What's in a Memory?

Disclaimer: For one I'm too young to own Slayers, and second I didn't even start watching it until it was on instant play, on Netflick. So it's not mine.

Chapter One

Lina looked over at her long time companion Gourry; it was strange to think she and the idiot had not only survived the last four years, but they were still together. Not that they were dating, but more and more she found herself wondering what it would be like to kiss him; she sometimes thought that was what he and she had forgotten when she'd been possessed by the Golden Lord, but she also was afraid to remember what happened. Phibrizzo had been killed, freeing her friends, but she didn't know much beyond that they had told her, that when they came to her body had been glowing gold and she had started to ascend and blasted all but Gourry away. They didn't know more and that was when Gourry said he stopped remembering. Of course, between being a jellyfish brain and the fact he didn't remember coming after them under Phibrizzo's control, that didn't mean much.

Of course, for all she knew he did remember and just didn't want to tell her; later Amelia had told her what the Golden Lord had said about why the Giga Slave didn't destroy the world. It had been like for a moment she entered a contract with the Golden Lord, anything in return for Gourry's survival.

She supposed that was another reason she was afraid to take the next step with Gourry; if she would do that for him now, what would she do later?

She had seen far too many sorcerers and sorceresses turn to monsters for things like loved ones. If she did, she already knew what her power could bring back.

"Hey Lina, I think I see the town!"

Breaking free of her thoughts, she looked ahead and agreed, they were almost to the town. "Race you to the nearest inn!" She took off running; she could have used gray wing but that would have been cheating. Laughing as Gourry shouted that she was cheating by taking a head start, she pushed herself faster, he was going to pay this time.

Reaching the inn first, she did her normal look through checking for anyone to avoid, anyone to approach, anything unusual. Today it was the six men wearing hoods at the back of the room; they didn't seem to be looking for trouble so she sat herself at a table just in time for Gourry to come through the door.

He slumped over to the table and sat in a chair. "I never should have called you a slowpoke."

She grinned- and then frowned: that had been almost a week ago, how... no, why did he still remember that? That was highly unusual. "Well, now that you have admitted you are wrong, you only have to pay for lunch and then we'll be back to competing for who eats the fastest."

Gourry pouted at her, but gave in. "I hope you know who will be back to winning again."

"I don't know what you mean, I'll still be winning." She grinned at him.

He scowled at her. "Keep telling yourself that."

She laughed, but inside she was just a little worried; Gourry had been acting just a little strange the last few days. First his memory had been unusually good the last week, and then he had been acting more and more serious; she wondered if something had happened in his past here in Kal-maart, something before they met. For as long as they'd traveled together she knew next to nothing about him; he had a brother and a grandmother and his family had fought about the sword, that was all. Literally.

The waiter walked up; ignoring the semi stander greeting she glanced over the menu and ordered, "Five of this, three of that and one of that and that."

The waiter wrote it down, and Gourry tossed his menu to her. "What she said. Oh wait, and one of this." he said, pointing at something going by, probably the apple and cherry cream pie.

The stunned boy nodded and walked back to the kitchen. Watching the room, she noted it was almost empty: a couple of locals, the six to their far left, a couple on a date, and them. Two waiters, one bartender, and what sounded like two cooks back in the kitchen.

Gourry leaned forward, and in a would-be normal tone said. "Those six are bothering you too, huh?"

She shrugged; she wasn't surprised anymore by how well Gourry read her. She could say she did the same thing, not that she tried, it was easy. But after being together so long it wasn't surprising, the surprising thing was that it had been like this since the beginning. "They don't fit here with their hoods up, swords, armor... heavy armor." She corrected herself before he noted the obvious fact that he was wearing armor too.

He nodded. "They do seem to be up to something."

Seeing the hood over the head of the guy probably in charge (judging by the way he was sitting within the group) turning their way, she changed the conversation. "What do you think Zel and Amelia are doing?"

Gourry blinked at her cluelessly. She sighed, "Zel? Amelia? Chimera and princess?"

He was frowning thoughtfully now. "Is Zel the guy who's always saying it's a secret?"

She slumped; his memory was terrible, she didn't know why she still tried. "No, the guy who's part rock golem, and a sorcerer like me."

"Oh... Him. Don't remember him."

She sighed, and slumped back into her chair. "How about Amelia? Miss Justice?"

He was looking up at the ceiling now, almost spaced out. "You know that does sound familiar."

"It should you've known her for almost four years now."

He looked at her disbelievingly. "You're right, you would think I would know this by now. Wait... If we've known her for almost four years now, that means I've known you for at least four years now."

It was her turn to stare disbelievingly; that was sharp of him to catch on. "Yeah. That's right."

The servers interrupted and stopped her from asking him something stupid like what was wrong with him, that he was acting smart... for him and she was worried. Digging in, she found herself thinking she would have to remember this place because this was really really good. Half-way through her third plate she had to stop and call back to the cooks, "This is really really good!"

Gourry mumbled something in agreement from beside her but she didn't bother answering him, she was on her fourth already and couldn't wait to reach her fifth. Somewhere around the end of her fifth plate and start of her sixth she noticed the six men in the corner talking softly, seeming intent about something. Judging by the fact the shadowed openings of the hoods were moving towards their table she was guessing she and Gourry were being talked about, but as long as they let her finish eating before starting trouble she didn't mind much.

Around her eighth plate she noted that the guys seemed to be focusing more on Gourry and that he was uncomfortable with their attention. Now that it was clear they were going to approach them, she ate faster in case it became a fight- no need to waste good food just because she didn't eat fast enough. She and Gourry were hell on furniture during a skirmish.

Finishing up, she looked up in time for the supposed leader to stand; a swift glace at Gourry told her he was two bites away from being done, so taking the last couple of seconds to make sure her face was clean, and shifted her body to a more feminine and alluring posture. She watched the man walk across the room; it was amusing to watch the rest of the patrons, they all seemed to sense trouble.

Gourry shifted until he could leap up at split second warning; glad both of them were so in tune they didn't have to say a word, she smirked at the hooded man walking towards them. He seemed proud, probably a skilled swordsmen... and likely noble, that armor was too nice for him to be anything less. If anything, odds were good he was a prince. It was too bad Phil had destroyed any faith she had in handsome, noble princes.

The man paused in front of them only a foot or two away. "Are you the man calling yourself Gourry Gabriev?" he said in a voice that reminded her of someone.

Gourry's face assumed his normal, puzzled look. "Yes."

The strangely familiar voice went on, "Then I must challenge you to a duel."

Gourry frowned; clearly he didn't understand the connection between the two, and to be honest Lina also felt like she only had half the picture: because Gourry was using his name, this man had to fight him? At least Gourry had a new blade this time, something they had found raiding a treasure trove that had been missing for the last two hundred and fifty years. Lots of good stuff there...

Treasure later, Gourry is fighting someone that I think I should know now.

"Why? I don't have a problem with you."

"I can fight you outside, or in here." The man warned, his hand drifting to his hip where his light hand-and-a-half blade rested.

Gourry glanced at her for a split second before shrugging. "Outside. Then we won't have to pay damages."

Gourry stood and followed the man outside; she noticed the man's companions standing to go outside and watch, so she rose as well to follow- only to realize someone had to pay before she could go outside. Grumbling, she dropped a gem and a couple gold coins, figuring that would cover it. Stepping outside, she was surprised: Gourry was having to work in this fight, the man wasn't better per se as more motivated, he was throwing his all into it, but he didn't want to kill Gourry, that much was clear.

Her sword master would have loved to be here to watch this fight; the skills of both were incredible, Gourry was putting more force behind his strikes but the other was fast and clearly used to stronger opponents.

Watching the blades gleam in the dimming sunlight, she knew Gourry was better, but this man matched Zangulus closely in skill even though his sword seemed normal... Gourry scored a small scratch on the man's arm under the edge of his left gauntlet, where leather was stitched in between the metal pieces. The man laughed and stopped attacking; Gourry waited, still confused as to what was happening.

"You haven't changed. Still the best swordsman in the family."

The pieces clicked into place for her, but she didn't open her mouth to tell Gourry who this man, probably Gourry's brother, was.

"But I still can win."

Watching his movements, she realized he was casting a spell. Without thinking she stepped forward; one of the five men moved to stop her but she slipped by him. "Windy shield."

The low-level-Flare-Arrow dissipated.

Gourry behind her spoke up, "I'm still confused, who are you again?"

She sighed. It wasn't a surprise he didn't realize this was his brother he was fighting, as the man still had his hood up, but it explained why she thought his voice sounded familiar. It sounded like Gourry's... only a notch higher? She wasn't sure, it just was a bit different.

There was a confused laugh, and the man knocked his hood off: For a split second she was blown away, this man was very-very handsome, and he looked a lot like Gourry but younger, with the same blonde hair, although his eyes were a shade lighter, his hair was ponytailed, and his body was less built. He still was fit but he didn't spend all his time fighting the way Gourry did, and it showed.

"What's wrong with you? It's me."

Gourry was thinking so loudly she could almost hear it.


"Yeah. What's wrong with you, you would always know who you were fighting."

Lina thought about it; he did seem to remember fighting styles, he recognized Zangulus by his sword style rather than his face the first few times they had fought, though the cloak and dumb hat were something of a giveaway. He had no memory for people, their talk in the bar told her that much. And his brother Sel seemed concerned about something.

Gourry stepped up beside her, his sword's flat resting on his shoulder. "Don't know what you mean, it's been a while. You grew up, last I remember you were a skinny little weed."

His brother was younger? She could have sworn the brother he mentioned was older.

His brother was out-and-out frowning now. "You've changed a lot."

Gourry shrugged. "I wouldn't know if I had. So why are you here now looking for me?"

His brother still looked confused but answered, "Using great-great-grandpa's name threw Gerard's men off, they came back after a year of searching. But when Callie said she wouldn't get married without her last brother, I asked to be allowed to come find you."

Lina found herself blinking. Gourry had a sister? And who was Gerard? And 'great-great-grandpa's name'? Did that mean Gabriev wasn't his last name? "Excuse me, who are you?"

"Gourry's brother."

That tone and slight sneer told he was a noble, but Gourry never did anything like that. "No, I mean your full name, brat."

Sel's men, probably guardsmen shifted unhappy with her tone, but Gourry didn't react. Sel, however, drew himself up proudly and announced; "My full name is Prince Selvin Brittany Galfaires La-fay."

She groaned. Gourry was a prince? At full numbers, half her group was royalty? La-fay? The ruling family of Elmekia? Gourry might have just undid all the hard work Prince Phil had done smashing fairytale princes to bits, because all in all he looked awfully good for a fairytale prince: throne in the family, a strong fighter, rushing to save a girl in distress. All of it true. Mentally shoving that thought from her head, she said. "And your sister?"

"Princess Calfy Sarae Anne La-fay."

She groaned again; this time she did something with her annoyance, and punched Gourry in the arm. He yelped, and she started in on him, "And you haven't told me about this up till now because?!"

He was still grimacing from her punch. "Because I don't remember thinking it was important?"

Now she really groaned, although it was more of a moan of embarrassment; he hadn't told her that time when she was hoping to see Prince Phil on the road, even though that might have been a good time to mention it. She punched his arm again, drawing protest from one of the guardsmen, "You can't treat..."

She turned, well aware that she had a nasty gleam in her eyes, which told him he had just offered to be her victim. "I can't beat the man I've traveled with for years, because...?"

Gourry spoke up from behind her, "You really shouldn't say anything right now. She's just mad she didn't know."

Angry, she turned around and half-threateningly started "One who is darker than twilight, one who is..."

Gourry groaned and clapped a hand over her mouth. "Hush, you can yell all you want later, but right now I need to decide if I'm going home."

Selvin spoke up, "The question you should be asking is wether you have a choice."

Gourry looked confused for a second and then said, "The way I see it I always have a choice."

Selvin looked desperately upset now, "What is wrong with you? Why are you acting like an idiot?"

Lina moved Gourry's hand and spoke up, "I don't know what you're talking about, Gourry's always been a little odd."

The sharp blue eyes turned her way. "You're a sorceress... My brother Prince Gourry Dirk Thurman La-fay has been many things, the best swordsman in the family to Gerard's dismay, the best horseman in the royal family, the best tactician, but odd is not something that has applied to him before."

She was impressed with this listing but it didn't fit with the Gourry she knew. Best swordsman... she'd give him that. He had an amazing ability to predict the enemy's next move in a fight; it was instinct, but actually planning it out... he normally forgot the first half of the plan by the time you got to the end of it. And, coming to think of it she'd never seen him ride a horse before. "I have no clue what you're talking about. Gourry has the brains of a jellyfish."

Gourry sighed beside her, but didn't say anything other than a mumble what she thought might have been '...favorite way...insult...' -and if his full sentence had been 'her second favorite way to insult me' he'd have been right, since it was. But he did have pudding for brains and the planing skills of an insect.

"My brother has been one of the smartest people I have ever met."

She couldn't help it, she snorted, "I'm sorry, you must have the wrong Gourry. Don't get me wrong, he's the best swordsman I've ever seen, and the best travel companion I've ever had, and my best friend but the smartest... no."

The prince smirked at her, "You must be a powerful sorceress."

She couldn't help it, she preened, "Is it that obvious?"

The young prince's smirk widened, "No, but you have to be, to have erased my brother's good memory, and to have enchanted him so strongly."

She was totally taken aback. Enchant Gourry? No. Never. The prince waved his hand and the five others moved in as if to grab her. As surprised as she was with the charges, she did love a good fight. Gourry stepped in front of her as if to protect both her and the guardsmen. She pouted at his back but let him speak.

"I think you have the wrong idea, Sel. Lina enchanting someone? That's laughable. I chose to protect her, and we met by random chance."

Gourry's brother seemingly dismissed most of what he said. "If she's managed to change you this much, how do you know that memory's even true? Besides, I have to ask, where is the sword of light?"

Gourry laughed and started playing with his hair, a sure sign he didn't remember exactly how he lost it again. He'd had that problem before, like when she told him to look at all the swords in their big find two months ago. He'd been confused for a second before agreeing. But this blade so far had lasted far longer than the ones before; even the fake Sword of Light didn't hold up too well. "Sirius, remember?"

Gourry blinked and then laughed, "Oh yeah, he took it and all the other weapons with him."

She sighed; he normally was better about remembering the Sword of Light, but she supposed he had been thinking of his family memories more at the moment with his little brother showing up and all.

"That doesn't prove anything. The fact she had to prompt you only tells me she has more control over you then you think, brother."

Gourry sighed. "We have been traveling together for four or so years now, and taking into account the things we have fought and won against together, it only makes sense we depend on each other."

His younger brother stubbornly stuck to his story. "She has enchanted you. You have two choices come quietly or be unconscious the whole time home."

Gourry looked at her, she shrugged; he then turned back to his brother, "You're not going to do anything stupid and try to chain her up or anything, right?"

"Of course not." His brother smiled. She didn't believe him at all.

Gourry warned his brother once more, "We'll come with you, but we're just going back for Callie's wedding. I won't regret giving the Sword of Light back, and I won't get into any arguments about duty. And really, don't try to bring Lina in as a prisoner, you do that and I can't promise the country will be standing at the end of it."

Sel smiled wider. "Of course not. If she enchanted you she has to be strong."

She and Gourry sighed together, Lina had to admit, his brother's belief that he wasn't himself had her questioning a few things. Was Gourry really under a spell? If so, it seemed more likely it was a curse or something a witch would cast, not a sorceress. If it was to attack his mind, it was probably because they, the caster didn't want him to remember something. He didn't know what a fiance was... why would he need to forget the word and everything that had to do with it? She had a sinking feeling this new adventure into Gourry's past was going to be everything except painless.

Her worried and slightly paranoid thoughts proved true when, in a flash, one the of the five so far faceless bodyguards slapped some handcuffs on her. Gourry protested and found himself cuffed as well. Lightly testing hers, she found she could break free easily but figured now wasn't the time. Gourry took his cue from her, he pouted at his brother and said, "I don't agree with how you define not stupid."

Allowing one of the faceless guards to lead her and Gourry deeper into town, she commented, "Your brother reminds me of a certain special investigator."

Gourry blinked at her cluelessly. "Who?"

Stifling a groan, she couldn't help but think if their friends could see them now they wouldn't be able to stop laughing. Accused of enchanting Gourry and captured by six men, without a fight. How embarrassing. Plodding along with the guards following Gourry's brother, she found the need to distract herself so she didn't get angrier. She was pissed that Gourry hadn't told her, but the idea of him being cursed piqued her curiosity. A prince in disguise, a cursed prince at that... the noblest of idiots... it was something from a story. But so far it fit with their adventures. She could resist a Fireball or two for a while as long as she got some questions answered.

"So, Gourry, now that we're on our way to your home, want to tell me about the folks?"

Gourry glanced sideways at her. "You're taking this really well."

Anger surging, she spat out with a growl, "Start talking."

His eyes widened in alarm. "Okay-okay, give me a second." His face smoothed back out into the serious expression he had been wearing before she spoke up. She knew he was at least thinking about it.

"I have two older brothers, Crown Prince Alberich, and the leader of the Royal Army, Prince Gerard. As second brother Gerard always knew he'd be put in charge of the army so he didn't like how I quickly surpassed him in swordsmanship. Me and him fought a lot because of it. My sister is also older, Princess Calfy. We were pretty close, I suppose, considering she's older and a girl, but she was willing to play with me whenever we escaped from lessons. Sel is my younger brother, far younger than the rest of us, hell, he's younger than you I think. Al is thirty-three, Gerard is thirty-one, Callie twenty-eight... me at twenty-six, then Sel at eighteen."

Lina nodded, she was older then Selvin. Not quite a year she was guessing but older enough.

Gourry's expression became distant. "I don't remember father much, he died when I was ten, Sel probably doesn't remember him at all. Our uncle took the throne to rule in Al's stead till he was old enough; that was when arguments about the sword started, who should wield it? Our uncle, the regent? Should my eldest brother take it up? My second eldest brother, who was soon to be captain in the army? It was a quiet argument for a few years, then Al turned twenty while I was thirteen, and the arguments weren't so quiet anymore. My uncle wanted to rule a little longer, let Al marry and have an heir before he took on the full weight and responsibilities of being king. The sword was brought into it again, but now my name was mixed up in it; as the best swordsman in the family some thought I should become a symbol, a lone knight with the sword to be a... I thought it was stupid then and I still think that. Since I was the third son I had no obvious duty, I wasn't to be a leader in the army, not to be anything, it was also clear I wasn't cut out to join the clergy, and I wasn't sorcerer. They didn't know what to do with me."

Gourry heaved a sigh; the men around them were clearly listening to their prince's point of view, his brother had slowed down too, so he was probably listening as well.

"That went on for a few more years. Al married, Gerard did the same, last I knew Al had just had a daughter, not an heir but a child so uncle stepped aside. But they still were fighting about the sword, and Grandma's words weren't able to keep me out of it anymore, so at eighteen I was being pushed to be a champion for the kingdom. Gerard hated me for it, he thought as commander of the army he should have that title. He hated how I was the most admired prince of the family. Sel and I did our best to stay out of most of it, but soon I was just doing my best to protect him. Al was trying to marry Callie off and he and mother were talking about doing the same to me. Fighting about who should wear the sword was growing to an all time high, there were threats being made, and about the time I turned twenty I took the sword and left."

Gourry smiled at her, but she could see how the memories upset him: the grimness to his smile was as bad as if he hadn't tried to smile at all. Quirking a brow she noted how that last two year span had been very vague.

"You're clearly enchanted, brother, otherwise you'd remember that Alberich and mother didn't just try to marry you off, they almost succeeded. Your fiance, Lady Aella Zenia Rey is waiting for you- or have you been forced to forget her?"

Gourry reached up to scratch his head, "Again with that word. Lina, what does that mean again?"

Unable to help herself she slapped a hand to her face. This could be the reason he forgot what the word meant: he had one and wasn't allowed to remember her. Ignoring the sinking feeling in her gut, she groaned out, "Gourry I know Zel told you and Amelia told you too, now you're gonna make me tell you?"

Gourry blinked cluelessly at her. "Yep."

Groaning again, she answered, "Fiance means engaged to marry, an agreement to spend the rest of your lives together..."

Gourry blinked again, his face scrunched up in confusion. He asked, "Then aren't we fiances?"

That stopped her in her tracks. When had he given her a ring? Then she realized what he meant. "No!" She smacked him, a befuddling mix of anger, hurt and jealousy, and also a tiny bit of fear lead to her reacting the only way she knew. Smacking him again she shouted, "Marry, idiot! An agreement to marry!"

He straightened, rubbing his head and his shoulder where she had hit him, "So I can't be a fiance because I don't remember agreeing."

He looked oddly cheered by this. Sadly, Selvin had to stomp on his basic logic, "You are forgetting something brother: you are a prince. Choice has very little to do with anything."

Gourry shrugged. "I can always disappear again; I didn't want to be a prince before and I still don't."

Lina found herself amused; it fit, Gourry was willing to put everything on the line for friends or for those who hired him, wouldn't want to take the risk for a bunch of faceless strangers. "If Phil hadn't already killed all expectations I had for princes, you would have just crushed them, Gourry."

Both Selvin and Gourry gaped at her in a confused manner. It was hilarious to see such an identical expression on their faces, because from the moment she had met either of them they had behaved as poler opposites. Laughing at both of them she had to admit she looked forward to meeting the other two brothers; she wanted to know if they all looked this closely alike. Amelia and her sister looked different, and the two of them and their father also very different, and she and her sister were pretty different as well. Seeing a normal family who looked alike was a novel idea.

Gourry shrugged and turned back to his younger brother, who technically held them prisoner; Sel shook his head, clearly confused by her. She had to admit, normally she didn't take the time to mess with people, but she might make an exception of him. At least, she was going to go out of her way to annoy him. The younger boy took a few more steps down the street before turning to a shop: it was the town blacksmith. Mildly curious as to what they were doing Lina listened as the blacksmith told him it would be another half an hour before he was done with the horse.

That at least explained how they found them: sheer dumb luck. A horse threw a shoe, they had to stop and by luck, good or bad, they chose to eat at the same inn.

"Would know of anyone trying to sell a wagon or a carriage?"

The blacksmith sadly knew of a man who did have a wagon he would sell; plodding through the other half the town they hadn't seen, the baby prince bought it and Lina knew she at least wasn't expected to walk with her hands chained. By this point it was later afternoon, and after a few words with his guardsmen, it was decided to spend the night back at the inn they had eaten at before. The princeling took four rooms; she had the feeling there was a plan to keep her and Gourry under guard, like they were really being held against their will. It infuriated her until she realized they probably didn't know who she was; then she had a hard time keeping herself from giving in and laughing like Naga. The odd snicker did escape and Gourry was acting worried, but she couldn't help it.

This was something that could only happen to her.

She was going to wait for the opportune moment, and then she would tell the little brat who he had been dismissing as an average sorceress.

Evil giggles were escaping her and she knew it, but the look on his face was going to be priceless. Then the men were sat down to order dinner, and with a squeal she realized princeling was going to be footing the bill. When the time came for the men to order for her, she ordered the whole menu, twice. While the guards with lowered hoods and the princeling gaped, Gourry ordered the same with extra desert. The waiter, the same boy who had fed them before, nodded and walked back in a slow way that made her think he was in shock.

Looking at the stunned faces she grinned widely. "What? Using magic costs energy."

Gourry nodded, "Protecting her is exhausting."

Looking over the five guards, she noted most of them were a bit older than Gourry, from five to six years, and all of them looked like normal men, the kind of soldiers you would send with a young prince on his first mission. If Selvin was only eighteen, this had to be his first really mission leaving the his home country. He might as well be a virgin. She snickered.

Gourry was clearly concerned by her apparent good mood; he was used to her being grumpy, and her being so cheerful when someone had interfered with her... she supposed it did seem strange, but she didn't want to leave Gourry and if she didn't go along with this... He might be taken from her. She had done that once, it wasn't happening again. Besides, she was learning things about him she had never known before.

She sat back and played with the chain connecting the cuffs together, watching the light play on metal she found her thoughts drifting towards the more serious side of this. Gourry was a prince. Gourry had a fiance. Gourry might be enchanted. Something about making him forget. Forget what? His soon to be marriage at the time? Something he saw? Revenge? He and his elder brother didn't get along, she couldn't rule that out. What wasn't he supposed to remember? If he wasn't supposed to tell someone something, wouldn't it be easier to arrange for him to get killed? It's not hard when it's a prince. The family has enemies, killing a prince wouldn't be hard to arrange.

It was clear to see that the moment he went home his life would be in danger, even if his stupid younger brother didn't understand that.

All the more reason to stick close to him.

Food was dropped on the table and she couldn't help but dive in, and aside from noting Gourry was eating slowly for him, probably in respect to the fact he's supposed to be a prince, she enjoyed herself thoroughly. She wasn't paying, Gourry wasn't paying, and for once it wasn't Amelia.

After all the plates were cleared and the few obligatory attempts to steal food from Gourry, she sat back and waited on Princeling and his men to make the next move. She'd give Selvin the fact his men did respect him and he was willing to listen if they had advice to give, but he still was far too cocky for his skills. She supposed he had found a place in the family as a wizard with Gourry gone, but aside from a higher then normal sword skill, he was an average wizard at best. Unless he had seriously underpowered the spell he threw at his brother.

Selvin, having finished his meal and seeing she and Gourry were done, told his men to take them to one of the four rooms and take turns guarding them; he was going to get the horse from blacksmith. As she stood and was guided to the stairs, she found herself wondering if the whole trip was going to go like this; if so she might give in and cast a Fireball or two... or make a few fake escape attempts to keep the guards alert so they might protect Gourry better.

Allowing herself to be guided up the stairs, she was unsurprised to be put in a room with Gourry; but when she and he were shut in the room together with a small window (a tight squeeze for Gourry, but doable), she realized the guard was going to be on the outside she couldn't help but get annoyed. Who did they think they were locking up?

"Hey, you're going to lock me in here with him?!"

The door opened; Selvin and the man she had only heard named as Rob were standing there, glaring at her. "What?" Selvin bit out frustrated.

"You can't lock us up in here alone with each other."

Selvin stared blankly at her. "Why not?"

Gourry spoke up from behind her, "Yeah, why not?"

Turning, she shot a meaningful glance to Gourry and then the window; he blinked confused but shut up. Turning back to Selvin and his captain, she put a whiny tone in her voice. "Because... What about my reputation?"

Both of the men stared at her confused, then Selvin realized what she meant. "Don't be stupid, my brother is honorable. Besides, you were traveling with him alone before."

"But we always stayed in separate rooms."

Cruel amusement and frustration wrote itself across Selvin's face, the captain Rob just looked puzzled. "Tough." He slammed the door.

She waited for a moment before giving in and grinning. As expected, Selvin was young enough to try to get revenge by doing the opposite of what was smart, if you made it seem like that was what you wanted.

Gourry spoke up, "I still don't understand the plan."

She giggled, unable to help herself as crossed the room; she then whispered, "Your brother is making some stupid mistakes and I aim to give him some experience, so when it matters he knows better. So we're escaping for the night. We get four hours down the road on the way to the castle, then spend the night there. They'll come rushing after us, and then they'll capture us again."

Gourry looked totally lost but said, "Let's make sure I understand the important part: we're getting away so you can torture my brother?"

Lina shrugged. "Yes."

Gourry shook his head, but agreed. Quietly melting the cuffs on her wrists, she loosed Gourry. Jumping out the window Lina used Levitation; she flew back up and took Gourry's sword, and armor. After she landed to drop that, she flew up and helped him out the window; then she lowered him safely and silently to the ground. While Gourry picked up his things and redressed, she went to the back door and bought leftovers to take with them for breakfast; travelers bread just didn't cut it. Having emptied the kitchen, she and Gourry set off into the night, and found place to crash for the night two hours down the road. Lina took first watch- not something she normally did, but with all she had learned during the day she had to think.

Gourry quickly settled into sleep, and she found herself staring at the night sky.

Gourry was a prince. Gourry was probably an enchanted prince. His sister was getting married. She was going home with him. He had a fiance. He had forgotten said fiance. She was charged with making him forget said woman. Gourry didn't care about that fiance. Gourry didn't want to be a prince.

But that was now, if he had been enchanted... if. Wouldn't that change because her favorite forgetful idiot wasn't the real man? Maybe he was remembering enough to know he had never wanted to be a prince, but if he was smarter, if he held more knowledge in that empty head of his, would he stay with her? Why would he?

She would still be a small flat chested girl, nineteen or not. She had a horrible temper, she got him into all sorts of trouble. Hell, she had almost killed him with her own hands in the midst of all that trouble, if not by using the Giga Slave then by failing to realize it was Gourry under all that armor- she had used a full-powered Ragna Blade on him. It still gave her the chills to realize that if it were not for the Sword of Light she would have killed him by her own hands. Of course, that was Phibrizzo's plan but still, that thought alone was enough to give her nightmares.

But on the other hand, didn't that mean, no matter what Gourry's homeland had in store for them, she owed it to him to find out? And after it was all over, if he had changed his mind she wouldn't hold it against him. No tears, no fireballs, she would be brave. Hurt was what she knew. Hurting was easy.

Lina sat back; it was easy as always when she was staying with him. She maybe didn't always think of it consciously, but everything she did was done with the two of then in mind. They needed money, she found them a job, he needed a break, they needed a break, Gourry needed a sword, she needed a sword. It was so damn easy.

Remembering something her father had told her about him and her mother, she realized maybe that was how it was supposed to be.

Staring at the fire, she realized that wasn't where the light she was seeing was coming from. Looking back to the sky, she realized it was false dawn- she had been up thinking all night. Knowing they had only walked for two hours she wanted to be further down the road; with that in mind she nudged Gourry awake.

He groaned and rolled over, then blinking up at her he sleepily asked, "My turn?"

She shook her head. "No, we'll walk a ways and when I'm tired we'll stop."

Gourry blinked, more awake now; that was when he realized where the light was coming from. "Hey, you let me sleep all night."

Lina shrugged; Gourry didn't like it when she did that, but usually when she took first watch that was what happened because she wanted to stay up and think. "Sorry I was thinking, I didn't mean to. But don't worry, you can play guard while I nap later."

Gourry nodded and stood, dusting himself off, then he went to the small pond, and washed his face and took a little sip of water. While he was doing that she slipped into the bushes and relieved herself; coming back out she washed her hands in the small drainage stream from the pond. Both of them ready to go on, she lead the way, Gourry a half step behind her to her right.

Soon he asked, "What about breakfast?"

Reaching into her hidden pockets, she pulled out food and started passing it to him, taking bites for herself. It had been two hours of walking when the sun had come up and they had started passing by other travelers who had slept on the road, or were coming from the very small village in-between the two city-towns. She was thinking she was sleepy when she found the perfect spot for a nap: seeing the tree standing alone half a hill from the road she set off that way. Gourry was confused but followed.

Reaching the tree, she announced she was taking her nap; she laid down and was almost asleep when Gourry spoke softly, "Lina is it going to matter if I am enchanted?"

Suddenly wide awake, she gave him the answer she had come to overnight, "Only if you think it does."

During the long silence where she waited for him to say something, the soft and warm sunlight lulled her to sleep. She only woke when she could hear indignant shouting; fully awake she rolled over and realized Selvin was shouting at Gourry who had gone down to the road, probably to keep them from waking her.

"...You are telling me you left because you weren't being held prisoner well enough?!"

She grinned evilly, this was starting the day off right. Stretching, she luxuriated in the sensation of having upset Selvin. His disinterest in her was annoying, he hadn't even asked her name- he was rude enough he deserved what he got. Walking down the hill she was surprised by how uncomfortable Gourry looked with his brother. Of course, the little he remembered about the brat was from more than six years ago; his brother was sure to have changed.

"Hello, princeling! Sleep well?"

Selvin growled, actually growled at her.

She smirked, she couldn't help herself.

"No, first I woke and took my turn- only when I peeked into the room it was empty. Then I hunted you for three hours, only to find out if I had asked at the inn they could have told me you left town. Then finding the cuffs broken I had to buy new ones, then I found out you had bought out the entire breakfast from the inn, and then we had to spend all morning checking alongside the road, trying to find you!" Selvin looked totally out of control, he was furious.

She laughed in his face; it was better than she thought it would be, "Well, if you had correctly figured out why I was asking if you were closing the door; leaving us alone, and together last night you could have had a much better morning."

Rob looked amused behind Selvin but he said nothing, and the other guards just looked tired; they hadn't gotten enough sleep last night either. Selvin waved his hands and two of the men leaped from the wagon and slapped cuffs on her.

Irritated, now she was going to melt them-only to have them shock her. It was mild enough, a light burn, but enough to let her know odds were good Selvin had just shelled out a pretty penny -or he wasn't the hack she had thought. Seeing the proud triumph, on his face she couldn't let it go. Testing the metal she found it wasn't a special alloy and she could break it, so she promptly did.

Selvin stared, baffled by her strength.

She laughed at him. "I am no hack sorceress, stop treating me like one." Then perfectly contentedly she hopped on the back of the wagon, everyone stared except for Gourry who was shaking his head.

In an amused tone, he spoke up, "I don't think I've ever seen you so ticked off at someone before, Lina... except maybe Nama."

She smiled; it was probably true for the time he had traveled with her. Naga before him did the same, but was much better at getting at back her. But again, his memory was getting better; she wondered if it would be even better at his home- if so it was almost impossible he wasn't cursed. "Hop on Gourry, you do want to see your sister get married, don't you?"

He smiled up at her. "You got that right." After he hopped on up next to her, the two of them waited on the rest of the escort; the two men joined them in the wagon, their horses getting a break from carrying people by being tied to the back. The rest of the group was on horseback or driving the wagon.

As they got rolling, Lina had one last thought about hiding Gourry from his family, protecting him from what was sure to be hellfire raining down on his head. She dismissed it: Gourry wouldn't let her. Even if he understood why she wanted to protect him.

This has been edited by Steven P . P as of 2012 9/21