Author's Notes: One day I'll get around to revising earlier chapters since they are very outdated and are desperately in need of revision. Until then, enjoy what's here. Feedback is, of course, always welcomed.
by Paper Bear
Fairytales; fanciful tales of interesting, but highly implausible, events told to amuse children. Most fairytales were of princesses in peril awaiting their knight in shining armor to rescue them. And the ending was always the same; the hero and princess lived happily ever after.
But reality was different. The future was never predictable.
There were no striking knights in shining armor. There were no elaborate castles in the sky. There were no evil witches or fire-breathing dragons. Those fictitious ideas lived only in the hearts and minds of all dreamers striving to escape reality.
But reality was unforgiving. Despite how much one may dream, reality followed closely behind.
This was something Malon had come to terms with.
The young woman wiped the sweat from her forehead with her dainty handkerchief. She had been working vigorously since morning but had finally finished her chores. Malon sighed and placed the broom in the corner of the room. "Phew. I think I'm finished with all my chores. Time to take a break," she sighed in relief.
Malon took a seat in one of the chairs nearby. Slouching her shoulders slightly, her long, crimson hair fell over her chest. She took her bothersome hair with one hand and threw it over her shoulders. Despite how much her hair irritated her at times, she remembered a certain someone loved her long hair. Smiling, she ran her fingers through the lengthy red locks. "He'd be mad if I cut it again," she said with a giggle.
"Finished already?" said a voice from behind.
"Yes. It wasn't that much work," she replied without turning her head toward the voice.
With a quick nod of the head, Talon walked down the stairs and took a seat next to his daughter. "You work hard everyday. You've got to learn how to relax sometimes."
Malon half-smiled. "If I relaxed as much as you, nothing would get done."
Her father only laughed at her witty comment before reaching for a glass of water. "I came to tell you that Ingo and I are leaving early tomorrow morning. There are some important deliveries that need to be delivered. I'm going to leave the ranch in your care for tomorrow. You'll be okay by yourself, right?"
Malon only nodded in response.
Talon stood, patting his daughter on her back before he left the room. "I knew you could do it."
She sighed, tracing an invisible pattern on the tabletop. She had no problem with watching the ranch while her father was away on business; however, she was not pleased with the idea of being alone on her nineteenth birthday. It was the same thing every year. There were no parties or presents. It was just a normal day for her.
She was tired of repeating herself year after year. "Father, tomorrow is my birthday. Please don't forget," she would say to Talon. Despite her pleas, something always came up and her father would become too occupied with something else. She accepted his excuses and smiled. "It's okay. I understand," was her reply each year. She wanted to protect the remnants of her pride even if it meant lying to herself.
Looking out the window, Malon stood and pushed the chair in. It was almost midnight and Malon needed to rest. She had a long day of work awaiting her. She quickly finished whatever remaining chores she had forgotten and then trudged slowly upstairs. Changing into her night clothes, Malon hopped into her bed. With an exaggerated yawn, she stretched her arms above her head before drifting off into a well-needed sleep.
Malon wrapped her arms around her back and pouted sheepishly. "So, you're leaving again? The king loves to keep you busy, doesn't he? I hardly ever see you anymore," she said dolefully as she swayed back and forth.
He cracked a smile. "I know, Mal. I'm really sorry."
Malon blushed. His smile, his voice, everything about him was perfect. He was the Hero of Time, strong and brave as ever. There was no denying on Malon's part that she cared deeply for him. He was the only person she ever considered a best friend.
He was the only person she ever considered more than a friend, too.
Link tilted his head sideways. "Are you okay? You seem upset."
Malon turned her head toward his. "Well, you're leaving again. Why would I be happy about that?"
Link sighed. "You know I can't help it, Mal. I promise I'll make it up to you when I return."
The red-haired girl shook her head. "It's all right. I'm just being unreasonable right now," she replied, sighing. She slowly approached a large tree and sat under its shade. "I mean, I'm being selfish… I just want to keep you here at the ranch all to myself."
Link, laughing, sat next her. He gently wrapped his arm around her shoulder. Malon was the first person who befriended him once he began his journey many years ago. And over the years after Ganondorf had been defeated, they had become even closer friends. He found peace with her.
Link smiled inwardly. Although he never admitted it, he was attracted to the young woman. "I really do wish I could stay with you. I understand that you get lonely sometimes. I mean, horses can only keep you so much company," he replied jokingly.
Malon, punching Link playfully in the arm, furrowed her eyebrows. "And I know how much you enjoy cleaning the stables. If you want, I can put you to work right now," she grinned.
"Ah! No! I was only joking, Mal!" Link pleaded with the red-headed girl.
She giggled again. "I know. I know. It's fun to mess with you."
"Laughing at my expense, eh? You're not very nice," Link pouted.
"Making fun of people isn't very nice either, you know?" she replied with a half-smile.
"Aw. You know I was only kidding. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," he replied, hugging the young woman's side with his free arm. "I'm sorry, Malon."
She, looking down at her feet, smiled. "It's okay."
Link stood up and dusted his tunic with his hands. "I better leave now. I'll be back soon, I promise. It's not really important, but you know how the king is."
Malon nodded. "I understand. Take care, okay?"
Nodding, Link mounted his horse, Epona, and turned toward Malon. He waved and gave the woman one last smile before his figure vanished from Malon's sight.
Malon slowly opened her eyes. Sitting up, she stretched--almost like a cat--before kicking off her sheets. How long had it been since she last saw Link? "Too long," she thought to herself. Placing her two feet flat on the cold, wooden floor, she quickly ventured to her closest and pulled out the day's clothes.
It did not take her too long to register in her mind what day it was; it was her birthday.
"Happy Birthday," she murmured sarcastically to herself as she threw her dress on. "Let's celebrate the day with chores, chores, and more chores."
Malon ran her fingers through her long tresses. No matter how hard she tried, she could not rid her mind of one person. She sighed, reaching for her brush. She missed him. There was no denying that. She wished he would still make frequent visits to the ranch. After he returned from his not-entirely-important mission from the king, he had paid one last visit to the ranch to let Malon know everything went well.
And that was it.
The young woman had no idea how he was at that moment or anything else for that matter. She was tempted to send him a letter but disregarded the idea. "He's probably very busy. I shouldn't get so worked up over it," she thought as she brushed the vexing knots from her hair.
After tending to her hair, she gently set the brush back onto the table and left the room. "Hm. I think I'll make some breakfast and then I'll start my chores," she said to herself as she made her way down the stairs. "Then I'll probably pick up a few needed things at the market today," she rubbed her forehead with her finger. "I wish my father wouldn't procrastinate so much."
Upon reaching the final step she noticed an envelope lying sketchily on the table. Next to the envelope was sloppy note from her father. Even at the distance she was at then, she could recognize her father's handwriting anywhere. She half-smiled. "I wonder what that could be," she said thoughtlessly before taking a seat at the table. She first reached for the letter from her father. "'Malon, Happy Birthday. I'm sorry I can't spend the day with you. I hope you understand. Oh, this letter came in for you this morning. Take care,'" she read aloud, smiling.
"He remembered after all. I'm so glad," she said, sighing in relief.
Satisfied with what she had just read, she reached for the milky-colored envelope. Her eyes skimmed over the fancy envelope. Her eyes, however, stopped scanning the cover once she noticed the seal. It was the royal family's seal from the castle. Without thinking she hastily ripped the top off the envelope and read its contents.
'You have been cordially invited to a very important meeting at the Hyrule Castle. Please be at the castle by noon today.'
Malon restrained herself from squealing like a child. Had Link remembered her birthday? It had been so long since they last spoke with each other. However, seeing the letter allayed Malon's qualms. Certainly it was from Link. Who else from the castle would send her a letter?
The red-headed woman clapped her hands together happily before grabbing a piece of scratch paper and a writing utensil. "If I have to be there by noon, I ought to get started with my chores. I'll just leave a note for my father while I'm away to let him know where I'm at if he comes home early," she mumbled to herself as she jotted down a quick note for her father.
She sighed, resting her chin in the palm of her hand. Would she really see Link again? Was he behind this meeting? Did he plan on surprising her on her birthday? Her mind was bombarded with many different thoughts. She giggled slightly as she scanned the letter again. "This is so hard to believe! I mean, I haven't heard from him in months and then suddenly this… It seems so surreal."
Malon shook her head. Without questioning the letter further the young woman immediately tended to all the barn animals and the other chores she had yet to begin. Although quickly, she finished her chores rather sloppily. She was too anxious to spend any more time than necessary with her chores.
She clapped her hands together and planted them on her hips. "All done here! Wow! That's the fastest I've ever finished my chores. Well, except those times when Link helped…"
She walked into the house with a skip in her step. She could not bear going to visit Link smelling like barn animals. She quickly cleaned herself and changed into fresh clothes. She paused momentarily and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Satisfied with herself, she smiled and swiped the letter from the table. "Link, here I come!"
Notes: I'll warn you now before you continue further: this story is full of random humor and odd situations. Don't freak out (too much) with certain things. It all works out in the end. With that said, thank you for taking the time to read and feedback is always welcomed.