Hey all! I have been working on this one for a while now, but I think that a little Zelink romance is the perfect Valentine's Day gift, right? I tried something a little more formal for the narrative and dialogue, so let me know what you think. I want to try out lots of different styles of writing--so look for an AU piece from me soon. (Sexy college laundry room escapades? Oh, yes please! ;))

Thanks to everyone who reviewed my last story! And please review this one once you finish! Points avidly at readers refusing to review I'm talking to you, you know. ;)


Hyrule Castle had become overwrought with apprehension and strain ever since the Chosen Hero Link had married the Queen Zelda barely two fortnights ago.

The wedding had been happy enough. Illustrious Hyrule castle, newly renovated to easily accommodate an enemy attack or a festive party (as the two were very similar in both nature and constitution), garnered the audiences of all three Hyrulean royal families, in addition to the statesmen, dignitaries, and common villagers, many of whom journeyed the province over to partake in the celebrations which lasted over a month and day. Roasted meat and an array of splendid dishes and desserts filled each guest's belly and music and merriment abounded. 'Twas not just a celebration of matrimony, but also a commemoration of the defeat of the Evil King and his minions, their malicious cruelty having been vanquished fully through the efforts of both the Chosen Hero and the Queen.

Despite the apparent delight of the townspeople and citizens, Hylian, Goron and Zora alike, there were two people who had not been drunk with delight during the occasion, and they were the same two for which the party had been arranged: Link and Zelda. Their evident distaste for the enormous festival was luckily not perceived by any of their guests, or their obvious anxiety about each other.

It could not be said that the two greatly disliked each other; rather, the Chosen Hero and his Queen seemed perfectly smitten in a shy avoidance similar to the young affection of adolescents. They had maintained a friendship over the last year that resulted from similarities in both disposition and ideals, although there were many issues upon which neither could see eye-to-eye. They shared equal humor, equal kindness, and equal fairness, inspiring many of the citizens of Hyrule to admire and imitate. Moreover, the two were beheld as the handsomest couple to have graced the good earth of Hyrule.

But as for romantic affection there was none to acknowledge, and love was the last thing on either person's mind when they entered into the nuptial arrangement.

For that was what it had truly been: an arrangement. Zelda, the crowned queen of Hyrule, was in need of a strong and powerful man to be her consort at the least, her royal partner at the most. And when she discovered that the people of Hyrule revered Link for his many accomplishments and heroic deeds, Zelda was sure there was no one else the people would have.

Of course, Link and Zelda had had very little say in the matter. The only aspect of decision that the Royal Council had extended to either party was their overall degree of aversion to the subject: neither Zelda nor Link found the arrangement completely objectionable, and so what else could be reason enough to call off the marriage?

Instead, both had succumbed to the demands of the people with little to no dispute. They had married in Castle Town, every citizen of Hyrule and every race witness to their nuptials. They lived together within the castle walls, they shared abutting rooms and they took their meals at the same time.

Zelda and Link had been very fortunate to be so beloved throughout the kingdom, because if they weren't, there certainly would have been gossip that stretched from the castle walls to the village of Ordon. Because even the servants, trained to turn a blind eye, had begun to worry—Link and Zelda seemed resolved to avert each other at every possible moment.

Zelda would often peek out of every door before leaving a room, as though inspecting it for possible, unwelcome encounters, and she took to dressing in shawls and hoods which completely masked her appearance to even, the servants gossiped, herself.

Link would spend as much time as he could outdoors, with the story that he simply needed some fresh air—air that always seemed to be the farthest from whichever council room Zelda happened to be working in that day.

They liked each other as friends, and they were happy to talk and inquire at mealtimes and required meetings, but other than that they avoided each other like the plague.

Link had always been observant of his surroundings, and was the first to notice the blatant, though undecided, habits of aversion and it was he who took it upon himself to correct the issue. After all, Link thought to himself, there was no reason for the two to act like children. He had noticed Zelda's discomfort during his presence and he knew that he, too, had been behaving incorrigibly stupid; but there was still time to salvage the marriage. It had only been a month.

Link struck his sword against the armor of his opponent sharply, and the unwitting guard quickly fell to the ground, visibly shaking from exhaustion. Link had been training every solider within the premises to fight and defend the castle as a precaution, and because the poor incompetent fools didn't even know how to string a bow and arrow. As Chosen Hero, Link had mastered all forms of defense and attack, and had decided before his coronation to instruct his guard to perform the same. When it became obvious that not a single soldier knew how to parry or deflect, he extended his lessons to all armed forces within Hyrule.

The guard shook his helmet off as Link stood up, lowering his weapon. The poor man breathed deeply, striving for the consoling comfort of air.

"It's not fair, my King. I dress in full armor and shell, and you best me in nothing more than a green tunic."

Link smiled and sheathed his sword before helping the solider up. "Don't worry, Roam, I've had plenty of practice in dueling swords. The armor makes quick movements more difficult; I'm more agile in this tunic, though much less protected."

Roam chuckled as he embraced his king briefly and patted him on the back. "Your clothes do not need to protect you, sire. That is my job."

Link nodded, looking around the courtyard anxiously. He had been practicing all day in hopes of dealing with his anxiety, but suddenly the heavy compression of his chest attacked, and Link felt as though he needed a thousand arrows to relieve the pressure. Roam looked around, wonderingly, and when he noticed Link's expression slacken with disquiet he prodded his captain and king for details.

"Forgive me, sire, but you look ill at ease. Shall I call for the healer?"

Link shook him off and began walking to the end of the courtyard, shield still in hand, as Roam followed behind. "No, no, that's not necessary. I'm fine." He didn't need to look back at Roam to know that an unconvinced expression plastered the man's face. "Really, I am. It's just…have you seen the Queen today?"

Roam nearly smiled at the question, quite understanding of its implications. "I have not, your Highness. It seems the Queen has been locked up all day with the council. I fear that while you and I exchange physical blows, she has to defend against verbal ones."

Link swallowed hard at the thought, worried. "I wish there was something I could do to help her, but she hasn't asked me to step in. I wouldn't want to intrude, especially since I have no experience with politicians."

Roam smiled as they reached the gate, pulling it back to let Link step in first. "No, but you've done battle with foul demonic monsters; surely they are the same thing?"

Link could only half-smile before once again peering around the other side of the courtyard, through the thick brambles and tall trees that cast long shadows across the grass and stone patterns. Roam had little time to move or think, however, for abruptly Link swung around and nearly knocked the lesser solider unconscious when he brandished his shield. Roam ducked in time, but Link half-faced him, hidden behind his shield as though deflecting fire or arrow.

Roam cocked his head, puzzled. When he looked up he saw the Queen stepping gingerly through the grass, apparently unaware that her husband and guard were so close by. She seemed to sense their presence, however, and her stare quickly fixed upon the brown leather boots and the top of deep golden locks, cowering behind a Hylian shield. She stopped, contemplating the scene, before she nearly ran the length of the courtyard and entered the small door on the side, her bright locks swinging over her shoulder and out of sight. She was gone within seconds.

Roam allowed some time to pass before he addressed Link, and when he did so it was in the most serious, mocking tone he could muster. "Pray, be well, my liege. It seems the evil witch hath spared you and not cast an icy spell to freeze you to your soul."

With the agility of an acrobat, Link spun around, placing his shield on his back and grabbing Roam by the arm roughly, in one fluid motion. "Don't insult the queen, or I will be forced to lock you up for treason. That's my wife you're talking about." He released Roam, who looked in awe at the hero, and Link quietly calmed. "And besides, it's not the icy spell I was worried about, but the fiery one that would burn me to my bones."

Roam pondered this for a moment, wondering what to say. "Your shield wouldn't have blocked that anyway."

Link shook his head softly and ran his fingers through his dirty hair. "Not that shield, but a variation of this one is able to. I read it in a book once," he hastily explained when Roam pierced him with a knowing stare.

Link felt rather foolish hiding from his own wife, and was glad that only Roam had been there to witness it. Truly, it was foolish for him to even be avoiding her, and try as he might to correct his habit, the art of concealment had become so ingrained in Link that he did it whenever the two made contact, which was very seldom at that.

No, what Link needed to do was to apologize. He felt sorry for his actions and his behavior, and was under the impression that Zelda believed him indifferent to her. They had been married for about a month, and yet Link could only recall speaking to her a handful of times during that period.

He didn't know if love between the two was possible, especially given the extreme circumstances under which they had been brought together. A quick marriage after the defeat of the Evil King was not the way Link had ever imagined his wedding to be, but he did respect Zelda for her courage and her kindness and her intelligence, and he knew that love for the queen was possible, certainly probable. He felt the beginnings of affection tug at his heart strings even now; why else would he hide from her at every opportunity?

Link leaned against the courtyard gate, watching the tree branches sway and dance with the afternoon wind. The garden was beautiful this time of year, Link thought, and he wondered if in all the hustle and bustle of politics Zelda had an opportunity to really gaze at the garden, or if she too missed beholding its natural beauty, so untouched and carefree.

Link finally looked up to see Roam watching him closely, and awkwardness settled the scene when Roam realized that Link realized he was staring.

"What? Do I have something on my face?" Link asked, a little self-consciously.

"Nay, sire. I was simply wondering how you could have braved the Evil King and his minions, traveled to the Twilight Realm and back, bested countless foes, and yet you are afraid to face your own wife."

Link's face blanched at the thought, and he stood upright to face Roam. "Is that your attempt at being subtle?"

Roam shrugged. "Perhaps."

Link rolled his eyes and proceeded to take off some of his leather and shield. "Well, you should work on that. That was terrible. You're lucky you happen to be my best knight, else I'd be forced to throw you in the dungeons as a lesson."

Roam took a sharp intake of breath, but saw the twinkle of laughter in Link's eyes and breathed freely right after. "No good changing the subject, your Highness. You haven't answered my question."

Link placed his shield and bow neatly against the fence, taking a few moments to formulate a response. When he finally faced Roam, his expression was difficult, which made Roam feel uneasy. He interrupted before Link could start.

"Sire, I mean no offense by it. I want to help you! I see that you have a connection to the queen, although perhaps both of you fail to realize it. Take my advice, sire, women are a complicated bunch, and the queen the most complicated of them all."

Link lost his train of thought and instead crossed his arms over his chest, laughing. "Really? And how did you reach that conclusion?"

Roam scowled, Link's amusement obviously getting to him. "Women are a difficult sex, your Highness. They expect men to decode their foreign and secretive language, understand their wants and needs, and still be sensitive to matters which only affect themselves." Roam stroked his chin in a scholarly way. "Generally, the thing that women want most is the thing you're out of."

Link laughed heartily and knelt to clean his shield, propping it up in the grass. "You might be an excellent knight, Roam, but you make a terrible philosopher."

"I'm serious, your Highness! The queen is certainly more difficult than the rest of the women in Hyrule. Not only do you need to contend with her feelings on every normal womanly level, but you also have affairs of the state to deal with. She may be fed up with the council treating her like an incompetent cow, which she is not. She may be ashamed that she could not help Hyrule the way that you could, which she should not. She may feel insignificant against your fame and your esteemed popularity, and she may feel as though she married a stranger!"

Link looked over his shoulder at Roam, frowning. "I don't believe that I married a stranger. Zelda and I are good friends."

Roam sighed, scratching his chin. "But there are different levels of intimacy for women. You may feel as though you are close friends, but she may believe you are merely acquaintances. Tell me, your Highness, when last did you pay her compliment on her appearance or her strength of character?"

Link's frown seemed to visibly swell. "Last…when we were…" His eyes got bigger when the realization hit. "I have yet to pay her compliment in any way."

Roam threw his hands in the air, frustrated. "And you wonder why you both avoid each other! She believes you coldhearted, and you perceive her as being indifferent!"

Link's face fell. Was that how Zelda truly saw him? And for that matter, was that how he appeared to her? How was he going to make her see differently? Did she hate him and want him gone from her sight? How long before the marriage became annulled? There were grounds for it, of course, especially given that the pair had not consummated the marriage… But then Link had never even thought about that before he agreed to marry her… What would they do about their relationship? If there were to be children? How many would Zelda want? Would they share a bedroom finally, and work together?

Roam sensed Link's obvious anxiety and approached him, patting him gently on the back. "There, there, Sire, there is no need to fret. You just have to take immediate action, plan a multifaceted infiltration of the inner workings of her heart and discern the truth for yourself."

Link scowled, and stood up, his shield forgotten. "She is not a cold temple with a dungeon map, Roam. She deserves respect and honor." That thought lead to a trail of others, and Link suddenly realized what he had to do. "Roam, that's it! She does deserve respect and honor. Tonight, I will approach her and shower her with sincerity and compliments and try to win her affection." He turned to Roam and faced his friend wisely. "Women aren't that complicated, they just want to be understood. And after all, how hard can that be?" He turned away and began briskly walking to the other exit, heading for his chambers. "Take care of those for me, will you?"

Roam watched as Link crossed the length of the courtyard, before he let out a hearty laugh, tears nearly filling his eyes in merriment. He knew that Link had not the slightest notion of how to woo a woman, but Roam was also completely convinced that there was no need for the King to woo the Queen: she was already head over heels in love with him. Their differences, to be sure, were great, and there would be much need to overcome the problems of their past. Roam bent to pick up the rest of Link's weaponry and watched the sun kiss the horizon one last time before it sank below the ground.

Link had had a stroke of brilliance, and he knew exactly what to do. If he could get Zelda to realize that he cared for her, deeply (probably more so than even he would admit), then their marriage wouldn't be a complete scandal. Besides, he was tired of all the aversion…and he was running out of places to hide anyway…

Link had never truly been in love but he had realized that by abstaining from such a simple emotion he was setting himself up for a long, unfulfilling life. He had been very close with Ilia in his childhood and knew that her affection for him was deeper than his own for her, but what could he do about that? The poor girl had cried when the news spread that Link was to be married to the Queen Zelda; Link did not know how to comfort her, but then realized he had never been able to. And Link's relationship with Midna may have been more of an infatuation than anything else, and he was not sure who maintained the stronger attachment, the Twilight Princess or himself. Still, it had been many months since the Twili had destroyed the mirror and all hope of salvaging some sort of romantic partiality from their abnormal bond.

Link hurried to his chambers and quickly bathed and dressed himself in the finest clothing he could find. He wanted to look nice for the queen, to demonstrate that he could, and would, make an effort to please her. He had often heard her tease about the color of his tunic perpetually remaining green, and so he chose a blue tunic to don instead, and left his traditional hat on the shelf.

Link remarked himself in the mirror thoughtfully through the dimly lit lanterns and rising moonlight. He looked every bit the part of king, but he still couldn't shake off the feeling that something was missing. Something for his hair, perhaps, or maybe it was the rather bleak and helpless look in his eyes. But he was wasting time: he needed to find Zelda and explain everything to her as soon as she could, for who knew how long his courage would last him?

Just as Link's hand reached the doorknob leading to the hallway, the hero heard a nearby door creak open and the sound of small, clothed feet patter against the stone. Link cracked his own door open slightly, just enough to discern a hooded figure leaving the next-door chambers and hurry down the hallways and out of sight.

Wondering what was going on, Link slip out of his bedroom and followed his wife's figure as she swept out of sight along the twisted spiral staircase. It was truly dark now, but Link's adventures had trained his eyes to adjust quickly to darkness and shadow. He was a little surprised, however, that Zelda moved so quickly and so confidently through the night, without as much as a torch to guide her way. In fact, it seemed to Link that the queen knew exactly where she was going, as though the journey occurred more often than tonight.

Confused beyond measure, Link hurried after his wife, the pale moonlight lighting his path while masking his shadow. Zelda turned the last corner and reached the top of the deserted tower, the same tower in which she had been imprisoned by Zant more than a year ago. Link scowled when he realized that Zelda meant to enter and remain in the tower—why would she bother revisiting a place that brought so much pain and anxiety to the pair of them?

Link rested outside of the door, the frame slightly ajar so that he could make out Zelda's figure but nothing else. She did not light any of the torches or lanterns, and she did not light a fire in the grate. She instead stood in the center of the room for what seemed like an eternity before Link espied her movement to the closed window. She looked out in the moonlight but kept her hood in place.

That was when Link noticed the dark diamond shaped shard placed on the tabletop next to the queen, and her hand rested so near it that Link worried her fingers might graze it: if they did, Zelda would immediately descend into Twilight. Link made to open the door suddenly, but Zelda's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"I won't touch it, you needn't worry."

Link stared at the doorknob, and wondered stupidly whether Zelda was addressing him. He decided that she must be, and so opened the door fully and slipped inside the chilled room. He chuckled slightly at his own foolishness, and Zelda turned her head but did not show her face. Link regarded her from a few paces away. "How did you know it was me?"

Though he could not see it, Link could tell a smile graced the queen's lips and could hear it in her answer. "I bear the Triforce of Wisdom, Husband. They do not call me a prophet for nothing."

Link smiled widely and stepped forwardly cautiously, his heels drumming against the stone floor until the pair stood side by side. He allowed the intimate moment to continue and watched the night sky alongside his wife for a few moments, waiting for her to continue. But Zelda remained facing the window, her face turned away from him. He looked about anxiously, but still she did not turn to him. Link then examined the shard carefully and confirmed his suspicions: it was the same shard that Zant had imbedded into his skull more than a year ago, the same shard that allowed him to transform into the blue-eyed beast at will. His fingers twitched over it, but his hand did not touch it. Zelda noticed the movement and tilted her head slightly, knowingly.

"I thought, perhaps, that you would want this. A traveler found it in the grassy fields of Hyrule, where we last fought Ganon. It must have fallen from Midna when the Evil King was destroyed."

Link looked at Zelda's face, his brows furrowed in confusion. "But why did you bring it here? Surely it is coated in dark magic; wouldn't it be better to lock it away?"

Zelda's face fell forward, and a single golden lock of hair slipped beneath her hood and sparkled in the pale moonlight. "I thought you might want to keep it."

Link looked down at the dark shard as it glowed red. It seemed to rattle against the smooth marble tabletop, and Link pulled his hand away, lest it hit his skin. "Forgive me, my Queen, but I don't understand. Why would I want this?"

The question seemed to spur the queen, and she finally turned toward him, her eyes hidden in shadow. "With this shard, you could transcend the realm of Twilight. You would become beast of Twilight, and the Twilight Princess would sense your presence. You could journey to her realm and remain there for as long as you wished. Through her power you might transform from beast to man, and from there rekindle your relationship. " The words seemed to spill from the queen's lips, rashly. "I thought you might like to visit her again."

Link gasped, in awe and astonished that so simple an object could substitute for the great Mirror of Twilight. There had been times, Link admitted, that he dearly wished to see Midna: to hear her voice complaining in his ear, to see her eyes sparkle with merriment, and to feel her presence marking his footsteps. But months had now passed, and Link felt his connection to the Twili fading.

It was a thoughtful gift, to be sure, but Link sensed that immense sadness in Zelda that he could not account for. Instinctively, he reached for her gloved hand and felt its chill despite the silk layer. "My lady, you are freezing. Let us find warmer chambers."

Zelda's hand slipped from between his fingers, and her voice quivered with unease. "Do you not understand the implications of this shard, Hero? You could be free to travel between the two realms and visit with her! You would not be bound by any natural or artificial laws! You would be the Chosen Hero of both the Light and the Twilight, and in so doing garner the affections of all those you meet! Isn't that what you want? Isn't that what your heart truly desires?"

The hood fell back slightly from Zelda's face and Link immediately saw the hallow look in her eyes. She looked like a woman torn: her cheeks flushed pink and her red lips trembled under the weight of her tears. With her soft hair flowing about her face, she appeared as an angel bearing the heavy burden of the heavens, only for the other angels to scorn her. Instinctively, Link reached for her, his hands cupping her face and turning her toward him at last. He wiped away the copious tears that trailed down her cheek and Zelda breathed sharply inward.

"It is a generous gift, Zelda. I thank you for your thoughtfulness. But I do not wish to leave Hyrule, not when there is still much work to be done in the kingdom. I told you before that I would stay by your side, and I will not abandon my promise."

Zelda jerked her face from his hands and pulled the hood up over her face again. "Your promise has been fulfilled, Hero. You have saved the kingdom, you have saved the castle, and you have saved the Princess. You restored peace and prosperity to this sacred land and married the queen at the people's request. Surely there is nothing more that you can do."

Link's hand faltered and he frowned in the moonlight. "Zelda, I promised to do much more than restore the kingdom. Or did you forget our wedding vows?"

Zelda laughed scornfully and shook her head. "Nay, I have not forgotten them. I only presumed that since you seem so intent to avoid your own wife, there must exist some other setting for your partiality. I saw you hiding from me this afternoon."

Link quickly looked down at the ground, embarrassed. Rubbing his hand against the back of his neck, he could only sheepishly mutter, "I was re-lacing my boot."

Zelda quirked an eyebrow up sharply, and the thought seemed to dry some of her tears. "You needed to re-lace a boot that has no strings or laces?"

Link grunted in admission and quickly tried to change the subject. "If I feel awkward seeing you in such odd moments, it means nothing. I had little time or thought to prepare myself seeing you there so suddenly."

"Why are you afraid to see me, pray tell?" Zelda pointed to him suddenly. "You behave like a foolish child."

"Don't attempt to place all the blame for our dysfunctional relationship on me, your grace. It is you who successfully avoids any unnecessary contact with me, all the while maintaining a selfish façade of remorse and spite. You were the one so intent on averting my attention from you that you choose, from the day of our marriage, to begin dressing in shawls and scarves!"

"Oh, so now you even mock my wardrobe preferences? You are a ridiculous man indeed to pretend that all of my attention has not been so completely focused on other issues! Forgive me if I have little time to mingle with strangers!"

Link rolled his eyes and lost any attempt at propriety. "If you needed affairs of state to avoid seeing me, Zelda, then it is I who has married a stranger." He turned his back on her and slammed his knuckles onto the table, straddling from above the Twilight shard. "I should have known it was idiotic to pay no heed to our differences. We may have built up the basis of a friendship these last twelve months, but there are some things that will never change."

Zelda balled her fists against her side, standing defiant in his presence. "And what things are those, which will remain unchanged?"

Link stared down at the shard, seeming to lose all focus on anything but its glowing frame. "We will never be on the same page, your grace. I will always be the commoner and you will always be the queen. There are some things about you that I will never understand."

Zelda raised her chin slightly, sniffling against the cold. "No, those things can be changed with want and need. You are the King and I am your Queen, but the past will always come to haunt us again. It rises with moonlight, it glows against the stars. The Twilight separates us and keeps us from each other, Hero. You will never forget all that you have been through—at my expense—and I will never forget that it was you who saved the people and not me. You have done your task and have changed the world for the better, dear hero. But you do not have to stay by me out of obligation and duty."

Link choked at her words, and felt as though he'd been physically slapped, but the statement seemed to shock him out of his reverie. He turned to face her and realized that she was very close to crying again. "There is no obligation or duty that binds me to you, Princess. We both know that this marriage could easily be annulled if necessary."

Zelda hesitated at first but when she spoke her words spilled freely like tear drops. "If that is what you wish."

Link scowled at the thought. "No, that is not what I wish! That is what you wish!"

Zelda had turned from him, but at the remark she faced the hero again. Through her tears Link saw suspicion and confusion. "No, you wish that! I have delivered the single instrument necessary for you to rejoin the past, to rejoin your love! Why do you not take it willingly?"

Link meant to reply, but stopped suddenly. Bewilderment illustrated his features and he muttered dumbly, "To rejoin my what?"

"Your love! Is that not why you hid from me? You find me repulsive when compared to the Twilight Princess. I thought our relationship might have sufficed for a successful marriage, but I was poorly mistaken. You do not want anything to do with me, because it pains you to bear the burden of the past, the memories you have of her! I see the way you ache for her in every awkward silence, in every act of concealment! You run from me because you want her!"

Link looked at Zelda as though he never had before. What nonsense was this? Link could almost laugh, but the look on Zelda's face was so serious that he knew such expression might upset her further. And since he had upset her to begin with and had no idea how, he did not want to make it any worse.

Link did not love Midna; he never had and he never would. He cared deeply for only one other person and felt foolish to not have realized it sooner. Just the thought of abandoning Zelda to spend the rest of his days in the Twilight Realm aggravated him and filled him with trepidation.

The dark shard was not something Link had ever wanted; since he had no idea what had happened to it, the thought of it had slipped his mind. True, it would be nice to visit the Twilight Princess for there was no denying that she had been a dear friend to him. But that was where the attachment ended. How could Zelda not see that?

Link barely noticed that Zelda had turned away from the window and sat upon her former bed, the ripped satin comforter still unchanged. She looked at him carefully in the moonlight, watching his every action. When he seemed lost in his own thoughts, she quietly interrupted to gain his attention.

"It is my fault, Hero, that the Twilight enveloped this land. It is my fault that your life has been forever changed, and your innocence stolen. It is my fault that you crossed paths with Midna, and my fault that you lost her." Zelda heaved a great sigh and wrapped her arms around herself against the cold. "I am so sorry, Link. I never meant to hurt you, and I feel that by making you stay I only perpetuate the pain. Please do not feel obligated to stay with me."

Link could only stare down at the shard, his mind wrapping around her words. She continued. "I haven't even been able to face you these last four weeks because I feel so guilty about everything that has happened. This last month has given us both a chance to reexamine our lives, now that we are not bound together by the Triforce through Ganon. It was imprudent of me to assume that you would want a peaceful life with me, when there are others who have your heart and loyalty. Please forgive me. I never meant for things to turn out this way. I want what is best for you, and I acknowledge that a life with me is sorely wanting."

Link shook his head and looked at the woman who had been made his wife. His cobalt eyes stared into her sapphire eyes, and the two remained unmoved and unconvinced of the other's affection. A problem Link intended to correct. Now.

He crossed the length on the room, and knelt before the queen, startling her. He took her hands in his and resolved that it was now or never—and never was certainly a really long time.

"I have been avoiding you because I felt the uneasiness between us, though I did not recognize its source. Zelda, I do not love the Twilight Princess, and you are not to blame for any of the misfortunes of this kingdom. It was not you who brought evil to this world, it was Zant. It was Ganon. You showed only strength and wisdom, you stayed by your people, you gave the most precious gift in the world to Midna and you saved me. I do not think you are to blame for anything except the immense happiness of your people."

Zelda hiccupped slightly, and Link's heart melted with affection at her lack of reserve as he continued. "Such choices are ones no person should be forced to make, but you did choose and you did choose rightly. Your actions ensured the survival of hope, the fortitude of optimism. Without your actions, the kingdom would have fought fruitlessly and suffered a worse fate than what the goddesses delivered."

Zelda smiled meekly and swallowed before answering. "So…you do not love the Twilight Princess?"

Link laughed heartily, kissing her hands and placing them against his heart. "You have been very foolish, Wife, to think such a thing. Why, how could I love the Twilight Princess when I have been smitten with the most beautiful woman in world?"

Zelda continued to appear saddened, and her features dulled. "Well, I am happy for you both then."

Link shook his hand in wonderment and stood, his hands bringing Zelda up with him. "My, my, Wife, I think despite your renown for telling prophecies, you are know nothing of the inner workings of the hearts of men."

Zelda scowled and shook her head. "Nay, what is there to know besides violence and arrogance?"

Link lowered his head, touching their foreheads together. "If women did not speak in another tongue, then men would not react with violence at misunderstandings or with arrogance when they do manage some insight into women's minds."

Zelda laughed, and kissed Link's cheek. "Then I shall permit you some conception of my own thought process, Husband. I love you."

Link blushed slightly but a wide grin spread across his face and he could not help it. "I know."

Zelda waited patiently, but stood back when Link did not finish. "Oh? Then perhaps the goddesses have been mistaken in giving you the Triforce of Courage and me the Triforce of Wisdom. You see, what you know is very insightful and what I just did was very brave."

Link shrugged, but tugged Zelda back closer to him. "No, I think this is braver." And he lowered his lips to Zelda's, capturing them in the most intensely joyful and delicious kiss that the queen had ever had. Soft lips touched swollen ones and the King and Queen of Hyrule enjoyed their first kiss of true love, a month into their marriage.

When they at last broke, Link seemed intent on maintaining contact, and he trailed kissed down the Queen neck and cheeks, and both hearts swelled with happiness. "Did you know that I love you also?" Link asked, his warm breath sending chills down his wife's spine.

"No, I confess I did not."

Link's deep voice chuckled, and he continued to assault his wife's skin as though on a mission. Zelda encircled his chest tightly, but refused to be silenced. "Work?"

Link grinned in her ear as he kissed her lobe. "I will be at your side until the council understands that the King and Queen share one united mind."

"Love?"

"I will love you forever and always and will never leave your side for a moment." Link said as he trickled kisses down her neck.

"Children?"

Link laughed. "I said I would never leave your side. As such, we shall be very busy making as many children as possible."

Zelda pushed his face away from hers, teasingly. "You should have said so earlier. We wasted an entire month averting each other!"

Link laughed, and kissed the top of her hair, his fingers raking through her locks. "At least some good will come from this past month, this month of concealment and hiding."

"And what is that?"

Link grabbed her hand and began walking her to the door. "I now know of many dark and secretive corners where we can hide from others. And in all of them, there is enough room for two lovers intent on making those children you want."

Zelda laughed, but allowed herself to be carried from the room by her husband. Link was blissfully happy and entirely certain that their companionship would no longer be marked by aversion, but rather by constant attention and affection for each other. Before Link reached the door, Zelda cast one last look about the room and smiled when she realized that the dark shard remained on the desk, quite forgotten.


Thanks for reading, and please leave a review if you can! Also, if you liked this story, check out my other piece entitled Free to Go, which is also set after TP (although not really in conjunction with this one).