Viral Mutation: I just have to say that your reviews always make me laugh, in a good way of course. You followed the story pretty well and always seemed excited about it, and that makes a writer happy, lol.

Spiritual Stone: I'm glad you're loving the story. Like VM, you were also a good, excited reviewer. You were the first to review, and your enthusiasm helped me to keep writing. Much appreciation!

Black Thief Dragon: Thanks for all the reviews you gave me!

Blue Irish: That's great that you want a sequel. Well, I will give you one. Aren't I generous?

Crystal Adept: Yeah it's done that to me before, said I've reviewed when I hadn't. Oh well, thanks for both (though one never came, but that's okay)

Itxi: Well, Link does still love Zelda, let's just say that it might have dulled over time. If you read the sequel to this, you'll see a lot more answers to your questions and confusion. (insert trumpet fanfare here)

Bob teh link h4t0r: What an interesting screenname you have. And about your review, yeah well, whatever, but thanks anyway.

Pyntee: Hooray that you'll be more than pleased! Hopefully I can make your day... or days.

the unknown unown: Your last review made me very enthusiastic about writing. That is, if you meant what I think you meant. Haha, one day you might see a book of mine on the shelves, lol

redemption99: Thanks for reviewing, but if I had known you would have read the story I would have asked you to a long time ago LOL

If I forgot anybody else, sorry, but thanks for your reviews too! Here we go now, and this is the last chapter, by the way...

-O-

Link had been having a bad time that week, to say the least. It was all he could do to avoid Olivia and Dorobis while still doing his usual work, for he could not just stand around idle, and it was beginning to drive him crazy. It was as if they were vultures, trying to eat him before he was even dead. Well, he would only be dead if he had to end up going off with Olivia and in her possession. He did not want to get violent with a woman, but she ignored his words. He had told her that he was entirely unwilling to go with her, and now he was still debating on what to do.

Everyone was confused at what Jennan was actually doing, including Link. She had left off in such a rush that it must be very urgent. It was obvious that it had to do with Link, but what exactly she was doing was still a mystery. If she was trying to free him, he had no idea where she was going to try to get it done.

Maybe to Zelda? Link knew Jennan well enough to know how she thought, and it seemed like something she would do. Link was unsure if Zelda could help or not, or if Jennan was even going there, but she had already been gone for four days, which meant that she would be at Hyrule by now. Unless she got lost. No, not with Rhashidi there. Rhashidi did not get lost, especially when he knew where he was headed.

Every time Link came in eyesight of Dorobis, the man threatened pain, even when silent. He at least glared hatefully, but Link tried his best to ignore him. The man was still walking around with a heavy bruise on his jaw where Link had gladly smashed him four days ago at the masquerade, and Link would willingly do it again if the man pushed him too far. He just wanted to be left alone until Jennan got back, for as far as things were now, there was nothing written in stone. Since Jennan had wisely taken off with Olivia's horse, the woman refused to leave without her prized mare. And Link thought Jennan was a genius for it, for it bought him more time.

Link was entirely unsure at his future, in any situation. If Jennan came back just the way she had left, and he was doomed for a fate with Olivia, he did not know what he was going to do. Certainly not just accept it; that went against his entire nature. If he did not want to go, he did not plan on it. But what if Jennan came back and said that he did not have to go with Olivia, for whatever reason? Then he would still be stuck with Dorobis... and as much as he did not want that, it would be worth it if he could still be around Jennan.

Not to say that he had not considered eloping with her. He did not want to take her off against her father's wishes and marry her anyway, he wanted it to be approved, but if that was what it took, then he might just go for it. If Dorobis was going to cause so much stress over the situation, it would be better to just get away from it all. It would be very nice to just plan a wedding for sometime in the future, like a normal person would, but as usual, Link did not feel normal. It seemed he had been an outcast his whole life.

Everyone else was backing Link up, even the slaves. Ima, Artos, and even Ness spoke up for him. They would have never spoken to Dorobis this way if they had been going about it alone, for Link had already stood up for himself alone, but together there was much less chance of being punished. Matayo and Memnet also stood against their father, because Jennan was their sister and Link their friend.

Link thought back to when he was first familiarizing himself with them, and it felt strange, as if it had happened a lifetime ago. And to think that at one time he had not been in love with Jennan! How strange that was, for it seemed as if that was an eternity ago as well. And what seemed very close but also very far away was when he had defeated Ganon a few years ago and saved Hyrule. He had been the hero then, again, but it was especially Zelda who commended him for it, for she was the only one who had loved him them, aside from his grandmother and sister.

He was very thankful for his friends and for Jennan, for without them something terrible would have happened a long time ago. If it was not for them, he would have escaped months ago, and if pursued, there would have a been death- either his or Dorobis'. But he could not kill the father of the girl he loved, it was just wrong.

Today Link was unlucky enough to be cornered by Dorobis, who was obviously in a raging mood and glad to take it out on the Hylian boy. They happened to meet around the corner of the stable, and Dorobis was practically boiling. "It's your fault that Jennan is off somewhere probably going to get herself killed," the man growled. His fingers touched the horse whip that hung in his belt, and Link's eyes traveled there warily.

"According to you, Dorobis, everything is my fault," Link said.

"How dare you talk to me like that!" Dorobis exclaimed. He raised a fist, and Link held up a hand.

"Don't even think about it. Which way do you want me to knock you out today?"

It was not like Link to taunt, but he was tired and stressed and worried, and certainly not in the mood for being hassled. So far it seemed to a never-ending saga that Link was quite ready to close.

"You dare not touch me."

"Why not?" Link stiffened, and his hands formed into fists. "I'm not under your control, Dorobis, and I never was. You know it."

Dorobis laughed. "Oh then, who was that under my control back in the forest, tied and beaten? And who was that shackled and whipped between my trees? I believe that was you, boy. And you were entirely unwilling."

Link stared at him and said tartly, "Don't you know that I could have killed you months ago? Do you know how many chances I've had? But I haven't done it, because I'm not as bad as you think I am."

"Of course. You are worse than I ever thought."

Link threw up his hands. "How is loving your daughter a bad thing?"

"Your idea of love is obviously a lot different from mine," Dorobis snapped.

Link had been sorry for his mistakes for awhile now and wanted to say so, but he was not about to lower himself that far in front of this man. Saying 'I'm sorry' brought too much weakness, and the weak were always taken advantage of. "All right," Link began, and glanced around and noticed that unfortunately the two of them were completely alone, an ominous preliminary to a brawl. "Maybe all this wouldn't be so bad if you didn't hate me so much. Is there a reason? Because you know that you hated me long before I loved Jennan."

Dorobis' mouth went tight, and Link knew that he had verbally caught him. But Dorobis said, "Yes, I did hate you then. And it never stopped. In fact, the only thing you did was intensify it."

Link lifted his chin and shook his head. "You don't know me," he said slowly, with a new boldness.

"I know enough. You are a murderer and a whoremonger."

"Jennan loves me and you can't stand it."

Dorobis narrowed his eyes in anger, and suddenly pulled the whip from his belt. Link wanted to back away or fight, but let himself do neither, or at least not yet. There was no way he was going to take a whipping, not now. He was too close to getting things right for himself, and the only thing Dorobis was asking for was a fight, and the outcome of that would be unpredictable. Dorobis was a grown man and not exactly small in size. But Link had taken on much more threatening and been victorious, or at least alive, and though he did not want to, he knew that he could do it again if pressured to get violent.

"Dorobis," he said icily, "when are you going to learn to back off me?"

"Perhaps when you are dead," the man replied, matching Link's tone. "My sister knows you are dangerous and is thinking of changing her mind about taking you." He snapped the whip between his hands, as if for emphasis for what he wanted to do with it.

Link kept his eyes on the whip now, ready to defend himself if he had to. He was quickly tiring of the arguement. "Do you actually think I'd go with her?"

Dorobis snapped, "What, do you wish to stay here for the rest of your life?"

Link did not answer at first. No, he did not want to stay here forever. He wanted to marry Jennan and take her to live somewhere else, but of course he could not tell Dorobis that, especially not right now. And nothing was going to change by just standing here arguing with Dorobis, so he held up a hand to dismiss the arguement and turned to walk away. It reminded him of being a small child and his grandmother telling him that when confronted or bullied to just walk away, but he had always returned home bleeding or bruised anyway. It had never worked for him, and it was no exception even now.

Dorobis reached out and seized Link's arm roughly, and Link felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. He honestly did now want to fight, especially not Dorobis, but there did not look like there was going to be a way to avoid it. He stopped and turned back around to give the man a warning glare, and when that did not work, slapped the grasping hand away with a fierce meaning. But Dorobis just stepped forward and shoved Link's shoulder back with one hand. Link had no choice but to take a few steps backwards to keep his balance, and he was starting to get highly irritated. He had put up with enough of this in his childhood, and he did not need it now, especially from a grown man.

Link was hard put to stand his ground, for Dorobis came forward again and gave another shove. The desire to fight was easy to see in the man's eyes, but Link did not know how that was possible. Did Dorobis not know that Link was now known for fighting, and fighting well? What a foolish man. Well, Dorobis probably looked at it as if he were going to fight a kid, and though Link was young, he had the body and strength of a man and knew how to use it when times called for it.

"Dorobis," Link finally said warningly, "you don't want to start shoving me around."

"You're right, I do not. I want to do something else." Dorobis' fist met Link's stomach hard on the last word. Link felt the breath go out of him and as he doubled over and wondered how he had not been fast to avoid that punch, for his reflexes had never failed him before. But his stomach was naturally tight and he recovered quickly. He knew that Dorobis wanted him to fight back, so that was why he would refuse for as long as he could. It actually was possible to defend himself without fighting back.

But Dorobis was obviously not finished. He took another swing with his other fist, but Link was prepared this time and caught the man's hand in his own. He had had lots of practice on this move through the years that he started putting up an effort to defend himself from bullies, and he was quite good at it now. He tightened the muscles in his hand and snapped Dorobis' wrist back; not quite hard enough to break it, but certainly with enough force to cause a sprain. The man let out a hissing growl and grabbed his wrist with his free hand in pain.

Link allowed himself to give one more warning, though he was fighting the urge to smash in the man's face. "Look, I'm really gonna hurt you if you don't back off, old man."

Dorobis sucked in a breath as he said, "You only wish you could, boy."

And suddenly they were on the ground, and there was blood on the snow. Link was not quite sure how they had got down there, but here they were, and there was no time to wonder. Dorobis was on his knees and throwing punches, and Link had to move fast to protect himself. He threw his arms up over his face in the shape of an X, and he felt Dorobis' fist pounding onto his arm guards, and he brought up a knee hard into the man's chest, and he braced himself and threw him off. Link quickly went up to his knees, and though he knew he really should not, straddled Dorobis and swung various hook-punches into the man's already bruised jaw. He was nearly blind with anger and could feel the blood on his fist, and he fought an inner battle to keep himself from being overcome by rage. If he let himself get out of control, there was no telling what the outcome might be.

So he stopped after three hits and stood up. But Dorobis was tougher than he had thought, for he was suddenly up on his feet again, and the fight was on again. Link let himself forget everything else and concentrated on dodging, blocking, and throwing his own attacks. He was much more agile than Dorobis, and he had the strength of youth on his side, but the other man fought well enough. Link did not feel the pain as it came upon him, he only saw stars or suddenly found himself on the ground, but he was sure that Dorobis felt it. Link new that the best place to hit in a fist-fight was the face, and that was where he tried to keep his hits aimed, though it was difficult when his opponent was punching back.

But he finally just let himself loose and no wonder worried about the safety of Dorobis. He showed the man what he could really do and what he was capable of, and it was beginning to be obvious that the end of this would not be good if the two of them were left to finish it themselves. But suddenly Link was pushed to the ground, though it was not very hard. He forced himself to focus and saw that it was Matayo who had thankfully intervened, and the young man grabbed his father by the belt and literally dragged him back from Link.

"All right, stop it," Matayo commanded. He forced his father to sit down in the snow and overlooked him. "Father, you're barely even awake anymore. What is wrong with you?"

Dorobis tried to shove his son away. "Stay out of this."

Matayo ignored that. "Father, if you do not get off of him," he said, his eyes shifting over to Link, "then there will be nothing left of you for Ima to mend. Now stop this before one of you really gets hurt."

When Link's vision cleared, he looked at Dorobis and wondered too how the man was still conscious. Blood nearly covered his face and ran down into his beard, his lips were split, his eye black, his face cut, and somehow he was still looking at Link as if he wanted to strangle him. Link felt dizzy enough and knew that he was not near as beat-up as Dorobis was.

"Go mind your business, Matayo," Dorobis commanded, and tried to get up, but Matayo again stopped him.

"I think it's my business to stop my father from getting his brains kicked out, yes?"

"I told you to go away." Dorobis glared at Link through the blood. "I'm going to kill him."

Matayo sighed heavily. If he could not get his father to move, then he would just get Link out of here so the two of them could not fight anymore, at least for now. He took Link's arm and helped him up. "Let's stop this, Link," he said flatly. "Come on."

Matayo escorted him across the yard and to the house, but they stopped at the porch and Link sat down on the steps. He did not want to go inside and have everyone make over him as if he could not take care of himself. He touched the back of his wrist to his mouth and saw blood when he pulled it away, but was not sure where it was coming from. Matayo went around the side of the house and returned with a bucket of water, then sat down silently beside Link. They were both quiet as Link washed his face and the water turned a dull red, and then finally Matayo spoke.

"If Father wants to sit out there in the snow, let him just fight himself." It was supposed to be a jest, but Link just looked at him without so much as a smile. The blows he had taken had made him light-headed, and even though he just wanted to lay down and sleep, he refused to let himself. He was tougher than that. Besides, he had to keep up his appearance if he wanted to ever intimidate Dorobis.

Matayo sighed. "I guess I don't have to ask what you two were fighting about. I know you hate each other."

"Or he hates me, at least."

Matayo looked at him apologetically. "You know, I'm really sorry that he treats you that way. He's just trying to make things hard for you. If I had anything to say about it, I'd stop him."

For some reason, Link felt himself bristle. Though his friend was trying to be helpful, he felt almost offended, maybe even a small flare of pride that told him that he did not need someone else to stand up for him.

And he was missing Jennan, and could not wait until she got back.

-O-

The two huge doors of the dwelling opened inwardly, and Jennan felt weak. She felt the warmth of the lantern on her face and a draft of air coming through a small window in the stone wall. She must go in, for Link. But she felt paralyzed. The servant girl was behind her telling her to go inside, and Jennan picked her skirts up slowly and made her way. It felt like everything was in a strange slow motion, and she heard the two doors slam shut behind her.

The room was fairly dark but lit with moonlight from a window and torches on the walls. Everything in here was so extravagant and beautiful that she could think of no words to describe it all, and it took her breath away. But that was only the beginning of it, for suddenly she remembered who she was here to see, and saw the princess standing by the bed.

Zelda turned ever so slightly when Jennan entered, quite daintily but very sure of herself, her chin lifted high and her long blonde hair spilling over her shoulders. She held a long, thin piece of satin held up against her, as if measuring it for her size, but she was not moving now. The two of them stood looking at each other, then Jennan dropped herself into a slow curtsy that nearly touched her knees to the floor.

"Highness," Jennan breathed. She was unsure at what else to say.

The princess's eyes slowly took Jennan in, and she let the satiny strip float down to the ground around her feet. "My servant said you wished to see me. But first please tell me who you are."

A princess was saying please? Jennan bowed her head a little. "My name is Jennan." She felt ashamed of herself, for her dress, though it was her best and most expensive, was dirty and even torn in some places from travelling on horseback and sleeping on the ground for the past four nights. She wished that she had brought another one, but she had been in so much of a hurry that there had been no time to even kiss Link good-bye, no less pack for the trip.

Zelda repeated the name silently on her lips, and Jennan swallowed hard. Now she could see why Link had loved this girl so much. Not only was she very beautiful, but she had an air about her that was friendly and pure. How in the world had Jennan been lucky enough to end up with Link when this girl did not? It would forever remain a mystery to Jennan, but a mystery she was content with.

But she soon discovered that Zelda still did not know who she was. "And where have you come from?"

"From Carrickfergus, highness. I was on the road for four days."

"That's a long trip for a girl to take by herself."

"I was not by myself, highness. I had... a friend with me." Jennan did not know how exactly how to talk to a princess, but she figured that she was doing good enough so far. She was fairly sure that the princess would not behead her or anything- or at least not yet.

"May I ask why you have come here?"

Jennan's mouth went dry, and she had to swallow various times before she could talk. It felt as if her tongue were thick and heavy. How to explain it? "I have come from Carrickfergus because... because... well, you see... oh, highness, I do not know how to explain it! Forgive me."

Zelda smiled slightly. "It's alright. Just tell me as best you can."

Jennan curtsied again thankfully. She took a very deep breath, and explained it as best she knew how. "I am here for someone you know, princess, I am here for Link, because he was made a slave to my father months and months ago, and my father is cruel to him and now he wants to sell him off to my aunt to get rid of him, and there's no telling what will end up happening to him because my aunt is nearly as unfair as my father, and Link does not want to leave m... does not want to leave, and he just wants to be free like he was before, and I want it for him and there's nothing I can do about it because my father will not listen to me." She sucked in another breath. "Oh, highness, if it pleases you at all, I request that maybe, maybe you can do something to override my father. I just want Link to be free, highness."

Princess Zelda's face had gone blank during the explanation, and her mouth was open ever so slightly, and Jennan cringed. But the princess did not look angry or as if she were devising a death plan. Instead she looked almost sad. "Ye gods," she whispered, and Jennan held her breath nervously. "You are here for Link? By the gods... you are... you are the girl that has captured Link's heart. You are the one he loves, are you not?"

Nearly frozen, Jennan could do nothing but nod quickly. She certainly did not want to anger the princess, or seem as if she was rubbing in her good fortune, so she tried to appear humble. Well, not appear; she felt very humble, and even afraid.

She could see Zelda swallow, and her fists tighten. "And you love him?"

Jennan was starting to sweat. "Very much."

The princess closed her eyes and leaned her shoulder on the bedpost beside her, a long and quiet breath running out of her. "I understand why, now."

"Highness?" Jennan asked shakily.

"You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. And you are afraid; I can see it. But you are coming here for Link, because you love him. I can see that as well."

Jennan wanted to faint out of the uncertainty of what was going to happen next, but she choked out, "Yes."

"It proves your love, dear." Zelda reached out a hand. "Come here."

Jenna went stiffly. She could feel her hands shaking. Here she had been marvelling at the princess, and Zelda was doing the same thing in return. If someone else had been watching the conversation, it would have shown that Link had good taste.

"You are obviously very brave," Zelda said, and touched Jennan's shoulder. "And very much in love. Don't ever let Link go; he's far too valuable." Her hand dropped away and she turned to the window. "I myself am preparing for my wedding next week. I am being wed to the young Prince of Altea, mostly to bring an alliance to our two countries, for they have been at war for decades, you know. So I am quite uncertain now."

Jennan did not know why the princess was telling these personal things to her, but she managed to nod. "Good for you. But I'm sorry that you are uncertain."

"I've only met him once."

Jennan swallowed again, and tried to offer some help. "I have heard that he's very handsome. And skilled with the sword."

"Yes, he is both." Zelda was gloveless, and something on the back of her left hand caught Jennan's eye. The familiar mark of the Triforce.

Jennan was wondering when the princess would get back around to the reason of Jennan's being here, but she would not dare ask. And she did not have to.

"So since I am getting married to the prince," Zelda continued at last, "it will form our countries as one and unite our power. You see, I would do anything for Link, anything to help him. But I am not sure if I could do it if I was just Hyrule alone, but since soonly I will be Altea as well, it is possible that I will have enough power to do it. So, my dear, I can sign something under my name that demands Link's freedom forever, and your father will have no choice to obey. That is, unless he doesn't mind battling the armies of two powerful contries."

Jennan could almost not believe what she had just heard. The princess was going to help them! Sure, there was still a chance that it would not work, but it more than likely would. Jennan wanted to hug Zelda, but did not dare. In some places it meant death to touch royalty, and though she was overjoyed, she did not risk it. "Thank you, highness!" she said, every word sincere, her joy easy to see. And then something very unusual happened.

Zelda opened her arms to Jennan for a hug.

-O-

And so the next week Princess Zelda took her father the king and a dozen servants off to Altea, to be married to Prince Marth and unite Hyrule and Altea for hopefully all time. They had the best hospitality when they arrived, for everyone knew they were looking at their future queen, and Zelda and her father were put into the part of the huge castle that housed guests, and Zelda had the last stitchings put into her wedding dress.

Zelda and Marth did not see each other at all until the night arrived. The ceremony was going to be held just inside the protective walls of the castle, and a marriage bonfire was lit in the corner, with an Altean priest there to perform the required customs. The witnesses consisted of the two kings of the countries, Marth's sister and advisor, many servants, including Zelda's, and only a few civilians that had been authorized to come. Marth was dressed in the same style of clothes he always wore, complete with the royal cloak, but the colors were light and white instead of dark and blue. It had been saved for years, specifically for this night.

The bride, of course, was the most anticipated person to see. Marth and the priest were already standing by the fire in front of all the witness, but it was not quite time for the Hylian king to bring his daughter to them. Marth could feel that he was sweating, and he was surprised at himself, for he not thought that he would be this nervous. He was far more scared now than he had been even on the battlefield. Somehow this seemed to be much more important.

He did not look at the priest, or at the crowd that was seated or standing around the procession; he just kept his eyes on the spot where Zelda and her father would emerge from the shadows into the torchlight. It felt like the collar of his white cloak was choking him, though it was just as loose as it always was, and he resisted the urge to loosen it more. He could feel the sweat under his bangs at the hairline but kept his hands clasped in front of him and his back straight, a customary stance for a man awaiting his bride. He was still stunned that the princess had even accepted his proposal, but she had for whatever reason. Perhaps she found him interesting, or she just wanted to unite their countries. Well, for Marth, it was both.

And suddenly there she was in the firelight, with her hand around her father's bent arm. All the wedding guests turned to look at her, and Marth held his breath. Zelda looked beautiful in her long white dress, and the elegant gold crown on her head shined and the jewels sparkled. Her head was titled back with the pride of a princess, and she was not smiling, but she was did not look reluctant, either. Her father's free hand reached over and pressed over hers, a sign that he was perhaps comforting her.

The small crowd bowed when they slowly passed by, but Zelda did not acknowledge them. She looked at Marth with no expression, and he suddenly hated not being able to tell what she was thinking. Well, he hardly even knew her, but it was very common for people to marry without love, especially in royalty. He did not love her, though he did like her well enough and she was very beautiful.

Marth reached out his hand to her when she got close enough, and she took it. Her father let go of her and Marth gave him a small bow, for after all, he was a king, and Zelda took her place beside Marth. The crowd got quiet, and the priest began the customary sayings. In the way of the Altean wedding ceremony, the two that were being married never even said anything, for that was the work of the priest to say it for them. As he was saying what he was required, Marth studied Zelda's hands. She wore white gloves that went all the way to her upper arm, and as he had noticed at the banquet of the peace talks, her fingers were thin and long, very pretty. He looked up at her face, and her deep blue eyes met his. He saw her swallow, and her eyes shifted over to her father in the crowd, then back to Marth.

At last, the priest called for the ringbearer, and Marth was surprised to see that it was Anya who came at the summon. She was smiling, as if she could see him though her blind eyes, and she held out the crystal box that held the rings in her hands. It was customary for the bride to put to ring on her man first, so at the word of the priest, Zelda reached into the box with her forefinger and thumb and lifted out Marth's gold ring. It caught a flash of light and shined; both of their bands were made just for them and fashioned from only the best gold. Marth held out out his left hand with fingers spread but relaxed, and Zelda took his wrist with her free hand and slipped the band onto his ring finger. It felt strange there, but there was not time to dwell on it. He took the bride's ring from the box, making sure to touch Anya's hand to try to communicate with her to tell her that he was not going to be any different once he was married than he was before, and took Zelda's small hand. She watched as he slipped on the diamond ring, right over her glove, and she examined it carefully, almost as if she was making sure it was good enough for her.

The most official part of the marriage, what made it all set in stone, came next. In other countries, this would be the time where the man and woman kissed, but Zelda placed her hand over the back of Marth's, and the priest laid a thin royal cloth over the both of their hands, slowly looped it around underneath, then brought it back to the top and tied it carefully. The priest then took a small bowl of holy water and raised it up, blessed the marriage in another language, and slowly poured out the water over their hands. The red cloth soaked through and turned dark, and when the priest removed it, the crowd stood and cheered.

Altea and Hyrule were united as one, the decades of bitter rivalry were ended, and Prince Marth and Princess Zelda were offically married.

-O-

On the eighth day, Link went about his work as usual but kept an eye out for Jennan. If she had really gone to Hyrule, which none of them were even sure about, then she should be back by now, unless she had gotten off track somewhere. But with Rhashidi with her, that was unlikely. Link found himself almost worrying, which was unusual for him, for he was thinking paranoid thoughts. What if something had happened to Rhashidi and Jennan was alone, or hurt? He worried for the both of them, but honestly mostly for Jennan. He did not know what he would do if something bad had happened to her. But as long as Rhashidi was with her, the chances of that were terribly slim.

Artos could somehow sense the worry, for once out of the blue he told Link that Jennan would be back soon. "We do not even know where she has gone," he said. "She could still be on her way there, for all we know."

But Link did not know where else Jennan would have gone. The farthest she could probably get was Hyrule, for Rhashidi had never gone more far east. Unelss she found the way herself somehow.

Olivia had been angry the whole time, ranting that her niece had taken her horse, and would not leave without it, even though Dorobis suggested that she borrow a horse of his. Link thought that it had been a very smart move on Jenann's part, and he was impressed, for he did not know if he would have thought of it himself. Jennan obviously knew her aunt just well enough to know that the woman would stay in Carrickfergus if she did not have her horse, and thus Link would stay as well and would still be there when Jennan got back.

It was no secret that Olivia was very wary of Link, especially after the most recent fight he and Dorobis had had. "Do you think I really want to deal with that myself?" she had snapped at her brother, and Link had not been able to help but smirk to himself. Sometimes violence paid off, and in this case he was lucky. Now Dorobis even stayed away from him, and hated him at a distance instead of trying it physically.

And on the last day, Jennan was suddenly there just as quickly as she had left eight days ago. She rode in on Olivia's horse like a professional, and Rhashidi arrived close behind. Jennan spotted Link by the stables and reined the horse in, and quickly dismounted before even coming to a complete stop, and left the horse standing there by itself. She still wore her masquerade dress, which was somewhat dirty now, and she looked tired. But her fatigue was obviously overriden, for she was smiling broadly, strings of her black hair in her face, and she held a papyrus scroll in her hand. Link was so glad to see her that they literally ran to meet each other, and Jennan launched herself upon him and hooked her arms around his neck. He crushed her to him with joy and discovered that she was laughing quite wildly. She was hanging there with no contact to the ground, for he held her up easily, and she laid her hand on his face and kissed his lips hard.

"I did it," she laughed, after she pulled back.

Link let her sink gently to the ground, but their arms remained around each other. "What did you do?"

She smiled excitedly and waved the scroll. "This! Signed by the princess Zelda herself."

He let go of her long enough to take the scroll and unroll it. Sure enough, it held the print of Zelda's royal ring and her written signature, but the main thing that caught his eye was what the rest of the writing said. Written first in English and then in Hylian --dear Zelda, she knew he had not yet learned to read English-- was a royal demand for his release from slavery, meant for Dorobis, Olivia, and whoever else might ever think about trying to own him. Link was stunned.

"Link, will it work? Will Father have to obey the command?" Jennan asked quickly.

Link felt a smile forming on his lips, and there was no way to stop it. He broke out in a wide smile. "It'll work, Jen." He nodded, his hair falling into his eyes. "It'll work."

Jennan let out a quick whooping holler and hugged him again. Memnet and Matayo appeared and greeted Jennan with relief, then wanted to know where she had gone and what had happened. Upon being shown and reading the scroll, they too joined in the small celebration. Link knew that all of their relief and gladness was sincere, and it touched him deeply to have friends that cared about him that much. When he had first met them, he had never imagined that they would one day become this close.

Ness, Ima, and Artos had obviously heard the commotion and were suddenly there as well. "Link's free," Matayo informed them excitedly. "By the command of his princess, he's not in Father's possession anymore."

"But does Father have to obey a princess in another country?" Memnet asked doubtfully.

"If he doesn't want a war with two powerful countries," Jennan said. She suddenly felt bad, and turned to Link and said softly, "Zelda has married the prince of Altea. She asked me to tell you."

Link blinked hard, but said nothing but, "Who wants to show Dorobis the scroll?"

Jennan was unsure how hard the news of Zelda's marriage had hit Link, but now was not the time to ask about it. She could not wait to tell her father what had gone on while she was away. "I'll do it. He should hear it from me." No one objected, and Jennan took Link's hand and led the way to the house where Dorobis and Olivia had settled themselves that afternoon, everyone else following. She threw open the door and looked hard at her father's bruised face, who sat stunned at the table. With a flick of her wrist, the scroll unwound and was open in front of Dorobis. Jennan said, "I have been to Hyrule, and it wasn't all for nothing like I know you thought it was. This here is a printed and signed command from Princess Zelda, demanding Link's freedom from slavery. Father, if you want to read it yourself..."

Dorobis snatched the scroll and began reading slowly, his expression a mix of surprise and fury. When he was finished, he slammed the scroll flat down on the table and glared up at Link. "Your princess has a lot of nerve, boy."

"Just admit that there is nothing you can do about it," Jennan said gently. "Hyrule and Altea are one now, by royal marriage, and unless you want an all-out war with that combined army... I think it would be a good idea to just let Link go free, by your word. Because you have no choice now, and you might as well go down without fighting."

Dorobis was clearly frustrated, and his face turned red behind the bruises. It was obvious that he wanted to burst out yelling, but he was defeated and knew it. Jennan looked at him almost with a begging expression, to try to convince him to just drop everything now without making things worse. She knew of her father's pride and temper, and hoped that it would not flare up now. His jaw got tight and he let the scroll roll up on itself and handed it back to Jennan. "Then just get out."

Jennan silently thanked him, and left out the front door, still hand-in-hand with Link, and stopped out on the front porch. The door swung shut behind them, and they were alone. Jennan looked up at him, her hands now around his wrists, and let herself smile. "I don't even know what to do now. I've wanted you to be free for so long, it doesn't even seem real now."

Link knew what she meant, for he felt the same way. "Jen, I remember your promise."

"My promise?" She looked confused at first, then obviously remembered as well. "Oh... yes, that was one of the reasons I went to Hyrule. But mainly I did it because I love you."

She blushed, and he kissed her. He still had a strange problem with words, so he said plainly, "I love you too, Jen."

They stood on the porch, holding each other, both uncertain at their futures, unsure at what was going to happen in the next days or even hours, but though neither of them spoke, it was somehow decided that whatever happened, it would happen to them together. They would more than likely face more hard times no matter what, but they no doubt wanted to face it with the other by their side.

Jennan pressed her face against Link's neck and sighed, content at least for now. "I don't know what we're going to do now," she said, and his arms tightened around her, "but I really do want to stay with you. You're a free man now, and I know that you could have been free before, but it was better to do it this way, it was much safer." She laughed a little and kissed his jaw. "I had to do a lot of fighting for you, Link."

He laid his head against hers. "I know. I'm glad you did."

"But you fought for me too, in more than one way. Remember, you've saved my life. Rhashidi took care of me on the journey, because you told him to." She closed her eyes and felt such a strong wave of emotion for Link that she felt as if she could faint, but she just hugged him tighter and sighed. "Link," she whispered, "I really do love you; I always will, and I want to stay with you. Always... whether you're bond, or whether you're free."

-O-

So, it's finally finished. Dorky ending, I know. I'm sure this story was pretty crazy sometimes, and probably not always accurate, but I did the best I could, and I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully it was as good as you all say it was. I want to point out a couple of things here. I realize now that I may have waited too long to actually bring Zelda into the story, but the story has a mind of its own, I tell you. Anyway, I had it planned to have Marth and Zelda get married for a looong time, but it just took forever for it to actually be able to happen. One thing in particular that I think some of you might find interesting is, Link's dream that he had in chapter 9 about Zelda was actually a real ream that I had had myself, months before I had even started writing this story. So everything that happened in Link's dream/flashback really happened in my dream, including his trying to drown himself (if you were wondering, that's how I got the idea for that... kinda out of character for him, I know, but it fit into the story). Creepy, yeah I know. So I will give you all a sequel, or give it to myself cuz it's so much fun to write, and thanks again for all the reviews!!