Only Stone on the Outside
a Slayers fanfic
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, just 'cause I like to know people are interested.
Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!
PG-15 for mild language and lime-i-ness
Chapter Seventy: Growing Ever Closer
"Hey! You mean you've known I was in love with you since the Oracle and you never said anything?" Amelia exclaimed indignantly out of the blue, turning to glare up at Zelgadis from her spot next to him in front of the ship's window.
Zelgadis' jaw dropped. "Uh... " Where did that come from? Oh-she must have just made the connection between the 'sorceress who must love me' and the fact that the Oracle specifically named her to be the one who is to cast my cure-spell. I'd forgotten about that...
"I... didn't want to make things awkward between us," he confessed, averting his eyes. His gaze dropped down to the slight space between her leg and his, where their clasped hands hung. "At the time, I'd felt that there was no way I could have returned your feelings... And I'd made up my mind to put aside the self-serving desires that had brought me nothing but loneliness and disappointment, and decided to do everything I could to keep the few real friends I had safe... "
He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, forcing himself to look at her. This subject still held a lot of raw, painful emotions for him, but the concerned, compassionate look in the blue eyes gazing up at him compelled him to continue. "Especially you. If I couldn't be there for you as a man, then I would as a chimera.... and then Lina and Gourry were kidnapped and we had to search for them, and I kept avoiding the issue because... "
"Because... " Amelia repeated encouragingly.
"Because... I was a coward." His shoulders slumped, and he pulled his hand from hers and turned away, unable to meet her gaze. "I wanted to enjoy your company-you have no idea how good it felt to know someone loved me, after so many years of being alone-so I kept putting off telling you how I felt, even pretending to myself that I wasn't really interested in you as anything but a friend. I didn't tell you even though I knew that the longer I put it off, the more it would hurt you when I finally did tell you the truth... "
A small hand took hold of his chin and turned his face toward the young princess. "But don't you see, it wasn't the truth!" Her sapphire eyes looked earnestly into his as she continued vehemently, "You knew that deep down; that's why you couldn't tell me! You didn't want to confess to a lie."
He smiled wryly. "Would that I were that noble. I was just trying to avoid a confrontation-you know how I hate emotional scenes."
Amelia released his chin and scowled, letting out a breath in that exasperated way women have when they're dealing with someone uncooperative. She put her hands on her hips and scolded, "Ooo, Zelgadis Greywyrs, you-! You may like to think of yourself as a villain, but I know perfectly well that you're a decent, honorable man. It's a good thing you finally did tell me, or I'd have-" She clamped her mouth shut, looking away.
"You'd have what?"
She was silent, making the chimera suspicious. "What would you have done, Amelia?"
She fidgeted, bringing her arms down into her lap and hunching her shoulders. "Leave... "
If not for his chimeric hearing he might not have heard her. "Leave... what?" Something in her expression-guilt, perhaps-gave him the answer. "Leave Seyrune?"
She nodded almost imperceptibly, still not looking at him.
He shook his head, looking gravely down at her. "I would never have allowed that."
He didn't see her fists clench, nor the sudden redness that suffused her cheeks. Suddenly she whirled on him, shouting, "Never allowed? Who said I needed your permission?"
She was in a fury, and he recoiled instinctively, more from astonishment than from fear. What's gotten into her?
"Of all the nerve! Even if I wasn't a princess, how dare you act like those horrible men who think a woman is a piece of property with no will of her own! You of all people should know how that feels-and besides, women in Seyrune are equal citizens with men."
Even as he realized that she was still smarting from the treatment she had received by the vicious men back at the inn, he caught the flaw in her logic. "You did that to me," he pointed out sourly, his eyes narrowing. "You and Lina planned this entire trip, right down to the walk down the aisle."
She faltered, the wind knocked from her sails. He glanced out the window, corrected their course slightly, and turned back in time to see Amelia looking shamefaced. "We did," she admitted in a small voice, "but if you'd said 'no' after you'd had time to adjust to being human again, I wouldn't have forced you into it! That's the last thing I wanted. I just... " she sniffed, "wanted you to have the chance to learn to love me... "
As always, the sight of his princess in distress made his protective instincts emerge, dousing the flare of contention. Wordlessly the stone man reached out and put an arm around the young girl's shoulders, drawing her closer, where she immediately leaned against him, as if for comfort.
He looked down at the top of her head, nearly getting her topknot in his eye, and sighed in resignation, smiling slightly.
What does it matter? We've already been over this... but I do have one last point to make. "Amelia." He was careful to keep his voice soft, non-confrontational. "I didn't mean that you shouldn't be allowed to choose. It's just that I know how much your city needs you."
She sniffled, not looking up at him. "You need me more."
Stung, he opened his mouth and found that nothing would come out, partly because he suspected that she might be right, although his male pride and 'face' would never let him admit it.
"And I need you, too," said the girl by his side, looking up at him with huge sapphire eyes that were utterly guileless, earnest, sincere. "I need to be with you." Her voice trembled ever so slightly.
Her admission did much to mollify him, and he gave her shoulder a careful squeeze. "I know. And I want to be by your side, to be there for you for always, but I know that you would never be happy away from your home. You've always been very glad to return there after a few weeks of traveling."
She sighed resignedly. "You're right." She was quiet for a moment, then brightened. "Well, we won't have to choose. We can get Miss Filia to help us... and if not, then I'm going to study really hard until I master that spell and I'll have Miss Lina and Mister Xellos-and you, of course-to help me, and we'll finally destroy the last vestiges of the spell that the shard of Shabranigdo that possessed Sir Rezo cast on you and then... we'll live happily ever after!"
He listened, amused, as she pulled in a big gulp of air to make up for one of the longest sentences he had ever heard. After a moment, his smile faded. "I hope so, Amelia. I hope so." He managed to keep the worry off of his face, although some small part of him deep inside still quailed at the thought of this young, innocent girl having anything to do with a spell that had been created by the terrible Dark Lord. I'm still dead set against her attempting it, but everyone else seems so confident... it makes me wonder if I'm the one who's wrong. He sighed. At least she agreed that the final word is mine, so I don't need to waste the rest of this journey arguing.
They sat peaceably for a time. Idly, the chimera thought, We're making good time. Even though our speed isn't great, we're avoiding all the normal obstacles of travel, like lakes and deep gorges that we'd normally have to detour around, so unless I miss my guess we're going to make it to Seyrune with a couple of days to spare.
Amelia seemed content to lean against him, watching the scenery pass by below them through the large window. Zelgadis mused over her unexpected burst of temper and the reason for it; remembering the time they'd been talking about the men who had almost killed her and how he had wanted to hold her then, to offer comfort for what had obviously been a more traumatic experience than she tried to pretend.
Wounds of the spirit always do take the longest to heal, don't they, Amelia? You've been hurt so many times-your mother's murder, your relatives' betrayals... Once again I actually feel grateful to Rezo for cursing me; it caused our paths to cross and allows me the honor of being the one to comfort you...
There was something very relaxing about gliding serenely through an azure sky among feathery white clouds with the girl he loved curled trustfully against him. A most pleasant way to travel, even if we do owe it to Xellos. An undercurrent of disquiet-which was always there no matter how peaceful his surface moods were-made him wonder what the price would be for this favor. I just don't trust that mazoku. I may look like a monster, but inside, he's more of one than I'll ever be.
The stone man looked down when Amelia moved her hand to place it over the large faceted gemstone that hung just in front of her face from the silver chain around his neck. "It's really beautiful, isn't it?"
He gazed down at the gem, noticing again-as he had previously in the light of their campfire-the gorgeous varied shades of liquid blue contained within. "Yes, it is," he agreed. "It reminds me of your eyes."
He was rewarded for his honesty with the sight of those same sapphire eyes widening in surprise, then melting into an adoring expression. "Oh, Zelgadis... "
She said no more, but the chimera's eyes widened as he felt the light pressure of her arm as it wrapped itself around his waist. She smiled up at him, her eyes shining with affection, and he found it impossible not to smile back.
After a few moments he imitated her action, tentatively moving his arm from her shoulder to her side, lightly resting his stone fingers upon her softly rounded hip. He felt her stiffen slightly, her eyes widening as she drew in a surprised gasp of air, but she did not protest his action-indeed, he felt her rest more of her weight against him, relaxing, cuddling, her eyes half-closing in blissful contentment as she turned her face back to the endless blue sky.
Slowly Zelgadis allowed himself to relax. A part of him had still been sure that she would reject him. For far too long he had received only the courtesy given to the Those-Who-Look-Human-But-Are-Not, and some had not bothered to accord him even that, depending on how much they feared him and/or mistrusted him. In a few cases, their hostility had been great enough to goad them into attacking him-not that he'd been in any real danger, but what was the point of being human if one could not be human?
He had been sinking ever deeper into numb despondency by the time Amelia's letter had reached him, traveling from town to town not because he'd had any real hope, but simply because it was easier to keep moving, to stay an anonymous (hooded) human, rather than stay in one place too long and become the local oddity, unwelcome and mistrusted.
But then I got a letter from a princess, from a very special princess who never gave up hope...
The chimera turned his face toward the bright sky and closed his eyes briefly, smiling, reveling in the sunlight of her acceptance and knowing that he had never been happier.
Lina and Gourry tongue-wrestled for a while, a sport to which the petite sorceress had quickly become accustomed and was enjoying immensely, but as with all sports, one had to rest sometime. My tongue's tired, she realized with amusement as she leaned back in Gourry's arms to look up at him, smiling affectionately at his besotted expression. I bet he couldn't put two words together right now to save his life.
The thought brought a kind of pride with it, a feeling of See, I have what it takes to attract a man's attention; I am sexy, so there!
Now a mute Gourry tenderly set one hand on the side of her face, cupping her jaw and smiling. His blue eyes were ardent, compelling, his silky hair flowing luxurious and golden down his broad chest, framing his beautiful face.
And boy, is he sexy! she admitted to herself. He's so-hey! What's he doing?
For the blonde swordsman had tilted her head slightly to the side and was leaning toward her neck. She had just enough time to feel a thrill of excitement before his lips touched her neck, and then a lightning bolt went down her spine.
"Ah," she gasped, and from then on it seemed as if she couldn't get her breath, as the warm lips of her lifelong companion blazed a trail down her neck, across her throat and up the other side. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt his tongue touch her, stroking the side of her neck in a hot wet trail that cooled as his breath touched it, sending shivers all through her. She wanted to sink down into the hay and let him do as he wished with her, and at the same time her bursting energy made her want to touch him, to stroke and kiss his body, his beautiful body...
Acting on the latter impulse, she moved forward on her knees, wanting to climb up on him, and in her ardor she forgot where she was and one knee came down hard between his legs. He yelped and grabbed instinctively at his sensitive parts, letting go of her so that she fell backward onto the hay with a thump.
For a long moment neither of them moved, trying to rally their hormone-flooded brains to figure out what had just happened. Both of them were breathing hard, and Gourry was doubled up, experiencing intense pain that momentarily blanked everything else out.
When the pain began to fade, he saw Lina sitting on her calves in front of him, looking contrite. The expression was so unusual-for her-that he realized even before she spoke that she hadn't been punishing him for anything.
"I'm sorry, Gourry," she said sincerely, her eyes dark with shame and embarrassment. "I wasn't thinking. I just wanted to get closer to you."
"It's okay." He gave her a strained smile. "I wasn't thinking either. We'll just be more careful next time."
She relaxed somewhat, and her expression became thoughtful as she looked down at the area that he was still covering protectively with his hands. "Um... does it hurt much?"
The swordsman sensed that this was another new step-she was becoming openly curious about that part of him that was so important during lovemaking. "It's going away now," he reassured her, moving his hands away.
He noticed her taking a good look at that area before she realized what she was staring at, and then she looked up into his face. He smiled and watched her turn red, but to her credit, she didn't look away, meeting his gaze bravely. He knew that she had noticed his recent growth, which even the pain of an ill-timed clout could not diminish quickly.
In the past he had tried not to call attention to that part of him, knowing instinctively that it would only make her uncomfortable. For the most part, he had simply ignored those sensations, either tuning out his lower half, or delicately endeavoring to shift her away from the telltale signs of his attraction to her when the former strategy was unsuccessful.
He saw that she was at a loss, wanting to resume their recent enjoyment but not knowing how, so he opened his arms to her, smiling affectionately. "C'mere, Lina," he said, suppressing the old reflex to call her 'kid'.
She moved gladly into his arms, leaning into his chest and wrapping her arms around his body with her knees prudently to one side of his legs. He noticed that she was being more gentle than usual, which he appreciated, hoping that she would remember her blunder in the future.
Gourry drank in her fragrance, that of warm female skin and the slight tangyness of fresh sweat, burying his nose in her silky bright flower-scented hair. "Mmm... You smell so good," he told her blissfully.
He heard her make a small sound of surprise, and then she shifted slightly, and at the touch of her tongue on his neck he lost the ability to form sentences.
They might have gone on like that forever... but when the ship gave a sudden, ghastly lurch, dropping out from under them, he howled in fear and clutched the small girl to him like a life preserver, as the frantic mare beside them gave a shrill scream of terror.
Author's Notes: Zel and Amelia's first lovers' quarrel! Tee Hee! It's a good thing the Woodwind is an easy ship to fly as long as there's nothing to hit!
I notice thatI'm portraying Lina and Gourry's physical romance somewhat differently than Zelgadis and Amelia's. It seems logical to me that our bright-haired couple would be more likely to enjoy the physical side of a relationship-with much enthusiasm-whenever possible! ^_^ Even if Zel were human at this point, I think he'd be much more reserved. Amelia would probably be more comfortable showing affection, but she'd be influenced by Zelgadis' preferences. It would probably take a while for Zel to learn the little ways a couple uses to show affection-a peck on the cheek, a hug, for no reason other than to say 'I love you'. Amelia will show him how. ^_~
Gee, as I reread what I wrote I wonder now if the lime descriptions may be too embarrassing or offensive to some people. I'm not planning to have a lot of it, only where it would logically be in a real-life situation, and not always as descriptive as this was. No full lemons either, to reassure those of you who may be uncomfortable reading about those kind of situations. Perhaps I may write a lemon side story, although I've never written one before and you can't post them on anyway, but not until I've finished this fic.
But I'm very critical of how I'm writing limes lately... was this any good?
Claudia22 says: 'usually the husband of a Queen has no real powers, he doesn't even become a King'
* I didn't know that. Well, if I were a Queen-to-be, I'd want someone who could support me as Queen, who could help out, even if he never had any official power; he could at least offer sound advice. And since this is my fic, I can also decree that Zelgadis will be granted equal status with Amelia if he marries her. Hey, that would even make sense-it would be yet another reason why the people of Seyrune would be upset if a chimera was ruling over them.
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