Happy New Year to All! I hope that 2005 was a good year for everyone and that 2006 will be even better. Again, still looking for more artists out there willing to do some work.
The next morning, Zelda was roused by the beams of sun that were now streaming through the window and warming her. Rubbing her eyes groggily she saw that she was wrapped in a woolen blanket and was lying on an extra pillow. Rising to her feet and looking around, she saw that Link had already awoken and left the room. Looking in the mirror and smoothing down her hair while straightening the rest of her appearance, Zelda left the room and saw the maid that took care of the upstairs rooms carrying a load of sheets.
"Thank you for the blanket and pillow last night Kriste," Zelda thanked the maid.
"What are you talking about Lady Harkinian?" the maid replied, very much confused.
"Last night, I fell asleep in Link's room and you brought me a blanket and pillow did you not?" Zelda clarified.
"I am sorry ma'am but I have no idea of what you're talking about," the maid apologized before hurrying away to carry out her duties leaving Zelda to wonder on her own.
What had happened last night, Zelda contemplated. She remembered promising to stay in the room until Link apologized for another one of his uncouth remarks and then falling asleep being quite cold. Yet, she knew that when she had fallen asleep there hadn't been a blanket or pillow nearby. Wracking her mind for an answer she began considering the one that seemed least likely. Could it be that Link was the one who had provided her with the blanket and the pillow? Part of Zelda wished it was true as it brought to her a feeling of warmth and comfort. It just seemed so unlikely though that this young man who caused her so much aggravation would actually help her. Yet as much as her previous experiences dictated about the young man, logic left no other choice other than it was him.
Suddenly without realizing that she had been walking around so much, Zelda found herself at the entrance to the library where Link was already busy reading one of the many books.
"Oh, good morning," Zelda said softly by way of morning greeting.
Link merely looked up and grunted in response before turning back to his book.
"I'd just like to thank you for the blanket and pillow you provided me last night," Zelda continued, as timid as before, feeling again that fluttering of the heart that made her so nervous and uncomfortable.
"Well, don't get any thoughts. I didn't do it because I like you or anything of the sort. The only reason I did was because I didn't want you whining and bothering me when you got sick even though it'd be you're fault," Link sneered.
As she heard Link's reply, Zelda found herself fighting with the despair that threatened to enter her heart. Tears began to burn at the edge of her peripheral vision as she fought to keep them away to prevent Link from causing her further humiliation. She felt like crying and screaming at him at the same time for being so cruel, yet he just glanced at her once more in that goading manner of his before turning again back to his book. Having nothing left to say, she turned on her heels and without another word, shuffled out of the room.
Soon after the young woman left, Link found himself peering over the top of his book to make sure that she was really gone. Women were so troublesome he thought to himself, and this one especially. Zelda was one of the most strong-willed women he had ever seen, definitely more so than other ladies of high society. She was stubborn as he was and that was often the cause of their heated arguments. What Link hated to admit was that it because of these traits as well as her immense physical beauty that he found herself drawn to her. The more errant part of Link's mind ever hazarded to wonder what it would be like to be married to Zelda. That was an extremely unlikely possibility whether he liked her or not, her sense of social class would prohibit her from ever marrying him. A maelstrom of thoughts concerning Zelda continued to swirl around Link's mind as he tried to focus on his reading.
Zelda was just as disturbed as Link was if not more so and was manifesting it in a different manner. Instead of sitting sullenly in a chair trying to read, she was in her own room pacing back and forth, her anxiety getting the better of her. What was happening to her, she screamed at herself. Before Link had arrived, her life was so peaceful and under control yet ever since he had set foot in the house her existence seemed to be unraveling around her. The fact that her mind chose that moment to remember Link's glinting blue eyes and his sneering face did nothing to help. Never in her life had a man played such a significant part in her life. He was the antithesis of everything that she had been taught about men, rough, free-speaking, and crass compared with the cultured, well-kept gentlemen she had been raised around and to whom her father wanted her engaged to. However, for all those flaws it was only when she was with him that she felt her heart flutter and pound at twice its normal rhythm. And there was that one time at that ball which seemed like so long ago where she had felt a feeling of warmth and protection that she had never felt before when he held her in his arms while they danced. On one side lay the traditional values imbued in her since she was a child, which dictated that Link was an inferior that needed to be taught strictly, and on the other lay these new feelings she had found developing that remained un-named. So it was, that in Zelda's head there raged a mental war that rivaled any battle thus far in the conflict between the colonials and the British.
Slowly, Zelda calmed down forcing the visible evidence of how distraught she was from her face. She had to calm down and everything would be alright she told herself. These unknown feelings would surely pass away once she began to associate with the gentlemen of rank and society that her father wanted for her. Pushing all thoughts of Link from her mind, Zelda changed dresses and went out for a walk near the waterfront so that she could force memories of the young man from her mind.
As for Link, he contend to pass most of the day reading until he reached early afternoon and began to grow sleepy. Slowly, his eyelids closed as he drifted off to an fitful sleep. For some reason or other, he was plagued by memories of his mother and that fateful night that she had died, vanishing in the flickering orange flames. Images of himself running as fast as he could on his little legs blurred as the surroundings faded and Link was haunted by the ghostly voice of his mother and father blaming her death on him. Finally, after what seemed to be the millionth time that the dream had repeated itself, Link's eyes shot open to find himself still in the library. Unconsciously he felt himself reaching for the necklace that his mother had given him. Every time he looked at it, painful memories were brought forth. Feeling the desire to get some fresh air, he lifted the heavy book which he had been reading off of his lap and walked to the large ornate doors leading to a balcony.
Already the sun was setting and darkness was slowly creeping up on the city. Link made his way over to the ornate stone railing of the balcony and leaned against it observing the sights of the city at night. Watchmen were beginning to move across the streets, lighting the candles in the street lanterns while many citizens hurried about from the many stores carrying home their purchased wares. A wagon of timber bound for a carpenter lumbered through the streets while several post riders hurried to leave the city. In the harbor, twinkling lights bobbed aboard the men-of-war of King George III while on several greens were the campfires of the British redcoats. Staring out at the city, Link was immersed in his own thought. It had been roughly 13 years since that fateful night his parents died. Never a week passed by when Link did not at least remember those flames in the village so vividly as the grass flew by as he ran as far as his legs could take him. Life in all of its mystical wonders was not fair, taking the lives of two young parents who had done no wrong and had only tried to raise their son as best they could. Often Link broke into tears when remembering his parents, cursing himself for his perceived weakness. This night was no exception as Link felt a solitary tear fall from his right eye as he longed to see his mother and father one last time. Taking out his mother's necklace once more, he watched sadly as the light of the newly risen moon sparkled off of the three sapphires set in the necklace. So focused was Link on the necklace and the memories it held that he didn't notice the arrival of another on the balcony behind him.
Zelda had just finished her walk through the city which had taken up most of the day. She had dined at one of the parlors near the docks that were reserved for people of her social status and was accosted by the Lieutenant from the day before. The British officer reminded her of the ball soon whereupon much to her confusion and shame Zelda found herself wishing that Link was attending this one as her escort like he had last time. While this happened the officer took the opportunity to bring his hands around Zelda's slender waist and drew her to him. Somehow Zelda felt that what was happening was wrong, as if she was somehow cheating Link. So, when the Lieutenant leaned in for another kiss, Zelda turned demurely so that she only received a peck on the cheek. Excusing herself quietly she left, again cursing her brain for loosing concentration and allowing Link back in. Deciding that her walk had been long enough now that it was starting to get dark, the young woman decided it was time to head home. Arriving at the large residence she was greeted by a maid who inquired if all was well to which Zelda replied yes. Deciding to keep her black and silver embroidered cloak on for the time being, for the warmth it provided on the cold night, Zelda ascended the stairs and began to head towards her room. Walking past the open doors to the library, she saw evidence of Link's continued habitation since she left. The book he was reading was lying face down on the chair where he had been sitting while a pot of tea sat on a nearby table. Sighing at Link's lack of manners she strode into the library to set the book back in its rightful place. However, as she strode towards the chair she felt the slight breeze coming from the open balcony doors and looked up to see Link leaning against the rail. Profiled against he night sky, with his tussled blonde bangs blowing in his face, he looked quite mysterious, brooding, and downright handsome causing Zelda to blush slightly.
"You should be careful, standing outside in only a shirt and trousers, tis getting cold as of late and you might catch a cold," Zelda warned softly, stepping outside to join him. Zelda waited for a response that never came and stepping so that she could see his face she saw this his eyes were fixed on the necklace she had seen earlier. Looking at it closely, she saw that it was relatively simple, especially when compared with her own extravagant necklaces but at the same time it had a beauty all its own, the three sapphires shimmering in the night.
"Who do you have a woman's necklace? Did you have a fiancé who gave that to you?" Zelda queried a sudden feeling of dread filling her dread much to her confusion and frustration. Why would it matter if he had a fiancé or not, it wasn't her business was it? Besides it wasn't like he was hers or anything like that.
"No," Link answered flatly, turning and meeting Zelda's deep blue eyes.
"Oh, well then why do you have it then because it doesn't look like it's that valuable," Zelda derided, regretting the words the moment they left her mouth.
"It was my mother's, so shut up!" he exclaimed both angry and sad at the same moment, turning to face her, his eyes blazing..
Zelda instantly felt the greatest sense of shame wash through her. Was she such a terrible person that she would make fun of the last article of love that a mother had left her son?
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it," Zelda tried to defend herself before she was cut off.
"That's just typical of you, making fun of everything that isn't as good as your standards whether or not it has value other than monetary to others," Link cut in.
"Please, I really didn't mean it," Zelda apologized profusely, something she thought that she would never do to Link.
"Just stop it! You don't know what its like to lose your mother and father when you're still a little child," he shouted much like he had earlier when Zelda had brought up this sensitive subject. Except that this time that instead of being remorseful like last time, Zelda's own sense of anger was triggered.
"Don't tell me I don't know what it feels like to lose my mother! At least you got to know your mother and spend some time with her, mine died giving birth to me! So don't you go acting all high and tragic because you're not the only one who's lost someone," Zelda screamed just as loud.
Now it was Link's turn to burn in shame as Zelda revealed a part of her past that was just as hard as his.
"Sorry," he muttered.
Taking several deep breaths Zelda calmed herself down, "I'm sorry about making fun of your mother's necklace."
Satisfied now, Link turned back to lean on the railing, letting the delicate golden chain of the necklace flow from one hand to the other while Zelda too leaned against the railing, just a few feet away.
"What was it like to have your parents for the time you did?" Zelda inquired about the one thing that Link had that she never would.
For several long seconds Link stood silent and Zelda thought that Link was going to ignore her but just when she was about to give up and walk away she heard a response.
"It was wonderful," Link replied simply.
"How so?" she continued, eager to learn what it was like to grow up knowing the loving embrace of one's mother.
More silence ensued as Link thought it over.
"My mother was the best person in the entire world both beautiful and kind. She never hurt anyone nor did she ever want to. We would always go out to play in the fields…" Link reminisced about the time he and she were tumbling about in the grass when he was but 3 while they were playing a game. "She also told the best stories before I went to bed and then she'd tuck me in tight before kissing me on the forehead and telling me she loved me. My dad was great too, he'd always take me out to the fields with him and ride the horse while he plowed the field" Link said with a sad smile.
"They sound like wonderful people," Zelda comforted but for once feeling jealous of Link for having something she would have given up all her riches and fame for.
"Yeah, she was. I'd give anything to just see the, one more time…" Link trailed off.
"What happened to they, how did they pass away?" Zelda asked ever curious. "You don't have to share if you don't want to," she added hurriedly to preclude any temper eruptions on Link's part.
"I don't know why I'm telling you seeing as we're enemies but somehow I get the feeling that they would want me to share my feelings instead of bottling it all up," Link commented, unconsciously rubbing his finger over the center sapphire, taking a deep breath before beginning the story.
"It happened when I was only 3. Summer had come and my mother and I were outside playing in the fields nearby. Late afternoon had come and it was time for my bath but I ran because I didn't want to take it," Link recounted.
Meanwhile, Zelda let a small smile show as the image of a little Link running through a field pursued by his mother, ran through her mind. She imagined a happiness that she herself would never know.
"Eventually she caught me and we wrestled about for a bit until she convinced me by threatening not to tell me my story that night. At home I had gone to my room to prepare for my bath and had come out and saw several bandits in the room with my parents. My father had his musket with him and shouted for my mother to take me which she did. We ran as hard as we could. Already, most of the village was on fire while bandits chased around the inhabitants and either shot them or hacked them to death," Link shuddered.
Unconsciously, Zelda's hand snaked its way up Link's back to find its way onto his shoulder to offer some sort of comfort as he continued with the retelling of the story.
"We ran as fast as we could through the fields of tall grass until I heard a shot and saw my mother fall to the ground. The bullet had hit her in the leg and prevented her from running any further. But she only thought about my welfare and urged me to keep running as she wanted to spare me from the bandits who were close behind. She gave me her necklace, the one I have now that was given to her by my father and her most cherished possession. After she pleaded with me once more I left but I snuck back to see what her fate was. I saw her as she was forced inside the church with the door locked behind her and the torches being thrown in. I watched as the flames enveloped the building and her. I saw her as she twisted about, the flames slowly surrounding her until she died," Link finished morosely.
Zelda stood horrified at this recounting of the past. Never had she suspected that Link had been through such trauma and at a young age. To see one's mother die while still but a toddler was the hardest thing any human could bear. He had lost both his parents at a young age and was forced to complete his childhood without his two greatest loved ones. In comparison Zelda felt extremely fortunate for having at least her father with her.
"Sometimes I wonder that maybe it was my fault my mother passed that night. Maybe if I could have run on my own instead of having my mother carry me so that she could have run faster…" Link theorized.
At this Zelda's heart broke. For Link to lose his parents and have to tell her this tale was sad enough, but him to feel guilt for it Zelda thought was a terrible feeling. Pushing his shoulder so that he was facing her she spoke in a strong yet comforting voice.
"Don't blame yourself for it Link. I'm sure your parents don't and I'm sure that they don't want you having such feelings either," she softly scolded yet comforted in the same time.
And perhaps in his greatest showing of human weakness yet, Link broke into tears and cried, the salty tears leaving a stinging trail down his face.
Zelda, letting her own feelings instead of her brain rule her actions pulled Link into a tight embrace, letting him cry on her shoulder while she comforted him.
A/N interesting plot twist yes? It seems our main characters have come a long way, but just so you know, there's still a long way to go