-----------Twelve years and four months since Ganondorf's Defeat

The king of Hyrule threw his sword down upon the grass and staggered away from a trying battle. "Whew! You fight like a darknut! You almost had me sweating that time," he teased as he took in one of the brightest lights in his life. She smiled up at him in the beautiful, pure way that had enthralled so many of Hyrule's people, not to mention stolen Link's heartstrings; her pale blue eyes shone bright in the sun and her dark blonde hair had been pulled into a messy knot.

"Again, Daddy?" Midna asked eagerly, waving her toy sword with great fervor.

"No, you have a very important appearance later tonight and I wouldn't want you falling asleep in front of all your loyal subjects. Oh, how they'd cry," he continued, sweeping his three-year-old daughter up into his arms, earning a delighted squeal. "They'd say, oh, that Princess Midna is such a heartbreaker… we only came to the ball to see her, but alas, she is asleep in the Royal Snugglebed…" he blew a noisy raspberry on his daughter's arm and she laughed, delighted.

"Have you two been playing at swords again?" asked Zelda, exasperated, as she rounded the corner into the courtyard. Malon was at her side carrying the currently snoring Valin Leonas, Jr. on her hip.

"I would never do something so irresponsible on the evening of such an enormous occasion as our four-year anniversary ball," stated Link cheekily, setting a delighted Midna on the ground. "Hello, Malon," he added with a nod to the beautiful redhead, who was glowing with her second pregnancy.

"Your daddy is lying to me again," Zelda said to their little daughter with a conspiratorial wink. "Right?"

"Right!" agreed Midna. "He said I almost beat him."

"Hey, hey, hey, I said you almost had me sweating. There's a large difference between making someone sweat and making someone lose."

"I almost won," stated Midna again, smiling angelically at her father. "Right, Daddy?"

Link sighed, knowing he could never deny his daughter anything. "Right, you spoiled little brat."

"You've got Daddy wrapped around your little finger, don't you?" the Queen asked her beloved little daughter, taking in the striking young beauty. She had skin like porcelain, hair a few shades darker than her mother's but wavy like her father's, and the pale blue eyes of a sacred wolf.

"Uh huh," Midna replied to her mother's query with a dazzling smile and an eager nod.

"I think it's time for a nap," Zelda said to her daughter fondly. "Miss Malon here is waiting for you so she can take you and Valin to the nursery. Thank you," the Queen added in an undertone to her friend.

"No problem," replied Malon with a grin, taking little Midna's hand. "Come on, Midna. Little Valin's already asleep- you're not going to let him beat you to taking a good nap, are you?"

"No!" said Midna stubbornly and began pulling on Malon's hand, attempting to forcefully move the maid and close family friend to the nursery quicker.

"You behave," Link called after her as she "dragged" Malon away- her thick hair was already bouncing out of its knot. "Is Daph in the nursery?" he asked his wife, watching as Malon disappeared inside with the two children.

"Yes, I'd just put him down before I came to find you two," replied the Queen, taking her husband's hand.

"Was he being fussy?"

"Never. He has the temperament of a sage- you know that."

"He got it from his mother," murmured Link, drawing his wife in close for an embrace. The two of them stood together for a few moments in their grassy haven of the royal family's courtyard- it was an ideal place for picnics, campouts, swordplay, and reenactments of the King's many adventures.

"I wish I could spend more time with the children," sighed Zelda quietly after a time. "It grieves me that I can not."

"Every day you get closer to achieving a good balance, though. You spend every moment you can with the kids, and you're handing off lesser duties more and more to your panel, and the country is still running as smoothly as ever."

"I also have a wonderful King working at my side," Zelda told Link affectionately. "Even if he can be a little pigheaded sometimes."

"Pigheaded, you say?" asked Link with a canine growl. "I'll show you pigheaded!" he leapt for her, grabbing her around the waist and dragging her down to the soft grass (which had long ago been enchanted to not inflict grass stains), tickling Zelda mercilessly. She shrieked with laughter and was very glad that the royal courtyard was so well secluded from the rest of the castle, and so quiet- oh, how people would stare if they could see their normally composed, regal, and tranquil Queen and King rolling around on the grass like puppies!

"I've arranged for us to have some time alone before the ball," Zelda informed her husband when he stopped tickling her at last, bright eyed as she laid below him. He leaned down and kissed her, gently and briefly, then stood up, pulling her up as well.

"That's good. I enjoy getting some good quality-time with my Queen," he murmured in her ear as they walked inside the palace. "Sometimes I wish I didn't have to share you with the rest of the country."

"The Queen's duty and love is to her people," Zelda agreed, "but the woman's heart is for her husband and her children alone."

"We should make some more," stated Link solemnly, though his eyes were bright and hot on his wife's as he pulled her hips to his. "Lots more."

"Link!" laughed Zelda, though her gaze too heated up. "You're impossible.

"Just the way you like me," he said with a grin, and then he opened the door of their room, pulled Zelda in, and bolted it firmly behind them.

Uploaded: 0:20 CDT, Saturday July 7, 2007