He fumbled with his hands nervously. He sat in the chair furthest from the bed, and with his elbows resting carefully on his knees, he stared blankly at the wooden floor. It was covered in dust, possibly due to the lack of maintenance; Malon had been away from home for weeks, and Link doubted Ingo or Talon would tend to the bedroom. He shook his head. His mind was wandering again. He wanted to forget, but his conscience would not let him.
He was grateful that he was still around. He had been in life-threatening situations before but he would always find a way to overcome them. However, during that time inside the Forbidden Caverns, he was lost. He could not think clearly as the cave began to close in around him. He had thought it was over. He had thought that it was his time to die. But then a warm, pink aura had encased him and Malon.
He was grateful yet ashamed at the same time.
She had given herself to him without hesitation. And he had turned her away. He slowly picked away at her until he left her broken. And even though he had hurt her, she came selflessly to him in his time of need. He was grateful that Zelda had saved him and Malon, but he was ashamed that he had hurt her feelings by rejecting her hand in marriage.
Now he sat in Malon's room, staring at her sleeping form on the bed. Talon and Ingo were no where to be found but Link was content with their absence. It was better that they were not at home; they would ask too many questions that he was not willing to answer.
A cool spring breeze came in from the opened window. He glanced at the floor and watched the dust balls act as tumbleweeds bouncing in the desert sands. He was tempted to go outside and pluck some flowers to place in the empty vase next to Malon's bed; however, he could not bring himself to leave her alone. It was his fault she was in the state she was in. He was the only one to blame.
He stood from his seat and walked over to her bedside. She stirred again; her face contorted. He frowned, brushing her fallen bangs from her eyes. He hated seeing her like this. He promised himself he would stay until he knew she would be all right alone.
Then he would leave.
He had to go through with it. He had accepted his gift from the King even before the competition began. Although rather reluctantly, he had agreed to marry the winner of the competition. He did not care if he would disgrace the King by rejecting the gift, but Zelda did not deserve to be disgraced again.
After all, she had saved his and Malon's life. He felt somewhat obligated to consent to the marriage.
He knew Malon. She would do her best to convince Link to stay and not marry. And he knew himself. He would listen to her. He snorted, shaking his head. If Malon had offered to run away and elope together he would probably take her up on that offer.
She stirred again. Mumbling tired words, she rolled onto her side. Link half-smiled, feeling a little at ease that she was recovering quickly. She had taken a nasty bump to the head, but she was tougher than he gave her credit for.
"She's going to be okay," Link said to himself, turning to the door. "I probably should go before she wakes up."
He approached the door, pausing momentarily before reaching for the doorknob. He felt guilty for leaving her by herself. She would want an explanation when she awoke, and she deserved one. He sighed, looking away. Would he leave her stranded just as the King had earlier?
He froze, still holding the doorknob. He closed his eyes tightly, fearing to face the woman behind him. Malon pulled herself into a sitting position and looked around the room in a confused manner. Link heard her shuffling in her bed behind him. He sighed, releasing the doorknob.
"Well, looks like Sleeping Beauty has finally awakened," he commented lightheartedly, turning around to meet her with a smile. "How are you feeling?"
Malon lowered her eyes, gripping the sheets tighter. "My head hurts a little, but I think I'm fine."
Then silence drifted freely into the room.
Malon brought her hand to her forehead and sighed. What had happened to her? She remembered the dragon that had attacked her. Did Link rescue her? She lifted her head and stared at Link across the room. A trouble looked was plastered on his face. Malon closed her eyes, knowing the reason.
She had lost the competition.
"Thanks you for helping me, Link," she muttered almost inaudibly.
He had heard and half-smiled, shifting his weight. "Don't thank me. If it weren't for Zelda, we both wouldn't be here right now. She used her powers to teleport both of us from the cave," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Malon opened her eyes. "Zelda saves us? I guess we owe her, don't we?"
Link looked away. "Yeah…"
Malon caught the sadness in his voice, and she moved to stand. She winced slightly from the sudden sting of pain in her side. Link lifted his hands and motioned for her to stop.
"You don't need to be moving around so much. You still need to get some rest and recover," he insisted, sighing in relief when she listened. "I don't think you'll be doing any chores anytime soon either. The doctor said you just needed some rest."
Malon sighed, frustrated. She was confined to her bed like a prison. Link paced across from her bed slowly, mumbling something about the doctor's orders. Malon, half-listening, nodded and looked out the window next to her bed. The birds were perched on the small tree outside her window as they chirped their songs. She smiled, watching the leaves dance in the wind.
"You're not listening, Mal."
She turned her attention toward Link and frowned. "I heard you. I have to stay in bed and rest."
He shook his head and sighed. "That's not all I said."
"Listen, I'll be fine, okay? I'm just a little sore but it's not that bad," she insisted, throwing the sheets from her legs.
"If you're going to be fine, then I think I should go now," he said, turning toward the door. "Don't do anything to stress yourself."
Malon, despite the pain surging through her side, stood quickly. "Wait! I'm sorry if I upset you."
He shrugged. "No, it's nothing you did."
"Then why don't you stay? I can make something to eat," she insisted, walking toward the door. "Aren't you hungry?" she asked, smiling.
He narrowed her eyes. How could she be in such a good mood after what had happened? Link shook his head and looked away. "Why are you so cheerful? Don't you remember what happened?"
Malon looked down at the floor. "Yes… I remember. But I'm trying not to think about it…"
"I'm sorry for reminding you then," he added sadly, walking toward the door again. "But I need to go."
"You're going to marry her, aren't you?" Malon said grimly before he opened the door.
"She won. That was part of the reward, remember?" Link replied, looking at the door.
Malon felt her heart drop to the floor and break. She had promised to win the competition, but lost. Link believed he had to marry Zelda because of the circumstances. Malon shook her head. "You don't have to marry her. You're not being forced to go through with it."
Instead of agreeing with her, Link began to laugh. Malon stepped back in shock that he was actually laughing at her.
"Good one, Mal."
"You think I'm joking about this?" she spat angrily. "I'm being serious!"
"Malon, I already accepted the marriage. I have to go through with it now."
"That's not true!"
"Yes it is!" he shouted back. "You don't understand."
Offending, Malon turned her head away. "I think you're the one who doesn't understand anything. You're just letting them use you, and you listen because you don't know what else to do! Can't you think for yourself?"
"I don't feel like getting a lecture from you right now," he said bitterly, opening the door.
He was going to leave. He was going to leave and marry Zelda. Malon shut her eyes tightly. He was being led blindly through a minefield with no sense of direction. He had no idea about the truth, and it was her fault for keeping the truth from him. She had no choice but to tell him. She had to stop him from leaving her.
"The competition was rigged!" she shouted before he could take another step.
Link stopped, turning his head slowly toward Malon. "What?"
She looked down, sighing. "The competition was rigged. The King had it planned where Zelda would win no matter what. Her victory was inevitable."
He remained silent for a moment. Malon's heart began to race as she felt Link's temper rising.
"How do you know about this?" he asked slowly, almost fearing her answer.
Malon closed her eyes tightly, wrapping her arms around herself. She swallowed the knot forming in her throat. "I found out when I read the King's diary one night in his office," she answered warily.
"How long have you known…?" his voice did nothing to hide the anger and shock he felt.
"For a while…"
Malon heard Link's footsteps approach her, and then she felt his hand yank her arm away from her. She opened her eyes, gasping at his sudden motions. She refused to look at his face, knowing his eyes were staring daggers into her.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he said, raising his voice slightly. "Why didn't you tell me about this?"
His grip tightened around her arm. She tried to pull away from him, but he remained stationary.
"You're hurting me, Link."
His eyes softened, releasing his grip. Her arm fell to her side, and with her free hand, she rubbed her arm where he had grabbed her. "I'm sorry… I should have told you," she replied slowly.
He snorted, turning away from her. "I'm surprised. Of all the people I know, I thought you would have been the one I could trust the most," he said nonchalantly, shrugging. "I guess I was wrong."
Her head snapped up in his direction. "I made a mistake, Link. Everyone is entitled to make them!"
"But I trusted you!" he barked, looking down. "I trusted you… Why would you keep this from me? If I had known this, I could have used it to end the competition before it got worse. But now…"
Malon allowed her shoulders to sink. She was only human, and she was not perfect. She had made a mistake. She had not thought the consequences through, and now they were beginning to pile messily on top of each other. She sighed, shaking her head.
Why had she kept the truth from him? Was the competition that important to her that she had to hide the truth from her friend despite everything? She closed her eyes tightly. She knew why she had not told him the truth.
"I… It was because… I wanted to be with you…"
The room became silent again. It was an unwelcoming silence; she hated it.
He didn't turn around to face her, but instead all Malon could hear from him was a sigh. She lowered her head shamefully. Why place more burden on him now?
"You wanted to be with me, so you thought your only hope was this competition," his words came out as more of a statement than a question. "But now I guess we both lose, eh?"
Malon narrowed her eyes dangerously. He had to have been joking. His voice sounded serious, but his words were a joke. She shook her head, biting her lower lip to keep from screaming.
"I don't understand…" were the only words Malon could produce.
"I don't understand anything anymore!" Link shouted, followed by a bitter laugh. "I hate being lied to. I hate knowing that the one person I trust the most kept the truth from me! But… I can't hate you… I just can't."
He loved her. He knew he did. But she had lied to him, broken his trust and left him in the dark. She had kept the truth from him for her own gain. Link did not want to marry, and Malon had known this fact. Instead of telling him the truth to prevent a marriage, she kept it from him and proceeded to win the right to marry him.
But she wanted to be with him, or so she had told him. He looked away, feeling guilty and somewhat betrayed. Hurting her was the last thing he wanted to do, but she had hurt him. Didn't she deserve to feel the same pain as he had?
"I wanted to be with you, too."
Malon met his eyes from across the room. Had he said what she thought he had said? She smiled weakly at his words, clasping her hands together.
"But you kept the truth from me. I have to marry Zelda now," he scoffed. "I guess that means we cannot be together like we wanted, eh?"
"Even now that you know the truth, you will still go through with the marriage?" she shouted, almost enraged. "If you want to be with me like you say you do, then why let this stupid competition stop you?"
"If you wanted to be with me so bad, then why couldn't you tell me the truth?" he counted, narrowing his eyes.
"I made a mistake, Link! I'm sorry! I was so caught up in my own desires that I forgot about the one person whom I…" she stopped, looking away. "I'm sorry…"
He remained silent, backing away from her. "Sorry isn't going to end this marriage."
"That's right! Because you're the only one who can end it, and you're too afraid to even try!"
He glowered, shaking his head. "It's too late now."
"I said get out of my house!" she screamed, her voice becoming more demanding.
Link was taken aback by Malon's sudden command. She wanted him to leave. Angered by her demands, Link shrugged his shoulders. "Fine. I'll leave," he added dryly, walking toward the door.
"I hope you have a great life in the castle," she commented sarcastically.
He stopped in his tracks, turning around to meet her ever-so-cold stare. "You know, I think I just might. And when I become King of Hyrule, I'll make sure to get my milk from someone else."
Malon quickly reached for the nearest object to lunge at Link. He avoided the vase by mere inches, scrambling to his feet in a confused daze.
"Get out! Get out! Get out!"
He didn't bother stopping again. He had enough. He should have been the one throwing vases; she had lied to him and used him for her own gain. But he had used her, too, didn't he?
He slammed the door shut, making the wall shake slightly behind him. Sighing, he rested his back on the door. Why was he feeling the way he was? There was something inside of him telling him to run back into her room and hold her. But there was something else telling him to leave her be. He laughed bitterly, running his fingers through his hair.
That was when he heard Malon crying. He had made her cry.
"I'm sorry, but I can't be with you Malon."
He gently pushed himself off the door and left Malon behind.
The King cupped his hand around his face, and sighed. The servants were busy arranging the decorations for the wedding. He, on the other hand, sat idly on the sidelines. He should have been happy his daughter was finally getting married. But he felt horrible.
He sat alone in the courtyard, contemplating his decision. Link had always been like a son to him, and he had lied to him. He had betrayed his trust; he had betrayed the one man who had saved his kingdom and his people. Was deceiving Link enough to bring happiness to his daughter?
Upon hearing footsteps in the grass, the King looked forward. Grinning, he moved slightly left and made another seat on the stone steps for his visitor.
"Good evening, Link," he said, extending his hand. "Sit down with me, boy."
He paused momentarily, but quickly took the King on his offer. "You're in a good mood," he greeted dryly. "I never thought I see you sitting outside, much less on the ground."
The King chuckled slightly, resting his arms on his knees. "I'm just a person, too, you know. The only difference between you and I are our titles."
"I apologize for my behavior earlier," the King added. "Impa didn't add my usual dose of sugar in my breakfast. I'm afraid I was in a foul mood."
Link could only scoff at the King's odd comment.
The King looked skyward, smiling. "Link, do you remember when I told you I pushed my wife out the window, and that was how she died?"
Link cleared his throat. "…Yeah."
"The truth is, I loved my wife very much. She had always been ill ever since we first met, but she was as charming and charismatic as ever."
Link looked to his right, staring at the King. "You didn't push her out of a window?"
"No, she died shortly after giving birth to Zelda," he paused. "She never once had a chance to hold our baby."
The King shifted. "She was still smiling, even knowing she was dying. I promised her I'd do anything to our child happy."
"Even if it's by rigging a competition?" Link added, looking away.
Link stood quickly, raising his arms in frustration. "But what about my happiness? Don't I deserve a say in this, too?"
"I don't want to get married," Link said, dropping his arms to his side. "I just want to be happy."
The King slowly pulled himself from the steps. He stretched slightly, clasping his arms around his back. He paced slowly toward the stain glass window and peered inside. "You want to know the truth. I understand."
"Why…? Why did you do this to me?" he asked, almost choking on his words. "I want to know why!"
Link stopped, turning his head to meet the voice behind him. There Zelda stood, clad in a beautiful white dress that hugged her slender figure. Her hair was draped around her shoulders; the ends were slightly curled. She wore her diamond encrusted tiara with the white veil attached and pulled back; Link noticed the tiara was still missing the diamonds he had taken out.
"Zelda," the King began sternly, "Link and I are speaking. You should be preparing for the wedding."
Ignoring her father's orders, Zelda approached Link. "Father, I shall not have you take the blame for me any longer."
Link cocked an eyebrow. "What are you talking about, Zelda?"
The King turned and faced his daughter. "Zelda…"
"Link, I believe that you deserve to know the truth," she began. "I was the one who had called for a competition—it was my idea."
Link's eyes widened in a shocked manner. He opened his mouth to reply to her confession, but no words would come out.
Zelda smiled faintly, looking down. "My father was only a pawn in my game. I directed him from the shadows—I was in charge of everything. Every little detail. Everything. My father was the one who pulled it together, and he made it work."
Link clenched his fists into balls, nibbling on his lip to keep from lashing out on Zelda. It was her that had deceived him. She was the puppet master controlling the mindless puppets. The competition was merely a masquerade; everyone wore masks, deceiving the other.
"Link," began Zelda. "Please, do not hate my father. If there is anyone here to blame it is I."
"I'm angry… But more importantly, I'm confused. I just want to know why."
"I wanted to be with you."
Link bit his lip again, turning his back to her. Malon had said the same words earlier. He closed his eyes, shaking his head. "What about all those innocent girls who died? What about the ones who were hurt?"
"I had planned everything thoroughly, even them. Those girls who competed in the competition, they are loyal servants of mine," she paused momentarily. "And no, they were neither hurt nor killed. I assure you; they are all well."
"However, not everything had gone through as planned. There were several inconveniences," she said, placing a hand on Link's shoulder. "The time when you were poisoned. The time we had become lost in the Lost Woods and were attacked. The time Malon had fell from the cliff into the water, and you saved her. None of that was planned, and it hindered everything."
The King, crossing his arms, shifted his weight. "I was the one who had convinced the Sages to join the competition; that was for my own amusement."
Zelda felt Link's shoulders tense up. She allowed her hand to slide from his shoulders and drop to her side. "Yes, they had agreed to help me by playing along in my competition."
"You mean, everyone knew?" Link almost choked on his words.
Zelda shook her head. "Nabooru knew. As did Ruto, Saria, Impa… They all knew, and played their parts silently."
Link felt a small wave of relief wash over him. His sworn brother had remained faithful to him.
"I don't understand why they would do this…"
"It had taken a lot of convincing on my father's part, but they meant no harm," she laughed weakly. "Ruto was against the idea at first, of course. But I believe she found someone else during the course of the competition."
"I don't believe this," Link threw his hands into the air, and laughed bitterly. "Everyone knew what was going on! I don't know if I can trust anyone anymore."
"I know that an apology will never make up for what I had done," Zelda added sincerely. "I will not hold you to the wedding—I have canceled it."
"Even still… I don't know what else to do," he muttered, rubbing his face with his calloused hands.
"Go to her."
Link lowered his hands, shooting a glance at Zelda. "She hates me now."
"She was the only one in the competition for you. She loves you; I can tell. The two of you are too stubborn to even realize it," Zelda smiled faintly. "I could never forgive myself if I forced you to marry me against your will. I could never live with myself knowing that you would always love another woman."
"She made you change your mind?" Link asked.
"Yes. When I realized your feelings for her, that was when I began to understand that what I had started was wrong. I admire her greatly. Even with all odds against her, she continued fighting with fierce determination and devotion," Zelda clasped her hands together. "She may have kept the truth from you, but her desire was not to hurt you."
Link sighed, lowering his shoulders. He remembered leaving her crying; he remembered hurting her. How could he go back to her?
"Do not stall. She needs you more than anything right now," the King piped from behind. "Do you want me to call the guards and escort from my castle?"
"I thought you wanted me to marry Zelda," Link said, rolling his eyes.
The King smiled. "She's the boss. If she said the wedding is off, then it's off. I'm not going to torture you anymore."
Link nodded, glancing at the King and Zelda. And without saying another word, he took off to find Malon.
"Father, I'm sad that I let him go, but it was the right thing to do," Zelda turned, shaking her head. "I'm ashamed of myself for being selfish and false."
"Link's always been a forgiving guy," the King laughed. "Although, it might take him awhile to forgive us."
"As long as he's happy, then I'll be happy," she smiled, turning back to her father who began coughing hoarsely. "Father!"
He didn't bother knocking as he ran into the house. Running up the stairs, he opened the door to Malon's room in a hurry.
"Malon! I'm sorry!"
"What in tarnation!"
"AH!" Link slammed the door shut. "Uh… Sorry, Talon. I didn't know you were home."
Talon, baffled, opened the door. "Is there something wrong?"
"I'm looking for Malon. Is she here?" Link asked hastily.
Talon shook his head. "Is she supposed to be home. The last thing I remember was her going to that competition of yours."
Link slapped his forehead, sighing. "The competition is over, and Malon should have been home in bed resting!"
Talon cocked his head sideways in a confused manner. "Well, I haven't seen her and I've been home for a little while."
Link nodded, thanking Talon before returning to his faithful horse. Malon had been ordered by the doctor to remain in bed and rest, but yet, she had wandered off somewhere without telling a single soul. Frustrated, Link cursed himself mentally for letting this happen.
Then it dawned on him.
"Link, can this be our special place?"
Their special place—the small pond just outside the ranch. Link had always loved going there when he wanted to contemplate his problems. If there was any place in Hyrule that Malon would run to, it would be there. He wasn't even sure if she had gone there, but it was his only clue to finding her.
Gently kicking Epona's side, he was off again.
Humming aloud, Malon weaved together another flower tiara. She carefully placed it on the ground next to the others, and she silently counted them in her head.
"I must be bored if I'm making these," she shook her head. "I haven't made them since I was a little girl."
She pulled her knees into her chest, and resting her head on her knees, she closed her eyes. She had cried enough earlier. All she wanted to do was relax and get her mind free of him. But as she tried so hard to not think of him, he was the only thing she could think about.
"If he wants to marry Zelda, then fine," she pouted inwardly. "Maybe I was wrong about him. Maybe he's not the person I thought he was."
She stopped humming, plucking more flowers from the ground. She didn't need him; she had spent the past hour convincing herself that she didn't need him. Weaving together the flower stems, she sighed again. She felt horrible for lying to Link, but there was nothing she could do to change the fact that she had lied. She had hurt him just as he had hurt her.
Looking at her newly-made flower tiara, she half-smiled. "I guess I won't have anyone else to wear them."
"Flower tiaras! I remember these," came a voice from behind.
Malon dropped her flower tiara, quickly pulling herself into a standing position. "What are you doing here? I thought you were to partake in a wedding?" she added sullenly.
Link held his hands up in his defense. "Hey, this is my special place, too."
Malon crossed her arms as she glared daggers into him. "Well, that's nice to hear."
"Are you still mad?"
"I have every right to be mad!"
"Hey! I have every right to be mad!"
"Don't tell me you just came here to remind me! You're such an ass, Link!"
"What! You're the one who started it!"
"Arg! Will you just leave me alone?"
"Not until I get my flower tiara!"
"No! I didn't make them for you!"
"You used to always make me wear them when we were kids!"
"We're not kids anymore!"
"I still want one!"
Malon sighed, slapping her forehead. He was being childish and stubborn, not to mention aggravating. Malon knelt down, picking up the flower tiara she had dropped earlier. With an angry glare, she stomped over to Link and shoved the tiara into his hands.
"No… You have to put it on my head."
"How old are you? Five?"
Link stuck his tongue out, lowering his head slightly. Malon's eye twitched as she snatched the tiara from his hand and messily stuck it over his green cap on his head.
Before she could pull her hand away, Link gently took it into his.
"Malon, please forgive me," he raised his head, looking into her shifting eyes. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I was upset and confused. I didn't mean what I said."
"Please let go…"
"I never wanted to do anything that would make you cry. I understand everything now. I was stupid for not listening to you. I should have said something. Instead, I used you as my ticket out of the marriage because I was too afraid to say something," Link clasped her hand tighter. "I know the truth about the competition now. The wedding was called off. There's no wedding."
Malon stopped her struggling, and cast a glance at Link. "I don't understand what happened."
"Zelda told me everything," he smiled sheepishly. "Besides, we won't have to have an affair now since I won't be married."
With her free hand, Malon slapped Link upside his head. "Link! Stop kidding around!"
"So, how did Zelda know? Was she… Was she in on it, too?" asked Malon slowly.
Link nodded. "Yeah. The truth is, she was the one who started the competition."
"Wow… The one person I would have never guessed was the one person who was behind everything," Malon said, looking away. "Link, I'm sorry, too. I know that trust is something very important to you, and I broke it. I never meant to hurt you…"
"…I know. Don't worry about it," he pulled her into an embrace. "You just gave me something to use as blackmail against you."
"No, I want it over in the corner!" directed Malon who was carrying a milk pail in each hand. "If you put it there everyone will just trip over it!"
It had only been two days since the competition. Link, having decided to take a break from the castle, moved into Malon's home. She made him sleep on the couch at night, and during the day, she had become a slave driver and forced him to help with chores.
Link lifted the box again and placed it in the corner of the stables. "Is there anything else, Master?" he replied jokingly.
Malon, rolling her eyes, stood and dusted her dress off. "Oh hush. It doesn't hurt to help with chores."
Link laughed, scratching his head. "Hmm. I don't know about that. I do have a cramp in my leg… and I think I might be bleeding profusely from my ear… And…"
"It doesn't hurt to help!"
Link wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer. "Of course it doesn't hurt, as long as it's you I'm helping."
Malon sighed, smiling. "Let's take a break. I can fix us some lunch. Hungry?"
"Mal, I'm always hungry."
She laughed, leaving the stables and entering her house with Link following closely behind. Once in the kitchen, she gasped and stopped suddenly, having Link bump into her from behind. There was a visitor in the house.
"Impa? What are you doing here?" Link asked, shocked.
"I came to see you, Link," she stood, pushing in the chair.
"Is something wrong?" asked Malon, looking around the room.
"Link, we need to talk in private," she stated, heading for the door.
"Uh… All right," he turned to Malon. "I'll be outside. It'll just be a moment."
Link followed Impa outside the small home. The older woman sighed, shading her eyes from the afternoon sun. "You seem well," she began; her voice was slightly amused.
"Malon takes care of me."
Impa half-smiled. "Yes, it seems peaceful here. I'm sure she'd make a good wife one day."
Link smiled. "Maybe."
Impa chuckled slightly. "Yes… You found out about the competition, right?"
"Zelda loved you; she wanted to be with you. But, I believe she is taking the blame for things she did not insist upon," Impa stated, clearing her throat. "Her father wanted you to become the next King of Hyrule. He had always wanted you to take over his kingdom. Zelda knew this, and to fulfill her father's desires, she called for the competition. He agreed to help her, because he knew she would be happy with you and his kingdom would be taken care of."
"I don't understand. You mean, the only reason Zelda did this was for her father?" Link asked, trying to clarify what he had heard.
"Yes. That is correct."
"The King had never pressured her about marriage. But he had told her once he wanted you to take care of her and his kingdom," Impa looked down. "She wanted to make her father happy, and so the competition began."
"Link," Impa turned around. "He was very sick. His last wish was for his daughter to be happy."
Link jerked his head up. "Wait a minute…"
"He gave me something to give to you," she said as she approached her white horse. She lifted the cloak from the horse and pulled out the gift.
Impa half-smiled. "He had this teddy bear since he was a child. He wanted you to have it."
"Impa," Link's voice became desperate. "What… What happened?"
"The King died."
Link choked on his breath. Coughing, he shot his eyes in Impa's direction.
"No… No! Why?"
"He was sick, Link."
Link closed his eyes, gripping Carlito tighter. The King had never mentioned anything to him about being ill. Opening his eyes, he searched the bear, taking note of the small letter attached to it.
'Carlito loves bubble baths and chocolate milk. He gets cranky when he doesn't get his afternoon nap, too. Also, Carlito hates to be called Carl. Remember to take care of him for me, Link. And please, don't worry about me. I'm with my wife now.'
Link could feel a tear trickle down his cheek. The King, the man who had always driven him up the wall, was gone. The King had always been energetic and loud, but somehow, he's always made Link laugh—even if it were at the King's expense. He would miss the King's booming laugh and crazy antics. He would miss the King's morning pranks and odd stories. He would miss the King more than anything.
He wasn't a bad man like everyone had thought; he just wanted his daughter to be happy. He was only trying to fulfill his promise to his deceased wife.
Impa bowed her head, pulling herself onto her mare. "I need to go back to the castle now. Zelda needs me more than anything right now."
As she rode off, Malon came out from the house. "Link? Are you okay? What did she say?"
Link looked back, showing Malon the teddy bear. "The King is dead, Mal," his voice cracked; it was almost inaudible.
Without saying a word, she approached Link from behind. She wrapped her arm around him and laid her head on his shoulder. She squeezed him tightly, and motioned him to follow her inside.
"I made some lunch. We should eat a little, okay?" she said gently, smiling weakly.
Link nodded, following Malon inside. "Hey, can you make some chocolate milk?"
Notes: It's finally complete, and just before its two year anniversary! The King had been my favorite character to write, and I was sad to write the ending. I hope you enjoyed the story! I appreciate everyone who's supported this story for two years! Thanks for all the reviews!
Remember to check out The Things That Cannot Be Fought which is the Link/Malon I'm currently working on.