Naoki Kokoro – A Straightforward Heart
a childlike heart without the desire to deceive
Hiromasa was so terribly sincere.
That was what had first caught Seimei’s attention, months ago, when Minamoto no Hiromasa was just another one of the dozens of bureaucrats who trailed around after one high official or another at court. “Look, it’s beautiful,” Hiromasa had said, gazing at Mitsumushi, utterly oblivious to the power-plays going on around him. His face lit up with an open, artless smile. Seimei felt a startling flash of affection for this innocent, followed by a wave of amused pity. Someone so oblivious to the currents of power wouldn’t last a year at court. The naïve fool would end up dragged into someone’s plot and get himself exiled or banned from court, and he’d never even know what he did wrong.
Seimei could feel the young courtier’s eyes on him as he walked away, and it was difficult to resist the sudden strange impulse to turn around and assure him that Mitsumushi wasn’t dead.
Seimei’s next few encounters with Minamoto no Hiromasa did nothing to change his opinion of the man. He was painfully guileless and sincere, and, Seimei discovered, terribly amusing to tease. He reminded Seimei of nothing so much as a small child that has been sent on some errand by its mother: so comically serious about his efforts to fetch Seimei for whatever courtier had sent him, and so easily distracted by trifles and magic tricks and deliberate misdirection. It was unbearably funny to push Hiromasa off balance, and to watch him try to pull himself back together, with that little flick of the sleeves he did to try and hide his embarrassment. Again Seimei was reminded of a young boy, imitating his elders’ self-important mannerisms, then forgetting himself and breaking into a childish grin.
Hiromasa really was a breath of fresh air. Seimei couldn't think of anyone else like him. (Well, anyone human. Mitsumushi had the same simplicity and sincerity about her.) It was a pity that his innocence could never last.
Kiyoki Kokoro – A Pure Heart
A pure heart clear as a white jewel
Hiromasa was unexpectedly full of surprises.
The first hint that there was anything to Hiromasa besides a child’s innocence in a man’s body was when Seimei asked him to play the flute. He had heard of Hiromasa’s reputation as a musician, of course, but he rarely bothered to attend the concerts at the palace and so had never heard him play. It was difficult to imagine the awkward young man being self-possessed enough to play for an audience without fumbling or losing his nerve.
Or so Seimei thought, until the first notes of Hiromasa’s flute rang out and an involuntary shock ran through him. After that it was impossible not to imagine Hiromasa like this: all awkwardness gone, eyes closed as he lost himself in the music. He would never have trouble playing for an audience. It was suddenly and blindingly clear to Seimei that this was the missing piece of the puzzle, though he hadn’t realized that there was a missing piece, or that Hiromasa was a puzzle at all. This was what Hiromasa’s artless sincerity was meant for—not to amuse Seimei or to be taken advantage of by courtiers, but to be spun out in pure ringing sound and reach straight to the heart of anyone who heard it.
Hiromasa played on and on as the sun sank below the horizon, and Seimei closed his eyes and listened.
Days later, Seimei found himself listening to Hiromasa’s flute again as he played for the dying Sukehime. He glanced briefly at the spell he had written to subdue Sukehime, then tucked the now-useless paper back into his sleeve. It seemed that the pure clarity at the heart of Hiromasa was a spell of its own, and for the first time, he felt hope that it might be strong enough to endure.
Tadashiki Kokoro – A Just Heart
A heart that seeks justice
Seimei recognized the wildness in Doson, the unfettered cunning power that laughed at human rules and human corruption. He had recognized it in the head onmyouji years ago; had been drawn to it, had flirted with it, had allowed Doson to see a glimpse of the amused contempt in his own heart. Yes, he and Doson were very much alike. They could see the petty meaninglessness of the platitudes the courtiers mouthed about justice and righteousness and law, while they turned on each other like animals and neglected the rule of the country.
He still didn’t care much about human rules, about the narrow-minded, self-serving ideas of right and wrong that the courtiers deluded themselves with. But Hiromasa cared about right and wrong and justice and loyalty. If there was one person in the capital who actually believed in these ideals with his whole heart…well, Seimei had never expected or hoped to find such a person. But he had found that person, quite by accident—or perhaps that person had found him?—and he was not planning to let Hiromasa go.
Akaki Kokoro – A Bright Heart
A heart shining brightly like the sun
It bore repeating, Seimei thought as Mitsumushi dressed him in the robes of Ame-no-Uzume, that Hiromasa was unexpectedly full of surprises.
Just when he thought that he had finally figured Hiromasa out. Sincere, yes; pure-hearted and conscientious and so essentially good it was ridiculous…but not what one might call the bravest of men. He was still almost as nervous around the supernatural as the rest of the court, despite more than a year as Seimei’s friend and companion. Seimei chuckled quietly as he recalled Hiromasa’s various expressions of wide-eyed terror when confronted with demons or spirits or even just Seimei’s teasing.
And then he did something like volunteer to accompany Seimei to the realm of the gods.
Seimei shook his head at the puzzle of it all. “I suppose Hiromasa simply does idiotic, good-hearted things without thinking. That’s just how Hiromasa is,” he concluded with fond exasperation.
“That’s how Hiromasa is,” Mitsumushi echoed with an approving nod. Seimei shot a sharp glance at her, but she just smiled back unrepentantly and tugged his sleeve into place.
Teacups rattled and a muffled curse came from deep inside the house, followed by Hiromasa’s voice insisting to Mitsumushi that he could handle the tray by himself.
Doing idiotic, good-hearted things, Seimei thought fondly, his eyes drifting half-open to look at the garden. He was still weak from his brush with death, so of course Hiromasa was hovering close by and trying to take care of him. It made him feel uncomfortably happy to have Hiromasa fussing over him, so he did his best to tease him into going away, but no matter what, Hiromasa kept coming back, as reliable as the sun.
An inane bit of verse flitted through his mind—a truly awful pun about a pure, bright heart—and he laughed softly to himself. It would take more than a raging god and a mortal wound to convince him to ever to write a poem that sentimental to Hiromasa.
But it was true, none the less.