Of Handcuffs and Singing Cats and True, True Love

By Snugglekitty, a.k.a. Yezo the Yellow Priest

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these people…except for the tavern owner...and the bouncy young man...and the Magical Mr. Mistoffeles (aside from the name, which belongs either to T.S. Elliot or Andrew Lloyd Webber – I forget)...and the man with the jaunty green hat...and the mention of the unseen Miriam. Squaresoft owns everyone else. Except Lina (the psychotic redhead), Amelia (the girl in white), Zelgadis (the angry chimera), and Gourry (the blond swordsman). These are all owned by the guy who created Slayers.

Ah, yes. And the title was kind of a play on a Road to Avonlea novel: Of Corsets and Secrets and True, True Love

Author's Notes: Okay, one thing that has been known to really aggravate people about my writing (aside from it's obviously low quality, of course – kidding. I like to think I'm good…) is the fact that it sort of takes place in a continuum of its own. And this story is no exception. It really doesn't fit in anywhere in the actual timeline of the game...or even some imagined idea of what came after. If this is something that you as a reader really can't stand, you might want to turn back now. Although my amazing and impeccable wit and sense of characterization (hah-hah) might be enough to remove the sting of a story that fits in nowhere, it also may not, and I don't handle flames very well. Calm, rational, clear, helpful criticism, yes, but flames make me ridiculously depressed. Except for the ones that contain atrocious spelling and grammar. Those are amusing in their irony. I have fun correcting those flames. :o)

Oh, yes. Flames, as always, may be sent to the_pyre42@hotmail.com

And now, as I am wont to say, oooooooooooooooooooon with the show!

"If this is what comes of your bright ideas, Zidane, remind me never, ever to along with one again," Freya requested angrily, stalking from the remains of a very typical tavern, situated in a very typical, non-descript, and as such, unnamed town. Amarant, given little choice in the matter, followed, grumbling some very choice words to himself about what he would have done to the Magical Mr. Mistoffeles, had said Mr. Mistoffeles be still been alive

"Aw, c'mon, Freya!" Zidane protested. "It isn't all my fault!"

"Not all your fault?!" she repeated incredulously. "I ask you, who volunteered us to go up there?"

"Well…the guy might have picked you anyway," Zidane countered weakly.

"No, the 'Magical Mr. Mistoffeles' would not have even noticed us, had you not made it a point to call out 'Pick them, cat-man! Pick them!'"

"I thought it would be fun!"

"Well, your idea of fun is just a little bit worrisome," the young woman informed him, glaring coldly. Zidane sighed. Then he addressed the red- haired man.

"C'mon, Amarant! Help me out here!"

"Help you out, like hell! If I weren't HANDCUFFED to her, I'd strangle you!"

"Ah! But if you weren't handcuffed to her, you wouldn't have any reason to be mad!" Zidane gloated over his impeccable skills of reasoning. Lifting an eyebrow, Freya looked up at Amarant.

"Why not cooperate to pull off this 'strangling' idea? Just now, it seems an exceedingly good one."

Amarant nodded.


At this, a worried expression crossed Zidane's face, and he took a few steps away from the angry pair. He needn't have concerned himself. Freya, rather anxious to put this plan into effect, bolted forward so abruptly that Amarant was taken quite by surprise, thus losing his balance and toppling to the ground. Being of a fairly considerable mass, the momentum of his tumbling to the ground was able to not only halt her progress forward, but drag her back and down, directly on top of him, at which point he ceased his grumbling and stared up at her in mild shock.

"Guys!" Zidane shouted at the door, his face red with suppressed laughter. "Get out here, now!"

A sound of pounding feet echoed on the hard-packed dirt, and the next moment, the door, which oddly enough still stood despite the wreck of the rest of the tavern, was flung open.

"What is it, Zidane?" Dagger stopped short at the sight of her friends in a most undignified position. She began to giggle, and Steiner shot her a horrified look.

"Your Highness, I hardly think this is a humorous situation!"

"My thoughts exactly," Freya agreed, attempting to climb to her feet, with several failed attempts. She glared at Amarant. "You know, if we're going to stand up, you'll have to move eventually."

"…I think you broke something landing on me."

An ill-timed passer-by had a lengthy snicker at this.

"Oh, shut up!" Freya huffed. "I am NOT that heavy, nor are you so fragile."

"Hey, guys," Zidane broke in, "how about we try to get those things off of you now? Unless," he added with a sly grin, "you like being chained together..."

And then Zidane was obliged to dodge out of the way very quickly as Amarant jumped to his feet and tried to wrap his hand around Zidane's throat with no particular attention to sparing the young man's health.

"Zidane! Amarant! You can fight later! Can we please get rid of these handcuffs now?" Freya pleaded. Zidane nodded.

"Yeah. So, what should we try first?"

"I am certain that I shall be able to cut through that chain without a problem," Steiner declared. He tried. He wasn't.

"Okaaaaaaay...Plan B," Zidane announced, attempting to strike the chain in half with his own weapon. It, too, failed.

An hour and fifty-seven failed attempts to cut the chain of the handcuffs later, a light broke over Dagger's face, and she slapped her hand to her head in a gesture of disbelief at her own forgetfulness.

"I just thought of something!"

"A way to get the handcuffs off?" Amarant demanded. Dagger shook her head.

"No...not exactly..."

"Then I don't care."

"Hey, hey, hey, let's hear her out," Zidane suggested. "Go ahead, Dagger. What's up?"

Dagger walked over to Freya and Amarant, and grabbed the chain joining the two metal bands. Amarant gave a derisive snort of laughter.

"What, you gonna try to break it yourself?"

The young Alexandrian glared at him.

"No! Now, keep quiet for a second while I check something."

For a moment, her face was a study of concentration. Then, with a heavy sigh, she looked up.

"Erm...I have discovered why we have been unable to break the chain to these handcuffs."

She paused, waiting for a response.

"Well?" Freya prompted. "What did you find?"

"...The metal has had a protection charm placed on it. Although laughably bad at sleight-of-hand, it seems as though the Magical Mr. Mistoffeles was still a skilled wizard. The spell he has cast is strong enough to keep any of our weapons from being able to cut this chain. The man must have lost several pairs of handcuffs to situations like this, minus his brutal murder by a small, angry redhead, and wanted to prevent any more from being ruined."

There was a heavy silence.

"Okay...so, what you're saying, Dagger, is that we can't get these cuffs off, and so Freya and Amarant had better just learn to get along REAAAALLY well?"

A pained whimper arose from both.

"No...not exactly. I'm sure there must be a way to break the spell, and then breaking the chain will just be a matter of visiting a blacksmith. However -"

The hopeful expression on Zidane's face melted away.

"-It may take some doing to find a way to break the spell."

A yawn from Vivi, who had hitherto been asleep by the side of the road, broke the silence. He gazed about him, disoriented, then curled back up again. Zidane chuckled.

"I guess Vivi's not used to such late nights. Well, what do you guys think? We obviously aren't getting those handcuffs off tonight. So, let's go find an inn for the night, okay? Tomorrow we can start looking for a way to break that spell."

With a reluctant sigh, Freya agreed. Amarant, however, scowled at the young man.

"You may have forgotten, that was the inn."

With his free arm, he gestured to the nearby pile of kindling. "We already paid to rent the rooms in there. There isn't another inn around for a good thirty miles."

"...Oh. Right. Well, should we try to walk?"

"I don't think so, Zidane," Dagger said. "We are not familiar with this area, and it's already dark. We might run into monsters! And we definitely don't want that right now."

Zidane snickered.

"Says you, Dagger. I want to see those two fight while chained together!"

And, once again, Zidane had to leap out of the way to avoid being decimated, this time by a flying fork.

"Hey," the young man mused, "I thought we gave that back to Quina...but anyway, what do you suggest we do now, Dagger?"

The young woman seated herself by the side of the road.

"I suggest waiting for a wagon to go past, and then requesting a ride."

Zidane shrugged.

"Good enough. Let's do it, guys."

The rest of the party plunked down by Dagger, staring intently down the road, listening intently for the rumble of wheels, except for Amarant, who leaned against a fence, arms crossed...such as he could with someone else's arm chained to his, at any rate. Thus, I suppose he crossed one of his arms, and looked generally silly doing so.

"Oh, will you just sit down already?" Freya exclaimed, rolling her eyes, exasperated.

"Why don't you stand up?" He crossed his arm more emphatically.

"Fine," she sighed, climbing to her feet, then climbing up to sit on the fence.

A long while passed. Finally, Zidane yawned and stretched.

"Ho, hum. This is pretty boring, isn't it, guys?"

Various murmurs of agreement drifted from the group.

"I know! Let's reminisce to pass the time!" Zidane beamed at his amazingly good idea. "I'll start. Do you remember the time we all went to that magic show by that really awful magician…oh, what was his name? It started with an 'M,' didn't it? Anyway, and while we were there, Amarant and Freya got handcuffed together..."

He scratched his head, oblivious to the fact that Freya was struggling to get within a close enough range to end his life, trying unsuccessfully to drag Amarant along with her.

"It all started when we got to that town. We needed a place to stay, and that tavern guy said he rented out rooms. As we went in, we noticed that there was something unusual in the air; something was going on that night..."