Alas. All things must come to an end. I'll make my comments at the end of this chapter, so wait not a second more and read this final chapter. :)
Only in Hyrule
Link Forester, the sexiest man in the Hylian Alliance ―I might be biased, but no one really cares― and my not-so-secret crush, is no longer my publicist.
Instead, he's my private assistant.
The news that I get a PA is shocking enough, so the news that Link offered himself for the job is like hearing that Nabooru Spirit could actually be a man: stupefying. But it's also the most wonderful announcement I've ever heard ―hearing that he's my PA, I mean, not hearing that Nabooru could be a man, since that's just creepy.
It totally made my week.
As such, I'm sort of dazed as I pull on my queenly gown. Tetra came in to help me, because we're just an hour away from my coronation ―my coronation! It's almost too good to be true and I don't feel apprehensive about it at all anymore because, um… Let's just say my afternoon kind of whizzed by and I didn't have time to think about it too hard.
I really hope nobody notices how flushed my skin is. I'm reflecting that, so far, Kotake has done something right in three occasions only.
The first was to predict that Link would no longer be my publicist after the coronation, which was painful on the spot but now turns out to be a blessing.
The second was to claim that shagging Link was the best solution to my anguish. She has no idea how right she was about that one.
And the third will merit her a definite raise: she warned Link and I about the preservatives in the bedside table.
"Zelda," Tetra says, "you look a bit flushed."
Right. That's because you, Tetra, have no idea what transpired in this room between your co-worker and I, just three hours ago. And I really shouldn't think about it too much either because I blush way too easily.
"You think so? It's just… I'm really happy," I say instead. She has no idea how happy I am. "That's all…."
Tetra examines my face. She probably doesn't understand what happened between this morning and now that could have changed my mood from 'I want to cut myself' to 'I hear the deities sing', but I think she suspects me, because the corner of her lip goes up and she says, "You talked with him."
Oh, we talked plenty. "Yes, I talked with him."
"And you worked out the kinks in your relationship."
Gods. You really have no idea. "Yep."
Tetra shakes her head. "And to think just hours ago you were ready to cry yourself to sleep."
I want to retort that it's hard to sleep ―or cry― when a body like Link's is revealed to you, but I don't think that'd be very tasteful or decent coming from the girl who is about to be crowned queen of Hyrule.
So instead I say, "Apparently, he loves me back."
Tetra grins. "I knew it! The little bugger couldn't have hidden it from me much longer!"
I should get infuriated that everyone guessed it but I didn't. Not because they didn't tell me ―I could, somehow, understand why they didn't― but because I was too dim-witted to realise it. But it's pointless to get mad now. "Tetra, could you finish buttoning up the back of my dress, please?"
"Right. Sorry. So…" I don't miss how she turns sly. "Did he kiss you?"
I can't help but smile. "Hm-hm." Really, to just say he kissed me doesn't do him justice.
Tetra gasps and gapes at me, like she wants to call me a fiend. "No way! The minimalist hum was used. You shagged him!"
Am I that transparent? This is getting a little bit despairing.
"I think," I say, trying my best to defend my honour, "that you're overreacting." Because I don't think telling her that he's excellent in the sack will be conducive to their future working relationship. I mean, Link is now part of the palace staff, so they're going to be talking a lot more than they already were.
And I can't have Link getting teased because he's the queen's assistant and lover. For sure, the others wouldn't let him live it down. And just because he's a grown, mature adult who is more than capable of defending himself doesn't mean I can't protect him in my own way.
Tetra grins. "Maybe. It's not like I'm ever going to know anyway."
I smirk right back. "Right." We exchange grins. Until I remember that I was a whacko bitch to her before he found me. "Say… I'm sorry about my mood this morning."
Tetra rolls her eyes and scoffs. "Please. I'm in a worse mood than that twenty-four seven." She makes me turn. "You're missing the gloves."
I nod with a smile, and she goes to fetch them from my massive wardrobe. I look at myself in a nearby mirror. Tatl and Tael, courtesy of the Godly Trio, left half an hour ago, after fixing my hair and make-up. They were surprisingly quick, considering they only had an hour to do the job.
If they noticed how flushed and cheerful I was, they didn't comment. Well, Tatl mentioned I looked healthier than I did before, like my joy was making me glow, and I stubbornly refrained from admitting that it was all Link's handiwork.
Even though, you know. It was.
"So you worked it all out?" Tetra asks, returning with the gloves. Her sharp blue eyes examine me. "With Link, I mean."
I grin. "Yep. He's going on a three-day vacation with Aryll to visit his grandmother in Waker Islands, and then he's coming back. He has an apartment in Marcastle, so he'll be close-by at all times."
Tetra smiles too, like she's genuinely glad for us. "That's great news. I'm happy for you both. It's hard not to be." She sighs forlornly, exaggerating her reminiscence. "I remember the day we first met. You were already smitten with him, if I recall properly."
I notice that she's teasing me, so I give her a little slap on the hand. "Stop that."
Tetra becomes serious again. "And now, you're one of the greats."
"I guess so," I say, looking down at my massive gown. "And I'm a mountain of peaches and cream."
"Hush. You're gorgeous. Stop whining." Tetra turns me around and begins to push me towards the door. "Come on. It's time to go."
As I predicted, the Temple of Time is swarming with people, and when the car slows to a stop in front of the barred-off entrance, I take a deep breath. There's a crowd lining the street on both sides, circulation was barred for the day, journalists from all over the world are struggling to take pictures, but the tight net of security guards prevents them from getting too close to the car. A long, deep purple carpet was unrolled, so that I wouldn't have to walk on the pavement while walking to the Temple.
Then, Rauru Luz, my witness, steps out of the car. He opens the door for me, and I step out. The crowds go wild.
I graciously take his arm, and we walk towards the Temple. Before entering, though, I pause. Rauru shoots me a curious but patient look. I smile at him, then slowly turn ―I don't want to trip in my skirts, after all― and I wave and smile at the masses. When they see me next, I will be their queen.
Their booming response is all the courage I needed. I can't help but feel my heart swell with love for them all. I take Rauru's arm again, and we enter the Temple ceremoniously.
Inside, the sound contrast is deafening. Where outside was loud and rambunctious, inside is calm and utterly silent. The reverence and peace in the air commands me to be gracious and queenly. The stillness here rises up to the gorgeous vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows.
Every single bench in the Temple is full of dignitaries and diplomats. I know all my friends are seated somewhere in there, and I know Link is there too.
Actually, I can see him, right there, near the end of the row, looking far back at me, and smiling warmly. He's wearing another one of his sexy Terminian suits. How can a man that handsome possibly have fallen in love with me?
I try hard to look solemn, but I honestly fail in dissimulating my joy. My face keeps, unfailingly, no matter how much I try to compose myself, stretching into a beaming smile, so I eventually give up and let an immense grin take over.
I am wearing the biggest gown I ever wore. Its weight alone tires my legs, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Tetra was right: I do look fantastic.
The bodice of the gown has fine embroidery and pearling, with soft peach tones. The square neckline is low, but not vulgar, with a gorgeous lining. The sleeves become ample at the elbow, with delicate embroidery and dentelle. The front of the bodice is brushed velvet and satin, ending in a vee at the waistline to puff out in heaps of beautiful cream coloured folds.
I wonder, when I get married, will my gown be this glorious?
Will Link look at me as he is now, as though awe, pride and love are battling for supremacy in his eyes? Will his lips form a gorgeous smile as they are now, as though he can't hide or suppress his joy either, as though my victory is his too?
Will he promise me his life with that single look?
When I reach the front bench, level with him, I send him a glance, and he winks back at me.
Okay. I'm never going to stop smiling until I die.
But I can't stop beside Link. I'm not getting married to him, after all. We just hooked up ―and what a hook up it was! ― and today is my coronation day.
Not that I'm going to let my handsome hunk of an assistant get away. It's just that our wedding and five children will have to wait. Glee!
I walk up the carpeted steps of the altar and join the priests. There are five of them, and the eldest is carrying the crown. I kneel. They told me what I had to do, so it's just a matter of remembering my cues.
Rauru takes the oaths at my side, swearing on his life that I am indeed Zelda Nohansen ―I might like the name Harkinian, but I'm a Nohansen by blood― and that all my upcoming words are true. The priests turn to me.
"By the ancient laws and oaths of Hyrule…" ―oh gods, this is it! ―, "… Zelda Harkinian Nohansen, on the life granted to you by our holy goddesses and on the heart granted to you by this assembly, do you swear to seek only the welfare of this land until death defeats your vow?"
The words I speak then don't sound like me at all, like another, usually invisible part of me has taken over and is making sure I don't mess up, "On my life and heart, I solemnly swear so to do."
"Zelda Harkinian Nohansen, on life and heart, do you swear to defend and protect this land by any means in the limits of our agreed laws and oaths?"
"On my life and heart," I repeat, feeling something make my heart soar, "I solemnly swear so to do."
"Zelda Harkinian Nohansen, on life and heart, do you swear to speak the truth to your people, even on penalty of exile or death, and to aid justice and equity in all views of your existence as long as it is ruled by our agreed laws and oaths?"
I raise my eyes and look at the elderly priest holding the crown above my head, and I say, with a smile, "On my life and heart, I solemnly swear to continue to do so."
I swear the priests' lips quirk up at the corners. With a benevolent glint in his eyes, he says, "Zelda Harkinian Nohansen, feel now the weight of your oath descend upon you. May you bear it with wisdom, courage, justice and temperance."
He lowers the crown on my head, and its weight is, surprisingly, a relief.
"You kneeled as Zelda Nohansen. Rise now as Queen Zelda Harkinian of Hyrule."
Wait. He shifted my name. I glance up at him, and he smiles down with kindness and… a wink…?
Oh gods. Link and Rauru actually managed to have my name changed! I stand, feeling my heart burst with joy. The crown on my head is heavy, and yet, I feel lighter than I've felt in years.
My heart about to burst, I turn to the assembly as it erupts in applaud and acclamations. I glance over the whole crowd. I spot Anju and Malon in the first few rows, and they're crying their eyes out. Malon is sitting beside Sheik, who is trying to help her control her joy and look proud of me at once. Anju is sobbing beside Kafei, who seems genuinely happy to be able to comfort her.
My eyes turn to Ruto, who is grinning at me like this is the first time I've ever done anything worthwhile. I don't see Jabun anywhere near her, but I figure he probably wasn't invited in anyway. Which, I guess, means Ruto and Jabun aren't actually hooking up or anything, because Ruto totally could have invited him. Though I guess you can't blame her. After all, the guy looks like a huge fish. It's likely they're just friends.
The priests invite me to a small podium with a microphone. I get the feeling that my role as queen will be to do more speeches than actual ruling. I mean, really.
At least I'm getting good at speeches.
They already placed my papers before me, so I don't have to fetch them out of anywhere. I try to steady my voice, but I'm just too happy. I wrote this speech myself.
I take a breath, then, in the returning silence, I say, "For so long, I was nothing."
I don't know how I already know everyone is hanging onto my words, but I do.
"For so long," I continue, gently, "I could have been dead, and my life wouldn't have had more meaning." I look up at the Temple full of attentive faces. "For so long, I was sleepwalking between reality and the dream I wished was reality."
I find Link's eyes and smile.
"A month ago," I continue, in the same controlled voice that feels so strange but which I'm beginning to love so much, "I awakened. A month ago, I realised I could truly be something more. A month ago, my dream finally seemed accessible."
My eyes are flying over each face, and I see how captivated they seem.
"Yesterday," I continue, my voice gaining in confidence, "I finally had become the princess you claimed I was. Yesterday, my life was hanging on your very choice. Yesterday, my dream was in your hands." I smile as sincerely as I can. "And you had the grace and mercy to pass it over to me."
My voice is now steady and confident, and I continue, "Today, I stand before you with the firm intent of giving you my dream back tenfold. Today, I stand before you with the desire to serve you better than any other ruler. Today… I have become your queen."
At this, the crowd erupts into new applause. But I'm not done.
"Tomorrow, our children will have their own dreams. Tomorrow, we will work together as a loving nation to achieve the impossible. Tomorrow, justice, wisdom and courage will not be mere virtues: they will be our virtues. And the hands that uphold the laws and trust we sought will be blessed by all."
I smile again when I receive acclamations.
"Only in Hyrule," I say, over the voice of the crowd, "can an impossible dream become a truth. Only in Hyrule can the people strive for good and fight for it. Only in Hyrule can all meet fearlessly, no matter their origin, to promote what is most important to them."
When the crowd continues to clap loudly, I finish my simple speech by saying, "Tomorrow, I will show you my gratitude as it can only be shown in Hyrule. Because it is only in Hyrule… that I could have found in others…" my eyes seek Link's again, and he returns my gaze with brilliant sharpness, "…the love and faith to make today come true."
The Temple, usually so quiet, explodes in a loud cheer.
And with that, the ceremony of my coronation comes to a close. I take endless photographs with an endless stream of people. I greet a thousand people and am thrown a thousand roses from the crowds massed outside.
And, much later, I'm sitting at a huge table, filled with ministers, diplomats and other important figures. It's already dark out and the palace has never been this lively in decades. I'm stuffed with excellent food and my gown was complimented more times than I can count. Ralph and Aryll, along with Sheik and Malon and Kafei and Anju, are dancing around to the Indigo-Go's, who accepted to come play for all of us.
The ministers are happier than they've ever been. Everyone seems to have found something to occupy them, be it boring conversation or exciting bets, and it's nearing midnight. None of us seems tired.
I stand from my table, mostly unnoticed because Cremia and Romani, with whom I'd been conversing until now, have just deserted me to pick on Darunia, who is slowly but steadily getting sloshed.
Only to bump straight into Koume and Kotake, who are wearing red and blue ―respectively― dresses that were probably fashionable back in the Middle Ages. Still, they look pretty proud of themselves.
"Oh," they both squeak excitedly, "Milady, you're so beautiful."
I grin at them. "Please. Don't call me that."
Koume leans forward, even though, you know, she's terribly short and it doesn't make her get much closer or conspiratorial to me, "How did you like the food?"
I let out a replete sigh. "Your cooking never ceases to amaze me. How did you manage to cook for such a great number of people anyway?"
Koume presses her dried lips together and says, "Who knows? It might be magic." Which is basically her way of saying, 'It's my little secret'. I can't even blame her. The woman has to keep some stuff to herself, after all.
This time, Kotake leans forward. I'm starting to notice the difference between the old twin hags. Koume always wears warm colours, and Kotake loves blue far too much. She says, "So how was your day, hm?"
I smile. "One of the best of my life." I mean, I got crowned and I jumped my ex-publicist, I mean, assistant-to-be's bones. How could that not be a good day?
"We're glad," the hags say, together.
Touched, I bend over to embrace them both. "Thank you for everything."
"Not everything," Kotake corrects me severely. "You still haven't taken the silly boy on."
I raise a brow slowly, and I send them a doubting smile.
Koume breathes, "No. You didn't."
"Actually," I say, to their growing glee, "I did." Somehow, I know they won't be spreading that rumour.
Koume looks excited beyond belief, and suddenly turns to Kotake. "I told you we should have had a wager."
"It wouldn't have worked! We were both on the same side!"
I sigh and let them argue, because they probably won't notice that I'm leaving. And so I make a hasty but discreet escape. By now, everyone is either drunk or otherwise too occupied to notice that the Queen of Hyrule is gone.
I don't know how I end up in the gardens five minutes later, but when I see Link standing there, enjoying the nightly calm, I'm glad I did.
He turns to look at me, and grins broadly as he watches me approach. "Needed some fresh air?"
I smile. "Who wouldn't?"
He shrugs and keeps on smiling right until I join him by his side. When I'm finally beside him, he raises his hand and traces a finger down my cheek. Lazily, he asks, "Have you thought about…?"
He leaves the question hanging because my blush probably told him I know what he's talking about. How could I possibly forget our afternoon together? It was inappropriate enough to make me stay red for the rest of my life. His lips stretch into a silly smirk, but rather than find it annoying, I think it makes him look adorably cute.
"I have," I say, taking his hand in mine. He's so warm, in contrast to the night's cool air. "And" I say, lightly, "I officially announce that you are the most amazing man that ever existed."
He raises a brow. "Is that so?"
I nod, and he brings his arms around my waist to pull me as close as my immense gown will allow ―for the first time today, I hate that stupid gown― because he saw me shiver a little. I ask, "Would you like to know why?"
"If you're about to tell me that it's that thing I can do with my tongue," he whispers in my ear jokingly, "don't worry. I already know I'm good at that."
"Oh," I say, blushing at the very memory, "actually I wasn't thinking about… that."
"You weren't?" He looks at me pointedly.
I can't help but laugh. "Well, not at this very moment, but I'll admit―" Gods, he's spoiling my concentration! "No, Link. Now is not the appropriate time for me to tell you that you make me want to jump you."
"Oh, lovely term," he teases, looking perfectly straight-faced. He nuzzles my neck, and it warms me right up. "Very queenly."
I push away from him. "Will you listen to what I have to say or will you keep mocking me? Remember," I add, raising a warning finger, "I now have the power to send you in exile."
Even though we both know I'd never send him in exile. He's way too sexy for me to risk sending him somewhere where other women might try to get him.
"Alright, alright." He manages to return to his professional face, though I know it's just a façade. "Tell me. Why am I the most amazing man that ever existed? Please give many supportive arguments."
I roll my eyes and try not to laugh, then break away from him and begin to walk. He follows me. "First off," I say, "you actually managed to turn me into a queen."
He looks at me sharply, then softens up and answers, "That was all you. I just helped a little from the sidelines."
"A little?" I repeat incredulously. "Because here's number two: you prevented Hyrule from getting a tyrant."
He looks about to protest weakly, but I don't let him say anything.
"You taught me about who I was. You share the same name as the Hero of Legend. And," I add, when he just smiles sheepishly, "you look like sin in bathing trunks."
He lets out a tortured breath and says, piteously. "Oh, alright." He fakes a sob. "So maybe I'm amazing. It's not a fun title to carry though. It's just that someone has to, I guess."
Instead of calling him 'stupid', because he certainly is not, I play along. "Oh, poor you." I let him slip his arms around me again as he looks down at me with a sad frown, like a lost puppy, except the effect is spoiled because we're both trying not to laugh. "What can I possibly say to make you feel better?"
He sighs and looks depressed. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe if you started telling me how talented and handsome I am, I'd feel better."
"Oh well," I say teasingly. "I guess you'll have to keep hoping."
He fakes heartbreak now, bringing a hand to his supposedly shattered heart, even though I can see he's straining against laughter. "Zelda, how can you possibly be so cruel to me? Why, it's like you're hoping for me to tell you why I'm in love with you, which is a waste of energy because I obviously love you for your charm, learning speed, kindness and beauty."
"Oh, Link," I say, shaking my head. "I'm so terribly sad that you won't be any more descriptive."
But the act is too much by now. We begin laughing uncontrollably.
Before I know it, he's kissing me. So I kiss him right back, because gods, every time, it's like I die and resurrect at once.
"I think I forgot to mention that you're beautiful," Link says between kisses. "But I think everyone told you that already."
"Oh, don't worry. You can say it again."
"You're beautiful. You're one of a kind, too, so if you think that you can get rid of me now, you're wrong. I found the only woman I could ever care for, so I'm keeping you."
"Are you absolutely sure I'm the only one?" I ask, teasingly, trying not to get too breathless and failing miserably.
"Oh, I've looked," he assures me. He pauses for a moment then says, "In fact, I figured something out." I hum breathlessly as he continues to kiss my collarbone, "There's one type of woman that suits me perfectly."
"Oh?" I breathe.
"Yes, a very rare breed. Usually spawns a single individual every century, I believe. And they're hard to find, as a result."
"Really?" I ask. "And where do you find this very rare breed?"
Link smirks at me and, right before he dips in for another mind-blowing kiss, says, "Only in Hyrule…"
... And that's it.
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I probably had as much fun writing this story as you had reading it, so it's likely I'll try multi-chaptered stories again in the future. That said, thank you for sticking with this one and giving me such amazing feedback all along. I hope you'll keep an eye on my future works and continue to be such a supportive group.
And now, it's time for me to bow out and begin working on my next story. No rest for the inspired. ;)
Thank you, once again, to every one of you. See you next time.