Author's Note: Just a brief little blurb of warning, this probably isn't a good story for people who dislike Filia and/or Xellos for one reason or another. That having been said, this is the first fanfic I've actually finished writing. I've gone back and cleaned up some grammatical errors and a couple of awkward sentences, but otherwise this remains unbetaed. Questions, comments, and polite criticism are very welcome and thanks to everybody who left me a review.
Disclaimer: Insert standard disclaimer about Slayers not being mine.
The moonlight glittered off the blanket of snow that dusted the yard of a small cottage nestled within the sheltering embrace of an evergreen forest. All was quiet both within the house and outside in the forest. A single candle burned in one of the upstairs windows casting a golden circle into the silver below. With a sudden flash of black, a man appeared silhouetted in the window beside the candle. His dark shoulder length hair reflected purple highlights for a moment as he drew the curtains across the window. In one hand the man carried a black wood staff with a blood red stone nestled within the fork at the top. A black cloak draped across his shoulders and swirled about his black clad legs. Despite the fact that he kept both eyes closed, the man made his way swiftly and silently across the room toward the bed and the rooms only other occupant.
Xellos paused for a moment to take in the sleeping woman in the bed. Her fair hair lay scattered across the pillow like a field of gold barely hiding the delicate points of her ears. She had the covers drawn up to her chest with one hand but her nightgown had slipped off her other shoulder leaving a tantalizing patch of skin exposed at her throat and shoulder. Admiring the play of the satiny white nightgown across the woman's chest as she breathed, Xellos realized she was still a strikingly beautiful woman even after all the pain she had endured over the centuries. It is a shame that she's gone and made a nuisance of herself to the Mazoku Race. Women as beautiful and feisty as she is are rare indeed, Xellos thought as he silently pulled an ornately jeweled dagger from his sleeve. As he leaned over to thrust the dagger through her heart, he could sense her blue eyes opening as they focused on the shadowy figure leaning over her.
"Xellos," she said sounding completely unsurprised by his appearance in her bedroom in the middle of the night. Her next words proved it, "I've been expecting you."
"Filia," Xellos said quietly as he drew back from her, allowing her to sit up, but making no effort to hide the dagger in his hand.
Sitting up, Filia threw back the covers and reached for the simple blue sleeveless silk robe that had been lying neatly over the headboard. Without a word, she slipped the robe over her nightgown, belting it loosely about her waist.
"I won't stop you from doing what you came for, but you should know that by sending you here, Xelas has already lost," Filia said as she moved to sit in one of the armchairs set before the hearth.
"How would you know anything about Lord Beastmaster's plans?" Xellos asked, curious in spite of himself. When Filia did not answer immediately, Xellos leaned his staff against the mantel and took a seat in the other chair, figuring he had enough time to play her game for the moment and still complete his task.
"I know more than you might think," Filia said with a note of weariness in her voice, "Xelas sent you here to kill me believing that my sudden, violent death on the eve of the final battle will unnerve my husband, Milgasia, enough to gain the Mazoku Race an edge to win this war."
"More or less," said Xellos as he decided it would not hurt anything to be completely open with Filia, just this once since she would never see another dawn. One side of his mouth curved up into a rather malicious grin as he continued, "Not that you knowing her plans will change anything. There is no time for you to warn Milgasia. He will still fall prey to Lord Beastmaster's plans."
"Perhaps that might have been the case if I had only just figured things out, but I have known this day was coming for a very long time," Filia replied.
"You know, and I'm assuming told dear old Milgasia, and yet here you are alone and vulnerable," Xellos said, letting a hint of disbelief creep into his voice hoping that Filia would reveal her game so he could call her bluff.
"There is nobody who could protect me from you when you decided it is time to end my life. Why should I ask others to forfeit their lives in a gesture that I already know to be futile?" Filia asked philosophically.
"I suppose you have a point there. I've already slaughtered thousands of dragons, it's not like killing a few more would be a challenge," Xellos said rudely as he realized Filia wasn't bluffing. He had been hoping to get a burst of negative emotions out of Filia over the barb about the slaughter of her kind at his hands, but either she had gotten better at hiding her emotions from him or the jab did not have the desired effect. Either way Xellos was rapidly finding this game to be losing its appeal for him and asked rather abruptly, "So does this mean you're not going to fight me either?"
"No," Filia replied, her calm demeanor still unruffled even in the face of Xellos's growing annoyance.
"Spoilsport!" Xellos snapped before he could stop himself, "I was looking forward to all that mayhem."
"You will have to look elsewhere for your pleasures," Filia said with a wan smile on her lips.
"That being the case, there's no reason to put this off any longer," Xellos stated as he rose from his chair and turned the dagger in his hand so the candlelight glittered off the blade and winked from the jeweled handle.
"Spare a moment if you will," Filia said as Xellos moved toward her. When he hesitated, Filia continued, "Before I die, there is something you should see."
"Make it quick then. I'm getting bored," Xellos said as he allowed his curiosity to stay his hand again. He knew that in the end whatever she wanted to show him would not make a difference; she would still die this night. The fact that he found it amusing that she alone of all the dragons had never feared his power made him more willing to indulge her last request so he followed the Golden Dragon out of her room.
Silently the two walked through the darkened hallway, passing two more tightly closed doors before Filia stopped at the third. Being careful not to make a sound, Filia opened the door and ushered Xellos inside. Looking around Xellos realized he was in a child's room. Toys lay scattered across the miniaturized furniture and Xellos could see Filia's hand in the elegantly cute but still childish, yellow and lavender paint scheme that decorated the walls of the room. A young girl of perhaps thirteen lay in the bed, her arms wrapped tightly about a stuffed fox.
"A child. You delay your own death to show me your newest ward?" Xellos asked, barely remembering to keep his voice down.
He knew Filia had some strange notions but she at least should know that a child was not going to make him let her live. He was a Mazoku for crying out loud, as likely to kill the girl before Filia's eyes just to make the dragon hurt a little more before her own death as he was to let the girl live.
"She is my daughter," Filia said looking fondly down at the girl.
Xellos looked at the sleeping child again. Upon closer examination, the Mazoku realized that while the girl's hair contained odd highlights of some darker color streaked through her blond locks, the child's face did bear a striking resemblance to Filia. Oddly enough, Xellos also noted that there was nothing of Milgasia in the girl, but that could just be the dim lighting.
"The child must be powerful to be able to sleep in human form already," Xellos mused, momentarily sidetracked by the puzzle the little girl presented, "Still she won't be powerful enough to stop Lord Beastmaster if that's what you're thinking."
"She is more powerful than you know, but that is not why I'm showing her to you. Look more closely," Filia commanded.
With a shrug, Xellos moved closer to the girl and looked her over. Seeing nothing of interest beyond some curious energy signatures in the child's aura, he was just about to turn back to Filia when the girl awoke. Stifling a gasp of surprise, Xellos stumbled backward as the girl gazed up at him with strikingly violet eyes that were so familiar. As Filia gently rocked the girl back to sleep, Xellos stood quietly in a shadowed corner staring at the purpled streaked blond hair cascading from the child's head. For several long minutes, all Xellos could do was wonder how Filia could possibly have borne his child, and then he remembered.
Lord Beastmaster had ordered Xellos to seduce Filia in order to drive a wedge between Filia and her new husband Milgasia. That had been back when Filia and Milgasia had first begun to rebuild the dragon nation. Their wedding had united the Temples of the Fire Dragon King and the Water Dragon King, a move that had given the dragons a seed of hope and the foundation to build all their later success against the Mazoku Race on. At the time, Lord Xelas had hoped to splinter the newborn dragon nation before it could mature into a threat to the Mazoku Race, so Xellos had been given a mission. It had taken nearly three years of flowers, charm, and secret courtship but Xellos had eventually been successful at both seducing Filia and making sure Milgasia caught them in the act. Unfortunately for the Mazoku Race, while Filia's betrayal had caused some havoc, it had not splintered the dragon nation.
Xellos had enjoyed himself thoroughly both in the act and watching the resulting chaos from Filia's betrayal, but it had never occurred to him that a Dragon and a Mazoku would be compatible enough for Filia to conceive a child in that one night. The Mazoku had only just begun to wonder how Milgasia could have remained so calm in the face of his wife's betrayal, especially with a half-breed child in the picture, when the girl fell asleep again and Filia silently escorted Xellos back to her room.
"Does Milgasia know?" Xellos asked when Filia had closed the door behind them.
"We have never spoken of it," Filia replied as she crossed the room and resumed her seat in the armchair.
"How could he stand to live with a traitor worthy of the Mazoku Race?" Xellos asked, perching himself on the arm of the other chair. This was a darker side to Filia that he had never even guessed existed before. For some reason, he found the idea of the misery she was continuing to cause Milgasia rather amusing and was curious to see just how deep the pain she could inflict ran.
"When you showed up trying to seduce me away from Milgasia, he and I talked then," Filia said softly, "I had traveled with you long enough by then to know that you would not stop until you accomplished your mission, whatever it was, no matter what you had to do. Milgasia and I chose to allow you that victory, under controlled circumstances, so that we could still accomplish our goals for making the dragon tribes safe. Loose the battle to win the war if you will."
"You are more devious than I thought," Xellos said, finding himself impressed by her deception in spite of himself. Admitting that somebody had beaten him at his own game of deception and lies was a hard thing to do, but in this case he knew he had been well and truly tricked. At least now he knew why Lord Beastmaster's plan had not worked out.
"I knew when you showed Milgasia my betrayal that one day you would be ordered to kill me to try and stop us," Filia continued as if Xellos had not said anything.
Xellos managed to suppress a grimace at her words. They were the only logical conclusion for the orders Lord Beastmaster would eventually give if she had not known the dragons had already guessed her plans from the first attempt at destroying the dragon nation.
"And what a betrayal it was," Xellos said with a smirk as he tried to salvage something from the situation.
"Milgasia and I learned to live with this for the greater good of our people a long time ago. That is why killing me won't stop Milgasia from doing what he must to protect the world from the Mazoku Race," Filia pointed out calmly. Xellos found himself feeling mildly irritated over the way Filia was not responding when he tried to draw any of the darker emotions out of her.
"So why show me the girl then?" Xellos asked, changing the subject.
"Lilith has the powers of both her mother's people and her father's people," Filia answered, "I have taught her to wield her powers to help others and she has learned well."
"She is still young. I could break her to serve Lord Beastmaster if she could not be persuaded to join us willingly," Xellos said calmly, feeling more in his element as he began to think about all the ways the Mazoku Race would benefit from having a girl with black-white fusion magic at her finger tips.
"Perhaps you could," Filia said pausing briefly to look Xellos in the eye before continuing, "If you could touch her. I have spent every year since she was born weaving wards to protect her from such an intrusion. My death is the seal to the final, most powerful ward. No Mazoku will be able to force her."
"And if you live?" Xellos inquired as he struggled to find some way he could use the girl that Filia had not already thought of and prevented. If he had not been so irritated at being thwarted before he had even begun, he might have admired the cunningness with which Filia had outwitted him.
"Then I will be here to protect her," Filia answered. As clever as the Golden Dragon had proven herself to be, Xellos knew she would be a formidable protection for the little girl.
"Either way the Mazoku Race can't touch her. I still don't see why you revealed her to me, it's not as like you have left me any room to bring her to my side," Xellos complained, which was as close as he would come to conceding defeat.
"Sooner or later, she will come to you for training in her dark powers so that they do not consume her. I wanted you to know that she was beyond reach before that happened," Filia replied. Her answer kindled a new hope in Xellos's heart.
"If I'm to be her teacher then she is within reach and I can bring her to the Mazoku Races' side," Xellos said cheerfully as the solution to his problem began to present itself.
"Do you really want the rest of the Mazoku Race knowing you fathered a child on a dragon priestess without maintaining any sort of control over the resulting offspring?" Filia asked, dashing Xellos's brief bout of glee. Filia continued, "Wouldn't you just be the laughing stock of the Mazoku Race? If they let you live at all."
"I can see your point," Xellos said grimly as he realized Filia knew him and the Mazoku Race all too well. He hated being played so easily, but he had to admit that in her own way, Filia had become master at the game of manipulation. Xellos thought briefly about not telling her she had won, but he knew that he would be living by the promise she had forced him to whether he spoke it aloud or not, so he said, "You have my word, Lilith will be safe with me and remain free to choose her own path."
"Thank you," Filia said as she smiled at him for the first time that evening. Xellos had forgotten how she could light up a room when she really smiled.
"I'm still going to try and convince her to come over to the Mazoku's side," Xellos said grumpily, unwilling to let Filia have the last word.
"I know you will. That is why she knows the truth about both our races," Filia said as she rose from her chair.
"The same truth you knew about the world?" Xellos said as he suppressed a snicker over the naïve little dragon she had once been.
"No, the truth as I learned it from you and Lina," Filia said with another smile.
Xellos could not help admiring how beautiful she looked in the candlelight now that her brow wasn't creased with worry. The Mazoku found an odd mixture of sorrow and desire forming a lump in his throat as he watched Filia cross the room toward her bed with the candlelight making her hair and nightgown glow around her. Without another word, she removed the blue robe and slipped beneath the covers, turning so she faced the wall with her back toward Xellos. After several minutes, Xellos rose and crossed the room to stand beside the bed. Looking down at her, Xellos was mildly surprised when Filia turned to look at him, her blue eyes shimmering with unshed tears.
"Make it quick okay?" She asked before closing her eyes and turning her face away from Xellos, leaving her neck and chest open and vulnerable.
Xellos did not know how long he stood over Filia with the jeweled daggered clenched in one hand. Slowly he reached out with one gloved hand and brushed a lock of hair off Filia's forehead and throat. Watching as Filia's pulse throbbed at her throat, Xellos leaned forward so that his breath stirred the hair on her forehead and ever so gently placed the tip of the dagger at Filia's throat. For a small eternity he stood like that before he slowly lowered his head and brushed a kiss across Filia's forehead.
"You shall not die this day," he whispered as he disappeared into the night.