Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ The End of Summer ❯ The End of Summer ( Chapter 1 )
It was a hot, sticky, summer night in Zephilia. Zelgadis watched the curtains for any hint of a breeze as he lay on the bed in the inn room. He had planned to spend the summer in the mountains, where he had heard rumors of various miracle cures, but when he had actually chanced visiting a city a month ago, he had been flagged down by a messenger and a gilt-edged invitation pressed into his hands. So, here he was, with a honest-to-goodness suit thrown over the chair, having just attended the wedding of Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev.
The inn was quiet, the festivities having ended hours ago, and even Lina and Gourry had retired once the reception dinner had been exhausted. Even the sounds of insects from outside the window was muted in the heavy air.
He heard something then, muted by the inn walls. It sounded like... a giggle. He sat up, confused. Then a thought occurred to him -- he started tracing out the floor plan of the inn.
"Oh, hell," he said to himself, as he got out of bed. Apparently whoever had made the guest list had decided to stick the chimera with better hearing than most directly below the honeymoon suite. It figured.
Seeing as he wouldn't be getting any sleep for the moment, he walked down the stairs into the inn's kitchen. The quiet returned as he padded through empty halls in bare feet. He reached for the door handle, opening the door and blinked. The room was still lit -- not by the embers of the fire, but by a candle on the worktable. Two bowls -- one of ice, and one of mixed fruits, sat to either side. Those had to be new -- the ice would have melted if it were from before the reception. There was also a brown paper bag of something next to the bowl of fruit.
He heard footsteps and the sound of sloshing water, and then the latch lifting. He turned to look at the other door as Amelia entered with a pail. She had changed out of the very fancy dress she had been wearing for the celebration and into a pair of slacks and a tunic, but her hair was still done. She paused, standing in the open door frame. "Mister Zelgadis, why are you still awake?"
"It's too damn hot to sleep," he answered. "Magic might be fine for keeping cool, but that doesn't work well when you can't stay awake to cast the spells." It was partially true, at least. "What about you?"
"Pretty much the same. I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd make myself something cool. Would you like to join me, Mister Zelgadis?" She said down on one of the stools at the worktable and motioned to the other one.
"Sure. You aren't stealing food without paying for it, are you?"
"That's not funny, Mister Zelgadis. I bought the food at the market this evening, and I made the ice myself. And Miss Luna said I could use the kitchen as long as I didn't get in the way or make a mess." She took out a knife, and started quartering one of the fruits. "Do you like lemonade, Mister Zelgadis?"
Zelgadis gave her a look. "It's okay."
"Good -- it's lovely on a hot night. Didn't Miss Lina look beautiful today? I helped her pick out the dress, you know. I was rather worried about the flowers -- it was so hot I thought they would be wilted by the end for sure." She talked as she worked, occasionally looking up to give him a smile. Zelgaids nodded, a bit uncertain as to what to say. Were all women like this about weddings? Personally, he thought that the ceremony was long and rather uninteresting, save for the bet he had made with Mister Inverse on whether Gourry could stay awake through the entire ceremony.
Amelia finished up, and passed him a glass. "You can have some of the other fruit too, if you like. I got some of the local grapes, as well as some oranges and peaches."
Zelgadis took a peach, and bit into it. It had a sweet, crisp taste, refreshing against the heat. "'S good," he managed to get out between bites.
Amelia nodded. "I didn't get much of a chance to talk to you before now, I was so busy helping Miss Lina. So, how have you been? Find any leads?"
"Nothing that's panned out. A lot of places like to advertise miraculous healing or ancient books, but they're mostly fakes for the gullible and desperate."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Mister Zelgadis," Amelia said, taking a sip of her lemonade. "But, I suppose you've chased down a lot of the obvious leads. That leaves folk legends."
"Or major research at sorcerers' guilds -- most of whom don't like having non-members snooping in their books." Zelgadis set the peach pit to the side.
"Are you going to continue to chase legends forever, Mister Zelgadis?"Zelgadis glanced at her over his glass. While Amelia wasn't always known for her tact, he was used to her youthful awkwardness around him when the subject of the future or romance came up. Which suited him just find -- he wasn't sure if he could deal with her devoting her developing social know-how towards him. He didn't answer, hoping that she hadn't meant to say that aloud.
So maybe she had meant it.
"I don't know," he finally said weakly. "I know that I've investigated all the good leads -- the Outer World doesn't have strong enough magic except in the hands of the dragons, and I've been to most of the well-known magical spots on the Subcontinent. But, I don't want to just give up."
"Don't think of it as giving up. Just think of it as reassessing your priorities." Amelia stood up, washing her glass out with the rest of the water. "I'm going to turn nineteen in a month, you know that?" He nodded, remembering several birthdays celebrated on the road. "If you decide what you want out of life, Mister Zelgadis, please come visit me before I turn twenty. After that... well, you'll always be welcome as my very dear friend."
He read what she didn't say, and frowned. Damn it, Amelia, that isn't fair! He was fond of her, and was smart enough to realize that he could very easily fall in love with her. If he let himself. Maybe he already had. It would explain why he wanted to yell at her about the impossibility of choosing.
I suppose it isn't fair to her either -- she's got plans to make. The thought surprised him -- he'd always assumed that things would stay as they had been for the last couple of years. We're all growing older. Lina's younger than me, and she's married now -- even if she's probably not going to settle down. Another thought hit him -- how much longer will I be doing this? A year? Five? Ten? The rest of my life?
Amelia walked over to his side of the table, placing her hand on his shoulder. "I don't need to know now. Soon, but not now." She grinned, her eyes practically sparkling. "Who knows, maybe you'll get lucky, Mister Zelgadis."
Zelgadis gave her a wry smile. "Maybe." He didn't think she meant that the way it came out, but he appreciated the sentiment.
"Are you staying in town long?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Wanted to get out early tomorrow, before everyone sleeps off their hangovers."
"So, I suppose I should say my goodbyes now, before I go to bed. See you soon, Mister Zelgadis."
She kissed him then. Just a peck on the cheek, and she was gone, leaving only the smell of the fruit she had brought into the kitchen and shared with him, but he still nearly fell off of the stood he was sitting on. "Soon."