Children ran among slender trees, heavy with drooping yellow leaves that blanketed the sky. Late afternoon sunlight squeezed between the protective canopy casting scattered shadows on the valley floor. Little boys with crimson sashes chased after little girls dressed in white, swooping and laughing as they went tumbling down the hillside. Rin smiled as their mother, Michiyo-sama, rushed after them, scolding to the rescue.

It reminded her of Jaken-sama, who had chased after her many, many years ago. Before he had died, before Rin had grown old, before her lord had married another. Rin smiled, lost for a moment in memory of the lovable, though bumbling toad that had guarded her childhood.

In reality, Michiyo-sama was really nothing like Rin's old, beloved caretaker. Her eyes were alighted sapphires and her hair was spun platinum. She was as beautiful as she was powerful, and as pragmatic as she was idealistic. She could be both mercifully cruel and terribly kind. A daiyoukai bred from a line nearly as ancient as Sesshoumaru-sama's. She, the daughter of a distant lord and heir to lands in the far, far west, had brought staggering wealth, power, and prestige into her marriage. Although, Sesshoumaru-sama made it well-known that he had little want or even need of such trifles. He enjoyed all she offered, and the luxuries it afforded his children.

Rin sighed wistfully, running a liver-spotted hand through her wiry, gray hair. She was just human girl, now an old woman. Never could she hope to compare. That she loved him, loved him beyond measure, and had loved him before she learned the meaning of the word, was of no consequence. He was devoted to his lady, his children, and an agreement forged whilst he was still within the womb.

So Rin sat and watched, sidelined to his happiness. Years had passed in which she thought, more akin to wishful thinking, their marriage would fail. They seemed like complete opposites. Sesshoumaru-sama bled wanderlust, and detested permanent residences. Michiyo-sama loved home and hearth, and was unwilling to linger far from either. But compromises were made and promises kept. She was content to allow him leave as long as he promised to always return. And Rin had been happy just to travel at his side, and wish for the impossible.

Slowly, Michiyo-sama's eyes began to light up whenever Sesshoumaru-sama visited. Rin had despaired, though she tried not to, fighting back bitter jealous when Sesshoumaru-sama returned those glances with secret smiles. But as the years passed, his time away became less frequent, until eventually, he hung up his armor, packed away his swords, and remained indefinitely. Rin's dreams had shattered, her heart breaking at the realization that over the long years and stretching distance they had slowly, painfully quickly, fallen in love.

Still, she tried to be content to exist on the outskirts of his affections. She tried to hate her lady, tried to despise her, but to no avail. Michiyo-sama made Sesshoumaru-sama happy, and thus was delivered from scorn. Then, in a fleeting moment, she thought to hate him, but her heart could tell no lies.

She ignored the pang, the longing, when Michiyo-sama grew round and heavy and eventually gave birth. And when she repeated the cycle the next season, Rin tried not to die a little.

Rin thought to make her feelings known, but in the end had always held her tongue, even as her heart bled. Her lord was happiest with Michiyo-sama. And despite her pain, she wanted nothing more than to see him happy for what remained of her days.

"Nana?" piped the sleep-laden voice of her lord's littlest daughter. Rin shifted, allowing the child to snuggle against her breast. She swallowed, and pressed a light kiss to the little girl's silvery crown. The child sighed, and curled her little clawed fingers into Rin's kimono. Her bleary gold eyes blinked rapidly as she yawned widely, revealing tiny fangs. "What are you doing?"

Rin smiled, softly, and smoothed the girl's messy curls. "Thinking about-" her smile faded, though not completely- "how happy I am."