By Lyxie

Chapter 10: The Third Night

-Link: The Guest Quarters, Hyrule Castle

-Queen's Gala: Third Night

"It's a costume ball?" barked the Hero. "I'm sorry, I am not dressing up as a deku scrub or a like like or whatever these blasted nobles are trying to pass themselves off as!"

"Of course not," agreed Valin soothingly. "It's a historical costume ball. Ralis told us back in Zora's domain, remember?"

"No, and I'm not going to be some dead old king," amended Link.

"No, you aren't. You're going to go as yourself," Ralis informed the adventurer.

"WHAT? Oh no I'm not. I'm not important. Nobody knows me. I never had a very large role in history… it would be silly to go as myself. You're insane," he added, slowly backing towards the door.

"Stark, raving mad."

"Link, you've been hiding from your past for seven years now," stated Valin calmly. "Don't you think it's time to accept it?"

"I've accepted it! I've accepted it and I've moved on."

"You can't just move on from being a hero, Link," Ralis said coolly. "The things we do stay with us until the day we die. I am the King of my people- that's not something you and I can just accept and move on from. You saved this country. Many of us owe you our lives. You are as ingrained in this land as the rivers and the lakes and the mountains, and that's not something you can walk away from."

"You're the Hero of this country, Link, as much an important part of this kingdom as its Queen. Are you going to accept that or are you going to run away?" Added Valin. Link looked hopelessly between his two friends, appearing for all the world confounded and bewildered.

"I never wanted to be the hero," he said simply. "I just wanted to herd goats."

"I never wanted to be the Zora King," Ralis said sadly. "I just wanted to catch fish. Zelda never wanted to be the Queen, but her father and brother died and it became her job."

"Brother?" asked Link suddenly. "I never knew she had a brother."

"Yes you did," Valin replied irritably. "Surely you received news in Ordon when both the king and his heir died from a plague, and the new ruler of the country was the Queen."

"Yes, but- oh," replied Link, looking down. "Oh. That's right. I never paid much heed to the news I heard of the royal family when I lived in Ordon, and I never connected… oh, I'm an idiot. He was her twin, wasn't he?"

Valin nodded. "I've heard there's nothing more painful in the world than being parted from them, too. But look what Zelda did. She took up the crown, and though the country fell into darkness, she's been ruling strong ever since it was recovered. So what are you going to do? Hide from the lot which the Goddesses have given you?"

Link was silent for a long time. Then, finally: "What exactly am I going to wear?"

"We were able to get your old armor dug out from the storage vaults," replied Valin with a smile. "We figured it would be best if you were comfortable, at the very least."

"Which armor?" asked the hero guardedly. When Ralis opened the trunk that sat at the foot of Link's bed, the hero blanched. "Oh, no. No, no, no. Definitely not. No way."

"First step to accepting your past, Link," stated Valin merrily, throwing the Hero's Boots at his friend. "Wear the shoes you're given."

-Zelda: The Royal Ballroom, Hyrule Castle

-Queen's Gala: Third Night

Zelda was rather proud of her costume, though technically she wasn't in the costume contest. She'd dressed as a great fairy- her hair had been left down and curled, with small, sparkling jewels tucked into the mass. The wings she wore were gossamer and sparkled every color, trailing down her back like a glimmering translucent cape, and her gown was white, stiff-bodiced and gathered on the side, and embroidered all over with ivy. She'd been dusted with glitter, as well, so whenever the Queen move she shone like the sun. Though she was quite enjoying herself, she'd noticed that Link still hadn't arrived at the ball, and the fact that she even cared increased her already high levels of annoyance and irritation greatly in turn.

She'd just gotten off the dance floor once more and moved to the punch bowl, though this itself was a great endeavor- people were constantly meeting her, greeting her, and wanting to talk to her. Though she was flattered by her subjects' attentiveness, Zelda was starting to get exasperated.

"Dressed as the Great Fairy? That business about her being covered in ivy is a myth. She actually only wears a loincloth, though she has long green hair that covers her modesty. You got the wings right on, though," rumbled a distinctly masculine, notably amused voice from behind Zelda. She spun around and-

Good heavens!

"Link," she gasped, taking him in. "Are you… what's going on?"

"I decided to dress up as myself," stated the Hero calmly, examining his gauntlets.

"Did you get that out of the vault?"

"Valin was so kind as to see to it. I'd forgotten how comfortable this was, and how light," he added with a grimace, plucking at his green tunic. "Almost makes me feel naked."

Zelda stared at Link as he stood in his hero's green clothing and wanted to throw herself upon him- whether make mad love to him or pummel him, she wasn't sure. He looked more like himself than he had since he'd returned to Hyrule; he wore his clothes like a second, fierce skin, and walked tall with pride.

"Well… thank you for informing me about the defects of my costume," managed Zelda finally.

"Not so fast, Princess," said the Hero.

"Queen," she corrected him. "You'll refer to me as 'your highness,' thank you."

"Your highness, thank you, will you dance with me please?" he asked her with a canine grin- a wolf-hero's grin.

"Didn't we go through this last night and it was a catastrophe?" asked the Queen with mock-patience.

"You started it," replied Link with another of his grins. "But I responded to it in a bad way and I shouldn't have. Tonight I'll be a perfect gentleman, though, I promise. Dance with me?"

"I suppose," conceded Zelda, trying for all the world to act resigned but inwardly fluttering in that obnoxious way that she always did whenever Link spoke to her, looked at her, touched her. With a gentle hand on her waist, Link led her out onto the dance floor for a stately promenade.

"So, milady," he began charmingly. "Pray, tell me what I've missed in the past seven years. How has the economy of the country altered?"

"Are you serious?" Zelda asked him as they changed hands.

"Quite. I'm done running from my past, and I want to know what I missed out on so I can have better perspective on what's going on now and what's to come."

Zelda was awestruck. Without much thought to what she was saying, she began to talk- telling him about the balances of power within Hyrule, about her panel, about the council, about the economy, the weather patterns, everything. By the time she'd finished they'd moved from the dance floor to the punch bowl to a small, secluded table outside on the patio. Link had listened intently all the while, interjecting little comments and questions upon occasion. Zelda was feeling quite warm, and she was certain it had nothing to do with the night air- what had happened to Link? What had inspired such a drastic change in him overnight? Perhaps he was up to a trick, thought Zelda, yet from the way his eyes never left her face as she was talking, she couldn't be sure.

One thing she did know, though, was that she'd spent more time with him than was proper.

"Adventurer," she said, standing with the smallest of smiles, "I am glad that this country fascinates you. I must get back to the ball now, though. It has been lovely talking to you," she added.

"And to you," Link replied, calling after her. Zelda produced a small fan from the clever gather on her side (it allowed for a small pocket in which her fan and a knife were safely tucked away) and began to avidly fan herself.

What was it about Link? She couldn't quite bring herself to summon up the anger that had fueled her earlier that week, and yet, she couldn't help but suspect that there was something very much afoot with him.

Sighing and shaking her head, she moved back into the ballroom and immersed herself in the crowd and her duties as Queen, though a small bit of her mind remained fully occupied on the puzzle that was Link.

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