The Second Year

Chapter 1 Birth

In the months following the loss of their first child and the subsequent heartaches that had been caused by their personal tragedy, Link and Zelda worked hard to get back to normal. But there were considerations that Link had to acknowledge. The doctors had warned him that Zelda should not be made pregnant again for at least a year. They had come to the conclusion that, because of all the years of stress when living as Sheik, Zelda's body had rebelled at yet more change. Although she did not actually physically become a fully functioning male as Sheik; there were enough external changes to pass her as one when she changed.

The physicians did not think that it would be a permanant prohibition; but at the moment, the stresses were still too recent. Link had insisted that Zelda not be informed of the reason for her miscarriage as he feared that it would add to her feelings of guilt. She had suffered a form of depression and had already blamed herself for the loss of their first child from which she could not be persuaded.

But Link's education at the hands of Rauru had not included learning about the means to prevent a pregnancy from happening and he found himself blushing horribly when the physician taught him the things that he could do. Still it would be worth it, a year was not a long time to wait; however Link would find out just how long a year could feel, by the time it was over; but at the moment he was in blissful ignorance.

Taking Epona for her morning exercise was always a pleasure that Link permitted himself. Riding out in the early morning sun and watching as the light brought the tints back to the earth, never grew old as he and his horse thundered across the field. He never came back from his early excursions empty handed and bounded up to his chambers, with an offering of wildflowers for his wife.

It would depend on the season as to what he managed to find, but there was always something that would interest Zelda and serve to decorate the tables in their rooms. Sometimes it was flowers; sometimes, a bough with spring blossoms or autumn fruits and nuts; Link had a talent for spotting the unusual and delighted in being back when Zelda finished getting ready and presenting her with his gift. She in turn, looked forward to see just what he had found for her that morning and they would sit and play; content to be in one another's company and alone.

Everything was fine with until it was time for Malon and Jarden to have their baby. Zelda had found it very difficult to watch as Malon's belly became rounded out with her child, not that anyone would have known how unhappy it made her. Zelda was not selfish and she also still carried the Triforce of Wisdom; she did not wish to detract from her friends' happinesses over the imminent birth of their baby, they had felt guilt enough when the princess's miscarriage happened.

Link understood and was as supportive as ever, they talked and shared their feelings in private and in public they could both put on a brave face. Link was proud of his wife and would smile deliberately to encourage her whenever he caught her eye and knew she needed cheering up. One morning they were awoken early by Impa who never stood on ceremony around the couple; she wanted them to awake quickly and so she pulled off the sheets, not caring in the least that both were naked.

She may not have cared, but Link certainly did.

"Impa! What was that for? Go away, I'm naked." He tried grabbing for the sheet but Impa had whisked it away. Zelda just ignored them both and got up and put on a dressing gown; hiding her smile as Impa replied:

"So you are dear. I hadn't noticed." She hid her own smirk at his indignant face. Impa had looked after Link since the start of his journey; far too many times to be phased by his lack of clothing now, besides Link was a joy to tease. But now was not the time to carry things on for too long. She handed him a robe and told them that Malon had gone into labour earlier on and that it seemed to be the real thing; Link and Zelda had promised their support for the couple, Zelda would stay with Malon and Link would keep Jarden company.

It took no time at all for them to dress and arrive at the infirmary where Malon was working hard to bring to birth her first child. She was obviously relieved to see Zelda and smiled gratefully when the princess leaned down to kiss her friend's cheek. She was equally grateful to see Link's smiling face and felt comforted by his strong embrace as he hugged her and told her to be strong. Link then left with Jarden to await the new arrival.

It was not the done thing for the father to be present at the birth of his child unless there was danger to the wife and Jarden didn't want to break with tradition. So the two boys waited in the father's room that was near by. Link had never seen his brave, Man at Arms so pale and flustered before but he could sympathise, they could both hear Malon groaning and shouting every now and then as her time progressed.

Link gave up trying to talk to his friend and just sat or paced quietly offering his silent support. He too was worried about Malon, she had been a dear friend long before he knew Jarden and he owed a lot to the sweet, talkative redhead. He had never forgotton his childhood and how Malon had offered him shelter and food; let alone Epona, during his quest and he had spent many hours at night just sitting and talking with her. She was closer than a friend; more like a sister and he was trying hard not to think of losing her and finding the right words to encourage her husband.

Zelda was holding Malon's hand and also trying to encourage. The midwives were all busy, bustling around and giving instructions; there was not much that Zelda could say to her friend apart from relay all that the midwife was saying to her. Malon's face was red and sweaty and sometimes her eyes looked afraid, but there was no escape from the work that was now forced upon her. The baby was on his or her way and soon Malon and Jarden would assume the next stage in their adult lives, that of parents.

It seemed like eternity to the two men who could only wait; before a new voice was heard from the birthing chamber. The lusty cry of a newborn infant was raising the roof and Link and Jarden looked at each other. Jarden looked ready to collapse but he had the biggest grin over his face that Link had ever seen and soon Link's own grin matched as Impa brought out the baby wrapped in cloth for the new father to inspect and accept.

It was a very healthy looking boy who already showed the signs of the deep russet colouring of his mother. Both men looked the child over and Impa smiled letting them know that Malon was fine apart from being exhausted. Then Zelda came out and she quickly removed the child again so that his mother could feed him, but inviting Jarden in to see for himself that Malon was well. He went with Zelda eagerly and left Link alone, until a few minutes later when Zelda re-appeared; she seemed tired but happy, genuinely pleased for her friends.

Within the hour, Link and Zelda had been invited back to Malon's bedside to join the proud father who was very willing to show off his little son. As Zelda had already had a chance to hold and cuddle the baby, the honour now went to Link who was so nervous about holding the small creature that he was actually shaking. This made Jarden roar with laughter.

"My son, the only one who can make the Hero of Time shake with fear." He couldn't stop laughing even when he saw the glowering look that his friend gave him.

"Take him from me Zel, in case I drop him; please." As she did so, Link looked across at the happy couple and smirking he asked whether or not a name had been chosen for their heir.

"Yes, he is to be named Jaron; we had decided this once we knew we were hoping for a baby, although if he had been a she we would have had another name of course."

"Well, I'm glad, it makes it so much easier than to keep calling him 'baby'. It is a good strong name and one he can 'wear'." Link laughed and looked again at the small bundle that Zelda held. Then he had to glance away as the realisation hit home that his wife looked good holding the baby and that they should by now have had their own. His thought passed through Zelda's mind and she gazed straight at her husband with a brief, stricken stare.

Their mental link had let his unguarded thought pass like lightning through their bond and although the moment passed by quickly, it was no less intense for all that. Blinking back the sudden rush of tears; while disguising their presence by cooing over baby Jaron, Zelda regained her composure much to the relief of Link who was cursing himself for his own lack of control. He had been doing so well in his training, so that he did not just send all his thoughts and feelings to her and now he had acted as if he had forgotton all.

Later back in their rooms, Link held Zelda tightly as she pleaded with him to let them try to start a family again. Her body had returned to it's normal cycle months ago and she could see no reason to hold back. She dearly wanted her own child, but the year was not up yet; Link tried to calm her and say that it was still too soon, but without the knowledge that he was privy to, Zelda did not understand why.

He held her firmly and stoicly as she beat her fists against his chest, berating him for not understanding how much she wanted a baby and he was unable to find words that would satisfy her. Instead he just held on and allowed her to wear herself out before she fell asleep and he lay her on the bed and curled around her; his own grief and desire for a child forgotton, in the need to comfort his wife.

TBC