You may all shoot me if you like. What has it been? A year? I don't blame anyone who's jumped ship, lost interest in this. I have no excuses. And I won't be foolish enough to promise faster updates in the futures. On the up side, this is my longest chapter of any of my stories to date.

Side note: I'm updating earlier chapters with improved grammar/spelling, better phrasing, better formatting, ect. As of now(06/14/2010) I've done CH 1-9.


Attached

Chapter Twenty: Revelation

The summer festival was in full swing when the unlikely couple arrived at the fair. Music from the band and the smells of delicious food hung in the air. Booths for games and food stands, arranged in blocks, formed makeshift streets and intersections where people gathered and moved about. Paper lanterns of various festive colors hung along the streets, illuminating the fair grounds.

The pair walked along the busy street, occasionally squeezing past the people dressed in their mostly casual fair attire... Casual? Wait a minute. Samus carefully scanned the crowd, then looked down at herself. Something was amiss.

"Say, Zelda..."

"It was for my sake," Zelda answered the yet unspoken question, seeing Samus' confusion. "I wanted to see how you looked dressed this way. And... you do look very fetching," she said somewhat sheepishly. "Sorry for lying."

Samus groaned, Zelda had told her that people get dressed up for these things and used that as a pretext for buying this dress she was wearing.

"Be glad I didn't make you wear something formal."

"Then I'd really look out of place. It's not a big deal. But you could have just asked me..." Samus said with a shrug. She took Zelda's hand and pulled her close so they were shoulder to shoulder. "I'd have gone naked if you asked."

"Samus!" Zelda nudged her in the side, "Don't be so crude."

Samus chuckled softly. "This is a change for me, though. If you didn't know me, would you guess I was a bounty hunter?"

Zelda looked her over, in her blue and white dress, and flowing mane of light blonde hair. "Not at all," she smiled, shaking her head, "Would you guess I am a princess?" She held her arms out and did a slow twirl, causing her knee length skirt to flair outward.

Samus shook her head, shrugging her shoulders. "But then again, even in your usual getup, I didn't realize you were royalty 'til you told me."

Zelda smiled and leaned against her companion again.

They continued walking, observing how the crowds and booths transformed the normally barren field into a makeshift city, and they eventually came across one of the game booths that Zelda liked. "Samus, let's try this one," she said referring to a particular game that involved throwing a ball into a hole cut in a wooden panel. The hole was not much larger than the ball, so it took a lot of skill to get it just right.

"Sure," she shrugged as Zelda pulled her by the arm up to the stand.

Zelda paid the man five rupees and he gave them three wooden balls. "Sink all three and you win any one of these prizes," the guy told them, gesturing to a shelf full of trinkets.

"Sounds simple enough," Samus said rather smugly at the stand operator.

"Don't be overconfident. I saw Link try this game ten times and only ever got two in at a time."

"Humph." Samus smirked and picked up one of the balls and held it firmly in her right hand, the other two loosely held in her left. She stood in front of the counter and faced her target. Then she tossed the ball up a few inches and caught it again sever times, repeating the process a few times, then turned it over in her hand and continually and bounced her writs up and down, all the while getting feel for the ball. She focused on the target and stared at it intensely, remaining perfectly still for nearly twenty seconds.

"What's she doing? Throw the thing girly, don't just stand there," the operator taunted. "Ha, she's got nothing."

Then, without warning, Samus threw the ball at the wooden panel. It silently flew throw the hole, then she took the second from her left into her right and threw that through the hole as well, then repeated for the third ball. All three were thrown in quick succession, and none even grazed the sides of the hole.

"No way!" The booth attendant slapped the counter for emphasis. "You cheated."

"Told you. Simple." Samus smugly crossed her arms.

Zelda excitedly jumped in place a couple times, grabbing Samus' hand and shaking her arm in the process. "Samus, you're amazing!"

Samus felt her face get warm; she was blushing, oddly enough. Zelda's antics were unnecessary and only served to draw unwanted attention in their direction, yet she couldn't deny the small smile that crept across her face. She really didn't understand herself, at times.

"Oh for Din's sake, no need to hyperventilate," the guy wined disappointedly. "Just pick your prize and take off." He wanted no more of their business.

"What do you want, Zelda?" Samus asked.

"Oh... I've always wanted a Keton mask. But..." the princess looked momentarily forlorn, "I was never allowed one as a child."

"Alright then." Samus smiled at her. "We'll take a Keten mask," she told the guy.

"You mean a Keton mask?"

"Yeah, whatever. One of those."

The guy handed her over the prize and she eagerly turned to give it to Zelda. And as she handed it over her mind immediately went to the necklace that now dangled from her neck. Strangely, she found herself wanting to repay Zelda with a gift. And even though this wooden piece of junk was not adequate repayment for such a special gift, it made Zelda smile all the same.

"How did you do that, Samus?" Zelda inquired as they proceeded through the crowed fair grounds.

"Hmm? Oh. It's nothing really. Just a bit of focus. All I did was concentrate on the target, and let my mind figure out the particulars on its own. It's not something I have to think about. You could learn it too, easy enough," Samus explained.

"Did the Chozo teach you that?" Zelda said in a somewhat muffled voice.

"No. What, you don't think I can learn things on my own? Wait..." Samus looked over to her companion who was now proudly wearing the Keton mask over her face.

"Hmm..." Zelda thought. "Despite what you look like right now, you're still you underneath"

"Uh... maybe not..." Samus muttered, thinking about how odd she was feeling inside.

"Pardon?"

"Er... Nothing. It's just kind of hard to take you seriously wearing that thing."

"Sorry." She took the mask of and tucked it away in her hand bag. "Samus... if you could be anything you wanted, other than a bounty hunter, anything at all, what would you choose?"

"Uh... I don't know... I don't really think about things like that," she said awkwardly. "What about you? What if you could be something other than a princess?"

Zelda's eyes lit up with an eagerness Samus rarely saw in her. She clearly was one who thought about that question.

"I've always secretly wanted to be a ninja..." she blurted out suddenly. Zelda blushed slightly at how silly that sounded spoken out loud.

"A ninja, huh?"

"Goddesses, I'm so embarrassed. I've never even said that aloud before," she said bashfully.

"Why though?"

"I don't know, there's something about them; silent and mysterious, moving in the shadows unnoticed, using throwing knives and smoke bombs and... uhh..." Zelda really blushed now. "I sound like a little child, don't I?"

Samus shook her head. "You sounded... cute." She smiled awkwardly.

Zelda smiled back. "I had a dream once where I was a ninja. I was helping Link on one of his adventures, showing up whenever he least expected me, when he was lost or didn't know what to do... Ever since then I've had a bit of a fascination with them."

"I'd like to see you as a ninja..." Samus chuckled a bit. "Maybe we can dress you up later," she said with a big grin.

Zelda's blush grew several fold in intensity at the thought. "Well," she added timidly, "how'd you like to see me as pirate?"

Samus wrinkled her nose and looked oddly at Zelda.

"Uh! Not the bad kind," Zelda added, remembering pirates were a sensitive subject for Samus. "I mean, like the captain of a ship... I dream about that a lot too. You know, sailing the high seas, searching for treasure, going where winds take you-"

"Being free and not cooped-up in a stuffy castle all the time," Samus interjected.

Zelda looked a little surprised. "I wasn't intending to say that... but yes." She smiled softly.

"I've got you all figured out too."

Zelda felt a warmth rise up in her chest. To be so understood by another person was a pretty amazing thing.

"But you can't realistically be either a pirate captain or a ninja?" Samus added.

"Well, if I must choose something... realistic," Zelda added, "then I believe I'd like to have been a school teacher."

"Hmm" Samus nodded, "That's a good fit... I think you'd be great at it."

"Thank you."

"Why not then? If it's what you want to-" Samus broke off. Zelda was smiling, but started shaking her head. "Why not! You hate all this royalty bull. I mean look how you're dressed right now."

"Samus, being royalty is about more than just... the image, more than how I dress or speak. More than having a rather oppressive advisor... whom I am glad to be rid of, thank you. It's about fulfilling your responsibilities and doing what is right for the greater good rather than doing for one's self. Princesses... Kings and Queens have a responsibility to their kingdom and to all of their people."

Samus frowned. "Learn that from you father?"

"Nu- Not exactly... in a way perhaps." Zelda turned her head and stared off into the crowd.

Samus immediately picked up on her awkwardness. "You know, you avoided my question about your dad last time. Whatever happened there? Gaebora had mentioned something about exile."

Zelda glanced at her, then hung her head, sighed, and quickly said. "The King went into exile when Ganondorf tried to take Hyrule for himself. And that's it."

"Oh! Do you know where he is? Do you ever see him?" Samus said a little too eagerly.

"You of all people should understand there are topics that people don't feel like discussing." Zelda got annoyed.

"Yeah, but... I still end up telling you about them."

Zelda sighed sharply. "He lives in a province to the North, beyond the Zora domain and outside the boundaries of Hyrule. And he can stay there for what I care." she said as her pace picked up to a brisk walk.

"Zelda... But he's your father." Samus matched her pace, keeping beside her.

"He is a coward and an absconder." Samus grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop.

"How can you say that? I... I never knew my parents..." She looked distraught. "I... I do anything to see them again."

Zelda stopped suddenly. "Samus..." she sighed and pulled her aside, out of the way of the busy street where it was somewhat quieter. She stood face to face with Samus, looking her in the eyes, then pursed her lips and took a shallow breath and let it out quickly. "When mother died... It was as if I lost two parents. He just... lost himself in work. Concerned more with affairs of state than his own daughter." She paused and took another breath. "I never once saw him cry for her..."

Samus stared at her not knowing what to say.

"Even before that, he was never truly there for me, mother raised me for the most part," Zelda ranted "But when she died, and I needed him most he completely abandoned me to the servants. Years later when we all needed him most, he abandoned Hyrule. He fled into the mountain and left me, a completely unprepared seventeen year old girl, to face the darkness that Ganon... dorf wrought... Samus?"

Samus had hugged her and squeezed her close. "I wish I could have been there for you then."

Zelda was a bit surprised and quite touched by the gesture, nevertheless she backed away, releasing herself from Samus' hold "I'm okay; I survived it, didn't I? Let's continue this evening, and not mention this again tonight." Taking Samus by the hand again, she led her along, continuing their stroll.

"You sure?"

"I should have spoken of this sooner. I just didn't feel like dragging up bad memories. It's years past for me and... ugh," Zelda sighed and shook her head. "We'll talk about it some other time. Let's get some ale, Samus." Zelda brought them to a stop in front of a stand selling drinks a short distance away.

"You go ahead, I don't drink."

"Not ever?" Zelda looked surprised. "Have you some moral compulsion against alcohol?"

"Nah, I just don't like it," she said, shaking her head. "It slows your reflexes, dulls your senses, and impairs your judgment. If I get drunk then I'll be vulnerable."

Zelda frowned a bit. That singular key thought seemed to dominate even the smallest aspect of Samus' life. "Vulnerable to what?"

"To anything, everything... I don't know," she said with a shrug of her shoulders.

"There's no danger here, Samus."

"You can't be sure of that, not a hundred percent..." Samus looked around worriedly. "There are a lot of people around."

Zelda sighed and shook her head. "You need to learn how to relax."

"I am relaxed, I'm just... not comfortable with it, alright."

Zelda shrugged. "Suit yourself, you're missing out," she said and went to get herself a mug of ale.

As they walked, Samus observed her curiously for a bit as she casually sipped her drink. "Why are you drinking anyway? Shouldn't you wait until you're older?"

Zelda looked at her a little perplexed. "What do you mean by that?"

"You're only nineteen."

"Only? I'll be twenty next month," Zelda reminded her, pouting for emphasis "Why should my age matter in this regard?"

"Where I'm from you have to be twenty one."

"Well that's a silly rule."

Samus shrugged, "Yeah, I guess so... Hey," Samus' attention perked up noticing a bullseye sign over an elaborate indoor booth. "Zelda, let's try that one," she said pointing. "I'll win you something again."

"Okay!" Zelda smiled happily, tipping her head to one side.

Samus stopped just outside the door before going in, suddenly looking somewhat awkward. "Can I borrow some money out here?" she asked timidly. "It's embarrassing to have you pay for me all the time."

"Hmm," Zelda contained a small bit of laughter, which Samus frowned at, as she handed over twenty rupees.

After going inside and paying the operator, Samus stood in behind a line, facing several targets. Some were stationary while others moved on tracks or were raised and lowered from the floor and ceiling. Ten rupees got her ten arrows and her objective was to score as many points as she could with her limited ammunition.

She gripped the bow, flexing her fingers open and closed several times, held it out in front of her, then dropped it back down, looking very uncomfortable. Repositioning her fingers, she raised the weapon again, placed an arrow and drew it back. After staring for a second or two she let the tension off the string and again adjusted her grip, only to pull back on the string again.

"Do you need me to show you how?" Zelda said, seeing how Samus was holding the bow.

Samus lowered the bow again, her concentration broken. "I know how to shoot things."

"Okay..." Zelda put her hands up.

Samus placed and arrow and drew it back, took a second to aim, then fired. Her arrow spiraled way off to the side, missing completely. She scowled and quickly placed another arrow and fired again. This time the bowstring scuffed the inside of her arm and she winced and pulled back. The arrow sailed low and struck the floor. "Damn it," she muttered, massaging her arm.

"Samus..."

"Okay, fine. So it's one of the few weapons I never learned," Samus said defensively. But Zelda's soft look changed her attitude. "Could you... could you show me how... please?" Samus said, surrendering the bow to Zelda.

Zelda smiled and nodded her head a little to the side once, accepting the weapon. She took the firing position where Samus had stood and then drew the bow string back, aiming at her target. Poised there holding the bow with picture perfect form, looking masterful and elegant, she was a remarkable sight. Zelda released the arrow, barely just letting it slip from her fingertips, sending it straight into the targets center. Her skirt and hair, tied off near the bottom with a thin ribbon, jumped with the recoil or releasing the arrow, adding the element of motion to her still form.

"Amazing," Samus muttered in awe at how competent and natural Zelda handled a bow.

"Here," Zelda handed the weapon back, "Try again."

Again Samus hoisted the bow, this time imitating how Zelda had held it. She placed an arrow and drew it back preparing to fire.

"Wait a moment," Zelda stopped her.

Standing up on the tips of her toes so they were even height, Zelda stood behind Samus. She brushed the huntress' hair to one side and positioned herself right over her shoulder. She held Samus from behind, placing a hand on either of Samus wrists.

"You're too tense. Relax," she said, and made some corrections to Samus' stance, nudging her feet further part and raising her right arm. "Control your breathing."

"Okay," said and took a deep breath. She smiled a little at the way Zelda handled her right now, this little lesson reminded her of her instruction at the hands of the Chozo. Zelda exhibited the same patience and focus on details, pointing out and correcting errors she wouldn't otherwise realize.

"Now..." Zelda's soft words came into her ear, "you want to fire across your body, not straight out in front."

Samus nodded. Unlike the Chozo, however, she did everything with warmth and tenderness.

Zelda placed her hand over Samus' and adjusted the way her fingers griped the butt of the arrow. "Pull the arrow straight back." Samus did as instructed.

"You don't want to shoot the arrow. Just release it. And relax, it's not about violence. You can't force it." Zelda coaxed gently. "Imagine a line extending from your hand, through the bow, and into the target. Concentrate, breath slow," she said softly while still holding Samus from behind, "and when everything feels perfect... just release."

Samus took a deep breath and concentrated on the target, trying to ignore the fact that Zelda held her so closely. The princess' breath tickled her neck and ear, and the closeness brought her a strange sense of relaxation. The arrow then slipped from her fingers without warning, striking the target in the third-most inner ring.

"Perfect!" Zelda exclaimed happily, hugging her and kissing her cheek.

Uh... heh," Samus chuckled nervously, oddly uncomfortable by Zelda's close proximity. Something was different, she didn't know what.

"I wouldn't say perfect." She did miss the center after all.

They carried on until Samus exhausted her allotment of ten arrows. She only managed to land one in the inner most ring of a target, and missed the bullseye all together. Zelda continued her excitement and praise nonetheless, hugging her again when she finished. A strange, but not entirely unfamiliar sensation came over Samus. This had happened several times before: riding horseback together on their way back from visiting Malon, or sometimes in the quiet moments they lay in bed, and especially when Zelda said or did something sweet. It was fairly disarming, so she tried to shake it from her head as they left.

"Sorry I couldn't win you anything," Samus apologized after leaving the archery booth.

Zelda shrugged and shook her head with a sweet hum. "It's okay". Her loose fitting white tunic started slipping off one side. Distracted by the lovely slender shoulder, Samus stared blankly, loosing track of time until Zelda unconsciously fixed with a light tug at the material, snapping Samus back to reality.

"Uh... H-how did you do that with the bow before? You really looked like a warrior out on the battlefield."

"I am quite practiced at it. Link taught me how some time ago. The skill proved quite useful when we faced Gannondorf together."

"Ya' looked amazing," she mumbled.

"Pardon?" Zelda didn't quite catch that.

"Um..." Samus was blushing. 'Why am I so unsettled?' she thought. They'd long since made it to where they were completely comfortable around each other. It didn't make sense... noting about this new kind of endeavor she was on with Zelda made sense to her.

Zelda was staring expectantly, awaiting an answer. "So, um... you're enjoying the festival so far?" She said finally.

"Much better than last time, even though the festival is exactly the same." She smiled sweetly, tipping her head to the side and let out a cute little giggle.

'She really looks incredible.'

Again, a feeling swelled up in her chest, a fluttering warmth, an uneasy tension that soon went to her head. Samus realized now that she'd been feeling like this on and off all evening to lesser degrees.

"What's the matter?"

"What?" Samus sounded more surprised than she would have liked.

"You look worried."

"I, n-nothing. I just feel... light headed." Samus said, not exactly sure if that explained it.

Zelda gave her a concerned look. "Let's go sit down, Samus."

She led Samus through the crowd and brought them to the river that bordered the fair grounds and went about half way down the riverbank. Zelda sat down in the grass, and as Samus went to follow, the princess stopped her.

"What?"

"You can't just sit that way when you have a dress on."

Samus raised an eyebrow. "And how should I sit?"

"Put your hands on your backside, then run them down your thighs as you bend down to sit, this way you're dress fold properly under you, instead of bunching up."

Samus rolled her eyes but followed instruction nonetheless and sat down next do Zelda. Glancing around, she noticed other people scattered around the grassy slope, mostly in pairs. Apparently, they weren't the only couple with this idea. In the distance, the fair's band could be heard playing a lively melody.

Zelda took Samus' hand as she looked up above and smiled softly, drawing the huntress's attention back to her. Curious to what she was staring at, Samus looked as well to see a clear starry night sky. So clean and clear was this world's pre-industrial atmosphere that the view was quite similar to the unhindered sights she was accustomed to from space. However, it was an unfamiliar sky.

"They all look so different. This is a different world, even the sky is different."

"Mmm," Zelda sighed softly, laying back in the grass. "Lay down with me Samus." She put her hand on her shoulder and guided her down next to her.

"That one there is Irios," Zelda said as she pointed to a bright star setting on the horizon. She snuggled close to Samus, shoulder to shoulder, making it easier to point out the star. "He follows Din around where ever she goes."

"Din? The goddess?"

"That's right, but Din is also what we call the sun."

"Ah," she said, realizing now Irios must have been one of this system's inner planets that closely orbited its sun.

"Irios is a former lover who can't let go of his shining goddess. It's said that Din indulges herself by coming to the physical realm, masquerading as an ordinary woman to take mortal lovers. Irios couldn't let go when it was time to leave and now peruses her around the heavens, never able to catch her."

"That's kind of pathetic. I feel sorry for him," Samus said.

Zelda looked around the sky, then pointed high above. "Okay... These two, Cascis and Dysira, are two lovers who eternally dance around each other."

"Hmm," Samus acknowledged. Probably closely orbiting binary stars, she thought.

"There are a lot of poems and love stories written about them."

"Hmm," Samus nodded, eyes closed. "That sounds a lot nicer."

"It does," Zelda agreed. "Hmm... That one way over there is Talm." She said reaching across Samus to point out the star. "She is a lost fairy who, every so often, will glow much brighter, trying to call to her sisters to find her way home."

Samus nodded again. Must be a pulsar.

"What about this?" Samus pointed out the long expanse of stars stretching across the entire sky, which she knew to be this planet's own galaxy.

"That's 'The Ladder to Heaven'," Zelda explained. "Departed soles climb the ladder when they pass on."

Samus smiled and nodded.

"Well that's the mythology anyway... We don't really believe all this stuff. The Ladder to Heaven for example is actually our own galaxy viewed on edge...," the princess admitted. "But of course you would know something like that," she added after a short pause.

Samus stared at her a bit. "I'm surprised that you do... You know a lot about this."

"I have always loved looking at the stars. When I was much younger I had a telescope on my balcony. I remember fondly the many nights spent staring through it for hours and hours. Staring up at the stars... I never could get close enough..." she trailed off.

"Hmm..." There was that theme again. Stargazing, horseback riding, dreaming of being a pirate with her own ship, sneaking off to the arena... Zelda desperately longed to feel even the slightest ounce of freedom. "Don't worry, I haven't forgotten. I still promise to take you for a ride on my ship. We can get as close as you want."

Zelda, enveloped by a warm feeling placed her hand on Samus cheek and turned her head to face her. "Thank you," she said, staring into Samus eyes.

"Don't mention it," Samus said casually and glanced away, back up to the sky. "You know, Zelda, I've been thinking about... well the future. Because you had asked me about it the other day... and well... I don't have a plan, never have, I'm always just winging it, in everything I do. But, uh... anyway, I was thinking and... well you and I... Whatever it is the future has in store for me... I... I want you to be part of it in some way." She glanced quickly at Zelda then back to the stars. "I guess what I mean is that I think we should stay together, you know, as a couple."

"Samus... really? You mean that?"

"Yeah. You were worried about it, right? I kind of left things uncertain for you before. I want to stay together. So, now you know and you don't have to worry about it anymore."

Zelda leaned over and put her arms around Samus, hugging her tightly and planted a kiss on her cheek. Samus still looked casually up at the sky. "I love you so much. This means a lot to me." It wasn't lost on her that Samus felt she had to lose a piece of herself for them to be together, so it meant a great deal that Samus was willing to make that sacrifice.

"Hey, now don't read too much into it. I just... want to stay and keep trying. Maybe one day I'll get this right."

"You're doing quite well so far," Zelda said and kissed her cheek again, then laid her head back again.

"Mm," Samus shrugged, focusing on a particular group of stars that she thought might have looked familiar. "I guess..." Samus paused and shook her head. "I guess I have a hard time figuring out what it all means... What it means to... have feelings for someone."

Zelda looked at her, studying her face for a bit as Samus continued to watch the stars. "Would you like to know why I'm in love with you?" she said finally.

"Um, yeah, of course."

"I love you for the person you are, your personality and... and temperament. I love that you are different, and how you view things in unique and refreshing ways. You are always surprising me with new and different insights."

"Eh," Samus shrugged, "I think you give me too much credit."

Zelda smiled a giggled a little "And you have a certain modesty when it comes to these things. It's quite charming."

Samus started to blush, turning her head a way a little more.

"Well there's also the usual and obvious," Zelda continued. "You saved my life, two times. One time even freely giving up your armor, your most precious possession, in exchange for my safety. You're a courageous, strong, and independent woman, despite having been through ordeals that would have broken me. And you're the most honest person I know. It doesn't really occur to you to lie does it?"

"I lie to people."

"When?"

"Um... well... to opponents in battle."

"I don't count that," Zelda dismissed it and continued on without missing a beat. "You've been consistently kind and considerate towards me. And don't argue because I have examples." Zelda cut her off with her last sentence before Samus even started.

"Oh really?"

"Yes," Zelda said simply and held up her hands and started counting off on her fingers point by point. "You offer to help me out on Malon's farm, helped me with training, promised to take me space traveling ... all without me even asking. You anticipated to bring me food when we were training, were extremely kind to me when I injured my leg, and carried me to bed when I fell asleep on the sofa. Which, now that I think about it, was quite romantic," Zelda paused to sigh, then continued on. "The first time we... we made love you were very careful to consider how comfortable I was." Zelda paused for a long while. She glanced over to Samus who quickly looked away when she did.

She continued on hoping to draw Samus back to her, away from whatever it was she found so interesting up in the stars. "With you I came to realize my sexuality, and was able to answer some vexing questions I had about my life." Zelda smiled. "And it was entirely because of you that I had the strength to confront Gaebora."

"You've thought about this a lot, haven't you?"

"Of course I have," she said with a smile" Do you remember the first thing you ever said to me?"

"..." Samus just shook her head starring off into the distance.

"You said, 'If it's a problem, I'll sleep in my ship,' because you thought I was bothered by someone else staying in the room with me. You did not even know me and yet you were being nice."

"I had no idea I was doing all that." Samus sighed with a curious inflection, "I thought you didn't like it when people do things for you."

"That is not completely true. I don't like when they do things for me for the wrong reasons," Zelda explained. "Like when they treat me like I am incapable, or they are nice to me only because I am royalty. You like me for me. When you..." Samus was still starring up into the sky. "When you look at me you see only me, not the princess of Hyrule. It's what I love most about you."

"See you, huh?" Samus mumbled. "I... I 'm always focused, determined, it's just how I am. But you... you can just make me forget whatever it was that I was thinking about and make me see only you." She paused and shook her head. "At first, I thought it was odd, then I really started to hate it... but... now I don't know... I... I think I want to see only you sometimes."

Zelda reached out and delicately caressed her face, running her fingertips over her eyebrow then down the side of her face, coming to rest on her cheek. She gently tuned Samus' head to face her. As predicted, her eyes darted to the side. "Then why you won't look at me right now?"

"Because! I ...I think I'll be overwhelmed. When I look at you now, I feel like... like I'm going to drown. I... feel really strange tonight."

Unable to look her in the face, Samus let her eyes wander down to look her over. She watched the slow rise and fall of Zelda's chest. Her simple white blouse and brown skirt looked so different from her usual elaborate attire, yet the same familiar warmth still emanated from her being. Nervously aware of the silence, she fiddled with Zelda's skirt, pulling at the hem, and fixing a part that was folded over on itself.

"I feel wonderful when I'm with you."

Samus quickly gave her a nervous glance. Why did she have to say things like that? It always made her feel even more unsettled inside when Zelda something so sweet.

"There's this piece inside of you, different than what you wear on the outside, like a small little flame that gives you a warmth and presence which makes me feel very comfortable around you."

Samus shut her eyes, squinting hard, and steeled herself against the inevitable wave that hit her. Zelda smiled and caressed her face and continued on speaking slow and purposefully.

"You try so hard to hide it away, but fail so completely at it. It's both delicate, and uniquely beautiful." Zelda moved in close and gave her a quick but gentle peck on the lips. "You don't have to hide from me," she said softly and tried to glimpse into Samus' eyes, but the huntress had them fast shut.

"What you're feeling tonight, that strange sensation, it is supposed to be a good thing, Samus. Try to embrace it."

"Mhf..." Samus nodded, slid over, and rested her head on Zelda's shoulder, still starring straight up at the sky. "Can we not talk about it right now?"

"As you wish," Zelda smiled. Samus was trying, and that's all that mattered to her. Their hands found each other and Zelda interlaced their fingers.

"Tell me more about the stars." Samus whispered softly.

"Hmm..." Zelda pondered as her eyes scanned the heavens until she found one that was perfect. "Mirzei," she said and pointed almost directly above.

Not the most brilliant star in the sky, it sparkled a unique pale blue color that, to Zelda, was the most beautiful. "It reminds me of your eyes, light sparking blue."

Her eyes weren't anything special, but Samus still felt warmth at the compliment and snuggled a little closer. Zelda always had something affecting to say. She wondered how she continually did that.

"Her story reminds me of you as well. It's a tale of hope."

"Oh?"

"Mirzei was a member of the long lost Greudo race, thieves and bandits that preyed on travelers in the desert and raided Hylian towns, centuries ago. The problem got so terrible that war broke out between Hyrule and the Greudo. The King sent his soldiers to sack many Greudo settlements and after much fighting and many dead, the Greduo had declined to practically nothing. Mirzei was just a girl at the time, and when all was gone she was alone. She wandered the desert for many years, lost, alone, without hope."

Samus nodded. "That does sound like me."

"It does. But there's more. Though she was lost, she was strong and survived, and over the years grew even stronger. But along with strength she grew bitter at Hyrule. And bitterness grew into hatred. She became like a demon, until one day she had enough strength and hate to exact revenge and set out from the desert."

"I see what you mean... You think that could have been me?"

Zelda shook head. "Let me finish," she continued. "She attacked any and every solider of the Hylian Guard. So skilled was she with her twin blades she could fight a dozen soldiers at once. She burned villages to draw them to her. And after many days and nights she eventually confronted the king who had declared war on her people. She cut her way through his guard and struck him down, taking her revenge. But it was an empty victory, she felt none of the relief she expected, none of the rest, no peace."

"I thought you said this was a story of hope?"

"Do you see that other star? The faint red one, not so far away." Zelda pointed at it. "That's Fira."

"Who's that?"

"Mirzei, while traveling, came across a small Hylian girl on the side of a road. Dirty, alone and crying, the girl reminded Mirzei so much of herself so many years ago. When asked what happened to her, the girl said that a demon had come and burned their town. She escaped but her family didn't, and she had no one to look after her. Mirzei knew in fact that it was she who had burned the girl's village. She had become what she hated.

"Overcome with guilt, she pledged to look after the girl from then on. At first it was an act of atonement, but as she raised Fira she grew to care for the girl, and found a purpose to her life. She's been watching over her ever since." Zelda concluded, gesturing at the two stars.

Samus blushed and she turned her head away, unable to ignore the implications. Did Zelda want her to look after her forever? She didn't get the chance to ask.

Hearing a change in music that the band played, Zelda's ears perked up. She sat up and took her companion by the hand. "Samus, come on," she said hurriedly.

They rushed through the fair grounds, past crows of people, moving ever closer to the source of the music. Zelda pulled her along with a sense of urgency and excitement. She pushed, ducked, weaved her way through the dense crowd that had gathered, muttering occasional apologies to the people she bumped into as she dragged Samus along by the hand.

Exactly where they were going in such a rush, Samus could only guess, but it became apparent once the made it thought the throngs of people and into a less crowded area.

"Oh! No, Zelda... no, no. I can't"

"Sure you can."

"No. I don't know how."

Zelda scowled at her and spoke in a mock serious tone. "You're dancing with me and that is final."

"..."

"Come, it's not that difficult," Zelda said, quickly changing her tone to cheerful "I'll lead."

"There's too many people around, it's embarrassing. Ugh, aren't you worried someone will recognize you and see you dancing with a woman?"

"No one's going to recognize me dressed this way. Even if they did, I wouldn't care." She smiled and looked around. "Let them see!" Zelda raised her voice and let out a delighted laugh. She pulled the reluctant Samus out on to the dance floor.

"Now give me one hand, and put the other on my shoulder." Zelda explained, while she put her other arm around Samus waist. "Just follow my movements, it'll be fine," she tried to encourage her partner.

"Okay," Samus said as Zelda began to sway them with the music. "I'll try."

Step left, step forward, step back, step right, Zelda moved them around the dance floor with methodic precision, perfectly in time to the music. It was all Samus could do to keep up with her. Attempting to follow the erratic pattern her feet made, Samus intently watched as they moved around dance floor. At one point, she accidentally knocked heads with Zelda.

"Sorry," she muttered still looking down.

"Look up at me."

"I'm trying to match your movements," she said, still following her feet.

"It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, Samus," Zelda said seriously, "Now, look at me."

"Why?" she whispered nervously, finally turning her eyes upon Zelda's face.

"I want to look into your eyes."

That's just what she was afraid of.

Samus only nodded and complied with her lover, swallowing the nervous lump in her throat. Why was this suddenly so difficult? It was as if they'd never been intimate before. Looking into Zelda's eyes used to make her feel at peace inside, tranquility, stillness. What she felt now was... more, in a way, exactly the same, yet also completely different. Zelda put her off center and made her uncertain of herself. She wanted to look away but just couldn't bring herself to turn her head. She was fixated on the Hylian.

The two danced and twirled about one another over and over as Zelda skillfully moved them around the dance floor. However, it wasn't all the spinning that made Samus feel dizzy. With the light from the colored lanterns dancing across her skin, accentuating her cute face and reflecting in her enchanting eyes, Samus couldn't take her eyes off the beauty in front of her.

Zelda spun them one way, and then back the other, moving them across the dance floor with precision and grace. It was all undone however when Samus stepped on her foot, sending her stumbling backwards. They bumped into other couple, nearly knocking them over.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Zelda apologized profusely, bowing her head.

"Oh, it's alright," the guy said.

"Hey, don't I know you?" The woman looked at her intently. "You look familiar."

"Oh, well I-" Zelda started to answer.

"Mind your own business!" Samus interrupted and pulled her away, moving a safe distance from the other couple. She didn't want the attention on them and hoped to just blend back into the crowd, suspicious of any eyes on them.

In truth the only eyes on her were Zelda's, who quickly captured her attention again and elegantly resumed dancing as if nothing had happened.

Not long after, the music changed from a lively tune to a more serene melody. Zelda took her by the wrists and placed Samus' hands on her shoulders, then put her own arms around the huntress's waist and pulled the two of them much closer. Samus' head swam and she felt like she was losing herself in those eyes once again, as if Zelda was inescapably drawing her in. The intense sensations that flooded over her were overwhelming.

They were so close all she could see was the girl before her. Zelda leaned in a little more, brushing their noses together.

"Samus..."

Too much.

Trying to regain her breath, Samus took a step back, letting go of Zelda. Her mouth moved, attempting to say something, but nothing came out. A look of desperation struck her face when she glanced quickly left and right.

Zelda gave her a questioning look, mouthing the word 'What?' But she quickly turned and darted through the crowd.

"Samus?" she called worriedly as she disappeared from view. The princess gave chance and found her date a few yards away, hunched over the fence that bordered the dance area, clutching her chest.

"What's wrong?" Zelda questioned placing a hand on her shoulder, her finger brushed gently over the other woman's neck and came across her mother's necklace.

"I think there's something wrong with me," she said breathlessly with her hand placed against her racing heart. There was a terrible tension there that she wasn't sure was physical or imagined.

Zelda leaned over the fence to get down to her level as Samus stood up right, the two meeting somewhere in the middle. There she was again, face to face with Zelda.

"I..." Samus trailed off, shaking her head. It was difficult to form words and she ended up just moving her mouth without any sound. She didn't understand this hesitation she seemed to have when it came to Zelda. Her feelings were terribly conflicted, and she could no longer easily rationalize them away as something that made her weak. Maybe there was no explanation.

Zelda's hand moved from her shoulder to her cheek, and gave Samus a sympathetic look. "You can talk to me."

"I'm trying..." she managed to weakly say, trailing off slightly. She ended up staring blankly for a little too long and started to feel self-conscious.

Samus suddenly jumped, startled by the sound of a loud explosion. A shower of brilliant green and blue sparks spread across the sky, illuminating Hyrule Castle with their glow. A second and third burst quickly followed, signifying the start of the fireworks display.

"Beautiful, aren't they?"

Samus, looking up, thought they weren't half as beautiful as Zelda looked under their ever-changing light. Unable to say anything, Samus just nodded. Zelda gently caressed her cheek with the back of her fingers. That same feeling swelled up in her chest, practically overwhelming her again. Her futile attempts at speech only ended in her biting her lower lip in an awkward confused expression.

Surprising her, Zelda took Samus by the back of the neck and pulled her in close, kissing her delicately. It was just a soft regular kiss, no different than those shared dozens of times before, except that for effect it had on Samus.

Her breath had left her and she felt dizzy; it was too much. With a look of anxiety in her eyes she clutched onto Zelda, wrapping her arms tightly around the girl. She exhaled deeply with her face buried in her shoulder.

"Samus," Zelda hummed sweetly, returning her embrace.

They stayed like that for what seemed an eternity to Samus, before she finally spoke. "Can we go?" she asked softly, speaking into Zelda's shoulder. "There's too many people, it's too open. I'm not comfortable like this." She glanced over Zelda's shoulder, eyes darting back and forth over the crowd. She felt vulnerable, exposed, and not herself. She didn't have the strength to keep up her wall anymore. Zelda was too much for her.

When she pulled back to look her in the face, Samus stared right back, looking as a hopeless and confused as ever.

"Take me away from this place... please," she pleaded, tightening her grip around Zelda. Zelda smiled, finding it cute that she had this strong effect on the proud huntress.

"Of course," Zelda said, gently running her palm down her cheek. Samus was so delicate without her carefully crafted defense. It was a beautiful sight, however only a little too easy to forget that this was difficult and uncomfortable for her.

"You trust me, don't you?"

Samus only meekly nodded.

"Then you'll be okay," Zelda said, cradling Samus' head against her shoulder, trying to comfort her. "You can rely on me." Zelda gave her a kiss on the side of her head.

Samus nodded again and Zelda took her by the hand.

"Let's go."

"Though I had foreseen this encounter, I am surprised it was you who arrived."

"Odd, yes, that I've not met before the King of Evil?" A ghostly voice reverberated through the cavernous stone room.

"Now tell me," Ganondorf rose from his throne, "Can these beings you speak of be readily adapted? Can they be imbued with my power," he said clenching his fist front of him. The mark of the goddesses shone brightly.

"Yes, adaptable."

"How many?"

"Thirty... less... or more... In exchange, bring to me her head."

"You won't be there?" the Gerudo King inquired, wondering why he would not want to witness the demise of the woman most responsible for his downfall.

"Will you?"

The prevailing silence spoke volumes.

"Yes, to encounter her is full of mistake." said the figure, turning to leave. "Strike from far distance."

High atop Death Mountain, Ganondorf pondered this final warning as he massaged his jaw.

The chirp of crickets filled the cool night air as the hunter and the princes approached main gates. They had made it back to the dark castle shortly after the fireworks had finished, and the air still smelled of gunpowder. Most of the staff, all but a handful of guards, were off enjoying the festival, so the grounds were mostly deserted. A couple of guards greeted them and let them pass into the main entrance hall.

"Did enjoy yourself, Samus? Was it what you expected?" Zelda's voice sounded out of place, breaking the silence and reverberating throughout the great hall.

"Mmm... yeah. I didn't know what to expect, but it was fun," said flatly. Too flat to have the same effect in the room that Zelda's voice just had and they fell into silence again.

Zelda studied her partner who appeared distracted and distant. She was obviously preoccupied with something.

"In a few days, once things have settled here, I'd like to go back to the coliseum," she tried again. "And then maybe you could take me see your world."

"Okay," Samus sighed as they started up the main staircase.

As Zelda ascended she noticed her foot falls were the only sound she heard and turned to investigate why. Samus stood at the bottom looking blankly at the steps as if she'd forgotten how to use them.

"Samus?" she approached her companion "What's the matter? You haven't said much since we left the festival. Are you okay?"

She was silent for a short while before responding. "Let's go for a walk."

Zelda agreed and led them out a side entrance and into the gardens that stretched around most of the castle. They stepped into a world of shrubbery, composed of rows of uniformly cut bushes, meticulously maintained flowerbeds, and elaborate fountain fixtures. An uneasy tension hung around Samus and they walked through garden in complete silence for nearly five minutes. A few times Zelda thought Samus looked like she was trying to find the nerve to say something, but each time glanced away and gave up. Zelda sighed, frustrated that Samus still found it difficult to communicate with her. She would have to take the initiative. Two distinct possibilities floated through her mind. Either Samus was about to confess some deeper darker secret she'd been concealing all this time, or her breakdown at the fair scared her and she was contemplating ending things between them.

Samus inhaled deeply as if she was about to start speaking, but the let it out in sharp depressed sounding sigh.

"You're sacrificing a lot to be with me," said Zelda. It was more of a statement than a question.

Samus stopped walking to face her, looking somewhat confused. "No." She shook her head.

They stood in front of an elaborate fountain, featuring a marble statue of Nayru. The stone figure stood on an ornate pedestal, water flowing beneath her feet and down in the basin below.

"You are. We talked about this earlier. You are giving up some of your strength, an important part of yourself by being with me. You're giving that up for me. That means a great deal."

"Hmm," Samus nodded while looking uncomfortably to the ground.

"Samus," Zelda proceeded nervously. "Do you feel..." She placed a hand on her partners shoulder. "I'm always pushing you... and... I think sometimes maybe I shouldn't. Do you feel I'm forcing this relationship on you?"

"What? No. You're... I was the one that pursued you, remember?"

"Initially. That's not the way it's happened for most of our relationship, you know that."

Samus paused, staring at Zelda before speaking. "I... Sometimes. Maybe... Well it just seems like you're putting a lot of importance on me."

"More than you deserve? You feel like you have to be something you're not, that you have no idea how to be?"

"Well... Yeah." Samus sighed and looked down.

Zelda shook her head. "And yet, you deserve so much more. However..." She paused, then spoke slowly. "I will less assertive if it seems too much for you."

Now Samus shook her head. "Don't do that. It's good that you push me. I... I'm better for it." She glanced up and gave Zelda an awkward half smile.

The princess caressed her cheek with the back of her hand, returning her soft smile and looking lovingly in to her eyes.

"And," Samus continued, "I want to be with you. I want... I want to go deeper... I..." She paused. "It's just that I don't know if I should."

Zelda knowingly nodded, "You're scared of-"

"You," Samus interrupted, and immediately started blushing. Now that that particular fact was out there she felt embarrassed standing before Zelda.

"Of me?" Zelda looked confused. Apparently, she wasn't as knowing as she believed. "Whatever for, Samus?"

"You affect me... do things to me... make me feel off center. Nothing else could ever match it." Samus bit her lower lip and shook her head as Zelda reached up to caress her cheek. "I'm powerless against you. You're my only true weakness." Samus took a breath and sighed. "I mean, if it wasn't for Link intervening, Ridley would have defeated me... defeated me using you as his only weapon... You're my only weakness. And..." Samus fought to get out her next sentence. "I can't stand weakness," she said and lowered her head.

Zelda decided to ask a question she already knew the answer too. Asking it would again be pushing Samus, she realized, this time intentionally. However, she saw an opportunity for a breakthrough and couldn't let it pass. "So why don't you leave if you feel that way," she said sharply, feigning annoyance.

"Because I don't want to! Because I can't, I... I care about you, okay, and I can't do that. I don't want to... I don't want to hurt you. Because..." She struggled to find the right words. "I'd rather deal with my own stupid insecurities than be apart from you."

Zelda nodded, putting her hands on Samus' shoulders and taking a step closer. "I'm grateful... and touched that you choose me." She said, cupping Samus' face with both hands. She smiled softly and lingered for a while before pulling Samus into a loving embrace. "Let me in, I can help you to not feel so conflicted. We can figure it out together."

"Mmm," Samus hummed in acceptance, nodding her head.

Zelda's slowly tightening embrace only encouraged Samus to do the same, the two holding each other in silence for a time. The constant trickle of water from the fountain and a distant cricket were the only sounds. Zelda always had her doubts whether or not things could really workout between them, if there could be a future with someone as different and unstable as this bounty hunter from space. Those thoughts were mostly in the past however. Samus was coming around, if slowly, and Zelda felt optimistic about their chances. The princess kissed her cheek, slipped her hand into Samus', and nodded for them to continue walking, leading Samus along.

"You know," the bounty hunter said awkwardly. "When I look at you I... I get all these... thoughts."

They rounded a corner and walked by a low row of bushes that bordered a flower bed.

"Oh?" Zelda smiled slyly. "Such as what."

"Mmm, that's not important." Samus shook her head. "Uh, not sex things if that what you were thinking," she quickly and nervously clarified.

"No?" Zelda raised an eyebrow. "That's too bad." She was being unexpectedly playful.

"Uh... w-what I meant was, well, like... You've turned my priorities upside-down. For you I would... I'd..." Samus trailed off, not knowing what she was trying say exactly.

They passed another elaborate statue of one of the goddesses and proceeded down a long corridor of trees.

"Hmm? What would you do?"

"Um... I don't know. You said before I was making a sacrifice for you... well... I think I want to make sacrifices for you. You know... because that proves that you're important to me."

Zelda smiled to herself. It both excited her and warmed her heart to think the connection between them was growing deeper. As if sensing her thoughts, though likely a coincidence, Samus held on to her hand a little tighter, her thumb unconsciously stroking the back of the princess's hand. They kept walking through the quiet garden just enjoying each other's company, the serenity of the scenery reflecting the peace in their hearts. They had already walked halfway around the castle.

"You seem genuinely relaxed." Zelda said softly as they turned the next corner.

"I feel relaxed."

Zelda closed her eyes, leaning into her a little more. "This is a side of you I don't often see," she whispered.

"Me either," Samus said then went quiet for a bit, as she considered this. "I..." she paused and shook her head, "You know, you've seen a side of me no one else has. You've... show me there is a side of myself I didn't know was there. Something..." Samus stopped in her tracks and turned to face Zelda. "Something I though wasn't ever meant for someone like me." Samus blinked as her eyes fell upon her companion's, breaking her concentration and slowing her speech. "Feelings that... weren't meant for someone with a cold heart."

Locking eyes with Zelda, she found she was no longer trying to resist that gaze. It no longer made her uncomfortable, and instead of forcing her to turn away the sudden swell of emotion drew her in closer. Before she realized it, her lips were on Zelda's as she kissed her delicately. Her arms slid around Zelda's waist, pulling them close as their kiss turned into a deep embrace, with the two lovers resting foreheads against each other.

"You gave me hope, Zelda," Samus continued softly. "Hope for myself. You believed in me when even I had given up."

Zelda gave her a soft loving look as her hand came up to caress her face. "So, you finally see it, see what I see, the beautiful light inside you?"

"I think I'm starting to... The path ahead doesn't seem so dark, at least." Samus shook her head, she was understating things. "It's more than that. Before we met... I was in a dark place in my life... well, my life has been really dark all together." She glanced away, down to the ground. "But recently it... it had been really bad. I thought I'd never..." she trailed off.

Zelda frowned at the momentary pained expression that Samus had. Retightening her arm around her lover's waist, she ran her other hand through the huntress's untied hair in a loving gesture, encouraging her to look back up.

Samus continued. "But you... Zelda... you saw through all that darkness, found me, and pulled me out of it." She bit her lower lip and shook her head, looking contemplative. "I... I don't have words for how that feels."

"You don't need words... I see it in your eyes." Zelda tilted her partners face down to meet hers, and with a tilt of her head, nuzzled her nose against her cheek "You've been there for me as well." she whispered, eyes shut. Her hand slipped down from Samus face around to fondle the back of her neck. Letting out a contented sigh, Samus rolled her head back into her touch as Zelda lightly massaged her neck with slow repeated strokes.

Samus looked her partner deep in the eyes as she let out several heavy breath. "Zelda," she whispered, moving slightly closer.

However, Zelda made the final move. "I love you, Samus," she said before leaning in until their lips met with gentle, lingering, barely there contact. Any small amount of tension left Samus' body, her shoulders slumped and the breath left her lungs, melting into Zelda's kiss.

She became lightheaded and pulled back to take a breath. Why did it just feel like they had never kissed before that, as if this was their first?

"What?" Zelda asked with a curious smile, sensing her partner's puzzlement.

Samus smiled awkwardly, running her fingers through Zelda's loosely bound hair. "I don't think I'd ever been as happy."

"It was just a kiss, Samus," she said, and leaned into her lover, resting her head on her shoulder.

"No, I mean tonight, the festival, the dressing up, all... that we talked about, it... it was..." Samus spoke hesitantly, finding her words. She caressed Zelda's arms from her shoulders down, then held the princess around the waist and drew her in close. "This was the greatest night of my life."

With a soft of half-smile, Zelda shook her head. "I knew what you meant." She nuzzled against her partners neck, letting out a soft sigh. "I just wanted to hear you say it."

"Well... I-" She thought for a second then nodded with a smile. "No fair... I don't like being tricked."

Her hands slid up Zelda's back, gently brushing the loose fitting shirt against the princess's skin, coming to rest on her shoulders. She held her tight, wanting to envelope her and get closer than she knew was physically possible. Zelda made her feel so irrational; no one else would have been able to get away with tricking her into saying something... even if she wanted to say it.

"I couldn't help myself," Zelda mumbled as she found her lips involuntarily pulling at Samus' collarbone. "If you don't like it," she said between kisses, "why are you smiling... why are you holding me so close?"

"I can't help myself," she sighed. Irrational... but warm too. "Not with you, I can't."

Zelda let out a happy giggle as her hands slid around Samus' waist. At that point she had a revelation, she new with absolute certainty, "Your heart belongs to me."

She nuzzled the top of Zelda's head and sighed. "Yeah..." she admitted, no longer able to ignore the reality of it at this point.

Zelda glanced up at her lover and leaned into another kiss, pulling softly at Samus' lips with longing, passion-filled pecks. "Let's go back to my room," she said sweetly between kisses.

Samus leaned into her, framing Zelda's face with hands and returned her light kisses, "Okay..." she finally said. So soothed was her typically tormented spirit that she'd have said okay to anything Zelda asked of her. For the first time she could recall she felt a sense of wholeness deep within.

Her hands slid back through Zelda's hair, cradled the back of her neck in her palm, and pulled her in. Abandoning gentle pecks, she deepened their kiss to something more lustful. She tried to take in all of Zelda's essence, desperate to feel as close as possible to her. Samus could taste the faint presence of the alcohol she'd been drinking still hiding in the in the crevasses of her mouth. The princess's soft, muffled moans only stoked her desire. A desire not only of flesh but of heart as well; a need to feel closer to the princes, closer than was possible.

Hooking a finger into the waist band of her skirt, she pulled Zelda to her until their bodies were touching. As she familiarized herself with the shape and number of Zelda's teeth, she slid her hands slid around her waist, a shapely waist and set of hips that she was intimately familiar with; she knew every dip and curve. The feel of her body, her scent, smooth voice as she softly sighed, her silky hair, her presence, character, her heart and soul, Samus felt like she had known Zelda her entire life. Everything was familiar and comfortable, it felt right, easy, so different from just a couple hours ago, and she wanted more. Hands and tongues, scents and sounds were shared as they explored each other, their every sense involved.

Her hand moved up Zelda's back, sliding into her hair, as the other held the small of her back, and she embraced the princess gently. Zelda draped her arms over the huntress's shoulders. Their bodies, leaning against one another, fit together as one. They were truly together, profoundly bonded to each other physically and emotionally. Samus' lips moved from her mouth to her cheek and then down to her neck, sucking at the soft skin.

"Samus... Someone will see," Zelda weakly complained. "We should go inside," she said yet still tilted her head to side, giving Samus easy access.

"In a minute," the huntress was too preoccupied to care about modesty.

But Zelda's sensitive ears already detected the patrolling guards clinking armor as he approached the end of their hedgerow. She roughly pushed Samus through bushes so that both of them stood in the narrow space between the hedge and the castle wall. She leaned onto Samus, resting her head on her chest.

Pressed up against each other in the tight space, the princess pinned her to the wall and found herself presented with a generous amount of bare skin, as the bushes had pulled Samus' dress off her left shoulder.

She couldn't resist temptation and took advantage of the situation, planting lingering wet kisses across Samus' chest and collar, then moved up to her neck. Eventually she found that weak point behind Samus' ear again and drew a loud sigh from her partner.

"Keep your voice down." Zelda hushed her and placed a finger over her lips.

"I want you." Samus pushed past her finger and went for Zelda's ear. Zelda let out a quivering sigh as warm lips and tongue carefully teased every crevasse and the words 'right now' were spoken low and longingly into her ear. To hear such desire in Samus voice excited her terribly, making a wave of heat flash over her body. Teeth gently nibbled at the tip of her ear, bringing her a hair away from giving in to her lover's advances, and she could only half-way suppress a yelp.

Obviously having drawn his attention, the guard came down the row investigate the sound. But it was dark and they were well hidden behind the bushes, so they remained unnoticed. Zelda held her breath and bit her lip as Samus continued playing with her, undaunted by the presence of the guard.

Once he passed by and rounded the corner Zelda pulled away and elbowed Samus in the ribs. "Do you want to get caught?" Samus only shrugged. The princess took her by the hand and led her along the wall. "Come. We shall go up stairs."

They emerged from the bushes and moved quickly and quietly to the end of the hedgerow, Zelda leading her lover by the hand. She stopped short at the corner and backed up a step or two, waiting for the guard that had passed them earlier to disappear around the next corner. She jumped and nearly yelped when Samus put her arms around her to grope her chest.

"Not here," she whispered.

Regardless of her warning, Samus pulled her close and brought her lips to the back of the princess's neck. Zelda couldn't help but sigh. They weren't going to make it back to her room at this rate. Samus would jump her, she would give in, some guard would see, and she would have an embarrassing situation to deal with. She had to think of something.

As soon as the guard had disappeared they were on the move again, but Zelda made a left instead of a right and followed the castle wall until they came to a small back door that she knew well, having spent many hours in this particular part of the castle over the years.

"In here," Zelda led her along.

"Should tighten your security... Too easy to get by," Samus muttered to herself as she entered into a darkened room.

After a second, once her eyes had adjusted, Samus saw they had entered a world of books. She stood in a long corridor of shelves, one of many such corridors of shelves, each at least twenty feet high, filled with books.

"These are all yours?" Samus looked amused; a physical library was a rare sight in the computerized world she lived in.

"The royal Family's... so yes, they are mine."

"Why would anyone need so many," Samus mused. "No one could possibly read them all," she said, looking up and down the aisle. Eight shelves high, about twenty books for every meter of shelf, the aisle was at least thirty meters with shelves on both sides, and at ten or more aisles like the one they were standing in, then there was an upper level with even more shelves. There must have been well over a hundred-thousand books here.

"I have," the princess simply proclaimed.

A little surprised, Samus turned to see her inspecting one of the rows of books.

"Well... the majority of them," Zelda continued. "Some sections were forbidden when I was younger... I haven't found time recently to get around to visiting them yet." She ran a finger over the spine of one book, wiping away a thin layer of dust. "I'd spend hours a day in here when I was younger... each day I ...mmm..."

Samus came up from behind, and ran her hand over Zelda's. The princess arched her head around and came face to face with her, so close their noses rubbed. Samus feigned a kiss but stopped short. "So, in here is okay?" she asked, her breath hot on Zelda's lips.

The Hylian girl took her lover by surprise, grabbing her shoulders she kissed her firmly. Pulled close, their bodies pressed together, arms wrapped around each other, and the princesses fingers were buried in Samus' hair. The Huntress's hands traveled lower, following the contour of her waist and hips, then grabbed her backside. Zelda pressed her body into her in response. Samus knew she secretly loved it to be grabbed like this. Zelda kissed her deeply, driven by a hunger Samus wasn't familiar seeing from her. Attempting to drive her mad with passion, Samus lifter her skirt to caress her thigh. Zelda moaned wantonly as she pressed herself into her lover harder than before, pushing Samus up against the dusty bookshelf.

Samus pushed back. "Careful, don't get my dress dirty," she complained, surprising herself. She didn't want to admit that such sentimental things could matter to her, but now this dress represented the precious memory of this night. She felt similarly protective of it as she did her armor.

"Let it," Zelda whispered in her ear. "It's served its purpose." She combed her hand through Samus' hair, the strands sliding smoothly between her fingers.

She caressed Zelda's inner thighs with a light touch, earning herself soft sighs with each stroke. She had always enjoyed the erotic sounds Zelda made when she was excited, it made her excited as well. But it was different this time, now she just liked knowing she was making her partner feel good.

"What purpose is that?" Samus asked curiously, looking deep into her lover's eyes.

Zelda gave her a wry smile. "To ignite my passions." She nuzzled her face against Samus cheek before going after her neck once again.

"Mmm..." Samus sighed as those sweet lips worked the sensitive skin of her neck. "Is it working?" she asked as she hooked a couple fingers in the waistband of her panties and pulled the princess closer

"What do you think?" Zelda began unlacing Samus' dress from behind her neck. With her shoulder exposed Zelda kissed along her neck and clavicle before moving lower. Heavy sighs interrupted her string of kisses as Samus' hand, now completely in her panties, rhythmically massaged her.

She turned her head upward to look up at Samus, an inquisitive look in here eyes. "What of my new outfit?" she asked. "Does this look please you?"

'That was a silly question, of course it did,' Samus thought. "You look hot," she said, her fingers penetrating Zelda that same moment.

"Samus..." the princess mewed as her entire body clenched in response. Hearing her name spoken so sweetly was like... like butterflies and sunshine in her heart. Why hadn't she ever noticed how it affected her before? And what was with the flowery imagery entering her head?

What she did notice however, was the effect she was having on Zelda. She took shallow and ragged breaths, her body writhed sensually, and pleasure was expressed on her face. All Samus wanted to do was make her feel good. That too was different, she noticed. The last few times they were physical together her attention was on enjoying Zelda's body, making herself feel good and getting off. Now it was just about trying to make Zelda feel good, about expressing her existing good feelings of the princess in a physical manner so they could share in them. It was about giving pleasure rather than receiving it. She understood now there was a difference between having sex and making love.

From the tension in her body, Samus knew she was close, and yet she had only just started to touch her there. She must have been very aroused before they even started. Zelda's fingers tightened and dug into her thighs as she moaned her name once again. Then, one fist-full of material at a time, she lifted Samus' dress until she managed to get her hands beneath it. Those dainty fingers lightly grazed her thighs, sending shivers up and down her body. She redoubled her efforts, determined to push the princess to the brink. Her other hand cupped Zelda cheek, as she winced with pleasure over and over, and moaned with every breath. With foreheads touching, she gazed into her partners eyes, loosing herself in their beauty. Zelda's hands continued on up her thighs, delicate finger tips grazing her with a feathers touch, until her palms planted firmly on her backside.

Zelda got a confused look in her eye, which quickly turned to shock. "Samus!" Suddenly she took a step back, breaking contact. "You are not wearing any undergarments?"

"Yeah..." Samus shrugged. "What's the big deal?"

"Goddesses... that whole time... walking around in public!"

"So?" Samus didn't get it. It's not like anyone looked under her dress.

"It's indecent."

"I didn't have anything clean. Besides, no one knew about it."

"Well I know, now."

Samus gave her an odd look and thought for a moment before responding, "And what would you have done if you knew then?" she said with a playful smile.

"I'd have made your turn right around and get changed again," Zelda responded definitively.

"Mm," Samus shook her head.

"No?"

"I don't think so," Samus smirked, "I mean I saw how you were looking at me when we were getting ready."

"I... I don't know what you're talking about." Zelda glanced to the side. Samus didn't miss a thing.

"You're terrible at telling lies... You could barely resist. You wanted to jump me on the spot."

Zelda pouted sullenly and quietly stared at her for a short while. "...maybe," she said meekly.

"Knew it."

"Humph," Zelda huffed then stuck her out tongue.

Acting on impulse, Samus latched onto the glistening pink protrusion, taking it between her lips. Surprised but exhilarate by the sudden contact, Zelda met her lovers enthusiasm and opened her mouth, taking her in. They melted into one another in a torrid embrace.

"Meh..." Zelda exhaled as she pulled back for breath. She took Samus by the wrist and guided her hand. "Keep up what you were doing before."

Samus nodded and slid her panties off, letting them fall around the princesses ankles, while with her other hand she cradled the back of Zelda's head and pulled her close so they were nose to nose. She raptly observed Zelda's reactions, marveling at each expression of pleasure that played across her beautiful face.

"Mmeh..." she sighed out, "Samus..."

"You do it to..." Samus quietly pleaded.

Zelda nodded and blindly fumbled around getting under Samus' dress, and clumsily started fondling her. The huntress hummed a low note and exhaled deeply. Looks of deep adoration passed between them as they gazed into each other's eyes, slowly building, increasing tempo, bringing one another closer and closer. Samus laid her free hand on Zelda's cheek, repetitively caressing with her thumb. Face to face, they were so close as to share the same air, the combined heat of their breath felt by both. Samus leaned in for short peck, then once again for a tender lingering kiss.

Weakening legs threatened to bring Zelda to the ground. She only held herself up with an arm placed hastily around Samus' shoulders. She tried to resist, but couldn't wait for Samus any longer. She huffed a short breath and let herself go, singing alluring sounds of pleasure. Nuzzling her face against Samus chest, she panted quietly as she came down from her high, dutifully fingering Samus without missing a beat the entire time.

Samus followed her a few minutes later, letting out a small gasp. She hung on tightly to her lover as she rode out her climax, nearly squeezing the breath out of the more delicate girl. Zelda guided her to the floor when she finished, and they sat against one of the bookshelves.

Breathing hard and still out of her head, she almost doesn't notice when Zelda reached up and wiped away a drop of sweat that ran down to the tip of her nose. Samus took her lover's hand in hers as she stared into her eyes. Again she felt overwhelmed but didn't resist it anymore. She could only smile.

"A mechanic..." Samus muttered shortly after, disturbing the tranquility.

Zelda looked at her, puzzled. "What?"

"If I could be something else besides a bounty hunter... I never answered you before."

"You think of that now?"

Samus shrugged. "My mind goes off in a million random directions after I come."

Zelda couldn't help but chuckle as a smirk crept across her face.

"You too?"

"Yeah," she admitted.

A long while passed in silence as the two lay against one another, listening to each other breath and feeling the slow rise and fall of lungs along with the feint feeling the other's heart beating.

"Why a mechanic?" Zelda spoke up again.

"I'm good at it. Fixing my ship for one thing..." Samus paused to think. "You know I'm... well I'm responsible for so much destruction; it kind of feels good when I repair something."

A shallow smile graced her lips, Zelda squeezed her love a little closer "Show me your world," she whispered.

A slight tensioning of her facial muscles and barely noticeable tilt of her head signaled Samus' question. Most would have missed it, but Zelda knew her well enough to pick them up them easily.

"Show me where you live, what you do day to day, the people you interact with," she explained. "You've become part of my world, make me part of yours."

Samus shrugged. "There's not much to see."

"So you're going to refuse me," Zelda said softly while pouting.

Of course Zelda was impossible to refuse if she really wanted something. Samus nodded, "I'll take you, I promise."

Zelda cuddled up against her lover a little closer, the two of them leaning against a bookshelf. Samus held her hand, fondling the delicate digits between hers. Taking the initiative Zelda pushed against Samus' palm and Samus pushed back. Their fingers interlaced and unlaced several times as both girls pushed, pulled, squeezed and stroked the others hand, playing out a back and fourth mock battle. It was a slow, gentle struggle for supremacy where it didn't matter who won.

Zelda watched curiously as their hands moved against one another, recalling that this type of hand play was how Samus initially began to seduce her. She glanced up at her love's face to see a strong desire burning in her eyes; a desire that was not lust, but something else. She had a soft delighted look on her face and a content glean in her eye, so different from her usual stoic expression.

"This time was different." Zelda commented.

"I noticed that too..." Samus agreed. She looked thoughtful for a moment as their hand play continued. "Why?"

The princess could help but smile. "You haven't figured that out?"

Samus raised an eyebrow "You mean you already know?"

"Idiot," Zelda moaned quietly. "You can be really dense about these things."

"Heh... Right," Samus sighed.

"You should try to come to the answer on your own. It will be better that way."

Samus smiled and rested her head on Zelda's shoulder. "Okay," she said trustingly.

"Okay," Zelda echoed.

"You know," Samus started hesitantly. "I meant what I said earlier at the festival. I'm going to stay by your side... and not because I need to figure anything out anymore, but because... well... it's where I want to be."

The Hylian princess stared at her lover, processing what she had just said. "Samus..." she sighed, nuzzling into the crook of her neck. It was Zelda's turn to be overwhelmed by her emotions, swept up by a boundless sense of warmth and love. "That means more to me than you know."

Zelda closed her fingers around Samus hand, brought it up to her face, and kissed it. "Are you going to be okay staying with me, though? What about your strength, that focus you talked about? Are you not afraid you'll lose it?"

Samus shook her head. "I'll deal with it. I'll find a way, I adapt, it's what I do."

"Hmm..." Zelda sighed. "You could try to accept it. You don't have to treat everything as an adversity to overcome."

"Maybe," Samus said uncertainly. "I can try at least."

For a time they were quiet with each other, tender caresses and amorous stares being their only form of communication. On occasion a smile and a soft kiss Zelda kiss were exchanged.

"When we were first getting to know each other I..." Samus began talking suddenly. "For a moment, I thought you were sent by one of my enemies to destroy my focus and concentration and leave me distracted and vulnerable."

Samus shut her eyes and winced. That was stupid, to say such a thing right now. She had spoiled the mood and insulted Zelda. "Why did I just say that...? I'm an idiot."

She nearly flinched when she felt Zelda's hand on her face. However, it was unexpectedly gentle, a tender caress instead of the slap she expected. She opened her eyes to Zelda's soft smile.

"I really had such a strong effect on you?"

"Mmm..." Samus nodded. She sighed and turned her head away, embarrassed by admitting such vulnerability.

Zelda giggled sweetly and hugged the girl she loved closely, resting against her. This felt so warm and comfortable, so loving. "You still have much to figure out, however."

Samus smiled and squeezed her a little closer. "I know," she said and kissed Zelda on the cheek, "You can teach me, though."

End Part Twenty


Okay... again sorry for not updating for an entire year. I wonder how many of you still remain. I'll probably resume work on my other fic One Girl now before writing more Attached.