This was written for the 10whores challenge on livejournal - basically, I'm writing ten fics and Miaka will be paired with a different character in each one. The prompt for this one was calligraphy.

NB: In the anime and presumably the American edition of the manga, the name Konan is used - this is the Japanese pronunciation. In the British edition of the manga, the Chinese pronunciation is used: Hong Nan. So as I'm British, I'll be calling it Hong Nan. Just thought you should know ;)

It seems like such a silly, childish idea. Hotohori can't quite keep the gentle, affectionate laugh inside when Miaka tells him about it. But now she's vanished into thin air, and it's been two months, and he thinks that maybe it'll bring her back. It won't, of course, but he likes to imagine it will.

So the emperor of Hong Nan begins to write a diary. Miaka told him she writes to her diary as if she's writing to a real person, and Hotohori thinks that's a good idea.

He doesn't start his diary entries with the clich├ęd 'Dear Diary'. He doesn't pretend that his diary is a real person who understands him. He doesn't fill it with woeful stories of the soup that smelled like the outhouse of a tavern, and he doesn't proclaim his innermost thoughts and feelings. One could almost say he isn't writing a proper diary at all.

Hotohori begins his entries with 'Dear Miaka'. Every evening when his courtiers have bid him goodnight and bowed out of the room to boot all the unwitting people away from his rooms so that he can sleep in perfect silence, Hotohori crosses the room to the magnificent mahogany desk. He unlocks it with the key that he's taken to wearing around his neck, and he pulls out the unbound pile of papers that lie bound with a turquoise ribbon.

The papers are covered in squiggly black lines, ink painted onto paper with the sharpened end of a feather. They aren't anything special if you can't read Chinese, and they wouldn't seem like anything special to anyone who could.

They aren't love letters. Hotohori doesn't sit moping and weeping and letting the words of sorrow flow down his arm and out onto the paper, glistening darkly as they say how much he loves Miaka. They're just ordinary letters, telling her the news; how Nuriko and Tamahome are doing, when he hears of them; idle thoughts that came to him at dinner; amusing moments that happened at the palace. Nothing earth-shattering, and no heart-wrenching confessions of love and bereavement.

Most people, if they read the letters at all, would dismiss them as idle chatter halfway down the first page. A few more patient ones would read all the way down to the bottom. But the letters continue on down a second page, and it's only at the very end that one could get any indication of Hotohori's feelings.

His handwriting is graceful; as the heir to the throne Hotohori was taught to write well from an early age. The characters scripted delicately by a masculine hand flow across the page, shiny black trails that are reminiscent of Miaka's gently waving hair. They don't convey anything real though; they're just well-written characters and words and sentences.

And at the end, in the last inch before Hotohori runs out of paper, he always finishes in the same way. The elegantly executed Chinese characters give way to clumsy scrawled Japanese that Miaka taught him before she vanished. It's strange, but the awkwardness of the foreign symbols conveys Hotohori's last few words better than any beautiful Chinese. He doesn't know all the symbols, but he knows enough to say what he wants. I love you and miss you. Hotohori.