Once, when she was much younger and had yet to be disenchanted, someone asked her what she loved and she told them, Nothing. She loves it when she stretches out in her bed and can hug the opposite side because there is nothing else there, when conversation dies and the speaker leaves her because there is nothing to say, when there is nothing she has to do and nothing she has to be. Hatsuyo wants nothing. She needs nothing. Inu no Taishou promises her everything and she hates it and him bitterly and desperately. He took nothing away from her.


Hatsuyo grew up listening to her father and uncle discussing the raising star from the west, the inu youkai that was chewing through enemies and already had a fair amount of land under his belt. Hatsuyo couldn't stop thinking about the people living on the places he took over; the families of the men he slew.

You think too much, he mutters, pressing kisses into the space below her ear.

They are married in the middle of summer, on the hottest day of the year. She strips to keep cool, not as an invitation, but he takes it as such.


Her husband is gone more often than he is at home, fighting self-proclaimed enemies and slaying stupid multitudes of youkai that believe they can unseat him. She is left alone in the castle to raise their child, to be the disciplinary, to tell him No and Mind your manners.

When her husband comes home, decked out in thick armor and white fur like some sort of war god, he picks his son up and sets him down on his shoulders. He sweeps her son up and away from her, and the only thing he ever says to Sesshoumaru is Yes.


Sesshoumaru is born while her husband is away fighting cat demons, and for a while she imagines he will not come back. She should have known better: he returns with a confident smile and a sword and a new title (Inu no Taishou, daiyoukai of the west). He sits up late and watches his son and carts the child around with him and boasts and grins and accepts congratulations. No one ever gave them to her, she notes, jealousy creeping into the hollowed-out part of her heart.

Inu no Taishou falls in love and Hatsuyo falls in love with hate.


Privately, Inu no Taishou thought his wife was disappointed his triumphant western takeover had all been an illusion. That there was not actually a perfect example of a youkai out there, that someone so strong and legend-worthy could not actually exist.

There was nothing he could do about it - his blood was not blue, he could not bend the world to his will, he could not control storms and move mountains and burn the sky. He didn't have that sort of power. Inu no Taishou reasons he can do nothing about that and so does nothing about anything at all.


There are times when Inu no Taishou comes back from a particularly bad fight and is bedridden, pale as his body flushes out dirt and toxins, his regenerative powers already stitching him up from the inside-out. Myouga never leaves his side then and is insistent, so she fetches clean water and assists him resignedly.

There are times when she does this and her husband looks at her, half-delirious, and tells her he loves her.

He doesn't mention it when he's well again, and Hatsuyo isn't naive enough to believe it is a dying man's guilt that makes him say it.


Sesshoumaru grows up and leaves home, and he's never around to see his father get beat and battered and need to recover. His father is still perfection personified to him, and Hatsuyo knows her son is setting himself up for a big disappointment but does nothing.

Hatsuyo knows she is more powerful than her husband, but Inu no Taishou doesn't believe in power. She knows there are youkai in Japan much stronger than her husband but, through a skillful deception and shrewd politics, those youkai are under his control. And maybe, she thinks, that's why he doesn't believe in power.


Inu no Taishou has a bad habit of not listening to others. This is exceptionally bad for Hatsuyo, because that was all she ever craved in her life.

So when he appears, giving her undivided attention, she subscribes. There is a passing guilt, not because she is committing adultery, but because he is so young - nearly too young, though he is several decades older than his appearance would suggest.

Elsewhere, her husband and his father clash and create what would be called the kamikaze. In the woods, a warm zephyr brushes across her bare back, trailed by Menoumaru's warmer fingers.