would rather be free to love the man I chose and raise our child together than be stuck with a cursed princess.

She's three months along now and she says the castle seer has divined that the child will be destined for greatness (but I've noticed that she tells that to every pregnant woman). Kohana couldn't think of a name, and neither could her husband-to-be, so I told her my idea.

Kikyo. I've always liked that name. Unusual and beautiful, and it will fit if the child turns out to be a girl destined to do great deeds. However, if it is a boy… well, Kohana will have to choose her own name if it's a boy. But somehow I have a feeling that it will be a girl.

Kohana is due to leave tomorrow so I hope she has a safe journey and that one day I may get to see her child. I leave for Kazusa in two weeks and my wedding will be in three.

I wish I could leave with Kohana…

1st Day of Yayoi, Muromachi Year 148 (1st March 1486)

I'm leaving in two days…

I tried to find Inu no Taisho by the river… but he wasn't there. I haven't seen him for a week.

I really need to see him.

2nd Day of Yayoi, Muromachi Year 148 (2nd March 1486)

Inu no Taisho wasn't there. Has he grown bored of my company at last?

3rd Day of Yayoi, Muromachi Year 148 (3rd March 1486)

I found him at last. I had to go beyond the river and deeper into the forest before I saw him. Of course, when he turned to look at me, I couldn't take it anymore. I cried again. I begged him not to let them take me away to marry a horrible man and live with his horrible father. I sobbed and I snivelled and I'm so ashamed and I knew that if I didn't stop then he would walk away in disgust.

But I was too far gone.

I told him that I loved him… and that I didn't want to leave him – he was my only friend. I just sank pathetically to the floor and wept because I knew that this was how my life was supposed to be. I am miserable, and I will be miserable to the day I died. And I told Inu no Taisho so.

He didn't even bat an eyelid at my disgraceful behaviour. "Get up." was all he said and at once I complied because I was scared I had broken his respect for me.

"You are too brave and civilised to throw yourself on the floor and have a tantrum like an infant."

I wanted to scream at him that he was wrong. That I was a coward – a soft hearted fool whose sensitivity was my own undoing. But I held my tongue.

"If I offered to take you away from here, what would be your answer?"

He said it so seriously that it was casual for him… and it took a few moments for his words to sink in. My hopes rose like a tidal wave, an incredible rush of relief. "You can take me away from here?!" I cried.

"I can." He nodded slowly. "But I cannot offer you protection or shelter. Your life would be in jeopardy and I am not willing to risk your safety."

I lowered my head and accepted this. I was grateful enough that he cared about my life, and evidently I was safer among my own people. But I still would have given anything to have followed him from then on.

I wasn't so surprised when his elegant hand reached out and cupped my cheek. "Go with your people and when the time is right I will come for you." he told me softly.

Which meant that he was leaving me indefinitely. I wept again, but this time he held me loosely and stroked my hair. My emotions were turbulent, and I had a dreadful sense that this was the last time I would ever see him… so I surprised both myself and Inu no Taisho when I leant up and kissed him.

Right now I'm in the convoy to Kazusa. My newest retainer is sitting opposite me… and she's watching me rather penetratingly, as if she knows what transpired only a few hours ago. I don't feel brave enough to put what happened between me and Inu no Taisho into words. I won't sully the experience by trying to describe it with such a limited language. Besides, every now and then I see my father on his horse peering into the litter suspiciously, so I have to discreetly hide my book. Somehow I can't write about such an experience with my father peering over my shoulder, literally.

Needless to say… what we did in the forest, should only have transpired between a husband and a wife. But I didn't care. I'm happy… but I'm also sad. I'll miss Inu no Taisho more than ever, even though I knew that he has promised to return to me some day.

I have to smile at this.

I still don't even know his real name.

11th Day of Yayoi, Muromachi Year 148 (11th March 1486)

I got married yesterday. The ceremony was miserable and formal and I doubt anyone actually smiled. My father left straight afterwards, and I have to wonder if I'll ever see him again.

The castle here is nicer than my father's… but the people in it are horrible. They too have heard whispers about my association with demons, and so none of the women have spoken to me at all.

But that's nothing compared to last night. My first night with my new husband.

I didn't think it was possible, but Miyataro outshone his usual piggish manners. He was stupid and he was drunk… but perhaps his intoxication prevented him from realising that his wife had already been seen to by another man. Afterwards he fell asleep and snored so loud that I was certain the rafters shook off their dust. I vowed right then and there that I would never let him touch me again. If he tried to, I would threaten to castrate him with a rusty katana. I can and will bully him… he's too stupid to realise that I'm just a woman.

I'm waiting for Inu no Taisho to come for me. I already fear that he may not want me now that Miyataro has tainted me… but I will continue to pray.

27th Day of Satsuki, Muromachi Year 148 (27th May 1486)

The palace healer confirmed that I was with child today. Since then, the news has spread around the castle and I see many people congratulating my husband. Probably because they're surprised he managed to do something right for once.

But one look in my direction and Miyataro loses his stupid smile. He knows I'm not happy, and when I'm not happy, my husband is the first to know. I feel guilty about bullying him sometimes… but it is his fault I am trapped here with no friends, no family and no love.

Although, perhaps my anger is misdirected. I keep telling myself that I am angry because Miyataro has trapped me in an awful marriage… but I am angry because I am afraid. There is a chance… a slight possibility… that the child is not Miyataro's.

I don't know how I should feel about that.

If the child belongs to Inu no Taisho, then I will be happy and I can love the child and its father. But what would these awful people do to a demon's child? They'd probably kill me on sight for betraying my husband.

But if the child belongs to Miyataro then they will celebrate me and I will be accepted here, even though I don't want that man's child. It will probably be born with half a brain considering his father has nothing between his ears but air.

I desperately hope that the child belongs to Inu no Taisho, and that he will come and rescue me before it is born so that these people won't harm the infant. But what will happen if he does come for me and the child turns out to be Miyataro's…? Will Inu no Taisho cast me aside as easily as this castle would?

I'm terrified.

12th Day of Fumizuki, Muromachi Year 148 (12th July 1486)

The child has grown considerably and Inu no Taisho still hasn't come for me.

2nd Day of Kikuzuki, Muromachi Year 148 (2nd September 1486)

It is the anniversary of my birth today, and last week I went to the healer. She said that the baby will be born in two months… and I suppose I will then have my answer on the identity of it's father.

Unless, of course, it has taken after me completely and then I'll never know.

The people around the castle have become more easy with me. When I struggle to climb stairs then there is always someone to help me. When I bathe, the other women are quick to come close to feel the baby kicking.

The kicking is quite painful actually. It happens so often and so violently that I'm certain that the child will be a trouble making boy.

Inu no Taisho has not returned yet… but I refuse to lose hope.

My fear and doubt increases by the day.

5th Day of Kaminazuki, Muromachi Year 148 (5th October 1486)

Miyataro died.

It was quite sudden. The courtiers tell me that he fell from his horse while he was out riding… he broke his neck and died in an instant. They found his body this morning.

I suppose this makes me a widow, doesn't it?

I'm trying to find it within me to grieve, but all I feel is relief. But perhaps… there is a little guilt there. Maybe I should have been a little nicer to him in his last days.

This still does not alleviate my concerns though. Everyone is looking forward to receiving the child next month, as it will be the Lord Meio's heir. I still shudder to think what they'll do to me if it turns out to be the opposite.

Inu no Taisho has yet to come for me.

11th Day of Kaminazuki, Muromachi Year 148 (11th October 1486)

Miyataro's death was not an accident.

17th Day of Kaminazuki, Muromachi Year 148 (17th October 1486)

The daimyou of Awa has attacked without warning. So much has happened over the past week that I barely had time to myself, let alone time to write down these unfolding events in my log. It started over a week ago when my husband died… he was pulled from his horse. He didn't fall at all.

Then a few days ago, the soldiers from Awa invaded the castle… and while this Lord Meio may have impressive living space and decorations, the strength of his defences is questionable.

All the men were killed, including Lord Meio himself, and only women and children were spared. I have seen enough bloodshed to last me a life time. I don't want to ever see something like this again.

Now the castle and the province is under Awa jurisdiction… and these are dangerous times. I thought the previous men were horrible… but these invaders are worse. All they do is drink and celebrate. However, there is news that my father intends to launch an attack against this castle… so there has been an upheaval of activity as the defences are built up again.

There does seem to be one decent man here.

Takemaru Setsuna.

He's the son of the daimyou of Awa. A samurai and a proficient demon killer. He's the current leader of the castle and suppose that makes him temporary daimyou of this province. He treats me courteously and I have the feeling that he probably intends to marry me… even if I am carrying someone else's child.

He still makes me uneasy.

There is so much war in this world. Is it right to bring a child into this kind of chaos and madness…?

28th Day of Kaminazuki, Muromachi Year 148 (28th October 1486)

My father is said to be on the march. He will arrive within a week. But I doubt the strength of his army… and so Awa will probably win again. The castle is on constant alert these days, waiting for invaders.

The women and the other survivors of the invasion are actually beginning to accept the Awa conquer. I suppose they liked Lord Meio and his son as much as I did.

The child is due any day now. It kicks and squirms and makes me quite ill at times. Takemaru is usually there to give me a helping hand and by now I am certain of his intentions. But I'm not interested.

I'm still waiting for my Inu no Taisho.

5th Day of Shimotsuki, Muromachi Year 148 (5th November 1486)

Inuyasha sleeps at last… so now I have a chance to log what has happened over the past few days.

Everything has changed. My body aches, almost as much as my heart. I don't understand most of what has happened… but I will try and explain it to the best of my ability.

I went into labour two nights ago. At the same time, I heard the sounds of another invasion. It terrified me and I thought that my father had come to try and take the castle for himself. Now was not a safe time for a woman to be in labour.

But it was not my father. It was Inu no Taisho.

My memories of that night are blurred due to the pain of childbirth, but I vaguely remember Takemaru coming to speak to me. He said something about monsters… but I was too delirious to recall what he said. Then I must have fallen into a deep sleep… because after that I remember nothing at all. All I remember was the sound of a child crying.

Now I realise that it was my child.

My next memory was of waking up, and Inu no Taisho was stood over me. My relief to see him was immense. I wanted to cry and embrace him… but I could see he was injured badly. I didn't dare touch him in fear of hurting him.

That was when I met my son.

Everything, for one perfect moment, had fallen into place. This was right. This was how it was meant to be. The child was clearly Inu no Taisho's and here was my lover, coming to rescue me.

But then it went horribly wrong.

He told me to run, and I did, but not before he told me what to call this child who sleeps in the cot behind me. Now I realise that it was a last request.

6th Day of Shimotsuki, Muromachi Year 148 (6th November 1486)

I ran far, but it was difficult. I was weak and exhausted and Inuyasha wouldn't stop crying. He felt heavy in my tired arms and I had to take many rests. I eventually found this village and explained my situation to the first person who ran to help me up off the ground where I had fallen.

"I am a widow…" It wasn't a lie, but I had long since decided that Inu no Taisho was my husband. No one else. I made sure that these villagers didn't see my son's face… I didn't want them to turn us out at the sight of his ears.

The villagers took pity on me and now I am staying in the villagemaster's home. He's a kind man with a kind wife… possibly the first happily married couple I have ever seen (apart from Kohana and her husband… I wonder how they are getting along? I wonder if they really did have a girl).

But my heart is heavy and no matter how much I hold my son and look upon his face, I can't feel happiness returning. Inuyasha is a painful reminder of the man I loved… and all I see in his wide amber eyes is the burning castle that took my lover away.

Hopefully the pain will lessen in time… but until now all I can do is weep.

8th Day of Shiwasu, Muromachi Year 148 (8th December 1486)

The village's hospitality did not last long after the villagemaster's wife walked in and saw Inuyasha for the first time. I was forced to leave that very hour.

"We don't want demons in this village!" the villagermaster had yelled in my wake.

It was amazing how such kind people had been able to turn so vicious so quickly.

I made my way back to where I was born – the castle in Shimosa. It was doubtful that my father would allow me to stay… but where else was I to go? No one wanted a girl and her 'hanyou' baby. Hanyou. That's the word they spit at me when I passed through a village on my way to the castle.

It was a hard journey. I had to sell my jewellery and clothing piece by piece in order to buy food for myself. But I had to be careful. If the sellers caught more than a glimpse of the child in my arms then there would be no deal and I would have to walk all the way to another village in order to find food.

Villages are several days apart from each other.

And each time I reach a merchant, every single one of them offer a staggering amount of coins for the red haori that I have wrapped my son in. One particular merchant identified it as 'fire rat'. Worth a fortune. But I wouldn't sell it. I needed it to keep Inuyasha warm, and it was the last and only gift Inu no Taisho had given the child. I would not sell it.

I reached the castle where I had grown up in a few days ago. It appears that my father died of a heart attack during the preparations to invade the castle where I was being held. He was old, so it wasn't unexpected… but what was unexpected was the pang I felt in my chest when I learnt this. I had cared about him, despite his careless handling of my life.

Yet another man dead…

My cousin had taken over as daimyou. This was a relief. He was my favourite cousin and I was his. He let me back into the castle without hesitation… until he saw Inuyasha.

"What is that?" He had stared in horror at the small child in my arms.

"My son." I said steadily.

"But that… can't be normal, can it?" He continued to stare.

"His name is Inuyasha." I told him, and no more was said.

Everyone around me presumed that Miyataro Meio must have been a demon in disguise who had forced himself on me. It stung, and I want to correct them all and tell them how wonderful and respectful Inuyasha's father was… but I knew that the moment I did I would be despised.

I am already despised. My devotion to my child disgusts them. They don't think he's worth it.

I would leave it I could. But I honestly think this is probably the only place in the world that will take me in…

18th Day of Mustuki, Muromachi Year 149 (18th January 1487)

Inuyasha continues to cry. And cry and cry. I am at my wits end. All I can do is despair whenever I think of him. He demands so much, more than I can give. Is it normal for children to cry so hard and so loud? Is it because he's half demon?

The rest of the castle is complaining about the noise at night. But what can I do?

14th Day of Kisaragi, Muromachi Year 149 (14th February 1487)

Inuyasha is teething. Isn't this too early for a child? He cries all the harder and has tantrums all the time. The pain is upsetting him… but the household is complaining again.

I don't know what to do with him.

31st Day of Yayoi, Muromachi Year 149 (31st March 1487)

Inuyasha said his first word. At least, I think he did. It sounded like "baba". Baby. He might have said "mama".

For brief moments, Inuyasha has the power to make me forget what I have lost and cherish what I have gained.

Then he starts to bawl again.

28th Day of Tsukimizuki, Muromachi Year 149 (28th August 1487)

The woman who brings me tea has been slipping a poisonous root into my tea. I still remember Kohana's teachings. I still remember the smell of fatal nightshade poison when I smell it. I have to get my own tea these days, but despite this, Ena still continues to bring me poisoned drinks. She doesn't know I have figured out her plan.

Inuyasha continues to drink from his cup then shatter it on the ground. A game he seems to enjoy greatly. I sense that he is going to be a very difficult child to control. He has already managed to stand up.

He will be running before he can walk. I just know it.

7th Day of Shimotsuki, Muromachi Year 149 (7th November 1487)

Inuyasha became a year old a few days ago. He now knows three words. "mama", "gimme" and "no." "No" is his favourite word.

"Inuyasha, do you want to go to bed?" I will ask.

And he'll say. "No."

So I'll ask. "Do you want a snack?"


"Do you want to go for a walk?"

"No." And by now I can see his maniacal grin and I know he enjoys defying me.

9th Day of Minazuki, Muromachi Year 150 (9th June 1488)

I had a dream last night. I dreamt that I was back by the river and Inu no Taisho was with me and we were talking.

I asked him. "Why do you keep coming back to the river?" I had always wanted to know this. "What is it that you came here for?"

And because it was my dream, and this was the only place where true happiness could be reached, he said. "For you."

Then Inuyasha's crying woke me up.

20th Day of Shiwasu, Muromachi Year 151 (20th December 1489)

Inuyasha turned four last month. If there terrible twos were bad then this is double the mischief.

I can't control him.

The others blame me and my incompetence. And perhaps it is just that. Am I a bad mother?

He throws things, he vandalises, he calls people names that no four year old should know. I've tried smacking him, but that only seems to provoke worse behaviour. I've tried talking to him gently to understand why he does the things he does, but he just glares sullenly at me.

The only conclusion I can come to is… Inuyasha is as unhappy as I am.

But how does one fix that?

There is a rumour that my cousin's patience is growing thin. I think he plans to throw me and Inuyasha out soon. Inuyasha's behaviour is just too rowdy for such a place.

"He belongs in the forest." I overheard my cousin's wife saying. "He's a wild animal."

My heart squeezed.

If Inu no Taisho was around then I would be able to ask him if this behaviour was normal. But he's dead and he left me alone to deal with this child. Sometimes I'm grateful. What better gift could he bestow on me than a piece of himself? But sometimes I hate him. He abandoned me and his son… even if it wasn't his fault.

Inuyasha resents everyone. He resents humans. He thinks they're all spiteful and mean spirited. "But I'm human." I told him one evening as I tried to entertain his impatient mind with a game of dice. "Do you hate me?"

"No." He sullenly jabbed at the dice. "You're different."

It was comforting to know this… but I still knew it wasn't healthy to harbour such resentment to one half of his bloodline. Did this mean that he was more youkai than human? Did he want to join up with his older brother, Sesshomaru or be a loner just like his father.

He was unhappy here.

I was forcing the unhappiness on him.

But what could I do?

10th Day of Utsuki, Muromachi Year 153 (10th April 1491)

I'm a terrible mother. If Inu no Taisho were still alive, I am sure that he would be disappointed in me.

The people I grew up with hate me. I could tolerate the way they avoided looking at me, or avoided speaking to me… but the years have added to their confidence, and now I cannot walk down a corridor without someone spitting at my feet, insulting me or at least glaring at me hatefully.

I should be used to it. It's been over five years… but each barb feels like the first.

If I was stronger, or if I had been someone else, would I be able to take this in my stride?

Because I can't.

And when I look at my son, my mind draws an uneasy blank.

He's sitting in the room with me now, shredding his futon with his claws. I know I should scold him, but what's the point? He will do it again anyway.

I look at the other children in this castle, both younger and older than my son. I see Taro, the son of my cousin's retainer, and I know that he will grow up to be a fine messenger. He's shown interest in that area and keeps ambushing every other paid messenger that arrives at the castle for advice.

Akiko, the young daughter of one of the cooks, has grown in beauty year after year and I am sure that soon there will be lines of young men with all manners of wealth asking for her hand in marriage.

Then there's Inuyasha. I look at him and I see no future for him. What is his place? Where does he belong if not here? Will he ever find a girl who can love him and overlook his 'freakish' appearance (as Akiko's mother says)? Perhaps he will. I didn't blink twice at his father.

But I don't know…

I don't know anything anymore.

4th Day of Kaminazuki, Muromachi Year 153 (4th October 1491)

My health is deteriorating. My lungs don't fill with air as they once used to and I can barely walk across the room. I am only twenty one. Why is this happening to me?

This is infuriating for Inuyasha. He can't stay cooped up in one room all day with his mother… and when I sleep I know he slips away, because I wake up every now and then and I find him gone. I know he's making trouble for the others… but I am powerless to stop him.

No one comes to help me. I have to take care of myself.

This loneliness is killing me.

19th Day of Shimotsuki, Muromachi Year 153 (19th November 1491)

It has to end. It can't go on like this

Hour of the Rooster, 1st Day of Shiwasu, Muromachi Year 153 (6:23 pm, 1st December 1491)

I've thought long and hard… but I see no other way.

I will ask Aki to give this journal to my cousin. She hates me like all the other retainers, but she also fears me and will do as I ask without question. So, cousin, if you are reading this, I hope you have seen why I did what I did and understand what I am about to do.

Please give this to Inuyasha when he is old enough to understand.

I love my son, there is no question about that, but it is a very difficult love to bear. How can I not love a child that was created in love? But he is beyond my reach. He doesn't belong here and the longer I live, the longer he will stay in this place and be miserable and bored. I sleep more than I wake these days, and my dreams constantly take me back to the river where I had once known Inu no Taisho. I'm happy there, even if it is just a dream. The pain returns the moment I open my eyes.

Sometimes I wish I would never wake up.

Perhaps what I am about to do will be considered cruel to Inuyasha… but I consider it even crueller to burden myself on him. He won't leave while I am still here… and when I am gone he will be free. He is young but he is strong. I believe in his ability to find his place in the world… something I failed to do.

My son is stronger than me. He's not a coward… so I hope he can understand me too, one day. Because I am a coward. A selfish coward. No matter what Inu no Taisho told me. He told me about fate and how if something wasn't meant to be, then it wouldn't be. But I look to the future and I see nothing for me so perhaps this is where my future ends?

I still love my child. I was never ashamed of that. I love Inu no Taisho without hesitance. And I hope that what I will do is for the good of all of us.

Am I making excuses?

Ah, Ena is here with the evening tea, and I am thirsty.

Hour of the Dog (7:14 pm)

I'm sorry, Inuyasha.