And I, finally, present to you guys the last chapter of Assassin. I made this one extra long to make up for all these months without an update due to kinda forgetting them and getting into another fandom and things alike. I also hate writing the last chapter of anything, because you create an emotional connection to the stories, you know? haha
There are probably many errors that will be fixed later because I can't bring myself to read a little over 11k words at the moment. I will, also, post later today or tomorrow another set of small stories that I started writing a while ago.
Enjoy and please tell me what you think!
Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, favorited and followed this story! Your support is very much appreciated!
See you in my next stories!
Rainy mornings were one of his weaknesses. Link was a naturally lazy guy who had many things to do at the ranch in Ordon, so those who always saw him up and running about herding goats and milking them, cutting logs to use in the fireplace, fishing and harvesting, would find it really hard to believe he was the lazy type of person if he ever admitted that for them. He did not seem like it for sure, but if one was to witness his ritual on rainy mornings they would instantly change their minds.
His eyes would crack open and he would glance out the window, ears straining to hear the water falling from the clouds. Then, turning on his side and snuggling his face in the pillow, Link would pull his blanket up to his nose and breathe out in contentment. No goats to herd, no logs to chop, nothing to do for a whole day. Just lie in bed, eat, lie down again, eat once more and sleep for the hundredth time, but that was before he decided to help those in need.
And he would do that now if he could, but there was no way he would be ditching today's event for some extra hours of sleep. Tracing the back of her neck with his nose and hand caressing the gentle curve of her waist, his lips placed a kiss on the shell of her ear, and Link quietly chuckled when she stirred under the covers. His palm smoothed down her thighs, but he would not go further than that, and for that Zelda was thankful, for she needed a few more hours of sleep before the festivities. Still she slowly turned around and quirked her lips up when his arm wrapped around her and her lips puckered up ever so slightly to meet his.
Link brushed her long tresses away from her face, twirled a strand around his finger and smiled when her eyes opened, blue irises framed by dark eyelashes. "Good morning," he whispered, nose nuzzling her temple. "Slept well?"
She nodded and buried her head deeper into the pillow. He chuckled, kissed her cheek and sat up, just to watch her from another angle. He knew for a fact that she was not lazy, not like him. When it was time to wake up, Zelda would not think twice and would kick the comforters away and head into the bathroom. But today was different. The soon to be queen needed to be well rested, needed to look her best for the ceremony, and this time nothing would go wrong. And for all of his skills as an Assassin, Link had yet to take a glimpse of her dress of choice that, according to the rumors, was much prettier than the one she was wearing the second time they met.
He was, literally, counting the seconds to see her wearing it, walking down the aisle in all her glory once again to meet him at the end. His skin was crawling with excitement, every cell of his body seemed to be agitated and excited for it, for their wedding, and Link could not contain his excitement as he leaned down and gently bit her cheek, grinning when she whined in discomfort and languidly swatted him away. He was out of the bed in a second, fingers expertly working to lower his pants and kicked them away as he walked towards the closet. Putting on the first pair of pants he found and picking whatever linen shirt he put his hand on, Link walked out with the shirt halfway down his torso when he noticed Zelda propped up on her elbow and watching him with sleepy eyes.
His eyebrow quirked up. "Need anything?"
"No," she said quietly, "just admiring the view." If possible, his eyebrow rose higher as she lied down again and he let the shirt fall to cover his stomach as a smirk worked its way to his lips.
The gray hood, the one that was lent to him when he was confined to the infirmary, was pulled over his head to hide his face. In all of his months living in the castle, no one had seen his face yet, and he would make sure no one would. Some people said he wore it to hide an ugly scar or his unattractiveness, others said he used it to conceal away the eyes that hypnotized the princess, but none of these people were against the marriage, for their union was doing good to the kingdom.
And so Link kissed her cheek this time before heading out the door, greeting the servants that walked past him and heading to nowhere in particular. Maybe he would check on his attire again after getting breakfast and talking to the chef, and then he would make sure everything was perfect for the wedding, and as he strolled inside the kitchen and dodged the many cooks that were preparing the meals for the ceremony, Link expertly stole a loaf of bread, a small bottle of goat milk from Ordon and an orange before he left through the back door.
Many still had to get used to the sight of him, fully clothed from head to toe walking around the castle as if he had always belonged there. The assassin was usually seen by himself, eating his simple breakfast when he woke up after the princess did, which happened a bit often, but when they did wake up at the same time (or he woke up just a few minutes before she did), they had their first meal of the day together. Link munched on the last bit of bread as he uncorked the bottle open and took a sip of his drink, eyeing the gardeners that watched him hoping the hood would fall back and reveal his face.
He chuckled and waved at them, and turned right on the next corner to enter the castle through the front doors, finding many servants polishing the floor, spreading the wax around until they could see their own reflections. Link stepped on the spots that still needed to be polished until he got to the other side and made his way to the grand hall were the ceremony would be held, only to find it was already being decorated with bright yellow flowers and cream colored silk. He left shortly after, not wanting to disturb the decorators, and headed to the tailoring room to try his outfit one last time.
The golden armor resembled the pauldrons Zelda wore on a daily basis, and so did his new crown. It was not exactly an outfit that would be picked by a prince and Link would have picked one that any royalty would choose, but the princess wanted him to be as comfortable as possible, so his new armor and outfits were design to resemble the tunic he wore under his forest green hood and cloak. A silver chainmail to wear under the armor, black pants, and dark crimson cloth adorned with the crest of Royal Family of Hyrule made up his new oufit; on top of it, of course, a white hood with golden linings for the ceremony, and other crimson and green ones were made for him to wear daily.
With the help of the tailor, the assassin put on his new articles of clothing and carefully kept his face hidden. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he could not help but smirk slightly; usually, brides were the ones that concealed their faces with veils, but look at him now, hiding his face under the shade of a hood.
Meanwhile in their room, dressed in a satin robe only, Zelda sat by her vanity after a long and reinvigorating bath and sipped her tea while Ashei stood behind her and brushed her damp hair. "After we dry your hair, we're gonna take you to the tailor, yeah?"
The princess pursed her lips as she cut a small piece of plain cake with her fork. "I was thinking," She said after she swallowed, "that maybe we could let my hair look au naturel. What do you think?"
The fighter put the brush away and ran her bare fingers through her tresses, trying hard to remember how her hair looked like when it dried naturally. "It will look good, yeah." With that said she backed away so Zelda could get up from her chair and nearly waltz to her closet to pick a simple dress to wear until the time came. Ashei smiled slightly when the princess was not looking, but there was a dread feeling tickling her insides at the thought of wearing a fancy gown. It was not the gown itself that she disliked, but what came with it; heels that hurt her feet, makeup that usually made her eyes watery, but the absence of her armor made her feel much lighter and, consequently, unprotected. Despite it all, there were days when she wore much simpler dresses and comfortable shoes, and those days were when she was invited for dinner in Shad's mother's place.
Ashei walked a few steps ahead, almost guiding the princess to her tailoring room, and enjoying the much, much lighter air in Hyrule Castle. Servants smiled at the bride, who beamed at them in return. Her smile was one of the widest in years, her eyes sparkled more than usual and it really seemed like she was crying of happiness hours in advance. And to many she should, for her life was filled with many things, but something that lacked the most was happiness, love and someone who could provide it all for her, someone that she liked.
Fingers enclosing around the doorknob and pushing the door open only to pull it back and close it quietly after glancing inside the tailoring room, Ashei quickly turned to the princess who seemed to have her mind anywhere but in the hallway of her castle at the moment. "Actually, Zelda, I think it's best if you get your nails done now in the morning so they'll be completely dry by the evening, yeah?"
Zelda snapped her eyes in her direction and regarded the shorter woman with such an astonished look, even tilting her head just to show how surprised she was. "You are... Right, Ashei." She agreed slowly, but not hesitantly. "I will do what you said, mainly because this is the first time in months that you call me by my first name." The warrior smiled tightly and scoffed out a laughter, instinctively flexing her fingers and thinking of her polished nails under the rough material of her gloves; she would have to be careful if she did not want to have the delicate skin around her nails picked at again. "Can you please get someone to polish my tiara?" Zelda asked as she took a few steps back and half turned to the left. "I want it all to be perfect."
Ashei nodded her head, fully understanding her obsession with having everything perfect on that day, and patiently waited until the princess had disappeared from her sight to turn and enter the room. "Shit," she cursed a little louder than usual as the door clicked shut and quickly approached the vanity with long strides. "Shit, shit, shit." Voice gradually lowering, the warrior picked up the only vase in the room and raised it eye level to examine the flowers.
The flowers picked especially for Zelda's bouquet were withering.
Yanking them out of the vase and quickly putting them under her arms, she headed out the room in a rush and tried to find her lover in every room she passed by, and stopped by an open window to glance outside only to find him sitting on a bench and talking to none other than the future king of Hyrule. Half relieved, half distressed already, Ashei held the flowers between her teeth and sat on the low windowsill, swinging her legs over it and carefully lowering herself until she was hanging outside. Nails be damned, she thought as she carefully yet quickly climbed down the outside walls of the castle, she would go through all that again if it meant that everything would be perfect for Zelda.
Once she was at a reasonable height she let go and fell down on a crouched position, startling both men that were close to her. Shad was on his feet and approaching her the moment he saw it was her, but she trust the ruined flowers into his chest before he could start searching for injuries. Link simply stared at her with a questioning gaze before directing it to the flowers. "These were the flowers Zelda chose for today and they're dying." Shad visibly panicked, nearly breaking out in cold sweat, while Link widened his eyes and uncrossed his arms in shock.
"Goddesses, where are we going to find new ones?" The flowers were small, the petals were round and they came in different colors: pink, white and yellow, dark red, hot pink and orange, and pure white. "I had never seen one of these before."
"Neither have I," Link stepped closer and took about a dozen of the flowers from his hands, "but I'm going to find them."
Ashei nodded appreciatively and stepped back, "I'm sorry for throwing this in your hands, yeah? I need to take her tiara to be polished."
After Link nodded his head and she rushed back inside the castle, this time like any people would by going by foot, Shad took two small branches of flowers and gave the rest to the other man. "Take these with you. If something happens and Zelda sees me with them, she will know something is not right." Link hid them in a pouch under his cloak and fixed his hood and gloves out of reflex. "Me and Ashei will try to keep her as distracted as possible, however we will run out of excuses at some point."
"I won't take long," he promised; "Do your thing and try to find out where these come from, I'm sure that's why you are taking a few with you." Shad dismissed it with a laugh and gave a slight bow before walking back quickly to the castle, Link going on the opposite direction towards the gates.
Zelda looked at the many colors of nail polish on the small round table, finger tapping repetitively on her bottom lip. "Your Highness," blue eyes glanced away from the small bottles and up at the maid. "Did you pick a color?"
Pursing her lips for a second, she picked a very clear shade of white and held it at eye level. "I think this one will do."
The other woman nodded her head. "Nice choice, Your Highness." Smiling happily, the princess extended her hand across the table and rested it on the woman's open palm.
When Link wasn't exactly wandering around the castle, he was wandering around Castle Town, with hood or no hood at all. The act of walking around without his cloak gave in a feeling of liberty that he, at times, couldn't feel. No one really knew how he looked like, so he was free to mingle with the people and get into small conversations without having to worry about the formalities that were getting more and more common as the wedding approached.
The people backed away as he quickly made his way through the crowd, a sense of fondness and respect falling over them as they watched the future king move gracefully in his rush. Questioning gazes fell on the ruined flowers in his hands and murmurs started to arise, rumors that he and the princess had argued and she had thrown the flowers at him in her rage would spread like wildfire. Link was half aware of it, but he ignored the voices and went on.
He startled the owner of the first booth of flowers he came across, all but slapping the flowers down on the counter and focusing his sharp, narrowed eyes on the young woman as she yelped in surprise. "S- S- Y-Your Highness!" She nervously ran a hand through her hair, suddenly aware that the princess's fiancé was standing just across from her. "H-How can I help you?" The people around them quieted down and listened intently, straining their ears to hear the words that were about to leave his mouth.
Link pushed the flowers forward, towards the young adult. "I need more of these. Preferably alive."
Her agitated gaze lingered on his face before she glanced down at the withering flowers. "I- I'm sorry, sir." She hesitantly met his eyes, "I h-have never seen these before."
With a disbelieving groan, he quickly thanked her before he set off to find another booth with the townspeople curiously following after him.
Ashei had just retrieved the tiara, now polished and gleaming under the light, and scanned the room for something that could hide Zelda's wedding dress from everyone else's eyes. She had only been in the tailoring room for around five minutes and she was already sweating. It was no wonder why the flowers died; the room was incredibly hot for some reason.
She yanked down the curtains and waved them to get rid of any dust before she covered the mannequin with the material and headed out the door with it carefully, taking it up to Zelda's room to hide it in her closet. After the special flowers withered in the same room as the wedding dress, the warrior was afraid it could spontaneously burst into flames, so she would rather take it somewhere cooler and safer, even if it meant having to go up sets and sets of stairs while carrying a mannequin.
Now with the dress hidden in the back of the closet and the polished tiara placed on the vanity, the dark haired girl left the room and jogged down the stairs, heading for the library but stopping midway to check on Zelda. Simply touching her ear to the door, Ashei heard as she and the maid conversed happily, and that was enough for her to resume her jogging to one of the biggest rooms in the castle. Inside she saw Shad checking more than two books at once, trying to find out more about the flowers, and she silently and swiftly claimed the seat beside his and helped him look through the pages.
That was the fourth booth he checked and there would be at least five others all around Castle Town, still he didn't see why he should go after them, for all of the first four had all the same flowers on display; logically, the other five would be no different. Still he checked them just to make sure he wouldn't regret it earlier, but it was exactly like he had predicted.
Angered and agitated, Link frowned down at the ruined flowers in his hands and clenched his teeth in frustration. He wanted everything to perfect, just like Zelda wanted, if not more. "Is this some kind of sick joke?" He groaned to himself, resisting the urge to throw the flowers on the ground and stomp on them. He knew it would feel like he was stomping on Zelda and her feelings, so Link took in a deep breath and touched his fingers to his forehead.
The whine of a horse nearby caught his attention, and as he watched the young boy pet its face something clicked in his head and he approached the boy rapidly. "Hey," the child, no older than twelve, looked up at him, instantly recognizing the hood and recoiled his shoulders as he smiled shyly. "Can you lend me your horse for a moment?"
The kid glanced at the gray horse, hesitant. "I don't know..."
"Here." Link reached for his wallet inside of his pouch and withdrew from it four orange rupees. "Tell your father I'm willing to pay more after I return the horse. You can get it back in Hyrule Castle later this afternoon." Without waiting for an actual response, he took the reins from the kid's hand and placed the rupees on his palm before taking the horse through the western gate and into Hyrule Field.
Link mounted on the horse and nudged it with his heels, mind set on searching the surrounding area of Castle Town for the flowers.
By the time all of her nails were completely dry, it was a little past noon. Zelda sat on the dining hall by herself, having her meal in a comfortable silence although her eyes kept on resting on the vacant space that was usually occupied by Link. They had agreed to avoid each other at all costs that day to make things exciting, so the urge to meet each other at the altar would be bigger than ever. However she couldn't help but want him beside her right now and she wondered if he had already had his second meal (or even the first) of the day.
Shad and Ashei were nowhere in sight as well. Usually the scholar would stay with her, none of them really left her by herself most of the times. Zelda guessed he was with her fiancé, and Ashei had taken her tiara to be polished, so she was most likely waiting for it to be done.
As a servant took the now empty plate away and Zelda sipped the last of her water before giving the glass to him with a grateful smile, she thought of her schedule and gingerly stood from her seat. Leaving the room in silence, she headed for the tailoring room.
"They look like plumerias." Shad commented as he put one of the thin branches beside the picture on the book to compare them side by side. "But they're not exactly plumerias." Ashei simply frowned, not seeing any difference from one to the other. "Plumerias grow on trees, not bushes. This one here certainly grew in a bush." He carefully picked the withering flower and twirled it in his fingers. "The stalk of this flower here is green, see?"
His lover scowled suddenly and let out a deep sigh slowly. "Whatever, just tell Link that we can substitute these flowers with plumerias." Then she stood, golden eyes flashing and narrowing, hand instinctively falling on the hilt of her sword as she moved for the door.
Shad regarded her back with rather wide eyes. "Ashei?"
She ignored the hesitance in his voice. "Tell Link about the plumerias, yeah? There's a commotion downstairs." The man tried to say anything or even reach her before she left the library, but as soon as he made it to the doorstep she was already halfway down the stairs.
Ashei was trained by her father, a retired Knight of Hyrule, since a young age. Still they had connections to the Royal Family and that was how she came across Shad, whose father worked as a scientist for the family before he passed, and Zelda, who obviously was the daughter of the king. They were practically raised together and their bond only strengthened when their roles were written down. With the death of Zelda's mother and newborn baby, it was clear that the girl would need to go under intensive training under the care and watchful eyes of Nabooru, and with that she would need an advisor and a guard, and that was how both Shad and Ashei started studying since a young age.
Honestly, Ashei couldn't see anyone in their place. Maybe the princess would have a different guard and advisor had things taken another turn when they were all but ten, maybe a man could be in her place and a woman in Shad's, but they would never do a job as good as theirs.
The three of them were destined to be close friends since always.
When she got to the third floor, knights were running from left to right and she simply reached out and grabbed the one that passed closest to her by the neck. The wide eyed guard gaped at her like a fish until he recognized her face and instantly relaxed. "Ashei!" He gasped and she let go of his neck, causing him to stumble to the side momentarily. "The princess is looking for you!"
Nodding curtly, the warrior set off again and only recognized where she was going after a few moments passed. "Oh shit," she cursed lowly again and sprinted inside the room to find Zelda throwing a fit with a bunch of guards around her. "Your Highness!"
"Ashei!" She cried, eyes watery and hands trembling as her hands reached out for her friend. "Ashei, my dress! It was stolen!"
"Your Highness," she steadied the shaking woman, who leaned onto her for support. "Calm down, your dress is still in the castle."
Relieved, the knights relaxed their instance and awkwardly turned away from the shaken up princess. "W-What do you mean it's still in the castle?"
After rubbing her back soothingly, Ashei smiled slightly and pushed her towards the door. Zelda seemed so lost with her wide, teary eyes. The warrior would have teased her if she didn't know how important this was to her. "It's in your room, yeah? Come."
"Damn it." Link stood from his crouched position and nearly kicked the low bush of flowers by his feet. "Damn it!" He repeated a little louder this time and angrily turned to walk to his borrowed horse. Running a hand down his face in frustration, the assassin took the horse to a tree nearby and sat down underneath its shadow, tilting his head up to look at the cloudy sky. The rain had stopped momentarily, but it would start again and soon, he knew it.
The horse whined and stomped its hooves on the ground once, and Link merely shifted his gaze to stare into its big brown eyes before he cracked a smirk and got to his feet. "Alright, alright." Petting its nose and scratching it on the neck, he mounted the horse and headed back to the eastern gate of Castle Town at a relatively quick pace. There, much to his surprise, he found the kid accompanied by who he presumed to be his father.
Link, in his rush, didn't notice the boy's tattered clothes, and now that he had a chance to look at him and his father, he instantly felt better for giving him four orange rupees. "Hey again," he greeted after he had hopped off the horse and walked the remaining distance with the reins firmly grasped in his hand. "Thank you for lending me the horse," Link said as he passed the reins to the father, "I was in a rush and couldn't lose any time to go outside."
Both man and child looked at him silently, the kid with that shy gaze of his, the father with surprised, wide eyes. Although they couldn't really see the smile on his face, the assassin repeated the same movements from earlier that afternoon and reached inside his wallet, this time withdrawing three silver rupees and passing them to the young boy again. "Here's the rest as promised."
After ruffling the kid's disheveled hair and clapping the father on the shoulder, Link moved past them, only turning around when the man called him by his title. The blond turned, hands in his pockets and nodded his head at the murmured thank you that he got in returning. Lifting one hand to wave in a friendly manner, Link resumed his way to the castle, getting mildly surprised at the sight of Shad running in his direction.
Stopping just before he reached the second last gate leading to the castle, Link let the scholar catch his breath once he had stopped, and he even raised an eyebrow when the older man doubled over. "Link, the flowers... They look like plumerias. They're very similar."
Shad nodded his head, taking in one deep breath before standing straight again. "Yes, plumerias. They can be found all over Hyrule."
"Yes, I've seen a few back in Ordon." Arms now crossed over his chest, he thought to himself if he could ask Rusl to bring some... But they were probably close to Castle Town by now, if they weren't inside the castle already. "Where else can I find them?"
The scholar adjusted his glasses on his nose bridge with a finger. "There are a few in Lake Hylia and some up in Zora's Domain, more specifically the finishing hole."
"The fishing hole it is." Quickly, they returned the way Shad had come and Epona was ready and waiting for Link in the front courtyard. "Keep Zelda distracted," and the assassin headed out towards Hryule Field once more.
Beth evaded Talo's hand when he waved it around excitedly, telling his mother once more how the nice guard lady had defended them from the mean guard that was waiting for them at the gates on the very first time they visited the castle. Zelda and Link provided dresses and suits for all of them for the wedding, as well as carriages to bring them from Ordon to Hyrule Castle and rooms for them to spend a few days with the couple. They were his family, after all, and deserved to celebrate with them more than anyone else.
Ilia remained quiet while Talo told them all of the things they had done there in the few times they came over, standing a bit aside with the over girl who tried desperately to keep her dress clean and smooth. Colin smiled fondly at the memories, grin widening when his little sister cooed in his arms and he passed her to their mother.
"Colin." Beth called in a hushed tone, catching Malo's attention too. "Isn't that Zelda's friend?"
The four, Ilia included, glanced at the man that ran up the stairs, face flushed and glasses slipping down his face. "Yeah," he agreed quietly, furrowing his brow at the sight of the man's visible rush. "Maybe something happened?"
Malo watched the man disappear once he had reached the second floor then looked at his brother. "Everything's probably alright." Ilia reassured as she ran her hands down on her skirt. Colin and Beth nodded in agreement, and the group kept moving through the castle.
Zelda carefully poked her eyelashes with her nails, long hair tied high in a bun to keep it away from her back. Behind her Ashei buttoned the last few buttons of her wedding dress so her hair could be tied and her tiara could be put on her head with the veil, then her makeup would be done and Zelda would be ready for the event.
The warrior stepped back, smiling at the princess's evident excitement as she carefully twirled on the low stool. "Beautiful." They said simultaneously and Zelda reached her hands for Ashei, who took them and squeezed them firmly. The grin was wide on her face as the brunette swung their hands from side to side.
"This is so magical." Zelda whispered and let their hands fall so she could pick up her skirts. "I feel like I'm in a fairy tale."
As she stepped down from the stool, however, the door swung open and Shad barged in without announcing himself. The loud noise was enough to startle both the women, but Zelda in her shock let go of her skirt and lost her balance, falling to her knees as a loud ripping noise filled the room. Ashei stared wide eyed at the delicate fabric of the dress and Shad grimaced at the sight of the tear on the back where the bodice met the skirt. Zelda leaned to the right, arms supporting her weight and eyes staring blankly at the floor before her.
After seconds of tense silence, Ashei was the first to break it. "Shad!" She cried out, whirling around to face him and marching up to him. "What the hell were you thinking!?" He sunk under her angry gaze, the pale skin of her face growing red with each passing millisecond. The scholar merely gave her thumbs up and mouthed "message passed" before he backed his way out of the room and silently closed the door behind him.
Still angered beyond belief, Ashei moved to aid the princess to her feet and dusted away imaginary dust from the other's arms. "Zelda. Zelda, look at me." It took her some time, but her frightened gaze met Ashei's considerably calmer one. The warrior started slowly. "You're gonna get your hair and makeup done, and meanwhile I'll go find a tailor to fix it, okay?" Ashei brushed away the stray strands of hair away from her face and cupped her cheeks; her skin was incredibly sweaty. "Everything will be fine, yeah?"
Zelda finally nodded her head after what seemed like an eternity and stood there immobile like a statue as Ashei, too, backed out of the room without taking her eyes away from the princess.
The water was slightly cold, but there wasn't another way to get to the fishing hole through the path Zelda had opened in her last visit to Zora's Domain. He had to be careful to cross the river, especially when returning to the shore with the flowers in his hands. His body shook when a shiver ran up and down his spine, hands twisting the material of his shirt, but he kept onward until he reached the small door and went through it.
His cloak was folded and in one of Epona's saddles and sometimes he felt naked without it. Link glanced at his surroundings, finding it empty much to his relief, and retrieved a knife from his pouch as he spotted the desired tree. This one was white, but not too far from there was a pink one and a few more of different colors on the other side of the fishing hole.
He couldn't see the sun anymore from his spot inside the stone wall that surrounded him.
"How come there aren't any tailors in this castle!?"
The knight shrunk, cursing his luck, or lack of thereof, in the back of his mind. Ashei could be terrifying when she was annoyed or angry, it was even worse when she felt both emotions at the same time, and the poor guard had to be the one chosen to deliver her the dreadful message that there weren't any tailors in the castle anymore; they had all gone to their houses to get prepared for the wedding and wouldn't be coming back until the ceremony was about to start.
Thankfully for him, Ashei directed her anger elsewhere when Shad passed by them and she slapped the back of his head whilst she murmured a few curses in a threatening tone. There was roughly an hour and a half left until the wedding started and as more and more guests arrived, more and more restless Ashei grew. Shad had apologized more than once and silently guided her to the grand hall, "Link hasn't arrived yet."
The woman rubbed the bridge of her nose impatiently. "First the flowers, then the dress, and now Link's missing. What else?" Shad flinched and glanced away. "The priest will die?" She heaved out a deep sigh and glanced away from her lover to glare at something, anything else. What she saw, however, seemed like seeing the sunlight after leaving the Twilight Kingdom.
Ashei walked straight to the small group of people, excusing herself as she interrupted their ongoing conversation. "Ilia?" The girl looked at her with bright green eyes and nodded her head. "Do you know how to sew?"
When she nodded her head, the warrior grabbed her by the wrists and guided her out of the grand hall.
Link nearly tripped whilst he ran up the stairs at the entrance of the castle, catching everyone's attention as he ran with a bunch of flowers in his arms. He skipped steps as he went up the stairs to the second floor, looking in every direction searching for Shad or Ashei or anyone that could help him. Much to his relief he found the scholar rather quickly outside the grand hall and trust the flowers in his chest much like Ashei had that morning.
"You found them!" He exclaimed happily, nodding appreciatively. "I'm gonna take these to the kitchen so someone can make a bouquet out of this."
"Is everything okay with Zelda? Nothing to worry about?" Shad took a bit too long to reply, which caused the assassin to narrow his eyes, but he said nothing before he rushed away to a guest room where he would take a bath and dress, and hopefully get his hair to dry before the ceremony.
Zelda twisted her lips when the needle prickled her skin, but she held in her gasp and stood still as Ilia stitched up the tear on the back of her dress. "Thank you, Ilia. I owe you a lot." The girl smiled slightly, hands never once faltering or stopping.
Ilia took the small scissor in her hand and carefully cut the line, placing the sewing instruments on the tabletop and tugging slightly on the fabric to make sure it was secure enough. Zelda sighed in relief and stepped down the stool, twisting before the mirror so she could take a glimpse at her work.
"You look beautiful."
The princess met her eyes and her lips parted at the sight of the things the girl tried so hard to hide from her. She wasn't only telling her that she looked beautiful... She was also telling her that Link had picked Zelda over her because of the things she couldn't be. Torn between ignoring the things she saw and trying to make it right, the monarch chose to do the latter, because it was the right thing and because Link himself would never truly explain to her.
"No wonder Link chose you over me."
"I wish I could be you."
"Ilia." She started after taking a deep breath, "Many little girls, when they see me and have the opportunity to talk to me, say that they wish they could be like me. 'Beautiful, elegant, loved and rich.' Believe me when I say that I would never wish the same for them."
Green irises glanced away briefly, confusion swirling in them and clouding her mind; Ilia had no idea what she was talking about. "They are all beautiful, everyone is. Of course I wish for them to be elegant, and have nice dresses, at least three meals everyday and a comfortable bed to sleep under a secure ceiling. I hope they are loved too, by anyone that is willing to do so."
Zelda moved away from her to stand closer to the window where she could gaze at Castle Town. "But I would never wish them to live in my shoes. My mother and infant brother died before I hit puberty, my father was always busy with work and I had so many things to learn and study. Just recently the king was murdered by, as you should know by now, Link." The Ordonian flinched, still having difficulty to accept the fact that Link had killed a couple of people in his lifetime. "The very same person who brought me a moment of demise saved me later on."
"Beauty can do little when you are a princess who spends most of her time alone. It can be handy when you have to form alliances with nobles that cannot resist a charming smile and a soft laughter, but it will not save you from your loneliness. Elegance? Dancing in the ballroom will not save your life when you are in danger.
"I ditched most of my dancing classes to be personally trained under the watch of the captain of our guard back then, and learned most of my dancing from stepping on Ralis' feet. Money itself will not make you happy. The things it can do will, though. The money most people think I spend on jewels and dresses is sent to the charity; most of my things were inherited from my mother. I only get new dresses in big occasions."
Ilia watched her back in silence, finding herself to have trouble to breathe and feeling the hairs of her arms rise with the sudden stir in the air. "Love can save you. You can be rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, elegant or just plain clumsy, but if someone loves you, then you are okay."
"Your Highness." She finally cut in, tone hesitant and voice quiet. Zelda looked at her from over her shoulder. "I don't... Understand..." "Where are you trying to get?"
The princess nodded her head once and fully turned to face her. "Link never told me, but since the beginning I saw that there was something special between the two of you. I do not know what made him change his mind." The other girl's lips parted as she sucked in a sharp and curt breath and she avoided her gaze, deciding to glance at the carpet instead. "I can assure you, however, that it was not because you are not good enough."
"You are, trust me." Their eyes met. "I know as much of Link's background story as I know of yours."
Ilia let a small smile grace her features. "Almost nothing."
Zelda nodded her head, a smile of her own tugging at the corner of her lips. "Almost nothing."
Silence fell over them for a few heartbeats before the shorter girl spoke. "He's an orphan. He lost his parents at a very young age and was raised by Rusl and Uli."
"I see..." Ilia nervously ran her fingertips on the patterns of her dress in an attempt to distract herself from the awkward silence that filled the room. "I do not want you to think that he ditched you, for he certainly did not. It is a fact that his life changed after he joined the cause, after he earned the title of Assassin. When something changes your life drastically, your preferences change as well.
"Ilia. You are the motherly type. Always fussing over people, caring intensely for them; I see the way you treat the children and how you were worried for Link's wellbeing when he was bedridden. Please correct me if I am wrong." She shook her head negatively. Zelda nodded and continued. "Link had to keep it a secret from you and the kids that he was an assassin, he had to detach himself from you, he had to put some distance, though not a big one, to keep these secrets.
"He grew so used to being alone for days straight and having to keep things and facts hidden that he sought for someone who would not fuss over him." Zelda finally moved away from the window and approached the girl again. "Being protective of the people you love is not a bad thing. He knew since the beginninpg that you would not be fine when he left for long missions, because he knows you would be sickly worried, so he searched for someone with a similar background story, someone who is used to being alone most of the time."
Ilia was slowly understanding what Zelda was saying and trying to keep her tears from spilling was such a hard task for the girl, but she endured it, sniffling every once in a while and nodding her head to show that she was listening. She knew that none of the things the princess was saying were confirmed by Link, but she also knew that she could see and understand things that so many other people couldn't. Zelda was wiser than she looked, wise beyond her years, and Ilia knew, somehow, that she was putting into words everything that her childhood friend tried to tell her but couldn't.
"Link would not be willing to share information that easily; he also knew you would get upset if he did not tell you everything that happened. I am not saying that he knew since the start that we would end up together, because believe me, there was a certain animosity on my part towards him. He killed my father and fiancé, but he also saved me. Things just evolved from there.
"People say that opposites attract, but sometimes you need someone that is similar to you." The princess enclosed her fingers around Ilia's hands and squeezed them softly. "Maybe you need to find someone who is warm and open, just like you are, Ilia." Zelda smiled sadly and added. "Do not give up just yet. When a door closes, another one is open."
She could hardly see anything through her tears, but she definitely could see (and feel, most importantly) Zelda's fingers squeezing her hand just a little tighter. A sob left her trembling lips and Ilia moved forward until she was hugging Zelda, weeping on her shoulder as the princess held her close.
The message was passed. Ilia understood that it wasn't her fault and that even if she was a couple inches taller things would have happened the same way.
Zelda pulled away and ran her fingertips gingerly under Ilia's eyes to wipe away her tears. "Come, dry your tears. I am gonna make your makeup and you will look ravishing tonight." Smiling slightly and wiping the tears herself, Ilia let herself be lead to the vanity.
Fingers skimmed through unruly and almost dry locks of dirty blond hair, combing them back into place beneath the white hood as the young man rushed down the hallway and made his way back to the grand hall. With around ten minutes left, Link had to be fast to arrive in time to solve a small issue before the ceremony started, but it seemed like the goddesses were favoring him in that moment for he met with Ilia at the top of the staircase.
She looked up at him; eyelashes darker than usual, light pink powder spread across her cheeks, silver tainted her eyelids and her lips were rosier, Ilia smiled at him and accompanied him down the stairs. "Hey," he greeted with a grin; "You look beautiful."
"Thank you," she said quietly, smile widening and cheeks reddening beautifully.
They reached the lower level and instantly picked up their paces to reach the next staircase faster. "Can I ask you a favor, Ilia?" Green eyes glanced up again and locked with his before she nodded her head. "Rusl, Komali and Shad with their respective loved ones will be the witnesses of our wedding and Ralis will be walking Zelda down the aisle. So I was wondering if you'd like to go with me and then you and Ralis will be a..." He trailed off, choosing his words. "Well, a pair of witnesses."
Her lips parted and her chin tilted up slightly as she pondered; as far as she knew, Ralis was a good person and maybe she would feel slightly nervous (and undeniably sad) walking down the aisle with Link (on a marriage that wasn't theirs). That would mean that she was giving them her approval, that she was letting him do whatever made him happy and that was what she had always wanted, to make him happy. And if to achieve that she needed to give up on her dream of marrying him, then so be it.
Ilia nodded again, the movement so light and almost unnoticeable, for her head spun and felt heavy. She was thinking with her rational side of her brain, not with her emotional one, and it hurt deeply to acknowledge the fact that she was letting him drift away to live a life that wasn't by her side, but even through her sadness and feelings of loss she knew she had to do what is right.
The wide grin he gave her was definitely worth the pain. It meant she was achieving her goal of making him happy and her heart clenched painfully, but it also felt swollen with something akin to pride, as if she had witnessed the baby goats that she took care of finally walking on their thin, wobbly legs.
Link reached out and squeezed her hand affectionately and led her to the grand hall when they finally made it to the first floor. All the while, Zelda's words repeated in her head almost hauntingly, but Ilia would live through the pain until the day she would find someone that would make it less and less painful, and the sore feeling in her heart would feel pleasant for once.
"When a door closes, another one is open."
Funny how her mother used to tell her this whenever she failed to do something correctly, but she would always get it right the next time she tried.
The song gradually ended and the people sitting on the long benches glanced anxiously back and forth between the groom and the tall closed doors, waiting for them to open to reveal the bride behind. Link stood by himself before the altar, the witnesses and Ilia stood on the left side of the room and the musicians prepared to play the following song.
Before one chord of the violin could be struck, two men stepped forward and approached the doors, one on each side of the aisle and both carrying a trumpet in their hands. They played a melody, one that sent shivers down Link's spine and made him think of these songs that were played when royalties arrived somewhere and were announced. Then they stopped, walked to the middle of the aisle and played it again, with slightly different notes and also a bit louder this time; the melody rang through the room, reverberating on the white walls and filling the space from the floor to the high ceiling. Ilia's heart thumped loudly, matching the higher notes, and it was hard to breathe due to the weird sensation that spread through her body. The last part of the song was played with the men standing directly before Link; they vigorously blew more air into the instruments, cheeks reddening and brows furrowed, and finally the last note was played, and as it hung in the air the doors were opened and everyone turned at once to look at them after being distracted by the scene.
The room was silent as all gazes fell upon Ralis and Princess Zelda.
The musicians started playing again, a foreign song to Link's ears that somehow fit the occasion, as if it was composed specially for Zelda and Zelda only. It was slow and sweet, and somewhat melancholic, but it was just right. She walked down the aisle, right hand on the crook of Ralis' elbow and left hand holding the plumerias by her bellybutton, the veil covered her face and stretched on behind her, the edges adorned with pearls and small crystals. Her arms and back were bare save for the thin layer of lace that covered them and the bodice that met with the flare skirt at her hips, and it seemed that the song smoothly flowed with the movement of the fabric. In the end she decided to pin her hair up so it could show the details of the back of the dress and two strands of loose wavy hair framed her face so nicely.
Her eyes, framed by dark eyelashes and standing out due to the makeup, stared right at Link and her red painted lips pulled into a discreet smile that only he could see.
Ralis passed her to the groom and moved aside to stand with the witnesses, offering his arm to Ilia so she could loop her own through it. Link smiled at Zelda, seeing the small tears gathering in the corner of her eyes that also gathered on his. They turned to face the priest, but they barely heard any of the words that he was saying; they kept glancing at each other from the corner of their eyes, squeezing the other's hand and rubbing their thumb on its back. When the time came to exchange vows and rings, neither of them hesitated, and with the golden bands wrapped securely around their fingers they walked hand in hand out of the grand hall, the guests all stood to follow them outside and they stopped only after they crossed the bridge that led to the castle.
Standing at the top of the stairs on the main plaza and facing the population of Castle Town, Link lifted the small square cage placed on a pedestal to eye level and Zelda gingerly moved to unlock and open the small door, freeing a pair of white doves that flew out into the sky. With that they told the townspeople that they now were wedded and the clapping and cheers grew louder after Link pulled back her veil and gave her a quick peck on the lips to seal the marriage.
"I'm so happy for Midna and Zant," Zelda gushed as Link tried to carefully unpin her hair, but it was hard to see the bobby pins. "They're having a baby!" He hummed and nodded his head, combing his fingers through the loose locks of brown hair to detangle any knot.
It was more than obvious that both of them had a bit more of wine than they should, but Link usually was very intolerant to alcohol; Zelda, on the other hand, could drink as much as she wanted and it would take ages to see any side effect on her. Her cheeks were rosy and so was her nose, but that was it, she wasn't slurring or anything. Link was on a completely different page; after the guests were gone and only their closest friends remained, he was already seeing double after his second flute of wine. He, Fado and Zant got incredibly intoxicated and left to mess around in the courtyard, Ralis and Komali went with them, both were much more sober than the other three but still slightly tipsy.
Alone in the ballroom, the girls talked among themselves about different matters, even shared a few gossips, then Midna subtly revealed about the baby Twili growing inside of her and excited shrieks filled the room, loud enough to bring the boys back running and tripping on their own feet. The light touch of Nabooru's hand on Zelda's shoulder could mean only one thing: I wasn't your bridesmaid but I want to be the godmother of your baby. She smiled slightly at the Gerudo and she would give her the pleasure of being the godmother; Nabooru had refused to accompany Link and stand as witness with someone that wasn't her deceased husband, so both Link and Zelda had agreed that he would go by himself. And later he invited Ilia, much to Zelda's surprise, but she was undeniably pleased that she had accepted.
Link placed the bobby pins on the vanity, fingers weaving through her hair and softly massaging her scalp, fingertips trailing her neck and shoulders and nose burying in her tresses to smell her characteristic scent. He sighed happily into her hair, placing a kiss on the crown of her head and catching her gaze on the mirror. She looked absolutely gorgeous, stunning, and his fingers pressed down on her skin as a shudder ran through him. He then stepped back a couple of feet, hand grazing one of the cushioned chairs and eyes fixated on her reflection whilst she gently wiped off her makeup.
"What are these flowers?" He asked after swallowing down, gaze flickering at said plants that stood in a tall vase.
She smiled fondly, as if they held a special meaning. "They're a rare species of desert flowers. Nabooru had her wedding decorated with them, and so did her mother and Ganondorf's mother; it's a tradition in Gerudo Desert." Link nodded his head absentmindedly and tried not to be swallowed by the sudden feeling of guilty that bubbled up inside of him. "His mother presented my mom with some for her wedding, saying that they would bring them eternal happiness and love, but the flowers died."
Zelda's voice was smooth and soft like silk, barely hiding her emotions. "They don't survive for too long once they're out of the desert, and so my father had someone bring flowers that were similar so nobody would feel hurt." She dipped the cotton ball on the small basin of warm water and brought it up to her cheek. "In the party, Nabooru told me my flowers had died and were replaced by another species. What a pity... I had promised my mom they would survive on my wedding."
"And your dress?" Link asked quickly, trying to brighten up his wife after going for a touchy subject (he also made a mental note to tell her that he was the one that replaced the flowers). She glanced at his reflection, catching his eyes and furrowing her brow lightly. "How did you get in it?" He was truly curious; there weren't any buttons or zippers on the back nor the front and her hips wouldn't have squeezed through the corset.
It was impressive to see her stand up so quickly, but much more impressive was the sparkle in her eyes, bright as if she had just won a bet; Zelda was probably proud that he couldn't figure out how she put it on and he smirked slightly just to tease her. She stepped onto the stool before the full body mirror, back turned to him, unaware of his knuckles knocking lightly on the wood rhythmically. "There's a hidden zipper," she said as she lifted her left arm and searched for it, and slowly pulled it down once it was found so the dress wouldn't be ruined.
The whole scene would have been innocent enough had she not lifted her head and caught his gaze on the mirror, eyes so dark and penetrating that she had to turn away – only to stand facing him this time, her back to the mirror. With the small zipper all the way down, she pulled back her arms from the thin sleeves and pulled the dress down until it pooled around her feet, and she stood on the stool, chest uncovered and lacy white pants covering her most intimate area. Zelda heard as he sucked in a breath and she stepped out of the dress, feeling self conscious but also so powerful.
His breath tickled her face and her lips brushed against his, her front pressed lightly onto his covered chest and his hands hovered in the air, unsure if he should lower them or not. His palm rested on her back, the touch sending electricity sparkling and running throughout their veins, and it was enough to turn the switch on and make them kiss each other desperately and aggressively. With her now pressed flush to him, Link ran his hands down and squeezed her rear, earning a gasp from her and a soft moan, and she nudged his thigh with hers, being successful in telling him that she wanted to be picked up. Lean legs wrapped around his waist, fingers skimmed through dirty blonde hair and tugged on it, tilting his head back so she could lean forward and change the angle of their hips. Link walked almost blindly to the bed and tried not to interrupt the kiss as he climbed onto the mattress on his knees, senses in a frenzy and mind clouded with desire; the only sensations he could register were her lips on his, his hands on her skin and her fingers in his hair.
Zelda nibbled on his bottom lip, fingers caressing down the sides of his face and neck and chest, then her hands slipped beneath his linen shirt and she grazed her nails lightly on his sides and back, enjoying the way he shivered under her touch. Much to her pleasure, Link had taken the hood and white tunic the moment they got to their bedroom, which made things much easier for her and him as well. He released her lips and traced her jawline, hands coming up to caress her waist and ribs, purposefully brushing his fingers lightly on her bare breasts and making her sigh close to his ear.
"Link?" She whispered as she brought his shirt up and over his head and tossed it aside and he hummed as response, lips pressed firmly on her collarbones. "Why don't you... Put on your robe?"
The blond pulled his head back to look at her, one eyebrow quirked high and a smirk making itself known on his lips. "What? Getting kinky?" Her only reply was a light slap on his shoulder before she shoved him away from her and tried to hide herself among the many pillows on the bed. His chuckle reached her ears faster than his hand came down to slap her and she whirled around with a squeak, kicking her feet playfully at him. Link stood to retrieve his hood, putting it on in one swift move so he could return a soon as possible to the bed. "For how long have you wanted to do this?"
Her reply was muffled seeing as her face was buried in a pillow. "I literally just thought of this." Zelda felt the mattress shifting under the added weight, and soon his body was pressing her down on the bed gently, the material of his hood brushing her naked back was oddly arousing. She sucked in air when his tongue touched the back of her neck and his lips encased around her ear lobe, hot breath leaving his nose and tickling the shell of her ear. His hands smoothed down the length of her stretched arms, fingers wrapping around her wrist to keep her in place.
"Zelda, babe," he murmured lowly and she trembled deliciously under his touch, "Princesses shouldn't lie."
White teeth bit down on the rich blue bed sheets, Zelda quickly thrust her hips back to tease him and Link tried to keep his moan as quiet as he could. "Quit playing around, will you?"
Link pulled back so she could lie facing him, legs bent and parted with him kneeling on the space between them. "Only if you keep your heels on." He proposed as he stroked her thighs and Zelda raised an eyebrow, only now realizing that she hadn't taken them off.
"What?" She asked, teasingly, "Getting kinky?"
His thumb hooked around the lacy material of her underwear and gave it a light tug. "Perhaps."
She sat up, hands searching for the button and zipper of his pants under the robe. "Yours first then."
He complied silently, unbuttoning and pulling down his pants and tossing them aside, then returned his attention to her as he took his time to pull her panties down her outstretched legs, and placed them away without further teasing. Link leaned beside her, placing soft and short kisses on her mouth whilst he caressed her inner thighs and spread them apart. His digits traced her wet folds, his thumb pressed down on the small bundle of nerves and her breath hitched at the touch, a moan filling the air. Zelda licked his lips, weaving her fingers through his hair to pull him down and kiss him deeply, moaning into his mouth lost in her bliss as he touched her.
Link got on his knees with difficulty, trying not to break the kiss or stop pleasuring her, and Zelda bent her legs once he was positioned between them. She held his gaze, fingers laced with his and hands placed beside her head, chest rising and falling with each expectant breath she took. He studied her with his piercing eyes, taking in the sight of her and drinking from the love for him that poured from every pore of her body, and he closed the small gap between their lips once more as he thrust forth and inside her, keeping it sweet and slow.
Zelda released his hands to cup his face and changed the angle of the kiss, broke it to whisper 'faster' and kissed his nose, his chin, jawline and cheeks. Not an inch of his skin was left untouched by her lips, his ears received a special treatment from her, her tongue met with his countless times, her fingers grabbed his shoulders and ran across his back when she arched her spine, his mouth trailed wet kisses on the column of her neck, his thumb smoothed circles on her ribs. She let him hear all the moans and gasps loud and clear, held his gaze whenever he made her toes curl, thrust her hips to meet his to intensify the sensation.
"Link!" She said urgently and he already knew he had hit the spot that always made her say his name. He moved faster, making sure to not to change the angle, and soon enough his name was a mantra on her lips. As corny as it was for him to admit, her moans were music to his ears, one that only he would ever listen. Zelda stopped halfway through saying his name and squirmed under him, alternating through arching her spine and lying flat on the bed whilst her form shook and trembled, head thrown back and mouth open as a moans filled the room. He kept thrusting through her orgasm, her walls clamping around him in a way that made his head spin and his vision went white as pleasure exploded through him.
Once all the shaking had subsided and they both had caught their breaths, Zelda pulled down his hood and revealed his face and disheveled hair, and brought his head down to kiss his mouth softly. "Do you plan on ever showing your face to anyone?"
He pursed his lips, looking up at the ceiling as if deep in thought. "For now, no."
"Good," she kissed him again and stroked his cheek with her thumb. "Keep it a secret from everyone... Just like the initial stages of our relationship."
Link cupped his face and placed a kiss on her forehead. "Remember when you said princesses were destined to live unhappily?" Zelda furrowed her brow and tried to remember, then nodded her head once she did so. "Do you still think that way?"
A bright smile lit up her face and she nuzzled his nose with his, "No." Zelda pulled back to look into his eyes, thumb now tracing the outline of his lips. "You proved me wrong."