Ok, so basically this was meant to be a songfic... until I heard that they were against the rules. I don't know if that's true, but just to be safe I cut out all of the lyrics, which sort of takes away from the story. But hey, what're you gonna do?
In case anyone's interested, this was meant to go along with the song 'Whispers in the Dark', by Skillet.
Skulking in the shadowy corridor, Link paused impatiently as a chubby guard waddled past, completely oblivious to his presence while performing some vague interpretation of sentry duty. As the guard's clanking footsteps faded away, Link stepped out from the shadow of the suit of armor and continued along on his path. His glittering blue wolfish eyes pierced the midnight gloom as if it were midday, and coupled with his enhanced hearing and sense of smell, sneaking past the guards was never much of a challenge for him. Pausing at another intersection, Link waited for any noise that would signal the approach of a guard, but was met with total silence. Rather than be grateful for his stroke of luck, he let his frustration with the guard's ineptitude at protecting the castle join the slowly anger that was building inside of him.
Taking the path on the right, Link hurried forward and darted up the carpeted staircase towards the north tower, careful not to make any noise to give him away. After narrowly avoiding the third to last step, which he knew creaked due to frequent trips in this direction, he stopped in the doorway of a winding staircase and listened again, not for the clanking footsteps of the lazy guards, but for any sign that the occupant of the lone room above was awake. Hearing nothing, Link began his silent assent up the staircase, feeling the rage inside him growing. She must be asleep. How could she sleep? Link hadn't been able to sleep for the past three days; not since the last time he'd seen her, when she'd ripped his heart in half.
Taking each step carefully, painfully aware that Zelda slept just twenty feet above, Link allowed his thoughts to drift back to the last time he'd been in the castle.
Link stood before Zelda as she sat on her throne, having just been summoned there from his daily practice session with the soldiers. He had been surprised by the formality that was being displayed, as Zelda had not felt the need to be formal with him since the war ended a little over a year ago. She sat, straight backed and regal in her throne, as if she were talking to a stranger, and addressed him not as Link, but as 'Hero'.
Link had cocked his head to the side in confusion and replied, somewhat sarcastically, "Highness?"
Zelda gave him a cool stare and continued speaking. "Hero, I feel that it is time that you departed the castle."
Link jerked as if slapped.
"E-er… I… Do what now?"
"Do not feel as though I am not grateful for all that you have done for your country. Your deeds shall be told of again and again by troubadours for centuries to come, I am sure. However, I feel that the time has come for Hyrule to stand again on it's own two feet, without relying on others. Your work here is done. You may go."
Link stared at Zelda in disbelief. The guards posted on either side of the room turned their heads in surprise; both equally wide eyed and slack jawed.
"Zelda… are you serious?" Link asked softly.
Zelda's eyes grew dark. "You will address me as 'Princess' or 'Highness', Hero."
Link jerked again. There was a deafening silence as Link's mouth worked wordlessly. He finally managed to blurt out, though rather ineloquently, "So that's it? I risk my life for you, win back your country for you, face countless terrors, and that's it? You just cut me loose with nothing but a pat on the back?"
"I could have you elevated into lordship, if that is what you wish, however you would still have to leave the castle."
"I don't want to be a stuffy lord!" Link spat.
"Then what is it, Hero? Is it treasure that you seek?" Her voice grew heated, as if angry.
"I don't want any money, I want-" he cut himself off quickly before his heart could condemn him. It was then that he noticed that she wasn't even looking at him, but instead at something over his left shoulder, as if this whole conversation were boring her.
"…do I mean nothing to you?" He asked, again softening his voice, though this time with barely concealed pain.
Zelda's eyes finally connected with his own, and for a moment he though he saw a flicker of emotion. Before he had time to tell what it was, however, Zelda opened her mouth and said, "Are you denying a direct order from your sovereign ruler, Hero?"
Link blinked in surprise. "What?"
"I have ordered you to leave the castle. Will you not comply?"
Link's defiant eyes met her stony gaze. "…No. I won't leave."
She stared at him for a moment, before turning to her stunned guards. "Very well. Lieutenant, I want this man thrown out of the castle. Immediately."
As one, Link's and the Guards' jaw's dropped.
"B-but, Y-your Majesty! He's…"
"I know full well who he is, Lieutenant. And I want him thrown out of my castle. Now."
Stepping forward as one, the guards exchanged hesitant glances before seizing Link by his arms and dragging him backwards. But Link did not struggle; he simply hung limp in their arms and watched, hurt and confused, as the love of his life threw him away.
Arriving on the landing just before her bedroom door, Link stopped in an attempt to fight back the surge of emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. He had experienced loss before, and enough pain to fill the lives of fifty men. Yet nothing on his travels could have prepared him for the agony of heartbreak. Throwing away the sorrow, he clung on to the only emotion he had left, anger, and advanced towards the door.
As his fingers brushed the doorknob, a noise stopped him. It was coming from inside of her room. Link readied himself to crash through the door and confront whomever it was, be it a thief, Zelda, or worse… perhaps Zelda had banished him because she'd found a lover? When suddenly he realized what the sound was.
Crying. Zelda was crying.
Even after all that she'd put him through, the thought of Zelda, wracked with sobs, caused Link's shattered heart to ache all over again.
He considered bursting in anyway, and demanding an explanation for his pain with no regard toward her own, but instantly discarded it. Despite what she had done, Link couldn't find it in him to harm her in any way, even if she deserved it.
His anger momentarily fleeing him, he turned around to leave, when a sudden, reckless though came to his mind. Why didn't he just go inside? It was clear she needed someone, and maybe he could still find the answer to his question.
Heart heavy, Link turned back towards the door and, gently pushing it open, stepped into the dark bedroom.
Zelda bolted upright in her bed with a small shriek. "W-whose there? I'm warning you, I have a sword, and am well versed in magic!"
Chuckling despite himself, Link slowly started towards her and said, "What are you gonna do, stab me?"
"Link?" she said in surprise.
"Don't you mean 'Hero'?" he spat before he could catch himself.
There was a pause as Zelda attempted to pull herself together, then she said softly, "Why are you here?"
"Why were you crying?"
"I believe I asked you first. I had you thrown out once, and I can do it again. I hope you know that being in the Princesses room at night without permission is worth a beheading?"
Link scowled darkly. "You wouldn't behead me."
"Try me." She spat in response. "What are you doing here?"
Link plopped down beside her with a sigh, and was surprised that she didn't scoot away.
"Zelda," he began.
"Highness." She cut in as she hurriedly wiped her eyes on her sheets.
"Zelda," he continued forcefully, "What happened between us? What did I do to deserve this? Please, just tell me and I swear I'll do whatever it takes to make it right again. Just tell me what to do."
Zelda remained quiet as Link patiently waited for a response. After a while, he slowly stretched out his hand to clasp her own. "Zelda, please, just tell me."
To his surprise, she did not snatch her hand away from his, but instead intertwined their fingers.
"Link…" she whispered, even as her voice choked once again with tears, "You are… much to kind for your own good."
"I'm what?" he said in confusion.
Sniffling slightly, she turned up to look him directly in the eye. "Link, you would do anything for me, because I'm your princess. I know that you'd give your life for me in a heartbeat. I've seen you throw yourself recklessly into harms way on my behalf without even a thought towards your own personal well being on more occasions than I can count."
"Ok… I still don't see what I did wrong here." Link replied.
"Don't you get it? It's not what you've done wrong, it's what I've done wrong."
"Wait, what? Zelda, you're not making any sense here." Link said blankly, but Zelda was in tears again, sobs shaking her body as she clung helplessly to his arm.
"I'm sorry, Link, I'm so sorry! It's my fault that your village was attacked, if I'd been a better ruler, none of this would have happened! Zant wouldn't have taken over, and you'd still be living peacefully in Ordon! And it's my fault that you lost Midna, and that you risked your life so many times, and I just know that as long as you're near me you'll keep on fighting for my safety and I just can't bear the thought of you getting hurt Link, so I tried to send you away, but you just wouldn't go, and I couldn't let you stay, and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and I'm so sorry Link, please forgive me…!"
Zelda's words were eaten by her sobs, and Link found himself clutching a distraught princess to his chest.
Leaning over slowly, Link began to whisper gently into her ear.
"Zelda, listen to me. It's not your fault that Zant attacked Hyrule, or even that he succeeded. No ruler would have been prepared for that. But not just any ruler would have been able to take her country back from him, and for that you should be proud. And yes, if Zant hadn't attacked, I'd still be living in Ordon. But then again, I'd still be herding goats for the rest of my life, and I never would have been able to get out and see the world, or get the chance to meet you, so I count that more as a blessing."
Zelda's sobs had stopped, and now she lay trembling in Links arms, listening to his words.
"Midna's leaving was not your fault. She did what she felt was best for her country, which is more than many rulers can say, so we should respect her wishes, as much as it hurts. And as for me protecting you…"
Zelda had stopped trembling, but her face remained pressed into his shirt. Link slowly began running his hands through her hair.
"You're right. As long as I'm with you, I will do everything in my power to protect you, but not because you're my princess. I would die for you, Zelda, because you mean more to me than my own life does. Zelda the person, not the princess."
Zelda slowly turned her head up to face Link. He could see tear tracks running down her face, and her eyes looked red and puffy, yet she remained as beautiful as ever.
"I can't accept that, Link. I can't take that chance. I'd rather spend my life without you, then let you stay here and die."
Link felt his heart begin to race with what her sentence had implied, but he wouldn't let himself get distracted.
"Well, you haven't got a choice. Even if you toss me from this castle, I'll follow you everywhere you go. I'll become your shadow if I have to. I won't let you be alone."
She shook her head slowly.
"Why not? Why do I matter so much to you, if you don't care that I'm a princess?"
Link swallowed hard, then, with a shaky breath, leaned forward and whispered:
"Because I love you, Zelda."
Then he pressed his lips to her own.
Meh. I'm not really sure how I feel about this one. I do, however, know how I can find out...
I don't even care if you trash me, just give me some flipping feedback.