*crawls into the room gasping for breath* IT. IS. DONE.
Finally! My second ZeLink fic is ready for reading! This thing was nearly two months in the making, so I'm glad I can finally say that it's done and that I don't have to worry about it anymore!
If you've noticed that this is a very short story for having been in progress since the beginning of January, then I figure I should say that this was originally being written as a oneshot, but in the end, it turned out to be nearly twelve thousand words in length, which is pretty nuts for a oneshot. It wasn't a decision I made lightly, as I'm fully aware that the transitions in between chapters may not compare as well to stories written with defined sections in mind.
That said, the story is completely written and ready for viewing, so you can expect a semi-consistent update schedule over the coming days. (And by "semi-consistent," I mean not nine months long at a time.) But until then, enjoy today's update!
With a furrowed brow, Zelda sat on her bed, her hands quickly and dexterously weaving her needle and thread through the half-completed sailcloth she was going to present in only one short day. It was hardly short notice that she was requested to take on the role of the goddess for the annual Wing Ceremony; it was exactly one week ago to the day when her father, Headmaster Gaepora, took her out of class to give her the news of her upcoming representation.
As if she didn't see that coming. Psychic premonition? No, of course not. She was one of the only two girls available since a few of the others have already since graduated to much-coveted knighthood—not to mention the fact that her father just wouldn't stop talking about it.
She by no means hated the news; in all actuality, she was quite elated. How many people got the honor of representing their beloved deity, who had protected them for countless years from the dark unknown? In fact, it was she herself who decided to shake up the tradition a bit by suggesting she make the ceremonial gift herself. Her father was, indeed, surprised by the spur of the moment of her proposition, but he, nevertheless, conceded with a smile on her behalf and no requests to the contrary.
Unfortunately, being the perfectionist that she was, she had chosen to rework the entire thing at least four times already. This being her fifth one, she was maybe only a good six hours in since scrapping the fourth, which lie sadly dejected on the floor on her bedside. "The stitching of the academy sigil isn't right!" she growled at herself every six seconds when she tossed aside her latest cut of fabric and nearly a half-day of stitching work.
An oddity for her, she even had to miss her weekly mandatory sparring session that night. I'm not sure how I'm going to pass that swordplay exam at this rate… she mused with a discouraged sigh. She was happy about the peace and quiet that resulted from everyone else flooding to the Sparring Hall for practice, though. The calming sound of nothing but the kitchen lady's soft humming and the strong, delicious aroma of the batch of hearty stew she was expertly preparing that night managed to keep her spirits reasonably stable; her hand, nice and steady.
To a little bit of her dismay, however, her concentration—and also the silence—was soon broken by the sound of a door opening past the crack in her room partition, the slow, weary footsteps of her good friend Karane, the other of the two girls still yet to graduate, following suit. "Evening, Zelda…" she wheezed.
Turning her head to see, Zelda could make out faint beads of sweat falling from her face; no doubt she had just finished a grueling exercise, something the school faculty never really had qualms with assigning. "Hi, Karane," she replied, happy to finally make human contact for the first time in a while, and, no less, with her roommate (although the academy-standard partition of the girls' territory made that term only loosely accurate). "You look beat."
Karane plopped onto her bed without even bothering to change into less-drenched clothing. "Well, that's Commander Eagus for ya," she acknowledged through broken breaths. "I swear he overworks us sometimes… Stritch even almost passed out during the cooldown."
By the sounds of it, Zelda was now happy that she was able to skip the sparring session for the sake of preparing for the ceremony. Of course, she knew the Knight Commander was just going to chew her out later and hold an extra session for her to make up for it, but…
"And it turns out the bath is occupied again! That person's been in there so many times and for so long that I'm wondering if it's a new student that just didn't have enough money for room and board." Zelda shamefully sighed, since she knew all too well who was really in there. She wasn't too keen on admitting it to herself, even; so she tried ignoring the occupancy as much as possible and tried even more to avoid keeping the subject alive in conversation.
Fortunately, it wasn't long until Karane recovered her breath and could actually sit up without feeling like collapsing and complaining about her denial of a relaxing bath. "Still working on that gift for the ceremony, I see?"
"Mm-hmm!" she sung, quite cheerful for someone who poked herself with her needle just now and discarded her nine-hour-long attempt at a sailcloth a quarter-day ago. "To be honest, I've not made as much progress as I thought I should have by now." She held it up to the opening in the partition to show off what she could. It was certainly an impressive effort given the long part of the afternoon; the sigil of the academy, an elaborate, birdlike-crest—true, of course, to Skyloftian culture—was slowly starting to take form in the center of the meticulously-weaved cotton fabric. This time, it was shaping up to be flawless in her eyes, so she could say with confidence that it would be much harder for her to dispose of that attempt.
Karane marveled at the great care in the stitching and nodded in approval as vigorously as her weary head would allow her. "You're definitely doing a great job despite your so-called 'lack of progress.' Link's definitely gonna love to see this."
Oh, yes… Link. Just by that one simply-uttered syllable, her cheeks tinted a bit and prompted her to quickly turn her head toward the unfinished sailcloth in her hand to avoid Karane's gaze. She held her breath, hoping that the sound of the beating in her chest would go undetected. For some reason, she thought that doing that would keep her heart rate within a reasonable level, but ironically, trying to suppress it only ended up making it increase even more.
She couldn't suppress her feelings to the point of maintaining a clear head. Thoughts of the young man flashed through her mind and wouldn't relent, and it was getting harder and harder for her to keep her focus on the present day. Biting her lip, closing her eyes…nothing could keep her focused. To her shame, it was all due to the muttering of a single name.
He was a bit of a strange one, that Link; he spent a lot of his free time just lazing about and, instead of doing anything scholastically productive, would often prefer sleeping and woodcarving. He also had a bit of a flair for sarcasm, which, as one could expect, didn't hold over with some of the other students too well, least of all with Groose, professional bully and perhaps the biggest cause of his problems aside of his own lack of devotion to academia.
But it certainly caught Zelda's attention, in a good way. The two of them were inseparable friends since even before they were enrolled in the academy. Why, back in the day, when the two were bold enough to go off on their own with disregard for the elders' permission and curious enough to explore Skyloft's every nook and cranny, it was most certainly not a rare occurrence to find a certain energetic little girl dragging a half-asleep young boy along with her wherever she went. However, despite the less-than-ideal relaxation potential, the little guy never really seemed to mind.
Her amused father was very quick to learn their "code" of transit. Most of the time, it involved catching butterflies by the bazaar, hiding from the instructors in the academy kitchen—admission allowed only for enrolled students and staff, remember—and sitting by the waterfall at the edge of town, pondering the strange little things like, "Does it rain because there's this great, big waterfall in the sky like this one?"
His personal record for catching them up to no good was probably a not-too-shabby twelve minutes, tops.
The nostalgia washed over her like she had just taken a face full of that cold waterfall, and the increase of flush in her face did not fail to give an alert Karane a playful smirk. "You can't hide it, Zelda," she chuckled. "I know what you're thinking."
To Zelda's dismay, this only reddened her face even more. Her poker face wasn't going to save her now… She couldn't really defend herself or bring it upon herself to deny anything, so she just said nothing and started twiddling with her needle and thimble.
Karane's face was peering right into the partition at this point, her eyes almost intently peering into the flustered underclassman's mind. "Spill it! He said, 'Yes,' didn't he!"
Oh, this is just embarrassing… she moaned in her head. What am I going to say? She went over a few possible responses in her head, but, of course, none of them she thought were even remotely close to satisfactory. "I…" she stammered, hoping to trigger any thought that could get her out of there—the only thing that she could think of, sadly, being just stating it outright. With a nervous breath, she murmured, "…I haven't told him yet…"
Karane frowned, almost like a child looking forward to sunshine but had received a thunderstorm. "You haven't yet? I would have thought you did it a couple days ago or something by now."
"Don't worry!" she said with panicked assurance—not a good combination, surely. With a considerably softer, yet quicker and decidedly more nervous, voice, she added, "I was actually planning on telling him during the ceremony…"
With her constant insistence of lowering her voice to make sure no one else was listening, she was becoming too quiet for even her own ears. Amazingly, though, Karane was still able to pick up and acknowledge her woes, somehow. There was a limit as to how much she wanted to actually divulge, so she also began to speak more slowly, careful to avoid the obvious phrases that tended to trap her in the nasty cycle of hide-the-secret and look-natural, which always had her end up doing anything but.
Unfortunately, try as she might to tread carefully, fate had a bit of a…grudge against private conversations, especially in such a tightly-knit community as Skyloft. Peering down from the heavens, a defiant laugh rolling like thunder, it decided now was the best time to have a bit of fun…
Oh, boy. What could be in store for these two, I wonder? Guess you'll have to wait and see until the next chapter comes out in a few days, then, eh? (Cliffhangers sure are fun, aren't they?)
Sorry if this chapter seems short, because it really is. But don't worry-there are about ten thousand more words where that came from, so prepare yourselves! Also, if you like what you see, feel free to drop a line!