Disclaimer: I don't own Zelda.

Zelda's Choice

The Announcement

Zelda was in her parlor, reading a novel on her crimson upholstered sofa. Her long golden hair fell about her face; her large sapphire eyes blinked every once in awhile in complete concentration. She had her long legs propped up on the end of the couch, not caring how unladylike her position was, especially since she was wearing a gown. Despite being a princess, she cared nothing for strict femininity, at least in her own room.

She looked up when someone knocked on the tall, mahogany door.

"Come in," she called in response. Her father poked his head in, frowning.

"Zelda, my dear, you really shouldn't be so abrupt. Is it so difficult to come to the door yourself?" her father responded. She snorted in reply as he walked in and sat in an arm chair next to her.

"Don't be such a prude, Father. Lighten up!" she exclaimed, smiling.

The King of Hyrule sighed. "You are so stubborn, you silly girl!" He frowned once again, and added seriously, "Zelda, you should heed my advice. You are the Princess and my only heir -"

Zelda cut him off. "How many times do you have to remind me? I know. I won't ever forget." She brushed her hair back from her face, revealing her lovely cheekbones and pale complexion. "How could I?" she whispered.

Her father patted her knee. "I did not intend to upset you, my dear. But I do have some good news for you." The king smiled. "You are now ten and eight years, and I believe ready for marriage." When Zelda squeaked in disagreement, he continued. "Now, now, Zelda, you know it is true. You need to secure your roll as the next ruler of Hyrule. I have planned to have a number of balls and parties in your honor, while inviting many young men that I would find acceptable…" He trailed off as he looked at his daughter's facial expression. "What is the matter, my dear?" he asked tentatively, knowing full well how her temper could explode randomly.

Zelda felt anger and offense at her father. How could he treat like some kind of animal put up for show? "Is that all I am to you? An heir to secure? Someone to marry off?" she asked, her voice trembling.

The king instantly put his arms around his daughter and replied, "No, no, my dear, my Zelda, how could think of such a thing?" He continued to affirm his statements over again, that he loved her and only wanted the best for her, she was his daughter after all…

Zelda simply sat in the circle of her father's arms, unresponsive. She wanted to throw him off of her and leave. She not only felt angry and hurt, but afraid. Marriage, now? She shuddered inside. To some man she would barely know? Zelda began to cry.

Her father sat back in his chair. "Don't cry, sweetheart!" he cried, not knowing what to do. Zelda stood up, her fists clenching at her sides.

"I appreciate what you are trying to accomplish, Father. I will consider your offer." Then she left, still crying. The king sighed a long sigh, and then rubbed his temples. His daughter was so headstrong sometimes! He left, not knowing what to think.

* * * *

Zelda walked down the long hallways, rubbing her upper arms as if she were chilled. She was confused, and she truly only wanted to see one person. He was her best and longest friend.

She eventually came outside to the arms practice yard. Many people, mostly men, practiced their swordplay in the expansive area. Zelda had always wanted to learn swordplay, but her father had forbid it. Her face in a frightening frown, she looked for him. Link.

Her eyes eventually landed on him while she scrubbed the tears off her face. Link was practicing with another man, his long golden hair in a messy ponytail. His sword gleamed in the sunlight, and she noticed him smiling as he swung his weapon at his opponent. He loved swordplay. He was talented at it, too.

As her own eyes landed on Link, other eyes landed on her. She felt her cheeks flush at the staring eyes. Why had she come out here? What would Link think if he knew she was looking for him specifically? Her behavior as a princess was constantly scrutinized. She sighed loudly and walked away, her tears starting to flow once again. She was such an idiot.

The Princess of Hyrule stomped away, suddenly not caring about other's opinions of her. Could she never be herself? She walked around to the stable area and entered the building. Coming in the smell of horse sweat and sweet hay enveloped her senses. Many of the horses were gone, however, most likely being exercised on such a lovely day. Zelda patted random snouts, and then she climbed up the ladder to the hay loft. No one was ever up there, at least during the day. And hopefully no one would bother her.

She covered her face in her hands, crying still. Sometimes being a princess was so lonely. She didn't care if she was simply feeling sorry for herself. Sometimes self-pity was necessary.

She soon, however, heard someone enter the stable. Moving slowly to the corner of the loft, Zelda instantly felt embarrassed and prayed that no one saw her. She felt her cheeks flush to crimson as she listened to someone climb the ladder. She simply watched as she saw Link come into the loft, his sword clanging against his thigh. The silly man never went anywhere without it.

He smiled when he saw her and walked over to her hay covered corner. "You know," he said with a grin, "your dress is going to get filthy."

Zelda snorted while she wiped the tears away, once again. "I don't care." Link sat down next to her and simply looked at her, waiting for her to continue.

Zelda and Link had known each other for so long, but lately they had grown apart. The pair had once been joined at the hip, but when hormones and disapproving elders came around in later years, they had quickly been separated. But their friendship would not be dissolved so easily. Zelda regretted her silence on the matter, though. Link was worth more than her silly reputation.

Zelda stared down at lap, twisting her hands. She didn't know what to say. Should she tell him what her father had already planned? She sighed. Everything was always so complicated.

Link poked her shoulder. "Hey," he said softly, "what's wrong?" He smiled his famous Link smile.

And that smile made Zelda's heart melt. And it made her cry again. She covered her face with her hands, ashamed.

"Zelda, what happened?" he asked again, not knowing what to do.

"I - don't - want - to - get - married - !" she cried.

"Really? That's a pity," Link replied, trying to lighten the mood. "I always wanted to marry you myself."

Zelda took her hands off her face and smacked him on his arm. "Shut up," she mumbled.

"It's true," he added, rubbing his upper arm where she'd hit him.

She sniffled. "No, you don't understand. My father, he wants to hold these ridiculous balls and put me on show, like some kind of horse! He says I need to be married soon." She looked into Link's eyes. "I don't want to get married, at least not yet." She hugged herself. "I'm sorry," she said quietly, "I'm wallowing in self-pity. I am so stupid." Her eyes focused on the hay-strewn floor, away from those deep blue eyes.

He took her pale chin in his hand. "You're not stupid," he said simply, but the conviction and seriousness in his voice made Zelda tremble. What was wrong with her? She most certainly cared about him, but… She continued to quiver. "No one can force to marry against your will, you know. And what if you truly find someone that you would like to marry?" Link asked.

Zelda's heart was wrenched in two for some reason. But she kept her face impassive. "I know," she answered simply.

He smiled. "Will you be all right?"

She nodded. "Thank you, Link," she replied softly.

To her surprise, he brought his hands up to her face and brushed away the remaining tears. Despite having calloused hands from swordplay, his touch was gentle. Zelda blushed.

"I think the situation isn't as bad as you think." Zelda looked into his eyes as he said that, and she saw a glimmer of something. Sadness? But why would he be sad? Unless…

She smiled feebly, and then laughed. "I know. I've always had the flair for the dramatic." She stood up and attempted to brush the hay off her gown. It was no use. The hay had gotten everywhere, including her hair. Link stood up and picked some pieces out of her hair.

"You've got it everywhere," he said, laughing.

She pushed him lightly. "Shut up." Link laughed again as he surveyed her once again.

"But…" He didn't finish his sentence. Zelda noticed a slight blush come to his cheeks. "I will hopefully see once again, all right?" he said instead.

Zelda nodded once again. She thanked him and gave him a brief hug. Then she left, walking back to her rooms, unaware of the people laughing at her hay-covered appearance, especially since Link had walked out of the stable right after her, also covered in hay. She traveled slowly, not knowing what to think. Did Link love her? Link? He was simply a good friend. She shouldn't overly flatter herself.

When she got to the door, she found her maid waiting.

"What have you been doing, Your Highness?" her maid exclaimed, bustling over to her side. When Zelda didn't respond, the maid sighed. "Come, Your Highness, at least let me run a bath for you." The princess complied, still deep in thought.

Could he love her? Could he be hurt at the fact that she might marry another man? She shuddered in the warm water of her bath. She wasn't sure about anything. What if she loved him? And with that question playing constantly through her mind, Zelda eventually began the rigorous job of getting all of the hay out of her golden hair. She would figure things out. She was a princess, of course.