Love's Weight in Rupees
by Queenie Z

Part 1

The winds of change are a formidable force both beautiful and frightening, and no one knew this fact better than the people of Lorule. The thought that such a harsh, dead world could be blessed with such life in just five short years was at one time nothing but a fool's dream; yet it was the radiant glory of their newly restored Triforce which made that dream into a reality. Though the scars of decline were still very fresh, the land was already showing signs of a strong recovery - lush fields of green, bountiful crops, seasons that were mild and pleasant - and it was these signs that Queen Hilda was eager to experience firsthand.

She often took walks outside of Lorule Castle's gates, though never alone; she always had her most trusted vassal Ravio by her side, and he took just as much joy in watching their kingdom blossom as she did. Well, truth be told, it was just as much the sight of her smile that gave him joy as that of the flourishing land, but that simply gave him all the more reason to join her on her outings. Arm in arm, they would traverse the fields outside of the castle, talking of various matters and noting each tiny change that brought Lorule closer to its former beauty. On this day, they had chosen to take the road leading to the old graveyard, and as they approached the bridge that now allowed travelers to cross over the great schisms that divided their nation, Hilda stopped in her tracks as she noticed something near her feet.

"Ravio," she said, blinking her eyes in curiosity, "look at this."

"Eh?" asked Ravio before looking at the ground himself. "Look at what, Your Highness?"

"The bridge," answered Hilda as she knelt down, touching the damaged edge of the wooden bridge where it met the edge of the cliff, "look how it's splintered..."

When he noticed what she was referring to, Ravio grimaced, recoiling slightly. "Oh, geez," he said with dread, "it's breaking apart already!?" He adjusted his scarf with a small pout. "Man, getting this fixed is gonna take a real bite out of our budget..."

"No, Ravio," said Hilda, looking back up at him with a sparkle in her eye, "don't you see what this means?"

At that, Ravio perked up, refocusing his attention on the splintered edge of the bridge. Then, his mouth opened in realization. "...The ground's shifting," he said in slight disbelief. He kneeled down to Hilda's level and took a closer look. "It's not by much, but the ground's definitely shifting!"

"The chasms are closing little by little," Hilda said as her smile grew. "To think our Triforce is capable of even this...!"

"Yeah," said Ravio with an excited nod, "who knows? Maybe in a hundred years, we won't even need these bridges anymore!"

"Oh, I hope that's the case!" Hilda stood, taking Ravio's hand when he offered it to her. "We'll have to keep track of how quickly they're closing, won't we?"

"Of course, Your Highness!" Said Ravio with a big grin. "Sheerow and I will keep our eyes peeled for any and all bridge splinters!" Her happiness, it seemed, was contagious, and to see such a light shining in her eyes after she seemed to have lost it for good - it was enough to put the young man in a mood to sing (though he had no intention of doing so at this moment - Hilda always laughed when he sang, and he was never sure if it was a good kind of laughter or a bad kind).

The queen laced her arm with his once more, gingerly placing her hand over his wrist. "Thank you, Ravio. I know I can always count on you." She lifted the hem of her dress off of the ground, carefully stepping over the splintered wood as they continued across the bridge. Then, with a small sigh, she shut her eyes, her face calm and serene as she pondered something.

"Er... is something wrong?" asked Ravio, noticing her sudden silence.

"...There's simply so much I want to do for this land," said Hilda solemnly. "Lorule once had such little hope, and now - now it has so much potential." She turned her gaze to the outline of the mountains to the north. "I only hope that I may be blessed with a life long enough to watch my kingdom truly prosper."

Ravio nodded. "I think that's something we all want for you, Your Highness."

Hilda then turned to face him, the slightest bit of pink coloring her cheeks. "What about you, Ravio?" She gave his arm a small squeeze. "Will you... want to watch it prosper with me?"

"Um - " Ravio tensed at her question, swallowing as he tried desperately not to turn beet red. He looked away from her, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand and laughing sheepishly in an attempt to hide his nervousness. "Haha, well, um, that's a little - er, what I mean is - "

He froze when he caught sight of Hilda's unamused expression, however. In shame, he sulked, burying his chin and mouth underneath his scarf.

"...I-I'm sorry, Hilda," he said, "you know I get all tongue-tied when you put me on the spot like that."

Hilda simply sighed and shook her head. "It's all right, Ravio. I hadn't meant to embarrass you." She leaned over and placed a small kiss on his cheek. "I apologize."

Ravio clenched his eyes shut when she kissed him. Gods, how long had he been courting her - two years, maybe? In any case, he knew he should have been able to kill the butterflies in his stomach he got when she did that by now, though he supposed he'd just always been easy to fluster as part of his cowardly nature. He turned and flashed her a nervous grin.

"I-It's fine," he said, "you don't have to apologize for anything."

As they approached the graveyard, Hilda's attention turned to a barely completed foundation for a building that sat a short distance away. "Goodness," she said, "they've built this much of the new Sanctuary already?"

Grateful for the subject change, Ravio laughed. "I guess people work hard when they finally have the chance at an honest job!"

"We should go check on their progress." With that, Hilda not-so-subtly led him towards the construction site - although he never really minded when she did that. After all, how could he possibly be her vassal and love if he wasn't willing to follow her wherever she may go?

"Sheerow! Buddy! Guess who's hoooome?"

The tiny white bird startled awake from his tiny cloth bed on the nightstand, chirping excitedly when he saw his master walk through the door. He flew over to Ravio, bobbing to and fro wildly in anticipation.

"Hold on, hold on, I'll get it for you," said Ravio as he fished a small bag out of his pocket. After untying the bag, he pulled out a large, dried berry, which he then offered to Sheerow. "There you go, friend - I always feel bad leaving you at home, but when Her Majesty calls..." He snickered as his cheeks began to flush slightly. "Well, it's just nice getting to be alone with her sometimes, you know?"

Sheerow didn't seem particularly bothered by his admission of guilt, and he chirped happily before taking the berry in his mouth. He fluttered over to Ravio's shoulder, perching on it as he ate his treat.

"You'll never guess what we found on our walk today," said Ravio, sitting down in a chair and crossing his legs as he spoke. "You know those big, scary holes that are all over Lorule? Well, it turns out that they're about to close up! ...And by 'about to', I mean 'in probably a century or so'." He grinned at his winged friend. "Pretty cool, huh, Sheerow?"

With another happy chirp, Sheerow flapped his wings in affirmation.

"Yeah," Ravio continued, "definitely cool..." His smile waned slightly, however, as he continued. "...But then Hilda said something that kinda threw me for a loop. She was all, 'will you want to watch the kingdom prosper with me?' or something like that." He sighed, leaning back in his chair and looking at the ceiling. "I knew she was trying to hint at something - I mean, that look on her face was pretty suggestive - but I got so flustered by it that I couldn't figure out what she meant!" He lightly slapped his forehead with his palm and sighed. "Guess ol' Ravio's too stupid to figure out what a lady wants... Heh, you know, I bet Link would have had this all figured out from the beginning!"

Sheerow tilted his head and let out an inquisitive chirp.

"Come on, Sheerow, it's been five years! He's gotta be a hit with the ladies by now!" His face lit up with what could be called a strange combination of jealousy and deep admiration. "He's strong and courageous and charismatic - I bet you he's having to beat girls off with a stick! Or, who knows? Maybe he's even married by - "

Suddenly, Ravio's eyes went wide in realization. "...Wait a second..." He sat up straight, sending Sheerow stumbling off of his shoulder. "That's what she was talking about!? Getting married!?"

Sheerow screeched in surprise at the word "married", and he began to bob up and down in panic as soon as his master had stood up to do the same.

"Sheerow! Sheerow! Do you realize what this means!?" he cried, "My days as a bachelor are officially over! No more house! No more lonely nights at home playing fetch with you! And most of all...!"

Suddenly, he stopped, glancing over towards his fireplace, above which hung a small duplicate of Queen Hilda's royal portrait. As soon as his eyes met with those of the painting, he relaxed, and a warm smile creeped across his face.

"...I'll get to spend the rest of my life with the woman I love," he said almost reverently. He walked over to the portrait, admiring how lovely Hilda looked the day she finally took the title of Queen; the day she made a pact with her people to raise them up from the fear and destruction they had lived under for centuries. She had been so strong, so determined and fearless, so full of all the qualities Ravio himself could only ever dream of having... Finally, his smile grew into a bold smirk, and he turned back to Sheerow with a confident glint in his eye.

"Well, what the heck?" he said, "I was starting to get sick of this house anyway."

With a slight twirl, Sheerow matched his newfound enthusiasm; he flew towards the edge of the table and watched as Ravio went over to his bookcase and pulled out a small notebook.

"Actually, I've thought about popping the question to her once or twice before. I even drew up a plan to get my hands on a ring - " he slapped the notebook down on the table, which, unsurprisingly, had "THE PLAN" emblazoned in bold letters on the front, along with Ravio's signature purple bunny symbol, and continued, " - but, well, you know me, I never managed to psych myself up into actually doing it. But I guess now it's time for us to suck it up and be a little more like that heroic twin of mine!"

Sheerow again let out a questioning chirp.

"Yes, us! I'll definitely be needing your help for this one." He opened up the notebook to its first page, which consisted mostly of scribbles and notes about engagement rings and where to find them. "As you know, Lorule's not exactly as wealthy as it used to be, even now that the Triforce is back in our Sacred Realm. So, naturally, something like an engagement ring is going to be pretty hard to come by... unless you know the right people to ask."

He turned the page again, then pointed his finger to a circled name - "Boss Waga". "Hilda may have cleaned up the village of its crime at a surface level," he continued, "but it's still got a pretty seedy underbelly. Five years ago, this guy, Boss Waga, was your run-of-the-mill common thief; he was one of the guys pardoned through Hilda's reformation initiatives. However, rather than turn his life around like he swore to do, he simply found a new, legal way to rip people off." He frowned and furrowed his brow. "He now has almost complete control of the market for luxury items - including jewelry - which means he's basically allowed to jack up his prices without much consequence. What a real scumbag, eh, Sheerow?"

For once, Sheerow did not immediately agree with his master, and he warbled in a vaguely accusatory manner.

"H-Hey, that situation with Link was completely different!" said Ravio defensively. "Those items really were that valuable, and I used the money for good in the end! Cut me some slack, okay?"

Sheerow ruffled his feathers, seemingly letting him off the hook. He peered at the book curiously as Ravio continued.

"So, long story short, as much as I don't particularly want to help finance some ex-con's monopoly scheme, he's pretty much our only shot at getting Hilda the ring she deserves." He glanced back at Sheerow. "I'm prepared to burn a few holes in my pockets for this, but I'll be needing you around to watch my back - they still call it the Thieves' Town for a reason, after all!" With a smile, he held out a finger to his companion. "Can I count on you for that, buddy?"

With a series of enthusiastic chirps, Sheerow performed another flip in the air, then landed on Ravio's finger. Then, Ravio laughed, petting the bird on the head with his other hand.

"That's the spirit!" he chuckled, giving his pal a wink. "If we pull this off, I'll make you the best man at my wedding!"

Sheerow simply cooed at his touch; then, when Ravio left his seat, he flew over to perch on the doorframe and wait for him to get ready.

"Hold on, Sheerow," said Ravio as he gathered two sacks - one large sack, which was filled nearly to capacity with five years worth of personal savings from various small business endeavors, and a smaller sack, into which he stuffed something that Sheerow couldn't quite see. He placed the smaller bag into one of his deep pockets, and he grabbed a dark purple cloak from a nearby coat rack. After putting on the cloak, he hoisted the bag full of rupees (which had the word "potatoes" painted onto it - he was fully aware of the reputation some Lorulean thieves had for being gullible) over his shoulder, slipped his hood on over his head, and made his way towards the door.

"The underground market opens at sundown," he said as he opened the door. "If we get there just as it opens, we'll lower our chances of running into any dangerous types." He then paused, gulped, and added in a nervous voice, "...At least, I hope so."

With that, Ravio and Sheerow left the house, making sure to lock the place up tight before they embarked on their perilous and shadey journey in search of an engagement ring fit for a queen.