Another one shot, my friends! I wanted to play with the habits installed between two best friends, and how life can modify them. But I especially wanted to write some Zelink stuff.
For the few of you who may wonder what I've been up to, I've been writing a lot. I'm especially working on a multi-chaptered ff (currently codenamed Hyrule Times), which you can read a basic plot outline of in my profile. I'm perhaps 2/3 through, meaning that once I'm done proof reading myself and separating it into three parts or something, you should be able to read it, so keep an eye out. I'll be posting an excerpt of it in my profile.
But back to the shot, please.
NOTE: All original names are fictitious. Any resemblance to a living or dead person is purely fortuitous.
Warning: Some very minor innuendoes, and that's it. I think. Also some references to Disney's Lion King. As a wink to Hylian Kings.
For the Best
Zelda stared at Murray as he slowly nodded. Inside, a pained storm was brewing.
"Yeah," she heard the dark haired twenty-five year-old murmur. "Yes. I love her." Immediately seeing the ravages he was causing, he hurried to add, "But I love you too, Zellie, I swear I never—"
But Zelda cut him short. "You disregarded the link that I thought we had, Murray." She stared at the ring on her left hand. Toying with the band with her right thumb and forefinger, she hesitated as she slipped it off. Then, handing it to him, "If you love her, then don't waste this. Don't waste the breath you spent on me. Make it worth it."
She waited for him to take the damned ring back. He didn't. His eyes were set on her, as direct as she had demanded when she had asked him if yes or no, he loved Kerry. His mistress.
God, the word seared her mind. In a very, very bad way, too.
Murray was sitting straight, as though he hadn't heard her. She agitated the ring before his eyes. "Murray, take it back."
Around them, other patrons kept looking back and forth between their plates and the ranting fiancés.
"Murray—" She paused, mid-sentence, before risking, very slowly, "You are going to marry her, aren't you?"
He said nothing, finally looking away.
"Aren't you, Murray?"
"God," he blew, looking back at her in annoyance, "I told you she was just some fling! I would have stopped seeing her after the wedding!"
Zelda said nothing, then brought the ring down to the table. She gently clapped it on the surface, cushioning the sound with the tablecloth. Her eyes rested on its shining, curved surface. "You don't understand."
"Yes, Zellie, I do, you know I would never have risked ruining our wedding—"
"No, you don't understand! Our wedding doesn't begin in eight days! It began a long, long time ago! It began when we started dating, when you kissed me for the first time, it began when you asked me to marry you!"
This caused a number of raised brows and agreeing nods in the restaurant, but no one spoke. Zelda sat up straight.
"Murray, you ruined the wedding anyhow! Do you really think I would have wanted to be with a man who wasn't faithful when he'd promised me to love me and me only?"
"That's ZELDA to you. And don't you dare pretend that you would have stopped. If you weren't capable of stopping it before it began, then where would we have ended up? I'm not going to lie to you. I'm glad. I'm very glad that you chose to tell me now, so that at least, ONE of us doesn't have to live with you for the rest of their life. Asshole."
She stood, grabbing her purse and making for the front doors. Murray stood behind her, carefully grabbing the expensive ring and pocketing it. Then, he darted after her.
"Zel, you have to be reasonable—"
She whirled around, cutting the pursuit short. Now, they had the attention of everyone in the place. She jabbed a finger in his chest, looking up at him furiously. "I AM being reasonable. I'm dropping you! And the wedding! I hope you live the rest of your life in celibacy and never have kids!"
He looked at her weird. "What do kids have to do with this?"
"I hope you never procreate, you jerk! And to ensure it—"
She kneed him in the groin, and as he doubled over in pain, she huffed, slamming her heel on his foot so he toppled over and fell.
"I hope you die."
With those charming last words, she hurried to the exit, the people's cheers following her, though she was fighting back hurt and humiliation. She didn't turn when she heard her name being called. Instead, she hailed a taxi on the street and hopped into the first one that stopped.
She hesitated, before giving an address that was not hers. The driver, seeing that she was near tears, chose not to push polite conversation, and simply obeyed her.
Which was how she set foot out of the taxi ten minutes later and paused. Would she be a bother?
She didn't dwell on the question too much, however, making for the neon-lit, narrow lobby. She could see Mrs. Higgs' door open, and, hearing someone trying to enter, the building owner came out, saw Zelda in the doorway, looking miserable, and immediately ushered her in, urgently questioning the girl's presence there so late at night.
With a weak sob, Zelda asked if Link was home. Mrs. Higgs nodded, looking genuinely sympathetic, and said he was.
"You can go on right up. I can call ahead?"
"No, please don't bother. I'll just… drop by."
With a last heartfelt, compassionate—though confused—hug, Mrs. Higgs went back into her apartment, leaving Zelda in the brightly lit lobby. Step after exhausting step, she made her way to the second floor and around to Link's front door. With one last sigh, she knocked on the thick panel.
After a few seconds, she heard his steps and he cracked the door open, peering out. Then, recognizing her, he opened wider, but then noticed she was tearing. Immediately, his concern grew. He quietly motioned her in, and she walked inside, silently making her way to his fairly large living room. She heard him shut the door, then come back over.
"Zelda?" He asked, "Zel, what's wrong?"
Not a second after he'd asked her this, she was throwing her arms around his neck and sobbing wetly onto his shoulder. Link, unsure, wrapped his arms around the young woman, making her sit on his large, soft couch. It wasn't hard and rigid a couch, like Murray's. Instead, it was old and thickly cushioned, so much more to her taste. She had never really been comfortable with Murray's furniture.
Brushing her hair from her wet cheeks, Link waited for her to calm down, then asked again, "Zel, tell me now."
Sniffling, she stammered between sobs, "H-He was cheating on me with a woman called Kerry and he loved her but didn't want to marry her and I-I j-just broke off my engagement to him and he was such a jerk and it hurts!"
She softly ploughed into his shoulder again, shoulders shaking. He could hear her angrily mumble between tears words like, 'bastard', 'asshole', 'jerk'. He had to focus on the fact that she was crying, despite how his heart had unexpectedly started soaring at the news. She was free? Free of any man?
How light he felt, all of a sudden. She was free again, though he had convinced himself to accept her wedding to Murray.
Even if it hurt. A lot.
"Zel," he said, pushing her back only slightly, keeping her still quite close, "Zelda, you have to calm down."
She broke away from him, standing and starting to pace his living room furiously. Her eyes were still crying, but her face was red and angry.
"I can't believe the nerve of him! He invites me to eat at the restaurant, and then, in front of everyone, he just announces that he's been cheating on me for like, a year now! And then he gives me all this bullshit about how he'd have stopped after the wedding! I'm so sure! God, Link," at this she turned back to the young man sitting on the couch uncertainly, "why do I ALWAYS end up with bastards?"
He raised an index, looking at her pointedly, "You ended up right here, missy. I do accept the compliment, though."
She shook her head, falling back beside him. Putting her head on his shoulder, she mumbled, "I didn't mean you, Link."
He smiled softly, rubbing her arm with his warm hand soothingly. "It's alright, it's alright. Just calm down. We'll straighten this out. We'll make it okay again."
Fresh tears fell out of her eyes. "How am I ever going to tell everyone? They were all so looking forward to it! Oh no!" She sat up, a tears falling onto her lap. "Oh no," she brokenly spoke, "I have to tell mom! Oh no, Link, what if she disowns me!"
Link blinked at her. "Hey, don't go wild here. You're still her daughter. She loves you. She wouldn't have wanted you to end up with a jerk just to please her wedding ideals. I'm sure she'd much rather have you be happy with the man of your dreams rather than with a cheating bastard."
"Murray was the man of her dreams," Zelda breathed. "She wanted him for me. I have to use a phone, do you mind?"
She had already picked up the receiver and started dialling her mother's home number. Link reached out and snatched it from her. She squeaked and he clicked the number off the screen. Then, turning the thing off, he put it back on the coffee table, and grabbed both her arms. "You calm down immediately. It's seven right now. Your mother hates it when you call on a Saturday night at seven. It's her favourite show. She probably wouldn't answer anyway. Plus," he added, seeing her trying to answer back, "you're emotionally drained. You'd just end up sobbing into the receiver and I'd have to take it from you and deliver the bad news myself." He wiped away new tears gently but severely. "You're going to calm down right now."
"Don't order me around," she muttered.
"I'm not." Then, while standing, "So, do I fetch you a pyjama?"
Blinking tiredly at him, she asked, "A pyjama? What for?"
He sighed, rolling his eyes and softly smiling. "Zel, you're not going back to your lonely apartment in this state. God knows what you would do. You're sleeping here tonight. You did it before, remember?" He slowly said, making motion with his hands. "You know, before you got engaged and chose not to give your ass of a boyfriend any ideas? You can have my bed," he said. "I was feeling like sleeping on the couch tonight anyway."
She smiled softly, for many reasons. He had always been caring and understanding. And giving. God knew he was a giving friend. And how he had made 'ass of a boyfriend' sound so natural was quite worth smiling at too.
"You were feeling like sleeping on the couch? What is wrong with you?"
He shrugged his square shoulders, shooting her an embarrassed grin. "I do that sometimes. Makes for a change in scenery."
Zelda let out a laugh at that. "Liar. I bet there's a dead cockroach in your sheets and you won't get rid of it."
Link shot her a glare. "I'm cleaner than that, Zel. God, you hurt my feelings," he jokingly wheezed, bringing a hand to his heart. "Honestly, the woman just can't believe I like having a change in my habits," he spoke to thin air as he made his way into his bedroom. She could hear him pulling a drawer open and closed. He came back into view a few seconds later, throwing a bundle of thick cotton cloth onto her lap.
It was very dark blue, with a patterned, large pyjama pants. It was unisex, so she had often borrowed it from him. He knew it, and now kept it exclusively for her, despite how it had, at first, been his. He hadn't expected her to need it ever again, because of the engagement, and how she wasn't sleeping over anymore, but he hadn't been able to make it his again. It remained, in his mind, Zelda's pyjama, and no other's.
He was pathetic.
She hurried over to his bathroom to pull it on. She threw her dress on the floor, stepping on it, before reaching out to his pharmacy to find the bottle of make-up remover she usually put there. To her surprise, he had kept it after all this time, and with a silent thanks for the stability he brought her, she carefully took off all her make-up. She untied her hair, ruffling it, finally relaxing.
Rolling up her clothes in a ball, she stepped back out, decked in pyjamas. He took her in, smiling, as though finally things had become lighter, and then took her clothes from her, not even glancing down to search for a bra or panties, as any other man she knew would have, and put them in an opaque plastic bag, carefully, that he placed by the door to the kitchen, beside her handbag.
Even his words, as he disappeared into the kitchen, were familiar to her. "You'll borrow a t-shirt and some jeans of mine tomorrow."
She followed him, softly padding on the white tiled floor. "Thank you. So," she asked, leaning on his counter, "why exactly did you want to sleep on the couch tonight?"
"I need change in my monotone life. You know, ever since you stopped coming over, things have been getting pretty darn boring on weeknights. I can't even watch soccer without getting bored out of my mind." He threw her a grin. "Scores just aren't scores unless you cry them at the top of your lungs from my couch, waving about a spoonful of pudding."
She put her cheek in the palm of her hand, smiling at him. Link was slowly easing her heartbreak, though not completely, of course.
"You really need a girlfriend," she decided. He smiled.
"Nuh-uh. I don't. Here," he said, pulling out two small tubfuls of vanilla ice cream, swinging them along the counter towards her and taking out two spoons, sending them skittering over as well. She grabbed one of them, eyes wide.
"A whole tub! You are a god," she breathed at him, looking exaggeratingly thankful, with her eyes wide and big grin. He smirked, closing the refrigerator door.
"You haven't seen it all." He ducked and swung one of his cupboard doors open, then produced a big box of varied chocolates. Zelda blinked at him, awed.
"You house chocolate. I can't believe you. You had chocolate and all this time you withheld such crucial information from me!"
Link made a theatrical gesture, putting the box on the counter with a flourish, and said, "It's a new addition. I've been trying to cure heartbreak as well," he explained, mocking depression. She hit him in the arm, grabbing her tub of ice cream.
"Don't make fun of me."
"I'm not," Link declared, taking his own ice cream tub and the box of chocolates on top, making his way back into the living room. "I really was curing heartbreak."
"Heartbreak from what?"
"Whom, you mean," he said, placing everything on the coffee table beside the phone and a few magazines.
"Alright. Heartbreak because of whom?"
"I can't tell you. But she is oblivious to my existence as a sexual being."
Zelda grimaced, looking at him. "Never say that again."
He grinned widely. "What, Zel? Can't stand my incredible sexuality?"
She shut her eyes tightly. "My god, stop the madness."
With a smile, he stood from the couch again. "So, what movie do you want to watch?"
She blinked up at him. "What? A movie? What the—" He cut her off with a hand to her forehead. She glared at him from under his fingers as he carefully examined her temperature. "Link."
"Sorry, sorry. Just checking. I was wondering if maybe you'd gone crazy or something. I mean, what did you think? That we'd eat ice cream and stuff ourselves with chocolate all evening with no movie to cry at?"
"And you're checking MY temperature? Link, you're suggesting a chick flick? A tearjerker? Are you mad? Are you a man?"
He shrugged, motioning to the cabinet where he kept all his DVD's, swinging the glass doors open. "Just choose your pick."
She was silent for a moment, unmoving, as he waited for her to suggest something. Finally, in a small voice, she said, "Do you still have the Lion King?"
"Disney's?" Link questioned, and she shyly nodded. "Of course." He answered with a big, silly grin. "How could I get rid of your favourite movie of all-time?"
And, striding over to his movie cabinet, he pulled out the box, easily opening it, then slipping the disk into the waiting machine. She watched him repeat the usual movements, and asked, "Link?"
"Why do you want to break the monotony when we've been doing this for the past thirteen years anyway?"
He looked up at her as the TV screen displayed the word 'Loading', looking honest. "Nothing is ever monotonous with you around."
She smiled at him as he came back beside her with the remote, and she dug in her tubful of vanilla ice cream with her big spoon. Mouth full, she dared say, "This is so falling on my hips."
Link, bringing her close with his free arm, grabbed a chocolate from the open box and slipped it into her mouth to quiet her, "That's alright. You won't be trying to fit into a wedding dress anyway. Eat up."
She did, though she was glaring at him. Apology in his tone, Link leaned close to her face and said, "Don't be mad at me, Zelda. I'll be careful with what I say, I promise."
She shrugged, not listening to the movie as it ran its familiar 'coming soon to theatre near you' drill. She whispered, having finished her mouthful of ice cream, "Link, can you do me a favour?"
"Can you say, 'Murray Knox is a goddamn asshole'?"
He repeated the words uncertainly. She smiled, looking relieved.
"Say it again, please."
He complied, adding flourish to it. "Murray Knox is the worst goddamn bitchy asshole I have ever met."
She peered at him from his shoulder. "Do you think I did the right thing by dropping him?"
He nodded, assuring. "God, yes. Though it would have been nice if you had also kicked him right where it hurts the most. Now I'll have to do it myself."
"He'd beat you to a bloody pulp," she declared, still feeling happy that he'd go to such lengths to save her honour. A long silence followed. Now, the movie was onto the 'Coming now to video and DVD…' drill. She smiled. "But don't worry. Been there, done that."
Astonished, Link looked down at her, innocently cuddled against him, a tub of ice cream cradled between her chest and her knees as she tugged a blanket over her legs. She looked childish, like the little girl he'd grown up with.
Only with nice pink lips and a creamy skin.
And the waist of a goddess.
And soft, perfect hair…
Now was not really the time to think of her that way.
He gaped. "You kicked him where the sun don't shine in front of the whole restaurant?" At her nod, he let out a weak, low, plaintive whine, and said, "Congratulations, but remind me never to insult you, woman!"
She giggled. "Okay. Link?"
"Never insult me, hurt me, deceive me, disappoint me, hurt me, or else…"
"I won't, I won't!" He hastily, mock-desperately cried. "I would never! Besides, if I did, you would probably burn down my house, take all my remaining furniture and—" She shut him up by slipping a chunk of white chocolate into his blabbering mouth. Then, with a small smile, she said, "Shut up, it's now our feature presentation," she said in time with the announcer as she turned to the screen.
Link nodded, munching on the small piece of food she'd put into his mouth. She probably had no idea how much that action had made him long for her even more. He tried to focus on the screen, where the sun rose and the music started, introducing the known-by-heart savannah, but he found that having her so close to him again, instead of at a respectful distance, was the best feeling he ever had.
"Link," she mumbled after squealing at the baby Simba in his mother's paws, "remind me again why I ever thought a man could be worth more than you?"
"I'll never know," Link answered with a shrug. He hoped she didn't hear his heart thudding in his temples. "You must have been delirious."
"I feel so much better now," she muttered as the baboon Rafiki picked Simba up in his arms. "I feel like everything is right again."
"How could anything go wrong with me around?" Link lightly joked, though he was feeling elated.
"I don't know. But thank you." She pecked him on the cheek gently, and then turned back as the vivid colours on the screen captured her attention again. "Oh, and Link?"
"Yes?" He forced, trying to control his heartbeat as his cheek tingled.
"You know, I don't care any more than I did back then whether or not you sleep in the same bed as me. I mean, we're not crazy teens anymore. And even back then, you know, we weren't insane."
"You want to cuddle with me just because I'm warm," he accused. She laughed, the sound wonderfully close to his ear.
"Yes. You'll always be my teddy bear. Now quiet. The Circle of Life beckons you."
"It sure does," he agreed, pulling her close to his chest for the first time in what seemed like ages. She leant back and they both ate quietly, saying and happily singing the lines in time with the characters. At times, she would wiggle to the beat of the songs, making it excruciatingly difficult for him to breathe and seem platonic.
He couldn't remember how, or when, she had taken a romantic spot in his heart, but he knew that she would never be dislodged. Her engagement to Murray had proven that. She hadn't once left his thoughts during those months where they were apart for reasons preferably unnamed.
She had been infatuated with Murray Knox since what seemed like forever, and Link had been front seat witness to everything from her first date with him to Murray's plea that she please become his wife. And he had been the secretly heartbroken fool who had listened to her squeal on the phone about how wonderful her evening with Murray had been, and how she wanted him to be there on the wedding day…
Link had spent many sleepless nights, imagining her entangled in that cursed Murray, laughing, being someone else's but Link's alone. And then, he would snap himself out of it, thinking that maybe, maybe, it would be the right thing to do, to let her go. And then found that he couldn't.
Ever since she had said yes to Murray's demand, they had grown apart, to both their discontent. She had clearly told Link, one day, that there would be no more sleepovers and no more Monday nights with him, even if they had been great while they lasted. She wanted to devote her time to Murray.
He still couldn't figure how he'd manage to nod and pretend he understood when, inside, his soul had been ripped apart. Murray wasn't just marrying Zelda. He was tearing her away from him.
And Link had a very hard time withstanding that.
But now, it seemed a miracle that she had appeared at his front door—hurt and crying, it was true, but—ready to return to things as they were.
Would he ever find the courage to lose his sanity again, for the sake of her happiness? Would he be able to just stand aside and let some other jerk have her? Link knew the answer all too well. The thought warmed his heart. He wouldn't let her slip through his fingers. Not anymore.
She yawned cutely as she dipped her spoon into her tub of ice cream. On the screen, an adult Simba was running after the fading cloudy image of his own father. Link knew the scene by heart, and didn't really focus on it. He was just revelling in the closeness, the warmth that she brought him. He saw her eyes drift closed. With a small smile, he lowered the volume on the TV, and as the gentle silence made her blink open, he picked her up easily. He was astonished at how light she still was, how easily she let him cradle her, and how trusting she had grown over the years.
He carried her to his room. It had been a repeated action. They had often drifted off to sleep together before. It had never been something negative or sexual. They just were comfortable enough that it didn't matter.
Well, to her, at least. He couldn't deny that when she cuddled near him, he felt like his heart was sprinting, like he could just smile so widely his face would crack.
But she was always asleep. She never seemed to realize how much he cared for her. She must have assumed he was gay or something. There was no other freaking way she would have let a young man sleep next to her.
Unless said man was Murray, but then again, she had changed her mind tonight.
So it was hesitantly that he tucked her in. She seemed fast asleep. Maybe she wouldn't notice if he slipped out and slept on the couch after all. There was no way he would be able to spend the night with her while actually getting some shut eye.
Though he really did want to sleep next to her, and sense the heat she was radiating…
She took care of the question when, as he was about to walk away, her hand shot out from under the covers and she gripped his wrist, tugging him back. He ploughed backwards, falling beside her, though a bit more and he'd have fallen straight on her. He turned over, glaring at the tired bundle of covers.
And felt his heart soar as he realized that she wasn't spending the night at Murray's today, but rather right here, in his bed. In his apartment.
Okay. So it was a friends-only zone for her.
She most likely wasn't aware of how much he felt like laughing. Like calling Murray himself and just laughing really loud into the receiver, before hanging up. Maybe yell a, 'HAH! LOSER! I WIN! I WIN!' or some other sort of jab.
Though that would be very childish of him.
He decided that that would have been the fun of it. Unlike Murray, Link didn't have any honour other than being plain ole' Link, everyone's best friend and talented part-time musician, full-time technician. He was working on his engineering diploma, though, so he'd probably get a raise.
Or a better job.
Maybe one that could support a few kids' education…?
Hmm, the possibilities…
"Link?" He heard her mumble almost inaudibly. He turned to look at her.
"I'm cold. Your sheets smell damn good, but they're cold."
His sheets smelled damn good? Oh yeah, he rocked, that's right. Of course she'd like how his covers smelled. They smelled like him: damn good. Did she ever think of Murray's sheets as smelling damn good? Had she ever been in contact with Murray's sheets? Probably, but he hoped not.
"Fine then, I'm coming. Let me go stop the movie. I'll close the lights and be right over."
"Hurry up, then," she mumbled into his pillow.
Link sighed loudly, as though exasperated, but he internally loved the way she was acting like she owned the place. His place.
He decided, as he did just what he had set out to do, that should he ever marry her, things would stay exactly as they were.
Though maybe there'd be sex. Hopefully, lots of it. He couldn't say that she hadn't haunted him in that way before. That would be a lie. Sometimes, she would haunt his nights, making him wake up with really nice images in his mind. And then, he'd bother to feel ashamed. God, life sucked. If it were in real life, he wouldn't feel shy.
Not one bit.
He'd probably be too far-gone to give a shit.
No, those weren't the thoughts to have as he was about to join her in his own bed.
He wasn't all that twisted really. If he could spend some time with her at least, he'd be happy.
He was closing the lights in the kitchen, when a digitalized, soft version of Beethoven's 'Fur Elise' resounded very close to him. Then, he confusedly remembered it was the tune he'd installed on Zelda's cell phone.
She had her cell phone? Where was it? In her handbag? He came around to look down at the singing bag. After a second of hesitation—would she approve of his ruffling through her stuff? —he chose to find it.
It wasn't hard. He found it between a half empty pack of tissues and a thin lipstick. It was louder now, and he hurried to accept the call, before she woke up and dealt with it. She wasn't in the right state for any phone calls.
Though he realized on second thought that he should have just turned the damn thing off.
"Zelda! Zelda, where the hell are you? Do you know how worried I was?" Murray Knox. Damn the man. "I called your apartment, I called your friends, I thought you had died in some car accident after you left the restaurant. Look, sweetie, I really love you, okay? I'm sorry you got it all wrong. It's okay, I forgive you, I understand it must have been a pretty big shock. I totally understand, but please, you have to take the ring back. I promise not to speak with Kerry anymore. She's just a fling, I promise. She and I are not serious."
"Then why are you talking about her in present tense, asshole?" Link finally broke in.
"Zelda? Zel, are you—Who is this?"
"I wonder which part of no you don't get, you gold-digging lowlife. Zelda won't speak with you anymore."
"Are you her boyfriend?" Murray angrily spat into Link's ear, making the young man tense angrily in his kitchen.
"No. She and I have more respect for true loving values. She never cheated on you."
"Then who the fuck are you?"
Link, raising an eyebrow, almost laughed into the receiver. "I'm Link, her friend."
"Oh, you," Murray's voice was disdainful. "Well, I don't give a shit about you. Where's Zelda? What are you doing with her cell phone?"
"I'm afraid that such information must be withheld from you. I think she made it clear she doesn't want to speak with you ever again. Oh, and don't bother to call her mother. You probably didn't know this, but on Saturday nights, she has a TV show she loves to watch, and becomes a dragon if you bother her. I'm saying this to protect my fellow man, but I'd actually rather have you decapitated for your actions. And you would have, because you never bothered to know Zelda's acquaintances and habits in detail."
"Who the hell are you to judge me? You don't know me, we never met!"
"My point exactly," Link calmly responded, bringing the cell phone away from his ear and turning it off for good. He was quietly fuming, and he slipped the phone back into her handbag carefully. He thought he'd taken care of it fairly well, but having that jerk's voice so nasty at him made him furious.
How in the world had Zelda fallen for a man like him?
He tried to calm himself as he walked out of his dark kitchen and into the tiny hall. He heard rustling coming from his room's door. Hurrying, he saw Zelda lying back down on the mattress, turned away from him. He paused in the doorway.
"I'm sorry," he finally whispered into the darkness, "I shouldn't have dealt with him like that."
"I need a hug," he heard her weakly whimper in his sheets.
Hurriedly, he slipped between his covers, pulling her around the waist closer to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he knew at once that she was crying again.
"Zelda," he whispered, pushing her away a bit to wipe her face, "Zel, please stop. I'm sorry."
She didn't let him soothe her. She just flung herself at him, ending up halfway over him. Her face was buried in his pyjama front. He saw her shoulders stop quaking gradually. Finally, he felt her warm breath, more than he actually heard her, say, "Thank you. Thank you."
He ran hesitant fingers through her hair, whispering still, "Are you mad at me?"
"No," he could see her smile, though it was hard to discern in the darkness. "I'm happy."
He said nothing, and she explained.
"You're the only one who ever bothered to protect me before. Murray never did that. I feel like I can depend on you and you'd never let me down. I feel safe with you. Thank you."
He brought her face close to his so that they were nose to nose in the almost complete obscurity. "Zel, I—"
"No, let me finish," she breathed. "I treated you like scum, and for months I didn't ever speak with you because I was afraid Murray would get mad at me, and then, the minute I got hurt, I turned to you. And you let me in without question," she added with a crack in her voice. "Link, you're a wonderful person. I don't know why I was so blind." He felt her move so very close to him. Her breathing was heavier, ragged.
"You loved Murray," Link whispered hoarsely. "And you still do, in your heartbreak. I'm not going to let you do something stupid."
With that, he gently pushed her off him, turned her around and held her from behind, though he would have desperately wanted to let her go ahead and kiss him.
"You're hurt." He reasoned. "I'm not going to let you do something you might regret when you heal. Now hush, or you may say something you don't mean. Just listen to me. Feel free to fall asleep whenever you want."
He took a deep breath, and her soft scent flooded his senses.
"Before you can move on healthily, you need to heal right. For the next two weeks at the very least, you are going to enjoy your life. You're going to work a bit, go out, call friends. And whenever you want to cry, you can come right here. You can find me. I'm always going to be there for you. I'm not going anywhere. You have your whole life so don't worry just now about finding a husband. He'll come along when the time is right."
He knew she was listening intently. He knew she was crying still.
"And if you think things are wrong in the world, you can come right here, Zel. I'll always put everything second to you, okay?" He smiled softly in her hair. "You always were really important to me, and if you feel bad, then I know all won't be well in my world until I solve yours.
"We've known each other for so long, what, thirteen years? We were ten when we became friends. But we were raised together, happy together, punished together. I don't remember a time in my life where you weren't there. Except perhaps the past few months. And I'm telling you, Zel, those were the worst months in my life."
Her shoulders shook. He let her finish her sob before continuing, rubbing her arm gently, "You are extremely dear to me. I'll admit I had trouble accepting that you should be taken away from me by Murray, but it was okay because…" At this he paused, then exhaled. "I wanted you to be happy."
She sighed heavily. He could feel one of her locks tickling his cheek.
"I wasn't happy with Murray. Link, the only time I actually was happy was with you. I was an idiot to not notice."
He could hear her smile.
"From now on," she said softly in the obscurity, "you and I are the best friends ever. And nothing is ever going to come between us, alright?"
"Alright," he weakly said.
"I'm going to sleep now. Link?"
"Yeah?" He asked, still unsure about her previous phrasing.
"Can I cuddle?"
She didn't leave him time to answer. She turned over and nuzzled him in the neck, wrapping her limbs around him like a live, adult-size teddy bear. Had she known what thoughts ran through his head at that moment…
"Good night kiss?" She softly asked as she yawned. He smiled. He brought his lips to her forehead, placing a gentle kiss there. He could almost feel her close her eyes. He heard her breathing even out.
"Good night, Zelda," he whispered to no one, and deep in his heart, he knew everything would be all right.
Thanks for reading! See you all.
Be sure to check out my profile for an excerpt of Hyrule Times.