A/N: Hi everyone! I'm beginning to think I love one-shots! Thanks to everyone who reviewed my last attempt, I hope you all like this one which I wrote after watching 'Wimbledon'!
Muchos luv, silverpistola!
"I think it's an idea worth considering."
Zelda rolled her eyes and lunged forward, brushing her toes with her fingertips.
"I'm not interested. Either I play with Sheik or no one."
Impa gritted her teeth. She had been Zelda's trainer since she was small, but the girl's stubbornness still managed to anger her occasionally.
"He is a great player. Maybe even better than Sheik. You could really go all the way."
"It's impossible. There's only two weeks before Wimbledon. There isn't a chance we can be ready."
"Will you even meet with him?"
Zelda pursed her rosebud lips, thoughtfully.
"What would be the point?"
"Sure, why not?" Link's smile was dazzling as always. "If Miss Harkinian was willing I'd be happy to partner her in the doubles."
'Might warm these English stiffs to me if they see me playing alongside their little Princess of the court.'
The camera's flashed and journalists eagerly scribbled down the possible headlines for the next day.
"Link, Link, are the rumours about you and Miss Sharipova true?"
"Believe what you will. I'm not one to kiss and tell," He answered with a mischievous wink.
"Link, what do you think of Miss Harkinian?"
"I have yet to see her up close yet, but from what I hear she's quite the English rose."
Darunia glanced at his watch and gave Link a nod. They stood and waved their way through the crowd of media.
"We have a problem," Darunia murmured once they were out of earshot.
"And what could that possibly be? After all, we have reached Wimbledon and I am seeded fourth. I see no problem," Link said loudly as they climbed into the car waiting for them.
"She's refused to meet with you."
"Zelda Harkinian. She won't play with anyone but Sheikah."
"Well, she's obviously underestimated the persuasive talents of Link Forester."
"I dunno Link," Darunia answered in his deep, rumbling voice, "she's one tough cookie this one."
"Bah," Link waved away his trainer's doubt, "tennis girls are all the same. None can resist my charm."
She was good. Darunia could tell from the confident arc of her serve. Her footwork was unorthodox, but somehow she made it work.
"Holy shit," Link murmured.
She was beautiful. Her mane of honey-colored corkscrew curls was tied up behind her head. Her skin was the colour of pale pink rose petals. She was of medium height, not tall like most tennis players and her toned body curved in all the right places. He could not see her face from the height at which they watched her, but Link was certain she was radiant.
"Let the fun begin," he mumbled and they slowly descended the steps leading to the court.
"Now Link, it might be better to be upfront with her. This is a great opportunity, you can't afford to alienate this girl," Darunia hissed, urgently.
"Oh, I have no intention of doing that, in fact," he eyed her body, appreciatively, "I very much hope we can be firm friends."
Darunia rolled his eyes as Link applauded, loudly, startling the girl out of her concentration. She turned, her eyes narrowed, warily.
"Bravo, Miss Harkinian, bravo! I had heard you were quite the talent," Link charmed, shamelessly.
"Mr. Forester, I might assume," she answered, coldly.
"Please, call me Link."
Her deep blue eyes flashed, dangerously, as he approached. He smiled, noticing with delight that he was right; she could be mistaken for a goddess. Her pale, heart shaped face was accentuated by her rosy lips and bright azure eyes. Her delicate features, however, were currently set in a frown.
"I was hoping I might speak with you about a certain proposition-"
"I've already told my agent. I play with no one but Sheik. I apologise Mr. Forester, but my word is final. I do appreciate you coming to meet me."
With a gracious smile she picked up her racket and sauntered away toward the changing room, leaving Link stood there, stunned.
"Don't say I didn't warn you," Darunia said, tiredly.
Suddenly he noticed a threatening spark in Link's eyes.
"Oh no, don't even think about it Link!"
But Link had already turned and began sprinting towards the changing rooms.
The phone rang, shrilly, the sound bouncing off the tiledwalls of the changing rooms. She retrieved it, swiftly, and answered.
"You know you should do it."
"Hello Sheik. And how are you feeling?" Zelda answered, pleasantly, ignoring his previous statement.
"It's bloody Wimbledon in a week and I have a broken collar bone, how d'you think I'm feeling, love?"
"Sorry darling. I didn't mean to be inconsiderate."
"Forget it. Are you crazy? Why won't you play with Forester?"
At that moment Link burst through the doors.
"Hey, where do you get-"
"Excuse me Mr. Forester, but this is the female changing room. As much as I'm sure you've spent many an hour here, I'm not that kind of girl. And I'm currently in the middle of a conversation," Zelda spoke, icily.
Sheik chuckled on the end of the line.
"Hey, Princess, that's none of your business."
Zelda nodded, apologetically. "Quite right. I do apologise for my rudeness."
"What the hell!" Link sputtered, his strong American accent accentuated by her flowing British accent.
"Oh this is priceless," Sheik teased.
Zelda arched an eyebrow. "Are we done?"
"No. Why won't you play with me?"
"You want the truth?"
Link nodded, folding his arms across his chest.
"Okay then." Zelda smiled, angelically. "You're pompous, you're arrogant, and you're disgustingly American. You see me as a way to get the British public to adore you like those mindless yanks and I do not wish to be used thank you."
Link gaped at her, incredulously.
"Wow, way to bust his bollocks," Sheik said, admiringly. His partner never ceased to amuse him.
"What does any of that have to do with tennis?" Link fired back, regaining his composure.
"Man makes a point," Sheik reasoned.
"Look, I may be a womanizer and you may loathe me, but the one thing you can't deny is that I'm good."
Zelda found her sharp wit failing. But only momentarily.
"Mr. Forester, the little I have seen of your play has been… above average. However, your request is unrealistic. We have little more than a week to train. Mine and Sheik's partnership has lasted since I was fourteen. You expect the same rapport can occur in a week?"
Link flashed his famous smile. "Does that mean to say that you might consider it?"
"I don't believe I was implying-"
"Great! I knew you'd come around. I'll meet you on court six bright and early tomorrow."
Zelda's eyes widened in shock. What the hell had just happened?
"I would have appreciated being present at the negotiations," Impa snapped.
"Impa, I told you, there were no negotiations. He just assumed. What the hell was I supposed to do?" Zelda demanded, swooping her hair up into a ponytail.
"Believe me, I wish I had," Zelda answered, catching the racket Impa tossed to her.
"Gods she is fine. I don't think I've ever met anyone like her."
Darunia shook his head. He was beginning to worry about Link's interest in the British girl. Still, she seemed to have enough common sense to ignore his advances.
"Link, for once, think with your racket, not your crotch. You two could really win this. With her skill and your experience, you're a match made in heaven."
Link grinned, seeing his partner appear on court. "Indeed we are."
"Good morning Link."
"Ah Zelda, you're looking striking as ever."
Zelda ignored him, pointing to Impa.
"This is my trainer, Impa. Impa, this is Link and Mr. Darunia."
"Pleasure to meet you," Link said, smoothly.
Darunia smiled apologetically at the strong looking woman.
"Zelda, how about a warm up?"
The morning sun was already uncharacteristically hot. Zelda could not stop herself from casting a glance over his slim yet alluringly athletic body. He was not overly tanned and his hair glinted golden in the sun. Had she not known enough about him to dismiss him as an arsehole she was sure she might even swoon at the sight of him.
Link, noticing her looking, took the opportunity to peel off his polo shirt, gifting her a good look at his well toned chest, the type of chest she felt sure it would be nice to be held against, maybe even to fall asleep on.
"Hot, huh?" He commented, with a smug smirk.
"You think so?" she answered, coolly, trying to ignore the way her heart was thumping.
"It should be illegal for girls to be so damn hot," Darmani sympathised, patting Link on the shoulder.
"You're telling me," Link agreed, slumping down in front of his drink.
"And you say she doesn't show any interest?"
Darmani cocked an eyebrow. "You're certain?"
"I've seen her checking me out, but alas she continues to ignore my advances."
Link's friend was shocked to see the disappointment in his eyes.
"And what advances might these be?"
"You know, the usual."
"Oh brother, Link, no wonder you aren't getting a nibble. She's an English girl. She isn't gonna just fall for the usual routine. You have to woo her."
Link sat up, glaring at Darmani. "Excuse me?"
"Ain't you never seen 'Pride and Prejudice'? Zelda won't be impressed by looks alone. A girl like her wants romance!"
"Romance?" Link choked.
"Yep, romance. Red roses, slow dances, the whole she-bang," Darmani answered, turning back to his drink.
"I don't think I know how to be romantic."
Darmani took a glance at his watch. "Drink up. We need to call in somewhere on our way back to the hotel."
"Why didn't I learn to play tennis? Why oh why did I have to take up horse riding instead? Have you seen those jockeys? They're all like four foot! Nothing in comparison to these six foot hunks of spunkiness!" Malon whined.
"Mal!" Zelda cried.
"Well, I'm just telling it like it is, Zellie."
"Trust me Mal, he's such a vain arse that you quickly forget how good looking he is," Zelda sighed.
"Then tie him to your bed and stuff a sock in his mouth."
"That's what I'd do. I mean, look at him Zellie! Who cares if he's a prat when he's got a bum like that!"
"Malon, there's more to attractiveness than a cute bum."
"Oh is there? What, like personality?"
"Yes!" Zelda nodded, emphatically.
"Oh honey, you've got a lot to learn."
Zelda shook her head.
"So, has he asked you out?"
"Well, he's asked me to go for a drink a couple of times."
"And you said no?" Malon yelped, incredulously.
"Of course I said no. I refuse to become some notch on his bedpost."
"Can I have him then?"
Just as he had suspected, he found her on the court.
"You always practice so late?" He called out.
"I've practiced every night since I was eight years old," she replied, haughtily.
'So she doesn't have time for sex then.'
"You know, I only realised I was any good when I was thirteen. I started playing when my Dad came home. He was in the marines, but he got injured by a stray bomb. Had to retire. Comes to all my games though. Good to know I can make him proud."
Zelda was silent and he began to back away before she spoke, quietly.
"My parents are dead. Left their stupid estate to me. Tennis was always a way of… coping."
He watched her blink tears from her eyes before taking a deep breath.
"Is that why you're so tough?" Link asked, taking a step closer.
"I guess," she mumbled.
He reached out, bravely, and took her hand. She looked up.
"You know, you're not the girl I thought you were."
She sniffed. "Is that a bad thing?"
She could sense his intentions as he slipped an arm around her waist, shifting himself closer to her, but despite her better judgment, she knew she couldn't push him away. She was surrendering, giving in to the charms of a man who could only ever hurt her.
But in the moment his lips met hers, she didn't care.
Zelda woke with a start, gasping at her unfamiliar surroundings. She was lying in a plush bed with luxuriously soft silk sheets and a puffy white duvet. The hotel room was… divine. There seemed to be a vase of white flowers on every available surface and a balcony that gave a fantastic view of Covent Garden. Biting her lip and cringing, Zelda dared to look down.
Thankfully, she wasn't naked. But the overlarge blue pyjamas she was wearing most definitely did not belong to her.
And then memories of the previous night returned to her in a flurry, causing her face to flame. The blush only increased as the hotel door opened and Link entered, carrying a tray laden with breakfast articles and dressed solely in sweat pants.
His smirk might have been the sexiest thing Zelda had ever seen.
"Good morning Princess."
"You forgotten my name already?"
"How could I? And what kind of attitude is that considering I so graciously gave up my bed for you last night?" Link mocked hurt, holding the tray out of her reach.
The blush deepened. Link's smirk widened.
"I even allowed you a loan of my sleep wear, though I can't deny I take some pleasure in seeing you dressed in my pajamas."
What had she been thinking? He was such a… JERK!
But she could feel her flared temper melting away as he slipped into the bed beside her and offered her a Danish pastry.
"Link, last night was…" She trailed off. What word could describe sharing a stream of clandestine kisses before being invited back to the hotel room of her tennis partner? Certainly nothing like that had ever happened with Sheik.
"I'm not getting the English version of the brush off am I?" Link asked, pouring her a glass of orange juice.
Was he? Impa had always warned her never to get involved with tennis players. Too messy, too much distraction.
She took the glass of orange juice and took a sip. It was pulpy, just the way she liked it. And she liked him. Maybe too much. But what harm could come from having a little fun?
"No," she answered with a smile.
He equaled her smile and buttered a croissant. "Good. You brits are so polite about everything, I figured you'd even be courteous when you're ditching someone."
"Aiee!" Malon squealed as she opened her door to find her best friend stood there. "Oh my gosh! Tell me everything!"
Zelda's mouth dropped open. "How did you know?" she asked, pondering whether Malon really could read minds.
"Duh! You were seen my lovely! I think you're on the front cover of every newspaper! C'mon, check it out!"
Zelda followed Malon into her kitchen and gasped as she saw the copy of The News of the World on the table with the front page headline Forester and Harkinian: Love! Complete with a picture of them walking hand in hand into Link's hotel.
"Oh goddesses!" Zelda cried, sinking into a chair at the table.
"I thought you knew. Didn't you see someone take a picture?"
Zelda shook her head, miserably.
"I don't understand why you're so upset, Zellie," Malon spoke, softly, sitting down across from her.
"Oh Mal. This is exactly why I didn't want to get involved with him in the first place. He's a notorious womanizer. And now I just look like another idiot stupid enough to be charmed into his bed," Zelda whimpered, feeling herself on the brink of tears.
"You slept with him!"
Zelda almost smiled again. "No. But that's what it looks like from this."
"So what did happen?" She asked, softly.
"I was out on the court last night and he turned up and we got to talking and… oh, he was being so sweet, I really began to believe that there was more to him than just bad lines and a sexy smile. And then we kissed and he called for a car and suddenly we're back in his room and he was kissing me again and… oh boy is he a good kisser…"
Malon laughed as Zelda blushed, sheepishly.
"Honestly Mal, you have no idea how much I did want to jump him, especially when he said that he didn't wanna send me home in a car so why didn't I just sleep in his bed and he'd crash on the couch."
"Wow," Malon whispered. "That is so romantic."
Zelda was inclined to agree, but she knew that she mustn't fall into this trap. Not again. Not ever.
There was too much at stake.
"I have to end this while I can Mal. I have to."
"I don't understand," Link said for around the fifth time. "Look, I just need to talk to her, could you please let me in?"
He could see the sympathy in the eyes of the sandy-haired steward.
"I'm sorry Mr. Forester, but I'm not allowed to admit anyone. Miss Harkinian has strict orders."
"I know, but –" He trailed off.
"C'mon Link," Darunia muttered, placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. "This man can't let you in. Let's not bother him any longer."
Link dropped his head. "I don't know what I did. When she left she didn't seem angry. I can't understand why she won't see me."
Darunia bit his lip. He had been purposefully avoiding any contact between Link and the press, not an easy task after the alleged romance between him and the 'English Rose'.
"It is her first match tomorrow. She probably needs to focus."
Link nodded, neither of them believing Darunia's words.
"Hey, it's yours too you know. You should get some rest."
But rest would not come easy to Link that night.
"Hello pet!" Sheik greeted, jovially, embracing his friend.
A few of the girls in the changing rooms tossed Sheik a disgusted glance, but most were eyeing him appreciatively. With his entire shoulder in a cast to protect his collarbone and his blonde hair falling into his unusual crimson eyes he looked effortlessly appealing.
"Hi Sheik," Zelda spoke into his chest.
"You feeling any better lamb?"
She shook her head, burying her face in his polo shirt.
"He's stopped trying to see me."
"Oh love." He stroked her hair, comfortingly, noticing at least a few girls smile at his gentleness towards his friend. "Don't you think about him. You've got me and Malon to cheer you on today. We'll be right there, screaming like bloody fools."
Zelda smiled, pulling back from him. "Thanks darling, what would I do without you?"
"Wander hopelessly in an abyss of confusion is my bet."
Impa was charging into the dressing room, her eyes flashing dangerously.
"We have one hell of a problem."
Sheik could not contain his laughter as he saw the look on his friend's face. The crowd cheered as she emerged and suddenly it was as if a very colorful nightmare was unfolding before her eyes.
There, sat where the umpire should have been, was none other than tennis super star Link Forester. Even worse, he had a microphone at his mercy.
Suddenly the crowd fell silent and there was a sickening sense of anticipation hanging in the air. Zelda turned to flee to the changing rooms, but Sheik caught her arm.
"Hear the poor sod out, won't ya?"
"I thank you Mr. Sheikah!" Link's voice boomed. "A little English courtesy is all I ask, Miss Harkinian."
Zelda cringed. This was not happening.
"Now ladies and gentleman, I am not here, making a fool of myself, in order to tell any lies. What I tell you now is the truth. I, Link Forester, am a fool."
Sheik quirked an eyebrow. A ripple of mutters passed over the crowd.
"Yes, it's true. I am a fool. I have had countless relations with many talented ladies in tennis. And when I convinced Miss Harkinian to partner me in the mixed doubles, it was only for my own gain. I believed if I was seen with her then the British public would instantly warm to me, as she is one of your own."
The crowd cheered. Zelda smiled, graciously.
"But what I didn't account for was…" He trailed, feeling his courage quake momentarily. "What I didn't account for was that I would… fall in love."
The crowd gasped, some crooning and others regarding the American star with typical British cynicism.
"Zelda Harkinian. You are the only girl to ever turn me down when I asked for a date. You are the only woman who can best me in both tennis and sharp wit. You are the only girl I've ever read Jane Austen for. And you might be the only girl I will ever think of again."
Zelda remained silent, standing on the edge of the court, seemingly incapable of movement. The crowd held their breath.
"Fair play to you mate," Sheik spoke up, flashing a grin.
Link's unblinking eyes bore into Zelda's for what felt like hours before he turned and climbed down from the high chair.
"That's all I wanted to say really."
She watched, frozen as he headed through the crowd and through an exit, disappearing from view.
"What are you afraid of Zelda?" Sheik asked, softly.
Zelda blinked, a tear falling from her eye. "I have no bloody idea."
The crowd erupted as she suddenly broke into a run, taking the steps two at a time.
"Link, wait!" She called as she descended the steps from the court.
He turned around, watching her, silently.
"You read Jane Austen?"
"Pride and Prejudice."
"How was it?"
Link shook his head, his eyebrows furrowing. "Bloody awful love."
She laughed out loud and he felt the pieces of his heart becoming whole once more.
"No more headlines," she stated, taking a step towards him.
"Well, I can't predict I won't be front page tomorrow," he joked.
They slipped into each other arms.
"Am I still disgustingly American?"
"Yes. But I won't hold it against you."
"Good. Cause I love you English Rose."
"Love you too jerk."
A/N: Did you like? Please review because it makes me very happy!