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 for mild language

Note: Ame is Zelgadis' nickname for Amelia. It means 'sweet' or 'sweets' in Japanese. The English equivalent would probably be 'sweetheart'.

Chapter Eighty-Seven: Hello, Li

Zelgadis was completely lost in sensations; the tingling warmth where their mouths merged, the feel of her breath on his face, the eloquent sighs and murmurs of long-denied ardor from each of them...

Amelia's heart overflowed with joy. She wanted to laugh and cry and do somersaults, but not for a moment did she let go of her prince. Oh, this was what she had dreamed of, to have Zelgadis accepting her love and returning it with equal passion!

Neither of them could say how long they kissed before memory of the day's plans returned to the Seyrune princess. Reluctantly, she lifted her head, breaking the kiss. She found herself looking into soft, wondering blue-green eyes, beautiful eyes whose irises were once again human-round. With their faces mere inches apart, Amelia nearly lost herself in his shimmering teal depths, until he asked quietly, "This is probably a silly question, but are you all right? The last time I saw you, you were... "

Unconscious, Amelia finished mentally. Oh, poor Zelgadis. So that's what was worrying him? She felt a silly, tender smile spread over her face. "I'm better than I have been for a long time."

As she watched him smile for the first time with his new face, she felt herself go soft inside. Miss Lina was right. He's gorgeous! she thought dreamily. Oh, Miss Lina! She pulled back, her raven hair swishing as she scanned the room with wild eyes for her audience. Only Shiran and the sleeping Kerrin were there.

"What is it?" Zelgadis sat up and a pained look came over his face.

"Where's Miss Lina? And are you all right?" She turned her focus back to him.

"I think I heard her leave, a while ago." Slowly Zelgadis reached up to feel his new ears, gingerly exploring their smaller-but still pointed-tips. I don't think my hearing's gotten much weaker, if it's diminished at all. He wanted to smile in satisfaction, but that was difficult at the moment. "And I'm fine... just a little sore." That's an understatement. I feel so... tender all over. I think I can feel every fiber in my clothing and the bedding. And my ears... He twitched them involuntarily. My hair keeps tickling them. He twitched them again, and looked up with in surprise as Amelia giggled.

"What's so funny?"

"Nothing." Amelia grinned. I suppose I shouldn't tell him I think his ears are cute. "I'm just glad you haven't changed too much. You're still my Zelgadis."

He relaxed, and smiled back, ignoring his sensitive skin. And she's still my Amelia. She looked even more adorable to him than usual. Her raven hair was all sleep-tousled and she had obviously gotten dressed in a hurry, as the bow in the back of her frilly white dress was undone, trailing on the floor. It's going to get all dirty. "Come here," he said impulsively.

"Huh?"

"Turn around."

She obeyed him after giving him a curious glance. Zelgadis braced his weight somewhat painfully on the side of one leg and reached out, using his new hands to gingerly tie the two long strips of white cloth into a large, somewhat lopsided bow. He noticed that he was still wearing the pale blue wedding suit, whose tight sleeves cut into his inner elbows every time he bent them.

"Thank you," Amelia said.

By the time he finished, Zelgadis' teeth were clenched. Ow. I never realized how difficult something as simple as tying a bow could be when your hands hurt. He felt a moment of empathy for elderly people, with their arthritic hands.

"What's the matter?" Amelia had turned to take his hands in hers, and he pulled away before he realized what he was doing, and winced at the mingled hurt and alarm in her eyes.

"I told you; I'm a little sore, that's all."

The young woman's eyes narrowed and she leaned over to take a good look at his face. Before he could stop her, she had placed a hand on his cheek, running her fingertips down the side of his face in a manner reminiscent of the time she had done so after their 'date' at the concert hall. But this time, he could feel it.

Zelgadis tensed a little, expecting it to hurt, but instead he found himself closing his eyes to savor the marvelous feeling of her smooth, warm fingers gliding lightly across his sensitive skin. There was a little soreness, but it still felt good, the way a massage feels good to sore muscles. He could trace every separate tingling trail that her fingers made, and opened his eyes a little wistfully when she was done to see a puzzled look cross Amelia's face.

"Your skin feels normal," she reported. "It's not all red or burned or anything. I can't see how your skin would come to be so-"

"Burned." Suddenly Zelgadis understood. "That's it, Amelia. You know how burn victims have to regrow lost skin, and it's very soft and tender for a while?"

"Oh, I see." Her eyes lit up in comprehension. "You have new skin-or maybe not, it's just that your real skin has been sheltered under your stone skin for so long that-well, your skin is going to be extra-sensitive for a while?"

"I think so. I should probably wear clothing made of softer materials at first, until I toughen up."

Amelia grinned at that phrase. I never thought I'd hear the original 'Mister Tough Guy' say something like that! She almost said so aloud, but just in time she remembered how much he had once hated how 'weak' his human body was. That was the whole reason he let Mister Rezo transform him in the first place. He felt that his own real body didn't measure up. I need to make him see that I don't think any less of him just because he can be hurt like anybody else now.

"Well, of course." Amelia nodded her head in approval. "That's a sensible idea. After all, your body's just been through a monumental ordeal; most people probably wouldn't even be able to sit up yet." She noticed that he seemed to sit a little straighter at her praise, and she made sure to smile warmly at him. "But I know you'll be all right; you're so brave!"

The young man's face turned pink over his nose and cheeks, and he gave her a shy smile that almost made her melt. Oh, he's so adorable!

Zelgadis watched the shining eyes of the girl in front of him, feeling a tingle that had nothing to do with sensitive skin begin in the vicinity of his heart. It was all worth it, just to see her smile like that. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

"Zelgadis," Amelia said after nearly a minute had passed. "Um... How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?"

It took him a moment to orient on her question. "I'm twenty-three. Why?"

"Oh... " She looked confused. "It's just that you don't look much older than me."

His brow furrowed. "I don't?"

She shook her head.

Suddenly he was alarmed. Did I turn into someone else? Or myself as a boy, even smaller and weaker than I was at nineteen? "Is there a mirror around here?"

"Yes, there's a big full-length one just a few doors down from here."

Zelgadis pulled aside the light blanket and began the awkward task of sliding his legs to the side of the bed. He soon discovered that it was easiest to do it quickly, to get it over with as soon as possible.

Amelia's eyes widened in alarm. Are you sure you should be getting up? It was on the tip of her tongue, but she managed to stifle it, sensing that this was important to him. Instead she stood by his side, ready to help him if he needed it. Mindful of his pride, she did not touch him. I know he'd hate being treated like an invalid.

Zelgadis suppressed a groan as the cold stone floor caught him by surprise. They should have left my socks on. He appreciated Amelia's supportive presence, glad that she did not make the situation worse by touching him, and favored her with a stiff smile. "Okay... that wasn't so bad."

Amelia nodded, and walked beside him as he moved carefully toward the door.

Suddenly a mass of lavender fur blocked their way. "Shiran, move." Zelgadis waved an arm to one side.

The big beast whined softly, laying her long tapered ears back and carefully extending her slender, elegant head toward the former chimera's face. Amelia had to smile. "She's worried about you. She wants to help."

Zelgadis was warmed by the sight of the enormous, powerful dragonwolf with the eerie glowing green eyes approaching him with such gentle caution. "Good girl, Shiran." He waited until the big beast had sniffed him a few times, then he said firmly, "Shiran, flank."

Immediately Shiran glided smoothly between him and the bed, standing so that her head was level with his elbow. He knew she was offering to help brace him if he faltered. Zelgadis dropped an affectionate hand on her furry head in what was meant to be a single grateful pat, but the thick, silky fur distracted him and he found himself stroking the lovely animal, whose emerald eyes closed in bliss at his caresses.

"I'd forgotten the marvelous texture fur has," he explained to Amelia, who was watching him with a small, understanding smile.

"I know," she agreed. I can see he's going to be like a young child for a while, touching anything and everything to find out what it feels like!

Soon enough, Zelgadis straightened and began taking careful steps toward the door. He let Amelia open it for him, then slowly made his way down the hall, wincing at the coldness of the stone floors.

The door Amelia stopped at opened into a room that Zelgadis recognized. This is where Kerrin and I changed clothes. He looked around, recalling how he had felt at the time, not knowing what was going to happen next, full of hope and dread, trying to mask his anxiety with irritation.

Zelgadis remembered the huge wood-framed mirror that stood on its own wheeled stand in the corner, and faced it apprehensively. He took a deep breath, then walked forward. In the mirror, a young man approached him, a small, thin young man, with big blue-green eyes and a profuse fluff of glossy dark blue hair. He had a small nose, high cheekbones, and an incredulous expression, as if the person in the mirror was not whom he had expected to see.

That's me. That's really me! Zelgadis tried an experimental smile, and a rush of gladness nearly overwhelmed him as he recognized the man in the mirror. It was like meeting an old friend. Hello, Li.

Amelia had to brush away happy tears as she watched her beloved move slowly forward and put both hands on the mirror, staring at the sight of his human self as if he could never get enough. His eyes, too, shone with tears.

After a long moment, Zelgadis lowered his arms, the tense line of his shoulders relaxing. "The last four years... " he said quietly, his eyes never leaving the mirror, "Something's been horribly wrong for the last four years, but now... It almost seems like some kind of wild, impossible dream, like a nightmare... and it's finally over."

Amelia's smile was full of joy. "I'm so glad," she said simply, her blue eyes shining, cupping her hands together over her heart to keep herself from throwing her arms around him.

The young man who was Zelgadis turned to face her. "But not all of it," he added, "Not all of it was a nightmare. Not meeting Lina or Gourry... and not falling in love with you."

His expression held the familiar solemn sincerity that she remembered, and she again had to hold herself back. "Oh, Zelgadis... "

Her tone was halfway between laughing and crying, and he gave her an odd look, then blinked and ducked his head with an adorably embarrassed grin, as one hand moved up behind his head. She noticed then that the sleeves of his jacket were too long.

Zelgadis was unprepared for the giddy rush of emotion that swept through him. How her eyes shine! He felt his own heart soaring to the sky, and then something inside him burst free and he began to laugh, harder than he had since childhood. The dark, heavy clouds of the past years lifted away, leaving him feeling so light and free that he wanted to cheer, to race across the land on the back of a horse, to leap into the air and play cloud-tag with Amelia...

My beautiful Amelia. It's all thanks to her. He turned to beam at his beloved, only to see her staring at him in surprise. He laughed again and swept her into his arms, heedless of the soreness, holding her tightly against him as he'd always wanted to. "I love you, Amelia!"

He felt her arms go around him. "Zelgadis," she murmured, her tone somewhere between astonishment and gladness. "You laughed."

His joy burst from him in another peal of laughter, and he reveled in it, loving the wild freedom it gave him, as if all of the walls inside him had vaporized into a heady steam, intoxicating him.

Zelgadis gazed down into those wondering sapphire eyes and let himself do something he had wanted to do for a very long time. "Ame," he murmured, and slid a hand behind her head, gently tilting her face so that he could kiss her.

Zelgadis, my darling, I'm so happy. Amelia gave in to the urge to hug him closer, his mouth warm and soft on hers. You laughed-a laugh of pure joy, not tainted by irony or self-hatred. You're healing-your soul is healing! Just like Kembri and Miss Dahri said-the part of you that needed healing the most was on the inside... Oh, I'm so happy for you!

"Amelia?" came Gourry's voice from down the hall. "Zelgadis? Where are you?"

The two of them broke the kiss, staring at each other with quivering eyes over blushing noses; then Zelgadis released Amelia. She stepped back, but reached out to take his hand gently in hers, not wanting to let him go. "Here, Mister Gourry," she called.

Zelgadis was a little embarrassed about holding her hand. But it's only Gourry, after all," he told himself. Anyway, this kind of behavior is expected of newlyweds. That set off a whole new, rather intriguing train of thought, involving himself and Amelia and not too many clothes. He barely noticed Amelia's conversation with Gourry, although he noted the word 'breakfast' in a vague sort of way.

After Gourry left, Amelia led him by the hand back to the medical room, where a tray with two generous servings of food had been left on the wooden chair. For the first time he noticed Kerrin sleeping on the other bed. "How long has he been there?"

"All night," Amelia said. "He sat by your side all night long, after the healer said you didn't seem hurt, just worn out."

Zelgadis smiled in affection at his considerate cousin, the only person in his family whom he loved like a brother. I'm glad he's going to be a part of my life again.

"I would have done it too, but I was nearly as bad as you were," Amelia added hurriedly. "Daddy had to carry me to bed."

"Are you all right?" He felt a twinge of worry.

"I'm fine." She squeezed his hand a little to reassure him. "I think what happened was that last extra bit of spell that we did used up a lot more energy than I thought it was going to. Remember the dream I had? About Mellesande, the girl who crafted our Star Spheres? I remember thinking at the time how much energy it must take to do holy magic, because she looked so tired afterward. But she was fine later, wasn't she?"

"If you mean that she lived to have a happy marriage with Gaderi, the chimera who wrote the journal about his journey to the Oracle's cave, then yes. As I recall, he returned to her as a human and they had three normal, human children."

"Oh, yes, they did. Tell me, did the Oracle tease you?" Amelia grinned at him. "The journal said she talked like his mother, making him confess how he wanted to marry one of the Seyrune princesses even though he felt unworthy."

"You know about the Oracle?" He looked at her in surprise, and then realized how close his face was to hers.

"Of course. I was in a hurry, so I skimmed through most of it, but I remember reading about the Oracle. Here, I'll show you. Where is it? In one of the saddlebags?"

Now Zelgadis was embarrassed. "I, uh, lost it."

"You what?"

"I couldn't help it," he said defensively. "It fell in the water while were being attacked by a sea dragon."

"Oh-Miss Lina mentioned that. That's when you... almost drowned, wasn't it?" Her voice had gotten progressively softer, with the last few words barely whispered.

He nodded. "That was the first time we were connected, through the Star Spheres. I could feel your presence with me, telling me not to give up. I probably would have, if not for you." His hand tightened on hers for a moment.

"Oh, Zelgadis... " For a moment her eyes were misty, but then her positive nature asserted itself and she said, "Well, if you want, I can tell you about it. You didn't get to read the end?"

He shook his head, trying to focus his mind on her words instead of how close she was to him. "No. I'd memorized the map, so I knew where we were going, but not what we'd find once we got there. We managed to figure it out, though."

"Good."

"In fact... it might be a good idea to make a record of our journey, to help others in the future. According to Lina, the Oracle can only see one person per year, so it would probably be best to keep it a secret. Something to use as a last resort."

"I see." Amelia nodded. "I'll keep our copy hidden in the white magic archives."

There was a pause, and then Amelia added casually, "Today is going to be too busy for that, though. For one thing, we have to get your suit altered so you can attend Miss Lina's wedding to Mister Gourry."

I do not want to get into that right now. The rich smells of the hot, steaming food in front of them were beginning to affect him, but then he caught himself. "My suit?"

"It seems to be a little big on you." Amelia looked apologetic. "I should have thought that you might be shorter, um, I mean, that you might need a different size now."

Zelgadis gave her a wry half-smile. "It's not your fault. This is the real me-short, skinny-"

"But it's wonderful!" Amelia protested vehemently.

Zelgadis was startled. "What?"

"Your eyes... They're not so far away now. You're-" She lifted one shoulder in a shrug that said she knew her statement sounded odd. "You're here."

Zelgadis stared down at the sincere young woman, and suddenly realized that with the difference between their heights lessened, she did not seem nearly as much of a child any more. "I see what you mean... " He smiled slowly. "I do feel closer to you." So that's why I've been noticing how close she was standing to me. She's closer in height, not in distance. At least I'm still taller than she is.

"And you don't even look that far from me in age. Are you really twenty-three?"

Zelgadis opened his mouth, then closed it. He set the side of his forefinger against his chin, musing, "I was about nineteen when Rezo transformed me... and just now when I looked in the mirror I didn't see any signs that I'd gotten older. Maybe chimeras don't age at the same rate as humans."

Amelia's eyes widened. "Does that mean you're immortal?"

Again he hesitated, then shook his head. "If I stayed in chimera-form, maybe. As it is, the non-human parts of me are dormant, so they don't affect me." He took in a deep breath and let it out. "Thank the gods."

She blinked at him. "Huh?"

Zelgadis gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "One of my worst fears was to live as a chimera forever. I used to have nightmares about it."

"Oh, poor Zelgadis." She gave him a compassionate look. "I never thought about that, how sad it would be to live on after everyone you loved was gone. I wouldn't like that at all."

Not to mention looking like something that no one would ever love in the first place, he thought reflexively, but then firmly shook his head. Enough self-pity. Amelia did love me; my appearance never mattered to her. And my unimpressive size won't matter to her, either, even if I'm the laughingstock of the royal court. Amelia's opinion is the only one that matters to me.

"... So you're only two years older than me?" she asked.

"Physically, yes. Mentally, no."

"Oh... " For some reason she seemed disappointed. "Well, it's still nice to feel that you're closer to me than before."

And that's the only thing that matters to her, he realized. All most women want is to feel close to their loved ones. Physical appearance isn't nearly as important. "You're right," he agreed. "It is."

Just then Zelgadis' stomach, having waited patiently for far too long, let out a grumbling protest about the tantalizing food going to waste right in front of them. Amelia giggled. "I guess I don't have to ask if you're as hungry as I am!"

There were no tables, so after a bit of thought Zelgadis took the blanket from the bed and folded it to make a warm cushion between them and the stone floor. They left the tray in front of them on the wooden chair, and began eating with enough gusto to almost rival Lina and Gourry. Fortunately, their swordsman friend had piled the tray high, so that they were even able to share some tidbits with Shiran, who waved her bushy tail and politely accepted them.

As they ate, Zelgadis was relieved to notice that his skin's sensitivity seemed to be easing somewhat. In a couple of days I should be completely back to normal. Part of it is probably just my having to get used to instant feedback when something touches me. I'm not expecting it, so I overreact. He closed his eyes as a shiver of gratefulness passed through him. But I'll gladly take this over being stuck for the rest of my life in a suit of stone armor!

"That reminds me," he said aloud, turning to look at Amelia. "Where's the Oracle's orb? We should put it somewhere safe. Or better yet, keep it-"

He stopped short as she shook her head at him. "It's gone," she said.

His fist clenched involuntarily, and he instantly winced as he felt his nails bite into his tender flesh. "Ow-w-what do you mean, it's gone?" he sputtered loudly.

Author's Notes: Zel is now only about 5'6" where before he was 5"10', at least in the anime. I know he was shorter in the manga. Amelia is about 5'4", so he's only a couple inches taller than she is. I like the idea of them being able to see eye-to-eye.

Admiral Fern comments: I haven't enjoyed a Slayers fanfic this much since I read 2F's trilogy years back.

DS-Thanks for the compliment-and what trilogy was that? I'm always interested in good fanfics!

Kusanivy points out: I may not be remembering properly but wasn't part of the reason they had to cure Zel the fact that as a chimera (especially one who is part Mazoku) he wouldn't be allowed to marry Amelia or become prince?

Soo... if Zel still IS a chimera (albeit a very human looking one) does that make the marriage null and void?

DS-Not exactly... If you want to get technical, his ears are chimeric, but not the rest of him, and as he said, they don't affect him, so he's essentially human. Plus, I don't think there's an actual law against marrying a chimera/mazoku/demon/nonhuman, so Lina's use of the words 'a chimera wouldn't be allowed to marry the white magic princess' have more to do with how the people of Seyrune would react, not about breaking any laws.

See, when Lina was explaining all this to Gourry she was picturing how the average citizen would react if they saw Amelia marrying someone who was obviously not human. She (and Phil) both knew that people would be unsettled at best. At worst, there would be outbreaks of violence, or even a revolt. Not a desirable thing for the City of Hope that Zelgadis described.

staramaijka mentions: you know Zel wasn't part mazoku, but part brow/bras demon? It's been clarified in several web sites that demons are not mazoku.

DS-Yes, I knew that. Lina says 'part demon' when she explains the marriage problems to Gourry in chapter 11Sunset Reflections.

Kristall asks: I still want to know why that gem made people tell the truth even when they didn't want to.

DS-That's in the next chapter, actually...

Hakuyo-chan says: I've been trying to draw something from one of the scenes (Near the first few chapters) but I'm a bit rusty with drawing with pencil.. if your interested in seeing it when I finish it (Hopefully) just let me know I'm not that great at describing things in that much detail, and half of the "big" words you've used I dont really know what they mean.. I've been trying and trying to write a Slayers fanfic of my own... maybe you could give me some tips?

DS-Sure, I always look forward to getting new fanpics! And as for writing, I took a through-the-mail course in writing fiction for young adults. It explains a lot of stuff that sounds easy and obvious as soon as you read it, but it's stuff that doesn't always occur to you until somebody points it out. Like, when your character is looking at something, put in sensory data-what do they smell, hear, feel? It makes your reader feel like they're really there, right along with your character. Use your imagination, try to put yourself into their shoes.

Big words-well, if you read a lot, you kind of just pick them up as you go. I never put down a book I'm reading to look up words; I just try to figure out what they mean by how they're used in the sentence.

Plus, I like having a choice. I like knowing how two words that the dictionary says mean the same thing can actually be very different. For example, in the passage above, where Amelia breathes into Zelgadis' ear, I first used the word 'sexily', but I didn't like that, and changed it to 'amorously'. To me, 'sexy' can be too-well, perverted, I guess depending on how you use it, and with what kind of characters. To me, it's a word for experienced adults, not for young, fairly innocent maidens like Amelia. I like 'amorous' better because it focuses more on love, (the Spanish word for love is amor, by the way) romance, and longing.

Dictionaries never tell you in what ways the words 'sexy' and 'amorous' are different, but boy does it make a difference!

I play instrumental music to keep out other peoples' noise while I write. I can't listen to music with words, though-it messes up my concentration. I like piano music, like George Winstons's CD 'Summer' and Celtic harp music, like Aine Minogue, or Maggie Sansone. The anime series His and Her Circumstances Act 1 CD is very good for thinking romantically.

Bissek asks: One question, though. Why do you refer to Zelgadis as Greywyrs? I believe the alternate spelling from Greywords is Greywyrds. As wyrd is a Celtic or Gaelic (not sure which) term for fate, That would translate Zelgadis' last name to "gloomy fate", which certainly fits the man he was at the start of Slayers.

DS-Really? I didn't know that. This was from three years ago, but I think I was trying to make his name sound more Celtic, to tell you the truth, (Celtic names always sound so magical and mysterious) but the letter 'd' on the end made his name sound too klunky-the rest of it just flows until you come to this hard 'd' like a stumbling block. So 'wyrd' means 'fate'? That's cool. Well, you can just say his name is an alternate spelling, like how you can spell the name Crystal as Krystal or Cristill and it still means the same name. 'Gaelic' is the name of the Celtic language. I think I read somewhere that 'Zelgadis' is a Greek name, actually.

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