Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

Only Stone on the Outside

a Slayers fanfic

by Dreamsinger

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, 'cause I like to know people are interested. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing really descriptive. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto amd Marie!

Note: Kembri-KEMM-bree- the 'e' in the first syllable as in 'pen'

Belahn-bell-AHN

Chapter Fifty-Three: Shopping and Music-

The Keys to a Happy Heart

"D-don't touch them!"

Amelia jerked her hand back from the rainbow lambs as if she'd been bitten. Zelgadis had his sword drawn and was standing between her and the young man who had emerged from behind the kiosk before the boy had time to do more than gasp. "Who are you?" he asked evenly, his sword point gleaming an inch from the boy's throat.

Amelia held up a hand. "Wait, Mister Zelgadis, this is Rilloban, my friend!"

Zelgadis took a closer look at the young man. He was about Amelia's age, with light brown hair and deep green eyes like his father Sanre's, although Rilloban's hair had golden highlights in it. It was cut so that it fell in a sleek curtain around his head, similar to Xellos' pageboy style, although a few inches longer. He was also much more frightened than Sanre probably would have been with a sword aimed at his throat.

Slowly Zelgadis lowered his blade. "Sorry," he said, not really apologetic, but willing to be cordial.

"M-me too." The boy looked sheepish. "I-I d-didn't mean to yell. It's j-j-just-" He looked over Amelia's shoulder. "Wh-where's Shiran?"

Zelgadis sheathed his sword as Amelia answered, "We had to leave her outside the village-she's not allowed here, remember? Don't worry, some friends of ours are keeping an eye on her."

"Oh. W-well, you see, if you t-touch the lambs, Shiran will smell them and she'll t-try to take them back to Mister Savari's place. It-it's happened before. I d-didn't mean to scare you-I'm sorry."

"That's okay." Amelia smiled, adding, "I never would have thought of that."

"So h-how's she d-doing?"

Amelia smiled. "She really seems to like being with us."

"Us?"

Amelia nodded. "Her favorite person besides me is Mister Zelgadis." She gestured to the chimera.

As before, the dragonwolf's approval carried considerable weight. Rilloban gave the stone man a thoughtful look, and seemed to relax a little. "Th-that's good. I was afraid she'd n-never be happy again." His soft voice held genuine affection for the big dragonwolf.

"I s-see you still have Sunshine with you," he added with a smile. "How are you g-getting along together?"

"She's just as sweet as you said she was, Ril. I just bought her from Mister Sanre."

"You did? Th-that's great-I w-was hoping the two of you would hit it off. She c-couldn't ask for a better owner."

Amelia laughed and replied brightly, "Now, what's this I hear about you and Kembri? Is she here? I'd love to meet her."

The young man laughed a little with a hand behind his head. "Sh-she's here. She went to buy us some f-food before the noon rush."

His green eyes took on an expression most girls would have called 'dreamy'. "I asked M-miss Kembri to g-go for a trail ride with me. We-we had a long talk. Sh-she said she's always l-liked me-she d-doesn't mind my stutter. Miss Amelia-" Suddenly he was bowing deeply to her, his light brown hair flowing forward like a curtain over his cheeks as he said almost fervently, "Th-thank you so m-much for giving me the courage to follow my heart. M-miss Kembri and I have been so happy, and-and it's all thanks to you."

Amelia looked a little uncomfortable, but she answered softly, "I'm really happy that I was able to help, Ril."

As he stood up, he glanced at Zelgadis and began, "About your-I m-mean-the curse-"

Rilloban stopped when he saw the shadow drop over Amelia's eyes. "Not yet," she murmured unhappily.

Zelgadis could see that like most men, Rilloban didn't like to see Amelia unhappy. He looked solemn for a minute, then asked, "Have y-you tried our healer yet? R-remember, I s-said her p-p-powers were stronger than they used to be?" His voice held the hopefulness of a child.

Out of habit Zelgadis asked, "What healer?" and then remembered that he had no need for one. The golden sphere that the Oracle had given him was still hidden in the inner pocket of his rough cotton shirt.

Amelia brightened. "Oh, Ril told me last time about his village's healer. When the Barrier came down, she noticed that her powers were a lot stronger. Is she here, Ril?"

The young man shook his head, his shining gold-brown hair sweeping back and forth. "N-not yet-she's supposed to be running a k-kiosk with herbal remedies, b-but she had to go visit a p-patient, so she won't be back for an hour or so."

Good. "Amelia, we really don't have time to wait-" he began, only to stop at the forbidding look she turned on him. He shook his head. She must be taking lessons from Lina.

"We can spare an hour, right, Mister Zelgadis?" she said sweetly, though her expression promised severe bodily harm if he refused. He nodded.

Rilloban had sensibly kept out of the discussion, but now he suggested, "L-look, why don't you l-let me look after Sunshine while the two of you t-take a look around? The healer's k-kiosk is just over there." He pointed to a wooden stand with a cloth draped over it and added, "W-when the healer returns I'll come find you."

Amelia's expression lightened immediately. "Oh, would you? I did want to look at a few things... "

Zelgadis exchanged a look of complete understanding with Rilloban. All women ever want to do is shop.

The chimera suffered himself to be led through the sunny, crowded street. It was lined on both sides with kiosks selling all manner of things, but his needs were few, so he spent most of the time watching Amelia's reactions to various items.

Amelia was enjoying this unexpected treat. She had always loved to shop, but usually on her adventures she had had to keep the things she carried to a minimum. However, she was on her way home, not here to fight evil, and with Sunshine along she decided she could indulge herself for once.

She looked longingly at the displays of shining gold and silver jewelry set with sparkling stones of every color, wishing she had the time to try some on. The next kiosk had handsome wooden carvings of birds and animals, each lovingly polished and colored in natural shades ranging from light pine through warm cherry and honey-colored woods through deepest ebony.

Zelgadis showed some interest in the carvings, but when she offered to buy one for him, he only said, "I don't need it." She frowned at him, disappointed and a little annoyed at his refusal to have a little fun, now that they had the chance. There must be something here he'd enjoy. I just have to keep looking.

There were people selling leather goods, intricate statues and jewelry made from pewter, and foods of all kinds. Amelia eventually bought a packet of sweets for Lina and Gourry, since they had to miss the fun. She also collected several other types of food that traveled well for her friends to sample, as well as a large amount of grain for Sunshine, which would give the horse more energy than grass.

Zelgadis, of course, ended up carrying most of the packages, in the age-old role of Lady's Escort.

In the center of the street a raised wooden platform had been constructed for entertainers. As the princess and the chimera drew near it, a pair of harpists began playing a duet. Amelia was reminded of the concert they had seen together in Seyrune, and glanced up to see her companion already lost in the music.

As she smiled up at him affectionately, she remembered something she had been meaning to do for a while now. I wanted to get some new clothes for Mister Zelgadis. The ones he's wearing are the same ones he's had for years-they're getting really awful-looking, all worn and stained and mended everywhere. Maybe I can surprise him with new ones-he can't say 'no' if I give them to him after we've already left here, right?

She tugged on his sleeve. "Mister Zelgadis? I'm going to look at some clothes over there-Mister Sanre's kiosk-see it? You can stay here and watch the packages and listen to the music, if you want."

He nodded absently, obviously focusing on the melody.

Amelia was sorry to miss the music, but Zelgadis was more important. The raven-haired girl made her way through the crowd toward the kiosk run by her friend Rilloban's father, Sanre. It was one of the largest, with two extra tables, one on each side, to display the clothing. I wish there was time for us to have some clothing made especially for Mister Zelgadis-I have some really good ideas about the kinds of clothes he'd look good in, but I suppose he wouldn't let them measure him, anyway. I'll just have to hope that I find something ready-made that will look nice.

A gentle-looking woman with long blonde hair approached her. "May I help you find something, miss?"

"Is Mister Sanre here, ma'am?"

"I'm sorry." The woman made a small bow, and explained, "My husband just stepped out for a moment to get some food from Mister Toban's kiosk."

Amelia's eyes widened. "Your husband? Then you are Ril's mother?"

The blonde woman smiled and nodded, making a small noise of assent. "I am Belahn."

Amelia bowed deeply, then bounced back up, her hair bobbing as she said enthusiastically, "I'm so glad to meet you! My name is Amelia."

"Oh, you're the girl who saved Shiran!" The woman came forward and took her hands, smiling warmly at her, her sky-blue eyes shining with joy. "I've heard so much about you! You made it possible for my son to court the girl he's always loved." She gave the girl's hands a gentle squeeze. "Thank you so much! I've never seen my son so happy."

Amelia beamed back at her, already coming to like this woman. Ril has her smile, and her gentle nature. "It was my pleasure."

Belahn released her hands and stepped back a little. "Are you looked for Ril, too? He's helping out today at the lamb kiosk Kembri's family is running."

Amelia nodded. "I know. We were just there."

"We? I thought you were traveling alone."

"Oh, I was, but now I've met up with my companions and we're on the way home to my wedding-uh, that is... " She found herself blushing fiercely. No talking about weddings, right? she reminded herself.

"Oh, yes, Ril mentioned something about your fiance... and a curse?" Belahn murmured discreetly, although fortunately there were no other shoppers in the tent at the moment.

The young girl raised her hands and waved then desperately in front of her. "No, he's not my-that is, he-well... " Her shoulders slumped in defeat. I want him to be... but now's not the time to get into this. I have to get some clothes and return before Mister Zelgadis comes looking for me.

Amelia took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. "We're still working on his cure," she said rapidly, "and we hope Miss Dahri can help us, but in the meantime... " Amelia pointed toward the people gathered around the music dais. Zelgadis had backed away from the crowd to stand at its edge. "Do you see that man over there? The slender one in tan with the cape and the bags of grain at his feet?"

The woman nodded. Amelia continued, "That's my... " She blushed a little, and Belahn smiled understandingly. "I want to buy him a new outfit as a surprise. I know the kinds of fabrics and colors that will look best on him, so I just need to look at things that are the right size."

"I see." The blonde woman nodded and led Amelia to a section of men's clothing. The young girl picked up a maroon shirt of heavy wool and wrinkled her nose. "He would look awful in red."

It felt almost as if she had done this before. Amelia scanned the table and another shirt immediately caught her eye. As soon as her fingers closed on a long-sleeved pale blue tunic made of a mixture of light wool and another, slightly tougher fabric, she knew she had found the right one. Solid wool shrinks when it gets wet, but this isn't all wool.

She lifted it free from the pile and spread it out to look at. It had dark purple embroidery in a simple geometric pattern around the cuffs and was cut for a long-boned, slender man. This is perfect. It won't look too baggy and it doesn't have too many decorations. Now I need some pants and a cloak... and some new gloves. She looked at the half-gloves she was wearing. At least I'll be able to use these to choose the right size gloves for him.

Belahn helped her choose a pair of tough, heavyweight medium-blue pants and a hooded cloak of the same light blue as the shirt. The cloak was lined with cream-colored material and had several handy pockets on the inside. I'd love to get him some more things... but you really can't carry much when you travel without a horse, and if-if he does decide to marry me I'll have a whole wardrobe made for him.

It never occurred to the princess to buy anything for herself-she had many closets-full at home-but she did look at a lovely pale pink gown and sigh, remembering the one that had had to be sacrificed to rescue Lina and Gourry. She remembered how Zelgadis had looked in it and giggled.

Belahn surprised her by embracing her lightly as she finished paying for her 'treasures'. "Please do come to visit us, my dear. You've brought us all great joy, and besides, I want to know how your story ends. I feel almost as if you were a daughter to me."

Amelia breathed in the flowery scent of the woman's hair and surprised herself by fiercely returning the hug. Tears threatened to gather in her eyes. It's been so long since I had a mother...

With great reluctance, she let go and stepped back to gather up her packages. "I will, ma'am." Her voice was trembling slightly.

The blonde woman's eyes shone with compassion. "Good luck to you, dear." Belahn waved from the opening of the tent as the slightly melancholy princess made her way into the crowd, heading for her chimera.

Not for the first time Zelgadis was glad for his enhanced hearing. After making sure that he stood far enough away from the crowd so that no one would accidentally bump into him or pull back his hood, the chimera spent a good twenty minutes listening to the harpists perform. He lost himself in the delicate, intertwining notes that rippled through the air, now like birdsong, then like raindrops, ethereal and intricate and fragile, and yet possessing the same soothing effect of a mountain stream.

Amelia joined him after she was finished with her shopping. After a few minutes she leaned her shoulder against him as she had at the concert back in Seyrune, and this time, for some reason, he didn't mind.

Amelia had been a little nervous as she approached the chimera, hoping he would not ask to see what the well-wrapped package contained. She took one look at him and forgot her worries; his eyes-the only part of him she could see at the moment-had the same rapt, utterly captivated look that he'd had back in Seyrune during the minstrel's concert. And this time the music was far more exquisite.

The midnight-haired princess felt herself falling under the harpists' enchantment. To her, the music sang of liveliness, of energy, of life, of warmth and safety, of peacefulness, gentleness and most of all, love. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to want to touch Zelgadis, to be close to him, to share all the wonderful emotions she was feeling with the one she loved most in all the world.

She found herself leaning sideways until the side of her body was pressed against Zelgadis' side, just behind his arm. She waited, sure that he would walk away or tell her to move, but to her surprised delight he only shifted his arm forward a little. She took that as a sign that he accepted her presence.

Slowly Amelia relaxed, becoming as entranced by the music as her companion. During an especially tender tune she reached out to rest her far hand on the chimera's upper arm, and curled her near arm around his with her hand in the crook of his elbow. Again he did not protest, so the young girl rested her cheek against his shoulder and sighed, completely at peace with the world.

When the music came to a natural close, Zelgadis took a deep, easy breath and opened his eyes, slowly coming back to the real world. He looked down at Amelia with half-closed eyes, knowing that he should have rejected her embrace, but somehow not wanting to.

Well, friends can enjoy music together... she's one of the few people I know who enjoys music as much as I do. Another thought crossed his mind. I wonder if she plays an instrument? She bought me that guiolin, after all... His gaze softened, a hint of a smile on his lips.

The young princess did not seem inclined to release him, so he cleared his throat and said quietly, "Amelia."

Unlike the last time, she did not pull away. Instead she tilted her face to look up into his, and smiled up at him with luminous sapphire eyes, murmuring, "That was the loveliest thing I have ever heard."

Her eyes were shimmering pools of emotion, and suddenly Zelgadis found himself caught by them, intrigued by the passion he saw in them. He wanted to learn more, to explore those fascinating ultramarine depths... "Yes... lovely," he repeated slowly.

When she blinked up at him curiously, the stone man realized that he had been staring at her, entranced, for at least a minute. A pink tinge spread itself across his nose and cheeks as he withdrew his arm from her grasp. "We really should start heading back-by the sun, it's been almost an hour." He reached down to collect the packages at their feet and headed off in the direction of Rilloban's kiosk.

Amelia sighed and followed him. At least he let me touch him. He never would have, a few weeks ago. And the look in his eyes...

Amelia looked wistfully at the displays nearby but walked steadily along beside her companion-until something caught her eye. "Wait, Mister Zelgadis! Look at those."

The young girl approached a small kiosk which had stone carvings of every shape and size. She was staring at a row of little stone swordsmen, each in a different pose, each carved from a different kind of rock. No two were alike. Her eyes moved over tans and blacks and reds and grays. Some were white or green marble, others were almost pink.

"Oh!" Amelia exclaimed and reached out to gently touch a small figure of a swordsman. It had been carved from an unusual white-streaked dark blue stone and was about two inches high. She looked at the old man who sat on a stool behind the kiosk and asked, "May I?"

"Of course, my dear," he answered. She set her packages down and held out her gloved hand to take the figure from the man as he handed it to her.

It had been well-polished; it was smooth and heavy and felt good in her hands. She noticed that the little carved man had one fist against his heart, as if promising his eternal love to his lady. "I'll take him," she said immediately, giving in to the urge to run her fingertips over the little man's face, remembering another stone face she had touched before, briefly.

The raven-haired princess set the figure down on the counter and reached for her fuzzy pink waist-pouch, withdrawing a small silver coin. She had used regular money for everything (except Sunshine) all day so as not to attract attention. She hesitated for a moment, then slipped the figure into her waist-pouch instead of into one of her packages.

Amelia looked up to see Zelgadis watching her, his face expressionless. She realized what she had said-'I'll take him'-and blushed, smiling sheepishly at her companion.

Author's Notes: The stone swordsman that Amelia bought is carved from a type of stone that I like called sodalite. It comes in many colors, most commonly blue; sometimes parts of it are even iridescent, (although then it is usually called lapis). Usually the blue is dark to medium in shade (think blue jeans-brand new versus stonewashed) with lovely ripples of white marbling in it. It's often sold in stores that sell tumbled minerals/rocks.

Notice how Zelgadis and Amelia appreciate the music differently-he, being more logical-minded, notices the technical aspects and how they resemble things in nature, and she, more emotional, perceives the emotions the music conveys. (Yes, I have read some books on psycology, ^_^ particularly personality profiles, which another Slayers fan named Astra got me into. It's fascinating stuff.)

The whole 'kiosk' scene is based on my memories of a trip to King Richard's Faire in Massachusetts the year before last. They had craftsmen of all kinds, like professional sword-makers and a shop selling all kinds of things made from leather-stuff I never even thought could be made from leather, like certain tools that you'd assume had to be made from stronger materials. The jousting tournament was also very cool, even though you couldn't understand half of what they were saying since it was all 'authentic' so there were no microphones. The horses were close enough to kick dust on you when they ran past, since we were only sitting on the damp grass on the other side of a rope.

As far as getting pic of Zelgadis being affectionate, Ryo Hoshi and GetitCJC both mention the scene at the end of Next where Amelia is killed (sort of) and yes, I agree that's the strongest indication we ever see in person of Zelgadis' feelings for her-though indirectly I think the end of Try with Amelia's bracelet on the strap of his canteen is even more of an intention of his feelings-but he has the wrong facial expressions for the scene I'm trying to picture/write.

But guess what? Claudia22 has the very pic I've been looking for! The address is

e-and Zanne, (one of the best Zel/Amelia-in-love artists I've ever seen) who has several of her pics there, has even drawn a couple of pics based on my little fic! There's a very beautiful Shiran one that I recommend you all look at and then ask her for more! ^_~

Happy Holidays, minna-san! ^_^

Dreamsinger

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