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

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

Note: pronounce Dahri-Dah-ree

Chapter Fifty-Five: Kembri's Offer /

My Lina

It only took a few minutes for the hot, dusty princess drink and splash her face with water, and soon both girls were on their way back to the festival. "Miss Amelia?" The raven-haired princess gave the smaller girl a questioning glance. Kembri asked, "What are you going to do about Mister Zelgadis?"

Amelia grimaced. "Well, first I have to set Ril straight about the whole 'fiance' misunderstanding, and then I'm going to apologize to Mister Zelgadis and hope he forgives me." She bit her lip. "Sometimes he holds grudges, though. Like Rezo... "

Kembri turned curious violet eyes on her friend. "Isn't Mister Zelgadis a nice man?"

Amelia gave her a thoughtful look. "Well, it's not so much that he's nice, exactly... He's a little too serious, maybe, but he's also very brave and honorable, really smart and handsome-"

The long-haired girl beside her blinked. "Handsome? I thought-Ril-sama told me Mister Zelgadis had a horrible, disfiguring curse put on him."

"Well, Sir Rezo did put a spell on him, but it's not horrible. At least, I don't think he looks ugly... " Amelia used the gesture she had unconsciously picked up from Zelgadis, rubbing her chin with the side of her forefinger as she reminisced. "Maybe I did at first... but I got used to him, and when I fell in love I realized that the things that make him look different also make him look special-like nobody else. His ears, especially, are just the cutest things... "

Kembri smiled at her new friend's enthusiasm. Amelia grinned at her and added, "Maybe he'll let you see him without his mask-see, he's afraid that if people see him they'll think he's a demon and attack him." Her grin faded. "I wish I could tell him he's worrying over nothing, but things like that have happened to us in the past. I just wish people could get along-when will they learn that there's nothing wrong with being different!" Her voice had lifted into the strident tone of a justice speech.

"I know." Kembri's soft voice reflected her woe. "Ril-sama is ashamed of his stutter, even though I think it makes him sound charming. He told me he used to get teased a lot when he was little, and that even now some people scorn him, or treat him as if he is not very intelligent."

The girls shared a look of understanding. "Do your parents hate Mister Zelgadis?" Kembri asked.

"No. I don't have a mother, like you-" Amelia saw surprise and a flash of delight in Kembri's eyes at the discovery of yet another thing they had in common, even one so sad, "-but my daddy really likes him. Mister Zelgadis has helped Miss Lina save Seyrune more than once, so he's definitely a good guy in Daddy's eyes." She suffered a pang of homesickness. I wish I could go home and ask Daddy to make everything better.

She was surprised when Kembri touched her hand and gave her a look of sympathy. "You sound like you love your father very much."

She nodded, feeling a tightness in her chest. "Next to Mister Zelgadis, I love my daddy more than anyone in the whole world."

Kembri was silent for a few moments, her expression contemplative and her long black hair rippling in the wind. "My father, Gerrik, also loves me very much. He has always been the kindest of men with me, even though to the rest of the village he is surly and belligerent. He has done his best to take care of me, even though he knew nothing about raising a little girl, and I have always felt safe and protected."

She turned her large violet eyes up to the distant blue sky. "But now I am old enough to want... the kinds of things he cannot give me. And because now I understand such things, I also wish that he could have them. Someone to love, as I love Ril-sama... " She smiled dreamily. "I want to be with Ril-sama all the time. I want to learn everything about him... "

Amelia smiled as well, although hers was tinged with sadness. "I know just what you mean. I feel the same way about Mister Zelgadis. I want to know him so much, but he almost never opens up... I've known him for years, but I only recently learned that he loves music." She sighed. "He's a mystery... sometimes I feel as if I know him better than myself, and sometimes I feel like I don't know him at all. It's so hard to get close to him sometimes; he acts as if he doesn't need anybody, but sometimes I get this feeling that he really needs someone."

The young princess leaped up and struck a dramatic pose with her hands clasped over her heart, one booted foot on a nearby rock and a look of rapture in her big blue eyes. "I believe that underneath that cold stone shell he's desperate for someone to care about him, to love him, to want him... " Her voice trailed away as she noticed her new friend staring at her with wide, unblinking eyes in an otherwise expressionless face. She dropped her hands and stood up normally, clearing her throat and adjusting her clothing before continuing to follow Kembri.

The violet-eyed girl tilted her head to the side and suggested, "Perhaps I can use my powers to try to see how he feels about you."

Amelia gave her a surprised look. "Powers?"

The younger girl nodded. "Yes-I have powers similar to our healer's. I just became her apprentice not long ago. My father would never hear of it before-you see, I inherited my abilities from my mother, who was a very sensitive, delicate woman, and he is afraid that I will overextend myself, as she did. But her powers were those of healing, whereas my own appear to be focused more on clairvoyance and divination, according to Healer Dahri, she who became my sensei."

She sighed deeply, clasping her hands together in front of her, her expression so mournful that Amelia wanted to hug her to cheer her up. Kembri continued, "Father has always tried to shield me, but I have always wanted to help people, and as I grew older this caused the only serious disagreement we have ever had. After the hunt, Ril-sama managed to convince my father to allow it. He said that I would be more likely to cause harm to myself if I did not know how to control my abilities."

Amelia said slowly, "So you can read people's minds?"

Kembri hesitated. "Well, I am just learning how to harness my 'feelings', so I am not very good yet. Healer Dahri has shown me how to read auras. I seem to have a talent for reading emotions."

"Empathic." Amelia remembered that words from one of her childhood magic lessons.

"Yes," Kembri agreed. "Many people have nothing physically wrong with them, yet I can sense that they suffer greatly. Sometimes they themselves do not even know that they suffer. My father used to be... a broken man." She lifted a thin, delicate hand to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "With no training, there was little I could do for him except to be there for him, to cheer him and encourage him in moments of despair. It has taken much time, but he is nearly well now."

"I'm glad." Amelia couldn't help thinking, If that rude man is better than he used to be, I don't even want to imagine him any nastier! Poor Kembri! Violet eyes met deep blue ones, and Kembri nodded as if she understood Amelia's distaste toward the man, and forgave her for it. Amelia instantly felt ashamed for thinking such a mean thought about her new friend's father. I wonder if Kembri is reading my emotions right now? The thought caused a flicker of uneasiness.

Kembri continued as if nothing had happened. "Healer Dahri has promised to teach me how to heal people who have such maladies of the heart. May I do you the service of reading Mister Zelgadis?"

"No." The word was out of her mouth before she realized that she was going to speak. Kembri gave her a quizzical look. Amelia felt an embarrassed blush burning her cheeks, but she made herself ask, "Isn't it... immoral to read someone's mind without their permission?"

The younger girl looked solemn. "I cannot read people's minds... only their emotions. And before I became her apprentice, Healer Dahri required me to swear an oath to never use my gifts to harm others. I only wish to help you." Her face wore a curious frown. "Do you believe that it would hurt him if we were to seek to understand Mister Zelgadis' feelings?"

The princess hesitated, wanting badly to say, 'no', but then she imagined herself as Zelgadis and knew instantly what his reaction would be. "Yes... you see, Mister Zelgadis is a very private person. He would feel terribly violated if you read him without his permission."

"Are you sure?" Kembri's expression displayed her growing dismay. "You may never learn what he truly feels for you. And I could sense something serious troubling Mister Zelgadis as soon as I saw him. He really hurts inside. I want to help him very much. You hurt too, although you hide it better." Amelia jumped at this admission, her eyes widening. The young empath pleaded softly, "Miss Amelia, I would very much like to try to sense what the problem is, to repay you for all you have done for us."

"Ehhh?" Amelia made a sound of surprise, as if to say 'what have I done for you?'

Kembri nodded. "Shiran has a new home, my father is almost well again, thanks to the calming spell you cast during the hunt, and I have Ril-sama to love me. Will you not let me do what I can to help you?"

"Does he love me?" The question leaped from her lips before she could stop herself, suddenly desperate to know the answer. Amelia clenched her fists, trembling a little as she waited for the answer.

Kembri took a step toward her and took one of the princess' hands in her own. Her little face was full of compassion. "I know he feels something for you, but I did not have enough time to sense more than a hint of it before he became angry with you. It was as if a barrier had been raised, leaving me with only the sense that whatever his feeling for you is, be it positive or negative, it is very powerful. I am not sure, but it may be that his unusual condition provides a natural barrier against others' minds reaching his."

Amelia remembered being told that the chimera's grandfather, Rezo, had controlled his body like a puppet, through mind control. Maybe Rezo set it up so that only he could control Zelgadis. But wait a minute-what about when our ward bracelets connected our minds? Do you suppose they somehow got past the barrier Kembri is sensing?

"If there's a barrier," she said slowly, "then how did you plan on reading him?"

A band of pink appeared over the younger girl's nose. Her voice was whisper-soft as she answered, "I... was hoping I could sense something if I concentrated hard enough. You are my friend-I want to help you however I can. Do you honestly feel that I would be hurting Mister Zelgadis more than helping him if I sought to discover his true feelings?"

After a long moment, Amelia nodded. "I know how he would feel if he knew, and I would never want to betray him, or do anything that might hurt him. He's been through so much already... " Her eyes reflected a much older version of herself-the same person Zelgadis had been startled to see just before Amelia had gone into the kidnappers' cave: somber, shadowed, troubled. "I've told him how I feel about him-that's all I can do, right?" she said quietly, her tone wistful.

Kembri's face reflected her unhappiness. "Then we must leave his healing to my sensei. She does not have as much 'empathy' as I have, but she has other powers, and much more experience than I. Perhaps she will know of something that can help."

It occurred to Amelia that Kembri had almost completely ignored Zelgadis' most obvious 'disability', his appearance, in favor of the much more subtle emotional damage his condition had caused. She's right! The princess' dark-blue eyes opened wide as complete realization hit home. It's not enough to just fix his body; his soul is hurt, too. I think I've known it all along... That's why he has such a hard time trusting anyone. Why he never seems able to relax; why he can't let himself love anybody... even me.

She closed her eyes as a lump came into her throat at the pain her poor chimera had suffered for so long, even as a fierce new resolve took hold inside of her. She closed her hands into fists. No matter what, even if we don't make it in time for my wedding, even if it takes years, I swear on my honor as a princess of Seyrune that you will have your cure, Zelgadis Greywyrs, no matter what the price!

My Lina. The blonde swordsman could scarcely believe he wasn't dreaming.

Only minutes earlier he had been walking with Lina and Shiran to meet up with their friends on the other side of Tollik, with the diminutive sorceress complaining irritably as usual, and yet now he was holding her in his arms, kissing her in a way he had only imagined.

Her kisses were tentative at first, but true to her bold nature she quickly gained confidence, even reaching up to slide her fingers through his hair behind his head to pull him closer. He responded to her newfound ardor, kissing her enthusiastically, and lightly placing his hands on her back. When she didn't shrug him off, he shifted his arms a bit so that she was almost enveloped in his protective embrace, supporting her in case she miss-stepped.

He had to fight the impulse to crush her to him as hard as he could with his powerful arms, to show her the strength of his feelings, vaguely aware that his armor was in the way and would most likely hurt her and make her mad at him. Instead he contented himself with enjoying her kisses and her ardent response itself, although a part of him still kept expecting her to push him away.

This is better than I thought it would be, the young sorceress thought with faint surprise, although most of her mind was occupied with exploring this fascinating new activity. It's fun, exciting, warm... She was aware of exactly where Gourry had placed his hands on her back through her clothes, a tingling heat, both soothing and stimulating her sensitive skin.

She also noticed, with the small portion of her mind that was ever-vigilant against threats, that he was not letting his hands stray into dangerous territory. The realization both reassured and amused her. Even a jellyfish learns from experience.

She giggled, causing her companion to lift his head and look down at her with surprised blue eyes. "What's so funny, Lina? Did I tickle you?"

His innocent question made her laugh again as she gazed up at him affectionately, the shiran-flower he had given her nodding gently at her temple. "No... " She grinned as the thought brought with it some intriguing ideas for future exploits. Gourry's expression was his familiar 'clueless' look, but instead of annoying her as it usually did, it was comforting; Gourry was still Gourry.

She breathed in his masculine scent, remembering it from the time when he had held her close in the dark cell, comforting her, making her feel safe and loved. If not for his armor she would have given in to the impulse to snuggle into his chest, but she had to be satisfied with pulling his head down to hers for another kiss.

Author's Note: Kembri has the classic Japanese beauty-in my mind's eye she looks most like Kikyou from Inu Yasha-long long straight black hair (although Kembri's has purple highlights), big dark eyes (Kembri's are that plum-brown color you often see in anime, like Shampoo's eyes in Ranma ½) and a very solemn face that has hidden pain and makes you want to cheer her up. She also has one of those beautiful soft feminine voices that I call 'whispery', like Belldandy in Oh My Goddess or Kasumi from Ranma ½. She calls Rilloban 'Ril-sama' to show that she holds him in great esteem, and yet the nickname 'Ril' shows they're emotionally close-that she loves him.

Hmm. You'd think Amelia would call Zelgadis 'Zel' sometimes, but she seems to know he likes the respect his full name implies-at least that's the way I see it. He lets Lina call him that because-well, she's Lina. Not highly respectful, with a hair-trigger temper, and because contesting it would only make her more likely to tease him. Of course, he also knows it's a sign of affection. Gourry sometimes refers to Zelgadis by the nickname, but I noticed he only rarely calls him 'Zel' to his face, at least in the anime.

One other thing I've noticed is some of the more Western customs of Slayers, such as not removing their footwear before entering buildings, and using forks instead of chopsticks. I've read that it's customary to use forks with Western dishes in Japan. As far as the shoes go, I think the only time I've ever seen them in different footwear is at an onsen (hot spring).

Claudia22-Thanks again for the link to your Zelgadis screencap that I was looking for! For those of you who want to see that pic, please check my doesn't let me put links in my chapters, but I got the link from reading my reviews and copy/pasting, so it should work for you all, I think. Claudia22's review was done on December 15, 2003.

Speaking of links, Raven Summersong suggested the gallery at The Princess and the Chimera. I'm familiar with that site-and Zanne, (one of the best Zel/Amelia-in-love artists I've ever seen) has several of her pics there. I mentioned in my last Author's Note that she also has a lovely one of Shiran, and a few more based on my fic, but again the link didn't come up, so I recommend just doing a search for a site called DeviantArt, in the gallery section, under Zanne.

Slayers Otaku-Girl-Sylphiel has black hair, but you know how in some ads they change character's hair colors for no particular reason-like on the front of comic books? That's probably where someone saw purple hair. As to how to pronounce 'Gourry'-I say Gowree, but sometimes I think of how they say it in Japanese and so the 'r's in his name sound like 'l's too-I hear both together.

Minimerc asked-'how much more time is left until the wedding?' Answer: two weeks

On an offhand note, if anybody's interested in reading a Christmas story I wrote-just look up the other two stories of mine on . The one called In Harmony is based on a TV show called Hey Arnold and is short (for me) only two chapters, wherein the two main characters become close as they practice for the school chorus recital. Very sweet, and as in-character as I can make it, so not much lime (they're fourth-graders, so it's like a 'first love' sort of story). The other fic is also Hey Arnold, 12 chapters and much more introspective and dramatic. Both of the received many good reviews, but of course I wouldn't mind a few more... ^_~

Enjoy yourselves, and Happy Holidays, my fellow Dreamers!

Dreamsinger

December 26th, 2003

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