Hey all! So this idea struck me one day while doing my own laundry. Fresh linens, noisy appliances--what better setting for some awkward romance? I tend to get ideas based around basic objects, in this case a washing machine. My next story will return to the Twilight Princess world, but for now enjoy my first attempt at Zelda AU!
Thanks to everyone who reviewed my last story! And please review this one once you have finished reading. Secrets don't make friends, but reviews do. :)
Whoever said college life was all fun and games, thought Zelda Harkinian, obviously flunked out.
Her day had been full of stress and anxiety. The mumbling professor whom no one could hear in the lecture hall left her unfocused and unknowing; the loud and obnoxious suitemates who shrieked into the night at the latest gossip woke her up from much needed restful slumber; the best friend's engagement to her high school sweetheart made Zelda feel unappreciated and ugly; and the fact that it was only a Tuesday made her feel completely exhausted.
She was not a complainer by nature, but this week had surely been delivered straight from hell. Her body ached from her fingertips (which typed furiously and sometimes randomly over her keyboard), to her feet (which carried her body and book-bag across the two mile stretch of her campus) to her head (which endeavored to remember all of the major battles in Hyrulean history and their reasons for fruition), and everything else in between. And yet there was no time to shower, let alone soak her aching muscles in a hot bath, and she mentally carved that necessity into her long list of things to do. Must remember to bathe regularly.
She worked late into the night for her studies, and awoke much earlier than most college students considered decent. She conducted the research requested of her by the political science department; she attended the regular meetings of the student body council; she even managed to work part-time at the local bookstore. Yet here she was, sitting on a hard, metal table in a drafty hallway with lightning sharp lighting, reading Rauru Sage's Book of Mudoru.
But really, it could be so much worse. She might have been doing her laundry on a Friday night instead of the early hours of Wednesday morning. Must remember to have a social life.
Glancing up slowly from her text, Zelda eyed the timer on the dryer, the slower of the two machines. The bright red numbers flashed briefly, signifying the end of the cycle. But Zelda checked her watch at once: she still had fifteen minutes left before the load would actually be dry. Sighing lightly, she placed her book down carefully so as not to lose her page and inserted more quarters into the machine.
Under her breath, she cursed the stupidity of having only two washers and two dryers for the whole of the residential hall, having to share the ill-equipped appliance with more than 90 people. The washer, in particular, was notorious for breaking down at the sight of the smallest load, sputtering suds of soap into the air and onto the unsuspecting student. The dryer was more consistent, but it often required clothing to be run through twice to remove all dampness. It was ridiculous really. But yet another example of how cheap Hyrule University could be.
She was glad to have been accepted at the school, however, especially since many of her friends back home went straight into the workforce or the marriage bed. In fact, her best friend Ruto had just announced her engagement to her high school sweetheart, and while Zelda was thrilled for the couple she couldn't help but feel depressed at their fervent love at such a young age. Must remember to meet Prince Charming, or a variation of charming, soon.
Zelda closed her eyes as the towels began to circle around heavily, the fresh scent of fabric softener filling her nostrils. She rubbed the back of her neck for a moment's peace. She loved the smell of detergent and freshly cleaned linen—it reminded her of back home, a place associated with cool wind, laughter, and sunshine. Must remember to relax.
Lost in her reverie, Zelda did not hear the click of the door handle turning, nor did she see a fellow resident enter into the room, carrying his own heavy load of laundry.
"I've been waiting for you here," a soft baritone voice broke through her respite.
Looking up quickly, eyes widened in alarm, Zelda gasped upon seeing her residential advisor, Link Forester, staring at her warmly. His small, bright smile and pale cerulean eyes probed her wordlessly, and she immediately felt her heart flutter and her voice stammer.
Link chuckled and pointed at the washing machine where the numbers blinked zero. "Your load of laundry. I've been waiting for you to put it in the dryer so that I could use this one."
Zelda quickly looked away, embarrassed to have assumed more than his statement implied. She shrugged anxiously and stumbled to the machine. "Oh. Right. Of course." For whatever reason, although Zelda had a shrewd idea of what that reason was, her brain became lighted, almost dizzy. Must remember to breathe in Link Forester's presence.
Her residential advisor was a man built to modern perfection, the most handsome man she had ever seen up close in real life. His chiseled good looks and fierce blue eyes, however, did not commend him to Zelda so much as his sharp wit, gentle modesty, and boastful confidence. Every girl in her building seemed to daydream about Link, giggling like little school girls and fawning over his photos. But Zelda was not a blushing girl in pigtails—she was an intelligent and sophisticated woman who thought about Link in her sleep rather than all day. She had lived in his complex for only two months this year, and every time she spotted his tall, muscular frame walking down the hallways, she ducked into random rooms and closets to avoid confrontation.
That was because her first meeting with the upper classman persuaded Zelda that Link did not dream of her. She recalled the painful expression on Link's face when she not only elbowed him in the stomach and face, but also when she hastily blathered on about some excuse for her clumsiness and accidentally tripped over her shoe, spilling soda onto his shocked face. Must remember not to injure my RA.
Fumbling with the indented handle, Zelda yanked the door open and hastily began throwing her delicates into the other empty dryer.
Link placed his basket on top of the nearby table and began to sort through his own clothing. "Sorry to be insistent, but I haven't even started my loads yet." He glanced over his shoulder, noticing her flustered hurry as she dropped a few articles of clothing onto the floor.
"It's really no problem, I forgot about this load completely, I got so caught up in my reading that I didn't keep track of the time, and—" She looked over at him and stood up straight, horrified. He was standing before her grasping a diminutive pair of lacy, black tanga underwear, with more holes than should be necessary.
He held them up into the light and quirked an eyebrow. "Sorry. These are yours, right?"
Blushing a furious shade of red, Zelda pressed a hand to her face as her humiliation rose. "Um, no. I think they belong to my roommate Midna actually." She gently snatched the undergarment from his hands and he stood still, eyeing her skeptically. "Sometimes our clothes get mixed up, and I clean some of her things by mistake." She tossed the pair into the dryer, but when she turned back she saw him clutching another pair of underwear, these bright pink and polka dotted, cut in the modern boy brief fashion.
"Are these your roommates too?" He asked, holding them up again, this time for her to inspect. He was barely containing his smile.
Zelda did not look at the garment for more than a second before she grabbed them from his hands once more. "No."
Link laughed, a light sparkling in his eyes that Zelda attributed to the bright overhead lighting. Goddesses, why was he so handsome?
The RA turned back to his own basket as a peace offering. "Sorry, I didn't mean to overstep any bounds. I was only trying to help." He shuffled through the basket again, but did not take anything out. Zelda finished putting fabric sheets into the machine, refusing to face Link until she was forced to do so, embarrassed beyond measure.
But Link wouldn't let her go that easily. "You're reading Sage's Mudora? That's not your idea of light reading, is it?"
Zelda glanced at the book, but determinedly fixed her gaze and posture at an instructional poster for proper laundry etiquette on the opposite wall. "Um, it's actually for one of my courses this semester, 'Fallacies of the Sacred Realm.' It's a pretty good class." Zelda urged herself to calm, taking deep breaths to slacken the red that had overwhelmed her complexion.
"So that would make you a Religious Studies major, then?"
"Poli Sci, actually. But Religion is my minor."
"That's cool," Link smiled. "I'm majoring in Archeology. I'm really into history, and I love digging around for old artifacts and gems. I've been on a few digs with Professor Kaepora Gaebora, you know the older guy with the big bushy eyebrows? So far, I've lucked out and found some amazing stuff."
Zelda half-turned to face him, impressed and interested. "Really? Like what?"
"Oh, just some odd stuff here and there. I found an old bomb bag, made from the stomach of a Dodongo dated from the first century on my very first excavation. And last summer, we uncovered the remains of what Professor Gaebora believes to be a Gossip Stone."
Awe plastered Zelda's features and she sighed in astonishment. "Wow! That's incredible!"
Link suddenly looked away, his face reddening under Zelda's intense gaze. "Um, yeah." He coughed and went back to his laundry. Zelda turned back to face the wall, possibly more embarrassed than her RA. Must remember not to show my intense and irreversible crush on Link Forester.
Silence ensued and Zelda tried to calm herself as her clothes rumbled noisily in their cycle next to her. She did not hear Link's approach, and she nearly gasped when he suddenly stood behind her, peering at the chart she was pretending to study. Zelda could feel the warmth emanating from his body and she shivered in exhilaration. She felt his breath in her ear when he spoke next. "What temperature should I use for whites?"
She could tell him what temperature he was causing her body to rise to. But with a sharp intake of breath, she ventured a guess, not even considering the poster in front of her. "…H-hot?"
She could feel the smile against her ear. "Perfect." She closed her eyes in anguish when she felt him move away from her and back to the table. She still did not turn around. Must remember not to jump my RA's bones.
As Link busied himself with the wash, Zelda measured the awkward silence in her head, counting to ten before she finally decided to engage in small talk. She retreated from the wall, and sat down at the table again where her book and basket lay. But then she realized that despite her polished upbringing, she could not think of the right thing to say. Must remember appropriate topics to discuss with RA that don't make me sound like an idiot.
"So….do you come here often?"
Link, in the middle of measuring detergent in the lid cap, looked up at her, amused. "Sorry?"
Zelda bit her lip, once again embarrassed. Why did she act this way every time she saw him? "I mean, do you usually do your laundry so late at night?"
Link poured the liquid into the dispenser and closed the cap, rubbing his fingers together against the overflow. "Oh, no. I usually get this done later in the week, but since I'm on duty tonight until two, I thought I could get some done now." He leaned casually against the machine to face her, and she could see the thick muscles in his biceps tense as he folded his arms in front of himself. "How about you?"
"No, I usually do my laundry on Mondays." Great, Zelda thought, could you sound more boring?
Link gave a lopsided smile. "You always do your laundry on Mondays? When do you go to the gym?" He asked, motioning to a pair of folded track shorts from her high school, neatly piled next to her.
"On Tuesdays and Thursdays." Wow, even more lame.
"Hmm." Link pursed his lips and contemplated her for a moment. She made to pick up her book, but he interrupted her action. "You never attend house meetings."
Zelda looked up and smiled sheepishly. "Yeah. Sorry about that. But I don't really have the time." She cradled the fold of the textbook between her fingers and looked up hesitantly.
Rather than chastise her, as she expected, Link shrugged and smiled again. "Nah, don't worry about it. I know what you mean. Your first year can be really hectic."
"Actually, I'm a second year," Zelda replied and she shrugged herself. "I think second year is even harder than the first."
Link nodded and laughed. "And if you think second year is difficult, wait until your third year."
"Is it really that bad?"
The RA frowned slightly, and Zelda decided it didn't suit him as much as his smile. "No, not that bad. But you can get overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to finish everything."
"Or even enough days in the week," Zelda agreed. "I have so much work to do already and it's only the beginning of the year!"
Link chuckled again but said nothing. He continued to watch her until Zelda could feel more blush rising from her chest and spreading to her face. She looked away quickly as her watch began to beep, just as the first dryer stopped its cycle. She lightly hopped off the table and reached up to the door, pulling towels from the inside and tossing them haphazardly onto the table.
"Would you like some help with that?" Link asked suddenly, moving slowly toward the table. A moment's hesitation had him stop just short of it. "If that's okay, I mean."
Zelda giggled from inside the dryer as she reached in deep to pull out the last few cloths. "No, that's alright. These are just towels."
Sighing in relief, Link grabbed the white terry cotton and started to fold it. "Good, no worries then." They stood in silence next to each other, turning the disarrayed pile into tidy stacks. Their arms brushed occasionally and Zelda could feel her skin burn each time it happened. He's so polite, Zelda thought. Must remember to thank him properly, preferably with just the towels on.
"Why did you decide to become an RA?" Zelda inquired curiously, proud of herself to have initiated conversation despite Link's apparent fondness for silence.
He shook his head, and his blonde hair ruffled against his collar. "I really liked living on campus my first two years," he said, finishing up the last fold, "and I liked being able to help my residents. You know, making sure everyone is safe, catching the rule breakers, helping young damsels in distress with their laundry." He smirked, and Zelda rolled her eyes at his palpable confidence.
"Well, I thank ye, brave knight, for slaying the foul dryer and rescuing me in my helplessness. What would I have done without you?"
Link laughed but then fell silent. He faced her suddenly, as if struck by an intriguing thought, his body so close to hers it was frightening. Frighteningly delicious. He leaned in and Zelda felt her heart racing with excitement. Oh my goddesses, this was too good to be true!
As fate would have it, it was. With a loud bang, the washing machine next to them burst open suddenly, shooting white water and soap up into the air and landing on the would-be washers in their stance. Link gave a shout as Zelda yelped, and the RA jumped forward to close the top door to the machine and stop the water from rushing out. An inch of water lined the floor and walls when the machine gave a heavy shake as it attempted to right itself against the uneven load. Link held it firmly, however, and it instantly continued on to its next cycle, completely indifferent to the gallons of water it had lost to its users in its obvious malfunction.
Covered in soapy bubbles, soaked to the bone, Zelda sputtered against the suds lining her lips as Link turned to face her. Why did things like this always happen to her? Must remember to remain calm.
"Are you all right?" He asked, gently wiping her face off with his own wet hands. "Wow, here." He reached across the table and grabbed the driest towel from her pile. He carefully dabbed the soap from her eyes and lips before curling it in her hair to stop it from dripping. She looked up at him in awe, at what had just happened and at his careful concern.
Link cupped the back of her head in one hand, her chin in the other as he inspected her face. "No cuts or bruises. You must just be shell-shocked." He smiled softly at her confused expression and her heart skipped a beat.
"Ye-es-s. I mean, no. I mean," Zelda blinked a few time and felt her moist eyelashes dampen her cheeks. "Thank you. Now you really are my brave knight."
Link looked over at the machine before locking onto her eyes. "Of course. It's what we knights do. Especially," he said, kicking the machine in minor frustration, "when it's our fault you were attacked."
Zelda looked at the machine and burst out laughing. Link stepped back in surprise. "It was your fault, wasn't it? I thought I had put in that load!"
Link grimaced. "Looks like three years aren't enough for a man to learn how to work a washing machine." He rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed. Zelda giggled at his reaction. How much more adorable could he be? Must not forget that he's your RA!
"Well, I could show you how to do it properly." She pointed toward the machine. "Loading the washer is one thing I've mastered here. You might even call me the Washing Sage."
Link laughed and turned his head, eyeing her with humor. "I believe you. You are so very wise." He closed the gap between them again, and cupped her face one more time, brushing away more of the water as it trailed down her temple. "How can I ever repay you?"
Be brave! Zelda thought to herself. Be brave and ask him out!
"Well," she started, looking straight into his eyes. "You could start by helping me clean all this up." Not bad, she reasoned. But you obviously don't hold the Triforce of Courage.
Link's own breath seemed to hitch in his chest as he answered. "That's a given, really, since I made the mess. Anything else?" He added, hopeful.
I can't do it, Zelda mused. No wonder I'm still single.
"No, that's it." She turned away, angry at her own cowardice. But Link pulled her back to him and she reluctantly looked at his handsome face.
"How about dinner then? It's the least I could do." The sparkle was back in his eyes and a boyish grin played on his lips. Zelda couldn't help but sigh.
"All right. But I am very busy. I have—" she struggled to find the right word—"a laundry list of things to do."
Link laughed so loudly she was sure that the residents next door could hear. But her surprise at his volume grew even greater when he bent down and kissed her softly, slowly, and she could taste the soap still on his lips. Oh goddesses divine! He was an incredible kisser! Zelda felt the tinkle of the bubbles against her lips and the heat of his hands on her face, her skin finally burning from something other than her embarrassment. He broke the kiss, and as her eyelashes fluttered open she found him looking into her eyes again.
"You're amazing," he declared and smiled his lopsided smile. "Why have you been avoiding me all year?"
Zelda immediately balked, and her excuses began to roll off her tongue. "I haven't been avoiding you really, I mean I just never see you around, even though we live on the same floor, and—" He silenced her again with a supple kiss and her knees went weak in pleasure. Must remember this moment forever. The timer on the washer beeped loudly, signifying the sudden end of Link's launder. They both looked over at the machine dumbly and laughed at the absurdity of the moment.
Whoever said that college life was all work and no play, Zelda though sneakily as she and Link wiped themselves and the table off, obviously had never done laundry with Link Forester.
Special thanks to the Zeldapedia for some interesting information about the universe. Think I invented things? Look it up! ;)