Chapter VII - Confession
The Spring Moon Celebration proved to be more troublesome than expected. I had resisted indulging in the wine thus far, unlike most of the other guests, but I was driven to find relief in the liquid because of the count.
I had been forced to endure numerous dances with him, and my patience was wearing thin.
I reluctantly reached for the wine at my place setting, hoping my senses would dull soon enough.
Just as I raised the glass to my lips, I spotted Malon making her way towards me.
I set it down and smiled genuinely, the first of the evening.
"Good evening, Your Highness, you look lovely as always." she complimented merrily.
"Thank you, Lady Malon, as do you."
She grinned and curtsied.
"Would you like to join me?" I asked, motioning to the chair beside me.
"…But this table is reserved for royalty."
I laughed softly. "Yes, but childhood friends are the exception."
She smiled shyly and took a seat beside me.
"How does the evening fare for you?"
"Very enjoyable, Your Highness. The splendor is even more impressive than last year."
"His Majesty hopes to impress the Haladians with such grandeur," I said with a shake of my head.
Malon nodded in agreement. "I do hope all goes accordingly. A treaty with Haladin would help Lon Lon as well."
"The improved trading routes should be beneficial to all," I agreed.
Malon then leaned closer to me. "But even if the trading routes are opened… I fear difficultly transporting goods safely." Her voice was hushed and solemn.
I looked to her inquisitively. "…What do you mean?"
"Have you not heard, Your Highness... the rumors of the giant, carnivorous birds in Hyrule Field?"
My heart stopped. "And there are witnesses to make such claims?"
Malon bit her lip and continued. "I believe to have seen one out my window naught four days ago. A few guards stationed at the town's gate claimed to have seen them as well; some now carry crossbows with them in place of swords."
My mouth fell open slightly, my mind reeling. I had been so consumed with my own troubles I did not bother to inquire if I had been the only one to encounter a beast.
Creatures of the night shall bring to pass its ruin.
I suppressed a shudder.
Did this mean…. Hyrule was no longer blessed by the Goddesses? But why would the Goddess not wish for peace between Hyrule and Haladin? I did not understand.
I wanted to disregard all these peculiar happenings as of late. I wanted to push aside my fears…
Yet… the connections… were they chance or perhaps…
No, how could I possibly believe in the prophecy? All my life, my instructors had taught me that such things were construed to keep the fear of law in the hearts of the people. They had taught me that Hyrule's legends and myths were mere tales, only used for culture and moral teachings.
But I could not deny the heaviness in my heart.
,,,What could be done?
Nothing… there is nothing you can do…
I sighed. Who would listen to a princess of seventeen years? Because I was not yet of age, I had no say in the dealings of politics. Even if I voiced my fears and objected to the alliance with Haladin, my words would not sway my father or the council.
This I knew for certain.
Your wisdom is nothing without courage.
A sudden feeling of utter helplessness came over me
"… Are you alright?"
I shook myself from my thoughts and I forced a reply. "Yes… yes I am fine. This is grave news indeed, Lady Malon. I trust His Majesty is aware—"
"Oh, yes of course!" she interrupted in a flustered manner. "Our captain has already informed the general."
I sighed in relief. "Let us hope this matter will be resolved quickly."
"Yes, Your Highness. I apologize for the mood this has brought. I must admit… I wished to confide my fears with you," she voiced with a blush.
I patted her hand, trying to assuage her guilt. "I do not wish to keep you, Lady Malon, if there are any dances that—"
"Please, Your Highness, I would like to continue talking… if that suits you."
"I do not wish to bore you," I said, withdrawing my hand. "And I may ask you to save me from dancing with anymore lords," I warned as I reached for my wine glass once again.
Malon laughed, knowing I spoke of the count. "I have noticed your many turns with the Haladian count, but I've yet to see you dance with Sir Link," she commented.
At mention of his name, I gripped the glass tightly, my smile falling. I had seen Link at the beginning of the evening dancing with the countess, and I had done my best to ignore the aggravation it caused me. However, Malon's words sent those ill feelings rushing back.
"He is much too busy entertaining the countess," I said stiffly.
Malon looked at me thoughtfully and lowered her voice. "But he appears most sullen…"
"'Tis his nature," I said, trying to disguise my contempt. I downed the remaining wine in my glass, but quickly regretted it; my head started to spin. I cleared my throat and shook my head slightly; the wine was particularly strong tonight. I placed the glass out of my reach to rid myself of temptation.
"If I may, Your Highness… it is your company Sir Link prefers."
"I confess," she interrupted, "I was envious of Your Highness for a time. Sir Link is a courageous and honorable man… I had hoped one day he would look my way, but I digress…" She paused and glanced to her hands in her lap. Looking back up, she said, "His eyes have never left you."
` I was astonished by her perception and could say nothing to dispute her. I looked away, my embarrassment evident on my face. "Lady Malon," I began weakly. "I think perhaps you are mistaken."
She shook her head and continued. "Forgive me, Your Highness. I meant no offense. I simply hope that whatever has forced this… distance between you and Sir Link, will—"
"Forced?" I exclaimed in a sharp whisper. "It is he who willfully abandoned all civility."
Malon leaned towards me. "Then why do I see such longing, such sorrow in your eyes and his?"
Stunned once again by her words, I was forced to silence. My anger slipped away, and my eyes fell to my lap.
I could offer no explanation to the truth she spoke.
It was true… I did long for the forgotten kindness and smiles Link and I shared as children.
I could not understand how a simple girl such as Malon could see through my ruse.
But was it really so surprising? Malon was nearly the only lady of nobility that did not act out of personal gain. She was all that was kind and good.
I admired Malon's purity and innocence, yet I was envious all the same.
My bitter heart did not deserve to hear such amiable words from her warm one.
I could feel Malon studying my face and I quickly smiled apologetically.
Though she spoke of both Link and me… I had never seen such a look in his eyes.
With such uncertainty, I was becoming overwhelmed.
Malon took my hand in hers and she said gently, "Oh, Your Highness, do you not see? I truly believe that Sir Link—"
"Zelda, it is time for us to dance!" my father suddenly interrupted.
Malon quickly stood and curtsied as she greeted him.
"Yes, I shall join you in a moment." I continued to stare at Malon.
She looked at me ruefully. "I've run away with my words again, Your Highness, I'm sorry."
I took her other hand in mine and stood as well. "No, please, continue," I pleaded. I did not understand this desperation to know what she thought of Link, but I did not care to question it.
I felt as if she had the answer I had been searching for...
…The answer to these foreign feelings that ran rampant inside me.
I tightened my grip on her hand and she opened her mouth to speak, but my father interrupted once again.
"Come now, Zelda. The guests are waiting." He reached for my hand and I was torn away from Malon.
"Perhaps we can meet again later," Malon said in a hopeful voice.
For a moment, I considered pushing my father away and running back into her arms, but the stares of the guests reminded me of the customs I was obligated to participate in.
I was dragged farther from her and her face disappeared into the crowd.
The guests parted as my father and I made our way to the center of the ballroom. We joined hands, positioning for a waltz.
The musicians started a slow tune and gradually increased in tempo.
As we began dancing, the rest of the guests followed in suit.
"I think tonight has gone rather well. Wouldn't you agree?" My father asked.
"In a manner of speaking," I answered listlessly. My mind was still lingering on Malon's words; the music could not end soon enough.
"What with Count and Countess Ronan here, everyone must be making an effort to impress."
"I trust you've tried your best as well?" he hinted in a slightly louder voice, not bothering to hide his impatience at my lack of attention.
I finally looked at him. "If my limitless turns with Count Ronan are not effort enough, I do not know what is."
My father laughed, satisfied with my reply. "I'm glad you find them agreeable."
I resisted rolling my eyes and decided it was better for him to believe I thought well of them.
"Zelda, as long as your impressions of Haladin are amiable," he continued. "I would rather like to hear your thoughts on a particular matter…without your emotions involved."
I looked at him warily. "At a time like this? If you believe I cannot control myself, then do not ask it."
"It is merely a suggestion… something for you to think about."
After pausing for a moment, my father continued cautiously. "Our treaty would be… strengthened, or rather solidified… if Hyrule's princess considers to wed Haladin's Prince..."
I stopped mid-step, wide-eyed, staring in shock at my father.
He tugged on my hand, prompting me to continue dancing. "Come now, Zelda, nothing is final. Now what do you think of it?"
I opened my mouth, but I could not reply. "I…. don't…. I don't know," I finally managed to say.
The waltz ended and the guests clapped respectfully.
I quickly stepped away and curtsied. "Please excuse me, Your Majesty," I said quietly.
My father sighed and placed a hand on my shoulder. "I meant not to upset you, but please… do ponder this matter seriously."
I nodded reluctantly and headed back to the reserved table, hoping Malon would still be there. I looked about, but could find no sign of her. I sighed and once again sat down alone.
In the distance, I saw Link dancing with the countess and many women flashed her jealous looks.
I became more upset and reached for a full wine glass, breaking my resolve to stay from its numbing temptation.
Its effects drowned me in my sorrows.
My eighteenth year was nearly upon me, and I should have known matrimony would begin to weigh heavily in my life now. I laughed mirthlessly to myself and I wondered why I had become so daunted by the idea.
I knew not what love was… but why did my childish hopes about love still linger?
Why did I insist to myself that I wanted to marry for love?
Contrary to what my father had mentioned about marriage to Prince Ganondorf, I couldn't help but feel it was finalized… not a mere suggestion.
My self-pitying was then interrupted.
"Hiding, are we?"
I jumped in my chair and turned to find Impa taking a seat beside me.
"Where have you been?" I asked accusingly.
She chuckled. "Here and there; out of sight."
I looked at her attire and tried not to laugh. Impa usually wore traditional Sheikah clothing; it was odd to see her dressed formally, though it was still unique.
"Your expression is quite glum, Lady Zelda. What ails you?" She already knew the answer, but I was grateful for her discreet concern.
"Politics, of course. It appears that His Majesty would like our ties to Haladin become… more rooted," I said curtly.
Impa nodded her head and put a hand over mine. "I can offer little comfort, Lady Zelda, but just know your well-being… nay, your happiness, is my concern."
My throat constricted. "Thank you," I whispered.
She stood suddenly and said quietly, "Don't be alarmed, but the count is making his way here."
I looked to her helplessly.
"Worry not; it seems a rescue is in the making."
The candles suddenly dimmed, signaling that the final numbers of the night were to begin.
Impa disappeared into the shadows and I searched the crowd with dread. I spotted the count out of the corner of my eye and moaned inwardly. Just as I contemplated ducking beneath the table, someone appeared beside me.
"May I have your arm?" a familiar voice suddenly whispered in my ear.
"…G-Guardian?" I sighed in relief.
Link held out a hand for mine, and I gratefully took it.
My fears forgotten, I found myself calmed by Link's presence… his touch.
You are a contradiction…
…Would these new, odd discoveries ever reveal answers?
He led me to the floor, placing a hand upon the small of my back, taking my hand in his. My face shaded at such intimacy. "My thanks for saving me," I stammered.
"I must admit, I came to you seeking relief also." he breathed in my ear. "My patience for the countess is nearly at an end."
My heart leapt at his negative mention of her, but I did not want to discuss anything related to the matter of Haladin.
"Let us not speak of it," I murmured. Link's warmth and gentle embrace was so soothing, my weariness took hold of me and let my head rest upon Link's shoulder.
He tensed. "Do you wish to retire?"
"…Were it possible..."
"Very well." Link suddenly started towards the eastern side of the ballroom.
"Wait, everyone will question my absence!" I whispered sharply, trying to pry my hand from his.
"Most do not even know themselves now," he said as he tightened his grip.
"Guardian, I will blame you should I be scolded," I warned, my resolve to escape him quickly dying.
"As you wish," he whispered; I nearly did not hear.
Link discreetly wove us through the drunken crowd, keeping his hand entwined with mine. Passing the thick, burgundy curtains, he led me out to the balcony.
"I had hoped for you to see this before the night was over," Link said as we stepped further into the darkness.
The moon was shinning brightly in the sky, its light upon the petals of the flowering trees appearing as shimmering stars.
"It's lovely," I admired.
Link simply nodded.
My right hand began to tingle and I realized our hands were still intertwined.
I slowly looked up at him.
The moon cast a soft light on his face, reminding me of that time upon the north tower one month ago.
I remembered the unfamiliar fluttering of my heart…
And felt it return; the intensity ten-fold.
I blushed heavily and quickly took my hand from his.
I thought I detected hesitancy from him and I walked forward to the stone balustrade, removing my gloves so I could feel the air on my skin.
My hand was still tingling.
"Guardian?" I asked softly.
He walked forward as well and stood beside me, his hands coming to rest on the stone.
"What do you think… of Haladin?"
"…What do you mean?" He inquired.
I gripped my gloves. "His majesty… he… he hinted at marriage…to Haladin's prince," I said bitterly as my voice broke.
Link said nothing, his knuckles turning white from his fisted hands.
"What do you think of it?" I asked earnestly.
Link shifted uncomfortably beside me and turned his gaze to the heavens.
"Disagreeable," he muttered.
A smile twitched at my lips, gladdened at his disapproving tone; I was grateful he thought as I did.
… But why?
I put a hand over his and he stiffened. "Yes, as do I. It would be quite disagreeable to marry someone you do not know nor love"
Link narrowed his eyes. "My lady, you know love is not requisite for marriage."
I flinched at his harsh words and removed my hand. "Yes…I know."
A cool breeze blew gently, causing the petals to dance in the sky. I watched them drift away, envious of their unbridled freedom.
Something you will never have…prisoner to parapets of stone… forever in solitude.
My eyes suddenly burned with unshed tears.
Was I not allowed the smallest of hopes?
"I will protect you," Link said unexpectedly, every word filled with determination. "I will be with you as long as you wish."
I turned to him in surprise, touched by his sincerity.
My lip trembled and I swallowed the tension in my throat.
I continued to look him as he gazed forward into the darkness and noticed the difference in our height, my head only reaching his chin.
I studied him further, noticing how smooth and luminescent his skin looked beneath the moonlight… how dashing he looked in formal attire.
The wind brushed his hair aside, revealing his silvered blue eyes usually hidden beneath his hair.
Suddenly, Malon's words about the longing and sorrow she saw in Link's eyes came rushing back to my mind and a strong desire to see what she spoke of was born.
I stepped towards Link, my hands moving to his face.
His eyes widened at my touch and he turned to me, bewildered.
I had a strange urge to touch him further, to trail my fingers through his tousled hair. My body tingled from our intimacy, my heart beat pulsating through me.
Link's mouth moved as if to speak, but spoke not a word.
My attention was then drawn to his mouth, to the subtle red tint of his lips against his white teeth.
Why did I admire him so? I only wished to see what Malon saw, yet I was noticing every minute detail of him…
Why did I find comfort in his presence, feel such joy from a simple glance to his face?
No, such reasons did not matter now… I was too curious of my feelings to continue wondering.
I gently pulled Link's face closer. "Do you… do you find it difficult to breathe?" I asked seriously; my own breath had become sharp and heavy and my heart fluttered wildly.
His face shaded ever so slowly and still said nothing.
"Lately, I find that… I am unable to compose myself around you," I said unthinkingly, the truth spilling from my tongue. "The more I try to sort myself, the more frustrated I become."
He hid beneath his hair.
I shook my head. "I do not understand at all," I whispered, my eyes falling away.
Link suddenly lowered my hands from his face, holding them tightly within his. He stared at them with furrowed brows, his face twisting into a painful expression.
My heart ached.
He then bowed his head. "Why do you torment me so?" he asked, barely above a whisper.
He met my eyes and my breath stilled.
His gaze turned cold before my eyes and my chest tightened.
"You do not know of what you speak…" He released my hands, staring at me with contempt. "What you provoke…"
"Then tell me..." I pleaded.
Link closed his eyes and sighed. "That would be unwise," he said, a bit more gently.
"…I must know…"
He then looked at me indifferently, something I was all too familiar with.
Anger and sorrow raged inside me and suddenly… I felt it physically…
…The ache from his callousness…
I took a step back and put a hand against my chest, trying to suppress the pain.
I looked to the floor, unable to bear such coldness any longer.
"All I know is… my heart aches unendingly and stills when you are near!"
Tears slipped down my face and my head began to spin.
I stepped back further, embarrassed by my outburst and unabashed words.
I turned to flee when suddenly, Link's arms were around me, pulling me tightly against him. I could not see his face, but I felt his breath on my neck.
The beating of my heart was so heavy I feared he would hear it.
"Lady Zelda, please stop this."
I was undone as he spoke my name.
Just as the sun broke through the clouds with light, so had his words revealed what my mind was too blind and naïve to see…
…What my heart had known all along.
My eyes widen and in that moment, I knew...
My right hand then burned so intensely, it seared my bone.
But the pain was nothing to the burning inside my chest.
A torrent of feelings ravaged through me and everything came crashing down.
I pushed Link away from me, wide-eyed. I stared up to him in horror and fled. I heard him calling after me, but I did not stop.
All I could do was run… run away from the truth I did not want to acknowledge.
Tripping over my dress, I rushed past the ballroom and up to my chambers. I slammed the door shut and slumped against its cold surface. Hanging my head in my hands, I tried to stop the uncontrollable tears.
So unwise… do you see now?
How could this be?
I had loved him…all these years…
I was in love with Link.
A princess… in love with her knight.
And all I could do was cower before this powerful force that grew at each heartbeat.
Things could never return to the way it was.
I stumbled away from the door and slowly undressed until I wore nothing but a petticoat. I pulled my hair down and I threw myself on my bed.
My hand still burned and I glowered at it, holding it above my face to look at it.
I traced the shape of the burning and as I did so, it calmed to a mere tingle.
I sighed; unceasing mysteries…
I lay on my bed, lost in a daze, sleep evading me purposefully.
For I could still feel Link's arms around me and the warmth of his embrace.
He had voiced my name… after all this time… even so tenderly.
I suddenly recalled that he had accused me of torturing him… but of what? That I instilled something…
But I could not dare to hope he felt as I.
He was caring one moment and cold the next; the confliction was unbearable. The many sleepless nights had I wept through all those years ago was proof enough.
…Did I have the courage to confront him again?
"It is not proper to sleep in a petticoat, Lady Zelda."
Though I recognized the voice as Impa's, I gasped nevertheless. "I shall never grow used to your sudden appearances, Impa."
She half-smiled at me and held out a night slip. I sighed and stripped the petticoat off.
Impa pulled my blankets down and I obediently slipped under them. "Perhaps you might be inclined to tell me why you left without properly saying goodnight?" she asked with sarcasm; it wasn't a request.
I turned away from her beneath the blankets. "I felt ill."
"Your attempts at deception are terribly poor."
I couldn't summon a laugh. "Be that as it may… I cannot tell you… I hardly know myself."
"Try me," she said without humor.
I sat up, pulling my knees to my chest. "Do you believe… it is possible for your heart to know something you do not?"
Impa's head titled. "I do. Why do you ask?"
"What happens when you become aware of it, and you finally recognize one another? Yet the truth is utterly absurd?"
Impa's smile grew slightly. "Absurd?"
"But even though the heart and mind finally understand… they are still conflicted!"
"Then you must decide which you trust, Lady Zelda. What do you truly believe in?"
"Perhaps the Goddesses can lead you to the right path."
I paused. My impatience for an immediate answer prompted me to object but I caught myself. "Yes… yes you are right."
"Sleep now; it is well past midnight."
I slipped back under the blankets and bid Impa goodnight.
She gently cupped my face in her hands and left my chambers without a sound.
I stood in the courtyard of Malon's manor.
Everything around me was lush and green, and the rolling hills appeared never ending.
Nobody was in sight and I could hear no sound.
I walked around the courtyard until I found familiar ground.
The fenced area Link and the guards had sparred in came into view as I round a rose hedge. I walked over there and could suddenly see a flurry of colors in the distance.
I narrowed my eyes and found the countess standing in the middle of the fenced area. She faced away from me, and I called out to her.
She made no movement and as I neared, she giggled.
I raised an eyebrow and reached out a hand to her.
As I did so, Link suddenly appeared before me, his tunic missing as before.
I blushed heavily and looked away.
He was staring off into the distance, looking away from the countess and me.
The countess giggled again and reached for him.
I opened my mouth to object, and she pressed herself against him improperly.
An intense feeling of anger suddenly swelled within me as the countess greedily caressed his tan skin and well-built physique.
I called Link's name to wake him from his dazed state, but he did not acknowledge me. I called him again, desperate for him to realize the harlot that clung to him.
He slowly turned his head in my direction, still looking past me.
The countess was staring up at him expectantly and finally… Link turned to her.
Though I burned with ferocity, I was overcome with despair. I tried to call his name once more, but could not form the words.
Consumed with betrayal, I fell to my knees.
The last thing I saw was Link gazing lovingly at the countess, lowering his lips to hers.
I woke to the sound of my muffled cries of objection.
I caught my breath and shivered beneath the blankets.
I tried to convince myself it was merely a dream.
I tried to convince myself that I didn't care if Link admired the countess…
…Lying to myself was becoming increasingly harder.
As I lay there, flashes of Link and the countess's intimacy kept reappearing in my mind.
The dream seemed to be more torturous than the nightmares…
Loving him was difficult enough, wasn't my learning of that enough?
It felt as if my heart would shatter from such conflicting feelings that raged within me.
He was my Guardian, my confident…
The thought of him being stolen away by Countess Reala and never seeing him again was unbearable.
I would be consumed by misery if I never felt his sudden, fervent affection again.
…I would die if he ever loved another...
I sighed in frustration and tossed the blankets off.
I had to end this ridiculous worrying before I went mad. I had no patience to wait for tomorrow when I could attend the Temple of Time to ask the Goddesses for guidance.
I had to know if there was the smallest hope he even cared for me in return.
I threw on my robe and quickly left my chambers. Sneaking down the hallways as quietly as I could, I made my way to Link's quarters on the east side of the castle. I took the routes to avoid the guards and arrived at his door some time later.
Taking a deep breath, I softly knocked on his door.
My selfishness would surely be my ruin.
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