Disclaimer: I do not own Zelda.
A/N: It has been a while since I have written something, and so I hope you enjoy this random story from a random idea that popped into my head.
And So They Danced
It was the first day of winter. Or so the calendars said. And so the people of Hyrule put on their festive winter wear: the ladies decked in warm gowns of dark but not cheerless colors, the men in their traditional suits. It was the first day of winter, and so there was to be a ball tonight at the castle beyond Hyrule Town.
No one minded the chilly air, or the cloudy and starless night sky with only the moon to light up the endless black. It was a night of dance and drink. And hopefully, a few snowflakes might fall if the Goddesses felt generous.
The people began to trickle into the castle at around six in the evening, long after the sun had set and the moon had appeared. At around seven, there was a steady flow. People from Hyrule Town and Kakariko Village mingled together, and soon people from other parts of the map joined in. The Zora and the Gorons came as the hour struck eight, after finishing their own ceremonies. And as the hour struck nine, laughter, chatter, and music saturated the air.
Even the king of Hyrule, as old as he was, put on his lighter crown and festive suit and danced with the king of the Zora, as his daughter Ruto waltzed with the Goron prince. A little distance away, Malon, the beautiful daughter of the ranch owner, entranced the young men at the party with her elegant moves and made the other women fill with envy. And so they all had a good time and paid no attention to the time or the place to the extent that no one noticed an important member of the party sneak away as the clock struck ten.
Princess Zelda, only daughter of the king and the future queen of Hyrule, slipped away from the melodious music and the joyful crowd, leaving behind the happy mood to wrap herself in thoughts by the garden fountain. By now, scattered stars sprinkled the cloudy sky, peeking out from wherever the clouds did not hide them. The water of the fountain seemed to laugh as it sprayed out into the lower basin. Zelda ran an ungloved hand through the water, watching as her fingers caused the reflection of the night sky to ripple and disappear, only to come back as before.
The princess let a sigh escape her. She was lonely. Bound to her fate as the future queen, she seldom left the palace grounds. Her only friends were the few guards that talked to her, though often their duties required their attention elsewhere. Sometimes Malon would accompany her father to the castle on an important delivery, but Zelda rarely had much conversation with that girl. Princess Ruto of the Zora was the only other young woman the young princess had chance to talk with, but Ruto was often bossy and arrogant and made little conversation. And so, Zelda was often very lonely.
But there were those certain times, every once in a while, where Zelda would have a chance to leave the palace. Late at night, under the cover of a sky where even the moon did not appear, Zelda would sneak away with the aid of a very special friend. That friend of hers would show her special places around Hyrule, places that were beautiful, or eerie, or even dangerous. But that friend was cautious and strong, and would protect her at all times, of course. That friend would whisper stories to her under a tree in the still of the night, so late that it was early morning. She would lean her head on that friend's shoulder and listen to the adventures, the wars, and anything else she was told. Her friend was most precious to her, and any chance she could have to be with him she would take it readily.
But he's not here…right now, Zelda thought with a disappointed sigh. The young man was often very busy. Whenever he was not out with the soldiers in a war, or exploring new territory, or serving as a representative of Hyrule in neighboring kingdoms, he was at home with the Kokiri, the place where he grew up and lived. Zelda frowned a little with jealousy. There was a girl there, named Saria, who got much of the young man's attention. Not that Zelda had reason to be jealous. Saria was like a sister to the young man, and had watched him grow up since the day he had been left in the forest. But the young man took much time out of his busy life to see her, and so Zelda was jealous.
The young man also once courted Malon, the ranch owner's daughter, which burned Zelda's heart even now to reflect on it. Yes, it is true; the young princess loved the young man with all her heart. He was handsome, brave, youthful and energetic, skilled with sword and arrow, an expert rider, and a very, very good friend. He was intelligent and wise beyond his years, a trait she thought would make him a good king, were he ever to marry her. But of course, a young man with such fine qualities was sure to attract much attention. There were rumors a few years before that he was in fact, engaged, to the young Zora princess, Ruto, and more rumors when he was courting Malon that he was to marry her as well. Each rumor rose and died, to Zelda's relief. She hoped there would be no others.
Zelda started to smile as she imagined the young man in her mind, dressed in a fine green tunic with dark threading, giving her a boyish grin. He had piercing blue eyes that took her breath away to look at. His dark blonde hair sometimes fell into his face, which he would sweep back behind his Hylian ears with his firm hands. The same hands that he would use to pull back the string of a bow or wield a sword, as Zelda enjoyed watching him do. Zelda would go out into the archery range early in the morning whenever he came to visit, for he was sure to be there, most of his arrows already lodged in the center ring of the farthest target. And though she would have a book in her hands that she had brought to read, she would find herself entranced by his movements, listening to his steady breathing and the soft footsteps of his boots on the dirt.
The sound of his footsteps stayed in her mind as she held her hands over her heart. They seemed so near that she felt they were real. She continued listening, hearing them in the back of her mind until they almost seemed to be right behind her. Suddenly, her heart started to pound fast and her mind froze with one thought. They were real.
Zelda turned slowly, her eyes carefully kept on the ground, as if she wanted to see the boots first before anything else. When she saw them, her breath and time seemed to stop at the same moment. She felt frozen, unable to lift her eyes to see the young man she most wanted to see.
Her friend sensed her trouble and used one of his hands, the same hand that had wielded a sword in the midst of a battle, the same hand that had gripped the reins of his horse as they rode through the plains, the same hand he used now to lift up the princess's chin until she could look him in the eye.
"Link…you came!" The princess uttered those words and immediately rushed into his arms. He chuckled as he held her close, burying his face in her soft, golden hair. A few months had passed since he had seen Zelda, and he had been anxious to be close to her once again.
After a few moments, he pulled away and instead took her hand, leading her around the edge of the giant fountain in silence. She followed him, happiness flooding her heart. She gazed over his handsome features, though she could only see a part of his face. His blonde hair was a little messier and a little longer, and he still had that green Kokiri cap of his. Zelda smiled inwardly. She loved to tease him by stealing his cap. He would play along, pretending that he couldn't catch up to her fast enough. Finally, he would throw his arms around her as she laughed. And he would hold her so close it was a wonder why her heart wouldn't just burst out of her body.
"Where are you taking me?" Zelda suddenly asked once she noticed she was no longer near the fountain, but back behind some trees near a little clearing. Link turned around and gave her a warm smile that immediately made her heart beat just a little faster.
"You will see," he told her. She frowned playfully but still followed. He led her at a fast pace, but not too fast, holding her gently. Zelda followed, impatient thoughts running through her head, her curiosity threatening to bubble over an imaginary cauldron in her mind.
And so the two of them finally reached a part of the clearing that was surrounded by flowers. Violets, daffodils, daisies, lilies, jasmine, and many others filled her view. Zelda knew of this part of the garden. It was dedicated to her mother, who had passed away many years before when she was but a mere child. She had little memory of her mother and therefore did not miss her as deeply as her father did. She would notice many a time when her father would look out of the throne room's balcony where part of the garden would be visible and would shed tears of sadness.
However, Link had brought Zelda to a part of the garden that was overshadowed by trees, out of sight from any of the castle windows or balconies. It was a smaller, private area, filled with the intermingling scent of jasmine and a few other flowers that Zelda could not recall the name. The young man picked up a dark red rose that was growing on a bush nearby and offered it to Zelda. She looked at the flower and up at Link's smiling face. She took the flower as her heart beat much faster. Her cheeks heated up and her mind was filled with many thoughts. Was he offering the flower…to be romantic?
Zelda looked up as Link shoved his hands into his pockets and walked a little distance off, looking up at the sky and the gathering of clouds faintly visible in the darkness.
"I…have to tell you something," he said, not turning to meet Zelda's gaze. Again, her pulse quickened and her anticipation swerved dangerously near insanity. His soft, almost hesitant and shy tone, made her believe that he was going to admit his love for her, however random it seemed. There was no other explanation. Was Zelda about to receive what her heart truly desired, so unexpectedly? It was true, the way he treated her every time he saw her, the comforting hugs and cheerful expressions, and the way his eyes seem to hold hers transfixed led her to believe that he saw more in her than friendship. But when he never brought up the thought, Zelda chose to banish it from her mind. But why all of a sudden did he choose to bring it up now?
Link turned around and raised his eyebrows at Zelda, and she held her breath as he chose his words.
"This party is truly wonderful," he remarked. Zelda nodded, silently urging him to continue. When he didn't appear as if he meant to go on, she furrowed her brow. "As in, I have already gone and seen the interior. The decorations are quite enchanting, I can tell your father has put much energy into this ball, as he does all the others." Zelda nodded again. "And, I happened to catch a glimpse at Malon." Link smirked. "She dances just like in the days I used to court her, it is a wonder I was able to notice the décor at all." Zelda frowned.
That was an annoyance. It was one of Link's few flaws. He loved to bring up conversations concerning Malon, his former female companion. Zelda hoped that a compliment on the decorations and a comment on Malon wasn't the only thing Link desired to mention. But he seemed to be finished with the conversation, a happy smile on his face. Zelda hoped it wasn't because of Malon, but it was highly likely. It annoyed her greatly that she was still such an important figure in his mind.
"Anything else?" Zelda inquired. Link thought for a moment.
"Oh yes. I saw Ruto too, dancing with a Goron. She seemed lovely enough. I remember a few years ago, there was a rather interesting rumor that I was engaged to her." Zelda moved her head as if interested, but her thoughts were about to explode. Why did he so charmingly hand her a red rose and then talk about all the other women in his life? "I'm glad those rumors have not resurfaced."
"So am I," Zelda said, before she could catch herself. Link looked at her with an amused expression.
"You are relieved?" Zelda bit her tongue.
"Well…you were a bit annoyed whenever someone would mention her. I am relieved…on your behalf, of course." Link took his turn to nod while she breathed a silent sigh of relief. And then, he quickly bounced up and down on his toes, turned, and with a calm but quite amused expression, looked Zelda straight in the eyes.
"I believe that it would benefit both of us if you stop trying to hide your evident jealousy." His movement and the remark were so sudden that Zelda did nothing but blink at the young man. Then she narrowed her eyes and repeated,
Link chuckled. "My dear Zelda, I have known you since childhood. You always nod blankly with a strained smile on your face whenever you are jealous. Do not think that I would not know by now what your facial expressions mean. After all, you do not have as much control over your emotions as you think." Zelda blushed a deep shade of red.
"I was not jealous…I was merely…"
"Disappointed?" Link offered. "That was evident in your face as well. Your right eyebrow always droops when you do not hear what you want to hear." Zelda automatically brought her hand up to her face as Link laughed.
"How do you notice these things?"
"That does not matter now. If you are disappointed, tell me now what you want to hear and I shall tell you." Zelda looked away as her cheeks reddened yet again. She knew quite fully what she wanted him to say at that moment, but her mind reasoned that it was foolish to tell him.
"Ah, so you deny it. Then that means there is something that you had to deny. Which leads me to believe there is something you want me to tell you, but you cannot bring yourself to say it. And the increasing blush and the way you are breathing indicates that I have guessed correctly."
Zelda looked at Link. He seemed far too amused by the situation. And far too perceptive. The young princess had no choice but to lower her eyes to the ground near his feet, lest he should read her hidden love for him through them.
"If you insist, I shall not force you to tell me what is making you so uncomfortable, but there is something else that I want to discuss with you, other than Malon and Ruto, that might be closer to what you want to hear." Link raised his eyebrow but Zelda did not reply. And so he continued.
"Upon our last meeting three months ago, when I left for some business in Termina, your father and I discussed my future…and yours. I had just turned eighteen then, while you were still a month away from reaching that age. And as you were approaching that important birthday, your father informed me that you were also ready to choose a husband, a man worthy of ruling Hyrule beside you." Zelda smiled slightly, and she would have blushed further if she were capable of doing so, had her face not already reached a bright red shade.
"Your father told me that he believed that even though it was the custom of the land to marry a princess off to another of high rank, your happiness should be his first concern. And he felt that you would be happiest if you were to marry the one you love. And he asked me if you had mentioned any such man to me before." Link once again paused and started to walk near the flowers, touching and smelling some of them. By now, Zelda's blush had lessened and she looked up to see him fingering some of the small jasmine blossoms. She waited, but again Link did not look like he would continue unless she urged him to.
"Go on," Zelda whispered, surprised that her voice did not waver. Link looked back and smiled.
"I told him that you had not mentioned such a man to me, but I was certain there was someone in your heart that you wanted to marry. Am I correct?" Link raised his eyebrow and Zelda immediately looked to the rose in her hand, rubbing the soft petals between her fingers.
"Perhaps," she dared herself to reply. "There is such a man, yes."
"I know you too well. Well, I told your father that I knew the man that was most likely in your heart. He seemed pleased when I told him of whom I suspected, and he told me that the young man in your heart would have his blessings were he to ask for your hand. And so, we come to purpose of this meeting, Zelda." The way he said her name so dearly at the end made the young princess blush again. It was certain: he knew.
"I do not understand…" Zelda started, though her heart was racing and her mind was throbbing. It was obvious she fully comprehended the situation, but could not believe it was happening. Link shook his head lightly and kneeled in front of Zelda.
"I ask for your hand Zelda. It is me you love and want to marry, is it not?" Zelda looked at him with a shocked expression.
"Why, that is quite bold of you, Link, to assume that I have only yearned for you in my heart. It is not true." Link could tell by her expression once again that she was lying.
"First of all, my dear, let me tell you that your mouth always turns towards the left side whenever you lie. And secondly, if you think that is bold, then you know nothing." Link suddenly rose and pulled Zelda to him, capturing her lips with his for just a moment. He pulled back a little, whispering against the side of her lips, "You may pull away, if you will not have me."
Zelda could not even imagine what had just happened. In just a few seconds, he had kissed her, the one man that she thought of day and night. And he was giving her a chance to give up the one thing she wanted most. And what did he say? Her father was happy and gave her his blessings? Zelda smiled and pressed her lips to Link's.
"You are far more bold than I thought," she whispered afterwards, as he kissed her cheek and her forehead. "I suppose I will have to admit that I do want to marry you after all." Link smiled and wrapped his arms around her waist and she kept her hands on his shoulders, her head pressed against his chest. They both enjoyed the embrace until suddenly, the castle clock struck eleven. Zelda pulled back just enough to look towards the castle. Link smiled.
"I suppose we should go back and join the party. I have kept you from it far too long."
"Yes, we shall return, as long as you ask me for the first dance."
"I shall ask you for the first dance, for the second, and for the third, until the very last dance. Shall that satisfy you?"
"I suppose." But Zelda smiled and led him into the ballroom. As promised, Link took her in his arms as the orchestra started up a romantic waltz.
And so they danced, the young princess and her dearest friend, the future queen and her fiancée. And soon, the clock struck twelve and snowflakes fell from the cloudy and starry sky.