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, just 'cause I like to know people are interested.

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

PG-15 for minor swearing and lime-i-ness

Chapter Seventy-One: This Isn't What It Looks Like!

The princess and the chimera sat side by side with their arms around each other's waists, watching the wispy white clouds pass by as the ship soared through the azure sky. At first content, Zelgadis gradually found himself wishing that he could feel the warmth of Amelia's body as easily as that of her love.

The thought stirred a sensation that had nearly always ended in a special kind of frustration for the stone man. Amelia told me that she was actually looking forward to the time when we could share pleasure together. She'll be my first... A wry smile appeared on his face. I'm twenty-three years old and still a virgin. I hope I don't embarrass myself.

It was then that the chimera realized that he actually believed that he was going to be cured.

His eyes widened. It's Amelia influence-the power of her optimism is so great that she's actually managing to convince me that this is going to work, against my better judgment! What a girl-I mean, woman she is! She'll be a splendid ruler some day, loved by her people, as Prince Phil is. Loved by men and women... men...

He imagined the princess in a magnificent sapphire-blue gown that matched her eyes, waving to crowds of cheering admirers, the men all bowing and falling all over themselves to serve her. I can still hardly believe that she chose me over the many rich, powerful, human suitors she must have had...

He frowned. Wait a minute... she did choose someone. She... has a fiance...

Amelia was wondering what Lina and Gourry might be doing. They had been awfully quiet for quite a while now-and then she blushed a bright pink over her nose. I bet they're kissing again. She fought the itch of curiosity that made her want to creep out to the back and peek into Sunshine's stall through a crack in the wall.

She noticed the way Zelgadis' hard torso pressed against her arm and body as he breathed, and suddenly had the impulse to follow her friends' example and fling herself upon her chimera, kissing him passionately. Almost as soon as she imagined it, she felt her face burst into fiery embarrassment and put her free hand to her cheek. Oh, I couldn't! ... Could I? She found herself glancing at him appraisingly out of the corners of her eyes. Would he let me?

She was seriously considering that course of action, heedless of any accidental bruises she might receive, when Zelgadis made the small sound one makes when they remember something they've forgotten, and his arm moved away from her. She shivered slightly at the sudden chill, both atmospheric and emotional, that was suddenly in the air.

"What is it?" She turned to look up at him.

His face had closed down and become the hard, emotionless shell that she so wished that he would never feel the need to use again. "You... have a fiance, don't you?"

Zelgadis had brought up this particular topic only once, during of one of their terrible arguments, but neither of them had made the slightest mention of it since. Amelia hadn't wanted to make things any worse between them, and after he had finally admitted his true feelings for her she had all but forgotten about the young man to whom she had proposed just before she'd set out to locate her friends.

Now she blushed, feeling unaccountably guilty, a large sweatdrop appearing above the back of her head. Poor Kerrin. "Um... yes. I-well-I needed to make sure I would have someone to mar-to rule with in case something went wrong."

The stone man was silent. Awkwardly, Amelia said, "Don't worry-I like him, but only as a friend. He's nice enough, but he just isn't you."

The chimera could have been mistaken for an exquisitely carved sculpture; only his warmth and the slight movements his body made as he breathed against her side revealed his living essence.

Hurriedly she continued, "He knows about you-I made sure that he knew that you were my first choice-my only choice, really, but Daddy needed me to choose someone before I left, so that Seyrune's future was assured... "

Still he did not move.

"I didn't want to!" Anxiously she tightened her arm around his slender waist and put her other hand on his chest. "I had no choice-you know that!"

Slowly he turned his head, gazing out at the sky, and said quietly, "But he is your official fiance. Are you so sure that he will be willing to let you go?"

Amelia was glad to get any kind of response, and said eagerly, "Oh, yes, he's a very nice boy-I had a long talk with him while we were dancing and I told him how much I loved you and he said he'd had a crush on me for a long time and-"

She cut herself off, suddenly realizing what she had said. Kerrin did say he was in love with me-sort of. What if Zelgadis is right and he decides not to break off the engagement?

"No... " she murmured in denial, trying to smother the awful suspicion that the friendly-seeming young man she'd met was as grasping and opportunistic as any of the older men who had courted her, but now that Zelgadis had pointed it out, she wondered why such a thing had never occurred to her before. He might have only been telling me what I wanted to hear-and the fact that he looks so much like Zelgadis might have blinded me to his faults... I wanted to believe that he was as innocent as he appeared.

"No! I won't!" she cried, throwing herself bodily onto the chimera's rigid chest, knocking him to the floor, oblivious of any pain. "They can't make me!"

Then a piercing shriek burst from her throat as the ship gave a violent lurch. Her stomach seemed to drop as the ship bucked and swayed like a wild thing, pitching and soaring sickeningly, and above the sound of her own terrified squeals she heard other screams, both animal and non, coming from the back area.

Almost instantly she felt Zelgadis' hard arms around her, holding her close to him as he stiffened, obviously concentrating on stabilizing the ship. She clung to him, afraid to move, afraid to interfere with his concentration. The sound of rushing wind outside died away as the ship came to a stop, hovering in the air. It only took a few moments, but by then Amelia was conscious of stumbling footsteps approaching from the back.

"Hey, you guys! What the hell is-"

Lina's voice cut off abruptly, and Amelia suddenly realized how this situation must look: herself, lying sprawled full-length on top of the chimera, who was either too embarrassed or too busy concentrating on maintaining their equilibrium to move.

"Um... this isn't what it looks like... " she said weakly, her face so hot she felt it would explode like one of Lina's Dragon Slaves. She could only see her friends' boots and part of their legs from this angle, and was frankly afraid to look higher. Shiran approached her and gave both of them a vigorous sniffing, obviously making sure that neither of them was hurt.

"Uh... right... " Lina sounded as embarrassed she was. She cleared her throat. "Listen... can you guys cool it down while you're piloting? If you... uh, need any privacy later, that's fine, but-"

"No, no!" Amelia waved her hands frantically from the wrists, propping herself up on her elbows as she felt Zelgadis' arms release her. "You've got it all wrong!"

"Yeah... whatever... just try to pay a little more attention, huh?" Lina's face was as red as her hair, while beside her Gourry was staring down at them with wide eyes.

Amelia gave up; she was never going to convince them of the truth. Besides, she admitted guiltily to herself, something like this might have actually happened if I'd tried to kiss Zelgadis like I wanted to. At least neither of them looked particularly angry about the near-disaster, so she allowed her shoulders to slump as she said meekly, "I'm sorry, Miss Lina, Mister Gourry. It won't happen again."

"Good." The red-haired sorceress turned on her heel, dragging Gourry behind her.

The blonde swordsman glanced back at them for a moment with a small smile and said, "It might be easier for Zel to see where he's going if you move over a little." He disappeared through the gaudy red and yellow curtain.

The young princess looked down to discover that her bosom was completely covering the chimera's face. Stunned, she froze for several seconds, and then scrambled to her hands and knees, straddling his body, looking down into a stone face that had gone lavender, either from embarrassment or air loss, his teal eyes wide and staring.

"I'm sorry!" she exclaimed. "Are you all right?"

Slowly his eyes focused, and he blinked. "I've never been better," he said in a tone that was an odd mixture of awe and humor, and she noticed that his gaze was directed at her generous bosom, which was, after all, directly in his line of sight.

She stiffened, fighting the instinctive reflex to slap his face, wanting to pull away with her arms crossed over her chest and at the same time wanting to stay close to him.

Her face must have shown her indecision, because he smiled at her, his eyelids lowering amorously, and she found herself smiling back, relaxing, remembering that this particular man was the one whom she had chosen to have the right to look at her body if he wanted to.

To her delight, his blue-green eyes were wonderfully unguarded, openly revealing everything he was feeling inside. Part of his expression was gentle, obviously meant to reassure her, but foremost in his eyes was a glow that she had seen before, but only in brief, momentary flickers: the eager gleam of desire.

The thought made her a little nervous, but it also pleased her greatly that he found her attractive, even though she wasn't quite sure what to do about it. As a princess she had been obliged to repel men's advances, whether they knew that she was a princess or not; thus she had woefully little experience beyond what her instincts told her.

Still she lingered, straddling his body on her hands and knees, her heart pounding. Both of them were breathing heavily, the chimera's breath stirring her raven tresses which hung down nearly to his face, creating their own little intimate world. Her body was behaving oddly; she was all tense, with strange, pleasurable little twitches and tingles here and there, and she found herself wishing that he would reach up to touch her, to run his slender blue hands over her body-her skin...

She badly wanted to drop back down on top of him and wrap her arms around him, and only the knowledge that their friends would be back to find out why the ship wasn't moving made her reluctantly crawl backward until she was sitting on the floor beyond his feet.

He sat up slowly, his eyes never leaving her, and she could see him gradually bringing himself back under control, his expression smoothing into the calm, even expression that he normally wore around her. It wasn't much different from the poker face he affected around strangers, but somehow she could tell that this version was much more likely to smile.

Then, with a jolt, she also noticed that his trousers had developed a small but distinctive bulge. Her eyes flew open, then she blushed and modestly looked away. It did not take long, however, before she found her fascinated gaze straying back.

Zelgadis noticed where Amelia was looking and a blush matching hers covered his nose. His new blue tunic was not as long as his old one had been, but it had not occurred to him that something like this might happen. Automatically he started to turn his body away from her, but then he noticed that the young girl, flushing daintily, had politely turned her face away, and he couldn't help smiling at her charming na´vetÚ despite his own embarrassment.

Does this bother her? he wondered, but did not quite have the courage to ask her. As he faced forward he caught a slight movement from the corner of his eye-her head had tilted so that she could peek at his lap.

His instinctive reaction was to cover himself and yell, 'What are you looking at?', but the look on her face stopped him. He had always hated being stared at, even before he'd become a chimera, but Amelia's face held no disgust, no 'Eww, gross!', only wide-eyed curiosity, and a touch of... awe?

Irritation, embarrassment and amusement had a battle in his head, but eventually his amusement won. She's still blushing. Seeing her just as uncomfortable as he was made the chimera feel better. He resumed his former cross-legged position, not trying to hide his condition from her, composing himself to accept her stare as he would from no other. It must be as enticing to her as breasts are to men, he thought wryly. This is still a new experience for her. We've seen each other without clothes before, but only for a few moments.

It took her a minute before she realized that he was watching her, a tolerant expression on his face. The pink flush over her nose rushed out to her cheeks as she gave him a slightly-panicky look and blurted out, "I'm sorry!"

He chuckled quietly, smiling affectionately at the flustered young girl. "That's all right." He let his gaze focus on the blue sky outside the window, politely ignoring her discomfiture, and willed the ship to move forward.

He thought about her sudden, frantic tackle, and the reason for it. There's no use worrying her, he reasoned, regretting that he had shared his suspicion with her. There's nothing we can do until we arrive in Seyrune. I just hope this 'boy' keeps his word... or I might have to challenge him to a duel. He smiled grimly, his eyes narrowing. Amelia wouldn't agree, but there are times when killing is necessary to achieve your goals. Now that I've finally acknowledged my love for her, I won't to give her up without a fight!

The Gem of Candor strikes again! Lina thought triumphantly, turning away from where she'd been eavesdropping behind the curtain. She almost ran into Sunshine's head. The palomino mare had her head as far over the stall wall as it would go, breathing hoarsely, white-eyed with fear.

"Whoa! Easy, easy, girl... " Lina said soothingly, reaching up toward the mare's nose. The normally even-tempered horse threw her head up and down in agitation, and for several minutes she and Gourry were both busy reassuring the golden mare. Shiran suddenly appeared, and leaped into the stall, touching noses with Sunshine and doing an even better job of soothing the horse than the humans were.

"Hey, Lina?"

"What, Gourry?"

"Do you think Sunny might calm down if I sing her the lullaby I sang to you when you were sick?"

Lina turned her gaze on the blonde swordsman, remembering the gentle sound of his singing voice. I've been wanting to ask him to sing again. "Sure, Gourry."

Gourry nodded and began to sing, his light baritone flowing as easily as the breeze, soothing away the fear of the past few minutes, restoring a sense of safety to the little room. Eventually all of them were resting in the hay, with the mare standing very close to the humans, occasionally reaching down to touch one or the other gently on the head with her soft nose.

Gourry didn't blame her. Flying is scary.

Lina was appreciating the gem's power. With its help, Zel is finally learning to show his emotions-the good ones, I mean. He doesn't need any help to be obnoxious. Too bad we have to give back the gem... or do we?

Greed warred with common sense. It'd sure come in handy to make bandits spill their guts about the locations of their stashes... but whoever carried it would be vulnerable to every casual question. I sure don't want to tell my enemies my secrets, and Gourry's hard enough to keep muzzled as it is. She sighed, feeling the ache of having to let a great opportunity pass her by. I suppose there's such a thing as too much honesty.

Zelgadis glanced at the young princess next to him. She was no longer blushing, but she had not resumed her former position-she was sitting several feet away from him instead of with her arm around him. It was slightly disturbing for him to realize how much he wanted her to do that... not so much for the physical sensation, which was muted for him anyway, as for the feeling of emotional closeness that the gesture demonstrated.

The young woman had pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, gazing quietly out the window at the late-afternoon sky. She was sitting closer to the front of the ship than he was, and her face and body were outlined by the sun's golden glow, giving her the appearance of an angel.

She's matured so much since the first time we met-even moreso in the last two months-and yet I want to protect her... from anything that might hurt her. She's brave-a lot braver than a ruler ought to be if they want to live long-compassionate, intelligent, and so full of life.

For a moment, he watched the edges of her cream-colored cape fluttering gently from the constant breeze in the moving craft, and then turned his gaze back to her face, noting her solemn countenance, her sad eyes... He blinked. Sad?

The chimera instantly wondered if she was upset about what had happened earlier. He cleared his throat, and said tentatively, "Amelia?"

"Mm?" She turned to look over her shoulder at him, her expression altering from pensive to questioning.

"Is... something bothering you? You're unusually quiet."

Instead of answering him, she gave him a wry smile and replied, "That's my line."

Her evasion triggered a red flag. He tensed inwardly as he answered in a correspondingly dry tone, "I'm the one who's supposed to be depressed, remember? There can't be two of us aboard."

"Oh, and who says?" she teased. "Are you the captain, then?"

"Yes, I am," he answered haughtily, lifting his nose into the air and looking at her with half-closed eyes. He was relieved to hear her giggle, and continued in his normal voice "... at least for the moment. And as captain I request to be informed when one of my crew members is in distress."

Her smile faltered, and again he caught the shadow behind her blue eyes. "What is it, Amelia?" he asked, his tone concerned.

Her small shoulders lifted and dropped as she sighed heavily. "Well... I keep thinking about those two men. You know."

The men who tried to kill her. Zelgadis nodded silently, willing her to continue.

"I keep remembering what the people from that village said. Everyone knew it was them, but no one could prove it, so they kept getting away with it. So many people got hurt-some of them will never recover from what they did-and the thing that gets me is, there are a lot of men like that still out there, hurting innocent people and getting away with it... " She clenched her fists against her knees, biting her lip, her face contorted in helpless empathy for all the victims of the world.

The stone man nodded. "And you want to help them. And stop people like the ones who got you."

She nodded miserably. "And I can't. I can't go home and rule Seyrune and fight bad guys, too. I can't do both. It makes me so... angry... sick... I almost wish I didn't have to be Queen someday!"

He felt a tingle of alarm. "But you must, Amelia. Seyrune needs you."

She did not answer, turning away to stare again at the sky, her mouth set in an uncharacteristically grim line.

Zelgadis opened his mouth, then closed it. He reached out toward her back, but halfway there his hand stopped, hovered for a moment, then dropped, curling into a fist. He understood her all too clearly. But it's useless to tell her what she already knows. She knows she's Seyrune's heir and that's that. There's nothing she can do except run away-and I won't let that happen. She feels her duty very strongly-if she did leave she'd spend the rest of her life being eaten alive by her own guilt.

That's why I didn't even want her to consider running away with me... He smiled to himself. Although I can't say I'm exactly displeased to hear that she would choose me over her kingdom, even if the reason for it is vaguely insulting.

Hmm. Amelia is motivated by compassion... that's why she said she would choose me; she believes that I 'need her more'. Of course, right now Prince Philionel is strong and healthy-at the moment, her kingdom can get along without her, but eventually...

He gazed at the fine afternoon sky, absently admiring the billowy white clouds as they drifted past the ship's window. The sight never failed to calm him, and his mind began to wander. He found himself imagining Seyrune in the future, after an aging Prince Phil had passed away, leaving no heirs. If Amelia doesn't take over from her father at some point, and train the next generation to rule wisely, Seyrune will degenerate... and that can't be allowed to happen. The fate of that great city rests in Amelia's hands...

He gazed at her. She was sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest, with her arms wrapped around them, looking more than ever like a lost little girl. She looks so small, so helpless... it's hard to believe that someone so fragile-looking can be such a powerful force... and yet, conversely, even the most formidable among us are vulnerable when it comes to matters of the heart. Look at Lina with Gourry.

He sighed heavily. I don't like seeing her so upset. I need to convince Amelia that ruling Seyrune is a worthy alternative to traveling around rescuing people.

Slowly he put out his hand and touched the back of her arm. She turned to look at him, startled, and he said quietly, "Amelia, do you know Seyrune's reputation?

She looked somewhat surprised, but answered readily, "The white magic capital of-"

"No, not the actual facts; I mean... what do people think of Seyrune?"

"... Think of it?" For some reason she looked nonplussed, as if such a question had never occurred to her.

Perhaps it's because it's her home, someplace too familiar... I suppose most people don't really think about how their homes look unless a stranger is visiting, when you suddenly see familiar things through their eyes...

He took a deep breath, collecting his thoughts, and smiled warmly at her. "Seyrune is... an ideal. It's a bright, shining city of light and learning, an example for others to follow, a beacon in the dark. I've seen a lot in my travels, and I know. The farther away people live from Seyrune, the more its reputation has elevated to near-heavenly status. People who have visited there are much envied; those who've studied there are highly respected."

His voice grew more intense. "Seyrune is also a haven for oppressed people-people who are afraid, who are suffering, just like the ones in that village we passed through-the very people you want to help the most. And I know your father is always conducting peace negotiations between conflicting kingdoms, acting as a mediator, helping all those involved to avoid the horrors of war... "

She was listening, her eyes shimmering, although he could not tell if she was glad or upset with him over his unintended oration. Impulsively he moved toward her across the floor until he was sitting next to her, glancing away for the merest moment to make sure that the ship was flying in the right direction, and then he took her hands in his, holding them gently but firmly as he locked his eyes on hers.

"Amelia, to the average commoner, Seyrune is... hope. And that is why you must become Queen, to maintain Seyrune-the beacon. The light. It's important work, Amelia."

"I know," she sniffed, and he caught the shine of tears in the corners of her eyes. Alarmed, he faltered. Have I made things worse?

"You're right." She sighed and smiled a little, to his relief. "I know it is, really... I know one person can't save everyone, but... it almost seems easier to be a vigilante. I get to meet the people I help, and see how happy I make them, and have no social status for others to envy... or covet... "

Zelgadis frowned as he caught her reference to her relatives' attempt to usurp the throne from her father. Amelia closed her eyes, and a tear slipped out from one of them.

Without thinking he moved one of his hands away from hers and reached up to touch her cheek, catching the bead of water before it could travel down her pretty face and mar it with a trail of salt. "That's what happens when you're in a position of power, I'm afraid. You need to be brave, Amelia... You must bear with the assassination attempts, the internal politics, and worst of all-" he let one corner of his mouth rise in a wry grin, raising a stony eyebrow- "-the infuriating social niceties that come with such power... "

His grin faded as he looked down at her, his large blue-green eyes gazing deeply into hers as he vowed solemnly, "... But I will be with you."

Her sapphire eyes widened, and then her expression softened, her eyes taking on a special luminosity that he knew was for him alone. "Oh, Zelgadis...

Glad to have been able to lift her despondency, he elaborated softly, "As long as my cure works, I will do everything I can to support you, Amelia."

With a somewhat tremulous laugh, she asked, "How do you always know what to say to make me feel better?" Her affectionate tone warmed him inside, and then he remembered that she had asked this question before.

This time, however, he had an answer. "Because I love you."

She melted, moving into his embrace, tucking her head under his chin. "Oh, darling... I will never get tired of hearing you say that to me," she murmured against his chest.

He closed his arms around her body, feeling very glad to have her there. "I meant it. I'm only sorry I waited so long to say it."

Neither of them mentioned the one catastrophic hitch which could still bring them all to grief: if the cure didn't work, Zelgadis would still be a chimera, and Amelia might be dead-or insane...

Author's Notes:

Fuji the Hobbit asks: 'Hey I was just wondering, do you have the chapters prewritten? And if so to what extent?'

*chapters 72-77 roughed out, but still need editing, and add-ins. Basically I have the actions, not much of people's feelings or humor bits or physical sensations like sights, sounds or smells added yet. You know, all the good bits.

From Aina-chan-'About the recent limey-ness...it would be a good thing if you changed the rating. '

* I do change it, on occasion, when I deem the lime-i-ness to be a little stronger than usual. I also try to remember to mark it in 'bold', but I know many people don't really read the top after the first few chapters because they think it's all the same. I do make changes now and then. Chapter 70, for example, was rated PG-15. I don't know if '15' is an official rating, but I have two little sisters so I understand that parents don't want young people to get 'ideas'. (Although if they're going to read limes-or lemons-anyway, I'd rather they read mine, which don't just glorify the whole thing and make it sound so irresistible that young people want to go out and try it with just anybody. Intimacy is special and can be shown in many ways-look at the differences in the ways Zel and Ame show their love, as opposed to Lina and Gourry. It doesn't always have to be about sex.)

DarkAngel-Ahria comments-'I like the way you wrote the lime scene because it was practical (not super glorified like a romance novel) and realistic.'

* In the Chinese Zodiac I'm the Ox. We're practical. Also cautious, patient, and intellectual, and have a hard time showing affection, either verbally or physically. (I wonder if Zel is an Ox?)

I also try to include some humor during romantic scenes-it is a Slayers fic, after all. ^_^

jadz_i_ka says: 'I really can't explain why but I rather liked when Ameria didn't knew about Zelgadiss' feelings. It's just so odd! almost 70 chapters were about Zels secret feelings, and one day snap,they're a super loving pair! I'm still not used to it... '

*One of the reasons romance stories are so popular is the whole 'we know you love him/her but he/she doesn't!' We're in on the secret. Plus, it's so cute to watch people in the early stages of love, with all the stuttering and blushing... Zel's not used to the changes in the relationship yet either. ^_^ He finds it difficult to remember that he is able to show his feelings now, and doesn't really know how. He still unconsciously expects to be rejected... he thinks about saying or doing something romantic but then doesn't do it.

I know some people are a bit uncomfortable reading about intimate scenes involving the Slayers. I completely understand-I'm not a touchy-feely person myself. 'The Slayers' is most definitely not an intimate sort of show, except for the single really romantic kiss Lina and Gourry shared (but since they lost their memories of it nothing changed). When I watch the series even I have a hard time picturing some of the characters being intimate, but then, that's why my fic ended up being so long-love had to come first. Then I had to get everybody to acknowledge it (the hardest part-to come to terms with denied feelings) and then the first tentative steps toward being intimate could begin.

I can imagine myself in their shoes, though. When you know somebody you care about loves you back, there's a feeling that comes over you... sort of like your 'personal space' barrier goes away when you're near them, and you feel like they won't mind if you want to hold their hand or sit so that your bodies are touching or whatever. I always want to pat people's hair, like they're a dog or something. ( I don't actually do it; I just want to ^_^ )

I'm actually encouraged by the feedback, though. Even people who generally don't like limes still want to read on, so my particular lime-writing style must be tolerable, at least. You know what? The funny thing about limes is... when I first started writing lime bits, it was really hard, but as I got used to it I found it more natural to think of the Slayers being intimate. I think it's the kind of change that's really momentous at first, but then, as humans do, we gradually get used to it, and after a while we forget that things were ever any different.

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