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Note: This takes place after the events in Ocarina of Time.
Seventeen-year-old Link was on top of the world after having visited his friend, Princess Zelda, at Hyrule Castle. They were no longer friends now-they were engaged to be married. Link had finally gotten the courage to propose to her. They'd seen each other for around six months so far and it was obvious to both of them that they were meant for each other. Zelda had seemed so surprised but had accepted his ring.
Link was happily riding home on Epona. On the way back, he stopped at Lon Lon Ranch to visit his first cousin Malon. That had been a strange development to say the least. Right after Ganondorf's defeat Link had learned that his mother and Malon's mother had been sisters.
"Hi, cousin!" Malon giggled when Link came riding in. "You look awfully happy today!"
"Zelda and I are getting married in six months or so," said Link.
"Oh, congratulations!" Malon exclaimed as she hugged him. "You two make a cute couple!"
"And of course, since you and Uncle Talon are family, you'll be invited," said Link.
"Oh, thank you, Link! I'll have to make something to wear! After all, it will be a wedding between the Princess of Hyrule and the Hero of Time!" Link and Malon chatted for a while, then Link mounted Epona and headed back to his home in the Kokiri Forest.
Zelda sat in the windowsill in her room and sighed. She knew she should be happy. She was going to marry Hyrule's greatest hero. But what would he think of her if he knew? She hadn't even told Impa, her nursemaid, whom she trusted the most. There was only one other person who knew-and he was the one who had made her feel like this. Fortunately, he was sealed in the Evil Realm-she'd put him there herself with Link's help.
Those years as Sheik-she'd purposely disguised herself as a boy, just so he wouldn't find her and try to hurt her even more. Had she not disguised herself, he would have captured her and quite possibly finished what he'd started. The thought of that made her shudder. Then when she'd revealed her true identity to Link, he'd looked at her in the same way he had. No, not quite the same...Link's eyes had held desire, but it wasn't the same. She didn't know how to describe it. His look had been more...innocent.
She couldn't tell Link. He'd never know anyway. It was because she loved him that she wouldn't burden him with her secret, the secret she'd kept for more than seven years.
Link led Epona up to his treehouse in the Kokiri Forest. Saria was standing there. "I trust your visit went pretty well?" she asked.
"Zelda and I are engaged," said Link proudly.
"Oh, that's wonderful!" said Saria. She hugged Link after he dismounted the horse. "You know, you two are meant for each other. I always knew it."
Mido came waltzing up. "Don't you feel funny, being the only adult in this forest?" he asked.
Link looked down at him, his chin in his hand, just studying the Kokiri leader. "Don't you feel foolish trying to get someone mad who's nearly twice your size?" he grinned. Saria giggled. Mido turned beet red and stalked away.
"Looks like he finally got his comeuppance," Saria said, still giggling.
"You're not a little kid anymore, and you're not a Kokiri. Besides, some of us Kokiri feel safer with you around, in case something else happens to the village." She was referring to the time not too long ago, when the village had been overrun with Mad Scrubs, Deku Babas, and Octoroks.
"Well, with Ganon gone I won't even be needed here," said Link. "And if it'll make Mido happy, I'll be out of here in six months or so, when I marry Zelda."
The next week, Link went to see Zelda. "Zelda, darling, what's wrong?" he asked. He could see that she'd been crying.
"Link, I need to break off our engagement," she said.
"Why? What's stopping us from being married?" Link demanded. "Is it because I'm not of royal blood?"
"No, Link, that's not it at all," said Zelda. "I love you more than anything. But I don't think I'm the right girl for you."
"Not the right-Zelda, you're the girl I want!"
"Are you sure? I'm the only girl you've ever fallen in love with," said Zelda.
"So? Zelda, talk to me. What is wrong?"
"I-I can't tell you."
"If I did, you would probably stop loving me."
Link studied her for a long moment. "Zelda, you're trying to push me away right now," he said. He was starting to feel a bit of anxiety. "Please, just tell me, and let me decide for myself. What have you to lose?"
"Promise you'll hear me out?" Zelda asked. "I haven't even told Impa."
"Of course," said Link, leaning forward in his chair and taking her hand.
"It first happened when I was eight years old," Zelda began. "I was-violated."
"No...thank Nayru it never got to that. It was Ganondorf," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "He would come into my room at night...and he would-touch me in certain places.One night when I was ten he actually tried to take my nightgown off me. I started screaming as loud as I could, and he ran from my room. My father thought I was just having a nightmare, and I told him no differently. I thought that it was my fault somehow and maybe it was." Zelda could see the anger burning in Link's blue eyes. "Link...are you mad at me?" she asked.
"No." Link shook his head. "Zelda, why didn't you tell anyone?"
"They wouldn't listen to me when I told them about my suspicions about Ganondorf, why would they believe me about this?" Zelda replied, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Not even Impa knows what I just told you." More tears. "Would you marry a girl like me?"
"Yes," said Link without hesitation. "Because you didn't ask for it. Did you?" He already knew the answer to that; he had to make her see it. Zelda shook her head. "You see, it wasn't your fault. Ganondorf had no business doing that to you. I won't ask you to tell me exactly what he did...you can tell me if you want, but only when you're ready."
"I am still a virgin, Link...but the thought of our wedding night...it makes me so nervous...."
Link got up and knelt before Zelda. He rested his arms across her lap and looked up at her. "I won't make you do anything you don't want to do," he promised. "I'll give you all the time you need. Ganondorf won't be able to hurt you anymore. We took care of that."
"Link, thank you for being so understanding," said Zelda as she smiled down through her tears at him. "I was afraid you'd want nothing to do with me if you somehow found out about this. I was afraid I'd be considered damaged goods."
"I want to thank you for trusting me with this," said Link. "I would only consider a girl to be damaged goods if she willingly had other men-if she was a harlot." He kissed her hand. "Now, do you want to marry me?"
"Yes," said Zelda. "Please, can we keep this secret?"
"I won't tell anyone. But if I were you, I would let Impa know. I'm sure she'd be every bit as understanding," said Link as he stood up.
"Yes, I'll tell her," said Zelda. "Link, you can't imagine what a weight has been lifted off my shoulders just by telling you. I feel so much better now."
"I'm glad you told me," said Link. "I probably would have eventually done something to remind you of that and I would have wondered what it was I'd done."
He helped Zelda to her feet and hugged her tightly. "I'll do everything I can to help you forget that and get over it. You just need to talk to me. We won't let Ganondorf reach out from the Evil Realm and put a damper on things, will we?"
"Sounds like you have the Triforce of Wisdom instead of me," Zelda said in an attempt to joke. "You're right. I won't let him come between us." She gave Link a kiss. "I must have done something good, to have a man like you. I was only wanting to spare you some frustration."
"Zelda, it's because I love you more than life itself that I am more than willing to deal with it," said Link. "It's because I love you that I want to help you forget about that and move on. No matter how long it takes. Even if it takes a lifetime, I'll stand by you." Zelda cried on his shoulder, happy because she was going to marry such a selfless young man. He would help her banish Ganondorf from her thoughts and dreams, just as he'd helped her banish him to the Evil Realm.
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