Well, before I start the story, I'd like to have a few words. A while back, maybe around 6 months ago, there was a story on this site, a Zelda romance story very similar to this one, called A Storybook Love. I was searching through the fics one day and I chanced a look upon it. Over the next 45 minutes, I sat spellbound, eyes glued to the screen. The story had its. intimate moments. but the way they were transposed. beautiful. When I finished I immediately book marked the story, then later printed it out and showed my friends. And I just gotta say- that story captivated me, and it was ultimately the reason I decided to become a member to the site, and write my own stories. So, I dedicate this story to the author of that story, Max Xang (I believe that's how you spell it, I'll check my printed copy but feel free to correct my via a review if I'm mistaken). A Storybook Love isn't up anymore, but I wrote this story in an almost impossible effort to be put in the same literature category as it. For those who remember it, I hope you consider my own work satisfactory enough to count as it's would-be replacement (maybe even as a lighter, less graphic version?), and for those who missed it, here's a small, miniscule taste of what you missed out on. Max, if you're reading this- thanks a lot. You totally inspired me, man. And now, without further ado, the story.

Author's Note: I don't own Zelda or any of it's beautiful, wondrous characters. if I did, would I really waste my time writing humongous, detailed fan fics about it? Well. maybe I would. but that's NOT IMPORTANT. Cas I don't own it. Such foolish thoughts to ponder.

~~~~~Clad in Lincoln-Green~~~~~

Chapter I
The afternoon sun glowed radiantly; a fiery orb that hung far above the spires of the distant castle. Twin blackbirds, Hylian Guays, drifted lazily on the mellow thermals emanating off over the sun-baked pasture below them. A horse dipped its head into a trough to drink, and in a nearby shed, an old dairy cow mooed nonchalantly. There was a serene feeling in the air.

Link sighed in amiable pleasure. Today was one of those days, one where it really felt good to be alive. He wondered if anyone else ever felt like this. The tranquility was absolute, complete. He shifted from his perch atop the high fence surrounding the corral. His mind reacted keenly to this physical change, and he drifted to more pressing matters.

Life on the peaceful ranch was good- it was, in itself, an implausible choice for a vacation spot, as Link had taken note of during his many previous visits over the years. But now- now that he was settling into it, actually becoming part of it and accommodating that it was a part of him as well, he was really quite fond of the charming little ranch. It gave him a chance to unwind; relax. The Goddesses knew that he was in need of a little leisure time. He chuckled to himself. Being a Hero really wasn't all it was cut out to be. Sure, the quest had long since been relieved of him- it had been a year since the fall of the Great Thief Ganondorf Dragmire-turned Dark Lord Ganon, and of late there had been no occurrences of great suspicion- but it was his title, "The Hero Of Time," that really fatigued Link. Hylians still cheered every time he marched into Kakariko village for groceries or the castle market on the way to the castle to converse with the Princess Zelda. Zoras still waved their fins or preformed beautiful swan dives off the large waterfall in Zora's domain in attempts to catch his attention, and the Gorons still offered him various "edible" rocks whenever he chanced a climb up Death Mountain to address the Great Faerie. Life was hard when all of Hyrule knew your name and praised you like one of The Three. He was still a celebrity.and it was getting to him.

In desperation, he had turned to his last hope besides the forest in which he called home- Lon Lon Ranch. The ranch owner, Talon, had benevolently prearranged one of the unused horse stables for Link, and after stocking it with fresh hay, a cowhide blanket, and a reassuring comment about how it actually served quite well as living accommodations, he had left the youthful Hero to himself. After a few weeks, which proved to seem like an eternity, Link realized that, while he was safe from his bothersome "fans" on this isolated little farm in the middle Hyrule field, his life appeared far from content. He begged Talon for a job as a ranch hand, to give him something to do. Talon was indeed hesitant, but as soon as Link told him that it'd be free of charge, Talon had leapt to his feet at a speed surprising for the man's age, taken the boy's hand in his own heavily calloused one, and chuckled with merriment.

"HAW! Well great Goddesses, how can I turn y'down now? Have I ever mentioned, boy, that you're like the son I never 'ad? Hmm, ain't never had a ranch hand work fer free before.of course y'can work fer me! I s'pose you'll be wantin' something from me besides pay, guess since rupees ain't whatcha after, huh?"
Link grinned. Talon knew well enough that Link was famous, and had no real reason for money, so he assumed rightly that Link was aiming for simpler things. Link had learned over the years not to underestimate the sturdy man- he was much smarter than he gave off.
"Actually Talon, all I really ask for is shelter, which you've already graciously given me, and a little bit of food a day, and I'd be happy to do my complete full share of the work. How're those terms?" Link had grinned again at his old friend. He had practically handed himself over to the man!
Suddenly Talon had obtained an outlandish look in his face, as if contemplating something that had just come to mind. Then he cracked a secret smile and leaned in a little closer to Link, lest someone overhear him.
"This wouldn't happen to have anything to do with my little Malon now, would it?"
Link felt the tips of his elfish Hylian ears burn. Was Talon genuinely suspicious, or was he just joking.?
He relaxed as the older man gave him a hefty grin and guffawed again loudly, a habit that Link had known him to have since they had first met.
"HAW! Don't worry, I'm just yankin' yer cuckoo! I'm not worried about you an' that daughter of mine. You two go pretty far back, if I'm not mistaken. And I trust ya like a son. Yore welcome t'work here as long as you want, I'll keep ya fed and sheltered."
He then had paused, as if in thought. "Speakin' o'you two, do remember that time, 'round when you first stopped by the ranch some 8 years ago, when I asked yeh if you'd like t'marry my sweet Malon? I was just havin' fun then of course.you were much to young to git yore mind set on such things. but now. well, yore both a lot older, aren'tcha? And I was wonderin'," He cast a wary glance at Link, "yeh don't have to give it to me straight, but I'm curious- whadaya think about that girl nowadays?"

In truth, Link had not thought about this presumption before. He had, of course, been attracted to the ranch girl; she was truly beautiful, with long, fiery auburn-red hair that framed a fair-skinned face, and two gorgeous cerulean-emerald eyes that peered out like twin pools of crystal clear water. She was a sight to behold as she stood unaccompanied in the center of the pasture singing her mother's song to the horses tenderly, hips swaying in the zephyr as she tapped her foot in time to her melody. Of course, Link was attracted to her, he had always been- once, when he was younger, Talon had caught him crouching behind a milk crate, watching surreptitiously as the ranch girl sang her sweet song to the foal Epona, Link's horse-to-be. The boy had blushed furiously in embarrassment, but Talon had just emitted his usual bark-laugh and had told the boy, "Ah, no need to be embarrassed, my girl really is a sight out there with the animals, isn't she? Funny. she's the spittin' image o'her mother. back in the old days. ah." Talon had drifted off then, stalking back to his chores in somber reminiscence.

Link had then snapped back to reality to realize that Talon still awaited an answer. He had cautiously begun.
"Malon. well, she's beautiful, but I'm sure you know I think so already.(Talon nodded his head and grinned in remembrance) Well. I guess I've never actually thought of her like that. She's always been one of my best friends, but I guess now that you mention it, er; I can see her in that way. Nothing's for sure of course," he added as Talon beamed and clapped his hands together. "I guess that. well, yeah, I have feelings for her. I'll just have to wait and see about things though."

Talon had nodded sagely. "Well Link, m'boy, since you show obvious interest for the girl, I'll tell ya something. Malon. well, I'm her father, and I've noticed quite a few things about her over the years. And. well, from I know. she's crazy aboutcha. I mean, you meant so much more to her than you might've known in the old days before Ganondorf's plague. You were her best friend; she would talk my ear off about you and what you two did during your frequent visits. She was heart-broken when you left and got yerself sealed in the Temple of Time for 7 years. had a real tough life, what with me gone, and poor, brainwashed Ingo taking over and driving her like a slave. She never gave up though, never once stopped believing that you'd come back to her. When yeh finally did, sure- she acted jubilant, excited and all on the outside, and told yeh how much she missed having ya around, but that night, after you had left and promised to return the next day, I walked up to her room to say g'night, and was just about to knock when I heard a her sobbing on the other side. At first I wondered what was wrong, but I listened closely and it turned out that she was weeping. in happiness. Kept going on and on, half cryin', half laughin', thankin' the Goddesses Three that you had come back to her. that her hero had returned. Ecstatic she was, kid. Overjoyed aboutcha. She really cares. just keep that in mind."

Talon's seriousness faded just as easily as it had appeared. He laughed once more and thumped the green-clad young man on the back, nearly sending him sprawling.
"Well Link, I reckon it's time you go out and find that daughter o'mine and give her a nice talkin' to. Naw, I don't mean you gotta confess yer love right then and there, just. talk to her. With all that I said in mind. Yore a good kid- if you just stay honest and treat her with the respect she deserves, yeh might be surprised where yer feelings wander."

The man had winked once more and was off out the door of the old farmhouse and across to the stables. Link's thoughts had been muddled as he pondered on all that the old man had said. 'Maybe. maybe I really do have a thing for Malon. In any case, I've got a long time on the ranch to find out my true feelings.' he thought to himself as he followed Talon out the door towards the corral. He neared closer to the field and a faint tinkle of resonate notes sounded on the wind. He grinned to himself. 'We'll wait and see.'

*~*~*END OF CH. I*~*~*