Perchance to Dream
Chapter 18

        Lina and Zelgadis didn’t know what to make of Amelia and Jedah. The mere fact that they were standing in the center of the Hall making eyes at each other was more than alarming, although Lina personally thought it was a good idea, and that the two would get along well together. Zelgadis was afraid that Jedah was going to get in over his head. But as the older couple stood and watched in shock, Amelia somehow managed to recover herself and turn to look at them.
        “Lina, Zelgadis, what are you two staring at? It’s your dance down here, so get down here and dance!”
        Amelia didn’t mention the kiss that had just passed between herself and Zelgadis’ brother.
        Nor did she mention the fact that they’d stared at each other blushing and stammering afterward.
        It was as if it had simply happened and ‘oh well that’s nice.’
        But then… that was Amelia.
        Zelgadis pondered for a moment, and then decided that if Lina hadn’t killed him for any of this yet, she might not kill him after all. So grabbing the startled redhead’s hand and heading down the stairs into the dance floor, he called out. “Fine! We’ll dance. Play the music.”
        Everyone who knew Zelgadis stared. Well, everyone but Jedah. Jedah just grinned conspiratorially at Amelia. “Get them to play a waltz. I want to see if he takes the bait.”
        Amelia grinned at Jedah, but the music had already started. She couldn’t do anything about this dance… but she could try for the next. She tiptoed through the people watching and whispered to a musician, who nodded in reply.
        Zelgadis guided Lina across the floor, and it was all that the sorceress could do to stay on her feet and not Zelgadis’. She wasn’t much of a dancer for this type of music, and where in the world had Zelgadis learned to dance? “Zel… everyone’s watching…”
        “Let them,” came his reply, and she looked at him in surprise. He seemed to be enjoying himself, so she did her best to follow along. When the song came to an end, Lina secretly hoped that he wouldn’t want to dance again. She’d caught sight of the buffet, and she was kind of hungry…
        Three successive taps signaled the next dance. It was a waltz, and while Lina felt Zelgadis stiffen, she grinned. This was the only dance she knew… and she knew it quiet well, thanks to the wine festivals. Forget the buffet, she wanted to show Zelgadis that she was more than the two left feet that she seemed to be during that last dance. But he didn’t seem very interested, moving stiffly.
        “Zel…?” Her eyes searched his, and for a moment, she saw the stony walls lifting within his gaze. But he looked into her eyes, and suddenly his movements became more fluid, his touch certain, and she felt him shift into the music with ease.
        The two danced, moving as if they were of one mind. Lina felt the waltz becoming more than a simple dance… as if she and Zelgadis were casting a spell with their very movements. She looked into his eyes and saw that he was watching her intently. She could see it all there in his eyes, everything that he wanted to tell her. She knew everything that he seemed afraid to say. She smiled at him, aware of the bond forming between them. It was tangible, a force that drew them to each other and sparked a fire in his eyes that she’d never seen before. It nearly took her breath away.
        Jedah and Amelia watched with awe as Lina and Zelgadis waltzed across the floor, and Amelia looked to Jedah. “Wow.”
        Jedah grinned with all the excitedness of a boy getting a new puppy. “Isn’t my brother just too cool?”
        Amelia nodded without being aware that she was agreeing with Jedah. “It’s like there’s… magic between them. They’re meant to be together for all eternity!”
        Only six people didn’t sweatdrop, and that was because two of them were too busy dancing and didn’t hear her, two of them were sleeping soundly, and Jedah and Amelia were too caught up in the moment.

        The waltz came to an end, and the two dancers came to a halt, staring intently at each other. Applause burst out throughout the room and Lina and Zelgadis looked around, blushing.
        Zelgadis spotted the bouncing Jedah and gave Lina’s shoulder a squeeze before heading towards his over-exuberant younger sibling. Lina watched Jedah flash a grin at Zelgadis, then take off running out of the hall. With a muttered comment under his breath Zelgadis gave pursuit, and Lina shook her head in amusement as she walked over to the buffet. That last dance had really worked up her appetite.
        “Oh, Lina. You and Mister Zelgadis looked so perfect out there!”
        Lina turned as she stuffed a cheese-laden cracker in her mouth. Sylphiel stood there smiling so brightly that Lina instinctively cringed. “Oi, Sylphiel. We were only dancing.”
        “She’s right, Lina! You two are meant to be together!” Amelia bubbled. “I was wrong to think that Zelgadis was meant for me.”
        “Yeah, you and his brother get along much better, neh Amelia?” Lina said after she’d swallowed both the cracker and her embarrassment.
        Amelia blinked at Lina, looking down at her hands in an attempt to hide her own embarrassment. “I don’t know what you mean, Lina. Jedah’s very sweet and kind…”
        Lina rolled her eyes. “You kissed him, Amelia! You don’t just kiss everyone who is sweet and kind… I’d be afraid of your father finding out. You’re lucky that he’s out of town with that meeting.”
        “Well,” Sylphiel began. “Xellos did push Jedah into her… it was purely accidental. I’m sure Prince Phil would understand…”
        “If you can call anything that perverted Mazoku does accidental, Sylphiel.” Lina shot at the raven-haired Cleric. “So come on, Amelia. Give it up. We know you like him,” Lina said, hoping the redirect would focus them on someone other than herself and Zelgadis.
        “Well… I, er… That is…” Amelia began.
        “Yes?” Both Lina and Sylphiel chorused, leaning into hear what Amelia was whispering.

        “I give in, okay! I did it! I got Amelia to ask for a waltz! Now will you get off?” Jedah tried the poor-pitiful-me act.
        The older brother sat quietly on his younger sibling, contemplating his fingernails. “And do you want to tell me why you asked for a waltz?” He obviously wasn’t falling for the act.
        “Because you’re so cool when you’re dressed in black, and I wanted everyone to see how great you are!” Jedah paused. “You waltz really well, and when you were dancing with Lina… it was like magic.”
        Zelgadis sighed the heavy sigh of an older brother who gets only a fraction of the respect that he deserves from his younger sibling. “Jedah… tell me, is it your one goal in life to embarrass me?”
        Jedah stopped squirming, thinking for a moment. With an impish grin, he offered an answer. “Um… well, it’s not my only goal… I mean, seeing you and Lina get married ranks higher.” That should do it…
        Zelgadis fell over, which allowed Jedah to scramble to his feet and take off out of the room. Antagonizing his brother was something that he thoroughly enjoyed, and it helped to know that his brother wouldn’t hurt him too much. Not only would it be hard to do that, but also Jedah knew Zelgadis. The sibling bond ran too strong. And Zelgadis was just too easy to antagonize.
        Inside the room, Zelgadis stood up shaking his head. He’d fallen into that trap, hadn’t he? Jedah was possibly the only person other than Lina who could bait him so well that he didn’t see it coming. Even Xellos was starting to become see-through.
        Speaking of the fruitcake, he could sense him around here. Now what did he want?
        A split-second later, a loud feminine scream echoed through the hallways.

        One thing that Zelgadis and Jedah shared was that they were equally quick on the uptake. They both came to the conclusion that Amelia had been the one to scream, and that the reason must be related to Xellos.
        So it came no surprise to either of them as they met at the door to the Great Hall and burst through it. What came as a surprise to one of them was that Jedah was armed with a quarterstaff. Zelgadis decided to ask later, and scanned the room for Amelia.
        She was standing in the middle of the dance floor, beet red, and Xellos was standing in front of her, grinning hugely.
        Before Zelgadis could take action, Jedah dashed across the room, taking up position beside Amelia. “Amelia! What’s wrong?”
        Amelia looked at Jedah with wide eyes. “He kissed me! He just appeared out of nowhere and he… kissed me!”
        Lina alighted beside Zelgadis, the velvet skirt of her evening gown pooling around her feet as she had taken her heels off in anticipation of battle. When she looked to Zelgadis, her eyes were dark and narrowed. “Perverted Mazoku. I’ll take him out right now.” She turned back to prepare to aim a fireball at Xellos.
        Zelgadis put his hand out, staying Lina. When she looked at him in confusion, he simply pointed to his younger brother.
        A good deal of anger was rolling off of Jedah, but it was quite clear that the anger wasn’t anything that Xellos could process. In fact, Xellos looked a little unnerved by the young man glaring at him.
        Lina leaned into Zelgadis. “What is Jedah doing?”
        Zelgadis smiled darkly. “Righteous anger, Lina. It’s an emotion that Mazoku can’t feed off of. And unless I miss my guess, Jedah’s about to use that to his advantage.”
        Huh? Lina thought as she watched.
        As Zelgadis watched his sibling, he could have sworn that in the buildup of anger his brother had grown up by several years. Or maybe that was because Jedah wasn’t smiling and boyish like he tended to be, and the impression of youth was merely an illusion.
        “Xellos, you should know better than to tarnish the virtue of a beautiful woman. What you’ve done is unforgivable, and you leave me no choice but to show you the errors of your ways, in the name of Love and Justice!” Jedah started, and Amelia looked to him with stars in her eyes. A Speech of Justice and Love! From Jedah! She thought she’d swoon.
        Xellos faltered, feeling slightly queasy from the aura building off of Jedah. The boy was going to rattle off a speech like Amelia? The two were perfect for each other. Perfectly disgusting, in the eyes of a Mazoku.
        Jedah glanced at Amelia. “Ready?”
        Amelia nodded, stars still glinting in her eyes.
        Jedah dropped his staff, clasped a hand with Amelia, and the two reached out to Xellos, grabbing him into an embrace before the startled Mazoku could blink. Lina choked. Zelgadis resisted the urge to fall over. Sylphiel stared. Gourry and Naga snored.
        Jedah and Amelia began professing how lovely it was that Xellos wanted to be with them, and Lina couldn’t stand it. As the two continued to express exuberance and hug the Trickster Priest it was getting so sickeningly sweet that Lina either had to gather her skirt and leave the room or lose everything that she’d just eaten at the buffet.
        Wait a minute… if I feel as nauseated as this from that… Lina thought from just outside the door. She started to laugh as she realized what this expression of emotions must be doing to Xellos. When she stuck her head in the door, she was rewarded with the sight of a very greenish-faced and wilting Mazoku trapped in the arms of the high-spirited Amelia and Jedah as the two continued to babble with love and cheer.
        Lina couldn’t help it. She started to laugh harder, far harder than she’d laughed in a good long time. She slid down the doorframe into a pool of green velvet, tears rolling down her cheeks.
        And that was how Zelgadis found her outside the Great Hall. He sat down beside her, chuckling slightly as the Great Hall was quickly being emptied as all the party-goers tried to escape the happy-fuzzy feelings.
        “Are they… still…?” Lina managed between laughing. She was practically helpless with mirth, laughing so hard that her sides were beginning to hurt.
        Zelgadis peeked back in the room. “Looks like it. And I don’t feel sorry for Xellos, either,” he chuckled. Sure enough, Xellos was starting to look a little gaunt. With all that positive energy, there was nothing to feed from.
        As he watched, Jedah and Amelia dropped the act and the Mazoku crumpled to the floor. The two exuberant youths laughed in delight and Amelia gave Xellos a kick that rivaled some of Lina’s.
        Xellos either didn’t have the energy to block it, or didn’t care to, for he went sailing out of the room and vanished into the evening.
        Gourry and Naga slept on.

Chapter Nineteen