AN: Whahay! I was procrastinating on the newest chapter of Innocence Lost when this plot idea popped into my head. Since I am one of the lame people who has to work every day until Thanksgiving, I decided to give my boring morning a twist by finally writing this one down. It's not spectacular (fair warning) but it's always a nice feeling to finish an idea through, no matter how convoluted. :) Enjoy this little one-shot of Link/Malon goodness!

Summary: Link is headed to the Spirit Temple, when he comes across a certain Farm Girl who accidentally incurs the wrath of a Poe. A twist on the typical stories of Malon nursing Link back to health. A little fluffy, a little sappy, but the ending is not what you'd expect. Written as if it could have actually happened in the game, which means it's not set in the same universe as Innocence Lost.

Warnings: Some broken bones, a little blood, and a smidge of angst, but nothing major.

.O.

Of Poes and Thunderstorms

A Legend of Zelda One-Shot

By Flutterby Ashes

.O.

Malon cursed under her breath, damning Ingo and anyone else she could think of for making her go out in this storm. The day had started beautifully enough, and Ingo, who was in a rare good mood, had offered for her to take the deliveries to Kakariko. She'd happily accepted; when the ranch was under Gannondorf's control, she'd been confined to it, and now she welcomed to opportunities to get out and see the kingdom.

Everything had been so much nicer ever since Link had come back. He'd broken the spell on Ingo and freed the ranch some months ago, and now, every time she left the ranch, the field looked a little greener, and the angry dark clouds that once roamed freely were almost completely isolated to Gannondorf's castle.

She worried about him when he was gone. More than once, he'd stumbled into the ranch late at night, clutching some gaping wound on his body. Other times, he'd been completely unconscious and Epona had brought him back to the ranch. She had taken care of him, those times, occasionally waking Ingo or her father when she prodded a little too roughly. She always scolded him when he woke, telling him to be more careful and to "stop bleeding on my horse, damn it." He would laugh, and leave as soon as he could stand, and she would watch him go, praying silently to the Goddesses that they would watch over him.

The clear, blue morning had given no indication of the hell storm that she was suffering through now, and she idly wondered if Gannondorf was to blame. She wished she hadn't gone out alone, or that Link or her father had been with her; they were much better at reading the weather that she was, and probably would have insisted that she'd stayed in Kakariko for the night. The rain had started slowly when she'd been about a quarter of the way home. Grumbling lightly, she'd wrapped her cloak around her shoulders, pulling the hood over her head, and spurred the mare she had taken, Firenze, on toward the ranch.

The light, steady rain continued for some time, and the temperature began to drop, so she edged the horse on a little faster, slightly worried that she would catch her death in this cold. By the time she'd made it midway through the field, the very gates of Hell had opened up and poured down from the sky above. It came on suddenly, blanketing the field in absolute darkness and making it impossible for her to see. She thanked the Goddesses that Firenze was such a calm horse, knowing that many of the others would have reared her off and bolted away before she'd even have the chance to blink. She started to search desperately for a tree to take refuge under from the rain and wind. Lightning illuminated the world around her, and she finally spotted on, tugging the reigns to lead Firenze that way, but the horse didn't budge.

Hovering in front of them was a giant, menacing looking poe.

She froze, despite the rain and wind pounding down on her. She'd never seen a poe before, and she had no idea what she was supposed to do. Its dead eyes watched them, seeming to calculate something, and she tried to urge Firenze backwards. The horse finally did as she'd asked, taking a hesitant back step, when the poe whirled around them, faster than she'd seen anything move in her life, swinging its lantern and cackling away. Firenze reared back, panicked, but she managed to hold one. The poe flung its lantern in their direction, and it collided with the cart, causing it to erupt into flames. Somehow, she managed to cut the cart lose while Firenze bucked wildly, and as soon as the fiery weight was lifted, the horse bolted. Her numb hands lost their grip then, and she flew backwards off the mare.

She hit the ground with a thud, and everything went black.

.O.

Link sighed, staring out onto the field. Today was the day. He would go to the Spirit Temple, and with any luck, by the end of the week he'd have the last, shining medallion he needed to break Gannondorf's control.

He was ready to be finished.

When he was done, perhaps the goddesses would be so kind as to grant him a respite from fighting. Maybe he's go back to the ranch and live there; Malon and her father were the closest thing to a family that he had, and he wouldn't mind getting the opportunity to spend more time with him. Although, Malon did tend to bring out those feelings in him. He didn't quite understand them, or what they meant, but his heart would always beat faster when she was around, and sometimes he would dream about her and wake up to uncomfortably damp sheets and an ache he couldn't quite describe. He always turned to her when he needed help, but maybe that was because she was the only person who had proven herself to be completely trustworthy. Idly, he wished that he could go to the ranch before conquering the Spirit Temple, but Navi had insisted that they were running out of time.

"It looks like there's going to be a bad storm. Maybe we should wait it out?" he asked, not fully understanding the rush.

"Wait it out? The entire future of this world depends on you, and you're going to let a silly little rainstorm get in your way?" the fairy ground out, throwing her tiny arms into the air. "Pathetic!"

"Fine, fine," he said, trying to assuage the fairy, "just don't complain to me when you're sopping wet and shivering under my hat." She scoffed at him then, muttering something under her breath about stupid Hylians. Link grinned and grabbed his pack, setting out from the forest toward Gerudo Valley.

.O.

Several hours later, the storm had grown terrible, just as Link had predicted, and Navi was curled up under his hat, sopping wet and shivering, burying herself in his hair in an attempt to escape the pelting raindrops. Link shivered, wondering if this storm was natural or if Gannondorf had caused it somehow to keep him from interfering.

Lighting streaked across the sky, and in the distance he could make out what looked to be a horse and cart in the middle of the field. 'Who would be stupid enough to be out in this storm?' he thought, ignoring the fact that he, too, was stupid enough to be out in this storm. He trudged in the direction of the traveler, every now and then catching glimpses of them as lightning struck.

A sinister cackle drifted to his ears on the wind, and as lightning flashed again, he made out the shadowy figure of a poe creeping closer to the unsuspecting rider.

He broke into a run then, unsheathing his sword and causing Navi to clamber out of his hat, flitting around in a panic. "Poe," he said simply, and the fairy understood, using her magical powers to try and locate the specter. It cackled again, and Link was finally able to make out the light of the small lantern swirling; the poe was getting ready to attack. He ran as quickly as his rain-soaked body would allow prepared to strike at the creature with all of his might once he reached it. He was too late, however, as the poe launched its attack, setting the cart aflame. Somehow, the rider managed to dislodge the cart, but the horse reared off anyway, and he heard a sickening crack followed by a thud.

He never lost the element of surprise, hacking the poe down in a quick three chops before it dissipated into the air around him. Despite the rain, the fire on the cart was still burning brightly, and he used the light to try and locate the rider. He finally saw them, collapsed on the ground. As he drew closer, he saw strands of fire red hair peeking out from the hood.

"No," he murmured, rushing forward to the still body, gently turning the person over to see if his suspicious were true. The fire was starting to die down, but he was still able to make out Malon's pretty face as he removed the cloak and smoothed the wet strands of hair off of her face. Fear licking at him, he checked to see if she was breathing, and to his great relief discovered that she was, her pulse thundering through her veins.

It wasn't until he looked down at himself that he saw the bright red blood staining his undershirt.

He panicked then, tearing at her cloak to find the source of the bleeding. He paled when he saw the obviously broken arm, the bone protruding from her skin. He looked up at the sky. There was no way he could move her fast enough in this storm. Without hesitation, he grasped his ocarina, playing the first song that popped into his head, the Requiem of Shadow, grasping her tight against him.

Within seconds, they were surrounded by purple baubles of light, before appearing in the Kakariko Graveyard.

"Link!" Navi screamed at him over the still pounding rain. "You're not supposed to bring other people through with you!" He shot her a glare that effectively quieted her, gathering the petite redhead in his arms and making his way into town. He made his way to the inn and silently slipped into the room he had purchased from the innkeeper months before, grateful to be out of the pounding rain. He laid her still form on the bed gently, before searching the room for a lantern.

As the light from the lantern illuminated the room around him, he was struck by how pale and fragile she appeared. He wondered if he looked the same way to her when he stumbled into the ranch after his battles, but quickly pushed the thought out of his head. He removed the cloak from her, relieved to see that her arm appeared to be the worst of her injuries. Her shoulder was sporting a nasty black bruise, and she had a few scrapes along her cheek, but she otherwise was alright.

He dug through his pack, searching for the appropriate potions and materials to splint her arm. Thankfully, he had broken some of his own bones in the past and had to learn how to take care of them. Finally, his hand clasped down on the last little vial of potion that he was sorting for, and he laid it on the nightstand next to the splint he had used on his own arm when he was a child. Navi was floating around him nervously, wondering what it was about this girl that caused him to stop in his mission so suddenly. 'Don't be stupid, Navi,' she scolded herself. 'He cares about the people in this world, some of them more than others. You'd be scolding him if he'd left her there to carry out his mission.'

He lifted the vial of sleeping potion to her lips, letting a few drops seep in with the hope that it would keep her from waking as he tended to her arm. He then got to the task of setting her arm and splinting it properly. He winced as he heard the cracking sound of her bone moving back into place, but he tried to ignore it. In just a few short minutes, he was bandaging her arm tightly to keep the bone in place as it healed and sliding the splint into place.

She hadn't stirred, and he lifted his hand to her face to make sure she was still breathing. Cautiously, he placed his palm to her cheek, and he gasped at how cold she was. Seeming to sense what he was thinking, Navi said, "She'll freeze to death if you don't get her out of those wet clothes." Link paled, his mind already imagining what she would look like underneath her clothes. "Are-are you sure?" he stammered out, and the fairy just shrugged. "She's done it to you," she teased, and he blushed a bit. He had always wondered if it was Malon or her father who stripped him out of his clothes when it was necessary to tend to his wounds.

He blushed as he peeled off her skirts, sighing in relief as he realized that her shirt was long enough to cover her private area. He dug through his pack again, retrieving a spare tunic, and placing it over top of her to cover her. He pulled the small scarf she wore around her neck loose from her mother's broach, carefully setting both on the nightstand beside him. He lifted her shirt just enough so that he could slide the tunic up high enough to cover her breasts, blushing furiously as his hand accidentally grazed the raised flesh. As quickly as he could, he stripped the shirt off of her, tossing it to the side. He turned to his pack to locate another tunic to dress her in, and after locating it he turned back to the bed to complete his task.

He paused, staring. Lying on the bed, nude except for his discarded tunic, he realized that she looked like the Goddesses that he had seen in picture books when he was little. She was quite beautiful, he mused, leaning forward to cup her cheek in his hand, his embarrassment forgotten as he tried to deal with his feelings for the girl.

Navi cleared her throat loudly behind him, and he started, lifting her up quickly to slide the tunic over her head and discard the other one back on the floor. He sighed, feeling how wet the blankets were underneath her, and he lifted her back up to discard them. The mattress and bottom sheet were thankfully dry, so he deposited her back down, searching in the armoire for the extra blankets.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Navi flitting through the fireplace, and after a few seconds a warm fire began to burn in the hearth. He smiled, grateful for her assistance as he lugged the blankets back to the bed. "You should put her hair up or something," Navi suggested. "It might make her cold." At her suggestion, he lifted the girl into a sitting position, letting her limp form lean against him as he gathered her long hair at the nape of her neck, curling it around so that it was all in one place. He laid her back down and covered her with the warm sheets, sighing heavily, and feeling grateful that this ordeal was nearly over with. He reached to the other vial of potion on the night stand, and poured a full dose of the healing and pain potion into her mouth, hoping that she would only be a little sore when she woke up.

His labors completed, he suddenly realized how tired he was, and he stripped his wet garments off, pulling the discarded tunic on the floor on. He situated himself in the rooms only chair, propping his bare feet up on the bed, before wrapping himself in a fur blanket. He felt tired enough to sleep, but his mind was too preoccupied with the girl resting in his bed. He wondered how many nights she had sat up like this with him, watching intently, waiting for the first signs of life to peek through and let her know that everything was going to be alright.

He felt guilty. He had put her through a lot, hadn't he? She had never refused him of course, and he knew that she was more than happy to be of assistance to him, but he'd never really asked her to do all of the things that she'd done for him. She'd given him Epona and nursed him back to health more times that he could remember, and she'd never asked for anything in return.

"She feels like she owes it to you to help," Navi said softly, causing Link to wonder yet again if she didn't have psychic powers. "You saved the ranch. She doesn't think that she'll ever be able to repay you for that, but she tries, and that's why she always wants to help you." Link sighed, "How would you know that, Navi?" She giggled a little then, the light tinkling sound comforting in the stillness of the room, breaking through the sound of the torrential rain outside. "She told me, on a night like this, while we were waiting for you to wake up."

"Oh," was all he could say.

They sank into a comfortable silence, Link thinking about everything that he had put Malon through during their friendship, yet she always laughed at him, always smiled to make his day brighter. This war had to be tearing her apart as well, but she never seemed to show it. He hoped that his occasional aloofness and brooding didn't make her feel like he didn't care about her, but something in his heart told him that she understood. Maybe she understood him better than he did.

It was some hours later before she stirred. Link had been studying her face when she scrunched up her eyes, furrowing her brows together as if she were confused before her eyes blinked open, desperately trying to take in her surroundings and figure out what had happened. "G'morning, sleepyhead," he said, greeting her the way that she often greeted him, a light smile playing on his lips as he watched her. Recognition dawned on her face. "Link!" she exhaled in surprise, moving to try and sit up.

She gasped in pain, feeling her broken arm for the first time, and he leapt to her bedside in an instant, gently guiding her into a sitting position while keeping the pressure off of her arm. He sat with her, leaning against the headboard with his arm draped lazily around her shoulder. She rested her head against her chest and her broken arm across her lap, breathing deeply to steady herself. "You broke it," he said simply. "And furthermore, just what were you thinking riding around in a storm like that?"

She sighed, thankful that he couldn't see her blush, and replied, "You know I'm no good at reading the sky." He laughed then, remembering just how terrible she was at predicting the weather, and he was more than a little delighted to hear her laugh as well. "Thank you," she whispered, snuggling herself in against his side. It caused a warm feeling to swell up in his chest, and for a moment he was concerned that something was wrong with him, until the warmth seeped into his body and made him feel at peace. Without thinking, he leaned down to brush his lips across her forehead in a simple, chaste kiss. He spied his bloodied undershirt on the floor and smirked.

"You're welcome," he whispered, "although I would really appreciate it if you would stop bleeding all over my shirts, damn it."

Her laughter rang in his ears, and for that night, at least, he felt as though he had come home from winning the great battle, and that all of Hyrule had found peace.

.O.

Thanks for reading!