18. Happily Ever After

Morning saw Link and Zeld slip quietly into town. No one noticed the young couple stroll through the square and disappear up the path toward the castle. No one suspected this was just what the young couple intended.

"I need new clothes and a bath," Zeld said firmly. "A long bath."

"Don't you think letting your parents know you're alive should take precedence over getting clean?"

"It's been almost two weeks. I need a bath."

"But-"

"Bath!"

"Fine. Sheesh. But only if I can join you."

"I thought that was implied."

They snuck into the palace with even less trouble than they'd snuck through town. Zeld, having grown up in the place, knew all the nooks and crannies and little-used hallways. It wasn't until they reached the living quarters that they ran into anyone at all.

"My room's just up the hall," Zeld said. "It's still early so we can-"

"Hey, it's you!"

Link and Zeld turned and stared.

For a moment they thought they were looking at a skinny redheaded girl, then Link made a mental connection.

"Doran?"

"Yo," the young Gerudo king smiled and waved. He had been cleaned up and dressed in what Link would have thought were some of Zeld's old clothes, if they hadn't been pink. His hair was pulled back into a short ponytail, and he looked, well, cute.

"What are you doing here?" Link asked.

"Bargaining," he shrugged. "It's a show of good faith. I swore that my people weren't holding you hostage," he nodded to Zeld, "and to prove it I turned myself over as a hostage to your parents." He looked down at himself. "You mom dressed me in your old clothes. Let me guess, she wanted a daughter?"

"She would never admit to it, but it's the only answer that makes sense," Zeld agreed.

Link switched her shocked stare to Zeld. "Your mom made you wear pink? My mom never made me wear pink!"

"Lucky," the boys said in unison. They grinned at each other.

"So are both of you all right?" Doran asked. "Everyone was worried, even me. Despite the fact that, you know, I don't really know you."

"We're fine," Link said. "Few dozen bruises and scrapes, but mostly fine."

"Anyway, you don't need to know your brother to worry about him," Zeld added.

Doran blinked. "Brother?"

"Well, not technically since I'm not king yet, but once I am we'll be brother kings." He looked down at Doran's stunned face. "Didn't anyone tell you about that bit?"

Doran shook his head slowly. "You mean...just because I'm king...I get a brother?"

"Three actually," Zeld said. "My dad, not me yet. There's him, the Big Brother of the Gorons, and the Zora King. Kings call each other brother, it's that simple." He looked closely at Doran. "Or, if you want, you and me could be sworn brothers."

There were actually tears standing in Doran's eyes. "You would really do that?"

"Of course. You seem nice enough, and I've always wanted a little brother to teach things. And pick on. But for political reasons I think we'll stick to teaching things." He patted Doran's shoulder. "You okay?"

Doran sniffed. "Uh-huh. Sorry about this."

"No worries. You grew up surrounded by women. You're allowed to be emotional."

Doran laughed. "You better go tell you're parents you're okay. They're on the breaking point."

"After bath," Zeld said.

"You look fine."

"Lesson one, little brother," Zeld put his arm around Link's shoulder and grinned. "Baths are good for many things, and not all of them are clean."

The sound of Doran's laughter followed them down the hall.

zzz

Late morning sunlight streamed through the windows of the conference room as Zeld pushed open the door. His parents, seated at the end of the room, stared at him for a full ten seconds before jumping to their feet and rushing him.

"Mom, Dad," Zeld raised his hands to fend them off, "there's someone you need to meet." He dragged Link into the room.

She gave a crisp bow. "Your Majesties, it is an honor to meet you."

"Link saved me," Zeld said. "It's a very very long story, but she saved me and that's what counts."

"Link?" The queen repeated.

Link shot a nervous look at Zeld before answering, "Lady Linkalla Vanguardian Lon Lon."

"You're a lady?" Zeld exclaimed.

"Did I forget to mention that?" she grinned sheepishly.

"Yes! I can't believe you never told me you-"

The queen clasped Link's hands in her own. "Thank you! Thank you so much for saving my son! I know we made the right choice, that you could be so dedicated to your future husband before you ever met him!"

"My what now?" Link asked.

"Her what now?" Zeld asked.

The queen blinked. "You mean...you didn't know?"

"Know what?" they both asked.

"Lady Linkalla...you and the prince have been betrothed for almost two weeks now."

Link and Zeld stared at each other.

"You're... you're kidding."

"No, I'm not. You mean you really didn't know?"

They shook their heads.

"Then...why did you save him?"

"Because...he needed saving?"

The queen looked at her oddly, as her husband choked back a laugh.

"Why's that funny?" Link asked, trying not to sound offended.

"You sound like my grandfather," the king said, smiling. "It's not a bad thing. I'd be proud to have you as a daughter."

"Would you tell that to my mother when she finds out about this? I don't think she'll have quite the same reaction."

He laughed. "Sure."

"Now," the queen released one of Link's hands and took Zeld's, "why don't you tell us everything? From the beginning."

"Everything?" Link and Zeld glanced at each other.

"Yeah, sure." Link grinned. "Everything..."

And so, in the end, it wasn't that different after all. The hero still saved the day, and the prince still got the girl. The fact that the hero and the prince weren't the same person is really irrelevant. And, of course, the one thing that always holds true, no matter what else is different, held true for this tale as well.

They all lived happily ever after.

The End

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Epilogue 1: Four Days Later

Kobold had receive the invitation that morning, to the wedding of Prince Zeld Delorean Hyrule and Lady Linkalla Vanguardian Lon Lon. It said to bring a guest, but Kobold had no one to bring. Sure, he had friends, but bringing a friend to a wedding seemed wrong somehow. You brought dates to weddings, not friends.

Of course, thinking about weddings and dates made him think about other things, things he'd been trying to avoid but which he'd never been able to forget. It had been five years, he should be able to move on by now. But somehow...he just couldn't stop hoping. All day it had plagued his mind, and now, as the sun sank on the horizon, he kept on hoping.

Even after all this time he knew he would give anything for one touch of that hand, one glimpse of those eyes, anything...anything...

Someone knocked on the door and Kobold shook himself out of his reverie. He was being stupid. That would be Mara come to bully him into taking her to the wedding.

"Coming," he called.

"No hurry," a voice said. "I've waited five years, I can wait a few minutes more."

Kobold froze. It couldn't be... Could it?

Before his mind even had time to process that thought his feet had kicked into automatic and he practically flew to the door.

He flung it open and there, framed in the doorway...

Long silver hair, dark handsome face, those silly dark glasses, gold band on his left ring finger...

"Antores?"

The man Zeld and Link had known as Tor smiled nervously and ran his fingers through his hair. "Hey Kobold. Um... I... I have nothing to say."

"You bastard," Kobold growled. "You filthy son of a bitch. You think you can just show up after all these years and expect me to...to..."

"No. Of course not." He looked down at his hands. "But I love you. And I've missed you...I didn't mean toleave, or begoneso long. I would have given anything, anything, to see you just one more time. I...Oh gods, I've missed you so much!"

"I...I've missed you too...Antores... I love you. I... Dammit, who am I kidding? Get in here before we shock the neighbors."

"Screw the neighbors."

"Screw me." Kobold grabbed Antores by his shirt and dragged him inside.

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Epilogue 2: Two Weeks Later

There was a knocking on the doorframe. Denko looked up from his mask, to see one of his old coworkers standing there smiling.

"Mark! Hey!" Denko smiled back.

"Hey Sparky," Mark replied. "How's life post-Vaaltos treating you?"

"You kidding? Great! I'm spending time with my family and friends, I'm working on my art. This is great!"

Mark looked at him closely. "You seem sincere..."

Denko blinked. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"I have no idea. So..." he leaned forward. "How's life post-coming-out treating you?"

Denko sighed. "Better than I expected. Granted, I expected the worst."

"Poor baby."

"Was there a reason you stopped by?"

"Mm, kinda. My sister and I were talking about all the crazy shit that's happened to us, and she had a thought."

"That's a special occasion?"

"Shut up. She was wondering if maybe...you're still sparky?"

"What?"

"That zappy power that Vaaltos gave you, can you still do it?"

Denko stared at him for a full ten seconds before spinning on his heel and running out into the backyard, Mark following closely. Once out there, and away from anything flammable, he rubbed his hands together briskly and pointed them toward the ground.

An arc of lightning shot from his hands and instantly incinerated the grass where it hit.

Denko and Mark looked at each other. Mark grinned.

"Can I be your best friend?"

Denko grinned too. "Try sidekick."

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Like I said, everyone lived happily ever after.

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Final Notes:

That's the end! This is your present! Hooray!

I hope everyone enjoyed this story (though I notice I didn't get nearly as many reviews for this one as I did the others). Keep your eyes open for my next project, Romance andAdventure on the High Seas, a Wind Waker retelling. It should be a lot of fun, and way less angsty than my previous retellings. No, there's no romance, but it's a good title and I'm not changing it. I intend to post the first chapter in early January. If it's not done by this time next year I want one of you to hunt me down and tie me to a chair in front of the computer until I finish. Thanks in advance for whoever winds up doing that.

I'd also like to thank everyone for putting up with these author notes. I don't like it when other writers do them, but I like letting my readers know my thoughts. I am such a hypocrite.

Anyway, thanks for reading and putting up with me. Much love and happy non-denominational winter season!