A/N: Greetings my most esteemed readers! First off I would like to apologize for being three days late with my posting, Life has been a bit of a posterior to me lately, but I am back now and I have the final chapter/epilogue. Thanks for putting up with me these past few weeks with my sporadic schedule.
ArianandXaia: Well I can guarantee it at some point but not necessarily now but it will definitely be in the third book so I shall comply with your order X3 Frozen, eh? Sounds like fun. Are you a vocalist or do you play an instrument? Don't be so harsh on poor Loki, after all, he was adopted. XD Thank you so much for your reviews and support, it always made my day to hear from you X3
staticblast1: I rather thought they both deserved to be pitted against each other. I did better against the three than the two as well, weird. Thanks for that, and don't worry I will not be rushing anytime soon (curse school for eating all my writing time D: *pouts*) Thanks for the review!
Arison Nakaru: No he can't, Link and people like him have a tendency to be trouble magnets if you ask me. Thanks for being patient with me X) Well, yes it was a bit difficult to write, being so long and all, but what really got to me was an excessive amount of school work and makeup work from being sick and extra practice for a violin recital-like thing. X3 It was a lot to write and hard to find the time for it. Thank you for your review and support, you are totally epic as far as I am concerned :)
CupcakePride101: Yes it was, wasn't it? XD and yes she does, poor Link, especially if he was expecting her to not do that :D Well I can assure you now that there will be plenty of both in the third book. I am thinking of doing Brains of the Operation first, and I am glad you like the idea of it. Yes it does, it deals mainly with the story that Fi tells about the history of how Skyloft came to be, about the first war with demise. You can find it in Hyrule Histora, but I am sure you might be find it somewhere else too. Thank you for your many reviews, they always put a smile on my face :3
Storm Dragon Wolf Princess: Yay! I am glad you like my ideas! Your oneshot shall be posted on the 19th if all goes well. That excited? :3 Yes last chapter, but there will be more. Thank you so very much for reviewing ever chapter, and for being so very encouraging. You are awesome!
silverheartlugia2000: Thanks, that's good to hear :3 yes the idea came because Link drowns whenever he comes in contact with water in ST and I thought it rather funny considering his heritage. Thank you for your reviews and support, it really means a lot :)
Lofe: Wow, thank you for all your compliments. Careful, I might start developing an ego XD That makes me super pleased to hear that you are interested. :3 Thank you for your encouraging review!
LovelyKiridia: And we all know it is no good trying to hide bugs from her, so I guess it works the same with chapters? XD Thanks for the well wish and understanding. School does have a nasty habit of pilling up, quite a lot. Yay! I am glad you like my ideas. I endorse their relationship too, but you never can tell with twists XD I am thinking of doing The Brains of the Operation first when I start my oneshots. Thank you so much for all your reviews and support, it means a lot to me. :3
Yami no Nokutan: Links plans always work (except for when they don't) *snigger* I am glad you enjoyed it. Don't worry, Kasran shall not be forgotten, I promise. Why yes that is a typo, thank you so much for snagging that bugger for me. Yes and I shall endeavor to make the next one two chapters longer mwahahaha (it is my evil plan you see XD) I am glad that I have caught your intrest XD. I also want to thank you so much for your reviews encouragement, kind words, listening to my ideas and helping me think of new ones, and helping me proof-read my work. You are super super awesome and you have my undying thanks XD
Generala: Yay! I am glad you like them! Don't worry the cliffhanger shall be relived. XD I want to thank you also for your reviews and support, it was always so very encouraging for me to read. :)
Scarlet Curls: Wow I have actually merited an exception? That's awesome to hear, yeah my Link seems more likely to be a really close friend not a lover, but if you like Midna/Link This coming Wednesday I will be posting a oneshot along those lines that I wrote as a request for Storm. Gerudos, being the obvious reasons? (I really love them) I am often wandering through fandoms too. Ack, that sounds rough. Aww thanks for the compliment *blushes* So, I really wanted to thank you for reviewing every chapter and for being kind enough to help me with the many typos my eyes have missed and slipped though my editing nets. I really appreciated it, and this week is no exception. Also, you dialogue never ceases to make me smile :D Thank you so much for everything!
xXx skytale xXx: I was going for that, so I hope it came across well enough. :D Thank you for all your awesome observations and kind/funny words. You reviews never failed to brighten my day!
Zelda did not have long to wait before Link found her. He smiled as he brushed his hair out of his eyes with one hand.
"So, what is this about?" he asked her curiously.
She bit her lip and tried to decide where to begin.
"Do you remember, early in the spring of this year, when I sent you that letter asking you to come to the palace?" she asked him.
She hastily looked down, worried that she might hurt or anger him by bringing up painful memories. Instead of his face, her attention was focused upon his middle. Her worry seemed to be well founded. She winced when she saw him move a hand to cradle his side as if remembering the pain of a previous injury. It was an unconscious gesture, but it still made her heart sink slightly.
He may have forgiven her but it would be silly, she realized now, to think that those memories and events did not still affect him. She felt the familiar knot of regret take hold inside her. However, she was surprised to find that now, her regret was not against herself wholly, but rather the circumstances that had led to their trouble. She knew that she had his trust and even his respect. Also, she had proven to herself that she was not as much of a failure as she had once thought. Somehow the knowledge of both of those facts had changed her perspective.
"How could I forget?" he asked in answer to her question, his tone still cheerful. "As I recall, that brought on one of the worst days of my entire life."
She looked up at his face only to see a smirk of a smile on his features. The memories still affected him, but it seemed that they no longer really pained him. She found herself wanting to smile.
"What brings this up?" he asked suspiciously. "If you are still concerned that I am harboring any bitterness over what happened, I can assure you I-"
"No it's not that," she interrupted. "I actually did want to talk with you when I sent the letter. It was about something I had been meaning to tell you right after you defeated Ganondorf the first time, but I was so busy with rebuilding the castle and rebuilding and resettling the kingdom that I was forced to put it off until early spring of this year. Then the Empress came and messed up everything, and I was trapped for several months. When that ordeal was finally over, you got captured and well…"
"Well, nobody is completely invincible," he said with a grin before his expression sobered. "I had always thought that she made you write that note."
'She,' referring to, Zelda knew, the Empress who had made a mess of their kingdom. She had used Zelda's letter as a trap and had Link ambushed when he answered her summons.
"Anyway," she said straightening and smiling, "you have saved the kingdom three times now…"
"Not alone," he interrupted looking a bit embarrassed, "don't forget you saved me this time."
"Be that as it may, I still want to honor you for your courage, sacrifice, loyalty, and help as I had been trying to do before circumstance got in our way. I had wanted to, and still do, want to knight you for your service."
She watched as his eyes widened with surprise and an expression that was almost one of pride crossed his features. But it was not quite pride, it was more than that. His face was lit with a smile, which was almost a sad one. It was as if he were reliving memories.
"You want to… you want me to be… you have always wanted to…" he stammered, completely taken off guard. He looked at her almost shamefacedly. "I had thought that because I was born a peasant you thought me unworthy of such a title."
She looked at him completely dumfounded and felt her expression become stormy.
"Surly you don't believe me to be that shallow?" she exclaimed angrily.
Then she calmed down when she saw his sheepish expression. She found herself chucking softy.
"Sometimes you can be so, so…" she searched for the word, "silly," she finally settled on.
"I know I am an idiot," he said with a grin, "but hearing you say it just shatters my fragile feelings."
"I can just see that you're devastated inside," she said coolly mirroring his smile.
"I admit that I have often wished to be a true knight…" he trailed off, his face perplexed, "but now I am not too sure. I did not save Hyrule in order to procure myself that title. Recently, I think what I really wanted was simply to hear that you thought me worthy enough for it," he looked down, "but now… I…"
"You don't think that being a knight at my court or in my army would suit your character and your skill set. I would say that you are right there, it would not."
He looked at her completely astounded. His expression was torn as if deciding whether he was upset at her hasty judgment of him and wondering if he should protest, or resignedly agree because she spoke the truth, and he knew it. After a while, he settled on the later for she saw his posture relax. He bowed his head in acknowledgement
It was Zelda's turn to grin, "I know you could quite probably manage easily if you had to, but I have something different in mind. It is actually a thought I have been considering for a while now." She broke off for a moment trying to formulate her thoughts. She had gone over how to present this idea to him many times, but it seemed not to have done anything to prepare herself.
"I have, since the time of the Twilight invasion, wanted to create an elite force of knights who would act as rangers or watchers of our kingdom. One of the greatest problems of Hyrule, as it is now, is that we receive word of danger when it is already too late. If we had people like this, then we could have possibly prevented both of these recent calamities we have suffered. I wish to create a corps of knights and warriors who act specifically as stewards, wardens, or watchmen of our borders and country to spy out trouble and threats, both from outsiders and the internal ones that spring from the many monster clans, and any other threats living within our country.
"I can think of no one better for this than you, what with your knowledge of woodcraft and skills as a warrior. Also, you know this land nearly better than anyone else and the people and creatures in it. As such could tell more readily when something is wrong.
"To take such a position you would need a title to your name, which is another reason why I wish to knight you. For this position to work however, I need you, and anyone you take into your service, to be solely answerable to me. You would be like my personal knight but you would have a lot of freedom as well."
Zelda saw the awe in his face and instantly knew the offer appealed to him. He took her hand and knelt before her on one knee like a knight.
"You honor me," he whispered almost too softly to hear. "I pledge my sword to you and your kingdom for as long as I live."
Zelda smiled and could not quell her sudden urge to kneel beside him and pull him into an embrace.
"Sorry," she apologized as she moved back, "that was not very dignified of me. I was supposed to accept you offer with distant repose."
He gave her one of his cheeky smiles but his grin faded abruptly. His expression became completely serious. She became serious as well, wondering what had caused his sudden change. He stood completely still listening. His head was cocked to one side, looking for all the world like a wolf listening for danger of prey. Suddenly, a broad rascally grin spread across his face.
"Care for some fun?" he asked her suddenly, beckoning for her to follow him. "This is going to be rather amusing," he chuckled and she trotted after him.
She followed, both intrigued and curious, trying to make her footfalls a silent as his. He wove expertly through the forest trees until he came to a small clearing. He signaled for her to stop and crouch down in some bracken, gesturing for her to watch and listen.
Zelda peaked through the leaves and her eyes widened. Colin and Ilia stood in the center of the clearing.
"I spied on them just like you asked," Colin announced ash-faced to Ilia. "You will not believe what I just saw."
"Well?" Ilia demanded.
"I did not get close enough to hear anything but I think that Link just proposed to Serhild," he gasped in hushed tones. "He took her hand and dropped to one knee and then she hugged him. I left before they did anything more."
"What?" Ilia screeched, "He was planning on getting married and he never spoke a word about it to me?" How dare he be so secretive? And all this time I thought he was densely oblivious when it came to women. I am going to kill him! he barely even knows the girl!"
"Yes, how dare he." Link's voice sounded.
Colin and Ilia wheeled round in surprise but they were no more surprised than Zelda. She had not noticed that he had moved from his position beside her to circle around Colin and Ilia until he spoke.
"That darned Link," he spoke on in a mock serious angry voice. "Fancy him doing an awful thing like that, being romantic behind one's friend's backs. Tisk tisk, there is no greater shame," he said with a grin. "Go on, kill away Ilia I deserve it." He burst into helpless laughter.
Zelda blushed as she rose from the bush stalking angrily towards the shamefaced pair and the laughing Link. "You thought that he and I were-"
"Secret lovers in the forest," Link said in between laughs.
"We were doing no such thing," she said embarrassed.
Even though she was in disguise, rumors such as this were the last thing that she wanted. At the same time however she felt an odd twisting in her heart that he should dismiss their misguided observation so quickly as a joke. She nearly blushed at her thoughts, she was in no place or position to be feeling or thinking like a common village girl. She was a princess and he was a peasant. No, she amended, he was a hero and soon would be a knight. That would nearly place him in the ranks of nobility and perhaps her thoughts were not as ridiculous as she had at first hastily assumed. The whirl of thoughts and emotions in her head was making it spin and making her confused. She could not decide, for a few fleeting breaths, what to feel. Finally, she settled upon her initial anger. The careless disrespect of this situation still hit her hard.
"Spying and starting malicious gossip… there is nothing I loathe more than gossip," she fumed, and it was true. "And...and… Link, cut out that laughter! this is not funny!"
"Oh, but it is," he said, completely ignoring her order to cease.
Maybe he had an easy going nature and sense of humor about this sort of blatant disrespect but she had never suffered such foolishness. At the same time, her mind was once again torn. Soon however, her own mouth began to quirk, whether because the admittedly humorous situation or Link's infectious laughter or both she could not tell. It was not long before all four of them were holding their sides from laughing so hard.
"You two need to work on your spying skills, they are a bit rusty," Link teased.
"You big harry goat rump," Ilia snapped back. "Why do you have to be so observant and why do you have to be such a joker. The princess should fire you from your job as warrior and demote you to court jester."
Zelda couldn't help but chuckle and Link seemed to find her insult hilarious.
"Yes, maybe she should," he said, "I would look stunning in obnoxiously bright clothes and tights. It would show of my hairy rump-ness to perfection."
Ilia pushed him and he fell over laughing.
"What a horrid thought picture," Ilia said laughing and soon they were all laughing again.
That was one of the things she liked about Link, she realized. His first instinct in many situations was to find what was humorous about it instead of what was frustrating. He did not take himself so very seriously and he was comfortable in his own boots. He had said courage was feeling afraid but facing your fears anyway and that was true. But to her, it was also finding joy in sorrow, laughter in pain, finding life and guarding it.
Her ill-timed philosophical musings were cut short by Ilia tuning to her and apologizing, Colin too. Sighing, she let go of her anger and readily accepted their apologies. She was suddenly startled by Ilia flinging an arm around her shoulder in a companionable manner, and voicing her gratitude. By now, Zelda was nearly used to not being able to expect the deference a princess held when it came to proper distance. She could not decide whether she liked that or not, but she was sure that she liked finally being accepted by Link's friend.
Ilia glanced hopefully towards Link. "Serhild, I hope you are not leaving too soon. Why don't you help us with the harvest? It is a lot of work but it is fun. We usually have a big feast afterwards. We even have dances, singing, friendly competitions, and displays of skills. I hope you'll stay."
"That sounds nice," Zelda admitted, "I would be honored to attend."
Shortly after that, Colin and Ilia went on ahead, and Zelda and Link followed behind at a more leisurely pace. Link did not seem at all eager to leave her side and that gave her the most strange warm feeling inside.
"How is the kingdom faring?" he asked as they stepped through the autumn kissed woods.
"It has been a bit tough dealing with all the kingdom's recent problems, including dealing with all the traitors that fell for Ganon's schemes. Don't worry, I gave them all a fair trial," she added, noting Link's wincing expression. "Even though you know as well as I that they were completely guilty. I even sent word to Darbus, patriarch of the Gorons, and Prince Rails of the Zoras about the traitors to their kingdoms. It has been a hard depressing business."
"You did not um…"Link started and broke off.
"No I didn't," she sighed at him, knowing his mind was fairly fixated for the moment on the kingdoms harshest punishments for traitors, "though they deserved nothing better. For the most part, they are all in the dungeon."
Link smiled at that news and looked relieved. A gentle breeze blew though. Its supple presence scattered all the fallen leafs around them to send them spiraling around the trunks of nearby trees. Link suddenly turned to her, his blue eyes earnest.
"Zelda," he began softly and she was surprised to see his cheeks flush softly, "I…" he trailed off.
"I…" he shook his head and closed his mouth. He muttered something under his breath, rubbed the back of his head then grinned, "I am glad you are going to stay for the festival."
"Might I ask why?" she urged him, feeling a slow smile tugging at her mouth, even though she was almost positive that this was not what he had intended to say first.
"Because, I have always longed for an excuse to challenge the greatest archer in Hyrule to a shooting match," he answered with a grin.
Zelda stared awestruck as Link pushed his opponent towards the edge of the ring drawn in the sand. He had been one of the only people to accept Mayor Bo's friendly challenge in a sumo wrestling contest, known as a bout.
She had defiantly not regretted her choice to stay. It had been the most fun she had had in a long time. She had tried her best at helping with the harvest and when the sun hung low in the sky, the villagers started their harvest festival. The feast had been delicious and there had been friendly competitions of all sorts. They had been highly enjoyable to watch. She had even tied in the archery competition with Link. She felt slightly guilty that she was dodging some of her official duties but, she argued with herself, a good ruler needed to know about her people and this was the first village festival she had ever been invited to. Already, she had learned much more than her commerce and culture books had ever taught her. So it was not a complete frivolous waste of time.
She watched the wrestling contest with interest. Mayor Bo had studied the sumo wrestling from the Gorons and was a master at the art, known as a rikishi. The object was to push one's opponent out of the drawn circle known as a dohyo, or make one's opponent touch the ground with anything other than the soles of their feet. This was accomplished by using wrestling arts and brute force. She had seen it done before on a diplomatic trip to the Gorons realm.
She was amazed at Link, she knew he was respected by the Gorons for his strength and being able to wrestle his way through their guards but it was still amazing to see that he was able to hold his own against a man a head taller, and at least three times larger than he was.
Although she respected the sumo tradition, she was immensely pleased that neither of the two fighters were wearing the traditional sumo outfit. She was happy that they were both fully clothed. She did not know why but the thought of Link wearing a mawashi, as the Gorons called it, made her want to shudder in disgust despite his handsome appearance and well toned body. She knew she needn't have worried because he did not seem like the type to dress in such a fashion despite tradition. He had told her that Mayor Bo had taught him the art of sumo wrestling for the sole purpose of gaining the respect of the Gorons, during a time of tension between their two races, and he had never actually done it formally.
She watched in fascination as he slowly pushed his opponent out of the circle. Happy cheers of encouragement rang out from the village audience. Link had won the first round but there were still two more. Link and Mayor Bo faced each other from opposite ends of the ring, feet spread wide apart, one fist touching the ground in the traditional starting position.
She watched as the call sounded for them to start. Link dodged a swipe and they locked arms in a grapple. After his loss of the first round, Zelda had noticed a furious glow of determination in the Mayor's eyes and he furiously threw his great weight onto his opponent. This time Link was pushed out of the ring.
The villagers of Ordon were excited to see who would win the tie breaker match and were cheering and chattering excitedly. Zelda too, found all her attention on the ring. The villagers called out their encouragement to the two fighters as the signal was given for the third and final round. Link gave a furious display of strength and pushed Mayor Bo mere inches from the edge of the ring.
Zelda saw a mischievous glimmer come into the large mayor's eyes. With a laugh, he lifted the entangled Link of the ground and tossed him out of the ring as easily as if he were a sack of flour. Zelda nearly laughed at the sight of Link's surprised face. Link, despite his opponent's unexpected actions, managed to land upright in a warrior's stance. All the villagers hooted with laughter aside from the children. A cry of outrage arose from their small figures.
"You big cheater," a twelve year old dark haired boy cried indignantly. As if all of one mind, the children launched themselves at their mayor. He laughed uproariously as they wrestled him to the ground. Soon all of them were laughing hysterically.
Zelda could not hold back a smile. The people started clearing the area for the dance and Zelda watched as Ilia approached Link with a happy smile. She presented him with a very small horseshoe shaped aulos flute on a pendant. He smiled at her and thanked her gratefully. Zelda had almost never seen him smile as happily as he had just then. She remembered he had told her that Ganon had destroyed his horse-call and now he had a new one.
Torches were lit and the darkening night was filled with the cherry light. Uli sat on a platform and tuned a gracefully carved wooden string instrument. A small dark haired man sat next to her with some drums made of sheepskin and hollowed logs and a large woman warmed up a few notes on a reed instrument. Link took his place next to the musicians with his new flute and Ilia stood next to him. Zelda assumed that, because Ilia carried no instrument, she was going to play the part of singer or vocalist.
Most of the people of Ordon found partners and the musicians started to play. Their music flowed clearly into the night, the harmonies weaving patterns like the threads of the loom. It was an old peasant song that was so lively that Zelda found herself tapping her foot to the music. It was very different from the proper court music that she danced to for formal balls but she enjoyed it just as much, if not more. A third of the way through the song, Ilia grabbed Link by the arm and pulled him off the musician's platform and into the midst of dancers. Zelda was a bit surprised; she had never expected Link to be a dancer.
The dance was a fast-paced high stepping country dance. The dancers were joined together by one hand as they circled each other. Then the partners split apart and all of the dancers joined together in a step dancing circle before returning back to their partners.
As she watched Link dance with the pretty blond Ilia she began to feel the same rebellious twinge of…, 'was it jealousy?' she wondered with a slight blush that could not be seen under her face paint. It was a bit unfair that she should be left out of the fun for lack of a partner to dance with. 'Don't be stupid,' she told herself furiously, 'you don't even know the steps to the dance and you end up making a fool of yourself.'
She had been educated in proper court dances and knew little of peasant dances. They looked a lot more fun than waltzes, it had to be admitted. She had only learned one type of country dance from one her mother and the dance they were doing now was unfamiliar to her. Despite her efforts to talk herself out of her jealous and excluded thoughts, she couldn't help but feel debarred. She was pleasantly surprised when that dance ended and Link walked up to her and bowed like a courtier.
"Care to dance with me?" he asked with a cocky smile.
"I don't know the steps," she replied lamely. 'You got what you were wishing for and you say no? You're an idiot Zelda,' she mentally scolded herself.
"I only know a few myself: the dance you just saw and a few others." He admitted with a laugh. "I did not always pay attention when I was being taught."
She smiled at him.
"You must know something of country dances," he urged
"I know capoeira," she admitted. Capoeira was an old Hyrule country dance that originally came from the Sheikah. She had been taught this dance style by her mother for the purpose of maintaining cultural heritage. She had found it very enjoyable because it was a variegated form of a martial art that was done to music. It was beautiful but very physically demanding because it called for a few acrobatic moves in between steps.
The musicians started playing again. This time, the song was slower and more exotic sounding.
Link smiled at her.
"Capoeira was one of the few dances that I actually cared to learn, because of its origins and history," he admitted. "This music is perfect for it," he urged, holding out his hand.
She clasped it and they headed into the torchlight where the others danced.
"You make a pretty awesome warrior," he said to her with a smile, "but I am not so sure about the face paint," he said musingly.
"Why? What's wrong with it?" she asked indignantly expecting him to joke.
"It's like hiding the sun behind a cloud," he said his smile widening.
'You really think so?' she wondered to herself with a blush. The torchlight played across his face and she stared in surprise, he was blushing slightly too.
They took their places and began to dance to the beautiful minor music. They moved in close to each other and twirled away mimicking the ancient marital art like steps. She executed a handspring and a spinning leap in perfect time to the music and he followed her steps. Their hands clasped fleetingly. A few of the people stopped dancing to watch them and Zelda felt momentarily self-conscious before she thrust it aside and focused only on the music, her steps, and her partner. A joyful contented peace settled around her and for the first time in several months, she found herself completely happy. She smiled as she and Link whirled around the firelight.
On the edges of the clearing's rise, concealed by the trees, a wolf sat watching the people by the flames. His one red eye surveyed the scene before him with a silent contentment. A single leaf fluttered lazily to the ground to mingle with the many already gathered before the wolf's golden paws. It was joined seconds later by another, its fiery hew fairly illuminated by the soft light of the beast's golden fir. The leaf landed with a muffled rustle but, if the wolf heard it, he gave no sign. He did not even twitch an ear so focused was he on two people embracing in a dance. His one eye seemed to soften and, for a moment, it became near impossible to tell whether its color was actually red or blue. He bowed his head suddenly as if nodding to himself and rose, slowly turning away from the people in the dell below. He moved forward into the night then, every footstep polling gold upon the ground as he made his way deeper into the woods. The gentle glow faded ever softly as he disappeared in to the quiet of the night-shrouded forest.
A side note, capoeira is an actual dance/martial art form that originated in Brazil and, in my opinion, is quite beautiful to watch if you want to check it out.
Thank all of you for taking the time to read. Also, my thanks goes out to all who reviewed favorited and followed, it means the world to me and provided some of my greatest motivation. I hope you all enjoyed this tale and found it pleasurable diversion because all of your feedback and support totally made my day(s).
So, for my upcoming evil plans mwahaha }:D : I will probably continue my habit of posting every Wednesday or every other Wednesday for my shorts and oneshots, starting with a Midna/Link short I wrote for Storm Dragon Wolf Princess for being my 100th reviewer and followed by the others I mentioned last week. I got enough desires for a trilogy to start putting my ideas down on paper and so you will probably be able to expect one this summer (America's summer, since that is where I live) or at the end of summer if all goes well. Once again, thank you all for your support and everything. You are totally awesome and I hope you all have the most amazing weeks! Until next time! God bless!