Disclaimer: I do not own Zelda or any of the characters in the games.
AN: I hope you enjoy my story. I am obsessed with this pairing.
Link scuffed his shoes gently across the soil beneath his feet and shifted so his back rested against the step behind him.
Ever since he had saved his home from disaster, he felt a feeling of uselessness within him. He knew that it had been his destiny to save his home and since the task had been completed, he was now without a purpose. His journey with Midna had ended and after returning the Master Sword to its proper place, he had journeyed through the land with Epona, determined to see the places he had fought. This time he did so without the threat of death. It had brought him peace for a while but soon he had found that travelling did not help him as it should have and he resorted to hiding away in Ordon village.
Sometimes, he felt himself drifting back into thoughts of when he had risked it all for the sake of his people. He would often think about the simple times he had spent with Epona, when he would ride her across the plains just for the feeling of the wind. In the dark lonely nights that he now spent tossing in his bed, he felt his mind returning to the feeling of power in his hindquarters as he prowled the world of darkness. Sometimes, he even missed the comfort of Midna's weight on his back or the feeling of his lovely sword in his hand.
When he had returned to the village he had grown up in, he had expected to return to life without complication, perhaps with the disturbance of the occasional nightmare. It had unfortunately, not been as easy as he had imagined. Subconsciously he had secluded himself, hardly visiting the village and taking to wondering through the dense forests, remembering vividly the paths that he had one trod. As always, Princess Zelda occupied his thoughts. He was never free from the sight of her hair, her smile or the way that she pursed her lips.
It seemed as if even Epona felt a sense of loss, as she would sometimes stop in her grazing and look towards him. He once spoke to her as a friend and her gaze often begged him to let her gallop across the fields.
A soft sound alerted his ears to a distant shuffling and he gazed towards the offending area. He nearly smiled as Colin stepped out from a nearby bush and came towards him. Colin was hardly the boy that he had once rescued and had filled out more, making him seem like a capable and ready young man. A few remnants of his former self were still kept, his hair having not changed since his early years.
"I was looking for you…. I wanted to ask you something," he nodded at the boy, waiting for him to continued, "It's been a while… well, actually only a few days since you last practiced with me and I was just wondering if… well, can we practice some more?" The boy shuffled nervously as he spoke and kept his eyes mostly down cast, as if expecting rejection.
Link regarded him evenly and Colin visibly tensed under his gaze before speaking once more, "Not if it's too much trouble. I just… think that it might come in handy..."
The boy met his eyes defiantly and Link sighed, running a hand through his hair, "Colin…. I don't think there is much use in practicing any more."
The boy smiled softly in an understanding manner, "I know. It's just that, the world isn't always going to be peaceful and maybe if I learnt some more moves, I could save people like you do." A slight echo of his hero-worshipping childhood came through as he spoke.
Standing up and brushing off his tunic, Link muttered, though loud enough for the boy to hear, "I guess it wouldn't hurt…"
The boy's face burst into a large smile and Link felt touched that he was so eager. He knew that the boy often thought of bigger things than the small village he had grown up in; things that a rural, peaceful life could never offer him. The boy's past distaste for swords had faded and he had become a firm believer in protecting others. He would hardly be surprised if he heard of Colin enlisting, he was always the active sort.
As they walked along one of the paths, Link asked, "What has Ilia been up to?"
The boy smiled cheekily and answered him as if they were best friends talking casually to each other, "She's been pretty busy lately… especially since that Kakariko boy came to visit the village."
Link blushed, though not noticing the extra smile Colin gave him. He muttered under his breath, this time low enough for only his ears to hear, "I'm sure she has…."
Colin spoke as he dawdled beside him, "You know, she used to like you."
Unsure of how to respond, Link kept on walking, flushing under the inquiring gaze of the youth. He felt odd to be referring to him as a youth but appearances were deceiving. Although Link did not look it, he felt centuries old and his body and mind were often weary with life and its challenges. Worst yet, the peace he had longed for seemed to be escaping him and his weariness only increased with the anxious calm he had settled into.
They emerged into a small clearing and Colin watched as Link paced around the edges, curious about how they would start. The clearing was littered with skinny branches from the trees above and the pleasing song of the birds echoed across the barren surface of the ground. The boy gave Link an awe-filled expression as he picked up a straight branch and twirled it effortlessly through his hand, getting the feel for his 'weapon' instantly. Link had always been nimble and quick with his hands and often felt naturally aware of whatever object he used for a weapon. Using the Master Sword had been as natural to him as breathing, although the weight had been slightly disarming.
He gave a pointed look to the boy and Colin immediately started shuffling around for an equally sized branch. Eventually finding one, he grabbed it and gripped it tightly, flowing into a natural defence position. With an experts eye, Link could see slight errors in his stance but allowed him to use the position anyways.
Raising an eyebrow, he commented on the firm grip Colin wielded the 'weapon' with, "Don't hold it so tight, it needs to feel flexible in your hands." He noticed the knuckles fill in with colour as the grip lessened slightly. The same stoic and determined expression remained though.
Springing into action, Link made sure that his attack was slow and simple. He easily swung the branch overhead and was pleased at the sight of Colin nervously blocking. A slight tremor wound its way through the wood as the force of the branch slapped against the boys, and Link felt a rush of adrenaline flow in his veins. He strained against the curiously strong urge to defeat the boy quickly and aggressively.
Stepping back, he took another swing at the boy, grunting when he was blocked again. Colin's eyes suddenly widened as a leg curled its way around his, effectively knocking him to the floor. In the clearing, the boy's harsh breathing echoed to his ears and he watched as his eyes focused once more on the figure leaning over him.
Colin lay on the ground for a moment, wondering how, in nearly half a minute of fighting, he had managed to land on his back. He had already submitted himself to the inevitable concept of defeat but had hoped that he would last longer then a minute or two.
Standing above him, Link offered his hand and hoisted the boy up, speaking as he did so, "You have to be alert every moment. Never let yourself feel pride in your actions, as that could be one of the many distractions that could cost you your life. Focus is the secret to success, even if that means abandoning your emotions."
A nod of appreciation came from Colin and he grabbed his stick once more. It occurred to him how incredibly inhuman Link seemed as he attacked and defended himself. His movements were graceful and ageless and his eyes piercing and threatening. In such a position, it was hard to comprehend that this man had once laughed cheerfully or rested peacefully under the cool afternoon sky.
They continued with the drills, only stopping when Colin sunk to the floor in a near stupor. Sweat was dripping down his forehead and his legs trembled with the weight of his aching body. He nearly groaned at Link's composure and the way that he fidgeted restlessly with the stick.
He flopped onto his back, talking through deep, heavy breaths, "How can you still have so much energy? I feel as if I have been walking for an age or have tried to lift a house."
The man he had grown to admire seated himself gracefully next to him, brushing a few strands of hair out of his face, " It gets easier, it just requires a lot of patience and hard work."
Colin noticed an odd look in the other mans eyes, as if he was trying to recall a particularly distant memory. He shivered slightly at the predatory fierceness, which flashed over those startlingly blue eyes, but shrugged it off quickly as he waved an insect away. A flash of colour distracted his thoughts as a bird flew through the clearing and he allowed those nervous worries of his to disperse.
Noticing the quick movement, Link internally berated himself for the powerful longings that had consumed him. Even as he had been sitting with Colin, his mind had been racing through the long grasses of Hyrule Field and standing underneath the clear night sky as a waxing moon shone gently upon him. Looking towards the contrasting blue of the afternoon sky, he noticed that twilight was approaching for the sun had begun its slow creep towards the horizon. At this time of day, he usually secluded himself in his room, his hands creeping precariously towards a secret box. Perhaps it was good that Colin sat beside him and distracted his mind from those thoughts, which plagued him.
An odd silence settled over the two, neither comfortable nor awkward. It was not long before Colin spoke again, a look of concentration lining his young face, "I know it's a bit late to bring this up but…. I just can't forget it," He paused and Link waited. A slight hesitation formed on the boys face and he spoke again, "Thank you, for everything that you have done. I don't think I've said that yet. I know it isn't much but I mean it."
He was at a loss for words on how to respond so he simply looked away, not really seeing the ground as his mind wandered. Colin was watching him with concern and with a lonely voice he responded, "…my pleasure."
Standing up, he waited for the boy to follow his lead. A sigh accompanied his rising and he began to walk towards the village, the boy following in his stead. It seemed symbolic, that he was in front and Colin was behind and he couldn't help but feel that it resembled their relationship.
No matter how far he walked from that boy, the sound of his steady steps always followed him.
Uli smiled at the small bundle cradled in her arms. She dangled a finger above the squirming body and laughed at the quick fingers, which tried to snatch at the offending digit.
Rusl smiled at the sweet scene in front of him, taking another drink from the teacup he was holding. The day had finally come to an end and he was glad to be able to relax in front of the fire with his family.
Footsteps sounded from door and Colin walked into the room, smiling at his mother and greeting his father. He took a cup from the shelf and poured himself some tea, seating himself next to his father.
Turning to the elder man, Colin inquired, "Has Link come to see you yet?"
Rusl took another sip and answered, "Not in a while… but I think that he's just trying to get himself together."
Regarding his boy quizzically, Rusl turned to him and paused, wondering what his soft exclamation was regarding, "have you seen him lately?
Colin's face lit into a quick smile as he responded, "I was with him today, he's been helping me practice sword fighting. I'm not very good at it yet but I'm getting there!"
"Be sure you complete your chores before you play."
"It's not playing, he's teaching me how to be a warrior."
Uli looked up quickly and asked in a concerned motherly voice, "You're being careful aren't you?"
Rolling his eyes, Colin answered, "Do you really think he'd let me injure myself? It's really fun though… he does push me pretty hard. I don't think he's used to holding back…"
Rusl took a sip of his tea again and placed the cup down. Link had changed since his return to Ordon. He was troubled and silent, no longer the chirpy youth, which had strolled around town with a pleasant grin and eager gait.
Colin stopped in his gushing as he realized the serious look on his father's face. Rusl paused in consideration before speaking, "You've been good lately so… if you stick to your chores and help out around the house, then I'll make you a practice sword for your sixteenth birthday."
Almost instantly, the boy beamed and started to string together as many thank you's as he could. Rusl grinned slightly as he realized that his wife was looking at him with a slightly disapproving look.
He shrugged and poured himself another cup of tea.
Uli suddenly smiled encouragingly and spoke, "We should invite Link around for dinner."
Colin watched his father's reaction eagerly and was slightly disappointed when the man made no inclination that he had heard her.
Giving up on waiting, Uli spoke again, "He seems awfully lonely up there."
Shifting in his seat, Rusl decided to respond, "Maybe he's just trying to relax a bit…"
Another silence spread over the room, though hardly noticed by the two adults that were thinking deeply to themselves, pondering over the boy that they had loved for years and wondering when he had suddenly matured. Grabbing a wooden sculpture that Colin was half was through carving of Epona, he picked up a close knife and begun the tedious and yet comforting task.
Suddenly, a smile lit up Uli's face and she rocked the baby in her arms, as if growing too restless with her hands, "We should throw a celebration!"
Rusl and Colin looked up with identical expressions of confusion. Losing interest already in his carving, he placed it back on the table.
He spoke first, "What are we celebration?"
"Link of course! We haven't welcomed him back yet! "
"But it's been weeks and weeks since he returned. Isn't it too late?"
Standing up carefully with her child, she placed her in the nearby cradle and answered in a whisper, "Of course not. We could invite the whole village and host a huge feast."
Turning to his father, Colin watched as he fought an internal war with himself. He knew what the man was thinking and the doubts that plagued his mind. Not many people were sure of this new man that Link had turned into. He worried them but was resilient enough to refuse their help. The last thing they wanted was to host a celebration for him if he didn't want it.
A small sigh escaped his lips and Rusl spoke softly, "I'm not doing any of the preparations though…."
Uli answered with an eager smile.
Link stared at his carry bag.
The soft leather, which lined the outside of the bag, was worn and dusty. Although he had tried to clean it, the dust seemed to have made its mark upon the once unblemished surface. Scuffmarks lined the exterior and the clips were rusted and bronzed, only fantasies of their former selves. A dark stain stemmed from the corner and Link had the strong suspicion that it was old blood, whether his or someone else's, he couldn't be sure.
A gust of wind entered through the front door and the bag swung slightly, torturing Link with its seductively innocent looks. Inside it's sturdy exterior, a faded and slightly torn letter was concealed.
For as long as he had been in the village, the letter had been constantly plaguing his thoughts. It was by accident that he had discovered that someone had slipped it carefully into one of his bags as he had set off, trusting that he would eventually find it and respond to the message.
Moving over to the bag anxiously, he lifted the flap gently up and tore into opening, quickly shuffling through its contents and emerging with a gold line letter.
Wasting no time, he tore open the seal and unravelled the one page of writing, stopping to run his hand over the fine ink that lined the page. Link could safely say that he was more than a little infatuated with Princess Zelda. He knew that it was her writing, which stained the parchment and images of her slender fingers rose unbidden to his mind. She had given him purpose and a reason to fight. Now, he was lost and unsure, his heart still longing for a sight of her gentle eyes or rose coloured cheeks.
He trailed his gaze over the luxurious script.
Princess Zelda, ruler of Hyrule and devoted servant to the people of Hyrule,
Requests the presence of Link of Ordon Village for the recuperation and rehabilitation of the city and its people. An award of honour, a celebration and knighting is to be preformed on arrival as well as a private conference with her highness, Princess Zelda.
Greatest respect is to be acknowledged to Link of Ordon.
Link stared at the letter in awe and shock, his heart beating wildly against his rib cage.
For a moment, he humoured the notion that this was a joke but dismissed it as he gazed once more at her fine script.
From the moment that he had stepped out of the gates of her city, he had been comforted by the knowledge that the city would prosper. How could they not with such a ruler as she? They had no need of him anymore. H was a strange presence to the army who could not accept him into their ranks without a title. The people were unsure of how to act around him, whether to accept him as one of their own or revere him as a hero.
Chuckling to himself he entertained the thought of waltzing into the castle again, his letter tucked underneath his arm. Would she smile when she saw him, throw her arms out and embrace him? Or more likely, would she nod and take his hand and assure him that it was the people who were grateful to him and that they were the reason that he was being knighted?
He stopped his thoughts from dwindling into speculation and he smoothed the letter out onto his wooden table.
Despite the rational thoughts that flew through his mind, he could not help but think… what chance would he have of winning a princess?
AN: As you can see, I quite like this pairing.