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Author's Note: OK, all! For those who don't know, Yanagi is the reincarnation of Sakura, a princess of the Hokage Clan. That's not to say that Yanagi and Sakura are the same person; rather, their soul is the same, and they both have healing powers. Koheita may or may not be the previous incarnation of Recca. It all depends on when Recca was born and Koheita died. Koheita did die, during one of the wars, and Sakura was unable to save him. Eventually, she committed suicide in her grief. This fic had the potential of turning into an H-fic, but instead, it only turned up into something mushy. So if you're feeling lovey-dovey-mushy-fic-proof today, read on and enjoy; but if you're not, well, you might get a cavity. ^_^ -Bottou-chan
Sakura stood nervously in the doorway of her home. According to the runners' reports, the warriors were on their way home. She anxiously wondered how many were injured or worse. Even though it was a silly thing to expect the fighting to ever stop, she couldn't help but wish.
Perhaps it was because she herself couldn't fight that made her feel helpless. All she could do was stand and watch the others as they left, and wait a few days for them to come back. When they did, it was inevitable that some would be limping badly, or carried back by others. On occasion, a few wouldn't make it.
But it was when the injured came home that her work began.
Sakura was startled by the shadows twisting around in front of her. Ah, here was Kagero, with her Ekai ball. The older woman had gone out to meet the injured, and helped to bring them back sooner.
"Are you badly hurt?" Sakura asked concernedly, offering her shoulder to the nearest one. He was clutching at his arm, which had been badly slashed. She, Kagero, and two uninjured ninjas helped escort four wounded men into the main room of Sakura's house. With some degree of difficulty, they were arranged upon the floor to rest and be tended to.
"It's just my arm," he grunted, gingerly lowering himself into a seated position. He was embarrassed that he had been hurt in what had only been a minor skirmish.
"There's another batch," said Kagero, glancing at the two sound ninja. "You tend to these, please, Sakura-sama, and we'll bring the others in."
Sakura nodded, and set to work. Her fingers slid lightly over the wound as she concentrated. "It's mostly superficial," she agreed, still focussed on healing him. "It managed to miss the major veins. You might be weak from blood loss for a few days, so be careful and eat well."
"Arigatou, Hime," he grunted. At first, feeling her touch the wound was painful; however, after a few minutes' work, his arm felt only mildly aching from his ordeal.
She moved on from one to the next, using her healing powers to help mend a broken collarbone and a wrenched knee. Then, Sakura came to the last. "Your foot?" she asked sympathetically. She carefully removed the tabi boot from his left foot. "Ahh, your ankle seems to be very swollen. Let's see if I can't fix this for you" Sakura closed her eyes and focused her power upon the injured ankle.
"Sakura-sama," called Kagero from the doorway. "We're bringing the last of them in."
Sakura nodded, still concentrating upon her patient. After a little while, she opened her eyes and smiled. "That should do it. You should be careful of it for the next few days, but all should be well."
"Arigatou, Hime," he replied gratefully, and stood up, testing the ankle. "It feels much better now."
"It's what I'm here for," she assured him kindly. She glanced over her shoulder to see how many others had been brought in. There was only one still figure, lying unconscious in a crumpled heap.
"What happened to him?" she asked, brushing her hands on her kimono and walking over to survey his damage. The others, cured, stood and bowed, murmuring their thanks, before taking their leave.
"It's Koheita-san," said one of the ninja, kneeling next to the victim. "He saved Ohka-sama from an attack from behind, but took the brunt of it himself."
Sakura was careful to keep from showing an abnormal amount of concern. But inside, her mind was in turmoil. Not Koheita she bit her lip. Koheita was two or three years older than she, being about twenty-four, but she secretly admired him. He wasn't from the best family within the clan, but he was strong and handsome and noble. He certainly had a bright future, and all the Hokage women obsessed over him. He could have married anyone he wished, but was still single. He had explained that his life was dedicated to serving the Hokage, and it would be a while before he could properly care for a wife. This had greatly disappointed all the women in the clan, but there was nothing they could do.
He had sworn his allegiance to Sakura, the princess of the Hokage clan, not long ago. She had received it calmly, keeping her impersonal front intact. Yet it was somehow painful for to not tell him of her love for him. And yet how much more difficult would it have been if she had admitted it. Her confessions of love would have been rejected just as politely as everyone else's. And so Sakura had kept this to herself, pretending that Koheita was merely another ninja in fealty to her, one of many.
Sakura glanced at the three others, who stood waiting in concern. "I can take care of him," she said, dismissing them with a nod of her head.
"Arigatou, Hime," they said, and left.
Sakura knelt by his side and surveyed the damage. His right shoulder was badly hurt, and someone had thrown sharply-pointed stars which had embedded themselves in his chest. The stars had been removed, but the gashes were still present.
Amazing how even a madogou master could be hurt by conventional weapons.
Koheita's breathing was shallow but even. Sakura reached out and removed the hood from his face. His features were twisted from the pain, even though he slept. Seeing them reminded the healer that she must start her work sooner than later.
She decided to begin with the gashes. Sakura placed her fingertips lightly over his chest, sharing some of her own life-force in order to heal his injuries. Wherever her fingers touched, she could feel his body trying to mend itself. She shut her eyes and tried to focus on encouraging this restoration. And yet it was impossible for her to not notice the warmth and softness of his skin under her careful touch.
The chest wounds were eventually healed. Time to take care of the shoulder. For this, she had to slide her hands into the sleeve of his garment. Sakura blushed, feeling somewhat invasive. Don't be silly, she reprimanded herself, tending the wounds. After all, she had performed many cures in the past which had been potentially embarrassing, and yet she had pulled through with clinical disinterest. So why was she now blushing like some adolescent girl?
Then again, she hadn't caught herself admiring the shape and feel of the arm of her earlier patient, either.
After several long minutes of work, Sakura rocked back on her heels, satisfied with the results. Koheita seemed to be in a good sleep now. His breathing was normal and his face had relaxed, no longer contorted from his ordeal. When he woke up, there would be some achiness.
Sakura stood up, surveying the sleeping form of her ninja. Just as it was his duty to protect her, it was her duty to care for him. She took a step towards the door, to tell the other Hokage that he would pull through just fine. However, she hesitated. Before she had time to change her mind, she swiftly knelt down once more beside him, and, closing her eyes, gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. She would never have this chance again.
Sakura was startled, and almost thrown off-balance, when she felt a warm hand reach up and touch her gently on the cheek.
Her eyes widened. "Y-y-you're awake," she stammered, frightened that she had been caught. Her princesslike composure had suddenly been shattered.
And yet, looking back at him, there was no reproach in his eyes. Instead, he only looked very, very serious.
"Gomen nasai," she murmured, making an attempt to rise and salvage her dignity. It was impossible to preserve her poise while awkwardly on her hands and knees, next to her patient, whom she had no business to kiss.
But his other hand reached up quickly and easily and caught her wrist, preventing her from standing. Instead, he sat up into a kneeling position, and looked earnestly into her eyes, clasping her hands between his own.
"Hime. I wish to serve you. My life is yours. I am your ninja," he said solemnly.
Sakura was on the verge of tears. What must he think of her now? But she held them back and nodded, resorting back to her regal state. "Yes. I appreciate your loyalty."
Koheita shook his head. "No you don't understand, Hime," he said, and Sakura noticed that his hands were trembling. Was he frightened? Nervous? She suspiciously returned his gaze as he repeated earnestly, "I want my life to be yours. Hime I'm not of any noble family within the Hokage I have no business saying such things but Hime, I love you."
Sakura's eyes widened as she gazed back into his own eyes. They added an element of genuineness and sincerity that no words could have equaled. There was love there love and vulnerability. She raised one hand and tenderly brushed his cheek with her fingers, tracing an invisible line down his jaw, grazing the corner of his mouth. "Do you?" she murmured, drawing closer to him.
Koheita nodded silently, but he caught her hand. He deftly kissed each of her fingers. "Such lovely hands," he said. "And I must thank you for healing me." He gently nibbled on her fingertips, yet never broke their gaze.
Sakura looped her arms around Koheita's neck and smiled at him, her face only inches from his. "You are my ninja. You will always be my ninja, and I will always be your Hime. No matter what," she murmured.
"Always. No matter what," Koheita agreed softly, but the rest of his words were lost in their kiss.