"Link Has A Voice"
-by Post Rapture
At age thirteen, she possessed an amazing beauty only fitting for grownups. The way she stood and the beams in her eyes held firm to a stillness of determination that youth rarely reflects. Of course, Princess Zelda wasn't quite a normal child; not as much as royalty was concerned, but rather due to her mysterious clairvoyance and banks of wisdom.
She stood atop the great walls of Hyrule City on that cloudy morning, staring out beyond the gates and at the emerald sea of grass that danced and sang beneath the gray horizon. The princess was attired in her 'weather clothes' (merely a light wolfos-skin cloak hung about her ornate figure), and judging by the fervent glow of her sapphire eyes it was obvious that the threat of rain hardly phased her countenance.
Zelda's vision burned the silhouette of the hills against the white sky in some form of anxiety. With each subsequent visit that Link paid to the castle, she missed him all the more in between. Indeed, they were just children, but the depths and widths they went through were far more unifying than what most young couples in her day had experienced.
When Zelda was at age ten, she had dreamt terrifying visions as to the fate of her kingdom. It became her belief that the Gerudo King, Ganondorf, would bring certain doom to the Sacred Realm and the land of Hyrule too. She needed a way to eliminate his plan, and that's when Link came from the southern forests to aid her. The two got themselves mixed into an adventure that lasted seven years, and ended with Ganondorf's defeat upon his own lair of corruption. When all evil was defeated down the strains of ages, Link and Zelda's consciousness were sent back in time, reversing all the destruction that had previously fermented.
Since then, the hero and heroine of Hyrule reunited every month or so to continue their young friendship and with hopes of keeping the land safe from future evil. They had great respect and admiration for each other, something that was happily observed by others all around the palace.
A set of footsteps announced Impa's presence behind Zelda's back. Yet, she didn't turn around. She knew Impa was there, after all, and her eyes were stubbornly locked to Hyrule Field.
"Yes, Impa?" she uttered, a golden thread or two kicking out at the wind from beneath her cloak.
"Just checking on you, your highness," spoke the Sheikah guard. She kneeled at Zelda's right side and joined her in staring out at the horizon. "Looks to rain. If Link doesn't come soon enough, I have direct orders from your father the King to keep you from catching a cold!"
Zelda chuckled a bit. "Sometimes I don't know what I'd do without you worrying about me."
Impa smiled, "Me neither."
"Link will come," the princess spoke with an added breath. She adjusted her cloak and rubbed her sleeves. Catching cold......Impa's worries might come true if she stayed out there too long. But she continued, "He's late on some of his visits. You know that. After all, it's quite a long distance between here and the forest."
"You trust that he'll arrive safely, I'm sure," Impa commented.
"Well, of course," Zelda never stopped staring out in front of her. "He handles any situation as well as the best trained soldier. Even if something did happen to him, I trust he'll wriggle out of whatever danger it is."
Impa nodded. "Quite so."
There was a considerable round of silence. The princess and her guard weren't the type of personalities who needed a talking voice each waking minute of life to feel safe.
Before a murderous minute fell, Impa's neck craned up, her eyes twitched, and her lips smiled. "He's arrived, your highness."
For a split second, Zelda actually glanced at her. It was an amazed glance. But she quickly looked back out at the horizon. And indeed there was quite a familiar speck making its way towards the city, much greener than the rest of the field.
The royal girl smiled. "Shall we meet him?"
"We shall," Impa stood and walked the princess down the steps leading towards the gate entrance.
As Zelda descended, her eyes ran across the wall separating her and the approaching form of Link. But already in her mind, she could picture his snug green hat hugging a loose rim of yellow hair, shading a pair of dim blue life, and finished with a smile that was worth the kingdom she watched him save. After turning and walking onto the drawbridge, she realized that her vision was confirmed. Link stood before her.
"My, aren't we a late Link today?" she exclaimed with a princessy pout that even made Impa chuckle. Zelda gave a playful smirk, her arms crossed and lungs huffed. "I'll catch my death of cold out here waiting for my best friend!"
Link knew she was toying with him, but there was always some bashful cloud over him. Zelda had always known it; a veritable overcast of naiveté and innocence that kept the hero of him wandering around blindly along a cliffside. Only when the waves crashed the highest did he ever leap into the water like a roaring lion, and what a lion he could be.
A considerable pond of red ran over the tops of his cheeks, and Link produced a miniature smile. It was then that Zelda knew how much she'd miss his company. That smile...
"I'm only kidding with you," she assured, as if her 'acting' needed it. "You must have been on quite a journey, what with all this weather. Tell me...did it rain on you at all?"
He gave a modest, but quick nod. A few loose drops flew from his--as Zelda suddenly noticed--damp hair.
She grimaced at herself. "I see. I'm sorry, I wish I could have foretold the weather, just as I do for all other things."
Link chuckled, but then a tiny bright head peeked out from the green cloth that made his cap.
"Are we there yet?" inquired a high, feminine voice. "OH! We are!"
Zelda nodded, "Greetings, Navi."
"And to you too, your highness," the blue faerie flitted out from beneath's Link's hat. She hovered in mid-air, stretching her porcelain legs. Navi had obviously been napping atop her Kokiri friend. "I hope it's somewhat dry inside the palace."
"Oh, I can assure you of that."
"You seem taller since last time."
"Everything seems taller than you," Zelda smirked.
"Ah yes....the sage of wisdom," Navi settled on Link's right shoulder. "I wonder if Rauru will enlist a sage of wisecracks?"
Zelda tucked some golden hair back beneath her cloak. "If he does, I'll be sure to mention him to you."
"Ha ha...very funny," Navi chirped. "Anyways...now that we're here." She tapped on Link's ear, and his eyes turned to her. "Now!" she whispered.
Link nodded, and with a solemn grace he knelt down and bowed low before Zelda, while Navi curtsied atop his descending shoulder. Impa smiled and Zelda giggled.
"Now! What's this? Belated reverence?"
Navi glanced up, smiling. "It was my idea."
"Well, I'm glad it's not Link's. I distinctly remember telling him I didn't need that from him."
Link glanced at his faerie. She shrugged. "Well, to each his own." Re-tapping his ear, she said, "That's enough."
The boy in green stood back up, looking twice as sheepish before the blue pixie even appeared.
"She's got you on a leash, hasn't she, boy?" Impa spoke to Link, her arms folded. "I know a handful of young men your age who wouldn't settle for that."
"Yeah, well how many of them got guardian faeries?" Navi boasted, leaning casually against Link's neck. "The forest is a whole lot more child-threatening than a city with royal guards and such. Back home, you never know when a deku baba will pop out at the latrine during a morning walk!"
Zelda grimaced, "Well...we certainly don't have to worry about those things here."
Link glanced at Navi, his hand flat out.
"What is it?" she asked.
He stuck a few of his right hand fingers through his left and made a symbol for her.
Navi blinked. "Rain? I haven't felt any ye--" PLOP! A drop hit her square on the forehead. Be it a small droplet of water, it just about soaked her entire head. The look of surprise on her face was priceless. Link giggled.
"Hahah...let's head in," Impa said, turning to walk the princess back through the gates.
"Well...you two can come if you want," Zelda said. "Unless you'd like to be reunited with the thunderclouds you met earlier."
The two forest dwellers were left standing as Zelda and Impa walked off.
"Heh........," Navi huffed, wringing out her soaked, blue hair. "Sage of wisdom, my a--"
Link cleared his throat.
"What? Oh...yeah...let's follow them."
Link smiled and did just that.
"Impressive!" Impa remarked, her violet eyes actually widening to an extent. She stood over the small frame of Link. The young boy reached back to a quiver of arrows slung over his back and reloaded his bow. Fifteen meters ahead of him was a round target made from a cedar's midsection painted with red and white. His last shot had been merely two fingers' distance from the center, and Impa was realizing how great an idea it was to be practicing archery with him on the palace meadow. The Kokiri hero had an aim that surpassed most markswoman and marksman--well, as much as Impa had seen. And she had seen a lot, and had trained herself to be better than all whom she had seen. There was something in her that was happy to be frightened--even in the smallest sense--by the prodigious talent of Link that afternoon, whether it be her pride or her respect. For every warrior, there is a balance of might.
Link didn't give Impa even three seconds to comfortably think on all this. In one breath, he aligned the arrow, aimed, and released. It was so swiftly done that the flying sceptre barely made a swish in the wind.
It struck target---dead bullseye.
Link breathed in finally. He swiftly turned and looked straight up at Impa. Deadpan. Impa noted that, after having accomplished a remarkable feat like he had, any other boy would have borne some grin or smirk of gloating superiority. But Link was quite different. Unusual, yes, but unusually good. He awaited whatever remark would come from the observer, whether good or bad, and he would express himself accordingly.
Impa gave him what she knew he deserved. "Link, the next time the palace is plagued with thirteen guays. I'll give you ten arrows to get them all."
He smiled, and his eyes trailed down; he considered her flatter far too above him. Half-looking, he handed the quiver over to the royal attendant.
"Don't mind if I do," she said. Taking the quiver, she removed an arrow and let the rest of them sit on the ground, leaning against a post. She produced her own bow, an ivory-splendor of Sheikah-warrior days. "You certainly have your own way of hitting the mark, Link. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you did teach yourself?"
"I thought as much," she squinted at the bullseye. "Precise may be your technique...but it's still not the conservative technique." She tightened the back of the arrow against the string and aligned the neck of it within a groove of the bow made from constant use. It was her personally-crafted mark of precision. "It's important to pay attention to how your friends and foe release arrows, so that you may assist or react accordingly."
"I've taught royal guards to aim at the target first, like this," she did so. "Then judge the wind by sway of grass besides the target."
"And then look at the grass between the target and you," she glanced at him. "Oftentimes, an arrow does not take one or two directions, but usually three."
He stared at her the whole time. There was learning in his eyes, and when Impa saw it, she knew she was getting through to him.
"All of that must be calculated in two seconds at tops, if you want to hit a still target without getting your heart pierced itself." And with that, she released with the grace of water. Even in mid-launch, the 'teacher's' fell. Her arrow was not silent, like Link's.
But it hit bullseye.
Link clapped his hands with a grin.
Impa lowered the bow and pointed her free finger at him, "Remember. In combat, there's no time for applause."
He nodded fervently. It was quite obvious that he knew that. Impa was glad.
Navi stood, her tiny legs planted barefoot on a windowsill. Her azure eyes swam out the open window of the fourth palace floor, beneath which Impa and Link could easily be seen taking their turns at the archery practice.
Sitting in a plush chair beside her and the open window was Zelda, her eyes burning holes in one of her many, priceless books.
The pretty pixie continued watching the two warriors--young and old--until she took in a breath and said, "It's a good thing it's not raining anymore. The last time Link shot arrows in the rain, I had to watch over a flu victim for a week!"
"Well, you gotta admit," Zelda said, half absorbed in the literature. "...he is rather resilient."
"Resilient, yes," Navi sighed. "But not invulnerable. And even if he was, he'd still drive me crazy."
"It must be an interesting task to watch over him," Zelda said, flipping a page. "You probably know more about the boy than anyone else."
"Bah," Navi smirked. "That's Saria's job....praise be to Farore!"
Zelda giggled, still stuck to the book. "Is he terrible at times?"
"Terrible, no," Navi said, walking to the edge of the window sill with dance-like strides of her legs. "But he IS a boy."
"Heh...I get you," the princess replied.
There was a bit of silence. Navi quietly played a balancing act on the edge of the sill, her wings twitching every now and then to keep her tiny body steady.
Zelda's chamber lay quiet as it always did. It was rather archaic and lifeless, and it took the members inside to give it whatever breath that a castle could hold. Zelda was the latest in such generations, and she fought her best to not blend in with the walls. Maybe that's why she admired Link so.
It was with great strength that she tore her face from the book and stared at Navi.
"When you both talk...," she said, rather softly. ".....does Link ever have...a personality in his words?"
Navi swiveled on her heel and froze into a bird-like poise. "Personality?? He does symbols with his hands, your highness."
"I know....but...I've never actually experienced what it's like to communicate so heavily with another person in that manner," Zelda spoke, her eyes tracing the lush, royal carpet. "Ever since I met Link, I couldn't help but dream that somewhere inside that person of his is a voice just dying to get out....a voice that's about as happy and daring as his face shines to those around him."
"Very compassionate of you, Zelda," Navi said, balancing. "But Link.....well....I dunno. I guess he isn't just ready for that yet. I mean...he's certainly not a baby. You look at him and you see how much of a tiger he is inside. He took down a giant monster pig, for crying out loud!"
The faerie did a flip, and her wings caught flight in mid-air. She acrobatically fluttered over and sat cross-legged on Zelda's book, looking straight up at her from the lap where it resided.
"Look, I follow Link around just like his own scent. I've heard him laugh out loud. I've felt the shakes of his screams when fighting Din-knows-what monster. Even on a few nights, I sense the shudders coming from his throat as he cries in his sleep. He's got a voice, Zelda. But that voice of his is...well...."
Navi hugged herself, her eyes staring off for thought. She looked up at the princess like a cornered mouse. "The voice is....all the more beautiful where it is...hidden. Just like his swordsmanship. Both talents are placed away where they're dragged out only when they're needed. Just think of it as Link's balance of sanity. His fighting comes out to save Hyrule. His voice....well....I think it's waiting till his life will turn upside down and actually need it."
Zelda breathed in, and gave a solemn nod. "You're very introspective, Navi. I wonder if Saria would say the same as you do."
Navi smiled, her wings fluttering to life behind her back. "Saria taught me all the best....and she taught Link too."
"I...I just can't help but think...," Zelda looked out the window; at the little boy hitting targets and listening to her attendant. "....think that he's getting very little of a world that could only help him enjoy life more."
"Like what, Zelda?" Navi said with a curious cock of the head.
The princess looked down, swallowing. "My world."
Two days passed, and the time couldn't have been more peaceful. Mostly during which, Link spent practicing more archery, riding one or two of the royal horses, and practicing his reading skills (rusty as they were for any frequent traveler). Both Zelda and Impa were amazed at the depths he'd go to keep himself active.
"Well of course!" Navi smirked one evening. "How else can he reduce himself to the twig-waist that he's got? Ha ha ha--OW!" Zelda had whacked the pixie with a thimble.
In the meantime, Zelda put herself hard at work. She spent hours in the library, burning through whatever collection the palace had of books on socialization. The princess came across a few intriguing journal entries of an old scientist who came up with a steady way of communicating with those who were mute. She had previously heard of hand symbols and signs used amongst the population of Hyrule who were unable to speak, but never before had she ever utilized it.
As long as she'd known Link, she felt as if the two of them had their own basis of communication. She had a mind full literature and flowery words, and Link had an archive of smiles and expressions. Whenever the young hero would visit her, she'd have a few sheets of leftover scrollpaper leftover so that they could communicate by quill and ink. The words he had to say (or in this case, write) were as much as she could have expected; honest and sincere.
But never could Zelda simply shake the strangeness of Link's condition. He yelled in battle, yawned when tired, and moaned when sick. Something inside him--viral or restricting--simply crushed the hopes of any words before they had a chance of leaving his mouth. It was so unfair--she sighed. But soon, the bridge of his anxiety would be crossed. She had often promised herself that.
To her luck, she found a page of keys that explained various hand symbols and the words or meanings they stood for. For a full afternoon and the following night, she studied them with the royal earnesty that only a princess could devote. The next morning, when Navi came fluttering in through the window to visit, Zelda was grinning and ready to unleash a coded welcome.
She held her hand flat out, and the pixie stopped in mid air. With a few well-planned gyrations and wriggles of the fingers, the princess 'spoke' out loud: "Did you have a good sunrise, little faerie?"
Smiling, the princess awaited Navi's reaction. The blue sprite stared at her, a curious cock of the head.
"............what in the heck was that??"
Zelda practically jumped. "Wh-what?! You didn't understand that?"
Navi giggled. "Looks like they're growing too many mushrooms in the garden, your highness."
"I....I-I studied all night to get that down!" the princess just about pouted. "Are you telling me you didn't get a word I said--er....motioned??"
"You're saying some cucco wrote that gibberish down in a book?" Navi gawked. "Honey, I'm really touched that you'd do all that to learn a language beyond voice...but you made only one little mistake."
"Wh-What's that?" Zelda shuttered.
"Erm....th-the language that Link and I use," the pixie practically blushed, "...was sorta made up."
"Made up?" remarked the princess, her eyebrow raising confusedly.
"I m-mean," Navi sighed, fluttering down to a tabletop, "...It's a real language and all...only..."
Zelda managed a smile. "Homemade?"
Navi nodded. "Saria made it up with him. And when I became Link's guardian faerie, I followed suit."
"Ah...leave it to Saria to create a whole new tongue."
"Whatever," Zelda sighed and slumped her disappointed self down into the chair before Navi. "But wow.....did he really not speak that long ago?"
Solemnly, Navi nodded.
Zelda rested for a second. She blinked at the suddenly dim world, then spoke, "I wonder if I'll ever figure it all out."
"Figure what all out?"
"Nothing," Zelda shrugged. Then, "Where's Link right now?"
Navi yawned with a stretch, replying, "He was in Hyrule Town, last time I checked. He visits the shops...looks like he knows a few people there."
The princess smiled, "Oh really? That's nice."
"He's making sure to visit them a lot now," Navi said, leaning back on the tabletop. "They helped him a lot during...well...you know....the quest."
"I know," nodded Zelda. "Well...if you see Link...um..."
"Supper time?" Navi smirked.
"Er...yeah," Zelda stuttered. "I-I mentioned it to him before. I-I'd like for him to join me....if th-that's all right..."
Navi giggled a tiny giggle. "Call it a date."
"Not a date!!" the princess folded her arms and upturned a nose. "An invite..."
"Ahhh....I see," Navi nodded. A beat. "So, a date it is."
The princess tossed up her arms, having given up, and she wandered over to the window. "Well....at least Link's happy here. I mean...he sure looks it. The way he smiles and all." She started looking at the windowpane more than what was outside. Navi watched the entire time. "But are those smiles real?" the royal girl thought aloud. ".....Does Link smile inside, I wonder...."
Navi blinked. She took a breath. "Y-You really want to know Link better, don't you?"
Zelda looked over with the sort of eyes that repeated the obvious.
Navi nodded. With a flit of wings, she hovered up in the air, glowing vigorously as she said, "....I think I can help you."
The princess was the first to arrive at the dinner hall that evening. She was earlier for a purpose, and as she sat in waiting for Link's arrival, her fingers danced beneath the table and her lips mouthed invisible words with them.
The last three hours were spent with Navi, for the small sprite had relented to teach Hyrule's princess the secret language crafted by Saria and Link. By using a simple structure of names and subjective pronouns, Navi taught Zelda the basis she needed to know so as to say three or four phrases to Link during and after dinner.
Being the sage of wisdom that she was, the princess learned quickly. And as the last few minutes rolled over, she took her seat at the end of the table with a firm confidence that easily defeated any aching hunger she may have had prior to then.
Nevertheless, the elegant girl's body took a startled jump when the nearby door clicked open and the small, blond figure of Link tentatively stepped in.
Zelda looked, and she giggled.
Link blushed, for he had apparently prepared himself especially for that supper. His usual green garb had been replaced by a smooth, burgundy tunic with dark brown slacks. He looked like the son of a lord; a status that was so ridiculously un-Link that Zelda found it amusing.
"Why...aren't we nice looking, today?" she couldn't help but chirp.
He smiled modestly and began to give Zelda his trademark bow--but a look of warning from her sapphire eyes prevented him, and he stood at ease.
Zelda hopped down from her chair and approached him. "You didn't need to go through all that trouble. I only want you to be comfortable in this palace."
The forest boy shrugged.
"Whose idea was it?" Zelda asked. A wicked thought hit her, and she frowned. "Navi?"
Link's head shook, and he formed a circle in his left hand fingers, raising them between his eyes.
"Ohhh," Zelda recognized the reference immediately. "Impa's idea? Hehehe."
Link nodded, smiling sheepishly.
The princess decided--whether it was through impatience or strategy--that then would be the best time to do what she had been waiting hours to do.
Holding her palm flat out, she caught Link by surprise. He stared, blinking, as she suddenly produced a volley of finger and hand movements in a manner that was meant to say, "Sit down. Food comes in little time."
When she was finished, she looked for a reaction on the Kokiri boy's face.
Link merely stared at her, as if dumbfounded. For a second, Zelda feared that she was making her second clumsy error of the day. But then, like a spring flower, one of the sweetest smiles-ever came out from his face. And she knew that she had struck center. But just to make sure, she smiled and kept her hands steady enough to repeat, "Sit down."
Link nodded, walked over to the opposite end of the table, and sat down.
"Aha!" Zelda gasped, her hands clasped together in spontaneous joy. "So you understood me?? Great!!"
Link nodded, and suddenly attacked Zelda from afar with a blur of moving hands and fingers.
"..........," the princess stood there, blinking. Whoops, she thought. Maybe this won't work...
But Link could see that he had lost her. So with a silent 'Oh', he smiled and repeated the same thing in a manner as if he was trying to simplify his previous 'speech'.
Zelda watched closer this time, and she could recognize half of the things said to be among the words Navi had taught her. "Why...should...I sit...before...the...girl?"
"Ohhh, aren't you the gentleman?" Zelda crept over and sat back on her side of the table. Hehe...he's a smart one, she thought. Later, the princess would look back at that evening and wonder why she wasn't so frozen to have just heard the first words from Link's mind...ever.
Link smiled from across the table, and he did a few more motions. Zelda looked hard--as best as she could from the distance between them--and she detected the words, "Did...teach.....words?"
"Navi taught me," Zelda nodded. "You...d-don't mind, do you?"
He shook his head, smiling still.
Man...is this kid an endless bank? thought the princess.
She composed herself and carefully performed another sentence with her hands. "You want food now?"
Link replied with a single diagonal stroke of his two left fingers. "Yes".
"Allright," she said verbally. She shook a small bell that was sitting upright on the corner of the table, and two servants came in with the pre-cooked edibles. It took them about a minute and a half to set things perfectly, and once they had left, Link and Zelda could begin with their meal.
Zelda was already into her salad, her eyes glancing over at the main course--succulent deku baba meat. Link was from the Kokiri forest, so she knew that he'd enjoy it.
"I hope you like the meal," she stated between gentle bites of salad. "I suggested it with you in mind."
When she looked across the table, she was rather surprised to see Link sitting still. He had his salad before him, as well as his fork and spoon and knife to the side. But he seemed worried, as if he shouldn't indulge in the appetizer and meal before him.
"Link??" Zelda asked. "What's the matter? Are you n-not familiar with salad?"
Link merely looked up. His eyes were hallow and his face blank. Eventually, the forest boy swallowed, and in a nervous manner he rose his hands and symboled something out to the princess. "I...can not.....eat....good....like...you."
The royal daughter was rather perplexed by this. "You can't eat like me?" she remarked in curiosity. "Why....whatever makes you say that, Link?"
The forest boy stared back at her with nature's eyes, and she suddenly was reminded as to how foreign and awkward he must have felt inside this castle. The walls were not trees, and the carpet not soil. Zelda had to admit, each and everyday it was a struggle for him to adapt to this setting, rather than the forest he was used to roughing it in.
The princess examined herself. She was holding two forks in each hand. Link was practically sitting on his hands, and his food was untouched. Pretty soon, the wisdom sage had unraveled the mystery.
"You...don't know how to use forks, do you?" she asked.
Link blushed and looked down. Zelda knew she had hit the spot.
She smiled, "Link, that's nothing to be ashamed of. You just haven't ever used them back at the forest. I-I'm sorry that I overlooked that in consideration of you. But just imagine if I went to your place and you asked me to spear a deku scrub?"
He smiled slightly, and at least he was put at ease.
"So....," she placed her own forks down and folded her hands together--meanwhile casting a fluttering smile at her guest. "...would you like me to teach you?"
He shrugged, scratched his head, then motioned. "Is....bad....for....you?"
"Hey! It's no problem!" Zelda chuckled. She got up from behind her side of the table and walked gracefully over to Link. He attempted to scoot out of his position, but she placed a hand on his shoulder, "No, just stay there. I'm gonna show you."
She did exactly that, taking the fork in her hand and placing it correctly within Link's. She personally moved his fingers while verbally explaining it all. It seemed silly to teach someone her age how to use a fork, but Link was special. He was a faerie child, and had talents in his own light that nobody else could surely master.
Zelda couldn't help but noticed how cold Link's fingers truly were. They twitched every other second or so around the fork, as if in a desperate fight against the necessity to shiver. The princess couldn't help but wonder; had Link ever experienced a long term feeling of warmth and security in his life?
"There now," Zelda said after a while, having fixed the fork correctly in his hand. "Pick some food like I showed you."
He did so, and pinned himself a few leaves of lettuce salad. He looked at her as he lifted the morsel to his mouth and ate.
"See?? Simple as that," she smiled. She glanced over to the main course. "The meat you could probably eat with your fingers, like Navi tells me you do in the forest. But here in the palace, we have to use both a fork and a knife." She looked back at Link, and froze.
Link had the fork stuck in his mouth, his hand free. Looking utterly ridiculous, he reached up and pulled it out with a gasp. As if about to cry from embarrassment, he gently looked into her eyes.
".......," Zelda stared. She then fell into a deep abyss of uncontrollable giggles. Link smiled. The princess continued laughing, holding a hand over her heart and another on Link's chair just so to keep herself from teetering back.
Link giggled to, his face red. In unifying laughter, you'd think the two were never separated by royalty.
And it wasn't even the main course yet.
After dinner, Zelda invited Link to a walk in the royal gardens. It was far larger than the courtyard, where the princess daily loved to spend her reading time. Gravel paths lead a circuit of walking space throughout a dense mosaic of flowerbeads, deku fronds, and sheltering trees all within their adult, green glory.
Link happily agreed, and one would imagine that there was some invisible life inside of him that fed off of the aura of a princess' presence. He hardly said no to things that Zelda wanted to do, and she knew that--and she was no way near considering the idea of taking advantage of him. Because, just like him, she held an unspoken admiration and awe for the significant other of the pair. He was the green-blooded hero, and she was the blue-blooded monarch. And together, they had saved an entire land. Hardly was there ever a paired existence as splendid as Link and Zelda's.
This garden walk was quite a bit more special than their previous ones, for not only had Zelda sparkled the evening by breaking the silence between her and her best friend, but Link was pausing the two in their steps to teach Zelda the meaning behind the various objects they encountered. When they passed a bench along the garden path, he pointed toward it and folded Zelda's fingers so as to follow his example of what gesture could be used in interpretation. This, he also did for the flowers--then the different kind of flowers. He also taught Zelda the hand-motion used to represent trees, and how Saria made up a whole bank of 'words' for what can be done in trees (a helpful thing for Kokiri, who have about a million uses for each element of flora).
Zelda was more than enlightened; she was amused. These few weeks of Link's visit had brewed within her the desire to teach him all sorts of things foreign to the woodlands boy. Instead, it turned out that the mute lad was giving her a full lesson for the extremity of that evening. Sure, the fork-eating was her part, but Link had certainly taken the reins that evening, and Zelda couldn't possibly have felt happier. Learning from Navi how to 'speak' in Link's language was one thing, but to learn it from him was all the more special.
At one point, Link had offered Zelda a seat on a bench and was in the middle of--as far as Zelda could interpret--teaching her how to describe stars, clouds, and the moon with one's hands. Above the garden, there was a full view of the night's sky, and Link had a few references to point to.
Zelda couldn't resist one question that was in her mind. So she interrupted Link with an open palm held out. He sat absolutely silent, expecting her to motion what he was teaching her. Instead, she pointed right at his chest.
"??" Link looked at her, confused.
Zelda giggled. "What's your name, Link? In signs?"
Link made an 'Oh!' with his mouth, and smiled as he held both of his hands up, parallel to each other. He stuck the pointing and middle finger out till they touched the other hand's pair. It was a short touching of the four fingers, and he lowered his hands with a simper.
"That simple?" Zelda asked. She blinked, then gasped, "Ohhh...I get it. Like a chain."
He chuckled and nodded. Again, Zelda wondered whatever kept him from vocalizing, if he could laugh or cry. But something else came to her mind.
"Do I have a name?" she touched her fingers together just like he did, "Link?"
He looked at her, then pointed curiously.
"Yeah, me," she giggled.
Link blushed. He had been doing a lot of that lately, but this blush took the cake. As he scratched his neck--nervously--it became obvious to Zelda that he had an answer, but was reluctant to tell it.
She spoke, "I-If you don't have a sign for me, that's fine. I wouldn't be offe--"
He shook his head and held his palm out. She watched as he pointed at her, swallowing. He then placed his hand firmly over his heart, crossed his index and middle finger, and then uncrossed them.
Zelda stared, her mouth slightly agape. "....That's......Th-that's me?"
Link breathed in. He lowered the hand from his heart, and nodded.
The princess blinked. Then with a gently forming smile, "Aww....that's such a nice one. Did you make that symbol up yourself?"
He had as sheepish smile, so Zelda didn't need him to respond.
"I wish I'd known that before," Zelda spoke, her hands folded together. "I-I mean...I wish I'd known all of this before. I've so wanted to actually be able to talk to you, Link." He watched her intently as she spoke. "Ever since the seven year debacle," she continued, "...you've been.....no, you are the closest friend I've known. Not only do I desire to see you more, but I remember all I owe you for the things you've done to save this land. And you know what? I don't regret it one bit. Because you're such a great person, Link. You really are."
Link's eyes had long trailed to the corner of the garden by now. Though he seemed highly flattered at the princess' words, there was an obvious space between them. He finally looked over, with emotion in his eyes, and blurred out a rapid sentence with his hands.
Zelda couldn't possibly read it all. "L-Link...please, slow down. I-I don't know what you're saying."
He stopped, thought a bit, then tried again.
Still, Zelda was in the dark. "I-I-I'm so sorry, Link. Those w-words you're trying to make out, I've not l-learned them yet--." She broke up, her eyes trailing down. Zelda felt so ashamed. It hurt her to not be able to cross the threshold of their friendship.
Glancing over with weary eyes, she was somewhat shocked to see that Link too was defeated. His eyes sank like black stars, and his body hung over in a lifeless pause.
The words came out of Zelda's mouth without her even knowing it. She had the power to stop, yet she didn't. "Link...," she breathed. "It's not your fault that you can't speak."
He looked up at her, weakly.
"I know it...I just do, Link," she said. She placed a soft hand on his shoulder, and he looked at it. "Something happened to you. Something must have...and it broke your will to do that which you could have. Every time I see you, there's that sweet smile on your face. But in between the curved lines is this skin that's graying each and every visit. I know it eats away at your life, but Link, I'd love to help you learn what it is that's plagued you before it has a chance to eat at your soul."
He stared into her eyes, then fell back to the ground. With a slight shiver, he stiffened up and his lips moved. Zelda didn't need to think twice to know what he mouthed.
"You know, Link?" she asked.
He brought his hands to his eyes and surrendered to the darkness beneath his cupped fingers.
Zelda wouldn't let him escape. "Link....please.....I must know. If someone else besides you learns what it is, you won't be alone anymore!"
His eyes peaked up from behind his fingers.
"Yes, that's right," the princess smiled sweetly, her hand gently stroking his shoulder for comfort. "I'll be there with you. And with two or more gathered together, who knows what prayers could be answered?"
He simply stared at her. Zelda could see every inch of his spirit begging for her, yet hiding behind the quietness that sucked his heart. So it was without much hesitance that Zelda decided to go ahead with her own brand of rescue operation.
"Link...," Zelda gently took both of his hands and looked him in the eyes. He looked back; no will to fight back. "I'm going to perform something which Impa has taught me. Being of such blue Hylian blood that I am, only I and a few other nobles in this land can do it. I've been told that it should be used for only the direst of situations. And Link, your troubles are very important to me. Because you're my dearest friend, and I'd give anything to keep you from living another day in an invisible prison."
Link nodded very slowly. He was with her on this.
"Listen to me," she said slowly and firmly. "I...am going to use my powers to read into your mind...but only traced to your past. This won't be my first time doing something like this, believe it or not I've had experience. I'm going to locate the center of your muteness, then trace back the roots to where it originates. Only then, can I be educated as to what you know or even don't know to be the cause. Are you ok with this, Link?"
Again, he nodded. He tried to give a smile, but it was a tired one.
"Hold your hands to my head, Link," she said, guiding his fingers so that they rested gently on her temples. She then raised her own hands and held the palms, one gently atop another, across his forehead. "Now.....keep silent. Breathe in twice, then let it out and relax."
He obeyed. He breathed once.
Zelda closed her eyes. Her muscles held tense for just a second.
He breathed twice.
She let loose of all muscles and concentrated. A light blue glow ran around her limbs, and nothing was holding her in position save magic itself.
Zelda felt the world melt all over her. It was neither hot nor cold. Real or fake. Physical or.......
The little boy ran along the bank of a forested river. His little legs scurried like his foxes. His eyes traced the raging waters till they found...her.
"Link!!" called Saria from the river. Her head bobbed underwater, and when she came up she sputtered and gasped, trying to tread through the raging currents. "Don't jump in after me!!"
"Saria!!" little Link cried. He was four, he was small, and he was very afraid for his best friend. "Don't die!! Please!!"
"Go get the others!!" Saria gasped. She jerked to her right and flung her arm out. She caught a hanging root along the side of the canal, which held her in the rapids however roughly. "Go Link!! I'll be ok!! Just get the others! They'll help!!"
Link nodded, his face wet with panicked tears. "Ok, Saria! Don't die!" He ran off like a comet down the forest, farther from the raging thunder of the rapids. Farther from the image of lovely Saria, struggling in the waters. He cried as he ran. His heart hurt as a million images of Saria's drowning flew through his head.
It felt like an eternity before he finally bolted into Kokiri village. He searched around vigorously with his eyes, but he quickly saw Dore and Dila, the oldest and middle Know-It-All brothers. They were sharpening deku sticks as he ran up.
"Well, if it isn't Saria's mouse?" Dila smirked. "You look exhausted. How many owls been chasing you today, squirt?"
"P-Please....you must help!!" Link panted. "I-It's Saria!! I'm afraid she might drown!!"
"Drown??" Dore questioned. He put down his stick and stood up before the four-year-old, dusting himself off. "What do you mean?"
"We were fishing by the lake for crawfish!!" Link hiccuped. "And she leaned in too far and fell over!! I tried to catch her...but she fell into the water!! Now she's in the rapids, and....she might drown! She told me to get the others! She might drown!"
"Holy crud...," Dore grabbed his hair, then spun around and barked at his brother, "Dila!! Fetch Sofa and Mido!! Bring them to the river!!" He turned again and grabbed Link's little shoulders. "Listen....you take me to the river the same way you came! Got it?!"
"Y-Yes!" Link nodded, still in tears. He shot back the same way he came, and Dore followed as quickly as lightning.
Trees blurred by, and Link could feel between the earthquake of his heaving lungs that the rumbling river was approaching, and soon Dore outran him and emerged into the clearing. He must have immediately seen Saria, for without pausing for a breath, the Know-It-All dove straight into the foamy water.
Link ran up to the edge and gasped. He stared everywhere, but there was no sign of either two forest children. Then, like the sea giving birth, two dark heads burst through the watery surface. Dore howled in a breath of air and swam over with the damp form of Saria in his grasp.
He climbed up the steep bank and hoisted the girl's body up. "G-Grab her!!" he wheezed.
Link ran over quickly and took Saria's shoulders, pulling with a grunt. The two managed to heave her up onto dry ground. She was waterlogged all over, and a considerable puddle of liquid formed at his mouth.
Once Dore climbed up the bank, he saw her like that for the first time. "Dear Deku...," he ran over and plopped to his knees, pressing his pointed ear to her chest. Link watched.
"Augh!" Dore growled. "She's still alive...but...blast it! Where are the others?!"
Surely enough, a series of running footsteps came up from behind. Link looked over, and through his glossy eyes he could make out Mido, Dila, and Sofa sprinting up to Dore and Saria's limp body.
"Whoah!! Is she a-alive?!" Sofa squealed.
"Barely!" Dore retorted. "Dila, help me!!"
"This is terrible!!!" Mido panicked, pulling at his skin. He spun about, saw Link, and frowned. "You little crap!! How could you let this happen to her?!" Link drew back, choking in tears.
"Mido, she fell in," Dore remarked.
"Just fix her!!" Mido yelled, running over to them.
"I'm trying!! Dila, start pumping at her chest!!"
"What'll that do?!"
"I'm older than you! I know these things, so shut your freakin' face and do what you're told!!"
"Holy cow....feel how cold she is?"
"Shut up and help!"
"Do what I'm doing!"
Link watched from afar, hugging himself, but through all the crouching forms of the boys, he could not even see Saria. He hated to think that the water-soaked, pale lump of flesh and clothes was the last he'd ever see of her. He remembered all the times they hugged, all the games they played, them eating together---
"Cough it up, Saria," Dore spoke gently. "Yeah...that's it......"
There was an eerie sputtering and gargling, then a high-toned storm of coughs that could only belong to Saria.
"S-Saria?!" little Link squeaked, still hugging himself. He could see half of the boys standing up now, and there was a moving pair of the girl's legs.
"Saria!" Link ran straight into the huddle.
A voice sputtered between coughs, "...wh-where's....L-Link..."
Link ran in and all but tackled her in a hug. She hugged him back, her eyes too weak to stay open. And with him held tightly, she somehow managed to get just the right breath back.
The four-year old cried again, but this time the tears were joyous and fulfilled. Saria gripped him tight, so make sure she was indeed holding to life itself. Link glanced up, and she could see looks of relief on all of the rescuers' faces....all except one.
Mido had a fiery frown, a look of hatred. And it was all aimed directly at Link. The little one couldn't imagine why the Kokiri leader so despised him at that moment. He had done what Saria told her, and thanks to Dore and the others, Saria had survived.
But the hate in Mido's eyes never left. That evening, he stepped into Saria's hut (where a large group of villagers had gathered to see to her health) and grabbed the little boy by the arm. He dragged him into the meadow of the Sacred Deku Tree, and all but threw him to the ground.
"Dear Deku Tree," Mido spoke fervently to the giant tree, the moon and stars causing his dark eyes to produce an obsidian glow. "Here is the boy responsible for Saria's near-death."
Link gasped. He shot a helpless look at Mido, then at the Deku Tree.
"When he came back from the forest...," the Kokiri leader continued, "...he said nothing of Saria's plight."
That line alone caused Link's heart to jump. Mido was lying...and to the Deku Tree! Link had helped save Saria!
"He is a lazy little soul," Mido spoke, glancing at the little figure. "No doubt a direct influence of the impurities born upon him from the evil vastness, outside of the forest....where he came from!" He then looked back at the tree spirit. "We were misled when to think Saria was still fishing, thanks to him!! And when Dore was taking a leisurely walk with Dila along the riverside, he found her half-drowned, and sent his brother to get the others while he himself dived into the river."
He planted his hands on his hips as he finished, "I implore you, in your infinite wisdom, oh Deku Tree, to chastise Link in whatever way he deserves! To throw caution and the lives of his proclaimed friends to the wind..."
For the second time that day, tears flooded from Link's eyes. He hugged himself and stared at the ground, wishing this whole reality would float away on the wings of oblivion.
The Deku Tree spoke down at the four-year-old, with his trademark booming voice and fatherly power. "Young one...are thou guilty of such lying and negligence?!"
Link shivered. He merely looked at the tree spirit. He didn't speak. He couldn't speak.....
"Thou art a fool whom we needlessly feed, then," the tree's knots creaked into a frown. "Saria has been in this forest for many winters. She is the most devoted to preserving the harmony of this forest and the village contained within. She even gave away half of her days just to nurse thee to Kokiri build, and thou thinks she can die and everything will be all right??"
Link sobbed. How could he respond to this monstrosity? How could he even say a word....
"I am ashamed of thou, little one," the Deku Tree made a low rumble. "If thou wouldst speak with words, thy words wouldst only kill thy closest friends. Thy words are a mirror of thy foolishness. When thou return to the village, think of your future and how little thou would crumble if thy mouth remained closed."
Link shook. His eyes suddenly locked on a nothingness straight ahead of him. His tongue felt like a foreign worm lashing around in his throat.
"Does thou understand??"
Link said nothing. He slayed the worm and nodded...silently.
"Good. Then leave from my presence," the tree said. The spirit's voice raised a little higher as he barked, "And hurt no more with thy voice!!"
Link nodded. He turned around, and said absolutely nothing.....
When Zelda's eyes open, she barely had a breath left to gasp. There were traces of moisture hugging her lashes, and her mouth hung open as if vomiting out an invisible fountain of pain.
"....Oh no.....," her hands reached up and gripped where her heart was. It was so full of Link and Link's turmoil, that she felt it would explode from her chest. She winced and leaned over hard on the garden bench, hiccuping as a few waves of sorrow spun all through her system.
"Link....I-I'm so sorry they did that to you...," she choked. Her sapphires darted up, but Link was no longer on the bench. "L-Link??" Frantically, she spun around, her eyes covering all corners of the garden.
Finally, there he was, sitting on a windowsill along the Castle Wall. He hugged his legs, his back pressed up against the side frame of the window. Through the corner of his eyes, he stared sorrowfully at Zelda. His face had turned into a liquid solid of sadness, and he was as still as a lonely gargoyle.
"Oh Link...," Zelda sniffed. She gently stood up and ruffled over to where he was perched. "Please...don't hide.....I saw it all....I know what happened to you." She sat down on the windowsill as well, on the opposite side. Looking across, she leaned her head forward and asserted, "None of it was your fault. You did all you could to save Saria. Mido, he was the one who made things wrong. He was too blind to see your bravery and compassion. He could only see himself, and he was immature for that. And because of his immaturity, he deceived the Deku Tree to think of you as evil. Please, don't believe it, Link. They were all wrong. You never hurt anyone. You're never like that. Dear Din, why would you ever deserve to hide your sweet voice from anyone?"
He sat perfectly still. Only his eyes fell and slept on the ground beneath the window.
"Please...," Zelda placed her soft hand on his left knee. "Look at me..."
His vision slowly rose to meet hers.
The princess' eyes were nearly turned invisible with the glistening tears begging to come out. No one in that age had ever received such a compassionate gaze. Link was the lucky one.
"You're not guilty. You are innocent, Link," she said. "Don't feel ashamed for being silent all these years. Under the heat of hatred and false-blame, it was the only thing you could to feel sane. I'd do the same thing in your position, Link. You know why? Because we're both alike, Link. We're both afraid of that which we don't know. Me? I was afraid of never being able to know the hearts of you or my kingdom. And you, Link, I sense that you're afraid to live in a world that was stolen from you by angry words. That world where people share stories and quirks and love by mouth. Link, not only can that be your world, it is your world. And you have every right to embrace it. And believe me, having read into your past, I know that you want it....you want to be in that world. And quite frankly, Link, I want that for you too."
Link took a deep breath, his shoulders shuddering in on themselves. He stared straight down into his lap, his face tense. His arms clutched his knees tighter and it looked like every bulwark that was left in his heroic little body fell to the ground.
Zelda realized--regrettably so--that she had talked him into a maelstrom of crossroads, and for a second she wished that she had lost her voice.
"L-Link...," she sighed, a tear falling from her eye. He started hiccuping. "Oh Link," she scooted over on the windowsill and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. "Come here...."
Link gave up. He teetered over till his head rested on Zelda's lap, and there he sobbed like a wounded lamb. Zelda held him close and gently stroked his hair with a soothing hand. She would be there for him as long as he felt collapsed. Of all people, the princess of Hyrule knew what it felt to crumble all over the place. A young woman who had experienced exile, tragedy, and triumph all within one 12-year-old lifetime, Zelda felt considerably more numb to the pains of reality than Link was. But on that afternoon, she had been with a little four-year old boy whose emotions were torn dishonestly from him.
"You're so special, Link," Zelda said, soothing the crying boy. "I'm with you...."
Nature chose for it to rain again that night. Water slid down the outside of the castle's aged windows. A general ambiance of water filled the royal dwelling, making its hallways and chambers come alive in hushed curiosity.
Link and Zelda were in the royal library. It was dark inside, aside from a pair of bright yellow candles. Link sat on a plush, purple sofa that was half-covered by a large afghan. He was curled up and rested against a pillow beside the armrest, and with a contented grin the silent boy listened as Zelda--sitting in a chair across from him and the candlelit table--read to him from an ornate book grabbed from the library's vast collection.
"Ok, now this next story was written by a peasant woman in southern Hyrule nearly a hundred years ago," Zelda said. She smiled a wink at the patient Link and continued her explanation, "She posed as a nobleman in her alias, and for years the men of this country didn't know that it was written by a woman, when they thought a man had put it to pen."
Link nodded, a never-ending smile on his face. Zelda sensed there was more than the words that he was absorbing when taking her in. But it only made her want to read more.
"And so the story begins," she wet her sweet lips and read. "There was once this daughter of a nobleman, and her name was Elana Crystal. Her mother loved her dearly, and when she was really little, she gave the beautiful daughter a mysterious half-amulet. She told her that the other half belonged to someone who would hold her destiny as well as her heart forevermore."
Link listened, cuddling against the curves of the sofa. His eyes settled on Zelda, and did not leave.
She continued, stopping only for breath, "One day, she came home from picking berries on the grounds to find an evil mage at her doorsteps. He cackled at Elana, praising himself for having killed her father out of an age-old feud of spirits. The evil man disappeared in a puff of blackness, leaving the poor girl sobbing on the ground."
Link's eyes were slowly starting to lower as a day-long exhaustion took over him. Zelda noticed this, but Link had not lost his smile, and for that reason she went on with the story.
"But Elana would never forget this man's treachery," Zelda read. "She kissed her mother and sisters goodbye, and took her father's sword and set out toward the mountains to find the ebony citadel where the mage practiced his evil. Climbing the mountains, she nearly died of the snow that fell on the rocky climb. But Elana made it to a wooden house in the middle of nowhere, and this handsome ranger flew out to give her a hand. He took her in and nursed her back to warmth, and they soon became friends."
Link's eyes were struggling to stay open. His limbs went limp, and he started to lie on the couch rather than sit.
"But one night, Elana opened one of his chests while he wasn't looking, and she found the second half of her amulet. She told him, and they both realized that destiny had picked them to end the mage's archaic treachery. They ascended the mountain together, twice as strong. And at the gates of the ebony citadel, they realized that only by loving each other secretly could they have made it that far and survived. They entered the mage's lair and fought vigorously. At one point, the ranger fell, and Elanna almost lost a second loved one in her life. But it was the last straw, and with a great surge of power...."
Zelda paused. She looked at Link. He was asleep.
"......she glowed a bright blue and summoned magic from the corners of light that destroyed the evil magician and his legacy."
Link's body rose and fell with his slumbering breaths, but the smile had not left his face...not in the least. Zelda smiled gently and finished without even looking at the story she knew too well. "And so, to Elanna's surprise, she had always had that gift of magic hiding inside her...sleeping, like a lamb. And all it took to bring it out from her, was a love that confirmed her destiny."
Zelda sighed, "And she and the ranger came back down the mountain, with the spirit of Elana's father blessing them with safety, all the rest of their lives." She closed the book. "The end."
Link stirred a bit, but was far too deep in his sleep to awake.
Zelda laid the book down on the chair and stood up, smoothing her dress. She softly padded over by Link's sofa and gently drew the afghan over his quiet form. With the grace of a royal wind, she half-kneeled and blew both candles out on the table. The room grew dark, save for the rippling moonlight that glowed in through the rain-drenched windows outside.
She turned to head out of the library, but her legs suddenly froze. A beat later, and she crept back over by Link's side. Zelda knelt beside him, studying his face closely. Unlike most people, Link was as prescious asleep as he was awake. He was always calm and drifting, no matter what mode he was in. Zelda pondered over his future, if ever she'd be in it.
The moon looked away, and very slowly, she leaned forward and gave the forest boy a gentle kiss on the forehead. She drew back an inch and whispered into his ear.
"Sleep quietly, my hero..."
She stroked his bangs once, then stood and headed out the room quick enough to feel relaxed, but quiet enough to not interrupt Link's dreaming.
The door closed without a sound, and the room was doubly silent with just its one warmth of life on the sofa. But just as soon as Zelda had left, Link's eyes opened. His glowing blues shot over to where the princess had left....the princess who had just blessed his life all over in a day and a night. Just as quick as they had looked, Link's eyes slowly shut. There were infant tears hugging the sides of them.
It was then that a soft voice came out from the void. It echoed into the room, but still kept the subtle preciousness as only produced by a newborn mouse or an uncertain sparrow.
"I love you, Zelda...."
And Link slept.