You people are far too flattering. To be quite honest, I thought this stoy was a mediocre thing that needed a lot of improvement but could just be for fun, so I let it go. Gosh, I wonder what would happen if I wrote to my full potential...just kidding! I'm working hard. Happy reading! Hope you like the final chapter! (It's a little longer than the others, I think...)

Chapter 10: Just by Chance

Link was pacing back and forth slowly in the downstairs part of his house, worrying desperately about Malon. It seemed like only yesterday nothing had happened between the two of them and they were just fine the way they were...but no more. Malon's baby could be dying right now and there was no turning back.

Impa's head suddenly appeared out of the upstairs bedroom. Grimacing, Link walked slowly up the small wooden stairs that he had once had to jump over when he was very young and now could take very easily. But then he noticed the smile on Impa's face.

"Impa, what happened?" Impa stepped outside the door, and she was holding a baby. A small, pink-skinned, blood-covered baby, with fine red hair and bright blue eyes that looked just like Link's. There was no doubt in his mind that it was his child.

"You have a girl, Link," said Impa, beaming. "Isn't she beautiful?" She held out the baby with tenderness to Link, grinning as she had never grinned before, and Link gingerly took the baby. He was still worried, though.

"Why is it...covered in blood?"

Impa laughed. "That's just the way all babies are born, Link. Even you, Kokiri boy."

Link frowned. "I'm a Hylian."

"Yes, I know. I'm just teasing you."

Link smiled down at the baby, who had already closed her eyes and gone to sleep. Laughing, he said, "How's Malon?"

Impa smiled. "She was a little pale, but she's all right. It was very hard on her body."

"Well, I'm glad she's all right."

"Link, do you think you could hold her for a minute? I need to go check on Malon. Get some food in her or something like that..."

"Why wouldn't I hold my own daughter?" Impa started walking up the stairs, but Link called, "Wait! Did Malon name her?"

"No. She said she'd discuss it with you later." And then Impa disappeared into the bedroom.

Two seconds later, a loud, piercing scream came from bedroom.
~~~

Ruto sat on a rock that had started peaking out of the waters of Lake Hylia, staring at the sunlight and crying. She could see from here, out of the corner of her eye, the grave that covered her father's body. And beside it, much older and more worn, her mother's. I'm an orphan, she thought helplessly. And I'm only seventeen.

In reality, it wasn't that bad. Link had been orphaned when he was barely a year old, maybe even younger. And Brandon's parents had died in a hurricane when he was only five. It was selfish of her to think her life was miserable just because her parents had died. Of course, she missed them dreadfully...

Brandon had offered to come with her, but she had told him to get some rest before tomorrow, when they would finally be married. The wedding had obviously been postponed after what had happened, and it didn't feel like it had all been less than two hours ago.

Ruto got up and swam to her the island that held her mother's grave, right above the Water Temple. She knelt down in front of the grave, hands clasped together, and started to sing. It was an old tune, one her mother had taught her, and it was used to mourn those who had been dead for at least a year. Then she sang a song of praise and hope to those who had recently died, to help them find their way in the spirit world.

Sighing, Ruto dived back into the water, letting herself float whichever way the waves took her. That was the best way to be in the water, relaxed and never having to choose where you wanted to go.

A moment later, Ruto bumped her head on a rock that the current had pulled her into. She sat down on the floor of the lake immediately, clutching her now-bruised head. Sometimes, annoyingly enough, the water took her places she didn't really want to go. She got hurt that way a lot.

It was sort of like life. You could just let whatever happens happen, and not worry about anything. But without a little work and at least a small goal, you often got hurt in some small way.
~~~

Nabooru smiled to herself as she tanned happily on a rock, wearing a small but comfortable dress. Michael had been reunited with his brother Daniel some two hours ago, and now they were talking about what Daniel should do. It made Nabooru laugh. She already knew their decision. Men's minds were so easy to read.

Sure enough, Michael came walking toward her now. "Nabooru, we've decided what to do about Daniel's situation."

Nabooru looked at him inquiringly. "Yes?"

"We were hoping he could stay here for now. You know, wait until everything dies down?"

Nabooru laughed. "Michael, this will never 'die down'. He may as well just stay here his entire life. He can marry my head assistant, the one with the green outfit. You know her, right?"

Michael looked stunned. "Um, okay..."

"Yes, I've already told her they're getting married tonight, so there's no real need to worry. She told me she thought he was cute."

"But won't the other Gerudos disapprove?"

"Maybe so. But that's their problem, not mine. I'm in charge right now and if I feel like marrying someone, I can."

Michael chuckled to himself. Nabooru was always so determined and independant in her thinking. "Nabooru?" he asked, smiling.

"Yes, Michael?"

"Have I ever told you how much I love you?"

"Only a thousand and one times, Michael."

"Well let me tell you again..."
~~~


Saria felt as though she were going to burst. A few moments ago she had started feeling more and more guilty about mixing the moredania leaves in with Malon's tea, and she couldn't quite figure out why. It was as though a tree in the forest had died, and she could feel the slow, painful process of life being sucked out of its limbs, which happened to her quite often. But this was much worse.

Suddenly she felt she had to tell somebody. Anybody. She just had to let somebody know what a horrible thing she had done, and she felt like if she waited one more minute she herself would die. She turned herself into a light particle and rushed off to the nearest Sage, who happened to be Impa.

Impa was sitting in the downstairs area of Lon Lon Ranch, looking extremely concerned about something. Surprised, Saria said, "Impa? Is something wrong?"

Impa looked up slowly and said, "Oh, Saria, it's awful."

"What is it? Oh, God, did the baby die?!"

Impa stared directly into Saria's eyes, making Saria wonder if she could read minds. She looked extremely suspicious for some reason... "No, the baby did not die. She's alive and well and is with her father right now."

"Then...what's the bad news?" Moredania leaves killed the baby, that was all. So if the baby didn't die, what could possibly be wrong?

"Malon died."

Impa's words seemed to echo throughout the room. Malon died...Malon...died? Saria couldn't seem to comprehend the words.

"But how could she die? Moredania leaves only kill the baby, not the mother!" And then Saria gasped and covered her mouth with her hands and stared fearfully down at the floor.

Impa was staring at Saria as though she had just met her. "I'm going to assume that this moredania incident was just an accident, Saria, nothing more, nothing less. And I'm going to tell you one thing: moredania leaves kill the mother just as often as the child nowadays. No one knows why. Maybe a hundred years ago they didn't kill mothers quite as much, but today they do. I'm assuming you read they kill the child in one of your old texts?" Saria nodded glumly. "Then it isn't your fault Malon died, my dear. It is, but it isn't. I don't want you to do anything drastic."

"Drastic? I tried to kill Malon's baby so Link wouldn't marry her and I ended up killing Malon herself! I'm horrible! I...I...I want to kill myself!" Saria pulled out a small knife she always brought with her for protection with every intention of stabbing herself, but Impa stopped her.

"Saria, no! If you kill yourself, the rest of the Sages die!"

Saria blinked. "What?"

Impa sighed. "Sages can only die by their own hand. Did you know this?" Saria shook her head. "Well, it's true. Nothing else can kill them. Not weapons...not disease...not even old age. Eventually you just stop aging when you're ready for it. That's why I've lived so long and still appear to be in my fifties or sixties. I'm actually a hundred and six tomorrow."

Saria gasped. "Is that why I stopped aging so young?"

"That was partly a Kokiri trait, mixed in with the Sage genetics to make you stop aging at such a young age. Anyway, if one Sage kills themself, the rest die."

Saria sat there for a moment, still wishing she could kill herself but now afraid to. Then Impa stood up and said, "If you'll excuse me. You have some thinking to do, and I need to call a casket maker and put an ad out in Hyrule Market Town that this ranch is for sale." She started to leave the room, but Saria stopped her.

"Wait!" Impa turned around, her eyes clear and focused. "What if I took care of the ranch?"

"You can't, my dear. You need to protect the Forest Temple."

"So? I hate living in the forest! It's not fair! And I can travel so quickly, and right now there aren't any problems with the Temple...I only check up on it once a day or so anyway! I'll just zip over there when I have to." She paused, thinking hard. "I could even have some of the Kokiri help me! Would that work?"

Impa smiled. "If you think so." And she walked out the door.

Saria felt a tiny bit better. She would never, could never make it up to Malon and her daughter, but at least the ranch wouldn't go to someone bad with animals. Then suddenly Impa walked in.

"Saria, I just wanted to let you know that you shouldn't tell Link about what you did. At least not now. Wait for a couple years."

"A couple years! Why?"

"There are some things you just don't tell people, honey, and this is one of them. Trust me. Wait." And Impa walked out the ranch door, hoping Saria would follow her advice.
~~~







Zelda sat quite still, perched on the roof of the castle where no one of real importance could find her. Sure, the guards in the courtyard could spot her a mile away, but they were on duty and couldn't exactly report the princess.

She had finally stopped feeling sorry for herself a few hours ago and started worrying about what she would wear to her wedding. A little bit of late notice, maybe, but she had been in denial so long it was a small wonder she hadn't planned better.

She looked out over the vast front yard of the palace, smiling to herself as she thought of how lush the grass looked, how gorgeous the trees. Somehow everything seemed peaceful today, as though everything was going to be all right and there was no need to worry about anything. It was a nice, lazy summer day.

Suddenly she noticed that part of the grass looked odd...like it was moving. Odd. She craned her neck for a closer look and realized it wasn't grass at all-it was Link! Zelda jumped up and turned herself into a light molecule, landing happily next to Link. He looked surprised when he saw her, and then his face became sad.

"Link, what's wrong? What's the matter?"

Link held a small bundle in his arms, and he held it out to Zelda. "What do you think?"

Zelda took the bundle, which she soon realized was a baby, in her arms. She gasped as she pulled back the blanket. The baby looked amazingly like Malon, except for the eyes, which were Link's.

"Wow...she's beautiful, Link! She looks just like Malon!" Zelda paused. "I'm assuming Malon is resting back at the ranch?"

Link shook his head, frowning. "I'll just put it bluntly...she's dead. That's why I came. I wanted to tell you that I can marry you now."

Zelda stared at Link, this shell of a man who seemed to have lost every good quality about him, and then suddenly she said, "Well I feel bad for Malon-how would you like it if you died and she up and married another man?"

Link stared at her. "This is different, Zelda. Extreme circumstances, for one thing, and not much time. You're getting married tonight. And second of all, it's not like I'm in love with you."

Those last words stung, and Zelda choked back a gasp. "But at your wedding, you said..."

"I said that because I think you're pretty and I figured it wouldn't matter whether or not I was in love with you, since I was getting married. It sounds awful, I know, but I'm just laying down the facts, Zelda. I don't love you, but I could learn to. Lots of couples do." He sighed, then added, "And a lot of times that makes the marriage a hundred times better, because the people in it really have to work hard. But no, I'm not in love with you. I'm in love with Ruto, and I have been for a long time."

Zelda sighed. "Fine. You know what? I will marry you. She'll make a beautiful princess, Link." Link looked confused and then he said, "The baby won't be princess! She doesn't have your blood."

"So? She has Malon's blood, which is better than having my blood, I can tell you, and she has yours, and you're the King."

"I'm not the King yet..."

"Yes, you are." Link gazed at Zelda, exhausted and puzzled. "Father died last night. He said something about everything being all right to me, and then he suddenly started gasping for air and then he just...died. Collapsed. Just like that."

Link stood silent for a moment, then said, "What do you want to name her?"

"What?"

"She doesn't have a name yet. Why don't you name her?"

Zelda stared at the baby for a moment, silent. Then, softly, "Malin."

"What?"

"Malin. It's a comination of your and Malon's names. So I can remember that she's not my child. And so she can remember too. I want her to know all about Malon. You can tell her stories."

Link stared at Zelda cautiously. "Are you sure?"

Zelda nodded confidently. "Absolutely."

"All right, then..."

"Wait here. I have to go tell everyone the wedding is having a small change in it..." Zelda disappeared in a flash of light.

Link sighed, realizing Zelda had taken the baby with her. Then he stared out in the direction of Lon Lon Ranch.

He was marrying someone he didn't love for the second time in his life. He was becoming King of Hyrule against his will, and he was a father on top of it all. What was next? Then he smiled, a small smile that made him feel a bit better. With all this responsibilty...

"This is for the best, Malon. And you know what? I think I did what you told me to today. I think I finally grew up."
~~~


What'd you think? Good ending or bad ending? Hmm? The sequel will, obviously, be about baby Malin a little (okay, fourteen years) older, and it will also have children of Michael and Nabooru's, plus Ruto and Brandon's. Hope you like it as much as this one!