A week later, I was no better off than I had been the week before. It turned out that Zelda was in three of my five classes before lunch, and one after. Naturally, she sat by me in every single one, because I'm just that lucky. I thanked the goddesses that she wasn't in my gym class too. I probably would have fallen on my face if I saw her in gym clothes. Fortunately, out of all my classes, Cremia and Zelda were only in History together, so my girlfriend likely wouldn't notice me staring at Zelda all day. That might have been awkward. And of course, being a fool, I thought I could work with this, get over myself and my stupid obsession with Zelda. Unfortunately, not quite that easy.
Lunch on Tuesday, I was sitting with Sheik, Shade, and Cremia, along with some of the guys and girls I knew from around the school. Oh, the burden of being popular.
I was taking a long drink of my milk when I heard the words, "How about that Zelda girl?" I almost spewed my drink all over Shade but managed to keep it to a heavy coughing fit.
"I'm fine, fine. Just *cough* went down wrong," I said between my lungs seizing. Soon enough, the conversation went back to the original topic: Zelda Harkinian. Great.
"Man, she is a sweet sight. I wonder if she's taken," one guy, Kafei said. I couldn't help but wonder the same.
"Doubtful," Mikau, a Zora who was quite good at guitar, spoke up. "She moved here from Labrynna. That's pretty far away. If she is dating someone, that's one heck of a long-distance relationship." A smirk crossed Kafei's face.
"Might just have to try and get in on that action then." Sheik, ever the helpful one, was quick to put his two rupees in.
"Good luck with that. Half the guys in the school have the same idea. She's going to have more numbers by the end of the week than anyone else in the school." Mikau nodded in agreement.
"Definitely. I'm not even into Hylians, and I can see she's hot."
This entire time I was very careful to keep my expression blank and not look like I was listening raptly to every word. I glanced up and across the room to where Zelda was sitting surrounded by some of the popular girls, who had been quick to bring Zelda into their circle. I saw Ruto "casually" fixing her makeup, clearly trying to distract people from Zelda's natural beauty. I wasn't surprised. Ruto always had been an attention hog.
Just as I was looking at Zelda, she lifted her head and locked eyes with me. Slightly embarrassed, I raised my hand in a little wave. To my surprise, she flashed me that smile of hers that always gave me chills and waved back. Beside me, Cremia noticed my action and peered over me to see what I was doing.
"What'cha doin'?" she asked. I suddenly felt like I had gotten caught with my hand in the cookie jar and scrambled for an excuse.
"Just being friendly to the new girl. I don't want her to think she has to hang out with those girls if she doesn't have to." What I wouldn't give to have her come over here. Cremia gave me a sweet smile.
"Aww, that's so sweet of you, babe." I winced. I never had liked pet names, but I knew she was just doing it to poke fun at me. "You're always so nice to people. That's why I adore you so much," she said, laying her head on my shoulder. I smiled, but to me, it felt twisted. I hated lying, but I couldn't exactly tell Cremia the truth. Torn, I glanced across at Zelda again.
To my disgust, I saw the school jerk, Vatti, standing above and behind Zelda, his typical sneer on his face. Vatti and I were not what you might call friends. He had always been arrogant, and unfortunately, he had been gifted by the Goddesses with a small amount of magical prowess, which only served to fuel his already sizable ego. One day when I was ten, I had seen him threatening another boy, Mido, and had stepped in and told Vatti to bug off. From then on, Mido, who used to make fun of me for being short all the time, became the first member of my fan club and Vatti held a bitter grudge.
Now, seeing that creep sit down next to Zelda and put his arm around the clearly uncomfortable girl, spurred the same anger as he had inspired seven years ago. Shade seemed to notice my reaction and gave me a curious look before turning around to see what I was looking at.
"Ah shit," was all he said as I stood up and started walking over to Vatti and Zelda. Sparing a glance backwards to give Shade a look, I saw that the entire table was watching me with rapt attention. The Vatti/Link rivalry was well known throughout the school, and our face offs were practically legendary.
Luckily for me, Vatti didn't see me until I was standing right behind him.
"Hey there, Vatti," I said. He turned to look up at me with a dull expression on his face, looking across the arm that was still draped across Zelda's shoulders. The rest of the girls at the table moved away from the three of us slightly. They could probably hear my teeth grinding. "Why don't you leave the nice girl alone. Besides, she could do much better than you."
"Ahh, if it isn't Link the Hero," Vatti said as he finally moved his arm and stood up. My tendency to help those in need had earned me that nickname. "Come to show off how brave you are for the new girl?" he added with his trademark foul sneer. "Stupid is more like it." I tensed slightly, ready for the fight I knew was coming.
"Now who's trying to show off, Vatti? Trying to act like a big strong man? How many times do I have to beat you to get you to stop?"
"Beat me, eh? I think you'll be the one taking the beating this time!" With that, he threw his hand up as I had expected. He always opened our fights with the same move. I had already braced myself for the blast that came at me, so it only managed to push me back a step or two. I heard someone yell in outrage from behind me but didn't turn to see what it was. Instead, I jumped at Vatti, grabbing his outstretched arm and the stupid cloak he wore all the time, and used my momentum to throw him to the floor of the cafeteria. In a second, he was back on his feet and jumping at me. Off balance from the throw, he slammed into my chest and sent me sprawling, forcing the air from my lungs and smacking my head on the floor. I could see him above me winding up to get a good swing at me when a golden barrier appeared between us.
Hauling myself up, I saw Headmaster Rauru standing between us with a stern look on his face.
"At it again boys? Detention after school for the both of you, and for the rest of the week too. Next time, take your argument somewhere else, alright?" He didn't bother to wait for our responses. They were always the same anyway.
Vatti was quick to dust himself off and hide his rage behind his typical haughty sneer. I was still on the floor trying to clear my vision. Vatti raised an accusing finger at me.
"Next time, we do this where we won't get interrupted," he said, probably trying to look intimidating. Then, with a swish of that stupid cloak, he strode away. Sheik entered my field of vision, holding out his hand to help me up. Throwing him a grateful look, I took it.
"Once again, Link the Hero emerges victorious from his mighty and noble duel with the evil mage, Vatti," he said loudly, earning a few laughs and scattered clapping from around the lunch room. The popular girls, who had settled around their table again, cheered loudest of all. I would have taken a sarcastic bow, but I didn't think I could count on my head not splitting open if I did. I settled for a slightly embarrassed wave. I get thrown into the spotlight more often than most, but I still don't like the attention. As I started walking back to my table, I felt a small hand on my shoulder.
"Wait." I stiffened slightly as I recognized the voice but forced myself to stay calm as I slowly turned around.
"Thank you for standing up to that boy," Zelda Harkinian said as she smiled up at me. I almost fell over again. She was even more beautiful up close. "No one else was going to do anything about him," she finished with a sad tone in her voice.
"Don't worry about it," I said, slightly surprised at how easily I responded. This girl had taken up most of my thoughts for the past week, and I fully expected to be a nervous wreck when I actually talked to her. "Vatti is just a jerk that thinks he can get away with whatever he wants. The only difference between me and everyone else is that they let him do what he wants. I don't." I suddenly realized how concieted I sounded, but before I could apologize, Zelda gave a little laugh.
"I guess that's true. No wonder they call you 'Link the Hero,' she giggled. A slight blush quickly rose to my face.
"Yeah, I guess so..." I trailed off, itching the back of my neck absently. Why do guys always do that? Just then, the bell rang, signifying the end of lunch. I let out a small sigh of relief. "I guess I should get to class." Zelda nodded.
"Me too. I'll see you in a bit though." I was drawing a blank until I remembered that we had Science together later. I quickly tried to cover my lapse in attention.
"Right, right, I'll see you later then," I sputtered. I thought I saw Zelda's smile stretch a little more at my blundering. For once, I was happy to have a girl other than Cremia like me. I promptly shook myself out of those thoughts. Can't be thinking like that, Link. You're already taken.
"Great, bye then, Link," Zelda said as she turned away. Naturally, my mind locked onto the fact that she had said my name, but I managed to push out a response.
"Bye, Zelda." I loved her name. So sweet, but dignified too.
Din, I needed to get over myself.
And then Sheik slammed into me again, pulling me away from thoughts of Zelda.
"Feeling better now, mate?" he asked innocently enough, but his eyes said that he meant something else entirely. I shoved him away.
Cremia suddenly pulled me into a fierce hug, squeezing me like she wanted to kill me.
"Link, are you okay?! You hit your head so hard, and it sounded awful! I was so worried! Vatti is such an ass! Next time I see him, I'll..."
"Cremia, don't worry about it," I was quick to interrupt her rant. "I'm fine. Besides, we have to get to class." Cremia huffed.
"Fine, but I get to freak out about this later."
I found myself eagerly awaiting Science class later in the day. I didn't even linger on how amazing Cremia looked during gym, which was usually my favorite part of the class. Of course, instead, my mind was on Zelda. I had a problem.
And I really had to do something about it.
Fortunately (was it though?), Science came quickly, and soon I was sitting in class waiting for Zelda to come in. My leg was bouncing with nervousness and anticipation. Calm down, Link. You've dealt with Zelda for a week. Get over yourself. She's just a girl. She probably doesn't even like you. Chill out. I kept up my mental tirade until someone dropped into the seat next to mine. So much for that, I thought as my mind refocused on Zelda, who was asking me something.
Zelda and I chatted for a few minutes while we waited for class to start. She seemed a bit shy, but she seemed confident in herself and was surprisingly open about a lot of things with me. I guess fighting Vatti had some perks after all.
Soon enough, Barnes Boms, who insisted we call him by his first name, came in and introduced the subject of the day.
"Afternoon, class," he muttered. I always had a suspicion he didn't like teaching that much, as he was usually quite moody and had little patience. And if he ever caught you playing around with any of his equipment, Goddesses help you. "Before we start on chemical reactions today, you all should know that I'm assigning you a presentation for the end of the semester. It will serve as a good chunk of your final grade, so I suggest you get started on it now. It's a partnered presentation, in hopes of raising the quality of work from the mess that it was last year." I suppressed a chuckle. The previous senior class hadn't been particularly brainy, and the results would go down in school history. A frog had caught fire, one girl spilled acid on her shirt, and a boy had managed to make the room smell of burnt wood stain for a week. I couldn't blame Barnes.
"Also, in an effort to get you all to actually do the assignment, I'm going to let you pick your partner. You've got five minutes to figure it out," he finished, propping his feet up on his desk and leaning back. Naturally, the room immediately descended into chaos.
I turned to Sheik to see if he wanted to pair up with me, but he had already thrown himself at Midna, who seemed fairly amused at his attempts to be cool. I took a cursory glance behind me, partially to keep an eye on Vatti, but he had already paired off with a girl named Lavina. One glance below her neck told me why. I was trying to come up with a partner for myself when there was a light tap on my shoulder.
"Um, Link?" I turned back around to see Zelda playing with her fingers. "Would you...want to be my partner? I don't really know anyone else yet." Dang, was she always that cute when she was embarrassed?
"Sure thing, Zelda," I said before I had a chance to think about it. I almost started to berate myself over my clearly stupid split-second decision, but the smile that lit up Zelda's face made me reconsider. Something that made someone that happy couldn't be bad, right?
"Alright, alright, everyone calm down. Back to your seats." Barnes was trying to regain some semblance of order. Eventually everyone listened and sat back down. "Against my common sense, I'm going to leave it to you to decide what your demonstration will be about. The only rule is that you have to tie it to something that we've learned in this class and it does have to have a considerable amount of effort put into it. Which means no baking soda volcanoes allowed. Impress me. Now moving on to what we're actually learning about, chemical reactions take place when two substances interact..."
Just to clarify, the Zoras are actually Zoras, with fins and all, but a bit less exaggerated than in the games. Think Ocarina of Time with smaller heads and wearing clothes. Still blue, but it's blue enough that they mostly just look pale.
Kersplunk, thanks for being the first to review. Unfortunately, I've already written a good bit of the story, all told from Link's point of view. Maybe there'll be a few Zelda chapters later, but for now they aren't planned. Plus, I don't know how the hell girls think. Glad you're enjoying it though.
Just so anyone reading this knows, its a bit of a slow burn at the beginning. There is some foreshadowing, but even that takes time. All the same, I hope you're enjoying so far.
Last thing, I'll be posting a few chapters this first week or so just to get more of the story out there, before reducing the frequency of chapters to maybe one or two a week. Depends on how much I have ready to post. Also, rating will likely be changing to M later for language and violence reasons. Just an FYI.
Feel free to let me know what you think!