The Three Way Shake Down

A  hentai fanfic by RVincent




This fanfic centers on characters from the Anime/Manga/Novel series ‘The Slayers’.  I do not own these characters and they are being used in this fanwork without intent to profit or otherwise exploit them.  Copyrights on the characters remain with their official copyright holders.  Additionally this fanfic contains situations which are not suitable for children, if you are not 18 years of age or older or sexual situations make you uncomfortable, please hit the back button on your browser or close your text viewing application now. 


On to the setting.  I took some elements from both the anime and the novel.  However I tried to minimize elements unique to either.  For example I mention Gourry having a new sword, this is canonical with both the novels (after the Hell Master incident) and also with the anime (after the Dark Star incident) although I do not say which.  This is for my own sake so that I can have the character depth of the novels but the life of the characters portrayed in the Anime.  Really if you haven’t read the novels or (gasp) watched the anime, as long as you have done one or the other you should be able to follow along fine.  This fanfic takes place after TRY or the novels to give a comfortable distance.


For those that have stuck with me, enjoy!


**********(Classic Opening Stars) **********


Growing up, Amelia had hardly spent any time out in nature.  Part of it was due to her royal upbringing, spending so much time in the castle.  But another, larger part, she attributed on her own fathers’ protective nature.  Unless escorted by a full entourage of guards she had found it difficult to leave the city walls until she had made it into her teens.  Now though she found herself sitting in the wilderness; comfortably propped up against a tree.  Relaxed.  Her arms hung lazily at her sides.  She focused on the cool night air brushing past her face.  Even in the dim moonlight she couldn’t help but admire the beauty of unspoiled wilderness.  The trees all around her were responsible for the wonderfully pure air she was breathing and the sky above her filled her heart and soul with a majesty hard to match by any earthbound creation. 


            Even in the face of such majesty she couldn’t hold her melancholy feelings at bay, it was something that had been moving from her dreams and more into reality.  Her relaxed half-smile faded as her thinking went back to Zelgadiss.  It was hard for her to keep her mind off him, what with him being a stones throw away form her current resting place.


Amelia gave a bit of a sigh as she raised up her arms and ran her hands rigidly over her face.  The movement itself invigorated her slightly and gave her the motivation she needed to get off her posterior and start taking those first few steps back toward camp.  She’d been away for over an hour and she was starting to and hope, however fruitlessly, that maybe Zelgadiss was starting to question if she was okay.  As she passed through the woods the piercing silence gave way to the crackling and pops from the fire she approached.  Gradually the forest increased in luminance and it wasn’t long before Amelia had plopped herself down just next to the fire, its warmth an un-ignorable presence on her face and arms. 


In such a small clearing as the one they had camped in, it was impossible not to notice Zelgadiss’ absence.  She let out an involuntary ’huff..’ as she took in her surroundings, her gaze passing over the two tents erected nearby.


She tried but failed to muster the willpower to look for the chimera.  Amelia scooted away from the fire on her fanny and leaned against a nearby tree before letting her eyes droop.  The heat form the fire had barely faded from her face by the time she heard Zelgadiss approaching.  She opted to feign sleep.  Listening intently she heard his approach and a momentary clatter as he let and armload of wood drop near the fire.  The dry banging of seasoned timber instantly giving her mind a sharp image to focus on.  He stood there for a moment, leaving Amelia waiting and slightly anticipating his next move.  A few more steps and he was next to her, something her mind could feel more than deduce from the sound of his footfalls. 


Slowly she began to feel slightly uneasy with Zelgadiss over her unmoving.  Stretching her arms out perpendicular to her body and groaning she lazily forced open her eyes and tilted her head up ever-so-slightly so that her surprised look would register with Zelgadiss and drive home the point that she had been sleeping innocently.  “I knew you were awake.”  Zelgadiss grumbled out, less than amused.  Amelia sighed, frowning before turning to look at the firewood. 


“You think we’ll really need all that..” 


Zelgadiss dropped his hands to his sides, “Well, I figured we could stay here awhile.”  Then after a pause he added, frustrated, “We really don’t have any destination in mind at the moment….” 


Amelia shifted her eyes up to meet Zelgadiss’, “I guess.”  Her response was resigned and a little disgusted but neither emotion seemed to get through his stone carapace. 


He looked away toward his tent momentarily, then back around to Amelia, “I guess I’m going to call it a night.”  He said suddenly.  He didn’t even wait for a reply as he turned from Amelia and made his way toward his tent, quickly shutting himself inside.  Sometimes she missed Lina being around, she could always get him out of one of his funks. 


Biting her lip a bit, her emotions forced their way to the forefront.  There was something there, she just didn’t know what any more.  All inside her sinuses it tingled and burned.  Tears threatened to come and even though she made no attempt to hold them back, they never manifested.  She had been traveling with Zelgadiss for so long and… nothing.  If anything he had grown even more despondent and her more cold toward him for it.  She could tell that she was starting to get resentful, occasionally she found herself lashing out at him over things that would be too mundane for most people to notice.  Irritated when she caught him walking in sync with her, letting her call him ‘Mr. Zelgadiss’, not putting wood in the fire exactly when it needed it, the list went on.  The worst part for her was that after her fits she would realize that she was entirely to blame and apologize, feeling all the worse for it. 


Her teens had been wasted with this man.  After they had separated from each other after the last great battle the both of them had been in with Lina, their reunion had been great.  There had been fireworks, she felt they were on the verge of something.  That was a long time ago though; years had gone by, some of Amelia’s best, just spent walking quietly through forests.  A life of monotony.  The impulse had been building for months but her resolve faded each night before she could take action.  She was determined to give Zelgadiss one last shot, give the two of them one last try.  Things had gone on for too long not to at least give their relationship that. With the fire casting its twisted form of illumination all around she decided that tonight she would force fate’s hand.




The darkness was almost total but Zelgadiss tried to focus on the flap of his tent.  Shutting out the sleep impulse that was rattling his brain he forced his mind into awareness as he realized he wasn’t just imagining his tent flap being unbuttoned.  Although the fire outside had completely burned out, he could tell someone was flirting with the tent from the beam of light splashing to the ground from the opening.  It was the only illumination in the tent and the wedge of light was growing wider.  He tensed a bit, clenching his legs together in a defensive position and reached stealthily for his sword nearby. 


Zelgadiss noticed that the lower side of the flap had already been opened.  Only a button or two was left holding up the edge.  Pulling the sword toward him he unsheathed it in the same fluid motion.  Soundlessly he pulled the sword under his covers and closed his eyes all but a hairs width.  With the tent now completely open, the silhouette of hair was a dead give away for Zelgadiss.  Amelia was standing in the opening, but it was such a surprise to see her there that he nearly made a sound and revealed himself.  He heard her suck in a breath as she snuck into the tent and he watched even more interested as she turned slightly and re-attached two of the buttons of the tent.  A moment later he noticed the strange glow of moon light over her body.  It didn’t take him long to realize she was naked, her faint outline showing her breasts much more clearly than he had ever seen before.  His reaction was not what he would have expected.


Gently she tiptoed her way to the front of the tent, hunched over and desperately attempting to avoid Zelgadiss’ appendages.  Thankfully for her they were consolidated in the center of the blanket she was avoiding.  Purposefully she bent down further, picking up the edge of the blanket near Zelgadiss’ head and putting a foot under.  She dropped down more while sliding her body under the blanket as she went.  With her fully under the blanket with him, Zelgadiss held his breath.  Amelia paused a moment then rolled toward Zelgadiss, but suddenly stopped.  Very slowly she reached down between the two of them and withdrew her hand.  Zelgadiss felt her taking the cold hilt of the sword with it. 


“Now I’m the one who knows you’re faking.”  Amelia said, trying to imitate Zelgadiss’ voice from earlier.  Zelgadiss opened one eye and turned a little toward Amelia, “Even I know you don’t sleep that close to your sword.” she explained. 


Groaning a little Zelgadiss turned on his side to face Amelia, “What do you think you’re doing?” 


Her voice started off sarcastically enough, “Well, I decided that I would sneak into your tent naked, seduce you, and give you my virginity-”  He could hear her voice breaking as she continued, “…but I guess that can wait till tomorrow.”  Her emotions were hardly in check. 


“Amelia...” Zelgadiss chided in the voice he reserved for any time he wanted to emphasize that she was being melodramatic. 


“Don’t!”  Amelia cut him off, “I’ve spent every day with you for the last five years... every single day... can’t you even tell me you love me!? That you care at all?”  She lashed out, feeling the righteousness of her feelings finally being vocalized.  The raw feelings quickly drained her, leaving her on the verge of sobbing.  She forced herself to take a break to get her breath back, if she broke down now she knew he wouldn’t take her seriously. 


Zelgadiss was unfazed, he knew she’d been on the verge of some kind of outburst for some time.  “Amelia... I-I do care for you....” 


Amelia swallowed hard and pressed on, “But..?”


Zelgadiss grimaced, “But there’s someone else.” 


“Lina.” Amelia finished, she’d known it all along.  It was his silence that confirmed the truth.  “But... but... five years, don’t you want me at all!”  Amelia reached over, quickly ensnaring one of Zelgadiss’ hands and pulling it to her dry crotch.  Roughly she rocked her neither regions against it while trying to act seductive despite her damp cheeks and breaking voice.  Zelgadiss was quick to wretch his hand away. 


“There’s something between us Amelia, but it’s not that.”  Amelia sniffled and rolled away, looking up at the dimly lit ceiling. 


“So that’s it then...” Amelia stated dejected.


“Yeah...” Zelgadiss also rolled onto his back.  There was a certain finality to it.  Both of their elbows were touching by the faintest margin but neither sensed the other was planning on moving any time soon.  With Zelgadiss not willing to entertain Amelia any further and Amelia too shattered to care, they both settled in for the night.




“Zelgadiss...” Amelia whispered softly, rolling over and looking at where she imagined him to be laying in the darkness.


“Hummm...” He managed out on the verge of sleep, so much time had gone by but neither had succumbed to slumber.


“I... like Lina too...”


She felt him move through the covers, sitting up on one elbow, “What?”  Even the darkness did not feel to give sufficient cover for her blush.


“When we used to travel together... “  She paused, her sensibilities told her to just shut up, but she couldn’t stop herself, “I used to imagine that we would grow up and both live in Sailune together...”  Amelia stopped to gauge his reaction and damned the darkness before continuing, “Even then I knew it was silly…”  She gave a little laugh hoping to diminish the seriousness of it, more for her benefit than Zelgadiss’.  “I thought I would get over it… I- I knew I was young and I knew it was wrong, so I gave it time.”  Her voice trailed off, breaking just slightly so she allowed herself a moment.  Unexpectedly Zelgadiss remained silent and she wanted more than ever to see his stone face.  She knew that for once she was getting some emotion from him. 


“But, after Rezo.”  Amelia paused, taking a deep breath before continuing anew “… after Hellmaster… I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care about her like that.  That she was just a friend, but I never felt like that about a anyone before, I didn’t want to…,”  Amelia wetted her lips anew before continuing, “Then I grew past that immature phase.”  She gulped, trying to refresh her strained vocal cords, “I think I might even..”  She trailed off, even as honest as she was feeling at the moment she couldn’t manage to get it out.


His interest piqued, Zelgadiss sat up fully and turned on his butt toward Amelia, “Really?” Zelgadiss asked, unable to believe Amelia could hide those sort of feelings, even for another girl, “Did you ever tell her?”  He added, his fascination forcing him to probe even deeper.


Amelia scoffed, the absurdity of the question serving to at least partially bring her back to reality, “I told her just about as bluntly as you did.”  Zelgadiss winced at the bitterness of the retort but didn’t know what to answer with.  Laying there, it only took a short while for Amelia to feel exposed both from her nude state and from her similarly exposed feelings.  To cover herself she rushed into an explanation, “I followed her everywhere, looked up to her, she was so strong, and-”  Amelia halted, her voice dropping and developing a slight quiver, “Eventually one day I realized I- I wanted to be with her…. that was what I wanted in life, that I didn’t want to be without her.  When we’d sleep together in the same bed I’d stay up at night and just admire her and when I caught myself doing it,”  She gulped audibly before continuing, “I felt so ashamed and I’d stop.  Then later in the night, I’d catch myself doing it again. But when I wasn’t around her, when I could think clearly, I knew it was all so wrong…”


“I never knew.”  Zelgadiss was completely dumbfounded, he never thought Amelia could hide anything she felt that strongly.  Amelia couldn’t help but continue, finally getting out years of self-repression.


“You’re lucky Zelgadiss, you liked her, but I think I loved her.”  She stopped for a moment as if by saying that statement she’d even caught herself off guard.  Haltingly she  continued weakly, “..we’d go to the hot springs together and she’d let me wash her back.  It was so carefree.  I would pretend we were married, then after washing up we’d go off to sleep together.  Looking back, towards the end I was getting a little delusional, you have no idea how hard it was to leave her Zelgadiss.  And that’s why I had to do it…” 


Obviously moved by Amelia, Zelgadiss finished Amelia’s story for her, “So you decided that you would leave her and run off forever, is that right?” 


Amelia nodded but knowing how dark it was she also squeaked out a ‘Yes’, tears already returning  to her eyes.  She cursed herself internally for loosing the self-control that she’d developed over years of being a princess.


Then the silence was back in full force.  Amelia settled back in and Zelgadiss laid back down, “I guess we’ll both be unhappy forever…” 


Amelia spoke back up, “At least you had a chance.” 


Zelgadiss could feel Amelia’s sullenness but his ire raise at the accusation none the less, “Not with Gourry around.  You saw the two of them together, you had just about as much chance as I did with him around.” 


Amelia laughed bitterly, “If I had half the chance you did I would have taken it!” 


Zelgadiss growled, “Whatever.  I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to sleep.”  He rolled off to the side taking the bulk of the covers with him and leaving Amelia to think.


Again Amelia broke the silence, “Zelgadiss, do you hate me?”  The muffled grunt was hardly the response she’d been looking for, so she continued the conversation one-sided.  “I don’t hate you, I actually like you quite a bit.“  Her voice trailing off into the darkness before she suddenly added, “I wouldn’t have offered myself to you if I didn’t intend to marry you.”  She finished softly, wondering what his reaction would be.


“Hold on a second!  I mean, I don’t hate you, but marrying you?” 


Amelia smiled at his reaction, “But you don’t hate me right?” 


Zelgadiss reached out and put his hand gently on her head, gently rubbing this thumb through her hair, “No, I don’t hate you, I do like you... just not enough for...” 


Amelia reached foreword and put one of her hands around Zelgadiss’ waist and pulled herself against him, a smile coming to her despite the situation for finally giving in to that specific impulse, “I think I just thought of a way to make both of us happy.” 


Zelgadiss perked up a little, “Really?”  He asked skeptically. 


“Well, it’s better than anything else we have planned -- and I just realized something, I’m naked.”


Zelgadiss smiled, “I could hardly forget.” 


Amelia raised her hand up from beneath the covers and playfully slapped Zelgadiss on the arm “Let’s get some sleep,  okay?  I think the sun’s coming up.” 


Zelgadiss smiled back, “Sounds like a good idea, good night Amelia.” 


Amelia wiggled into the pillow, “Good night… Mister Zelgadiss...”


(())((()))/\  ~~ \/ ...ooo000OOO000ooo... \/ ~~ /\((()))(())


There was a different feeling in the air the next morning.  Laying naked under the covers, reality was the furthest thing from Amelia’s mind.  For the first time in a long time she felt content.  Looking at the ceiling of the tent, her mind filtered though the plans for the day.  Eventually she found herself thinking again about Lina.  And for once it wasn’t making her depressed.  She smiled to herself, a goofy grin.  She refocused on the ceiling.  Judging from the sun beams hitting the top of the tent it must have been somewhere after noon.  Amelia’s smile doubled, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept in so late. 


She stretched lazily, exhaling sharply.  The morning cold was still apparently trapped within the tent and caused some of her joints to stiffen up.  Even with magical healing abilities she was rough on her body.  As a result Amelia was already starting to feel the slightest throbbing of arthritis when the conditions were just right.  This despite her just barely being into her twenties.  She turned on her side, facing Zelgadiss and was not at all surprised to see him starring at her.  What did take her aback was his expression, it seemed softer for lack of a better word.  “Good morning Amelia, you look like you slept good.” 


Amelia nodded slightly and gave an affirmative sound in her throat, “Uh hum, I should sleep in the nude more often.” 


Zelgadiss’ eyes widened noticeably, “I thought you put on clothes before we fell asleep?” 


In response Amelia sat upright on her butt with a smug look on her face and allowed the sheet to fall of its’ own accord.  At first it was at Amelia’s neck line, but it steadily slipped, revealing more of her creamy flesh until it hung up on her breasts.  For a moment there was a hint of passion as the sheet took its time barely covering Amelia’s nipples, that extra bit of anticipation held in the air like a single key struck on a piano, until all at once the sheet fell from her erect nipples and into her lap. 


Zelgadiss sat up as well and gulped and after a moment of admiring Amelia’s natural beauty - her perfectly shaped breasts, her proportioned nipples, the subtle play of flesh across bone where her neck joined her shapely shoulders and the way her slightly arched back accentuated her whole torso… He turned away blushing.  Amelia giggled, finally happy to have moved Zelgadiss to some emotion or another.  “You could have had me last night if you didn’t have to be so damn honest.”  Amelia chided playfully. 


On the verge of a nose bleed Zelgadiss waved off the statement, “Just go get dressed...” 


Amelia pretended to sigh, “Well, if you really want me to..”  She drew out the sentence as she stood up and started unbuttoning the tent.


Despite the proximity of Amelia’s bottom to Zelgadiss, he managed to keep a gentlemanly disposition as she worked on the tent flap.  Though there was more than just a sneaking suspicion in Zelgadiss’ mind that Amelia was still trying to tempt him into something.   As such it came as a relief when Amelia finally coaxed the tent open and, with just the slightest wave of her rump, left to find some clothes.


With Amelia out of the tent Zelgadiss allowed his body to crash back down onto the floor.  For the last five years things had remained static.  He hadn’t expected anything like this to happen.  The situation between himself and Amelia had escalated over the last few weeks, but he couldn’t have guessed that it would be culminate in something as significant as this.  Grumbling a bit, he wasn’t sure what to do.  No matter, he found the new freedom he had to talk to Amelia somewhat inspiring.  A little more optimistic than usual, Zelgadiss sat up once again.  For once he was looking forward to the day ahead.




Upon exiting the tent Zelgadiss saw that Amelia was already stoking the fire.  Apparently it still had some life in it.  “So, last night you said you figured out a way to make us happy?”  He decided to be direct, but tried to sound sarcastic in case she had been kidding.  Still, he was honestly hoping that maybe Amelia did have some plan of action.  It just wasn’t in his character to let his enthusiasm adulterate his voice.  Amelia looked up from the fire excited.  A moment later she decided that the fire could be left alone and gave Zelgadiss her full attention.  She eagerly sat down next to him, trying to keep enthusiasm in check.  She failed miserably.  Immediately she started making grandiose hand motions to accompany her rapid speech.  She wasn’t afraid to let her feelings show.


“So, I was thinking, maybe it’s time we headed back to Sailune...” She lowered her voice and left a pause for dramatic emphasis, “But you know that with their princess coming back for the first time in five years they are going to make a really big deal about it.  We’ll have to send a messenger to Daddy.  But when we get back there will be parades, and we’ll get to ride on a big float, and there will probably be a huge festival!” 


Not getting sucked in by the hype, Zelgadiss held his expression impassive.  He was worried that if he said something derogatory she might give up trying to talk to him - like she had so often in the last few days.  Confident that she would eventually get to the point, he nodded to encourage her to keep going.  “...And since it’ll be such a huge event we’ll have to ask Daddy to contact Lina and Gourry so that they can show up too, I mean, we haven’t seen them in such a long time.”  Amelia finished with a wink. 


Zelgadiss cracked a smile, but responded jokingly, “Yeah, it will be nice to see them, but then what, Princess?” 


Amelia scoffed half-heartedly at the mocking use of her title but continued on.  “Then I figured you could make the moves on her and...”  Amelia trailed off making kissing sounds.


“Make the moves on her!?”  Zelgadiss nearly yelled, not angry, just caught off guard.  It hadn’t been where he expected the plan to be going but Amelia nodded cutely, not sure where the flaw in the thinking was.  Zelgadiss tried to elaborate, “How’s that supposed to make both of us happy?  I thought we decided you had a better chance?” 


Amelia blushed but remained on the defensive, “Oh no, why would I have a better chance - like Lina would fall for a girl...” 


Zelgadiss countered with his usual smugness, “You fell for her.  Didn’t you?”  Amelia cried out in mock pain, her own thoughts thrown against her, but the usual chiding undertone had been absent from his retort and Amelia found herself smiling in response.


 “Look, Lina likes men.  I mean, we both know she went for Gourry, we don’t even know if we have a shot.” 


Zelgadiss’ ears twitched, his curiosity piqued, “A shot at what?”  He asked simply, Amelia in turn moved in closer.  She brought her face into a shadowed, more evil view with an aura to match.  Surprisingly it was quite becoming of her, “A shot at breaking up Lina and Gourry... as long as they haven’t consummated yet....” 


There wasn’t any humor to it, Zelgadiss was taken aback, “What, so we’re just going to steal away someone he might love - and leave him alone, probably forever?”  Amelia sat back on her haunches, putting her finger to her chin and thinking for a moment.


“Hummm, I wouldn’t want to do that to Gourry...” 


Zelgadiss shook his head, “And neither would I.”  Silence again followed, with the exception of some crackling, the fire had decided to take again, and the kindling was being consumed rapidly in the hearth. 


“There’s always Sylphiel...”  He heard Amelia start, causing Zelgadiss to turn back to her.


“What about her?” 


Amelia made a huge exaggerated motion with her hands, “Come on, remember back in Sairaag.  Sylphiel, really likes Gourry.  Wouldn’t she make him happy?” 


Zelgadiss sighed, “I’m not an idiot, I remember her, I just meant, it’s ridiculous.  She’s probably moved on, Lina and Gourry are probably married, and we have no reason to even think about these kinds of things!” 


With such a sensitive subject as unrequited love it was a wonder that Zelgadiss had maintained his cool for so long.  Amelia however was only slightly dissuaded, “Zelgadiss, I have to go home.  My kingdom needs me.  That was part of the reason I tried to seduce you last night.  I figured... maybe I’d go back with some happy news.”  Amelia trailed off, standing to her feet and clenching her fist in front of her before continuing, “But... after your rejection last night I have new purpose.  No matter how crazy it might seem - we will try to get Lina from Gourry!”  She finished, bringing up her fist and striking a dramatic pose.


Zelgadiss, who was not often able to tolerate taking orders interjected, “Look, there’s no way-!”


Amelia brought her fist up, determined, “Love will find a way!  I didn’t believe it before, but after last night, I know this is fate!  Things will work out for us some way, somehow!”  Even when almost unbelievable, there was still an inspiring quality to Amelia’s words.  It also helped that her inspirational pose was also somewhat threatening. 


It did something to Zelgadiss, causing him to bend ever-so-slightly to her demands.  He gave himself a moment to think things over before trying again, “Now... suppose we do go back to Sailune... and suppose Gourry and Lina do show up.  And somehow, against all odds they haven’t tied the knot yet....”  Amelia nodded, her excitement growing she bent down at the waist to put herself eye-level with Zelgadiss as he sat on the ground.  “IF that happens, and we find a way to make Gourry happy, then... You can put your moves on Lina.” 


Amelia cried out, “Hey!”  Zelgadiss was again back to playing.  Despite how subtle the indication was, it was something that Amelia had picked up on over the years though she had to admit he was in rare form this day. 


He waved his hands in front of his face to wave off any coming verbal assault, “I’m just saying that you’ve got the best chance out of both of us!” 


Amelia flayed her arms wide, nearly striking Zelgadiss on accident, or maybe not. “Zelgadiss, you’re the one with the best chance!” 


“Why would I have the best chance!”  He retorted incredulous.


“Because you’re a guy!” 


“And a Chimera.”  He deadpanned.


“But you’re still a guy.  You know, I bet Lina found you attractive even with your body.” 


“There’s no way she ever found me attractive.” 


Amelia spoke back up, “I find you attractive, don’t I?” 


Zelgadiss tilted his head up to meet her eyes, “Since when do you find me attractive!”  He returned before suddenly feeling silly for his retaliation.


Amelia moved up slightly so he couldn’t look her in the eyes any more, “Since forever, I…” She paused before adding quickly, “Well maybe not right when we first met, but practically every day after that.  I always had goo-goo eyes around you, and it was Mr. Zelgadiss this and Mr. Zelgadiss that, you had to have noticed I couldn‘t have been more obvious about it.  I was just too embarrassed to say it out loud.” 


He smirked, “Of course I noticed, but I didn’t think it was my looks - maybe more of my attitude.”  He replied smugly, if his hair would have been hanging in his eyes, he would have tossed it back dramatically. 


Amelia huffed, “Your attitude could use some work, but... there’s something about those hues of grey and blue that really set you off.”  She trailed off, faintly pleasant memories of their times together coming unbidden to her mind, overriding them though she marched on, “I just have no chance compared to you.”


Giving a deep sigh Zelgadiss again shifted his gaze toward the fire, “I’m the one that didn’t have a chance - I couldn’t tell her before,  and I don’t think I could tell her now.  What good would it do anyway?  You’re the one that should tell her how you feel.” 


“But Zelgadiss!  She’s not going to want me!” 


Zelgadiss gave a smug laugh, “Let’s start with the obvious, you’re royalty,  which makes you rich and we know how much Lina loves money, not to mention food.  You might not be up to her in the magic department, but you can hold your own and she can count on you in a fight.  Not to mention you’re the only one that she lets see her naked.  I’ve seen the way she acts around you and when we were traveling together you spend more time with her than anyone, it was subtle but there might have been something there.  Do you want me to go on?” 


Amelia dropped her hands onto Zelgadiss’ shoulders, bending over deeply to look him in the eyes, “Look, you’re going to be the one to confess, and if things go well... I guess I will too... okay?”  Amelia’s voice softened again, but Zelgadiss wasn’t paying much attention to her any more.


At some time during the conversation Zelgadiss had noticed that with the clasp around her neck absent, Amelia‘s shirt hung fairly loosely around her shoulders.  The fabric created a V beneath Amelia‘s neck.  It gave him a good view, “You know I can see down your shirt, don’t you?” 


Calmly enough Amelia responded, “I -- didn’t think about that.”  Zelgadiss nodded.  Still she didn’t move.  A blush started to spread to his cheeks as he looked down her blouse, the tops of her breasts clearly visible, just the nipples covered by her underclothes. 


“So....”  Zelgadiss was at a loss for words.  In this light, despite her breasts being shadowed within the shirt, there was something risqué there.  Zelgadiss couldn’t deny that he was feeling something now.  Maybe if Amelia had come to him offering her body in the daylight he wouldn’t have been so impervious to her charms.


Eventually she stood upright again, adjusting her shirt, “You enjoy the show?” She giggled, Zelgadiss shook off the feeling.  It was obvious Amelia was acting a little strange... Liberated.  As soon as the word came to his mind some things clicked.  Yes, she had been liberated.  And so had he.  At least to some degree, to the extent of sharing their mutual quest as screwed, star-crossed lovers of the same sorceress.  Zelgadiss in turn, pushed to his feet as Amelia made her way back to the fire. 


He stopped at his tent, pulling down the flap and beginning to disassemble it.  Turning back momentarily he called out, “So, we’re going to send out the letter to Sailune today?” 


Amelia in turn raised her voice in response, “That’s the plan!” 


Zelgadiss smiled and turned back to the tent, pulling out a corner stake, “Good...”


(())((()))/\  ~~ \/ ...ooo000OOO000ooo... \/ ~~ /\((()))(())


As they made their way along winding back roads toward the holy capital, there was an excitement there that neither Zelgadiss nor Amelia had felt in some time.  Amelia had been telling the truth, she had been directing their course toward her home subtly.  They were close.  The days passed quickly and suddenly the city came into view as they passed a particularly tall hill.  Amelia paused just as they reached the crest of the land, bringing Zelgadiss to a halt as well. 


“After many years on the road I’ve finally come back to my city.  My homeland.  The place of my birth -- And I’ve missed it..”  Amelia lamented, her mood going from enthusiastic to melancholy in three syllables.  She turned to catch Zelgadiss’ eye before glancing back to the city.  “I’ve missed it Zelgadiss.  I missed Daddy too.  And everything’s going to turn out for the best, right?”  Regardless of how he felt, Zelgadiss nodded at least for Amelia‘s benefit. 


“So just what did that letter to your dad say?”  Zelgadiss had been a little nervous about the whole issue over the last several days.  Whenever he managed to bring it up she always danced around the issue or avoided it all together.  As if there were something that she’d said in the message that Zelgadiss wouldn’t be happy about.


“Ummm -- nothing really…”  She muttered unconvincingly, prompting Zelgadiss to sigh. 


“At least tell me if we’re sleeping in the same bed tonight.”  He asked with the slightest of worries that maybe Amelia had decided to give her dad some good news, no matter how inaccurate it might have been.


“Of course we’re not sharing a bed Mr. Zelgadiss!”  She berated him as she would an absent minded child.  He couldn’t hold back his grin though.  Amelia hadn’t been this playful in a long time.  His thoughts filtered back and it was obvious that it had been the best week of travel the two of them had honestly shared together.  Things that they normally argued over, they joked about instead. Instead of getting angry, Amelia would diffuse the situation with some witty retort -- she’d even gotten him to laugh a few times.  Amelia could feel the difference especially well; Zelgadiss had been more approachable, listening to her more often than just cutting her off.


“So just what did the letter say?”  Zelgadiss tried to get back to the heart of the matter as the two of them rapidly approached the city. 


Amelia smiled wide, “Actually…”  She took a moment to let Zelgadiss’ anticipation rise, “I only told him exactly what I said I would.  That I was coming home, with you, and that I would like for him to find Lina and Gourry so that they could meet us there.” 


Zelgadiss’ realized his mouth was hanging open and forced himself into action to keep from looking the fool, “That’s it?”  Amelia nodded.  “Then why didn’t you just tell me that?” 


“I did.”  She replied simply, “You just chose not to take it at face value.”


Zelgadiss looked ready to pull out his hair, “But… but?” 


Amelia giggled, “I thought it was kind of cute you worrying so much, I mean, what would I have said to daddy that would have got you so worked up?”  Zelgadiss snorted before turning back to the road a little upset but thankfully less stressed. 


“Wait!”  Zelgadiss said suddenly bringing the two of them to a stop, “How do I know you’re just telling me that now to make sure you get me to the city?”  Zelgadiss sounded sincerely nervous.


“I guess you’ll just have to trust me.”  She said with a wink, sticking out her tongue and leaving Zelgadiss worried anew.




            Apparently Amelia had been truthful as to the contents of the letter.  At least it looked that way to Zelgadiss so far.  He was still having trouble blending into the background though.  Part of it was due to him having such a prestigious seat near Prince Philionel and Amelia.  Apparently he was a guest of honor, though he would have much rather bequeathed that honor upon someone else.  The other, possibly larger reason for the attention he was attracting was not at all unfamiliar to him, his chimerical features.  Amelia’s hand maidens had done well selecting something formal with hues that matched his carapace well enough to make his skin color appear, at first, to be a trick of the eyes.  It somehow managed to advert some of the more sardonic gazes.     


            Amelia though was also admiring his attire.  The table was rectangular with rounded edges, the length being several times the width of the particular piece.   It was Amelia’s fortune though that she was seated directly across from Zelgadiss.  His gaze was down, focusing on the food.  That essentially gave her permission to run her eyes over him unabashed.  She’d picked his outfit herself and given it to her servant to bring to Zelgadiss.  She knew it had been the right choice to send one of her servants.  If she had brought it to him herself there was the possibility he would have rejected it outright simply to make her feel stupid.  She did realize though that particular aspect of his behavior had been fading as of late. 


            Zelgadiss ate at a steady pace.  When he was hungry enough he could keep pace with Lina, and it had been quite some time since he had enjoyed food of the quality he was consuming at Amelia’s father’s table.  It helped him forget the rigmarole that had lead up to dinner.  Until the sun had set in the sky both him and Amelia stood atop the castle wall, waving at the assembled masses.  His jaw still hurt from the forced smile, he’d at least pretended to give a damn.  And still they heard nothing of Lina or Gourry.  Every face over every shoulder scanned with hope, and they were all dashed.  Weakly he shook himself from his funk.  It wouldn’t do in this type of company and besides, as disappointed as he was at Lina‘s absence he wasn‘t all that sure what he was planning to do once she made an appearance.  Slowly he lifted his head.  Even in the crowded room, with all of Amelia’s family, and the royal council, he could feel Amelia’s eyes on him. .


            Abruptly Amelia turned her head to avoid Zelgadiss’ returned gaze.  She felt the blush spread to her face regardless and knew it would be a dead giveaway for his enhanced vision.  She turned again to her father, he’d aged well.  Still, he was beginning to grey around the ears and brow.  She never thought that she’d see such a thing come to him.  Her heart felt heavy as she thought about the burden she’d put on him by leaving him alone, with her sister gone and their mother dead, she was the last one.  They’d talked for a bit when dinner had first started, but mostly for show.  She knew that there were other more personal things that her father wanted to know, however inappropriate she felt they were to discuss openly. 


            The noise in the room was cacophonic.  Zelgadiss was having trouble differentiating one voice from another, not that anyone was really talking to him.  At first he had wanted to talk to Amelia, but there wasn’t much to say.  Philionel had tried to start a conversation with him initially but it had quickly died out.  Surprisingly Philionel’s brother Christopher had tried to get him involved in some lively conversation.  Apparently their deeds in Sailune had not been forgotten.  “Geh!”  Zelgadiss choked out, his wine going down the wrong pipe in his throat.  Quickly he composed.  He knew without even looking that it was Amelia’s foot that had started trailing up his leg.  He swallowed his wine and tried to pretend not to notice.


            The smile was barely turning up the corners of Amelia’s mouth, but it was there all the same.  Despite her best efforts to hold it back.  Sometimes it was just too much fun to embarrass Zelgadiss.  She raised her foot up again, stretching her body out beneath the table and pressing her naked foot against his knee and traveling inward along his leg.  She could tell he was trying his hardest to keep a straight face and act nonchalant, but he was failing miserably.  Each touch of her foot made him squirm in his chair.  She wanted ever so much to allow herself to slink deeper into her seat and give herself the reach she needed to press her advantage but worried that it might become too obvious if she let herself slip any further.


            Wondering what the hell she was doing, Zelgadiss backed his chair further away from the table.  He could almost feel his cheeks redden, despite his stone skin there were blood vessels just beneath it and he was sure they were dilated.  Amelia finally let up her assault since he had successfully gotten out of range.  He wanted to let out a sigh of relief but the Barron to his right was giving him a strange look so he held it in, “Gas.”  He said almost to himself which quickly turned the attention of the man back onto his food.  Suddenly he felt alone again amongst the din, Zelgadiss set his eyes strongly on Amelia, trying to drive the point home. 


            She stifled a laugh, despite his best efforts at intimidation, it was obvious he was completely frazzled.  It was a look she liked on Zelgadiss.  No matter his attire she knew what to look for, and the tell-tale signs where there.  He was blushing, his ears perked, nostrils flared.  She dropped her head to the table momentarily to mask her smile.  Amelia knew she was going to get an ear full once the two of them were alone but it was worth it.  Figuring she’d given Zelgadiss enough grief for the moment she turned her attention back to her father,  “Daddy?”


            His voice was gruff like she’d remembered it, despite his looks he sounded like he hadn’t aged a day, “Yes my daughter?”


            “Have you heard anything about Lina and Gourry?”  She asked, still unsure where the night might yet lead.




            “Well, your father’s the same as ever.”  Zelgadiss dead panned as they both left her father‘s chambers together.  In response, Amelia beamed a smile back at him, she’d been giddy from the start and her enthusiasm had been matched step for step by her father.  Actually, that had been the best for Zelgadiss.  Thankfully after dinner when they had gotten together, Amelia and her father had kept the conversation almost strictly between themselves and unless Amelia actually lead it towards Zelgadiss, he hardly got a word in.  He wouldn’t have had it any other way. 


            With dinner out of the way however, he didn’t know what to feel.  Anxious -- would Lina show up?  Would Gourry be with her?  Would she somehow drag the two of them on another whirlwind adventure to save the world?  Would she return his feelings, Amelia’s feelings…  Suddenly he found himself fighting off an alluring image of Amelia leaping atop a naked Lina.  Feeling the heat move to his cheeks he shook his head of the image.  Honestly, he wanted to leave.  To just get away from the castle before some inexplicable unforeseen event trapped him.  Again though his brain went from comfortable cold thoughts to more sensual matters.  That sudden resurgence of Amelia’s affection almost a week earlier, naked, laying next to him, offering herself to him. He tried to force his mind from its relapse into the gutter and had to adjust his walk to hide a certain effect his mood was having on his body. 


            Thankfully for him, Amelia didn’t notice.  Or at least she might have been too polite to mention that she had.  “So, Zelgadiss, are you thinking about Lina right now?”  He turned slightly, that impish grin he’d been seeing over the past few days… He felt his face flush deeper, thrown off so thoroughly that he didn’t have the ability to go on the defensive.


            “I-”  He started, “..well, Lina -- and you…”  He admitted, completely convinced that his blush would be hidden beneath his stone hide.


            “You mean…”  Amelia trailed off.  The way he said it quickly made her realize he’d meant the two of them- together.  Even in his embarrassed state, he gave a chuckle as he watched Amelia blush deeper than he had ever seen before.  Even more so then when she’d accidentally walked into the brothel thinking it was an Inn and demanded service.  She’d been so embarrassed she had to literally be dragged out.  Though Zelgadiss had to admit that if a Madam had laughed so hard at him he might have been equally mortified.  “You shouldn’t be thinking about things like that!”  She squeaked out, accentuating the statement with a slap on his shoulder.


            His smile grew as she tried to hide her face behind her hands and as a result her walking got considerably more awkward and Zelgadiss had to slow up his pace or loose her.  That was an unforgivable thought considering how much he enjoyed watching her squirm like this, all thoughts of his own embarrassment gone. And it was a bit of payback for dinner too, something he still found himself thinking about.  Without warning Amelia stopped for a moment, making Zelgadiss think that the embarrassment was too much for her.  Quickly he realized they were at the point where they needed to part ways.  His room was off in one direction and hers in the complete opposite.


            “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”  Zelgadiss muttered, unsure of what else to say with the sudden awkwardness. 


            “Yeah.”  Already composing herself, Amelia nodded, her hair bobbing momentarily in front of her eyes before bouncing back above her head, “I know Lina will be here tomorrow.”  She added the last bit hastily.  She wondered what kind of impact it would have on him.


            “Maybe…”  He trailed off as they stood there.  They’d been standing there too long he realized, just about the time he found himself comparing Amelia’s eyes to the delicate blue tiles on the floor around them. “I guess it’s time I went.”  He started suddenly, shocking Amelia out of a similar daze.  She managed a nod and a weak smile just as Zelgadiss turned away and hurried off towards his room.




            It was dark outside.  Black.  No moon, no stars, just clouds and the occasional brief glimpse of light from beyond them.  Without the moon, Amelia had no clue how much time had passed.  Sleep had been eluding her for what seemed like hours.  Again she switched sides, bundling the comforter between her legs and clutching it tightly.  She was home again.  Home and in her own bed.  She just wanted to fall asleep.  If only so the morning would come sooner.


            That was the crux of the problem.  Whenever she started falling asleep that giddy feeling would come in and she would start thinking about having all of her friends back together again. Then, just like that, she would be awake again and cursing herself.  She decided to try her back again.  Momentarily she tossed around the bed in hopes of finding that one comfortable spot that might allow her to pass out faster than any other.  It was proving elusive.


            For a moment longer she buried her head into her pillow, huffing.  She wondered if Zelgadiss was having the same problem, lying awake, thinking about Lina.  Amelia had a hard time imagining it, she’d never seen him act that way toward anyone before.  It really made her wish that she had been able to see him that night in the tent.  To see him actually let himself feel something for once instead of cloistering his emotions in his stone skin.


            Amelia wondered what Zelgadiss thought about when he imagined Lina.  His Lina was nearly a different Lina altogether though.  Sometimes it was like Lina tailored her personality for each of her friends.  Did he imagine the hard-nosed sorceress that he had kidnapped or was it the same strong yet caring woman Amelia chose to remember, someone who would defend her to the end. 


            Lina’s face, the features that were only soft and caring when she wanted them to be.  The darkness gave a good background to project her visions.  She imagined the smell, the clothes, she could picture everything about her so succinctly.  And after awhile Lina was almost there with her.  Zelgadiss still fresh on her mind she wondered how the sorceress would take his affections.  Lina had never seemed put off by his body after all.  Or at least she never let it show.  Would she kiss him?  She imagined the two of them kissing. 


            She imagined herself kissing the sorceress just as easily.  But that image persisted.  Her own spectral Lina.  No matter the outcome she hoped to meet with the real thing soon enough.  She was worried though, her heart raced at the thought of how Lina would take her feelings.  Maybe she already knew, she’d hardly been subtle before she left.  “Lina… I love you.”  She said in a tone both longing and joking, she didn’t know which she had meant even for herself.  This Lina though, no matter what this one wouldn‘t mind.  She dared let her fantasy continue.


            Amelia had seen Lina naked enough times to know her body in detail that even she did not know of her own.  It made sense, how often had she seen her own back?  The reverse sides of her own legs?  Or any other spots that were hard to find without the aid of a mirror. But on Lina she knew all of these places well.  She knew her naked body top to bottom.  Her hair below matched the hair on her head, but it was more coarse.  She’d even touched it once, half on purpose, during a wrestling match. 


            So she imagined it now, reaching below, Lina naked.  She imagined as she touched her own mound that she was instead touching Lina’s.  Maybe Lina would respond by pushing herself forward, pressing into Amelia’s hand like she was doing to her own.  The castle walls were thick, she allowed herself the satisfaction of moaning, vocalizing her desire as it quickly came upon her.  Clumsily she hiked up her own bed shirt and imagined Lina’s lips on her nipples.  It was something she’d spied two lovers doing one night beneath her window.  


            Amelia imagined pulling Lina close, brining Lina’s head tightly against her chest and rolling onto her side toward the sorceress.  Lina kept her hand between Amelia’s legs, teasing her, not daring to push her finger inside but instead circling the moistened flesh there.  Her heart beat quickened as Lina speed up her movements.  Lina pulled away for just a moment, “I love you.”  She breathed out heavily, her breath warm against Amelia’s nipple.  It sent a shiver up her spine before Lina’s mouth again want to her nipple.


            Now Amelia couldn’t stop herself if she wanted to, she squeaked out as she sped up her own pace, rubbing her nipple, using one finger, then two.  Deeply in tune with her fantasy she rocked her hips in time with the imaginary sorceress.  Her scent of the road she traveled so much clinging to her even in nakedness.  They kissed and Amelia dared stick her tongue into Lina’s mouth.  They played back and fourth as Lina pressed against her desperately. 


            Her mind was going places she hadn’t dared before.  Lina was suddenly atop her, grinding their privates against one another in a tribadistic embrace.  Suddenly Zelgadiss was there and she was kissing him. “I can share…”  Amelia said shakily, nearing the edge and still not sure where she was going.  Watching Zelgadiss kiss Lina she redoubled her own efforts, the effect was different than her imagination had convinced her before, her heart beat sped up at the scene. 


            Lina looked at her sultry, “I think he wants you.”  A part of her remembered how he had felt those weeks previous in the tent.  The surface of his member was stony, but still hot, full of life.  She rolled herself forward and got on her knees.  But her hands were needed elsewhere so she lowered her chest and face against the bed, putting her hands between her legs.  She imagined her face between Lina’s legs, as Lina laid on her own back.  Meanwhile Zelgadiss had gotten naked as well.  He was erect, even in the darkness the pebbles on his hips, worn smooth from the gentle rubbing of his pants glimmered in the light.   Now she was licking Lina’s clit and Zelgadiss was lining himself up for…


            Amelia pushed her fingers in as deep as the angle would allow, gratified that it was deeper than she could manage before laying on her back.  “Oh--oh gods!”  She cried out muffled into her comforter, savaging herself and rocking her whole body in rhythm with Zelgadiss.  “Oh….oh…!”  Her breath held tightly in her throat and she moved her fingers purposefully.  Her fantasy wasn’t over but she’d reached her plateau. 


            She let out a deep shuddering breath as she dropped onto her side, pulling away her wet hand and brining it purposefully to her face.  She tasted it, she’d only gone so far with herself once before.  She wondered if Lina would taste the same, if Zelgadiss…


            Her mind jammed at the thought.  As the desire faded away she wondered how Zelgadiss had worked himself into her fantasy toward the end.  Was it just the incident in the tent?  Or maybe just latent curiosity.  Amelia wondered… She’d never been with a man before, or a woman for that matter.  It didn‘t really matter, finally she felt she could get some sleep.  Thankfully she did have the sense of mind to re-arrange her shirt and put herself beneath the covers.  With the heat pouring off her body the sheet would more than suffice.


(())((()))/\  ~~ \/ ...ooo000OOO000ooo... \/ ~~ /\((()))(())


            There was a knock at the door.


            The sound startled Amelia immensely.  She‘d been half-asleep, almost hallucinating.  She was ready to attribute the sound to her imagination before hearing it again -- a solid pounding at the door this time.  Frantically, she tried to kick the covers off her feet.  But somehow she had tangled herself in the thick down-comforter during the night and it was much more difficult to throw off than the thin blankets that she was used to sleeping with on the road.  After another insistent knock though Amelia grabbed the edge of the blanket and threw it aside.  She rushed to her feet, wobbling slightly, her groggy mind clicked through the possibilities of why anyone would choose to wake her and she came to only one conclusion.


            It was muffled by the thick wood of the door and the solid stone walls but she somehow heard the delicate overtones of Lina’s voice.  Delicate only because it was being softened by those physical barriers.  She was yelling but thankfully she could tell someone different was knocking on the door to her bed chamber.  Still, the frequency of the knocking increased each time Lina‘s voice picked up.  The image of a fireball throwing her door off its hinges compelled Amelia to cross the distance between her bed and the door in faster than usual.


            Amelia yanked the door open, almost hyper-extending her elbow in the process but too caught up in the movement to stop herself.  Years of longing instantly dragging her from her sleep-filled mind and through nostalgia and affection in a way she wouldn’t have anticipated. 


            And there she was. 


            The guard stood in her field of vision.  Although he may have been the only reason Lina didn’t blow down the door, for all his good deeds he was just in her way.  Tantalizingly Amelia caught Lina’s shimmering hair out of her peripheral.  In the torchlight it glowed deep red, the natural shimmer to it turning into the living red of steel fresh from the forge.  Amelia’s breath caught in her throat before she had a chance to say anything.


            “It’s about time!  You weren’t sleeping yet, were you Amelia?”  Lina shouted out cockily, already trying to get her friends goat but dampening any true edge to the words with a hint of laughter. 


            Amelia caught the look the guard shot Lina.  He was obviously perturbed by the informality she was showing his princess.  Amelia tried to counter back.  “Well I-!”  Amelia started out strongly but lost her words along the way.  She stopped again, pushing past the guard and getting her first good look at the sorceress in forever.  Lina had her hand on her hip, and the quirky little smile on her face that Amelia remembered so well.  Her outfit had changed but not by much.  What had changed most was her face.  She was beautiful. And as Amelia looked her over, she couldn’t help but crack the tiniest of smiles at Lina’s chest.  Although not something Amelia cared about, it hadn’t grown any and likely continued to be a constant sore point for the sorceress.


            Lina too was momentarily stunned, and as Amelia came back to herself there was a fleeting hope that Lina was looking her over in the same way.  Etiquette be damned.  Amelia took a quick few steps foreword and immediately covered the short distance between herself and the sorceress, slamming into her with a full bodied hug.  She felt Lina sway with the impact then steady herself.  She heard her try to catch her breath, something Amelia had accidentally knocked out of her.  Then after a moment, she felt Lina relax.  Then start hugging back. 


            Amelia buried her head in Lina’s shoulder, she didn’t want Lina to see her face.  She was afraid that it might scare her away because she knew she couldn’t hide what she was feeling.  Amelia was the maiden, and Lina was her Prince come back from war.  She held Lina tighter, smelling her road-worn clothes, the adherent cling of dirt, sweat -- it was all Lina.  She held her much longer than she thought Lina would tolerate before finally, “Amelia…”  Lina intoned softly, a little edge to it, trying to scare her friend off more to save embarrassment than any discomfort she may have been causing.  Amelia noticed that she had gone somewhat limp, draping herself over the sorceress.  She pulled away with a start as she realized she had finally given into that temptation to twist her fingers through her friends hair.


            “Sorry…”  Amelia blushed, pretending to wipe drool from her lips, “.. I think I started to fall asleep on your shoulder.”  She laughed slightly to push away any suspicions Lina might have been feeling before re-composing herself. 


            Looking befuddled, Lina mutely ran her hand through her now tangled hair, “Don’t worry about it, serves me right for getting here just before sun rise.”  In response Amelia turned partially toward the window in her room, indeed catching a hint of glow on the horizon.  She hadn’t honestly remembered even falling asleep.  


            “Where’s Gourry?”  Amelia started, suddenly realizing the swordsman’s absence and hardly keeping the hope from her voice.


            Lina looked side to side before waving dismissively like she hadn’t expected to see him anyway.  “That Jellyfish probably got held up on the way in.  Some fancy sword probably caught his eye, you know how he is after the last one.” 


            “Last one?”  Amelia asked curious, wondering if Lina was actually talking about his most recent acquisition or the one before it.  She was sure she would get the whole story later but Lina seemed to brush the question off.  Amelia nodded her head and mentally crossed her fingers before moving ahead.   “I’m sure the two of you are tired after traveling all night.  I can have one of the servants escort both of you to your room so you can get some sleep.”


            “Wait.”  Lina started out immediately, “You‘re telling me I have to share a room with Gourry?  In this castle?  This place is huge and I don‘t get my own room?” Lina finished a little incredulous, almost on the defensive.


            “Oh?”  Amelia feigned innocence, “I just thought that after all of this time…”  Amelia trailed off, confident that Lina realized where she was heading with it and at the same time elated at her reaction, she still had a chance.


            “No!”  Lina shouted a bit too loudly, catching Amelia‘s insinuation, “Me -- never.”  She finished dismissively before blushing noticeably and struggling to compose herself. 


            The blush was a little worrisome, it could be something deeper, “Well, I guess it’s not as if we don’t have extra rooms…”  Amelia started out jokingly.  She  reached out and put a hand on her friends shoulder before offering a humored smile that proved to be infectious.  Amelia’s smile though broke as she yawned uncontrollably, she really did want to get some sleep sometime before breakfast.  And now that Lina had finally arrived she was sure it would be a sound sleep.  So long as she didn‘t let herself get carried away again.


            “I think that maybe we should postpone our reunion until breakfast, hopefully we can get some sleep between now and then?”  Amelia offered with a smile, knowing that after her journey Lina was probably thinking the same thing. 


            “But I get my own room, right?” Lina laughed and smiled at the continuing joke, eliciting a nod from Amelia.


            “Sure Lina, I’d do anything for you.”  Amelia countered with a bit of sarcasm but desperately wished to drop the sarcasm completely from the statement.  “I’ll have the guards escort the two of you to your rooms.” 


            “Until tomorrow then Princess.”  Lina called out trying to be at least a little formal, although there was a slight sarcastic edge that she was unable to remove entirely.  Amelia watched Lina and one of her guards travel deeper into the recesses of the castle, probably on a side adventure in search of Gourry.


            Amelia waved to her as she walked off, “I’ll see you later…”  Amelia paused, adding under her breath, “my love…”  Then immediately felt giddy for actually saying it, just like those romance novels that she had picked up during her time on the road.  She spun into her room, closing the door soundly and looked out the window to the rising sun.  “Now I don’t feel tired at all.”  She muttered to herself with a laugh before rubbing her face, “Oh well, no rest for the weary!”  The lust for sleep gone, she went to her closet to choose an outfit for the day before staring in on making the bed. 




            The tea was a more bitter than she remembered but she was still sure it was the same blend that she had always woken with years before.  Slowly Amelia’s tiredness dissolved.  The combination of the beverage and conversation with her ever-loving father proved to be as strong a combination as ever.  She was still getting used to the rhythm of things though.  It had been years since she had a full-fledged conversation with another person.  Her exchanges with Zelgadiss were usually limited.  Even when he did get the inspiration to talk at length, it with mostly one-sided.  Often in the beginning she found herself interrupting her father at every turn because of her rustiness, so she had delegated herself to a dutiful listener and only spoke when it was apparent she was clear to do so.


            “You know…”  Prince Philionel started off slowly, changing the direction of the conversation.  “I was about your age when I wed your mother.”  He paused a moment to let the thought sink in and hopefully guide Amelia’s response.  He certainly expected one, something.  If not Zelgadiss then she had to have at least thought on the subject.


            She could certainly tell he was waiting for some kind of reply.  The silence stretched on though with both of them loosing a degree of comfort.  Finally Amelia spoke, “Oh, I didn’t know you’d been so young.”  She joked with a hint of laughter. 


            Philionel firmly set his expression.  “You know what I mean to say Daughter.”  He took a sip from his cup, grimacing at the taste, “Have you given it any thought?”  Philionel waited for her answer.  Although she had not admitted it he was fairly certain that she had become fully taken with the Chimera.  He was against the match.  Both for the sake of the kingdom and any future grandchildren he felt that Amelia should strive to find a different suitor.  But eventually he had come to terms with it, if only for his daughter.  If it would truly make Amelia happy he wouldn’t try to stop her. 


            Amelia flushed, she tried to compose herself.  She didn’t want to stumble her way through her reply so she waited a moment to respond.  “I- daddy.”  She stopped and tried again, “I know you think that me and Zelgadiss.”  She stopped again, sure that she had at least given herself an introduction, “There’s nothing there you should worry about.”  She tried to quell the fears that she imagined him to have.  Amelia had been none to happy with the way her father had treated Zelgadiss the last time they had been in Sailune together and she had been hard pressed to hid it.  Amelia was suddenly very happy to have her chastity intact, it would have made the situation even more uncomfortable.


            “Oh, is that the case.”  He tried again, “It is someone else then?”  If not the chimera then her childbearing years might be behind her before she started.  Although the best white magic users were at his command, completing her first pregnancy into her thirties carried with it a degree of risk he was uncomfortable with.


            “Maybe.”  Then she quickly corrected herself, afraid that he might pry, “It’s no one daddy.  But I haven’t forgotten, I’ve been looking.”  She added the last part for his benefit and also to drive the conversation away from the most uncomfortable aspects, such as how he might respond to her coupling with Lina. 


            Philionel seemed at least slightly placated with the response.  “I was just worried.  I don’t want you to grow old without another to share your company.”  He had been just as uncomfortable with the subject matter as his daughter but it was a necessary evil.  “How is Zelgadiss lately anyway?  The both of you were so quiet at dinner last night?”


            “Its just been awhile since I’d been in such company.”  She admitted truthfully, “So I thought it might be better to just sit and listen for the time being.” 


            Philionel nodded, seeing the wisdom in his daughters words.  “I can understand that, it has been some time since you’ve been to court.  Honestly I’m surprised you remembered half their names.”  He said with a chuckle, Prince Philionel had always been curious enough to learn the names of those he worked with, however unless he saw them on a somewhat regular basis he had difficulty remembering their names over time.  He was glad that his daughter apparently failed to inherit that particular trait.


            Amelia nodded with a smile on her face, “It’s not as hard as you make it sound.”  She took another drink from her tea noticing that the two of them were alone at the table. 


            “I’m just glad that you finally found your way home daughter.”  Philionel took to his feet and covered the distance between the two of them in a single step, enveloping his daughter in a hug and dotting a kiss upon her forehead.  It really was all that mattered, she had been gone for far too long.  Sure he had heard from her letters where she had been and occasionally he sent one of his own men out to find her and report back to him, but to finally have her back - it took a great burden off his mind.  His father could pass any day, he was surely not long for this world and Amelia would be needed more than ever. 


            Dropping back into his seat, Philionel composed himself quickly.  He was a loving father but he was fully trapped within the role of royalty as well and some of the new staff that frequented the halls since Amelia’s absence might not be used to such displays of affection.  His eyes were drawn to the newcomer.  Inwardly he grimaced.  It’s not as if he didn’t like Zelgadiss himself, it was just the thought of him with his daughter.  Every time he convinced himself that he had accepted the fact that the two of them may be involved he still felt a shot of irritation when he saw his daughter following him and clinging on his every word.


            “If you’ll excuse me Amelia, there are matters I must attend do.”  He stood from his seat and again gave his daughter a kiss on the forehead before giving a nod in Zelgadiss’ attention.  “Good morning Zelgadiss.  I trust you slept well.


            Zelgadiss gave a nod in response, “Morning.”  He returned the greeting, making his way over to the table just as Philionel excused himself and departed the table.


            So taken was she with her father that Amelia hardly noticed when Zelgadiss joined the two of them at the table.  “Did you sleep well, in a real bed for once?”  Amelia asked, a little boastful of the comforts that her palace could offer.


            For a moment Zelgadiss debated on lying just to rouse her ire but decided against it, “I slept okay.”  At least he didn’t have to reiterate to her that having skin of stone meant he didn’t feel much in the way of comfort.  Still, he had experienced a bit of joy at the sheer weight of the feather filled blankets over his body. It was comforting to have them press down on him, almost like they had been holding him lightly. 


            “Oh!  Lina made it in last night!”  Amelia gushed excitedly suddenly remembering that he likely didn’t know.  After seeing Zelgadiss’ expression she added with only slightly less enthusiasm, “Well, Gourry was with her but… well…”


            “I knew it.”  Zelgadiss sighed deeply before Amelia started back in.


            “No, it’s not like that.  I tried to put them in the same room together and Lina practically demanded to have her own.  And from talking to her,”  Amelia’s voice quieted down, “They haven’t made any sort of commitment to each other yet…” 


            Again Zelgadiss was hearing that somewhat immoral side to Amelia that he hardly knew existed before.  It was exciting.  Trying to guide the subject he asked, “So when did they get in?”


            “Just before sunrise.”  All hint of deviousness left just as suddenly as Amelia continued, “They went to sleep once they got in and I said that the four of us would get together today instead of trying to have our reunion with the four of us nodding in and out.”


            Zelgadiss agreed with the logic but wished Amelia would have told him when Lina and Gourry arrived even if it did mean they had to wake him.  “That means it will probably be a few hours.”  He said absently, looking around the breakfast table.  There were still some plates of food scattered about but for the most part it had been scavenged clean after most of the people had their fill.  “Should we just wait here or…”  Zelgadiss looked around to see if there was any readily available source of coffee while waiting for Amelia’s response.


            “Probably not, I mean, they’ll find us when they get up.  Right?”  Amelia reached out and grabbed some random foodstuffs from the plate in front of her to go with her tea as Zelgadiss nodded in agreement. 


            “Well, I’m going to find some coffee.” He said as pushing himself up from the chair.


            “Oh, that’s-”


            “No, don’t tell me.  I want the adventure.”  He cut her off but she laughed at his comment.


            “Okay then, I guess we‘ll meet up again later.”  She said with a thin smile.  They’d traveled together for so long that goodbyes no matter how short the duration seemed strange.  Not sure what else to say she looked downward and focused again on the toast she had scavenged.  But she kept an eye on his legs.  He stood there a few moments longer.  She was sure that he was going to ask or say something else but finally he walked off in the complete opposite direction of the kitchen causing her to stifle a snicker.




            Zelgadiss pulled Amelia out of the crowd and into a recessed area on the side of a building. It was the only shelter the two of them had from the hustle and bustle of the market place.  Likely the area was reserved for trash but at the moment it was clear of debris and served well enough to isolate the two of them.  To quench his paranoia Zelgadiss snuck a look around the corner to ensure that Lina and Gourry were still busied with the squid vendor.  Amelia started first, “So, what do you think?”


            Zelgadiss thought for a moment, knowing her real question, “I’m not sure, it seems like they’re the same as ever….”


            “I know, but what about when they split up?  When did Gourry say it was?  Last year?  They didn’t see each other for a few months and neither of them wanted to talk about it.”  Amelia rushed, but still tried to keep her voice hushed despite a considerable distance between herself and Lina.


            “Yeah, but that might be something else entirely, we don’t know enough to make those kind of assumptions yet.”  Zelgadiss countered.


            Amelia shifted some bags between her arms, afraid to put them down out of fear of someone pilfering their contents without her hands to feel out extraneous vibrations.  “I think we might have a shot though.”  The pushing crowd at her back forced her to take a few steps into the nook, putting her face to face with Zelgadiss.


            “Still, they sure did seem nosey about our relationship.”  Zelgadiss dead panned, remembering the thorough grilling he’d gotten from Lina when he tried to be evasive about anything happening between himself and Amelia.  The night a week or so earlier with Amelia was still fresh in his memory and prevented him from being able to lie as outright as he would have liked. 


            Zelgadiss snuck another peek around the corner to ensure that Lina and Gourry were still occupied before turning back, “At any rate, we had better get back out there before they realize we’ve left.”


            Amelia nodded, “Yeah, but…”


            “Hummm?”  Zelgadiss intoned, prompting Amelia to continue.


            “What are we going to do?”  Amelia asked sounding a little hopeless.


            Zelgadiss sighed heavily, “I thought you were the one that thought we had a chance?”  He took a moment to push his hair out of his face, both out of habit and for dramatic effect, “We’ll spend the day with the two of them and watch them carefully.  That way we’ll see if we really do have a chance.  Maybe they’ll let something slip or maybe there isn’t anything to let slip.  Only time will tell.”


            “Right.”  Amelia responded but felt that her words were much weaker than they should have been.  She took a moment to feel if her stomach was upset, something was off, the feeling.  The way she was pressed against him, she could feel Zelgadiss’ breath against her face, the rumbling in his chest whenever he spoke, it was getting hard to concentrate.  “Okay then, let’s go!”  She managed out breathlessly, but as loudly as she could manage.


            “Oh!  One more thing…”  Zelgadiss interrupted before Amelia could move away, “Maybe you should take it a little easy with Lina, she’s looking a little stressed from you hanging on her.  I personally don‘t ever remember you being that forward before.” 


            Amelia blushed hard, realizing that she may have been taking extra liberties with Lina since the two of them had been reunited,  “I’ll keep that in mind.”  She finished in a self-conscious voice looking at her own feet before adding playfully, “That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop though!” 


            “Hey, we don’t want to scare her off!”  Zelgadiss shouted half-serious despite their proximity.  It was something he was having trouble ignoring as their conversation went on.  The way she was pressing against him, at first there had been some distance between the two of them.  But now, she‘d moved even closer as they spoke, and hadn‘t even noticed.  He shouldn‘t have been comfortable with her this close.  Her chest was pressed into his arm, but there was no one behind her pushing her forward, at least not any more.  He also noticed that he was further from the wall than before, it was obvious the closeness was not solely her fault. 


            “I guess we better get going then.”  Amelia tried again to do what she could to end their conversation.  It was the only way she could force herself to leave.  He didn’t reply and she wondered if he too was feeling their closeness.  She brushed it off though, still angry at his refusal.  She had told herself it would be his last chance.  With her pulse racing she managed to take a step back, reminding herself of just how cold his chimerical nature had made him and how much warmer Lina would respond to all the love she had to give. 




            “Hey Lina, didn’t you get your squid yet?”  Amelia called out, darting from the alcove and doing her best to merge with the flowing crowd. 


            Lina turned, sure that she had heard a voice directed toward her but she was doubtful of its origin over the din.  “Wha’d you say … Amelia!?”  She guessed the speaker correctly at the last minute, hoping to single her friend out of the crowd.


            Out of the droves of people the princess and the chimera made their appearance, being met by the smiling sorceress and a somewhat stressed Gourry.  “Would either of you like a fried squid?”  Lina asked smugly, several sticks held tightly in each hand, each containing a fried treat.


            “Why’d you get so many?”  Amelia asked curiously.  Her friend may have had a huge appetite but that particular gluttony was usually reserved for dinners and wasn’t often apparent with snack foods and the like.


            “Because they were free…”  Lina grinned widely, Amelia could tell she was about to brag.  She loved bragging to her friends almost as much as she liked haggling or in this case, scamming shop keeps. 


            Gourry chose that moment to elaborate, “I wouldn’t say free, more like they were given… as a sacrifice.”


            “Sacrifices, tokens of affection, acknowledgement of my beauty, same thing!”  She yelled out the last part as a way to ward off Gourry’s admonishment and turned back to Amelia and Zelgadiss, forcing a squid into each of their hands.


            “I really don’t like squid…”  Zelgadiss lamented, looking down at the formerly sea-dwelling creature that looked back at him despite its preparation.


            “Eat it anyway.”  Lina deadpanned, leaving no room for argument before starting to consume her own bounty.  Methodically tearing the rubbery treats to pieces and in some cases, nearly consuming them whole.


            Gourry, Zelgadiss, and Amelia looked on as Lina finished off the last squid faster than Gourry or Amelia could start their first.  Despite his vocalization to the contrary Zelgadiss at least managed a bite. 


            “Okay, so what’s next?”  Lina asked excitedly as she threw two of the skewers into the ground, sticking them solidly into the dry earth. 


            The look that Lina was laying on Amelia caused her to shy away and defer to Zelgadiss on the off-hand chance that he might have come up with something constructive.  His blank look showed he was at just as much of a loss as she was.  Basically the only part of their plan that they had devoted any true amount of time to was planning what they were to do with the duo that evening.  So for the time being they were winging it.


            Amelia kicked her own feet around for a moment directing her gaze to the ground, feeling the ire of the sorceress grow at the motion.  “I was thinking that maybe…”  She paused, stalling for time but trying not to be obvious about it, “… we could head back to the castle to regroup, we’re supposed to have fireworks later and a party to celebrate my homecoming so I really should be there.”


            Although the actual event was hours off it still served as a good cover.  The four of them could easily keep themselves busy with the opportunities offered at the castle.  Or at least three of them, Amelia wondered if there was something there that could occupy Gourry singularly so she could get some time alone with the sorceress.  The armory came to mind, or perhaps more directly to just leave him with the sword smith.  Either way there was the chance that some more appropriate distraction would come up to occupy the swordsman.  She shook off the slight apprehension she felt as she contemplated leaving Gourry behind to get alone with Lina.


            Apparently her idea was good enough for the sorceress and the others seemed motivated enough to follow her as she started pushing her way through the crowd and forced a path toward the castle.





            Wearily, Lina made her way back to her room.  She was grateful to finally have some time to think as she listened to the echo of her own footsteps resonating through the empty hallway.  Purposefully she reached inside of the folds of her outfit, pulling out something that she had spotted earlier while her and Gourry had been exploring the town. As she walked she looked at the book she held in her hand, “The tales of Lina Inverse” she read aloud with a laugh.  One could say she collected her own memorabilia.  And from time to time she ran across things like the book she‘d purchased, and she just had to pick them up.  If only to laugh at when she felt a little down.


            She had read flipped through the book when she’d found it.  It contained most of the usual stories, however inaccurately relayed.  Characters fused, names were missing or wrong.  Pretty much everything was screwed up except for her name.  She sighed as she thought of some of the off-the-wall stories that occasionally found their way into such works, and how it was often next to impossible to track down any of the authors when she got a little too irritated with the contents of the books.


            Again she tucked the book back away.  It was a momentary distraction that would make for some interesting reading later on the road.  Finally she came to her room.  Turning the key she stepped inside and lit the candles.  The sun outside was dropping rapidly, and a gentle chill was already invading.  It really wasn’t anything to worry about.  The fireplace may have been dormant, but making a fire was always an option.  Failing that, if she waited long enough a maid would come by with fresh coals to  fill the brazier before sleep.  Failing that the thick comforter would do a plenty good job on it’s own.  All of it was better than what she had on the road.


            Lina sighed, already she could sense someone on the other side of the door a moment before the knock.  It was the pattern of the knock though that removed any doubt as to who it was, still she asked as a formality, “Who is it?” 


            “It’s me.”  Amelia shouted back, her voice conveying her identity incontrovertibly.  Though she managed to hide the nervousness she’d been feeling since she’d left her own room.


            Lina sighed.  She wished that she could have had a longer reprieve from the princess.  The way she’d been hanging over her all day, Lina had jumped at the chance to go back to her room and relax before dinner.  Begrudgingly she took a few steps over to the door and opened it slightly, just enough to see the full of the princess’ face.  “What is it?”  She asked, then after a moment’s pause added, “I thought dinner wasn’t for an hour?”  Lina guessed on the timing but figured she was pretty close to the mark.


            “Oh, no… dinner is still a little ways off, but I was thinking - maybe…”  Amelia fumbled with the phrasing she wanted to use.  She failed to find the right words though.


            Amelia was dancing around something.  Whenever that was the case the outcome was usually something Lina was not going to like.  But she listened patiently since it seemed she was getting to the point of things and she was her guest after all.  


            There was a pause then Amelia seemed to switch over, obviously trying a different approach, “I was just going to clean myself in the baths and I was wondering if perhaps you would like to join me.”


            Lina cracked a smile at the formality of the question.  Even though she’d known the princess for years, she still occasionally slipped into the role of royalty where she was talking down to her.  The bath did sound like a pretty good idea, especially considering she hadn’t found the time that morning to bathe with Gourry pressuring her to get a move on, which had been a change.


            “Sure thing, just give me a minute.”  She’d given in but Amelia pretended not to catch the hint and stood there steadfast.  Lina shooed her away before closing the door behind her.  It only took Lina a moment to go through her belongings and pull out a change of clothes for the evening.  At least something presentable to wear with some of the important royal higher-ups present.  Nothing too showy though, she didn’t want to make it apparent she even considered them in her selection of an outfit for the evening.


            A moment later the door was opening and Lina was stepping out to meet up with the princess.  “Ready to go?”  Amelia asked causing Lina to grin.


            “I’m here aren’t I?”


            Amelia nodded vigorously, “Okay then, let’s go!”  Lina found her hand suddenly ensnared by the princess as she was lead along through the corridor.  Impulsively she resisted momentarily, but there was such a vigor there that she didn’t think it would be worth the effort.  She just let herself be pulled along through the hallway, eventually laughing aloud at the pace she was being pulled along at.


            “What’s your hurry?”  Lina asked between giggles, finding it hard to keep her feet on the ground and not be completely swept away with the princess’ exuberance.


            Amelia smiled back in response, “Oh, nothing, I just missed doing stuff like this.  And it’s not like I can take a bath with Zelgadiss.” 


            “And why not?”  Lina asked with a laugh and a thinly veiled prod at Amelia and Zelgadiss’ relationship.  Something she had been personally surprised to not have heard more about, or anything for that matter.


            Lina didn’t miss how red her friend went in response, “We just don’t do things like that…”  Amelia trailed off for a moment, slowing to a walk.  “Not for lack of trying…”  She added under her breath, wanting her friend to hear her and at the same time not wanting her to hear a word of it. 


            “What was that?”  Lina asked playful and fully aware of what her friend was getting at.


            “Nothing…”  But from the way Amelia’s hand went to her face to mask her blush there was no denying the connotations that Amelia had implied by trying to get both her and Zelgadiss to bathe together.


            Lina noticed the change in the way Amelia was behaving.  She was glad that she could really get Amelia going about Zelgadiss if she tried, but there wasn‘t any sport in it at the moment.  So she opted to close out that aspect of the conversation entirely, “It doesn’t matter, the two of us girls should get along fine without him.”  It didn’t come out as jokingly as Lina had intended.


            “Yeah… us girls.”  Amelia mumbled.  Lina could tell that something about what she’d said had affected the princess.  And with the way that she had gone silent it gave Lina time to think as the two of them walked together.  Since they had been reunited there was some other tension there.  There was something strange too about the way Amelia had draped over her throughout the day.  She was sure that there was something abnormal there.  At first she didn’t think much of it, Amelia had always been a little clingy but she hadn’t even spent as much time with Zelgadiss.


            Lina tried to take in the details of the princess as she walked.  She hoped that some external feature might give her a window into what the younger girl was thinking.  She’d never been good with feelings though so she ended up just watching the girl as she strode along beside her.  As she walked her hair bobbed along the base of her neck, it had grown out since she had last seen her.  And her face had grown slightly harder, though it had lost none of its beauty.  It was obvious now that despite the way Amelia was acting, which harkened back to her earlier hero-worshiping days, she was dealing with a more mature princess.


            Amelia tried hard not to let Lina realize her observation had been noticed.  They walked in step with each other and occasionally Amelia would shift her eyes to watch her friend.  She dared not turn her head though for fear that Lina would rein in her wandering eyes.  Instead she tried to keep herself composed and to keep a slight smile on her face, just enough to let her friend know she was happy, but not so much as to scare her off.  A delicate balance that had taken her years to understand.


            Lina was sure that there was something that Amelia was keeping from her.  To be honest she wished the princess would just tell her and get it out of the way so that the two of them could relieve the tension that she had been feeling.  It felt as if the two of them were angry at each other, but in a happy way.  It didn’t make much sense to Lina, and that made it considerably harder to approach.


            Finally the baths were in sight.  The royal baths of the princess Lina reminded herself.  Amelia had her own bathing quarters reserved in one of the far corners of the castle.  And for a moment Lina was overcome with the awe of the situation she found herself in.  Sometimes forgot she was so close with royalty.  Let alone someone in such a powerful royal family. Respected, liked, powerful, and rich, Amelia already had most everything Lina strived for in her own life.  And she was sure that if she were so inclined, Lina could ask to be put up somewhere in the castle herself and be taken care of at Amelia’s insistence for the rest of her days.  Living the life she’d always dreamed, but what would Gourry do?  She shook herself out of the thought, half the fun of getting rich was the adventure of getting there. 


            “We’re here.”  Amelia stopped suddenly in front of the double doors leading off to the bathing chambers.  She’d wanted to rush right in.  She wasn’t exactly sure what she was expecting for sure, her and Zelgadiss had agreed to just watch Lina and Gourry and see if anything was going on before making a move.  But that wouldn’t stop her if the moment was right.  If the steam was making the both of them heady and Lina melted like putty in her hands, then she might not be able to hold back her confession.  She smiled internally thinking about how the sorceress would react, the negativity she’d been worried about previous was completely absent from her thoughts this time. 


            As for Lina, she could feel the heat of the steam through the cracks of the doors, seeping out.  She wondered if it had been all setup for hours, with servants stoking the fires beneath the baths.  It certainly didn’t seem like Amelia had chosen to do this on a whim.  Unless the baths were kept at the ready whenever the princess was around which was something Lina didn’t dismiss.  She wondered if Amelia had someone in her employ that specialized specifically in the proper temperature of her baths and the correct amount of wood to burn to maintain a set temperature over hours.


            Amelia took the initiative and pushed the door open.  It had been some time since she had last used the baths, and the doors themselves may have settled from their joists in the meantime.  That combined with the humidity in the air caused the hinges to swell.  She had to force them with all her weight into it in order to even get the doors moving.  Amelia tried not to show her excitement at actually having opened the door and waved Lina inside with a smile, “After you!”


            Lina accepted Amelia’s invitation with gusto and passed through the door into the bathing room. The inside chamber was huge.  The changing area was connected completely to the baths, there was no door.  It was simply an open area at the front of the baths.  Out in the water, small islands of smoothed rocks dotted amongst the waters.  Some of the stones were obviously worn over the years and others had been carved meticulously to the feminine form, leaving the prefect place to lie or have a seat.  Standing in the middle of it all was a large statue, a goddess.  Naked - perfect - her hands were held above her head as if casting a spell.  Her skin was marble and flawless at the distance the duo glimpsed it from.  And in perfect compliment to everything, the whole area was lit with meticulously placed lighting spells.


            “Wow…”  It was all Lina could get out at that moment.  She’d seen plenty of other bathing areas, for the public of course.  She’d even seen a few royal baths, but this was on a whole different level.  The detail of carvings in the walls, the gold trim surrounding the waters edge.  And beneath her feet, symbols were etched into the tiles that somehow glowed as she walked along over them.


            “Oh, you’ve never been here before?”  Amelia asked with a grin, she knew that the baths were for royalty only and she’d never had the chance to bring Lina along with her.


            “Who’s the lady out there, you know, the naked one.”  Lina motioned with her head toward the statue as if there might have been some doubt.  She felt herself compelled to ask, there was something familiar about he pose, or the person, she couldn’t put her finger on it.


            Amelia looked out to the center of the baths, letting her eyes settle on the figure for the first time in a long time.  “That’s my mom…”  Amelia let out a ragged breath and Lina felt her heart tighten up in her chest at the thought.  She’d heard what had happened to Amelia’s mother before she’d even met the princess.


            Lina decided not to press the issue but Amelia took it upon herself to go further on her own, “Mom commissioned most of this built.  She loved the baths and when we were young, me, my sister, and my mom would spend a lot of time here.  She was always telling us that she we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies.  That we should be proud of ourselves.  I think that’s why she had the statue commissioned, to show us that we shouldn’t be embarrassed.”


            “Oh?”  There wasn’t much else Lina could say.


            “Yeah, my sister was always so shy, and I guess my mother thought that this would be a good way to let us see how proud we should be.”  Amelia stopped to catch her breath.  She hadn’t been talking fast though her wording maintained an odd pacing and it was obvious the subject was stressing her, “The statue wasn’t finished until after…”  Amelia could trail off but Lina could finish the sentence, it wasn’t completed until after she had died.


            In spite of the heat and humidity, Lina felt her heart turn to ice.  “I’m sorry.”  Lina took a step forward, moving in and took the princess in a hug,  pulling her tightly against her.  It was the only thing that she knew to do.


            “Anyway…”  Amelia pushed away, her eyes still dry despite the reminisce, “…she was a beautiful woman.”  Lina looked down as she felt her hand again entwined with Amelia’s, “Well, come on!”  Amelia pulled her fully from the entrance, the doors ironically enough swinging closed of their own volition as they cleared the opening.


            The oppressive feeling that had manifested dissolved away just as rapidly as it had appeared.  Sometimes Amelia’s smile had that effect on the sorceress.  “Hey!  What do you think you’re doing Amelia!?”  The red head cried out as Amelia removed her belt in one swift motion.


            “Undressing you.”  She answered nonplused as she yanked the drawstring of Lina’s pants, loosening them before the sorceress could defend.


            “I can undress myself.”  Lina laughed back, a little surprised at Amelia’s boldness.


            “I guess, but I think I would enjoy it more if you let me do it.” 


            “Amelia!”  Lina shouted playfully, her face going red at the brazenness of the suggestion.


            “Fine, you can undress yourself.”  Amelia stuck out her tongue at the red head before starting in on her own outfit.  Matching her pace to her friend.


            It had been a long time for Lina since she had undressed in the company of another.  To tell the truth she had always been uncomfortable naked, even alone.  Her body had always been a sensitive issue and over the years away form Amelia, with no reason to expose herself to anyone, she’d become even more reclusive about her looks.  Especially when it came to bathing at Inns, she would wait until the other travelers had left the baths, or until they had gone to sleep before sneaking away for a bath.  That fact coupled with Amelia’s actions was making her current predicament all the more difficult.  Lina swallowed hard to steel herself, convincing herself that everything would be fine.  She just hoped that her trust in Amelia to keep her mouth shut and not make a crack about her chest was not ill placed.


            Lina’s motions were purposely slow, so as to delay the inevitable.  She wasn’t looking for a way out of the situation but she was trying to put it off further in her mind.  She kept her attention focused on Amelia as she slipped her shirt up and over her head.  Her vision only obscured by the fabric for a moment.  Amelia had already removed her shirt, and her brassiere was in the pile along side it.  Lina felt her heart speed up as she dropped her own pants, she could not place the reason.  She figured that maybe it was because it had been so long since she had been naked with Amelia.  But there was another thought there  that she refused to accept.


            A moment later Lina’s pants joined the pile.  Seconds later she was bending over, pulling her panties down around her knees, then to her ankles, stepping out of them.  As she lifted herself upright again her face nearly brushed against Amelia’s breasts when she bent over to remove her own panties.  She couldn’t deny that the princess was violating her personal space at every turn but she showed no outward signs that she realized what she was doing.  She had to wonder yet again if she was just being unreasonable.


            Amelia stopped undressing for a moment.  Her heart was racing, it was better than old times.  Now she was sure what she wanted from the girl undressing next to her.  She took in her mounting nakedness for the first time like a lover.  Her eyes trailed over her hips, her slender legs… She swallowed hard, her heart full of anticipation for what was coming next.


            The fingers on Lina’s hands were shaking as she unclasped her bra.  Pulling it to the front of her she gave Amelia one last, long look, just missing her starring.  Lina’s eyes inevitably settled on her friends breasts, just as large as they had been years before and as shapely and seemingly firm as ever.  All at once Lina dropped her bra.  Completely naked she stoked her own bravado, “Okay, let’s take a bath!”


            “Okay!”  Amelia responded with the same level of enthusiasm, again gripping her friend’s hand and pulling her along with her to the edge of the bath.  Her movements slowed momentarily as she reached out with the tip of her toe to test the water.  After a moment of consideration she leapt forward pulling Lina with her.  Thankfully the sorceress was quick to react which allowed her to land more on her feet, rather than her face or chest.


            Lina flung her arm out in front of her, splashing some water away and taking a step back from Amelia.  “Whooo…a little hot but nice.”  Sure she was a irked at having been dragged into the water but it was still enough to get her to laugh. 


            “Yeah…”  Amelia laughed, causing her breasts to bounce slightly.  She was trying to act playful since the look on Lina’s face still carried a hint of irritation.  Amelia dropped her legs out from beneath her and allowed her upper body to sink into the water before propelling herself backwards with her hands.  She ended with her back against a submerged rock in the shape of a chair.  “We’ve still got plenty of time before dinner, plenty of time to relax.”


            Dropping herself deeper into the water to hide her own chest, Lina likewise backpedaled to her own submerged seating.  Already the heat and humidity of the baths was making her relaxed, “Amelia, I could relax like this all night long.”




            Gourry let out a sigh as he sunk fully into the warmth.  The water proved to be as inviting as it looked.  Although the sun had set, the area around the thermal springs was well lit with lanterns hanging high above where he and Zelgadiss sat in the water.  Gourry leaned back completely against the rocks surrounding the pool which gave him a better vantage point over the wall surrounding the spring and letting him take in the features of the rear of the castle.  Many of the windows were dark however there were almost as many lit from within.  At night the whole palace had an especially regal atmosphere.


            “Hey Zel?”  Gourry called out trying to spark conversation.


            “Yeah?”  His reply was less than lackluster.  Part of him wanted to get more information from Gourry, however the greater part of himself just wanted to stay silent.  Keeping quiet made it easier to forget the plan that he and Amelia had hatched together, which allowed him to feel less guilty.


            The drab reply was not enough to dissuade the swordsman.  Gourry pressed on hoping to get Zelgadiss interested in some conversation.  “So, what have you and Amelia been up to all this time?”  He figured the question was open enough to allow Zelgadiss to only go over details that he wanted to share. 


            “Not much.”  Zelgadiss answered curtly before pausing, then added, “Really it was just a lot of dead ends.  Searching for a cure….”  Again he stopped, trying to think of something, anything else to add, anything that might help fill in the gap of years that he was trying to account for, “…then she had to go back home.”  Zelgadiss finished with a sigh before turning the question around, “And what have you and Lina been up to?  What was that you said before about Lina going off on her own?”


            Gourry took a deep breath, it figured that Zelgadiss would be interested in the one thing he didn’t want to talk about.  “I don’t know, I guess Lina already told you guys pretty much everything this morning.”  He hoped that would be enough to dissuade the conversation.


            “Yeah, but I was just wondering about what happened while she was away.”  Zelgadiss pressed the question somewhat uncharacteristically which put Gourry off even more.  Still, he felt that if he could trust anyone…. Even if Lina asked him to keep quiet.


            “I can’t talk about it…”  Gourry answered at last.  Although he felt he was letting down his friend, it was the threat of Lina’s anger that managed to be the true motivator.


            Thankfully for Gourry, Zelgadiss decided to drop the issue, “I was just wondering because it seemed a little odd for you two to split up like that.  But I guess after so many years you probably just needed some time on your own.”


            Gourry left the answer at that but tried to keep the conversation moving by going into some other adventures that he and Lina had during their time together.  At least to him it seemed more interesting than searching for a cure with Zelgadiss.  He’d had plenty enough experience at that to know how boring it could be, to spend weeks in a row traveling to some far off town just to spend a few days at a library then call it a wash.


            So he went into detail on his last sword.  On some of the other people he’d met.  He was sure that he had forgotten their names somewhere along the way but he somehow seemed to remember the important ones and was fairly proud of himself because of it. 


            Finally Zelgadiss decided to try his hand at conversation again, “So, did you two ever make it by to see Sylphiel during your journeys?  I’m sure you traveled close enough to Sairaag.”


            Gourry stopped in his tracks.  It had been such a long time since he’d let himself think of the Shrine Maiden or even heard her name spoken.  Although Lina didn’t often mention Zelgadiss or Amelia in their conversations, when compared to the number of times she had dropped Sylphiel’s name, well, honestly there wasn’t even a comparison.  “No, we didn’t.”  He managed out, feeling ashamed.


            “Ahhh…”  Zelgadiss mussed, giving Gourry the impression that it wasn’t the answer that he was looking for, making him want to cover for himself.


            “It’s just that we were always busy… we never got a chance to stop there.”  He shook his head, “I really wondered how she was doing though.”  He added quickly, hoping that Zelgadiss would drop the subject just as he had the other.


            “Probably a little late for stopping in now.  It’s been, what, five, six years?”  Zelgadiss grimaced, showing how bad he felt over the situation, causing Gourry to take a deep breath as he thought about the situation.  There was something about the Shrine Maiden that Zelgadiss had always respected, she’d been a powerful ally.


            Gourry had known Sylphiel much longer than Lina.  She’d been his first real friend after he had committed himself to a life on the road.   She had changed though, and he was not sure which of her temperaments to accept.  At times she was caring, at others friendly.  Occasionally she was loving.  He had always known that she cared for him, but it seemed she was unable to bring herself to confront him on it.  Instead she had talked to others behind his back.  The irritation he felt over that aspect had likely been a big part of his ignoring her for the last few years he realized. 


            There was another incident too that he didn’t want to mention to Zelgadiss.  He didn’t want to think of it himself, and it had proved to leave a lasting feeling of shame.  The guilt he had been feeling faded away slightly with the justification for his actions in mind.  Thinking things over anew he felt the pang of regret deeply, she had been a near and dear friend when he’d had none.  And then over the years he had let that relationship grow unchecked.  Even when it had passed to the level he had not yet been ready to go.


            Zelgadiss looked on, he was content reading the expressions on Gourry’s features as the blonde soaked and reminisced.  Finally, Gourry spoke up again, “I think we’ll have to stop back in Sairaag soon.”  The dead pause afterward drove home the finality of the statement and for a moment Zelgadiss saw a side of the swordsman he hardly saw.  He saw that energetic, inquisitive temperament dissolve away.  He was serious.


            “I’m sure she would like that.”  Gourry managed a smile if only for Zelgadiss’ benefit.  The more he thought about it the more down in the dumps he felt.  He forced himself through it though and back to the conversation.  Or at least down a new path.


            “So… is Amelia pregnant?”


            “Hey!  What!?!”  Flustered, instantly irate, Zelgadiss felt himself stripped of the gift of coherent speech.


            “I was just wondering since you both decided to come back to Sailune.  Plus the summons we got said you had some big announcement.”  Gourry wondered earnestly.


            “No, Amelia is not pregnant.”  Zelgadiss seethed for a moment, mumbling under his breath about Amelia and her hidden agendas.  He wondered who had made that point in the summons.  Philionel himself or maybe one of their pages?  Zelgadiss tried to brush it off but it left a unsettling feeling in his stomach.


            “What was that?”  Gourry asked wondering exactly what Zelgadiss was getting at.


            “Nothing… nothing… just that Amelia wrote her father some letter before we got back here and she wouldn’t tell me exactly what she told him.”  He paused a moment and repeated himself, “But she’s not pregnant… we’ve never…”  Zelgadiss was thankful to have stopped himself short at that point, though with the momentum he was building it had been a hard task. 


            “Oh…”  Gourry commented.  He knew where Zelgadiss had been heading and was surprised that he had revealed as much as he had.  It made him uncomfortable to talk about those sort of things so he was glad that he stopped when he did.  Especially since talk may have lead to his own liaisons with a certain red-head sorceress.


            “It doesn’t matter.”  Zelgadiss waved his hand, brushing the subject away.  “I guess that means we’ve both got things we don’t want to talk about.”


            “Yeah.”  Gourry again felt sullen and looked down into the waters, his gaze drifting to the far-off darker regions of the bath.


            The not too distant bells began to chime high in the tower.  Two rings then three then two more.  “Ready to head inside?”  The bells signaled that dinner was about to start and that would be a surefire way to raise the swordsman’s sprits.


            “Dinner does sound pretty good about now.”  Gourry perked up thinking about some of the more elaborate meals that he had come to expect when dining with royalty.


            “We can catch up some more tomorrow then.”  Zelgadiss added with a smile and a nod before reaching out to the edge of the bath to retrieve his file and scouring pad.




            Although the silence had stretched on for some time, neither Amelia nor Lina felt uncomfortable.  Quite the opposite actually with the warm water to keep them relaxed.  Still, as much as Amelia was enjoying the quiet comfort, she felt she was wasting precious time.  She opened her eyes yet again, this time having the fortune of catching Lina with her own eyes closed.  At some time over the last several minutes Lina had allowed herself to lie back fully, raising the tops of breasts out of the water.


            Letting her eyes linger on Lina’s naked chest longer than ever, Amelia finally came up with an idea.  “Lina?”  Amelia mumbled softly, her voice carrying well over the water.


            “Hummm…”  Lina didn’t even open her eyes, she felt and sounded on the verge of sleep.


            “I was just noticing…”  Amelia broke off, momentarily worried that Lina would react before she clarified herself, “your breasts.  They’re a lot bigger than when I last saw them.”  She added the last part quickly in an attempt to avoid angering Lina. 


            “Oh.”  Lina sat up quickly, aware suddenly that her breasts had been above the water where Amelia could see them.  “What?”  Lina squeaked out with growing embarrassment.  It took her a moment to calm herself, splashing water everywhere, but covering her chest with her arms seemed to help things so she went with that.


            “Yeah.  I mean, I think so.”  Amelia admitted, pushing herself up from where she had been sitting and waded over to Lina in the water.


            “They look about the same to me.”  Lina lamented, her initial embarrassment fading as she started again to worry about her physical attributes.


            “Maybe that’s because you’ve been paying so much attention to them.”  Amelia added a giggle to ease the edge off her words, “But to me they look a lot bigger than they used to be.”


            Lina removed her hands from her chest, shyly, keeping them nearby and just above water in case she needed them for covering herself again “Are you sure.”  Lina asked timidly, afraid somehow that if she raised her voice too much Amelia might recant.


            Amelia nodded and moved closer, “Oh yeah, here, look at mine.”  Amelia cupped her own bosom and lifted it slightly, “They’re almost as big as mine.” 


            “Now I know you’re pulling my chain.”  Lina huffed, ready to flee the bath from the embarrassment.


            “No, really.”  Amelia added quickly, covering the distance between the two of them, “See?”  Amelia held her breast up slightly more, her nipple almost touching Lina’s. 


            “Hey…”  Lina started out, looking at her skin tone contrasting with Amelia’s slightly darker shade.  From the angle she was at though, her breasts did indeed look more comparable to the princess’.


            “They’re almost as big as mine.”  Amelia repeated haltingly, her heart suddenly racing.  She moved slightly forward, her nipple brushing against one of Lina’s.  If the sorceress noticed, she didn’t say anything.


            Lina was speechless, maybe Amelia was right.  They really did look comparable, she’d never thought… “Yeah… wow, finally!”  Lina shouted to herself more than Amelia before giving a little jump which caused her breasts to bounce slightly which brought a smile to Amelia’s face.  “I mean, I think you’re crazy to say they’re as big as yours, but they do look a little bigger…”  Lina was smiling in earnest now and Amelia was doing the same.


            Amelia thought to press her advantage, maybe mentioning that massaging them might make them even larger, but decided that she had enough time to take things slower.  “Yeah, that’s what I was trying to tell you.”  Amelia laughed out, dropping back into the water and splashing some at her friend.


            Lina spoke back up, “Anyway, let’s get cleaned up and get out of here, okay?”


            Amelia nodded vigorously, “Sounds good, would you like for me to scrub your back?”




            “Amelia!”  Lina shouted out as her friend let her hands wander a bit too far down her belly.  They held their positions for a moment, Lina crouched on her knees with her hands braced against a nearby stone, Amelia pressed against her.  Amelia had started off scrubbing her back, but her hands had moved forward over Lina’s shoulders.  They had trailed down the front of her body, soapy.  At first Lina’s breath had caught in her throat and she hadn’t been able to say anything as Amelia’s fingers glided gently over her nipples.  They slid between her breasts as Amelia had leaned even more forward, her chest pressed against Lina’s back.


            The feel of Amelia’s breath hot in her ear had only served to muddle her senses further.  So much so that she couldn’t get out the slightest protest as Amelia had slid her hands over her naked stomach.  Amelia had pulled herself closer at that point, hugging against her and holding her tightly.  It was only when she had tried to lower her hands even more…  Once Amelia’s hands had passed her waistline, her fingers brushing against the curly hair of her mound Lina found her voice.


            “What is it?”  Amelia breathed out, feigning innocence as much as she could with the lust in her voice and the location of her hands.


            “What do you think you’re doing?”  Finally Lina was able to pull away fully from the princess causing both of them to topple forward, Lina into the water and Amelia against the stone Lina had been braced against. 


            Amelia waited for Lina to shift and face her before beginning her defense, “I was just washing your back.”  This time Amelia did manage to sound honest, more like her usual self.  It was a hard sell though, her heart was beating heavy in her chest.  Amelia knew that she had gone too far, the question was how would the sorceress take it.


            “Bullshit!”  Lina called out, startling the smaller girl.  Lina swallowed hard, her heart was racing just as much as Amelia’s.  Lina had known Amelia long enough to see through her lie, but for her to attempt such and out and out lie… Although she had been denying any ulterior motive to the way Amelia had been acting, such denial was getting more and more difficult.


            “I-I… nothing.  I guess I just got a little carried away.”  Amelia struggled to sound believable, forcing herself to acknowledge a bit of the truth in her statement.  To Lina though response this time had been even less believable causing Lina to press the issue even further.


            “The truth Amelia.  I’ve known you long enough to know you’re hiding something from me.”  Lina stood up fully from the bath waters, putting her hands to her hips for emphasis.


            “Well.”  Amelia again paused, she tried to calm herself before she uttered another word.  One wrong answer and she knew she could drive Lina away.  It didn’t help that she was fighting with her wandering eyes, trailing up and down Lina’s naked body as she stood before her.  Finally she succeeded in forcing herself back to reality, she could think of only one recourse.  “Do you really want the truth?”  She asked, more resigned.


            “Yes.”  Lina answered firmly.


            “Are you sure?”  Amelia again asked, her voice becoming smaller as she spoke.  Her gaze also dropped from the sorceress and into the water she sat in.  If Lina really wanted to truth she was going to give it to her.


            “Yes, I’m sure.”  Lina kept her temper in check since it was obvious what she was digging at was something Amelia would prefer she did not know.


            For awhile longer Amelia sat silent.  Her eyes wandering form her own body cloaked beneath the water to Lina’s, then back again.  The excitement was gone, now she was just afraid of loosing her forever.  Lina swallowed hard just before Amelia spoke, “I never said it before, I never thought I could get the words right.” 


            Again the princess paused, this time longer.  Lina could hardly stand it so tried to move the confession along again, “Whatever it is… Just say it.”  Lina tried to sound understanding, really she was just worried, she could tell it was something big.


            The reply was sudden, Amelia forced it out of herself as quickly as possible before the insanity passed.  “I love you!”  The sound of her forced confession resounded around the room.  Momentarily both of them were shocked into immobility.


            The clockwork in Lina’s head regained movement slowly as the last pieces of the puzzle finally cemented themselves into place.  She looked down as the princess in front of her, prostate in the waters of her own bath.  She couldn’t believe what she’d heard but it was a fact that hardly took her by surprise.  Finally Lina found herself able to respond, “I-I always knew… but I just couldn’t believe it.”  A moment later after seeing the downcast look on Amelia’s features she added, “I guess that explains everything.”


            The movement was as fast as any attack that had come at Lina before.  She still should have been able to defend against it.  The problem was that she had a number of negative factors weighing on her ability to counter the offense.  She was naked, lacked the proper footing, was somewhat confused, besides, most people didn’t attack other people with their faces.


            The kiss was intense, but hardly loving.  Lina felt herself pushed back by the force of her friends lips against her own.  Almost out of reflex Lina dropped her own legs from beneath her, causing her to splash down into the baths fully to the neck.  The water flew in all directions but it hardly mattered.  She tried to push herself up but found that her arm had a frightful tremble to it that mirrored the feeling in her chest.  Absently she licked her lips in some sort of response to the impact, she felt so vulnerable suddenly.  She’d managed to fall with her back against the statue in the center of the baths.  For a moment she was distracted, looking between Amelia and the stone likeness of her mother.  They were both very beautiful women and Amelia had inherited plenty of her mothers looks.  They looked almost identical naked.


            “Amelia, I-”  Lina cut herself off when she noticed that the wetness on Amelia’s face wasn’t just from her fall into the water.


            “It’s you I love.”  Amelia sniffled, the kiss had failed.  It was all she could muster, all of her love and devotion, it should have been enough but the words kept coming, “It’s always been you.”  She confessed again, feeling her soul ache form the depth of the feeling.


            “Amelia…”  Lina tried shakily, feeling her voice crack. 


            “Please, it can work.  I don’t know the details but it can work out between two girls.”  Amelia struggled hoping to make a point.  But the reasoning sounded weak even to her.  She wished that she had some other way to prove her love.  To show Lina how much she loved her.


            Despite the situation Lina let out a little laugh at how typically Amelia her friend was acting.  “I know it can work.” Lina managed to agree quickly but found herself blushing deeply for it, “But that’s not the issue here.”  She let out a deep breath trying to calm herself.  She felt herself shaking, it was hard to focus, every bit of her just wanted to run and not have to face what was going on.  “That’s not it at all.  What about you, and Zelgadiss?”


            Amelia shook her head, “It’s only you.”  Amelia wiped her eyes and tried again, “Me and Zelgadiss are friends, good friends, but never anything beyond that.”  Since it didn’t seem like she was making the positive impact she was trying for, she decided to keep going, “I’ve always loved you.  And… I hope that maybe you could love me?  That maybe we have a chance…”  Amelia trailed off not sure what else she had to say.


            “What you’re asking is, it’s impossible.”  Lina shook her head, “Why can‘t we just be friends.”  Lina heard her own voice speeding up but could hardly control herself, “What is it you really want?” 


            “I want us to be together.  Together forever.”  Amelia replied back weakly, it was as much the truth as she could manage.  “I want to get married, and for us to rule the kingdom together.”  Amelia rushed out, immediately feeling stupid for sharing that particular dream.


            Her response changed Lina’s feelings quickly and she dug her hand deeply into the water, splashing a gout of it at Amelia, “And what about Gourry?  Do you just want me to leave him too?”


            “But you said there was nothing going on…” Amelia struggled feeling the fire in her heart begin to sputter and the room start to go cold.


            “It’s hard to explain.”  Lina answered quickly, any anger she felt began dying away as confusion warred against her other emotions.


            “Please… please… please…. Just… please…”   Amelia collapsed into the water as she scrambled for the words she desperately needed.


            Lina felt herself shaking, her friend breaking down in front of her.  She should have seen it earlier, and the situation with Gourry.  It was all too emotional for a person that tried to lock out her feelings whenever she could.  Who put on such a strong mask for the world.  She just had to get away.  Carefully she stood.  It seemed so much colder out of the water, her physical comfort gone just as her mental comfort had been shredded away.  She took a single stride to stand over the princess who had buried her head in her hands, the water swirling suddenly from the movement of her feet.  “I…“  Lina tried unsure of herself.  She stood there over Amelia a moment longer.  She was worried to encourage her friend but there was still no way she could leave her the way she was.  Finally she bent forward at her waist, hugging Amelia’s damp head, “We’ll talk about this tomorrow.” Lina kept herself together, if only for her own pride.


            The sound that Amelia made could hardly be constituted as a word, but it served as an agreement nonetheless.  Feeling sick, Lina trudged through the water, waist deep and higher in some places, making her way out of the baths.  Amelia struggled, for something, anything she could say to stop Lina, “What about dinner!”  Amelia called after her suddenly causing Lina to stop for just a moment.


            “I’m not feeling hungry.”  Lina responded, managing to save the strength of her voice.  She didn’t turn back to give the princess another look, knowing she was sitting exactly where she had left her.  Lina dressed herself quickly and before Amelia would have expected it, the door to the baths creaked open and shut just as noisily. Amelia dropped down deeper into the water, wondering if it would be easier to just let herself sink into the liquid forever… The hope that Amelia had carried with herself for years, however faint at times, crumbled to dust leaving her tears to fall into the water unabated.




            Standing in front of Lina’s door, Zelgadiss found himself already at the end of his plan.  Dinner had been quiet and uncomfortable without Lina or Amelia around.  Ameila’s father had been worried enough to send a servant to find the princess and they had quickly returned, putting to rest any worries of misfortune befalling the princess.  But Lina was missing too.  If Zelgadiss had to guess, he figured Amelia had confessed her feelings to Lina with the same disastrous results that the Chimera had predicted from the start.  The only other option was that things had gone so well that…


            Zelgadiss shook the image from his head, he needed a clear mind.  He focused on the positives, trying to gain his confidence.  Casually Zelgadiss reached out toward Lina’s door but withdrew his hand just as he had before committing himself to the knock.  A part of him wanted to leave.  That same cold, analytical part wanted to find Amelia and grill her on what happened.  From there he wanted to use whatever information he obtained to plan his next actions carefully, maybe wait out Lina for a few days, get some more information from the sorceress and from Gourry then finally make a move.


            It was Lina’s presence that was fouling up that plan.  Having her so close after so long was making him more impulsive and that left him with the simple impulse of  barging into Lina’s room, confessing his feelings, and winging it from there.  He sighed but tried to keep it low in the event Lina was listening with her ear directly against the door for some unknown reason. 


            He struggled with himself again, no matter the logic he felt he was loosing the battle.  Simply put he wanted to go into the room, now if at all possible.  The only defense that was holding him in place was the worry that Lina really did have feelings for Gourry.  He didn’t have the heart and he didn’t think he could ever compare to Gourry to take her away from him.  His thoughts turned darker the way they always did, he wasn’t a man, he was a Chimera.  How could he hope to provide for any woman let alone one he had set up so high on her pedestal.  He forced himself through those thoughts, there was one surefire way to figure out the answer to his dilemma.  If she did have feelings for him, rather than drag it out he could quickly find out by walking into her room and confessing.  Nothing was going to change in the coming days, either she felt something for him, or… she didn’t.  His heart ached at the thought.  When it came to his real emotions he found himself weaker than he would have dared admit consciously.


            Zelgadiss banged his fist into the door in frustration.  The sharp sound his fist made as it boomed against the door caused him to open his eyes in shock, it had hardly been intentional.  He had forced himself to that particular course of action he realized, so he held himself steadfast and waited for the inevitable.


            “Zel, is that you?”  He heard Lina’s muffled voice through the thick wood.


            “Yeah, it’s me.”  He answered back, wondering how she had known his identity just from the knock.  


            It took a few more anxious seconds of waiting before he finally heard the recognizable metal on metal sound of the locking mechanism being manipulated.  The door opened slowly, just a crack, enough for Lina to look out and hardly enough for Zelgadiss to look in, “What is it?”  She asked.  She was having trouble keeping her voice polite which made Zelgadiss briefly consider altering his course of action but he assured himself that he was committed.


            “Can I come in?”  A simple enough first step in his mind to get the ball rolling on his confession, to put himself in a situation where he would have to get it over with.


            “What for?”  Lina asked slightly worried.  She was feeling weak and hated for anyone to see her that way, it would take her most of the night to sort out what had happened in the baths.


            Zelgadiss pulled back slightly, he hadn’t expected her to be so defensive, things didn‘t look good for Amelia if his guess was correct.  “To talk.”  He responded in kind, feeling safe with the thought.


            “If this is about Amelia….”  Lina noticed the purposefully blank look on Zelgadiss’ face and cut herself short.  Finally she stepped back out of the doorway and pulled the opening wider, “Okay, you can come in.” 


            There was just a flicker of reluctance before he stepped through the doorway.  With Lina behind him he took a moment to look the room over.  It was obvious that Amelia had assigned Lina one of the best guest rooms in the castle.  Ornate, but not gaudy.  It had plenty of charm and was much larger than his own room.  He felt a little jealous.


            Soon enough he focused his attention back on the sorceress.  She stood with her back against the closed door, eyeing Zelgadiss and waiting.  Her expression demanded a quick explanation.  Her body and outfit though called out for thorough appreciation.  Her hair was up, it was a look he had never seen on her.  And the newness of it was accentuated by the robe that she had decided to attire herself in.  Deep blue with red trimming, silk from the look of it.  Hardly her usual attire, the fine fabric draped revealingly over her body, he was thankful she was still wearing her underclothes.  As it stood he was still having difficulty focusing.  To help him think straight he moved back slightly, sitting on the bed and scouring his mind for a place to start.


            “I just wanted to check up on you, you weren’t at dinner.”  He decided to start with the obvious.  If only to stall for time.


            “I don’t want to talk about it.”  She brushed off his question, trying to seem more impatient than anything else.  She felt too vulnerable to drag out a conversation for any length of time.


            “Oh.  I guess Amelia is all right though.  Phil had someone go find her when she didn’t show up at dinner.  Any clue what‘s going on?”  He was pressing his luck, he knew it, but he was curious as to what had happened.  He didn’t miss the little finch at Amelia’s name.  His enhanced vision didn’t let much slip. 


            “Nothing-- It’s just… she’s been acting weird.  Please, if you’re worried about Amelia, why don’t you just go talk to her, I need some sleep.”  He knew that he had pushed more than she was comfortable with.  It was curious though and he really wished that he had found out more before making his way to Lina’s room first.  Had Amelia confessed?  If this was the way Lina was taking it, it didn’t bode well for his own confession. Or maybe it meant he had a better chance?  Maybe him being a man did trump Amelia’s womanhood.  His mind was flooded with Amelia’s attempts to boost his ego, that he really might have a chance with Lina.  He tried to let his ego build, it was hard to do. 


            He decided to change the course of the conversation, “Anyway, I was hoping that we could spend a few minutes together.  I wanted to talk without Gourry or Amelia interrupting.”  He paused seeing how she would take the statement.  Wondering if he gave too much away with the stipulation of being alone. 


            “Oh?”  She said, letting herself relax a little.  At least with Zelgadiss she didn’t have to worry about romance or any other thorny issues coming up.  She let out the breath she had been holding and leaned back against he door fully.  She hadn’t really talked with Zelgadiss is some time.  But they went so far back, almost as far as her and Gourry.  That brought her mind back to their first meeting, when he had shown up at their Inn asking for the statue that contained the Philosophers stone.  She smiled at the memory, he’d thought he could trick her… And she could tell how nervous he had been despite the tough guy act.  Just like he was now she thought with her heart beat picking up. 


            He had hoped that her response would help direct the conversation.  At a loss he took a moment more to look her over, the cut of the robe allowed him to trace her legs almost up to her thighs, although cinched at the waist it still hung open slightly, he bit his tongue to distract himself.  “There were just some things that I wanted to talk about that we found exploring the Kakarat mountains.”  He began, trying to remember the details of the story.  The story itself contained an interesting piece of information that would likely be useful to Lina.  Something that had been lost to black magic practitioners over the ages and he had stumbled across deep in the wilds.  He couldn’t see how it would lead him into confessions of feelings, but for the moment the story was the only thing coming naturally to him so he continued, “We had been traveling for some time before we finally found what we thought was an abandoned shrine .  I’d read about it in Dias a few months earlier and Amelia had decided that what we found out about it was enough to warrant a trip there.” 


            Lina started to settle in, dropping herself in a chair adjacent to the door before propping her feet on a nearby stool.  He cracked a bit of a smile and she returned it.  She had always enjoyed Zelgadiss’ stories, although he lacked the flair of any master orator what she enjoyed most were those few and far between parts he did get excited about.  The way his eyes lit up and his hand started making exaggerated motions, it actually reminded her of Amelia she thought glumly.




            “There you are.”  Gourry’s voice boomed out suddenly.


            Amelia turned sharply toward the sound. “Gourry?”  She asked despite the swordsman now fully in her field of vision.


            “Yeah?”  Amelia almost chuckled at his tone, it made it seem like she had been the one to seek him out.


            “Yeah, you.  What is it?”  She asked feeling a bit of her melancholy return and turning her attention back to her feet and the bench she was sitting on.


            Gourry stood there in thought for a moment.  Amelia had meanwhile turned up from her feet and once again looked out across the reflecting pool that featured prominently in the center of her gardens.  Here the wizards had cast their light spells deep beneath the water.  The gentle glow from the water though was a full enough light source  that Amelia saw Gourry clearly. 


            “I was just worried.  You didn’t show up, Lina didn’t show up, neither of you were at dinner.”  He stopped, taking a few steps forward, “And when I asked Phil where they’d found you he told me to check here.” 


            Amelia wasn’t used to Gourry’s voice being so soft.  It was more caring than she remembered it.  Gourry and Zelgadiss got along fine, they would talk about swordsmanship, battle techniques.  Other things too, and of course ‘guy things’ which Lina and herself postulated to revolve around her own temperament during a certain time of the month.  Gourry and Lina too always had good chemistry, maybe not the exact chemistry of lovers, but certainly enough to give them lively conversation and interaction.  But when it came to Gourry and herself… there was nothing there. 


            To be honest she hardly remembered any times when the two of them had talked.  He was more of an acquaintance then a friend by that standard.  But still, she had to admit that she cared about the jellyfish brain.  He’d always been kind enough, but what really counted were the times he was there for her in battle.  She might have only been able to count the time he’d saved her life on one hand, but each one had been an honest to goodness save.  Without him she’d be dead five times over.


            Seeing the look she was getting from the swordsman she tried to get herself back into the conversation, “I just wasn’t feeling up to it.  Coming to dinner I mean.”  She reached down and straightened her dress.  She’d put it on after her bath, just in case she had decided to attend dinner, just in case her father had decided to make it a more public affair with his daughter back.


            “I see.”  He paused again, this time looking around the gardens. 


            “Did you hear anything about Lina?”  She had to ask.  And besides, unless she was missing her mark entirely she figured that he found her in hopes of finding more about Lina himself.


            “Nope, I guess that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come out here to find you.”  He scratched his head as he worked his way through the awkward confession but she had been trying to dig that detail out herself.


            “That’s okay, I was wondering about her too.”  Amelia looked up at Gourry who had moved even closer, only a step or two away.  Her eyes met his and she wondered just how much she should reveal, “We were taking a bath before dinner and… I don’t know, she just wanted to be left alone I guess.”


            “You didn’t mention her sister, did you?”  He asked in all honesty.


            “No.”  She shook her head.


            “Bugs… bugs… no-- slugs!  You didn’t say anything about slugs either did you?”


            “Not that I  remember.”  Amelia cracked a smile at the effort Gourry was putting fourth though a part of her stomach lurched as she remembered she was trying to take Lina away from the man in front of her.


            “And nothing about Orc meat either?”  Gourry asked almost impatiently, rushing through the question.  But still searching his head for other things that he had known to trigger Lina.


            “Why, what happened with Orc meat?”  Amelia scrunched up her eyebrows in thought, trying to remember anything from their journeys where Orc meat had elicited a negative reaction.


            “We found a town where fetid Orc was a delicacy.  I guess Lina didn’t understand the name on the menu though.  She didn’t realize what it was until she felt something moving in her mouth and spit out a handful of maggots and worms.”  The expression on his face told of the horror from his end, “I don’t want to talk about what happened after that.”


            Amelia had to chuckle, “So, Lina’s appetite for the unusual got her in trouble again.”


            Gourry smiled back, “Yeah, really though - you’re lucky you weren’t there.”  He mumbled the last bit out to accentuate that the information was for Amelia’s ears only.


            “I feel like I missed so much traveling with Zelgadiss.”  The statement was more for her own edification so she used it simply as a jumping point to keep the conversation moving, “But still, I was wondering, what have you and Lina been up to.  It’s been a long time and I know how much a walking force of destruction she can be.  I‘m surprised I didn‘t hear anything”  Amelia stopped there hoping it was enough to get the swordsman talking.


            “Not too much really.  Traveling a lot, eating a lot-”  He patted his own stomach for emphasis, “-that’s about it.  I really don’t understand most of the other things Lina drags me around for, but she always seems to have a plan.  And things have been quiet, we haven’t seen a Mazoku around after we split up from you guys.  Well, except for Xelloss.”


            “Oh, that’s good.”  Amelia tried to keep her sigh to herself, it was obvious that Gourry was telling her the truth, he could have been lying but knowing Gourry it was next to impossible.  “You know, maybe we should just go find her.  Did you check her room yet?”


            “I was going to after I talked to you.  I mean, I know Lina and she usually needs some time to cool down if something was making her angry. Maybe it will be safe now.”  He said with an uncharacteristically playful smile.


            “I guess that means we should get going then.”  She stood up from her bench with a smile.  She had wanted to stay in the gardens, near the romantic light that came from the waters so that if Lina had decided to find her, the scene would be perfect for romance.  Such a long time had passed though that she knew the plan was ruined.  Her eyes met Gourry’s again, and held them this time for a moment.  There was so much she needed to ask, did he love Lina?  Did he know if she loved him back?  She wanted so badly just to come out and say it. 


            It didn’t matter, she had already made her confession and all she could do now was wait and see if Lina accepted it.  Seeing the blond swordsman’s blue eyes she hoped against hope that it wouldn’t hurt the man in front of her now.  He really was a great guy and if anyone deserved Lina…  Quickly she jerked her mind from it’s defeatist mindset.  Trying to get away from the downward spiral of thoughts she had found herself in, how it would be much better for the royal family if the princess of Saillune didn’t marry a commoner girl.  That Lina really did seem like a great match for Gourry.  That Lina didn’t love her.


            She could only wait and see.  Gently she reached out and squeezed Gourry‘s hand, pulling away just as quickly.  The touch alone made her heart quake.  He looked down at her, he didn’t have to say anything, the confusion on his face was question enough,  “I’ve had a hard day…”  Apparently it was enough, because despite how dense he could be with words, her touch had convinced him that the simple presence of another was enough to help alleviate the worries of her day.  So they walked together, however uncomfortably, off to find the sorceress.




            Something about the way that Zelgadiss was prattling on and on was putting Lina on edge.  She sighed heavily and leaned back against the wall.  Initially she had hoped that when she had gotten to her feet Zelgadiss would take the hint and take to the door.  That hadn’t happened.  Instead he had continued to go on and reminisce about the old times.  At first it had been nice, albeit a little forced on his part.  But after awhile he was grasping for straws, trying to find anything to drag the conversation out just a little bit longer. 


            “Zel, it’s getting late and I’ve got to get some sleep before the sun comes up tomorrow.”  She deadpanned looking to the window just as she would if the sun had been on the horizon.


            “Just give me a few more minutes, it‘s been such a long time.”  Zelgadiss struggled, desperately delaying, he was close.  Just as easily though he could leave and try again tomorrow.  He worried though if he took that way out that he would never get the courage up again and he would perpetuate that cycle of putting it off one more day.  And he had to know.


            Lina nodded in response and allowed herself the luxury of sitting back down in the chair.  “So what did you come here for Zel?”  Lina asked finally deciding to cut to the heart of the matter.  It was obvious he was stalling for time since it wasn’t his usual delay tactic or at least one that didn’t involve going for a sword.


            “What do you mean?”  He asked feigning innocence. 


            “Come off it.”  Lina said with a huff, “You’re stalling, that much is obvious, I just don’t know what for.   I just put up with that crap from Amelia, so just spit it out already.  It‘s not like you at all.”  She tried to keep her voice even, acting too hostile might throw him off to where he would refuse to talk. 


            “Oh, well…”  Now or never he thought to himself.  Finally on the spot he felt more free.  Purposefully, Zelgadiss crossed his legs and put his hands in his lap.  “I don’t know if you remember it, but back when you and me were traveling together, before Gourry…”


            “You mean when you kidnapped me.”  She corrected him with a wry grin.  It was enough of a reminder to make the thin rifts between his rock hide flush red. 


            “Yes, well, I’m glad you remember.”  He stopped again, shifting his legs and eyeing her from head to toe.  He hoped that something in her expression or posture might give away what she was really feeling.  Lina had seen the tactic enough to know he was fishing for a clue so she kept her face impassive if only to throw him off. 


            Clearing his throat, Zelgadiss tried again, “I really don’t know how to put this.”  Again there was a pause.


            Lina felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up slightly, but ignored it, taking pleasure in goading him since it was putting him in such a state. “Go ahead, tell me, just get it out already.  I just hope you‘re not going to confess your feelings for me or anything”  She laughed, kicking back comfortably into the chair.


            “Okay, well.”  He gritted his teeth, Amelia had confessed, it was undeniable now.  But the fact that she was treating it so blasé?  He couldn’t figure it out so he paused yet again, but this time Lina could tell he was on the verge of finally spitting it out, “I love..-d you.”  He changed his confession awkwardly at the last moment.  He’d been given the prefect invitation to his own confession with her sarcasm.


            The impassive expression she had forced upon herself shattered.  She could feel her mouth drop open, her heart sink then swim up into her head.  And for some reason she really wished she would had made it to dinner.  Zelgadiss immediately caught onto the fact that she wasn’t suddenly overcome with a mutual feeling so he went for damage control,  “I loved you!”  He emphasized.  “I mean, not then when you were kidnapped, but I might have had a crush on you then.” He tried to collect himself before continuing, everything was falling apart.  His breathing speed up as he combated the natural instinct to talk as fast as possible in hopes of saying something right on chance.


            “You loved me?”  Lina asked, feeling a overwhelmed.  “When did you stop?”  She made it clear through her inflection that the answer she was looking for was ‘a long time ago’.


            “I-just before we split up last time.”  He tried weakly but it was hard for him to hide the truth.


            “Really, really!”  Lina stood up from her chair, “First Amelia then you… and up to today I’d never had anyone tell me that before.  Except for Mom and Dad.”  She started pacing a short path between the doorway and the far side of the room, talking more for herself than Zelgadiss.  “What do you want me to do.  Marry you?”


            Zelgadiss cut in, “But I said I was over you.”  He defended.


            Lina’s retort was quick, “You think I believe that?  You’ve never hidden your emotions well Zel, if you were angry, you looked angry, if you were depressed, I’ll be damned, you looked depressed, and when you said you were over me, you lied.”  Lina huffed and set her eyes firmly on the chimera.  “Did you even know about Amelia‘s feelings?  Did you put her up to this to hope to complete some kind of love triangle?”  Lina groaned out something, grabbing her hair, “I thought for sure that the two of you would be involved by now.”  She started pacing again, “That seems like the normal thing to happen, right?  Not that the two of you would suddenly confess your love to someone you hadn’t seen in years?”


            Trying to diffuse the situation he tried again to make his feelings seem like a thing of the past, “No, that’s not it, I used to love you, I don’t love you any more.”


            “Just tell me the truth. Do you love me?”  She stopped her raging, her voice dropping a few octaves and she met his eyes once again.


            “I… do.”  He hung his head, defeated.  But the relief he felt for finally admitting it was incredible.


            “That’s what I thought.”  Lina took a deep breath, then another, hoping that the extra oxygen might alleviate the migraine she felt coming on.  “Why you, why Amelia, why now?”  She asked, dropping onto her butt on the floor but keeping his gaze locked with her eyes.


            “I don’t know.”  He shook his head sadly, “Me and Amelia didn’t work out.  Actually I-I ruined her life.”  He startled himself with the admission but he continued, “But when we started talking, when we finally really started talking.  I found out that the reason we were together in the first place was you.”  Slowly he reached out, Lina was within arms reach when he bent forward and she let him wipe a tear from her cheek.  “We love you, both of us.  And- at least I would be willing to love you with Amelia, and even Gourry too, for the rest of our lives.”  It was the truth, it was all he could say.


            Lina’s face dropped at the admission.  “You can’t share a person like that.” 


            “Then let’s just go back to the way things used to be.  Just the four of us traveling together.  The way we used to.”  Lina felt her own anger fading, she had never seen Zelgadiss so broken up before, even when he had raged against Rezo he‘d managed to maintain a fragment of composure.


            “Look Zel, I don’t know shit about emotions.”  Her face had gone cold, steady, “The first time I had sex with Gourry I cried myself to sleep every night for a month.  I wouldn’t even let him touch me after that.  And the worst thing is that nothing bad happened.  It was magical.  It was as perfect as any woman could have hoped for.  And I still love him and want to be with him forever, but I just can’t bring myself to…”  She wined something out, “Can’t you see how screwed up I am already.”  She wiped her face harshly with her hands, “And now you and Amelia- what am I supposed to do?”  Lina put both of her hands to the ground between her legs, taking her eyes from the man in front of her, “You, Gourry, Amelia… I don’t have anyone else any more.  I love you all but it’s not the same with you and Amelia and I’m worried… afraid.  I don’t want to loose either of you, you guys are all I have.”


            “I’m so sorry.”  Zelgadiss stood from his seat on the bed and strode forward half a step to run his hand over Lina’s hair a moment, he wasn‘t the touchy sort of guy but he could be for Lina. “I’m so sorry, I never wanted it to be like this.  I don’t want to steal you away, I just wanted to make you happy.”  Lina heard him swallow hard from where she was on the floor and finally the hand he placed on her head left and she felt him move across the room.  “I just couldn’t go my whole life wondering what might have been and not at least given it a shot.  I know you of all people can understand that.”  Finally coming to the door she heard him grasp the latch securely and begin to pull it open. 


            “Oh, hey Zel!”  Lina heard someone call out.  Instantly her head was up, swinging around and sure enough Gourry and Amelia were walking in through the now open door, causing Zelgadiss to take a step back to accommodate the both of them.




            Gourry looked around the room confused.  Lina was crying, that he noticed right off.  He tried not to react, instead allowing the situation to play out around him before he did something rash.  After looking at Zelgadiss though he knew something must have really been wrong for his eyes to be threatening tears as well.  “What’s wrong?”  Gourry was looking at Zelgadiss but the question was really directed at Lina.


            “N-nothing.”  She lied, it was obvious, “Zel was just getting ready to go and I was going to call it a night.”  The sniffle at the end didn’t help her story either.


            Feeling Amelia tense up next to him, Gourry pressed the issue further.  “Nothing?  You’re sure?”  He tried for finesse, he wasn’t good at it, but if both Zelgadiss and Lina were emotional about something it might not do well to pry too deeply.


            “No, just-nothing.”  The lie was even more obvious this time.  So Gourry stopped to collect himself.  Around him Zelgadiss and Amelia were just as frozen as Lina, trying to blend into the masonry so to speak.  He caught the look that Amelia passed along to Zelgadiss that he returned.  He also watched critically as Lina shot a  wounded look to Amelia and Zelgadiss in turn.  Something major was up and they didn’t want him in on it.  It hurt to be left out like that.  He may have been afraid to push before, but he hated being lied to.  Especially so openly.  Especially by someone he loved and people he thought were his friends.


            “What is going on!”  He finally growled out, fresh tears still falling down Lina’s face despite her best attempts to prevent them.


            Again there was stillness, no one felt inclined to speak so Gourry kept it up.  “I know you’re hiding something from me,”  His gaze swept the room, being sure to meet with Amelia and Zelgadiss’ eyes though Lina’s were downcast.  “I thought we were friends.”  His voice dropped and melancholy threatened him but he held fast to his anger.


            “Sorry Gourry, I’ve got to go.”  Zelgadiss moved for the door and Gourry shifted to the side, blocking his way.


            “Not until I know what’s going on…”  His words were accompanied by the subtle pushing of the door half-way shut behind him.  Though unarmed he still felt he could give Zelgadiss some trouble if he tried to leave.  And if he really did try to leave through the swordsman then Gourry knew that the matter was important enough to warrant his action in the first place.


            Zelgadiss took a half-step back from Gourry and turned to Lina, then turned even further.  Gourry knew he was considering the window as an alternate exit.  For him to be that desperate though…


            “Just let him go.”  Lina’s voice had more force to it than he would have expected from her visage.  It almost made him move if only as a reflex action but he held his ground.


            “Please,”  Gourry pleaded with his friends, “Just tell me.” 


            “Gourry.”  The swordsman turned to his side, to Amelia.  Her voice wavering.  She pulled herself slightly closer to him, brushing against him slightly.  He could tell that she weighing what she should reveal.  “I love… Lina.”  She finished the last part as nothing more than a whisper.


            The look of incomprehension on his face prompted her to continue, and helped dispel some of the apprehension she must have been feeling, “I -- we, asked Lina to come here.” 


            Gourry didn’t miss the ‘we’ part and looked to Zelgadiss causing him to speak up, “We just wanted… to confess it to her.  I couldn’t go my whole life not knowing.”  He trailed off looking to the floor, the resistance he’d had when Gourry had first entered the room had melted away.   


            “You both… love Lina?”  He felt his heart drop painfully in his chest, his stomach following a moment later.  “Both of you…”


            “Gourry, it’s not like that though!”  Lina called out from her seated position, finding her strength at last.  “I didn’t know, I-I just found out, same as you.”  She pushed herself up and raced to the swordsman, enveloping him in a hug around his arms, binding them to his body, “It’s you, I love you.”  She mumbled into his massive body, overcome at the prospect of loosing him.


            Gourry looked down at the woman holding him so tightly.  Her grip was almost painful, but it was the first time she’d hugged him in that way in a long time.  He’d missed it.  He wished though that she hadn’t pinned his arms so he could reciprocate the hug, instead all he could do was shift his weight forward in an effort to nuzzle more into Lina. 


            Zelgadiss took the moment of distraction to ghost past Gourry, pushing him to the side ever-so-slightly and making his way through the ajar door.  Gourry wanted to know more.  His worries were not fully abated.  But all it took to do that was the kiss that Lina followed up with for her attack.  He melted into her arms, it had been even longer since they had last kissed.  And the trepidation that she had from before, the tenseness that he had felt had left her entirely.  Absently he noticed Amelia leave his side as well, calling out to Zelgadiss as she left the room. 


            Suddenly the door was closed behind him and he felt himself being pulled forward.  Step by step the two of them made their way to the massive bed in the middle of the room.  “I love you too Lina.”  He managed out before he swallowed dryly.  Already he could feel his body reacting.  Lina’s hands worked lower on his body, and one of them found its way around to the front of his stomach and worked down from there.  “Oh Lina..”  Finally he felt himself pulled onto the bed, his body landing atop the sorceress, though thankfully she had freed his arms allowing him to shoulder his own weight instead of landing fully on her petite body.


            “Gourry.”  She started tenderly, full of emotion, “I-I love you, I want to spend forever with you.”  He felt her arms tighten around his back again before she whispered gently, “And I’ll always love you.” 


            His lips found hers this time, soft and gentle.  She responded with all the fire of their first such encounter.  If this was the way she wanted to make it up to him, he wasn’t going to stop her and he let the passion engulf him completely.




            “Zelgadiss, hold on a second!”  Amelia called out, pausing just outside Lina’s doorway.  He was long gone but for a moment she turned her gaze again inward.  Gourry, Lina, they were such a beautiful couple.  Her eyes felt misty as she watched them embrace, and her heart felt sick at wanting to break them up.  They were really in love, real love. 


            Amelia pulled herself from the room just as Lina closed the door fully with a slight kick.  She had to find Zelgadiss.  Before she knew it she was in a full run, slowing down just enough to avoid slipping when she turned down the next hallway and transferred her momentum to one of the many throw rugs that adorned the stone floor.  She was pushing herself for the first time in a long time.  The run to Zelgadiss’ room was no trivial matter, it was on the other side of the castle.  So she picked up her pace.


            Her emotions were rampant as she ran.  At times all she could think about was the thundering heartbeat in her ears, or the soreness of her feet as they relentlessly pounded the granite.  But at other times, it was Zelgadiss, it was Lina, it was Gourry.  She couldn’t keep anything straight, her thought process was too interrupted with the physicality of the run.  She was thinking in scattered bits and pieces. 


            Her feet pounded the stone harder, and she made her final turn, hardly sure she had the right room.  Amelia tried to catch her breath and failed, she opened the door without so much as a knock, despite her inability to speak.  “Zelgadiss!”  She yelled with as much breath as she could muster, choking from the effort.  The door was already open, Zelgadiss and his things were already gone.


            “No…”  She squeaked out between pants.  Amelia ran to the window, pushing it open hastily and bending the locking mechanism in the process.  “Ray Wing!”  Normally levitation was the extent of Amelia’s flying abilities.  Ray Wing was only for short distances, only for daylight.  But she had seen Lina use it in other situations she shouldn‘t have.  She needed the speed the spell afforded, only it would suffice. 


            The rushing wind instantly numbed her.  The night air was brisk and the perspiration covering her body was being assaulted by the wind speed, chilling her to the bone.  Her body was already screaming for her to stop.  She need to concentrate, needed to breath.  She pushed those impulses aside and held her breath tightly, allowing her to focus on increasing her velocity.  Finally she let herself take a deep breath, then several more shallow ones. 


            She started searching the ground immediately around the castle.  She didn’t see him.  She circled once, then again.  Holding her arms tightly against her body for maximum speed.  It was too dark to see much of anything.  And she was moving too fast.  She tried again, this time sweeping in a larger circle.  She couldn’t keep up the speed or the concentration.  She felt her circles becoming more sloppy by the moment, her trajectory askew and she was having trouble keeping track of the horizon.  Let alone looking for Zelgadiss.  “I can’t do-this…”  She grunted to herself feeling her body throb with each pulse of her heart.


            Amelia was coming down fast.  She needed to cast levitation but she didn’t think she had the power to slow herself enough.  Or the time.  She’d hedged her bet on holding the spell just a little longer.  Then sweeping up and into an arc before stopping.  Easier planned than done.  Her eyes were having a hard time adjusting to the darkened ground after looking at the moon.  She couldn’t gauge the distance to the ground but she knew that if she terminated the spell too early she’d fall too fart to prevent major injuries.  If she stopped it too late she could fall just as far.  But if she couldn’t see the ground she was as good as dead.


            Finally she caught the shimmer of the grass below her, the dew collected on it reflecting back a portion of the moon’s light.  She  focused all of her will on the spell, pulling herself upward, the feeling was horrible.  Her body trying to move down still with the force of gravity and the momentum she had accumulated but the spell lurching her upward.  She let loose control of the spell and suddenly all forces of physics conspired at once against her to throw her angled at the ground where she tumbled end over end several times before coming to a pained stop.


            “Ow…. Oww….”  Amelia’s head hurt.  Her hip hurt, and her ribs hurt.  And the longer she laid there the more she hurt.  And in the more different places she felt the impact of her fall.  She wondered if she could stand it all, it didn‘t matter, the motivation just wasn’t there.  Instead she laid there in the grass, feeling her outfit slowly dampen from the dew beneath her. Above, the clouds were clearing.  In the city the stars were much dimmer than they had been during her travels.  But still it was clear enough to make out most of the major constellations. 


            After some time she finally got herself upright again.  She felt a bit woozy and pained, but it all seemed superficial.  She looked down at her outfit, grass stains, dirt, some blood, her new dress had certainly taken a beating.  She bit her lip, wondering if even Lina and Gourry were still back at the castle.  She didn’t blame them if they had already left.  She hoped against hope though that they were still there, at least so she could make amends.  If not to Lina then to Gourry. 


            She looked to her castle, then again to the stars.  “How did everything go so wrong…?”  Amelia forced herself to her feet, the momentary weakness she’d sensed in her legs had passed.  When her and Gourry had entered Lina’s room, the look on Zelgadiss’ face, he’d been hurt.  Him and Lina both.  But it hadn’t been Lina she’d worried about, it had been Zelgadiss.  She tried to straighten out her dress.  She regretted wearing it, it was ruined. 


            Grudgingly she admitted to herself that her plan was a long shot.  Zelgadiss was long gone by now, he probably cast his own Ray Wing and took flight somewhere far away.  She hoped against hope though that he had made his way to the city and rented a room for the night.  Maybe he’d thought to come back at some later time.  Unlikely, but Amelia didn’t have much to go on at the moment, just a sudden revelation.




            Zelgadiss kicked off his boots wearily and let himself lay back fully on the bed.  “Well, at least that’s over.”  He said jadedly while scooting himself the rest of the way onto the mattress.  He folded his hands behind his head to protect the pillows as he settled in.  Slowly he glanced out the window, in the distance the castle was visible.  Or at least the towers were visible from his vantage point.  Each tower was bordered by torches at regular intervals which helped to distinguish it from any of the larger nobleman houses that dotted the city skyline.  He wondered what Amelia was doing right at that moment.


            He let out a deep breath, glad to have fled when he had.  The situation had only gone from bad to worse once Gourry had shown up and he was sure if he would have stuck around he would have managed to get himself even more in the middle of things.  At least that was how it felt things were heading.  Besides, Lina had already made it clear that her and Gourry… that they… they had already been intimate together once.  After he’d heard that he knew that he didn’t have a chance, the breakdown afterward had only cemented that notion.


            Despite everything though, he still felt that he had her as a friend.  She would just need some time to calm down.  Gourry on the other hand - actually he preferred not to think about Gourry at the moment.  The swordsman had every right in the world to be angry, Zelgadiss should have been more of a man about the situation and not tried to sneak around behind his back, he at least owed him that much.  Now at the least and apology was in order and if Gourry hit him, so be it. 


            Yet again he wished that he knew what was going on in the castle.  Had Gourry and Lina left, he wasn’t planning a return trip to the castle, but it was still something he wondered about.  They both needed time to cool off anyway.  Finally he was able to pull his eyes from the window.  The room itself was sparse, lit by a single sooty oil lamp.  He laughed lightly to himself when he thought about when he had requested the room for the night.  He hadn’t traveled alone in so long, he almost asked for two separate rooms, then when he’d corrected himself he asked for a room with two beds instead.  It took another attempt to correct that so that he could just get a single for the night.


            He wondered what Amelia was doing.  Had the princess ran as he had?  If she had any sense she did.  With Lina’s emotions running so high it was a wonder no one got a Dragon Slave fired at them, or at the very least a fireball shoved up their ass.  No, he was sure she had left.  But what then, made her way back to her room?  Went to her father?  Or gave into some melodramatic impulse and planted herself out in the gardens somewhere far from sight to wait for Lina to come to her.  If he knew Amelia it was definitely the latter. 


            It was easy to picture her sitting alone, waiting on her Knight in Shining Armor.  The image just fit her like a glove, and he’d seen it himself several times while they were traveling together, she’d get mopey or depressed or they would argue and she would run off to be alone.  At least that was how it had seemed at first, but slowly he began to realize she wanted him to come after her and find her.  He wondered if anyone would manage to figure that out or if Lina would let her sit outside all night.  It hadn’t been too cold when he’d made his way to the Inn but he figured it must have only cooled further since then.


            He tried not to think about it.  It was over between them, she was still his friend but anything that may have been beyond that he’d killed of his own actions.  The night in the tent came unbidden back to his mind.  Her naked body, she’d been the first woman to willingly show him her body.  He’d been young when Rezo had preformed his transformation and after that… he hadn’t wanted to inflict his visage on any woman.  He’d essentially given up on that part of his life.  Apparently Amelia didn’t get that message.


            In retrospect he couldn’t see how he’d been able to refuse her.  Especially after the next morning.  Seeing her naked flesh in the sunlight had been more than enough to remind him of his manhood.  Over the last weeks he had blamed that night for a lot.  He could finally see the blame had been misplaced.  The dinner upon their arrival, they way she’d flustered him.  He couldn’t get that thought out of his mind that night.  The next day in the alleyway, how he’d reacted to her closeness… 


            It was only now that he realized that those feelings had been more than just lingering lust.  Sometime over the years, masked by his bitterness, his feelings for the princess had changed.  And he had been too stubborn to admit them even to himself.  He was thankful to be rid of her, if he’d made that same realization on the road he was sure it would have grown over time till he’d done something stupid like confessed it to her.  Then knowing her she would have leapt at the chance for the two of them to be together and dragged home a chimera to wed.


            Even if she would have been happy it would have only ruined her life more, and he had taken too much of that as it was.  That was just how she was though, if she felt it was right and just, she would go with it, and damn the consequences.  And in the hierarchy of her emotions, love trumped all.  He took a deep breath remembering the night after she had confessed to him she had feelings for Lina.  They’d sat around the fire awkwardly until they were both dog tired.  Hoping for the other to say something about the night before, if only to prove it really happened.  That it had changed something.


            Amelia had been the first one to say anything.  She mentioned that it had been hard for her to admit her feelings about Lina because she was admitting them to Zelgadiss.  When he asked her about that she said it was as if she were betraying him, because despite how he had responded to her affection, she still thought she loved him.  He didn’t respond but it had been the same for him, and he only knew what he had been feeling after she vocalized it. 


            Things had changed so quickly, or had they.  When he thought about it, nothing had really changed.  Just his perception of the things he already knew and felt.  “The more things change…”  He mumbled out to himself, wondering if it was time to kill the lamp for the night.  He wanted to head out of town early the next morning in the event that someone went searching for him.  He wanted to get lost looking for his cure somewhere.  Maybe after he was cured, then he would allow himself to act on some of his thoughts and desires but until then he couldn’t afford to entertain them.


            *Bang* *Bang*


            The knocking was half-unexpected but with the way things went sometimes it wasn’t a complete surprise.  “Guards.”  He mumbled to himself, it seemed the most likely considering the way the Inn keep had scrutinized him when he’d rented the room.  He groaned, once your face gets on one wanted poster people seemed to remember it forever and think you’re out to cause trouble.  It didn’t help that his face was so memorable or unfriendly to begin with.


            The knock came again, this time more insistent.  He pushed himself from the bed and contemplated his sword.  If it was the guards though it might provoke them and trying to get Amelia to pardon him from the dungeon might be easier if he didn’t kill her men in the process.  “Hold on a second!”  He called out walking to the door and unbarring the entry. 


            The door swung open immediately, knocking him solidly in the arm and pushing him to the side.  “Zelgadiss!”


            He turned to the voice, “Amelia?”  He answered looking her over.  She was winded, like she’d run all the way from the castle.  And her clothes were in tatters, ripped with pieces missing, grass stains over the front and the back, dirt ground in over the chest and knees, mixed with blood.  It looked like she took a tumble down a mountain.  “Are you okay?”  He asked in worry.


            “What?  This?”  She looked down at her destroyed outfit, “Oh, I’m fine.”  Amelia caught her breath a bit more, “I just had to find you.” 


            “If you want me to go back to the castle with you, the answer is no.”  Zelgadiss answered curtly.  He had to take a firm stance now, he couldn’t bear to see Lina or Gourry just yet.  Not with things so fresh.  The image of Lina breaking down was something he couldn’t shake from his head.


            “We don’t have to go back… not if you don’t want to.”  She took a step forward, allowing the door to swing shut behind her, “I just--I had to find you.”


            “The plan failed Amelia, you confessed, I confessed, and we made a mess of things.  I don’t think Lina will ever talk to either one of us ever again.”  He lied about the last part if only to make the statement stronger.  To drive her away.


            “It’s not the plan, I just needed to find you.  I wanted to see if you were alright.”  She wanted to say more but it was just as it had been when she had tried to confess to Lina.  The words just weren’t there, and she didn’t want to get it wrong this time.


            He took a step toward her, “I’m fine, you don’t need to worry about me.”  Zelgadiss turned his back toward her to face the window, “Why don’t you just head back to the castle.” 


            Amelia scrambled, she was failing at the conversation.  “There’s so much more I want to say.”  She admitted at length.


            “Don’t, don’t say anything that you or both of us are going to regret.”  He sighed, “Just get out of here and get this over with.” 


            Amelia scrunched up her eyebrows, angry at his dismissing voice, “So I take it your confession to Lina didn’t turn out so well.”  She taunted, giving into the temptation to take a swipe at him in response.


            “About as well as yours did it seems.”  He replied with the same dismissive air he had used a moment before.  It helped that he didn’t have to see the hurt look on her face.  He just needed to scare her off one more time he told himself, once more and she would never find him again.  It figured that things would end on a sour note, they always did.  Either that or someone died.


            “Do you really want me gone?”  Amelia managed to get it out without crying as she had expected.  Then after not hearing an immediate reply continued, “I can go now, would you like that?  You’d never have to see me again.”  She held herself strong, swallowing down the want to cry and filling the void with anger, she‘d traveled with him long enough to know what he was goading her for.


            All he had to do was say it.  He tried to force himself but all that came out was a choked sound.  It was hard to breath, hard to swallow.  Emotions hurt him more than any physical blade ever could.  That’s why he chose to avoid them all together if possible.  But now that wasn’t possible.  He felt Amelia take a step forward.  The vibrations carrying through the seasoned wood of the floor.  Then she took another.  A few more and she was standing almost against his back.  He held his position.  “What about your people, what about your duties?”  He reminded her, it was the only excuse he could think of, “I thought that’s what you came back here for.” 


            Amelia didn’t say a word, just closed the gap between the two of them and encircled her hands around his waist.  He flinched at the contact but didn’t say a word.  “You’re right, I remember what I came back here for.”  She lifted up on her tip-toes, bringing her face closer to his neck.  “Zelgadiss, I- I - I got to go now.”  She couldn’t bring herself to say the words, not after Lina had rejected her, not when she was so unsure of his own feelings for her.  Not when he had already rejected her once.


            She loosed her grip around his waist and took a few slow steps to the door, pausing just long enough in the doorway for Zelgadiss to have a chance at a reply.  “Just go… we could never make it work.”  He mumbled the last bit under his breath.  As much as he wanted her to leave he couldn’t help but give some hint as to his true feelings.


            “Couldn’t make it work!?”  Amelia blustered, stepping out of the doorway.  It was almost a confession.  It was enough, “We can make anything work!  After what the both of us have been though,” She closed the distance between them, “There’s nothing we can’t handle.” 


            “Just go Amelia.”  Zelgadiss finally turned back toward the princess, hardening his resolve.  He’d said too much, he had to end it now.

            “No, I’m not going to leave now.” 


            “Go, you don’t want this.” 


            “I know what I want.”


            “You’re too young!”


            “I’m twenty-four!”  Amelia shouted resisting the impulse to push Zelgadiss onto the mattress.


            Zelgadiss again turned away huffing.  Amelia spoke up again, “Do you love me?”  Getting no response she pressed the issue, “Yes or no, do you love me?”  She stood unmoving for some time, “I’m not leaving till you tell me.”


            “What difference does it make!”  Zelgadiss finally shouted out spinning toward the princess.  “I’m a monster, you’re a princess, it doesn’t work like that!” 


            “It does in all my fairy tales.”  She mumbled, momentarily loosing her fire. 


            “Just go, get out of here.”  He grumbled, spent.  He watched the fight go from her eyes and she turned toward the door. 


            “Answer the question, do you love me?  Answer it and I’ll go.” 


            “I-”  He stopped himself.  If he admitted it he was worried that she might track him down.  That she might get hung up on him an refuse any other suitors, leaving herself a spinster forever.  On the other hand a lie could destroy her, she’d already been shot down once, by him but now with Lina out of the picture he worried that she had nothing to fall back on.  “I-”  He tried again before blurting out, “I love you!”  He turned to the side, not comfortable even looking at her back for fear that she might turn around.  “I said it, just be happy with that.  Now go.” 


            Trying not to look at her had been the wrong thing to do.  After his confession she had spun around and shot off toward him like a crossbow bolt.  He turned just in time to be knocked down.  Amelia firmly slammed into him with her extended arms against his shoulders.  He buckled from the impact despite his weight and struck the ground heavily.  The pictures on the walls shook in their frames and someone in the next room over shouted out in panic.  His back hurt and the wind was knocked out of him.  He noticed Amelia’s grimace as well.  She may have landed on top of him but he was just as hard as stone.  He knew she was hurting as well.




            She silenced his protests with a kiss.  Her lips pressed hard against his he couldn’t fight against it.  Amelia’s heart leapt into her throat.  His lips felt soft, the kiss felt right.  It wasn’t like the first time she forced a kiss on him, that had been an almost painful event.  It wasn’t like the kiss she had stolen from Lina earlier.  This one felt different, special.  Magical.  She pulled up from the kiss, “Say it again.”


            “What do you think your doing?”  Zelgadiss asked harshly but she could tell the kiss had affected him as well.


            “Say you love me.” 


            “Why?”  He didn’t want to play any more games, she had to leave, now.


            “Say it!”  She grabbed his shoulders in talon-like grips and throttled him against the floor twice.  It wasn’t enough to hurt him but enough to get her point across with violence.


            “I- love you.”  He said it again, searching for a way out.


            “Again!”  She bounced him once more off the floor.

            “Ow… I love you.”  It really did hurt, mostly from the hair that he had left embedded in the floor when Amelia had pulled him back up.




            She didn’t even have to throttle him this time, “I love you!”  It was getting easier to say.


            “And I love you too.”  She forced another kiss upon his lips and this time she felt him return it in kind.  She trailed her hand down over his shoulder and down his back, rubbing her leg up against his side.  She knew she had him, the laugh she gave seemed a little unhinged.


            “This can’t work.”  Zelgadiss managed breathlessly.  It was the only defense he could think of.  His hormones were doing things he hadn’t felt since before he became a chimera.


            “It will work because I won’t stop loving you.”  This time he kissed her, bringing up his own hand to her back a moment later.


            “Amelia, I love you…”  He’d said it of his own volition this time.  He’d finally crossed the line.


            Amelia draped her other leg over Zelgadiss’ side and straddled his mid-section.  “I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m being too forward about this…”  She started off blushing, “But if you want to reconsider my offer from the tent, it’s open again.”  He felt her buck lightly into his chest causing his breath to catch in her throat.  She smiled at his response, “That’s not a no for sure, but I want to hear it.”


            Zelgadiss struggled for a coherent reply.  It was too fast.  But then again she’d already offered once.  Did love really make that much of a difference.  If there was time, was that time now.  It certainly did feel magical enough.  “Just… stay with me and we’ll see where things go.”  He said carefully trying to keep his voice and emotions in check.


            Amelia nearly collapsed, finally… she finally had him.  The man she loved was hers.  And nothing was ever going to take him away.


***************(Classic Snowflake Ending)***************



Authors Notes:


            Another work in progress for several years complete.  Many thanks go out to Phizzy Chan and Rowanda the Witch for egging me on to finish this fanfic and doing duty as Betas.  And an extra special thanks to you, the reader ;)


            If you liked this you can find more of my work at:



            Also at that site is a link to my Slayers Hentai Fanfiction Archive and my Slayers Hentai forum.  Or if you would prefer to just contact me directly you can do so by e-mailing me at


            This fanfic was written with one goal in mind, a three-way between Amelia, Zelgadiss, and Lina.  It didn’t happen of course as you just found out, actually my rough draft had absolutely no sex in it.  It was only after one of my Betas got to it that I wrote that fantasy sequence.  Funny, huh?  Really the whole thing revolved around sex when the outline was written.  Amelia just trying to get no-strings sex out of Lina, Zelgadiss trying to convince Lina that he could share her in bed with Amelia  You know, the usual.  Really I don’t know how I ended up with the work I got here but hey, hopefully you liked it.


            Special thanks go to Hajime Kanzaka and those fine people at Funimation and Bandi entertainment for bringing this wonderful series to us.  Additionally I have to thank Alice Cooper for his song ‘Only My Heart Talkin’ which guided me through and partially inspired the dialogue for the scene where Amelia confesses her feelings to Lina.  And again, thanks for reading,








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