Disclaimer: "Slayers" does not belong to me, but belongs to Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi. I'm just borrowing them for a little while. This story is the sequel to "The Baby and the Fish" and won third place in the one-shot category "Body-Switching" for the "Slayerscontest" community on LiveJournal.
"The Baby and the Frog Prince"
"So, let me get this straight." Lina calmly set down her coffee mug. "Zel discovered a spell that could cause him to take a different form, correct?"
Amelia nodded and stared into her lap. "That's right, Lina-san."
"And, Zel being Zel, he cast said spell in order to return to being a human, am I heading in the right direction?"
"That's correct, Lina-san."
"And now, Zel is a frog."
Amelia burst into tears once more and squeezed the the blue-grey mottled frog that she held in her lap. "Poor Zelgadiss!"
Said frog stared up at the sorceress and simply gave her a dour "Ribbet."
Lina sat back in her chair and gave the frog a thoughtful look. "Well, that's certainly going to cause some problems when people realize that the Crown Prince of Saillune has turned into a frog."
"You've got to help him, Lina-san!"
"Why me? You're the white magic expert, Amelia. If not you, what about Sylphiel?"
"Believe me, I've tried everything!" Amelia threw her hands in the air. "Flow Break, counter spells, even Recovery and Resurrection."
Lina winced. "Resurrection? Don't you think that's going a bit too far?"
"Lina-san!" Amelia slammed her hands on the table, causing the sorceress to jump back slightly. "This is my husband we're talking about here! I'm willing to try anything on him. What if it was Gourry-san turned into a frog?"
Lina scratched at her head. "Didn't that actually happen once?"
Amelia frowned. "No, it was a jellyfish doll, remember? That was when Zelgadiss wore the cute bunny costume."
The frog snorted.
"Oh yeah!" Lina finished off her coffee, set the mug aside and clasped her hands in front of her on the table. "Don't worry, Amelia. We'll get Zel back to normal. If you've tried all of the normal unsealing spells on him, let me start looking through my books. Have you checked any of the libraries in Saillune at all?"
Amelia shook her head. "No, I never got a chance. As soon as I realized the frog was Zelgadiss, I took him out of Saillune City before anyone could notice. Can you imagine the political nightmare if this got into the papers?"
"Now, now, we've been through much worse." Lina got up, walked over to her friend and laid a hand on her shoulder. "How did you know it was Zel anyhow?"
"He still had on his wedding ring. See?" Amelia held up the band. "He managed to keep it on. Believe me, when I woke up to find a frog on my pillow, it nearly got thrown across the room."
"Ribbet." The frog seemed to scowl at Lina.
"Fine, fine, I'll start looking for a cure." She jabbed a finger at the frog's nose. "Once I undo this curse, I don't want to hear a peep out of you for a year about wanting to turn human again, got it? Let's just hope that you don't remain a frog for long."
Amelia paced the front room of the magic shop. She'd hovered in the small bookshop area until Lina had chased her out, slamming the door behind her. She kept Zelgadiss with her, just in case she did stumble across a spell that would possibly work. She sighed and fought the urge to scream. She loved her husband the way he was, but even she would have an issue with him being a frog!
"I swear, I am going to give whoever wrote that original spellbook that Zelgadiss found a good dose of justice," she vowed. "I don't care if said sorcerer is dead, I will find some way to get justice!" She sniffed. "Poor Zelgadiss."
The front door blew open revealing a tall snow-covered figure holding a smaller snow-covered figure. Amelia gaped at them for a moment before the smaller figure began to bounce up and down excitedly, causing the snow to fall away.
"Emilie!" Grateful for the distraction, Amelia rushed over to them and plucked the 2-year-old from her previous holder. She held the baby close, ignoring the snow that was now melting through her gown. She turned her attention to the tall figure. "I take it that you're somewhere in there, Gourry-san?"
"Yeah, could you knock off some of the snow, please?" A muffled voice responded.
"Okay." Amelia set the baby down and started to brush the snow off. "Goodness, where did the two of you go? I didn't realize the weather had gotten so bad."
"Just to the bakery a few doors down. It turned into a blizzard just a few minutes ago." Gourry sucked in a deep breath as Amelia peeled the ice-crusted scarf off of him.
"Well, Emilie doesn't seem any worse for wear, but the two of you must be freezing." She pulled his gloves off next and studied his fingers. "Not frost-bitten, just a bit cold though."
"Thank you." He accepted the scarf and gloves and set them in a bucket so they wouldn't drop. He peeled off his coat and boots, setting them in the small lean-to built beside the door for their gear. "We need to get Emilie's stuff off of her."
"Well, it won't be hard finding her." Amelia indicated the trail of melted snow that ran through the store.
They tracked Emilie down in the kitchen, where she had instinctively gone in search of the warm stove. Grateful for the distraction, Amelia located a tin of cocoa and prepared a large pot while Gourry took off Emilie's coat, scarf and mittens. Amelia cleared away the coffee that she and Lina had shared earlier.
Over cocoa and cookies, she held Emilie while she relayed what happened to Zelgadiss.
Gourry bit into his cookie and frowned slightly. "That's really weird that something like that happened. Weird, but it sounds familiar."
"Really?" Amelia's eyes lit up. "You've heard of someone being turned into a frog before?"
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Like I said, it sounds familiar. Something about a man getting a spell placed on him and he turns into a frog, but then the princess does something to turn the frog back into the prince. I read it in a book."
"You did? Gourry-san, that's wonderful!" Amelia nearly leapt from her seat with joy. "Is it here?"
"Yeah, it's upstairs. I'll go get it."
"I'll tell Lina-san!" Amelia raced into the store, nearly plowing into Lina in the process. She hastily put the baby down. "Lina-san, Lina-san! Gourry-san knows how to turn Zelgadiss back to normal!"
Lina reared back slightly and gave Amelia an odd look. "Gourry? Gourry Gabriev? My husband, right? The man who's never done a lick of magic in his life knows how to cure Zelgadiss?"
"Yes, yes!" Amelia grabbed Lina's hands and squealed. "He said he read it in a book and went upstairs to get it!" She peered over Lina's shoulder. "Where's Zelgadiss?"
"Oh, still in the book room. He croaked so much when I tried to bring him back in here that I finally just left him." Lina folded her arms over her chest. "I think he's sulking."
"Well, he has every right to be. What was done to him was unjust and I, Amelia wil Tesla Saillune, won't stand for that!" Amelia pumped a fist in the air to drive her point home.
Lina rolled her eyes. "Now, Amelia..."
"Hey!" Gourry came back down the stairs, book in hand. He waved at them with it, his finger marking a place somewhere along the middle. "I found it!"
"You found a cure for Zel?" Lina asked incredulously. But, he was holding the book in his hand. She tried to remember if she had left some sort of spellbook in their bedroom, but that would be about the last thing Gourry would read - unless he was suffering a case of insomnia.
"See?" He opened the book to the page he marked. Amelia and Lina both crowded around him. "There was a princess who lost her golden ball and it fell into a well. A frog went and got it out and in return asked for the princess to love him and be his companion. But the princess got upset that the frog was to be held to its promise, but the frog convinced the princess to kiss him. She did and the frog turned into a prince!" He tapped the page. "It says this right here. So, all you have to do, Amelia, is kiss Zel and he'll turn back to normal."
Lina sighed and couldn't decide whether or not she wanted to whack some sense into him. Her fingers itched for her Gourry-beating slipper. "Let me guess, you got the book from Emilie's room, right? Gourry, this is a book of fairy tales!"
"So?" He blinked innocent eyes at her, looking very much like their daughter.
Now she did thwack him, despite the lack of her slipper. "So, kissing Zel won't turn him back into a prince!"
Amelia burst into tears. "My husband's going to be a frog forever!"
"Come on, Amelia," Lina shook her shoulders slightly. "Snap out of it!"
"You can't disprove my theory unless you try it," Gourry informed her.
"Now look, you!"
For the next five minutes, Lina alternated between comforting Amelia and arguing with Gourry and withstraining the urge just shake both of them into submission. Finally, she threw her hands in the air. "All right, all right! We'll try Gourry's theory. When it doesn't work..."
He shook his head and made a tsking sound. "When it does work."
She scowled at him. "Look, you..."
"You want to bet on it?" His blue eyes literally danced with mischief.
Gourry leaned over and whispered something in her ear that made her go hot all over and a little weak in the knees. She pulled away and gaped at him. "You can actually do that?"
"You'll never know unless you agree to the bet. That's only if I win, of course."
"Deal!" Lina grabbed his hand and pumped it enthusiastically. "And if I win, you have to show me the book you got...that from."
"Deal." He returned the handshake.
She turned back to the still sniffling Amelia. "It won't be so bad, Amelia. Just one little kiss to the tip of Zelgadiss' nose and I'm sure he'll be fine." She grasped Amelia's elbow and steered her toward the book room.
"But, that was just a fairy tale, Lina-san." Amelia arched an eyebrow at her friend. "What exactly did Gourry-san ask of you if he won the bet?"
"Oh, nothing, nothing much!" Lina waved it off. Though for the first time in her life, she prayed that her husband was right. She hoped desperately that he was right. The thought of said bet had her nearly dragging Amelia into the room - only to find the table empty.
"That's weird. I left Zel right here." Lina walked up to the book she'd left the frog sitting near when she'd gone to speak with Amelia.
"Maybe he went to go find us?" Amelia peeked under some overturned books.
"He'd be rather hard to miss, don't you think?" Lina checked behind a stack of books.
Gourry wandered into the room. "Say, have either of you seen Emilie?"
Lina looked up at him. "No, I thought she was with you."
"Yeah, I gave her to Amelia."
"And I put her down on the...oops." Amelia slapped a hand over her mouth.
Lina groaned. "Great. Now the baby and the frog are both gone." A horrible thought slammed into her as she recalled how just a few weeks earlier, Emilie had decided to ingest the dead family fish. Her eyes met Gourry's and she realized that he was thinking the same thing.
"You don't think she...," he started to say.
"Of course not! At least...I don't think she could..."
"Huh? What?" Amelia's head whipped around as she stared at Lina, then Gourry, then back at Lina again. Then she realized it as well and burst into tears once more. "Oh, no! Emilie ate my husband!"
"No, she didn't, Amelia, don't panic!"
Amelia grabbed Lina's arms and shook her so hard that her teeth rattled. "She ate the damn dead fish! What's to stop her from eating a frog? My husband's been digested!" She started to bawl.
"Now, look, Amelia!"
"Mama! Papa! Ame Ame!"
Their heads whipped around and spotted the child sitting in the doorway, a stuffed jellyfish doll clutched in her hands. She snuggled the doll and stared at the three adults. She waved cheerfully to them. "Hihi!"
Feeling an odd sense of deja vu, Lina walked over and crouched before Emilie. "Sweetie, did you see a frog?"
"Fwog!" Emilie nodded enthusiastically. "I saw fwog, Mama! It big fwog?"
"You didn't eat the frog, did you?"
She shook her head. "No."
Behind her, Lina heard both Gourry and Amelia sigh in relief and started to feel the knot of dread that formed in her own stomach loosen. Thank goodness. It would had be even worse to explain this one to Sylphiel. "Did you see where the frog went?"
Emilie nodded seriously. "Fwog nasty. Mama don't like fwogs."
Lina smiled. A few weeks earlier, one of her students had brought in a few toads into the store - hidden in his pockets during a magic lesson. In Lina's opinion, frogs and toads were only slightly above slugs and had pitched a royal fit when one leaped to the top shelf and kicked off an expensive telescope that promptly shattered. Her sole comfort had been that at least the boy's parents had paid for the damage - after a little persuasion, of course.
"That's right, baby, Mama doesn't like frogs." She rested her legs on the floor and pulled Emilie into her lap. "But, Mama needs to find this frog for your Aunt Amelia. Could you tell me where it is?"
"Outside!" Emilie pointed to the front door.
Lina lifted her gaze to the windows, where she saw nothing beyond a sheer blanket of white. "You put the frog outside?" she asked with a sense of growing dread.
Emilie nodded. "Fwog nasty. Fwog go outside, like Mama put fwog out."
Gourry was already to the front door before Emilie finished was she was saying. He yanked it open and disappeared outside. A minute or so later, he returned, covered with snow once more. In his hands was a block of ice with a frog in the middle of it.
They thawed Zelgadiss out, who rewarded them with a series of furious croaks and grunts.
Emilie watched as the frog berated the threesome in its own way. She sat on the table now, beside the book of fairy tales that her father had left behind. Her eye caught the colorful picture illustrating one of the tales. She stared at the book for awhile and mulled over the situation as her parents and aunt apologized to the frog. She bit her lip thoughtfully.
Her mama didn't like frogs, but she seemed to want this one around. Maybe her mama wanted to kiss the frog like the lady in the picture. But, her mama also kissed her papa and her papa was a jellyfish, not a frog. Papa wouldn't like it if Mama kissed a frog as well. She clutched her doll tightly. Maybe this was part of Mama's work. Maybe she could kiss the frog for Mama, that way Papa wouldn't be sad.
She bent over the frog.
"Now, come on, Amelia," Lina shoved the princess forward. "Kiss the damn frog and let's get this over for...Emilie!"
Amelia's eyes nearly popped out of her head. "Stop her, Lina-san! She's going to eat Zelgadiss!"
But before any of them could make a move, the child gave the frog a kiss on top of its snout. They jumped back as an explosion sounded and a large cloud of smoke surrounded Emilie and the frog. A moment later, it fizzled away to reveal Zelgadiss with Emilie in his lap.
"Zel Zel!" Emilie clapped happily.
The chimera gave the child a wry smile. "Thank you, Emilie-chan."
Amelia began to cry once more and threw her arms around Zelgadiss' neck, alternating telling him how glad she was that he was back to normal and how she was going to bring the Hammer of Justice down on whoever created that spell.
Lina and Gourry stood a few feet away and observed the scene.
"Well, all's well that ends well." He draped an arm around her shoulder.
Lina blew her hair out of her eyes. "Yeah. At least we didn't have to deal with our daughter digesting our friend."
He threw back and his head and laughed. "That's true! We've got a good kid though. She figured it out on her own once she realized it was a frog you wanted to keep. Speakings of figuring stuff out...," Gourry gave Lina a wicked smile, "there's the matter of a bet that I just won."
"Lina, is there anything we can do to repay you for helping us out?" Zelgadiss asked as he finally finished comforting his wife.
Lina and Gourry exchanged knowing looks, then raced out of the room. They returned shortly after with a small duffle bag, plucking it into Zelgadiss' hands.
Fifteen minutes later, the Crown Prince and Princess of Saillune found themselves in inn a few doors down from the magic store with their goddaughter cooing in Amelia's arms, the blizzard still raging outside. Lina and Gourry had kissed Emilie good night and vowed to return in the morning...maybe. At least by the afternoon. Early evening at the latest. Or, they could be snowed in for a few days. Something to do about a bet, they explained.
"Why do I have a feeling they're going to spend the next day or so doing nothing but having sex?" Zelgadiss asked Amelia.
She shrugged, laughed and gave her prince a kiss on the cheek. "I'm just glad to have you back, Zelgadiss. Besides, Lina-san and Gourry-san spend a lot of time taking care of Emilie-chan. They deserve a break. Let's take the baby upstairs and get some sleep."
"That sounds like a plan." He wrapped his arm around her waist and lead her upstairs.
"By the way, Zelgadiss? Do you happen to remember who wrote that spell you cast?"
"The spell? Hmm...someone by the name of Naga."