"After all, how can a mere dragon expect to tell a man like yourself what to do? In fact, everyone should stand in awe of your brilliance of finding the only dead end." – Saphira to Eragon, 'The Inheritance Cycle'.
Life had almost always been easy for Link. Apart from never knowing who his parents were and the occasional venture out of town, life had been easy. He had grown up learning how to wield a sword, herd goats and sleep late into the day, not giving a care in the world about what happened outside his village. Never, not once, had he thought his life could change so dramatically.
His very first dangerous adventure had been when he was young – a little under the age of eight – where he had left the village alone on a small quest out to discover the world. Rusl was looking after the newly born Collin and Uli was resting after the childbirth, both adults completely and utterly unaware of their adoptive son's disappearance.
A little after having crossed the border to enter Faron Woods, Link had come upon a group of wandering Bokoblins, seeking the pleasure of blood and gore. Not knowing what the beasts were, he'd walked straight up to one and simply stood there, watching and observing them. The Bokoblin in front of him had smiled a devilish grin and swung its club like weapon at his head, knocking him out cold. Thankfully, a little before that time, Rusl had realised Link was missing and had frantically left to find him, searching everywhere and anywhere for the young boy. When he'd finally found Link, the youth had been tied to a tree and was surrounded by a dozen Bokoblins. After that one occasion, Link had learnt to never leave the Village alone, without a means of protection.
By the age of fourteen, he had discovered a love for Ilia. She had taken Epona to Ordon Spring and washed her and when she had returned the mare, spotlessly clean, she'd said that she hoped he didn't mind that she had cleaned Epona. He'd smiled and said that he was thankful. Later that day, he'd been searching for his small sling-shot in his mare's saddlebags but had instead come upon a charming necklace, twisted with long blades of grass and with a horse-call reed hanging at the bottom. That was the day he had discovered something for Ilia.
Half a year after the necklace discovery, a hoard of Bokoblins had charged into the village and taken Ilia and the young Beth captive. Rusl and Link had left immediately after the Bokoblins, searching desperately to get the two girls back. They'd found the beasts later that night and rampaged the campsite, attacking and killing any who came in their way. The Bokoblins, seeing how futile the attempt to protect the camp was, scattered hastily, eager to escape the claws of death. They had found Ilia and Beth and, after several questions, discovered that they were unharmed. It was that day that he discovered his love for Ilia was that of a brother, nothing more.
At the age of fifteen, Rusl had started to build Link a house along the outskirts of the village, saying that the house he lived in now with himself, Uli and Collin was too small and that he was old enough to live on his own. Link had helped to build the new home and, by the time he was sixteen, it was completed.
The day that he was supposed to deliver a parcel to Hyrule Castle was the one day that changed everything. He was a few months older than seventeen – having just passed Rusl's expectations to become the next village Swordsman alongside him – and was now Ordon's new messenger. Ilia had accused him of pushing Epona too hard and injuring her. She had stormed off in a bout of anger, taking the chestnut mare with her. He'd found her at Ordon Spring, gates closed, fuming and refusing to let him in. Ilia had started to apologize when she saw that he had somehow entered the spring, after having Colin explain what had occurred the day before, saying that she hadn't realised the events of the previous days capture involving Talo and the monkey.
Just as she'd been about to return Epona to him, the gates crashed open and a Bublin riding on a boar's back had come charging in, along with several other Bokoblins. The last thing he'd heard was Ilia scream before everything had gone black. He'd regained consciousness several minutes later, confused, then recalled the events only moments before and had charged after the two captured villagers. He hadn't gotten very far however, as a huge black wall prevented him from passing through. He had stood there, trying to find some way to gain passage, only to have a hand reach out from the wall and pull him through. After that, the only thing he'd felt was mind blowing pain.
The first time he'd met Princess Zelda was nothing like the way he had anticipated it to be. He had just woken up to find himself chained in a prison, with no idea how he had arrived there. He'd met the imp, Midna, who helped free him from the cell, and he'd followed her directions to the North Tower. There the Princess had been, locked away within her own Castle, unable to do anything but watch and wait as her people suffered under an evil reign not of her own. He'd felt something stir within him as he listened to her, her kind and gentle words containing a noticeable remorse, but he had discarded it as a feeling to do nothing more than with his new form.
The next time he'd seen her was when Zant had purified Midna's form into the light, and without help, the Twilight being would have died. He'd taken her to the Castle in search of Zelda and in a hope that she'd be able to help the dying Imp. He had found her in the same place she'd been last time, in the North Tower, looking out the window and deep within her own thoughts. As he'd entered, she'd turned to him and, in shock, came to his side. There she had talked to him, explaining things he knew not about, under Midna's request. But when the Imp's final request came, she had stopped and turned to the Twilight being. She had taken Midna's small hands within her own gloved ones and, without actually using the exact words, denied her plead. Slowly, her eyes had closed and her form began to disappear into a small wisp of pure magic, engulfing Midna in the process. When he had seen the Imp again, and seen her alive and well, but the Princess gone from the spot beside her, he'd moaned in distress. The stirring he had felt within him the previous time he had seen her had returned. That time he could not deny it; the feeling was well and truly genuine.
The first and only time he had ever met Ganondorf was a moment in history he would never forget. As he and Midna had walked into the Throne Room of Hyrule Castle, the first thing he'd laid eyes upon was the Princess of Hyrule, and wielder of the Triforce of Wisdom, suspended between the three huge pieces of the golden replica of the Triforce, completely and utterly lifeless. Below the monarchs motionless body, sat the King of Evil himself, smirking and grinning devilishly at them. How he had managed to bring the monarch's form back, Link had no idea.
Battling Zelda had been extremely hard. Ganondorf had possessed her body and, without being able to resist his evil magic, she had succumbed to his will and became his puppet. The battle had been demanding, in more ways than one, but in the end he had prevailed in the same way as many times before that: victory. As soon as Zelda had shown the sign of weakening, Midna encased her in a ring of her own magic and rid her of Ganondorf's tainted essence.
The next battle had been even harder: both he and Ganondorf had been in their beast forms, but he again gleamed victorious. As soon as Ganon had been brought down for the last time, he had vanished in a cloud of sickly black and green smoke and had seemed defeated. As Midna and he watched the smoke slowly dissipate, a white magic began to emit from the Twilight being and, when they followed it with their eyes, discovered it led to the Princess Zelda. Her lashes had opened and she had looked at them with sorrowful eyes. She spoke to them, her words soft, gentle and thankful, but traces of pain lingered within them. Not a few minutes later, a loud boomhad echoed behind them and triggered them to turn around. There, again, formed from the smoke, was Ganondorf's head, enlarged and sneering. Midna, deciding that this was her time to end this, teleported Link and the Princess away to the safety of Hyrule Field, out of harms way.
But Midna's thinking had been both wise and foolish at the same time; the Castle, which was in full view of the Hero and Princess, suddenly exploded and, as the Beautiful structure of Hyrule Castle had crumbled to dust and rubble, Ganondorf appeared behind them, seated on his black steed and smirking at the two Hylians. In his hand held above his head was Midna's ancient looking crown, crumbling to pieces.
Then, the battle had become one on horseback. Together, Zelda and he brought down the King of Darkness, with the Princess using light arrows and he using the Master Sword, Ganon had been taken to the ground, ready for open combat. A wall had erupted around them, but the Princess had been blocked out, unable to aid in any way. From then on in, it had been a battle of pure strength and willpower.
Swords clashed, shields blocked and bodies rolled. For how long the battle had taken place, Link had never been sure. The only thing that had been on his mind was the thought that if he failed, Hyrule would be in more danger than it had been before. Hack, slash, parry, roll. Slash, roll, parry, hack. That was the repetitive rhythm that had rolled through his mind, until finally, Ganondorf had faltered, and with his falter Link had taken his chance. He swiped fiercely at the King of Evil's chest with such a force that Ganondorf had been thrown onto his back. In one smooth motion, Link had leapt forward and driven the Bane of Evil through his chest, finally ending the reign of evil he had bestowed upon Hyrule.
Farewelling Midna had been excruciatingly painful. Now that both Hyrule and the Twilight realm had been restored to their original status, before Ganondorf had meddled, she needed to return to her people. They farewelled each other and exchanged a few words, but then the time came when she need to cross worlds. She climbed the steps to the Mirror of Twilight, then stopped, turned and said goodbye once more. Slowly, a light had begun to shine, and as it did, she disappeared. Not a second later, the mirror, and his heart, had shattered into a thousand tiny pieces, and as they did, he had remembered what Midna had told him.
"Only a true leader of the Twilight can completely destroy the Mirror."
Link wandered aimlessly through the Town of Hyrule, eyes glancing over everything and anything that met his vision and his legs taking him wherever they pleased. The crowds of the town bustled with afternoon activity and children ran freely through the throng of people, laughing and giggling as dogs on the street chased them or as they hid within small passages, ready to scare any who walked pass. The sun shined brightly above the Castle and its inhabitants – a stark contrast from the present day two years ago.
Link had never been one for celebrations – he was more of the quiet one – and today was no exception. Today was the second anniversary of peace and, as a result, sales were up everywhere. Sales to celebrate the triumph of the hero; sales to rejoice for the sustainment and continuation of amity; sales for the sake of just being alive. Even the Malo Mart in the Town– which was quite the money maker – had put up decorations to match the festivity. Every now and again, a small gathering could be seen, chattering away and lost within the memories of the past.
Even through all this, Link hardly payed any heed to what was happening around him, ignorant to the friendly grins of the men or the shy giggles and pointing fingers of young girls. Instead, he just walked around, as if this were any other normal day. Obliviously, he came upon a shop stand and, as if it were his intention to go there the whole time, stopped in his tracks. He stared numbly at the stall, wondering why he was looking directly at a table lined with necklaces, earrings and all things jewellery. It was only after a minuted that he seemed to realise that someone was talking to him.
"… Or perhaps you'd like this stunning, handcrafted ring, complete with a real sapphire from the Goron mines and an eighteen carat gold band. Or maybe even this charming bracelet here? With a sixteen carat gold entwined band and studded rubies it's perfect for your childhood sweetheart." Link looked up then and noticed that the young owner of the shop was watching him patiently. He was about to look down again when something behind the shop lady caught his eye. The shop owner, seeming to realise that it wasn't her that he was looking at, turned and, as her eyes glimpsed where his attention was, gave a light-hearted smile.
On a board, hanging from a hook, was a magnificent silver necklace. With four single threads of slim silver chain, braided around one another, leading to an amethyst that was encircled by what seemed to be slender silver vines - but were actually the four pieces of silver chains it hung upon - keeping it in place. He stared at it for a while until the shop keeper, once again, broke his trance.
"Ah, yes. That, my friend, was imported from Termina itself – the Jewel capital. With pure silver chains, hardened with a substance Hyrule has yet to know about, and nothing short of a genuine amethyst, this is by far the most stunning piece of jewellery I have yet come by." She leaned forward on the stand, a twinkle in her brown eyes. "Most people who chance on this little fascination are turned away by the price, but I'll tell ya what." She paused for effect. "This lil' bugger ain't on sale like the others but, here's the deal, if you tell me who your special someone is, I'll give ya a discount. There's a gossip going around about you, and who your little lover is." She winked at him.
Link swallowed passed the lump in his throat; he didn't like the way the shop keeper was looking at him. It was obvious she was eager for gossip to spread around Castle Town.
"How much is it?" he asked, looking at the necklace again.
"With or without the discount?"
"Without." He turned his attention to the young woman again.
"Quite a hefty price for that one, but you know how business is. You want it; you'll have to pay for it. That's nine hundred and eighty rupees, that is."
Link's mouth opened in shock. Surely she was joking. She musthave been joking; he had payed less for his magic armour! "And… with the discount?" He managed to ask, closing his mouth, but that didn't stop him from feeling shocked.
"Hmm… I'll make it six hundred and eighty."
That was three hundred rupees off! This woman must've been crazy. Quietly, Link weighed his options. Yes, he knew who he wanted to give the necklace to – he had for a while – but did he want it known? Certainly not. It was either feel humiliated, or pay the price… quite literally.
Feeling ripped off, Link took out his large wallet and placed the right amount of rupees on the counter, to which the woman looked at him in surprise but obliged and handed him the necklace. There would be no gossip about him for a little while more, it seemed.
He walked away from the woman in the stand slowly and quietly and made his way to Hyrule Castle's front gates. The guards let him pass without a question, but rather with a small grin; they had been given orders to let him – the hero – pass, whenever, without even so much a glance. He knew his way around the Castle perfectly by now, he had been in it so often. Very rarely though, would he come upon the Queen.
It was no secret that the Queen had been named the new monarch at a coronation a little under a year ago. In fact, the whole of Castle Town had been there to watch the crowning of their new leader. Link himself had been there and, even he could not deny, the Princess, now Queen, had looked stunning. Her dazzling white gown, laced with silver thread, had looked beautiful. Hugging her hourglass figure in the most complementary way and showing off her striking features along with it. After the coronation had been complete though, Link had wanted to go complement her, but he'd been too shy to even chance his eyes upon her.
Clutching tightly to the small pouch in his hand, Link climbed the steps before him, seeming to stretch forever as he ascended them. Step after step, he climbed the stairway, until finally, after what seemed like hours, the stairs flattened and a door stood before him. He knew these doors, and he would never forget them. Not when they possessed such powerful memories.
Timidly, he pushed the double doors open, stepped inside and glanced around. Nothing had changed much, he noticed. The desk to his left was still there; the bed was still against the side wall and the fireplace was still on the wall to his right. The only thing that had moved was the chair, now seated at the desk. Standing at the window, however, was a person, as real as he. She was facing away from him and looking out the window, still as a ghost. He'd had no doubt that he would've found her here.
He stood observing her for a few minutes, watching her poised back, studying her gloved hands which hung by her sides, her blonde streaked chestnut hair, the regal clothing she wore.
"You need not stand there forever, Link." Her voice was soft as silk, but strong. Just as a leader's should be, he thought.
Link bowed his head down, shy. "I'm sorry, your Highness," he murmured and stepped out of the doorway. Behind her but to the side so he could still see her properly. Yet she did not turn to greet him, instead focused on the elements outside.
Her answer was slow incoming, but it came nonetheless. "Why do you apologize?" she mused. "There is no need."
Link's brow furrowed. Why had he apologized? The Queen had just made a statement, not a reprimand. "I…" He trailed off weakly.
She appeared to understand his silence and did not comment on it. But, still she did not turn to him, rather gazed deep in thought out to Hyrule field. Eyes wandering over everything but focused on nothing.
"The Town is celebrating two years of prosperity and peace… yet you do not join them. Why is that?" It was such a simple question, yet it held so many answers.
There was the reason that he didn't like celebrations, or that he wanted to see her – the queen, or even that he would rather do nothing at all. He could have said any of those and they would have been true, nevertheless, he chose the answer that felt most appropriate. "I… I do not feel the need to celebrate, your Majesty. Not for the same reason why Midna left."
There was a small pause in which no-one spoke. "You loved her, didn't you?" She asked softly.
Link was caught off guard by the question and as he tried to respond, he tripped over his words. "In L-Love… with M-Midna?" He actually wasn't completely sure. Did he love her? Yes, he did. Was it a romantic sort of love? Definitely not. Taking a deep breath, he finally managed to say, "Yes, I did love Midna. I loved her as a friend. When she came to me in the prison, she was hostile towards me, but as we got to know each other, I found to enjoy her company, as she did mine, a lot. And when she left, I was shattered, but I never loved her as I would a lover."
The Queen tilted her chin. "We all miss Midna. She was part of the war whether we liked it or not, and when she chose to shatter the mirror, it was her decision to make." Her eyes closed for a moment before they resumed gazing through the window. "She was as much a part of us as we were her. Fate was inevitable."
Link's fingers tightened around the pouch in his hand, but not enough to crush what was inside it. Hesitantly, he moved forward so that he was only a step behind her, then reached out and took hold of her fingers with his free hand. She stiffened at the contact, but permitted it. Taking this as a sign of permission, Link stepped forward again and slipped the small pouch in his hand into her fingers, then stepped back again, waiting anxiously for her reaction.
Slowly and cautiously, her gloved hands curled around the pouch and she lifted it in front of her, before shifting her eyes down to look at it. She opened it with her slender fingers and retrieved it from its dwelling and, as she caught sight of the expensive jewel, her lashes closed, before she finally turned to him. Her beautiful, amethyst coloured eyes locked onto his and sparkled intensely. The darkness from one side of the room gave her a daunting, mysterious look, while the light from the fire place made her purple irises glimmer hauntingly. She was a beautiful, dark Queen.
And that was the reason why he'd bought the necklace for the price it had come at; only it could come close enough to matching her beauty.
"Link, why did you do it?" Zelda whispered gently. "You need not spend riches on me. Your kindness is enough for anyone."
He ignored her statement. "Put it on," he murmured.
She gazed at it for a long while, before saying, "Link, I cannot accept this. Please, give it to someone who deserves it."
But Link just repeated what he had said before. "Put it on. Please, your Majesty. It was you I bought it for, not someone else."
Hesitantly, the Queen continued looking at the jewel before finally slipping it over her head and around her neck. She straightened it and placed the amethyst against her breast. In the firelight, it glimmered beautifully, reflecting the flames as if they were truly within in the stone.
Seeing the Queen wear something he had personally bought for her made him pleased.
"Your Majesty, it looks beautiful on you," he spoke softly. He looked at her and offered a smile, but it faded when he noticed her weary appearance. "Have you been ill, your Majesty?"
Zelda gave a slight shake of her head and didn't respond but, as he was about to apologize for being so forward with her, but before he could the Queen gently cut him off. "My nights have been many and restless. They do not bring me comfort and respite like I should hope." Tentatively, she reached up and touched the jewel at her breast. "Though you do not need to concern over my maters when you have your own to attend to."
"Is it the dreams?" This time, however, she didn't respond in any way.
After the war, two years ago, Link had taken up a lodging in the Castle. He'd felt reluctant to return to Ordon after what he'd been through and with the Queen's permission, he had stayed there for a little of a year. Thankfully, when the Castle had been damaged, due to the explosion, only the upper most floors had been destroyed, leaving the lower most available for temporary accommodation while the other quarters were repaired.
If he were to be honest and compare the Queen Zelda was now to the Princess she once was, he could say without a doubt that she had changed, but for better of worse, he knew not. Then, she had been a source of light for Hyrule; bright, kind and loving. Now, on the other hand, she had faded. She was still the kind, loving person she was before, but now she was withering. Her rule over Hyrule was crumbling. The stress of the council and the pressure they gave her had finally caught up to her and was dragging her down. Additionally, the fact that she was still unmarried was something the elders would not fail to bring up with every conversation. Her strength was waning, her spirit had died and her heart had given up. In matter of two years, she had gone from light to darkness.
He searched her eyes but found nothing. He never could decipher her emotions, not with the expressionless mask she wore.
"Is the council still troubling you?"
This time, when he asked question, the tiniest hint of a frown crept onto her brow. She turned to the window again, but did not seem to be looking through it. "The council's troubles never ended," was her response. There was silence again, but this time she turned the tables on him. "Were you not meant to be married to someone a few months ago? Ilia, was it?"
His mouth opened to ask how she knew, but he closed it. "Ilia is like a sister to me. I cannot marry her if my intentions towards her are that of a sibling." Ilia had understood, thankfully, and did not try to murder him for his denial. "I refused the proposal."
Her head tilted down. "I know."
Then why did you ask?He was going to say, but he kept his mouth shut. "What about you, your Majesty? Has anyone caught your eye yet?"
He did not seem to notice how her fingers circled around the fabric of her dress and gripped it tightly. How she tensed. Or how her eyes flashed dangerously. He waited patiently for an answer, yet none came. Gingerly, he stepped forward, so that he was beside her, and took her hand within his own. It was then he realised how on edge she really was.
"You don't need to answer that, your Majesty. It was a personal question and I should not have asked. I apologize for my prying." He was about to turn and leave, but suddenly her fingers tightened around his hand. Startled, he looked at her, however, she had her head tilted towards the ground and her eyes closed. "Your Highness?"
"If I asked you why you came to me today, would you respond truthfully? Would you look at me and say why you stand here now, beside me, while I wear the necklace you bought for me with who knows how much money? Or would you stumble over your words, trying pitifully to come up with an excuse?"
Surprised, he tried to find a response for her harsh, bitter words, but only managed to stutter, "I-I'm sorry, I-"
"You know what I said, Link. I have no need to repeat myself." The Queen cut him off none too gently.
Her cold words left him with no reply. Why the sudden change in attitude, he did not know. He stood there for Goddesses knows how long, searching his mind for the reason he had come to her, yet found none satisfactory. There were so many explanations, all rolling and tumbling around in his head, bumping into each other and bouncing away, but suddenly one presented itself to him, as true as the moon, and flashing brightly like a candle being extinguished and relit.
"Your Majesty… though you might deny it and say I am delusional, there is many a reason for my coming here. Some, I admit, are ridiculous and petty, but others are as strong and as the wind. For many months have I may have tried to deny it, but everytime I fight it, it just becomes stronger and stronger until I think my head will explode." He paused. "Have you ever wanted something to be, but chided yourself for wishful thinking? Have you ever sought after something so badly that, without it, you believe you could not live? Sometimes I ask myself, 'Why do I wish for this when I know it will never be? Why do I keep thinking that this is possible when not even the luckiest people can set eyes on what I want?'" He took a shaky breath. It was now or never; there was no going back now. "That is why I came here today, your Majesty, to ask if my fantasy is possible… to ask if there is any hope that you might return my ardour for you."
The Queen faltered, her grip dropped from his hand and her posture broke. Link knew he had no chance of deciphering her thoughts, so he waited for her response, praying to the Goddesses for hope. Slowly, she lifted her head to look at him. Her eyes were reflecting the firelight again and, at that very moment, he asked Din, Nayru and Farore how they could have blessed Hyrule with such a stunning beauty.
"My heart has turned to ice, Link. Slowly, I have diminished into nothing. I'm afraid that love is no longer possible for me."
Link's heart broke, but that did not stop him from trying again. "Surely there must be something-"
Her lashes closed briefly. "I am broken, Link. There is nothing more to it."
With that said, the Queen turned away from him and back to the window.
Deliberately, Link stepped forward so he was beside the Queen. He turned so he faced her and tenderly brushed a stray hair away from her face. She payed no attention to what he was doing, however, and ignored him, pretending that he was not there.
"Then let me mend you." Out of the blue, courage filled him, and he leaned forward slowly, touching his lips against hers.
And she did not refuse.
So, first things first…
*Cough* well, anyway. This one-shot has been on my mind for a while now, so I hope you enjoyed this little… alright, so it's not really alittle… one-shot of mine. Even if you didn't like it, I would still like some R&R. Any questions will also most likely be answered also.