AN: It's finally happened! I'm writing a short story, my first since like three years ago! (That Kenshin one I wrote doesn't count ; That was more just a jumble of thoughts). I'm going to have a go at this foreign thing called third person perspective too so forgive me if things start going a bit weird. Inspiration for this goes to LainieG304. Her 'The Carnival' (which is an excellent story, so go read it!) gave me an idea for this story, so all thanks should really go to her :D
Fire on Water
By Perfect Soldier 01
"Close your eyes." Gloved hands came up across her line of vision, veiling the orange red sky and the surrounding stone grey hills with a dark black swipe. His palms rested upon her temple, a bold caution shaking from his fingers.
"L-Link, what are you doing?" she cried, but when he didn't reply, the young woman grabbed his hands with her own and tried in vain to pry his fingers from over her eyes.
"You'll ruin the surprise if you do that Zelda," Link answered, his hands not moving an inch.
"…I feel like an idiot," Zelda replied eventually. Her arms dropped to her sides in defeat, earning a small smile from the man behind her.
"Just keep walking," Link instructed. Zelda sighed and obeyed Link's request with a reluctant stride, unable to see exactly where she was going. Her steps were small and timid, causing Link to walk awkwardly behind the blind woman, trying to keep his hands securely over her eyes.
"You know, any other person who dared behave like this would have been hung already," Zelda said, feeling utterly humiliated that Link was treating her in such a boisterous fashion. Her hands were now out in front of her, groping for something to hold on to as she walked sightlessly forward.
"But you wouldn't hang me," Link said confidently, his smile growing wider.
"And why not?" Zelda questioned.
"Because I'm your one and only frie - " A sharp, accurately placed elbow dug into his side, causing Link's words to be lost in the air. "Hey! What was that for?" But before he knew what was happening, Zelda had taken that the moment of distraction to duck under Link's hands to free herself from his demoralising entrapment. She stood there in front of him with a mischievous smile spread across her face, arms crossed as she giggled in the late afternoon sunshine.
"Don't you trust me Link?" she said, a mock pout trying to emerge on her grinning lips. However the young woman ended up breaking down in fits of laughter as she saw Link clutching his side, a grimace set into his face. "I didn't hurt you that badly, did I?" Zelda said as she walked over to her friend, a smile still daring to show through her concern as she moved her hand to cover her mouth.
"Sometimes I wonder why you need a guardian," Link muttered loudly and Zelda couldn't help but laugh again. Link smiled, catching the infectious happiness, and listened to the sweet sound of her voice ring through the air. It was as beautiful as the flowers she grew in the castle courtyards and as pleasing to listen to as the birdsong in the early morning. He regained his composure and began to walk toward her once more, attempting to veil her sight once again.
"Close your eyes," Link asked softly once more, but Zelda moved away smiling, shaking her head. "Please?" he added taking his hands away. The stubborn princess the nodded and shut her sparkling eyes, waiting to be led as she held out her hand. Link sighed, shaking his head at her immature behaviour, but gently took Zelda's small, delicate hand in his and the two walked in silence. 'At least she's in a good mood,' he thought to himself.
The air was suddenly filled with a faint lapping of the ocean and the wind caressed everything it touched with a tender lulling of its song. The quiet rush of waves on land gradually grew louder and Zelda felt a small zephyr brush across her face, burying itself in her long locks of hair shining a strawberry blonde in the setting sun. But the ground beneath her feet changed abruptly and Zelda almost uttered a cry as she felt her shoes sink deeply into a yielding, grainy mush, but Link steadied her as her arms began to flail around for balance.
"A little ungraceful don't you think?" Link joked, stepping to the side quickly as he dodged the blind slap that the princess threw at him. The young man smiled and caught Zelda's hands with ease. "You can open your eyes now," he said leaning close to her ear.
Her eyelids unveiled the seas of blue surrounding her pupils and Zelda gasped in awe at what she saw. The boundless stretches of water glistened like golden fire as the blazing orb of flames hung low in the sky, the pink and orange light bleeding across the entire sphere of the heavens. Even the clouds that drifted in the sky were tinged a light rose colour. The sands before her were lost underneath the crashing white surf that rose up and down the shore; the sea sounding like it was sighing in the breeze. Two great pinnacles protruded up from the water's blanket in the distance and Zelda could see a strange monument of some sort beyond it, a faint mystical shape against the fiery backdrop of the sky.
"Link, this is amazing!" she whispered as she ran forward a little to peer around the corner of the empty beach. To her right there was more beauty than she had ever seen in the eighteen years of her life. Another secluded bay lay untouched in the corner of the towering mountains, guarded safely by small islands at the foot of the cliff. Her eyes then travelled along the coastline, back to where she was standing, and she spied the rocks and coral lying metres from her feet. Where the tide had been high water was still caught in small basins of stone forming miniature pools of crystal clear fire as it reflected in the sunlight.
She turned back to face Link, completely astounded by the utter beauty of this place, but was caught in the awesome sight of the waterfall tumbling over a far cliff edge in the distance. White frothy clouds at the top billowed in small puffs that disappeared instantly into the hot afternoon air, while a mixture of falling blue, green and white liquid created a dance of colours that descended endlessly into the gushing, chalk coloured pool that flowed on outward toward the sea. Even at a distance she could hear the crash of the water as it splashed over and into the small river over the loud breathing of the waves.
"Link," she said hurrying back to him. "It's so beautiful! I can't even begin to thank you enough for taking me here!" she said happily, pulling Link into an unexpected embrace.
Although it was brief the two felt the comforting warmth the other provided and the gentle touch of each other's hands on their back. Link let the bag hung over his shoulder slip down to the ground as Zelda pulled away, grabbing Link's hand in both of hers as she pulled him forward with her. They ran down the beach hand in hand like children with Zelda's blissful laughter becoming lost in the sound of the water.
"I've never been to the ocean before," Zelda said more to herself. "I never imagined it would be so wonderful."
"Welcome to the Great Bay," Link said spreading his hand over the horizon. Zelda smiled again, wrapping her arms once more around Link.
"Thank you," she whispered, relishing the bountiful heat that engulfed her senses as it fought away the growing chill of the night wind. Link hesitantly returned the action, unsure of whether to be cautious or content with her fearless actions. As she had said earlier, any inappropriate behaviour could have him hung… But Zelda never drew away like she did before. She closed her eyes, lost somewhere in between the perfect, unspoiled beauty and the soothing beat of Link's heart…
"Umm, Zelda?" Link said, bringing her out of her reverie. The princess snapped open her eyes and suddenly realised that she had forgotten Link was standing there caught in her embrace. Apologising profusely Zelda stepped away, keeping her head down.
"I-I'm sorry!" she said quickly. The man in front of her grinned slightly at her actions and turned his head to join where Zelda's gaze had fallen, out toward the sea.
"Do you want to go out there?" Link said distantly. Zelda glanced at him, wondering if had read her mind. She had never witnessed anything so magnificent and at that moment she wanted more than anything to be right in the water at the very centre of the unearthly haven. But there was one problem. Zelda couldn't swim…
"Yes." It was barely a whisper, caught on the wind's breath as it travelled through the weathered rocks and water.
Without saying another word, Link began retreating back up the beach toward where he'd had left their travelling bags. Zelda watched him crouch and dig around in his bag for something. He began to walk back, an odd, thin object cradled in his hand. The princess looked quizzically at him as Link neared her, questioning with her eyes about the strange possession.
"This is a Zora mask," he said unveiling the leathery material to her.
"How does that help?" Zelda asked.
"Wait and see." Link stepped away from Zelda and carefully put the mask to his face. Zelda watched curiously but was soon gaping at what was happening before her eyes. Link's clothes began morphing into a pale blue and long, green triangular fins grew at an alarming rate from his elbows. His blue eyes were lost in the darkness of the Zora's, and in a blinding flash of light Link had transformed from a Hylian into a Zora. His muscular torso was exposed to the sinking sun and slowly Link turned around to find a very shocked Zelda. Her eyes were wide and her shoulders rigid against the changing colours of the horizon.
Link held out his hand but Zelda made no movement to accept it. He stepped closer to her wondering why her cheeks were tinged a faint scarlet, but extended his white-green hand further and took hers in his own.
"It will be cold soon if we wait too long," Link said looking deeply into Zelda's glazed eyes, breaking her out of her dream. The princess looked back at him, slightly frightened by his new appearance. Link had never told her about his masks and to suddenly think it could change him so drastically was daunting to say the least. Without a reply, Link led Zelda toward the water's edge and began to walk into the cool refreshing waves that lapped over the sand.
"L-Link!" Zelda said suddenly, pulling back on his hand. "I can't," she murmured.
"It's all right, there's nothing to be afraid of," Link replied. Somehow, being a Zora made him seem so much more serious and dominating as he looked back at Zelda. The endless black orbs that were now his eyes told nothing of what he felt and Zelda found it hard to know what he was really saying. But even so, her eyes kept straying form his face, glancing nervously at the large amount of bare flesh open to the wind and sea.
"But I can't," she paused, "swim," Zelda whispered softly as she looked down to the white surf barely touching her feet. "A-And what about my dress?"
"It'll dry, but take off your shoes," he said motioning his head toward the sands, the long dolphin like tail waving in the breeze after each movement. "Take my hand," Link said as Zelda slipped off her hard soled travelling shoes. "One step at a time," he said encouragingly, holding out both hands for her to take. Zelda timidly inched forward, the water soaking the hem of her skirts as she slowly emerged herself into the shallow depths of the bay. The cold, fiery glazed waters slowly enveloped her in an invigorating blast of vitality. Her clothes swirled and hugged her body tightly with the flow of the sea, gradually becoming heavier and heavier as the water soaked through to her skin.
As the two went deeper, Link floated with ease as he trod water while still leading Zelda with his hands. But when Zelda's shoulders dipped under the surface and she suddenly felt no spongy ground beneath her feet, she let go of Link's hands in a panic. She splashed her arms about in the water and kicked her legs wildly, only to find them become caught in the billows of her clinging dress. But seeing her distress, Link dove forward immediately and threaded his strong arms around her as she grabbed his shoulders.
"Maybe that's enough," he whispered in Zelda's ear.
"No," Zelda answered back. "I want to go further." For a moment, the movement of the water was all either of them could hear apart from the soft breathing of their partner. "I know if you're there, I'll be all right," she said mustering all the courage left in her, as she leaned closer into Link, tightening her arms around his neck.
"Okay," Link said slowly, trying to swallow his heart that had leaped into his throat. He too gently held her closer, breathing in the floral scent of her hair "I'm going to take you underwater for a while. Tap my back when you want to breathe." He instructed, trying desperately to keep his emotions in check. Something about her close presence was making him flustered by her sweet touches and daring actions. Perhaps…
But before Link allowed his thoughts to wander, and before Zelda could agree, the confused warrior submerged them both into the water's cold current and twirled through the water. Zelda's long blonde hair streamed behind her as she tightly shut her eyes away from the cruel sting of the sea, and she held onto Link for dear life. Yet she had never felt so alive, the water blowing fiercely against her face and across every cell of her body as Link defied the pushing tide with his new streamlined shape. It didn't even occur to her that, when a fountain of blue and white droplets exploding around them as Link broke the surface, she hadn't tapped his back.
"I'm impressed," Link said as he began kicking toward the shoreline with Zelda still in his arms. "You didn't need to breathe."
"What?" Zelda said, dazed by the thrilling experience she'd just lived through.
"You held your breath the whole way," Link reminded her.
"Oh, I suppose I did," Zelda said smiling up at the red sky.
The two paddled quietly toward the new beach in the corner of the mountain cliffs, without saying much more to each other. Link sat down and rested his head on his knees, lost in his conflicting thoughts that made the smile disappear from his face. Wringing out the water from her dress, Zelda padded softly over to her companion, the small grains of sand sticking to her wet feet.
"What are you thinking about?" Zelda asked softly as she sat down beside him. Link jumped at the serenity surrounding her words.
"N-Nothing," he answered quietly. The princess looked at him for a moment, trying to study the emotions in Link's dark eyes. But like before she could see nothing.
"Take off your mask," she asked. Link turned his head, his mouth slightly ajar, but Zelda nodded and Link complied with her request. At once the pale blue of his skin began merging in the same way back to the forest green of his old tunic and as Link pulled the mask away from his face, his deep blue eyes staring back at Zelda.
There she saw instantly the perplexed sadness swelling inside his beautiful orbs, masked carefully with a guarded restraint, and she smiled. Silently Zelda took Link's hand and shuffled awkwardly underneath the pathway of his arm, wrapping it around her shoulders as she held his hand tightly.
"It's all right," she whispered. Link glanced at her from the corner of his eye finding her staring straight back at him. Her caring smile, the one he'd grown to love over the years he'd spent with her, shone brilliantly on her face and Link, baffled by how well she had come to know him, inched a little closer to her warmth.
As if understanding each other perfectly, Zelda rested her head on Link's shoulder as he brought his arm more comfortably around her trembling shoulders sharing the warmth they had as the night chill started to set in. They could barely see the sun now; the crescent of it's blurred rim the only blazing remnant left in the sky. The empty, starlit sky began a light pink, fading gradually into the dark midnight blue that would soon reign over the sparkling, glittering night. Without so much as an utterance between them the two watched the final dip of the red sunshine as it disappeared completely from view, down under the horizon to sleep through the night.
"How did you know?" Link said breaking the silence. Zelda smiled and played with Link's hand.
"You're far too easy to read Link," she said happily.
"Is that so?" Link asked, looking down at the smiling woman resting comfortably in the crook of his neck. Feeling Link's gazing eyes Zelda looked up and nodded. "Well, what am I saying now?" Zelda pulled back from Link and mockingly put a hand to her chin and stared lazily into his eyes, tapping a finger against her cheek. "Well?" Link said.
"I'm not telling you," Zelda teased, settling herself back against Link's shoulder. "But I'll give you a clue," she said confidently as she sat up straight and leaned fearlessly toward Link, capturing his lips in a soft kiss.
Nothing could describe the elation coursing through Link's veins at that moment. He felt like his face was on fire, the beautiful and enchanting flames swallowing him in Zelda's passionate dance against his lips. Link forgot the frosty air biting at his damp clothes and skin; the crashing of the waves against the shore; the whining of the wind in the trees; and the sense of feeling as his entire body numbed in one dizzy rush.
"Was I right?" Zelda said breathing hard as she pulled away.
"Not really," Link said smiling clumsily. The princess blinked in disbelief. She suddenly looked as if she'd been caught committing some forbidden crime; her blue eyes wide with shock as her mouth trembled. "It was more along the lines of 'I love you', but it'll do."
Zelda glared at him and punched him lightly in the ribs, at the same time falling into Link's side and hugging him tightly. "I can't believe I love such a horrible person," she said smiling, lying in Link's arms while listening to his comforting heartbeat once more.
"This horrible person is the only one you've got," Link said above her.
"Stop making me feel so alone in the world. I swear, I will have you hung!" Zelda argued.
"But I know you won't."
Zelda laughed, remembering the exact conversation they had had earlier. "Why not?" she said looking up at Link.
"Because I love you," he said looking down affectionately, running his fingers through Zelda's long golden hair.
"True," she mused. "Maybe I won't have you hung after all," she said turning around in his embrace, leaning up to kiss him again. "Not until I really have to…"