I don't own the Legend of Zelda. If I did… xD
"Horsing Around" is rated K+.
A Legend of Zelda Fanfiction
Men have to be the most oblivious creatures on the planet.
Epona would know. She's had to deal with Link for ten years. She loved her master dearly, but sometimes the boy lived life with his head in the clouds. Sure, she didn't understand everything about human behavior, but come on. About 90% of Hyrule's human female population had a crush on him and the other 10% didn't swing that way. If she could put it into human words, Link was a "pimp".
He wasn't trying to earn any girl's attention. He always said that they were just being nice and girls were sweet to everyone. A young woman would present him with flowers, thanking him for saving Hyrule. He would bow low, thanking her for his generosity and then proceed to give the flowers to Epona to munch on once the lass left.
Hey, what could she say? She developed an affinity for flowers. They were very pretty and quite tasty to boot.
Snacks aside, was he really that dumb? Normal girls don't give flowers to just anyone. At least, not the women Epona observed.
Link said it was because he was the hero and they were just thanking him for it. No, Epona knew it was because Link's muscular figure, his bright blue eyes, and his golden hair. Even the horse admitted that the young hero was built.
Still, Link treated young women like he would anyone else. There was no purer heart than Link's and he treated everyone with the utmost respect and sincerity. He even treated Ilia the same. Ilia's crush was so obvious, even Colin and Talo noticed. Now that's saying something. Beth often dropped hints to Link, asking him what he thought of Ilia. Link would always respond that he cared about her, she was a nice girl, and a close friend of his. He would then proceed to question Beth why she was asking. Beth always hung her head in defeat. Epona didn't blame her. He was clueless.
However, there was one person the young hero acted differently around: Zelda, the Princess of Hyrule.
At first, Epona thought it was just nerves. Link was a shy and humble boy, so clearly he'd be nervous in the princess's presence. Besides, anyone would feel somewhat intimidated in the presence of a monarch. That was normal.
What weren't normal were his flushed cheeks, shaking legs, and slight stammer.
Okay, the flushed cheeks she understood. Zelda was after all a very beautiful woman. Any man would feel at least a hint of attraction to the monarch. Epona even didn't blame Link for stuttering. She was royalty and one had to watch what they said very carefully.
The shaking was another story.
It made sense in any other man. Link? That was a horse of a different color. Seriously, Link was the Hero of Twilight and the bearer of the Triforce of Courage. Nothing fazed the boy. He'd faced countless foes and never once showed fear.
That's when Epona figured it out: Link liked Zelda.
Not just as a friend. The kind of like that usually led to dates and an eventual relationship.
Epona didn't claim to be an expert on human behavior, but come on, it was obvious. What else would explain his behavior whenever he was around her?
That wasn't all. Zelda liked Link too. She always reacted exactly the same.
So why weren't they together yet?
Okay, there was Midna. Midna was Link's traveling companion during his adventure and a very close friend of his. Midna originally treated him as a slave, but as time went on the two became closer. Midna, the Twilight Princess, returned to her world and destroyed the Mirror of Twilight. She could never again return to the world of light. Sure, losing a close female friend had to be tough. Epona never figured out if Link loved Midna romantically or just as a friend, but her parting was definitely hard on him.
But really. A year had passed. Epona hated to be the bearer of bad news, but Midna would never return. Come on, Link. Focus on the girl that's right in front of you.
Epona would tell him that if she could. However, she was a horse and couldn't speak human language. It was annoying at times. At least when Link was a wolf she could communicate with him. Despite the language barrier, Link always understood Epona's thoughts and vice versa.
Tangent aside, what were they doing again?
Mayor Bo said something silly about collecting a certain kind of herb in Faron Woods. Even with the evil banished from the land, Faron Woods still wasn't the friendliest of places. Only Rusl and Link regularly entered the forest.
It all started when Malo caught some sort of flu. The illness spread through Ordon like a plague. Everyone caught it, children and adults alike. The only one who didn't get sick was Link. Now that she thought about it, Epona could not recall a time when Link was sick. The guy had a rock-solid immune system. Seriously, was there anything that could knock him off his feet?
Everyone was now well, but these herbs were supposed to be some sort of defender against future illnesses, so Mayor Bo thought it would be a good idea for Link to collect some. After all, no one wanted to deal with a plague again.
Epona kept close to Link, as she always did when there was a threat of danger. The young hero could easily take on any challenge, but she wanted him to know that he always could count on her. Besides, something seemed a bit off regarding the whole situation. Epona didn't know what it was, but it was intuition and she trusted it.
Link secured another bushel of herbs to Epona's saddle. With a heavy sigh, he wiped the sweat off his forehead. Gathering these things was hard work. Epona was impressed that her master's back hadn't given out yet after all the bending.
It wasn't the hottest day in the world, but the sun beating down on one's back all day would be enough to make anyone sweat. The young hero started to gather more before deciding against it and collapsing next to Epona, using the horse's legs for support.
Epona was glad. Even though Link was strong, he wasn't indestructible. He'd been at it for five hours now. It was time for a little break. The mare picked up Link's water canteen in her teeth, nudging him in the head with it. Link smiled gratefully, taking the canteen from his horse and patting her on her nose.
"Thanks girl," he said in a hoarse voice. What was with his voice? He sounded beat tired. Hmmm…he slept more than usual last night, so lack of sleep shouldn't be a major concern. Everyone was healthy, so stress wouldn't be a factor. As tiring as weeding was for hours, Link endured greater physical challenges with less effort. The sinking feeling in her stomach that something was wrong continued to plague Epona. She whinnied at Link, pawing at him gently with her hooves to get his attention. The warrior was already starting to drift off.
"Huh?" He asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes. "What's up, Epona? Do you sense danger?"
Yeah, the danger of you passing out.
Epona nudged him again, cursing her inability to speak human language. Link was struggling to keep his eyes open. There was something wrong. Epona brushed her muzzle against Link's forehead, trying to get a temperature reading. Even through her fur she could tell Link's forehead was way too hot. Link had a fever.
"Epona, what…" Link said, trying to understand what his horse was trying to tell him. Using Epona's body as support, Link pulled himself up. He still had a weary look in his eyes. The physical exertion of standing was enough to send the hero into a coughing fit.
For the first time in Epona's history, Link was sick. His illness seemed similar to the one that plagued Ordon not too long ago. It made sense. Since he was the only healthy one at the time, Link spent a couple of weeks caring for every member of the village. Of course he'd get sick. He wasn't made of steel.
Epona knelt beside him, trying to coax her weary master to ride her. Huh, wait. The herbs were secured to her saddle. Epona started frantically gnawing at her saddle, trying to chew her way through the leather straps. Link stopped coughing long enough to hold Epona's head so she wouldn't tear the strap.
"Quit it," he grumbled, although it sounded like a harsh whisper. "You need your saddle so we can take these herbs back to the village."
You moron. You're the sick one here.
Of course! The herbs! Epona grabbed one of the herbs in her mouth and waved it in front of Link's mouth, trying to get him to eat it. Link pulled back, clamping a hand over his mouth as a guard. "Epona! That's for the villagers! Besides, it's only meant to prevent illnesses." He started coughing again.
Epona huffed, spitting the herb at Link in protest of his stubbornness. The boy practically admitted that he was sick. He acted all tough for the entire day and only now his defenses were crumbling. Epona hated hearing the sound of Link's coughing. She again began chewing at her saddle, hoping it would get Link to come to his senses and stop acting like a petulant child.
Groaning in defeat, Link unhooked the saddle from Epona's back. He knew in his condition he could never attempt to hold off a horse in his state. Both Link and Epona were equally stubborn, but Epona had a distinct size advantage. Epona neighed in victory, trying to get her rider to mount her.
"We need…to get this to Ordon…" Link protested, still coughing miserably. At this rate he'd hack up a lung. Epona was having none of it. She laid down, turning her body and nuzzling Link gently with her head so her young rider would fall onto her back. Giving up, Link collapsed against his horse and gently clung on to her mane so he wouldn't fall off. His coughing fit subsided, however his breathing remained harsh and labored. Epona rose gently, making sure she remembered their position so she could lead Rusl back here later. She didn't want Link's hard work to go to waste. Walking carefully so she wouldn't unseat her ill rider, Epona started back towards Ordon Village.
Wait a minute…
Epona paused, remembering her musings from earlier. This would be a perfect opportunity to bring Zelda and Link together. Instead of Ilia caring for Link, Zelda could nurse him. Surely the Princess would feel obligated to help out the hero of her nation.
Epona neighed mischievously, pawing at the ground at the thought.
Yes, that's exactly what she'd do.
Time to pay a visit to Hyrule Castle.
Getting past the guards at the castle gate was harder than originally anticipated. During their travel, Link passed out on Epona's back. The guards were hesitant to let in a horse whose rider was unconscious.
Epona whinnied angrily. Didn't these buffoons know who her rider was? Link was Hyrule's hero. Everyone knew his face. Sure, he was passed out in commoner's clothing, but still. Come on. All citizens, especially soldiers, needed to know the face of the man who saved them. Normally, Epona would rear, but she was afraid that Link would fall if she did. Instead, she continued to whinny, refusing to budge from her spot.
Epona knew that voice. Princess Zelda. What was the Princess of Hyrule doing at the castle gate? Perhaps she was on her way somewhere. Maybe she was taking a stroll in the palace garden. No matter, that was irrelevant. Epona thanked her lucky stars, neighing loudly in response.
"What are you doing here?" Zelda asked, motioning for her guards to lower their weapons. Yes, the stupid guards threatened Epona with their spears. Please. If mere spears could stop her. Epona whinnied, turning to the side and revealing the sick hero on her back.
"Link!" Zelda gasped, running to Epona's side. Epona leaned down; the movement naturally sliding Link off her back and into the Princess's outstretched arms. Zelda placed her hand delicately on Link's forehead, eyes widening in shock when she realized how hot the young hero was. "Fetch me a doctor immediately," she ordered.
"Milady! But…" one of the guards protested.
"Are you truly that ignorant? Do you live under a rock? This man is Hyrule's savior and the reason why you're alive. He will receive medical attention he deserves."
Epona couldn't have said it better it herself. She gave a gleeful whinny in agreement.
"Thank you Epona," Zelda said in a much gentler tone, stroking the horse's muzzle fondly. "I'm glad you were there when he collapsed. I can't even bear to imagine what would have happened if he was alone."
Zelda didn't need to know that Link collapsed in Faron Woods and that Epona should have taken him back to Ordon Village. That was a minor detail.
The medics arrived, laying down some sort of board so they could transport the young hero to the castle. They secured him on the plank with some sort of leather straps.
Link was getting the medical attention he deserved. They'd take care of him better here than in Ordon anyways.
And the fact Zelda was here didn't hurt matters.
"Thank you," Zelda said again to Epona, stroking her mane. "You're a good horse." Turning to her guards, she snapped her fingers. "I want this horse to be well taken care of. Give her the entire stable while she's here."
Wait, the stables? Hell no. Epona wasn't missing out on this action. Especially since she was the one who set up the whole thing.
A guard reached for her, attempting to tie a rope around her neck. Epona reared, neighing furiously and trying to follow Link into the castle.
"Milady, the horse…" A guard said exasperatedly to Princess Zelda.
Zelda paused in thought for a moment before chuckling aloud. "I'm sorry, that was inconsiderate of me. Would you like to come with us, Epona?"
The guard's mouth dropped open. "Uh, your Majesty, a horse inside the castle? That's not exactly…"
"Quiet," Zelda snapped. "We owe Epona our thanks as well, because without her help Hyrule would not be free. She deserves to be with her rider." Zelda took the rope from the guard, moving to tie it around Epona's neck. Epona let her. Zelda tied the rope gently around Epona's neck and started leading her into the castle herself. Usually Epona only let Link lead her. Well, she let Ilia lead her too, but that was because she was pretty certain Link would not approve if she didn't. Zelda was a different story. She was a nice woman and Link's future wife, after all.
So this is what the castle looked like. Huh. Very boring, if one asked for Epona's opinion. It was all grey and the atmosphere was stuffy. Human taste in design was so peculiar. After ascending several steps, they laid Link down in a spacious guest room. Epona waited in the corner while the doctors and nurses fussed over her young master. When they were done, they handed Zelda some sort of medicine packets and excused themselves.
"It's best if we let him rest, milady," one of the nurses was saying. Zelda nodded, although she remained standing by Link's side. The princess tenderly brushed Link's bangs off his forehead.
"I'll stay," she finally responded. "Please clear my schedule for the remainder of the day. It's the least I can do for our hero."
The nurse bowed, knowing better than to question Zelda's orders. When the nurse left, Zelda pulled up a stool and set by Link's bedside. For awhile, she changed the cloth on his forehead occasionally and simply watched him. After some time passed, Zelda took Link's hand in her own, squeezing it gently with worry.
"Hyrule needs you to get better, Link," she whispered, kissing his forehead gently. "What I'm trying to say is..." Zelda trailed off with a loud sigh.
The show was beginning. Epona moved a touch closer to the action, making sure she had a good view. Zelda looked up at the horse, smiling sadly.
"I...oh, who am I kidding, only Epona's here," Zelda continued, a tinge of pink coming to her cheeks. "Epona won't tell."
No, Epona wouldn't tell, but that didn't mean she wouldn't enjoy the entertainment. Humans seemed to think that animals had no clue about anything regarding human behavior. How wrong they were. Animals understood everything just fine. They just couldn't say anything about it. Epona would tease Link merciless in her own way for this. That was for sure.
"Link," Zelda began again. Link was seemingly asleep and even if he wasn't, he was probably delirious from the fever. It was highly unlikely that he'd recall Zelda's words come tomorrow.
"Highly unlikely" was the key. Link was known for overcoming the odds. Knowing her master, despite the fact he was asleep, Link would remember everything Zelda said.
Not like she'd ever tell Zelda that even if she could.
"You have to pull through this," Zelda finally continued, voice trembling. Tears came to the young monarch's eyes. "I don't know what Hyrule would do without you. More than that…what I want to say is that I don't know what I'd do without you. I need you, Link, not just for Hyrule, but for me."
Now we're getting somewhere.
"I know you cared for Midna, which is why I never said anything," Zelda said, her arms quavering from crying. "I didn't want you to feel you had to choose. I can barely contain my emotions when I'm around you. I feel like a little girl again. My heart races, my knees shake, and I get butterflies in my stomach. It's not because you're the hero, but because you're Link. If you don't return my love, I understand, but I want you to know that I love you. I've loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you. So hold on, Link. Keep fighting."
Zelda kissed their intertwined hands, letting sobs escape her body. Epona wandered over to the princess, nuzzling her fondly and dropping a blanket over her. Zelda smiled sadly, patting Epona's muzzle. Epona wanted to tell her that it was going to be okay. No way would Link ever let a little illness kill him. He was much too stubborn for that. Instead, Epona let Zelda lean on her for comfort. Hands still intertwined with Link's, the princess cried herself to sleep. Deciding everything was okay for now, Epona also drifted off into sleep.
His voice was hoarse and weak, but that voice was unmistakably Link's. Epona almost neighed in happiness before deciding against it. It was Link and Zelda's moment. She didn't want to ruin the mood.
"Link?" Zelda responded, eyes still red and puffy from crying. The light streaming through the curtains indicated that it was the next morning. All three of them had slept throughout the night.
"Are you okay?" Link asked, attempting to sit up. The sudden motion brought on a coughing fit. Zelda cried out, rubbing circles on his back gently and making shushing noises.
"Hush," Zelda said soothingly. "I'm fine. You mustn't push yourself. I'm fine." She squeezed his hand in reassurance.
Link forced himself to stop coughing, wiping his mouth with the back of his free hand. "But you're crying," he insisted.
Zelda shook her head. "I'm fine," she assured him. "I promise. See?" She gave a wide, toothy smile. Link raised an eyebrow, clearly not believing her, which sent both of them into a fit of laughter. Link's laughing quickly turned into coughing as Zelda comforted him again.
Epona gave a horsey grin. That's right. Act like the two lovebirds you are.
"Did you stay with me all night? I'm sorry," Link said, a feverish chill sending a shudder around his body. Zelda took the blanket Epona draped around her and tucked it around the young hero's shoulders.
"I wanted to stay," Zelda responded gently.
"Uh, Princess," Link started. "As much as I like holding your hand, I'm kind of losing circulation. Would you mind giving it back to me?"
Way to ruin the tender moment, Link. Epona sighed. Men.
"Whoops!" Zelda cried, releasing his hand and giggling nervously. Link smiled as well, shaking the limb gently in order to restore blood flow.
"Zelda," Link started, coughing twice before taking a deep breath. "About what you said yesterday…"
Zelda's eyes widened in shock. Yep, Epona kinda figured Link would hear everything. She was glad of course. If Epona could snicker aloud, she would. The look on Zelda's shocked face was absolutely priceless.
"You…you heard that?" Zelda stammered.
Link smiled. "Of course I did."
"And?" Zelda asked tentatively, bracing herself from the impact.
"I really appreciate that you stayed with me last night. I was lonely and I'm glad I had you with me. As for what you said, thank you. I'm honored that you feel that way about me."
Zelda nodded. Link was playing coy and saying anything about the true topic at hand. C'mon, Link, tell the girl you love her already. It's not polite to keep a lady waiting.
"I also wanted to say that I love you too," Link finished, giving Zelda a light peck on her cheek. "I needed to figure some stuff out after Midna left, but I know this is what she'd want. She would want us to be happy together. I love you, Zelda, I really do."
Finally. Took the boy a year.
Tears came to Zelda's eyes again, although anyone with half a brain could tell it was out of joy. She laughed, letting the tears fall and kissed Link's forehead. They'd kiss properly once Link fully healed.
"Now go be a Princess," Link said, shooing her off. "Your advisors must be worried sick and panicking by now."
"Oh, of that I'm sure," Zelda giggled. She kissed Link's cheek again. "I'll be back to check on you later, okay?" She got up, patting Epona on the back and winking at the horse as she left the room.
"Epona. Don't think for a second that I forgot about you."
Uh oh. That was Link's stern voice. He only used that tone when Epona was in big trouble. Epona nuzzled him fondly regardless. She'd try the "but I love you Link and I'm so cute don't be mad at me" trick. It usually worked.
Instead, Link stroked her mane, kissing her gently on her muzzle.
Epona neighed happily. She would have jumped on her master if she could. Instead, she positioned herself beside his bedside and rested her head on his lap.
"You naughty thing," Link said after a few minutes. "I know you planned this."
Yes she did. And she expected twenty bales of hay as a finder's fee.
I hope you enjoyed "Horsing Around"! Kind of a random idea for a fic. I've wanted to write in the Twilight Princess universe for awhile now. I've never actually written anything in the POV of a horse, so that was different. xD
Ascension chapter eight should be up within the next couple of days. It's done, it's just in the editing process. :D I've been completely slacking on Foundation! I'm so sorry, I haven't lost inspiration or anything and I have most of the chapter written. I haven't written as much as I expected and Ascension took up a great deal of my time.
I know I've been writing a lot with Epona recently, but that's because of my dog. If you've read "Companion" then you already know about this, but I'm actually returning home tomorrow as we're going to put Sophie to sleep. She's been suffering for too long now. The whole thing is really, really hard for me but writing, especially about Epona, helps and it takes my mind off things.
By the way, thank you all for the overwhelming support of "Cowardice"! I was not expecting that to be so popular. Thank you all! :D I've considered writing a series of "Cowardice", where each Zelda tries to figure out their Link's weakness. If you'd like me to continue "Cowardice" in that sense, let me know. I'll write it if there's the demand for it!
As for this story, please excuse any minor grammar errors/typos that I'm sure are in here, but do bring them to my attention as I often miss my own mistakes. :)
Please review! I would greatly appreciate it. :) Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed the story!