She sat at the edge of the bed for a few minutes as she took a deep breath and let the quiet of the house sink in; at last, all was still. That last of her children, a girl of six months, had finally fallen asleep, her elder siblings all tucked away safely in their respective beds.

Despite having children old enough to help her with the baby, and the ones who could still be considered infants, the day had still been hectic and slightly overwhelming, but such was the life of a mother; especially if her children were all close in age.

This last child, like some of the others, cried and cried and cried and it seemed almost endless. Barely a second passed that she did not scream at the top of her lungs, wanting something or the other and often times it felt like she wanted nothing at all, simply to scream and scream and scream until she tired out her voice and herself. She was always on alert, always stressed, always waiting to hear those faithful cries and run to her child, hoping that this time there would be something that would calm her down. Simply put, Mayuri was exhausted and even that seemed like too weak a word.

Sesshomaru helped when he could; being a lord was a full time job after all and ever since news had spread that he had acquired an adopted child, a human child, humans from villages terrorized by demons flocked to live under him and his protection and seeing as how Sesshomaru's subjects had, before then, been solely youkai, the transition was not exactly easy. Many of the youkai saw the new humans as easy meals and Sesshomaru very often had to step in and control some very dire situations; some of the humans had been, kidnapped, enslaved and worst still eaten; but for the most past, that mate of hers was able to save his human villagers from such a terrible fate.

He was an excellent father, as she had expected, who had the unconditional love and loyal respect of every last of his children, who often listened to him more than they did her. What little time he had to himself, they occupied. She knew they didn't mean to and they had no malicious motives, but they really did not let her have any time with her mate, safe at night when they were both about to, or already asleep. On the one hand it was good that he was usually asleep by the time she got to bed these days; he would not try to ravish her, which was the last thing on her mind.

Between his work as lord and her work as new mother, again, they barely had time for each other these days; even though they spent basically every minute of every day in the same home. If she wasn't tending to the baby, she was breaking up fight, if she wasn't breaking up a fight, she was breaking up an argument, if she wasn't breaking up an argument she was preparing food, if she wasn't preparing food she was doing something or the other that usually required all of her time, energy and patience. She loved her children, with all of her heart and soul, but she did not in any way want another one anytime soon; if she did, she might just go insane.

She inhaled deeply and sighed, before crawling into place next to her mate and resting her hand across his stomach as she laid her head on his chest. The steady beat of his heart and rise and fall off his chest were soothing enough that they slowly lulled her to sleep. She closed her eyes. The sweet, soft, cloudy tendrils of sleep's warm grip crept up her tired body and gradually over took her.

The baby screamed.

Half sighing, half sobbing Mayuri opened her eyes and moaned. Just as she was about to get some well deserved sleep…the child had not even been asleep for an hour. She sighed again and sat up, running her hands through her hair and slapping her cheeks, she swung her legs over the bed only to be steadied by the strong arms of her mate wrapping around her near crumbling torso.

"Rest. I shall tend to her." Sesshomaru said to her, his lips only inches from her ear.

"Thank you." She breathed.

As she sighed for a third time she threw herself back onto the bed, not caring what position she landed in or how much space she had taken up. All that mattered to Mayuri was that she was getting some much needed rest for the first time in days. Within seconds the darkness had claimed her.

oOo

He looked down at the sleeping form sprawled almost completely across the bed they shared. Almost instantly she had fallen asleep and that told him how utterly drained of energy she had felt, she had been. He could see that it was difficult for her, raising all of their children basically by herself. He wanted to do more, he wanted to help more, but his lordly duties kept him at arm's length, almost like an observer watching the lives of his children – someone who was not actually living those lives with them. And that was almost exactly how it was.

Curse those foolish humans who thought it their right to move onto his lands!

Selfish creatures those humans really were. Thinking only of themselves and their safety! Did they not see that their intrusion was costing him his life with his mate and children? Did they not see that they kept him from the duties he wished to fulfil above all others? Could they not tell that they were not wanted here by the one person whom they had moved her because of? Of course his youkai subjects welcomed them; they were easy meals. He however, was one youkai who wanted them gone!

Their presence only created great conflict within his lands. Yes there had been conflict before, youkai could be just as arrogant as humans and even more so, but not on this scale, nothing this serious, not to the point that so many lives were at stake and he had to keep a near constant vigil over his people. To the point that nearly a quarter of his army patrolled his lands on a nigh twenty-four hour basis, he himself among them for most of the day commanding them and making sure everything ran smoothly, effortlessly. Basically it was as if he were at war, on the battlefield, commanding his troops.

This had been going on for so long that his men were just as weary as he. Many of them were in the same situation as he was; they were being kept away from their mates. They were under a lot of stress and always on edge. Sesshomaru had to break up one too many fights between them.

All in all, he too was just as exhausted as his mate and like her, he had no choice but to continue what it was he was doing that was keeping him so tired. Unlike her however, he still had an appetite for mating and every time he tried to initiate it she would turn him down, telling him she was not in the mood. It wasn't until her last three births that she had denied him carnal pleasure and he was becoming more and more frustrated. He understood why she would not want to however, she was exhausted after sometimes days of no rest and running around behind children but sometimes he really hated it; after a long stressful day he wanted nothing more than to lose himself in his mate and forget everything that had caused him stress. But it was not to happen. Unfortunately.

He sighed and crawled into the bed, on what little room was left, and kissed her on her forehead before he left the room to tend to their crying child.

He went over to her small crib, the one that most all of his children had used, and the second he scooped her up into his arms and laid her against his chest she quieted...but only for a short while. Soon she was screaming at the top of her lungs again and he shushed her and rocked her as he tried to get her to fall back to sleep.

She was a most beautiful child indeed, she looked just like her mother; she had her dark hair and full lips, those green eyes and rosy cheeks. The only thing of her mother's that she did not have was the freckles – only four of their seven children had those. But she was the spitting image of her mother all the same.

He smiled down at his little girl – his Emi. Beautiful. A feisty one she would be, he was sure. She would never be subservient to any man.

He ran his thumb across her smooth cheek and kissed her on her dainty little button nose, and as he continued to shush and hum and rock and cradle, she slowly fell back into sleep. Knowing that if he put her back the she would only wake up again, Sesshomaru decided to take her to bed with him. With his arms currently occupied he nudged Mayuri awake with his foot and told her to make room. She sat up and saw him holding their latest child and love, pride and overall joy filled her sleepy eyes. She moved aside as he climbed into bed, laid on his back and rested Emi on his chest with her stomach to his bare flesh. Mayuri slid into place beside him, resting her head on his shoulder and laying her hand atop his own, which rested upon their daughter's back.