Once upon a not so distant time, Izayoi never doubted the Inu no Taishou's devotion.

Then he came to her bearing flowers and sweetcakes, but eventually that time withered and grew stale.

Now he comes to her with bloodstains and worried eyes. That is, the rare times he comes at all. So, Izayoi is consigned to watch him from her window.

He walks the battlements in stately grace. His legs are long and his steps are quick, but he limping from injury that has not quite healed. His silver hair waves behind him like a banner and there are bandages beneath his clothes.

Four days ago he came home, pale and almost dying. She feared he was going to die.

"I love him," she whispers, the feeling sharp and true within her breast. "I really love him."

"I should hope so."

Izayoi feels her blood grow cold as bile churns and bubbles in belly. Hairs prickle up and down her spine.

Get out of my house, and stay out! she wants to snarl, but there are rules to abide and decorum to uphold.

Instead, she turns and bows, her long black hair sweeping forward. "Amayami-sama."

The daiyoukai woman, her petal-pink lips turning in a half-smile. "Hello, Izayoi."

Her voice is so soft and light that it sounds like mocking. Izayoi knows she is mistaken. For Amayami-sama would never lower herself to perturbation over something as trivial as her former husband's current wife.

Izayoi watches, wondering if she should kneel or perhaps flee, as Amayami glides towards her. Instead she watches, half-entranced, as Amayami turns to peer out the window.

"He is so stubborn," Amayami murmurs, tapping her chin. "I distinctly remember telling him to stay in bed."

Izayoi curls her hands, dull fingernails biting into her palms. At that moment, she is so desperate and angry she can barely breathe. He's going to die protecting you, you selfish bitch.

"He's restless," she answers, defensive, and pleased her voice sounds so normal. He's restless and you're taking my place without even trying.

"Yes, he is," Amayami sighs, shaking her head in annoyance. Her white hair flutters off her shoulders, down her back, to swing softly past her hips. She is so beautiful, Izayoi thinks, knowing is an illusion. A lie.

Beneath her moon-pale flesh lurks a monster with glowing eyes and fangs that can snap bone. Amayami is a terrible beast in the form a beautiful, great white dog. Sometimes, Izayoi can almost hear her snarl.

"Are you going to stay cooped up in here all day?" Amayami asks after a moment.

The question seems so concerned that it surprise Izayoi, but before she can answer there is a knock on the door, light and rapping. "Mother?"

Izayoi stares hopefully at the door and imagines eyes filled with depthless apathy. She is not so bold or foolish to believe Sesshoumaru is addressing her.

She hates Amayami then. Loathes how easily she can slip back into the role of honored mother and lady without a solitary effort. Inu no Taishou loved her first, loves her most, and Izayoi is forced to play second fiddle with a broken lute.

"What is it, Dearest?" Amayami calls. Her tone is serene, untroubled, and to Izayoi that is the greatest insult of all.

Sesshoumaru shifts on his feet before answering. "Father is looking for you."

Both women pause in unison, waiting in silence, each for a different reason. Izayoi waits for a message, some tiding that her husband has not truly forgotten her.

Izayoi, Father said to tell you…

Amayami waits for the slight tremor of vague annoyance wrapped around a question.

Why do I have to stay in the castle with the human while you and father go to fight?

Neither comes, only the sound of soft retreating footsteps. Sometimes, Sesshoumaru is far wiser than his youth would suggest.

"Are you coming, Izayoi?"

Izayoi turns away, saying nothing, and is thankful when Amayami departs soon after.

She returns to her listless window gazing, standing in the waning sunlight, hour after hour. Noon turns dusk turns night and Izayoi remains unmoving, unspeaking even as the servants bring in her evening meal.

Later she ignores the chatter of her handmaidens as they conspire and plot against her.

The Lord has finally come to his senses, she hears them say.

Izayoi wishes she could care about their petty schemes, but she is too busy watching. Watching and pretending and wishing that the lights burning in the guesthouse have nothing to do with her husband's late night absence.