A/N: This was inspired by the song So She Dances by Josh Groban - I'm not a big fan of his music, but when I first heard this song (which just happened to be on the new Simpsons episode haha) I searched it up and listened to it thoroughly, along with reading the lyrics, and thus resulted in the creation of this little oneshot.
I'm actually in the progress of making a multi-chapter story for LoZ so this won't be the last of me...unfortunately.
Out of Reach
Link thought he was going to suffocate.
The haughty air that trailed the nobles surrounding him felt so tense, so constricted - or maybe his tie was on too tight. He coughed awkwardly into his fist and shuffled over to one of the long windows, staring at the moonlight that cascaded over the castle and the town in a silvery light. The band struck up another danceable song and the pristine marble floor was once again congested with dancing couples. Link stepped back awkwardly to make room for the dancers and rested his back against the wall, his hands folded neatly behind him.
It had been nearly half an hour since the ball commemorating the defeat of Ganondorf started and the queen was still absent; his natural protective nature over her caused him to worry, but the reasonable part of him nagged that he had no right to feel as such - after all, it had been nearly a year since he had defeated the Evil King, and that was also the last time he had spoken to the queen, then-princess.
He had done what he thought was right; he forcefully accepted the fact that he was never going to see Midna again, escorted the then-princess back to the castle, returned the Blade of Evil's Bane to its rightful pedestal in the Sacred Grove and quietly slipped back into obscurity. He was never one to bask in the spotlight and never planned to be, but nearly a year later when he received a letter expressing Zelda's desire to see him at the commemorative ball she was organizing he was thrown off balance.
For not a single day had gone by where the hero did not think of the queen.
They had very little interaction during Hyrule's time of darkness, and whenever they did speak they only spoke on matters of business, like how they were going to defeat Ganondorf and banish the Twilight from Hyrule forever; there was nothing personal in their conversations. He distinctly remembered the last time they saw each other, when he dropped her off at the gates leading back to town.
You have done so much for Hyrule," Her soft voice had said, "we are forever in your debt, Hero."
"I did what I could," He had replied gravely, still mounted upon Epona; his eyes were cast to her hand on his horse's bridle, "but I do not ask for anything in return. It was all done for the sake of the country and her crowned princess. I merely wish to return to Ordon and live a life of peace."
For a moment he swore he saw the regality in her break, and her expression changed from a statue-like seriousness to an almost fragile, vulnerable sadness. Something inside of him twitched and he thought about reaching out to her, but when he made up his mind she had already retracted her hand from Epona's bridle.
"...Just know that you are always welcome here." She looked up at him and the corners of her small mouth lifted in the smallest of smiles. The dim sunlight flickered and danced across the jewels of her tiara and Link almost found her difficult to look at, but it was not because of the glare; the nearly hopeless expression the princess was wearing broke his heart.
"'Till we meet again, Princess." He bent over awkwardly in a bow before pulling on Epona's reins; the mare whinnied and stood back on her hind legs, swiveling to the opposite direction before pounding back onto her four hooves. He cast one more look over his shoulder before Epona raced forward, pulling him and the princess farther apart from each other.
Their parting was probably the most intimate moment they had ever shared - well, there was that one instant where she laid her hand on his wrist just moments before Ganondorf was going to trample them, but that did not really count.
Needless to say, even though Link hardly knew the queen, he pined for her. In the beginning he theorized that he felt this way simply because they were bound together by the Triforce, but as time progressed he realized that it was something else that pulled him towards her, though he would never admit aloud to what it might be.
"Ladies and gentlemen," The herald was standing in the middle of the grand double doors with finely armoured knights standing on either side. "may I present to you Her Royal Highness, Zelda Madeleina Nohansen Harkinian, Queen of Hyrule."
Madeleina? Link, among many others, turned his head towards the double doors, which were slowly opening. The room fell into a hushed silence, anxious to see their queen. Two knights marched into view, their armor so polished the light from the crystal chandeliers were bouncing off of them and glaring into Link's eyes. There was a gasp that passed around the room as the queen emerged, and the young hero stopped breathing.
Queen Zelda was always known as beautiful - even when Midna returned to her original form Link always thought that Zelda bested her - but when she walked through those double doors dressed in an ornate white and navy gown (which looked like it had multiple layers, the poor girl) with her ivory gloved hands neatly folded in front of her Link had no words to describe just how exquisite she looked. Her caramel brown hair was tied up in an elaborate bun, with two strands framing her thin face - atop her head sat her jewel encrusted crown; the lights from the chandeliers caught in the diamonds and sapphires and they glittered as she walked around the room. Her smile was small, just like he remembered it, and her skin retained its smooth ashen perfection.
Her eyes, those depths that were such a rich shade of blue they nearly appeared to be violet, scanned the ballroom carefully, as if she were looking for someone. His heart pounded uncomfortably against his ribcage as she slowly turned in his direction; he thought that maybe he should reach out to her, maybe utter her name, but he refrained from doing so in case the stuffy nobles thought he was acting out of propriety - and besides, his throat felt so dry he was not sure if he was capable of speaking at the moment anyway.
The band started to play again and the crowd shifted onto the dance floor; Link pondered over whether he should ask the queen to dance but before he had the chance to she was already swept onto the dance floor by some duke. The young hero noticed that his eyes were not the only ones glued onto the queen, and the beginnings of jealousy licked at the lining of his stomach.
Did he even have a reason to feel jealous? He could not think of one. He flushed momentarily as he eyed the queen, who appeared to be bored as she twirled around with the duke. The dance ended quickly but she was taken by another duke, or lord, or whatever, and Link flinched as he felt the distance between them stretch out by just a few more feet.
The hero's shoulders slumped a little in disappointment as he watched the various male nobles argue amongst each other, probably deciding who was going to dance with the queen next. A small part of him wanted to be part of that arguing group, fighting for his chance to dance with her, and another part (also more dominant) wished he could just gather her up in his arms and take her someplace far away, far from the castle and the puffed-up nobles who demanded every ounce of her attention. He knew that he did not belong with such people - underneath the Chosen Hero facade he was nothing but a mere goat herder from Ordon Village. His humble origins were inadequate in comparison to the so called 'pure' bloodlines of the people that surrounded him. They may have deep respect for him and the things he had done but it was not enough to sway their opinion of him - how was it possible that a simple farm boy from a remote village was the saviour of Hyrule? Only the goddesses knew the answer to that.
Oh how he longed for her, but alas, she was out of reach.
Even when she evidently looked like she did not want to dance, Zelda moved with a grace that could have brought the best dancer to tears. She could have been standing and her mere poise would have bested all the other women in the room. Link shied away from the rest of the crowd, skulking at the back and leaning by the window. His eyes never left the young queen as she drifted from man to man, looking more disillusioned every time but still managing to remain cheerful - the only hint of her despondence gleamed in her amethyst stare, but Link was the only one who was able to see it.
The night dragged on, and Zelda finally managed to pry herself off the dance floor. Link was surprised that after hours of dancing the queen managed to look like she had not been dancing at all; there was not a single bead of sweat on her porcelain forehead, or even a flush of exhaustion painted on her pallid cheeks. Link sought out this opportunity to finally introduce himself; he was ecstatic and terrified as he politely excused himself through the crowd, slowly approaching the table where she was sitting. He was merely an arms' length away - since her back was turned to him she could not see him coming - and he could almost smell her sweet lavender aroma, the very smell that calmed him down even when he was chasing Ganondorf in a circle in the middle of Hyrule Field…
"Milady," Link cringed and staggered backwards, slipping back into the crowd; another stupid duke beat him to it. Zelda swiveled around in her seat to look up at the man, her small smile still evident. The man offered his hand and she took it, rising from her seat and picking up her skirts with her free hand. Link huffed in annoyance and tried his best to keep his temper; he was glad he was not armed at the moment, or there would have been heads rolling.
Must the goddesses torment him so? He was at the back of the room again, watching his queen dance with another stranger - somebody that was not him. Childish possessiveness overtook him as his eyes followed Zelda; she was supposed to be his. He was the one who was supposed to be dancing with her. He was supposed to be the only one that was allowed to dance with her; was there anybody else in the room who bore the Triforce of Courage on their left hand? No! He was the only one, and she was the only one blessed with the Triforce of Wisdom, therefore he had his right to claim her as his own! He felt the eyes of a few hopeful girls on his back but he ignored them; he did not want to dance, to merely touch anyone else but her.
His anger dissipated as quickly as it came, however, and Link's heart ached as he watched his queen twirl gracefully in the duke's arms, knowing that he should have been in that dratted man's place. All the hope he had of reconnecting with her, taking her hands in his and staring directly into those amaranthine eyes he loved so much, began to slip through his fingers. He instantly regretted telling her that he wanted to go back to Ordon; he realized only now that it was the last thing he ever wanted to do. The months he spent lazing around the ranch, daydreaming about her; he could have been living in the castle, getting to know her, closing the gaping distance between them…
By now he realized that his queen was too far out of reach, and the very thought made him feel painfully small.
Head hung low in defeat, Link trudged to the entrance of the ballroom, deciding to turn in early; he had no reason to be here anymore. Zelda had hundreds of rich young men with noble blood practically at her feet; what could he possibly have to offer her? He looked over his shoulder, his dirty blond bangs falling over his crisp blue eyes.
It was then that the world had stopped.
Zelda's hands were still adjoined with the duke who stole her away from him, but her eyes - goddesses, he swore he could drown in them - were staring directly into his. Link's hand was frozen on the door handle and his eyes were wide with shock; her expression was no different. Tiny electric shocks of delight flickered wildly inside of him and he wrenched his hand from the door, standing straight.
It was like the colour drained from everything else and seeped into only her; the navy in her gown looked bluer than any night sky, the brown in her hair rivaled the fertile earth of the Faron province and the jewels in her crown glittered with more enthusiasm. Her pale skin contrasted sharply with the dark hues of her dress, and she appeared to be glowing. The hustle and bustle of the crowd disappeared and he was unable to hear anything but her light, lithe steps and the swishing of her skirts. She glided with all her grace towards him; with every step she took the feeling of feeling insignificant in comparison to all the other men in the room melted away, for he saw a look in her eyes that he had seen only once before.
It was the very look she gave him before he rode away on Epona exactly one year ago, back to his quiet, monotonous life in Ordon, back to his life without her. Zelda inclined her head at the slightest to look straight into his eyes; the yearning, the need she expressed in her lilac stare was all he needed to convince himself that he was not as worthless as he thought he was.
"Link," Her angel's voice was barely above a murmur, and he smiled down at her, silently promising her for more later. She seemed to understand what he was trying to tell her because she began to laugh. For a bit Link wondered whether she was laughing because she was happy or because she thought he was ridiculous, but he later decided that he did not care; the musicality of her voice rang in his ears and resonated throughout the entire room. It was better than any song.
"Your Grace," Link greeted politely, and bowed as low as he possibly could without straining his back. When he straightened up he noticed that Zelda's eyes were shinier than usual - they were glazed with unshed tears. He was not sure if the room was really quiet or not; he was not paying attention to anyone else but her.
Zelda extended one gloved arm towards him, her small hand outstretched. "Dance with me." It was not an order or a question; the way she said it, she could have been singing it for all he knew. He smiled and placed his hand in hers, insecurities completely wiped away.
"Of course, Your Highness," And as gently as he ever could, pulled her onto the fine polished floor and into his arms.