Welp. This is it. The last chapter.
Thank you to all of you UNBELIEVABLY SEXY people who have read this story and put up with me (that takes a lot of patience). It means so much to me that you all take the time to read my work. I assure you, I put my heart and soul into every word.
Now, while this one may be over, I have another in the works.
I have a feeling you'll like it. ;)
Enjoy the last chapter, I hope it gives you as many feels to read as it gave me to write!
I love you all so very much. So, so, SO very much. Until next time!
Two years after the war...
She stood and looked at herself in the mirror. In the reflection of her eyes, she saw the ones who had come before her, clapping their hands and kissing her forehead and telling her how well she had done. They smiled at her, and so she smiled back. Turning away for a moment, she walked to the closet at the other side of the room and opened the elaborate wooden doors. Inside hung a long, beautiful dress, made of silk that was the same shade of pink as the sky when the sun began to set. The bottom flared out, embroidered with delicate lace, and there was the shape of the Triforce sewn in golden thread on the sleeves. She reached out her fingers and gently ran her hands along the front of the dress, closed her eyes and just felt the beauty. She wondered what her ancestors must have looked like wearing this dress.
Hopefully I'll do them justice.
She lifted the dress from the closet and slipped it over her head. As it fell perfectly along the curves of her body, serenity washed over her as if someone had reached up and poured it. It hugged her like a long lost friend that had been waiting to see her again, to wrap its arms around her. She went back to the mirror and examined herself in the dress.
Next, she gathered her hair and began to twist its golden locks. Then she pulled it back and secured it with the hair pin her Nana had given her, so many years ago. When she couldn't have known everything she would go through to reach this point—a point at which she could look outside the window and see her people smiling up at her. Finally, there was just one more thing. Without breaking eye contact with herself, she tenderly picked up her tiara and set it on her head. Everything felt complete when she did that. By her own hands, watching her own reflection grow and become bright.
At that moment, there was a knock on her door.
"Your Majesty, may I come in?"
"Yes, please do."
The door opened and a young man with pointed ears, curly red hair, and glasses stumbled into the room, blushing. His smile was nervous. Genuine, but nervous. As she turned to face him, he bowed, continued to stumble over his words. He was wearing a long, formal petticoat, a white cravat, and shoes that shined almost as brightly as his eyes.
"Please, Shad. You don't have to be so formal."
When he straightened back up, clearing his throat and fixing his glasses, his cheeks were even more flushed.
"You look beautiful!" he managed.
"Thank you. You don't look so bad yourself," she replied coyly.
His smile broadened and he fixed his glasses again.
"Are you ready to go down, your Majesty? Everyone has arrived."
"...Everyone?" she raised her eyebrows.
At that, he shrugged and gave a knowing sigh.
"Well, not everyone. But soon enough, I'm sure. Soon enough. The guests are all waiting."
He lifted his arm and reached his hand out to her. She grinned when she saw the ring on his finger. His entire being emanated a sense of comfort, of being welcome. She closed her eyes for a moment, gathered her thoughts, and then nodded and took his arm.
"Very well, let's go."
Together, they walked out of her room and began their long trek down the stairwell. There was silence except for the clicking of their shoes against the cobblestones, down until they reached the doors of the hallway. He opened the door, waited for her to walk through, and then followed and gave her his arm once more. They walked toward the other end of the hall, where the ballroom was waiting for them. With each step, the air became more lively. She felt contentment, a feeling that she had still not become accustomed to feeling after so much time of feeling only dissatisfaction.
"Do you remember that night, your Majesty?" he mused. "Three years ago today. We danced together."
"Of course I remember," she nodded. "Has it really been three years?"
She lifted her eyes to the ceiling, where the murals of angels and goddesses stared down at her proudly. And then, they found themselves standing in front of the large, ornate doors that led to the ballroom. Even through the thick wood she could hear the voices of her guests, the sound of the music, the happiness and the peace that was just gushing through her castle. Shad stepped forward and put his gloved hand on the doorknob, bowing one more time.
"Are you ready," he asked, "Queen Zelda?"
She straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin, and smiled again.
With cheeks still red, and glasses still slipping down his nose, Shad pushed the door open and let the light of the ballroom blind them.
When Zelda stepped forward into that light and showed herself to the audience, the crowd of Hyruleans awaiting her, there was silence. It was perfect silence, beautiful silence, in which there was a calmness. All eyes were on her, glistening up at her, watching her every move.
She loved it.
"Welcome," she began. Her voice echoed off the walls, through the ears of the countless people. She was standing on a balcony looking out over them, her hand resting gently on the rail, as gracefully as she'd always been taught. "Welcome everyone, to the 203rd Annual Twilight Ball."
Every man bowed and every woman curtsied, their joy radiating throughout the room. Zelda saw familiar faces and unfamiliar faces alike. But she knew that every single person was there for the same reason: to celebrate peace.
"As we have every year, tonight we celebrate the deeds of the Hero of Twilight. Without him, Hyrule would be lost."
She lifted her arm in a grandiose gesture, directing their attention to the windows and tapestries, all depicting scenes of the Hero of Twilight's battle with the King of Evil.
"But tonight, as you all know, is special."
They began murmuring amongst each other in excitement, and Zelda felt her own pride growing. She had been waiting so long for this. Finally, her efforts were going to see fruition.
"Tonight we celebrate a new hero as well. In fact, we celebrate multiple heroes."
As the grand words fell from her lips, the doors on the other side of the ballroom flew open. A line of people, all dressed in bright colors and walking with more energy in each step, flowed into the room. The citizens all drew back, created a circle around these people as they came in and stood side by side, looked up at their queen, and then knelt, one by one. She counted them out and saw that Shad had been right. Everyone was there...except for one.
"These are the men and women who saved Hyrule," she continued. "They are the reason we are able to stand today in an era of peace once again."
The guests continued murmuring to each other, in raw excitement and admiration.
"These are the Loyalists."
They continued to kneel, their heads bowed. Zelda, with her hand still laying gently on the railing, began walking down the stairs. Each step was rejuvenating, and with each step she stood a little bit taller. Everyone else stood completely still when she stepped onto the floor of the ballroom and began walking toward the line of kneeling Loyalists. Standing beside them was a man holding a sword, and Zelda received the sword with both hands.
"And tonight, they become the Knights of Hyrule. They become its eternal protectors. Because without them, without their courage and their sacrifice, there would be no Hyrule to protect."
She went down the line. Tapped each Loyalist first on the right shoulder, then on the left, dubbed them a knight of Hyrule.
"I dub thee, Ashei, Knight of Hyrule."
Further and further down the line.
"I dub thee, Ilia, Knight of Hyrule."
The excitement in the room grew more with each name she called.
"I dub thee, Malon, Knight of Hyrule."
The sword was light, was soft, in her steady hands.
"I dub thee, Shad, Knight of Hyrule."
Finally, she reached the end of the line. The one kneeling had bright blond hair and a long braid that fell over his shoulder, its tip brushing the ground. He was wearing a blue tail coat, with a deep purple vest, a white collar, matching blue knickers, and tall black boots. She almost didn't recognize him. But when he took the chance of glancing up at her, and she saw the sparkle in his red eyes and the mischievous smile on his face, she had to hold in her laughter. But she was also holding back tears of pride. Gratitude. Pure joy.
"I dub thee, Sheik, Knight of Hyrule."
She let the sword rest on his right shoulder for a couple of moments, lifted it over his head, and then rested it on his left shoulder. Then, with a trembling smile, she handed the sword off and stood in the center of the room. Lifted her arms, let her voice carry through the world. And even though there was still one missing, she spoke.
"Do you, O Knights of Hyrule, swear loyalty to your kingdom from this day forward?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"Do you swear to defend your kingdom with your life from this day forward?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"Do you swear to be the protectors of this land from this day forward?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"Rise, Knights of Hyrule."
In unison, they all stood, eyes bright and faces flushed. They stared at the princess as she smiled out at them, the tears glistening on the verges of her eyelids. And all at once, there was an explosion of happiness. All the citizens of Hyrule threw hands up and let their voices fill the room, loud and boisterous and exuberant. The Loyalists began looking to each other, unsure of what to do, struggling to hide their nervous smiles. And then, Sheik made his way to where the queen stood, bowed, and kissed her hand.
"May I have the first dance, your Majesty?"
As the music began to play, she curtsied.
Everyone reached for a partner and the ball began. Sheik grabbed her waist before she could react, squeezed her hand, and began to dance in a way that she had never expected. He twirled, he jumped, he spun and laughed out loud. Zelda struggled to keep up, tripping over her feet and clasping his hand and shoulder as tightly as possible. But each time he laughed, she laughed harder. Each time he smiled at her, she smiled more widely.
"I didn't know you could dance like this," she breathed.
"Yeah, what's that supposed to mean?" he winked. He began to spin around and around, and Zelda threw her head back and just laughed.
"You're wearing me out!" she cried.
Instead of slowing down, he put his hands beneath her arms and lifted her up into the air. She felt as light as a feather. When her feet made contact with the ground once more, she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, swayed against him to the rhythm of the music. His arms tightened around her lower back as he continued to laugh in her ear.
"Come on, we've hardly danced at all," he teased.
"Unfortunately, Sir Sheik, I'm afraid my stamina isn't as high as yours."
"What a pity."
They danced like that for a few more minutes in silence. He was warm and secure. But finally, she had to give way to the frustrated voice in her head that had been getting louder and louder with each passing moment.
"Where is he?"
He sighed and she felt him shrug.
"Din knows. You know, you'd think the guest of honor would be here on time."
"Well, no knighthood for him, I guess."
"Excuse me, Queen Zelda."
She and Sheik stopped moving when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She caught a glimpse of the coy expression on his face as he stepped away and turned her around to face the one who had calmly, quietly, tapped her on the shoulder and said her name.
Before she even realized what had happened, she found herself face to face with Link. He flashed her his most charming smile, bent down, brought her hand up to his mouth, and let his lips sit on her skin. She sucked in a breath at his touch, watched his lips linger, felt heat spreading from her fingers up through her entire body and to her sharp breath. It seemed to last forever.
"It's just like you to be oh-so-fashionably late," Sheik interjected.
He straightened his back, gazed right into her eyes, but never let go of her hand.
Link truly looked like a hero. He was wearing a flowing white cape with golden embroidery and golden clasps on his shoulders. Beneath the cape, he wore a long white tunic fastened with a golden belt and tall white boots. And on his head, almost hidden by his thick blond tresses, was a golden headpiece. There was an emerald in the center.
"Sorry, Sheik, but I think I'm going to steal her away for a little bit."
"I daresay you will not," he raised his eyebrows.
Zelda stood in silence, completely mesmerized by the man standing, gripping her hand and gripping her heart. He squeezed her fingers in his.
"Too late," Link smiled.
With that, he pulled Zelda toward him until their chests were pressed together, put his hand on her waist, and began to dance. In a world of surrealism, of emotions that were so pure and so dramatic she couldn't even identify them, Zelda placed her hand on his shoulder and danced with him. Each step they took, perfectly with the music, was like a burst of magic. It was as if there was nobody else there—it was only them, dancing, staring into each other's eyes, sharing each other's breath as her dress and his cape billowed with their movements.
In the midst of the dancing, while Zelda could feel all eyes on them, he bent down and brought his lips to her ear.
"You're stunning," he murmured. The warmth of his breath sent shivers down her spine, and she leaned her cheek against his.
"And you're late," she replied.
With a soft, sensual chuckle, he spun her outward. Her dress flared out, and for a few moments, she felt as if she were flying. And just when she felt that the distance from him was too great, he drew her back into him, until his lips were so close to hers that she could taste his breath. He stepped back to the rhythm of the waltz, and she stepped forward; he stepped to the right, she stepped to the left. They were in perfect unison, dancing there on the clouds, completely immersed in each other. She tightened her grip on his hand just a little bit more tightly, until she felt his body tense in reaction.
"I'm sorry about that," he whispered.
"It seems like everyone here is a hero except for the Hero."
He lifted her up into the air, as every man did with his partner, and she saw the entire sky around her. But when she looked down, he simply took her breath away. He held her there for a second longer than everyone else. When she came back to earth, she gently placed her hands on his wrists, which were still laying against her waist.
They didn't resume their dancing.
He stepped forward and pulled her against him, so close that she could actually feel his smile. It made her smile, too.
"Is there any way that I can make it up to you, your Majesty?"
She paused, and it was just long enough for him to lean down and press his lips to hers. It was the most gentle, the most serene, the most eternal touch she had ever felt. Her thumbs stroked his wrists, her body swayed with the music, everything fell into place.
"Actually, there is."
She moved one hand to his cheek and pulled away just slightly. Zelda wanted to be able to look into his eyes. They were glistening in a way that made her entire heart swell with overwhelming love. Her thumb moved to his bottom lip.
"Call me Zelda."
He leaned forward and kissed her again—harder, more passionately, as if it were the very first time and the very last time. It moved her entire being.
"Whatever you want," he murmured.
He kissed her again.
As if it were the very first time and the very last time.