Author's Notes: Updated 1 February 2017 with minor cosmetic changes
This is a Twilight Princess story. It's a different sort of songfic I'm trying out. I've never seen it done this way before (not that it hasn't been, I've just never seen it). Anyway, the way I wrote it, the story itself has the lyrics in it. I'm not sure I succeeded very well, but, well, there it is.
What if all the stars aligned? Could I ever make you mine? ~ Hey Princess by AllStar Weekend
From his vantage point, Link could see everything in Castletown.
He may have lost the ability to turn into a wolf at will when Midna left. But with the skills and items he'd collected, there were few places beyond his reach anymore. So, the roof of one of the outer towers of Hyrule Castle was one of his favorite spots to sit, think, and observe. It was also the one place he knew he could find solitude as there were very few who could follow him here. Only one, in fact, that came to mind.
As his thoughts trailed to that person, his blue eyes moved toward the large central tower. The giant stained-glass windows surrounding it obscured the view of throne room inside. She would be in there now. Her and the nobility listened to any petitioners that wanted an audience with the queen. The Castle hadn't yet been restored in the year since the battle that had destroyed a part of it. But Zelda had been adamant that not even the memory to Ganondorf would remove her from her castle. So, as soon as it was safe to enter, court had resumed as it had been before Zant's invasion. The four floors of the main tower, including the throne room, had been among the first things restored.
A year was far longer than Link had ever been planning to stay.
Looking up at the sky, he noted the position of the sun. Soon, the Petitioner's Court would end, and it would be time for the lunch break. Then, Zelda and her Court would hole themselves up to discuss the affairs of state for the rest of the afternoon. He stood and made his way to the edge of the roof. Once there, he flipped into the open window with ease. It was the same one that he had used to get up there in the first place.
The room he entered was the one that he'd first met Zelda in, back when he'd still been in the form of a wolf. His footsteps were silent as he descended from the tower back into the halls of the castle. Link moved in such a way out of habit rather than anything else. His feet took him exactly where he wanted to go, having taken this path many times before. In no time, he found himself outside the doors of the throne room, walking past the short line of petitioners and the castle guards.
Guards saluted him as he passed, and he forced himself not to cringe at the display. He tried not to notice the awe in the people's eyes as they realized who he was and whispered to their neighbors. If it had been up to him, not one would have ever known what he had done. No one would call him the Hero of Twilight and know he was the Spirit of the Hero reborn once again. Link would have gone back to his quiet life with Epona.
When Midna destroyed the mirror, Link had escorted the princess back to Hyrule Castle. He'd planned on immediately returning to his humble abode in Ordon. Except Zelda had asked him to stay until her coronation. And he found himself unable to refuse her. If Ordon had survived in the many weeks his quest had taken him to complete, it wouldn't miss him for one more. But then, people had wondered who he was when he returned with the princess, and why he'd stuck around for the coronation at the princess's request. Though he'd been tight lipped about all he'd done, Princess Zelda had been almost eager to answer the questions. She told everyone who he was and what he'd accomplished. In fact, her very first act as queen was to knight him and raise him into the rank of the nobility. Because everyone knew who he was at that point she had the full backing of the court and the people of Hyrule.
Now, a year later, he was still here because he had found a reason not to leave. It wasn't his new title, which he hadn't wanted nor asked for and, though he should, didn't particularly care about. Link didn't resent Zelda for giving it to him; he knew she was showing her gratitude to him in the best way she could. At least she'd had the sense not to give him the responsibility of lands and people along with it.
Stopping at the top of the stairs, Link hopped onto the wall, ignoring the gasps of appreciation and wonder from the crowd. He leaned against one of the small stone statues and waited. About two minutes after his arrival, one of the giant doors opened. The petitioner that had been inside exited, followed by one of the court scribes. The petitioner followed a guardsman, who would escort him out of the palace. Another guard lead the next man in line to the doors which closed behind him. Meanwhile, the scribe moved towards the line and began taking the names of those few still left in line. If they returned the next day, they would be allowed to the front of the line, weather permitting. Since the way to the throne room was outside the castle walls, Petitioner's Court was never held in bad weather. Regardless, Link knew that it was almost done for the day, if the scribe was taking names.
The people were taken back down the stairs to be lead out of the palace. This left Link alone with the two guards that stood outside the doors. Without the crowd, the solace of his thoughts rose once more. Zelda told him more than once that he was welcome to join them in court, but Link didn't think he would be useful. He still knew next to nothing about politics. Unless there was some sort of giant monster to slay, he didn't know what help he would be. After all, his Lordship was in name only; it was the only thing he was thankful about it. Link would have had no idea what to do with any lands or people had Zelda given them to him.
Finally, the doors opened, this time all the way. The final petitioner came out first with one of the guards. The flood of nobles, courtiers, and advisors followed after them. The queen came last, flanked at all sides by her knights. And, as always, Link thought she was one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. Particularly, when she dressed in her royal white and purple gown.
Zelda paused on the landing, as the doors shut behind her. Standing, Link jumped down from the wall, landing in a crouch before straightening up. "You may go," she said to her six knights. They left down the stairs, disappearing back into the palace without protest. They all knew their queen could be no safer than in the presence of the Hero of Twilight. Not in the least because he had beaten all six of them in combat. At the same time.
Once they were alone, Zelda relaxed and turned to Link with a soft smile on her face. Link stepped closer to her, a bit more than what was necessary, but the queen did not shy away or show any outward sign of discomfort. "Hey, Princess," he greeted and her smile broadened a little more. He felt his heart beat faster at the sight. She may have become Hyrule's Queen, but he was the one who stormed the castle to save her. Midna, Princess of Twilight, had become his best friend at the end of their quest. But Zelda would always be his Princess. The one reason he'd found the continue extending his stay at Hyrule Castle.
Because Link could only count himself unfortunately in love with Zelda. Which was why he had to leave as soon as possible.
"I'm leaving. Tomorrow."
Zelda's heart skipped a beat at Link's words, though she made no outward appearance that his words affected her. In truth, she'd been expecting it for a while, ever since summer started again two months ago. She knew Link would never see the truth unless he found it himself. That he had changed and experienced too much to ever go back forever. Because she knew his departure was always inevitable, she'd kept her growing feelings for him hidden deep within herself. For the present, anyway. "Back to Ordon?" she inquired.
He only nodded in response, breaking contact with her eyes as he turned his head away. Link had never been a man of many words, despite his intelligence and unique perspective.
But she would miss him. Oh, how she would miss him. He'd become a constant in her life. She cherished this time she'd spent with him, the walks in the courtyards after eating lunch together. Before she ha to go back to the Council Chamber to discuss the affairs of state. They were the rare times she could cast aside the Queen persona cultivated in her youth and could be Zelda. The times when she was wanted rather than needed.
As Queen, she had to be perfect and above everything. Zelda had to make people believe that she was their chosen leader, beloved of the Goddesses. Not for herself, as her father used to tell her, but because it was what the people expected. He told her that they worried less if their government was viewed as immaculate. And now she had to be even better after Zant's invasion and the battle with Ganondorf.
But with Link, there wasn't a need for any of that. He saw and judged her only as she was and not by anything else. It was this same mindset that made him so well loved and respected. Not only in Hyrule Castle but in Castletown and throughout Hyrule, she heard that tales of him were told. The Goron respected her as queen, but she was not their brother as Link was. Prince Ralis of the Zoras like her, but he adored Link. Ordon, Kakariko, Castletown, everyone had a story, a connection, about him. Even two resident Yetis up the moutain she hadn't even known existed until Link told her.
Which was part of the reason why, if he returned to her, she would spend every minute she could proving her feelings and convincing him to marry her. She would take whatever time necessary to get him to become her King.
Link would be reluctant to the idea, she was well aware of this. Zelda hoped to be able to explain what kind of king she expected him to be. She knew it would kill his spirit to keep him confined in the castle. If he left for months at a time, she would be fine. He could travel amongst the people, helping them up close, while she watched and guided them from afar. Link could be the people's King, and as long as she knew he would come back, that he would always return to her, she would never fight that.
So all in all, this separation was necessary for them both. Link needed to find his truth, and Zelda had to prove to herself that she could rule without him by her side at all times. That she could still survive without him so near every day.
When he escorted her to her chambers that night after dinner, she stopped him with a hand on his arm before he left. "Link, wait," she said, knowing she had to give him something. A hope, a reason, to come back. While she had figured out Link had feelings for her (she didn't, after all, hold the Triforce of Wisdom for nothing), she was almost certain that the reverse was not true. Or at least, Link had not allowed himself to see it. "Are you leaving in the morning?"
He nodded but said nothing.
"I want you to know you can always come back here. That you will always have a home here with me," she added, placing emphasis on the last two words. Swallowing her uncertainties, knowing she had to do this if she ever wanted a chance with him, she wrapped her arms around him. Ignoring how he stiffened, she laid her head against his shoulder. She felt tears burn her eyes as the reality of his leaving set it. Gathering her will, she spoke in a steady voice, allowing no tear to fall. "I'll miss you, Link."
With hesistating movements, his arms lifted until they wrapped around her back. Link hugged her back in a loose grip. From him, there were no emotional responses, no declarations of love, no words of returning endearments. There was only a promise which amounted to as much the same, coming from Link. "I'll come back, Princess."
Her lips curled upward, knowing she now had her chance. Link would never break his word. Now, all she had to do was wait. She leaned back from him a little, enough to lean up and press her lips to his cheek before stepping back. His eyes were wide with surprise, and Zelda managed somehow to suppress the urge to giggle. "Have a safe journey. Good night," she said, escaping into her rooms, leaving the hero in the hallway.
He was gone the next morning, taking his faithful horse, Epona, with him. The seasons passed-summer gave way to autumn which bled into winter until finally spring returned again. Zelda missed him, but she survived. Her feelings for Link did not diminish in his absence, and she now knew she could still love if he wasn't at her side. So, she knew she'd been right all along. All that was left was to convince Link of this.
His treehouse was unexpectedly clean when he returned to Ordon. Link hadn't been back in over a year. So, there was every reason to believe that a layer of dust and stale air would be there to greet him as he opened the door. It surprised him that this was not the case.
Night had already fallen by the time he'd made it across the bridge. Link released Epona to her own devices-he knew she'd never be more than a whistle away-after taking the saddle and giving her a quick brush down. Since it was still warm, she'd probably go shelter in the spring rather than make her way to the farm. Link couldn't understand her in words anymore as he had when he was the wolf, but they still understood each other. He knew she did not mind.
Bracing himself, he was prepared to ignore all the dust that had been sure to accumulate in his absence. Link opened his door ready to collapse into bed and worry about cleaning later. When he found it clean, he decided the mystery was still something to worry about later. He shed his gear, pulled of his boots, and fell into bed.
He woke up to the sound of his name being called. For a moment, he wondered why Zelda was coming to wake him, as they hardly ever got to meet up before lunch. He sat up, stretched, and ran a hand through his hair as he threw his legs over the side of the bed. After a moment's pause, he snapped up as he realized that was not Zelda's voice and this was not his room at the castle.
With practiced ease, he took stock of the situation, as he had learned with proficiency to do on his quest. Memory returned a second later. This was his treehouse. Link had returned to Ordon last night. Which meant the female voice outside had to be none other than Ilia.
Quickly, he threw on a shirt and opened his door, looking down at the ground. Sure enough, there stood the blonde young woman, whose smile brightened when she saw him. She placed her hands on her hips as she said, "I knew I'd find you here when I found Epona at the spring. Come on down. I'm sure everyone will want to say hello."
Only nodding his head in agreement, Link returned inside to get dressed. Most of his gear he left, but he still put on his sword and shield. He never felt right anymore unless he wore them.
Walking out of the house, he didn't bother with the ladder and jumped straight off the landing to the ground. Ilia fell into step with him as they walked toward the village. "I hope you didn't mind," she began. "I've been cleaning your house every once and a while in case you came back to visit." She laughed. "It's a good thing I did. Anyway, how long before you have to return to the castle?"
Ilia's question made him stop in his tracks. She took a few more steps before she stopped as well and turned to face him. Her expression fell as her eyebrows pinched in concern. "Link? What is it?"
"I wasn't planning on returning to the castle," Link answered honestly. He had to stay far away from Zelda for as long as it took these feelings to die, as they should.
Ilia's expression faltered as she took in his words. "But...I thought you and the queen…"
For a brief second, Link's eyes widened as he wondered if she knew. After a few seconds, he asked, "What about me and Zelda?"
Biting her bottom lip, Ilia hesitated for another moment before her smile returned. Letting out a little laugh, she said, "We've all heard the stories now, Link. Of you, the Hero of Twilight, and how the queen made you her Champion and personal knight. I would have thought you'd have to stay in the castle to protect her."
Link relaxed at her words, thinking that she couldn't know about his love for the queen. "She doesn't need me to protect her there. Zelda has a whole legion of knights in the castle to keep her safe. I'll be more help fighting monsters out here."
Ilia looked into his eyes for a moment. "I see," she said with a nod and continued toward the village. Link followed her, feeling like he missed something in that exchange. Once there, he found many things had changed since he left. Colin had grown about half a foot and had taken his place helping with the goats. His baby sister, Rusl and Uli's daughter, wasn't such a baby anymore. Malo and Talo were nowhere in sight. He'd known the family had moved to Castletown shortly after the battle to help Malo run his Malo Marts. It was still hard to believe that such a young kid had become so successful.
What Link found most strange and different was the fact that he didn't have a place anymore. His house was still here in the tree, just as he left it, but in the time he'd been gone, the village had moved on. Things he used to do were now the responsibilities of others. The villagers treated Link like a visitor. He felt like a visitor.
Two weeks was all he lasted before he and Epona were on the road again. The longing to travel, to go, to see had become so strong during his quest. And Ordon had no Zelda to give him a reason to stay longer.
Zora's Domain was his first stop to see Prince Ralis and spend a few relaxing weeks fishing. And since he was so close, he made his way up to Snowpeak before winter set in too hard to visit Yeto and Yeta. Link stayed a while to help eradicate some monsters that had settled into the ruins. Also, he assisted Yeto in fixing up a few more rooms into more livable spaces.
Once winter's harshness arrived, Link found himself back in Zora's Domain. Before too long, however, the itch to travel returned yet again. This time he went to see his brothers among the Death Mountain Gorons. Darbus welcomed him, insisted on a feast in his honor. Link spent much of the winter amongst the warm air of the volcano. On occasion, he traveled down to see Renado and Kakariko Village.
A couple of weeks before spring arrived, Link was traveling again, down to Lake Hylia to take the cannon up to the city in the sky to visit Occoo. He stayed there only a week before he left again, back down Ordona Province. This time, he did not head straight to the village. Instead, he set Epona off on her own and went off to the Sacred Grounds. No one could follow him there, and he could have the peace to think.
Because try as he might, he could not help but feel the constant pull towards Hyrule Castle. He skirted around it all these months, never once setting foot into Castletown, but that did not stop his eyes from finding the towers anyway. Like Hyrule to Castletown, his world still centered around her. And Link was no closer to coming up with a solution than when he'd first left. He had no idea how she'd somehow gotten him obsessed. That's how he thought of his feelings for her. Whatever she wanted, whatever she wanted, he would do it. And his promise to return also hung over him. Link knew he would hate himself forever if he ever broke a promise to her.
However, no grand solution appeared in his solitude at the Grove, even in the presence of the Master Sword. He went back to his treehouse in Ordon, a visitor once more with no plan of what he should do now.
Mayor Bo was outside when he walked in. "Ilia was worried when Epona showed up without you last week. Rusl assured her you could take care of yourself. And if even half the things we've heard you've done are real, then that's true enough. Still, I promised I'd come everyday to see if you've returned."
Link nodded, not exactly sure what else exactly he was supposed to say. "Tell her I'm fine," he settled on and started walking past him towards the ladder.
But Bo caught his arm before he could get far. "Let's talk," he said, thrusting his head towards the treehouse. Again, Link nodded, leading the way up the ladder, which creaked under Bo's weight. But when he opened the door, he found that Bo was not his only visitor. All the members of the Resistance where there: Rusl, Telma, Auru, Ashei, and Shad. His small house didn't seem big enough to fit them all, even with Ashei seated on the railings of the small second floor landing. But if the house had seemed small before, it felt downright tiny when Bo entered with his massive frame. Link sat down on a box, leaving Bo the empty chair. Having no idea what this would be about, Link remained silent and waited for them to speak first. Though deep in his heart, he almost wished they had some giant monster for him to slay. At least then, he would feel like he was doing something.
"What are you doing here, Link?" Rusl asked bluntly.
Like Ilia's question of so long ago, Link paused at this question, unsure of exactly what his mentor meant. "This is my house," he answered.
From his seat, he saw Auru nod his head solemnly. "That's true," he said. "But it is not your home."
"What?" Link breathed in surprise, almost jumping to his feet. "Ordon is-"
"Where you are from," Bo interrupted. "It will always be that. But it hasn't been your home for a long time. Not since you left to save the kids."
"No, I think it's been even longer than that," Rusl added. "I think when your parents died when you were little, you lost it. And now that you've found it again, we can't figure out why you keep running from it."
Link felt his anger flare, incensed that they thought he, who held the Triforce of Courage, would run away from anything. That they would tell him Ordon was not his home, as if he was no longer welcome here. "I built this place. It is my home."
"A home isn't a building, yeah?" Ashei piped up from above. "It's people, the ones you always carry inside. Right here, yeah?" She patted her chest over his heart.
"If my house burned to the ground, I'd have a home as long as I had Ilia," Bo interjected.
"Yes, exactly," Shad said. "Ordon is where you are from, and, for a time, it was your home. But I believe your spirit knew you never meant to stay here. After all, why else would you have felt compelled to build this house here, far from the rest of the village on the outskirts of the forest? It is an intriguing prospect to think about."
Link opened his mouth to tell them exactly why he'd built his house here, but Rusl spoke again before he could even get out one word. "I know you thought it was to protect us or some such nonsense," he said, taking the words right out of his mouth. "But I think a part of you knew you were waiting for her to call you."
Shad made a sound of agreement. "My thoughts, precisely. Perhaps the Spirit of the Hero…" His words trailed off into mumbling as he opened his notebook and began to make notes.
Ignoring the scholar as there was no stopping him when he felt he had a topic to research, Link asked, "You think the castle is my home?" He wondered if they were all here trying to get him to go back there. And he couldn't tell them that the reason he hadn't returned to the castle was because he was in love with the queen. Because he knew very well that he shouldn't be. Then, he thought about Ilia's question back when he'd first come back to Ordon. She'd asked it like she expected him to be visiting. Like she knew he would never stay there forever anymore. It was possible they thought that the castle was where he belonged now that he was the Hero of Twilight. But in the year that he'd been there, there had been very few times that he felt like he belonged. And all of those times had to do with Zelda.
Still, the answer he got surprised him. "No, but I think the queen is," Telma answered, giving him a wink, ignoring the glares that Rusl, Auru, and Bo all shot her. It was clear she had gone beyond the limits of the conversation plan. That did not stop the flutter in his chest as he processed what she said and thought about what she could mean.
Auru cleared his throat, drawing his attention to the older man and away from his thoughts. "Word around the town was that Lord Link, Hero of Twilight, has been off visiting all the provinces. But he hasn't set foot in Castletown since summer, and the people are wondering when it will finally be their turn."
"A couple of weeks ago, Queen Zelda reassured them you would come back to Hyrule Castle, honey," Telma added. "People at my bar celebrated the news, and now everyone thinks you've been traveling around, checking on all the people for her. Yet here you are, back in Ordon. And for reasons I think you've just been making up in your head, I think you believe you won't be going back to the Castle for a while."
"What use is that shiny thing on the back of your hand if you aren't going to use it, yeah?" Ashei stated.
"A tactical retreat is not cowardice, nor is not fighting a battle you are sure to lose."
"That may be true, but I think you are wrong about what kind of battle this is," Auru said.
"You may not realize it, honey, but you are the single most respected man in Hyrule. If you chose to chase after the queen, no one would stop you. And if someone did, I guarantee that people would revolt against them more than you. Now, give me one good reason why you are not up there with Zelda, and it better not be because you think you're nobody compared to her," Telma stated. Her mouth was set in a hard line as she finished talking.
"As I understand it, there have always been kings and queens aplenty, but there is only one True Hero," Rusl added.
Link had nothing to say to that. He was too busy thinking what would happen if they were right. That it might be possible that he and Zelda could be the ever after, the two to end the story. The one he wanted he'd found and they could be together. No one would stop them.
He didn't notice the former Resistance members and Bo leaving until the door opened. Telma was the last to step out. "Remember, dear, no regrets."
Everyone but Zelda was surprised when a giant white cat came in and dropped a letter onto the queen's lap. Ignoring the looks, Zelda scratched behind the cat's ears and murmured, "Thank you, Louise." Unrolling the message, she read, He's in Ordon. Good luck, sweetie! There was no signature, but not even counting that it was delivered by Louise, there was no doubt that it was Telma.
"There is an urgent matter I must see to tomorrow," she announced out loud. "I will return within a week." For she had decided that she was done waiting for Link to return. She didn't doubt that he would keep his promise eventually, but this was starting to be ridiculous. Which was why she'd sent out word to Link's friends in the former Resistance to keep an eye out for him. She decided she would have to go get him herself.
While her councilors did not protest her leaving, they didn't like her announcement that a guard would not be necessary. That is until she said, "I will be meeting up with Sir Link outside Castletown." It was, after all, the truth. The when and where she would meet with him was left out. No one would argue that the Hero of Twilight wouldn't be enough to protect her. And Zelda hardly needed an audience for the conversation she was planning on having.
The next morning, she headed off, dressed in nondescript clothes and a concealing cloak. She made it to Ordon after nightfall with no problems. Not that she expected any now that Link roamed Hyrule and took care of all the monsters in his path. As she passed the spring, she looked and saw Epona near the water. Her heart soared as a smile graced her face at the sight. If Epona was here, it was likely that Link was still here as well. She had not missed her chance. She turned her horse into the spring and dismounted. Epona walked over to her and bumped Zelda in the chest with a gentle nudge of her nose. The queen giggled in a hush, glad that Link's horse recognized her. "I'll straighten him out, girl. You'll see." Zelda decided to leave her horse here with Epona and continued the short distance to Ordon on foot.
Curiously, she studied the treehouse at the village outskirts, wondering what was its purpose. This was her first time in Ordon, never having the chance to visit this newest province of Hyrule. Walking into the village, she walked straight to the large central house, assuming that this belonged to Mayor Bo. Confirming her guess with the sign in front of it, she walked up the steps to knock at the door.
Even after hearing about him from Link, Mayor Bo was still larger than she had imagined. Drawing herself up and wrapping herself in her queen persona, she forced herself not to be intimidated by his rough glare. "Excuse me for disturbing you at this late hour, but I was wondering if you could direct me to Sir Link's house."
The mayor's glare morphed into a thoughtful frown before widening into a grin. "Did you see the treehouse as you came in?" Zelda nodded. "That's it."
A laugh escaped her lips before she could stop it. "How like him," she murmured, but the glimmer of humor in his eye, she wondered if Bo had heard her anyway. Dipping into a small curtsy, she continued, "Thank you."
Zelda turned to walk away, but paused as Bo spoke one more time. "Good luck, Your Majesty. He's stubborn."
Only mildly surprised that he had guessed her identity, she replied, "He never would have become the Hero otherwise." She exited the village proper to return to the treehouse. Placing her hands on the rungs, she began to climb.
The creaking of his ladder alerted Link that he was about to have a visitor. From the lightness of the knock, he wondered if it was Ilia, though she had never visited him so late before. Opening the door, he was met with a visage he had first seen as the wolf long ago. Stunned, he could only stand there, wondering what she was doing there.
"May I come in?" she said, and he could hear the humor in her tone. He guessed she found his surprise amusing.
But her words spurred him into action as he stepped back and said, "Be my guest." She walked in, reaching up to pull back her hood. Link's breath got caught in his throat, and his heart started to pound in his chest at the mere sight of her face. His princess was every bit as beautiful as he remembered her. Her eyes roamed the interior of his house. In that moment, Link was painfully aware that his place was rather unsuitable for a queen to occupy.
However, a smile was on her face when she finally looked at him again. "So, this is where you grew up. How long have you lived here?"
"Rusl and Mayor Bo helped me build it when I was twelve," Link answered without thought. "Zelda, what are you doing here?" Another thought occurred to him. "Did you come alone?"
She sat down on his bed. "You've been avoiding me, Link," Zelda said, ignoring his questions altogether. "You promised to come back."
The words stung no matter how much kindness she had spoken them with. "I was planning on coming back."
Link remained silent as the only honest answer he could give was 'when he got over his feelings for her'. She smiled at him in that way that he'd come to know meant that she knew something he didn't. When she patted the empty space beside her, Link knew there was no avoiding the silent invitation. With slow deliberate steps, he made his way across the room before sitting next to her. He wondered what about her made all that courage he used to face down monsters ten times his size (if not more) flee.
When he sat, Zelda reached out and grabbed his hand. Her fingers played across his palm and the Triforce mark on the back of his hand. The feeling of her fingertips against his skin caused the hair on his arm to rise as goosebumps flared to life along his skin. It took every inch of willpower to suppress the shivers that threatened to rack his spine. Before his very eyes, the Triforce on his hand began to glow with soft light as did Zelda's own. He looked up to see Zelda's reaction and found her smiling at their hands. "Link, do you know why I let you leave without even asking you to stay any longer?" she asked, lifting her eyes to meet his. He shook his head, taking the silent approach as he so often had done before. "I knew the separation was necessary for both of us," she continued. "I needed to know I could rule on my own without you in the castle to help me. And you needed to understand that you could never go back to how things were before. I think you know that now, don't you?"
Link thought about how he had never stayed anywhere during his travels for much longer than a month. About how he already was itching to leave Ordon again. "Yes," he admitted in a whisper, turning his gaze away. After all he had experienced, Link realized now, as he had not before, he would never be content to be Ordon's goat boy.
Zelda caught the side of his face with her hand and turned it back to face her. "I made you promise to come back, so that I would have the chance to explain. So that I could tell you what couldn't be said until we both knew our own truths. You understand now, and I know that I can run the affairs of Hyrule from the castle without you."
Drawing back from her, words stinging, Link felt his heart clench in his chest at the thought that she didn't need him. However, Zelda seemed to have other ideas as she reached up and cradled his cheeks in both hands, pulling him back to her. "Forgive me. I did not mean to make you misunderstand. All I meant was that I would never confine you to the castle all the time, Link." Here, her lips curled upward into a smile. "Indeed, I think Hyrule would benefit greatly from a king who spends a lot of time among the people, helping them directly."
Link shot up from his seat and backed away from her. "King?" he choked out. He had barely begun to wrap his mind around the fact that he might be able to try to win Zelda over. Having Zelda say right out that she could want to marry him caused him to regress right back to where he started. "Zelda," he protested. "I'm just a boy and you're…"
"And I'm your Princess," Zelda interrupted coming to her feet, still smiling as her eyes sparkled.
"You're the queen."
"And your Princess," she emphasized again, stepping close enough that they stood inches apart. "I'm sorry that I hid my feelings from you before, Link. I had to know that I could run things while you were off always saving the world. But you'll always have a home with me to come back to."
The words his friends had spoken to him came back to Link then, that a home was people not buildings. And he recognized that pull he felt toward Hyrule Castle, the one that had disappeared once Zelda walked through his door, as the longing to go home. That was something he hadn't felt since his parents died. This woman before him was his home now. And from the sound of it, she wanted nothing more than to be that.
Deciding to be the Bearer of Courage that he was, he cupped her cheeks with his hands and pulled her against him. He rested his forehead against hers, noses touching, and breaths mingling. He held them there for a brief second, giving her a chance to change her mind. Without any protest from Zelda, Link tilted her head and pressed his lips against hers.
Zelda returned his gentle kiss, hands reaching up to grip the front of his shirt. Her kiss was more than anything Link would have imagined it to be. The sheer fact that she, whom he had seen as unattainable, would return the love he felt for her was overwhelming. After what seemed like an eternity and a fraction of a second at the same time, he pulled back from the kiss. Not wanting to be away from her he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him. With her head resting against his shoulder. "Now that I've caught you, I'll never let you down," he said into her ear.