Chapter 15:

Link was only half listening as the woman droned on about something or another concerning whatever it was she had come to request. Really, the specifics eluded him. He was only there for show.

Overtly he glanced down at the papers that his assistant and person in charge of his timetable, Leila, had handed to him, which he made useful for concealing the book he was reading. He at least had to appear as if he was concerned about the woman's problems. He was positive that Zelda had dealt with it the other week. The woman was just here because results were taking too long, as if somehow by complaining he could speed it up. Hah!

Seated on the throne, reclining comfortably into the red velvet cushioning, Link leaned an elbow against the armrest and rested his cheek against the back of his knuckles. His crown lay heavily on his head, large and ceremonial, the symbol of his rank as royalty. A mere decade ago he'd never have dreamed that one day he'd become King of Hyrule. He'd had high ambitions as a youth, far exceeding that of remaining a goatherd for the rest of his life, but nothing as extreme, ridiculous, and out of his league, as becoming a monarch. King by marriage. He hadn't been that loony. Even when he'd first started courting Zelda it had always been something distant on the horizon, ever fleeting and untouchable.

What a quandary the world was. Things never turned out the way one anticipated it would. Here he was, sitting on a throne reserved for the royalty of Hyrule and taking his turn at holding an audience with his subjects. His subjects. That did give quite a delightful thrill of power to it. Audiences were only held twice weekly and he and Zelda had long divvied up the unwanted chore by alternating. Today just so happened to be his turn.

Subtly he turned a page of his novel, holding the papers just a little higher to conceal the movement. He'd get an earful if Zelda ever learned about this bad habit of his. It was bad enough that she'd found out he'd taken to napping on the throne when no one else was around. But darn it if the cushions weren't the comfiest things he'd ever felt! She had attempted to forbid him from it, at least, until he'd learned that as a child she used to sleep here as well, and, as she continuously pointed out, eighty percent of the time his maturity levels dropped to that of a child, so no argument there.

Silence filled the room and he blinked, looking up from his reading to see the woman waiting impatiently for a reply, hands on her hips. He straightened and made a show of ruffling through the documents. He slipped his book between the sheaves of paper, his eyes glimpsing the words at the top of the page, causing him to inwardly grumble to himself.

"Still going on about that land feud, eh?" he said, voice natural and flowing. He crossed his legs and frowned, giving her a poignant stare. "I believe the queen has already sent someone to investigate the land ownership documents. It appears that somehow they've gone missing. Odd, wouldn't you say?"

The woman shuffled her feet, no longer as vocal as before. Link waved her off. A great waste of time, that's what it was.

"This matter is already being seen to," he intoned solidly, "Until it has been investigated properly I would advise you not to come to me about it anymore."

The woman bowed low and stuttered barely loud enough to hear, "Y-yes, your majesty." She left quickly without a backwards glance.

Link indicated Leila to come closer and muttered quietly to her.

"Have someone go through the records room and check our copy of the deed. I suspect fraud, either that or human error, in which case it is just an honest dispute and it should be solved as best we can."

Leila nodded and jot it down on her notepad. "Anything else, King Link?"

Link pondered and gazed upward at the fanciful monument erected above the throne. He beheld a decorative statue of a duplicate of the Triforce, surrounded by the figures of three women with long curling butterfly-like tongues. He was pretty sure they were meant to depict the three Golden Goddesses, yet he found the rendition quite lacking in splendour.

He shook his head and responded, "Nothing for now. Is there anyone else on the schedule?"

Leila perused her clipboard and slanted him a dour look. "One last."

"Who is it?"

"Your son."

He tensed at that. Mentally groaning, he rubbed his brow and closed his eyes. What has the boy been doing now? It seemed as if his son had the entire female half of the court wrapped around his finger, and he had no shame in taking advantage of it whenever he could. He was the cause of all manner of mischief, and the most frustrating part was that those women didn't seem to mind.

Link leaned forward and stroked his chin, musing. At length he gave a short scoff. "Bring him in. Best get it over with."

Leila nodded in acquiesce and indicated for the runner at the door to fetch the prince. Link leaned back and waited in silence. Unlike Zelda who was fine with having her court in attendance, he liked to have the throne room cleared for his audiences. For a while there was only him and Leila, however soon the pattering of little feet could be heard toddling across the blue carpet, steps irregular and stumbling.


Link tried to keep his expression passive, stern even, but within moments of seeing his two-year-old son ambling toward him at full trot, his composure crumpled. He shot to his feet, beaming as he zoomed across the room.

"Lorie!" he called gleefully, snatching his son up in one swoop and swinging him around.

Loring – Lorie for short – giggled and squealed in delight, his tiny arms flung out like the wings of a bird. Link stopped and held him close, nuzzling his nose against the boy's chubby cheek before giving it a peck.

Yes, near all the women at court were charmed by his adorableness; just as they were similarly charmed by the rest of his children. One could not deny that he and Zelda certainly produced cute progeny.

Loring giggled harder, fighting against the kiss.

"Dad! No!"

Link smiled, chuckling before he got down to business. "So you want an audience, do you? And what is it that you request of you king?"

"A play date."

Link raised his head and spotted Zelda at the entrance, gliding toward him. She had a small wrapped bundle nestled in her arms, which she continuously glanced down at as if to make certain it was still there and was accompanied by her little shadow, their eldest, a girl no older than five. Little shadow was an apt nickname given to the girl. She had a habit of following around whichever parent that wasn't currently occupied with royal duties as if she were indeed their shadow. Sometimes if she felt particularly neglected she'd hover around even while her parents were at work. The ministers never seemed to mind and often praised her for showing early interest in the affairs of Hyrule – although Link didn't think she paid one wit of attention - and all the rest of the court found it adorable.

Both Zelda and their daughter halted before him. The little girl would have looked very sophisticated for her age, with her chin up and perfect posture, if not for her large teal eyes filled with bright wonder. Her eyes were an exact replica of Zelda's.

Link dropped down beside her and snatched her around the waist. Lorie laughed as he nuzzled them both. "Ceri! Has my little darling come to partake in a play date as well? "

Cerys made a far more valiant attempt to thwart Link's affection, however eventually her resolve faded and she hugged him just as fiercely. Link smiled and kissed her blonde tresses. She was a quiet thing, one who rarely ever laughed or cried, even as a babe, yet she was full of emotion. She merely displayed it more thoroughly through action rather than expressions. She was a vast contrast to Loring who was constantly happy and giggling all the time.

He stood, easily hefting Cerys up in his other arm. Cerys grasped the front of his tunic to hold on while Loring reached out for her, smiling jubilantly at the sight of his sister.

"Cer!" he called. Cerys eyed him nonchalantly and allowed him to clutch her arm.

"I've been far too busy of late," bemoaned Link, giving the children a bounce, "I haven't been spending near enough time with you all."

Zelda scoffed, trailing a finger over the head of her bundle while smiling endearingly at him. "If you call every afternoon before dinner not enough time, that is."

Cerys it seemed had enough of Loring and was attempting to pull her arm away from him while he held fast, acting as if it were a game of tug-o-war.

Link grinned sneakily at them. "Don't worry. Mum misses daddy too."

His wife feigned exasperation. "We see you every day, Link."

He only ignored her and set the children down, placing a hand on Cerys' head and unconsciously caressing her downy soft locks. "Have you been practicing your swordplay, Cerys?"

The little girl's eyes lit up at the topic. Zelda herself had been tutored in swordplay by the age of four and had insisted that her children receive similar educations. Cerys was even allowed to carry around a blunted children's sword, currently fastened to a lopsided belt that she wore above her dress.

"Wanna see, Da?" She grabbed the hilt but was halted before she could pull it out.

"Not in the throne room," said Link, his tone stern. He then smiled secretively at her. "Later in the training grounds. That way you can upstage all the knights, the incompetent blighters."

Cerys bobbed her head, waves of hair fluttering with the motion. "Incomp'tent bliders," she repeated, before ambling across the room to where Loring had found the throne and was trying to heave himself on top of it while Leila watched blandly, adjusting her spectacles.

Cerys swiftly nudged him aside and clambered up. She scooted back to sit against the plush cushions, her feet not even reaching the edge of the seat. Leila automatically handed her a pad and paper whereupon Cerys pretended to write important things while gazing down imperiously at Loring, who was still struggling to climb up.

There was innocence there, as well as vast potential. Vast indeed. It sort of unnerved him whenever she played 'Queen and Subject'. Perhaps they should have waited a few more years before they mentioned to her what her future entailed. Knowing that she was Heir Apparent was obviously getting to her head.

Link smirked and shot Zelda a crafty grin. "I predict our reign will be a short one. We've got a usurper in the making there," he said jokingly.

She raised an eyebrow at him. "And you've been helping oh so much with that. Calling her 'your majesty' and letting her wear your crown."

His eyes brightened. "Ah! That's what she's missing." Without hesitation, Link strode over to the throne and took off his crown. Cerys looked up and smiled when he plopped it on her small head, angling it so it sat relatively comfortably.

He stooped to pick up Loring and placed him on the throne next to his sister, on the other side of the armrest. Cerys frowned at him before scribbling once more on her pad, dutifully ignoring her brother when he stood to look over the armrest and reach for her.

Link gave them both a fond tug on the ears before going back to Zelda, who appeared neither impressed nor delighted. Although from the twitching of her lips he could tell that she was withholding a smile.

He shrugged and swooped in for a kiss, careful of the baby that she cradled in her arms. He drew back and gazed down at the sleeping bundle, gently caressing the soft tuft of chestnut hair.

"How is she?" he asked tenderly.

Zelda smiled, her expression calm. "Doing much better. The physician say's that we shouldn't stifle her in the castle so I've been taking her out to the gardens and the fields as often as I can. This trip to Ordon should do wonders for her."

His heart panged with ardor. Both his wife and baby girl were so strong.

Hetty was their third and youngest child. At only five months old it was still uncertain whether she would live past her first year. Zelda had taken ill during her last stages of pregnancy, causing Hetty to arrive over a month early. Needless to say the birth had not gone well. He'd nearly lost them both. Hetty was still very fragile, and as a result of the complications Zelda would be unable to bear anymore children. It saddened them both, Zelda had been aiming for five, but it didn't diminish their gratefulness of what they'd been given.

They had high hopes for her though. Already Hetty was showing signs of improvement. She'd been feeding and crying more, which although Link had issues with the latter, the physician said was a good thing. He was confident she would survive and live a long healthy life.

That was the reason why lately he'd been taking over the majority of the work, so that Zelda could care for their daughter. Link would have provided more assistance if not for the fact that keeping her fed every couple of hours would prove problematic. He lacked the physiology for it.

His attention was diverted by Loring's squeal as he rolled off the throne. Any worry he felt was instantly diminished when he saw that Leila had swiftly snatched him up before he could hit the ground.

He turned back to Zelda, giving her another kiss.

"I see her hair is starting to darken like Lorie's," he said, a playful grin on his face. "It appears that Cerys is to be the only blonde in the family. Something you're not telling me, Zelda?"

Zelda shot him a fierce scowl. "If you're implying what I think you are…" He waggled his eyebrows and she smacked his shoulder. "Idiot! You know that I would never sleep around."

Wincing, Link rubbed away the sting and chuckled. "Are you certain? That Callan person had blonde hair too."

She sniffed haughtily and tore away from him. "While you were playing the villain I barely left your side. And I would think you'd know about genetics. She merely possesses two recessive alleles."

"I was only teasing," said Link, placing his arms around her waist. His tone suddenly darkened, becoming much more suggestive and sultry. "Besides, after having me, no one else would ever be able to satisfy you."

Zelda leaned into his embrace and smiled slyly. "Oh? Shall we test that? Shad for instance just might be able to match you."

His arms went rigid around her as he glared down, appalled. "You're not being serious. Shad?" he growled. His irritation only mounted when she shrugged.

"You know what they say about the scholarly types," she chirped, positively beaming while disregarding his murderous state. "Get them in bed and they're no redead."

Link spluttered, too shocked for words. Had his wife honestly just said that? In front of their daughter no less! Albeit, one who didn't yet possess a grasp of the Hylian language, any linguistics really, and wouldn't for a good few years to come. But it was the principle of the matter!

"Link? Link, I haven't killed you with shock, have I?"

He shook his head and went back to smirking, his eyes glinting. He saw the heave of her breasts as she inhaled sharply at his primal look.

He leaned in close, face not quite touching hers. "No," he reassured, chuckling at her expression, "After all, there is little competition to be had against a redead."

He felt heat fill his veins. How adorable she looked when pouting. It made him want to drag her to their rooms and snog her senseless, followed by hot sex then more snogging, or perhaps both at once. They'd always been good at multitasking.

"And," he continued, tugging her tighter against him. "Ashei would have your head, queen or not."

Zelda wasn't even fazed. She rocked Hetty gently in her arms and laughed. "If I wanted to add Shad to my collection of concubines there'd be little she could do to stop me."

"NO!" Link declared, scowling vehemently. "Just no!"

Not only was it against the law, punishable by death – either by the people's hand or by the Goddesses – it was just plain no! It defiled the sanctity of marriage and was considered immoral. Asides from that, Hyruleans – Hylians in particular – did not share.

She hummed in amusement, showing what he already knew, that she wasn't being serious about it. "Just a thought."

"You think vile things."

"And you do not?" she asked cynically.

He kissed her cheek. "Only about you."

He dipped his face close to hers and touched her lips with his. At first it was soft, mere caresses and inhaling each other's breath, before it deepened, mouths opening and tongues joining in a sensual waltz. He fastened her against him, mindful of little Hetty who was caught in between. Link became lost in the feel of her, so close and warm. His love, his wife, the mother of his children, his queen.

A lifetime wasn't long enough together. He desired eternity.

His eyes opened at the sound of someone's cough and the tugging of his cape. They parted and Link glanced over to see Leila, holding a squirming Loring, as she indicated with a jerk of her chin down to Cerys who had a firm grasp of his cape. At some point she had discarded his crown, probably finding the weight tiresome, and had abandoned her throne to see them. Reluctantly he released Zelda and let her step away, keeping a hand planted on her waist.

"Yes, Cerys?" said Zelda, her voice soft and lilting. "Is there something you want?"

Leila once again coughed. "Princess Cerys would kindly like to remind you of your schedule for today."

With that the little girl held up her notepad and Link took it, eyes flitting over the mess of lines and spirals. "Ah, yes! Our schedule…"

Dear Nayru, was he supposed to know what this visual catastrophe meant? He peered sidelong at Leila, who deemed not to be the least bit helpful. She stared blandly ahead, as she always did, neither concerned nor willing to offer assistance. Bloody useless.

"Let me take a look," said Zelda, and striving not to give a resigned sigh, Link helplessly angled it in her direction. Zelda hugged her bundle of baby to her and observed the eyesore then smiled knowingly. "Hmm, perfectly legible," she said, grinning. Link rolled his eyes. "Your father didn't learn how to read until he was twelve, and he still has trouble. Anyone who is even remotely literate would know that it says that the carriage is waiting for us to leave for Ordon. Is it nearly noon already?"

"Have to go, mama!" said Cerys insistently while Loring squealed and repeated 'go go go' in a mantra, his arms flailing all over and nearly knocking Leila's spectacles off more than once.

Link grinned broadly. "Then to Ordon we go!"

Loring wriggled excitedly out of Leila's grasp and ran down the carpet, followed closely by Cerys who'd sprinted after him. Already quite agile for her age, she'd make certain to stop him before he reached the stairs.

"Leila, you're dismissed," said Zelda.

The assistant gave a curt bow and muttered, 'your majesties,' before heading back toward the throne to fetch Link's crown for polishing then departed out an obscure side door.

Placing a hand on Zelda's lower back, Link led her out into the bright sunshine. A pair of guards stood sentry on either side of the grand doors. The children's nursemaid, who had been waiting diligently outside for them, had taken to overseeing Cerys and Loring and ensuring that they didn't hurt themselves while going down the stairs.

"And how did you know Cerys had written that on our schedule?" Link questioned, perplexed and irritated. In hindsight it shouldn't have been hard for him to at least guess, however he hadn't wanted to chance it and possibly answer wrong. The look of dismay that would have shone in her eyes would have been unbearable to live with.

Zelda hummed beside him. "Because heading to Ordon is the only thing left to do today. Not to mention she's been going on about it for weeks."

"Ah." And he'd been the receiver of that incessant chattering too. How remiss of him.

He stared at Zelda from the corner of his eyes, admiring her. She made a beautiful picture, chocolate tresses shining under the light of the sun, her face glowing with color as she cooed at Hetty, who had begun to stir, giving a wide yawn. Zelda had quickly regained her trim figure after having Hetty, but then again she'd been eating far less during this pregnancy, her muscles once again beginning to firm from increased time practicing her swordsmanship, and her skin far less ghostly pale than it had been while ill.

Zelda caught him staring and smiled up at him. Link was transfixed.

It was possibly one of the most beautiful pictures of her he'd ever seen.

His love for her spilled out in his beaming smile. "And how is my darling wife today?" he asked.

They reached the bottom of the stairs and were now entering the presence chamber where many of the nobles dallied around.

He spotted a crowd of court ladies crooning over Loring, who soaked up the attention gleefully, rewarding them with childish giggles and cute faces. Cerys seemed to tolerate the attention as many women exclaimed over her soft hair and lovely eyes. Link wasn't certain or not if she was inwardly preening or being polite. His eldest was a mystery to him sometimes.

He glanced over at Zelda when she didn't respond right away only to find her frowning.

"You ask me this belatedly?" she said tersely.

Ah, was she seriously bothered by that? Women could be so random at times. "Zelda, love," he cajoled and was immediately interrupted.

"As an afterthought?"

She was putting him on the spot here. He smirked knowingly at her and kissed her brow. "My thoughts are always of you. But the little miscreants do have a tendency to distract."

There was a sharp tug on his arm and the next thing he knew he'd been dragged off to an alcove, partially hidden from the masses.

Zelda had shifted Hetty to one arm, the other was flung around his neck, fingers digging into his hair. She gave him a seductive little smirk and pulled him down. "So do I."

Deep blue orbs flared with burning passion.

And he was lost...

It took their frantic council half an hour to locate them after ordering the entire castle be scoured top to bottom. In the end they were both shamefully chastised by Cerys for being tardy, in front of their entire court.

Zelda breathed out softly and rolled over on her side, facing away from the sun. It was late afternoon in Ordon and she had taken to lazing out on the pasture, on the verge of drifting off.

Sounds reached her ears, the voices of the old resistance team who had come to join them on their vacation. A table had been set up near the fence, out of the way of rampaging goats, where Telma along with Auru, Rusl, Shad and Ashei sat together drinking pumpkin juice and sharing tales. A moment ago she and Link had been part of that group until they'd decided to laze on the grass a short distance away.

High pitched squeals and laughter also resounded throughout the ranch as her two eldest ran around with Shad and Ashei's child, a little boy named Jesse. They dodged under and around the goats, playing something between chase and avoidance, where every time they encountered each other they squealed and ran away, or simply ran off without squealing in Cerys' case. At one point Cerys tried to climb on top of one of the goat's back's to ride it but was swiftly shaken off, the goat wandering away to graze in peace. Although Ordonian goats could have quite a temper when dealing with adults, it was found that around children they were mostly docile.

A low chuckled came from her right. Discreetly she peeked an eye open to see Link lying on his back beside her, cradling Hetty on his chest as she pawed his face. She scratched at the tuft of hair on his chin before Link held up a finger in front of her, tapping her nose and flicking over her cheeks. She nabbed it in her tiny fists when it came within her reach and was quick to stick it between her gums to suck on.

"You silly little monster," he said, struggling to pull his finger out gently, a glob of drool sliding down the digit.

"She takes after you," said Zelda, unable to restrain a smile. She leaned up on her elbows and brushed a few wayward hairs out of her face. "You put your mouth everywhere too. And she's not a monster."

He clicked his tongue in reproach. "Making innuendos in front of the baby again. My queen has no shame."

Zelda brushed him off and crawled over to drape herself over his stomach.

Link jolted. "Restrain yourself, woman!"

She rolled her eyes and picked up Hetty. She twisted around so that she could lie on her back with her head resting on top of Link's torso then held the baby above her. Hetty blinked in bemusement at the sudden change of perspective before cooing at the sight of her mother. Zelda cooed right back before making smiley faces at her.

Her perch rumbled beneath her as Link chuckled.

"You're cute when you do that," he said, drifting a hand through her hair.

"Whereas you just look plain silly," retorted Zelda, bringing Hetty close. Hetty's head automatically turned toward her, instinctively looking for something to latch onto with her mouth.

Zelda groaned. "Again, darling?"

Hetty began whimpering, signifying the beginning of waterworks. Sitting up, Zelda grabbed Hetty's blanket from where it had been spread on the grass a foot away from them, and pulled it over her front, concealing her as she tugged down her dress and began to nurse.

At that moment Cerys came over and plopped down beside her, reclining against Link's arm.

Link smiled at the little girl and tugged on the tip of her pointed ear. "Tired, Ceri?" he remarked. In reply, Cerys snuggled more closely against him.

Zelda relaxed in contentedness, cradling Hetty lovingly. She once more listened to the conversation of the resistance members. Soon Ilia made an appearance, her belly swollen with what was to be her's and Hadrian's first child. Link always had said that the man worked slow. It had taken over three years of courting for Hadrian to muster the courage to propose - Ilia had been about ready to do it herself, it had been a period of frustration for her. And it had taken even longer to conceive their child, which Link guessed was due to a lack of virility on Hadrian's part, whereupon Zelda had commented on how long it had taken for her to get pregnant, which had at once shut Link up. Some people simply had difficulties.

Zelda had finished with her nursing and righted her dress just as Ilia approached them.

"Good day, your majesty," she said to Zelda brightly before honing in on Link. "There you are, Link. Sir Ryan has arrived and is looking for you. He say's there's an issue at the castle."

Link shrugged unconcerned and threw an arm over his eyes. "Not my problem. Where's Sir Hadrian, do you know? Shouldn't he be running around in your stead? It can't be easy with how lar – er – while pregnant."

Ilia frowned and thrust her hands on her hips. "I don't consider it insulting, I'll have you know." She sniffed and crossed her arms, sticking her nose up. "It's a natural process. I won't be this big forever. Hadrian's overseeing the Royal Guard, by the way." She then jabbed a finger at him. "And don't change the subject! Go see Ryan. He's pestering everyone."

Link groaned and before Zelda knew it, had snatched Hetty from her.

"Can't," he said shrugging innocently. "Baby watching. Zelda's tired so I'm giving her a break. Hetty kept her awake half the night."

Too true that was, mused Zelda. She couldn't wait until Hetty became old enough to spoon feed.

Ilia huffed then switched her focus to Cerys, her demeanour changing into a much more pleasant one. "Hello Princess Cerys. Are you having fun?"

The little girl had been gazing up at Ilia wide-eyed, but those eyes narrowed slightly as her face scrunched in a cute frown. "Queen. I'm Queen Cerys," she said insistently.

Ilia giggled and flapped her hand. "Oh my. How cute! Maybe someday after your parents have retired, okay honey."

"It's a faze," muttered Link nonchalantly, motioning in large circles with his hand.

Zelda wasn't so certain about that. Sometimes it felt as if Cerys was a little too ambitious for a five year old.

Across the field Loring had stumbled over a clump of grass and fell down. Zelda watched amusedly as he pushed his hands against the ground to heave himself up. While he was struggling a kid trotted up to him and began nibbling on his shirt. The small pressure on his back was enough to send Loring rolling forward in an induced somersault. He laughed and ended up on his back, then squirmed as the young goat continued nibbling on his clothes.

"Should we do something about that?" asked Ilia uncertainly, watching as Loring tried to bat the goat away.

Link snorted and went back to playing with Hetty. "Nope. Lorie's going to get eaten."

At that declaration, Cerys shot to her feet, unsheathing her blunt children's sword. "I'll help," she declared, before scrambling over to rescue her brother.

Zelda worried her bottom lip as she watched her go. "Link, will she…"

"Don't worry about it," said Link, brushing her worries aside. "Once the kid sees the sword it will dash away."

Sure enough as Cerys careened toward the young goat, sword in hand, one look at her caused it to release Loring and run off. Cerys approached her brother and hauled him to his feet by the arm, only to shove him back down straight after. Loring found it hilarious and was giggling like mad. He certainly was a happy child.

Ilia gazed off into the distance. "Here Ryan comes now. I'll see you two majesties later. Don't be a royal pain in the arse to him, Link."

She scampered off to join the group at the table and sure enough not two minutes had passed before Ryan came storming up to them, donned in full armor, his helmet tucked under his arm, and bearing a most vicious scowl.

Zelda closed her eyes and lay on the grass, unrepentant as she let Link deal with it with no intention of helping.

Ryan's and Link's relationship was certainly an interesting one. They'd always had a mutual dislike for one another. It had always annoyed Ryan that Link had been his superior, first as Queen's Champion and highest ranking knight of the order, and now as king. He was an honorable man, however, and it was most likely that alone that prevented him from outright defying Link's every order. And Link had no qualms with abusing his power. That was probably why Sir Ryan transferred to the Queen's Sword, the division of knights who answered to none other but the queen.

More mind-boggling than his rivalry with Link was the founding of his relationship with his wife. Of all people he had married Cilla. Initially they'd thought her simply a maid at Ivy Manor only to later discover that she was in actuality a duchess. Apparently she had been hidden away for most of her life by overprotective parents – they'd lost three other children to illness so one could hardly blame them – and hadn't been allowed to leave their castle home. That had been when she'd gotten the idea to run off by herself and come under the employ of Link. It had been after Link's villainy spree that she had reconciled with her parents and officially joined the court. And what a shock it had been to Ryan when he'd beheld her all dressed up while attending a ball at Hyrule Castle. She had teased and flirted with him until Ryan could take it no longer and stomped away, fuming. It had amused Zelda endlessly, while Link had declared that the end of it. However not four months later they'd become engaged.

They now lived with their twin daughters in a town house in the upper district of Castle Town, close to the castle. Lord Ryan, he was called, although he insisted on being referred to by his knightly station.

He stopped five feet away from them and made an audible noise of irritation. "King Link," he snarled with obvious distaste, "There appears to be an issue and the council is in need of you. Minister Raleigh insists that you return to the castle immediately."

Link frowned as he looked up from playing with his daughter. "If they can't bloody well deal with it themselves then they're hardly worth being part of the council." He snorted and leaned back, trailing a slim blade of grass over Hetty's cheeks. "This is a good educational opportunity for them. Teach them how to survive without the monarchs."

"The royal seal is required," hissed Ryan, voice insistent. "Something only you and her majesty can administer."

Link shrugged. "Why annoy me about it. You're Zelda's Sword."

In affront, Zelda reached back and pinched his ear. "I'm on maternity leave."

Her husband was being a baby about it. However they had specified quite clearly that while they were vacationing in Ordon they were not to be disturbed under any circumstance. Not even if Hyrule was crumbling to pieces, swarmed by dark entities and cruel beasts, although Zelda was pretty certain that if something like that were to occur they'd do something about it. Zelda had even left explicit instructions for each minister on what to do in the case of various scenarios happening. What she had not specified was how long they'd be away for and she intended to keep that open-ended.

"Tell Raleigh to put it on hold. It can bloody wait," spat Link. Hetty startled at his vehement tone and immediately started wailing. Link gave a look of hopelessness before getting to his feet and holding her out for Ryan. "Here. It's your fault she's crying."

Sir Ryan faltered when Link thrust the baby at him, hands automatically coming up to hold her.

"Did Raleigh come with you?"

"Yes," said Ryan hesitantly, staring at the upset child in his hands. "He's with Mayor Bo. He brought the documents. He wanted to make sure you or Queen Zelda signed them. Although he still wants you to return with him to the castle to sign others." He held the baby away from him distastefully. "Your majesty, surely the child's nursemaid can watch over her."

"Zelda and I came here for some family time," shot Link as he strode off. "The nursemaid has been given time off. Ruddy Raleigh. Just had to ruin everything and bring more work for us. I swear if he-"

His voice trailed off as he wandered farther away. Zelda fastidiously ignored Sir Ryan when he looked to her for assistance, and rolled over, shutting her eyes and enjoying the sunshine. She really was tired after tending to Hetty practically all night. It was a nice break to have someone else watch over her.

"Your majesty, I-"

"You've had twins, Sir Ryan," Zelda cut in, tuning out the sound of Hetty's crying as it diminished to whimpers. She loved her baby dearly, but she just needed so much attention, too much for Zelda to handle alone. "I'm certain you can find a way to calm her down."

She tucked a palm under her cheek and wasn't even affected when Cerys came over to cuddle with her. She merely opened her arms and allowed the little girl to cling to the front of her dress. Loring and Jesse had both run over to the table and were being looked after by Telma and the others. It was nice to have so many competent friends help her out when she needed it.

Giving a resigned sigh, Ryan sat cross-legged on the ground and set to entertain Hetty.

"I don't understand it."

Sir Hadrian listened to the soldier as he finished debriefing him then turned to Sir Leonard who was staring off in the direction of the ranch after King Link.

Link had wasted little time starting an argument with Lord Raleigh, before skimming the documents and signing them, and outright telling the lord that he would not be going back to the castle to complete even more work. He'd then smashed the royal seal down at the bottom and both lord and king had angrily gone on their way.

He felt bad that the king and queen's vacation had been interrupted so soon, not even the second day in. He hoped they'd be able to enjoy the rest of it in peace.

"Don't understand what," said Hadrian, idly wondering where Ilia had gotten to. His wife was hard to keep track of. Whenever the desire hit her she'd go out and wander the woods, scaling trees and rocks with heights that made his stomach queasy. Now that she was pregnant she thankfully limited her excursions to within the village and the light spring. Even then he still had trouble with her whereabouts.

"How their majesty's do it," continued Leonard, earning an inquisitive glance from Hadrian.

"You'll have to specify," he said as they started down the path.

He glanced over to where Ellory, Uli and Rusl's young daughter, was flustering the Royal Guard with her enthusiastic questioning. Her personality was just like Ilia, Beth and Talo's. Must be an Ordonian thing. The guards didn't seem to know quite how to react to all that energy and only shifted on their feet, answering her as best they were able. She could and would have kept it up for hours if not for Collin arriving on the scene and extracting her from the contingent. He apologized to them then led her away, all the while chastising her for overwhelming their guests.

Hadrian had a feeling the guards didn't really mind. They'd only been caught by surprise.

"I've heard of what they went through during the Twilight Invasion," Leonard went on. "We all survived it, but they endured the worst of it from what I heard. In addition there was that incident with the assassin."

"Yes, that was before you joined the order," input Hadrian. Perhaps Ilia was waiting for him at home? It was nearly time for supper; maybe he'd cook something for her, give her a small break. Under her guidance, his culinary skills were steadily improving. He was confident he could concoct something a step above abysmal. Perhaps...

"Did you know that Queen Zelda is deathly afraid of poes?"

"I do," Hadrian replied. "But she's not as afraid of them anymore. I was there during that incident," he informed him. "I worked alongside King Link to bring the assassin to justice. Are you getting at something, Sir Leonard?"

The younger man frowned and swiped a bead of sweat from his brow. They arrived at the house and Hadrian let them in. He undid the clasp of his cape and folded it neatly before setting it on the counter. Leonard took his lead and imitated him, removing his knightly cape and gauntlets before taking a seat at the round wooden table.

Hadrian looked around. It turned out that Ilia hadn't come home yet. She'd have checked who'd come in the door if she was.

Leonard furrowed his brows in confusion. "Then how, after living through all those horrors, have they come to be as they are now? How can they be so merry, so laid back and unconcerned? You would think they'd be jaded. They should be colder and more serious than they are now." He sighed and shook his head. "It just doesn't make sense."

Hadrian poured them each a cup of pumpkin juice and diligently sipped from his. He thought about his reply before he said, "Do you know what it is to live in true misery?"

Leonard grunted, holding his cup to his lips. "The entire Twilight fiasco was positively miserable."

He nodded, conceding. "Yes, it was. But as you said, whatever misery we lived, they lived it tenfold. Same with the assassin incident." He pondered for a bit over his wording, idly rotating his cup, before continuing. "They hated it. For a time their lives were constant fear and uncertainty. When both incidents were all over it was a great relief to them, but they did not want to have the lingering affects plaguing them for the rest of their lives. I believe they took a different perspective. Instead of being held back by trauma they altered it so that their experiences strengthened them. You know the expression about conquering your fears so that you will not be ruled by them? They did just that."

"That's not a decision one can just make," said Leonard, eyeing him skeptically.

Hadrian shook his head. "No it is not. But with enlightenment it can be."

"So you believe they were both enlightened?" Leonard reclined in his seat and crossed his arms. "That's still rather farfetched."

How to put it so that he would understand? Hadrian scratched his beard in agitation. "Let's say this. Both their majesties didn't want their past to ruin the rest of their lives. They're too grateful that both of them survived and they don't want to sully their future by dwelling too much on depressing thoughts or lamenting on what has already happened. It was a choice they made, but also one that was forced upon them. The hero's mentality was already strong to begin with, he feared little and not many things shook him up. Contrary to what people would expect, he did not suffer from any trauma. The Goddesses gifted him with a mind too strong for that. And it is he, I believe, who has helped Queen Zelda in becoming the same way. Although they suffered, they realize that now they are free and can bask in the rewards. Together they've achieved the safety of Hyrule, a prospering kingdom once again. And now with a family there is little that can dampen their happiness. Not even all the bad in their lives can measure up to that. That is how they live on."

Leonard opened his mouth to say something, closed it then smiled. "Counting their blessings, eh? It's astounding and inspiring."

"And they have a great many blessings to be thankful for," said Hadrian.

Leonard grinned and raised his cup. "And may they have many more in the years to come," he said before they both downed their drinks. A silent toast to their king and queen.

Zelda sat at the desk in her chambers at Hyrule Castle, quill in hand, a small thin booklet open before her. It was an oddly designed thing, magically fabricated so that the pages on the left appeared a golden color while those on the right were deep grey. Both were currently blank and she stared at it, wondering how to begin.

A glance to the timepiece showed that it was nearly midnight. Setting her writing utensil down, she clutched the front of her robe and angled on her chaise to survey the moonlight shining on the bedspread, underneath which Link slept soundly, Hetty held comfortably in his embrace. Snuggled against his back was Loring, who had crept from the nursery to crawl into their bed almost as soon as he'd been tucked into his. On the odd day Cerys too would sneak in to sleep with them, however it didn't appear as if she'd be coming this time.

Just as well. She was getting too old for it anyways. It would be a habit she'd have to soon break.

Her gaze touched on little Hetty, heart filling with warmth. Only one more week until she reached her first birthday and the physician had declared her outlook a bright one. She was going to live. She had become much stronger, gained weight and was able to roll over on her own and had begun to crawl – which was stressful as much as it was a delight. Her mobility had caused her to become quite adventurous. Zelda had cried when the physician had given the news and she could have sworn she'd seen a tear or two glistening in Link's eyes as well. All her children were safe and hers to keep.

The door to their bedroom had been kept partway open and Zelda's eyes shifted over to it when it widened further to admit their little queen in the making. Cerys barely glanced at her before darting to the bed and clambering up, crawling over to add her snuggles to the medley. Zelda silently observed them. Her dearest treasures all bunched together on her bed.

It was said that a ruler's entire kingdom was their family and it was that ruler's duty as the head to watch over them and do their best to ensure they lived long and happy lives. But as precious as her kingdom was to her, her personal family, a substantially smaller one, held a dear place in her heart that could never be touched by anything else.

This was what she lived for.

A small giggle from her booklet caught her attention and she glanced down to see an image appear on the dark page. The icon hovered and molded before it took the form of a small dark imp.

Zelda smiled and took up her quill. She dabbed it in the inkwell before placing the tip against the golden page and wrote:

Dear Midna

She paused as a script of elegant cursive appeared on the dark page. The imp zoomed on the paper around it, grinning cheekily.

We've been at this for years. How many times do I have to say this? You don't always always ALWAYS have to begin so formally!

Zelda read the message and chuckled. It was so like Midna to add a note of frustration to her writing voice. Partially that was the reason Zelda kept on bugging her. They'd both become accustomed to it during the three years that they've been communicating with each other.

It had been a gift that Midna had developed and created and somehow found a way to send to them a few years ago. Just because she had destroyed the Mirror of Twilight to keep people from venturing between worlds did not mean that she'd wanted to completely sever connections. Well, at first she had, but after a good amount of prying, she and Link had found out that Midna had missed them and wished to be able to at the very least speak with them. And so she'd created the booklets. Although she had made sure to tell them that she did not regret shattering the mirror one bit. Zelda and Link had understood and respected her decision. They'd had no further discussion on the topic since.

The book had come to them as a surprise. Midna was in possession of its partner in the Twilight Realm, an exact replica but for the dark tinted pages on the left rather than the right. Whenever one of them wanted to message the other that booklet let them know, and no matter how much was written on it, the pages never filled up. They could go back to look at previous conversations, they had years worth logged, but still the booklet never seemed to thicken.

The imp icon began floating around her page. It crossed its arms and legs and appeared to lean back. Midna had divulged that Zelda and Link too possessed an icon. For Link his was a wolf, although Midna had referred to it as a mutt. Zelda's, of all things, was a fairy. The icons were meant to reflect each other's mood and lingered on the page to show whether they were present or away.

The imp began twirling in place as if she were about to warp. Midna must be getting agitated.

A deep voice rumbled beside her ear. "Well? Aren't you going to write anything?"

Zelda hummed and flicked the feather of her quill in Link's face. He bat it away and tweaked her side in retaliation. Zelda jumped and levelled him a firm glare. Link merely smiled.

"Really, Zelda," he said reproachfully, "Can't wait until morning to speak with Midna?"

Zelda bristled. "And this is why. We were supposed to be having a private discussion."

"A woman thing, is it?"

She sniffed. "If you want to put it that way."

He indicated at the page. "I think she's getting tired of waiting."

Midna had written more, her handwriting far less elegant now as it was tinged with impatience. Link's icon must have appeared on her copy for she addressed it to him.

Link! Tell your wife to do something or close the stupid book so we can talk another day! If I'm going to sit here waiting for nothing to happen then I'm leaving.

Link chuckled and kissed her cheek. "Well, you heard the queen, my queen. Have your girl talk then come back to bed."

He strode off and slipped smoothly under the covers where three mini versions of them slept.

Smiling endearingly at them, Zelda poised her quill and began to write.