Link's Parallel Adventure

Once upon a time as all good fairy stories start, there were two children. One was a little girl; she was pretty and good (most of the time), with long blonde curls and big blue eyes. The other child was a boy; he was adventurous and brave with a mischievous smile and he too had blond, although messy hair and sparkling blue eyes. The young pair were inseparable and everyone knew that where one was to be found, the other was not too far away.

But the time was rapidly approaching when all their childhood idylls would be curbed at the very least; gone would be the days hiding in the apple trees while guardians searched. Gone too would be the long summer days after school with picnics, fishing and swimming along with their other friends in the tiny rivers and streams. For the little girl was growing up and so was the boy and it was no longer appropriate for them to mix quite so freely; for she was a high born princess and he just the smith's soon to be apprenticed grandson.

Zelda's father was far from cruel, he hadn't let the motherless girl and parentless boy become such firm friends just to rip them apart. But from now on they would not have so much time to play together; Zelda had to learn from governesses from now on, and would not be attending the small local school. The King had thought it important when she was much younger to mix with the youths who would be her subjects and for her to learn that people whatever their position in life were flesh and blood the same as she and were all to be treated the same.

Link too found that his formal education at the school was now over; his grandfather needed him more at the smithy and it was time for him to learn his trade. As his Grandfather told him it would take Link many years to become so adept, that he could become a Master Swordsmith worthy of the Royal Warrant, such as him. However Grandfather didn't have anything to complain about, Link was as hard working and good natured a lad as any could wish and was always willing to help anyone.

There had of course been many lessons to be learned, some of them hard. For example, Link learned it was not the done thing to run off for the day and hide in a sea cave telling stories of brave deeds and eating a picnic round a tiny fire, while all the guards have been called out searching for your royal companion. It didn't matter that everyone knew that Link and Zelda had sneaked out of their duties and were together, if they couldn't be found.

As it was, Link's stories of heroism were sorely tested when the pair had to be rescued; they had forgotten the time and were cold and damp with the sea close to cutting off their escape route. Link was submitted to the indignity of a birching there and then while Zelda was forced to watch and see how her own actions had contributed to his suffering. Her tears fell like rain as she locked her damp gaze with Link's; but they were allowed to say goodbye before the guards marched her back to the Palace. Grandfather tucked the switch into his belt and pushed Link homeward, his hand on the boy's collar the whole way.

Then had come the stern lecture; punctuated with some firm hand swats to the already very sore rear, enough to make quite sure Link would think twice before rescuing his Princess for the day, ever again. Let her deal with boredom in another less (for him) painful way. But if he ever did forget, and they both went missing, Link was to make sure he didn't put the girl in further danger; Grandfather was disappointed in him. However the punishment was over and the tears had dried by the next morning, and Link was ready for work again, which was just as well because he still wasn't ready to sit for a while.

There was a brief reprieve from the hard work when Grandfather called to a halt and let Zelda apologise for getting him into trouble; which he assured her she hadn't, just as a true gentleman should do for a lady. Then they were allowed to go with the basket of apples and some other treats that she had brought, into the garden, while her father spoke with his old friend and sparring partner about the commissioning of a new sword.

The two children sat on cushions in the garden chatting easily with no embarrassment between them, even when Zelda had insisted he lie face down so she could check the damage for herself and use a mild healing spell. Link may have protested at the indignity, but she was a princess who was very determined and to be honest it would be nice for the twinging ache to be taken away. Grandfather had not spared the boy this time because he was young, for the danger Link had put them in yesterday from the incoming tide could have been disastrous.

Their days of innocence however were rapidly drawing to a close and not just because Link and Zelda would soon start to understand the differences between their bodies in a more adult way if their blushes were to be believed. However a storm was brewing that would soon involve them both in a real continuation of the stories they so loved to hear and tell. For now though the King and Grandfather found them blamelessly lying side by side on the grass, painting more legendary pictures in the clouds; but it was time for Zelda to leave and for Link to return to work.

The new sword was to be presented the following year at the Picori Festival; but it would need time to be designed, approved and forged. Grandfather taught Link how certain designs and engravings could be used on a sword to enhance its beauty and yet not affect the fine balance needed, by using others that he had made before. He even allowed Link the privilege of practicing his sword skills with a real sword now instead of the wooden ones the boy had used in the past.

For the rest of the year Link knuckled down and learned new skills, his work in the forge progressed well and he practiced hard with the sword. Grandfather Smith said it was vital that the boy knew how to use a sword well so that he knew later what was required in the making of one. The fact that Link was still a bit too young and small to fully wield an adult sword properly, didn't stop him from becoming proficient in the more basic skills, and competent in some of the harder moves. The strength of his body had improved greatly from his work in the smithy and although he was still technically a child, the promise of the young man was now evident.

During that year the friends necessarily saw less of each other than usual as the responsibilities of each increased; but on the day of the Picori Festival, Zelda sneaked out once again and found her way to Master Smith's cottage where she asked if Link could escort her to the fete. Grandfather shook his head at the wilful girl, but she assured him that she wouldn't get Link into any kind of trouble with her father and the older man decided that Link was old enough to take the special delivery of the sword in any case, and so gave his permission.

The events of that day were the beginning of two new quests for Link; totally different adventures that had the same start. The first was fraught with all of the danger and bravery that had epitomised the tales he had loved since his early childhood. He had stepped into the shoes of the heroes of old and had not been found wanting; but he had found out for himself just how difficult it was to keep positive all of the time. There had been times of deep despair, tears and even fear and loneliness that were never mentioned in the Great Tales; as if true heroes just vanquished foes without remorse or pain and spent days and nights in too much heat or cold, hunger and thirst without discomfort.

Link now knew that this was untrue first hand; but besides all of the hardship and uncertainties, he learned that to survive, fear must not be allowed to be paralysing. Besides which, he had also made new and genuine friends along the way and learned new skills, which included how to say a permanent 'Goodbye' to some he had come to love in the short time he was with them. In short he had left his childhood behind forever when he left to discover how to rescue his little friend; and he'd returned successful as a young man.

However what Link hadn't realised at the time was, that the second grand adventure of his life had also just got started. When he had tried to protect the Princess from being attacked, before he himself was knocked out, he had felt a great surge of anger that someone was endangering his Princess. And not his in the sense of her exalted position of belonging to her people; but in the sense of his own personal possession and as more than a friend. His heart had nearly shattered inside him when he had seen the girl had been turned into a stone statue; all her vivacity turned into a lifeless monument, except for her eyes, which he imagined still glimmered with life as she stared into his.

Then it was the knowing that he was Zelda's only hope that spurred him on, when sometimes it seemed too great a burden to carry. The battles were exhausting and the puzzles bewildering at times, but when he remembered his friend's eyes and bright smile he gained the strength to carry on. There had been one time when he was so low in spirit that he thought he might never be able to free the girl, that he might fall and all would be lost. But the idea that somehow he might never see her or be near her again was far more terrible to contemplate; she had always been a part of his life and he couldn't imagine her not being there.

In the end he had been triumphant; named a true hero in his own right and it was then, when Zelda was restored and standing before him, that he suddenly felt hot and bothered. He also blushed to his roots, a deep cherry red, as with his tongue-tied and his eyes downcast, he recognised for the first time that his long-time friend was a beautiful girl. To be truthful he had blushed before at the thought of Zelda, Ezlo had teased him about girls quite a few times; but that was nothing in comparison to seeing her alive and well and thanking him for her restoration.

At the honorary banquet held for Link later in the week Zelda too couldn't help but notice that her young friend had grown (just a little bit), and seemed older; for although he still had the rounder face of childhood, the finer lines of maturity were also visible. He came through the door dressed in the royal livery of a squire; in navy blue and silver, more especially in that of the King's personal guard and was changing from a pretty boy into a handsome youth.

The toils of his quest had left their marks in his whole demeanour, and the King didn't fail to notice that although unaware of it themselves, neither Link nor Zelda had eyes for anyone else that whole evening. The pair had never had a problem communicating and although Link was normally the quieter one of the two, tonight he had to keep telling of his adventures and there were many eager questions from around the dining table.

Zelda was hanging off his every word and he in turn spoke to her directly, even when answering someone else; making many of the adults smirk at the oblivious pair who didn't mean to be rude. But whatever was budding in their long standing relationship at the moment, or Vaati's nefarious designs on the princess, they were still really children and had to grow and learn their duties. Speaking of which, His Majesty had yet to receive an answer from Link about the offer he had been given; did the boy wish for a permanent place at the Palace learning to be a full knight or not?

The next day Link asked for an audience with the King to give him his answer and it was granted. Link nervously but with determination and respect was fully aware of the honour bestowed upon him, but familial love and duty came first and his Grandfather needed him. The older man was on his own with no other help in the forge or companionship other than Link, and the boy adored his Grandfather who was proud to be the King's Smith.

King Daltus was impressed but not surprised; after all he had known the child all of his life and knew how loyal he was to family and, as he had just proved, to kingdom as well. So the monarch smiled and clapped Link on the back telling him that he and his Grandfather had already discussed this matter; if Link wished he could stay with his Grandfather and learn his trade, spending half the week there and the rest of his time at the castle and when he was summoned for special duties.

And that was what happened; for the next eight years or so, Link grew in strength, ability and integrity, he was however modest too and became well thought of among his fellow knights and a great asset to both his Grandfather and the King. But the down side throughout those years was that he and Zelda were still not so free to come and go as they had been; for as he learned the duties of a knight, she learned those of a Princess. Sometimes the only time they saw one another during the week or even a month was when Link was part of her personal escort to balls and dinners and this didn't leave much opportunity to talk.

Another trouble of this was also becoming evident to Link; he saw his best friend transform over the years into a graceful beautiful woman, who became the very light of any place she walked. Zelda was cheerful and lively, her eyes sparkled like sapphires, and she had a ready smile and was always kind and generous to everyone, even the lowliest kitchen boy. When she entered a room she turned heads and her dancing was light and bewitching…in short she was Link's dream.

But the more he saw her and the harder he fell in love, the further away she seemed to be now. The days of their mainly carefree playtimes were now long ago memories, and sometimes they no longer felt real to the young man who could only watch from the sidelines, as his former playmate danced further away from him. Zelda too of course noticed that Link and she didn't see each other so much anymore and it bothered her, especially when she knew that sometimes he seemed unhappy.

As time went by things just got worse, there were whispers and rumours in plentiful supply about Princes and courting and engagement balls all in the near future. But as general excitement escalated, others around the court started to notice that Link was becoming even quieter; although he was never rude or taciturn and remained helpful, always doing what was required of him. Now as never before was the reality brought home to Link that Zelda was a Royal and he was not.

Grandfather of course knew every nuance of his grandson's face; and had seen him quite frequently on the quest, making sure that the child at least rested properly and ate a good meal before he'd be off again. Now he'd noticed with exasperation that his boy had started to look a little gaunt in the face and often the trace of tears could be seen on his sleeping face, when Grandfather checked him at night just as he had done ever since Link was left to him as a small child.

One day though the tears were clearly visible when Link returned home, and Grandfather would keep his silent counsel no more and gently demanded to know the cause. Link had no reason to dissemble, there was to be a special ball held to announce Zelda's engagement and forthcoming marriage and Link was to be her escort of honour on that evening; he knew it would break his heart, but he would never let her or her father down. Grandfather was sympathetic, although slightly exasperated and wondered why Link had never spoken to the girl if he loved her so much; only to be firmly told that the reason was obvious, Zelda was highborn and he was no match for a Princess.

There was nothing further to be said at that time and all the older man could do was put his arms round his grandson and offer him the same comfort as if he were still the small lad, that to the loving Grandfather he remained. On the night of the ball, Link hid his heart as best he could; he looked devastatingly handsome in his new livery of forest green, highlighted with gold, but his face was pale and his eyes feverishly bright. He didn't know how he remained standing when the King announced that it was hoped that Zelda would declare her choice that evening.

As soon as possible Link escaped from the dazzling sight of an intensely beautiful and happy Princess; he went and stood in the alcove, his heart full to overflowing, but it did no good, Zelda soon found him. She wanted to know why he was so miserable and reminded him that once upon a time they had always shared their joys and sorrows. Link was unable to answer her; he could not partake in her joy this time, the prospect of someone taking her away was too much for him to bear, but he didn't expect to hear her giggle.

"You are so silly My Link; I had to make all these elaborate plans just to get you to talk to me. I know the reasons why you have never spoken up for me, but if I tell you that there is only one man I want to spend the rest of my life with, and that he is the one who has been by my side ever since we were very young, how do you think he would he answer me?" She smiled gently at him; waiting until he was able to speak after processing her words, his voice almost harsh with emotion;

"He too would never want to let her go and his heart is heavy and breaking at the thought of someone else having her."

"Then if I made him my choice, would he accept me my love? Please Link; will you now speak for me?"

"What of your father, your position?" He whispered, scarcely believing what they were saying.

"Both he and your Grandfather have known since we were in school that we were meant to be together, and I have known since I knew what love was, that you are the only one ever for me. I love you…and I always have." She looked up at her hero with such devotion in her face, that all of Link's hopes came true.

"Will you marry me, my darling Zelda?" Link said shyly, his eyes shining, aglow with his love for her.

"Of course I will, my love." She returned his embrace and kiss fervently and the assembly was in no doubt of the Princess's choice. Her father turned to Grandfather smiling with a sigh of relief, saying that it was about time; both grateful that they finally knew that there would be a happily ever after for both Link and Zelda.