Link leaned against the window pane. It was cold to the touch, cooled by the chill of the clear Hyrulean night. He stared into the castle courtyard, the light of the full moon bathing it with a white glow. He could see a seated form on the stone steps in one corner of the yard, the blonde hair giving away the person's identity. Zelda had been sitting, her chin resting in her cupped hands, for as long as he'd been standing at the window watching her.
It had been six months since he had defeated Ganondorf and slowly, they had begun to rebuilt Hyrule. Zelda named him a royal advisor and commander of the Hyrulean army for all that he'd done. He'd seen more action than her men and they were several years older than he was. Link had taken the enormous responsibility with stride, thinking that it couldn't be any worse than having the whole fate of Hyrule resting on his shoulders. With Zelda's help, he slid into the job easily and was well-liked by his soldiers. Yet, despite the new power he sometimes longed painfully for the carefree days with Saria, just fishing and playing in Kokiri Village. He usually shrugged it off, knowing that everyone wished for the past once a while, but he was a special case. Not too many people jumped from being a ten year old to a seventeen year old in five minutes and felt like having aged twenty years. He was beginning to lose sleep over it. All he really needed was a break...just a little bit of fun.
He stared down at the Princess and saw the serious expression on her young face. She, above everyone else, was feeling the pressures from the growing state. Every night, he would see her come out to the courtyard and sit on the steps. She would sit for hours, and he would watch her. Together, though she wasn't aware that he was there, they would watch the sun rise. Even though they were in constant contact, he still wasn't really close to her. The brief bond they had shared after the defeat of Ganon weakened when they were bombarded with the problems they had to fix. She was the only one in the castle who was close to his age, but they barely even talked of anything other than Hyrulean affairs.
"What's wrong, Link?" Navi asked, flittering around his head. She had woken up when he got out of bed, and tried to get back to sleep, but the vibrations emanating from him were far from positive.
"Just thinking," he replied distractedly, his eyes not leaving the Princess.
Navi followed his gaze and smiled to herself. "Why don't you go talk to her?"
"She's got someone hanging on to her skirts every second of the day. I'm sure she wants this time to herself. She hardly has any time for herself these days."
Navi studied the Princess' face. "I don't know, Link. It looks to me like she needs someone to talk to right now. With Impa gone, she has no one to confide in. You're supposed to be her advisor, her right hand. You're exactly who she needs to talk to."
Link looked at the little fairy. "You think so?"
Without another word, he changed from his pajamas to his Kokiri tunic, hat, and boots, and went out to Zelda, taking the stairs two steps at a time. His footsteps stilled as he neared Zelda's bowed head and he hid in the shadows watching her for a moment. She looked so lost and afraid. She held an awesome power in her hands, but she was still only a kid. Hiding out for seven years was nothing compared to what she had to do now.
Zelda grew aware that she was being watched. Her blue eyes narrowed as she discreetly studied her surroundings. Posing as a Sheikah had taught her a few things. She spotted the familiar green tunic caught by a sliver of light. She relaxed and smiled.
"Come out, Link," she called.
The handsome young warrior came out from the shadows, a sheepish smile on his face. "I didn't mean to intrude, Princess. I just saw you from my window and wanted to know if you needed anything."
Zelda took a deep breath. "What I need, you can't give me," she said a bit dramatically.
"Try me." He sat next to her, resting his elbows on his knees.
She mirrored his movements and gazed up at the moon. "I suppose you'd understand best, seeing as you've missed out on the last seven years."
He shrugged. "I don't really think about it," he lied.
She raised an eyebrow. "I'm sure you don't every second, but I can tell it bothers you sometimes, especially when you see how things have changed for the worse."
"Anyone would. I'm not any different."
She let out a heavy breath. "It's hard," she said simply. "It's hard and I'm afraid I'm going to do something else to make things even harder."
Link looked at her sympathetically. "You have to believe in yourself, Princess. I know that sounds really...really..."
"Corny?" she supplied with a small smile.
"Not exactly what I was going for, but you have to admit that what I'm saying is true."
"It's easy to say, but far from easy to do," she said doubtfully.
"Come on, Princess! You brought the end of Ganondorf. It was you that freed Hyrule from his reign. It should be easy from then on."
"It should be easy, but it's not," she said a little petulantly.
"The people have no one else to turn to. If you don't become their pillar of strength, then who are they going to look to for leadership?"
She looked at him. "You."
He was startled at her answer. He didn't expect to hear that from her. "What?"
She fiddled with a lock of her hair and averted her gaze. "They look to your for leadership, Link. Not me. They blame me for this happening in the first place."
He was looking at her as if she had sprouted a second head. "Are you serious? You can't believe that, Princess."
"Is that what you're worried about?" he exclaimed, unsure whether he was going to laugh or cry.
"Not only that," she muttered, but he could tell that it was the foremost thing on her mind.
He chuckled and leaned back on his hands. "Oh, Princess."
"It's not funny!" she choked out. "I can't compete with you!"
He shook his head. "Princess, Princess."
She smacked his chest, annoyed. "Would you stop calling me Princess! Do you know how annoying that word is when it comes out of your mouth!"
Surprised at her tone, Link sat up. "Ok, Zelda. Here's the deal. You suck up your jealousy and act like an adult already. How's that? You're jealous of me! I'm nothing. I'm not royalty, I'm not the one with the magic power here. Turn me into a cuckoo, why don't you!"
Zelda's eyes widened and at first he thought she was going to start yelling bloody murder, but then she began to laugh. She laughed and laughed until tears came out of her eyes. Unable to keep from laughing himself, Link joined her. She held out her hand.
"It's a deal," she said between chuckles.
"You're going to turn me into a cuckoo?" he asked, a smile teasing its way across his lips.
She grinned. "No. I'm going to suck it up, as you put it, and act like an adult. I'm going to stop sulking and get some rest instead of worrying about your sorry butt every night."
"That's better...I think..."
Up in Link's room Navi smiled. The Princess and the warrior sat until the sun rose, just talking and laughing. They renewed the bond that had grown and each became the friend that the other needed. When the cuckoos crowed was when they finally went back to their rooms, but not without a firm handshake.
"If you break the deal, I will not be responsible for my actions," Link joked lightly.
Zelda smiled. "I won't, Link. Thank you." She put a friendly hand on his arm. "I can't seem to stop thanking you, can I?"
He patted her hand and winked rakishly. "No problem, Zelda. What are friends for?"
She nodded. "Indeed. Good day, Link."
He watched her ascend the staircase to her chambers. Whistling lightly to himself, Zelda's lullaby no less, he went back to his room to see if he could catch a few winks before the breakfast bell went off.
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