Disclaimer: "Slayers" isn't mine, but belongs to Kanzaka Hajime, Araizumi Rui and those who represent them. I'm just borrowing the characters for a little while and will return them intact. Except for Gourry. He might be squished just a little. This story is set after the manga arc "Knight of Aqualord" and is an alternate take on the TRY season of the anime.
Search for the Darkstar
Four weeks later
Kingdom of Saillune
It was strangely quiet.
Lina drummed her fork against her glass as she stared out the window at the busy street. For the first time in several years, she had no discernible goal and it was slightly disturbing. The last time she'd been without an end purpose in sight had been before she and Gourry met Hureika for the first time. Even in the months after defeating Hureika and Rikufalso, they had traveled knowing that they would be returning to Saillune with Amelia. Then, as soon as they arrived, they'd fallen into the whole mess with Darkstar.
Of course, there was stuff to do. It was just a matter of her deciding to actually do it. Shizuri and Lyos had remained with Filia in the Kataart Mountains. When the time came, she had agreed to escort the two back to Atlas City so they could return to Kunan. Amelia and Zelgadiss were in Saillune City and she and Gourry weren't that far from the capital - a day's walk, two if they decided to take it slow.
The last letter she received from Luna had given her specific orders to come home for a nice, long visit sometime in the next year where they would discuss "important matters." Lina had a sneaky feeling that some of those "matters" included her relationship with a certain jellyfish scarfing down two roast beef sandwiches across from her.
That relationship was currently driving her up the wall and she knew it had everything to do with the conversation they had at Dragon's Peak a month earlier. Since then, they acted well…it felt like they regressed. They did the same thing that they always did before they traveled to Kunan. They raided bandit camps, took on mercenary jobs, talked about inane things and battled each other over food. But they never touched each other beyond what was absolutely necessary and they no longer shared a bed.
And neither of them wanted to talk about it.
Lina had learned over the years that behind the cheerful facade, Gourry could be just as stubborn as she, and that was causing the entire issue. Usually their fights lasted no longer than a couple hours - mainly because he forgot what they were fighting over. The exception had been their fight over Luna's interpretation of the prophecy and Lina seeking help for it and she realized that this fight was on that caliber.
But it was clear that he hadn't forgotten this time. She had hoped he'd gotten over whatever it was during one particular job that involved the recovery of a stolen jewelry box. They'd had a moment where they'd bonded over the actual box itself, despite the chaos it had taken to obtain it. It'd been the only kiss they shared since before the final battle and it would had turned into something more if the obnoxious twit who'd hired them hadn't stormed in. The guy never understood why he got on the wrong end of one of Lina's fireballs.
She had hoped that things would return to the way that they'd always been, and to casual strangers it did seem that way. But she knew something was wrong and things wouldn't be quite back to the way they were until it was righted.
"Are we going to see Zel and Amelia?" Gourry asked around a mouthful of bread.
"Might as well. See if those two have had some sense knocked into them yet." Lina helped herself to the last roll in the basket. "Of course, knowing Zel, about the only way he'd act on any sort of feelings is to have an entire shelf of books knocked down on top him. Would you stop that," she hissed when Gourry simply replied with a pointed look. "Those two have nothing to do with the snit that you've been in for the past month."
Gourry squinted. "You're the one not willing to talk about it."
"That's because there's nothing to talk about!" Already annoyed because she'd been mulling over the situation to begin with, Lina tossed down several coins on the table and stormed out. Gourry glanced at the coins and quickly grabbed three of them before rushing after her. Once Lina realized she'd severely overpaid for their meal, she'd be even more upset and could take down half the town.
Lina stormed down the road heading the opposite direction from Saillune City. They weren't going to see Zel and Amelia, not if they had anything to do about it. They would realize that something was wrong and force her to confront it. Well, she wasn't ready to confront it, whatever it was.
Before she could get very far, she found her arm jerked back. She whirled around, ready to deliver a roundhouse punch to whoever stopped her and found three gold coins being pressed into her palm. She glanced at the coins, then at Gourry, confused.
"You overpaid," he said, and the anger melted from his eyes. "Can we talk now? Please?"
With a grunt, Lina shoved the money in her sack. "You were the one who pitched the fit on Dragon's Peak."
"Do you even know why I was upset then?" he asked her quietly.
"Of course not! I was telling you how marriages can be just for show and be fake and all that crap and suddenly you walked away from me! I know you're a jellyfish, but you're not that dense."
"No," he admitted quietly, "I'm not."
"Then what's the big deal? I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but a wedding isn't the be-all-to-end-all between two people! I don't see why we're even arguing over this!" Lina kicked at a rock and turned so she wouldn't have to face him. "I don't see the point as to why you're getting so upset. You're sticking with me, right? Protect me for the rest of my life and all the other stuff you've said for the past few years."
Something started to loosen inside of Gourry's chest that he didn't even realize had been tightened. He grinned. "Yeah, I'm your protector."
Lina rolled her eyes. "You stopped being my protector a long time ago."
"But what about you? What are your plans?"
"Huh?" She gave him a confused look. "What about me? Like I can shake you with a stick. Sorry, pal. Wherever you go, I'm headed that way too."
When he suddenly pulled her to him, when his arms tightened around her like a vice, everything started to fall into place and her eyes went wide with realization.
"I figured that a marriage is a promise. When it's done right, it comes from two people loving each other and wanting to be with each other for the rest of their lives."
And that is where the problem lay. There was no question that they were going to spend the rest of their lives with each other. It just seemed like the right thing to do. She could see herself being 80 years old and hitting the road with Gourry by her side.
Have you told him this in so many words?
Shut up, Lina told herself as she thought back over the past few months. No, she conceded, she really hadn't. She'd shown him that she needed him, but not that she wanted to stay with him. She used to never believe it when he made a statement about the permanence of their relationship. She buried her head into his chest and muttered the phrase that she'd only told him once before, about a year earlier.
The breath that he didn't even realize he'd been holding whooshed out. "Really?"
"Idiot," she muttered, then looked up at him, face about as red as her hair. She actually kind of hoped that he didn't hear her. "If I didn't, would I really put up with you? I know how to ditch people always tailing me. Just ask that idiot Naga."
Lina scowled. "Forget I mentioned her."
Her reward was another blank stare. "Who?"
"Good boy!" Lina grinned and started to become aware of the fact that they were embracing in public. She quickly pushed him away and glared at some gawking shopkeepers. She held up a hand and started chanting a spell. The shopkeepers immediately hurried back to what they were doing. Lina started down the road again and Gourry quickly fell into step.
"So, what'll we do now?" he asked, noticing they were heading toward Saillune.
Lina didn't say anything for a moment. Then she shot a mischievous smile at him. "Wanna plan a wedding?"
Two Weeks Later
Dragon's Peak, Kataart Mountains
Lina quirked an eyebrow at Gourry when the last thing she expected for him to say came out of his mouth. "Happy birthday?"
His brow wrinkled with confusion. "It's your birthday, right?"
"Yeah… Something tells me that you didn't remember this on your own."
Gourry had the grace to look a bit sheepish. "Yeah, Amelia reminded me this morning. She's been doing a good job about saying something every day about it. Are you ready?"
Lina turned around from the tall mirror that Filia had lent her to see her partner standing in the door to the room they were to share that night. Her gaze skimmed his figure. She rarely saw him out of the blue clothing and black armor that he normally wore, except when they went undercover. The simple white linen shirt matched with grey trousers suited him well and she was surprised that Zelgadiss had been the one to come up with the outfit.
"Almost." Lina turned back to the mirror once more and found a different person staring out at her. She'd put her foot down at wearing a fancy white dress thanks to bad memories of Mazoku attacks. It had taken a small battle with Amelia before deciding on a simple set of cream-colored dress robes with leggings beneath. Just in case. Her hair hung loose and she wore no makeup or jewelry beyond her earrings. She felt a bit naked without her tailsmans, but they were being held by Zelgadiss. Again, just in case. So, she was being a bit paranoid. Better safe than sorry.
They walked out of the room together. "Nervous?" she asked, glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes.
"Nope!" He looked as peaceful and saited as if he'd eaten a five-course meal.
Damn it. Lina fought the urge to press a hand to her stomach. Yes, she'd come to terms with this, but she still felt nervous. After all, she was turning 20 and getting married in the same day. She was entitled to be nervous! Surely there was something written down to that effect.
Still, she was going through with this. Not only was she not backing out on her promise to go through with it, but she honestly wanted to. When she finally agreed not to put it off any longer, it didn't sound so bad. Once Amelia had gotten ahold of their plans, there'd been no stopping them. They had settled on Lina's birthday, more for Gourry's sake than anything. It ensured them that he would at least remember their wedding day, therefore not forget her birthday.
The closer it got to the wedding, the more things that Lina found positive about it. For one thing, there were the presents. As news trickled from Saillune, gifts in the form of cash, magical artifacts and rare spellbooks had come for the couple. No household equipment had arrived, thankfully, with the exception of a particular device that was said to make toasting bread easier. It disappeared the day after it arrived and Amelia commented that she saw it in Zelgadiss's room at one point. They never asked.
They had decided on Dragon's Peak after Lina vetoed the royal palace. It enabled them to include all of their friends except for Sylphiel, who had been traveling with her uncle and wouldn't be reachable for another few weeks. It was a significant place to all of them and the might of the Golden Dragons would keep them protected from any unwanted Mazoku. Milgazia had agreed to conduct the ceremony with Amelia and Zelgadiss as official witnesses. They had all been pleased about that. They hadn't been pleased when Lina came up with the brilliant idea of selling tickets to the wedding. Zelgadiss reminded Lina that the wedding would involve a very public kiss. That quickly squashed that idea.
A small group waited for them by the shrine that had once led to the Claire Bible, dressed in good, but not fancy clothes. Shizuri was giving them a knowing smile while Lyos fidgeted in his new shirt and pants. Milgazia and Zelgadiss stood next to them, both of them looking stern and formal. Amelia and Filia were beside them, both teary-eyed.
"You know, Sylphiel-san's going to be mad that she missed this," Filia commented as they reached them.
"Yeah, and so's my mother. They'll get over it. Or they get together, form a little conspiracy and enact some form of revenge on us." Lina nodded to Milgazia. "Thank you for doing this for us."
"You just want to do this before you get cold feet," Zelgadiss commented and Lina responded by grinding her heeled boot into the best man's shoe. When he didn't wince, she muttered something about stupid chimera feet beneath her breath and went to stand next to the maid of honor, who'd been crying for several minutes.
"I can't believe this is actually happening," Amelia sobbed and threw her arms around Lina for at least the 42nd time that day. "You look so pretty! I don't see why you couldn't had married at the royal palace," she lamented once more.
"Well, you can't beat the view," Lyos said, looking over the side of the mountain. "Didn't get much of a chance to admire this before and we've been too busy to visit up here."
"Let's just get this over with," Lina said briskly as Amelia handed her a bouquet of flowers that they'd brought with them from Saillune. Her gaze swept over the the majestic view that spread before them. She felt a hand on her shoulder and glanced over it at Gourry.
He smiled at her. "It'll be all right."
Most of the nerves eased. "Yeah," she said and for the first time felt at ease. He took her hand and they faced Milgazia, their friends falling into place around them. Amelia sniffed loudly.
Milgazia smiled. "Now, if you're ready to begin…"
"Ah, just a moment?"
Lina whirled around, saw Luna standing a few feet away with Xelloss next to her. "Sis!" she gulped.
"Mama and Papa send their love," she said. "And me with the orders to stand in. Seems that my Mazoku friend was only willing to teleport one person up here."
"Of course, Luna-san holding a butcher knife to my throat and saying that if I don't get her here in time to witness the wedding of her only sister that I would be shredded into a thousand pieces of ribbon doesn't have anything at all to do with it," Xelloss said.
Lina smirked. Nice to know that Xelloss is actually afraid of someone. I'll need to put that in the reference file.
Luna strode up to the group and pinned Gourry with a steely glare. "Same threat goes for you if you hurt her. Of course, it'll be a thousand times more painful."
He gulped, then nodded quickly.
"Okay, now you may begin," Luna said cheerfully.
"If you'll excuse me." Xelloss gave the group a formal bow, then disappeared into the safety of the Astral plane.
"Xelloss-san?" Amelia questioned, her mouth set in a slight frown. "Why aren't you staying for the wedding?"
"My dear Amelia-san. I'm afraid that all of the positive emotions resulting from this ceremony is really bad for my diet. Perhaps another time?"
Filia's eyes narrowed. "I'd like to give you something else for your diet, you filthy piece of Mazoku trash." She brushed her skirts and the handle of the mace secured beneath it.
Xelloss faded back into view in front of Filia. "Ah, your anger and wrath is always such a treat to enjoy, Filia-san. I'm relieved to know that time has and will not mellow your feelings toward me any." He brushed a kiss to Filia's cheek and smirked when she shrieked with rage. "See? That's better than Saillune's soft-serve ice cream."
"You wretch! I'm going to kill you!"
"Filia!" Shizuri lunged forward and caught Filia by the waist as Xelloss disappeared, his laughter echoing among the group.
Luna sighed and massaged her temples. "Right." She gave Milgazia a firm look. "Go ahead with the ceremony before my sister decides to bolt, Milgazia."
"I am not bolting!" Lina hissed, then glared at Gourry when he took her arm in such a firm grip that it was almost painful. "Don't you believe her!"
"I am not bolting! I swear it! I want you to get that thought out of your jellyfish brain right this instant before I knock it out for you!"
"Your track record when it comes to this sort of thing isn't exactly the best, Lina," Zelgadiss pointed out.
"At least I'm actually at the altar, unlike some people I know!"
"Dear family and friends," Milgazia began as Lina proceeded to bicker with Zelgadiss over his own lack of emotion toward people. It didn't help that Lyos threw in a snide remark and Lina proceeded to start in on him.
After a moment, Gourry suddenly nudged Lina and she glared at him. "Let me go so I can kick some sense into them both!"
"In a minute, Lina. Just answer Milgazia-san, please?"
"Answer? Huh?" Lina glanced at Gourry, then at Milgazia, then remembered the reason she was there to begin with, then marveled at the fact that for once Gourry was actually paying more attention to what was going on than she was. "Oh. Right. I do."
Amelia promptly burst into tears. "Isn't it beautiful?" she sobbed as Milgazia continued and they exchanged rings.
Filia gave her a kind smile. "I'm sure it'll be you and Zelgadiss-san soon enough," she whispered.
Amelia went scarlet. "But…but Filia-san! It's just… It's not like…"
Shizuri grinned a little evilly. "I see we have a chance to do a little bit of matchmaking with our princess and the chimera."
"It's not like that, Shizuri-san!" Amelia said a little too loudly, causing Zelgadiss to blush and for Milgazia to raise his voice again.
Lina quickly slanted Amelia a look as Milgazia droned on about fidelity, sickness, health, things that she already knew. "Payback's a bitch, isn't it, Amelia?" she murmured just loud enough for the princess to hear.
"That's not nice, Lina-san! How can you say such a thing at your own wedding?"
"Calm down, Amelia-san!" Filia tried to sooth her.
"Yeah, you have to forgive Lina for her lack of manners," Lyos grunted. "It's like she grew up in a barn."
"I did not grow up in a barn!"
"You act like it!"
Lina's eyes narrowed at him and Lyos quickly darted back to safety. Forgetting where she was at the moment, she took two steps toward him, ready to introduce him to the broadside of a fireball. She felt a strong tug on her arm and whirled around to face Gourry. "Let me go for two seconds. Just long enough to add Lyos to the debris over there."
What she got instead was a kiss. A quite passionate one at that. As his lips brushed hers, she suddenly forgot why she'd been annoyed and who she needed to administer bodily harm to in the next few minutes. She felt the grip on her arm drop and instead of fighting back, she looped her arms around his neck and put the energy she'd been saving for her spells into the kiss. It was warm, thrilling and felt absolutely right. For a moment, it seemed like perhaps they were the only two people in the world.
When they broke apart, they stared at each other, a little stunned. "I take it this means we did it," Lina managed after a moment.
Gourry grinned. "Despite your best effort to avoid it."
Lina jabbed her finger into his chest. "Hey, pal! I had no problems going through this ceremony whatsoever!"
"Sure you didn't," he replied in a placating voice and patted her arm. "At least you forgot that we were kissing in front of everyone."
Her cheeks went scarlet and he laughed. "It's not like it's the first time, you know."
"It's not like I prefer it that way either! Besides, that kiss when I was caught up in that flashback? Totally doesn't count!"
Zelgadiss pulled out a pocket watch. "Married for approximately 90 seconds and they're already having their first argument."
"Wow, I was only giving Lina about 30," Lyos muttered and handed Zelgadiss several gold coins.
"Now you see why I was able to stick around?" Xelloss faded back into view next to Luna as the wedding party bickered, laughed and cried.
Luna slanted a look at him. "As I seem to recall, this particular bout of chaos was your fault."
Xelloss stretched and folded his arms behind his head. "Ah, but somehow this seems to suit them rather than some formal, sentimental ceremony, don't you think?"
Luna considered it as Lina responded to a comment from Lyos by torching him with a fireball. As the slightly scorched Knight of Aqualord ran screaming in a circle, Luna nodded to Xelloss. "I concede this point to you," she said, then smiled as Milgazia announced that a buffet had been set up. Lina and Gourry both cried out in triumph and raced toward the food, their friends on their heels yelling at the couple not to devour it all. All was well.
Author's Note: It's finished! falls over There was a time in the past year that I feared that it wouldn't reach this point. This story was never suppose to have a wedding. It seemed to write itself and it fit the situation. Until two days ago, it had the cheesy, sentimental ending that Xelloss dreaded. Then chaos seemed to write itself. If there are any leftover questions, I will do my best to answer them either through review replies or through my LiveJournal at http / dqbunny . livejournal . com . Remove spaces and add a backslash when needed.
So what's next? I've got a few plotbunnies brewing and I want to get back to "Da Capo of Love: Lina's Unlucky Days" - a story that won't be nearly as long as this. I've also left behind the seeds of two stories that aren't sequels, but set into this same universe. One reviewer picked up on one possible idea already. I have no plans to stop writing in this fandom anytime soon.
I'm immensely grateful to everyone who has read this story and has provided feedback, both positive and negative. The Slayers fandom is unique in that I have received the most amazing reviews from readers. It contains genuine feedback about the story and there have been at least one review per chapter that sparked a plot idea or reminded me to fill a plot hole in a later chapter. There's been so many wonderful people I've gotten to know through this and really too many to thank individually at the risk of accidentally leaving someone out. So a big, big hug to all y'all and thank you, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.