Zelgadis had a pleasant meal with Amelia, that evening. He told her about the more adventurous and amusing battles he'd been in with Lina and Gourry, speaking as if they were alive still, as if he'd left the group once more and they'd gone on. It kept Amelia in somewhat good spirits for most of the meal. Finally, she was yawning and unable to keep herself awake, so he left her, making his way along the halls, stalking through the dark and watching over things.

A flitting shadow caught his eye and he moved onward, walking as if he hadn't seen the one approaching him. The air whistled as Zelgadis spun around, his blade stopping just before it punctured the throat of his stalker. Zelgadis's eyes flicked over the figure who stood taller then the new captain and wore the uniform of a guard. His eyes trailed further up and only the strict training of his expressions kept him from showing his surprise.

"You're supposed to be dead," Zelgadis murmured as he lowered his blade, not sheathing it, however.

"So are you," the man replied then suddenly staggered forward, wrapping his arms around the shorter man's shoulders. "It's been a while..."

Zelgadis's heart jumped into his throat and almost stopped when he was suddenly hugged. Blood rushed to his face. "D-dad... let go of me..." The man stepped back, his hands still on Zelgadis's shoulders. Tears glimmered in the man's icy blue eyes as he looked down the half a head's height that separated himself from his son. "What are you doing here anyway?" Zelgadis forced himself to remain calm and sheathed his sword easily.

His father shook his head, "I've been here for the last seven years... practically since I left you with Rezo." He looked into his son's cold eyes and dropped his hands from the young man's shoulders, bowing his head. "I...you look so much like your mother, I loved her so much.. I couldn't... I'm sorry."

"It's fine," Zelgadis said curtly, half turning and looking down the hall he'd been headed down moments before. "What rank are you?" His father replied was a rather high rank and the young man nodded. "You'll do," he muttered and fully turned, stalking down the hall, continuing on his way. He paused, turning, "Tomorrow, lunchtime, come to my office, I assume you know where it is."

* * *

Zelgadis sat at his desk, now devoid of crumbs and bugs, sorting through the various papers on the desk, doing his best to ignore his father who was perched on an uncomfortable chair in front of the desk. He picked up a paper, read over the scribbled writing on it and growled crumpling it up with one hand and throwing it at the already overflowing garbage can. A knock on the door interrupted his concentration. "Come in," he barked, causing his father to jump slightly.

"Zelgadis-san," Amelia said softly as she pushed the door open and looking in. "Oh- you're busy, I'm sorry-"

"No, come in," Zelgadis replied, amending his tone and forcing a slight smile to the dark haired queen. He shoved the papers over on his desk, making a cleared space for her to set the tray she'd brought.

"I brought some coffee too," she said brightly. Leon Graywords got to his feet, bowing to the queen while Zelgadis neglected the formalities and simply swiped another chair from the corner of the room for Amelia to sit in. "So what have you been doing?" Amelia asked as she sat, smiling slightly, "You forgot lunch..."

Zelgadis turned bright red and bowed, "I'm sorry, Amelia, I was sorting through this mess, time got away." She laughed.

"It's alright, Zelgadis," she neglected to add the honorific, causing the young man as well as the other man in the room to look at her.

"I'll come back when-" Leon started to say but Amelia looked at him and froze.

"Zelgadis-san, who is this?" she asked softly as Zelgadis was about to take a sip of coffee.

He closed his eyes and kept the mug where it was a moment, inhaling the sent. "Amelia, that is Leon Graywords, Head of Unit Two, palace guards."

Amelia turned her eyes back and forth from Zelgadis to his father then focused on the young man, "You said he was dead."

"I thought he was," Zelgadis replied, silently thinking 'I'd hoped he was'.

"Well, this is great! Now you both can go to Graywords Estate and put the marker for Rezo!" Amelia beamed and caused Zelgadis to almost choke on the sip of coffee he'd taken. Leon gaped.

Leon slowly sat down, staring at Amelia and his son. "Marker for Rezo? Rezo's dead? When?"

The young man swallowed slowly and dabbed at his lips with a napkin before answering, "Around four years ago. Rezo summoned Shabranigdu in an attempt to cure his eyes and didn't expect for the Dark Lord to be reborn in his body. Then Lina Inverse, Gourry Gabriev, and I fought Shabranigdu and killed that piece of him." He sprawled back in his chair, acting as if defeating the Dark Lord had been nothing more then an exercise.

Amelia gushed, "Then I joined with Lina and Gourry after Zelgadis-san left them at Atlas City then we got chased all the way to Siraag where we faced Eris and her copy of Rezo then Zelgadis-san came crashing through a window! He made such a cool entrance!" Leon gazed at his son for a long moment. "Then we met with Sylphiel and broke into Rezo's secret laboratory using the Sword of Light and met a chicken-"

"A lesser demon Rezo had enslaved then sealed most of the demon's powers, forcing it to take a shape somewhat like a giant chicken," Zelgadis interrupted matter-of-factly.

Amelia wasn't deterred, she hurried onward, "Then Kopii Rezo wanted Lina to cast the Giga Slave on him so he could surpass his original..." In the end, Amelia told most of the story with occasional comments by Zelgadis. Then Amelia told Leon about fighting Halseforn, then fighting Mazenda and Conzal, after that, she told Zelgadis's father about their fight against Gaav and Hellmaster, then how Lina hosted the Lord of Nightmares for a short time and Gourry went to save her. Zelgadis was silent for most of this simply because he didn't want to remind Amelia that Lina and Gourry were dead.

The young queen finished with her account of how they for filled a prophecy and destroyed DarkStar with the Weapons of Light. Zelgadis smiled slightly, seeing her eyes bright, watching her expansive gestures and hearing her rush of words. "Wasn't it all fun, Zelgadis-san?" she turned and asked him suddenly.

He smiled at her, "Yes," he admitted, Leon giving his son a long strange look.

Amelia sighed sadly, "I have duties, though, it was nice talking to you, Graywords-sama," Amelia said as she stood, the man she'd addressed bowing in return as she left.

Zelgadis stared at the door a few moments after she left then realized Leon was looking at him. "You love her don't you?" Leon asked softly.

"Even if I did there's no way the council would let me marry her so there's no use fostering such idiotic ideas," Zelgadis said stiffly, gulping the last of his coffee and setting the cup on the tray with the empty coffee pitcher. He realized that no one else had even had any off the coffee, he'd drank it all.

Leon chuckled softly, "You may look like your mother... but you're just like me."

"I'll be sending you with Unit Four to the Atlas region to quell the riots there," Zelgadis changed the subject briskly, pretending to nave not heard his father's comment. "Half of Unit Six will be going as well, meeting up with its commander in the Atlas region when the other half arrives bringing the people from Kiros and Pel. That's all, you're dismissed."

"You shouldn't deny it, Zelgadis..." Leon murmured, standing, then he saluted and left, not seeing his son's glower.

* * *

Zelgadis was once again stalking the halls late at night, though now he was wearing some better fitting clothes. They were all black. He wasn't mourning, at least that's what he'd told Amelia. Inwardly, he was grieving. For Gourry and Lina. They'd been his best friends, his comrades. He'd been through a lot with them and they'd accepted him and his moods for years. He'd watched Lina grow up and mature, he'd seen Gourry's sword abilities get better, as if they weren't good already. They were dead now, and he missed them. At least he had Amelia still.

He realized that he was standing in front of the doors to Amelia's rooms. Lifting a hand, he brushed his fingers along the wood. Sighing, he murmured, "Good night, Amelia," with that, he continued onward.

* * *

Zelgadis pulled Amelia closer to his body, sliding his hands along her back, his lips meeting hers. "Amelia," he moaned softly after the kiss and shuddered as she slid her hands along his flesh, his sweat making him slick.

"Tell me, Zelgadis," she murmured, "Tell me that you love me."

"Don't you know?" he replied, "Can't you see it?"

"I want to hear you say it," she looked up at him with her bright blue eyes, her hair was short, curled at her chin.

"Amelia..." he put his face in the sweet curve of her neck and shoulder. "I love you-"

Zelgadis jerked awake suddenly, aware that someone was in his room, on his bed. He couldn't see, there was a bright light just behind the figure crouched over him on the bed. A soft chuckle informed him who it was. "Xelloss," Zelgadis growled.

"Maa, maa, Zelgadis! Having dirty dreams I see!" Zelgadis's face flushed brightly and he pulled the blankets over his hips firmly. His eyes fought to adjust to the light in the room.

"What do you want, you damn Mazoku?" Zelgadis snapped, irritated at being woken up from a dream like that. He seldom had good dreams anymore.

Xelloss flopped down on the bed next to the young man, smiling up at the canopy of the bed. "Ah, Zelgadis, now THAT- is a secret."

"If that's the case, then get out of my bed before I kill you."

Xelloss turned his head on the pillow to look at Zelgadis and opened one eye, "Was it just my imagination, or were you saying Amelia's name in your sleep?" The Mazoku was rewarded with a deep blush then boiling rage. Zelgadis leapt out of the bed and swept up his sword, turning back toward the bed, finding the Mazoku gone.

* * *

Zelgadis was standing in the practice yard of the palace, a lone figure in the center of the packed dirt rectangle. He was wearing a black sleeveless shirt with loose black pants tucked into shin high black boots and tied with white strips of cloth. His forearms were wrapped with the same white cloth to keep sweat from running down his arms and weakening his grip. He stood with his eyes closed, letting the sun beat down on his pale shoulders and dark hair. His breathing was smooth, as he stood there, silent. This was something he had to do... To fight the demons that had plagued his memories. Strength. To be stronger than his father, to prove the man WRONG once and for all.

His eyes snapped open. Leon stood facing him, his hair cropped short, wearing the green palace uniform. Not a word was exchanged between them as they drew their blades in clean movements. Touching their blades together, they bowed their heads a moment in respect to each other then stepped back into fighting stances.

Leon watched his son carefully. He could tell that Zelgadis would be quick, his body was light and wiry, he didn't have the bulk or bone structure to come head on in attacks.

The young man suddenly moved, slinging his blade out. Leon barely had the time to block and was forced back by the unexpected strength of his son's attack. Zelgadis pressed his advantage, coming close to scoring on his father with every move. "You've certainly- gotten- skilled," Leon panted, realizing that his son wasn't even breaking a sweat.

"I worked with the best." Leon could tell that Zelgadis was not speaking of his father. Leon had forbade Zelgadis to ever pick up a sword. They'd never sparred before. He backed up as his son's strikes became faster, blurring into a flash of pale cream, white and glittering metal. Leon tripped as he stepped back, landing on his rear and looking up at Zelgadis over the tip of the young man's blade. "It would be best if you stayed out of my way. We may be related, but that is all the respect you will have from me until you prove me otherwise."

"Just like me..." Leon murmured, shaking his head, "Why couldn't you have been more like your mother?" he sighed, getting to his feet and sheathing his blade. He gave a bow to his son before turning and leaving, dirt marring the seat of his pants.

Zelgadis watched his father's back for a moment then lifted his blade, looking at its mirror like surface, seeing his face reflected. "I suppose my demon third is still with me, despite my appearances. That will be useful." He turned then, sheathing his blade and heading back into the palace to attend the luncheon he promised Amelia that he would.

* * *

Zelgadis was almost bored to death, listening to one old man drone on about his beloved wife and never get to any point in his story. Amelia was nodding and seemed thoroughly interested in the old man's babble. Finally, the luncheon was over and Zelgadis escorted Amelia back to her rooms for a nap before the council session that would be later that afternoon.

"Being so deeply in love with someone must be wonderful," she said suddenly, startling Zelgadis.

"Oh... is THAT what he was talking about." He shrugged, inwardly cringing from the dirty look she shot him. He recalled his dream from the night before and blushed, turning his face away from her before she could see it. Xelloss said that I'd been saying Amelia's name in my sleep... he recalled and frowned slightly. If only she weren't the queen. Damn it all. Why do I always pick the unavailable ones?! Or if they're available, they're guys in drag. He glowered.

"What're you thinking about?" Amelia asked softly, startling him again.

"You," he replied, startling himself with the tone that crept into his voice. Zelgadis looked down at Amelia who was smiling up at him with bright eyes. His heart ached, those eyes were so beautiful when she was happy. He found that they'd stopped walking at some point during the exchange and were now facing each other. She slid closer, coming within a breath's distance. His hand trembled as he put it on her shoulder, "Amelia... I can't..." he said softly, looking away before he could see the pain that caused.

"ZELGADIS!!" she snarled, pulling back from him suddenly, "What's wrong THIS time?! Before it was because you were a Chimera, now what's your excuse?! We both know our hearts and yet you keep pushing me away!" She stood trembling, clenching her fists in her skirts.

He hung his head, fingering the hilt of his sword in a nervous habit. "Amelia... I just don't think I could... be the leader Seyruun needs. You.. you need someone who's strong enough and has the people's trust. No one could trust me like that-"

"_I_ trust you." Amelia came closer once more, catching his hands and looking into his eyes when he lifted his head somewhat. "Zelgadis Graywords, I love you. I want to be with you. You don't have to be the king, just my consort if that's all you want, but be with me..." He watched as tears fell from her face.

Slowly, Zelgadis lifted a hand from between hers and brushed her tears away, "Don't cry..." he said softly.

She moved closer, putting her head on his chest, "We can find a way. Please don't leave me alone. I... I hate being alone." Zelgadis slowly moved his arms around her, putting his lips against the top of her head. He could feel Amelia trembling as he held her and wanted deeply to sooth her fears and make her happy once more. "Zelgadis... you are strong," she said softly into his chest.

"You're probably tired..." he changed the subject though his arms refused to obey his command to let her go, she clung to him, her arms wrapped around his waist.

"Don't leave me alone," she whispered.

Zelgadis swallowed, "I won't," he found himself promising, warmth spreading though his chest as he allowed himself the feelings he'd repressed for so long.

* * *