Disclaimer: I wish I owned Yuri, but unfortunately for moi, the nice folks at Bandai Namco do and they refuse to share.

A/N: With many thanks to Empatheia for her suggestions.The final instalment of this summer-afternoon interlude; thanks for letting me play in the Vesperia fandom!

Warnings: Snuggling, smooching, snogging and an unfortunate case of caninus interruptus.

A Serious Question

Chapter Three

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A Complete Answer

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Yuri decided that keeping his mouth shut was the safest response as Estelle's hand began to glow; the swordsman closed his eyes while the gentle warmth penetrated his skin. How embarrassing; if this happens every time I kiss her…never mind anything else… I'll end up anaemic! Gentle fingers wiped away the blood, and then a series of feather-light kisses more than made up for the embarrassment.

When he finally looked up at her, the tender expression on her face made his throat go dry again. Tightening his arms around her, Yuri slowly rolled both of them over until the young woman lay beneath him, wide-eyed, tense and scarcely breathing. Crap… don't want to scare her! Instead, he eased alongside her, keeping open the invitation for closer contact. Estelle regarded him from beneath her lashes for a long moment, then shifted onto her side. Keeping a close eye on her reactions, Yuri edged closer until they were pressed lightly together the length of their bodies… and she was blushing prettily.

She's just so damned cute. He nuzzled, then kissed her forehead; she tilted up her face in invitation, and he took it, losing himself in the heated sweetness of her mouth when she shyly parted her lips. When her hand slipped inside the collar of his tunic and came to rest on the crook of his neck, her thumb rubbing lightly along his collarbone, he took that as permission to explore. Kissing her dainty pointed chin, he nibbled along her jaw before venturing down the side of her slender throat until he struck a spot that made her fingers tighten and her breathing hitch. Yuri paid attention to that sensitive patch of skin until Estelle murmured his name in a throaty whisper that sent shivers down his spine.

Consumed by her needy whimpers as he followed the gently curving line of her collarbone to her bare shoulder, he was emboldened to move onto more intimate territory. Moving slowly so she couldn't mistake his intent, he shifted downward and began laying a path of kisses towards the invitingly exposed curves of her breasts. Estelle went very still, her fingers flexing against his shoulder, but she didn't push him away; instead, she seemed to be concentrating on his touch with her entire being. Yuri rubbed his cheek against her skin when she exhaled deeply, her hand sliding to the nape of his neck. Lingering, open-mouthed kisses made her arch slightly and gasp; he was struck by a sudden jolt of possessiveness. Before he studied the impulse too carefully, Yuri seized the thickly-embroidered neckline of her dress in his teeth and pulled it down even lower. Mouthing the pale skin that had never seen the light of day, he deliberately created a reddened mark that would remind Estelle for at least a day or two that they had shared this moment. If anyone else sees it, they'll know that she's spoken for

The heat of the sun on his back, the tang of the crushed grass and wildflowers beneath them, the taste of Estelle's warm skin and the sound of her voice all combined to push Yuri's control dangerously close to the breaking point. Burying his face in the soft curves of her chest, he crushed her against him in a near-desperate hug; Estelle's breath tickled over the shell of his ear as she sighed deeply, her free hand stroking through his hair. He listened to her heartbeat thudding for a long moment, his respect for her listing several reasons to not go any further while his libido lasciviously suggested a few other areas of exploration… until a shadow fell over his face. Oh, you have got to be kidding me…!

Cracking one eye, he hastily clamped it shut as a rounded, smoke-belching object appeared a little too close. "Repede…?" Making sure that Estelle's bared curves were concealed, he raised his head just high enough to regard the dog with a jaundiced eye. "What's up?" In reply, Repede shifted his pipe to the other side of his mouth and puffed an aromatic cloud as he looked off into the distance, cocking his ears as if listening. It took Yuri a moment to follow the dog's line of thought because the working parts of his brain were otherwise occupied, but he finally clued in. "The others…?" Repede rolled his eyes but yipped in confirmation anyways, then strolled a short distance before sitting on his haunches with his back to the couple.

Yuri propped himself on his elbows to gaze down at Estelle, and knew he'd never, ever forget the sight of the young woman he held in his arms. Framed by the bright green grass, wildflowers peeping through her tumbled hair, her cheeks tinted the softest pink, and her eyes misty and full of yearning. "Thank you, Estelle," he whispered, a lump rising in his throat because their moment had come to an end. In reply, she tried to say something, but gave it up in favour of pulling him down for a hot, sweet kiss that he reluctantly broke when Repede gave a low woof of warning. "Come on… let's set you to rights. Don't want to give Karol a terminal case of the blushes… or Rita a reason to kick my butt." Smiling to take the sting out of his actions, Yuri broke free of her embrace and rose upright, then assisted Estelle to her feet. While she pulled her dress back into place and fastened her bodice, he ran his fingers through her pink tresses to remove the grass and flowers.

She finished with the hook-and-eyes securing the heavy embroidered outer dress, but when she started fastening the pink inner chemise, he stopped her with a gentle touch and a tender kiss. "You have such a lovely throat… don't hide it," Yuri urged, lightly brushing his fingertips down the exposed skin, which made Estelle blush even harder as she smoothed her gown with trembling hands… but she left her neckline open. "Grass stain check." Catching hold of her arm, he turned her to check the back of her clothing and discovered only a couple of faint marks. "Nothing incriminating; we're good to go," he assured as he took her hand in his and kissed her knuckles.

"Just a minute… you have flowers in your hair," Estelle managed to say, sounding oddly breathless. Yuri obligingly held still, but refused to let go of her hand while she combed his hair with her slim fingers. "There… oh, wait… missed one…" She showed him a star-like blue flower; just before she let it drop, Yuri plucked it from her palm. Brushing her hair back, he tucked the blossom into place behind her ear and stooped to kiss her one last time.

Repede barked and stretched, then came over to rub his muzzle against Estelle's skirts before bunting Yuri in the leg, smirking doggishly the entire time. He pawed at something white lying crumpled in the grass; Yuri scooped up Estelle's gloves and tucked them into his belt. Repede woofed once, then set off ahead of them across the meadow, his tail waving gently while a stream of wispy white smoke trailed along behind him. Yuri squeezed Estelle's hand as he tugged her into step with him, making it clear that he had no intention of pretending that nothing had happened. The young woman bit her lip as she considered this; Yuri had a few moments to formulate a possible answer before she cautiously asked, "Does this mean…?"

"If you'll have a scruffy swordsman with nothing to his name except his sword, he's happy to be yours," Yuri replied, watching her out of the corner of his eye. Estelle instantly broke out into the sunniest smile he'd ever seen and hugged his arm, in lieu of the full-body embrace he was sure she'd rather give. At that moment, Rita and Karol appeared out of the trees just ahead of Raven and Judith, their animated chatter breaking off as soon as they saw the couple. Karol remained wide-eyed while Rita instantly adopted a suspicious scowl; Raven began stroking his stubbled chin, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

Judith leaned on her trident, one fine eyebrow arching as she surveyed the cozy twosome. Noting how they had eyes only for each other, their somewhat rumpled clothing, the flower adorning Estelle's hair… the white gloves in Yuri's belt… a slow grin spread across the Krityan's face. Elbowing Raven in the ribs, she observed, "Our little princess seems a tad bouncy this afternoon, don't you think?"

His smirk couldn't get any wider. "I agree… and our young Yuri has a rather noticeable bounce in his step as well."

"He'll be bouncing, all right, if he ever makes her cry," Rita growled, meaningfully patting her scarf.

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