Forward: I wrote this in 2001. It kind of sucked; I revised it, and with luck it came out better this time around. I would like to send a hearty hug out to the eighteen people who gave this story positive reviews! Eternal 'thank you's, all of you. ^^

Ah yes; and I do not, did not, and never shall own Slayers.

-

"…Amelia," Zelgadiss began awkwardly, glancing down at the princess of Saillune, "I've… well, I've been thinking about your question for a few days now. I think I've finally decided on an answer."

The younger girl returned his gaze in earnest, an anticipative gleam in her eye. "…And what did you decide, Zelgadiss-san?" she asked, making an effort to keep her tone calm and composed. The chimera averted his gaze a bit before going on.

"But… before I say anything," he continued, his tone oddly heavy and business-like, "I wanted to bring up a few things." He took a deep breath. "…First, as you know, I am a chimera."

Amelia stared mutely for a second; then, bewildered, she nodded, mildly confused as to the direction of the conversation.

"I know you and Lina and Gourry aren't bothered by it," he went on, still refusing to meet her eyes, "but normal people are. Most townspeople are scared and alarmed by my mere appearance, even if I have my cloak on- and that's if we ignore my unnatural strength and agility. I tend to attract negative attention, and the less people I'm around, the better."

Oh. Things were beginning to make sense now; the girl sighed, droning out the older man's voice as he went on. She'd heard this argument one too many times.

"-I really am a honest-to-god freak," Zelgadiss continued. "And, because people are creatures of habit, they fall into appearance-based stereotypes that are hard to change even if someone as influential as you tried to convince them otherwise."

Amelia could feel the drowsy feeling of boredom setting on as he continued to bring up familiar points she had heard him use several times before in discussions of a similar nature. One problem with Zelgadiss, she decided, was that he was stubborn- no matter what she or anyone else said otherwise, he remained firm in his beliefs that he was some sort of monster.

"-and you are very respected by all of Saillune," the chimera went on, his gaze firmly fixed on the ground. "The people love you, and want to make sure you're safe at all times- they wouldn't take kindly to anyone they thought 'suspicious' being in close quarters with you for very long."

What she needed, the girl decided firmly, was something to alleviate the boredom; something so shocking, so unforeseeable that even Zelgadiss the emotional blockhead (affectionately speaking) would notice. The girl's brow furrowed in deep concentration.

And suddenly, Amelia's eyes lit up, as she came up with an Idea; a brilliant burst of inspiration that lit up the atmosphere and filled her with a radiant supply of enthusiasm. A small, wolfish smirk flickered uncharacteristically across the girl's face. Slowly, so as not to seem unnatural, she glanced up at Zelgadiss and carefully began to analyze him.

"-and what's more, it could hurt your reputation," he continued obliviously, far too fixed on the ground to notice her change of expression.

Amelia quickly measured him with her eyes, doing quick mathematical calculations- and then the girl's smile dampened slightly, as a large flaw became evident in her scheme. With a slight frown, the girl rose experimentally to her toes to make sure of the fact, and was faced with painfully supportive evidence; she even risked a small hop into the air, but to no avail.

This was a problem.

'…Why does Zelgadiss-san have to be so tall?' Amelia pouted in frustration, her plan falling to pieces before her very eyes. Now, if she had been a normal girl, Amelia would simply have sighed and left things there, content to rise no greater than a wishy-washy female devoid of personality; but in her genes flowed the justice-stimulated stream of blinding optimism, and such a powerful force could not be thwarted with ease. She would not watch her dreams shatter into fragments- no, rather, she, Amelia wil Tesla Saillune would physically pick up the pieces and rearrange them accordingly! She scanned the local terrain for possible solutions.

"-See, I've already browsed through the libraries at Saillune a good many times, and haven't come across useful information-"

'…That's it!!' Amelia silently rejoiced in triumph as the solution to all her problems revealed itself to her; namely, a large granite-colored boulder. She rushed over to the desired object; thankfully, the chimera was too wrapped up in his speech (while still too nervous to even glance at her) to notice.

"-I've heard some promising rumors about possible magical sources that could be of use to me; but they're quite some distance away."

Amelia grunted as she tried to lift the heavy rock, her efforts revealing themselves as futile; she wasn't even strong enough to budge the thing an inch, no less several yards. Sighing, the young princess glanced back at Zelgadiss to note that he was still talking, and, upon deciding that the coast was clear, she ran off.

"-and if I wait too long," Zelgadiss explained, "those sources might be gone. It's happened before."

~*~

"Gourry-san!" color:black'> Amelia exclaimed, bursting into the clearing where the group had set up camp. The swordsman in question looked up curiously.

"What is it, Amelia?"

"I need you to help me lift something."

"Oh, sure," he replied agreeably. As an afterthought, he sent a glance back to Lina, who was sitting behind him. "That okay, Lina?"

"Sure, sure," she replied, nodding passively as she eyed the river intently in search of fish. With the girl's consent, Gourry got up and followed Amelia out of the clearing.

~*~


"-but since my speed, resistance, and hearing are all unnaturally good, I could be seen as a considerable threat, 'secret weapon of Saillune', or some other such intimidation to rival countries," Zelgadiss went on as, unbeknownst to him, Amelia and Gourry returned to the clearing.

"There, Gourry-san," Amelia instructed as she showed him the rock. He nodded, bending down to pick it up; the girl watched with mild anxiety as she once again observed the object's large size. "Do you need help carrying it?"

"I'm fine," he replied good-naturedly as he hoisted the boulder up.

"-and besides that, my personality is one most wouldn't take to." The chimera paused for effect before going on.

"Right here." With a satisfied nod, Amelia watched Gourry place the boulder right next to where Zelgadiss was talking. Then, giving him a nod to say that she had all she wanted, she watched Gourry leave and turned her attention back to the boulder in front of her. Eyes narrowed, she placed her hands firmly on the rock's rough surface with the intention of vaulting herself to the top.

"-and so, I've decided that I can't come to Saillune with you," Zelgadiss finished as he turned back to address Amelia, completely oblivious to the fact that she had moved at all. So, naturally, the chimera was considerably surprised to see the young girl standing directly at his eye level. Before he could even register this piece of information properly, however, Amelia leaned forward and, face tinged pink, met his lips with her own. Zelgadiss froze, his eyes widening in shock.

Seconds passed.

And then, almost reluctantly, Amelia pulled away, examining his face with a look of- was it amusement? Evil, mischievous amusement?

"Ah- sorry," she apologized, the uncharacteristic expression quickly replacing itself with a more fitting display of modesty. She giggled sheepishly. "I didn't hear a word you said. What did you say your answer was?"

"…Of course I'll go to Saillune with you," he replied in a hurry, his previous argument all but driven out of his mind. Amelia's face burst into a radiant smile that once again shoved all logic and coherent musing out of the chimera's brain.

But even the overpowering charms of smiling princesses couldn't hold off his sense of logic for long and, bewilderment flooding his face, he glanced down.

"Just one thing," he remarked, his tone filled with dumfounded confusion as he registered the large rock she was standing on. The girl glanced at him in curiosity.

"…Yes, Zelgadiss-san?"

"How in the world did that boulder get here?"

Amelia stared; then, she giggled, which did nothing for the chimera's understanding of the issue.

"Justice always provides suitable tools for followers in need!" she recited passionately with a pose and flashy multicolor background lights to match. She didn't really feel like going into an explanation of how she had walked off right in the middle of his long, thought-out argument; instead, she momentarily pecked him on the cheek before hopping off the rock and skipping away to thank Gourry for his help. After another few seconds of mute petrification, Zelgadiss followed.

And the boulder just sat there, as boulders tend to do.