NOTE FROM THE WRITER: This piece was written as a response to many a fan's question about what happened when Amelia woke up later on after the events of Evolution-R chapter four. It's merely pure speculation and written for fun. So, there may be potential spoilers for the latest chapters of the manga for those who may not be following it! I hope you enjoy!
The hours of the day had faded from the early afternoon into the fading light of sundown approaching. With his left leg crossed over the right one, arms folded against his chest and back to the chair, Zelgadis had remained perfectly motionless in his spot by the bedside. For the past five hours he had refused to leave the sleeping princess' presence, not even to tend to his own needs. Instead he waited with patience that could have only come with the years of traveling and searching that he himself had been committed to.
He watched her sleep without a word. Perhaps that was why he tried to remain so still. That, in his mind, even the smallest sound as a result of his moving would waken her and that was the last thing he wanted to do.
"Is that what you wish?"
"... I think I owe it to her to stay by her side until she recovers enough to give me a good scolding."
It had been a village not far from the town – one of the residents had found him carrying the slumbering princess in his arms and, upon recognizing her as the one who had helped them, wasted no time in telling Zelgadis to follow him to the temporary refuge. A room was spared for her to rest in private with him keeping true to his word.
As the sun was already beginning to dip behind the horizon the chimera watched as the young woman stirred, lost somewhere between the realm of her dreams and the world that was reality. From her lips he could hear the soft-spoken words that were formed into broken sentences. And while he could not make heads or tails from them alone just from the expression that twisted his normally cheerful features he could fathom that her dreams were not of the pleasant nature.
Reaching out a gloved hand, he leaned forward, not bothering to mask the concern in his tone as tried to shake her gently from her sleep.
"Amelia… Amelia, it's only a dream."
Her eyebrows furrowed, the corners of her lips turning down as she turned beneath the sheets. There was pain and there was desperation to be heard in her words, making him frown.
"… Save them… …I… bring them back… …protect…"
Again he shook her, carefully, repeating his words of assurance in a more forceful manner. There was enough guilt upon his conscious already. To suddenly hear her mumble his name in such a pain whisper was more than he was willing to accept. When her eyelashes fluttered, revealing those blurry eyes of blue blinking up at him, he withdrew his hands to sit back down in his chair.
With some difficulty Amelia tried to pull herself up, rubbing one eye wearily while a yawn escape her. The other hand was pressed palm down against the bed as means for support – her body felt heavy still and it took her a few moments to realize why this was. Even with her mind in a daze the young princess still managed to realize what had happened before she blacked out.
Lifting her gaze to meet Zelgadis', she only stared before asking, "Zelgadis-san…? How long… was I asleep for?"
"Roughly five hours," he replied.
"… where are Lina-san and Gourry-san and Pokota-san?"
"They went on ahead to Taforasia."
Immediately her eyes widened. Having forgotten the fact entirely that she had used up every bit of energy she had only a few hours ago to bring back an entire town from death's door, Amelia was already fumbling with the bed sheets in order to climb out of the bed.
"We need to hurry then! If we don't leave now then we won- whoa!"
It was then that gravity had decided that it was the precise moment to give way to her weakened legs. And had it not for the chimera catching her around the middle she would have found herself greeting the floor quite unpleasantly.
"We are going no where," Zelgadis ordered firmly while helping her back onto the mattress. "You are to remain in bed and rest until you have recovered all of your strength."
"Don't argue with me, Amelia."
There came a lapse of silence as both he and the princess stared determinedly at one another. But while his was steady and clear, already he could see the conflicting emotions within the depths of hers. And then, as he had only expected to be coming, the look in her eyes hardened to almost a pure glare as she clenched her fists at her side.
Without warning he saw her left arm move quite suddenly and felt the impact of the respective fist against his chest.
"How could you do that?!"
When the left one withdrew her right came not even seconds after words. Over and over again she continued to beat her hands against his chest as her frustration came pouring out in not only her actions but words as well. Though, most of which were just as jumbled as her previously spoken ones when she dreamed.
"-and fighting Lina-san and Pokota-san and Gourry-san,-"
But he did nothing to stop her. Zelgadis remained as still as he possibly could; only looking down upon her as she did so. He could hardly blame her for this. In fact, in his mind, she had every right to vent her pent up emotions in such a manner.
"-while tricking everyone into thinking you were betraying all of us!-"
The feelings, the dreams, everything that engulfed her mind were factoring into her half-coherent thoughts. Over and over again she could see her friend's stoic face when he threatened them. The lies of his betrayal were too much for her to bear when she was still so exhausted from everything else.
"-I was so worried!"
Left, right, left, right.
Again and again he allowed her to pound away her fury. It was the scolding he deserved.
"-You had no right to do something so cruel, so unjust!-"
They would barely leave a mark, let alone a bruise, on his stone skin but it didn't matter to her. The events up until this very moment had been overwhelming for her. A princess was someone who was always strong, never doubting in her ways and beliefs. And yet he had tested her spirits to this point.
"-that was such a dirty trick to pull, no matter what the circumstances, Zelgadis-san!"
Finally, both of her curled fists slowed to a stop with their relentless beatings. Her grip loosening, she turned her wrists so that she curl the digits a second time, this time to grab hold of his shirt when she buried her face into it.
Her head tucked under his chin, shoulders hunched, it was as if the very thought of loosening her grip on his tunic would have meant the end of this. Fingernails were digging into the. And when she felt a comforting hand rest awkwardly on the small of her back, the other on top of her hair, there was a visible sign of her shoulders beginning to shake as she fought to hold back the overwhelming flood of disoriented emotions that threatened to take over.
A dream was a dream, but when a dream blossomed from memories of the mind it was harder to dismiss as easily.
Faces of those she had been unable to revive were still etched permanently in her mind - the still expressions and cold bodies that would not move again despite her best efforts to save them. Nearly every ounce of her being had been poured into bringing the innocent back. All of her will, her determination to preserve the innocent, all that she believed in was the drive she thrived upon now more than ever.
Despite the heavy feeling the weighed down on her the princess was not about to give into the temptation of slumber once more just yet. "Don't... don't ever do that again, Zelgadis-san," Amelia murmured as she tightened her hold on his clothing.
Deep down she knew that there had to have been more to his 'betrayal' from the start. It had been when he had caste a sleeping spell on her in the beginning that affirmed this belief. Just before her eyes had closed at that time she could have sworn she heard him mutter an apology in her ear. It was why when she had awoken sometime later to see both he and Lina fighting she couldn't believe him to have betrayed them all.
But that could not keep even the smallest of fears that had threatened her resolve. With a friendship that was this strong it was only natural for her to have been scared to lose him. In the farthest reaches of her thoughts, she could freely believe that the bond between them was something even far greater than that. A connection that precious was one that Amelia treasured.
With a gentle stroke of his hand to smooth her bed-tussled hair she could feel some of the tension ease, albeit not much. So many thoughts were racing circles in her weary mind and it was enough to tempt her to sleep once more.
Zelgadis continued to hold her to him even after her trembling had long since ceased. With his chin resting there, the chimera stared blankly with a half-closed gaze at the window beside the bed. Just beyond the panes of glass he could see a few of the ones Amelia had managed to save already moving about. What looked like a mother and her two children were carrying baskets of what he suspected to be food to where the rest were hiding.
He owed her far more than he had given her credit for. Despite it all she had never wavered in her trust in him. It had been difficult on him to deceive the others, but there was that small part that felt that it had been entirely unfair upon Amelia. That was the part of him that could never bring himself to admit to out loud too, let alone himself. Even after taking into consideration the strength and energy that she possessed she still felt so small in his arms.
Then again, she was still human and humans have their limits. And for her to have done so much and gone so far was nothing short of a miracle, one deserving of admiration. Even if that too was something he could never admit.
Zelgadis came back from his thoughts suddenly at the sound of her muffled voice. It wasn't until he pulled back just a bit did he hear her repeat softly, "Promise me you won't do that again."
He paused, only to have it broken by him stating, "I don't see any reason why I would a second time."
There was some movement as she shifted some in his embrace. With her cheek still pressed against the fabric of his tunic her own gaze was focused on the floor. His cloak piled neatly by his chair and his sword propped against it, while her cape was draped on the back of his seat. She could see the glow of the setting sun bounce off the hilt of his blade. A weapon that she herself could never bring herself to wield; yet it never seemed to be so beautiful until that moment.
Without thinking she curled up closer against the chimera and for a split second she felt him stiffen, hands flexing suddenly. The sound of his exhaling breathe was coupled with the feeling of his body relaxing again, his hand running through strands of her hair in a soothing manner.
"Amelia, you need to rest a little while longer," he encouraged. "A few hours of sleep are no anywhere near enough for your body to recover from the exhaustion and strain you put on yourself."
"I'll… be fine, really I will."
Though the grip she held on his tunic was beginning to loosen, telling him that her body was saying otherwise. It was a matter he would have pressed had it been any other situation. To scold her would have been foolish on his part.
In the silence he merely held her, waiting. As the minutes dragged on the sounds of her shallow breathing finally reach his ears, her form relaxing in his embrace. It was then that with the greatest of care he moved to lay her back down against the bed while pulling the covers to her shoulders. Slightly curled fingers brushed the bangs from her face, making sure that his touch did not extend to her skin.
And for a moment, just that moment alone, Zelgadis had to bite down hard on his tongue to silence the words that wanted to be spoken.