Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

This is a tribute to Sesshomaru's mother, the Lady of the West, and to mothers everywhere. It is also a special dedication to the strong-willed, independent and no-nonsense mothers who are often misunderstood by their children. Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Thank you for reading and please review/ comment!

A Mother's Heart:

Sesshomaru, my son! You do not know how happy I was when you sought me out with your little entourage. Or how I transformed and left the castle to greet you. But, once again, I masked my joys behind sarcastic comments and snide remarks. That is always my way as you are probably used to it.

First, though, I need to apologize for chastising you that way about the little girl, Rin. Who am I to tell you not to think yourself a god when I myself have been toying with others' mortality like a mere game? Of course, I understand your fear of losing your little girl because in my heart of heart, I inevitably feared the same when you intruded further into the Underworld. I was so afraid that I would lose my only son forever this time.

Second, I must also ask your forgiveness for not knowing whether you were happy or sad. What kind of horrid mother I must be, right? For that, I was so very glad that your toad retainer told me all I needed to know. Who am I to preach compassion when I could not empathize with my own flesh and blood? Your father gave me the Meido Seki as his last gift, most likely to imply the darkness of my heart is so akin to the Underworld's treacherous realm, after all.

Perhaps you would indulge your mother a little time to listen to my heart's tales. I also hope that you would let my actions speak of my love for you. After all, I had revived your Rin the moment I learned that would make my son happy. Maybe, by the end of this long letter, you would see how much you mean to me.

Your aloof mother was not born into the laps of luxury and power. My own mother was just one concubine among the midst of hundreds. My birth neither elevated her lowly status in the harem nor gained us any special favor. I was no one's precious princess. I was just another female offspring among exalted males.

The truth is that my mother's impregnator, or the great lord as we lowly females should address him so, sent me away as a mere pawn in his political chess game, hoping to appease the upstart young lord of the West. My marriage was for convenience and practicality's sake.

While my mother was sweet, soft-spoken and affectionately naïve, I was born a fighter, frustrated and ill-content in my social position. I refused to accept a fate similar to my unfortunate, but loving mother. I refused to let my child suffer as we had. So, in the morning, I engaged in all the studies and preparations required of the weaker sex. At night, I practiced hand-to-hand combats with whomever instructors I could find, from female warriors to bemused guards.

I hope you have not forgotten who taught you how to materialize and utilize your poison whip and claws. You have found such skills useful, true? Just because I was not allowed a sword; that did not make me incapable of fighting for my life and protecting the one I love.

As my skills improved, the most important goal for me was to make myself an equal among daiyoukai, respected in this male-dominated world.

Unfortunately, becoming an ambitious demoness meant the sacrifice of my heart; a price your willful mother eagerly accepted. It was not my excuse for the ways I carried myself. It was, after all, my choice to encase my heart in ice and calculate every move rationally. Sarcasm and wits became my shield and my sole protection against all that I feared. My mother and all the affections she stood for were weaknesses I could not afford.

The day before my wedding to the Dog General, my mother passed away in obscurity. I could not give her a proper funeral since the 'great lord' did not remember who she was. As I cried silent tears and bid goodbyes to her corpse, I promised to never allow any swine of a demon treating me as such.

My marriage with the Inu no Taishou was a union of two reluctant demons. I am sorry for being unable to give you the loving family any child would like to have. Instead, you had two parents whose separated affection had raised doubts in your heart.

The Inu no Taishou and I entered a secret pact the day after our wedding. He agreed that I would always be the Lady of the West after I gave him a healthy son. I demanded that our son would be the sole heir to his lands and there would be no more children from our union. We compromised that both of us could have affairs as we saw fit as long as none would pose a threat against your succession.

With this compromise and understanding, your father and I enjoyed an insightful friendship that lasted till the day he died. The trust and understanding we established had given rise to the vast Western territories you inherited. It was our proud legacy, both in you and in these lands we gained.

While the Dog General waged wars in his worldly conquests, I governed the newly acquired domains and protected you in his stead. He was the legendary conqueror history admired; but I was the ruler of the West. With him, I was able to find satisfaction and pride in fulfilling my ambitions, solving political disputes, ordering trades and leading my own life.

Still, leadership did not come without a price, my Sesshomaru. It was not easy to maintain peace among vassals, handle court intrigues and support your father's war efforts. Eventually, I learned to be merciless and indifferent. Behind the carelessly playful and teasing façade, I manipulated others using their own weaknesses to serve my purposes.

They said the Western Lady is an invulnerable and heartless bitch. For a short time, I was comfortable with this role as it pleased my spiteful self until the day you were born. Even though my mask is perfect, you should know that you are my one and only vulnerability. I had wanted to be a real mother who loves and is loved by her own child. However, I was not able to show my emotions; my mind was ill-prepared and fearful of the strong attachment my heart felt.

And so, I settled for the only task I allowed myself and devoted my very being into protecting you in this treacherous world. Despite my cold demeanor, I had ensured that no one, from nursemaids to teachers, would ever dare raising a finger against you with the intention to hurt or harm.

Your birth shook the core of my very existence. For the first time, my resolve to never care for any male crumbled every time your small fingers wrapped around mine. The proud demoness in me found herself slowly transformed by motherhood. My goal became less self-serving and focused more on your well-being. Still, nothing penetrated my self-made prison of ice as I held myself back from displays of maternal affections.

Watching you grow stronger from afar, I hid my joys and worries with whatever small progress or tumble you took. To distract my own feelings, I spent days planning your studies, grooming you for the life of a demon warlord and weaving the Dog General into your trainings. Yet, even with my secured station as the Western Lady, I could not allow myself to truly express my love, unintentionally neglected you.

To you, I may seem cold, emotionless and distant. However, you must have known that without batting an eyelid, I would eliminate any enemy with my own bloodied claws to protect you. In a heart beat, I would destroy the Inu no Taishou by any mean necessary to give you the throne, had he disregarded our mutually beneficial friendship and denounced your rights as heir.

I may not be able to love you the way a good mother should, but I was willing to sacrifice all for your safety, to prepare for the worst situation and to use my cunning leadership for your benefits.

Hence, it saddened me greatly to watch you distance yourself from me. I knew I was wrong to never bare my heart to you the first time you successfully schooled your expressions and hid your emotions. As you left childhood innocence behind to don that stoic mask of a daiyoukai prince, I feared you would never give me another glance. Alas, I should have known that you only followed my lead. That your mannerism mirrored mine. That my son thought being arrogant, dismissive and uncaring implies strength and superiority. I regretted not letting you know that true strength comes from the ability to love and care for someone above and beyond your own well-being. That you are my source of power and motivation.

In a sense, our relationship was so similar to that of you and your little girl. I offered you the freedom to explore, a safe place to rest and a silent protector. Almost a millennium ago, you were in Rin's position and I was able to provide for your needs and tend to your safety. But, you have grown up now, no longer cared for the regal demoness you had once admired and demanded her attention. Do you still remember any of those memories we shared in your childhood, the ones I forever cherish in my well-guarded heart?

The only aspect I was glad for in our strained relationship is the informal tone in which we speak to one another. It reminds me endearingly that to you I am not just a monarch and you are not some aristocrat. I am your mother first and foremost, regardless of who I am to the people and demons of these Western plains. In this castle in the sky, the fact that you still remember me and our familial ways warms my lonely heart. I never wanted any more distance between us; formality must never be a part of our bond. I, unlike the male daiyoukai's, need not reverence and idolization from my own child.

Thus, I was not surprised when you mirrored these behaviors and honored those liberating ways in your heart-warming interactions with Rin. Nor was I shocked to see you caring for an innocent human girl. We did not detest those mortal souls; we used to look down upon them with apathy. You loathed them only when your father slept with a human female and sired a hanyou. You probably wondered why I did not condemn this betrayal and kill those two as it was within my powers. Well, your mother was not a foolish trophy wife or a jealous simpleton who needed her lordly husband's favors to live.

It is simple. I have never minded any of his private affairs. They were no threats to us. Izayoi, a human princess or a mere consort, could not overthrow, or outlive me. A hanyou would never be the heir of the West. Back then, you were already 700 years-old, still so young, but definitely mature enough to defend yourself against almost any enemy. I was content and secure in that knowledge, so I let your father have his share of fun.

My spies informed me of her existence soon enough. Though I do not understand why he introduced me to Izayoi; perhaps a friend and important ally's approval could lessen the nobles' critical attacks. I simply laughed and continued with my casual tauntings, disregarding his seriousness.

I also know that you envied Inuyasha not only because of your father's sword, but also of his mother's unconditional love. You may resent me for not caring for you as she did the hanyou. You may hate me for being so stoic and allowing nursemaids to play the nurturing role. But, my son, she could not protect Inuyasha the ways I did for you. The boy practically grew up alone, abused and bullied by both humans and demons. I would rather bury my own heart than allow such horrendous fate to befall on you. As the Western heir, you needed not a simple mother, but a strategist, a protector and a teacher to keep your rightful place.

I admit I did not have the kind heart and maternal instincts the human princess possessed. I, too, envied the way she showered the half-demon with affection without concern or reserve. I blamed myself for being cold, fearing my mother's fate, as well as my defiant stance against being just a walking uterus for my husband. On top of that, I held onto the conviction that you needed me to be strong and wise to secure your peacefully sheltered childhood. Was I so wrong?

I am not the kind of mother Izayoi and my own were born to be; but I am the kind who watches over your lands and supports your reign while you are roaming and exploring the West. No matter how many enemies you have, I will always be your steadfast ally.

I do hope that one day when my bones return to earth and my soul in the Underworld, you would visit my grave and place a few flowers on it instead of fighting on my skeleton over a mere trinket the way you and the half-demon did on your father's.

Lastly, I must congratulate you for recovering your left arm and obtaining a new sword, The Bakusaiga. I am pleased by your progress. The sword is the anchor of your confidence; let it be a reminder of your talents and demonic powers. One day, you could commission a sword made from your own fang, too.

And, remember to let the girl, Rin, be your guide in the matters of the heart. Don't make the same mistakes I did! You, my son, will never suffer the stigma and burden of being a female warrior in this patriarchal world had you been my daughter. Bad acting and painful verbal jabs aside, your mother does love and care for you. Words can never express how much you mean to me, my Sesshomaru!