I don't like how the series ended, but at the end of it all, I found this lovely little fact and I nearly cried at how sad this is. How could she not know how much he cared? *sigh* oh well, I guess that's what I wanted to bring out in this story. This is a spoiler so please don't read it if you haven't finished the series. Still, if you do, enjoy and let me know what you think!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Saiunkoku Monogatari and I do not claim any rights to it. The plot of this short fic is mine and nothing else.

"So, who is she?" asked Shuurei sitting down next to Ensei. He had been staring into the garden at the trees for the longest time so she had thought to talk to him for a little bit. He looked at her with mild surprise that was easily hidden behind his usual playful grin.

"How did you know?" he asked. She shrugged and leaned back on her hands.

"Lucky guess," she replied and turned to him with mischief evident in all her features, "but now you have to tell me who she is."

"That I can't do Hime-san."

"Oh come on, you have to tell me."

"Nope, I won't. You'll have to kiss me first." She giggled at that and then put her hand on her hip and poked him in the shoulder.

"If you don't tell me than I won't invite you for dinner ever again." He chuckled at that and stood. He looked defeated and for a moment, she thought he was going to cave, but then he gave her a bow.

"Then I will leave now, Hime-san," he said. She scrambled to her feet and stopped him.

"I was only teasing. You don't really have to go," she said. She let go of his hand and regarded him with her hands held in front of her. "She means that much to you then? I hope she knows how precious she is."

He grinned and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Oh, it's good that Hime-san was joking otherwise I would have starved then. You know, not everyone is as kind as you to take in a starving stranger." He patted her head and she chuckled taking his hand once more.

"Come in, dinner's ready and we're waiting for you. I don't think Seiran would be very happy if you kept him any longer. She turned to smile at him but turned away too quickly to see the momentary shock and then rapid softening of his gaze on her. Seiran caught it and visibly sneered. Shouka caught it and sighed.

Too many times she had surprised him like that. She had been at the end of her rope many times before and those were the times he thought she would need special help from the men in her life. Her father probably knew what he felt best. Seiran too since he was like her big brother. Even the emperor had been defeated in his efforts to help her.

It wasn't that she needed them but that they needed her.

He found he rather liked Hime-san. What was there not to like? Whenever she made a meal, she made one fit for a king no matter what the situation. She always cared for those around her. She always did her duty well. She could be bossy, but she was never completely helpless in a situation. She was sharp and witty. She was playful and a little funny. She was proud and cultured. She was feminine and charming. She had a heart for her country. Best of all though, was that she was always happy to see him again.

Yes, there were a lot of things he liked... loved about Hime-san.

She didn't even notice how many men she had pulled in. She hadn't even noticed the endearment he had sneaked in when referring to her as Hime-san. She didn't think it meant anything at all, but to him, he was telling her what he thought of her. To him, she was a princess deserving of that title in every way. He supposed she knew it in part given his loyalty to her and her family so far, but she would never see it the way he did. He could always hope, but for now being near her was enough. Still, he would go anywhere, do anything, face everything just for her; his lovely Hime-san.