To Live Another Day
Episode Seventeen: A Small Step Forward
"Why do I get the feeling that this might be troublesome?" Zelgadis' worry about Lina and Gourry's unexpected marriage was quickly disregarded by Amelia.
"Oh, don't worry about them," the Seyruun princess smiled with a starry eyed expression. "As long as there's love, that's all that matters." She sighed deeply, her expression gaining a clearer hint of hope. "One day I want to be a bride too."
Zelgadis blushed, but mentally told himself that Amelia couldn't possibly be hinting at anything. She was just talking about the far away future and not thinking about any specific prospective groom.
Seeing as Zelgadis wasn't going to say anything, Amelia scanned the area for a table that was being replenished with food that would hopefully last longer, since the gluttonous newlyweds were gone. "How about a snack?"
"Yes, that sounds good," Zelgadis happily followed Amelia towards the table, occupied mostly in his own thoughts.
Amelia paused and looked back at Filia, who was alone. "Miss Filia, are you hungry?" Trained to be a tactful diplomat, Amelia knew this wasn't the time to ask Filia about that guy she was waiting for, Phythan. She mentioned him when the girls were getting ready for the ball, but he was apparently not around.
Filia shook her head gently, "no, I just ate. I'm a bit tired, so maybe I'll just go back to the hotel and get some sleep."
"Oh," Amelia frowned, emphatic as she could be, she noticed Filia's saddened expression regardless of how the blond tried to hide it. "What about the fireworks? I heard the party will end at two with a bright display of fireworks that we can watch from inside the dome, since the roof is made of glass. It won't be long now, why don't you stay and watch? I'm sure it will be beautiful."
Filia sighed, her so called romantic night had turned into a disaster, but she didn't want to create a gloomy atmosphere for her happy friends. "Okay, go on and have a snack, I'll just take a walk around the dome and... look at the vases, you know, for inspiration."
Amelia nodded, though she deduced that Filia must have already made a detailed examination of every vase in the premises. "Okay," trying to stay positive, Amelia left towards the table with Zelgadis. Filia could get her breather now, but after a good night's sleep, the next day Amelia would make sure to ask her what was wrong if she didn't come out and say it herself.
Filia walked around to pass the time, then resolved to simply stand in a corner where her gloom wouldn't contaminate anyone's cheer. "Did you miss me?" Filia wasn't sure if she should glare furiously, ignore the question or be somewhat glad that Xellos was back. On second thought, she was sure she didn't want to take that last option.
Finally settling for the alternative of a furious glare, Filia angrily stated the obvious, "no."
"I'm sure you did," Xellos smiled as usual. He was wearing a different mask now, smaller than the previous one, covering only his eyes. The mask depicted the shape of a winged wolf and did little to hide Xellos' identity, as his peculiar purple hair was clearly visible. "It looks like the party's about to end, are you interested in one last dance?"
"You have some nerve to ask!" Filia tried to look away from Xellos and on doing so, she caught Amelia discretely looking in her direction while she ate next to Zelgadis. If she didn't at least pretend to be having fun, she would worry Amelia, who was clearly already worried about her. That would most likely lead to a well intended, though somewhat saddening and embarrassing interrogation about what was wrong. "Alright," she turned to face Xellos and tried to hide her angry twitching. "I'm still angry at you though."
Xellos didn't expect Filia to agree, let alone so easily, "fair enough..." The pair began to dance as the orchestra played the last song of the night before finally retiring to a well earned rest. "Just out of curiosity," Xellos asked while they danced. "When you didn't know who I was, what did you imagine me to be like?" Xellos knew that it was not favorable to bring that up, but he was curious. When Filia didn't say anything, instead making an effort to look nonchalant, Xellos prompted. "Anything at all? Hair color? Eyes? Was there any purple in your imagination?"
Golden blond hair, wine colored eyes... Amelia was already aware of the fact that her date never showed up. Lina would be focused on her own business, but Amelia might try to console her and Filia simply didn't want to talk about it. She certainly didn't need Xellos rubbing it in her face. She closed her eyes and tried to conjure a fictional image in her mind, just to spite him. "No, there was no purple," she closed her eyes and let her imagination come up with something, any random description that didn't include purple. "Green eyes, light brown hair, I guess I must have seen that man and subconsciously remembered him. What an insult to him to be compared with you."
Xellos gave Filia a victorious grin, she had taken too long to answer and she seemed unsure. She wasn't remembering, she was thinking. "You just made that up."
She glared behind her fairy mask in such an intense way that it was still noticeable. "How would you know? I happen to like men like that, men that don't have anything purple on them."
"Is that what you occupy your time in doing? Fantasizing about men that don't have any purple on them?" Xellos teased, purposely being annoying for his own amusement. He would never admit it but he could use the relaxation that pestering Filia gave him.
"I don't see you with a date," Filia countered, trying to throw Xellos into the spotlight of their little argument so as to get herself out of it. Never mind that he was a monster and monsters generally don't go on dates.
Xellos winked, "rest assured Filia, I'm all yours."
Filia's face turned scarlet, she could feel the heat eradiating from it and it infuriated her. "I don't want you," she snapped.
Xellos replied with a look that screamed he was convinced she did. "Well, you certainly don't want someone else, or you would have found someone else by now," he teased. "Don't even try to point out that the one you want is your green eyed, light brown haired mystery man because I know for a fact he doesn't exist." Then another thought occurred to him, there was recognition in her eyes when he approached her hiding his identity, but she clearly didn't know who he was. Even if the man she described was fictional, there could be someone else. "Did your real date dump you?" He prodded curiously with far more cheer than the question should entail.
Filia's expression was invaded by sadness for a split second so small that that an observer any less keen than Xellos would have missed it. "No, I have no date," Filia lied. "I don't care; it's perfectly alright for people to go to balls on their own." As if to further validate her point she added, "you shouldn't argue with that, since you came by yourself too."
"You're lying," there was a sing-song tone to his accusation, but also real curiosity. Not that it mattered, Filia got dumped anyway. "You're a very bad liar, what really happened?"
Filia glared with the most intensity she could manage as their dance slowed to a stop and the music concluded. The light of the crystals floating near the glass ceiling of the dome was dimmed and the sky started to light up in brilliant colors. The firework spectacle was taking place right above the dome, with fluorescent rainbow sparks raining upon the structure that was protected from catching on fire by a magical barrier.
The crowds were in awe with the beauty of the light show and all those present watched it with fascinated amazement. Filia pushed Xellos away; they weren't dancing anymore so there was no reason to stand so close. She stepped back and turned around. Amelia wouldn't see her if she left now; she wouldn't worry about her missing a great show. Filia started walking towards the dome's exit without a word.
Xellos watched Filia leave, giving her a few seconds to gain the advantage of a few steps, before following her from a few feet behind, intending to catch up to her outside. He had to break the curse, if he became a fragile human without any monster energy to fuel his magic, he was as good as dead. He wouldn't let that happen, yet that wasn't the most prominent thought it in his mind at the time. Something was going on with Filia that she was hiding. There were some broken expectations clinging to her that she chose not to speak of. He wanted to know what that was about.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Gourry had taken Lina all the way back to the rooftop of the hotel, carrying her the whole way while she blushed and protested. He finally set her on her feet when they arrived. "There's a nice breeze here, this should help you feel better. Do you want me to get you a cool drink?"
Lina leaned on the balcony railing and allowed the breeze to caress her warm face. "Yes," she replied simply, if only to get rid of Gourry for a few seconds so she could sort out her thoughts. Besides, this was Lina Inverse, she didn't reject anything edible. "Bring me a snack too," she added as she massaged her temples and tried to think without blushing intensely.
"Okay, I'll be right back," Gourry smiled and ventured downstairs to fulfill Lina's request.
"Take your time," Lina waved her hand dismissively and let out a breath of exasperation. What was she going to do now? She was married, though she had not planned it. She looked at her wedding bracelet. She couldn't believe Gourry so easily played along with the improvised wedding. What if it had been Miss Medusa in her place? What if she had not run off upset and tricked Gourry into marriage. She wouldn't be the first sea creature that tried to steal Gourry away, but Lina had a feeling that this time no conveniently timed gigantic waves would show up to take the flirtatious sea creature away. In a sense, she was glad she was the one to go through the marriage instead of Medusa.
Gourry's footsteps announced his return. He was carrying a tray with a bottle of soda and a chocolate cake. "Here you go!" He smiled cheerfully as if nothing was going on.
Lina occupied herself in eating while she continued thinking about the situation. She could get a divorce and hopefully things would go back to normal. Then again, she could simply ignore the marriage and keep on living as usual. Gourry was probably too much in his own little world to notice the difference between the life of a traveling companion and the life of a husband. Who was to say that anything had to change between them? So what if they were married, they could simply never speak of it again. Yet the nagging possibility of the 'what if' kept poking Lina on the back of the head with insisting annoyance. "Gourry," she finally asked, she wasn't going to stop thinking about it until she did. "What if Miss Medusa had tried to marry you?"
"She's my friend," Gourry stated simply as if that short explanation alone was enough.
Lina looked annoyed, "and?"
Gourry tilted his head to the side in confusion and blinked, echoing, "and?"
"And you would have married her?" Lina questioned with anger rising into her voice.
"Oh," Gourry expressed his realization upon understanding the question. "I don't think I know her well enough to think about that. I mean, she's my friend, but you've been my friend for a lot longer."
Gourry's logic seemed severely flawed to Lina. "Amelia has been your friend for a long time too," she pointed out.
"Yes," Gourry agreed and before Lina could shoot another exasperated impatient glare his way, he added, "but Amelia is in love with Zelgadis." The way he said it was as if it was the most obvious thing.
Lina paused and took in his words, "I guess she is..." she admitted, it was indeed very clear. "Zelgadis is obviously in love with Amelia too, but I wonder how he'll act as soon as this vacation is over. Amelia will have to return to Seyruun eventually and Zel is still stuck on finding his cure."
"A long distance relationship?" Gourry inquired. "I guess that could work, Zelgadis could go visit and stuff."
"I suppose," Lina agreed, "and Amelia is patient enough to wait for him." She realized then that they were getting severely off topic. "Wait a minute; this wasn't what we were talking about!"
Cue Gourry's short term memory, "it wasn't?"
"No it wasn't!" Lina snapped. "We were talking about you," 'and your possible brides,' she decided to add the last part only mentally. "What about Sylphiel?" Before Gourry could cluelessly ask 'what about her,' Lina elaborated. "You've known Sylphiel for longer than me, would you marry her?"
Gourry blinked in confusion, "aren't we already married? No one in my family has gotten married with two people at the same time."
Lina's face turned scarlet in a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance. "That's not the point!" She took in long ragged breaths as she tried to fight with herself to explain her question. "If we weren't married-"
Gourry interrupted with a worried expression, "you want to get a divorce already? Did I make you mad? Am I a bad husband?"
Lina stared at the floor, her whole body shaking in embarrassed anger. She pushed herself to continue, "if Sylphiel had asked you to marry her before you met me, would you have?"
Gourry appeared to give it some serious thought and finally replied, "I don't know. I guess I can't really imagine what things would be like if we haven't met. Back then, I was in the middle of a journey to improve my swordsmanship. I think it might have been too soon to think of marriage."
"So..." Lina focused on her breathing as she tried to get her voice to function. "Do you... do you love... Sylphiel?"
"Of course I do," Gourry smiled innocently.
"What?" Lina had to look up from the floor and stare at Gourry with an indescribable expression that was a mix of many contradicting emotions.
"I care about all my friends," Gourry's smile never faltered.
Lina sighed in exasperation, "of course you do." This conversation was clearly going in circles. Maybe Gourry had no idea what he was getting into, thus pretending it never happened would be easier than she thought. Unless Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, or worse yet, Xellos, decided to bring it up. Then Lina would be mortified.
"You know," Gourry started randomly, with a blank look that hinted that he wasn't going to say anything intelligent, yet that look could be deceiving. "I'm glad it was you I ended up getting married to."
"What do you mean by that?" Lina stammered red faced.
"Well, we're always together anyway and I'm your protector, right?" Gourry tried to logically explain his train of thought, which seldom followed logic anyway. "I was already planning to travel with you for the rest of my life, unless you went and kicked me out of the group or something. So why not? We make a good pair, don't you think?" There was a moment of silence. "Lina?" He looked at her curiously; it appeared that steam was coming from her ears as her face glowed like flames. Gourry gently placed his hand on Lina's forehead and quickly drew it back. "Whoa, you have a high fever!" He tried to use the now empty tray, which carried Lina's snack before, as a fan to compliment the natural soft breeze before Lina over-heated and collapsed.
"Gourry," Lina finally managed to make her voice work. "I... I don't think... I mean... It's so soon... It's so sudden... I'm... I'm not... I'm not ready for marriage," she finally pushed the words out.
"Oh," Gourry looked as if he would ask 'if you weren't ready for marriage, then why did you marry me?' but he didn't. Lina was known to change her mind at a seemingly random pace and Gourry could be patient with her. "That's okay, we can just go back to the way things were."
Yes, they could, Lina had thought of that. She felt a wave of relief when Gourry agreed to let that happen, yet she wasn't satisfied with his easy agreement. Didn't he start asking for an explanation when he thought she wanted a divorce not long ago? "About the marriage..."
Gourry shrugged, "we can just leave it as it is. You know, stay married but live like we always do, until you feel like living like married people."
Gourry's suggested plan of action caused Lina's blood to rush to her face yet again. If that kept on happening, she feared that her face would forever be a glowing red flame while the rest of her body was pale. She pushed away any thoughts concerning the life of married people and tried to focus on the fact that things could go back to normal. Yet one detail stood out to her, "so... you're okay with being married to me? You don't want to get a divorce?"
Gourry frowned, showing that he wasn't too fond of the idea of getting a divorce, but was willing to accept Lina's choice nonetheless. "Not unless you want to."
"It's okay," Lina finally agreed, her eyes once again gazing at the floor. "I guess we could just stay married and continued living normally for an undisclosed period of time."
"Undisclosed?" Gourry looked confused.
Lina tried to explain it without blushing, this had nothing to do with the situation, it was just another instance of Gourry's limited vocabulary. "I mean that I don't know for how long we'll be... engaged, before we... act married." She wasn't sure if she could even call it an engagement, but it seemed like the term that could most closely describe their agreement to remain married without living the life most would expect from a married couple.
"Okay," Gourry smiled, satisfied with the final choice on the matter.
"Right," Lina tried to calm her wildly beating heart. It had not yet fully sunk in that she was engaged, even if the point was for things to go back to normal. "I'm kind of tired so-" her sentence was interrupted by fireworks in the distance, they were painting the skies in abundant shining colors right above the north dome. She glanced at Gourry from the corner of her eyes and saw that his attention had been captivated by the far away lights. This was the typical Gourry getting easily distracted and maintaining a carefree attitude about everything.
Lina smiled despite all the embarrassment she had to endure that night. She could bear to stay awake for a while longer. They could watch the fireworks and afterwards go their separate was to get some rest in their respective rooms. If in the morning any of their roommates dared to say anything about their apparent lack of honeymoon activities in their wedding night, Lina would shove a fireball in their face and that should keep any further comments at bay. Life isn't so hard once one has a plan to face the possible upcoming problems. Life is even easier when that plan is as simple as decimating your troubles with fireballs.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. For all fans of Sylphiel, I have nothing against her, she's cool, I just like Gourry and Lina together. Naturally, Lina would need a little time to accept her marriage, but don't worry, she's giving it some thought. So far Amelia and Zelgadis seem like the calmest pair of the story, but trust me; they'll get their important scenes in the proper time. I have some fun stuff planned for them.