[AUTHOR'S NOTES]

Hello and welcome!

Yes, another tragic story.
Yes, I included angsty stuff and pain.
Yes, this is a conclusive story, even if the end is weird
Yes, I played both the first and second game

No, I do not own Shadow Hearts (T_T I do wish I did)
No, the characters are not mine.

As for the why; I always found it weird they'd add that "Karin loves Yuri" and never built on that.
There should've been a third ending. This is my interpretation of how this might've worked.


Sukune Fountain, Japan.

A young woman stands on a small half-island in the midst of a beautiful fountain. Before her, a mighty waterfall. Around her, a cave. Behind her, a few steps in distance, the person she held dear the most. Inside her, wild emotions and a racing heart.

Finally she turns to face the man, who actually was looking for her. Their party was about to go into a world-deciding battle and as she was part of that group, it would've been wrong to leave her here. Thus the man, whose name was Yuri Hyuga and whose fate was sealed by a curse that would soon claim both his memory and soul, had gone looking for her. Following his guts had lead him here, where the redhaired swordsfighteress was waiting for something.

This waiting was over now. He tried to approach casually, but a firm "Don't come any closer" stopped him in his tracks. She apologised immediately, he just shook his head. It was alright. He respected her need for privacy. For a moment both were silent, then she inquired about how he felt.

"Not getting any better.. it's just as Nicolai said. There's no way to break this curse", Yuri replied with an almost uncaring shrug. "Other than beating Kato, there's not a thing I can do about it."

He'd never give in to the fact that he was scared as hell, mostly for what happened after today. It was one of his trademark traits; why bother anyone with your feelings? But she knew. And she wanted to tell him something, but she too was scared of the consequences. A moment longer she collected all her courage, then started to speak.

"Yuri..", she began, her heart beating even faster, so fast she thought it'd jump right out of her chest. "I've loved you ever since I met you."

His eyes widened in surprise. But Karin wasn't done yet.

"I always have. And I always will do. I know I can't match up to Alice. I know you're such I dummy, I know you never noticed."

"Karin, I.."

"No, it's fine. You don't have to say anything. I always knew in my heart that you felt the same way about me too. That's why I risked my life; because I loved you. And now that you know that; it's enough. For me."

Her heart made a jump and she was ashamed of her own words for a moment. It seems he wasn't better off either, for he nervously scratched the back of his head with his right hand, while the left was raised for some unknown offering.

"Come on, let's join the others", he then said, smiling at her, she returned it with her own and carefully walked over the stepping stones. The last one made her stumble. Yuri saw this coming and was at her side, catching her, before she could make unpleasant acquaintance with the rock floor. They left the cave behind after that, fully well knowing this could be the last time they'd ever see it.


Inugami Village

The others, which was a colorful party of hardly normal people, waited at the entrance to the village. After being unsuccessful at searching for Karin, they'd gathered there to wait for their leader, who finally emerged from the hidden pathway to Sukune fountain, followed by Karin, who didn't exactly seem herself, especially with a face color matching her hair's. Gepetto, the old puppeteer, knew of course what was going on and grinned, thoughtfully playing with his chin beard, but when Yuri asked what that was about, he'd just wave it off and let the newcomers standing.

"Doesn't matter, doesn't matter..", the old one just said, still grinning.

"Why did you take so long? We could be back by now!", exclaimed a very excited russian princess, who'd joined them after the group had rid her country of a certain black sorcerer who'd planned to conquer Russia. Her name was Anastasia and she was exactly 8 years old - and acted her age, plus the royal pride.

"We were worried about you", added the vampire in their group, who formerly was known as the "great papillon", a street-fighting hero with superhuman strength. And the personality quirk to use almost anything as a weapon - literally. His weaponry reached from simple things like bats to frozen tuna up to a mailbox he'd picked up randomly. He was one hell of a muscle packet.

"We thought you might be dead!" Lucia. A beauty with the power of foresight. She could easily tell a person's fortune - or misfortune. Bad tongues tell it was her prediction that ruined some people's lives, she was incredibly morbid at times. Besides her sight, she was exceptionally skilled with magic.

"It's good to see you both are well." Kurando. A person best described as samurai. He preferred Katana over every weapon, wore traditional hakama and gi and had a pretty archaic way of seeing things. Plus, he had fusionist blood, the same in fact, as Yuri.

And, lastly, Blanca, the white wolf. He sat a bit apart from the group, just looked between the members of his pack, yawning.

"Let's go" said Yuri then, unwilling to comment on what happened over at the fountain and just stomped ahead. Gepetto smiled even broader, knowing what was in their leader's mind, Karin avoided everyone's gaze, the others followed them out of the village.


Foreigner Cemetary

The air felt horrible here. Opressive. Dangerous. You didn't want to be here. Here it would take place, the one magic that could destroy the world. A time vortex, meant to sent anyone inside it to the past - or future. What happened to the rest of the world? Who knows.. Not that Yuri planned on letting Kato do his thing. Neither of them did; they'd gone so far together, their thoughts had become like one single entity. An entity willing to do their best to prevent a catastrophe.

This entity now crossed the cemetary, passing countless graves with names none of them had heard before. One or another, maybe. Yoshiko Kawashima for example, had her grave here. She'd helped Yuri and Alice (his long lost love) on their quest before she was murdered. There were other friends, family, some well-known personalities. Between these; unnamed graves, unknown names, lost stories, stolen memories. Tragedies none would ever know. Victims of war. Soldiers. Mothers. Fathers. Siblings. All these graves were here and passed by the group of vagabonds and lead to a very certain place on this graveyard. It was there, he was there. Waiting on the stone platform, said to be used for offerings to the god of mayhem.

Kato had changed.

His eyes, originally full of life and dedication to his master, now empty and devoid of feelings. His beloved, or more, the cloned decendent of said, had recently sacrificed herself for him, when he foolishly had let his guard down before the enemy. A demon fang had pierced her body and killed her, while it should've hit him. Full of regrets, he had declared war on Yuri and his friends; and on the whole world. A world he didn't need anymore. A world that could go and kill itself for all he cared. A world without his beloved ones wasn't worth the effort. He'd end this miserable world and raise it anew, beginning one hundred years before today. He would kill all those who made the world the sorry place it was now, make sure the right people became powerful. Fix history. This was his whole plan and he didn't plan on budging for anyone. If he had to, he would murder his former allies, if they attempted to stop him. Let them die for the higher cause. His cause. For Ouka. For Yoshiko.

There they were. He could see them now, as their group approached the platform. Starting with the fusionist he'd been supporting all this time, his red-haired companion, the little princess, the old puppeteer, the beautiful gypsy, the samurai, the vampire and the wolf. A few paces in distance they stopped.

"Kato"

It was Yuri, stepping forwards, as he addressed the uniformed man. Kato nodded.

"So you want to stop me after all, don't you?", Kato stated. It wasn't a question. He wasn't moved by this either.

"We know what you're up to.."

"I will end this world today", the man like a tank said, matter-of-factly, his face a stony mask. Whatever kind of emotion brought this change of heart upon him, it didn't show any longer. Gone the gentle smile he had for the woman he loved, gone the passionate soldier of age, the friend they knew. Yuri felt a shiver run down his spine. Would he become like that? Just some soulless creature that just kept on surviving despite the odds? Kato saw the younger man's fear, but it didn't register. The soldier closed his eyes for a soundless sigh, then shook his head. They would never understand how important his mission was... they would do their utmost to stop him, right? No use discussing and stalling.

With this and a wide gesture of his right hand, Kato began to work his magic.

"Oh no you don't..", Yuri growled, his form switching to a demonic appearance in a flash. The god of wrath, Amon himself, now rushed at Kato. Anyone faced with this power would at least have shivered, run possibly, fainted maybe. Not so Kato. Much too late Yuri saw the necklace around Kato's neck, which powered a forcefield around the former soldier. In consequence the fused harmonixer crashed full-speed into the immaterial shield, was repelled and thrown to the ground, stunned. Karin was at his side instantly, checking if he was okay. She hadn't needed to bother; Yuri almost immediately jumped back to his legs (albeit swaying for a moment) then once again rushed at Kato. The shield still in place, he fell with the same result, burns now covering his skin, the fusion dissolving. When he was about to try a third time, Karin grabbed him by the wrists and pulled him back down, ignoring his struggles and loud curses. Now the others tried their luck, casting spells at the shield or attack it physically, but the shield, except for some colorful reflections, didn't react much to the attacks.

One effect was becoming visible tho; The soldier inside was slowly getting tired, as the spell, even if bound to an item, cost him energy to maintain. Kato grit his teeth. Time to end this before he didn't have the power for the more important spell left.. His hand moving in an arching gesture, he send a shockwave in all directions, repelling everything around him. A few tombstones had been strewn across the cemetary as well. He prayed the souls of the dead may forgive him and then resumed the time spell. The platform began to glow in an eerie, unnatural dark light. The ground shook as if something was bound to come from below.

With the others being mostly out of commission for the moment - most were stunned, some unconscious - it was now up to Karin and Yuri. To make matters worse; there was nothing they could do. The magic would activate, they'd all be sent into the past, leaving their previous lives behind.

"No", Yuri stated, catching Karin off-guard.

"What?"

"I'm not going to let it end this way.."

"We can't do anything at this point"

"Give me your crest.."

At this, Karin eyed him with question in her eyes. At any other day, she'd have suspected something fishy from him if he'd asked this from her, but the look in his eyes signaled that he wasn't fooling around.

"But.. you can't use magic, right?"

"I may not.. but I know someone who can.. He knows better than any of us.. With the crest, I can add some KABOOM to his attacks."

The redhaired female swordfighter watched the fusionist for a moment. While he hadn't made attempts at standing up - and she suspected he might even be unable to -, his open hand was still waiting for the requested item, his eyes an ocean of fire.

"Be careful..", Karin then replied, knowing there was nothing that could convince Yuri to step back from his plan now. Maybe it was the only way they'd all get through this. She couldn't offer an alternative plan either. So she took off her crest, which was an item similiar to Kato's amulet, as it bound certain magic to the wearer. A water-type magic, capable of freezing whatever it touched, was attached to this specific item. She handed it over to the fusionist, who looked at her for a moment, as if in thoughts, then stood surprisingly swift, equipped the crest and switched forms again. In a flash of light, he turned into a creature resembling a water dragon, the fusion monster Mahrea. This creature now flew at Kato, who saw it coming and grit his teeth. The shield would stop that monster as well. What did Yuri think, trying again and again what failed?

This time though, Mahrea's power came at him. An icy hail storm met the forcefield, sparks flew, then cracks started to spread. While the attack was still blocked, it took its toll on Kato, who gasped for air as his shield weakened. Anger. He renewed the spell, but the fusion monster attacked again. Closer this time, with more power behind the magic. More cracks, the ground below Kato's feet was starting to freeze. When the third attack met the shield, it broke with a sound like glass. The man went down to one knee, panting, clearly reaching the limits of his power. One last charge would end this.

Except it wasn't going to be.

Yuri, being in the creature's body, felt it coming. While he prepared the final attack, his chest tightened on him with a heavy BUMP. He'd prayed for it to wait. To let him do his last task. It didn't listen. When the fusion dissolved, he fell to his knees, panting, a hand pressed to his chest. When a green light began to shine from him, slowly and dim at first, quickly getting brighter, he collapsed to his side with a groan. The mistletoe curse was beginnig to work.


[Yuri's POV]

It's this place again.

No, actually, it's not a place at all. Just plain darkness whereever I look. Can't even see the ground, but it's there. I feel it beneath me. Also, the lack of falling. Walking idly I find my feet leave glowing footprints. Weird!

Then someone calls me and I look up. I know that voice, love it, love the person it belongs to.

Alice..

"Finally you're here, my love..", she says as her beautiful appearance steps out of the shadows, towards me, her arms stretched out wide, a bright smile on her silken face. "Let's never part again.."

As I too approach her, something strikes me weird and I stop. Some strange feeling, this is just not right.. Somehow. My eyes automatically wander to her feet. She doesn't leave footprints. Is it because she's already dead? But this is my soul, a spiritual place. There should be no difference. Her soul is as alive as mine here, so why..?

I find myself slowly stepping backwards. She stops, a frown on her cute face.. and a glint in her eyes that doesn't belong there.

"What is it, my love? Won't you join me?", her sweet, sweet voice asks again with that lovely smile of hers, but now it's obvious she's faking it. Just why?

"Alice..", I begin and she frowns. ".. is it really you?"
"Well, of course my love. Who else?"
"Forgive me.. but I don't believe you. Alice's soul was consumed by the curse back then."
"Yuri.. listen to me.."
"No.. how could I oversee this.. you can't possibly be my Alice.."
"It is me, my love. I survived that dreaded...-"
"No.. I'm sorry.. don't hate me for this. But you are not Alice."
"Why you..!"

I find myself on my knees even before the agonizing pain registers in my mind. I can't help but scream out as the charge this fake Alice is throwing at me rushes through my body as pictures and images flash up before my inner eye, then start burning. More pain.

And Alice - or not-Alice - is laughing.

Damn.


Not now, please not now, Karin silently prayed as she came running over to the fallen fusionist, only barely noticing the others rushing past her.

Blanca in the lead, Gepetto behind, Anastasia and Lucia following, Joachim in the back, Kurando fused into a fox-like monster at the end. There was a terrible scream when their combined attack met Kato. He was no more. As the magic broke, the atmosphere cleared considerably, all dark energy dispersing. A hissing sound filling the air, steam rising from the platform, a large crack breaking the stone in half.

But Karin didn't care. She was holding the hand of the man she loved, who now shivered from pain - she wished she could do more. Not knowing what else to do, she hunched over him and her forehead touched his.

Then it got dark.

x-x-x

She knew this place.

The graveyard inside Yuri's soul. They had been here a while ago, she and Yuri, when he'd conquered Amon. But it had changed. The ground was breaking up. A terrible, terrible feeling in the air. The tree was blooming, which should've been reason enough for concern, since it had been nothing but a withered piece of wood all the time. Then a voice, crying out in what sounded like torturing pain. She ran towards it, finding the empty void was perfectly walkable, each of her steps leaving a glowing footprint in the dark matter, slowly fading as she moved forwards. The sound was somewhere out there and she followed it. And more. And more. And even further until there was no sight of the graveyard left.

When finally something got in sight, she was surrounded by darkness only. Someone knelt on the non-existing ground, holding his head, voicing his discomfort without restrain. Before that person, a glowing appearance with no tangible form; maybe remotely like a human, a horribly blurred one. For all Karin knew (and by adding the numbers), this could only be the curse's true form. It kept on throwing bolts of - somewhat wrong looking - lightning at its prey, which cried out with every hit. She'd never imagined that it would be a living creature, thought of it more like an intangible force or something. But this looked almost like..

"A monster..", she whispered, after which the tortured looked up and not surprisingly, it was Yuri. Upon spotting Karin, his eyes widened in fear.

"Karin, get the fuck away from here..!", he yelled over the flashing sounds, just before flinching hard and letting out another pained cry. The curse seemed to ignore Karin's presence for now and moved closer to the weird prey that didn't run away. It would now claim what was his, all the memories and feelings it could find. That was its purpose, right after exorcising demons. This mind would get sucked dry and the body would be free to start anew. Yuri tried to resist, but he felt his head getting more empty already. He also tried getting up and away from there, but his legs wouldn't obey. Then a flash of red passed him and stepped between the curse and him. Karin.

"You okay?", she asked, not expecting an answer and striking right at the creature. Now she had the full attention of the mistletoe curse. Its light turned to an eerie red as it approached Karin, lightning flying wildly around it. As it neared, Karin swore she could see a woman in there.. slim, beautiful, hair white as snow.. this couldn't be.. could it? She prepared to fight, levelling her sword against the incoming danger, but it stopped a bit before her. In fact, close enough for her hair to stand on edge due to the electricity. She was about to strike again when she noticed a movement behind her, then it rushed past, mighty wings flapping once for speed, twice for show, then the monster slashed a set of gleaming claws at the spirit which just barely avoided, stepping away from Karin and the newcomer, confused over the sudden resistance.

Amon had shown himself. For a moment, Karin stared at the monster, then heard a soft moan behind her. Turning around she found Yuri still on his knees, not quite coherent, one hand pressed to his chest. Amon looked over his mighty shoulder, his face unreadable, then went to fight the curse. Others followed him. Shades at first, gaining mass as they rushed in to join the fight. It were the fusion monsters, all of them. Maybe they'd sensed the danger and came to fight the intruder..? Or was it all an illusion? The weirdest thing was that Karin didn't feel afraid of them. As she knelt down by Yuri, she watched as the monsters started ripping at the cursed spirit. One or two got hit by her lightning and disappeared in short bursts of light. Then more. Every time a monster died, Yuri would flinch as if in pain, but it worked. The curse was weakening and doing so quickly. Finally it gave a deafening cry before exploding in a blast of light. When it was over, it got dark around them once again. The fusion monsters who had survived the battle now surrounded their master and his mate. Amon put his large, clawed hand on Karin's shoulder, nodded once, then went to leave. The others followed, one by one, until the humans were alone again.

It was only then Yuri decided to black out and fall on his side, much to Karin's shock.

"Come on, wake up!", Karin softly called the man lying still before her and, gratefully, after a moment he indeed came to, albeit with a pained hiss.

"Karin..? What.."

"Shh, shh. It's okay. They took care of the curse."

"They? Who?"

"Nevermind. Let's go back.. This place is creepy."

"Heh, thanks a bunch. Always knew you'd find my heart creepy."

"You know exactly-" here she gave his head a light slap which he reported with a dramatic 'ow!' "-what I mean."

She helped him up and put one of his arms over her shoulders, supporting him, as he didn't seem that stable on his legs right now. Thank god he was about her height.. Otherwise this'd been a little uncomfortable for the both of them. Rarely she'd greeted the sight of the graveyard as much as she did now (and she suspected Yuri wasn't all too unhappy either). Finally visible ground under her feet again!

The gate, leading back to the outside world.

They got closer with each step.

Pure bliss as they finally got through.


Karin found herself lying on grass. No dust. No darkness. Just six pairs of eyes, looking at her from all around her, as she blinked in confusion.

"Maybe it's contagious. We should be careful" Lucia.

"Oh quit it, girl." Gepetto.

"Hey look, she's awake!" Anastasia.

"Awroh!" Blanca.

"Guys..? What..." Karin.

"Thank god you're still alive.. We almost declared you dead~" Lucia again.

"Don't listen to her. What were the two of you doing?" Gepetto.

The red-head patted beside her, expecting Yuri still out cold. It was now that she realised that Yuri wasn't next to her anymore. Panic rose in her. A little too quickly she stood, staggered a bit and would've fallen again, hadn't she been caught.

"If you do this more often, you'll get used to it. Take it from me, I know this stuff."

She wanted to whip around and knock the guy senseless for scaring her like this. Yuri wouldn't let her though. His calloused hands held her shoulders firmly in place, so all she could do was turn her head and glance at him. Yuri seemed all well. Alive, and himself. Mostly. He wasn't dead. And his grip was bound to leave bruises.

"Is it over now..?", Karin finally asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Yeah. It's over", Yuri confirmed. "We've won."


Domremy, 1 week later..

"You okay up there, Yuri?"

"You asked for the tenth time now, hell yeah, I'm fine!"

"You sure?"

"Yeah. It's not as if I was afraid of heights or something.."

Yuri looked at his work. It felt like ages had passed since he'd been in this village. Now he and Karin had a house, albeit with a broken ceiling which was the reason he was even up here, to fix it, and were on a straight path towards marriage. A year they'd have to wait, as was custom here. He was willing to wait.

The first day back here he had said his farewells in the otherworld. Jeanne had giggled, even before he'd said anything and just wished him good luck, which left him confused, then disappeared.

The others had gone home as well;

Gepetto went back to Paris, saying he wanted to try getting into the doll building business.

Lucia on the other hand didn't go back to Florence. Instead she and Joachim joined a pack of peddlers, seeking adventure in the big world.

Kurando and Anastasia left for Japan. Even if the young swordsman had been hesistant about taking her, she'd convinced him that there was absolutely no other possiblity than bidding her wish. It hadn't taken long. When they'd departed, Blanca had suddenly rushed after them. They'd never know what the wolf was thinking that day.

As for Alice, he hadn't seen her again. The door that was supposed to lead to the train where she was supposed to wait just wasn't there anymore. He'd checked everywhere, it had disappeared for good and taken her with it.

After that last event, there still were blank spots in his memory. While Karin did her best to help him fill these voids, they'd always be retold memories. Fake ones. Not his own, lived ones. He was fine with that though. In fact, if you asked him, he'd even say he didn't need them at all (being no guy for self-reflection to begin with), but every time Karin told him from their adventures, he really wished he could place some pictures to her words. To locations. Names. So much was lost, probably forever. Then again, if it hadn't been for her, he'd now be a braindead zombie, incapable of remembering anything, starting with his name. Would he know them?

There he stopped pondering and took the hammer to put some more nails into the ceiling below his hands.

These holes wouldn't fix themselves..