There haven't been many days in my life that compare to my wedding day. The only ones that come close are the day I defeated Ganondorf and the days my two sons and daughters were born. It's not surprising that Zelda was a big part of each. She's the source of all my happiness.
A few moments from that day still stick out to me. Her walking down the aisle. I doubt there's ever been a more beautiful bride. Her smile and look of conviction as she said her vows. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that she meant every word.
I remember my confusion when Ilia's expression registered recognition and horror the first time she saw Zelda up close. Zelda didn't tell me about their encounter at the temple grounds until later, so I didn't understand when Zelda leaned towards her and said in a hushed tone, "I hold no resentment towards you. In fact, I think quite highly of you."
Those couple lines helped pave the rocky road they took towards friendship. I had feared trips to Ordon might be awkward because of tension there, but I was glad to be proven wrong. Zelda was even the one to introduce Ilia to the man who would become her husband.
Another moment that stuck out to me about our wedding day was when Zelda met Uli. The whole family was there and she first shook hands with Rusl, thanking him for coming and for his part in raising me. Then she greeted all three of their children, crouching to talk to the two youngest. Then she stood and stared at Uli for a moment before her face cracked, and she enveloped Uli in an awkward hug. She whispered in a shaky voice, "Thank you. Thank you for not letting Link give up."
I remember being so surprised at the time. Zelda always shied away from physical contact, so seeing her hugging someone she had never met was pretty startling. When I had told Zelda the story of Uli telling me to try harder, Zelda mostly just looked thoughtful. I hadn't realized how indebted she felt. In subsequent visits, Zelda and Uli grew quite close. In a way, it was almost as if she reclaimed the mother she had lost so long ago. I loved watching her let another person through her defenses, especially one who was so important to me as well.
There's one vivid memory of that day that didn't involve Zelda. I had excused myself at some point to relieve myself and afterwards I took a moment in a deserted hallway to just soak in all the emotions I was experiencing. As if he could sense it, I was soon joined by my least favorite person.
"Congratulations, hero." It was amazing how Torrin could make hero sound so derogatory.
"What do you want?" I asked, having little patience for him today.
"I'm just acknowledging your victory," he said as if I was paranoid.
"You know that's not what this was to me, right? This wasn't all an effort to beat you."
He nodded. "Which makes it all the more disappointing that I lost. I underestimated you and the lengths you were willing to go. Oh well," he said with a smirk, "that's in the past now. We're about to begin a new relationship. Ready to start all over?"
His stupid smirk made my blood boil. I couldn't let him blemish what was supposed to be a day of celebration.
"Before we do that," I started, "Zelda told me once that you don't hold grudges. Is that true?"
"Zelda knows me well."
Torrin never even saw it coming. He wasn't a fighter. The way he didn't even make a move to dodge my fist was proof enough of that. I had punched my fair share of people and monsters, but I've never forgotten the cracking sound that emanated when my knuckles made contact with his face. There weren't many sounds sweeter.
Not wanting to telegraph my intent, I hadn't gotten full leverage behind the hit, but it still knocked him to the floor. He moaned loudly as his hand cupped his eye. He was dazed for a moment, but then his uncovered eye met mine and widened in shock at what I had just done.
"Now I'm ready to start over," I said, feeling much better.
His surprise registered for a few more seconds before his smirk slowly returned. "Good, so am I. You make for quite the interesting variable. You're dense enough that you should be a liability to Zelda, yet you utilize your other skills well enough to compensate. I'm eager to figure you out more completely. There's no doubt in my mind that you'll lose some fights for Zelda, but also be the reason she wins some. The question is what direction that scale ultimately tips."
I shook my head, but a reluctant smile came to my face at his insanity. I knew I would never figure him out. I couldn't possibly understand a guy who could smirk after getting sucker punched and then rattle on about the other guy making an interesting adversary. All that would be on my mind was getting even.
In all the years since then, I never did quite figure Torrin out. Sometimes he'd do things that made me wonder if he really was such a bad guy and other times it felt like his only goal in life was to destroy me. Regardless, I never stopped wanting to strangle him.
Midna actually found a lot of his antics amusing. We may be permanently separated, but that portal meant we could still talk, so I've gone there every so often to catch up. Since I became king, our lives have been even more relatable, and it's been fun to compare experiences.
Though her favorite stories to hear were the ones where I breached court etiquette. She found great delight in the Idiot King caricature I was assigned. She told me that since we could only see each other occasionally, I needed other people in my life to remind me of my tendency towards idiocy to keep me humble.
I really never cared much about that though. I may have made myself the fool often as I first adjusted to court life, but mostly those instances just served as reminders of who I had married. I would have dealt with so much worse to be with Zelda.
She's the only partner I've ever wanted, and together, there seems little we can't accomplish. I still feel that way after all this time. In fact, sometimes I catch myself staring at her when her focus is elsewhere. Even after all these years, I still have yet to find anything prettier than her.
I suppose it's dangerous to let one person be the source of all your happiness, but I never could help it. Everything good in my life could be traced back to her. I guess that's probably an exaggeration, but it doesn't feel like one. I often think of how close we came to not ending up together, and it makes my spine tingle. I don't like to imagine my life without her, without the children she gave me.
Instead, I like to think of all the moments of happiness she's given me. Thus, I think of my wedding day often, when my best friend became my wife, my queen. Midna excluded, everyone I cared about was there to witness that moment of happiness.
I remember best the speech Zelda gave during the feast. She had been quiet for about ten minutes prior to standing up. I had thought she was just tired of making conversation, but she had really been preparing herself.
She didn't even have to signal to get everyone's attention. She had such presence that standing purposefully was enough to slowly bring the room to silence. I remember looking at her in surprise. I wasn't expecting another speech from her.
"I know my reputation well," she said in a loud, clear voice as her eyes swept across the room. Her gaze wasn't accusing, but I saw more than one person shrink as it fell on them. "I have been accused of being emotionless and calculating. I do not blame anyone who thinks this way; those are reasonable conclusions based on how I've presented myself.
"I normally would never address such a topic. Public opinion is not swayed by speeches, but by action. However, on this day, I would like to make something clear.
"No doubt, most of you have heard rumors of everything Link did to win my hand. I know many are baffled that he would go to such lengths for a person such as I." A small smile graced her face. "I must admit, I have wondered something similar."
That bit of self-deprecation helped put the crowd at ease, and a bit of light laughter could be heard. "I am quite adept at hiding my emotions, a skill that has served me well in life. However, just because I hide my emotions, that does not mean they do not exist."
Zelda's head bowed down, and when she looked back up, she looked self-conscious. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm in love with Link, and that's something I don't want to hide. My whole life I thought my marriage would be merely political, but then Link came along and changed everything." She smiled with a small bit of embarrassment showing on her cheeks. "He showed me that my duty to Hyrule and my own happiness were not exclusive on this issue."
Zelda looked her at me, and her face lit up before she could cover it up and turn back to the crowd. "I don't mind if I'm called cold. I don't mind if I'm called calculating. However, I do take issue with anyone who claims I'm just using Link, that marrying him is solely a political move." Her gaze, which had softened considerably as she spoke, turned hard, challenging anyone to oppose her. "I want it to be clear that I truly do love him."
Her confrontational attitude disappeared just as quickly as it came. In its place was a look of humility. "With that said, I would like to publicly thank the goddesses and all of you for accepting Link as the King of Hyrule and for making that possible. I love this kingdom with all my heart, and I truly believe that my new husband will make an incredible king. So once again, I'd like to give you my thanks." She grabbed her glass and raised it. "To all of you."
Everyone raised their glasses in turn, and I looked at Zelda in awe. I knew how hard it was for her to speak of her feelings, so I never thought she'd acknowledge them in front of a crowd like this. I was touched that she wanted to make sure that they all knew that my feelings were returned, that I wasn't just some fool blinded by her looks doomed to one day realize I was trapped in a loveless marriage.
Then I caught sight of Torrin out of the corner of my eye. A begrudging smirk crossed his face as he shook his head. I realized he must have seen something in her speech that I missed. She had accomplished some strategy that completely escaped my notice.
After years of experience with politics, I have a few guesses as to what that might be, but it doesn't really matter. I may not have noticed what Torrin saw, but I too saw something he didn't.
Whatever political goal she accomplished, she had another purpose in giving that speech. It was for me. She was fighting for me, albeit in her own way. We both knew one of the biggest obstacles of our relationship thus far was that she refused to acknowledge her feelings. So doing so publicly? She was showing me that she was willing to try and change, that she would expend every effort to making our marriage work. That wasn't a false sign.
She's never stopped fighting for me, and I'm comforted knowing she never will. The same, of course, goes for me. I thank the goddesses every day for giving her to me, for letting me have my fairy tale. Though maybe fairy tale is the wrong description. We've had too many struggles to classify our lives as happily ever after. But being with Zelda makes all those struggles worth it. That's more than enough for me.
A/N: Wow this was impossible to write. I lost count of how many different drafts I've written. I very nearly scrapped this whole thing to write something similar from Zelda's perspective, but I ultimately decided this one did what I wanted it to (though it's possible I just didn't want to start over yet again). I hope this gave you guys some closure on some of the loose ends I left. Sorry if I forgot to address a part you wanted. I'm happy to answer any questions you have left.
I do want to thank everyone who left me feedback. It was incredibly helpful. I tried to respond to every review I could, but for a few different reasons I was pretty bad about responding to the reviews on the last chapter, so I'm really sorry, but you should know that I still really appreciated them.
Thanks so much for reading.