Love's Weight in Rupees
by Queenie Z

Part 3

Ravio kept his head low and presence inconspicuous as he hurried out of the Underground Market as fast as he could; after all, he could only take the feeling of corrupt merchants and their goons burrowing holes into his pockets with their eyes for so long! When he reemerged from the entrance and into town, however, he stopped, tugging on his scarf to allow Sheerow to fly free from it. Then, shielding his feathered friend with his hands to prevent him from being spotted, he spoke to him in a hushed voice.

"See if the coast is clear for me, buddy," he said, allowing the bird to flutter off, surreptitiously checking the nearby roads and backsides of buildings for any potential thief types. Once he discovered a pathway leading behind a set of houses that seemed to be free of people, he bobbed up and down in place, chirping to signal to his master that the pathway was clear.

Drawing his cloak around himself once more, Ravio swiftly made his way down the path, allowing Sheerow to land on his hand as he walked. He did not stop until he had made his way to the very edge of the village, where he slipped behind a vacant house that was still under construction. There, he took one last look at his surroundings before slumping against the house's outer wall with a deep, exhausted sigh.

"I don't believe this," he mumbled, pulling the ring box out of his pocket and opening it. "I just blew my entire savings on a tiny hunk of rock..."

Sheerow moved to his shoulder and chirped, looking at the ring with curious, beady eyes.

"That's five years of money hoarding gone," continued Ravio with a pained expression. "All those rupees... all those beautiful, beautiful rupees..."

The tiny creature warbled sadly in sympathy for his master. However, soon enough, the young man's pitiful expression disappeared, and he looked at Sheerow with a face that was positively glowing.

"...And I couldn't possibly be happier about it!" With that, Ravio jumped high into the air with loud "Woo-hoo!", then broke into a merry little dance that Sheerow soon joined in on. "I got it! I got the ring! Here comes the groom, buddy! Wahahaha...!"

He began humming a joyful tune, and soon his hums turned into lyrics. "Gonna give a ring to my girl today! Gonna dance and sing for my girl today! Gonna get maaaaaaaarried to my girl today, and I'm gonna - "

He was interrupted by the shrill sound of Sheerow's frantic chirping, and he quickly turned to him to see what was wrong. "What!? What is it, Sheerow!?"

"Well, congratulations, little guy! When's the big day, huh?"

Ravio shrieked when he finally caught sight of the pair of thieves that had been drawn towards his loud celebration - in hindsight, singing and dancing with a diamond ring in full view probably wasn't the wisest choice he had ever made in his life. Breaking into a cold sweat, he slowly closed the ring box, laughing sheepishly the entire time.

"W-W-W-Well, er, I don't know," he said, "I-I-I haven't exactly asked her yet..."

The two thieves, who both wore green bandanas over their heads as a sign they were part of a band, looked towards each other and began to laugh. One of them, a woman with matted hair and a sneering face, turned her dagger in her hand as she spoke.

"You haven't asked her yet?" she echoed condescendingly, "Well, ain't that a shame, 'cause you sure won't get the chance to ask her now!"

The other thief, a man with an eye patch, pointed his dagger at Ravio's neck. "Give us the rock, weirdo, or you'll be leavin' your girl a widow before she even ties the knot!"

With another screech, Ravio recoiled backwards. His breath grew short and his heart raced as the sight of the dagger. "Y-Y-Y-You wouldn't rob a man in love blind like this!" he said in a vain attempt to reason with the bandits, "...Would you?"

"We'd rob the Queen herself if we could get away with it!" said the woman, who pointed her own dagger at him as well. "Now give us the ring!"

Ravio could feel his lip begin to quiver, and, for a moment - a very brief moment - he considered giving in to their demands. Then, suddenly, the image of Hilda's graceful smile passed through his mind, then the thought of his heroes from another world, Link and Zelda. How could he have forgotten the promise he made to himself to try and emulate their courage? If there was any time he needed such courage, this was it - he had to protect this symbol of his devotion to Hilda at all costs!

Momentarily breaking free from the iron grip of fear, Ravio remembered the contingency plan he had in place for just this type of situation. Straightening his posture and putting on the most chipper face he could muster, he slowly placed the ring box back in his pocket.

"H-Hold on there, my friends," he said, "I may not look like it, but I'm actually quite wealthy!" He lifted his hands in a non-confrontational gesture. "I mean, if I was able to afford a ring like that, who knows what other kinds of treasure I could have on me...?"

The two thieves raised their eyebrows, then looked towards each other. Finally, the man of the duo spoke. "...What kind of treasure?"

"Well, let me just fish around in my pockets real quick..." He proceeded to pull out the small sack he had brought from home, its contents shaped vaguely like a bottle. "I think you'll find what I've got here to be much more interesting than some silly old ring!"

"And what would that be?" asked the woman curtly.

"BEES!" Ravio uncorked the bottle inside of the bag and set loose three bees in the thieves' faces. As soon as they began to swarm, the bandits screamed, dropping their daggers and swatting in vain at the angry insects.

As soon as the daggers hit the ground, Ravio wasted no time - he dropped the bottle, scooped Sheerow up in his hands, and ran away as fast as he could.

"Come on, buddy!" he said breathlessly as he ran, "Let's beat it before those bees come back for us...!"

He hopped over a small fence that marked the border of town, and he dashed madly down the path that would eventually lead to his house. At some point, however, his panic gave way to a strange sense of accomplishment. Sure, he thought, he didn't claim to be the bravest of men by any stretch of the imagination - but you could never tell him that he wasn't clever as a fox!

After all the trouble he went through to get it, Ravio didn't allow the ring to leave his person for one second until he planned to give it to Hilda the next day. He kept the ring box in his pocket as he slept, he held it by his teeth as he bathed, and he checked his pockets probably thirty or forty times to make sure it was still in there as he made his way to the castle the following morning. Of course, this served just as much to ensure the ring's safety as it did to distract him from his inevitable panic at the thought that he was about to ask the most important question of his entire life; however, it did not seem to help very much in the latter department.

It was strange, he thought, that he could feel so happy and so petrified at the same time; so eager to show Hilda his love and yet so afraid of doing something to screw it all up. The one thought that comforted him was that Hilda was both gracious and forgiving - even after he had betrayed her completely and utterly during the incident with Yuga, she was able to understand his reasons, and somehow, by some miracle bestowed upon him by the gods of Lorule, she came to love him in return. So surely she could come to look past any potential screw-ups on his part... at least, that's what he hoped.

As he ascended the castle and made his way to Hilda's chambers, he took deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down; he stopped, however, when he realized that he was simply going to make himself hyperventilate instead. He walked hesitantly through the hall, wondering what he was going to say and how he was going to say it. Eventually, after becoming frustrated at his inability to think of anything, he decided he would simply wing it - after all, ol' Ravio always thinks best on his feet! ...Or something like that.

Finally, he reached the door, and he turned to Sheerow, who had joined him as a form of moral support. "...Sorry to have to ask you this," he said quietly, reaching up to pet his head, "but could you wait out here for a while? I... I think I want this to be just Hilda and I."

Sheerow bobbed affirmatively, seemingly understanding his master's feelings perfectly. He fluttered off to rest on a nearby window sill, looking at Ravio expectantly.

Ravio give him a wink. "Thanks. You're a real pal, Sheerow." He then turned his attention to the door and knocked on it. He frowned, however, when he heard no noise from inside. He took a hold of the door handle and, just to see if she was all right, cracked open the door.

"...Your Highness?" he asked. "Hilda?"

He eventually caught sight of the queen, asleep at her desk. Ravio sighed in relief that she was otherwise all right. She was always pushing herself as the sole ruler and manager of her kingdom, so seeing her fall asleep over a pile of papers was not uncommon. With a smile, he walked into the room, taking off his long scarf and covering her shoulders with it.

"And you say I'm the heavy sleeper," he said before leaning forward to kiss her ear. "Good morning, Hilda."

Hilda groaned slightly as her eyelids fluttered, and she sat up, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes and turning towards him.

"...Ravio?" she yawned, covering her mouth as she did so. "Oh, goodness... did I fall asleep on the paperwork again...?"

"Maybe?" answered Ravio with the slightest of snickers. "Don't worry, Your Highness, your secret's safe with me."

"Mmm," said Hilda, smiling as she smoothed down her messied hair, "I know. I trust you, after all."

For a moment, he wondered whether he should wait until she was a little more awake to ask her the big question. He decided, however, that he'd lose his nerve if he waited any longer; he took a deep breath and scratched his cheek nervously.

"...S-Say, um..." he began, "I know it's a bit out of the blue, but there's something I'd like to talk to you about."

Hilda opened her eyes, now mostly awake, and looked at him attentively. "Of course, Ravio. Anything."

"Er, well, actually, it's less like a 'talk' and more like - " His eyes widened slightly when he suddenly got an idea, and his face lit up with a little more confidence. "...An offer! Yeah, Your Highness, how would you like to hear this great offer I've got for you, huh?"

She blinked at him in slight confusion. "...Well, all right, I suppose."

"Okay, so," said Ravio as he began to pace around the room and use his most convincing merchant's voice, "how would you like your very own dedicated life partner? How would you like someone who would devote their life and soul to your service and happiness? How would you like to have someone who was willing to stand by your side for the rest of their days, through good times and bad, through sickness and through health?"

Hilda's eyes tracked him as he walked around aimlessly, her mouth opened slightly in surprise. "W-What are you - "

"How would you like," he concluded, stopping in his tracks and looking her squarely in the eye, "to have someone who will watch your kingdom prosper with you forever?"

Inhaling sharply, Hilda covered her mouth with her fingertips. "Ravio...!"

"You can have him, my Queen," he said, kneeling down on one knee and removing the ring box from his pocket, "you can have that person with you always. All you have to do..." He opened the box, exposing the glistening diamond ring inside, " take this ring and be my wife."

With another loud gasp, Hilda clapped both of her palms over mouth. "Oh... oh, gods above, I..."

"Please, Hilda," said Ravio, his hands beginning to tremble ever so slightly, "everything I've ever done, every choice I've ever made, every stupid, stupid mistake I've ever regretted - " he swallowed, " - it was all for you and for our kingdom! All I want is to keep helping you, to stand beside you even when no one else will! I just... I just...!"

He stopped in his tracks when he saw Hilda slowly, gingerly take the ring in her fingers. Then, with a bashful, heartfelt smile, she slipped it on her left ring finger.

Ravio lifted his head, breaking into an open mouthed smile when he saw her wearing the ring. "Hilda...!" he gasped.

"How could I even dream of saying no?" said Hilda tearfully. She got on her knees with him and took his face in her hands. "My loyal Ravio... I'd be honored to have you as my husband!"

Before he could say anything else, she kissed him, causing the butterflies in his stomach to return with a vengeance. However, this time, he was able to ignore them; he placed a shaking hand on her dark hair, stroking it lovingly. When they finally separated, Ravio gazed into her face, his cheeks blood red and his eyes filled with tears.

"H-Hilda," he said with a sniffle, "Hilda, I...!"

Suddenly, to Hilda's shock, his face contorted, and he began to weep, his tears streaming down his cheeks in a not so graceful manner. She furrowed her brow in worry.

"Ravio?" she said, taking the scarf he had draped around her and dabbing his eyes with it. "Oh, Ravio, please don't cry..."

"I-I-I'm just so happy!" he blubbered, "Five years ago, I never thought I'd see you again, and now we're - !" He buried his face in Hilda's chest and squeezed her tightly, sobbing her name repeatedly as she ran her hand through his messy hair to comfort him.

"There, there," she said, biting her lip to keep herself from giggling at his dramatic display of emotion - though she would have been lying if she said she didn't have the urge to cry with him.

After a while, Ravio's sobs died down, and he sniffled, lifting his head and grinning nervously at his new fiancée. "...Wow," he said, "that was embarrassing. Forgive me, Your Highness, that wasn't supposed to happen."

Finally, the queen allowed herself to giggle at his antics. "It's quite all right," she said, placing half of his scarf over his shoulders so that they shared it. "I always loved how honest you are with your feelings."

Ravio chuckled. "Well, thanks."

Hilda then decided to take the time to examine her ring more closely. "It looks just like a flower," she said, "it's beautiful... how on earth you even find such a thing, Ravio?"

He glanced to the side, scratching his cheek nervously. "It's a long story. Let's just say there were lots of rupees and bees involved and leave it at that, all right?"

With a cocked eyebrow, Hilda gave him a sideways look. "Bees? ...You do know that now you have to tell me this story, do you not?"

After a sudden outburst of nervous laughter, Ravio swallowed - she was going to really have it in for him if she knew he spent so much of his personal savings on her, and with such suspicious characters to boot! ...But she would figure things out sooner or later, and, well, it was a pretty neat story in and of itself, so why not?

"All right then," he said as he covered her hand with his, "just - promise you won't get too mad at me, all right?"

From the outer hallway, Sheerow listened intently as his master recounted the story of their high-stakes adventure - and cringed in sympathy when Hilda began to worriedly fuss over his well being as a result.