Princesses were frustrating. A journey that would have taken Link a day or a day and a half on his own had already taken two days with Zelda in his company. It was not as if she were a frilly girl either: she generally held her own with the long hours in the saddle and barely complained about the weather. It just took time when you were in the company of someone else and especially when that someone else was female. They had needs.
Link, for example, would not stop for a bath on a day or day and a half journey. He would just push on through and make it to his destination and then spend a good hour or two in a hot bath just soaking away the troubles and the dirt. Zelda, on the other hand, insisted on bathing each and every day. Furthermore, she insisted that Link bathe as well, which really took up so much time. Not to mention the fact that they had to follow the river for the entirety of their journey and that pretty much eliminated taking any shortcuts.
After eight hours in the saddle, it was nightfall and Zelda wanted to stop. Link would have pressed on, maybe taken a little something to take the edge off his need for sleep and would have gotten the journey over with but Zelda needed the rest. She just could not press on any longer and Link winced when he saw her nodding off in the saddle. He found a nice spot for them to camp and helped her off the horse.
"I will put up a tent for us, Princess," he said softly, rubbing her back a little when she complained about it being sore. "You'll be sleeping in no time, I promise." Zelda nodded mutely and jerked her head toward the river.
"I need a bath before I sleep," she insisted, much to Link's dismay. Baths required being naked and vulnerable and while Zelda was a decent shot with a bow, it was a kind of a hardship to bring a bow and quiver along with your soaps and perfumes.
"Bad idea, your highness," he said, cringing at her pitiful look. He sighed. Of course he would give into her—he always did.
"Stay within my range of sight, please? If something attacks you, I need to be able to see both you and it so you do not get injured while I am trying to save you. I prefer my princesses without arrows through the heart."
Zelda nodded, face pale and tired. She started to strip and Link groaned. Of course she would have to be naked for her bath. She got down to her chemise and corset and let out a pained little sigh.
"I cannot get out of this alone," she explained. "Impa or another servant always unlaces it for me and well, I did not think when I left this morning. Could you possibly?" she asked, voice a little hopeful. Link sighed again. Of course he would. He always did, when it came to her.
He undid the laces dutifully, not taking the time to linger the way a lover might and not with the gentle concern of a handmaid—more like a dear friend helping out another dear friend. It was best to do it this way so that his mind did not wander when Zelda was gallivanting about naked in the stream in the next few minutes.
Zelda gave him a quick smile and murmured a thank you before wading out waist deep into the water. Giving no thought to him standing on the shore, bow at the ready, she started to bathe herself. She ducked beneath the water and came back up, thrusting her chest out as she shook out her hair.
Great, Link thought, Naked princess and now I do not even have to imagine what her breasts look like anymore. It was a pretty sight, softly rounded breasts highlighted by the moonlight. Just then, an octorok popped up out of the water just behind Zelda. To her credit, she did not scream but Link still had to fire off a few arrows to dispel it—they were not exactly pleasant creatures. Zelda stood still, shaking a little and Link sighed. He would have to go get her.
"It will be all right, Princess," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist and leading her back up to shore. "You could have killed it yourself if you were not without clothes," he said, chuckling a little. That earned him a mild glare from Zelda but he tempered it by gently rubbing her waist. He wished he would have thought to take off his gauntlets before going to get her—his bare hand would be brushing her bare skin then.
"Do you need anything?" he asked, pulling off his tunic and wringing it out. His breeches would have to be dealt with too but, unlike his princess, he still had a modicum of modesty when it came to disrobing in front of the opposite sex. Still…he could not exactly leave her. Hmm.
"Princess, I need to get out of these wet clothes. Take my bow," he said, handing it to her, "and shout if you need anything. I promise I will get here as quickly as possible." With that, he bowed a little and ducked behind a copse of trees. He had just gotten out of his breeches when he heard a soft cry and the gentle snick of an arrow leaving the bow and striking a target. Great. He left for five minutes and the princess was already having to defend herself. Some knight he was turning out to be.
He ran out to see what was wrong, thinking only to grab his hat to cover himself when he saw the princess laughing—she had shot a bat. A bloody infernal bat of all things and she made a war cry and made him think something really bad had happened. And, of course, he had run to her rescue with nothing to defend himself but his stupid hat. Zelda turned and blushed bright pink.
"I…I um, I was not in trouble," she stammered, looking him up and down. Link blushed too, wishing that he had something other than a hat to cover him at the moment. A monk's habit would be nice. In fact, Link was fairly sure that the only man who could stand to be around Zelda for more than ten minutes without feeling something entirely inappropriate was a monk.
"Hand me my nightshirt?" he asked, nodding towards his pack over near the tent. Zelda retrieved it and handed it to him, fingers brushing against his. She blushed again. She really had to stop doing that—it was sending all the wrong signals to his body.
He willed himself to stay calm and backed away, motioning with his fingers for her to turn around. Zelda giggled and did so and Link quickly threw the nightshirt over his head before going to find his clothes.
When he came back, Zelda was already dressed for bed, gently combing out her long blonde hair. Link nodded toward her and indicated the comb before indicating his own mop of hair and Zelda laughed.
"I could comb it for you, Link," she offered, motioning him over. Sure. He was already hard past the point of decency, might as well add fuel to the fire with her soft and nimble hands working their way through his hair. She gently combed and Link groaned, every second he spent at her feet another second he smelled the sweet scent of her soap.
"You seem a little on edge," Zelda said, stopping her work on his hair. "Is something wrong, Link? Have I done something to offend you?"
"No," he gritted out, turning to look at her and putting a smile on his face in spite of himself. The moonlight turned her normally-modest nightgown into something diaphanous and altogether too erotic for a knight and his princess.
"You really do not seem to be yourself," she pressed and he gave her a steely look.
"You, Princess, are entirely too distracting. That is the only thing wrong." Zelda pressed her lips together and apologized, gently rubbing the back of his neck.
Exactly what he did not need.