DISCLAIMER: "Slayers" does not belong to me, but belongs to Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi. I'm just borrowing them for a little while.
Lina thought her life would change the day that she was told the three little words - "I love you."
Trumpets would blare. Angels would sing. Amelia would clap her hands in glee and Zelgadiss would pat Gourry on the back and go, "I knew you'd do it." Xelloss would turn pale and not come near them for a very, very long time due to all of the positive emotions being emitted. And then Gourry would sweep Lina into his arms and trot off into happily ever after on a white steed where lots of food and riches would await them.
Well, none of that happened. Except for Amelia clapping her hands in glee.
"Wow, and then he took you out for ice cream, Lina-san? And he even paid?" Amelia had a dreamy look in her eyes as she verbally recanted what Lina had told her for the 57th time in the past week.
"What's so big about that? Gourry pays for our food all the time." Lina dug into a dish of chocolate soft-serve. The girls had fled the palace to talk, leaving Gourry behind to practice sparring with the palace guard. Not many things scared the swordsman off. The two words, "girl talk," did the job quite nicely. Now they were sitting in the same ice cream parlor Lina had gone to with Gourry days earlier after their talk.
"That's because you forced him to, Lina-san. And that was before he told you he loved you."
Lina glanced up at her, spoon in mouth. "There's a difference?"
Amelia nodded empathically. "There indeed is. There is a before and then there is an after. This, Lina-san, is after. It would be very unjust for Gourry-san to allow you to pay for your meals now that he's courting you."
Hmm...him paying for all the meals could come in han... Lina nearly choked on her ice cream as she suddenly digested the second half of Amelia's statement. "Co...courting me?"
"Of course he is! Why wouldn't he be?" Amelia sighed happily. "You'll go meet his family and then you'll take him home to meet yours. Then he'll talk to your father about marriage and make a contract and there'll be a huge wedding. I'll make sure that you have the finest gown in Saillune."
"I'm from Zefielia, Amelia." The thought of taking Gourry home to meet her older sister Luna had Lina feeling slightly sick to her stomach. She pushed away the rest of her ice cream.
Amelia didn't bat an eye. "Then it'll be the finest gown in Saillune and Zefilia."
"Aren't you getting ahead of yourself, Amelia?"
"Nope." Amelia folded her arms over her chest and nodded wisely. "You sacrificed your life for his, Lina-san. I know that the two of you will get married eventually."
It boggled Lina's mind sometimes. She and Amelia were only a few months apart in age, but sometimes it felt like several years. Then again, Lina thought, Amelia is a princess. Naturally, she would have a different outlook on love than she did as a merchant's daughter.
"Nothing's changed you know, Amelia," she pointed out. "He's still an idiot jellyfish most of the time. I'm still me. We're still us. Do you see us acting any differently?"
Amelia considered this for a moment. "No," she conceded. "You two act like the same Lina-san and Gourry-san I've always known."
"And there you have it. We'll be the same two people you've spent the past two years or so with. Don't look so sad, Amelia. I doubt you could handle us being all sappy toward each other anyhow." Especially with Zelgadiss not around, she silently added. Lina knew she was rash and thoughtless at times, but rubbing her relationship in Amelia's face would be unnecessarily cruel.
It amazed Lina, how bright and cheerful Amelia was regarding everything. She said nothing about Zelgadiss and she knew that somewhere deep down, she had to be hurting just a little bit. It made Lina want to go find the chimera and fireball some sense into him. Her gaze dropped to the one bracelet that Amelia wore. It'd been three months since they'd seen him last. Usually that meant he'd put in an appearance somewhere around now. But the times they'd met him in Xoana and prior to sailing to the New World had been pure luck. In all honesty, none of them knew when they would see Zelgadiss again.
Amelia noticed Lina staring at her bracelet and immediately cupped the jewel. She grinned. "It's okay, Lina-san. I'd rather see you be happy than go around being sad myself. I've got to have faith that Zelgadiss-san will find his cure. I've got scribes and scholars combing the libraries throughout Saillune. That'll cut down on his work some."
Lina thought this over. She'd been considering traveling back toward Zefielia for awhile to study for a cure for Zelgadiss herself. Atlas City was another possible location - the Sorcerer's Guild was still pretty powerful there despite what happened with Halcyform awhile back. They managed to bounce back pretty fast and would be able to assist with the research. She had a few favors to pull with some other magicians, perhaps they could...
"Are you listening to me, Lina-san?"
Lina startled and noticed the waitress putting down cups of tea in front of her and Amelia before taking away the dirty ice cream dishes. She nodded to her before turning her attention back to her friend. "I'm sorry, Amelia, what did you say?"
"I asked you if you and Gourry-san have kissed yet."
This time, Lina choked on her tea. "Amelia!"
She laughed. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
They had, but she couldn't remember it and it was currently driving her crazy that she couldn't. It wasn't fair, Lina thought bitterly, squeezing her eyes shut in an effort to see if the memory would come back to the surface. Gourry remembered it and happily repeated the event for her every so often when she inquired - just out of the sheer wonder that he remembered something so important. But, like she, he'd mentioned that something important had happened to them while in the Sea of Chaos.
And boy, did something important happened.
It wasn't fair, she thought again. He could remember how her lips felt on his and the feel of their bodies crushed together as they celebrated life and their feelings for each other. He could remember the beating of her heart, thick and strong, against his chest. He could remember the warmth, the smell, the giddy emotions.
She couldn't remember anything. And it was so not fair!
"What's not fair, Lina-san?"
Lina opened her eyes and realized that she'd said the last sentence aloud. She placed a hand behind her head and laughed. "Oh, uh...it's not fair that we can't find ice cream such as this outside Saillune. This really is a wonderful place."
Amelia cocked an eyebrow and wisely said nothing. Lina dropped her hand and immediately grabbed her cup of tea. She prayed desperately that Amelia wouldn't pursue the subject. And as if her friend had read her mind, Amelia suddenly launched into a reception her father was having soon for visiting dignitaries and general politics in the country. Feeling those were safe subjects, Lina forced her mind away from her memories and started to give her own opinions on the activities of the Saillune government.
Lina figured that she'd been hanging around Gourry way too long, simply because it took her several weeks to realize the implications of their conversation. The thing that she realized first had been he had gotten his memories back and she hadn't. That put a dent in her pride.
The second, realized shortly after her little afternoon jaunt with Amelia, was that he really did love her and wasn't afraid to admit it. He'd repeated his statement as they were heading to their rooms one night and...she winced as she remembered what happened, then reminded herself that she was in the right for what she did.He didn't have to say it so suddenly that it surprised her and she shot him back into a nearby wall with a spell. She had good reason! Amelia had shared an interesting book with her about a minor facet of white magic that Lina was trying to learn more about and her mind had been more on spells than love. But, she'd cast Recovery on him and took him out for ice cream the next day to make up for it.
The third hit her suddenly as she was sitting in one of Saillune's vast libraries, assisting Amelia with her search to find Zelgadiss' cure. She was starting to get antsy and wanted to go blow up some stuff. But as much as she loved traveling and looting, for once, she wanted to take a trip and not have it lead to them fighting some uber-dangerous Mazoku and she be forced to use certain spells that put the world equally at risk just because she was trying to save it.
That, naturally, caused Lina to remember casting the Giga Slave. It also drew her mind back to her conversation with Gourry, how he tricked her into confessing her feelings even though he damn...well...knew...
Her hands slammed onto the table and she shot into a half-standing position, startling Amelia and the other scholars. Lina ignored them as she processed much-needed information.
Gourry had tricked her.
The jellyfish who couldn't even remember the name for the Levitation spell actually pulled one over on her.
She'd mentioned it briefly when it actually happened, but her mind had been more focused on the other more-important things such as confessions of love and the fact he got his memories back before her. But in all of the time they'd been together, he'd never been able to pull such a maneuver. She knew he was capable of it, he wasn't as dumb as he appeared. He was a great partner, extremely skilled on the battlefield and she knew she could burst through a door with him and rely on those skills to keep them both safe.
But, damn it, he tricked her.
He. Outsmarted. Her.
And surely that was upsetting the natural order of things somewhere!
"Ah, Lina-san?" Amelia knew she was doing a very brave, but extremely stupid thing by tugging on Lina's sleeve. But she'd been calling to her for the past few minutes and nothing seemed to faze her. "Lina-san, you're glowing all red and...I'd really appreciate it if you didn't fireball the libraries. Daddy would be pretty upset and..."
Amelia's words penetrated and Lina sank back into her seat. She offered her friend a shaky smile. "Sorry about that," she apologized. "I was just thinking about something."
Amelia could count on one hand the number of times Lina had apologized for doing something. She thought about commenting on it, but decided not to risk a real fireball. Instead, she gave her a bright smile and settled back in her seat.
Lina flipped a page in her spellbook and tried to concentrate. But Zelgadiss' cure wasn't here - this she could tell. It most likely wasn't even in Saillune. Maybe she really needed to go to Zefielia. The libraries there were stellar and it produced some of the finest heroes and other do-gooders in the known world. She was one of them, she thought with a small measure of pride.
But if she went to Zefielia, she'd have to go home. And going home would...Lina shuddered. Going home would mean facing her sister. And despite having saved everyone from Darkstar, Lina knew she had a "lesson" coming from her sister regarding her reluctance to help Filia - not to mention that as the Knight of Ceiphied, Luna certainly wouldn't approve of Lina's little indulgent habit of looting bandits. Well, it's really not robbing, Lina thought stubbornly. After all, the money had already been stolen! There was no way she could return it to people because she barely had a clue as to where it came from in the first place.
Thinking about Luna's punishments made Lina feel ill, so she turned her thoughts back to Gourry. A much safer line of thinking. She had to make things right somehow. She needed to trick him and surprise him with something he wouldn't expect her to do and, quite frankly, would be the last thing he'd expect from her - much like his initial confrontation with her regarding the Lord of Nightmares.
Granted, though, the last time she'd pulled a stunt like that, she'd fooled him and everyone else to think she'd plummeted off the floating field during their fight with Seigram. His devastated look and the hurt he expressed when he asked her to consider his feelings still made her cringe. Fool your friends and you could fool your enemies, but Lina could still see the pain in his eyes. She winced. Well, maybe she didn't have to go to that extreme. But she could still surprise him.
"Hmm?" Amelia didn't glance up from her spellbook.
"What would be the thing you'd be least likely to see on a daily basis?"
"Hmmm..." Amelia glanced up and thought over this for a moment. "Probably Xelloss-san tap-dancing naked down the street."
You too, huh? Lina gave her a wry grin. "I mean in regards to me and Gourry."
"Oh. Well, that's easy. Kiss him."
She cocked an eyebrow. "Really?"
Amelia nodded. "When the two of you returned from the Sea of Chaos and he was holding you, you got so flustered that you sent him flying into the water below."
Lina did recall that. "So it's safe to say he wouldn't be expecting a public display of affection, right?"
"Lina-san, he'd be so shocked he'd probably think you were a Copy Lina and the real one was being held for ransom somewhere."
"All right!" Lina slammed her book shut and tossed it on the table. "Then it's settled! I'm going to give that jellyfish the shock of his life." Her eyes sparkled with pure mischief. "He won't know what hit him!"
Amelia simply gawked at her while Lina plotted.
Operation: Kiss Gourry would be extremely simple. Lina would drag Gourry out someplace in a very public part of Saillune City. She would also bring Amelia along for insurance - and also so his brain wouldn't click into gear and he would actually think she was pulling something over on him. Then, she'd get into an argument with him. Just when he thinks he's about to be fireballed, she would then lean over and kiss him on the cheek. It would stun him and Lina would had pulled one over on him, returning everything to the status quo and smoothing out her pride.
Extremely proud of herself, Lina suggested the moment that they were back in the palace that she, Gourry and Amelia go out to dinner that night and named the tavern where Gourry had dropped his little surprise on her.
"I can't, Lina-san," Amelia apologized. "We're having that reception for the emissaries from the New World, remember? I invited you and Gourry-san and you said you'd come."
Oh yeah. Lina frowned. She forgot about that. She considered this change in plans, and started visualizing a new one. A slow smile spread. Oh, she liked this one much, much better. "Say, Amelia? Those dresses you forced me to try on...are they altered yet?"
Amelia nodded enthusiastically. "They're ready."
"And are you sure there's...something that accentuates these?" Lina indicated her chest.
Lina's eyes sparkled. "And how long would you say it would take me to get changed?"
Now Amelia knew Lina was up to something. But before she could question further, Lina dragged her friend up the stairs and toward the suite she was staying in.
"Wow, the food here's great, isn't it, Lina?"
Lina looked up from her plate to see Gourry working on his third helping of ham. She picked at hers, even though she really wanted to devour half of the table. But for her plan to work, she had to be able to fit into the dress and the required undergarments - and she didn't want to risk a bellyache because she stuffed herself. "Don't eat the table leg."
"I won't." Gourry reached over, plucked the plate from Lina's hand and helped himself.
"Hey, give that back," she cried, lunging for it.
He held it out of reach. "You snooze, you lose."
He knew that infuriated her and she very nearly kicked some real sense into him using real kicks. Instead, she turned her back on him. "Fine, be that way. I'm going to the washroom."
Lina marched off, knowing that Gourry would remain by the buffet table for a long while. As soon as she was out of sight of the reception room, she sped upstairs and into her suite. With the help of a maid, she quickly changed into one of the dresses Amelia had made for her - complete with a corset to help emphasize her chest. She grunted as the maid tightened the stays and hated the contraption. Her mother and Luna wore them all the time, but she couldn't stand them.
But it did work. Lina poked at the gentle swell of her breasts that rose above the confines of the dress. She definitely had more clevage. She stepped into some high heels that would pretty much put her close to Gourry's chin - a good height for dancing. Without them, she normally stood slightly above the pit of his stomach, being around 5 feet tall. He had a good foot and a half on her at least. With the heels adding some much-needed height, she wouldn't be able to look him in the eye, but she would make a better dance partner. For a final touch, the maid pulled her hair back into a bun and did her makeup. It took less than 20 minutes.
She hurried back to the reception room and was pleased to see that the tables had been cleared away and some people were dancing. Lina smoothed the front of her gown and stepped into the room.
Several young men stopped chattering and stared at her - specifically her chest. That caused Lina to puff up said chest with pride as she made her way through the crowd. She looked stunning, she admitted to herself. She'd have to pull a move like this more often. She couldn't wait for Gourry to get a load of her. Images of him drooling and fawning over her new and improved chest had her humming.
She spotted Amelia next to her father. Her friend winked and shot her a "V" sign. Lina gave one back, then headed for the buffet where Gourry, predictable as the sun rising, was still stuffing his face.
Lina had nearly reached him when a large man with a short, curly brown hair and wearing high-quality imitations of the latest in upper-class fashions, intercepted her. She did a quick assessment and figured he was either a merchant who thought too much of himself or a lower-rank noble who'd fallen on hard times.
"Excuse me, miss, but would you dance with me?" The man offered his hand to her.
Lina turned up her nose and away from him. "I'm sorry, I'm not interested. I've got someone waiting for me." She edged away from him and started for Gourry.
The man grabbed her shoulder. "What, you think you're too high-class for me or something," he snarled at her.
She scowled back at him, then lifted a hand. "Get your hands off me."
"Oh, you've got a little spice." He started to tug her back toward him.
"Don't say I didn't warn you," Lina replied in a sing-song voice, then started to launch a fireball at him.
Before she could get the spell off, she felt a large hand on her shoulder, gently breaking her and the complete idiot apart.
"I suggest you do as the lady asks and leave her alone."
Lina glanced up and noticed to her pleasure that it was Gourry. Chivalry strikes again, she thought. You have your good side, you big, wonderfuljellyfish.
The man, noticing the sword (even though it was generic thanks to the loss of the Sword of Light) hanging at Gourry's side and the sheer size of the swordsman compared to himself. Lina thought about shocking the man herself with an electric spell, but he already looked ready to wet his pants - and Amelia wouldn't appreciate a smelly mess on the floor.
The nobleman scrambled away and Lina turned to Gourry, greatly pleased. He gave her a warm smile.
"Thank you," Lina told him, then launched into her plan. Everything was going perfectly! "Would you like to dance?" she asked, holding out her hand.
He blushed. "I'd...I'd love to, but you see, I'm waiting on my friend to come back from the washroom. She'd be a bit upset if she saw me dancing with a beautiful stranger."
Why yes, she was a beautiful...stranger? Lina's eyebrow twitched. "Gourry...," she growled under her breath.
"Hey, you know my name," he replied, a bit surprised.
"Of course I know your name, jellyfish brains. It's me. You know, Lina Inverse, Sorcery Genius? The person you've pretty much been living with for the past three years?" Lina started to get ticked.
Gourry took in the woman before him. She was tall enough to nearly reach his chin, her hair that did resemble Lina's was in a fashionable hairstyle, she wore makeup, a frilly dress and well...his gaze zeroed in on the one place where Lina was sure to be different from anyone else. But instead of a small chest, this woman had ample breasts.
So, he came to a logical conclusion. "You can't be her."
"What do you mean I can't be me?" Lina seethed. She curled her hands into fists and knew she was really close to losing it.
"Well..." Gourry's eyes fell to her chest. "Your chest is too large to be her."
That was it. Lina growled and started to chant the fireball spell for the second time that night.
Faster than she ever thought she could move in heels, Amelia sprinted across the ballroom and wrapped her arms around Lina. "Lina-san, please," she begged. "Not in the palace! Don't cast a spell in here"
Gourry blinked and moved in closer to inspect her again. "You really are Lina and not some stranger?"
"Yes, I am!" Lina seethed.
"Wow...sorry...it's just you're so tall right now and...," he poked at the swell of her breasts that showed above the dress. "Are those real?"
Amelia winced as a quick kick from Lina sent the swordsman crashing through the wall into the next room. Well, she thought, at least that damage would be repairable. And Gourry-san did kind of deserve it...
Lina stewed for the entire night. As soon as Amelia released her, she'd stomped off and changed back into her normal clothes. So much for her plan to kiss Gourry. At the moment, she'd rather kiss a Mazoku than kiss him!
She crept down to the kitchens and helped herself to some of the leftovers from the reception. She was ravenous, having missed dinner so she could fit into her dress with no problems. Now she wished she had stuffed herself. Retching on him would had been the perfect complement to the breast jab he gave.
She glanced down at said breasts as she munched on a sandwich. They seemed a bit bigger to her recently and felt that way. The yellow undershirt she used to bind them with seemed a bit smaller and her mother had told her that some girls developed later than others. Well, she was 18. It was about time she developed something!
Prince Philionel had loved Lina's show of "justice" against Gourry, Amelia had explained when she stopped by Lina's room on her way to bed. Apparently, he'd spun it to the visiting emissaries about how the women in his kingdom were so passionate and just that they wouldn't allow men to randomly poke their chest, especially in public. "Our women," he'd said, "Are just and chaste and know when to put a man in his place."
For the first time ever, Lina actually agreed with the Saillune prince - even though his rhyme was a little lame.
She heard someone shuffle into the kitchen and immediately braced herself. It was probably a member of the palace staff, but she'd been a traveler too long not to be on the lookout, even in a place like Saillune's palace.
The person shifted and Lina relaxed, seeing it was just Gourry. He looked remarkably fit despite the fact that she'd kicked him in high heels through a wall a couple hours earlier. Amelia more than likely had something to do with getting him back into fighting form.
He cast her a wary glance and she sighed. She didn't feel like fighting with him at the moment. She picked up the second half of her sandwich and held it out to him as a peace offering.
He took it and they stood next to each other, chewing companionably in the silence. Lina liked this. They were comfortable enough around each other to where they didn't necessarily have to talk. She closed her eyes and enjoyed her little meal and the warmth of him standing next to her. It felt so nice that she almost forgot that he owed her an apology for his little wisecrack.
But the longer they stood together, the more his presence affected her. He was wearing some type of cologne - probably a gift from Prince Phil. He was still dressed in the outfit he'd worn to the reception, a bit fancier than his normal clothes and armor. She was starting to feel the urge to lean into his side and that felt especially weird. She shifted and cast a glance at him. He was still staring into the distance.
Ah yes, here it comes. Lina began to compose her magnificent and stately response to Gourry's groveling apology and his statements that he found her absolutely stunning and was even more in love with her than ever, and why yes, she really does have very nice breasts.
"How did you make your breasts so big tonight?"
The rest of Lina's sandwich tumbled to the floor as she gawked at him. "What?"
He glanced down at her. "It's been bugging me since I saw you and thought it was someone else because you were too tall and your breasts were too big. How'd you do it? Was it a spell?"
Was it a...Lina clenched her hands into fists and growled. She was going to show Gourry a real spell all right! "Darkness from twilight, crimson from blood that flows..."
Gourry grabbed her arms in sheer panic before she could get any more of the spell out. "Wait, wait, wait! Don't Dragon Slave the palace! Please!" He sounded desperate. "Prince Phil will never feed us again!"
Well...that was definitely a good reason not to blow up the palace. Lina allowed the spell to drain from her. She wouldn't had really gone through with it. She still caught some flak about the time she saved Saillune and wound up destroying a chunk of it instead.
He held onto her arms and Lina wasn't quite sure if she wanted to keep him there or stomp on his foot and scream bloody murder at him. He probably didn't want her to try another spell, she realized. She heard the water clock nearby tick as the seconds passed and they simply stared at each other.
If this had been a battle, it would clearly be a draw. If it'd been a romance novel, the next thing he should had done was sweep her into his arms and start kissing her. Lina's eyes locked on Gourry's lips and she swallowed reflexively. Well...you know, if they did kiss now, he'd be extremely shocked because he's probably convinced you're still angry at him and wouldn't be expecting it, she thought hastily. So the plan to restore her pride would work.
He shifted and she realized he was pulling her toward him. Her eyes moved up to his and she saw the seriousness in his gaze, a slightly glazed-over look. It reminded her of when he looked really content and realized he'd had that look while staring at her at times. Her heart sped up and she wondered if he'd managed to figure out her plan, was doing this all on his own and this was his way of apologizing for the breast crack or somehow all of the elements had fallen into the right place and nature was finally taking its course.
Then her stomach growled.
The moment broken, they both stared at Lina's stomach.
"Of all of the stupid times...I just ate a sandwich," Lina moaned. She jerked out of Gourry's hold and scowled. "I guess even preparing a Dragon Slave takes energy out of you."
The seriousness melted away and he gave her a happy smile that made her heart do odd little flip-flops in her chest. She wondered for a moment if he was pulling something over on her again, but instead he simply ruffled her hair the way he always did. "Come on. Let's raid the kitchen."
"Now, you're talking," Lina gave Gourry a dazzling smile and headed for the larder.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is the sequel to "My Will" and is Lina going through the process of digesting the change in her and Gourry's relationship from a few weeks earlier. Gourry had asked Lina if he could eventually kiss her, and she replies not in public - but figures that to one-up him and get the status quo of her one-upping him back between them that she would simply have to do the thing he'd least expect her to do. But, it looks like this battle came to a draw. Their relationship is so much fun!
This also sets up the seeds for the longer Slayers fic that I want to do, taking our favorite quartet to Zefielia. One additional note, even though this mainly follows the anime storyline, it does incorporate some of the novel elements - one of those being Lina's size and another being Amelia's age. Amelia and Lina are the same age in the novels and Lina is a bit shorter.