AN: Hellllllo!

Thanks for the AMAZING feedback I got for the last chapter:

la generala, Laura, surfergirl3537, Nerazim Praetor, Narwe, zeldalink531 and Joseph Kuo

Also check out Narwe's fanart which is inspired by the end of chapter 6 it's beautiful!

And a big thank you to everyone who has faved me :D

First off, I'm sorry that this chapter took so long, it's a lot longer than the others and it took a while to write, I'm talking over ten pages here! :o

Oooooo, the plot thickens

Disclaimer: No, I still don't own anything

Occupational Hazards

"You know I'm a man of peace and good will; I wish harm on no man. You must realise, your highness, the gravity of what you are asking me to do? You are asking me to turn my back on my morals, my beliefs, and all that I have stood for. You're asking me to condone violence." Jonas lent back in his chair; a slight expression of disbelief crossing his aged features before he went back to take another poof from his pipe.

"Yes." Zelda casually answered. She leant forward, placing both of her elbows onto the table in front of her in an exaggerated display of her seriousness. "Yes I do."

Jonas simply inhaled the smoke before dismissively wafting his hand in the young woman's direction. "Out of the question."

Zelda couldn't help but let a scoff escape from her mouth in response to the Shaman's dismissal. "Need I remind you that for the passed two years, your daughter has lead a resistance group here in Kakariko. They have committed numerous acts of violence in order to defend this village." she challenged Jonas once again; raising her eyebrow in a less-than-demure display of cockiness.

"Indeed they did, your highness. Yet they were not the ones who went looking for conflict." A flicker of pride dazzled in the Shaman's eye for a brief moment as it appeared as though he had won the current debate between Zelda and himself. Jonas continued to smoke his pipe in a calm, slightly smug manor; silently relishing in the minor battle of wits with the young woman sitting across from him. Zelda fluttered her eyelashes and offered him a gracious smile as she tipped her head slightly forward in defeat. She then turned to address her comrades who were currently seated around the large, circular table which sat in Jonas's spacious dining room. To Zelda's left sat her ever-loyal caretaker, Impa. To her right sat the burly, hunched over form of Ferrister Bloomen. Alongside the humble farmhand sat the Shaman's daughter Anju, who's countless injury's had healed enough to no longer leave her bedridden. She was accompanied by her newly wedded husband Kafei; A quiet and reserved young man who sported the most extraordinary head of blue hair. Jonas was seated adjacent to his son-in law, his eyes still locked onto Zelda, his wise orbs assessing the young royal's every move in an effort to predict her next actions. Situated next to Jonas was Shiro, a young Hylian guard who's epic back-story exceeded that of all those in his present company.

Shiro had once served as an established military officer in Termina; Hyrule's neighbouring kingdom. Ever the overachiever, Shiro strived in his position, feeling immense honour and pride in his work. That was until a near fatal injury rendered him unable to serve. Despite being a good natured young man; he began to loath and resent the fact that he could no longer be a proud affiliate of the Terminan army; and thus, he quickly fled the kingdom. Shiro's timely and tragic relocation to Hyrule proceeded the nightmarish onslaught of events which occurred during Ganondorf's dark reign. The young man joined the Hylian army as a royal guard and took his post at the summit of Death mountain; guarding the treacherous path which connected the Goron race to the rest of Hyrule. He was one of the few royal guards to survive both Ganondorf's reign and Borin's uprising; however, a painfully recent attack from Borin's troops had ripped Shrio's young wife and son from his arms. In a proactive battle with his own grief, he had began to work closely with Anju in her efforts to protect Kakariko village from any of Borin's attacks and save other's from such anguish.

Zelda cleared her throat and turned her attention towards Anju; hoping to sway the young redhead's neutrality in her favour. The former queen smiled sweetly before speaking.

"Anju, do you wish for your efforts to be in vain? So many have fallen, how many more must lose their lives before we take action? You have defended this village for such a long time; would you not wish for a peaceful nights sleep? For the children to be able to return to their families? For the men and women of Hyrule to not have to watch their backs?" Zelda took a brief moment to gaze across at both Kafei and Shiro; secretly aiming her argument at both of the young men. She knew that she would need the cooperation of all three of them in order to win over the majority. The young royal then quickly turned her attention back towards the redhead before her.

"Anju, let us put an end to this, to the fear. We cannot simply wait for another ambush, and we will not just sit in silence as our friends fall victim to merciless brutality. He won't stop. Borin's numbers will continue to rise." Zelda extended her arm across the table and took a hold of Anju's hand in an act of sincerity. She quickly darted her gaze towards both Shiro and Kafei again; seeing the two men inwardly weighing out the argument in their heads. Zelda returned her attention to Anju; knowing that her decision would sway that of the men.

"I knew him." The redhead quietly murmured. Her blue eye's peered up to meet those of the regal blonde before she continued. "The man who attacked me, I knew him. We were good friends once; he used to work as a carpenter here in the village." Anju bowed her head in order to hide her anguish, the words appeared to be physically causing her pain as she forced them from her mouth. "He was such a good man. And I-I can remember his face as he swung his blade at me. Yes, he was crazed and deranged but, he was so scared. From the look of pure fear in his eyes; I knew that he didn't want to do it."

The gravity of Anju's statement hit Zelda hard. She instantly released the redhead's hand and leaned back in her chair. The young royal also lowered her head in unison with Anju as she took a moment to contemplate her next move. It was true, Borin's Upholders was a sinister army compiled of men and women who were once law abiding Hylian's. Every single one of them had been groomed and moulded by a madman who overpowered their meek minds by using fear and propaganda. They certainly didn't deserve to die as a result of a lunatic's power-hungry antics. But they were too far gone, too lost in a world of chaos and bloodshed. They couldn't be saved.

"They made that choice, just as I had. Those men and women must face the consequences of their actions. So must I." Zelda started, her voice exuberating tones of professionalism and grandeur. She was trying her hardest not to allow her emotions influence her decision. To her surprise, Anju had regained eye contact with her and begun to slowly nod her head in agreement. Whilst lifting a small hand to her face to wipe any stay tears away; the redhead spoke again.

"I understand. So what happens now? What's our next move?" Anju calmly asked as she leaned back in her seat. Both Shiro and Kafei simultaneously edged forward; eager and ready to abide by any of their former ruler's demands. It had appeared as though all three of them had finally left their perches on the fence and sided with Zelda. Though Anju knew that it would only be natural for her father to feel an inkling of betrayal; despite being the most forgiving and kind hearted of men. Instead she chose to advert her gaze away from him, not wanting to catch the look of disappointment as it plagued his aged facial features.

"When a deep wound is inflicted there is no use in clearing up the blood until you have stemmed the flow first. You must stop it at the source. That is what I propose; we head to the source and cut it off." Zelda stated matter-of-factly; quickly peering around at her present company.

"Are you honestly suggesting that we simply knock on Borin's front door? Your highness, that's suicide!" Shiro pried in disbelief. He had unintentionally slammed his hand down onto the table, causing both parties on either side of him to flinch. Shiro was a man of honour who valued life greatly; he simply could not take part in such a foolish scheme that would only induce further losses.

"You may well call it suicide, Shiro. But don't you think that it is worth it?" Zelda answered, maintaining a stoic composure for professional purposes.

"Boin's numbers easily exceed our own, your highness. He has at least twice as many men under his command than the population of this entire village." Kafei was quick to interject, for he, like Shiro, was afraid of failure.

"Actually they outnumber us 3 to 1." Impa casually corrected; having been the only one of them to have actually been behind enemy lines during Borin's reign. Before she and Zelda made an impromptu relocation to Kakariko village; the Sheikah woman had regularity ventured beyond the decaying walls of Hyrule castle under the guise of an elderly potion merchant. Impa had always believed that the key to success lay in the understanding of one's enemy. She had initially taken these hazardous trips in order to ensure that Zelda's location was never discovered by the troops; however over time, she began to examine them. She knew their numbers, she knew their weaponry, and on rare occasions, she even studied their crazed leader, Borin. Yet the ruler was always something of an enigma to her. He was unstable and unpredictable. She had witnessed his polar changes in mood cost the lives if many, including his own men. It was this quality which haunted and frightened Impa. The entire Shiekah race had spent their existence protecting the Hylian royal family; yet how could she possibly protect Zelda from such an unhinged monster?

"That may be so at present. So I suggest that we increase our numbers." The young ruler exhaled, turning her attention to the large man beside her.

"I'm afraid that Ordon suffered substantial damage from the last raid. Many of our citizens fell under Borin's troops and many are still wounded. I'm afraid that they will be of little use." Ferrister solemnly commented, bowing his head apologetically.

The corners of Zelda's lips curled into a small empathetic smile as she placed a hand on his shoulder in an act of consolidation. She then turned back to the others as they sat in silence, staring expectedly at her. A slight feeling of aggravation prompted Zelda to address them all again.

"Have you all forgotten? Hyrule is a kingdom compiled of many races. I'm proposing that we form a treaty with the Gorons, Zoras and the Greudo tribes. They have remained neutral to the division amongst the Hylian's. I'm sure that negotiations can be made, and agreements can be met." She spoke with tones of familiar nobility and regality. "I suggest that we prepare a group who shall travel the Death Mountain trail and deliver an invitation to Darunia, the Goron leader." Zelda peered around, seeking out a volunteer who would take on the daunting task.

"I shall take a group of men at dawn, you highness." It was Kafei who eventually offered his loyal services and cooperation. He flashed a brief smile to Anju who gazed back at him with a look of devotion and pride.

"Thank you Kafei, your participation is greatly appreciated." Zelda warmly smiled at the blue haired young man; silently marvelling at his willingness and courage. She then prepared to bring the meeting to a close yet was suddenly halted when Anju spoke again.

"What about Link? When will he be joining us?" Anju's naive question was merely an innocent inquiry; however the deep routed implications which it carried caused the atmosphere in the room to quickly turn sour. A silent understanding between most of those present prompted everyone to quickly advert their eyes from the young blonde woman whilst they patiently waited for her reply.

"Not yet." Her voice was almost inaudible at first as she spoke into the dense air ahead of her. Zelda's cyan eyes were intently focused on the dark wood of the dining table. Someone, probably Impa, cleared their throat in an exaggerated manner causing the young woman to jolt and instantly raise her gaze to the people in her present company. She displayed a brief, bashful grin before casting a quick glance to everyone as she addressed them all. "I don't think he's ready yet." She reiterated clearly.

Ferrister let out a long delayed sign before placing a large hand on Zelda's shoulder in agreement. The humble farmer had been forced to act as a pillar of strength to his own family since the tragic murder of his daughter. In truth, he was more than thankful that the former queen had taken care of Link during a mourning period which had rendered Ferrister emotionally unavailable. He knew of all of the sacrifices that Zelda had made in order to allow his older son the freedom to grieve; and for that, he was extremely grateful. The older man also understood the young woman's desire to exclude Link from the current proceedings. She was right, Link was not yet ready to be included in such drastic negotiations. Ferrister trusted Zelda enough to allow her to take care of his son; he knew that she would be far more skilled with approaching this dire, yet tender subject. For Zelda had tact, and Ferrister did not.

In a desperate attempt to create distance, the young woman quickly rose from the table and began to excuse herself. She stumbled slightly during her clumsy escape. The last thing that Zelda wanted to discuss was Link.

Epona neighed in only what can be described as excitement as Zelda wedged her foot into the stirrup and mounted the saddle which sat on the horses back. The young woman adjusted herself and learned forward to rake her hands through the think white hair of Epona's mane. The horse shook her head with pride as she trotted along a small stretch of Hyrule field that had been reserved for gazing cattle and horse riding. The meagre expanse of land was secluded and protected in a small alcove on the edge of Kakariko gorge; allowing archers to keep a watchful eye on anyone who ventured there. Unfortunately, the land had become barren due to continued use of such a restricted area.

Zelda nodded her head to her fellow riders in an act of greeting before securing her grip on the leather reigns in her hands. The proud mare strutted around, displaying her luxurious mahogany coat. If animals were actually capable of creating a complex combination of schemas to form a working personality; Epona would most certainly not be the modest, reserving type. It was this confidence which the horse exuberated that caused her to be full of pride and content as she allowed Zelda to ride her on that very afternoon.

As a result of recent events, Link had unintentionally neglected his prized companion and thus; the horse had not been ridden for some time. Zelda took the chore on as her own. Her choice to do so may have been spurred by her own feeling of duty; she was a creature of habit after all, but more so out of kindness. Zelda dug her heels into the horse's sides, encouraging the great mare to gallop. Epona's pace quickened and the wind began to hit her rider's flushed cheeks. Zelda could even feel the horse's apparent glee during her momentary emancipation as she continued to pick up speed; relishing the small open plain ahead.

However, as of recent times; happiness is always short lived.

Spluttering, snarling and a grotesque growl erupted from a deranged boar as it charged it's way into view. The uncontrollable animal showing clear signs of insanity; it's mind had succumbed to a degenerating disease. Infections amongst both the live stock and wild animals of Hyrule had drastically increased following the events which saw Borin take the throne. In fact, the whole balance within the kingdom had begun to weaver after it fell under a madman's rule. Both people and animals fell ill unexpectedly, crops refused to flower and the weather had begun to alternate between harsh droughts and seasons of torrential downpour. It was a common rumour amongst the people of Hylrue that these events were acts of vengeance cast by the Goddesses as a price for mankind's cruelty towards one another.

The boar continued to rush forward towards the unsuspecting group; it's uncompromising rage and impeccable speed caused the horses to panic as their riders battled to contain the situation. It took only a few seconds for one arrow to pierce the boars thick skin. The rabid animal screeched in pain but continued to charge. A second arrow struck just a moment later, followed by a third. By the time that the fourth arrow had cut through it's flesh, the animal had already degenerated into a slump on the barren ground. Stale blood and froth oozing from it's mouth and it's bloodshot eye still open as it wheezed and spluttered on it's last few breaths.

All of the panicked riders struggled to retrain their horses; desperately trying to regain a sense of calm. However Epona refused to settle and continued to move violently and unpredictably. The spooked mare fiercely began to trash and buck uncontrollably in her panic. Despite Zelda's desperate efforts to calm and contain the faithful animal, Epona continued to struggle. Suddenly she leapt up onto her hind legs and threw her front into the air. The uncompromising force flung the young woman violently from the horse's back, landing on the dry ground with both a thump and a crack.

Someone screamed, someone else called out. The panicked cries of Zelda's fellow riders sounded oddly distant, despite them all being so close. Even if the young royal wished to address their concerns, she couldn't. The force of impact had knocked the wind out of her small chest, causing speech to become an impossible task. She was also certain that at least one of her limbs had suffered substantial damage, however, the searing pain which should have been coursing throughout her entire body was blocked by adrenaline and the haziness which clouded her mind. Yet the most troubling fact was that Zelda remained ignorant to the most severe injury she had acquired; she had hit her head hard on the barren ground.

In the midst of her trauma she could only hopelessly wait as all of her senses began to fail her; and logical though began to descend into chaotic, nightmarish disorientation. Only scrambled, unintelligible speech reached her ears and blurred images flooded her vision. Figures began to crowd over her, the worry and panic clearly conveyed in the inflictions of their voices. Zelda managed to decode just one word from the ensuring chaos: "dislocated". Her lips quivered as she attempted to voice her concerns; but before she could will the words out of her mouth, she felt pressure on her left arm. The word was uttered again: "dislocated". The young woman was only just able to advert her gaze towards her left shoulder as more pressure was applied to her arm. Before she could even begin to protest, the pressure quickly transcended into force. A sharp, sudden yank on her arm caused her shoulder to emit a loud pop.

She screamed before the world turned black.

My God, did she scream.

It was an unnatural warmth which eventually roused Zelda from unconsciousness; and not the bustle of various people who frequently came to check on her. That strange source of heat took over her entire being; gently lulling her back into consciousness with promises of comfort and a loving embrace. Zelda decided to keep her eyes closed for just a few moments more as she eventually figured out where the warmth was radiating from. A body was pressed to her back and an arm had slinked it's way around her waist. A mystery that was soon solved once she felt the rhythmic release of breath that hit her ear.

A flutter of her eyelashes revealed the blinding light of day as strong streaks of sunlight fogged her vision. Once her cyan orbs had adjusted to the light; Zelda instantly recognised the array of furnishing that were scatted around her guestroom at the inn. She momentarily cast her gaze downward to see Link's left arm laying motionlessly cross her body. Zelda couldn't stifle a bashful giggle as she marvelled at the young hero's unusual display of intimacy. After all, given his recent behaviour, she had begun to ritualistically attempt to define the nature of their relationship after each and every one of their unusual encounters. And now to complicate matters, Link had all of a sudden become overly affectionate with her.

However, the small smile soon fell from her face as she caught sight of her left shoulder. A thick, white sling was wrapped around her arm to keep the position of it steady and secure. A deep, purple bruise had engulfed most of her shoulder. Small sections of blue and yellow also added to the grotesque pallet of colours which plagued her once porcelain flesh. Zelda furrowed her eyebrows as she scowled at her injury; it suddenly became clear that her shoulder had become dislocated from her fall. At least that explained the crack which echoed as she hit the ground.

An innocent, subconscious motion caused Zelda to shift her injured arm to a more comfortable position. A motion that could not be completed. The very moment she lifted her shoulder, a pained cry forced it's way from Zelda's lips as agony shot through her entire body and caused her to violently jolt.

Her striking movement instantly shook Link into consciousness. His grip on Zelda's waist had suddenly become tight as he prepared to deal with the disturbance. He held onto her for a few moments as the fogginess of sleep cleared from his mind. His blue eyes darted around the room to find the cause of the disturbance. When he had eventually confirmed that there was no present danger, Link released his grip on Zelda. He peered down at her with a look of awe and surprise at the fact that she was actually awake.

"Good morning." Link stated as he quickly lifted his body to sit upright on the bed; instinctively offering his arm to Zelda when she began to follow suit. She peered around the room for a moment, trying to shake the groggy feeling in her head. Her entire body ached and her memory of the traumatic events that lead her there were patchy at best.

"Who would have thought that I'd faint because of pain?" She asked light-heartedly feeling overcome with embarrassment and vulnerability following her poor display of horse riding skills.

"Actually, the pain from your shoulder did cause you to pass out. However this…" Link moved a skilful hand to her face and carefully brushed her long blonde stands back. He revealed a striking black-ish bruise which started just above her right temple and extended way beyond her hairline. Zelda quickly lifted a hand to her face and allowed her fingers to examine the tender skin. She winced slightly as her light prodding caused a burning sting. "…This kept you under for three days."

"Three days! I've been out for three days?" She exclaimed in disbelief. Her mouth fell open and her brow rose as she shook her head. Suddenly a round of nagging questions bombarded her.

"The village, is everyone alright? What about Impa? Anju and Kafie? What about-" Zelda was swiftly shushed as Link placed a hand on her arm and shook her slightly.

"The village is fine, everyone is fine. It's actually been a couple of uneventful days. Naturally, everyone's worried about you." He casually brushed off her concerns, rubbing his hand along her arm in a reassuring motion. Zelda offered him a small smile in return before a pile of clothes resting in the corner of the guestroom caught her eye. She recognised them as Link's and soon his presence in her room became painfully obvious.

"You've been staying here? You took care of me?" Zelda asked. Overcome by feelings of flattery which made her a little bit giddy due to Link's sudden companionate turn.

"Yes." His reply was simple and sincere, just like he was. Maybe she was wrong, maybe Link had finally overcome his grief, maybe he was ready to join the others and fight for Hyrule's freedom. Zelda grinned to herself, feeling something that she had not done for the longest time. She felt at ease, she felt comfortable, she felt happy.

However, her glee was cut short when she lowered her head and allowed her eyes to wander over her body. It took a few moments to register that she was now clad in an elegant night dress and not the clothes she had been wearing previously. A short gasp escaped her mouth before she looked back up at Link and voiced her mild outrage.

"So you changed my clothes!"

Ever blessed with charm and charisma, Link simply flashed her a slightly mischievous grin before rising to his feet and taking a stride away from the bed. Zelda let out a disproving scoff before lifting her hand to cover her body, suddenly feeling exposed. Her reaction only added to Link's amusement. He turned back to her, attempting to retain some kind of composure, yet a snigger couldn't be stopped.

"It's nothing that I haven't seen before." He grinned, leaning back and resting his weight against the bedroom door behind him.

Zelda continued to scowl at him, attempting to maintain her threatening front. Yet the smirk on Link's face was having the oddest affect on her. It was causing an unfamiliar sensation to build deep within her gut; a sensation that she had not felt in such a long time. Her top lip began to tremble uncontrollably and the corners of her mouth began to curl upwards. She held a tight grip around her stomach whilst desperately seeking some sort of composer. But as soon as the pressure caused her to snort; she let go completely and fell into a fit of hysterical laughter. Tears had already begun leaving tracks down her cheeks as she bent over clutching her middle. The giggles were causing her body to convulse rhythmically as she continued to howl in utter amusement.

"And what is so funny?" Link quizzed whilst, he too, struggled to contain himself. Naturally, Zelda's infectious laugh had caught up with him as he found it hard to stifle his own delight.

Zelda had managed to calm herself enough to answer' though her reply was fragmented as she struggled to catch her breath. "I don't know….everything….this." She gestured to her dislocated shoulder. "…you…and your face!" She sniggered again whilst wiping away the tears from her eyes and cheeks.

A sudden sharp pain shot up her left arm as Zelda was painfully reminded of her current predicament. She lowered her head to examine her shoulder once again. She must have suffered a momentary lapse whilst she was overcome by hysterics and forgotten about the tenderness in her limb. As she placed a soft hand on her bruised flesh, a sudden memory came back. She thought about the injuries that Link had sustained when they had first arrived in Kakariko village a little over a month ago. The young hero had been mortally wounded; yet when she caught up to him at lake Hylia only a short time later, he had somehow miraculously healed himself. Zelda then turned her curious attention back to Link; who was still watching her from his position in front of the door. She tilted her head to the side and forced a pseudo-stoic facial expression for comedic purposes.

"Here is what I don't understand. You can miraculously heal a life threatening wound in a matter of hours; yet you cannot fix a broken arm? I'm staring to think that you don't wish to share your secrets of immortality me, Link." Zelda attempted to retain a mockingly-serious composure yet she couldn't battle a wide grin as it spread across her graceful features.

Link returned her grin before replying. "First of all, that's a dislocated shoulder, not a broken arm, there is a difference." He stated matter-of-factly whilst pointing towards her injury. "Secondly, your injury was very different to mine. A potion cleared up my wound quickly because it was an external affliction; something that is simple to heal. But your shoulder needs to heal on it's own; it's been set, so from now on you'll have to sit and play the waiting game."

Zelda rose her eyebrows and nodded respectfully at him, noting that he had obviously done his research. She admired him for that. When Link took on a task; he always put his all into it and never did anything by half measures.

A comfortable silence fell over the both of them as they remained motionless gazing at one another.

"I like this." Link started, his grin slightly slipping before he when on. "This." He motioned his hand back and fourth in the space that lay between them; gesturing to himself and then back to Zelda. "It feels like old times. This familiarity, this nostalgia, it feels good. I like it."

"So do I." Zelda quickly added. She slowly tilted her head to the side as she continued to peer up at him. The grin and quickly returned to her face in a rare moment of bliss. "It's…." She paused momentarily as she contemplated her choice of words. She subconsciously bit down on her bottom lip and began to curl a few strands of blonde hair around her finger in an innocent act of seduction. She eventually finished her statement. "It's easy."

"Easy?" Link grinned, his eyebrows rose in amusement as he shifted his weight forward and away from the door behind him and towards her.

"Yes. Easy to understand." Zelda answered, continuing to grin as she began to lean back onto the scattered sheets on the bed. She had managed to balance her weight upon just one propped elbow whilst she awkwardly adjusted her incapacitated shoulder to a comfortable, yet appealing, position. What in the world was coming over her? Why had she suddenly become so preoccupied with flirtation and seduction. Zelda continued to flutter her eyelashes at Link, allowing her azure orbs to trace over his body in a suggestive manor. She also couldn't help but enjoy the way he wasn't able to snatch his eyes away from her and the slight dilation of his pupils was too much for her to ignore.

"Really?" Link pushed forward, placing one foot in front of him, closing the distance between them ever so slightly. Yet restraining himself just enough not to take a full stride in her direction. Zelda's behaviour at the moment was a rarity in itself. Ever since he returned to Hyrule, he had been fighting for her attention at every given opportunity. Yet now it seemed as though the tables had been turned, and the power was in his hands.

Zelda didn't answer; she simply nodded her head and silently dared him to move closer. When Link refused to comply; she took her own initiative and shifted to an upright position whilst releasing a mildly irritated sigh. When Link continued to elude her charm; she rose from the bed and moved towards him. She was seeking contact, something objective and absolute to prove to herself that this was real, that their relationship had somehow miraculously healed itself overnight. The passed four weeks had been torment for her, and the initial frostiness she had greeted him was cruel and sadistic. They had both scorned one another, yet they were both desperately seeking forgiveness.

Something was so comforting about the laughter that they had shared. Something that told Zelda that there was hope. She continued to edge forward, keeping her eyes locked onto Link's; silently praying that he didn't refuse her. Without saying a word she reached a shaky hand to his face and placed her lips gently atop of his. It took only a brief moment of hesitation before she felt Link eagerly comply. His lips replicating hers in movement and pressure as his hand slinked around her waist and sat on the small of her back; gently pushing her body closer to his own. Zelda broke the gentle contact and pulled back for a moment; her breathing was unsteady and heavy, yet the smile remained on her face.

"I've missed you so much." She mumbled against his lips.

Her soft, sincere words triggered Link to grip her waist and spin her around, pushing her back against the door behind them. Zelda let out a small, surprised gasp before her lips were once again claimed by Link's. This was what their reunion should have been. This was the pent up passion that they both should have been expressing the very moment that they laid their eyes upon one another; instead of the countless mind games and emotional torture that they put each other through. He should have been holding her this close, kissing her until she was senseless. And she should have been raking her fingers through his shaggy hair, pulling him closer to her; savouring the taste of his mouth against her own and they way that they moved in perfect synchronisation with each other.

In the heat of the moment, Link moved a skilled hand up Zelda's body, pulling her even closer into the embrace. Yet his hasty and slightly careless movement caused him grip her injured shoulder. The contact, though brief, was still enough to cause Zelda to cry out in immense pain. Link quickly pulled back seeing the young woman clutching at her limb and wincing. Guilt had quickly forced its way into Link's mind as he awkwardly attempted to form an apology.

"I'm sor-"

"It's alright." She quickly dismissed the injury, shaking her head and shifting back to Link, extending her one good arm out to him. Before he could protest, she reach up to bring his face closer to hers and moved her lips back to his, not wanting to lose the moment they had just shared.

"No." He firmly placed his hands on her undamaged shoulder, pushing her back slightly so that he could seek eye contact. "I'm sorry." He stated in absolute sincerity. The sudden solemn expression which took over Link's face instantly forged a secret understanding between the two of them. Zelda knew exactly what Link was apologising for. For using her. It then dawned so painfully on her, their relationship was far from being rectified. There was still too much angst and anguish between them for their connection to be fixed so easily.

"I know you are." She calmly murmured to him, letting out a slight sigh of disappointment. The ground between them was still as rocky and uneven as ever. There was still an elephant in the room; a secret that she had kept from him in an act of protection. She had been so concerned about Link's wellbeing during his self-destructive grieving period, that she had distanced him from her negotiations with Jonas and the others. The time had come for her to let him in, to tell the truth.

"Link, as soon as these injuries heal, I'm gathering the men and women of Kakariko village to lead a siege on Hyrule castle. We're taking back the kingdom from Borin." She lowered her head and closed her eyes for a brief moment; already knowing what Link's exact reaction would be.


"Link…" She pleaded.


"Do you really wish for more misery?"

"I won't let you-"

"-for more innocent children to lose their lives for needless causes; like Thea?" As soon as the name escaped her lips, it caused Link's entire body to stiffen as he forced his eyes shut and turned away from her from her. He brought a shaky hand up to his forehead and ran it down his face. A sting in his chest forced his heart rate to accelerate as he grunted at the pain caused by the pang of grief. He couldn't will his body to turn back to Zelda as he voiced his response.

"But you would rather that I lose you?" His voice was pained and echoed both betrayal and fear.

A small arm gently looped around Link's waist from behind as Zelda pressed her chest close to his back. She clung onto him tightly and rested her cheek against the back of his shoulder; closing her eyes and exhaling deeply before she finally replied.

"I wasn't asking for your permission, Link."

Zelda felt the young hero tense once again in response to her words. This only prompted her to tighten her embrace, hoping in vain that she could somehow change his mind and ease his worry. A small tingle of relief fluttered in her chest as his hand reach around and clasp a hold of her own. However, Link still kept his head lowered whilst she spoke once again.

"You can chose to either join me or disown me. Regardless, I'm doing this. It's for a cause much greater than you and I; for the people of Hyrule. So what will it be, Link?"

A/N: Thanks again everyone :D x