Just to clear up things about Zel and add some good mood to life
Lina went out to the garden wearing a plain long felt coat and high boots of local furry cow skin. She scooped a huge pile of pure sugar-like snow into a bucket, punched it down vigorously with her fist, then rolled a snowball and pushed it into the bucket as well.
She then stood up and gave a stretch, noodling her reddened fingers high above her head. The sun was somewhere in the sky today, although not clearly seen, but making the snow luminous like a happy soul. It would be just one more week till the arrival of the great mid-winter fair in a bigger village only a few miles South. Her man seemed to have been created for the very purpose of attending fairs. He was an irresistible haggler, the heart and soul of every event. He would always manage to get the most fitting and unique and touching present for her, remembering her - often unexpressed - wishes for months and months. Always in the middle of amusement, he never let his attention flow away from her, so that she constantly felt wrapped in his tender, yet not excessive care.
Lina came up the verandah porch and stomped her feet to get rid of snow. Opening the door still required some effort after Gourry broke it proving a point to Xellos.
It had occurred at the end of Zel and Amelias unofficial wedding party, the one held a few days after the major event in Seyruun. Once Zel looked human again there had been no more excuse for him to ignore Amelias affection and her fathers state-serving interest in a smart and well-bred son-in-law.
And of course Zel hadn't resisted the temptation to compete at the traditional joust for the Princesss hand. He had stood there in the middle of the field, high and proud, clad in Seyruuns brand white leather pants and vest, blindingly bright against his smoothly tanned skin, as his opponent had dashed at him with his sword drawn. Zelgadiss had waited until the very last moment to lift his arm and transform his skin into stone - and the sword shattered into countless blazing shards.
Both Zel and Gourry had proceeded to get extremely drunk the night of private celebration, and Xellos played along. It had been then that Gourry at last expressed his long-expected dissatisfaction with Linas choice of a lifemate because Hes no real man, L - hiccup! - Lina! He cant even fix things in the house! And Xellos, trying hard not to laugh, had rushed to claim that he could fix things very well, thank you. Zelgadiss, who, up to that moment, had seemed to be way too immersed in Amelias hair, suddenly spoke up and suggested a bet, which led to the door bashing.
Not willing to wait, Gourry had demolished the door, and Xellos, cursing and sneering at everyone to maintain at least a slightly negative atmosphere, spelled the poor door back into its whole state. Of course, Xellos's hands had hurt the next day, but it was just and fair in the company of the five headaches others suffered with. Unfortunately, it was Sylphiel who experienced the worst - and her first - hangover, and she proved to be completely unable to heal anyone in that state.
Lina entered the living room and put the bucket onto the stove to melt the snow, still immersed into recollections. Xellos came up to her from behind and stopped her from pulling her coat off.
"May I assume that some of this water will result in a cup of hot chocolate?" he purred into her ear.
"Its a waste of good chocolate, you know. But I might ignore that detail if you tell me a long and exciting story after dinner. Now let me go, Im hot."
"Wait, come out for two shakes."
He led her outside and around the house to where an old linden stood; its branches spread in a protective gesture over the houses facade. At once Lina spotted what Xellos wanted her to see - a swing hanging down from a thick bough. Lina froze in place, amazed. Trust Xellos to make true a dream she never even new she had. She stared, fascinated.
"You see, I thought bed-time stories alone were not enough to make up for your childhood. I thought it would do for you to have some unsophisticated fun..."
She never heard him finish as she dashed for the swing and climbed onto the seat, her smile almost reaching her ears. She started kicking off frantically, but the snow was too deep and absorbed most of her effort. Xellos reappeared right in front of her and pulled the swing, backing several steps, then pushed it with some good force and watched his happy little Lina fly skywards in a whirl of snow. She was laughing as if she has just learnt to laugh; and he knew he was the one to teach her.
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