Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. I've been struggling with an urge to write this for a while now, but I was never really sure of how I wanted to write it...until now. Also, I have my own theory about how the series might end, but this takes place AFTER the initial game, as the summary says, and focuses on a possible post-end "end". Some parts of it may be a little "off", and my viewing may be a little rusty, so be warned.
Also, you'll notice this story has an M rating. Well, ahem...you won't find any M-rated content in this chapter...it's only rated M because of what happens in the second chapter, and that is all you need to know.
Two figures...husband and wife, bound to one another...floating through an empty space...not knowing where they were or where they were going...
Only one phrase rang continuously through their heads:
It's finally over.
They opened their eyes, finding themselves in a lavender world, surrounded by kakeras showing excerpts of the previous games they had played...including an excerpt of the more recent game which they had won...
Neither spoke a word, nor did they dare change direction, yet somehow, apart from the touch of hands, they knew who was there.
They knew who had been standing right beside them the entire time.
"Beato," spoke the man, "do you remember...my telling you that because I now understand how magic works...that I would take you off the game board when all this was over?"
The woman was too terrified to speak, yet speak she did: "Yes. At the time...I wasn't sure how you were going to follow through with that promise. Do you really think you understand magic enough to...?"
"Hey, I proved your existence in the real world, didn't I?" said the man. "I proved you were not a witch, but a blushing young servant girl who allowed her emotions to get the better of her...and was forced to help in the murders against her free will..."
"Yes," murmured the witch. "I remember now..."
"Now the deal was that as soon as this was over, I would get to go to a kakera where the murders don't happen," said the man. "My entire family was present in the Great Court of Illusions as I spoke my testimony...as I spoke the truth...yet somehow, I doubt many of them will retain any memory of what happened. I'd be surprised if they did..."
He squeezed her hand. "Ready?"
The witch squeezed back. "Yes."
The two figures closed their eyes...
A bright light shined...
And all went black.
It is an automatic mechanism done without thinking. It is something we do everyday of our lives. It is something so mundane, we take advantage of it.
And yet...it was something that Beato found herself struggling for as she woke up and saw a world of blue. She turned to the red-headed man floating right next to her. He smiled sheepishly as though to say, "Well, I tried."
Had she had any oxygen to laugh, she would've done so. Her husband, Ushiromiya Battler, was more competent than he had been at the start...yet still retained the tendency to miss off the mark ever so slightly.
While Battler had a better understanding of magic, and had resolved to whisk Beato with him into the real world, he had not thought through as to where he was going to take them. As a result, husband and wife now floated underwater in the sea.
Battler took Beato by the hand and swam, slowly but surely, up to the surface. As the two burst through the navy curtain, their first instinct was to gasp for air. They coughed up what little water had been swallowed, gratefully gulping down the oxygen as though they were starving children in an orphanage being granted gruel.
Battler only realized after a few seconds of breathing in air rather than water that Beato clung tightly to his shoulder, looking like a scared child.
"Beato?" said Battler. "Is everything all right?"
"I...I can't swim," said Beato sheepishly. "I mean, I can swim a little bit...but not when we're out this far..."
Battler's head turned. The island, while within swimming distance, was a bit further away than he had anticipated. He turned back to Beato. The two realized how truly funny all this was and they laughed. They held each other close and laughed over how their determination to break free had resulted in their miscalculation.
When she got tired of laughing, Beato ceased it with a kiss on Battler's mouth. Surprised yet satisfied, Battler used one hand to caress her dampened cheeks while using the other to hold Beato close. He recalled a recurring theme of rather...bizarre...wet dreams he had during his early years of puberty. He didn't remember the details of them, but one thing remained constant: A beautiful mermaid with golden locks would bring him to the surface and give him the kiss of life.
Wait, why am I thinking of wet dreams? thought Battler. I'm having a perfectly nice, romantic moment with my wife—in spite of us not getting the chance to have one after the sixth game—and I'm thinking of wet dreams?!? Ah, it's all useless!
He parted his lips from hers and said, "Beato...how about we swim back to the island? You can climb on my back, if you want."
"What a romantic fantasy!" laughed Beato. "It's simply marvellous!"
But even so, she gently glided her way over to Battler from behind and swung her arms around his neck, and her legs around his waist. Battler gave her one last smile before swimming off to their destination.
Krauss could not quite recall the last time he had ever had a headache quite this bad. He knew his wife, Natsuhi, suffered from them frequently, but this one was just awful. The last thing he remembered was discussing with his wife how they were going to cover up Kinzo's death when everyone else arrived; the next thing he knew, he was standing at the docks with all of the relatives and servants, not having the slightest clue as to what was going on.
"W...what happened?" muttered Krauss. "Where am I?"
"Now that was quite the adventure, if I do say so myself!" laughed Rudolf. "Never again will I ever call my own son incompetent behind his back!"
"I'm glad that my 'flip-the-chessboard' strategy was put to good use," nodded Kyrie thoughtfully. "We taught our son well, Rudolf."
"What?" asked Krauss. "What did Battler do?"
"Uu, I hope Battler and Beato get out okay, uu!" piped up Maria. "We're all here; where do you think they went?"
"Oh, I'm sure they'll be here soon," said George. He smiled over at Shannon and held his hand in hers. "Right now, though, I am very glad that Shannon—no, Sayo—and I were finally given the opportunity to proclaim our love. Mother...I hope you're all right with our union now. You said it was okay, but I wasn't sure if you really..."
"Meant it?" finished Eva.
"Now what is all this about?" asked Hideyoshi, who was just as confused as Krauss. "I thought you weren't okay with the woman our son has chosen."
"Well," said Eva uncomfortably, "it's...a long story..."
"Wait, that's them right now!" said Jessica, pointing out to the two figures swimming over to the docks...or rather, to the figure with his wife on his back swimming up to the docks.
"Why the hell are they out there?!?" burst out Krauss. "What the hell is going on?!?"
"I take back my comment about not calling my incompetent son 'incompetent' anymore," sighed Rudolf.
"Almost...there..." grunted Battler, paddling through the relatively calm waves while balancing Beato, who clung to him like a baby koala clung to its mother.
At last, they had reached the shallow end. However, Beato did not let go of Battler when he tried to get her to, resulting in the two of them collapsing on top of each other in the water, causing the spectators to laugh. Hideyoshi and Krauss turned to each other and let out a forced chuckle, despite still not having a clue about all this.
Observing the struggling couple, Jessica took pity on them and leaped into the shallow water to help them out. She ran over to them, the water coming halfway up her bosom, and untangled each of them. Battler said sheepishly, "Um...I'm not entirely competent when it comes to..."
"How about you're just not competent, period?" snickered Jessica.
Beato laughed, "Now Jessica, he's my husband now, and you have to show him the utmost respect."
"Husband?" Krauss mouthed over to Rudolf. Rudolf nodded and grinned, "If there is anything positive I can say about my son, it is his taste in women. Can you believe he actually landed that nice piece of a—"
"Ahem," said Battler as he, Beato, and Jessica waded up to the sand. "I can hear you from over here, you old bastard!"
"Uu, what was he about to say, mama?" asked Maria.
"Nothing that concerns you, Maria," said Rosa quickly, shooting a glare at a nervously chuckling Rudolf.
By now, the three of them had made it onto the sand. Battler then decided to take Beato by surprise; he swept her off her feet and right into his arms. She let out a small shriek upon this surprise. Battler laughed, "What's this? Does the great Beatrice feel scared?"
"Ah, not at all, not at all," laughed Beato. She swung her arms around him and kissed him, aiming for his lips, but accidentally brushing his neck.
"Hohoho, I think this calls for some celebration!" declared Kumasawa. "Gohda, let us go and prepare the happy couple a nice, big meal! With mackerel!"
"Ah, we're not hungry right now," said Battler quickly.
"Oh, but it will give you enough time to have your clothes dried off, and change until noon," said Kumasawa.
"By the way," said Jessica, "what time is it?"
"I believe it is around ten-thirty," spoke Genji.
"Wait," said Krauss. "Isn't that the time everyone arrives on the boat? And yet they're all here...and yet it's as though they've been here all along..."
He then resolved to not question anything else that went on and just go with it.
It was around thirty minutes to noon when the cousins were gathered together in the guest house. Battler had changed into more casual wear—lucky for him, he had packed a set of jeans, his long-sleeved black shirt, and a comfy pair of sneakers (his other pairs were beginning to outgrow him after his growth spurt). Beato was wearing her Zettai Ryouiki outfit, complete with vest, jacket, blouse, tie, skirt, and of course the socks that showed the right amount of flesh.
"Ah," sighed Battler, falling onto the bed. "What a day. What a...er, what would you call it?"
"One hell of a story to tell the kids about how mommy and daddy met?" cracked Jessica.
"Don't even joke about that," said Battler quickly, shooting straight up. "You seriously can't be thinking now of all times is a convenient time for Beato and I to be..."
"He has a point you know," said Beato, who was dangling her feet at the edge of the bed. "We just got married, and we're still re-building our relationship, so..."
"Speaking of which, how was your wedding night?" asked George. He quickly added, "Forgive me for intruding if it's too personal, but..."
"Well, there wouldn't be anything to tell in the first place," muttered Beato.
"Battler's really that bad in bed? Kihihihi."
Beato stared curiously at Maria. "No, it's not that," she said slowly. "In fact...we didn't get to do anything in bed at all. You see...Maria, if you had to ask the question about whether Battler was bad in bed or not...I would assume that means you know what couples do on their honeymoon, right?"
"They do that thing you do to make babies," replied Maria, grinning creepily. "Kihihihi."
Of course. Beato shouldn't have put it past Maria to already know what she shouldn't know.
Beato went on: "Well, Battler-san and I spent a lot of the night celebrating in the chapel, and then at Kuwadorian. I can't quite remember how long we took, but it was almost morning by the time he finally whisked me off to our bedroom. And then...you tell the rest, Battler; it's all too depressing for me to look back on."
"Long story short," sighed Battler, "we were interrupted right before we could actually consummate our marriage."
"Right before?" said Maria creepily.
"No, not that," said Battler quickly. "I meant...well, she had just taken off my jacket and vest, and I was about to go for her dress when suddenly Ronove made it his business to come in and announce the next game had been set up and we were to go straight away. So yeah...Beato and I haven't had a chance for...you know..."
"Doesn't mean you can't do it tonight," said George. "If you like, we could talk to Genji and have him arrange something."
"Perhaps," said Battler, although he didn't get his hopes up. The last time he had, he had been sorely let down. Why go through that dejection again?
Beato crawled over to Battler's side of the bed, noticing he was a bit down. She said, "Muu, Battler-san...if not here, maybe later...when we're off the island...we could..."
"No, wait," said George, "maybe I could have a talk with the servants after all. Yes, we'll do it now. We'll see to it that you and Beato have, perhaps, one of the guest rooms to yourselves. Jessica, come with me; we have a honeymoon to arrange."
"Wait, you mean tonight?" said Battler, shooting up to his feet. "George-aniki, you don't have to..."
"Why not?" said Jessica. "Weren't you telling us just now how you and Beato didn't get a chance to have a honeymoon?"
"But nothing. Tonight, you and Beato are getting the honeymoon you should have had a long time ago, and that is that."
"Uu, can Maria come, too?" said Maria.
"If you like, but it will be a bit of a boring discussion, so I think you had better stay here," said George. He smiled at Battler. "Battler, don't worry about a thing. We'll make sure everything works out for the two of you in the end."
"Thank you," said Battler. He smiled as his George and Jessica walked out together, but inside felt his stomach tie up in a knot. If George was successful in convincing the servants to make some sort of arrangement for him and Beato...just him and Beato...to have a room all to themselves tonight...
Battler gulped and placed one hand on his chest to make sure his heart was not beating loud enough for Beato and Maria to hear it. He had a few friends who had lost their virginity during the six years he had been gone from his hometown. While he felt a twinge of envy for such friends, he himself did not particularly care about having sex. He had met a few girls whom he was attracted to, made advances on, and had gone on dates with, but he had nothing in common with any of them, so these relationships usually did not go much further than making out or attemped breast groping in the back of the movie theatre. Part of him wondered what it would've been like had it gone further, but did not dwell on it. He simply assumed he would stay a virgin for the remainder of his teen years until he found the right girl...possibly until he was married.
And now...he had found the perfect girl for him...and they were married...
Tonight's really going to be 'the night', isn't it? thought Battler, running one hand through his hair. After tonight, I won't be a virgin...Beato and I...we're actually going to—oh God, what if something goes wrong? What if I hurt her? What if I'm lousy in bed? What if I knock—
"What do you think, Battler-san?"
"Huh?" Battler snapped out of his thoughts and spun around in the direction of the voice talking to him. Standing in front of him were Beato and Maria. He tried to take his mind off the impure thoughts flashing through his head as he said, "Sorry, I was thinking about tonight...do you really think it would be a good idea if tonight's the night where we...?"
"Uu, Battler," said Maria, "Beato and I were asking if you should go see if your other clothes are dry now, uu."
"Oh, that," said Battler, his eyes darting around the room, looking anywhere but in the eyes of his wife. "Well, uh...sure, I guess. Maybe we could, I don't know, wear them at lunch or...dinner?"
"Maybe even tonight?" suggested Beato. "For when we make love for the first time?"
"Eh...ihihi," laughed Battler nervously, "you sure are blunt...aren't you..."
At this, Beato smiled and chuckled, "Oh, Battler-san, I've always been blunt, have I not?"
Bit by bit, she was acting more and more like her old self. Battler couldn't decide if this should make him feel relaxed or more tense about tonight.
It was shortly before lunch that George and Jessica gathered the servants and parents in the dining room for a meeting concerning the honeymoon.
"We were all there in the chapel when Battler spoke to save us all, and the woman he loved," George began. "If it hadn't been for him, we'd all probably be still stuck in limbo by now. Worse yet, we might have all been killed. What's more, Battler sacrificed his honeymoon for our sake. For that, he deserves to have what he could not. Together, we should all make his and Beato's honeymoon as memorable as possible. We should provide, perhaps, some food and music at dinner tonight."
"And after," continued Jessica, "they deserve to have a bed made up just for them, maybe one of the other rooms in the guest house...and we will leave them in peace to have this one night just for themselves. When else would they have time?"
There was a wave of silence spread across the table for nearly two minutes and a half before Rudolf spoke: "Heh...heh...I never realized Battler didn't get to have a night with Beato. When I learned they were married, I just assumed...well, who am I to deny my son any happiness, huh?"
"Are you sure it's a good idea?" spoke up Natsuhi. "Yes, I agree we should give them the finest banquet tonight, and perhaps a bit of music...but Rudolf, would you really be comfortable with your son and his wife sleeping together? When there's the risk of...?"
Kyrie looked over at Rudolf. He said calmly, "Of course I am. I've taught my son how to use birth control. He may be incompetent, but I trust him to be responsible enough to know how to conduct himself on his wedding night. I'll provide him with a condom before he goes off with Beato to their room."
Krauss chose to speak: "Rudolf, while I still don't have the slightest idea as to what's going on, or how Battler got married...now I know you trust your son...but do you trust this marriage?"
"Eh? What do you mean by that now, Krauss?" asked Rudolf. "This Beato girl seems nice enough."
"Well what I'm saying is, do you really think this union is destined to last?" said Krauss. "How do you know that there is absolutely nothing that can test their marriage? They are rather young."
Rudolf lightly chuckled, "Now Krauss, after witnessing the events in the Court of Illusions, I am convinced that Battler and Beato can survive anything. They'll have their issues, but they can work through them together. Now let us plan out the night for the young couple..."
Neither of the two men knew it, but there were indeed to be a few obstacles yet to come in the young couple's way...
Obstacles that would test the strength of their love.
Obstacles that would test the strength of their family.
Obstacles that were being plotted by another witch at that very moment.
A/N: Yeah, I know that simply mentioning Battler's final stand without showing it is a Missed Moment of Awesome...but hey, who knows--maybe I might actually turn that one into an epic oneshot. But that's for another day.