Disclaimer: "Slayers" does not belong to me, but belongs to Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi. I'm just borrowing them for a little while.

Note: This fic was originally written for the LiveJournal community, "30 romances", a themed community similar to "30 kisses". All 30 parts will be combined to form one complete story that is the prequel to "Law of the Land." This chapter contains theme #33 Colonge ; Perfume ; Strange smells and theme #29. Affaire de Cœur.

Secondary note: This is the clean version of this chapter. The lemon-scented version is available at MediaMiner.

oOoOo

Chapter 14: Affaire de Cœur

They left Zefiel City early the next morning, after exchanging tearful hugs with Lina's parents. Lina handed her mother a jewel that she'd embedded with the Vision spell. "We'll use this to keep in contact," she said. "Keep us up to date on what's going on here."

"Count on it," Lana replied and gave her a victory sign.

"Good job, Lina," Raulf said and ruffled her hair. "We'll find a way to get the two of you back here soon."

Lina frowned. "I noticed that last night. You're not calling me 'Lina-chan' anymore."

Lana smiled. "You're no longer a little girl."

The feeling made Lina feel a bit odd and she covered it with bravado. She winked at them and flashed a V-sign in return. "I don't mind if you call me that, though!"

"Okay, Lina-chan," Zelgadiss replied.

Lina promptly punched Zelgadiss and sent him crashing back into a display of apples. She brushed off her hands, admired her new gloves for a moment and turned to Luna.

The Knight of Ceiphied gave her a quirky grin. "If you take as long to contact us next time, I will hunt you down. I'm not going to handle Dinasa all by myself you know."

Lina gulped. "R...right."

The grin spread. "Geez, stop look at me like I'm going to shove a slug down your tunic. That was years ago. Are you still scared of me like that?"

She fought the urge to hide behind Gourry and Amelia. "N...no, not really."

Luna snorted. "Chicken." Then she leaned over to whisper in her ear. "You might want to consider your new husband a little more. If my senses are correct, he's got an amazing capacity to do magic within him."

Lina blinked at her. "Gourry? The guy who sometimes forgets what he ate for breakfast, right?"

Luna laughed. "You never know. He just might surprise you one day."

She shook her head in disbelief. "Anyhow, we're off! And we'll be back when we find out how to beat Shabranigdu!" With a cheerful pump of her fist, Lina led her group away from the store.

The three Inverses watched them run off. "I suppose they live happily ever after, huh?" Raulf asked, chewing on his cigarette. Lana sighed and yanked it out of his mouth.

"Not yet." Luna turned and stared at the Royal Palace looming over them. "I have a feeling all of them have more trials to go through before that happens."

oOoOo

As soon as they reached the city gates, Lina and Zelgadiss grabbed Gourry between them and, followed by Amelia, Raywinged as far as they could. They bypassed Mylenta and stopped by a river not far from it to rest a bit. Then they kept going, racing over the countryside to put as much distance between themselves and the capital city before dark.

"That magic barrier's still up at the border, but as far as I know, they're not checking people going out," Lina commented.

"That's all right," Amelia replied. "I'll use my seal and say you're all with me. They won't be able to deny the influence that Saillune has."

"One thing does bug me," Zelgadiss commented. "Xelloss disappeared right when I was beginning to fight Dinasa. Where did he go?"

Lina shrugged. "Who knows? Xelloss comes and goes as he pleases. I wonder why he was serving Dinasa like that, but it's something I can beat out of him next time I see him."

They camped outside that night, both Lina and Amelia tending to Gourry's queasy stomach with Recovery. He'd born the trip stoically, but Lina knew that he didn't like flying at all.

The next day, they reached the border and passed through with relative ease. They stopped in the afternoon at the first town in Saillune they came to, Hyrel.

Amelia secured three rooms for them and they all immediately retreated to them to rest. Lina was grateful that this room was much larger and so was the bed. There was plenty of room for both her and Gourry, though she hadn't minded too much when she had woke up in his arms both earlier that morning and the day before that. This morning, she didn't even scream or throw him across the campfire when it happened.

Lina stretched on her stomach and nearly jumped when she felt Gourry's hands on her back. She almost yelled at him, but it changed to a satisfied purr when he began kneading the muscles in the small of her back. "Thank you. You're the one who deserves the massage, putting up with all of that flying."

He gave her a weak smile. "I'm getting used to it. A little. It's not so bad with you and Zel holding me up."

"I know. I felt better once we were out of Zefielia. Now, if Dinasa has woken up yet and shoots down the story that my sister made up, then we're at least under Amelia's protection." She frowned and pillowed her head on her arms. "I don't like having to depend on it, but it is nice for now."

It was peaceful, lying there being massaged while a cool breeze came through the open window. It was autumn, and close to harvest time. It really was a wonderful time of year. She was almost asleep when he turned her over and touched his lips to hers.

Awareness returned as he deepened the kiss and she had no choice but to participate. Feelings of desire began to stir low in her abdomen and this time, she was able to recognize them for what they were.

She also knew that this time they wouldn't stop until their relationship was consummated.

They broke the kiss and he felt her trembling under his hands. "You're scared," he commented lightly.

"No, I'm not," she immediately shot back at him.

He quirked an eyebrow. "Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not!"

"Are too."

"Are not!"

"Too!"

"Not!" She broke away from him and turned onto her side, her heart racing. She wasn't scared of the actual act of making love. There was one thing about having Luna Inverse for a sister - everything was told to you in a painfully honest manner. And Luna hadn't minced words when she told Lina that her first time would not be the end all to be all experiences.

Well, that's fine, she could live with that - only if it got better afterward.

Gourry couldn't understand that she never let anyone get this close to her before. She'd always managed to keep everyone - including him - at some sort of distance. Granted, the distance between the two of them was very miniscule, but it was still there. Once they did this, he would know everything. He would know just how much she loved him.

It's just love, she told herself. It doesn't hurt...much.

She felt the bed dip as he laid down beside her. They stared at the ceiling together, neither of them quite sure what to do next.

"If you want to wait a little longer, it's fine by me," he said slowly. She picked up on the slight strain in his voice and remembered the times they'd nearly lost themselves in their kissing. He wanted this, at the moment probably more than she did. Then she realized the gift he was giving her - the gift of choosing when they consummated their marriage.

She ached to tunnel her fingers through his hair and to feel the steady beat of his heart beneath her hand. She breathed in the scent of the clove oil that hovered around him like a perfume, felt it calm her down. She knew there was something more, a lot more, to all of this. They'd been connected for years, had been able to tell what the other was thinking and feeling. They would be partners in every sense of the word. Was she ready for it?

She noticed he was asleep, his breathing even and his face peaceful. Emotion surged inside of her, the same love she'd been feeling for years. But now she didn't have to hide it any longer.

She snuggled against his side and automatically, he lifted his arm and allowed her to cuddle closer. She wrapped an arm around his waist, rested her head against his chest and fell asleep.

oOoOo

It was sometime around dark when she woke up. The room had grown cold. Lina got up and closed the window, then crept toward the door, stubbing her toe in the process. With a soft curse, she hopped on one foot until she was able to cast Recovery on it.

"Lina?" Gourry stirred, then sat up, rubbing at his eyes.

"Go back to sleep, I just need to visit the necessary. I stubbed my toe. Lighting!" Lina called forth a small ball of mage light and suspended it in the air. "Much better."

She left the room and headed downstairs. When she was done with her business, she noticed Amelia and Zelgadiss sitting in the dining room. She almost went in to see them, then noticed the faint blush on Amelia's cheeks. Wisely, she crept back upstairs and was pleased to find a spread of food waiting for her in the room.

"Amelia and Zel are spending time together," Lina commented, helping herself to some bread. "Do you think they'll ever get their acts together?"

"Who knows," Gourry shrugged and worked on his own dinner.

They ate companionably and swapped small talk about where they were going to head next. First priority was escorting Amelia back to Saillune City. Although Lina wasn't feeling too charitable toward the Sorcerer's Guild as a whole, she figured that the so-called bounty against her would be null at this point.

It was late by the time they were finished and the dishes cleared out. Lina headed back downstairs again and saw Amelia sitting alone, staring into the fire. Now she approached her. "Hey, what's going on?"

Amelia startled, then looked up at her. "Hi, Lina-san."

"What's the crushed look for? You look like you've lost your best friend." Lina sat next to her.

Amelia sighed and rested her head in her hands. "Zelgadiss-san said he was going to split from us in the morning and follow a rumor he heard about his cure, about some powerful spell. He said he'd keep an eye out for a way to separate Shabranigdu from Dinasa, but I was hoping he would return to Saillune with us."

"Don't worry, Amelia," Lina winked at her. "Knowing Zel, I have a feeling we'll be seeing him again soon."

She sat with Amelia for awhile, each lost in their own thoughts. The two shared some sort of puppy love that was apparent, even to Gourry. But Zelgadiss had a higher calling - to that of his cure. Until he found it, it would be something that Amelia would always have to compete with. Lina was convinced that Zel's mind was made of stone as well, it was so thick. But Amelia was also strong, she could handle it.

She hoped that the chimera would realize that if he didn't act on those feelings relatively soon that he was going to lose Amelia, most likely to a politically advantageous marriage.

Her gaze lifted to the ceiling. She was lucky. She was decisively middle-class and could do whatever she liked, marry whom she chose. Lina had a suspicious feeling that Gourry was a little bit higher class-wise than her due to the family's status of being the wielders of the Sword of Light, but since that sword was gone, it didn't matter anyhow. The whole class system grated on her nerves to begin with.

Bidding Amelia good night, she took care of her night business and headed back upstairs. She rested her head on the knob for a moment and weighed an enormous decision in her mind. Eyes set with determination, she opened the door.

oOoOo

The sunlight nearly blinded Lina when she blinked her eyes open and automatically sat up. She yawned, stretched and promptly screamed when the sheet fell away and she realized she was naked.

"What is it?" Gourry immediately leaped from the bed and grabbed the first weapon he could lay his hands on - a pencil lying on the nightstand.

It came back to her in a rush, everything that happened from the moment she returned from her talk with Amelia. Snatching the sheet back up, she took a moment to laugh at her husband. He made quite a picture, she thought, balancing on the balls of his feet while brandishing a pencil.

"It's nothing," she replied, proud that she'd been able to control the laughter and turn it into a quirky grin instead. "I just forgot what we were doing for a moment." She cocked an eyebrow. "Nice pencil. What are you planning to do, poke someone's eye out?"

Gourry gave her an exasperated look. "Now, look, you..."

Lina gave into her laughter until he decided to shut her up the best way he knew how.

Okay, so it was the only way that didn't involve her biting his hand, he told her after the kiss was finished. But, he cheerfully invited her to bite other places instead.

He was promptly rewarded with a pillow upside the head.

oOoOo

"And so we part ways here," Zelgadiss said later that day as the four stood at the crossroads that would take them in different directions.

"When once we get to Saillune, we'll take a few days to look through the libraries and try to see if there's some sealing spell that would amplify what Luna is doing now," Lina explained. "If we don't, we can head to Atlas City and start there as well - though with it being the white magic capital, I would hope Saillune would yield better results."

"You'll keep in touch, won't you, Zelgadiss-san?" Amelia asked.

He nodded. "I still have the bracelet."

She gave him a relieved smile. "Good. If you find anything, or if we do, we'll use the Vision spell to contact you."

With a wave, Zelgadiss headed on his way south. Amelia stared after him, watching as his form grew smaller and smaller until he was nothing more than a small, blue speck on the horizon. She jumped when she felt a hand clasp on her shoulder.

"Come on, Amelia," Lina said cheerfully. "Let's head back to Saillune."

"Right!" Amelia nodded and immediately fell into step with her friends.

"How long do you think it'll take to find a way to extract the Shabra-thingy from the queen?" Gourry asked.

Lina rolled her eyes. "Sha-bra-ni-gdu. I don't think you'll ever remember it," she remarked, punctuating it with a playful slap to his arm. Her smile quickly faded. "I'm not sure how long the power of Luna's sealing will last. She amplified it with the Orihalcon pebbles, but it's not a permanent fix. If we don't find a way to safely extract that piece without killing Dinasa, we're going to have a huge problem on our hands.

"Don't worry, Lina-san!" Amelia pumped a fist into the air. "Justice always wins in the end!"

"She's got a point, Lina."

"Yeah, yeah." Lina pressed a hand to her forehead and shook her head. "Still, the next few months are bound to be interesting."

"It will be," Amelia nodded seriously. "With both this to explore and your marriage." She gave them a sly wink. "I'm sure you'll do plenty of exploring on the latter."

Lina gaped at her. "Amelia! A princess doesn't make those types of jokes!"

"They do when they've been around your mother for the past couple of weeks!"

Lina groaned and buried her head in her hands while Gourry laughed. "Don't worry, Amelia. We won't bother you too much."

She faced them and gestured wildly with her hands. "I could never be bothered by something that is so right! I'm so happy for the two of you. Remember, justice and love shall lead mankind and will give us the strength to face any trial!" With that, Amelia spun back around and marched off ahead of them.

"Well, that's quite the speech," Gourry said, rubbing his chin.

Lina shrugged. "It's nowhere near as bad as some of Prince Phil's." She smiled at him and held her hand out. "Shall we go before she reaches the next town ahead of us?"

"Absolutely." He grasped her hand and they began to walk together. "This is nice," he remarked after a minute.

"Yeah, it is." She gave his hand a squeeze and reminded herself to drop it before Amelia noticed. But for now, she didn't mind. "Just don't start making any weird speeches about love and justice or I'll have to fireball you."

"Duly noted." With a laugh, they raced ahead to join Amelia.

oOoOo

Endnotes: Thank you very much for seeing this fic all the way to the end! A little bit of trivia here - this is the longest fanfiction I've ever completed to date and the first multi-chapter story in four years. It's been a lot of fun, but the adventures aren't over yet. Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadiss' trials continue in "Law of the Land," which is currently being posted, and several stories beyond that.

Many thanks goes to the reviewers who have provided input on the chapters. I've always considered them to be the icing on the cake, and it's lovely to hear feedback. Special thanks goes to Stefanie2, Stara Majika and Ichiban Victory for their input into the storyline and the correcting of errors along the way.