Disclaimer: I don't own Slayers and I do not wish to make any profit from writing this story.
Author's Note: This story was written for a Slayers "Secret Santa" challenge on Livejournal.
"A Perfect Lady"
She managed to slip into the kitchen without anyone noticing. The only one who could have ruined her plans was the cook, but once she hit him over the head with a pot, the man was out like a light. The intruder walked over to a tray of drinks. She had eavesdropped on Inverse's group and knew that her target had ordered the cherry wine. She grinned as she dug out the tiny bottle from her pocket, opened it and poured the potion into the glass. For a brief moment the fruit juice turned blue but then reverted back to its original red colour. The masked woman grinned. All was going according to plan.
In the dining hall, Lina swallowed her mouthful of spaghetti. "Yum! Nothing like good food to make a perfect day."
"Ms. Lina, could you please not chew with your mouth open?" Amelia asked from across the table.
"Why? This is the way I've always eaten, and don't plan to stop now."
"That doesn't mean you should forget table manners," Zelgadis muttered.
"Aw, relax guys," Gourry replied as he cut his steak. "Besides, there are a lot of worse things that Lina could do."
"Excuse me?" Lina asked with her eye twitching. Luckily, Gourry was saved as the waiter walked over. "I have your drinks. Who ordered the cherry wine?"
"That's me!" Lina raised her hand.
Zelgadis blinked, surprised. "You ordered cherry wine?"
"Sure. This town is famous for their one of a kind wine. You would be an idiot not to try it."
"Of course..." Zel muttered.
Lina snatched up the glass and drank the wine in one gulp. "That's good stuff, although it has a bit of a funny after taste."
The princess sighed. "You know, Ms. Lina, I think Mr. Zelgadis has a point. It might not hurt once in a while to act a bit more..."
Lina rested her head on her hand. "A bit more what?"
"Well..." Amelia wasn't sure how to say it without it resulting with Lina getting angry. "Ladylike?"
"Hey! I'm plenty ladylike?!"
"I mean as in being...more polite."
Lina rolled her eyes. "Oh brother, now you sound like Luna. Well, I happen to like the way I am." She yawned. Lina suddenly really felt tired. "And if you try to lecture me on 'being a lady' you're just going to put me to sleep."
Amelia's eyes twitched a little. "Ms. Lina, I'm only suggesting that it wouldn't kill you to be a bit more considerate about the people around you. Being a lady is not just about being polite, it's about..."
Suddenly, Lina fell head first into her mashed potatoes. The group stared in bewilderment as they heard snores. Gourry pulled Lina's head back up. She remained asleep with a little drool dribbling down her cheek.
Gourry was astounded. "Wow, Amelia, you really can put people to sleep."
"But...I..." Amelia felt a panic attack coming on. Were her justice speeches becoming boring?! Did they no longer catch the attention of people's hearts?! Was she losing her touch?!
Sensing her sudden horror, Zelgadis patted her shoulder. "I wouldn't worry about it. I doubt it was you. Although, it is odd for Lina to suddenly fall asleep like this."
"We might as well put her to bed." Gourry swung Lina over his shoulders. "I'm sure she'll be fine in the morning."
Amelia nodded, feeling a bit more relieved.
Zelgadis didn't reply for he was occupied looking behind him. For a brief second he could have sworn that someone was watching them.
"Good morning, Mr. Gourry" Amelia greeted as she and Zelgadis entered the dining hall.
Gourry waved his hand as he chewed his pancakes. "Is Lina coming?"
"Why are you asking us? Isn't she already eating?" Zelgadis asked.
Gourry frowned. "No. Normally, I wake her up and we go get breakfast together. But this morning, I knocked on her door and she told me to go eat without her. She said she was getting ready."
"For what?" Amelia asked as she sat in a chair.
"I don't know, but it's weird for Lina to take this long."
"Especially if it's before breakfast."
All of a sudden, they heard footsteps. "Good morning everyone. Sorry I took so long."
The group turned. In a split second, Gourry dropped his fork, Zelgadis's jaw dropped to ground and Amelia started pinching herself to make sure she wasn't still dreaming.
Lina entered the room. She was wearing a long pink dress with lace. Her hair was tied back into a braid and she was even wearing daisies in her hair. That may not have been so weird if Lina wasn't looking like she wanted to hide somewhere.
One question ran though everyone's mind. Who was this and what had she done to the real Lina?
"What on earth is wrong?" Lina asked sounding very worried.
Gourry slowly walked up, half expecting for Lina to suddenly yell "Got ya!" or throw a pie at him. "Lina, why are you dressed like that?"
"Why? It's proper for a lady to wear a nice dress isn't it?"
Now Gourry felt even more disturbed. "Lina are you feeling alright?"
Lina smiled. "Oh, I'm feeling fine Mr. Gourry."
"I see...wait did you just call me MR. Gourry?!"
"Yes." Lina frowned. "Would you prefer if I called you 'Master Gourry?"
The swordsman felt as if the whole world had been flipped upside down. "Master?!...since when.."
Zelgadis stopped him before he could say any more. "Sorry, Lina, could you excuse us for a minute?"
Not waiting for Lina's reply, Zelgadis and Amelia dragged Gourry to the far corner of the room.
"What is going on here?!" Amelia asked, baffled. "I know I told Ms. Lina to be more polite, but I didn't think she would take me this seriously!"
"It's possible she's playing a joke," replied Zelgadis.
Gourry shook his head. "Lina's not joking. Even if she was kidding, she would at least twitch if she had to call me "Master Gourry".
"Then what's going on?" Amelia asked.
"Maybe she's sick."
"No..." Zelgadis muttered "but I do think it was something she ate. Remember when she passed out last night."
Amelia held her chin. "Now that I think about it, Ms. Lina passed out right after she had that drink."
"So, she was drugged." Gourry growled as he made a mental note to interrogate the chef.
"I would say it's more like someone slipped a potion into her drink," Zelgadis replied. "I remember once hearing about 'mood' altering potions."
Amelia snapped her fingers. "I've heard about those! They're supposed to change a person's mood, like if a person is depressed a mood potion can make them happy."
"Exactly. Someone must have altered this verison to make Lina..."
"More ladylike?" Gourry finished. "Well, how do we fix it?"
Zelgadis pondered. "I'm not sure. From what I heard mood potions are supposed to wear off, but since this one has been tampered with I'm not sure whether it will go away by itself."
"We have to do something."
"Well...we don't have to do so right away." Zelgadis smirked. "You have to admit, it's rather amusing to see Lina acting so polite."
"It's unjust to laugh when someone's in trouble!" Amelia instantly replied. "But...it is funny...and it might be nice for her to be polite for a change."
Gourry's eyes twitched. "You guys..."
Zelgadis patted his shoulder. "Relax Gourry. I'm sure we'll find a way to fix this," He smirked again. "But there's no reason why we can't enjoy it while it lasts."
"Yeah I guess..." Gourry looked back to Lina who was busy cleaning the table. "But I'm more worried about why someone would do this."
The walk to the next town was surprisingly quiet. In fact, Amelia found the silence a bit unnerving. Normally, when travelling, Lina would be busy in conversation or at least talking about how much she was dying to reach the next town. This time, she was strangely quiet. Amelia sensed that Zelgadis and Gourry had also noticed the uneasy silence, so she gently poked Lina who was busy trying to walk straight and not get her new shoes dirty.
"Ms. Lina, is there something wrong?"
Lina turned. "Oh no, Ms. Amelia, there's nothing wrong."
"Then why aren't you saying anything?"
"Oh, well it would be unladylike to bother everyone with my talking. Women are supposed to be seen and not heard."
Amelia's justice senses couldn't help but tingle. While she agreed that manners were important, that idea was just plain wrong. The very idea of Lina saying that made her stomach hurt.
Amelia was ready to go on a long justice speech about women's rights when suddenly she heard a war cry. A large group of bandits leaped out of the bushes. The boys brought out their swords. Amelia was ready to defend herself. However, Lina...screamed like someone had just stabbed her with a knife.
"EEK!! Bandits! Somebody help me!" The three companions stared, dumbfounded, as the mighty Lina Inverse went to hide behind a tree.
"That was...unexpected," Zelgadis muttered.
"Lina, what are you doing?" Gourry asked confused.
"I'm hiding from those scary bandits!"
"Scary? But you could easily roast one with a fireball."
"I can't do that! It's unladylike!"
Amelia eyes twitched even more as she heard that proclamation. She was starting to get a bad feeling about this, but returned her attention to the bandits as one of them stepped forward.
"All right! Hand over the red haired girl and nobody gets hurt."
Gourry's eyes narrowed. "What do you guys want with Lina?"
"Nothing much. We got paid a lot of money to take her and deliver her."
"And just who paid you?" Zelgadis asked.
"That's none of your business!" the bandit snapped. "Now hand her over."
Amelia grinned as she stepped forward. This would be a piece of cake. "In the name of justice, we will defeat you!" She started to cast a spell. "Glittering flame, burning bright..."
Suddenly, somebody grabbed her arm. "Ms. Amelia, what are you doing?!"
Amelia blinked, stunned, and turned to find that Lina had stopped her. She hadn't noticed her coming out of her hiding place.
"What am I doing? I'm fighting those bandits!"
"No you are not!" Lina shook her finger in the same manner a mother would scold her child. "Ladies do not go fighting bandits, that is the duty of men."
Amelia gaped. She could not be hearing this. "What?! But I'm perfectly capable of handling this!"
"That doesn't mean that you should do it!"
"Are you crazy?!"
Meanwhile, Zelgadis cursed. The bandits were getting ready to attack and Lina was right in between the two groups.
"Zel, what do we do?" Gourry asked. "We can't fight like this with Lina being in the way."
"I know," he growled. Bandits wouldn't normally be a problem. He could easily take them out with a few spells, but with Lina in the way he couldn't. With the large number, and with Lina not defending herself, it would be easy for the bandits to snatch her while the others were distracted.
There was only one choice. "Gourry, grab Lina! We'll have to make a run for it!"
Gourry nodded and sprinted forward. Lina yelped as she was thrown over Gourry's shoulder. "Run!" he shouted to Amelia. Zelgadis quickly cast a Dug Hault. The ground rumbled, holding the bandits back long enough for them to escape. As they ran into the woods, Lina yelled "Put me down! This is very unladylike!"
After the group felt they had finally lost the bandits, they stopped near a small stream. Lina was blushing from head to toe. She appeared to be very embarrassed by Gourry carrying her like a sack. She quickly said that she was going to the stream to wash up and fix her hair. Apparently, the run had ruined her hair and it was very "unladylike" to have messy hair. The others waited until she was out of ear shot, then immediately huddled together.
"We have to get Lina back to normal!" Gourry said.
Amelia nodded. "I never thought I would say this, but I prefer Ms. Lina to hold me in a headlock than lecturing me on the proper etiquette of being a lady." Her ears were still ringing from Lina's rant about how "unladylike" it was to speak loudly about justice.
"Agreed," Zelgadis replied. "This isn't funny anymore. I didn't think that the potion would make Lina not want to use her magic. We have to change her back quickly before whoever is after Lina makes an appearance."
"Yeah, but how do we get her back to normal?" Gourry asked. He took a quick side glance at Lina. She was busy making a necklace out of daisies.
"Well..." Zelgadis started. "Mood potions may alter a person's personality, but they can't completely get rid of it."
"What do you mean?" Gourry asked.
The chimera thought of how to explain the concept in simpler terms. "Think of Lina as a bowl of ice cream. Now think of the mood potion as toppings. You can add toppings like cherries and whipped cream to alter its appearance. However, the ice cream is still underneath it. You can't change that."
The swordsman blinked. "So we have to get Lina ice cream?"
"Mr. Gourry..." Amelia groaned. She was not in the mood for this.
"I get it, I get it." Gourry waved his hands in defence. " I was just joking. So you're saying that the real Lina is still in there somewhere."
"Exactly." Zelgadis replied. "We just need to find some way to bring the real Lina out. In theory, once we do that, she can overcome the power of the potion by herself."
"Okay, but how do we bring out the 'real' Lina?"
"Well, what is Ms. Lina's strongest emotion?" Amelia asked.
The three looked at each other and answered the question in unison. "Her temper."
"So we have to get Lina angry" Gourry stated and sighed. "This is going to be dangerous."
The group travelled on foot for a few hours until they decided it was time to make camp. As they stopped for the night, Amelia, Zelgadis and Gourry gave each other a serious nod. It was time to get the crazy "get Lina mad" plan into action.
Amelia was the first to try. She had taken Lina's bed roll and dumped it in mud. "Look, Ms. Lina, I made your bed roll all dirty and I bet it's going to stain. Doesn't that make you angry?"
Lina blinked. "Well I am annoyed, but I can easily wash it in the stream. A perfect lady should always know how to be rid of stains. Washing clothes is a very serious matter..." Amelia couldn't help but groan as Lina went into a lecture of how to clean clothes.
It was Zelgadis's turn at dinner time. After Lina gave everyone their share of stew, he waited for his chance to strike. As Lina raised her spoonful to her mouth, Zelgadis knocked Lina's plate off her lap spilling her food to the ground.
"Sorry, Lina," he said. "I appear to have ruined your dinner and there's none left." He leaned in closer. "Do you feel like hitting me?"
Lina raised an eyebrow and sighed, although it was a very tense sigh. "It's all right Mr. Zelgadis. I needed to go on a diet anyway."
After that defeat it was Gourry's turn. He was sure this plan would work. He took out his sword and his coin purse. "Hey Lina, want to see a trick?"
"I would love to see a trick, Mr. Gourry."
He grinned. This was going to work! He was sure of it. Gourry unsheathed his sword and took out one of the gold coins. "Watch closely."
He tossed the gold coin in the air. Instantly he raised his sword and sliced the coin in two. He put his sword away as the two pieces fell down. Gourry picked up the coins and placed them into Lina's hand. "See that, Lina, I just ruined money. How do you like that?"
Lina's eyebrows twiched and Gourry was positive he saw a vein throbbing within her forehead. However, much to his regret Lina simply took a deep breath and said, "That was very entertaining Mr. Gourry."
"How can you say that?!" he yelled. "The last time I sliced a coin in two you nearly killed me and called me an idiot for ruining money!"
Lina neatly folded her hands into her lap. "That was in the past and a lady must not get angry."
Gourry felt like banging his head against a tree. He grabbed Lina by the shoulders. "Come on Lina, I know the real you is in there! You've got to come back!"
"Mr. Gourry!" Lina stood up and threw off his hands. "I would appreciate you not doing that! What is wrong with you? You're starting to scare me."
Gourry frowned and stepped back as his arms dropped. "I'm sorry, the last thing I want to do is scare you. I just...I just want you back."
Lina stared back, puzzled. "What are you talking about? I'm right here. I haven't gone anywhere."
Gourry shook his head. "You're here." He sighed. "But you're not the Lina that I know."
"I'm going to bed."
Lina was speechless as she watch the swordsman turn his back to her and walk away. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"I'm running out of ideas." Amelia muttered as her feet shuffled on the dirt road. "We've spent half the night trying to think of ways to get Ms. Lina angry and still, none of them worked."
"I know," Zelgadis replied in a tired tone. "So far, we've burnt her food, twice, dumped a bucket of worms on her, borrowed her money without telling her and broke her only hair brush."
Amelia felt like ripping out her hair. Never in her entire life had she felt so frustrated. "I never thought it would be so hard to get Ms. Lina angry."
"Who ever made that potion must have made it extra powerful. I'm starting to worry about whether we can ever get the 'real' Lina back."
"Mr. Zelgadis, don't say that! We can't give up. Isn't that right Mr. Gourry?"
"Huh?" The swordsman awoke from his deep thought. "Yeah, we just have to keep trying."
Amelia frowned. "Mr. Gourry are you alright? You've been awfully quiet this morning."
"And you've barely spoken to Lina," Zelgadis added.
Gourry glanced ahead to Lina. She had gone up ahead to see if there was a good place to stop for lunch. "I'm fine," he muttered. But he wasn't. He felt like a jerk for scaring Lina last night. I'm her protector. I'm not supposed to scare her. But then again, I'm not used to Lina being scared that easily. I wonder if Lina will ever get back to normal.
Amelia frowned. Poor Mr. Gourry, he must be so worried about Ms. Lina. Zelgadis also sense this and patted him on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Gourry. We'll figure this out."
Before Gourry could reply , a, ear-piercing scream rang though the air. "Help! There's a horrible monster!"
At once, the trio dashed forward. They found Lina crumpled to her knees and screaming. "Help! Help! I'm so scared!"
"Lina, what's wrong!" Gourry asked scanning the area for the enemy. "I don't see any bandits."
"It's not bandits! It's worse!"
"Well, where is it?" Zelgadis asked. The only threatening thing he could see was a squirrel chewing nuts in a tree.
"Over there!" Lina pointed, her hand trembling. "There's a whole pile of slugs!"
The three companions fell down in unison. "I guess that part of Lina hasn't changed," Zelgadis grumbled.
"I'll get rid of them." Gourry walked over to the spot. Suddenly he felt a sharp tingle wash over his body. He feet were nailed to the dirt beneath them. His entire body felt numb and he couldn't move any of his limbs.
"Gourry?" Zelgadis asked.
"Guys! I can't move! Something's got me!"
Amelia bolted to her feet. "Hold on, Mr. Gourry!"
Zelgadis reached out and grabbed onto her cape. However, this was just as she reached Gourry and he found himself pulled in. The sharp tingle struck them and neither of them could move.
"What's going on?!" Lina cried.
"It's some kind of ward." Zelgadis replied. "Somehow it's stopping us from moving."
"But who could do something like this?" Amelia asked.
"The answer to that question would be me, my dear."
A figure stepped out from the shadows. Judging from the long pink dress, the trio could tell this was a woman. She was a very large person, carrying a giant hammer. However, due to the mask she was wearing they were unable to see her face.
Amelia frowned. Who on earth was this woman? "In the name of Justice I demand that you..."
"Mrs. Josephine!!" Lina yelled.
The other three stared at Lina in confusion. "Lina, you know this weird lady?"
BONK! Gourry's head was suddenly a victim of Josephine's fist.
"Who are you calling weird, young man?!"
Lina coughed. "I met Mrs. Josephine a few years ago when I travelled with my old partner. We were assisting her son Jeffery who was well...how should I say this without being rude... not the most athletic knight."
Josephine put down her hammer. "Well I'm glad to see that my potion managed to make you more polite."
"You did this to her?!" Gourry yelled as he desperately tried to move his legs.
"Oh yes. I also hired those bandits to bring her to me, but didn't realize she was travelling with other magic users."
"But why did you do all this?" Zelgadis asked.
The woman laughed. "Oh that's simple. I want her to marry my son Jeffery."
There was a long silence before everyone, including Lina, yelled at once.
"ARE YOU CRAZY?!!"
Josephine stomped her foot. "Of course not! I just know that it's time for my lovely Jeffery to take a wife. Of course it couldn't just be any woman, but it appears that Jeffery took a real shining to you Ms. Lina."
"Oh...um...wonderful." Lina replied, but sounding very scared.
"Yes, it is. However, it would be impossible for me to allow my sweet Jeffery to marry someone with such a violent personality. He deserves the best, so I gave you that potion to make you into the perfect daughter-in-law."
"That's horrible!" Amelia yelled. "In the name of justice we will defeat you!"
Josephine tilted her head and laughed. "That would be impossible in your state my dear. That spell will not go away unless I say so..."
"Or become unconscious..." Zelgadis muttered.
"Yes, well there's nothing you can currently do about that. Now then, Ms. Lina" She stepped towards Lina. "It's time for us to go and plan your wedding to my lovely Jeffery."
Gourry scowled. Dammit! He had to do something! Lina looked so scared. She was shaking.
Lina gulped and took a step back as Josephine took her hand. "Ms. Josephine, I don't want to be rude but..."
"Now, now there's no need to thank me. You'll make a lovely bride. Although, it is a pity." She sighed. "I did try to find a potion that could fix your appearance."
Lina suddenly forgot that she should be quivering in fear. "Excuse me?"
"Well, you are rather short my dear, and my lovely Jeffery deserves a much taller woman."
Lina's eyes twitched, but she said nothing. However, Gourry's eyes widened. Of course! Why didn't he think of this before?
"You're right she is short!"
Lina's head snapped up. "What?"
"In fact she's the shortest person in the world."
"Now, wait a minute..."
"Her eyes are way too big, and she snores!"
Lina could feel something boiling inside her but she repressed it. No. A lady does not get angry.
Amelia and Zelgadis quickly caught on to the swordsman's plan and joined in.
"She tosses and turns in her sleep!" Amelia yelled.
"She eats like three pigs!" Zelgadis added.
Lina's lips quivered. They were dying to let some nasty words loose. Rage kept poking her. It wanted to be free.
No! Stay calm! A lady doesn't get angry! A lady doesn't get angry!
Gourry grinned. It was time for the final blow. "And Lina's chest is flatter than a board!"
The words echoed in Lina's mind. The mental dam she had built up crumbled. She could feel her old self washing back over her, cleansing the mood potion out of her mind.
Josephine shook her head. "I don't know what you were tying to do but it won't work. Now Ms. Lina let's..."
Lina drew her her hand back. "I don't think so," she said in a dark tone.
"Nobody tells Lina Inverse what to do! EXPLOSION ARRAY!"
The ground exploded beneath Josephine. She let out a scream and was tossed into the air.
Less than a second Later, the others could feel the spell release them from its hold.
Gourry ran to Lina and hugged her. "Lina! You're back to normal!"
She didn't reply.
"Shortest person in the world. My eyes are too big. My CHEST IS FLAT AS A BOARD!" Lina looked up. A fire that was able to burn down a forest was blazing in her eyes. "Does that ring any bells?!!"
Gourry's arms dropped. He gulped. Oh right, Lina's back to normal!
"Come here!" she growled rolling up her sleeves.
"Wait Lina! I did it to save..."
"Owwwww..." Gourry moaned. "You didn't have to hit me that hard!"
Lina spun around. "That's what you get for insulting me!"
"Ms. Lina, Mr. Gourry only did that to save you!" Amelia protested.
"That's right." Zelgadis added. "Or would you have preferred to marrying that woman's son."
Lina shivered. Dammit, she hated it when he was right. "Alright fine, I'll let it slide."
"And..." Amelia added.
Lina sighed. She rubbed the back of her neck and blushed. "And thanks for saving me."
Gourry smiled. "No problem, I'm just glad you're back to normal."
"Me too." Zelgadis replied. "That 'perfect lady' version of you was very annoying."
"Now, hold it..."
"And a bit arrogant actually." Amelia added.
"And really useless..." Gourry added.
Lina growled. "Hey! I was not that bad!"
"Yes you were!" Gourry teased as they ran on ahead. "And you had bad taste in clothes!"
Lina stomped her feet. "Dammit! You guys get back here!"
The others laughed as Lina chased them, ready to clobber them. But they wouldn't have her any other way.
Author's Note: I had a lot of fun writing this.
For those who may not know, Josephine and Jeffery and two characters from the Lina and Naga Slayer OVAs.