Hey all! So sorry this took so long to get up. I think in my heart I didn't want to finish the story because it has been so fun to write and get your feedback. But, here it is without any further ado. I hope you enjoy!
Link rushed quickly down the hallway, fighting the sting in his eyes. He knew he would be miserable, leaving her. But he also knew he couldn't keep seeing her. Every time he thought of her, his heart longed to be with her. Yet when he remembered her duties to the country, he knew it wasn't an option. So, every time he heard his army or the townsfolk say the name 'Queen Zelda,' his heart broke, simultaneously being reminded of his love and the reason he couldn't love her. And that happened quite often.
So, he charged down the stairs of the castle, brushing by several knights who saluted him and paying them no heed. He marched brusquely towards the door, pushed it violently open, and headed for the stables. He screamed within himself as he realized the one thing he could not do for Zelda. Love a woman who he could not love.
Link stepped around the corner, sword drawn. Ganondorf looked up at him and his eyes narrowed. They glared at each other for a moment, each assessing the situation. Ganondorf slowly smiled, likely concluding that Link was severely injured, and that it would take a miracle for him to lose this fight.
"I must say," Ganondorf began, condescendingly. "Your foolishness exceeded my expectations. First, you have the gall to stand up to me on what should have been my day of victory. Then you go on a massive hunt for a portal to lead you here. Here of all places! You were planning on attacking me…here?"
Link didn't answer the question, asked so incredulously. Ganondorf merely laughed at the silence before continuing.
"Then, you exhaust yourself in a battle—which you didn't find curiously difficult—and rush to your precious princess's aid before she can get herself into trouble. I must admit, boy, I did not expect you to defeat Horigim in battle. But you still fell for our trap. And you've got some heavy injuries there to prove it.
"But to top it all off…after all of that…you still come here. You still hold on to some hope that you can rescue your princess and everything will be okay?"
Ganondorf left the question in the air, demanding an answer this time. Link thought about the question. Sure, when framed in this manner, Link did seem like an idiot. Truth be told, given his injuries and blood loss, it was a miracle he was standing. He didn't expect or even hope to defeat Ganondorf. It was just something he had to do.
"I wouldn't expect someone like you to understand," Link finally said. "If even the smallest amount of you cared for someone in the slightest, you might be able to understand why I'm here. It's not about a hope that I can save her. It's a need. I would not be able to live if I didn't do everything I could for her. I might be able to eat and breath—but I wouldn't be living. There is not one thing I wouldn't do for her, so I plan on doing all that I can, even dying."
Ganondorf's smile had faded. Replacing it was pure rage. "Then die you shall."
Ganondorf charged at Link, who raised his sword as mightily as he could muster in his weakened state. Ganondorf swung his blade high, and it clashed with the Master Sword. A loud clang echoed in the great hall as Link fell to the ground. He rolled away quickly, though his movements were relatively slow and his body would not respect his mind's wishes as it previously had.
Link rose back to his legs just in time to bat a ball of purple energy away with his sword. Ganondorf shouted angrily as the Master Sword succeeded where Link's previous sword had failed. So, he went back to his previous attack plan and charged Link again. In just a few minutes, Link found his strength exhausted. He could no longer fend off the brute strength of Ganondorf, and his slower motions allowed for an easy strike. After blocking a strong swing of Ganondorf's sword, Link felt Ganondorf's elbow come crashing into his head. His vision initially blurred from the blow to the head, but the reason for the blurring was soon replaced by blood flowing past his eyebrows.
His mind now fuzzy, Link soon felt his injured side being pummeled by Ganondorf's fists. Apparently, Ganondorf had dropped his sword to make Link's end more personal, prolonged, and humiliating. Crying out in pain, Link lashed out in one last futile attempt to slay the monster. This left him wide open as he missed his target, and Ganondorf thrust his knee into Link's gut, dropping him to the ground.
It was over, Link recognize, as he tried his hardest to move. But he had done all he could. Even die for her.
Link finished saddling up Epona as he shook his head clear of the awful memory. Yes, there had been a time when he thought he could do anything for her. But unrequited or impossible love, he could not do.
So, he hopped on Epona's back, and urged her forward. And when he heard Zelda's voice shouting to him to stop, he pressed forward. Epona trotted out the back of the stables as Zelda reached the front opening. Hearing Zelda's second cry to halt, Epona slowed down. Link, cringing in hurt, pressed her forward.
They moved quickly out of the castle grounds towards Castletown, though Link suspected Epona of slowing down more than she normally would as they passed through the market place to reach the drawbridge.
Link was still surprised, however, when he heard Zelda's shout one more time. He turned his head to see her flying down the hill behind him on her own horse, riding bareback. Link turned forward angrily and tried to urge Epona forward. Why wouldn't she just let him leave and find solace in being away from her?
Zelda caught up to Link as he neared the drawbridge out of Castletown. Epona was misbehaving, and would only travel at a light trot despite Link's urgings to move faster.
"Link, I need you to stop and talk to me."
He kept going, out of the main entrance and onto the drawbridge. "I can't, Zelda. I can't do this anymore, it will destroy me."
"Well then stop thinking about yourself!"
Link stopped his horse just on the drawbridge and turned to stare open-mouthed at Zelda. He began speaking as he dismounted Epona. "Stop thinking of myself? For months, that's what I've been doing. I've been doing everything I can for you, even though it was killing me. I know I can't be a King for you or this people.
Zelda had dismounted at this point, and Link got right in her face to finish his thought in a raised voice. "But the people needed me for something else, so I stuck around despite how much it ate at me to see you every week. I trained an army, even though I couldn't eat. I read through hundreds of tax laws and protocol even though I wasn't sleeping. And even though I couldn't think straight, by the goddesses grace, I strategized to save this country. You don't know what it's been like—"
"Of course I do," Zelda interjected. "I've been going through the same thing as you, Link."
This silenced Link, so she continued. "It's been months since I was happy. When I saw you kneel down when I was made queen. I haven't been happy since then because all I can think about is how I want to be with you, but you can't possibly want the life that comes with that. And all this time as you ran from me and avoided me, I just thought you were telling me that you don't want to be where you are. In the castle, in the government, and with me. But then you tell me you love me? And you kiss me like that? And…"
She trailed off, having worked herself up. She took a couple of deep breaths. Link spoke before she did.
"So what are you saying, Zelda?"
She thought for a moment before responding. "I want you back at the castle, Link."
Link shook his head angrily. "You don't understand…that's the one thing I can't do. I can't be there for you and not be with you!"
"No, Link. You don't understand. You were right, just now. When you said the people needed you. They still do. And I still do, too. What am I saying? I'm saying I want you to be my king."
Link tried to process the information he had received while also trying to contain the conflicting emotions he was experiencing. Joy and hope that she wanted him. Fear and insecurity that she wanted him to be King.
Link's voice quieted as he softly spoke, "Zelda…I can't be a King. I can't do what your father did. I can't—"
Zelda put her finger on his lips tenderly. "You don't have to do what my father did. We do, together. And given your ability to sift through tax legislature and find solutions, to train and lead armies, and to keep me safe and happy, I think we can make you into the greatest king Hyrule has ever seen."
Zelda cut him off one last time. "And I will be by your side the whole time."
And with that, Link could not find a problem. For several long moments he racked his brain for an excuse to make. But he realized that any insecurity he felt over kingship was drowned by the notion of being with her. He reached forward, and grabbed her hand.
"Then I accept, Zelda, under that one condition. Will you be by my side forever? Will you be my wife?"
"Nothing would make me happier for the rest of my life," she responded. Link wrapped his hands around her waist, pulled her as close to him as he could, and kissed her. In that moment, feeling the love that Zelda had for him in her kiss, Link knew that being a king would turn out just fine. He realized that once more, there wasn't a thing in this world that he wouldn't do for her.
Let me know what you thought! I would love to hear it, and I really hope you've enjoyed reading just half as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Also, if you ask hard enough, there may just be an epilogue in this story's future!