I felt guilty about not uploading something in a long while, so here's a short oneshot for you people. Not my best, but sweet enough, and it keeps you fed until I post something bigger.
Also, keep an eye open. The LinkxZelda forum is organizing a 30 Themes Zelink drabble contest, and when the contest is over I'll post the drabbles here (hopefully all 30 of them). So you ought to hold out for that. The contest ends on November the 2nd.
It was raining in Castle Town. Zelda adjusted her hood over her eyes. She wondered at how easily rain could erase all trace of bustle. The shops were closed up, the bars packed, the terraces dripping with clear water and the cafés brimming with customers seeking warmth and dryness.
She couldn't help but feel her heart swell, like bread dropping in a fountain and sucking up all the water.
She liked Castle Town in the rain. Everything was a soft bluish grey, everything glowing brighter from being wet, large water puddles gathering in the cobblestone streets. Everything seemed clean and dark rather than dusty and light. She liked seeing the stones distorted inside the water gullies, the fountains almost overflowing with clear water, rusty tools almost new again, wood dark and rich, fabric laden with heavy rain. Everywhere water poured, clear white rivulets pattering everywhere they could, a thin haze of vapour covering the ground from the million broken raindrops hitting the street.
A dog happily jogged past her, head held high and coat drenched, while cats observed her from under stalls, cocking their heads warily.
She was alone in Castle Town, it seemed. It was strange, but beautiful, too.
She knew a lot about the city, escaping to it every occasion she got, sometimes in disguise and sometimes not. The people hardly paid attention anymore, shooting her smiles if they happened to recognize her. She expected no extra generosity, no honours. She wanted generosity and honour aimed at those who needed it.
'Just like that Hero, Link,' the matrons would say fondly, shooting one another prim but knowing looks, little smiles pulling at their puckered lips.
Just like the Hero. Link. Zelda took a deep breath.
She was grateful for Link's help. He had indeed vanquished the Evil Ganon and restored Midna of Twilight ―and herself― to her rightful throne. That, in itself, was formidable enough and had deserved him much honour.
But the true heroics, she had realized in the following months, were much subtler, and much greater in a way.
He made the people happy.
Zelda wasn't completely incapable. She knew how to treat her people, and had ensured they lacked almost nothing. Her rule was, for all accounts and purposes, a good one.
But Link brought something else to the greater good. He brought individual joy. Every day Zelda heard accounts of new or old times in which he'd quite honestly gone out of his way to provide so-and-so with happiness, requiring nothing in return but a smile; and if people were kind enough to offer him tangible thanks, he accepted them gratefully and humbly.
Just the other day, a man had come for a visit to the castle to pay his respects, and had claimed that Link had so generously donated to the poor ―over five thousand rupees, by all accounts― that a new orphanage had been opened and the poor could now request a full meal per day. The donations kept coming in, monthly, and the Hero refused any further acknowledgment than a mere thank you. It was mind-boggling, how much of his private earnings went to the poor.
Another woman had claimed that he'd helped open trade with the Gorons, permitting the constant delivery of hot spring water to the city, which greatly relieved her of her rheumatisms. And how? Why, he'd financed the bridge and driven a few nails in the structure of his own volition, of course. She also suspected that he'd personally overseen the mercantile talks.
It didn't end there. Ever since he'd made Castle Town part of his travel stops, the royal guard had mysteriously been whipped into shape. After careful investigation, it was discovered that Link had shown them how their flawed guard put her ―the Queen― at risk, and he'd carefully taught them how to provide better protection for the townspeople and her royal majesty.
When during the high season a pregnant woman and her two children had sought a room at an inn and found everything booked, Link had dried her despaired tears and arranged for a room at a little-known hotel himself, insisting that she did not need to thank him, that it was only natural, that if she ever needed anything, the innkeeper would gladly see to it that she was provided for properly.
When one needed medical care and the uptight doctor refused to help ―she was told Dr. Borville was bordering on senility― it took less than twenty-four hours for the good doctor to suddenly and inexplicably beg to help. Zelda suspected Link of foul play on this one; surely he was holding something over the doctor's head to keep him so cooperative…
His help did not only extend to the unfortunate, though. Even the rich appreciated his company. He had travelled so much in so short a time that he was a well of information on many worldly subjects, from the nature of certain bugs to the state of politics in distant towns. If a new game shop opened in town, he gamely accepted any challenge thrown his way, not caring if he won or lost, always willing to entertain those who asked for it.
Link's kindness even went towards animals. He was regularly seen playing fetch with stray dogs or picking up alley cats and petting them until they purred. If he bought a loaf of bread, it was to give half to a beggar and the other half to a flock of birds on the central plaza.
It seemed, honestly, that Link's selflessness and his utter generosity made him the most notorious nobody in town.
And most people didn't even know that he'd defeated Ganon. No, Link's popularity was a result of his own inner kindness, not his extraordinary exploits. If all the girls in the city sighed after him, it was because of his handsome features and his giving smile, not because of a title or smug retelling of his accomplishments. If the boys and young men trailed after him, it was to learn more about the excellent man he was, and discover how to become like him.
And Zelda knew everything because not a day went by without her noticing or hearing something that had to do with him; a scaffolding that was broken mysteriously fixed, a dried up garden flourishing once more, a skinny child fed again, good relations with the Zora and Gorons, a crime-rate so low that the guard was bored… She loved the world like this, and it loved him as easily.
And maybe she fancied herself a little bit infatuated with him too, the unlikely good that he radiated so willingly.
The rain fell in Castle Town. She felt the cool, humid air make her hair curl wetly, messily, beautifully. She liked the frizzes.
South Castle Town. Here the market street was deserted, almost abandoned in haste, but she liked it just as readily.
There was a tiny alley here which lead to Telma's courtyard. The place had a tendency to flood with steady clear water, but she chose to go down the steps anyway. Here, even when the city was lively with agitation and noise, she could find silence and isolation, interrupted only by the occasional patron.
Recently, Telma had installed a bench for the few lovers that used her courtyard as a meeting spot. Rather than discourage the escapism, Telma encouraged it, and the thought made Zelda smile. As motherly and stern and commanding as the friendly barkeep could be, she still understood love and its vagaries.
Someone was already sitting on the bench.
Zelda paused in her tracks, wondering what to do now. Turn back? Find someplace else? Pity. She liked the cover of Telma's roof over the bench. There, she could have admired the rainfall without getting more soaked than she already was.
The person looked up. Zelda's movement away stopped.
The Hero looked up at her calmly, and slowly, a smile stretched his lips. He nodded. "My queen."
She pursed her lips, stepping down the stairs and getting closer companionably. "'Zelda' should do just fine, thank you."
He shrugged. "Perhaps." He paused then asked, "Have you told the guards you were going for a walk?"
She nodded. "Of course. Considering the ruckus it caused last time I omitted that detail..."
He patted the dry stone next to him, and, with a familiarity that could only grow between two oddly assorted friends, she gathered her cloak tighter around herself and sat down.
"How are politics?" He politely inquired, but smiled teasingly when she shot him a dry look.
"There's a reason I'm here and not inside the castle, working. Give me respite."
Link nodded. Shamelessly he reached up to finger a stray curl of wet blonde hair next to her cheek. She hoped he didn't notice how her breath imperceptibly quickened.
He had that effect on her.
"I have news," he carefully said.
"I take it," he continued, his voice still as level and gentle as it always was, "that you've been pressured by your high council to settle down. Matrimonially, I mean."
How did he know? She asked him as much.
He shrugged and smiled a little crookedly. "I heard it someplace or other."
"Well," she sighed in confirmation, "yes, it's true enough. But there is no pressure to hurry with a wedding, but yes… What news do you have?" She inquired, impatient to change the subject.
His finger played on the cord of her cloak, twirling it around and back. "Just a rumour running on the streets. They say the Sages have asked for a meeting with your council."
How had he known?? "Yes, that would be correct."
"I also might have heard," he continued, eyes focused on the fabric of her high collar, "that they asked for you to wed a commoner."
She took a deep breath and tried to steady her heartbeat. Weakly, she answered, "Yes… They might have suggested that."
His eyes met hers sharply, unreadable. "And how," he inquired politely, "does the queen feel about that?"
In truth, it wasn't so much that she cared as the fact that marrying anyone else but Link made her feel at odds.
"It seems like a wise decision. The people need the comfort of being close to their ruler, and―"
"But how do you feel about it?"
Her breath hitched when he brought his handsome face closer to hers. Terrible. She felt terrible. Terribly exhilarated.
"How," he asked, reformulating his question, "does the queen ―though I do mean 'Zelda'― feel about being asked to marry?"
"Because I know," he added, interrupting her again, as he seemed to be the only one to do so, "that the Zelda I know would argue against obligations every step of the way."
"Link," she cut in sharply, "what news?"
He moved away slightly, and she could breathe again somewhat. Picking his words carefully, the hero paused before saying, "Well, I thought it'd be good for you to hear it in person rather than through your many sources."
Oh, dear, she thought, her heart dying prematurely. He's engaged and getting married. He wants to know if I approve. She trembled. She wanted to bless his every motion, but the thought of something so heart-rending was difficult to accept.
"Yes?" Her voice cracked. She blamed it on the rain.
"I have every intention―," of getting married to a lady-friend, perhaps you've heard of her, we'd like to have you at our wedding, it'd be an honour, "― of asking for your hand in marriage."
"Perhaps," she hastened to say, her heart breaking into a million pieces, "you best wait and think it over." Don't get married just yet... Give me a chance…
Just a minute…
Link's expression was one of bewilderment and poorly hidden disappointment. "Are you…sure? I wouldn't want to embarrass you. I'm sorry for making any assumptions." He hurried to stand, hands shaking almost imperceptibly.
Zelda's mind was reeling at two different speeds. Suddenly, in the most un-queenly way she'd ever spoken, she blurted out, "Did you ask me to marry you?"
Link, clearly as confused as she felt, opened and closed his mouth a few times uncertainly, then tentatively tried, wincing as if expecting a physical blow, "Yes?"
"You're not getting married to somebody else?"
Still confused, he said, with feeling, "I dare hope not." Then, softening up, he asked, "Would you like me to? I heard the Gerudo weren't so picky when it came to harems, perhaps―"
"I'm not sharing you with a pack of Gerudo," She indignantly cried, as if the concept was the most absurd one she'd ever heard in her whole life. It was, actually.
His mouth stretching into a confused but amazed smile, Link shook his head and asked, "But didn't you say―"
"Confound what I said. How long has it been since I last made any sense?" She asked.
She stood and accidentally tripped into a large water puddle.
The splash was so big that it soaked all of her skirt hems, down to the underclothes, and she heard her small boots sloshing when she moved. Wonderful.
Pursing his lips, the hero observed her confusion and dismay with a growing sense of amusement. Eventually, when it became clear she had no intention of causing a scene, he commented, "Perhaps we ought to start all over again. Would you like me to exit and re-enter the courtyard?"
"Oh, no," she wryly said, "But perhaps we can take up at 'I have every intention'."
"Excellent idea," the hero said, slowly stepping towards her. He took her cold, wet hands in his own warm ones and brought her forward until she had a close-up view of his cheekbone. "Where was I?"
"Oh, yes." He smiled down at her and brought his forehead against hers. "May I offer my hand in marriage to the council, Zelda? Will you consider me seriously?"
"I don't see," she asked with a frown, "that if anyone should choose me a husband, I shouldn't be the final decider."
He smiled and asked, to clarify things, "So, that's a yes?"
"It's a definitive perhaps," she teased, puckering her lips to kiss his nose.
"And no harem?"
She glared. "Never."
Softly, he pulled her hand after him, "Let's get you to someplace warm. How do you feel about a honeymoon in a warm place?"
"Anywhere," the queen dazedly said, "as long as it doesn't rain."
For those who wonder at the title, "reine" stands for "queen" in French. And it bears a funny resemblance to "rain". A bit like "mer" ("sea") and "mère" ("mother"). But I understand myself.