Poor Link, always getting friend zoned by Zelda. But I forgive you, Nintendo, since you finally caught on with Skyward Sword. Nevermind that it took you 25 years to get the hint.
I do not own The Legend of Zelda.
It's a position any guy knows about. And any guy who's had the displeasure of experiencing it first-hand knows just how much it sucks to be in it. It's even worse than playing the helpless boyfriend when his girl is on her monthly rag. At least in that position, you can even call yourself her boyfriend.
"What's up, bro?"
There it was. "Bro." Depending on context, it could put you in three different positions. When used by the same sex: friend, companion. When used by your sibling: affectionate form of "brother." When used by the opposite sex: friend zone.
Zelda Harkinian's never been the really girly type. Actually, I take that back. She did have a girly side. Liked fashion and shopping, played with makeup, spent whatever time she had alone doing her nails and putting up pictures of them on her blog. Things like that. But moreover, she's always been a tomboy. I guess that's the consequence of being the youngest sibling to two older brothers. All the hand me downs she got were boy clothes. All the toys she got were what we'd call toys for boys. A lot of the kids she played with growing up were boys. Mostly her older brothers' friends.
She's also always been into sports. She was one of the people in physical education class that always got chosen first for flag football. She ran track and cross country when we were in high school. And she could run her 100 meter dash in heels if she wanted to. We once raced to my car when we were leaving our friend's sweet sixteen. She beat me. In an evening dress. And four-inch heels.
…Let that stay a secret between us, if you don't mind.
I unlocked the front passenger door of my car for her to get in. "Hey Zelda," I smiled, turning on the ignition. We've known each other since we were in first grade. We're both third years in university. And I've been friend zoned ever since.
I guess I started developing a crush on her during the end of middle school. You know, around the time when hormones begin to rage and body parts start developing. I thought it'd go away because that was when I'd have wet dreams about any female friend I had. When I reached about maybe my second year in high school, I knew it was just more than a little crush. I had dated a few girls, but I always pictured myself being with Zelda. Out of all my female friends, I connected with her the most. We liked and hated the same things. We'd sit on the stools at my kitchen island just talking or venting out to each other for hours on end about our problems or people we hated in school. When we were young, our parents would always joke that'd we'd get together and end up married.
I should have seen this coming when I met her 14 years ago. This relationship had FRIEND ZONE stamped all over it in bold, red ink. Only a few guys in the history of the world have ever been lucky enough to get out of it. I'd say I haven't been holding my breath all that time for my turn to get de-friend zoned. But sadly, that'd be a pretty bad lie.
We were headed to the mall to Game Spot to pick up our reservations of the new installment in one of our favorite game series. One of those adventure games that we grew up with, really. I personally felt a strong connection with the main character. He goes all over the world, dungeon after dungeon, to save the princess. Everyone wants them to get together, but in the end, she very might as well have kicked him in the balls and said, "Sorry, but I'm not looking for anything serious." It screamed FRIEND ZONE.
Oh yeah, buddy. I know your pain. I know your pain real good.
"Are we doing anything tonight?" Zelda asked me as we walked out the store, both of us holding our games in their bags. "Us, Malon and Sheik? If not, I'm just gonna break this game out all night!"
I laughed softly at that. Our best friends, Malon and Sheik. The four of us have been friends since elementary school. "Mm, I dunno what they're up to. I haven't talked to either of them all day. But I was wondering if you wanted to catch dinner or something? Just us two."
"I'm kinda short on cash, though. I've been saving up all my money to buy this," she lifted up her bag slightly.
"I'll pay for you," I smiled. "It's no prob."
I've invited her out to dinner many times before. And she'd always accept. I've even paid for her food before too. But of course, she'd think nothing more of it than a friendly dinner.
I nodded. "We always pay for each other when we don't have money, remember?"
And in five, four, three, two—
"Thanks, man!" She smiled back.
So she didn't say that word. But going by context, you know she might as well have.
"Got anything in mind?" She asked as we walked out the exit.
"Nothing really," I scratched the back of my head, spinning my key ring on my other hand's index finger. "But I haven't eaten anything all afternoon."
I unlocked my car with my key's remote as we approached it. Tossing my bag into the back seat, I started the car as soon as Zelda buckled herself in, and peeled out of the parking space. She had been quiet that whole time, her face in thought. Trying to think of places to eat, I guess. "We could always hit up Aunt Telma's. I'm feeling a burger right about now."
"Yeah?" I glanced over to her.
"Just a suggestion. I mean, you're paying."
"Lady wants, lady gets." I joked. She just shot me this equally joking face of disgust. She hated being babied. Or "ladied," I guess you could say. If that's even a word.
The drive there was like all the other times we went driving together. She'd bring up how the laziness was starting to kick in at the end of the semester and how she'd skip one or two lectures, giving "He's dropping the lowest score!" as a perfectly viable reason for not going to class. We'd make jokes about Malon or Sheik and laugh—more like cackle like wolfos, then embarrass ourselves at the red light whenever the car people in the cars next to us overheard our obnoxious laughter. It was comfortable. She was my closest girl friend. If there was an ideal type for me, it'd be her. There's the whole "why risk such a long friendship with trying to ask her out" argument. Then there's the "better to go for it and get rejected than beat yourself up over not taking the initiative" counterpoint. I've heard both sides. But ultimately, I'd like to know what she has to say. The worst that could happen is that she could say no, right?
Yeah, she could say no. That's not so bad. Other girls have turned me down. I'm not gonna lie about that.
She could say no. And then it'd become awkward. And then we'd have a falling out. And then 14 years of friendship would have gone to waste—
"Well what can I get for you tonight, kids?" Aunt Telma asked us with a wide smile as she wiped out the inside of a glass.
"Auntie, we're 21," Zelda chuckled, slipping onto a bar stool.
"Yeah?" The middle-aged lady cocked an eyebrow. She was a family friend of my parents. My dad and her husband were shipmates in the Navy, and she used to babysit Malon, Sheik, Zelda and me after school when we were in second grade. They also ran the restaurant together. It was a bit of a family business. "I've known y'all since you were little kids. And when yer as old as me, 21 is still a baby."
"You're not that old, Auntie," I smiled. I never did know her age. Whenever it was her birthday, she insisted on getting cake candles in the shape of question marks instead of numbers.
"You flatter me, sweetum," she shook her head, laughing softly. "Guess you two ain't kids anymore, like you say… You're old enough to drink, after all. By the way, want anything to drink to start you two off?"
"Just water for myself," I nodded. "I'm driving."
"Want anything, Zel?" She turned to her.
"Mm… is it okay?" She turned to me. I waved my hand and smiled in reply, gesturing for her to get whatever she wanted. "A red potion, please Auntie."
"Coming up, sweetie." She placed my glass of water in front of me and went to prepare Zelda's mixed drink. "Where're them two other ones?" She asked, referring to Malon and Sheik.
"We didn't invite them," I replied, taking a sip of my drink.
"Really, now?" She turned around to face us with this mischievous smirk. "You two on a little date?"
Zelda laughed at that. A little bit too hard for it to hurt, actually. "Auntie, of course not! Be serious!"
I ground out a chuckle of my own. A weak one. A little bit too weak, now that I look back on it.
"Mm… alrighty," she nodded, shooting me an almost apologetic, fleeting glance before turning back to mixing Zelda's red potion.
Yeah. Aunt Telma knew about my feelings for Zelda. She thought it was cute when I told her about it back when I was 16. She used to play matchmaker all the time. You know, like any woman would try to do with her friends' children. It got to the point that I kind of blew up at her because I was getting so frustrated with. She understood where I was coming from and backed off the topic considerably since then, although she did like to drop little hints to Zelda. Who, of course, would be oblivious to a nuclear bomb going off if it happened.
For a girl who graduated in the top 20 of our high school class, she sure wasn't all that observant.
"Either of you two up for dessert?" Aunt Telma laughed, picking up our empty plates and taking them to the back counter.
"Oh, no!" Zelda laughed, shaking her head. "I ate too much! Thank you though, Auntie!"
"I'm fine," I laughed, patting my stomach. I needed to hit up the gym sometime soon.
"Alrighty," Aunt Telma smiled, refilling my glass with more water. She wiped off the condensation dripping off the surface of the pitcher onto the counter. "You just let me know if I can get anything else for y'all!" With that, she went off to tend to other customers on the other side of the bar.
I look down to my feet to see the source of the sound, and saw Aunt Telma's cat Louise sitting at the base of my stool.
"Louise!" Zelda gasped, smiling at the cat. I reached down for her and picked her up, placing her in my lap. Louise mewled happily, curling up and nuzzling into my stomach.
"Haven't seen you in a while, Louise," I laughed, gently scratching the top of her forehead. Louise was Aunt Telma's pet Terminian cat. She's had her ever since we were in fourth grade. Louise would roam around the bar; Aunt Telma would say she was her eyes whenever her back was turned, looking out for any customers causing trouble. And maybe ask customers for food while she was at it.
"Animals always did have a liking for you," Zelda joked as she took a sip of her red potion.
"Not like Sheik," I chuckled. "Remember when Richard chased him like half a mile around the neighborhood in second grade?"
"Shoot, that was his fault!" Zelda laughed in reply.
I scoffed at her. "You were the one who told him it'd be a fun idea to scare him while he was sleeping on Aunt Mamamu's yard!"
Between the two girls in our group, Malon and Zelda, Zelda was always the aggressive one while Malon was her more passive-aggressive foil. And Sheik, poor Sheik was always subject to Zelda's "great" ideas. Like when we were twelve and she told him she'd give him a yellow rupee if he successfully jumped over one of those car barricades in front of public entrances. "Disaster" would be an understatement to describe how it ended: he was short 10 rupees and almost rendered unable to have kids. And whenever the blame came back to her, her defense was always the same.
"Well he didn't have to listen to me!" Zelda shot back, playfully pushing my shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah," I shook my head, regaining my balance on the stool. Maybe it wasn't all her fault. Sheik could never back out of a challenge, after all.
She just stuck her tongue out at me before directing her attention to one of the hanging high definition TVs showing a Loftwing race.
"You two doing okay?" Aunt Telma passed us, skillfully balancing five plates filled with food to the brim on her hands and arms.
"Yes," we both replied simultaneously. Zelda took her purse from off her lap and put it on the counter. "Let me just use the restroom and freshen up and then we can go, Link."
"Alrighty," I nodded, watching her get up from her stool.
"You know where they are," Aunt Telma nodded, pointing with her lips in the direction of a hallway leading to the restrooms.
I turned to the Loftwing race before Aunt Telma came back around the counter.
"Oh, looks like Louise woke up," she looked over the counter to my lap, where the cat perked up. She gestured for me to hand her over, and I complied, dusting off my thighs and stomach of any stray hair.
"Go on," Aunt Telma put Louise back on the ground and pointed to her bowl on the ground near the bar. "Renado has dinner ready for you." And with that, Louise scurried off.
"So Link," she turned to me, and I looked up from my lap. "Sorry about that earlier."
I raised my eyebrow a bit at that.
"The date comment," she clarified.
"Oh," I nodded slowly. "It's fine, Auntie."
"You planning on telling her at some point?"
I shrugged a little. "I dunno. Maybe."
"Well she's not gonna be there forever," she folded her arms over her ample chest and leaned over a bit. "Trust me, I was her age. I was like her. Twenty-one year old gals, especially gals like Zelda, aren't the type who're gonna wait for a knight in shinin' armor."
I leaned my elbow on the counter, resting my cheek on my fist. "Well she's not even looking for a relationship anyway."
"Do you know that f'sure?"
That got me thinking. Zelda's had a few relationships before, but none of them were particularly serious. They all lasted for a few months at a time, and when they broke up, not once after any of them was she depressed or show some sort of emotional vulnerability.
"…No, not really," I shook my head. "But she never appeared to be interested in relationships. She's always been the kind of person to just cut ties whenever a relationship with someone didn't work out."
"And yer afraid she'll do that to you?" She crooked her head to the side.
"…I guess," I shrugged.
"Well some advice from someone who's been there many times before," she rested her chin very lady-like on her fingers. "Zelda's looks like that. But when she's known someone for so long and has as strong of an' emotional 'ttachment to 'em like she does with you—romantic or not, she ain't gonna let it die so easy."
A male customer came up to us. "Excuse me," he interrupted politely before handing her the tip.
"You have a good night now!" She called to him as she stuffed the yellow rupee in her apron pocket.
"Thanks again, Telma!" He waved to her as he opened the door for his female companion and exited, the bell above the door ringing as it swung open and closed.
"Gals, 'specially ones like Zelda, want a guy to have the guts to tell her if he likes her," Aunt Telma turned back to me and poured herself a glass of water. "Like I said, Link. Zelda don't look like the type of gal to wait. But if she is, I wouldn't keep her twiddlin' her thumbs for too long."
I ran a hand through my light brown hair, finally scratching the back of my head with the same had. "You really think that's what she wants?"
"Like I said, Link," she winked. "I was just like her, back during the Imprisoning War."
We both laughed softly at her stab at her age. It was okay if she did it, and it was okay to laugh then, but the second you start to make jokes, you'll get so much of an earful and maybe a kick in the ass you'd wish you'd kept your mouth shut.
"And I never would have married your Uncle Renado if he didn't pull himself out of the slump yer in," she chuckled. I watched Uncle Renado cooking through the window in the door to the kitchen, and from the corner of my eye I saw Aunt Telma gesture behind me.
"What were you two talking about?" I heard Zelda's voice behind me. I turned around to see her smiling at the two of us.
"Link here was just telling me how school was going for him is all," Aunt Telma covered for us, quickly glancing at me and smiling with her eyes. "You two ready to go?"
"Yeah, just about," I nodded, stretching in my seat. "You need anything else, Zel?"
"No, I'm fine," she shook her head.
"Don't worry about paying me tonight, kids," she waved her hand and turned to me. She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out the check. "I'll be at your house for Aryll's birthday dinner this weekend, so you can pay me then, alrighty? I'll just leave the check with you for the time being. Preferred customer discount, o'course."
"Alright," I nodded, taking the check and putting it in my wallet. "Thanks again, Aunt Telma."
"Thank you, Auntie! G'night!" Zelda nodded her head and Aunt Telma waved us off again.
"You drive home safe, sweethearts! And tell yer parents we say hi!"
I opened the door for Zelda, when I heard Aunt Telma call my name.
"And Link!" Both Zelda and I turned around to her. "Remember what I told you now, you hear?"
I smiled softly and nodded back. "I will." And with that, we left the bar.
"What did she tell you?" Zelda asked me, her head tilted to the side.
I shrugged her question off. "Just to not get lazy and slack off."
Not the whole truth, but not necessarily a lie either.
"Thanks for dinner, dude," Zelda laughed as I pulled over to the curb in front of her house.
"Anytime," I nodded, unlocking the door for her. I watched Zelda gather her things and she motioned to open the door, but then she paused for a second and turned back to me.
"…Hey, can you stop the car for a second?"
I raised an eyebrow at that, but then I shifted into park, engaged the brake and turned the engine off. "Something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong," she shook her head.
"Well what's up?" I asked, shifting my weight to my right forearm on the armrest while my left hand held onto the bottom of the steering wheel.
"Remember when we were in like, elementary and middle school, and Mom and Dad and Auntie and Uncle would joke about us getting together and all that?" She smiled almost nostalgically as she looked out the windshield.
"Oh yeah, I remember," I smiled back, shaking my head and running a hand through my hair. Our parents had no shame when it came to trying to pair us up. I wouldn't be surprised if Zelda's parents had funds locked away in some secret bank account to pay for our wedding.
"Why do you bring that up, though?" I asked, honestly confused.
"My parents brought it up again last night," she shrugged. "I dunno. I just think it's funny."
My brow rose at that. "What do you mean?"
"Not 'haha' funny," she shook her head. "But like… I dunno. I dunno how to describe it."
For someone who graduated in the top 20 of our high school class, not only was she not observant. She also had tendencies to not make any sense.
"…Well look, Zel," I started after a short pause between us. Oh, boy. Here goes nothing. "It's something I've been thinking about for a while."
"About our parents wanting—"
"No, no," I shook my head. "Lemme finish."
She nodded, allowing me to continue.
"…I, uh… I guess I kinda like you."
She cocked an eyebrow. "'Kinda' like me?"
I took in a deep breath, exhaling it just as powerfully. "…Kinda as in, um… a lot… like you… I a lot like you—I like you a lot." Stumbling over my words, grammatical mistakes all over the place. Oh yeah, I'm smooth. I'm a guy. This is normal.
I look down, probably for the first time unable to face her. When I felt her gaze lift off me, I glanced up to see her looking out the windshield again. She stayed silent for a few moments, eyes still facing forward as her elbow sat on the armrest and twirled her dark blonde hair. Then all of a sudden, she slapped my arm with the back of her hand.
"OW!" I yelped, rubbing where she hit my bicep and glaring at her. "What was that for!"
"It's about time!" She cried out, laughing softly and tucking some tresses of hair behind her ear.
I was at a loss for words. 'About time?' 'About time,' what! So wait—
"Y-y-you knew?" My eyes were wide, completely taken aback. "How! Since when!"
"Link," she chuckled. "I wear glasses, but I'm not blind. I've known… maybe when I started dating? What was that, sophomore year in high school?"
My head crooked to the side so far in confusion I probably looked like an owl.
"Remember when I went out with Groose for like two months?" She kind of grimaced at just mentioning his name. Groose was one of the star Loftwing racers back in high school. That was when I was a bit on the scrawny side; Groose was about twice my size in muscle and maybe a head and a half taller than me, not taking his ridiculous coif hairstyle into account. Around the time Zelda started seeing Groose, that's when I started seriously working out and putting on muscle. I guess it was to compete with Groose physically. Though "I guess" was underplaying it quite a bit.
"You were fine with me hanging out with other guys for as long as we've known each other, but once I started actually dating them, that's when you would start to get all overprotective," she laughed.
"…Oh." Was all I had to say for myself. Was that why she never seemed to care whenever her past relationships failed? Was she really waiting for me to ask her out?
She eyed me mischievously before smiling to herself. "I guess I kinda like you too."
I lifted my head back up to look at her.
"Kinda as in... a lot," she mimicked my nervous words from earlier with a laugh in her voice.
I chuckled softly, shaking my head at her mocking me. I looked her square in the eyes before reaching out to lift her chin up towards me and placing my lips softly on hers.
Well, damn. That's what it felt like to kiss her. I almost felt ashamed because of how chapped my lips were in comparison to hers.
She was first to pull away, though I could tell it was reluctant. She giggled quietly, eyes down at the armrest between us. "Guess you ain't a 'bro' anymore."
I laughed at that. "Is that a promise?"
She looked up to me and pecked me again. "Hm, we'll see."
Oh, we've got a tease, this one.
She took her purse and her Game Spot bag and opened the door, but not before kissing me one last time. Goddesses, those lips. That last kiss, she almost pulled me out of my seat as she pulled away, my face leaning so far forward.
"G'night, Link," she smiled, pulling her hair back then to the side so it rested on her right shoulder.
"G'night, Zel," I nodded. "Drive safely."
It was a little joke between the four of us. I was usually the driver, and when I'd drop them off to their houses, I'd tell them all "Drive safely" just to mess around.
She laughed at that, rolling her eyes. "Walk safely," she joked back.
With that, she closed the car door and I watched her walk to her front door, unlocking it and opening it, her silhouette outlined by the light shining inside the house. But I could still see her turn around and before closing the door behind her, blow a kiss.
'Guess you ain't a 'bro' anymore.' Well thank Goddesses. I was finally out of that damn cursed friend zone.
Guess it was safe to finally let go of that breath I've been holding in all that time.
I hope you enjoyed reading! More Skyward Sword for me. In the meantime if you follow me, I'll catch you on Tumblr (the link is in my profile).
Enjoy Life and Smile.