Summary: TP. While wandering around the fields of Faron, Link comes across a red haired maiden waiting for someone by a long-forgotten ranch. Link/Malon.

Disclaimer: THe Legend of Zelda and all related characters are copyright of Nintendo.

A Farm Girl's Promise

He rode out across the rolling hills of Hyrule Field with no light but the moon to guide him. It was only when the moon was at its highest in the sky that the blanket of night seemed the least threatening. No monsters could be seen for miles around. He took in the beauty of the picturesque landscape before him. Every rock and tree was bathed under a silvery, luminescent glow. Golden bugs glinted in the grass as through trying to imitate the glittering stars in the sky. He urged Epona onward. This was truly his favorite time to be out in the open, an hour when he felt the tranquility of being one with the earth.

As Epona's hooves clopped against the wooden bridge leading into Faron, a distant haunting voice sounded in his ears. He nudged her forward and looked across the plain searching the source of the sound. And he found himself absolutely mesmerized when he did.

He spied a red haired maiden sitting primly on a rock beneath a tree, singing to herself as she looked pensively into expansive, moonlit landscape. He noticed an unnatural sort of stillness about her, a strange lifelessness that was shadowed by the wistful voice in her song. The wind blew her blood red hair about her face and made the hem of her washed-out lilac skirt stir around her feet, but she didn't seem to mind. She sat expectantly with her hands on her lap, continuing her song without a care for the world around her. She kept her eyes straight forward, as if waiting for a sign to appear somewhere on the grassy field. He wasn't sure if it was her melancholy song that captivated him or if it was some other unknown force. Either way, he found himself digging his heels into Epona's sides as he dashed across the grassy plain where she waited.

"Miss," Link called out. He carefully dismounted Epona and made his way over to the girl. "Miss, are you alright?"

As soon as she caught sight of him, she fell out of her trance-like state and stared at the green-clad hero in front of her. He faltered for a moment when he finally saw her up close. Her face was hollow and expressionless, save for the haunting look of desperation in her sapphire eyes.

"Is it you?" she said in a murmured softly, her voice almost a whisper.

He disregarded that statement and offered a hand to help her up. "Miss, what are you doing all alone out here at this hour?" he asked worriedly.

She remained still and refused to acknowledge his hand in front of her. "I'm waiting for someone. We're supposed to meet here," she said blankly.

"Who are you waiting for?"

"For him. He promised he'd be here. So here I am waiting."

"How long have you been out here?"

"I'm not sure, really. I've been waiting a very long time. Many nights actually. But he'll be here eventually. I'm sure he will."

He sighed and shook his head as a small twinge of anger welled up inside him. Poor girl must have been a jilted lover still waiting for her man to come to her. How could anybody be cruel enough to do that? "Miss, I don't think he'll be coming."

"Oh, but he must come! He promised!" she protested frantically.

"You can't stay out here forever. It wouldn't be right of me to leave you here all by yourself."

"I'm quite alright. I'll stay here and wait like I promised," she said stubbornly.

He offered his hand again. "Come on. I'll take you home. Will you show me where you live?"

She sighed dejectedly and gestured towards the mound rising from the middle of the plains of Faron. "Up there," she directed him.

Link squinted his eyes as he surveyed the area. "I've been here before, but I've never seen a path that goes all the way up that hill."

"Aren't you talking about the path right behind you?"

He turned around and caught sight of the gravel trail leading up to two old fenceposts. Between them, the trail continued up into the hill, but where exactly it ended, he couldn't tell.

Before he could comment on the path's sudden appearance, she walked up to Epona and gently stroked her fingers across her neck. Oddly enough, the mare obliged to the strange girl's touch. As she whinnied, the girl turned back and looked at him expectantly. "Shall we be going?"

He nodded and helped her climb the horse, and together they followed along the trail. He shivered slightly as she wrapped her arms around his waist to keep from falling off. She pressed herself against him and breathed in deeply. "You remind me of him," she said absently with a glazed over expression in her eyes. "He always wore a green hat and tunic. You even have the same blue eyes."

"So I see," Link muttered in response. He felt slightly uncomfortable with how close she was getting.

The two rode onward until she called for him to stop. She dismounted and walked towards the dense forest ahead of her. "Here it is. I'm home."

He gave her a puzzled look. "But Miss, there's nothing here but a forest. Are you sure I shouldn't take you a little further?"

"No, this will do. Come down here. I want to show you something," she motioned for him to follow. She stepped daintily across the earth while the wind tugged at the faded lilac cotton of her skirt and her hair danced around her. He dismounted Epona and chased after her, not knowing where she was taking him.

When they finally stopped, he looked around only to see more trees. "What is this place?"

"You've stepped inside the barn of Lon Lon Ranch," she answered.

"What barn? There's nothing here but more trees. Let's go back. It might be dangerous out here."

She remained unfazed by his words. "You weren't here then," the girl continued. "This was the agricultural pride of Hyrule, Lon Lon Ranch. It's a place filled with memories. It wasn't always easy doing all the work there was to do around here, but sometimes he'd come by just to spend the day helping out. Other times, he'd take me on his horse and we'd ride around all of Hyrule together, visiting different places, taking in the different sights. But above all else, he always found time just to visit and spend time with me. We were so happy back then. Even after he became a Hylian Knight, he would still come back to the ranch just for me. No matter where his battles took him, he always found a home here for him to return to."

Somehow, Link felt captivated by her story. He stood still and listened to every word, but he couldn't ignore the slight twinge of sadness in her eyes as she told him the next part.

"But then a terrible war broke out between Hyrule and one of the neighboring kingdoms. Princess Zelda ordered him to be sent out on the battlefield as one of the highest ranking Hylian Knights. I remember the day I said goodbye to him, here inside this barn. I gave him a bottle of milk to take along with him and told him to come back as soon as he could. He promised he'd return for me once the war was over. So I waited."

Link started to fit the pieces together. Now that he understood the circumstances, he knew why she was waiting. But some things didn't add up. What war was she talking about? And what happened to the ranch?

She looked at him sadly and continued her story. "Then the war took a turn for the worse and soon we were invaded. The Princess ordered all the civilians to be evacuated, but I stayed here on the ranch to wait for him like I promised."

She closed her eyes and paused before continuing, as though she was finally uncovering painful memories she left buried deep inside her. Link remained silent and waited patiently for her carry on with her tale.

"One day, enemy soldiers came to this ranch asking where the Hero of Time was. I told them I knew nothing, but they pillaged the ranch, stole all the cows and horses. Then they locked me here in the barn, beat me, and stripped me of all my clothes. They tied me to a post and one by one, pressed me for any information on his whereabouts. But what did I know? I was just a simple farm girl. I kept telling them I knew nothing, but they whipped me and beat me every time I tried to protest. When they finally realized I had nothing else to give them, some of them took turns having their way with me. They cut the ropes that bound me and pinned me down to the ground. I remember crying and screaming as each one of those horrible men violated me, but nobody heard me. And when they were finished, they kicked me to the ground and quietly left. Someone lit a torch and threw it to a pile of straw in the corner before leaving. It wasn't long before the fire spread from the hay to the rest of the barn. I tried to get up and escape, but I could barely move after what those men had done to me. There wasn't much left I could do."

Link looked behind the girl and gasped in shock. A ghostly apparition engulfed the area and the trees around him were briefly replaced by the old barn of Lon Lon Ranch. He shielded himself as chunks of fiery debris began to drop from the ceiling, but the girl before him stood motionless, undaunted by anything happening around the two of them. The piercing look in her eyes only told Link one thing, "I want you to see this."

When he looked again, he found the entire barn was lit in flames. But amidst the blaze was young girl crawling on the dirt floor of the barn, screaming for help. Dark bruises and cuts covered her unclothed body. A hand was clutched between her legs, but that neither alleviated the searing pain nor stopped the blood from trickling down. Outside, he could hear the sounds of hooves pounding against the earth as the soldiers outside made their escape, but that was drowned out by the crackling of the flames engulfing her death trap. She screamed and screamed until her voice finally gave way to tears of desperation, but nobody was there to hear her cries. Finally she stopped crawling and lay still on the dirt floor, her tears and cries reduced to whimpers as she accepted her fate.

Link watched in terror as she was burned alive before his eyes. He subconsciously lunged to reach out to her, but the red haired girl who brought him here stretched an arm out in front of him, blocking his way. And though her voice was emotionless, he only needed to glance into her eyes to see the weight her words carried. "I died here that day. Before I could keep my promise to him."

Fear took hold of him the as soon as he realized what she truly was. He pushed her away, causing the ghostly apparition of the barn burning around them to vanish. She stumbled for a moment and a flicker of hurt and pain betrayed her statuesque composure. "Why?" she asked, her voice trembling.

"Stay away from me," he warned her. He pulled his sword out of its sheath and brandished it towards her.

She paid the sword no mind and her face and regained its calm expression, but this time the heartbroken trembling of her voice gave her away. "It's funny. I've waited such a long time for him to return. For him to finally come back home. But he never did come."

He remained motionless, ready to strike if necessary.

"And yet, you look so much like him." She picked herself up off the ground and walked slowly towards the hero.

"What do you want from me?" he snarled at her.

Tears started to well in her eyes as she begged him to believe her. "Please Link, it's me. I love you."

"Please Link, it's me. I love you." Time froze as soon as he heard those words and memories of a past life flashed through his mind. He saw a young boy clothed in green playing an ocarina while a redheaded girl in a simple farm dress joined in the song with her lovely, chime-like voice. Years later when the two were grown, he watched as they both raced against each other on the track lining the fence of the horse corral. He saw the looks of calm happiness on their face as they helped each other work to care for the ranch, milking and herding the cows and gathering hay for the horses. He was moved when he saw how she dropped her buckets of milk and ran towards him for a loving embrace when he would come back to the ranch dressed in a soldier's armor covered in dents and scratches from the battlefield. Finally, there was a grand wedding in the Temple of Time where the same girl from before was now elegantly clothed in a dress of white satin and lace, walking up to the altar where a blonde Hylian Knight stood.

He dropped his sword and stood frozen in his tracks as a look of realization dawned on his face. Although he had never met this girl before, he finally understood who she was and who she was waiting for all these years. "Malon?" he breathed out in a barely audible whisper.

"So you did remember." She walked up to him slowly and caressed his cheek with an icy palm. She pressed her face so close to his that their noses were nearly touching. Link could easily see the tears she fought to hold back. "I was afraid you'd completely forgotten about me."

At that moment, he threw caution to the winds and abandoned any fears he had left about her. He wasn't sure how he felt towards her anymore. Was it pity? Compassion? Or simply understanding the sorrow she endured waiting for so many years? Regardless, he cupped her hand around his and looked into her glistening sapphire eyes. "Don't worry. It's alright now."

She nuzzled herself into the crook of his neck, whimpering and quivering slightly. It wasn't until he felt a slight wetness on his skin that he realized she was crying. "What's wrong Malon?" he asked while stroking her hair comfortingly.

"You just don't know how much I've missed you," she said in between sobs. "How long I've waited for this."

He sighed. Poor girl. He couldn't even pretend to imagine the pain she must have suffered. The Hero of Time? He died over a century ago and without her knowing. Or perhaps she died before him? He shook his theories out of his head and turned his attention to the sobbing girl before him. He wrapped his arms gently around her held her close to him. "I'm sorry," he whispered softly. He took a look at her lovely face and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.

He began to hum a tune to soothe her, the same one he used to calm Epona. Her ears perked up at the melody and she looked at him in half-surprise, half-reminiscence. "That's Epona's song. Our song."

Link only nodded and continued to hum while stroking her hair. Soon, she joined in and began to hum along, and slowly her anguish melted away into a calm tranquility. They both reveled in this brief reverie, forgetting the bleakness to treasure this short-lived bit of repose. They remained in each other's arms till the cloak of night slowly lifted away to expose pinkish orange sky of dawn.

She broke their spell once she noticed the first traces of sunrise arriving. With her hands still wrapped around his neck, she looked up at him and smiled. Her once-hollow and empty expression gave way to the warm, loving look he now saw in her eyes.

"Link, thank you," she said before kissing him goodbye.

As soon as the sun rose, the girl he held in his arms burst into a thousand scattered orbs of light. Quickly, he broke away and shielded his eyes to keep from going blind. When the light finally cleared away, he looked around for any sign of her, but there was none to be found. Instead, a glittering heart-shaped crystal rested where she stood only moments ago. The sun sparkled brightly on its icy, opalescent surface, but he knew that locked inside the gem was the fiery heart of a young woman still waiting for her long lost lover, the Hero Time. He touched the piece of heart and held it close to chest, offering a few moments of silence for Malon's memory as his body absorbed the crystal. With one final look at the forested area where the ranch once stood, he called for Epona and rode back into the fields of Hyrule.


A/N: Ah Link/Malon. My Zelda OTP. This was my first attempt in years at writing a fanfic, not to mention my longest oneshot ever. And I think my idea of earning a heart piece is way more kickass than the cheesy "explore the cave" method you find in the games. Inspired by a youtube video of a ghost girl who died in a car crash and Morna's fanfic "A Song So Haunting."