Disclaimer: The characters in this fic, such as Kurando, Anastasia, etc. don't belong to me; they are property of Midway, so don't sue! ;.;

Dedications: God, my friends, my cousins, my readers, Beastman for giving me ideas on the title, Aruze for gracing this magnificent RPG with a sequel – despite the ending they chose to go off of – and finally, sudden inspiration for giving me the idea and courage to write this.

Special dedication to A Lifeless Beauty, for being her fantastic self; this fic is a special one for you, darling! :)

Shadow Hearts II: The Belated Honeymoon

Part One: Her Anxiety

By Tiger5913

Night had fallen.

A few hours earlier, a festive wedding had taken place in the small Inugami Village of Japan, and had drawn a considerable audience there due to the pair that was getting married. Most of the spectators were from the groom's side, while only family members and close friends of the bride attended; because of their well-known status, they wanted to avoid drawing too much attention to the event. After a quick, harmless discussion between the two households, the wedding had been decided to go western style; well, the mother of the husband-to-be was interested in seeing a different tradition of the ceremony, anyway. With regards to the married couple, one year had passed since their engagement, and in the present day, the fourth princess of Russia and the young leader of Inugami Village were joined together in matrimony.

Formerly of the Romanov surname, the Russian native was now Anastasia Inugami, and presently, she was sitting on the bedside in the new room that she and her husband had recently been given. Following the tradition of both their families' cultures, she had moved away from her home to live with him and his relatives, which were few in numbers, consisting only of his mother and grandmother. The young bride's family and friends traveled over to see the wedding, but would be leaving the very next day to return to the royal palace in Petrograd, before the citizens of the country could begin to wonder and speculate. Many of the people were currently displeased with the way that the Romanovs were running the Russian government, especially concerning the current world war that was going on, and the tsar and empress wanted their daughter to get married in peace.

At fifteen, Anastasia had changed quite a bit from the younger teenager that she was a year ago; the events that she'd witnessed in the past twelve months had made her come to grips with the seriousness of reality. The brutality of the world war had caused many Russian casualties, and she did her best to console her father when he was feeling down in the darker days, due to the lack of support from his own countrymen. She still laughed and played around some days, enjoying her youthful time, but she had learned when it was appropriate to be mature, while in private, around her close friends and family, she could act like her normal self. Meanwhile, during the entire period of her family's hardship, her fiancé was living in his hometown in Japan, and learning the responsibility and adjusting to his new position of leadership in Inugami Village.

To her knowledge, the two families had initially decided to wait at least a couple of years before the engaged pair would be married, but somehow, even to her surprise, the wedding date had been pushed up. She doubted that her fiancé knew of it until recently, but he was a gentle, complying young man that would willingly adjust to new situations if it was asked of him, so he probably didn't even offer a single word of protest. Before she knew it, her parents and a few close friends had packed light luggage, and the empress presented Anastasia with an exquisite gown, right before telling her that they would soon be leaving for Japan so that she could get married. And what an eventful, overwhelming, and tiring day it had been… but she was happy to see her significant other after a year-long separation, and especially for the purpose of being joined together in such a tremendous occasion.

The wedding reception had ended around the peak of midnight after enjoying much joyous celebration, and the guests went to their rooms to sleep while the wed couple retired to their new chambers in the otherwise-empty house. Family members and fellow companions of the bride and groom went to stay in the homes nearby, and the villagers hospitably welcomed them all, especially tending to their foreign Russian visitors. As she was sitting alone in the bedroom, Anastasia idly passed the time by absentmindedly playing with the tied strings that held her flower-colored yukata together, a thin, Japanese-style robe that women traditionally donned for sleepwear. She was waiting for her spouse to return, who was currently bathing in the bathhouse, cleansing himself before he returned to his wife, and then they would turn in for the night… after validating their marriage.

At the thought of what would happen between them when her husband joined her in bed, the chestnut-haired princess blushed, her cheeks warm and bright pink with natural bashfulness. She wasn't completely ignorant of knowing about the intimacy that a man and a woman shared on their wedding night, but she was still very innocent, only having been informed of scarce details on the concept. A few weeks before the family left their home to travel to Japan for the marriage, the Russian empress had sat down with her daughter and vaguely explained of the duty that would be expected of her, as a bride. At the end of the too-brief conversation, Anastasia was left with many questions, and dared to voice a couple of them to her mother, but instead of receiving answers, the girl was scolded to keep her thoughts proper and not dwell on the subject.

Not one to be discouraged so easily, the brunette teenager privately went around and asked her closest friends for details on the "taboo" topic, but unfortunately, their knowledge was just about as limited as her own. But through a chain of murmured speculations, she had learned what the basic procedures were that went along with the intimate act, and was mortified to hear that she would have to endure a terrible, tearing pain in her first time. Anastasia adored her husband very much and would gladly, very willingly do anything to please him, but inwardly admitted to feeling rather nervous about the supposedly-arduous experience that she would soon have to go through. But despite her anxiety and uncertainties, the princess silently vowed to comply with whatever her darling Kurando wanted to do, even at the cost of her own discomfort, because she trusted him more than anything else.

Just then, the door swung open with barely a whisper, and Kurando Inugami entered the room, wearing a dark blue undershirt and matching-colored slacks, while his hair was visibly still damp from the recent bath. His crimson eyes immediately searched for and located his blushing bride, and he smiled at her in greeting before he walked over to the basket resting against the wall to place his previously-worn clothes inside. That done, the young man turned around to face his wife, and took a long moment to admire her in silence, a bit too tentative to say it aloud, but inwardly noted how beautiful and innocently alluring she looked in her current outfit and pose. Her cheeks colored more deeply when she noticed his blatant, intense stare on her form, and Anastasia ducked her head slightly in response, giving into the rare shy side of her usually-outgoing nature.

"Hello, Anastasia," he initiated quietly, after the bashfulness girl stole a few glances at him, but didn't say anything.

"H-hi, Kurando…" she replied in a soft tone, and then slowly raised her eyes to meet his – her actions were quite a contrast to the energetic and bold behavior that she was used to showing.

"Ready for bed so soon? You must be tired," the samurai commented idly, and ran a hand through his wet hair, tousling it with his fingers in an attempt to dry the strands.

"Just… just a little," she admitted, and since the casual small talk slightly eased the tentative air about her, she was able to grin a bit while mildly griping, "Mother took so long with all those pictures. Heehee, I think she even wore out the photographer…!"

He chuckled at the reminder and nodded in agreement. "Yes, probably… but my mother is also partially responsible for that. She did insist on getting at least a dozen pictures as memento, after all…"

"Oh, your mother… I guess I won't be calling her Saki anymore, huh?" the young bride mused lightheartedly, her eyes shining in delight at the thought of her newly-expanded family.

"He he, I suppose not," he smiled warmly. "Don't worry, she isn't trying to replace your mother, but she wants you to feel welcomed into the family. Just today alone, Mother must've already introduced you and your parents to everyone in the village…"

"I'm not sure, but I definitely met a lot of new people today!" she confirmed with a cute giggle, "Whew, all that rushing around, bowing and shaking hands… just remembering it makes me dizzy."

"Yes, I did the same with your family and friends," Kurando recalled, his smile turning a bit wry, "One of the men – I think his position is a grand duke – has a very strong grip. I almost grimaced when he shook my hand."

"Heehee, be careful next time," she warned him with a small grin.

"I will," he complied, and then raised a hand to cover his mouth when a yawn made its escape. "Ah, excuse me for that. Hm, I guess I'm a little more tired than I thought. Would you mind if we went to sleep now?"

Part of her wondered if he was trying to ease his way into bed so he could ravish her, but a look at his fatigued expression told her otherwise, and she shook her head while assuring, "No, it's okay with me. I need to sleep too; today's been really busy."

"All right then, we can both get our much-needed rest," the dark-haired swordsman confirmed with a slight nod, and strolled over to the bed, stopping at the side opposite his wife to slip his feet out of his indoor pair of sandals. Still inwardly tentative and nervous about the upcoming encounter, Anastasia watched him as he tugged back the bed sheets and sat down on the mattress, then proceeded to slide his legs and lower body underneath the blankets. The observing girl gulped in apprehension when she saw the silent invitation in his crimson eyes after catching his gaze, but she bravely followed suit and joined her spouse in bed, sitting right beside him. Snugly fit under the covers, she remained motionless while wondering what her next course of action would be; should she take the initiative of her wifely duties and undress, or wait for Kurando to give her that command?

"Is… is something wrong, Anastasia…?" her partner inquired after a long moment of silence had settled over the atmosphere.

At the sound of his voice, she snapped to attention and denied fervently in spite of her stiff posture, "O-oh, no, nothing's wrong! S-sorry, I was just… thinking about something, that's all. But I'm starting to feel tired now, so let's go to sleep…"

He raised an eyebrow at her overeager enthusiasm, but she turned to face him with an absolutely innocent smile, so he merely agreed, "…Sure. Well, good night, Anastasia. I hope you'll have pleasant dreams."

"Th-thanks, you too…" the young brunette returned sincerely, and after an adorable flourish, she slid her body along the mattress to lie down on her back, and murmured softly as she closed her eyes, "Good night, Kurando…"

After hearing a hushed sigh emit, she felt brief movement, and then with a quiet click, light vanished to allow darkness to envelop the room, which made Anastasia blink as she tried to adjust her sight. Her husband shifted to lie next to her just then, and the warmth of his body was comforting, albeit foreign, and her acute awareness caused both nervousness and mild, curious excitement to reign over her emotions. Fully alert of her surroundings, she remained still and quiet as she waited for him to initiate the intimate act, but became a little bewildered when a few minutes casually passed on by without any activity from him. At the possibility that nothing might happen after all, she began to relax a bit, when suddenly, the gentle pressure of Kurando's arm was placed upon her abdomen, and then his hold tightened just slightly to secure.

She fought the urge to noise her surprise at his action, and just silently willed her heart to stop beating so fast; he was merely embracing her, and it felt nice to be drawn closely to him, clear evidence of his endearing affections. Oh, Kurando… I know you'd never hurt me…

But just then, the mattress beneath her back took a little dip when he changed his position to face her side, and his warm breath fanned her cheek as he whispered softly into her ear, his tone light and questioning, "Anastasia…?"

"Y-yeah?" she stammered in reply, her voice unusually meek.

His next words were hesitant and barely audible in spite of the bold inquiry: "Would it be all right if I… can I kiss you?"

The princess blushed at his request; surely it meant that he intended to start their intimate marital event now… but nevertheless, she was his wife, and she was determined to meet his expectations in hopes of pleasing him. Although, distracted by her shyness, she overlooked the fact that he was asking her permission instead of just doing as he wished; how he must adore and respect her to act like a gentleman toward his own wife. In faithful obedience, Anastasia shifted, turning her body so that the pair was facing each other, and soon, his palm found her cheek, resting upon the surface very gently, as if she was fragile, and needed to be delicately taken care of. Pale moonlight peeked in through the window to shine over his face and illuminated his solemn features in the darkness, allowing her to see the question lingering in his eyes, as well as evident tenderness.

She nodded slightly in answer, and after giving her a small, tentative smile, he moved closer until their lips had met, such light contact that made her wonder if he really intended to claim his marital right on that immediate night. This wasn't their first kiss, but the couple had never moved beyond that step, so she didn't know what lied ahead, and decided to lie back and let her husband guide her along the way from the beginning to end. His mouth brushed against hers gently, and then he nipped at her soft pink pair, which made the girl almost giggle at the ticklish feeling, but doing that would be inappropriate, so she remained submissive and accepted his caresses. In her mind, Anastasia voiced her uncertainties of being unsure of what to do, and didn't even know if she should she kiss him back. Could she touch him, or was he supposed to have full control? Just what exactly was expected of her?

When the baffled bride hesitated too long and it became obvious, Kurando stopped and pulled back, his hand still cupping her cheek, and then he started to open his mouth, apparently intending to ask her something. But she didn't want to give him an answer that would embarrass her, so the brunette leaned forward this time and kissed him, while inwardly hoping that he wouldn't be displeased with such a daring action. Well, he didn't say anything that indicated disapproval, and in fact, scooted even closer to her so that their bodies were pressed together tightly; the proximity startled her, but she forced herself to quickly accommodate. He really wasn't doing anything that severely alarmed her, anyway, and she was a bit curious about what he was going to do, and so she just enjoyed his kisses for the time being, not even flinching when the tip of his tongue came out to gently lick her lips.

As time slipped by unnoticed, dim heat was beginning to course through her slender form from his tender caresses, making the girl dizzy when an unexplainable, yet faintly pleasant yearning suddenly ignited deep within her. Mild anxiety crept back into her when Kurando broke the embrace and lifted the covers to climb over her, and now rested atop her body, but she hardly felt any weight from his lithe form lying upon her. Figuring he must have used his legs as support to spare her the pressure, she smiled at his considerate kindness; maybe there was nothing to worry about, after all, when she had such a caring husband that put her well-being before his own. That thought eased her concerns a bit, and coupled with the distraction of his shadow-covered face hovering above her, Anastasia was able to relax, and her heart merely fluttered when he dipped his head down to kiss her again.

His elbows bent and were tucked by her sides as his hands came down to rest on her shoulders, and the girl truly felt safe in his arms, so she sought to enjoy his embrace, while pushing former worries to the back of her mind. As the kisses grew more fervent, Kurando slid up his arms to draw her upper body closer to him, and no longer held her so delicately, his former precision lost, but she was too entranced and caught up in the moment to feel nervous. Anastasia shivered when his bare palms pressed against her cheeks, hot and domineering with his underlying strength despite the naked contact being an unfamiliar sensation, due to the usual coverage of gloves. She felt small and fragile in contrast to his hidden inner vigor, yet above all else, his presence was comforting, soothing her earlier worries and fears of being hurt by the intimate act; the fire spreading inside her denied the possibility of pain.

She didn't start to feel panicked until his hands had scoured down to the waist of her yukata, and after identifying the secure knot, his nimble fingers went to work, slowly untying the bow that held her attire closed.

To Be Continued…

Author's Note: And here you have it, the first mature SH:C fic. I honestly didn't think that I'd be the one to write it, considering the fact that I've never written a lemon outside of the Bloody Roar category. Well, this is just the first part, but the rating will definitely climb higher by the end of this little mini-series. And speaking of which, I would like to ask the opinions of you readers again, this time on how long I should make this mini-series. I can conclude this with just one more part, or I can really flesh out the plot with four more parts. So in other words, vote for one more part if you're a pervert, and vote for four if you're a romantic. XP Please let me know which one you guys would prefer, and most especially A Lifeless Beauty, since this mini-series is written for, and specially dedicated to her. All right then, thank you for reading, and please leave a review! :)

BTW, I haven't forgotten the last poll. I'm just brainstorming ideas for the story that was chosen, and hopefully, I'll get it written by next week, after evil finals are over. Wish me luck – I'm sure gonna need it, heh. :P

With love for my fans,