Chapter 1:

"Of all the bloody stubborn-!"

Link brushed a hand through his hair in pure agitation. His cold eyes narrowed at the pair of guards blocking the way before him. Both respectable stalwarts. Her majesty's loyal knights and protectors. Both of them a bloody pain!

"Look, the queen won't mind," he cajoled. "I'll put in a good word for you. Fought the good fight, but were inevitably no match for her majesty's greatest warrior. You'll go blameless, I promise. Just let me pass!"

Under regular circumstances they would have jumped to obey forthwith. However, this time they must have been threatened with punishment of unspeakable horror for they maintained their stations and faced him with daring reserve. They both stared ahead, tight-lipped and unwilling to meet the eyes of their superior officer. It was almost enough to inspire admiration from him.

But Link was not in a happy mood, and as such their resilient virtue was taken as obstinate stubbornness.

This was not going well.

"Evidently, your minds are too feeble to comprehend a simple command, so I'll elucidate in terms even the most dimwitted should understand." He bared his teeth at them. "Step aside or I'll feed your carcasses to the hounds!"

He took a commanding step forward and in response the pair of guards crossed their halberds, blocking the maple doors that led to Zelda's study. If Zelda hadn't magically warded the secret passage he wouldn't have needed to deal with this. The blasted woman. Inconveniencing him however she pleased.

"I am sorry, Sir Link," spoke the right guard, stiff backed and tense. "But we have our orders. The queen will see no one. Not even you."

He fought against the tempting impulse to show them just why he'd been made general at so young an age. His hand lingered at the pommel of his sword, considering. In the end he determined it was in his best interest not to. He'd promised Zelda he wouldn't draw his blade on the soldiers for anymore impromptu sparring sessions in the castle. Outside was still a go, but inside caused too much of a commotion.

Instead, to calm his increasing frustration, he pinched the bridge of his nose and breathed out slowly. Reminding himself over and over that his queen didn't react well to tantrums.

At the young and spry age of twenty-one, she had at last ascended the throne as Queen of Hyrule. The coronation had been originally intended to take place right after her twentieth birthday, as was tradition, but then the matter of Zant arose, delaying it until well after the whole invasion had passed and reconstruction efforts were under way. Zelda had refused to hold the ceremony until her people were sheltered and cared for.

She was a bleeding heart, that one. His darling bleeding heart of a queen. The wellbeing of others always came before her own. But Goddesses above, sometimes he wished she'd consider her own needs for once. Couldn't she realize it was impossible to fend for every single living being in all of Hyrule? Apparently not, if her boundless generosity was anything to go by. She funded over a dozen charities, walked among the destitute and decrepit, and would have emptied her own coffers if it meant ending poverty. Thankfully her ministers held her back.

Both guards were worried, but unmoving.

Link fingered his sword, caressingly. The temptation niggling at him. "Fine," he shot through gritted teeth. Maybe throwing a tantrum was exactly what he needed to gain her attention. With a sharp 'zing' of metal his blade was out and wieldy in his hand. "Swords out and at the ready, gents! I'll take you both at once!"

Alarm shot through them as the guards gripped tight to their halberds, preparing for a fight they would surely lose.

A steely voice rang through the corridor.

"Sir Link, if you do not stand down right this moment and let these men tend to their posts then I shall have you forcefully removed from the castle grounds."

The guards visibly slumped in profound relief upon the arrival of the newcomer.

With a stylized flourish, Link swiftly spun his sword and snapped it back in its sheath. Pivoting on his heel, Link turned to face the unprecedented and, in all honesty, unwanted new arrival. "Ah, Lord Raleigh. Come to spread joy and cheer to every corner of the castle, as usual."

Lord Leon Raleigh was a minister on Zelda's council and her closest advisor in matters of the state. He was getting on in years, as was apparent by the grey streaks in his sideburns and the wrinkles on his face, which drew ugly lines across his brow whenever he frowned – a common occurrence, as he had much to frown about. He was a man of great intellect and had been a thorn in Link's side ever since Link had moved into the castle. It had been a case of instant dislike between the two of them. Their personalities clashed so hard that the echoes reverberated throughout the entire castle. To him Link was just a callous swordsman who lacked dignity and respect, despite the extensive feats he'd accomplished and the fact that he'd saved their land and then princess from a rule of tyranny. To Link, Lord Raleigh was a pompous grouch of a man who made rancid the air he walked in and befouled many a parlor party. Most often he was just plain interference.

In other words, Link completely despised him.

The minister narrowed his eyes in distaste. "Tch, your lack of manners are nothing to be desired. If the queen does not wish to see you, then you should respect her will and leave."

"She's been locked up in her study for days," Link grit out defensively, glaring at the guards, a silent dare to go ahead with Raleigh's threat. Neither looked eager to jump to the task. "How do you know she's not dead or dying?"

Lord Raleigh thrust his chin high and gave a haughty scoff, "The queen is attending to important business of the state as she has been for weeks. She has much to do and little time to dally with ruffian swordsmen like you. We have servants who attend to her whenever she calls for them. I'm certain if anything were wrong they'd inform me. If your presence is not specifically requested then you have no right to enter."

To hell he had no right! He was her general, her advisor and protector, and more! So why was he not permitted to see her? Ludicrous!

Link replied tersely. "I am assigned to her majesty's protection. I should at least be allowed in the same room as her."

"And provide distraction she does not need?" asked Lord Raleigh coldly. "Really, your constant begging for her majesty's attention is most pathetic. And what in Hyrule should you need to bother her about at this hour? I think its best that you retire for the night, Sir Link."

"The night is when assassins abound," he countered pointedly, crossing his arms.

Thoroughly irritated and done with the conversation, Raleigh turned abruptly on his heels. "Nevertheless, she will not see anyone. No exceptions."

Link opened his mouth to reply but a muffled melodious voice from heavens above interfered from beyond the thick pair of doors.

"Link? Is that you?"

He tossed a pretentious smirk at the Lord, who had gone stiff at the sound. Link turned to the doors and spoke loudly, "Zelda, I-"

"If you could take your delightfully onerous argument elsewhere that would be much appreciated, thank you. The noise is disturbing me."

Link blinked in astonishment. Then the full range of her words hit him and his jaw dropped. Her words cut to the quick and staggered back from shear disbelief. Had she just…? Did she… dismiss him? HIM? Her closest friend and confidant?

Her singsong voice, no matter how pleasant, was tinged with irritation. He knew that tone. Was well acquainted with it. It was not to be trifled with under any circumstance.

She truly did not wish to see him…

Raleigh shot him a smug smile from over his shoulder. "Shall we continue this in the parlor, hero?"

Link scowled, his jaw clenching and teeth grinding together. He swerved to the right and headed down the hall opposite of Raleigh. "No. We're finished here."

Shoulders squared stiffly, he stormed down the corridor in a foul mood. Made only worse as Lord Raleigh's raucous laughter rang after him, echoing maddeningly as it bounced off the smooth castle walls.

"Pleeeease, Lord Raleigh. I require silence."

Again her words were polite but suffused with an undertone of exasperation and slight impatience.

The minister spluttered before quickly muttering an apology through the door.

Link increased his pace, smiling as he turned a corner.

Four years had passed since the Twilight Invasion and in that time drastic changes had been implemented into the security system of Hyrule Castle and Castle Town. As one of the queen's generals Link had been given the authority to make these changes and his first order of business had been to whip the soldiers back into shape. Straight following he had selected the best of them, the ones he deemed most advanced and virtuous, to rise up the ranks as the new knightly order of Hyrule. It hadn't mattered whether they were from noble or common background, he'd had Queen Zelda's support and that was all he'd needed to see them swiftly knighted. He'd instilled in them the ancient values of the former order, those same values that he himself upheld with unfailing reverence, and made of them an example for others to follow. They'd become leaders of the nation, providing assistance when it was needed and doing their utmost to serve their ruler with unwavering courage and loyalty.

Link had next scrutinized their defenses and sought to cover up the numerous weak spots that enemies could easily exploit, and which he too had exploited during the invasion. Most importantly, he'd doubled the guards in the castle and plotted multiple escape routes for her majesty should another unfortunate incidence occur.

His memories lingered on those long hours spent going over those plans. Blessed hours in solitude with Zelda. Only about half of that time had been used productively, the other half they'd done…other things…

Nevertheless, by the end he'd made her go through the escape plan over and over, only satisfied when he was certain she could do it half asleep, and often pushing her to the brink of collapse. Only when she had declared her hatred for him and threatened to avoid him had he shown any leniency.

They lived in a well-earned era of peace. Because of their conjoined fates and experiences at the hands of the Twili, he and Zelda had formed an irreplaceable bond. Even when it was all over they couldn't bear to part and resume their normal lives as if nothing had ever happened, so they'd sought each other out. They could often be found wandering the gardens together or riding in the fields. He was her guard and she his queen, but somewhere along the lines they had become something more.

And he found he was missing that increasingly each day.

As evidenced by his dismal attitude while patrolling the outer battlements in the early dawn. Many a soldier had quickly learned that it was not a good time to approach the generally animated hero.

The high elevation of the wall offered him a view of both sides, to his right a sprawling town, and to his left a clear green vista. Western Hyrule Field. He had just completed his weekly inspection of the troops and was now overseeing their first line of defense, keenly surveying it for faults.

Accompanying him was a knight by the name of Sir Hadrian of Tarrence. A stout man of good character and one of his most trusted affiliates.

Link nodded at the soldiers he passed, hands clasped behind his back and posture rigid. Apparently something in his demeanor had caught Hadrian's attention for the other knight made sure to keep a good two feet of space between them and continuously cast wary glances at him.

Link caught him glancing once more from the corner of his eyes and his patience waned. He inclined his head in agitated inquiry. "Is there something on your mind, Hadrian? If so, do compose yourself and spit it out."

Hadrian winced. It was easy to forget how perceptive Link was, and how volatile he could be at times. "If I may say so… You don't appear to be in a good mood this morning."

Link snorted in disregard, "Nonsense. I'm in the best of moods. Perfectly chipper." Suddenly he whirled and thrust a finger at an unsuspecting soldier. "You there! Straighten that posture, if I catch you slouching once more I'll have you rung up and put on display!"

The soldier stammered and snapped to attention, his back cracking in the process. "Y-yes Sir – I - I mean, yes milord!"

"You had it right the first time! Know how to properly address people. Any uncertainty you have an enemy can exploit to his own advantage. Am I clear?"

The soldier trembled under Link's fierce gaze. "V-very clear, sir."

Link gave a stiff nod, "Good man. I see you learn fast."

As if he hadn't just emotionally traumatized a full-grown man out of the next ten years of his life, Link continued on down the walkway on the lookout for any more slackers, the poor souls.

Hadrian sighed and murmured, "Chipper, indeed."

Link's ears twitched but he opted not to respond. It seemed that if they were to get anywhere he'd have to push a little more forcefully.

"Link, you know that if there's anything at all bothering you, you may unburden yourself on me," he said in a voice of deep concern. "As your friend you know I won't judge. We've been through enough together to be past all that," he said, referring to frightful incident about two years ago in which another terror had stalked the lands of Hyrule and threatened the queen. It had been the highlight and the bane of his career. And he wouldn't want to go through that again, no matter how many medals and honours were granted to him.

Link slowed his trod then stopped altogether, shoulders slumping. He exhaled lightly and looked at Hadrian, "I know you mean well, but there are some things in this world that cannot be fixed by talking about it."

"Come now, it cannot be all that bad," said Hadrian lightly, as they started walking again. Word must have spread, for every soldier they saw from thereon was on high alert and saluted Link with fast sharpness.

Link looked not to be paying attention to them at all, suddenly lost in his own musings. "To you, perhaps not."

"Even so, you'll feel better after you've had your say about it," Hadrian responded. "And who knows, if it is as serious as you make it out to be, perhaps we can bounce ideas on how to go about rectifying whatever it is that plagues you so."

Link was silent for a moment before he gave in, and once he started talking it became a challenge to keep up as the words tumbled out of his mouth. Hadrian was amazed he was capable of speaking so much all in one go, but listened attentively.

At first – to no surprise - he ranted about Lord Raleigh, a very important minister and someone normal people would not want to be heard complaining about in public. His anger then devolved to the common affairs of state, the plethora of meetings and delegations he had to attend, before he derailed completely and spoke about her majesty.

Hadrian knew of the alliance the queen was working all hours to forge between Hyrule and their neighboring country, Termina, and how it was of vital importance that it be done as quickly as possible. They offered trade and resources that Hyrule could benefit greatly from, and tensions along the border between the two needed to be eased. They'd already had a few skirmishes over some land that the Terminians wanted for themselves. This treaty would put an end to that. He also knew of Link's very close relationship with the queen, and that he could become quite jealous when it came to her. He may have accepted that he was required to share her with the people, as long as he was beside her for the most part, but this time away from her must have been torture on his soul.

Like a dog missing his master, Hadrian thought, pitying him all the while.

"I'm her champion, for Goddesses sake! I should damn well be allowed to see her," Link spat. "But no! She sends me away, as if I'm a pest! An annoyance! As if she's not missing me too!"

Rolling his shoulders, Hadrian determined to allay his friend. "She is busy. Don't worry about it. Once the treaty is signed it shall be over and done with. It won't be long now."

"It better not be." He then released a long breath of frustration. He looked over to peer at the glistening green landscape, dotted with the occasional tree. He admired the view for a bit then said, "I don't know what it is, but being away from her like this…I lose myself. She's special to me. It's as though I've been stripped of a part of my soul."

Hadrian smiled. "That is because you love her."

It was no secret that Link, the Hero of Twilight, was incurably and wholeheartedly in love with the queen. He'd been in love with her ever since their last harrowing adventure together. It had come upon him as a sudden change. An abrupt realization that he couldn't help but acknowledge. And he had done nothing since to hide his ardor for her. Indeed, once he'd learned that she too had been nursing her own feelings for him he had become more or less something of a leech, clinging to her wherever she went.

So now all this time spent apart must have been quite…

"It's maddening!" he bemoaned, dragging his hands down his face.

"Yet men would give their souls for a fleeting chance at it," muttered Hadrian.

Link let out another groan.

"The man envisions himself a poet," Link grumbled.

Hadrian didn't even blink at Link's overdone melodramatics, having become quite used to it over the years. To think that once their hero had been considered a quiet unassuming man.

He himself had no lady love to pine for, so could not relate to Link's personal feelings or his sufferings. He found it hard to empathize with him, and quite frankly it was rather amusing to watch his cohort become a moping wreck all for the lack of attention. Yes, Hadrian quite saw himself remaining a somewhat lonely, but content bachelor for years to come.

"You have to understand that she is the queen and as such is bound by duty and obligation," he said.

Link threw his hands up in the air. "And therein lies the problem. She's the Queen, I can't ask her to devote herself solely to me. As much as the idea is appealing, I can never be that selfish. I'm not allowed to be selfish. Yet she spreads herself so thinly to accommodate absolutely everyone, the time that I have with her is too brief for my liking."

Now that was an exaggeration if ever he'd heard one. Hadrian and everyone in the castle knew that the queen spent more time with Link than she did in any diplomatic meeting. He was with her constantly during court, and whenever she went on outings, and he visited her frequently in her rooms. This happened each and every time Zelda was preoccupied with a task that took longer than Link was willing to tolerate.

"Well, she is a social creature, and very adept at her job," Hadrian scratched his short scruff of beard. Indeed he couldn't imagine a better ruler to serve. And he thanked the heavens that the previous king had passed before Hadrian joined the knights. "But I do agree. Some time to herself would do her well. When was the last time she had a vacation?"

The hero replied almost immediately, "Two years ago."

Ah. He remembered. It had occurred soon after that rather unpleasant series of events. "Really? That trip to Ordon?" He knew of peasants who vacationed more often than her. Some even went biyearly, traveling to visit the coastal villages or to make pilgrimages for grand festivals and such. "I recall she'd been adamant about visiting your home town. And all it took was one cute pout to have you agreeing to it."

Link huffed. "It took a lot more than that."

"If you say so."

"I do."

Hadrian shook his head with wry amusement.

They were approaching the end of their route. The western gatehouse loomed before them, two turrets standing erect on either side of a tall oak gate. Sturdy and firm and imbued with protective magic, it was built to withstand fire and most any siege weapon. Each end had a lever that controlled the raising and lowering of the drawbridge. As it was during daylight hours, the drawbridge was currently lowered and the massive doors open. A team of soldiers patrolled the lower regions, inspecting anyone passing in or out of the town.

The gatekeeper noticed them and waved. Hadrian hailed him with an energetic wave of his own while Link only raised his hand in a half-hearted motion.

Link released a long sigh and said bashfully, "I've been a real shrew today, haven't I?"

He couldn't help but tease the hero a little. "Not at all. You've been a shrew for the better part of an entire two weeks at least, now."

This was met with a glare and coarse grumbling from Link, who didn't bother to hide his ire once they reached the gatehouse.

Seeing as how he was less likely to tear off any heads, Hadrian opted to be the one to ask for the regular report.

"Nothing of note happening today," said the gatekeeper, a hardy man by the name of Cyrus. "Just the usual traders, visiting nobles, field patrols and the like. We sent that ragtag group of mercenaries packing after what happened last night." Cyrus snorted in distaste. "After that brawl they started in one of our taverns and all that damage they caused. And stirring up a ruckus in the square, they deserved to be booted out."

Hadrian nodded, agreeing wholeheartedly. A few rabble rousers were of very little concern compared to what he'd seen and fought against. "Nothing else to report? Nothing suspicious going on?"

The gatekeeper pondered deep in thought for a moment before shaking his head. "Nothing that stands out." He suddenly became concerned. "Is there trouble about that we should be on the lookout for?"

"No trouble," Hadrian quickly assuaged. "Just remember to watch for the insurgents on the wanted list."

Hyrule was at peace, but there were always those who would see themselves as contenders for the throne and who'd like nothing more than to have Zelda's reign toppled. Also the regular criminals that ran about. Murderers and petty convicts they had yet to lock up.

Cyrus tensed, tightening his hold around his javelin, his expression one of severity. "We keep a sharp eye out for those felons. And even if we don't catch them, we certainly don't make life any easier for them. Besides, they aren't a true threat. Compared to the queen's champion they're like flightless guay. Sir Link would have them down and restrained in a matter of seconds, wouldn't you, Sir?"

At the mention of his name, Link blinked and nodded. It was evident, however, that his mind was currently elsewhere. "Certainly. As you said."

Cyrus beamed while Hadrian eyed the hero up and down. It was unlike Link to be so distracted while attending to his work. Especially when it comprised of overseeing the safety and protection of the town.

"Not many can measure up to Sir Link's capabilities," Hadrian conceded truthfully. Perhaps a bit of boasting might cheer him up. He turned back to the gatekeeper. "Why, none but Sir Link is able to get past our guards, and for the life of me I've never quite figured out how he does it. He can creep up on a keaton if he wanted to. Only he could slip in and out of the castle without being caught. We are only lucky that his loyalty lies with Hyrule rather than elsewhere. If Link were a villain I fear that even with all our soldiers and knights combined we still wouldn't have the skill enough to defend the castle from him."

Link abruptly shot his head up, blinking in what could only be described as sudden amazement.

Both gatekeeper and knight glanced at him in confusion.

"Is something the matter, Link?" Hadrian asked hesitantly. Had it been something he'd said?

But then Link smiled widely. Hadrian could practically see the grey cloud that had been hovering over his head for weeks slowly shrink and vanish altogether. It was a tad frightening how drastically the hero's entire demeanor changed.

He froze as he found himself clasped by the shoulders, Link's bright face beaming widely at him. "That's it! Sir Hadrian, you brilliant fool!"

Hadrian cast his eyes wildly about, somewhat embarrassed. "Er – ah – of course, Li – ahhh, Sir Link."

Link abruptly released him and pivoted on his heel, charging down the nearest flight of stairs.

Hadrian stared after him as the hero reached the ground level and wove expertly through the crowded street. He and the gatekeeper shared similar expressions of bemusement.

"What was that about?" said Cyrus, scratching his head.

He shrugged, "Hell if I know."

He swept his eyes over the buildings and stalls below, watching the people rushing around as they carried on with their daily work. A gust of wind breezed past, rustling his cloak and tugging at his hair. From below a dog barked, the chatter of the common folk continued, and Link was long lost to sight. Hadrian could only surmise that he was thundering full pelt toward the castle to unleash whatever scheme he had formulated in that bright but befuddling mind of his.

He sighed. They were about finished their rounds anyways. May as well head back. Calling a goodbye to Cyrus, he started down the ramparts at a much more sedate pace. He'd never understand Link's idiosyncrasies, and he doubted he ever would. It was a waste of time and energy to think about.

As he made his way slowly to the castle he didn't know then that his seemingly innocent words would inspire Link to carry out his next course of action. He was not to know that he had started a reaction that could only end in disaster.

At the same moment that Link was en route to the castle, Zelda was working diligently at her desk in her private office. Sprawled around her were scrolls and large tomes. Stacks of organized documents, and an assortment of writing utensils.

Sunlight bathed her through the row of arched floor to ceiling windows, while her cat, a striped and spotted silver little miscreant of a rare desert breed, lounged in her lap. On occasion Zelda reached down to give it gentle pats on the head.

She dabbed her quill in the ink pot and continued her writing, eyelids growing heavy. She covered a yawn and stared at the wall. She'd been up late at night working and had risen well before the sun this morning in eagerness to continue where she'd left off. Really, she was too tired to be thinking. Perhaps if she just closed her eyes…only for a moment…just a short nap.

Gradually, her body slumped and tilted to the side. All at once she shot up, slamming a fist down on the desk.

No! There was more to be done, papers to go over and sign, forms to read. She was almost finished! She could sleep all she wanted after.

She sighed as she noticed a black splotch had been made on the parchment from where her pen had dripped. She planted the pen back in the inkwell and waved her hand over the parchment. The spilled ink rose from the paper and with a flick of her wrist slithered back into the jar.

Apparently she needed a break. Nudging the cat off her, she rose from her chair and rang for breakfast before descending a level and going to lie down on the sofa, then decided against it and sat up straight. If she put her head down she was liable to doze off, and she couldn't have her body shutting down quite yet.

Later, she promised herself. Later.

Idly she glanced over at the door, her thoughts directed to that last encounter with Link.

Guilt welled in her chest. She felt horrible for sending him away like that. But he was a distraction and would probably have demanded she get some sleep long before she was ready to and then carried her off to bed had she refused. Besides, it was difficult to concentrate around him. Whenever he was nearby it was as if she was compelled to have no other thoughts but of Link. Now that she thought about it, he tended to crop up in her mind a lot when he wasn't anywhere nearby too.

Hmmm… Must be his dashing good looks. He'd managed to infatuate half the ladies at court with his appearance alone. And his charm, she supposed. He was devilishly clever and had no qualms with saying whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. A stark contrast to what his personality used to be like before they'd started their courtship. Back when he'd been shy and uncertain about everything. It had taken two years of education after the Twilight Invasion and his own keen study of courtly life to figure out his boundaries and gain the confidence he needed to develop into the person he was today. A snarky, but mostly kind and loyal man of the people.

And she absolutely adored him. Every time he smiled good-naturedly at a stranger, how he was never above doing the simplest little things if it meant assisting another, or how he took on the most difficult challenges with that warrior gleam in his eye. That gleam, like the one he'd had during their final confrontation against Ganondorf, against many of his other foes, made her heart flutter every time…

It was just so damn sensual.

She missed him. She'd barely seen him ever since she'd become invested in this blasted treaty, and when she did it was in mere glimpses. She missed their afternoon chats and walks in the gardens. Missed every derisive comment he'd whisper in her ear, making fun of the nobles or some bumbling soldier, just to make her laugh at the most inappropriate of times. How while attending court he always stood guard over her and would comfortably seat himself on the armrest of her throne once court had adjourned and everyone had gone. He took liberties with her that no one else ever dared too.

And how she missed their sparring sessions, or simply watching him train. Summer especially proved to be the best time for Link-watching. The days would be so hot that he would take off his tunic and undershirt and fight bare-chested. It never ceased to mesmerize her as she'd study all those bumps and ridges that formed the contours of his muscles, sweat gleaming off his skin making him shine in the light of the sun. More than once she'd been guilty of stealing his hawkeye mask just to ogle him from afar. Of all the ladies who spied on him, she satisfied herself with knowing she had the best view.

Her musings were interrupted as breakfast arrived, carried in by a petite maid who set the tray down on the coffee table. She poured out a cup of tea, arranged a few items, and lastly turned to her with a curtsy.

"Is there anything else you'll be needing, majesty?"

Zelda waved a dismissive hand. "That will be all for now."

"As your majesty wishes."

The door clicked shut on her departure and Zelda tucked in. She hadn't realized how starved she'd been. Every bite felt like a piece of heaven.

After finishing the meal she rose to her feet and stretched, then rolled her wrists in preparation of more forms that needed to be signed.

The thought of Link in all his shirtless glory was ample motivation to finish as soon as possible. It was nearing the end of spring after all.

Once again at her desk, she took a sip of tea and went straight back to work. There wasn't too much more to do. And if the meeting with the Terminians went well then she could consider this assignment done and over with, with the exception of regular revisions as needed.

A cool wind gusted through the open window, rustling the edges of her papers. Zelda moved a glass paperweight onto the stack and continued writing.

Soon loud voices could be heard coming from outside.

Zelda thought nothing of it and flicked a hand above her head. The window slammed shut and a small click signaled that it had latched.

She raised her head and her ears flicked at the almost indistinct sound of a clink...

That was the only warning given before the windows behind her burst inward, fracturing into thousands of scattered pieces. Zelda just managed to swerve around, erecting a barrier in the same motion, in time to divert the glass. She let the shield fall and raised her arms in preparation of an attack. That blast will have alerted the guards. She could hear them on their way now. In the mean time she was far from helpless as her light magic came to her. She summoned a static swirling ball of white yellow energy to her palm and looked up at her assailant.

"Your reflexes are quick as ever, your majesty. I had no doubts."

A startling pair of clever blue eyes caught the light as a man stepped over the broken window frame into the room. They twinkled with bright amusement as they met her own startled ones.

Zelda's light magic went out and she slowly dropped her hands, eyebrows raised high. "Link?" They then angled downward in a befuddled mixture of confusion and irritation. "What are you doing?"

He grinned broadly, the wicked sort that promised all sorts of mischief, and prowled toward her, boots crunching on the glass shards. Her eyes widened as she took in his…unusual appearance. Gone was his casual garb, the finely tailored garments that he usually wore on any ordinary day, and instead he donned leathers in various shades of black and lined with silver. Slung across his shoulders was a cloak fastened in the front by a silver and sapphire clasp. His eyes gleamed from beneath his hood.

He looked positively roguish. Like one of those men a woman was warned about when entering a pub.

And damn it all, it suited him.

Her breath caught, heart pounding frantically within her chest. She placed a hand there to try and settle it.

He crossed his arms and smiled a devious little smirk that spoke of naughty naughty things.

"Why, my little queen... I'm here to kidnap you."