The First Year
Epona fairly flew across the drawbridge and onto Hyrule field, her beloved master rode high,standing in the stirrups, leaning across her neck, the wind whipping his shoulder length blond hair that was at the moment loosed from it's tie and his hat, which was tucked, for safe keeping, in his belt. It was a lovely, high-clouded day with a blue sky that was so bright, it hurt to look at it. It was a perfect day, and good to be alive. Link gave an exuberant yell and he and Epona stepped up the pace, racing towards Lake Hylia.
At a more sedate canter, appropriate for a lady of standing, Princess Zelda followed Epona's dust trail. She smiled fondly to herself, her young husband had earned his stripes the hard way, he'd fought and won many hard battles and freed the land and people from great tyranny. He was entitled to his total enjoyment of just life with no responsibilities for a while. She could feel his joy through the mental link they shared, his love of life and of her, his wife. She was happy in his happiness and knew without fail that he was waiting for her to join him, as other desires of his for her came through their link.
Once on the field, Zelda felt she could let the horse have his head, and urged him on to a gallop to follow after Epona, knowing that Link would not go too far before turning back for her. So Zelda sent a light giggle of laughter down the link, feeling him join in and come to meet her, waving his hat in his hand, he caught up catching hold of the reins of her mount and causing them both to slow to a walking pace. Link's hair was windswept and his smile was infectious and Zelda sent another thought down the link to her husband which made him blush and his eyes twinkle.
"We are early for our picnic with Malon and her knight, Zelda, come and ride with me, over by the river, please." Link's face was so eager she couldn't say no to him, not that she wanted to. By way of answer, Zelda charged off, leaving Link to catch up. There were many little secluded spots on Hyrule field where a young couple could enjoy the afternoon and the day was warm and pleasant. As Link helped Zelda from her horse, he grabbed her and held her close.
"What was that suggestion you sent me My Lady? I'm not sure I quite caught what you were saying." Link grinned mischievously at Zelda's pink cheeks. Zelda wasn't going to be the one played up today though, she had an answer ready for him.
"I was just looking forward to our picnic with Malon and her handsome knight Link, what else could I possibly have said? You must practice using the link properly." Then she gasped as he caught hold of her in a passionate kiss and pulled her to the ground, he was still laughing, but his eyes were darkening with a look she had come to know well, a look that made her breathing quicken with desire of her own.
"I love you my princess, and I want to prove it to you again." He said raining kisses down her neck, that made her respond in the same way. They had no worries about being interrupted or overlooked, the two horses were used to providing shelter for the couple by settling down near them offering privacy with their solid bodies. Navi had decided much earlier on that it was wiser for her to go and fly off somewhere else when the pair wanted to 'play'.
A while later, Malon waved at her two friends as they rode up to the ranch. She was ready and waiting along with her fiance, a knight called Sir Jardan. He and Malon had known one another for a long time and now they had taken their friendship to the next stage and they had fallen in love. Link had known Jardan for only a short time, but the two had become very fast friends, and he was happy to act as chaperone while enjoying their company. Zelda too had come to value Malon as more like a sister, coming to appreciate her honesty and the help she had given Link during his quest.
"It's so good of you to be able to spare your time to keep us company on this lovely afternoon, your highnesses." said Malon dropping a deep curtsey, much to the suspicious amusement of Link and Zelda. Then with a wicked little grin she added suggestively, "I do hope you have worked up a good appetite since lunch." She got the results she had hoped for, the blushes on both their faces told her that she had guessed correctly, and laughing at them, she grabbed her picnic basket and swung herself up in front of Jardan who was already mounted ready to go.
They headed out for Lake Hylia, where they spent the afternoon swimming, picnicing, racing and generally larking about. They watched the sun go down slowly, leaving a long warm evening and just spoke together or made pictures in the clouds. All felt the gift they had in one another, true friends who could be relied on. In a couple of months, Jardan and Malon would be married, they had been offered a suite of rooms in the Palace to live in, because Malon was going to be Zelda's Lady in Waiting, while her knight had his duties in the castle already, he was Link's Man at Arms.
As night fell, the two couples made their slow companionable way back to the ranch and after saying goodnight to Malon, the other three carried on their journey to the castle, Link and Zelda making sure that the horses were settled before going to their rooms. The mental link that they shared was an intimate bond forged over time between each married couple, Link and Zelda's was a new bond but strengthened already by their own pieces of the Triforce. They relaxed eventually into sleep, with peace in their hearts.
At least Link was, when suddenly Zelda started to laugh, a gentle laugh, just shaking her body slightly, but enough to rouse Link from his sleep. He leaned up propped on one elbow to look at her sleepily, one eyebrow raised in question. Zelda smiled at him then started to laugh again but this time she didn't need to hold back.
"O.K. what 's so funny?"
"What did I do, I mean, everything was alright, wasn't it, you enjoyed yourself, nothing strange happened did it?"
"No silly, I always enjoy what we do. You know that"
"Well, you're laughing at me, Zel."
"I was just thinking of this afternoon, Link, not tonight. I was thinking of how you and Jardan were playing, you both looked like a pair of kids especially when you were rolling in the mud, then when you were chasing the fireflies, even the horses looked bewildered."
"So you think I'm immature now do you? Come here and say that." Link started to tickle Zelda, and didn't stop till she was screeching in his ear and managing to get a few good kicks in. Self preservation made him stop, after all, he might like to have kids one day, and they lay exhausted and quiet before she started her little giggles again. This time he didn't make the mistake of asking but she spoke anyway.
"Why were you catching the fireflies with your hat Link?" Link smiled at his wife, but she noticed it was a slightly sad smile.
"I haven't done that for a long time Zel, once I used to catch fireflies a lot and pretend I had a fairy in my hat like the other kids, but they never lasted and the Great Deku Tree stopped me, telling me it was cruel to keep them. Zelda gave him a quick hug and kiss as she snuggled down again against his warmth.
"Do you ever feel you were too young to get married Link, after all most men your age are still free to do as they please without having to consider a wife or other things like children? I mean look at Jardan, he is six or seven years older than you and is only just going to settle down?"
"Are you regretting our marriage Zelda, Am I displeasing to you?" Link was now once again staring into Zelda's face, his own look anxious.
"Never, Link, don't think that, I was just wondering whether or not you had perhaps felt pressured into marrying me."
"Zelda, I am not like every other young man, I have lived alone and fought alone and all that time I had my memories and later my desires for you to keep me going, I love you and never want to be apart from you again. I am happy and grateful to be married to you my love, you are my home." His heartfelt words were reassuring to her, as were his caresses. Then something else she'd said jumped into his brain.
"Zelda, are you saying I'm going to have to think of children right now?"
"No Link, not yet. But would it bother you, don't you want children?"
"Eventually I suppose, I can't imagine being a dad yet though, I don't think I'm ready for kids." Link sounded sleepy and Zelda grinned, he looked so like a kid himself still so she kissed his nose and she tucked herself into his chest as his arms came round her, holding her safe as she followed him into unconsciousness.
In the morning, late morning by the time the two had had breakfast, it was time to decide what to do for the rest of the day. It was a good day for sparring with one another, That was another wonderful thing about his wife Link thought, she wasn't a weak, pampered princess with nothing to do all day but paint her nails or face, she could practice and train on equal footing with him when she used her Sheikah skills and her horsemanship was second to none, he thought once again how blessed he was to be married to his best friend.
Zelda was mentally picking up on his train of thought, she was more adapt at this than Link, at the moment, and she laughed to herself. Being able to still become Sheik had had it's advantages. The body suit was more practical to train and spar in also it was easier to race Link if she could sit astride the horse and by now, the ability to change her current garment's structure into the sheikah suit was second nature and almost instantaneous. She sniggered again when she remembered cooling Link's ardour a few times while they were courting, by becoming Sheik. He'd leap away from her quickly if he saw those stern red eyes glaring at him when he got too close or wouldn't take 'no' for an answer.
Once again, they rode out onto the field, this time heading for the corner furthest from the town walls where they could also practice their tracking skills among the forest trees. Although they didn't appreciate Impa referring to this as 'hide and seek' when she explained to the king what they were doing and they were vaguely insulted when Navi decided that she would rather go and visit her friends in Kokiri Forest than be around them, they got the feeling that no one was taking them seriously.
The months flew by and all was bustle for the wedding of Jardan and Malon, the two couples were often in one another's company, either socially or formally and it was a time of joy for all of them. The King had not as yet, assigned the Princess and her new Prince a formal occupational role in his kingdom. He had consulted with the sages especially Impa, who recommended a period of freedom for both, considering how much of their youth was already lost to the defence of the country.
Impa thought it important that they should be able to benefit by living free, so Link and Zelda were encouraged to do as they pleased, and preferably outside the castle. Impa laughed to herself, there had been too many times when the hormonal newly weds forgot they wern't the only ones around, the castle had many servants and people living in it, whose only warning of coming across an intimate moment between the two was the glow of Navi, who became their unofficial lookout, much to her chagrin, when Link and Zelda were obviously oblivious to anyone else around.
Finally the day of the wedding came and all the excitement came to a head, Jardan was down in the mess hall with all the other knights and Link was making sure that things did not get out of hand and that the groom would be decent and presentable for his bride. She, in the meantime was being decked out in her wedding finery, pleased at how different she looked and slightly alarmed at all the comments, the maids and her friends made, all traditional but nonetheless designed to make her blush profusely.
The day was splendid, blushing bride and groom were duly celebrated by their family and guests and sent on their honeymoon with lots of bawdy advice called out by everyone who saw them off. Link and Zelda had danced the evening away and were very happy for their friends. Eventually Zelda was tired, and laughing and joking quietly to themselves, they bade goodnight to those who were still partying and retired for the night.
Once in their room, they got ready for bed and there was a little sigh from Zelda and she slumped to the bed, Link came round to her smiling , ready to shake off any tiredness should Zelda smile at him the right way, but obviously not tonight, she was out cold. Link lifted her legs on to the bed and tucked her up, but something seemed strange to him, she was cold and clammy, her face had lost it's pretty rosy colour and was pale as death.
Link wasted no time. He ran down the corridor to Impa's rooms, calling out for her as he ran. Impa heard him and recognised the worry in the young man's voice. Together, they rushed to Zelda's side. Impa checked the girl over, noting her pulse and breathing and was able to reassure the concerned boy who was hovering over her the whole time. "The Princess has just over-exerted herself tonight Link, and fainted, nothing thankfully to worry about. She will be fine in the morning, so go to sleep yourself. Good night."
Link crawled in next to Zelda and held her tight, grateful to feel her sleeping normally, she was precious to him, he couldn't live now without her by his side. Soon he let her peaceful breathing calm him down and his pattern matched hers as he drifted to sleep. It had been a long day.
In the morning Zelda didn't even realise that she had caused consternation in her husband the previous night, she woke up feeling terrific and ready for the day. The couple wanted to make sure that the suite prepared for Malon and Jardan, had some nicer touches than just the bare essentials, and although they didn't want to take away the need to personalise the home for them, they did want to give them some presents so they did not come home to a cold hearth.
It was different shopping for someone else, where as they would normally come to an amicable agreement for themselves, finding middle ground for things for friends was a lot harder. By the time the pair got out of each shop, the shop keeper was normally pulling his hair out in frustration, while Link and Zelda were giggling or squabbling. Knowing the havoc the couple were creating albeit innocently, in the usually peaceful town, the King thought it would soon be time to tell his daughter and son-in-law what had been decided for them.
Taking into account, the nature of both Link and Zelda, neither of whom were suited to being castlebound and around the courtiers all the time, he thought to make them Ambassadors for Hyrule. Sending the young, popular couple around to neighbouring countries and locally to towns and villages, would keep them happy and make sure that they got to know the people they were to rule, understanding their lives for themselves, hopefully it would bond together the country and form good alliances.
At the moment however, Link was once again concerned with his wife. Zelda was feeling faint and had a headache. It had been a busy morning for them, and although Link had bought lunch at one of the local Inns, Zelda hadn't been very hungry and said she just wished to lie down. This time when Impa had come to see the girl, she asked Link to leave while she checked her over. Smiling at his concerned eyes, Zelda squeezed his hand and said that it would be alright. Link was not happy, but he did as he was asked, hugging his arms round himself, he waited in the next room.
"Well, My Lady, I think congratulations are in order." A grinning Impa said after she finished examining Zelda.
"Yes, you are going to be a mother." Zelda was shocked, she just stared at Impa, who was vastly amused at the look on the Princess's face.
"A mother, I'm going to have a baby, how...?" Impa raised her eyebrow and her hand, the smirk still in place on her lips.
"Zelda, don't insult my intellegence please, you know, we all know, how, you are expecting a baby. No one in the whole of Hyrule is going to be a bit surprised at this piece of news believe me."
"One person will be." said Zelda softly and once again Impa grinned.
"Yes, perhaps. You'd better bring him in and let him know the good news." Impa went to leave, but Zelda caught her arm.
"Please stay, Link has often said that you are the closest thing to a mother either of us have." Impa blinked a couple of times, her heart warmed and moved by this small plea. She hadn't realised how much the young couple thought of her, even though she knew she had their respect and Zelda's love, it was good to feel she had Link's as well. But she wouldn't intrude, so she went to stand in a corner and looked out of the window that overlooked the fields.
Zelda did not have to go far to find Link, he was pacing up and down the corridor. When he saw her smiling face, he ran up and folded her in his arms, giving her such a strong hug that she had to beg for breath. If Zelda had been foolish enough to have any doubts of Link's love for her, they would have vanished in an instant.
"Don't worry so much Link, I'm fine, when I can breathe." She laughed, but held on to him and said "Come in though I have some news for you."
Link's face was a picture, he was so stunned that he actually couldn't form words to speak. Impa was thoroughly amused by it all, especially when he finally said:
"How..?." That was enough for Impa, she sat down and really laughed, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Not you as well, honestly, did you never think that all those times you were 'enjoying yourselves' that nature wouldn't take it's course? I don't see how you can both be so surprised, honestly Zelda, you are the carrier of the Triforce of Wisdom." Impa was laughing at them again. When they turned with annoyed looks to her, they looked so alike that she couldn't help it, she just roared.
There was general rejoicing at the welcome news. A new royal baby usually meant a holiday for all and singing, dancing, feasting etc. Shopkeepers and stallholders forgot the nuisance that the couple had caused before in the anticipation of them being the cause of a profitable fete. People were genuinly happy for them, they were known to be kind and generous and they deserved their happiness for all that they had already done for Hyrule.
Zelda's father the King had received the news with great pleasure too, for him it was a symbol of growth and new begginings for his country. He had swirled Zelda round and round like he had done when she was a child and kissed her very tenderly, telling her that her mother would have been so proud of her, wishing the Queen could have seen her daughter now. Then he had grabbed Link in a bracing hug, patting him on the back and making him blush a bright crimson when he said:
"You didn't waste much time my boy, good for you, I can't wait for my grandchildren, keep 'em coming." Then he laughed at the glazed expression on his son-in-law's face.
"Are you frightened Link?" he said a bit more gently. "I was. Scared stiff I'll have you know, scared of being a dad, but never mind boy, it'll come to you, it'll come."
"Thank you Sir." Link was relieved, the King was a compassionate man and would always be there for advice. But Link was determined not to go whining for help all the time, the child would be his and Zelda's, they would make good parents.
Of course, their best friends were delighted too, they would be the closest thing to an aunt and uncle the child would have and perhaps very soon cousins would come along. All in all, a happy evening was spent round a campfire in the warm evening at Lon Lon Ranch, talking about becoming a family. Zelda and Malon were chatting about baby names and clothes, and the two boys were listening, Jardan however, could tell that something was bothering Link, and he questioned him with a raised eyebrow.
"They seem so sure, so certain about things. I'm not. I've not had a family before, I've no dad. Am I going to be a good dad Jardan, how do I know when I make a mistake?
I know that I was ready, more than ready to marry Zelda, but a baby, to be responsible for another life. I just don't know."
"Too late now my friend, the deed is done. Several times I believe." Jardan was grinning widely at Link who cursed his fair skin as he blushed deeply yet again and he punched his friend on the arm. "Don't worry so much Link, all children are different anyway, you'll learn as you go." Link sighed and looked up at the stars, thinking, what did he know about children. The only children he knew anything about were the Kokiri and they were already children as he grew, he had been the baby in the Forest.
Zelda had overheard his concerns and knew that he was worried, but she knew he'd make a great dad. Eventually it was time to return home. Soon Malon and Jardan would come to live at the Palace and there would be plenty of time to get ready for the baby. But right now they were training the young man who was going to help with the Ranch horses. Zelda thought that maybe Link should ask for Saria's advice when he went to see her and tell her about the baby, she knew he was going the next morning, perhaps Saria could give him some confidence.
"Give Saria my love won't you Link?" Zelda was trying to be cheerful that he was leaving her behind. She was also determined not to be selfish."You can stay as long as you like Link, you haven't visited in a long time, Saria misses you."
"I know and I'm looking forward to seeing her, but I am going to miss you and our bump." Link put his hand gently but protectively on her stomach. To everyone else, there was no change yet in the Princesse's body, but to the prospective parents, they knew the bump was there. Then they clung together for a while, neither wanting to break apart. Finally Link kissed Zelda and pulled away, only to be met by Impa saying:
"You are only going to be away a couple of days Link, to look at you two, you'd think it was for a lifetime, Zelda, come on, Malon is waiting for you to help choose fittings for the nursery. I don't think Link wants to be there for that. Say hello to Saria for me Link please, now the sooner you go the sooner you will be back." Link knew from experience that it wasn't a good idea to disobey Impa, which made his hackles rise a little bit considering that he and Zelda were married. But he had to admit she was right so he gave in with good grace and rode straight to Kokiri Forest.
Saria welcomed him with open arms and he picked her up swinging her around then he nuzzled at her face. It had been a long time since he had done that, not since he was a very young child, she thought. She pulled away a bit and kissed his forehead, looking at his bright eyes and blushing face. Saria could tell he was very happy, she could probably guess what made his face light up but she would wait for him to say.
"What do you want runt, you know you're not welcome here anymore."
"Hi Mido, it's nice to see you too." Link wasn't reduced to tears anymore by Mido and his cruel words, but they still stung, Link had almost always felt lonely in the Forest, and he didn't like the feeling, he'd always been a friendly boy himself, never understanding the coldness to which he had been subjected.
"Be quiet Mido, leave Link alone, of course he is welcome." This; from one of the twins. Many of the Kokiri had felt guilty for allowing Mido to bully the little Link and now that he was grown up, they were more willing to stand up to Mido. Link smiled at them, his news would not really affect the little world of the Kokiri, but he thought they would be happy for him and the Princess.
He was right, and he shyly accepted everyones congratulations and he promised to bring the baby and the Princess to visit. It was nice to cause good excitement for the Kokiri and a reason for an impromptu party. While everyone was preparing the party, Link went to the clearing where the Great Deku Tree's Sprout was waiting for him. Link knelt down in front of the only father figure he had ever known.
"You have made me very proud Link, you deserve your happiness as does the Princess, my blessings go with you." Link stood up and placed his hand on the Sprout, thanking him for all the Deku Tree had done for him as a helpless baby. As he turned to leave, he saw Saria who ran into his arms saying:
"I still cannot believe it, my baby boy is going to be a father. You have grown up Link, hey, does that make me a grandmother? Wait till I tell Mido that." Saria and Link left the clearing in peals of laughter. The party was fine and enjoyable, Link was having a fine time, but he missed Zelda and knew that his home was with her and no longer with the 'forever' children. Saria noticed his happy but distracted expression and sent him an understanding smile, she knew he would be leaving again soon.
When Link was back in the castle and with his wife in his arms he felt a completeness that he knew he would never be willing to give up. Body and soul they belonged to each other and once again he tightened his grip on Zelda feeling so much love for her. Impa had taken it on herself to check up on Zelda since she had been pregnant, and she silently closed the door on their chambers having seen them sleeping and rested. She too was happy they were obviously content.
Life was good Link decided, he was glad of the peace in Hyrule, although he kept his skills honed, he did not relish fighting, he was basically a gentle soul who could, when needed, be provoked to great anger if it came to protecting the lives of those he loved. But he was driving Zelda insane, ever since the 'bump' became noticable, Link had started to treat his wife more like a breakable porcelain doll, making sure she did not overreach herself. But he watched her, knowing that sometimes she had a headache, or still felt sick, he could tell through the link if she was tired and he fussed over her far too much.
Malon and Zelda had planned the nursery and now were sitting sewing cushions in bright colours. The girls were chatting and enjoying some peace from over protective husbands. They had persuaded Jardan to coerce Link into a spot of Falconing, however he was a bit reluctant to do this as he was also feeling the same pull as Link, understanding Link's need to hover over his wife because Malon had just found out she too was expecting. Still they had gone and the making of the baby things was progressing well.
Over the fields and down by the lake, Link had to agree it was nice to just ride and hunt for a bit, with his friend they could gallop without worry. Time was getting on however, and the boys were on their way back, when an alarm call down Jardan's link with his wife made him turn to Link. Link had gone pale, then looking at Jardan he just kicked Epona into a gallop, back towards the castle. As they rode hell for leather, the sense of urgency grew through the mind links of each, but it was a long way.
Misery and sadness was coming through the link and Link was furious with himself that he still was not as good at using the link as Zelda, he didn't know what was the matter. Clattering into the castle mindless of his manners and the propriety of riding a horse through the castle corridors, Link charged up to his chambers to find Zelda was not there. Just before he entered the castle he had lost his link with his wife and he was in a state of near panic, this not being relieved by a maid telling him in a whispered voice that his wife was in the hospital wing.
Nearly colliding with Jardan on his way back down, Jardan grabbed his arms to steady him and hold him where he was. Glaring at his friend for stopping him, Link saw Malon, who came out of a door to his left, she was crying and Link felt his heart stop. He moved to the door in what seemed like slow motion, but before he could enter, Impa appeared and firmly steered him away.
"You should not go in yet Link, Zelda is fine, but she is sleeping at the moment." Link sagged with relief against Impa.
"I couldn't feel her, I thought I'd lost her, what happened?" Link shuddered, when he noticed, that a glass of wine was being handed to him, he was unsure and becoming nervous, if Zelda was O.K. why was Malon crying?
"Come Link, you may want to drink this."
"Would someone please tell me what's going on, Why is Zelda asleep, did she faint again, Impa?" Link had started to get afraid when no one would look at him. Then Impa took a deep breath and said:
"Zelda is fine now, but I'm so sorry Link, she lost the baby." Link was far from stupid, but he was still inexperienced, he had not heard of miscarriage before and didn't fully understand, so Impa had to tell him that occasionally and for many different reasons that sometimes, the baby died in the womb before it had a chance to be born, and then it had to come out, that is what had happened to Zelda.
The baby, his baby had gone, Link was stunned, time just stopped still and he sat in a chair that seemed to suddenly materialise behind him. Impa took a look at him, and seeing that he was alright for the moment she turned her attention to Malon, it was a big shock for her too and if they didn't want to lose another baby, she needed to be comforted. Impa spoke to Jardan advising him to take Malon back to their rooms, and give her a mild sleeping draught.
While Impa was dealing with Malon, a pair of midwives came out and saw Link. He had jumped up, eager for news, tears he didn't realise were there, streaming down his face. The older woman smiled at him but her words did not console, her concern was solely for the poor women who had lost her baby. The midwife went to Link and wiped the tears from his face, looking him straight in the eye as she did so. She had not come across the Prince before and knew nothing about him.
"That poor girl in there will need your strength and love, not your self pity, my lad, when she wakes up. She has lost her baby, she'll need time to heal before you jump back into her bed. I know you young men, and don't worry you will be able to get your heir another time. Oh and another thing, It's not her fault she lost the babe, so no harsh words or blame, do I make myself understood? I'm not above having words with the King if need be. Still you look a nice caring lad, don't worry, she'll give you plenty more babies."
With that the midwife went back in to the sick room leaving Link with just a glimpse of his precious wife laying asleep in the bed before the door shut, effectively shutting him out. He felt numb, this morning he was going to be a dad and now he wasn't. All that hope and pride and joy just gone. He still felt numb. What was he going to say to Zelda? Did people really think he could be harsh with his darling wife? Numb, numb felt good at the moment, he didn't want to understand what he had been told yet.
He turned bleak, dry eyes to Impa who had been watching him since she got back from preparing a soothing potion for Malon, she put her arms round him and told him that he would be able to see Zelda in the morning and not to heed the sharp words of the midwife. Then she handed Link another glass of wine that she had laced with a sleeping potion to help him relax and she took him to his room and stayed with him, holding him till he slept. Impa was worried about Link, he hadn't said anything since he found out what had happened, and he hadn't seemed to notice the harsh words the midwife had spoken.
Waking in the morning and reaching for Zelda, the awful day before came crashing down on Link. He wrapped his arms round himself and rocked back and forth, before getting up and dressing to make his way to where his wife lay. He still felt nothing except a deep desire to make sure that Zelda would recover. There was a lot of bustle around the sick room and a pretty nurse let Link in to wait until Zelda had been checked and washed before she was ready to see him. The midwife who had spoken to Link the day before, was speaking gently to his wife now.
"Don't you worry, my pretty, you take your own time, he will wait for you to be ready, he seems a nice young man. Just remember, the men feel differently to us girls, they're only interested in babies really, when they can show off their offspring, so let him look after you. Alright my dear, I'll let him come in now." Link came straight to Zelda and she burst into tears, wailing her loss and heartache out against his chest.
Link held her, just stroking her hair, he was silent, not knowing what to say and not wanting to try and hush her until she had grieved fully. They stayed locked together for a long time, Link, being mindful of all the warnings, stayed strong for her as she wept for her baby, rocking her until she once again quieted and fell asleep. The nurse came over to Link and seeing his concerned look, told him that Zelda was physically tired as well as emotionally drained, so sleep was needed.
During the day the Princess had several visitors, all of whom only stayed a few moments. However Malon was nervous of going to see her friend until Zelda realised why, she called Malon to her. Both girls were in tears:
"Don't think I am not happy to see you, Malon, I need my friends, and I am still happy for you."
"I'm so sorry, so sorry Zelda."
"Thank you, but just look after yourself and let your husband pamper you."
"I will, can I get you anything?"
"No, thank-you, but please just make sure Link gets something to eat and drink, he's not left me yet, he needs to rest." Malon now left as Zelda dozed off to sleep again and she went in search of Link. Finding him with her husband, she found that Link was going to town to eat anyway, having been pushed into it by his friend. Assuring him that Zelda was napping, he was more willing to leave, he could do with not thinking too much for a while. Link was getting used to ignoring the lump and the soreness in his throat and the sting in his eyes, he didn't understand, according to the midwives, he shouldn't really be feeling anything much.
News travelled fast in Hyrule and already there were flowers and messages for Zelda coming in. Impa had notified the sages of the couple's loss, they in turn informing their own peoples. By the time Link and Jardan had ridden to town, they were thinking that leaving the castle was a mistake. The town was full of the news and people called out to Link, giving him flowers to give to their Princess, asking him to assure the girl of their devotion. Link was gracious and smiled and thanked everyone for their concern, but the pair ended up turning back and eating in the castle kitchen.
Soon Zelda was allowed up, she would still have intense bouts of misery, when she found herself, stroking her tummy and singing as if the babe was still there, she had been assured this was natural, it took the body a little while to recognise that a pregnancy had ended. All the time Link was devoted, speaking softly to her, holding her and letting her sleep in his arms. But those who knew him well, saw a change in the boy, a lot of his sparkle had gone, and although he smiled if required, his heart was not behind it.
Zelda was confused, Link was so attentive, even lightly joking with the nurses trying to bring a smile to his wife's face, but he had not once voiced regret over the baby. She thought of all the times he had spoken of being a dad, then she realised, he was probably a bit relieved as he was nervous and worried about taking on the responsibility of a baby. She didn't think that he was glad that the baby had died, but as the midwife had said, men see things differently. When she spoke about this to Impa, she just got a raised eyebrow back and no comment.
It was good to get Zelda back to their suite of rooms and Link was very pleased to see that she had a more healthy glow to her face. The doctor had told them that her body had nearly returned to it's pre pregnancy state, so she would start to feel better from that. Link was still treating her like she might break, but this time, their personal tragedy tempered Zelda's feelings, she actually felt she needed to be protected. For the first week, she was pleased to walk around her room and then round the castle, lunching with her father, Link and Impa, and spending afternoons with Link and Malon.
Link would stay with her until she was tucked up for the night, he would read, or tell her stories until she went to sleep but then he would leave her, it would be too tempting for him to climb in with her, he really missed her but she was not yet ready to resume their physical relationship. Link also noticed, although he tried hard not to acknowledge it, that there was a difference between them, a gap that he did not know how to bridge. Looking with longing at Zelda, he brushed away some stray hair from her face and left her sleeping alone again.
He stood for a while outside their rooms with a heavy heart, gentle breezes flowed through his hair in a sweet caress, but Link did not notice, he was looking outside one of the windows at a pretty little scene. In the courtyard, one of the knights was standing with his lady, he was resting his hand on her rounded belly, and the other arm was protectively round her shoulders. Link gulped down a sob, but he couldn't stop the few fat tears that splashed onto the window sill. He scrubbed at his eyes angrily and stood still until he felt he was composed, after all he couldn't break down just by seeing pregnant women, after all Malon was going to show soon.
The King stood in the shadows with Jardan watching Link, it was time to sort the couple out.
"Go and bring him to me please Jardan, then bring us some strong wine."
"At once, Sire." Jardan approached Link, (realising that his friend was distracted), in a manner that Link would know that he was there. Touching Link's arm, Jardan told him that the King wished to speak to him. Link nodded, indicating that he had understood, but kept his head down, missing the sympathetic look on his friend's face. Link walked down the corridor to the King's chambers, he knew them well, they were opulent but friendly and cosy and seeing the glow of the fire, he suddenly realised how cold he was.
The King welcomed Link in with a big smile, he was very fond of his son-in-law and knew the feeling was mutual. Link walked over to warm himself by the big open fire, the King took notice of the despondent way the boy was standing and chatted about the mundane things like the weather, and the state of the Royal Gardens until Jardan came back with the wine. Invited to stay, Jardan poured the wine for them all, and there was silence as the wine was drunk, which was broken when the King spoke.
"Well Link, have you left Zelda asleep and comfortable?"
"Yes Sire, she is pleased to be out of the sick wing and back in her own bed."
"I understand my boy. She has had many solicitous enquiries for her health has she not?" Link nodded, accepting another glass of wine and some cake. "Yes I have seen all the flowers and sweetmeats, perhaps they have eased her heart a bit, certainly the messages of condolence will have helped." Once again Link nodded saying,
"People have been very kind, I know it has helped her."
"You must be patient a little more, Link, it will take her some time to grieve fully, she had so many hopes and dreams for the baby, since she found out she was going to be a mother."
"I know, we laughed at some of them. But it's not funny anymore, is it?" It was getting difficult for Link to speak, and he asked for another glass of wine. He didn't notice the King pouring his glass, he was looking at pictures in the fire.
"I am so, so very sorry that your baby died, Link." The king's voice was kind and gentle.
Crash! Link dropped his glass on the hearthstone, his eyes went very wide and his breathing became ragged, with dry sobs. Suddenly Link's defenses shattered and he nearly fell to the ground but he was caught by Jardan who helped him to stand firm. When the tears finally came, the King took his son-in-law in his arms, offering comfort for the boy, who had been grieving in secret for his baby. Eventually the storm passed and the King gave Link over to Jardan who putting his arms round his friend, made him sit and take some food.
The King left Link in the charge of Malon and Jardan that night, he would be more comfortable with his friends than on his own, and he knew that Malon would spoil Link while keeping an eye on him. Then, in the morning when Link went to check on Zelda and see what she wanted to do that day, Impa informed him that her father was with her, he would be with her for some time so Impa said she would call him when she was free. Link then decided he would take Epona for a gallop over Hyrule Field, he could do with clearing his head, as he'd woken with a headache.
Meanwhile Zelda was breakfasting with her father. It was the first time, the King had been able to spend any time with Zelda since her miscarriage. He could tell that his daughter was feeling lost, the look on her face was one he had become familiar with over the years. He also knew that the miscarriage was not the only reason why she was sad.
"So my darling girl," the King said after they had eaten and were sitting on the little balcony. "What is the problem between yourself and Link?" Never one to beat around the bush, Zelda's father didn't want a lot of 'nothings' from her. "Come child, I think I know, but that is not the same as you confiding in me is it?"
"No... I dont know father. I know we love one another, but this is just the first thing we haven't been able to share in the same way, Link has been all love and devotion to me but I can't help but feel, he felt it was too soon to be parents. I don't think he regrets this as much as I do."
"Why would you think that my love?"
"Everyone says that the men feel these things differently, that the baby is only important to them when it is born, after all it is the woman who can feel it and carries it."
"Everyone says this?"
"Well, the midwives, they are experienced aren't they?"
"Presumably, the same one Impa overheard telling Link not to give in to self pity, when he first heard the news."
"She said what?"
"He was told to be strong for you, to help you with his love and not to be harsh with you, he has been doing so well that you have failed to recognise he has put his care for you above his own grief."
"I'm not saying that he isn't affected by this father, but he is still probably relieved to be able to put off fatherhood for a while."
"Zelda, I thought I would recognise Link if I saw him, but according to you, the boy I held sobbing in my arms last evening would not have been him." Zelda stared at her father.
"I don't understand, he has never cried that I know about, he is always trying to be cheerful for me or strong listening to me wail."
"He is selfless Zelda, try to remember that in future, you are not to blame for neglecting him, you have been through great turmoil, but I will ask Impa to see about the midwife being a bit more sensitive in future although it is common for people to commiserate with the mother only, all these flowers and messages are for you alone. Link was bottling up his feelings because he thought he was strange to grieve for his babe."
All that her father said fell into place, how could she have misjudged her husband's feelings, she would not have done so if she had not been in a weakened emotional state herself. The King gave her a hug and a kiss saying he would tell Link to come to her if she wanted. Zelda nodded, she wanted to repair the damage if she could. Soon she heard him outside asking Impa if he could see her. He shouldn't feel he has to ask to come to me, Zelda thought recognising though, that he would never presume on his rights as her husband.
She opened the door and pulled him in to her, taking one look at his face, she started to cry, he looked so hurt.
"I'm sorry Link, I didn't understand, I didn't mean to push you away." He looked down as her arms surrounded him and this time she was able to be strong for him, her own tears fell as he wept in her arms but at least thet were together. Perhaps they could now heal together. They spent the rest of the day together and undisturbed, just talking and understanding each other again, it was still too soon for Zelda for Link to take her yet, but they could kiss and cuddle and strengthen their bond that way.
For the next month, Link was still careful of his wife, there were tears when her next cycle started, the un-needed proof that she was no longer pregnant but the sparkle was beginning to be back to normal in both of them and Link didn't want to push too soon, so he spent the nights in the small dressing room on the small divan, only leaving her embrace when he knew she slept.
Zelda woke up after a couple of hours, her body was healed and didn't need the same amount of sleep it had done. She went to the dressing room to look at Link while he slept. His face held a new maturity since she had last held him in her intimate embrace, it suited him, although she would, of course rather it had come about with age and not sadness. Zelda felt lonely and was ready for Link to come to her, but he would not, he was scared, that, she knew. She leaned over him and kissed his lips and said,
"I love and miss you my darling, come back to me soon." And she glided out back to her bed, lonely and cold.
"I miss you too my love, but I don't want you hurt again." Link had not been asleep, he missed Zelda so much and he was glad he'd been lying on his front when she came in, he did not want her realising how much she affected him and how much he needed her as well, not until he thought she was ready.
Impa could see another problem developing for the couple unless... Really, she knew that problems had to be worked out between the couple themselves, but they were still very young and had had a bad experience early in their lives together, a little advice would not go amiss. Going to Zelda in the morning, Impa was not really surprised to see her Princess was in a sad mood, her husband could be heard in the next room, snoring lightly. Looking at Zelda and smiling slightly, Impa gave her some advice.
"You should go shopping Zelda, without Link and find something pretty and very scanty to wear tonight, you will have to seduce him, Link is too concerned for you, for your own and his own good. You will have to remind him of just what he is denying you both." Impa laughed at Zelda's amazingly deep red face, "You are ready my girl, it will do you good to go out as well, take Malon if you need moral support."
Malon was very happy to go shopping with Zelda, and she was a great help in shielding the girl from being overwhelmed by well wishing people, who were very happy to see their beloved Princess up and about again. Both Malon and Zelda treated themselves to some pretties, after all, they were nice to wear whether or not they were to be noticed. The girls had a successful and pleasant morning, returning to the castle giggling. Link met them coming in and was pleased to see the happy face of his darling girl.
Zelda knew that if she tried anything before Link retired to his self imposed exile, he would run off like a startled rabbit. Impa agreed to talk to him for her, much as she had planned on doing anyway. Without ceremony or knocking first, Impa strode into Link's room and sat on the edge of his bed. Once again, laying with his head pillowed in his arms he pretended to be sleeping, he didn't want to talk to Impa and he was only wearing a sheet, but he could not fool the Sheikah woman.
"This is not your place anymore Link, Zelda is lonely for you and I know you are for her."
"She is not ready for me yet Impa, I cannot hurt her again."
"Are you sure it is her, that you don't want to hurt anymore Link, you are the one running away, you are afraid." Impa looked straight at him.
"How dare you Impa, that is not fair, you just don't know, I can't put her through it again."
"So you aim to stay here for the rest of your married life."
"Of course not, just not so soon." his voice trailed off."
"You can't shelter Zelda from all pain in her life Link, and you are hurting her now. She needs and wants you." Impa swatted Link's backside, hard enough to sting even though covered with a sheet.
"Come on, get up she is waiting for you." Link was a bit annoyed at Impa telling him what to do as if he was still a child, apart from the fact that, she had just smacked him as well. He could almost see her smirking. He would show her.
"You mean get up right now?"
"What else do you suppose I mean, child?" That 'child' did it for Link, so he got up grinning, stark naked, the sheet falling to the floor, he'd got Impa's attention, but not the way he expected. Impa just tossed his robe over to him, then instead of her quickly turning away or leaving red faced as he thought she would do, she let her gaze travel up and down his body, slowly. Link was the one who went scarlet, he tied the robe round himself and saw Impa's laughing eyes.
"Was I supposed to be embarrassed by you Link? Do you forget that I have taken care of you on and off since you were a 'little' boy? I've seen it all before. Now, I am not the one you want to impress, am I?" Link had by now gained some of his dignity back and was once again smiling, a little ruefully at Impa.
"Go boy, she is waiting for you." Link no longer hesitated, he went into the next room and Zelda's outstretched arms, and the little dressing room was all but forgotton.