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Author's Note: This takes place several years after the events in Majora's Mask. Link and Zelda are seventeen years old and this is yet another Ocarina of Time fic. And--if you've seen "Titanic," you may have an idea what's in store. Oh no, I'm not going to tell you--just read!
The Cuccos' crows awakened Link early one morning. The young man opened one sleepy blue eye, then the other. "I wouldn't mind shooting that Cucco but then it'd call in reinforcements," Link muttered as he reluctantly sat up, yawned, and stretched. He ran a strong hand through his unruly dark blond bangs.
He flopped back down, stared up at the canopy overhead. It sure was nice, living here in Hyrule Castle, as the protector of Princess Zelda. He'd lived here for two years now. It was just as well, since Mido, the leader of the Kokiri children with whom Link had grown up, didn't want him around because Link was a Hylian.
What was nice about this deal was his friendship with Zelda. They got along beautifully. Zelda was heir to the throne of Hyrule but she was pretty down-to-earth and didn't look down upon Link or his humble origins. In fact, only they and the seven Sages knew of that alternate timeline, the path time could have taken where Ganondorf Dragmire conquered Hyrule and wreaked total havoc.
Link rolled out of bed and headed for the adjoining bathroom. After bathing and putting on his Kokiri tunic, leggings, and cap, he headed for the dining room for breakfast.
"My daughter, I have news. Prince Tekon of Saron, the youngest prince, wishes to visit with you today," the King of Hyrule smiled at his daughter. "Perhaps this will be the young man you will wish to marry."
Zelda smiled at Link, who returned the smile, a bit uneasily. "I've heard about him," she said. "Naturally, Link, even when I'm married, you'll protect me and my husband."
"Of course, Zel," Link replied. "I wish I could find a girl to settle down with one day."
"How about Malon?" Zelda suggested.
Link shook his head. "To be honest, she's a tad annoying at times. Sweet girl...but not my type."
"Ruto?" Zelda was grinning.
Link made a face. "If you think I'm going to marry a psychotic fish--"
Zelda giggled, and the King had to laugh at that. "Oh, I'm just teasing, Link," Zelda said, still laughing.
"I'll find someone...but right now my priority is your safety," Link said as he dug into his breakfast. "So when is this Prince coming...?"
"After breakfast," the King replied.
Zelda ate her breakfast, lost in thought. She gazed at Link. Was it just she, or did he look troubled somehow? She'd come to know him well the past seven years and was like a brother to her in some ways.
She figured he'd tell her sooner or later. After all, they were very good friends.
About an hour after breakfast Prince Tekon arrived in a fancy gilded coach. He was escorted to the throne room by a couple of guards, and there he stood before the King, Princess Zelda, and Link.
Tekon was a very handsome man, and Zelda seemed to be smitten at first sight of him. He had dark sable-brown hair and piercing green eyes. His hair was a bit on the long side, falling to his collar and curling at the nape of his neck. "I have heard rumors of your beauty and I see they hardly do you justice," Tekon told Zelda, flashing a brilliant white smile at her.
"Why, thank you," Zelda said, blushing prettily.
"Prince Tekon, this is Link," the King said, gesturing towards the young man. "He is Zelda's good friend and protector, so you can expect to see a lot of him."
"I see," said Tekon, not sounding very thrilled to hear that.
Link eyed the man discreetly. Why should he have a problem with Zelda having a male friend?
"I thought we might have a ball tonight, in honor of Tekon's visit," the King smiled. "Introduce him to Hyrule society."
"I am honored, Your Majesty," said Tekon.
"What do you think I should wear tonight, Link?" Zelda asked him as he sat in a chair in her room.
"Why ask me? Why not Impa?" Link asked, amused.
"Well, you seem to know what looks good on me," Zelda replied.
Link rested his elbow on the arm of the chair and cupped his chin in his hand, studying his friend. She had golden blonde hair and deep blue eyes, so deep they sometimes appeared violet. "I think purple and pink are your best colors, maybe blue," he said.
"Okay...this purple dress then. Now I need you to scoot while I get dressed."
"You mean I don't get to watch?" Link teased.
"Out!" Zelda told him, laughing, pointing to the door.
"Okay, okay," Link smirked, heading for the door.
Zelda was still chuckling a little as she changed her clothes. She and Link had always teased each other from the time they were ten years old. They'd push each other in the moat and play tag on the castle grounds. It was too bad Link wasn't her brother--she often thought of him as one. He was her best friend, her confidant.
Hours later the ball was in full swing. Link sipped some punch from a cup and watched as Zelda danced with Prince Tekon. "Yeah, they look good together," he said to himself.
He even sounded sad and wistful to himself. He shook his head. Where had that thought come from?
After the number ended, Zelda came up to Link. "I'm having a wonderful time, Link, how about you?"
"I'd have a nice time if I could have one dance with you," Link told her, smiling.
"Sure, why not?" Zelda said.
Link led her out onto the dance floor. "It's a good thing you taught me how to dance so I don't step on your dainty feet," Link grinned as they danced gracefully together. "And you do look good in purple."
"Why thank you," Zelda replied.
The moment the number ended Tekon was right there. "My turn," he said almost pleasantly.
"All right," said Link, trying not to sound reluctant. He retreated back to the refreshment table, where he watched as Zelda danced with Tekon. There was just something odd about this guy, something he couldn't quite put his finger on. It was just that something about Tekon rubbed Link the wrong way somehow.
Link sighed as Tekon led Zelda outside onto the terrace. He wandered around, watched as the other guests danced and laughed and had a good time. For some reason he felt as if he were losing his best friend.
Get over it, he told himself. If Zelda marries him, she'll have to devote her time to him.
Long moments passed. Then Link saw Zelda pulling Tekon up to her father's throne, which was situated on a small dais at one end of the ballroom. Zelda looked happy and excited, and Tekon looked pleased.
The King stood up and raised his hands in the air for attention. "I have an announcement to make," he boomed. "My daughter Zelda and Prince Tekon of Saron are engaged to be married!"
A cheer went up. The musicians broke into a lively number in celebration.
Link was also cheering, but deep inside he felt as if his heart were breaking. The feeling he'd had earlier, like he was losing his best friend, was back with a vengeance.
This time it didn't feel like he was losing just his friend, but rather an opportunity.
After the ball Zelda came up to Link in the corridor. "Congratulations, Zel," said Link as he took her left hand and looked at the engagement ring. "Though kind of sudden."
Zelda smiled. "I guess it was love at first sight, Link," she said. "He's great. I mean, he's well-mannered and he says he cares about me--and that he wants to protect me."
"So he's going to be staying here?"
"Yes, in his own room. The wedding will be in a few months," Zelda said as Link walked her down the corridor. "He's already retired to his room."
"I guess you won't have much use for me after the wedding," Link sighed.
"Link, you will always be welcome here," Zelda told him. "We are not going to turn you out or anything." She studied him. "Link, is something wrong?"
"No--no, nothing's wrong. I guess it's gonna be a big change and everything...."
"I'm sure you'll adjust," Zelda told him. By then they were at the door to her bedroom. "Well, good-night, Link." She kissed his cheek.
Link impulsively hugged her. "Congratulations again, Zelda."
He watched as she went into her bedroom. Then he heaved a sigh and trudged to his own room, unsure of his own feelings.
A few weeks went by. Every time Link saw Zelda, Tekon was with her.
One day Link was sitting out in the courtyard, doing nothing in particular. He looked up, saw Zelda coming out into the courtyard, and for once she was alone. She seemed to be wiping her eyes.
Zelda quickly looked up. "Oh, Link...I didn't know you were out here," she said, startled.
"There's something wrong. What is it?" Link asked.
"Nothing," said Zelda, too quickly.
Link frowned. "I know you too well. Tell me, what is it?"
Zelda sighed. "Tekon. He wants to...well...sleep with me now, and I keep telling him, we have to wait until the wedding night."
"Guess he's not much of a gentleman," Link observed.
"No, no, don't get it wrong," Zelda said in defense of Tekon. "He really loves me...I just wish he'd be a little more patient...." Her voice trailed off, indicating she might have more to say, that she was hiding something.
"Zelda, I care about you, about whether you're happy," said Link as she stood before him. He took her hands in his. "Now if Tekon cares, he won't keep trying to push you. You were right to tell him no. You're being a proper young lady. If he cares, he'll understand that."
"You think he'll understand?"
"Like I said, if he loves you he will."
Just then, Tekon came out into the courtyard. "Ah, there you are, my lovely," he said. "What are you doing out here?"
"Talking to Link," Zelda replied as she quickly withdrew her hands from Link's.
"Oh, really." He gently took Zelda by the elbow. "I would like to spend some time with my fiancee, Link, if you don't mind...."
"Of course I don't," Link said smoothly, not showing his annoyance.
He watched as Tekon led Zelda away.
"My dear Zelda, why do you insist on talking to that rabble? I've seen how he looks at you," Tekon said to Zelda as they stood together in the drawing room.
"How does he look at me?"
"Like he's lusting after you," Tekon proclaimed, folding his arms over his chest. "Have you had sex with him?"
"Tekon--no! Link and I are innocent!" Zelda protested. "We are good friends and we care about each other! Link would never do anything to harm me. I love you and I'm going to marry you. Link is a part of this household...he's thinking about becoming a knight, in fact."
"I did see you holding hands with him," Tekon said, his voice low and angry.
"I--well...," Zelda stammered, trying to think of an excuse for that. She had a feeling that no matter what she told him it would make him more angry. She didn't want to make him angry; she felt that she loved him.
"I don't want to catch you alone with him ever again, Zelda," Tekon said firmly. He grasped her shoulders and pushed her up against the wall, just hard enough so the back of her head hit the wall.
"Why are you being so mean?" Zelda whimpered. "There is nothing going on between me and Link!"
"And there had better not be," Tekon stated as he roughly shoved her and released her. "You made a promise to marry me. That also means no other men."
He walked away. Trembling, Zelda made her way over to a chair and sank down into it. "I have to go through with this...I made a promise," Zelda whispered as she sobbed into her hands. "There's no way out...I'll dishonor my father if I back out...what am I to do?"
Zelda cried for a long time; then she suddenly felt gentle hands on her shoulders. Looking up, she saw Link's concerned face. "Are you all right, Zelda?" Link asked as he pulled up another chair and sat across from her.
"We--we had a disagreement," Zelda said as she took out her lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. "Oh, Link--you shouldn't be in here alone with me!"
"Why? You know I would never do anything to hurt you. We trust each other implicitly, remember?"
"Well...Tekon isn't comfortable with it...he doesn't really understand...."
"Well, he's going to have to get used to it," Link snapped. "You have not had much of a life since you agreed to marry him. You're constantly with him. You're not the happy girl that I've always known you to be, Zelda! You've changed. I've seen you cry more in the last couple of weeks than in the past seven years!"
"I'll be fine, Link...I'm just a little anxious," Zelda protested. "And why shouldn't I spend time with my fiance? Maybe he's right--maybe you are jealous!"
Having said that, she got up and walked out of the room, leaving Link scratching his head and pondering her words.
"Maybe I am, Zelda," he murmured, turning around in his chair and staring at the doorway. "But it's because I care about you and I know he's hurting you somehow."
He turned back around in his chair and sighed. He was starting to admit it to himself--he did love Zelda, not just as a friend, but more like a lover.
The whole thing was frustrating. Link didn't know what Zelda really felt about him and he wasn't sure if she was sure! And here she was going to marry this guy who, to Link at any rate, didn't seem to care about her.
He slumped down in his chair, trying to think.
More time passed, and it was a couple of weeks before the wedding. Link did not like what he was seeing at all. Zelda seemed so despondent now and she was no good at hiding it, at least not from Link.
Also, Link was sure he'd seen a bruise or two on Zelda's face. When he asked her about it, she'd replied that she'd accidentally hit herself on something, and that she was fine.
Link was passing by the den when he heard loud voices. "Why won't you sleep with me, Zelda? We are engaged!" Tekon's voice was roaring.
"I keep telling you, as I've told you for the past couple of months--we are not married yet!" Zelda protested.
"I bet I know what it is. You've already slept with that Link and you're afraid that I'll know...and once we're married it'll be too late. That's it, isn't it?" he demanded.
"Link and I have not even kissed romantically, much less had sex!" Zelda fired back. "Why can't you trust me?"
"I want you to stop associating with him," Tekon said.
Link heard the sound of a slap, then angry footsteps. He quickly ducked behind a tapestry that was hanging nearby until he heard the footsteps stalking down the corridor.
Figuring the coast was clear, Link emerged from underneath the tapestry and tiptoed to the den's entrance and peered inside. There Zelda sat in a chair, holding her hand to her face and sobbing brokenheartedly.
Over the past month or so their friendship had cooled down some, Zelda not wanting to be alone with Link. She seemed almost afraid of him now. Still, Link cared about her and seeing her cry was enough to make him want to start.
He quietly tiptoed into the den. "Link," said Zelda, looking up and turning her left cheek away from him.
"He hit you, didn't he?"
"What makes you think that?" Zelda asked.
"Well, I heard the slap and you're holding your cheek, I think that convinced me," Link told her, gently taking her hand away from her face. His blue eyes blazed with anger when he saw the red hand-shaped mark on her fair cheek. "And that mark...."
"I'll be all right," Zelda insisted.
"Zelda, listen to me! I know he's abusing you. I have seen bruises on you and now this. How can you marry him?"
"Link, you don't understand...I made a promise and I have to keep it or bring dishonor to my family. I promised to marry him."
"And meanwhile you're going to suffer at his hands," Link said bitterly. "Once you're married to him, he's going to beat you and who knows, he may even rape you. I'm surprised he hasn't tried it yet."
"Actually, he has," Zelda said softly. "Last night...he came into my room...started pawing me...I screamed and he ran. A guard came in and I told him I was just having a nightmare. He tried but he didn't succeed."
"Zelda, you need to break things off with him!" Link cried. "This is just great! I'm here as your protector and someone you're supposed to love, someone who's supposed to love you, is harming you and there doesn't seem to be a thing I can do to stop it!" He flopped down in a chair. "Where is the honor in that?"
"I just wish...he was more like you...," Zelda whispered.
"Would you marry a guy like me?" Link asked, feeling around, trying to see what she was thinking and feeling.
"A guy like you...?" Zelda looked up at her friend. She blinked.
"Zelda--I love you," Link blurted. "As more than a friend. But if this guy makes you happy and you want to marry him I won't stand in the way. I want you to be happy. But I know that you're not. I've seen the changes in you. You and I--we get along so well together. I am not saying these things about Tekon out of jealousy, I'm saying them out of love because I don't want to see you hurt."
"I so wish he was like you, so generous, so caring...," Zelda admitted.
Link and Zelda both stood up, facing each other. "All I want is for you to be happy, and to be sure that you're all right," he told her as he gently stroked her cheek, trying to make the sting of that slap go away. "And if I were saying this out of jealousy, wouldn't you see me trying to get between you two?"
Zelda realized that he was speaking the truth. "Link...I don't know what to think...I should have told him that I wanted to wait and think it out before I agreed to marry him...."
"There is no way you can back out?"
"Oh, Link...he might say something about you and me and make himself look good," Zelda cried.
"We need to think of something. He'll hurt you, Zelda, more than he's hurting you now. You never see your friends, you'll barely talk to me...he has you on a leash!"
"I know--but there's no way out for me!"
"What if we talked to your father?"
"Oh, Link, he'll say I have to stick with it, maybe he'll change, that kind of thing...."
Link sighed as he pulled Zelda into his arms and hugged her. "I so want to kiss you but I don't think it would be proper," he murmured in her hair.
"I wish Tekon thought the same way you do," Zelda replied, her voice muffled, her face buried in his shoulder. "I've been so blind, Link...it's you I love, not him. I assumed my father would never let us marry."
"Did you even bother to ask?"
Link sighed again as Zelda raised her head up. "Well, I guess the fault lies with both of us...we always thought of ourselves as friends and I just now figured out how I feel about you," Link said.
"Link...I need time to think. I'll be in my room," Zelda told him.
Link kissed her forehead and smiled sadly at her. "All right," he said. "And remember that I'll always be here for you."
Zelda smiled at Link and went out into the corridor. She'd barely gotten ten feet down the corridor when a rough hand grabbed her elbow.
"I saw you hugging that Link. I thought I told you about that," Tekon said. "How many times do I have to teach you a lesson, Zelda?"
Zelda tried to cry out, felt his hand slap over her mouth. He dragged her down the corridor.
Link decided to speak with Zelda's father. The King liked Link and trusted him; Link was almost like a son to him. The King admired the young man for his bravery and loyalty, as well as his devotion to the Royal Family of Hyrule.
Link walked up the red carpet that led to the gilded, ornate throne, on which sat the King of Hyrule. "Your Majesty, I wish to speak with you, it's a matter of great importance," Link said respectfully as he took off his cap and knelt on one knee before the King.
"Arise, Link, and speak," the King said kindly.
Link stood up and put his cap back on his head. He took a deep breath. "Your Majesty, I know this matter may not concern me, but it's about the upcoming wedding."
The King leaned forward, curious as to what his young friend had to say. "What of it?"
"It seems as if Tekon is mistreating Zelda, Sire," said Link. "I heard him slap her, and I saw a mark on her face. I've also been seeing some bruises on her face lately, and have you noticed that she's taken to wearing long sleeves and high collars, even though the weather is warm for it?"
"I don't get it...Tekon is consistently courteous," the King said, puzzled. "I find it hard to believe that he would do such things to my daughter." He looked at Link. "Link, I must tell you that he's complained about inappropriate behavior between you and Zelda. I was going to summon you to speak to you about it, and now I've mentioned it. I wish to hear your end of it."
"Your Majesty, I've come to realize that I love Zelda dearly, but in no way have we acted inappropriately with each other," said Link. "I have not tried to stand in the way of the marriage between Zelda and Tekon. I wish Zelda to be happy, but if Tekon is mistreating her, which I am convinced he is, Sire, then I feel I must at least say something. What good is it for me to be her protector when I can't stop someone from hurting her?"
The King looked pensive.
"Sire, Zelda does not want to break her promise, but she is miserable and I fear for her," Link continued. "She does not wish to dishonor you or anyone else. But she's afraid and confused. Does she seem very happy to you?"
The King blinked. He looked up at Link. "I am used to a more cheerful girl," he said slowly. "Perhaps we should have a talk. If Tekon is mistreating her...." He sighed. "I want my daughter to be happy with whomever she marries."
Zelda struggled as Tekon dragged her into her bedroom and locked the door. He threw her up against the wall. "I won't have you making a fool of me, Zelda! I'll leave you and spread word as to why--my version of it."
"No, please don't!" she begged. "Why are you so jealous? Maybe I do love Link," she added, knowing she was risking his wrath. "With the way you're treating me, maybe you'll drive me right into his arms!"
"It's not my fault, you little tramp," Tekon hissed. "You can't break away from your precious Link long enough to spend quality time with me!"
"I don't want to marry you if you're going to behave like this!" Zelda cried.
Angrily, Tekon slapped her several times across her heart-shaped face, causing her nose to start bleeding, as well as her lower lip. He then threw her to one side, so she crashed into her vanity table, knocking bottles and jars over and bruising her ribs. "I will marry you and have my way with you whenever I want!" he shouted, looming over her.
Zelda was sitting up against the side of the vanity table, looking up at her fiancee. His eyes were green fire and his dark hair was wild. He reminded her of a vicious wild animal. She cried out as she felt his fist punch her in her left eye. Then she felt his powerful hands around her throat.
"Let me go!" Zelda screamed as he squeezed.
"I'll teach you to cheat on me, you little tramp!" Tekon growled as he cut her air off.
Link and the King walked up to Zelda's room together. Suddenly, the sound of something breaking could be heard from the direction of Zelda's room, followed by a scream, and they broke into a run, Link easily running ahead of the King.
"It's locked!" Link cried as he tried the knob. He pounded on the door. "Zelda--are you all right in there?"
"Kick it down!" the King ordered.
Link gave the door a powerful kick, and wound up knocking it off its hinges. Link didn't think he could be that strong, but he didn't have time to think about it as his brain absorbed the horrendous scene before him.
Tekon was choking Zelda, who was trying frantically to push him away. She was bleeding from her nose and mouth and her left eye had a bruise forming around it. He spun around when the door seemed to fly at him. "You," he said, his voice low and menacing. "This is between me and Zelda only. Begone!"
Link grabbed Tekon by his collar and jerked him off Zelda, who fell back gasping, dragging air into her lungs. The King rushed into the room to comfort his daughter.
"I knew you were scum," said Link as he pinned Tekon to the floor just outside the bedroom. "I wonder if I should work you over so you'll know how Zelda feels! Oh, that's right, you don't care how she feels!"
Tekon threw Link off him and threw a punch at him. Link easily sidestepped it, at the same time whipping out his Fairy Bow and tripping Tekon up with it. Zelda's father was shouting for the guards.
Tekon reached for Link's right leg and pulled him down, causing him to land hard on his tailbone. "Oof!" Link gasped as he hit the hard floor.
Tekon quickly stood up and tried to bend Link's knee backward, grinning as he did so. Link reared back onto his shoulder blades and sent his opposite foot flying in between Tekon's legs, causing the other man to howl and double over in pain.
Link stood up and for good measure gave Tekon a swift kick in the midsection. Not quite satisfied, he hauled Tekon up and gave him a hard head butt, knocking him to the floor.
Just then, the guards came running up. "Take this scum to the dungeon, for harming Princess Zelda," Link ordered them.
"Yes, sir," said one of the guards as they hauled Tekon away.
Panting, Link turned and peered into Zelda's bedroom. The King had helped her up onto her bed, and she was lying down, holding her right side. "How is she?" asked Link.
"Link, get the physician, please," the King requested.
"No, please, stay with me, Link," Zelda begged.
"I'll get him then," the King said, smiling a little at Link.
Link sat down on the edge of Zelda's bed and took her hand. Her nose and lip had stopped bleeding and there was a cool, wet cloth over her left eye. "If I'd known sooner," Link murmured.
"I should have told someone sooner," Zelda confessed. "I told my father that I love you, while you were fighting off Tekon. He thinks you'd be a good husband for me...if we were to be married."
"I thought you loved Tekon."
"I thought I did. But he kept me from you and my other friends, and I felt so caged, that any love I might have had for him was gone fairly quickly," said Zelda. "When I told you I wished he was more like you...I meant that. I want someone like you as my husband."
"How about me?" Link asked. "And yes, it's a proposal."
Zelda looked up at him. Tears came to her eyes. "Yes," she said. "I can't believe neither of us saw it before...I mean, we get along so well, we care about each other--we know each other...."
Link lifted her left hand. "May I?" he asked.
Link took the engagement ring off her finger and tossed it aside. "I'll need to get you one from me," he told her. "And we'll wait until your wounds have healed up, so you'll look beautiful when we get married." He bent over and for the first time, they shared a romantic kiss.
"I just hope Tekon doesn't try to start anything."
"Your father saw what was going on and I'm sure anything your father says will carry more weight," said Link.
Soon the King came back with the royal physician. Link and the King waited outside while the physician examined Zelda. "Link, thank you so much for saving my daughter," he said. "Zelda said she'd rather marry you, since you told her that you love her. She was afraid that I wouldn't approve."
"I did ask her to marry me, just now," Link said quietly.
"And you two have my blessing. I've watched you two together, Link. It would be a perfect match. As for Tekon, he's going to be banished from Hyrule permanently. There is no place for abuse here."
After a while the physician came out. "The Princess is fine, just bruised up," he told the King and Link. "Fortunately there's nothing broken."
"Good," the King sighed in relief.
Weeks later a royal wedding took place. When Zelda came down the aisle on the arm of her father, waiting at the altar for her was her lover-to-be, Link.
Zelda knew that with Link as her husband she could look forward to a happy life.
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