Year 8

"Lina! Gourry! Over here!" Zelgadis called. Gourry spotted him right away but he watched Lina's eyes scan past him repeatedly before she finally recognized him.

"Zel! I almost didn't recognize you now that you're human. Nice duds."

"Yeah, those are some fancy clothes," Gourry agreed. "You look like a real Seyruunese bigshot."

"That's the idea," Zelgadis said in an offhand manner, but he was pleased by the compliment. "Amelia had some paperwork she wanted to get finished before you got here but she didn't quite make it or else she'd be here to greet you too."

"So you live here now? You've given up travelling?" Lina asked as Zelgadis led them into the palace.

"I was only travelling in order to find my cure. Now I don't need to anymore."

He saw that the poster-children for wanderlust found this explanation hard to believe. "Amelia and I go on diplomatic missions and we clean out monsters that cause trouble around the kingdom. We still travel."

They looked appeased.

"So, now that you don't need to search for your cure, what do you do with yourself all day?" Lina asked.

"Between playing escort to Amelia and pursuing my own interests, I keep busy enough. Living in the lap of luxury isn't exactly a hardship so stop looking at me pityingly, Lina."

"No, I'm envious!" Lina protested unconvincingly. "I always wanted to marry a prince!"

"Instead of me?" Gourry asked plaintively.

"Well, obviously you're the one I actually married," Lina snapped. Then she relented and patted Gourry on the shoulder. "I wouldn't trade you for any prince."

"So, you two did finally get married? Why didn't you invite me to the wedding?" Zelgadis said in a mock-hurt tone, starting up a staircase.

"We would have, but you kind of vanished off the face of the earth for a while there." Lina scowled at him. "Besides, you didn't invite us to yours. Speaking of which, did the royal council cause much trouble about accepting your marriage to Amelia?"

"That would have been hard, given the existence of Rodimus. I think the fact that I'm human now made it a lot easier too."

"What do you mean 'the existence of Rodimus'? If you're talking about that old axe guy he's been dead for years!" Lina looked with concern at Zel.

"Oh, that's right. I never told you, did I?" Zelgadis opened a door onto a spacious sitting room, elegantly furnished except for the remarkable number of pots of herbs covering the window ledges and side tables. "This is Rodimus. Rodi, I'd like you to meet my good friends Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev."

The little purple-haired boy stood up from where he had been building towers out of blocks and gleefully knocking them down. He carefully said, "Hewo, pweased to meet you," and gave a reasonable approximation of a courtly bow.

"Well done, Rodi! That was just right!" Zel congratulated him effusively.

"Hello, little man," Gourry said warmly, kneeling down so that he was closer to eye level with the boy. "What blue eyes you have! Lina, do you think our-"

"I told you, it's too early to tell!" Lina cut him off quickly. She realized that her hand had risen to her belly and smoothed her tunic to cover the gesture. Then she dropped to her knees beside Gourry. "You're right about his eyes. The only person I've ever known with eyes that shade of blue was Amelia...And the only person who would name a kid 'Rodimus' is... Zel, that's a pretty big thing to forget to mention, don't you think!"

"I big! I thwee!" Rodimus said happily.

"Not for another few weeks, you're not," Zelgadis corrected him coolly.

Just then Amelia emerged from a side room. "Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry!" She exclaimed, running to them. "I'm sorry I had to keep you waiting, but now I'm free for the whole time you're here!"

"Amelia!" Lina and Gourry shouted together in delight. Lina added, "Long time, no see!"

Amelia hugged them both with tears in her eyes. "I missed you guys."

"Tell us about what you've been doing all this time," Lina demanded. "Zel told us some of it but," she glanced darkly at the small boy watching the proceedings with solemn interest, "he obviously left some things out."

"I'd love to, but I'm afraid it won't be nearly as interesting as what you've been up to. Zel told me a little about your adventures too, but he wasn't there for very many of them."

Zelgadis caught her eye, slightly inclined his head toward Lina and made a gesture like rocking something in his arms.

"You're going to have a baby? That's wonderful!" Amelia exclaimed.

"How on earth did you...? I mean, what on earth gave you that idea?" Lina said.

Amelia's glance at Zelgadis gave it away.

"But we didn't even tell you!" Lina protested.

"Amelia and I have developed telepathic powers. Ask anyone in the palace," Zelgadis said gravely.

"You can't fool me. You just used hand gestures," Gourry laughed.

Lina looked annoyed at being the only one not in on the joke, but before she could act on her feelings, a servant came in pushing a snack cart. Lina immediately forgot her annoyance in favour of settling down on one of the couches with a plate of snacks. Gourry sat beside her and tried to reach around her to snatch one of the little sandwiches off her plate but Lina fended him off. Amelia sat down on the facing couch and started to pour tea for everyone. Zelgadis took the other end of Amelia's couch and pulled Rodimus up onto his lap, but not before the boy snatched a fistful of cookies off the cart. The rest of the afternoon passed in happy gobbling of snacks, sipping of tea and exchanging of stories.