Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

Only Stone on the Outside

a Slayers fanfic

by Dreamsinger

2003

I do not own this terrific series; I just wish I did. Please let me know if you'd like to print or archive my story, though, because it's a real boost to the ol' faltering ego. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing really descriptive. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friend Shell Presto, a wonderfully talented writer/artiste (check out her A/Z story One Third Human) for her invaluable editing commentary. Thanks also to Marie, for being my faithful sounding board and offering ingenious solutions to convoluted plot problems.

Note: 'Guiolin' is pronounced 'gee-oh-lin'- 'g' as in 'great'.

Chapter Seven: A Touching Farewell

Across the table, Lina cleared her throat, sounding as if she had a bit of a cold starting. Zelgadis watched Amelia glance at her. Then she looked at him and said brightly, "Oh-I just remembered-there's something else I want you to see before you go. Miss Lina, Mister Gourry-why don't you finish eating and meet us at the ship? It's waiting at the river docks."

"Sure thing, Amelia," Lina agreed, and scooped up some of that berry pastry Amelia had fed him earlier.

The princess stood up and looked at him expectantly. What now? he wondered, following her out of the dining hall. Amelia looked back at him, or maybe past him, her expression serious. The chimera looked back, but saw nothing unusual-just plates of food rapidly disappearing, courtesy of his friends.

Amelia had looked back to see Lina give her a wink, and the 'v' for 'victory' hand sign. I just hope Miss Lina's ideas work. She led the bemused chimera to a large, mostly empty chamber with a high cathedral ceiling. On the floor was a large rectangular box with a big purple ribbon on one corner.

"A-a present? For me?" He looked at her in puzzlement. "You've already given me so much, Amelia-"

"Well, I just thought-we've known each other for three years now, so I must have missed your birthdays."

"That's all right. I never got anything for you, either," he replied logically.

"I know. But Ze-Mister Zelgadis-it would really honor me if you would accept this gift-and think of me when you use it." She bowed to him formally.

Zelgadis looked surprised. "It-it means that much to you?" She nodded. "Then... I'll treasure it." he replied gravely. He knelt down and fiddled with the ribbon.

"I just know you're going to love it!" Amelia could hardly keep from jumping up and down. Carefully untying the ribbon, Zelgadis lifted the cover off of the box. Underneath were several pieces of cloth padding. Pushing them aside, the chimera froze as his stone fingers brushed against something, and a thrumming musical note was heard. It couldn't be.

It was. The box contained a beautiful guiolin. Amelia's heart overflowed with joy when she saw the pleased delight on the face of her friend. Suddenly he looked years younger. For a moment, Amelia had a glimpse of what Zelgadis might have looked like as a young teenager, before the weight-literally-of the curse had descended upon him.

How did she know? Zelgadis thought in happy amazement. He examined the instrument. Even a casual glance revealed that it was an extremely well-made guiolin, with well-seasoned wood and graceful lines-a work of art. It had been lovingly polished. Standing up, the chimera lifted the instrument from its bed, noting the waterproof oiled satchel underneath, to protect it from inclement weather.

He settled the guiolin into his arms, and gave it an experimental strum. It was perfectly in tune. He began to play an impromptu melody, closing his eyes, forgetting for a moment where he was. The room's acoustics were excellent, allowing the sweet, rich music to permeate the room.

Amelia watched in wonder as a smile of peace and contentment spread over the chimera's features. She was enchanted. The music coming from the golden guiolin was heavenly-light and free and full of a kind of quiet joy-all the emotions the chimera never allowed himself to show.

She moved away toward the center of the room and closed her eyes, letting herself feel the music. After a few moments, she began to move with the melody, giving herself up completely to it, letting the music tell her body what to do. Only opening her eyes every now and then, just long enough to keep from bumping into anything, she moved around the room, experiencing a kind of grace she hadn't known she possessed.

The two of them continued their private concert, lost in another world. Unbeknownst to the young princess, Zelgadis watched her for the last several minutes, a serene smile on his face. The awkward young girl was gone, replaced by a beautiful, graceful woman. He watched her as she spun and stepped, moving her arms in flowing patterns, gliding here and there.

Finally, reluctantly, he brought the music to a natural close. Amelia held her pose for a long moment, them opened her eyes and smiled at him. "That was the most beautiful music I've ever heard," she said softly.

He bowed his head, still smiling that gentle smile. "Thank you. And that was the most beautiful dancing I've ever seen." He looked her in the eye. "I didn't know you had it in you."

She grinned, coming closer. "Neither did I. I've been schooled in dancing, of course, but... this time, it felt like I wasn't really me at all, only part of the music. I'm not even tired." She hesitated, but encouraged by the sense of intimacy the music had created, and remembering her tentative decision to try to reach him through touch, she placed her hand over his where it held the neck of the guiolin. "When you come back, we've got to do this again."

He didn't try to avoid her hand. "We will," he agreed softly. "When I come back. That's a promise. But I can't take this guiolin with me."

"What?" She stepped back. "But why? I thought you liked it!"

"I do. It's an excellent instrument-the best I've ever seen-but can you imagine what condition it would be in after months of traveling-especially with Lina and Gourry along?"

Amelia pictured a battered pile of wood with curled guiolin strings sticking out of it. A sheepish chibi-Lina stood nearby, her hand behind her head, a sweatdrop at her temple: '"Sorry."'

The princess offered desperately, "Well-I can always get you a new one-"

"No, Amelia. This guiolin was made by a master. It would be very wrong to waste such loving craftsmanship. Please..." He bent down and laid the guiolin back in its box. "Keep it safe for me until I return."

She looked at it for a long moment, then nodded reluctantly. Amelia had been counting on that guiolin. She'd searched all of Seyrune for the best money could buy, hoping he would be impressed and appreciative-which he had been. She also hoped he would like it enough to carry it with him everywhere. He likes it, all right-but it never occurred to me that he might think it was too fragile to survive his journey!

"What's wrong, Amelia?" Zelgadis asked. She had been unable to keep her crushing disappointment out of her face. Amelia turned, facing away from him. She wanted to cry, and clenched her fists and her teeth to stop herself, knowing it would only upset and confuse him.

Zelgadis came around to stand in front of her. She read puzzlement and concern in his blue-green eyes. "Amelia?"

She looked down at her fists. I will not cry. The sight of her familiar bracelets gave her an idea. She pulled one off quickly. "Here-then take this."

"What?"

"I want you to have something to remember me by!" She meant to sound frustrated, but somehow her voice came out all plaintive and quavery.

"Amelia..." He was astonished, and a little dismayed. Her bracelet was so very... pink.

But she was clouding up, her lower lip trembling, her dark-blue eyes shimmering with tears. "Take my ward bracelet. Return it to me when it's all over." The metal ball rotated slowly on the pink cloth wristband. "Just-just promise me you'll come back. No matter how it turns out. I-I couldn't bear the thought of not knowing what happened to you-especially since I'm the one sending you on this journey in the first place."

Her voice was trembling a little. In her big dark eyes the chimera could see fear for him, and agonizing indecision over whether to disobey her father and accompany him.

Her concern eased away his discomfort. "All right, Amelia," he said, feeling a little like a parent soothing a child. He could put up with carrying it-he'd just find somewhere inconspicuous to put it. "I'll keep it safe, and bring it back as soon as I can. You have my word."

As he lifted the shining metal sphere from her palm, each of them had an odd sensation-a sort of pulling apart. For Zelgadis it faded quickly, leaving just a faint memory, but Amelia wavered, and had to shake her head several times and breathe deeply before the strange feeling diminished. She became aware that Zelgadis was holding her shoulders, bending down to ask, "Are you all right?"

Maybe she still felt a little odd. Maybe it was the sight of his concerned face so close to hers. Whatever the reason, she gave in to the sudden overpowering impulse that came over her. The raven-haired princess reached out and placed her hand on his right cheek, under his hair, and before he could move, pressed her lips to his other cheek.

Zelgadis had been alarmed to see her go pale, and sway a little. Unthinkingly he'd slipped her bracelet onto his wrist, and taken hold of her shoulders to steady her. He watched her shake her head, and take some deep breaths. "Amelia?" When her eyes opened, they were unfocused. He bent down a little to look into her face. "Are you all right?"

Her eyes suddenly locked on his. In the next moment, her hand was on his face, and barely a second later, she was pressing her lips against his stone cheek. He pulled in his breath in shock, unable to move.

Amelia held the kiss for several electrifying seconds, then released him. Somewhere along the way he'd let go of her shoulders. She gazed at him with a little smile, her blue eyes all soft and warm and shimmery.

Then she blinked, and her eyes went wide. She blushed. "I-" she stopped, and took a couple of steps backward. "Well, um... goodbye, Mister Zelgadis!" She turned and dashed from the room.

Slowly he straightened up, staring after her with a look of wonder. The hand with the bracelet came up absently to touch the cheek where she'd kissed him. After a few minutes, he slowly made his way out of the palace, heading for the docks.

Amelia was in her room. She just couldn't face him now. What had possessed her to-to kiss him? She sat down on her bed, remembering how his face had been warm and alive under her touch. She'd felt tiny movements as his jaw dropped a little, felt the prickly, fine wire that was his hair. Her nose had touched one of his protective embedded stones. She had barely noticed, however, discovering the feel of warm, silky-smooth stone beneath her lips...

She sighed, touching her lips with her fingertips. I hope I haven't ruined everything. One thing's for sure, she thought wryly, I doubt he'll forget about me anytime soon.

Zelgadis met his traveling companions with little recollection of how he had gotten there.

"Zelgadis! You made it." Gourry greeted him.

"Where's Amelia?" Lina looked behind him.

He paused, his face back to its usual calm mask. "She already said goodbye at the palace. I don't think she's going to make it to the send-off."

"Oh, that's too bad," Gourry commented.

Lina gave the chimera a sharp look, but only said, "Oh, well, let's get going." She and Gourry began walking up the gangplank.

Already taking charge, Zelgadis thought wryly, half amused, half annoyed. He turned to take one last look back at the white palace, feeling a curious twinge in his stone chest, then followed his friends.

Author's Notes: I hope it's not too confusing when I switch from one viewpoint to another. Also, if I want to show both sides of the same conversation from different viewpoints, it's tricky, so sometimes I have to resort to telling the same scene twice, each from a different viewpoint, as in the kiss scene.

NEXT---Chapter List---DS's Fan Art---B!'s Library---Main