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It was hard to believe the war was finally over.

Nobunaga was gone, the ninjas were free, and she could finally go back home to her grandfather’s temple and live out her life simply with the rest of the monks, like she'd wanted to do from the very beginning.

However, the longer she’d been away, the more she’d realized that perhaps that wasn’t what she wanted after all.

If she was being honest what she wanted was right here in Iga.

Or rather, it was more that who she wanted was in Iga.

Hanzo Hattori, the leader of the Iga ninja.

She didn’t see much of him in the days immediately following Nobunaga's death—instead, she saw far more of her old bodyguards—but when she did see him, he seemed to glow in the formal robes he wore. They were beautifully etched with his clan's symbols, but in her private opinion, it was the man that made the symbols regal, rather than the other way around.

He looked every bit like a daimyo that she nearly forgot he was a ninja, too. In fact, he wore the look of a refined daimyo far better than he ever had wornthe adornments of the ninja. As a ninja, he had looked young, but fierce. As the lord of the Iga clan, he looked refined, and elegant, but there was still the dangerous look to his eyes that he couldn't quite shake—and he looked all the sexier for it.

She sighed as she dropped her head into her hand. She missed Hanzo.

She missed their conversations. She missed the comfort and security he gave so easily to her. She missed his rare smiles and laughter, and she missed the fact that he called her princess when he really seemed to want to call her by name.

But he was so busy rebuilding Iga that she couldn’t bear to be selfish and ask him to spend time with her, anymore than she could command him to take her home now, instead of waiting for him to fulfill his promise to return her home personally.

So she kept to herself and waited, hoping he wouldn’t forget about her.

After all, she was no longer the princess, though everyone but Goemon seemed to have forgotten that. Ninja princesses weren't needed anymore, but everyone still kept a respectful distance, and everyone still addressed her as princess, pampering her as if she was the wife of their daimyo, rather than a lowly temple girl.

She sounded pitiful, and she knew it. But it was hard not to wallow in her own thoughts when thinking was the only thing she was allowed to do anymore.

She couldn’t cook or clean to pass the time as she might have at the temple. She couldn't mend clothing, or help the ninja train, or even leave the castle to go into town.

Instead, she had to pass her time daydreaming in the gardens—and even that had to be done with ladylike posture.

She sighed to herself.

“You know if you fell in love with me you wouldn’t have to sigh like that,” a familiar voice rang out.

She turned to see Goemon smirking at her from the open doorway.

“Honestly I don’t know why you’re in love with that inexperienced buffoon,” Goemon continued as he moved to sit down besides her on the wooden ledge of the floor of the castle. Unlike her, however, he was tall enough that his feet easily touched the dirt below them.

She didn’t bother to answer.

She already knew that would only make his teasing worse. Goemon knew her well enough, however, that her silence didn't really stop him.

“I bet you haven’t even seen him in days. The ninja and villagers both have been keeping him busy with the reconstruction and regrouping and all other kinds of things they could probably do on their own if they just bothered to think for a change. The poor guy probably hasn’t even slept much in the past few days.”

She turned to look at Goemon in alarm and confusion. “Is he okay?” She chewed on her bottom lip without realizing, concerned for Hanzo's health. If he wasn't sleeping or eating—

Goemon shrugged and spoke, interrupting her thoughts. “Ninjas are trained to go without sleep, you know, and Hanzo’s one of the best ninja I know. But I’m sure even he’s feeling the strain—especially so soon after Honno-ji.”

“I wish I could cook him a meal to help him relax,” she mumbled to herself, scarcely realizing that she'd spoken aloud.

“Would you give me a kiss if I helped you sneak into the kitchen to make it?” Goemon smirked as she jumped in surprise.

“No,” she said, a little too quickly, and Goemon laughed. She didn't want to kiss him, and they both knew it.

“Well, it was worth a shot. You can figure out how to pay me back later. C'mon, let’s go.” Goemon stood and suddenly threw her over his shoulder.

“Goemon!” she shrieked in surprise and fear as she dangled uselessly across his shoulders.

“If you want my help getting Hanzo that food, I’d be quiet,” Goemon replied casually, rubbing his hand against her thighs and rear casually as if he had every right to do so.

“I will when you stop touching my butt!” she couldn’t help but squeak indignantly.

“Sorry. Habit,” Goemon replied easily, pulling his hand away as he turned inside the castle and headed straight towards the kitchen.

“How is this going to work out, anyway?” she muttered, resigned to the fact that Goemon was going to carry her, like it or not.

“Just be quiet and trust me,” Goemon replied.

He headed straight towards the kitchen and dropped her on the floor. As she stood, rubbing her sore rear, Goemon had already approached the sole other occupant in the kitchen: a woman cooking over a large pot. Without so much as a word, he pulled the woman into his arms and began kissing her as if she was the love of his life, and he was desperate for her.

She couldn’t help but stare at the kitchen girl in shock as Goemon began making wild gestures behind the girl's back with one hand.

It took her a few moments to finally understand that he planned on seducing the cook in the kitchen so she would have the chance to cook in peace. Immediately, she felt grateful, and a little guilty at snapping at him moments before. Goemon might be a bit of a tease, but he was probably the closest thing she had to a real friend other than Kuma amongst the ninjas.

She wished, however, they weren’t making out less than ten feet away, but she really did want to cook a special meal for Hanzo to help him relax. She wouldn't get another opportunity if she tried on her own, and she knew it, so she resigned herself to ignore the girl and Goemon.

Instead, she just tried to think only of Hanzo, and cook as quickly as she could, ignoring the cook’s sighs and moans, and Goemon’s sultry teasing of the cook as best she could.

Luckily the meal she had in mind was simple and it wouldn't take too long.

But when she finished, she didn’t know if she’d be able to sneak it on her own into Hanzo's room. She hoped he was in his room, anyway, because if he wasn't, she didn't have the first clue on how to find him.

She awkwardly stood in the kitchen, holding the tray, unsure if she should risk going to Hanzo's room on her own. She had no idea if there would be guards at the door, and, to be honest, she wasn't even sure where Hanzo's rooms would be located in the first place.

She glanced over at Goemon, but he was preoccupied with untying the cook's obi to notice her frantic movements.

Blushing, she took the food and left, and figured she was on her own for this part. She left the kitchen with the tray in hand, and closed the door behind her, but then she paused. If she was Hanzo, would her rooms be to the right . . . or to the left?

“Oy! Is that you?” she heard a cheerful voice call out, and she turned to see Sasuke and Saizo. The former was beaming at her, which wasn't particularly unusual, but even Saizo looked amused.

Sasuke nearly pulled her into a tight hug but luckily, he noticed the food first.

“Wow! That’s a lot of delicious looking food! Did someone make that for you?” Sasuke asked. “Man, I wish someone would cook like that for me!” Sasuke gave her a meaningful look, but Saizo immediately distracted her from replying.

“Are you giving that to Hanzo?” Saizo spoke over Sasuke’s outburst.

She blushed but nodded, not trusting herself to speak right then.

“Hanzo? Aww, are you really choosing him?” Sasuke cried out looking depressed. "I just—"

“The village elder just left,” Saizo said after a moment. “I hear he’s alone in the meeting room right now, down at the end of the hall down.”

He pointed with his hand, and it only took her a moment to realize that he was helping her find Hanzo.

“Thank you, Saizo!” she said, grinning.

“Don’t thank me. I’m just concerned that he’s not eating properly,” Saizo replied, folding his arms across his chest.

“Why is it Hanzo?” Sasuke whined, tugging on her kimono sleeve.

“It’s probably because she doesn’t want to be with a monkey all of the time,” Saizo retorted.

“Hey! I’m not a monkey!” Sasuke shouted, turning to Saizo with an indignant expression

“You certainly look like one,” Saizo responded, raising a brow as if daring Sasuke to argue.

She wasn't surprised that Sasuke was riled by Saizo's teasing, though she did wonder why Sasuke cared so much that she was bringing food to Hanzo in the first place.

“Take that back, Saizo!” Sasuke bellowed, scowling at Saizo.

“I don’t want to,” Saizo replied dryly.

“I challenge you to a drinking duel then!” Sasuke shouted loosening his grip on her sleeve as he thumped his fist against his own chest.

She took advantage of Sasuke’s distraction and fled down the hall Sasuke had pointed, but she could still hear Sasuke and Saizo arguing even as she reached the door Saizo had indicated.

She found the door at the end slightly opened, and when she glanced inside, she found Hanzo sitting on a cushion on the floor, looking lost in thought. He looked peaceful, as if he was meditating, but then she saw the faint lines of fatigue on his face, and realized he was probably just tired and taking a break.

She thought about not leaving him alone to enjoy his quiet, but she remembered Goemon’s and Saizo’s words about him not eating.

He needs to eat, she reminded herself. And he probably won't take the time to eat properly unless someone makes him.

Mind made up, she gently nudged the door open with her foot.

“Master Hanzo?” she called out slowly as she walked into the room. She set the tray down for a moment to slide the door shut behind her. If she didn't, she was afraid that someone might distract him from eating. Once the door was closed, she picked the tray back up and approached him slowly. “I made you lunch.”

Hanzo’s eyes popped open and widened as he looked at her. “I’m fine, princess,” he said in that kind tone he only seemed to use with her. “You didn’t need to go to such trouble.”

“Oh,” she hesitated, feeling awkward. Had she interfered when she shouldn't have? “I just thought you might not be eating enough. I thought maybe that you hadn't been able to, so I decided to cook this for you to make sure you had the chance to have a nice meal. I’m sorry; I should have asked you first. You probably already ate.”

She smiled at him wanly, feeling more than a little foolish.

“No, princess. I haven't yet eaten. If you made this, I’d be happy to eat it,” he replied with an awkward smile. He gestured for her to sit down on a cushion besides him.

She gave him an awkward smile of her own as she set the tray down, and then quickly sat down next to him before he could change his mind.

“Have you eaten?” he asked her then, looking at her and not the food she'd so carefully prepared.

Did he not like something she'd cooked? Or maybe it didn't look as appetizing as she'd thought; the monks at the temple had never seemed to hate her cooking, but then again, they weren't ninja lords, either. Perhaps Hanzo had different tastes. She'd never thought to ask.

She remembered his question and nodded, feeling awkward. “I ate earlier. Please, Master Hanzo, I want you to eat and rest.”

And please don't hate my cooking, she prayed, clasping her hands together.

He hesitated, but finally nodded himself. “Of course, princess,” he said, and slowly began eating the food.

His eyes widened again in surprise. “It’s very good!” he exclaimed eating with much more excitement this time. His surprise quickly gave way to a smile, and she immediately relaxed.

“I used to cook all of the meals at Grandfather’s temple,” she explained, content to watch him eat. With every bite he took, he seemed to relax more himself, and return back to the tireless Hanzo she'd grown to care so much for.

“That explains why it’s so good,” he said, quickly polishing off the food. “You must have practiced for a long time." He gave her a small smile. "How can I repay you for such a delicious meal, princess?”

The question caught her off guard, and she blurted out what she’d been wanting all along, “K-kiss me Master Hanzo. P-please.”

She’d never seen him more shocked.

“Princess?” The word left his lips slowly, and for the first time, she saw Hanzo truly surprised. His entire body froze, and he didn't seem able to meet her eyes.

She realized what she just said and blushed, wanting to kick herself for probably ruining their entire friendship. Everyone had said Hanzo was clueless when it came to women, but he probably just didn't like her that way, and now she'd opened her mouth and made everything awkward.

“I-I mean just rest, Master Hanzo. I want you to take care of yourself even when you’re busy,” she said quickly, hoping he'd think that he'd misheard her, or that he'd forget what she'd said and move on.

Hanzo’s expression didn’t change and he didn’t move either, and that was when she realized there was a slight flush on his face.

“M-master Hanzo?” She couldn’t help but stare at him.

“Is that…is that really what you want?” he mumbled, before coughing into his fist.

She barely heard him and she wondered if she’d really embarrassed him. “I’m really sorry, Master Hanzo. I didn’t mean to make you so uncomfortable by being so selfish,” she said quickly. “Please, just pretend I didn’t say anything.”

He shook his head slowly and then flushed again. “I can’t seem to forget it,” he murmured, and it seemed more like it was to himself rather than to her.

“M-master Hanzo?” She hesitated, unsure of how to interpret his words. Did he mean that she really had ruined everything with her one thoughtless plea?

She reached out one hand to him without thinking, but he seemed to flinch when her fingers just barely grazed his arm, and she jerked her hand back.

Please don't push me away, she cried to herself, because she'd never been more afraid than she was in that moment. She could handle him not liking her back, but she could never handle him pushing her away and acting like she meant nothing to him at all.

“If this isn’t what you want, princess, please tell me and I’ll stop,” he said quietly, and then suddenly he was right beside her. His face was still red, but this time, he didn't hesitate as he gently wrapped his hands around her elbows and pulled her just a little closer to him.

And then his lips were on hers in the gentlest of touches—so gentle that she almost couldn’t believe he really was kissing her.

And then, just as suddenly, he pulled back and ended the kiss.

“It wasn’t enough,” she blurted and felt her face heat at her bold words. But now that she'd admitted her desires aloud, she couldn't seem to stop herself, either. “I-I want a real kiss Master Hanzo. Please. Please kiss me.”

His face was bright red now, but she was surprised to notice that he didn’t pull away.

Instead, he moved closer.

“Are you sure, princess?” he asked quietly, his flush rapidly fading from his cheeks as he stared at her with those calm, soothing eyes of his. Oh, how she loved his eyes . . .

“I-I’m sure, Master Hanzo,” she whispered.

He gently cupped her head with one hand while his other hand gently stroked her arm, and for several moments that was all he did. Just when she began to get nervous, just when she thought maybe he wouldn't really kiss her after all, suddenly he was kissing her again.

His lips pressed against her gently and then moved against hers, and she couldn’t help but wonder how he tasted, because by the gods themselves he felt so good, and she bet he would taste even better—and when had she become so wanton?

But she was helpless against her own desires, and she surprised them both by gently licking his lower lip through their kiss. Her hands clutched his lapels, fisting in the cloth without any concern for the damage she might do to his beautiful garments, but blind to her desire, she licked him again.

He tasted like the herbs from her cooking, and the clean taste of mint, and she loved it.

He shuddered as she licked his lip, and suddenly she was pushed back against the floor, and he was kissing her even more deeply. His tongue gently rolled into her mouth, and his hand gently rocked back her head to angle their kiss, and oh, her own head was swimming as she lost herself in his surging passion.

And he didn't stop, kissing her as if he needed to kiss her every bit as much as she needed to kiss him.

His lips molded and clung to hers, even as his tongue teased and rolled with hers, and her hold on his clothing became desperate as she moaned against his lips, silently begging him for more.

And then he suddenly broke the kiss, and for a moment, she was afraid that she'd made him stop. But then, he shifted so that he was kissing and sucking at her neck, and she lost her mind entirely.

This was what she’d wanted. It was everything she wanted, but it wasn't enough.

“More. Please. More,” she begged, desperately clinging to him, wanting and needing the affirmation of his love more than she’d ever wanted anything else.

Hanzo didn’t reply, but his hands moved against her clothing as his lips nipped at his neck, and she suddenly felt the pressure around her waist ease and her own kimono gape away from her skin.

There was a breeze, but only for a moment, because Hanzo didn't allow her to feel cold. His lips shifted down to kiss and nibble on her collarbone and she couldn’t resist a surprised gasp as he began stroking her exposed stomach and chest, but never touching her breasts that suddenly ached, or between her legs, where she felt herself become moist—and where she knew from some of Goemon's more lewd comments was the end destination for all men.

But would Hanzo do more than kiss her? She should be concerned about her purity, or nervous, but his touches on her stomach were so gentle, so caring, and it was almost as if he was telling her his feelings with his hands alone.

But her body felt desperate, because his touches only teased.

“M-Master Hanzo! Please!” she begged a few moments, later arching off the floor and into his touch. “Please!”

He shifted his body downward, just a little, and she cried out as he suddenly traced around her nipples with his fingers. It took only a moment for them to fully distend, and then his touches changed to rolling, rubbing, and gently squeezing her nipples, and she whimpered. Hanzo, however, didn't stop; if anything, he seemed more eager to tease her.

The gentle rubbing and rolling of them had furious heat rushing down to her core, and she couldn’t contain her cries of need as he touched her. It felt like her heart was going to give out and yet it wasn’t enough.

She cried out when he pulled his hands away, but then his tongue was slowly licking her aureola.

“D-don’t tease,” she whimpered again, clutching at him, but at some point, her hands had let go of his lapels and dug into his shoulders instead.

Thankfully, he listened, and his tongue began licking and rolling one nipple while his finger mimicked those actions on her other nipple.

She arched completely off the wood floor as her kimono fluttered off her chest around her, and she wasn't sure what she was even saying anymore, but her own voice sounded so needy, so desperate, for the feelings that only he could give her.

“So beautiful,” he finally whispered reverently around her nipple. “So beautiful, princess. You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.”

He suddenly dipped his free hand down to caress her thighs, and that hand began to slide upward, stroking once, then twice at her lips but no further.

She bucked beneath him, and realized she was begging him over and over again, praying that he gave in before her heart gave out.

But he continued to tease as he whispered against her breast how beautiful she was. Over and over, he told her how beautiful she was, how wonderful the noises she gave him were, and how much he desired her. He talked as he kissed his way to her other breast, and then he started his teasing all over again with that nipple, though he never stopped his praises.

He was going to kill her if he kept doing that.

“Please!” she begged feverishly. “Please, Master Hanzo! It’s not enough!”

At those words, she suddenly felt his fingers delve down between her legs and circle her clit, and her mind instantly went blank as the heat washed over her.

She couldn't recall anything ever feeling better, but still, it wasn't enough, and she could feel herself going higher and higher still as if she was going to lose every bit of herself and tumble over as her mind broke apart.

And she wanted that somehow more than anything.

“Yes!” she cried out, but then his fingers pulled away and she nearly wailed at the loss of the sensation.

He pulled away from her breast and brought his hand from between her legs up to his lips. As she watched, he licked his fingers slowly for a moment, and she couldn’t help but stare as those same wet fingers moved back to her core, and suddenly one slipped inside.

“M-master Hanzo!” she nearly shrieked.

“Shh, princess, I have you. I’m here,” he said, kissing her neck softly as his finger worked inside her and his thumb began teasing her clit again.

She rocked herself against his finger as the heat spread into a fire.

“P-please,” she begged over and over, needing this moment more than anything, knowing with feminine intuition that she was so close to something now.

He slipped a second finger in slowly and teased her nub as his teeth suddenly bit gently into her neck and then his fingers curled inside her, and she screamed. She screamed, and dug her nails into his arms as she felt herself begin clenching around him.

“Master Hanzo!” she wailed, clutching onto him as though letting him go would cause her to lose the amazing pleasure roaring through her veins.

He continued to stroke and rub her until her back finally rested against the floor once more, her mind now hazy from pleasure.

When she finally met his eyes, that seemed to be the signal he was waiting more. He quickly shed his own finery faster than she'd have thought possible. Once bare, she flushed and looked away, helpless because one look at him and her whole body had heated again.

Hanzo, however, reached out and gently cupped her chin, turning her face back to meet his own smiling face. He looked pleased, as if her pleasure was the most precious gift he could have ever been given.

And he looked gentle, loving, and though she could see the need in his eyes, there was also that caring smile that told her he would be just as content if she asked him to stop now.

“May I, princess?” he asked softly, staring deeply into her eyes with a slight blush on his cheeks.

And she wanted him to, then; she wanted to see if she could give him the same joy and pleasure he'd just given her. She nodded slowly, but she wasn't sure where to look as he covered her with his own body. She found herself glancing up a the ceiling, but he suddenly began pressing himself into her and she found herself staring right into his beautiful gray eyes, full of the same love she felt inside.

And she gently kissed his lips.

But then, he pushed forward, and he felt so big and she was so tight, and there was a momentary sting of pain that nearly made her cry out as he slipped inside.

Oh, but then he was fully inside her, and she could feel his heat, his smooth skin inside her, and it felt better than anything she’d ever felt before.

But he didn't move.

He just let himself rest inside her.

And it only took her a moment to realize that he was waiting for her.

“Don’t stop,” she whispered, moving to kiss his bare neck. “Please, Master Hanzo. I want this. I want you to do this.”

“You feel so good, princess,” he finally said softly. “So good, so wonderful, so amazing. I never thought I could ever feel anything like this before.” As he spoke, he began moving—slowly at first, but then when she gasped and clutched at his arms, his shoulders, anywhere she could reach, and pressed against him, feeling the heat build again within her body, he began moving faster.

She knew where this heat was going this time, and now she craved it even more because she knew the gift that only he could give her.

She whimpered, moaned, and begged as he moved, needing that heat. And when he slowed, and drew out her need, she bucked against him, and tugged his head down to kiss and nibble at his lips, loving and hating his teasing pace in the same moment.

“I love how you feel,” he whispered over her pleas, against her lips, as his thumb began teasing her clit again. “I love how you sound.”

She dug her nails into his back and neck as he suddenly began going deeper, faster, more intensely than he'd moved before, and she felt herself quickly gaining in heat and wetness.

She was so hot now that she felt as though her body was on fire, but she never wanted to stop it. She wanted more, needed more of him, needed to feel as though they'd joined their two bodies into one—

And then he kissed her deeply as he rolled her clit, and suddenly, she was lost. She cried out, giving his name and her love in the same breath, shuddering with the force of the heated feeling of release.

“Hanzo, I love you!"

Just seconds later, he was moaning as he stiffened and then spurted into her.

And he called her name, her real name, for once as he came, chanting it quietly against her lips.

Moments later, as they both tried to calm their breathing, he gently collapsed on her. She coughed from his weight, and he immediately rolled and gently snuggled her against him. His hands weren't idle; one began stroking her hair, and the other gently traced his fingers up and down her back.

She felt coddled, and when she snuggled closer, feeling secure in his love, though he had yet to voice the words aloud, he gave her a small shower of tiny little kisses against her hair and face, and she giggled.

“Thank you,” he finally said, his voice more gentle than she'd ever heard. 

She hummed happily, and tucked her head into his shoulder and chest as she wrapped her own arm around his waist, allowing herself to drift off in his arms. 

Just as she began to nod off, he kissed her lips so tenderly, and then whispered into her ear, "I love you."

And she went to sleep with a smile on her face.