It Could Have Gone the Other Way
A Lemon Fanfic by RVincent
Welcome everyone, how are you doing today? Things are going pretty well for me. See, I finally finished this fanfic and I thought it might be time to re-vamp the opening, so here goes. This is a Slayers fanfic, Slayers remains copyright Hajime Kanzaka, Funimation, Tokyopop, CPM, Bandai Visual, and a number of other people and corporations to various extents. I make no claims to ownership of the franchise. This fanfic was written solely expressing my fandom, my love for the series it represents and is no attempt to maliciously deform the characters or make profit for myself.
Secondly, this fanfic contains a fairly graphic adults only scene. A sex scene. The reading of which is prohibited by minors. If you are under 18 years of age, please discontinue reading this story. Honestly, if you love this series, there is no reason you should corrupt the innocence of the main characters. Additionally if you just don’t like that sort of thing, please turn back now as well, no reason to read through this whole fanfic and fire off a message of hate because you don’t like your Slayers characters getting kinky in the bedroom where there is a disclaimer at the top of the fanfic expressing that something like that is bound to happen.
Legal affairs out of the way, I hope you enjoy reading this, please send any comments or critiques to the e-mail address in the authors notes at the end of this fanfic.
It was yet another beautiful morning on the road. Lina pushed aside the flap of her tent, exiting to take in the new day. Reaching to her shoulder she finished attaching her cape as she started making her way over to the recently dug fire pit. “Hummm…” She looked around she hadn’t expected but embers from the previous nights fire, instead it was well fed with fresh wood and burning merrily. Her first thought was that Gourry must have been up before her for once, it was somewhat unusual but not unheard of.
Still thinking it over, she walked over by the fire to sit down. She dangled her feet closer to the flames than she would have dared without a thick pair of leather boots. Still, as the heat began to soak into the leather things stared to get uncomfortable so she retreated, pulling her legs against her chest. She didn’t dare touch her boots, she knew she’d probably burn herself if she did. “Well, now that I’ve got the chill out of my system-” She pushed herself to her feet looking out toward the forest, “Time to find Gourry!”
If she had planned to make an adventure out of the ordeal, her idea was soon spoiled. Gourry happened to be in his tent, which happened to be the first place she checked. She fumbled with the idea for a moment, he must have woken up sometime previous, stoked the fire, and then went back to sleep. Probably just before the sun came up she mussed to herself. She held the tent flap slightly askew, the free edge of it waving in the breeze casting a moving shadow on her traveling companion.
Lina let out a slight sigh, but it left her feeling refreshed as she watched Gourry sleep soundlessly. Even with his massive hand covering his face to keep the sun from his eyes, there was still a lot to look at, especially during this time of the year when he tended to sleep in just the bare essentials. That is providing that is that they weren’t being chased by some psychopath where they might be forced to battle at a moments notice. That train of thought was quickly cast aside as she watched his toned chest rise up and slowly drop down. She ran her hand over her forehead as if wiping beads of sweat. She certainly felt hot enough for it to be there all the sudden.
She almost didn’t want to wake him, but they had places to go, people to see… And again Lina was brought to her most recent conundrum. Zefilia, how to get there, and how to do it alone. Gourry had been the one to bring it up first, a trip back to her homeland and… Even she wouldn’t paint Gourry as being that ignorant, and she gave him credit for trying to slyly get the two of them back there where he could ever so subtly ask her father for permission to marry her. The thought alone made her blush. And blush hard. And then keep blushing despite herself.
And that is why she wanted to go alone. She hadn’t so much as sent a letter home in years. She sincerely doubted it but for all she knew her parents might well have thought she was dead. In any case they were seriously out of the loop. Besides, she wanted to get to them first, for damage control. She didn’t need Gourry blurting out some situation that they had been though without her laying the ground work for a clever work-around, particularly some of the more difficult to explain fiascos.
Gourry sighed heavily like he knew she was thinking about him before rolling over on his side. Her eyebrows raised at the new view. She’d never taken the time to eye his body so entirely before. But those temptations had been coming with increasing frequency. As well as other impulses, they were comfortable with kissing finally. But beyond that, beyond that…. Lina was afraid to let herself go further either in her fantasies or real life, she knew there was no way she could stop herself from bringing things to completion after so many years of waiting. She licked her dry lips, she’d be able to let herself give in soon though, once she figured out what to do with her bodyguard for awhile.
He might not have been as slow as she painted him to be, but she still didn’t feel comfortable leaving him in some random town with a handful of gold and saying ‘Hey, just wait here till I get back, okay?’ She let out another deep breath, and if she just let him go off on his own she had not clue where he might end up. That left leaving him with a friend, which left Lina even more downcast. The only person Gourry might be able to stand for any length of time would be Zel, but she hadn’t seen him in months. Amelia… she thought about it before, it just seemed odd. And Xelloss, she didn’t know if she would get him back after that, and had even less hope that his sanity would still be intact.
“Okay, time to get up!” She commanded, mostly for her own benefit to distract herself from her failing train of thought.
“I’m awake, I’m awake.” He called back convincingly, moving his hand slightly with his eye apparently already open beneath it.
Instantly Lina flushed crimson, wondering if he had been awake the whole time, maybe with his fingers parted only slightly, watching her watch him. She briefly wondered if he enjoyed it. “Okay then, get a move on, we’ve got traveling to do!” She called loudly as if they were still traveling with a whole group of people before leaving Gourry to dress and making her way back over to the fire.
While she meandered back to the fire, her mind was still trying to decide on a plan of action. It was something that had been frustrating her for several weeks now. Really they had no real destination; Lina had been just stalling for time. But she hadn’t let Gourry in on that little secret. She felt guilty for keeping him in the dark for so long. A particularly loud crackle from the fire distracted her momentarily and let her realize that Gourry was approaching.
He sat down on the ground heavily, fully armored as usual, ready for combat or as her itinerary would have it, another day of pointless wandering. “So, are you ready to tell me where we’re heading yet?” Gourry asked a little annoyed.
Lina grimaced at the question. She would have been royally pissed by now if someone were leading her around without telling her the destination for so long. Still, Gourry just sounding annoyed was pretty much equivalent to that. It meant she was running out of time. “I would have thought you’d have guessed by now.” She tried to make it come out sincerely but had a hard time keeping her voice level.
For a moment Gourry looked off into space, deep in thought. “Hummm…” He looked all around the clearing, then into the fire. “Actually…” Again he paused, either unsure of his wording or what he was getting at. He’d been getting better at that particular aspect of speech lately, thinking before he said anything, so despite the occasional lengthy pauses the quality of his input had increased dramatically. Lina waited patiently. “.. I thought I recognized this area yesterday when we were traveling… it feels similar to…” He trailed off, scrunching up his forehead, making Lina realize he was digging deep for the memory. “I remember something about the woods around here, you might have been there, or maybe… Sylphiel… we were fighting someone.”
He looked to Lina as if she might be able to fill in the gaps, she felt her mouth hanging open a little. Quickly she closed it, “Yeah… actually Sairaag is pretty close…”
“No, not Sairaag.” He stopped and looked around again, “The forest, I fought a monster in this forest, or at least somewhere around here.” He still looked a little unsure of himself but his memory seemed uncannily sharp.
Lina was impressed that he could remember a specific battle by seeing a small part of the forest. She did know what he was talking about though, at least part of it so she filled in the gap, “The Miasma forest?”
“Yeah!” Gourry pounded his fist into his open palm sounding excited. “That’s where me and Sylphiel and…” He looked over to Lina trying to remember.
“I was there one of those times.” She added with a laugh but remembered a little sulkily that Gourry had never told her what exactly had happened the first time he had made his first appearance in Sairaag and met up with Sylphiel.
“So is that where we’re going?” Gourry asked excitedly.
“Ummm…” Lina put her finger to her chin, somehow they had made their way eerily close to Sairaag. She held up her finger to Gourry to indicate she needed a minute and pulled the vellum map from within her cloak. It was new, and that was the problem. Sairaag wasn’t even on it any more. The artist had just filled in the spot it previously occupied with forest, actually she hardly had a clue where Sairaag should be on the map save a few roads that appeared to dead-end at a junction nearby.
She looked up from the map, out into the forest. Slowly the clockwork of her brain started swinging into motion. They were going to Sairaag. Sylphiel would be able to solve her little problem! Lina looked over to Gourry who was still patiently waiting for her to get back to him. But, no, could she trust Sylphiel with him? Could she trust him with Sylphiel? Sylphiel loves him. ‘Loved’ she corrected herself. Sylphiel had said herself that she realized Lina cared for Gourry and that she would have to accept it.
But did she trust her that much. That sudden perfect idea she had brought into existence carried with it a whole new world of thought exercises and paranoia. Then Lina remembered the fatal hit she had taken from Kopi Rezo. It had been fatal, she should have been dead, but Sylphiel had resurrected her. And the power of the spell had been phenomenal, not only had she survived but felt stronger than ever afterward. Gourry’s patience appeared to be wearing off, she had to give an answer.
“Yeah, of course that’s where we’ve been heading, to check up on Sylphiel!” She finished the last bit a little too fast and hoped Gourry didn’t pick up on it.
“Oh.” Gourry said unconvincingly, “Then why have we been traveling in circles?”
Lina almost screamed out in shock that he had somehow caught onto her plan, she’d taken great pains to hide the fact they were traveling in a holding pattern of sorts. Her surprise manifested itself as a strangled gurgle in her throat before she quickly tried to recover. She pointed at the map, drawing Gourry’s attention to it, “Do you see Sairaag on the map? Well, do you?”
Gourry bent over some, “Where is it?”
Lina chimed in, “Exactly, they took it off the map after Phibrizzo destroyed it the second time, after it got that nasty reputation as the City of Ghosts. I’ve been trying to find it, but the map hasn’t been any help.” She finished a bit smugly, able to justify herself with the faulty map.
“Why didn’t you just say we were heading to Sairaag, I could have told you how to get there.” Gourry folded his arms in front of his chest, happy to display his intelligence for once.
“And since when has your memory been so good?” She deadpanned hoping to blacken his mood.
“I don’t know.” He answered honestly, looking confused.
Lina brushed it off, “Well then, see, you knew where we were going all along!”
Gourry smiled and actually gave a chuckle at her joking tone. “Oh, I almost forgot-” He moved in swiftly and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek causing a tingle to edge up her spine until it sat at the edge of her brain. “-good morning!”
She still wasn’t used to his displays of affection but she should have at least been used to that one. Like clockwork, every morning she’d get a kiss and a ‘Good Morning’ from him. When she’d asked him why, he said it was because his parents did every morning. Still, when she expected it, it was something to look forward to. It was her one guaranteed kiss a day that she didn’t have to initiate.
“Well, anyway..” She started slowly trying to recover from her blush, pushing herself to her feet, “We’re off to Sairaag!” Her exuberance rubbing off on Gourry and causing him to smile anew at her brightened mood.
“Oh… wow…” Lina marveled as she cleared a particularly large hill giving her a panoramic view of Sairaag.
“No wonder they left it off the map.” Gourry added completely lacking any tact.
Lina took a moment to absorb the degree of devastation, all of it her own fault to some degree or another. Most of the town was in rubble and a great crater that had since filled with water took up most of the center of the depression the town had sat within. Trees all around in the nearby forest had been felled, and as time passed, discolored rimming the city with a brown, black, and white halo. There were some houses that had obviously been built among the rubble, some of the roads looked clear of debris, and there were at least two people that Lina could make out wandering around the center of the old town, still, there was an oppressive feeling lingering in the air, it would be years before most people would even attempt to resettle the town.
It looked so different without Flagoon.
Sensing Gourry’s anxiousness Lina decided to just keep looking around as they approached the city. They didn’t have to travel all the way down to the city proper though, Sylphiel had built her new home past the boundaries of the old city, so it wasn’t long before they came upon her house. It wasn’t anywhere near the size of her old home, but after blowing it up, Lina had felt at least slightly obligated to pay for it. It hadn’t cost much in retrospect and Lina could have afforded to spend quite a bit more but thinking about such things made her feel like she still owed the Shrine Maiden something, and the feeling made her sick to her stomach.
Gourry ran up to the door of the home before Lina could even get a word out, nearly tripping over the raised step just before the door. The last time they had been here was a few months after the incident with Hellmaster when Lina had offered to build the house in the first place. And the last time she had seen the house the only part completed was the frame and the river rock foundation. Strangely enough Sylphiel and the carpenters they had hired to construct the home were the only people living in Sairaag at the time.
Things change though, at least it looked to Lina like life might be picking up, albeit slowly. Lina heard Gourry rap solidly on the door once, then again harder, then again. She looked up from the door at the sooty smoke rising up from the chimney and figured that Sylphiel must have been cooking. Just as she came to that conclusion she heard a chain rattle and the deadbolt disengage.
If Lina hadn’t been expecting Sylphiel to be at the door to begin with it might have taken a minute to recognize her. Her clothes were different, simple peasant style attire, and her hair had been cropped to just above shoulder height, she had her divining rod held at the ready to fend off or initiate an attack, and the initial look she had, worn out; lackluster. It was something that Lina would have never associated with Sylphiel in times past.
“Gourry-sama!” Sylphiel shouted, dropping her divining rod and jumping up at his chest, pinning his arms against his own chest preventing him from reciprocating the hug. Still, he murmured her name out to let her know that he missed her too. Lina’s eyebrow twitched slightly, but only slightly, she could tolerate this from Sylphiel, at least for now, this was the first time she had seen the oaf in almost two years.
“Hey-ya Sylphiel!” Lina waved, hoping to catch Sylphiel’s attention for a moment just to let her know she had an audience.
Slowly Sylphiel let loose her hold on Gourry, giving him back freedom in his arms. He reached out with one of them and put his hand on Sylphiel’s shoulder as the Shrine Maiden pulled back from Gourry slightly so she could address the sorceress. “Lina-san!” Sylphiel called out almost as loudly and happily as she had for Gourry which managed to bring a smile to Lina’s face almost as big as the one Sylphiel wore. Suddenly Lina found herself in those hugging arms. Crushed, but unlike Gourry her own arms were free. After the initial shock she draped her arms over Sylphiel’s back, giving into the pleasure of the warm embrace.
“So, how’ve ya been?” Lina asked, hoping to earn her freedom.
Sylphiel lingered a minute longer before pulling away. “Oh, I can’t really complain.” Sylphiel started, her smile having a contagious quality. She backed up a little further, so as to address Lina and Gourry together, “At least after those nasty bandit attacks stopped.”
Instantly Lina and Gourry stiffened, both of them tended to be protective of the Shrine Maiden. “After I blasted their raiding party with a Dragon Slave last month they haven’t bothered to come back.” Again there was that impish smile hinting at the wild side she kept buried. But she continued on without pause, “Other than that everyone in town has been rebuilding and things are coming along pretty well.”
Lina nodded satisfied, “Do you mind if we come in Sylphiel?”
“Of course not!” Sylphiel cried out eagerly. In response Gourry reached out to the knob and pulled the door open for the two women. Sylphiel walked through first with Lina then Gourry quickly following. Sylphiel lead the two of them to the den. Lina noted that there wasn’t much in the way of furniture, but that was to be expected considering that it was just Sylphiel in the house. Or at least… Lina looked around the house carefully for any indication that perhaps Sylphiel wasn’t as alone as she expected. She berated herself silently for expecting her to be the same lonely girl that she had left behind in a destroyed town. Actually after thinking about it, Lina would have been surprised if Sylphiel hadn’t found someone to share the house with, if only to abate the loneliness.
That was a question for another time though. She was honestly more curious about Sylphiel herself at the moment. Now that she was with her again she remembered how much she did enjoy her company, she admitted to herself that she probably even missed her. Finally seated across from Sylphiel on a small sofa, Lina started, “So, tell us everything, what’s been going on, how are you doing?” But with the way Sylphiel’s smile faltered almost imperceptibly she wasn’t sure she was going to get the happiest stories out of the Shrine Maiden.
Gourry leaned over conspicuously, his lips so close to Lina’s ear she could feel the hotness of his breath all along her neck and ear, sending goose bumps down her spine. “I can’t believe Sylphiel’s not a Shrine Maiden any more!” He whispered out as loudly as he dared with Sylphiel only one room over doing dishes.
“I know…” Lina whispered back still remembering the devastated look on Sylphiel’s face when she’d told the two of them. She had never completed her training in Sairaag’s temple system before it was destroyed, and without a temple affiliation she couldn’t continue to call herself a Shrine Maiden. There were other surprises too, aside from the constant bandit attacks which drove away most of the new residents, there was also a resurgence of monsters in the Miasma forest though Sylphiel mentioned it in such an off-handed manner that neither were sure if any real danger was involved. Still, by virtue of the fact that she mentioned them at all Lina knew they must have, been somewhat significant problems. Sylphiel was like her though, she liked to solve the problems herself, and alone if possible, just as she had with the Dragon Slave.
“I’m gonna go talk to Sylphiel for a minute, okay Gourry?” Lina whispered leaning a little more toward the swordsman.
Gourry nodded in the affirmative before Lina added, “And don’t listen in on us either.” Then added with a wink, “It’s girl stuff.” Which was usually enough of a deterrent for Gourry, not that she expected him to listen for any malicious reasons, but just to be sure his curiosity was not piqued.
Standing up purposefully she walked to the kitchen, then gave Gourry one last look over her shoulder before crossing the threshold. “Sylphiel?” Lina called out lightly so as not to startle her.
“Yeah?” Sylphiel answered back, still bent over the sink scrubbing a particularly crusty pot that she had been cooking with. By the number of dishes Sylphiel had dirtied around the kitchen Lina figured that Sylphiel had let them accumulate for some time, and now that she had company, was now frantically scrambling to clean them. It wasn’t really what she expected of someone as prim and proper as the former Shrine Maiden, but the thought of it made her smile.
“So really-“ Lina stared out imploring honesty, “-how are you doing on your own.” She added the last bit faster than she intended but still waited expectantly for a response.
“It’s been hard.” Sylphiel began with a slight waver in her voice. Although it sounded like she wanted to say more she instead devoted herself more thoroughly to cleaning the pan in front of her than the conversation.
Used to playing the game with other girls, Lina tried to extract more details. “Really?” She asked honestly concerned. “How about the other townspeople?”
“They’re afraid of me.” She tried to say in a conversational tone but hid the underlying sadness with mixed effects.
The words had no sooner left Lina’s mouth then Sylphiel started gushing out the details, “I’m the only one left from old Sairaag. Some people had survived the battle with Kopi Rezo, even some people in the city. But When Hellmaster took over the city the second time, he killed everyone in it. The only reason I survived was because I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle.” Sylphiel turned up from the pot she was scrubbing to reveal the tears that were streaking her features. “I thought that fending off the bandits with the Dragon Slave might help things, but after they saw me cast that spell…” Sylphiel trailed off sniffling, not wanting to go any further than that.
Lina moved in uncomfortably and put an arm over Sylphiel’s shoulders. She made the comforting sounds that her mother had always made for her whenever she had been upset. Almost desperately Sylphiel flung her soapy hands out of the water and pulled herself tightly against the sorceress. Lina held her tightly, feeling the wetness spread out across her back and against her shoulder and the nape of her neck as Sylphiel cried.
Quickly recovering, Sylphiel pulled away and wiped her nose and eyes with a dish towel before acting as if her outburst never happened. Lina swallowed hard, she’d made her choice. “So, how many people are there in town?”
Sylphiel managed to bring her smile up again before responding, “I think we’ve got forty or fifty people living in the city now.”
Lina responded with a smile of her own, “Well then, make that fifty-one.” Seeing and expecting Sylphiel’s puzzled look, Lina continued. “Listen Sylphiel, I have to go back to Zefilia for awhile. Not for long, maybe a few weeks, a month tops.” She added strongly before continuing, “And I don’t think Gourry should come along, knowing him he’d blurt out that I became the vessel for the Lord of Nightmares or something crazy like that, then my sister would throw a fit!” Lina took a deep breath trying to rid that image from her mind, “I was wondering if maybe he could stay here, you know, just until I get back.”
Unexpectedly, Sylphiel’s expression was unreadable, “Are you sure you don’t want him to come along with you?”
Lina could tell there was a connotation there, but couldn’t bring herself to address it directly, she couldn’t just say that she was calling dibs on Gourry, or that she just wanted Sylphiel to watch him as a friend. Instead she tried to convey that message through her own indirect reply, “I know that you’ll keep him save and out of trouble. I trust you Sylphiel.”
“Well then,” Sylphiel perked back up, “That’s great!” And it was as if the realization of what she had been asked hit her all at once, Sylphiel clasped her hands together tightly in front of her and held back a squeal. She settled on hopping back and fourth between her two feet. “Oh thank you! Thank you! I’ll make sure to keep him safe!” Then she threw her hands around Lina again, gripping her in a hug that took her breath away.
“No problem.” Lina wheezed out while trying to pry Sylphiel off her.
“Oh, I’ve got to go into town and pick up food, and clean the guest bedroom, and I’ve also got to-“ Sylphiel started racing through a task list before Lina cut her off.
“Hey, you’re just taking care of the big guy while I’m gone. You can have him clean the guest bedroom and head into town for you, he’s good at those kinds of things, just keep the goals simple so he doesn’t get sidetracked.” Sylphiel caught the hint of playfulness to the suggestion and cracked a smile.
“Still, are you sure Gourry-sama’s okay with this?” The little nervous laugh she got as a reply was none too reassuring to Sylphiel. “Lina-san…”
“He’s fine with it.” She lied, hoping she wasn’t being too transparent. And apparently her acting was getting better because it looked like Sylphiel bought it. “I’m just gonna go tell him the good news while you finish up in here, okay?”
“Okay, that sounds good.” And with that Sylphiel went back to washing the dishes. Just as Lina started to enter into the living room she heard the faint trailing of whistling from the kitchen.
“Sounds like you put her in a good mood.” Gourry said with a laugh, catching the happy tune coming from the kitchen.
“Yeah.” Then seeing her opening Lina pressed the issue, “About that-“ Lina sat down next to Gourry on the sofa. “I was wondering if maybe you could stay here for a while.”
“Me? What about you?” Her initial hope that he might not catch on to her wording was already foiled. She could already tell from the tone of his voice that it might be harder to convince him than she expected.
Nonetheless she decided to explain, “Look, there are some things that I need to do alone Gourry. It’s not that I don’t want you there, it’s just that they will be easier without you.” She hadn’t meant it to come out as cold as it did, but the words were already said.
“What do we have to do?” He was really trying to fight it and what was making her upset was that he was managing to stay at least twice as calm as she was.
She took a deep breath to keep her temper in check and hoped against hope that Sylphiel would stay busy with the dishes long enough for her to convince Gourry to stay. “It’s just that, Sylphiel needs you here, with her, to help her out. You saw how sad she got while she was telling us about the bandit raids-“
Gourry interjected, “But she said they’re not a problem any more.”
Lina pressed on despite the logic, “It doesn’t matter, there are other things Sylphiel needs help with too, and to be honest, I need a little time on my own.” She felt a guilty using Sylphiel’s loneliness as an excuse but hoped that coupled with her own non-descript need to be on her own for awhile it might overcome his protectiveness.
“But… I’m your guardian..” He trailed off sounding downcast.
Lina pressed her advantage, “Yes, but, I need this Gourry, and Sylphiel needs this too. I’ll be back in a few weeks, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep out of trouble here, and for me to keep out of trouble on the road.” Gourry huffed at the last bit but she ignored it, “Please Gourry, pretty please…” She tried to give her best most pleading expression and held it.
“I guess… but I want you to promise that you aren’t going to start any fights or get in any trouble while I’m not with you.” He folded his arms over his chest giving her a stern expression.
“I promise.” And with that she moved in and put her hands around his neck, pulling him in for a hug and kissing him on the nose.
Sylphiel’s voice startled them both, “Oh, I see he took the news well then.”
Lina and Gourry pushed away from each other before Gourry looked to Sylphiel and back to Lina. “She knew before me!” He shouted incredulously.
Lina blew him a raspberry, “Only by ten minutes!” Leading to two pairs of slanted eyes to stare in her direction. It was a long night. Thankfully for Lina the hard part was already over.
* Thunk *….. * Thunk *….
Sylphiel sighed heavily and looked up from her book. Lina hadn’t left but a half hour earlier and already Gourry was fidgeting badly.
* Thunk *…
Sitting at the table he was raising up his heavy leather-clad feet and letting them fall solidly against the hardwood floor, making for quite the distracting-
* Thunk *…
-sound. Sylphiel gritted her teeth. It seemed like a great opportunity at first. To be with Gourry. Even if she had conceded victory to Lina.
* Thunk *…
But somehow over the years she may have built him up to a level of perfection that was a little unrealistic she admitted to herself.
* Thunk *…
“Gourry-sama…” Sylphiel called out, trying to keep the almost unbearable irritation out of her voice.
“Yeah?” He called back, still absently raising and dropping his foot.
* Thunk *…
Involuntarily Sylphiel flinched but held her voice as kind as possible, “You know we’re not going anywhere, you can take your boots off.” She hoped that he would catch the drift. And for a moment the room was quite, and his leg was still.
* Thunk *…
“I don’t know.” He replied, “I’m just used to wearing them, unless it’s time for bed or a bath.” Obviously he didn’t see any urgency to the situation leaving Sylphiel to force the point.
* Thunk *…
“Gourry-sama, I would really be more comfortable if you took your boots off.” She hoped that maybe just saying it like that would help speed things along.
* Thunk *…
“Why?” There was nothing in his tone to indicate he was even contemplating the idea.
Sylphiel started “Because-“
* Thunk *…
“Because you’re about to drive me crazy kicking your feet against my clean floor!” Immediately Sylphiel put her hand to her mouth, even she hadn’t realized she was that bothered. She thought about it for a split second, maybe it was that she hadn’t had company in over a year. Then, coming off that thought she realized that the almost rhythmic beating of Gourry’s boots against the floor had stopped. She quickly turned her head and lifted herself slightly from her spot on a set of large pillows by the window. Sure enough Gourry was bent over in his chair, pulling his boots off, downcast.
She still wanted to be angry at him but couldn’t hold onto it. “I’m sorry, it’s just that…” Sylphiel stalled mid-sentence, her previous mental excuse seeming flimsy. She bit her lip lightly, leaving it at that before rolling onto her back in the pillows and pulling her book up to read some more. She flinched slightly as she heard the now empty boots drop one by one to the floor before hearing Gourry turn in his chair and drag it closer to the table again. Feeling guilty she looked out from behind her book to the table, catching Gourry’s eye involuntarily.
He swallowed noticeably, “I’m sorry Sylphiel, I didn’t realize it was bothering you.” The apology sounded awkward, but sincere.
“It’s okay, it was my fault, I should have just told you.” She felt satisfied with the reply so turned back to her book. She managed to read another line or two before she heard Gourry again.
“Or hit me.” He said with a little laugh at the end.
“What was that Gourry-sama?” She heard him clear enough but didn’t get the joke.
“You know…. When Lina gets upset about something I do, she hits me. Actually, she probably would have stomped on my foot.” Seeing the incomprehension on Sylphiel’s features he reiterated, “It was a joke.”
Sylphiel nearly snorted at that. Gourry had tried to make a joke, but the delay between the joke and the actual thing he was joking about was so great that she lost track of what they were talking about in the first place. That was the part that made Sylphiel laugh, and Gourry, quite proud of himself, slapped his own knee and laughed along with her.
With a smile on her face Sylphiel went back to her book. But it wasn’t long before her eyes were drawn back to the swordsman at her table. Playing with his thumbs. “What do you do for fun while you’re traveling Gourry-sama?” She asked, abruptly shaking him out of his daze.
“Huh. Oh. Well, mostly we just travel. If there’s time I try to get in some sword practice, or just some upkeep on the blade, you know before we break for camp or while we’re settling in for the night.” He gave a little smile and nodded his head solidly, happy with his response.
Sylphiel bunched together her eyebrows thinking. She looked around the main room, bookshelves lined the far ends. “Do you know how to read Gourry-sama?” She wouldn’t have been surprised if he didn’t. Few people did, especially swordsmen.
“A little. I’m not fast, but I can read.” The words came out slowly, as if he were carefully picking which words so as not to put himself into a compromising situation at a later time.
That was enough to get Sylphiel to raise her eyebrows slightly, “Well, I’ve got lots of good books, some even you might like. I even have a few books on swordsmanship!” There was an excited tremor to her voice she could hardly keep in check, despite herself she was glad he could read. And even more proud of herself for having picked up several of the more expensive books on swordsmanship, she neglected to mention to Gourry that she had bought them just for him over the few years, here and there. That piece of information seemed like something that might cause him to be uneasy.
“Oh really?” He didn’t seem all that excited, but there was a bit of curiosity there. Still, she didn’t have to press the issue, they had plenty of time.
“Well, you like to practice. Maybe instead you could just go outside and practice for awhile?” She offered, thinking that would be the safest bet in terms of getting him to do something he wanted to do.
“But I’ve already got my boots off.” He whined looking down at his feet.
Sylphiel nearly rolled off her pillows and onto the floor, “Just put them back on, it’ll be fine.” She said trying to placate him yet sound honest about it.
He shrugged her way before reaching down and taking a few minutes to re-equip his boots. He stood upright and straightened out his outfit before clasping his sword at his side. Gingerly Sylphiel reached her hand out from her prone position on the pillows. Gourry eyed her for a minute before she broke the ice with an easy request, “Could you help me up please?”
The smile that washed over his features was refreshing to say the least as he reached out and pulled her to her feet. She giggled a little bit from the excess strength Gourry put into the motion, almost enough to topple her once she got to her feet. “Okay, let’s go.” She walked over to the door waiting for him to trail behind her but he was steadfast.
“Sylphiel, I didn’t know you knew how to sword fight?”
Sylphiel did a double take, but she quickly realized the misunderstanding. “No, I’m not going to duel with you.” She giggled at the absurdity of the thought, “I’m just going to watch you to make sure you don’t get into any trouble, I promised Lina I’d take care of you.”
“Ohhhh…” Gourry mouthed a little unconvincingly. “Okay then!” And all at once he perked up and took a few long strides toward the door, walking out of it just behind Sylphiel. Just outside there was a large tree, the same tree that her father had notched her height into as she grew. It was very special to her, a place were she could go and sit in the swing when she was feeling down.
As Gourry took to his position in the open area in front of her home she made her way over to the swing. Gently moving herself back and fourth, the movement was accentuated by the slight breeze. And suddenly, Sylphiel realized just how happy she was at that moment. The smile, the warm feeling, the perfect sunset setting behind her, casting golden accents over Gourry’s body and his moving sword. Causing his hair to flutter into a golden cascade with every movement. She was still enamored with him, it was impossible to deny, especially at the moment. But with things so perfect, she couldn’t bring herself to deny the simple joy of just pretending that things were going the way she dreamed they should. It was a fantasy she let play out until the darkness was finally too much.
She regretted that it couldn’t last any longer. “Gourry-sama!” She called out loudly to rouse him from his battle trance. His movements stopped in an instant and he turned casually to her, sweat just barely beginning to mat his hair to his forehead despite over an hour of practice. The moon was starting to ascend into the sky.
“Yeah?” He called back as casually as someone asking for the day of the week.
“I think it’s about time we called it a night.” She swung her feet forward and dropped off the swing, feeling her knees creek from the prone position.
“Hummm, is it really that late already?” He turned to look up at the stars just starting to show in the darkening sky. “I guess it’s time…” He trailed off, he couldn’t think of the right way to say it, he’d always been ready to break for camp, or find an inn, but this, he didn’t know exactly what to call this.
Without another word he followed Sylphiel into her home. It was darker inside than out and he stood motionless in the doorway for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the light. There was a faint glow off toward the center of the home and for a moment it was blacked out until it started to flare to life. Sylphiel was stoking the burning embers left from her cooking fire earlier with some kindling. It wasn’t long before at least a portion of the home was lit by the dim glow of the fire light.
Sylphiel left the grate for the stove open to keep the light visible as she made her way around her home with a splint of wood, passing the fire to a few different lamps that she had around the edges of the house. Their sooty flames soon gave way to a more brilliant yellow and soon enough the house was reasonably well lit. She heard Gourry unclasp his sword and prop it against the door frame as she headed toward the back of the house. Shortly thereafter she again heard the sound of his boots dropping to the floor.
Wordlessly she cracked a smile before making her way back to the stove with some ingredients from her ice box. She tended not to keep much meat on hand; she enjoyed it, but not enough to eat it on a regular basis. Thankfully though she did have some. Grabbing a few pans on her way she set up at the stove, closing the grate on the front to prevent herself from being burned while cooking she started alternating between laying out and chopping ingredients on her cutting board.
“Ummm… that smells good!” Gourry called out from the main room. She couldn’t hold back a laugh.
“I haven’t even started cooking yet!” She giggled back to him, if he could smell anything it was only some grease that she may have split earlier burning on the stove top.
“Well, whatever you’re doing smells great!” He yelled back causing her to stifle another giggle.
For the next hour she kept herself relatively busy chopping and mixing ingredients. Frying and sautéing, with a little baking in between. Occasionally Gourry would call out something about a delicious smell or ask when the food would be done. He was however patient enough, or smart enough, to stay out of the kitchen. Still, she had to wonder what he was doing to keep himself occupied out in the main room.
The smells were starting to really make Sylphiel hungry too. Normally she wouldn’t go through the trouble to cook something so extravagant for herself. If she was hungry she would normally eat just a bowel of oat meal, or grits, or maybe an apple. Once in a great while she would get the temptation to cook something special for herself, but that was more for the memories she had attached to a particular dish versus any specific taste she longed for.
By the time she had all the food plated she admitted to herself she hadn’t felt as hungry in a long time. With a flourish she broke the threshold between the main room and the kitchen carrying two large plates of food. Gourry was already at the table waiting but she saw that he had one of the books that she had picked out for him laying at the table and smiled. She didn’t say anything about it though, “Here you go.” She laid both plates out, one of them clattering loudly as the full weight of it came down unbalanced on the table. While Gourry was looking the food over Sylphiel snuck off but came back in short order with another plate more pettily dressed with food as well as two mugs in her hand.
“Wow, thanks Sylphiel!” There may not have been as much as he was used to, but Gourry still felt a little overwhelmed, after looking at Sylphiel’s sparse plate he could tell she had made the bulk of the meal just for him.
“Go ahead, eat up.” She motioned to the food in front of the two of them as she sat down in her own chair across from him. Gourry didn’t wait to start eating. At first Sylphiel found herself eating timidly but she couldn’t help but eat faster than usual with Gourry as an influence. Even going so far as to eat a few of the more select pieces from the middle plate that she had set out just for Gourry in the beginning. Leaving Sylphiel slightly amused as she watched Gourry nearly go on the attack a few times to save his food horde but hold himself back at the last moment.
It wasn’t long before all the food was gone. With a flourish Gourry downed the last of the wine in his cup, “Ahhh… I haven’t ate like that in a long time.” He smiled widely before setting the cup down solidly on the table.
“I’m glad you liked it.” Sylphiel muffled a slight burp before getting up from the table and bending over, grabbing her palate and the one in the middle and wandering off to the kitchen. It wasn’t long before Gourry heard the sounds of scrubbing and the splashing of water, leaving Gourry to realize that he was left alone again.
“So…-“ He started out, loud enough so Sylphiel could hear him in the other room. “-where am I going to sleep tonight?”
There was some more splashing and the sound of water sloshing around in the wash basin, “The room’s right under the stairs.”
Gourry looked across the main room to the stairway leading to the second floor. It was too dark to make out many details. “Well, then where are you going to sleep?”
“That’s just the guest room, my bedroom is up stairs.” For some reason she felt herself blush when she told him where her bedroom was, as if he might ascend those steps in the night to join her.
“Oh.” There was a period of silence then she heard the chair move out from the table. She stopped washing the dishes long enough to listen to him make his way across the room. Nearly holding her breath to hear every footfall before finally she heard the door to the bedroom hit softly against the wall behind it from being pushed open. “Is there a lamp in here?”
“Ummm… I don’t know.” Truth be told she hadn’t used the room since the house was built and hardly ever went inside except to clean every few months. “You can just grab the one on the table Gourry-sama.” She heard him move back across the room but paid it less attention this time, letting herself get absorbed back into the task at hand. She hardly noticed the tell-tale creek of the bed frame as Gourry sat heavily on it. But it was enough to get her moving again. She toweled off her hands and moved to the main room, walking toward the staircase.
Gourry had taken his shirt off, and was sitting on the bed facing her when she walked in. But he was too busy messing with his socks to notice her. She forced herself to say something before he looked up and caught her watching, “Going to sleep already?” She asked despite the absurdity of it, the sun had been set for some time and the both of them had full satisfied stomachs. She was actually feeling groggy herself but she tried not to show it.
“Yeah… it’s about that time-” He looked around slowly before sighing deeply, “It’s kind of weird without Lina around though.”
“I can imagine...” She was going to go on about how things had felt so different after her father had died but decided that it wasn’t exactly a one to one comparison.
“It’s just, I’ve been traveling with her for so long now. I’m supposed to be her protector.” He started staring off into space, “I just wonder how she’s doing…”
Sylphiel took a few steps into the room, putting her hand lightly on Gourry’s bare shoulder before she really thought it over. Initially it felt uncomfortable but after a moment she let herself relax. She didn’t mean anything ulterior behind the movement. And in return she felt Gourry relax as well, “Don’t worry Gourry, we both know Lina’s fine, just get some sleep.”
“I know she’s okay… if something were wrong…” He nodded his head and directed his gaze down, “I’d know…” He sounded grim at the last bit.
Without thinking about it Sylphiel moved in fully, embracing Gourry, pulling herself close to him, “I know.” As she pulled away she moved in to kiss his forehead but adverted herself at the last moment, brushing her lips against his temple before standing fully upright again. “Sleep well Gourry-sama.”
Just as Sylphiel was walking away to put out the lamps for the night, she heard Gourry give his own well wishing, “Good night Sylphiel.” Just the slightest bit of attention was still enough to bring a smile to her face.
Lackadaisically Sylphiel tossed her legs up on the footstool as she laid back in her chair. “Gourry-sama?” She asked gently from behind her book. In response she heard some rustling from the other side of the room, likely Gourry rousing from his prone position on the sofa.
“Yeah?” He answered back, almost reluctantly.
“I was thinking that maybe we should go into town today.” It was more than a passing thought. They needed foodstuffs. Whereas she had enough food in the house to begin with to feed herself for weeks, the supply had rapidly diminished and after only four days she knew they only had enough left for one or two more meals before they would be boiling and consuming leather for sustenance.
“Oh, really? When do you want to go?” She heard him set up fully, a lively spark to his voice indicating she had roused him from his lounging toward some warranted goal. Truth be told he had wanted to go into town almost since he had first been left alone with Sylphiel, partially to ease the awkwardness but mostly just to see the new sights. He had been through old Sairaag and although he held no delusions about things being the same, he wanted to see with his own eyes just how much things had changed.
Sylphiel double-blinked, she hadn’t expected such an enthusiastic reaction, “Ummm….” She stammered, pausing for time, “I still need to comb my hair, and get dressed, wash my face, cook breakfast-“
“You look good to me, let’s go.” Gourry’s compliment caused her to move her book, letting her see that he was unabashedly looking at her from across the room and causing her to blush. She was fully clothed, just not in the type of attire she normally wore into town, she liked to at least dress up a little. “Come on Sylphiel.” He already had his boots in hand, tugging one of them on sharply.
Seeing his excitement Sylphiel couldn’t bear to keep him waiting. It took a little bit of mental prepping but she managed to justify to herself going out without completing her ritual task list. If only to satisfy Gourry. “Okay, just give me a minute.” Lazily she stretched her feet out, pushing the stool she was resting them on away so she could stand.
After a short walk to the door, Sylphiel bent over and grabbed her boots, sitting down on her butt before pulling them on. She looked over to catch Gourry’s eye again before turning back to her boots and hurrying. He was already standing and ready to go and it was putting some pressure on her. Quickly she stood and looked around to see if anything was amiss before the two of them were to leave. Seeing nothing immediately obvious she opened the door, “Okay then, let’s go.”
“Right!” She heard Gourry pounding after her as she walked outside, momentarily stopping and squinting in the light. A second later she was in motion again, stepping past the doorway and taking a deep breath. She moved slightly away from the door, allowing Gourry to fully step outside before turning about and pulling the door fully closed, locking it behind them.
They didn’t talk much. Ever since Lina have left Gourry had been unusually quite. But the more she thought about it the more she realized that wasn’t the case. Gourry had never been the one to talk. It had all been Lina. And without her around, he seemed, for lack of a better word, mute. She’d never really been one to talk either, aside from a torrent when she first saw him for the first time in years. It really didn’t take much to catch him up on current events, that coupled with the fact that they didn’t have much in common as of late lead them to have some quite days. Sometimes nothing would be spoken for hours a time.
Sylphiel enjoyed it though, and she noticed that Gourry had settled into the silence rapidly. They walked together side by side down the dirt path toward the city proper. A few times she felt Gourry’s hand brush past her wrist as they walked together and almost on reflex she ensnared it, walking hand in hand before pulling away like she had pricked her finger with a needle. “I’m sorry!” She pulled her hand to the other side of her body, looking away and blushing, almost stumbling over her feet.
“Hummm?” Apparently the hand holding hadn’t caught Gourry’s attention.
“I just-“ She started out, debating on weather or not to enlighten him as to what she was nervous about. “I’m sorry, I just grabbed your hand. I don’t know..” She trailed off turning her attention back to the path, keeping her eyes downcast for fear of meeting up with Gourry’s.
“Oh.” She noticed Gourry kick a small pebble in the road off to the edge by the grass, “Why does that matter?”
“Well…” She trailed off again, she wasn’t used to being put on the spot, and she was sure she was loosing conversational skills by living alone for such a long time. She struggled on anyway. “It’s just that you… Lina… I didn’t mean anything by it. I know that you and Lina are…” She didn’t know how to say it, she wasn’t even sure how far their relationship had come, from what Lina had said, she was hardly even sure Gourry had admitted he cared for her.
Gourry stopped and swung around, Sylphiel adverted her eyes, and then his hand was on her shoulder. “Sylphiel?” He asked to get her attention. Timidly she turned toward him. Hardly meeting his gaze, at times things had been strained between the two of them since he had been left in her care, and she couldn’t help but feel she had just disrupted the balance that was necessary to shepherd the two of them through until Lina came back.
Before she could say anything, Gourry spoke, “Don’t worry about it.”
“But if Lina… if she saw me holding your hand, admit it, she would be quite upset.” Honestly Sylphiel wasn’t sure if Lina would get angry or cry, but either way she wouldn’t want to cause her that kind of pain.
“Yeah, probably. But you used to hold my hand all the time.” He said absently.
“That was before Lina, and we were both younger, besides, it was the only way I could get you to where I needed you to go.” She added the last bit a little under her breath as she remembered with only slight fondness his general absent-mindedness at the time.
“Well…” He paused thinking for a moment, “It really didn’t bother me… but you’re right, Lina probably would be upset.” He nodded his head and again started off toward the town.
Sylphiel stood there a moment longer. She had just successfully reasoned with Gourry about Lina’s emotions. It was the first real change she’d noticed in his personality since he and Lina had shown up a few days earlier. It was strange, and she wondered if it was due to Lina’s influence. For a brief moment she entertained a picture of Lina bashing Gourry whenever he said something stupid, with him eventually learning otherwise. But she quashed the idea, Lina did genuinely care for Gourry, and despite her ‘love taps’ she never meant to do any real harm. Still… she watched him travel up ahead of her a moment, there were some things she had always wanted to talk to him about, but he had seemingly sidestepped the issues with ignorance. Suddenly there was a hope that in the coming days she could finally talk with him like she had always needed to.
The gap between the two of them had grown considerably and Gourry stopped momentarily, “Hey, are you coming?”
Comically, Sylphiel shook her head, breaking into a jog, “Yeah, I was just thinking about something.”
“Oh yeah? What about?” He asked despite himself. Traveling with Lina he thought he had learned not to pry into matters such as that. Usually he would be given a quick, hot-headed response with that sort of question. Sylphiel though was taken off guard instantly, she hadn’t expected him to give any short of follow up question.
Tempted to tell him the truth she blushed slightly. She decided against it though, “Oh, nothing important.” She had finally caught up to him again, dropping down from her jog into a leisurely walk as they closed in on the village proper. Happy to have a new distraction she looked around at the homes that had cropped up. Some of them were shoddily built, thrown up after the destruction of the last city whereas others were more carefully built by masons and other craftsmen traveling from other towns.
She struggled to remember the names of any of the people in town and found to her shame there were only a handful of people whom she knew by name. They had alienated her and in her depression she had allowed it to happen. She looked around though and was surprised to see that the few townspeople on the street were looking up at the two of them. Some of them smiling. She was smiling back. She wondered if it had anything to do with the lack of bandit attacks recently, or maybe if it had something to do with Gourry.
Sylphiel looked to her side, Gourry was walking as beautifully as she could imagine. Full strides, head held high, his blonde hair blowing just perfectly in the breeze. She resisted the very real temptation to lean up against him, to clutch his arm against her body and keep holding him until he asked her to let go. “Over there is the butchers shop-“ Sylphiel pointed across the road to a somewhat non-descript home, then pointed further down the street “-the ice house is down there, and over there-“ She pointed to a lot further away, on the same side of the road that they were on, “-that’s the market.”
The two of them stopped in the street a moment while Sylphiel fished out a coin purse. She opened it and sighed slightly, regretting not taking the bandits gold during her last encounter with them. She felt Gourry move closer, his head suddenly blocking out the light as he looked into her coin purse too. Then-
He dropped two large gold pieces into her purse, “Gourry, I can’t-“ She looked up to decline the gift but stopped dead in her tracks when she saw his smile.
“Don’t worry about it, Lina gave me lots of money before she left to give to you, she said that if I didn’t I’d eat you out of house and home.” He laughed at the concept but Sylphiel smiled at the truth to it.
“Okay then, well I guess we’ll have a good dinner tonight then, won’t we?” It was easier to accept the money when she thought it was just him paying for himself, though she took some gratification from the fact that she would be the one actually cooking for him.
“Your dinners are always the best.” The sincerity of the words were more flattering than the compliment itself and Sylphiel found herself blushing yet again. Too bad dinner was still so far away.
The next few days passed without much fanfare despite the earlier motivation on Sylphiel’s part. Lazily one day fed into the next, some days Gourry would practice the better part of the day, others he would lie around the house, occasionally flipping through a random book. Sylphiel regretted not having more for him to do, at the rate things were going the only thing he looked forward to on a daily basis was her meals and with the way she had been cooking it would be a good way for the both of them to get fat.
Occasionally though she did manage to come up with good idea, and when she did, she was always quick to capitalize on it. She roused Gourry from his sleep early one morning, the spark in her eye waking him faster than anything. “We’re going for a walk.” Seeing that he seemed stuck in though she prodded him along, “Come on, get ready, let’s go!” She enjoyed trying to hurry him along in the morning for a change.
“I’m up... come on, give me a second.” He seemed a little cranky, she must have been letting him sleep in too much lately.
“Okay then, I’ll be outside.” She practically skipped off toward the front door, leaving Gourry a bit bewildered and searching for his pants.
Outside Sylphiel was expectantly waiting for Gourry. The weather was great, not a cloud in the sky and warmer than the last few mornings had been. It didn’t take long for Gourry to make his appearance. Sylphiel quickly walked over to the door and locked it. “Whad’ya have to wake me up so early for anyway?” He’d heard something about a walk but it didn’t seem like justification enough.
“Stop complaining, I’ve let you sleep in every day, but when you want to go somewhere, it’s rush, rush, rush.” She huffed at him enjoying the ability to vent even if she couldn’t stop herself from adding a joking tone to her words so he wouldn’t them too seriously. He smiled back at her, probably realizing the truth to the words.
“So where are we going?” He asked, Sylphiel already breaking off ahead of him, seemingly in a hurry.
“We’re going to the Miasma Forest…” She trailed off, feeling the need to justify herself, “It’s just that it’s too dangerous for me to go alone, so now that you’re here…” She didn’t have to say any more, the smile said the rest. Though she was also hoping that the forest itself, a place that held mixed memories for the both of them, might be a place that could loosen her tongue and allow her to talk openly to Gourry.
Gourry looked down to make sure that he had in fact brought his sword along. The Miasma Forest could be a dangerous place indeed. It was one of the few places where lesser demons could manifest themselves and keep physical form without a human or higher level Mazoku calling them fourth and maintaining them. It felt strange too, almost hollow, mute, in the Miasma Forest everything felt different. Unnerving.
“Okay then, let’s go!” He called out after her, trying to catch up. The walk was uneventful but Sylphiel enjoyed Gourry’s company all the same. The forest was on the other side of the city, through the ruins of all the cities that had stood before.
They had been traveling for a little over an hour, crossing some of the rougher terrain in the dead heart of the old city, climbing over toppled pillars and carefully picking their way through toppled brickwork when Gourry was the first one to speak. “So…” The tone of his voice told her that he was uncomfortable with whatever he was trying to bring up so she decided to encourage him.
“Yeah Gourry-sama, what is it?” She answered in her sweetest voice.
She could tell he faltered for a minute. Her voice had the opposite effect of what she intended. Things dropped back into silence for a moment, save the occasional scraping of boots against rough stone. “I was just wondering…” He started out again but this time Sylphiel kept quiet. He paused waiting for a response, hoping for some interruption that would stop him from going on. “How have you been, you know, since your father’s passing.”
Sylphiel kept moving on despite the sudden crushing feeling the words had spread though her heart. “I already told you before, I’m fine.”
“I know, but Lina’s not here now, it’s just me and you.” He stopped to work his way over a tricky outcropping of rubble, “You know he meant a lot to me too...” He looked back to Sylphiel but didn’t stop moving forward, “And now that you’re living alone, sometimes, even when we were off beyond the barrier, I would worry about you. That was until Lina told me you could cast the Dragon Slave.” He laughed trying to lighten the conversation, mostly for himself to divert his thoughts from where they had been leading.
Sylphiel didn’t know what to say. She knew that her father had been important to Gourry, just not in that way. They had lived together for a few months during the incident at the Miasma Forest. But the way he had left, like he was never coming back, she was sure that whatever he felt for her family must have been a passing influence. Not that now, years down the road he might still hold some grief about what had happened to her father. That he might worry about how she is doing. That he really cared that much.
It took her a moment to come out of her fantasy world. And not by choice either, trying to make it over the ruins with her mind in autopilot was not a safe thing to do and it was only after she had started to loose her balance that she came back to herself. She managed however to stop herself before she fell, though was amused to note that Gourry was poised to leap and catch her if she had tilted even a little further backward. She took a moment to berate herself for allowing such delusional thoughts, Gourry either asked in an attempt to make conversation or out of duty.
“I’ve been okay.” She answered again, suddenly timid.
Gourry could tell from the tone of her voice that she was lying. He just wished that she would be honest with him instead of just lying so blatantly to where he would have to draw it out of her later. “I was just worried about you…” He trailed off hoping that she would decide to continue on her own. Instead she devoted herself fully to climbing over the rocks and rubble that was scattered all around. Though Gourry had to admit that because of the amount of rubble, being distracted would probably not be a good thing, a sprained ankle at the least, a head injury from a toppled pile of bricks at the worst.
They were within sight of the forest though. Gourry sped up, picking through the destruction faster to make his way along causing Sylphiel to hurry along to keep pace. She felt herself getting tired and Gourry could tell she was getting winded too so tried to tone down his pace. “That’s it, right Sylphiel?” He knew it was, but still he decided to test the waters with Sylphiel again.
“Yeah, we’re almost there.”
Gourry nodded trying to keep his pace reasonable. He was thankful that a short while later the walking became easier. The terrain finally transferring between the difficult rubble to a finer gravel, and finally to a soft grass. It wasn’t long before that strange feeling crept up on Gourry, like his ears were perpetually popped. The sounds around them faded off and soon enough they were covered by the canopy of the forest.
Only a few steps into the forest Sylphiel could already feel the difference. The fine hairs on the back of her neck were standing up, tickling at her senses. Her mind blanked, she could hardly remember why she wanted to come here. But it reminded her strongly of the last time she had been there with Gourry just as much as it reminded her of the first time. The two of them rushing though the forest running from some invisible enemy. The forest was a scary place for even experienced travelers, let alone a fledgling swordsman and a Shrine Maiden in training.
Even without a goal in mind though Gourry seemed to be doing well enough. Occasionally glancing at Sylphiel but forging ahead without slowing. She could tell from his demeanor though that he was tense, ready for an attack, his hand hovering close to the hilt of his blade. Nearby she saw a tall, dead, oak tree. The largest, heaviest branches had fallen to the ground creating a wooden barricade of tangled branches around the base of the tree. “Gourry-sama, wait here.” Sylphiel carefully approached the skeleton of the tree, pushing aside the splintery bramble of branches and making her way to the tree in the center.
She crouched down and eyed the ground around the tree, barren. She wasn’t exactly sure what killed the tree, but she had been hopeful that mushrooms had been growing around the base of such a tree. She sighed, now she was back to no ideas as to what to do in the forest. It had been meant to be a simple distraction from the mundane. But now that she had dragged Gourry out to the forest she just wanted to leave. She pushed her way through the branches yet again. Thankful to see Gourry just where she had left him. “Okay, let’s head back.”
“What’d you have to do?”
The impish smile on her face should have given her situation away but she hoped otherwise. “Yeah, I just had to check for argentums mushrooms. Dead oak trees are one of the places they usually grow. Especially this time of the year.” It was the truth but at the same time it was a lie.
“Well, should be check somewhere else?” Gourry started to turn and look around the forest for another oak tree.
“No, we don’t have to, if this tree doesn’t have any of the mushrooms then none of the trees do.” She almost flinched from having lied again. But she could feel the oppressive atmosphere of the forest pressing against her from all side. “We just need to get out of here now.”
“Okay, I guess if that’s it.” Gourry’s pace showed he also might have been a little anxious due to the atmosphere. Sylphiel tried to keep up but his years of experience traveling had braced him for the craggy root-filled ground they were now traveling over.
Sylphiel cried out as she tripped over a sizeable root mound. Catching her foot and twisting her ankle painfully. “Sylphiel?” Gourry stopped and turned her way before darting back, “Are you okay?”
She untangled her foot from the roots and massaged the ankle slightly. It wasn’t broken, just badly sprained. She experimentally rotated her ankle a few times, trying to gauge the damage. She sighed slightly, a simple heal spell would be more than enough. Sylphiel grunted slightly as she felt Gourry put an arm under her knees and another across her back, picking her up against his chest.
“Hey!” She cried out, more out of reflex than anything.
Sylphiel looked up into his eyes, looking ahead, he was walking with her as effortlessly as if she wasn’t there at all. “N.. nothing, thank you Gourry-sama.”
He looked down at her warmly in his arms, “You’re welcome Sylphiel.” He wasn’t used to someone just accepting what he had done, or even thanking him. Honestly he was expecting a punch to the fact before he had taken three steps. Not from Sylphiel herself but just out of principle.
Gourry was thankful when a few moments later the two them had made it out of the forest. The Miasma Forest had a tendency to ensnare those who entered into it, keeping them roaming around within it for days or weeks until they met their fate with one of its inhabitants, shifting, changing, keeping them endlessly looking for a way out. He wondered if it had somehow gotten weaker over the years but lost track of that specific train of thought.
Out of the woods Gourry looked down to the woman in his arms, “Sylphiel?”
“Gourry-sama-“ She answered flustered, “I could have cast healing on myself, I’m not hurt that badly.” She tried to cover her emotions with a bit of anger.
“It’s okay, I can move faster on my own anyway.”
He hadn’t meant anything against her, she saw pretty quickly that it was exactly the case once she had felt him rush forward being held in his arms. “I know, but if you’d just put me down, I could heal myself and then we could just head back.”
She swore she felt him hold her tighter at the suggestion. “Nope, it’ll be faster if I carry you.” Suddenly she felt her stomach drop out from beneath her and the air rush past her face, they were airborn. Moments later with the shock of flight still with her, she felt Gourry touch down. The impact spread out over the bulk of his legs as he crouched into it before jumping again to the next spire of debris across the city.
Sylphiel felt her heart pounding in her chest as Gourry rushed her through the city. It wasn’t just the way they were traveling. And it wasn’t just the way Gourry was holding her, though she admitted that was a large part of it. It was also his smell, the closeness, she could feel his warmth even though his breastplate. And resting her head against his chest she could hear his heart beat and the sound of the air rushing in and out of his lungs.
She quickly found herself giving into the decadence, relaxing into his grip, and thinking about his behavior before the forest. He genuinely cared about her. It was confusing to say the least. Desperately she wished she could get up the courage to confront Gourry and finally tell him everything. To just get it over once and for all so that she didn’t have to think there might be some double meaning to everything. So she could just accept that Gourry’s actions were those of an old friend and not of a husband to be.
For three days the two of them had been trapped inside due to rain. Sylphiel sighed, her hands folded on the windowsill, looking out at her garden. Silently she watched as the water pooled in the leafs before they tilted ever so slightly toward the ground, releasing their contents before springing back up to be refilled. She’d never given into the temptation to brood before, and truth be told she looked down on people that did. After all she had lost everything important in her life and made it through with her head held high.
Burying her face in her hands, she gave into the temptation for the umpteenth time that day. Her stance on wallowing in her own disgust was quickly changing as she found herself again thinking about just how great things had been since Gourry had become her house guest. At first it had been clumsy, she didn’t know where to begin, the two of them had grown in such drastically different ways since their time together. She hadn’t been able to find any common ground to talk on. But slowly, and most guiltily over conversations about Lina, they had started to open up to each other. She’d learned about all the travels he had been part of, and about his past. She was sure that he’d never talked to Lina about some of the things he’d told her and that thought gave her a guilty pleasure that just served to drive her face harder into her hands, eliciting a groan to accompany it.
“Are you okay?” She heard Gourry ask from across the room. Sylphiel looked over to where he was laying on the sofa. His long legs were hanging over the edge and she just caught a glimpse of him looking over the top of the book in his hands. The sight almost brought another groan, that they’d even settled into a routine involving Gourry reading through most of the days. At first with the rate he flipped the pages in the books it was obvious he was just looking at illustrations. As he went through the same books again and again though the rate of page flipping slowed. A few days after that he had asked her somewhat embarrassed, to help him with a few words that he’d been trying to understand. After that his reluctance diminished and he would ask her more often for help reading through his books. Now she could tell from the way his eyes trailed along the pages, the almost rhythmic turning of page after page as the hours passed, that he was reading, and at least trying to comprehend the material. During dryer spells of weather he would even go outside with one of the books in hand and try out different stances and attacks while reading through the texts.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She shook herself from her daydreaming, pulling herself to her feet and bracing herself with her hands against the windowsill. The look she got back form Gourry showed that he wasn’t all convinced with her answer, and the thought dragged her down even further. She wondered when Lina would make it back, a part of her hoped that she would make it back soon so that her time with Gourry could be over, and things could end once and for all. But she couldn’t deny the fleeting, quickly dismissed hope that Lina would somehow find happiness elsewhere and never make it back to Sairaag. Sylphiel hardly noticed the creaking of the wood frame of the sofa but she turned to meet him when she heard Gourry approaching her from across the room.
“What’s wrong…” Gently he put his hand on her shoulder. Through the thin fabric of her shirt she could feel the warmth of his hand contrasting with the chill she had picked up from being so close to the window.
“It’s nothing….” And against her own volition she wiped the corner of her eye to preemptively remove any tear that may have begun to gather there.
“You can tell me Sylphiel…” He put his other hand on her shoulder, looking her in the eyes. He’d known something was bothering her since he’d arrived, and after Lina had left she hardly took the effort to hide it from him. Probably assuming that he would be too dense to pick up on her sudden mood swings or the different way she acted when she thought he wasn’t watching her to when she knew his eyes were upon her.
“It’s just…. Nothing….” She turned away and looked to the floor so she didn’t have to meet his gaze. She tried to think of anything that could help her get away from the moment. The pattering of rain across the roof top, the gentle trickle as it rolled down the valleys of the roof, falling in thick streams to the ground.
“Tell me…” Gourry was torn between trying to bring some levity to the moment with an act of stupidity, and pushing for the truth. He was sure he was close to it, he had enough experience dealing with Lina’s tantrums to know that if he tried hard enough he could get the truth out of her by honestly pressing for answers. It was like she wanted to come clean with whatever was bothering her, despite what she was saying. And he was getting that same feeling from Sylphiel. Carefully he pulled slightly against Sylphiel, paying attention not to pull her off balance.
Sylphiel gave into the action, allowing herself to be pulled forward and into Gourry’s arms. Then, the words she dreaded came out, “I love you.” She pulled away sharply, even Gourry’s crossed arms didn’t slow her. Her hand came to her face, coving her mouth in a split second and she spun around towards the window, keeping her face hidden.
Slowly she turned to look over her shoulder, back at Gourry, her eyes already threatening tears. “I’m sorry.” She ran off without another moment of hesitation, her feet pounding the stairs faster than Gourry had ever heard before. For a moment he was still, staring just as Sylphiel had. His eyes were drawn to the muddied ground, the occasional puddle surface constantly occluded by falling raindrops that sent ripples in all directions. He wondered for a moment if the most prudent option would be to run after Sylphiel. But he hardly had a clue what he would say. He also worried that anything he might say would only make things worse.
Cautiously he reached up to his own eyes. He wasn’t crying, but he could feel the tell tale signs that he wanted to, a tightness in his chest, a strange burning-tingling sensation in his nose. A deep empty feeling in his stomach. It wasn’t love, at least not the same thing he felt for Lina, but it was strong. Just then the rain started falling harder. He wasn’t sure what to do, so purposefully he made his way back over to the sofa and sat down so he could see the staircase, and waited for Sylphiel to decide in her own time when she was ready to talk things over.
Sylphiel walked down the stairs. She tried to focus her eyes on her feet more than anything. The sun outside had long since been hidden by clouds, even before it had set. But with its total disappearance the outside had taken on a new shade of blackness. With the absent sun came a new chill to the home, one that could only be brought on by the approach of cold weather coupled with day after day of saturating rain. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him right now. But she knew that he was sitting right in front of her as she descended the stairs.
Sure, she had meant to tell him how she had felt for all those years. To finally come clean and get it over with. Hopeful that doing it might free her from the whimsical fantasy that she’d been harboring, however dimly lately, that she might live her life with the man she was now trying to avoid. Her confession though hadn’t turned out as she had hoped. Instead of the casual mentioning of a past crush, not letting it affect her, letting her hopes die peacefully…. Instead she had ruined it; she remembered the desperateness she had felt after he had taken her into his arms. The fear of being alone forever, to never have that feeling again
She’d blurted it out, and then out of surprise and shame she had pulled away and shut him out. Forgoing the previous plan to approach the situation like two sensible adults. And then his response… She felt entirely justified in avoiding him for the remainder of their stay together. If he had known, why didn’t he say anything? Why had the responsibility fallen to her? What made him exempt from acknowledging the situation? Why had the burden fallen to her? She wanted to be angry if only to forget how badly things were turning out and the mess she’d made of things.
The anger was fleeting though, and by the time she had made it into the kitchen it was gone entirely. She sighed as she started in on pulling pans from her cupboards. There was no way she could avoid him forever, she’d be hard pressed to do it for the remainder of the night. Absently she started chopping some scallions and glanced out toward the main room, trying to catch a glimpse of Gourry without purposefully searching him out. She reasoned that he must have been sitting to the side of the doorway though since she didn’t see so much as a glimpse of his outfit.
The smell coming off the cast iron skillet as it heated lured her back to her cooking. She was hopeful that if she just focused on that, and gave herself a break from the complicated thoughts she was laying out for herself, she might somehow come up with a course of action. Or at least allow herself a moment of respite from her constant mental damnation.
Dinner started out awkward with Sylphiel unable to even find the words to start a conversation. And without Sylphiel to provoke him, Gourry remained quiet. Absently she noticed that his eating pace had slowed considerably since he had moved in.
“I didn’t know.” Sylphiel jumped as Gourry’s words caught her completely off guard. She almost choked. Taking a moment to digest them, she wasn’t sure of his meaning before he added, “I mean, I knew you were in love with me back then, but…”
Gourry shook his head, “But… I didn’t know that you still, you know. I thought that things had changed. At least that’s what Lina told me.” He looked confused trying to somehow make sense of the last few weeks while overlaying them with Lina’s assurance that Sylphiel had moved on with her life.
“When did you figure it out?” She asked timidly. It was impossible for Sylphiel not to blush and feel especially embarrassed that her feelings were something that Lina and Gourry might discuss so openly. She wanting more and more to run back to her bedroom for the night. Sylphiel held herself together though; she could feel that they were already nearing the end of everything. Then things might go back to normal.
“For awhile at least. I mean, you really weren’t that subtle about it. I think I knew since before I left Sairaag the first time… with you and Eruk…” He trailed off, scrunching his forehead as he usually did when deep in thought.
“Oh…” There wasn’t much else she could say. She hadn’t realized she had been so straightforward with her feelings if that was the case. Of course the honorific might have tipped him off. But really she had felt sneaky to use it at every opportunity. A subtle to way to express her affections without having to admit them outright. But to think that he had known all along. Her mind reeled at the prospect, that maybe she could have had a chance all those years ago, somehow convinced him to stay in Sairaag with her and father. She had to ask, “Did you…” She paused a moment to clear her throat, “Did you ever, you know… like me back?”
Gourry watched Sylphiel carefully; she’d folded her hands in front of herself. Probably without realizing it, like she was praying at an alter. “I don’t know…” He paused to gauge her reaction, he could tell that it was really important to her, “Sylphiel-“ He reached across the table, covering her hands with his own, “-I’ve always cared for you. If I knew you were in trouble, I’d do everything I could to help you. I would protect you with my life, I… it’s not the same as with Lina though.” He turned away from Sylphiel, not sure himself what it meant.
Sylphiel gave a mute nod, she wasn’t exactly sure what Gourry had meant, but he did care for her, and that was enough to alleviate a bit of the knot in her stomach. “Could you have ever… loved me… without Lina that is?” Sylphiel bit her lip lightly waiting for his answer and thinking ill of herself for even suggesting such a thing, she worried where such thoughts could take her.
“I guess.” He said a little too absent mindedly, but Sylphiel ignored it. He had been doing well up to that point so it was excusable.
It wasn’t the answer that she’d wanted to hear. She wanted him to tell her that she would not have had a chance, that she could never have had a chance. Something final, something that didn’t leave her dangling. Something where she wouldn’t have to make the choice herself of abandoning a future together with the swordsman or going off to find love elsewhere.
Sylphiel tended to be a caring, loving, and she realized, a submissive individual. Because of that she was a little afraid of giving herself fully to any man other than Gourry. As a shrine maiden she had provided shelter for a number of battered and abused women, and in that time she realized that their personality was almost an exact duplicate of hers. She could be tough at times, but she realized that something had always forced her hand in those instances. No, when it came down to it, Gourry was the only man she would ever trust with her heart.
“Thank you Gourry-sama.” She moved her hands from beneath his, resuming eating. For a moment she contemplated dropping -sama from his name. But really she had persisted in using it since before her crush began, so in some ways it was also a symbol of their friendship. She dismissed idea outright. “Can I have one of your rolls?” She asked noting that she had already eaten hers.
Gourry cracked the same smile he always did whenever she asked for something off his plate. The first few times that she’d asked he was reminded sharply of Lina’s absence, a particularly sore spot over the first week or so. But lately it was just a humorous reminder, and she always asked as if he might deny her request. “Sure.” He grabbed the roll and handed it across the table to Sylphiel, who was happy to have left their previous conversation behind.
It was unusual for the gentle rumbling of thunder in the distance to be enough to wake Gourry. That didn’t change the fact that he found himself tired but somehow unwilling to fall asleep beneath the covers. For a few moments he messed with the covers, tossing them off his chest, pulling them to his neck, alternating with rolling from side to side in the undersized bed. It was only after he had finally given up on actively pursuing sleep that he decided to stick with his most recent arrangement in the bed and let his mind wander for awhile.
The weeks without Lina had gone by impossibly fast, much faster than he ever would have expected. Somehow he had settled into a carefree lifestyle, together with Sylphiel. It felt like betrayal. Not only to Lina, but to the existence he had chosen to live since he had first left home. Still, he couldn’t bear to be angry with himself when he considered all the trouble Sylphiel had gone through to make the last few weeks comfortable.
It wasn’t love, it couldn’t be love. He kept telling himself that the feelings weren’t the same that he had with Lina, but as time was passing he had a hard time remembering exactly what those feelings were like. When Lina smiled, a real smile, he found himself caught off guard, his heart racing at times, and usually at a loss for words. With Sylphiel the effect was different, a sort of gentle warmness, happiness. He cared for Sylphiel…. He was certain that he could grow to love her, their increasing closeness had been proof enough for him. Justifiably he found himself reluctant to tell Sylphiel out of fear of leading her on.
He rolled around in the bed a few more times. Slowly he came to the awareness that the storm had arrived fully. A constant light pounding filtered into his senses as he barely made out the sound of the rain falling against the windows in the main room. Smiling to himself he realized there was no way he could stay awake with the sound of rain to lull him to sleep. Because he had woken up to such an extent and because the promise of sleep was still there Gourry tossed himself out of the bed and made his way into the kitchen. In the dark he dug through the icebox, the occasional flashes of lightning were hardly accompanied by the sound he would have expected nor the light, they did little to illuminate the icebox.
Soon enough he felt the unique shape of the milk pitcher before pulling it out. He took a deep drink from it, not feeling so much guilty as he felt sneaky before putting it back and making his way back to his bed. As he walked under the stairway he thought he heard faint noises from Sylphiel’s room above. His best guess was that the coming storm had woken her just as it had him. He stood there for a moment in the doorway to his own bedroom before deciding to head back to the kitchen. Milk had helped him to sleep often enough and since the container was nearly empty it seemed like a good idea to pass the rest of it along to Sylphiel before he drank it himself.
He poured a half-full glass of the fluid before the container ran out then headed to the staircase. Carefully Gourry prodded his way up the stairs. Despite the age of the building, the bare wood would have given in easily enough to make several creeks on his ascension of the stairs, but Gourry suppressed the sounds. He wondered for a moment if he shouldn’t have, if he should have made his movements even louder to alert Sylphiel to his presence before he arrived.
With that line of thought he reached the top of the stairs and carefully knocked on the door. “Gourry-sama?” He heard the faint question from inside.
He opened the door just a crack on instinct, afraid of being punished for seeing something rather than just seeing anything. The darkness however made that point moot, “Yeah, can I come in?” Carefully he started moving the door open.
“Sure… I mean, yes, what are you doing up so late?” The way she fell over her words made it apparent she wasn’t quite as awake as he thought.
“Did I wake you up?”
“No, I was just dozing off. Actually the storm woke me up.”
“Me too.” Gourry was now fully in the room. It was hotter than it had been previous nights and the room stunk of sweat, the air stagnant like a muggy summer’s night. “Can I open the window for you?” Gourry was already walking over to the window by the time Sylphiel replied.
“That would be great.” Her replies were taking longer than usual as her brain struggled to wakefulness.
There was a rough sliding sound as Gourry forced the window open one-handed. Instantly a strong breeze brought by the storm started sweeping into the room. He adjusted the window; closing it some as he felt ran drops wet the back of his hand before walking way. “I brought you some milk to help you sleep.” By the faint light coming from the window he made it over to her bed and held out the glass.
He felt Sylphiel reach out with her own hands, coming into contact with his arms before moving down the length of them and taking her own hold on the glass. “Thank you.” He felt her lift the cool glass from his hands and heard her gulp audibly as she quickly drank it.
“You’re welcome…” He could hear her shuffling beneath the covers before he heard her pat on the bed.
“Could you stay with me for a minute?”
Gourry tried to focus his eyes but it was impossible given the light in the room. He wanted to see if she was dressed to the point where he could stay in the room comfortably with her. Given that he couldn’t see anything though he figured he was safe regardless, at least with Sylphiel. He sat down harder than he had wanted on the bed, his pajama pants pulling up and exposing his legs to the middle of his calf muscles as his knees bent. Unsure of what to say he just listened. A moment later he felt Sylphiel lean forward and he heard the glass he had given her contact the nightstand, wobbling before becoming still against the wood.
Sylphiel sat fully back down next to Gourry, for a moment he felt her tense, then he felt her lay her head against his shoulder. He sat there for a moment on the bed, thinking that he should have been at least slightly uncomfortable. But the heat he felt coming off Sylphiel was anything but, actually it was steadily luring him to sleep. He just kept waiting for her to say something, but as time passed it was evident that he would have to make the first move, “Well, sleep well…” He stood and it was apparent that Sylphiel had been even closer to sleep than he had.
“Huummmm… what?” Her own voice seemed to startle her as she immediately went silent.
Gourry took the opportunity to make his way to the door, “See you in the morning….” He hung for a moment in the doorway, waiting for a reply.
“Good night Gourry-sama.” Carefully he closed the door behind him as he descended the stairs. He’d wanted to stay, and he had tried to justify it to himself. He was however thankful that he resisted the impulse, he wasn’t sure how Sylphiel would have taken it even if he had made it clear he didn’t mean anything by it, he was just being lazy. He wondered if there was such a thing as just sleeping together with a friend, not in a sexual way, but just sleeping? He sighed, things could definitely get complicated.
Finally he made his way back to bed. The storm had moved in fully but the fury of it had died off before he had even made it up to Sylphiel’s room. Now all that remained of the storm was the gentle strumming of rain on the window panes and the gurgling flow of water down the valleys of the roof and the gentle splashing as it fell to the ground. The winds had also turned into a soothing, cooler, breeze. The combination of factors quickly lulled him off to sleep, the last though on his mind; would Sylphiel hog the covers.
The knock at the door was unusual. It was enough to rouse Gourry but still not enough to get him out of bed. He groaned and squinted a little looking out towards the main room. Judging by the intensity of the knock he had little worry that it was a gang of bandits at the door or something equally treacherous. More likely it was some traveling salesman or a townsperson who had some mundane reason to bother them so early in the morning. Still, when he heard the knock again, this time more insistent, he forced himself up from the bed.
He strained to hear anything from above to signal that Sylphiel was getting up and answering the door but didn’t hear anything to that effect. Wearily he pushed himself to his feet and straightened his shirt and pulled up his pants snugly. Again there was a knock at the door, this one more urgent. He tried to hurry a little, it sounded as if whoever was there was about ready to leave and the slight chance that it could be something important spurred him on.
Apparently his heavy foot steps were enough to rouse Sylphiel, just as he reached the door he heard some activity from her room but he was already determined to take care of matters himself. Opening the door, Gourry had to look down in order to find the man standing there. His short stature though was not all that striking as compared to his outfit. Flamboyant would have been the best descriptive for it. Brightly colored with all the pomp that could be associated with royalty.
“I have a message to deliver to a Mr. Gourry Gabriev, are you he?”
For a moment Gourry was dumbstruck. Despite his size the man had a very authoritative voice and it managed to take Gourry’s attention off the horse he noticed tied to the fence. “Ummmm…. Yeah?”
Gourry was forced to reel back as the man thrust something towards his face. “Hey!” He shouted out, nearly tumbling over his own feet as he backpedaled a few steps.
“A letter Sir, from Lina Inverse of Zefilia.” The man held his position, letter in his outstretched hand and Gourry timidly moved forward and took it from his hand. The moment the letter left the messengers hand he retracted it stiffly to his side, “Good day Sir.” And mechanically turned form Gourry and marched off and out to his horse.
During the exchange Sylphiel had made her way down the stairs and stood only a few steps away from Gourry. As Gourry closed the door and turned she startled him, but not enough for it to be visible. She moved in a few steps, reaching out half-way for the letter, “What is it?” She asked curious.
Seeing that she must have somehow missed the conversation Gourry handed the letter to her, “It’s a letter from Lina-“ He stopped for a moment then added, “she sent it to me.” Just in case she might have somehow thought it was for her but then regretted the words and how possessive it must have sounded.
“Oh…” She seemed taken aback and a little embarrassed. Quickly she handed the letter back to Gourry before prodding, “Go ahead then, open it.”
He looked down at the letter, his name along with a complicated series of directions to find the house on the front of the folded parchment. It was Lina’s handwriting all right, although usually when he did see it she wasn’t using the traditional alphabet, more often then not she was writing in some long dead language or for lack of a better term, letters he didn’t recognize. Still, he read through the instructions on the front of the letter before flipping it over and breaking the wax seal. Several sheets of vellum were folded inside and he carefully removed them, handing the empty envelope to Sylphiel.
The nervousness was something he wasn’t expecting as he felt his fingers tremble. He unfolded the letter, blindly taking several steps over to sit in the large chair before reading in earnest. Sylphiel took up the position over his shoulder so she could read at the same time. Gourry didn’t mind, that was the reason he had chosen to sit there in the first place, to give Sylphiel a better vantage point. Silently the two of them read through the letter. The rain outside had stopped during the earliest of morning hours and the cloud cover had broken affording the two ample light from the outside world. But still Sylphiel found herself hovering close to Gourry as if the room were lit by a single candlestick.
The two of them plodded along through the letter and all of it eccentricities. Tangents about the weather, things in her home town changing, staying the same, people who were afraid of her. Apparently she was no longer trying to keep up the pretense to Gourry of pretending that she wasn’t on a random trip, but it wasn’t until the end of the letter, when it appeared that she had run out of room, that she finally got to the point of things. She was leaving shortly for Sairaag and that the letter would be preceding her arrival by four or five days.
Gourry sunk back in the chair, looking around the room, the house that he had lived in for over a month, then to Sylphiel. She had the slightest of smiles on her face, and although he saw no hint of sadness, he couldn’t help but worry that she was masking it beyond her happiness. He forced himself up from the chair, “So, looks like Lina’s going to be here in a couple days. Guess I better step up my training again.” He added with a forced chuckle, traveling with Lina it was more of a fact than a joke.
Sylphiel still had the same smile, “I’m just glad to finally hear something, didn’t she realize we’d worry about her?”
Gourry found himself agreeing with Sylphiel but his thoughts quickly withdrew from Lina yet again, focusing themselves on the former Shrine Maiden. “Sylphiel…” He started slowly, his tone carrying an inflection to it letting her know that he was serious, “I’ve had a really good here… with you…. this past month.” He lowered his head slightly, looking more at the floor than at her. It was that guilty feeling in his gut again that he had somehow wronged her, that feeling in the pit of his stomach that pulled at his heart and drew the blood from his face when he thought about her father dying during their battle, the destruction of the second city of Sairaag, and what he felt most responsible for, choosing Lina over her.
Her smile faltered as his own cracked, tears welling in the corner of his eyes he continued, “I’m just so sorry I can’t make it up to you.”
“Make what up to me?” She brought her smile back into place, trying to cheer him up.
“Everything Sylphiel, it’s just that….” He couldn’t bring himself to enumerate the reasons aloud and instead let himself to be drawn into Sylphiel’s arms.
The cooing sounds in his ear slowly started to relax his muscles before the oddness of the situation started to manifest itself, Sylphiel being so much taller than Lina. He wrapped his arms around her back and held her tight against himself, he knew she could feel the wetness through the fabric of her shirt as he cried against her shoulder. And he wanted her to, so that she could see how sorry he was, that she really did mean something to him in this world, that he really cared.
He held her for some time, he felt the sun streaming through the window warm on his back. Eventually he pulled away and wiped his eyes. Sylphiel though didn’t have to, she didn’t even look like she wanted to cry. “Gourry-sama, you don’t have anything to be sorry for. I know how you feel, that you blame yourself…. For father… but you can’t do that, I don’t blame you, or Lina, or anyone for those things. My faith has taught me that all things happen for a reason, you can’t live your life regretting the past.” She reached out and solidly put her hand on his shoulder, “You know I love you…. But that’s just something that’s not meant to be, I know you love Lina, and you have to follow your heart Gourry-sama, just as I have to follow mine.”
She heard the shuddering breath from where she was standing and the sniffles as well. “Sylphiel…” Gourry now put his own hand on her shoulder, drawing her towards him in an embrace, “It would be so easy to fall in love with you right now.” He let that thought linger as he joined the embrace with his other hand.
“But you can’t.” She had to quash the dream before she let it take root. She thought of Lina, crying, beating on her door in the pouring rain, abandoned by the one she loved. That was enough to bring herself back to reality and of course there was the more rational thought of Lina standing on the crater rim surrounding Sairaag and preparing to make another crater within it where Sylphiel’s house was currently standing. Sylphiel pushed away from Gourry, but tried to do it as not to make him feel rejected, “At least we’ve still got a few days together, right? There’s still some things I want to show you.”
For her sake Gourry managed to bring his own smile back up, again amazed at how strong Sylphiel could be, between her and Lina he would have easily picked Lina as having the strongest constitution before, but now he would be hard pressed to pick either one over the other. “Yeah.” He swallowed hard, clearing his throat, “That sounds like fun.”
“Okay then.” She jumped back a little bit, “Ready to go?”
“Hey, I’m still in my bed clothes?” He said, noticing that Sylphiel had gotten dressed before making her way downstairs.
“Like anyone around here cares.” She said off handedly remembering a few weeks earlier with the market trip, “Just get ready, now that I know Lina’s coming I don’t want to waste any of the time we’ve got left.”
Gourry couldn’t help but drag his feet on his way back into the house. By contrast, Sylphiel was practically skipping along behind him. It had been one of the most intense training sessions that he had in a long time, surprisingly he had Sylphiel to thank. Somehow he had brought up the Flare Arrow and her mastery of it, or lack thereof trying to make some conversation. Next thing he knew, there was a distinct feeling of heat against his back, not incredibly unpleasant, but it was also accompanied by the weak smell of burnt hair. From there things escalated, Sylphiel laughing and firing off Flare Arrows at Gourry while he nimbly dodged around the yard avoiding them in any way possible.
Because of the strength of the spell relative to the Dragon Slave, her magical capacity had allowed her to fire them off almost consistently. When she finally put her hands to her thighs huffing in exhaustion, Gourry was completely beat. He’d dropped to the ground immediately, resting against his sword and drawing deep breaths, wiping the sweat from his forehead and out of his eyes. His clothes were dirty and muddy from rolling on the ground, his skin too was covered in the mud from the sweat and the dirt combined. At first he had just been dodging the attacks as if they were the real deal, however as the practice had gone on longer and longer he found the strength of the spell increasing steadily until in the end he was dodging attacks that might actually have caused some harm.
He’d never seen her happier though, like kids in a water fight the two of them had been laughing and taunting the whole time. He wiped his sweaty forehead again, feeling the grit there just as much as his perspiration. “Here.” He looked up to see Sylphiel with the same smile on her face that she had while she was firing off attacks in his direction.
He took the towel from her, immediately using it to wipe his forehead, “Thanks.”
Sylphiel sat down on the arm of the chair for a moment. She was winded still, but not as much as Gourry. “Well, that was fun!” She exclaimed clasping her hands together in front of her and taking a deep breath for effect.
“Yeah, but you had me a little worried towards the end, one of those Flare Arrows could have killed me!” He added the last bit for comic relief despite the real fear he had felt during some of the close calls.
“Oh, it wouldn’t have killed you, if you would have been hit I could have healed you in a heartbeat.” She giggled as she finished the statement. To Gourry it was obvious that she had know what had been happening.
“Since when did you get so good with the Flare Arrow?” Gourry wondered aloud.
“Hummm… well, I’ve practiced quite a bit, but it’s like I forget how to cast the spell correctly if I don’t do it for awhile. Out there just now I just cast it so many times in a row the right way to cast it just started settling in after a while…. It’s like with the magic there is a certain feeling you are trying to get, and for some reason with that spell it always feels like the right time to trigger it, but it’s always too early. So I just kept working on the timing. I’ve always been able to do it, it just takes me a while.”
Gourry cracked a smile, she’d sounded embarrassed for some reason when she’d explained herself. He was going to miss being able to ask questions like that and get honest answers, instead of the heated retorts that Lina was known for. He leaned back further in the chair and put his feet up on the footstool. The day had gone by remarkably fast, he counted down, one more day until Lina would make her appearance. He found himself dreading it as much as he was looking forward to it. The lifestyle he’d been living was much better than he would have anticipated. It was something he felt he could be happy with, sure it was different than an exciting dangerous life on the road, but in a good way.
“Do you think I could stay here again sometime?” He asked before he’d given himself a chance to think about it, a habit that had gotten him in trouble in the past more times than he would have cared to count.
“Of course, you and Lina are always welcome here.”
He smiled back at her, it was the answer that he had expected, but that didn’t mean it was any less honest. “Thanks, I’ve just really liked staying here. It’s strange, I just never realized that I could just stay in one place and have days like today and be happy. I always thought I wanted something different…” He trailed off as he thought about Lina again. He already regretted what he had just said, he’d only meant to compare life on the road versus life in a town, but to him like he was comparing Sylphiel to Lina. He looked to the woman sitting on the chair but it seemed as if she hadn’t made that comparison and had taken his words at face value. For the first time ever Gourry wondered if he was thinking too much into everything.
“It gets boring fast.” Sylphiel droned out to make her point clear, “Although I have to admit this last month has been great, maybe it’s because I had someone to share it with.” She sighed deeply realizing yet again that Gourry would be gone in just a few short days and despite his interest in coming back it would probably several months before he’d even think about making his way back to Sairaag and then the best she could hope for would probably be a day or two with Lina and Gourry. No, this had been a once in a lifetime repeat of their youth when he’d spent so much time with her and her father.
His silence made it apparent that something she said had made him uncomfortable. Eventually he made a “Hummmm…” Sound but nothing beyond that.
“I guess I better go start dinner.” She stood up from the arm rest, indeed the sun outside was starting to set. Leaving Gourry alone with his thoughts.
Sylphiel pulled her covers up fully against her chin. Dinner had been quite, strangely so. It reminded Sylphiel of the first night that she and Gourry had dinner together after he’d been left in her care. She felt the bitter metallic taste rise up in the back of her throat, the sadness that she had been feeling since Lina’s letter had arrived. The fact that tomorrow would be the day that Gourry would leave her life yet again.
She turned on the bed so she could look out the window. It was black outside, the moon above hidden by cloud cover kept the room in complete darkness. But the window edges could be made out, just barely. She took a deep breath and thrust her arm beneath her pillow trying to make herself comfortable.
Just as she was starting to doze off though she heard Gourry moving around downstairs. It was almost a nightly ritual, though it usually happened later in the night. She’d hear him get up from bed and then the next day something would inexplicably be missing from the ice box or cupboards. She enjoyed teasing him about it, most of the time he would remember getting up and grabbing a snack, but sometimes he would deny any wrongdoing and that’s when she had the most fun. Asking him how he could forget eating half a loaf of bread or several apples and watching him scramble for an answer.
She remembered that night several days earlier when he’d brought her up a glass of milk to help her sleep. For a moment entertained the hope that he might do the same. Not that she needed a glass of milk but the thought had been very sweet of him. A playful smile came to her face and she swung her legs out of bed and lightly stomped her feet on the floor. Her own way of telling the swordsman that she was awake, before pulling her legs quickly back onto the bed and under the covers.
For a few moments she listened to the sounds in the kitchen. She was tempted to repeat her actions in case he’d somehow missed the noise but decided against it. Mentally betting with herself that she could only do it once and hope for the best. So she waited silently, almost giddy with anticipation that he might come up to give her something. Time slinked by. She hadn’t heard him make his way into his bedroom, but she wondered if he had instead decided to sneak into his bedroom so she wouldn’t hear him. She debated on going down to the kitchen herself for a midnight encounter if she didn’t hear anything else from him soon.
Then, a footstep. And another. She laid still in anticipation until finally the footsteps started ascending the stairs. Quickly she dropped her arms to her sides and tried to pretend to be asleep. Moments later there was a knock at her door.
“Sylphiel?” Came his muted question.
The smile came unbidden to her face, her eyes suddenly dancing through the dark trying to put a face with the voice. “Yes?” She answered, instantly berating herself for her reply coming a bit too fast.
“Can I come in for a second?”
Something about the tone of his voice seemed off, suddenly curious, Sylphiel asked, “For what?” There was moment of silence, it stretched on a moment too long, to where she was afraid that she might loose him, “Just for a second.” She answered herself not wanting to wait any longer for a reply. The door knob clicked and the door swung open. She strained to see anything in the darkness but failed. “I’m over here.” She added once she felt he was inside the room.
She heard him walk across the room and then felt his hand on the mattress near her. Quickly she pulled up her own feet to give him some room before feeling him sit down on the mattress. “Here.”
Sylphiel really wasn’t sure what ‘here’ was but reached out nonetheless and eventually followed Gourry’s arm to a bowel in his hand. She took it from him and reached inside. “What is it?” She asked a little worried.
“Strawberries.” Gourry answered happily.
Curiously Sylphiel fingered the strawberries in the bold. Their cold wet, cut edges were probably what had thrown her off the most but once she realized what they were she was able to trace her finger over the outside of the berries and know for sure. She gingerly picked one up and popped it in her mouth, in the dark it was incredibly flavorful. She quickly grabbed another from the bowel and put it into her mouth. Chewing it up greedily.
Quickly she finished off the few strawberries in the bowel before sitting it on her nightstand. She pulled her own legs up against her chest so she could sit more next to Gourry instead of laying diagonally across the bed. For a moment they sat together in silence. Gourry was the one to break it first, “So… I guess Lina will be here tomorrow.”
Sylphiel nodded her head, realizing the gesture was lost in the darkness, “Yeah, or maybe the next day, she was just guessing on how long it would take the letter to get here and she could have been delayed somehow.” Although it was true she knew she was just trying to make excuses.
Her body stiffened as she felt Gourry lean up against her. It was only a moment though before she started to lean into him herself. She felt her heart speed up slightly, but it wasn’t at all like it used to be. She figured she must have become acclimated to his presence lately. A general warm feeling that never seemed to leave her. His head leaned over a bit further than his body, allowing Sylphiel to take in the scent of his hair, it smelled earthy, he’d cleaned himself up while she’d been cooking dinner but it was just with a towel, he hadn’t gone through the trouble of filling the tub and his hair remained soiled.
The smell though was not at all revolting. It was comforting and she suppressed a giggle as she remembered Gourry dodging one of her Flare Arrows earlier and landing on his head. He had recovered fast enough not to worry her or make her feel too bad though. Involuntarily she found herself snuggling into his warmth. She just wanted him to stay where he was a little bit longer, that was all she was hoping for.
Eventually she felt him stir next to her, she was surprised that he had managed to stay still for so long. “Sylphiel, I just wanted to thank you again, for everything.”
There was a kind of uncomfortable finality there, “Gourry-sama….” She paused, she wanted to say that he didn’t have to thank her but thought he might be getting sick of telling him that, “…you’re welcome, but I really enjoyed you being here too you know.” She felt herself blush, something about the closeness was making her feel befuddled.
Deliberately she felt him move his arm from her side and over her shoulders, pulling her closer still to his body. She resisted, but only passively by helping the motion along. “If I’d have never met Lina…. Things would have been different…” Sylphiel swallowed hard, that hadn’t been what she wanted to hear.
“You can’t say things like that.” It had come out louder than she had wanted but it got the point across, “You and Lina were made for each other. I’ve seen the two of you together….” She sighed and started to pull away from him before she suddenly felt him turn her in his arms and pull her lips to his. It was a miracle he connected in the dark.
“Gourry!” Sylphiel pushed him away sharply, pulling herself away form him in the bed to add to the safety zone. “What do you think you’re doing!?”
“I…” He wanted to look away but found himself searching the dark for her face. At first he had thought she was going to go with the kiss, pushing herself into him for a fleeting moment, and just when he was sure that he was doing the right thing…. “I just want to make you happy.” He didn’t want to cry, but it was some other feeling, hollow, he was still hurting from the accusatory tone of her words and the unexpected sharpness of his name.
“We can’t do that though.” She wiped her lips with the back of her arm fully and roughly, “You can’t betray Lina like that…. She trusts you, she trusts me…” She trailed off, the heat dropping from her words towards the end.
“Sylphiel, I would have chosen you.” His words were almost a whisper, she was barely sure that she’d heard them correctly.
She held her breath, bit her lip, anything to remind her that it wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t what she wanted. “Don’t ever say anything like that again, I’d destroy Lina and you know it.”
“I know…” The silence stretched on this time. Finally when it was almost unbearable he spoke again, “But I was hoping, that just for tonight… Sylphiel, you deserve to be happy…”
“I am happy.” She said exasperated hoping to divert the subject. And she had been, up until he had started to shatter that perfect vision she’d held of him. That of the loyal swordsman incapable of even the most mundane of betrayals. She couldn’t stand to think that he could change his colors like that.
“I wish…” He reached out experimentally eventually cupping her face with his large hand. She let him stroke her cheek for a moment, “If there is one thing that I could do for you to make you happy for tonight…. If we can just pretend that it’s just you and me, just for tonight…. I don’t want to hurt Lina, I just want to make you happy more than anything in the world….”
If the words had come from anyone else in the world, Sylphiel would have doubted their sincerity, but coming from Gourry…. She wanted so badly to give into her impulses it hurt. He face was flush, her breathing coming faster, she felt herself trembling beneath the covers she had balled up in her fists, covering her lap, keeping herself in check.
Again she felt Gourry pull her in, this time softly by the chin and into another kiss. She responded but tried to hold back. Her breath catching slightly as she tried to keep herself restrained. “Please…” She groaned out. She couldn’t make the decision and tried to make herself ambiguous. Her body had never reacted the way it was, she left it up to Gourry to decide if she was pleading for him to stop or keep going.
And she thanked every deity in existence when she felt herself pulled in again for an ever deepening kiss. She might have been ignorant about the details but she knew where the two of them were heading and she let Gourry take the lead. She felt herself pushed back onto the bed, him climbing atop her and kissing her, moving from her lips to her neck and ending with a playful kiss on the nose that caused her to giggle lightly to herself. Thankfully it didn’t deter him though. He picked up on her neck again, sucking and kissing, her face flushed hot in the darkness and she felt her nipples harden under her shirt.
“Oh!” She gasped out as Gourry found a sensitive spot on her neck, encouraging him onward. Unexpectedly she felt him grab the bottom of her shirt and start pulling it up her stomach. She fought down the initial impulse to resist and let him pull it up, lifting her arms over her head to help him. Soon enough she was shirtless and she found herself incredibly thankful for the lack of lights. Again he was atop her, kissing her, she put her own hands under his loose bed shirt and ran them over his muscled midsection. His skin was incredibly soft there, softer than she expected. She could feel each muscle strain as he held himself over her.
As he dropped down more onto her body she pushed his shirt up to just under his arms and let her breasts press into his chest. Then her arms were around him. Pulling him close to her. She’d never felt or even imagined such erotic pleasure. During her time as a Shrine Maiden she was encouraged, sometimes forcibly to remain celibate and after her convent had been destroyed she’d never felt the need to explore that part of her emotions. She grabbed at Gourry’s back, pulling at the skin. Pulling him against her, her chest rubbing against him as she ground into him on impulse.
Sylphiel knew what the goal of things were, but she was enjoying the roundabout way that Gourry was getting there. She’d nearly been subdued entirely by the kisses, she managed to turn her head enough to start returning the favor, kissing him back along his jaw line. For a moment there was a bit of a struggle as Gourry tried to keep up his oral assault and Sylphiel tried to reciprocate. However in the end they found a happy medium. Gourry’s lips on her own yet again. Anxiously Sylphiel reached down between the two of them and slid her hand between the tied waistband on Gourry’s sleeping trunks.
He held his position, going still as her hands passed the threshold of his underwear. She hadn’t known what to expect. It felt odd, like the skin of her eyelid, except everywhere, hot and hard, more than a handful, with a rougher bit at the end. A moment later Gourry went back to kissing her. This time she didn’t fight for any sort of dominant position, giving into him totally as he turned her head to the side and assaulted her neck again. Her breaths were coming in short huffs and she felt herself getting worked into a frenzy. She pulled her hands from Gourry’s underwear and brought them around his back again.
Slowly he lifted himself away from her and moved one of his hands to her breast, rubbing it and pinching the nipple lightly, rolling it between his fingers. “G…Gourry… sammmaaa…” She moaned unsteadily out as he moved in and started kissing her again. Gourry pushed off her and laid on his side, taking off his own shirt and tossing it off the side of the bed. Then she felt him shuffle around more, taking off his trunks and underwear, kicking them off with his feet. “Do you want me to… too?” She asked not sure of if he wanted her to move that fast.
“Yeah….” He felt her move as well and he wished that he could see her just as much as she wished she could see him. He rolled back atop her, his legs between hers. Both of them naked Gourry began kissing her, running his hand down the side of her body and occasionally squeezing her breast. And she felt him dangling between her legs. The warm heat coming off it. She raised her hips up, pushing against him. The way he was pressing against her, the shaft of his member against her clit. She ground against him feeling it rub up against her, increasing the heady feeling she’d had since they started.
His breathing became deep and shuddering as her felt the area between her legs start to become slick. The way she was rubbing against his erection, it was incredibly slick, he was sure that it would be enough to set him off if they kept going the way they were. And she was enjoying it too, her hands had moved to his butt, gripping it tightly and pulling herself against him there. “Oh Sylphiel…” He groaned out as she ground into him harder. With every thrust against her, he felt her adjust ever so slightly. Eventually her felt the head of his member almost sliding into her entrance, teasingly she didn’t move herself any further after that. Each tantalizing thrust put him right to the entrance but no further.
The two of them were breathing hard together, sweating, wondering who would make the next move. Finally Gourry moved the hand that had been rubbing her breast down between his legs. The underside of his member was slick with her wetness. He grasped himself and slid the tip of his member along her opening, feeling the different wonderful textures. He found the spot where it began to go in, and stopped with it in only slightly. It was perfect and incredibly tantalizing.
Breathing hard the two of them held still before Sylphiel couldn’t handle it any longer and pushed herself hurriedly against him. Her eyes shot open at the sudden sharp pain, she stifled a gasp punctuating the moment. She trembled as she held herself against Gourry. “What’s wrong?” Gourry asked, Sylphiel could tell he was just as ignorant about what happened as she was stupid for forgetting about it.
“It’s just a lot…” She lied worried that she would have scared him off otherwise, “Just hold me for a minute.”
“Okay….” He moved his hands from the sides of her body where he had been bracing himself to around her back, pulling himself against her. The throbbing pain dulled down to a warm ache in his embrace. Tentatively she rocked her hips lightly, feeling him move within her.
“I’m ready…” She punctuated the statement by rubbing against him again. Feeling himself moving inside her was enough to get him moving again. Slowly he started. It was wetter than he would have expected, hot. He moved in on her neck again, sucking at her ear lobe while he felt her hot breath on his neck. He tried to massage her breast too but found it was too easy to get distracted and forget one of the other two things he was doing.
“How does it feel…”
“I…I can’t describe it.,” She gasped deeply as he pushed into her extra hard, it was just as emotional as it was physical, “It feels like I’m swimming, like we’re in the water, and it’s hot all over…” She felt like everything she was saying was stupid but couldn’t help it. She was having a hard time controlling anything at the moment. “I love you Gourry…” She started repeating herself over and over in his ear as she pulled herself tighter against him, grabbing at his butt.
“Sylphiel, I… I…” He couldn’t get it out, wasn’t sure what it was he wanted to say but he was close in so many ways. Sylphiel though was already there, crying out. He felt her go rigid, pressing against him and professing her love. He kept pushing into her, faster, he was sure she’d been pushed over the edge more than once but kept going since every time she seemed to cry out for more. The feminine cries continued to ring out, cute huffing gasps as he forced the air out of her with every push. Finally it was enough, he called out her name, pressed himself into her harder than before. And felt himself release.
Sylphiel was exhausted, her throat horse from her vocal ness and her muscles aching and hot like after an exhausting run. She trembled as she felt Gourry push himself into her harder and hold himself there, the spreading wetness from between her legs. “Gourry, I love you so much…” She murmured into his hair, moving her hands from his butt to run over his matted hair against his back. She thought she heard his reply but it was hard to make out between the grunts and rutting sounds as he rocked against the bed. Finally, he rolled off her. It was cold where he had been, sweaty the night air sapped away the heat as quickly as he left.
It had been too much. She barely had the strength to pull the covers over herself. Gourry didn’t seem to be in the mood to move either. She managed to get out another proclamation of love before feebly grabbing at the edge of the sheet and pulling it over herself for the night.
Sticky, cold, bordering on miserable. For a moment Sylphiel was confused when she awoke the next morning. That was until she realized her legs were numb and opened her eyes to find Gourry laying across them. He laid across her bed horizontally, his head and upper body firmly on the bed but his legs dangling off completely, and laying atop her legs in the process, naked. She blushed, then blushed harder, putting her hands to her face and blushing still more until she was worried that he might wake up and see her which would cause her to blush so much she thought she might explode.
Several minutes later she calmed down to the point where she could think rationally again. And also realize that she herself was naked. Carefully she extracted herself from the sheets and tangle of blankets, managing not to wake Gourry in the process. She timidly made her way down the steps, never having done so naked in her life. She had no shades to draw on the windows and anyone that might happen to walk by would have a full view of her body. Thankfully for her she was at the edge of the town and no one would usually happen by on chance alone.
The fear that Lina could show up at any time put an extra bit of incentive to her to get moving though. She made her way to the bathroom and the wash basin there. She pulled the rag from the bottom of it, the water instantly becoming murky from agitating the silt that had settled from Gourry cleaning himself the night before. She looked herself over in the mirror, she had several bruises over her neck and one on her left breast. She washed the area on her neck with some water hoping that the bruises might somehow come off before committing herself to cast a healing spell shortly on them.
Between her legs though was more of a mess. Her pubic hair was matted together almost painfully and she had to use the water from the basin to loosen it to the point where she could clean herself. The dried blood made the process particularly unsettling. She was used to blood in that region of her body but something about it, she sighed wondering about the repercussions of their actions, “My innocence…” She lamented in a soft voice, thinking about her time as a shrine maiden, “My purity…”
She cheered up slowly though thinking about the night before. By far it had been the most pleasurably and rewarding thing she’d ever experienced in her adult life. Gourry had been an excellent lover, not that she had anyone to compare him to, but she couldn’t imagine anyone doing better. It had been prefect. But now it was over. Still, for one night, she sighed happily, letting herself fall against the bathroom door and slide down it a little. She put on one of the robes that had been hanging on the back of the door, and made her way across the cold floor to the kitchen. Bent on making Gourry breakfast at least one more time.
It was three more days before Lina finally made her appearance. Which would have most definitely been a blessing for both Sylphiel and Gourry had they not worried that she could have shown up at any moment. It did give them the time they needed to come to terms with the new level to their relationship though. Despite himself it was hard for Gourry to keep his hands off Sylphiel and although they got a little carried away a few more times, they never went as far as they had that one night.
When Lina did show up, she was uncharacteristically excited. Happy to see Gourry, happy to see Sylphiel, both of them accepted their hugs uncomfortably. Both Gourry and Sylphiel hid their guilt well, although it was something constantly on their mind. At long last Gourry and Lina departed, leaving Sylphiel alone yet again, still ostracized from the new city of Sairaag.
It was several years before Gourry and Lina made their way back to Sairaag. The pull for Gourry was particularly intense, but Lina too had strong emotions associated with the city, Sairaag was a city she associated with death. Gourry though had been insistent. Unannounced the two of them arrived at Sylphiel’s house. It had been repainted during their time away to a deep blue color, but it still stood out as being the only house so far from the main city which had apparently been growing rapidly since the two of them had left it. Gourry and Lina walked past the group of kids playing in Sylphiel’s yard, eyeing them warily; wondering if any or all of them could be Sylphiel’s.
Gourry was quick to knock and it wasn’t long before Sylphiel was standing there, again in her Shrine Maiden outfit. She ushered them inside, chatted, exchanged pleasantries. They had questions they wanted to ask, but they had to pace themselves because she seemed just as curious about what the two of them had been up to in her absence, so they swapped details of their lives for the past years. Sylphiel had been tempted to lie, to tell the two of them and tell them that she had found her Mr. Right. But she couldn’t bear to lie to them. So admitted that two of the kids in the yard were hers, the boy and the girl, and confessed that she wasn’t seeing someone.
She was thankful they didn’t dig any further. And Sylphiel wasn’t at all surprised to hear that Lina and Gourry had children of their own, currently staying in Sailrune with Amelia. She actually felt a little relieved. The awkward moment though came when Lina asked about the age of her kids, she had to lie, she said they were a year younger than they were. Still, Lina made a comment about how that put their kids at about the same age, she didn’t press the thought any further.
Later that night after Gourry and Lina were introduced to Sylphiel’s children, Sylphiel finally got Gourry off on his own away from Lina, leaving her to play with the children. At first Sylphiel was reluctant to leave them in her care, but Lina treated them almost like they were hers. Causing Gourry to comment on how she wouldn’t even pick up Amelia’s children normally. It was confession time, Sylphiel told Gourry everything and begged his forgiveness for keeping the fact that she had his children hidden from him. She didn’t need to beg though, Gourry had seen how happy the children had made her, she wasn’t alone any more, and the house felt like a home, he commented on how he had felt the difference though he seemed more eager to get back to the two of them after that. They hugged. Kissed. That same hunger started to surface again but the both of them together quashed it.
The next day Gourry and Lina were again leaving Sairaag. No one cried as they left, though two of them wanted to. It was sometime after they had left Sylphiel’s home that Lina detoured off the beaten path to the open edge of a stream nearby. Taking off her boots she soaked her feet in the flow of water. Gourry did the same, sitting along side her with his arm over her shoulders. Casually she put Gourry on the spot, asking if he didn’t think she would realize that Sylphiel’s children were his.
With the fear of God struck into him for the moment he stuttered and stumbled just like had had whenever he blurted out something particularly incriminating. Lina silenced him with a kiss. She was happy she admitted, happy to see that Sylphiel was happy. She’d thought about it all night and though angry at first, came to the conclusion that there was no way she would take that happiness away from Sylphiel.
As far as she knew he had always been loyal aside from that one indiscretion, and if she could stand Gourry cheating on her with anyone, and not killing him, it was Sylphiel. And it did explain the forwardness he’d shown after she’d reunited with him after his stay in Sairaag… And her pregnancy shortly thereafter. Relieved after so long he kissed her back. Slowly their movements lead them further, Gourry unclasped the chain around Lina’s neck and letting her shoulder guards fall to the ground. He pushed her back gently to the ground, moving his hand up to her chest, and whispering words of adoration the two of them made love by the stream, Gourry finally at peace with the way things had turned out for the first time in his life.
Where to start. First off, I wrote this because there is a distinct lack of Gourry x Sylphiel fanfiction out there. It’s bordering on canon for crying out loud, there should be more of it! Secondly, my e-mail address is Rob.Vincent@gmail.com and I want to thank you for reading your way thought this. Originally this was meant to be about 7 pages, but it turned out to be 52!!!! The summary that I wrote before starting it was only two paragraphs! More of my fanfiction, as well as the Slayers hentai discussion forum, my doujinshi collection, and the Slayers Hentai fanfiction archive can be found at my site http://www.destructve.com/rvincent
Onto the fanfic details. The Gourry in this fic is based more on the novel Gourry. He’s a bit smarter and the story itself takes place after vol. 15 of the novels. Now, to be honest I don’t know much about what happens, but….
SPOILER DON’T READ IN THE BRACKETS [Gourry asks Lina to go back with her to Zephilia at the end of the storyline. Which is kind of where I was picking up.] END SPOILER
In the novels Gourry is a bit more intelligent and it is more apparent that he not only remembers Sylphiel but remembers her well in a fond light. It’s a whole world of difference and it makes this pairing all the more possible. Lina is gone for a long time in this fanfic, that seems like it would be about normal with people traveling on foot, long trips like that wouldn’t just be done on a weekend. Also, I had trouble getting the two of them in bed together without making one of them seem like the bad guy, if Sylphiel forced her way it would make it look like she was trying or not caring about breaking up Lina and Gourry. On the other hand, if Gourry did more forcing (which he did but I tried to minimize it) it makes it look like he doesn’t take his relationship with Lina seriously. And I tried to address that.
Yes, Sylphiel is a virgin in this, I know it’s cliché, but she is a shrine maiden and although athletic enough to run, I never really see her do drop kicks or anything on a regular basis that could destroy her hymen so I figured she has the best chance of having her virginity intact so I went with it. Additionally she comes across almost like a bit of a Sue at points in that she seems almost too perfect, too understanding. I tried to minimize some of this, but that is really how she is. And I realize that it is somewhat rare to get pregnant on the first time, some people can go a whole year having sex on a regular basis and fail, even if they are fertile, but it happens.
Finally, Sylphiel’s children and Lina’s children. Their appearance was glossed over heavily on purpose, they are about as far from canon as I can get at the moment. They are my creation and I hate to create characters, they distract from the legitimacy of the storyline, so they are nameless, faceless kids. Though I did imagine that Gourry and Sylphiel’s boy would have green hair, just a kind of direct cross between both of their hair colors.
As for Gourry, he is proficient in bed but although I didn’t come out and say it, he is a virgin. Just well studied some how, either through some of the boastful talking that gets thrown around in mercenary camps, through book learning, or maybe he spied on someone way back when. Pick your favorite reasoning and go with it. He was a teenager at one time and curious, dense or not I’m sure he would have tried to find out as much as he could on the subject.
Out of all the other women in the series, it seems, in the novels and other media that Lina has a soft spot for Sylphiel. She treats her differently. In the novels she can be quoted as saying that if she (Lina) was a man she would have fallen in love with Sylphiel right on the spot. I know this fanfic is very lengthy and doesn’t move fast, but think about Sylphiel and Gourry’s time together in it. It’s over a month, there is no adventure going on. I wanted to have them fall in love to some extent but just through the motions of a normal life together. Hence Gourry’s internal dilemma towards the end about choosing a life on the road.
Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this. I tried not to totally screw up canon or the characters, but it’s fanfiction, and I’m not perfect, some people may read this and say “I could never see that happening!” Whereas I am hoping others will say, “He pulled that off somehow.” Please send me feedback regardless, constructive criticism is best, I can always go back and try to make my works better.
Finally (I know, I just keep going here) support Slayers! Buy the novels, Tokyopop has released 1-6 with 7 and 8 on their way. And support the TV series, Funimation is re-releasing it digitally re-mastered for rock bottom prices, if you don’t already own it on DVD, pick it up! Thanks for reading and have a great day/night/whatever.
Bonus!!! - Original Outline (Yes, the whole fanfic was written off this)
So, Lina decides that she needs some time to herself, to go back to Zyphila before taking Gourry back there. But how to ditch Gourry for a time? She doesn’t have many friends, Amelia, Zel…. She thinks about it, how would Amelia deal with Gourry hanging about, and she hadn’t seen Zel in some time. She’s worried that if she tells him to go off on his own he will either put up a fight or might go home and find someone else (she’s pretty insecure) or that he will just go missing forever. So… they are traveling around some and eventually make it back to Sairaag and come across Sylphiel. As with my other stories she is in a bad situation. She is living in poverty. Sick. And disheveled, her sprit nearly broken. Lina feels sympathy for her and inspiration strikes, to leave Gourry with her for the time being to take care of her, she thinks that he won’t mind because he does think of her as a friend and convinces herself that anything Sylphiel felt for Gourry is long over. She also feels bad for Sylphiel herself. Gourry protests but Lina basically puts her foot down, saying that she is commanding him to do it as her protector and that she will be fine and be back in a few weeks. Well, long story short, Lina leaves and Gourry falls in love with Sylphiel, the whole time Sylphiel trying to avoid it, knowing that Lina is in love with him and it would devastate her. Finally they break down and fornicate and Lina comes back shortly thereafter. She can tell something is different but neither want to tell Lina about how they feel. They decide that it would be better if Gourry and her pretend nothing happened and so they do, Sylphiel eagerly sacrificing her own happiness and Gourry not wanting to hurt Lina. Gourry and Lina make it back to see Sylphiel almost a year later (fairly rapidly by their time frame) and by this time she has a kid, her and Gourry’s daughter. Sylphiel is much happier and Lina actually figures out where the kid came from rapidly. Rather than end it on a sad note, Lina is overjoyed that Sylphiel is so happy with the kid (she confronts Gourry on it) and plays with the kid happily, the story ends on a happy note.
IT’S FINALLY OVER!!!
THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!
Head On Back to the Adultness!