The Faded Rose

by Princess Ruto

    Zelda slowly walked up the staircase to her chamber, as if she were in a dream. She was overcome by a feeling of loneliness as she opened the door silently. This was a hard day for her, every year, but especially this year. It was the fifth year without Link, and she still hadn't adjusted. Most of the time, she could conceal her pain behind the playful sparkle in her eyes, but since Link had gone, she had to force the look to appear. She was too old and too sad to be playful. Carefully, Zelda reached into a drawer in her writing desk, and with unsteady, gnarled hands, she pulled out a small mahogany box, carved smooth as silk with a rose chisled onto the lid. She brushed a lock of snow-white hair from her face, and opened the box slowly. Inside was an assortment of letters and poetry, all either written by herself or Link. She hadn't read them for years. She couldn't bring herself to, until now. Zelda picked up a yellowed piece of parchment, carefully unfolded it, and read. It was a poem that they had written together, years ago.

Sunbeams dancing on our faces
As we turn to greet the rising sun
My beloved, as I see your eyes shining
I know that forever we shall be one
Nothing, not even death shall become a barrier between us
You are my everything, my angel
My truest friend
A beacon in the storm
The one I turn to
Oh, shining one
We will always be together

    Tears streamed down Zelda's wrinkled cheeks as she remembered her youth, and the love that even still connected her to Link. She missed him so much! She re-folded the paper, and slipped it into the box. Then, she shuffled some papers aside, and found something that brought back a flood of memories, all bubbling up within her mind like a stream, surfacing. It was a dried out, faded rose, perfectly preserved, still carrying the fragrance of a breezy June evening......
    Link took Zelda by the hand, and led her out from the Great Hall, away from the festivities, into the coolness of the courtyard. The fountains bubbled, making a peaceful sound as they walked beneath a fruit tree, where blossoms showered on them like sweet scented snow. Link took Zelda in his arms, and they stood there in a peaceful silence for several seconds. Then, Link spoke in a soft voice filled with tenderness.
    "Zel.......You are my everything.....and I can't even begin to express how much I love you.....and...."
    "Link....." Zelda whipsered playfully, pressing a finger to his lips to quiet him, and kissing him tenderly. Link kissed her back, and continued.
    "Zel......Zelda....." He got down on one knee, grinning, and Zelda covered her face, giggling.
    "Link! What are you doing?" She asked, smiling. Link took a deep breath, and the smile faded from his face as he assumed a serious attitude.
    "Zelda......I love you....and I would be so honored if...if you would be my wife." Link said. Tears of joy streamed down Zelda's face, and she nodded, unable to speak. She threw her arms around his neck, and Link kissed her forehead. He reached over to a nearby rosebush, pulling off one of the largest blossoms. "I don't have a ring for you yet, but here..." He pulled the thorns from the stem, and tucked the rose behind Zelda's ear.
    "I love you, Link..." Zelda whispered in his ear, and they sat together under the tree in a tight embrace until the stars came out.
    Zelda breathed in the fragrance of the rose, and she could almost picture that night as if she was there again. She kept the rose in her hand, careful not to crush the petals as she shifted through the box one last time, and she found a letter from Link. It was dated from only a few days before he passed away;

    My beautiful Zelda,
My strength is failing, and I know that time is short for me. But, I want you to know that these past sixty years have been the best years of my life. You are the most amazing woman that I have ever known, and my love for you is so deep, it is beyond words. But do know that when I am gone, I wait for you until the day that we shall be together again. But until then, you can find me
in the soft scent of a rose
the evening breeze
the morning sun
the warmth it brings
the sound of a flute
the harp with strings
but the place I will always be
where you can alays find me
is in your dreams
Yours eternally

    Zelda couldn't help herself, but she began to cry uncontrollably into the security of the pillows on her bed. The convulsing sobs shook her entire frail form, and she hiccuped for breath. But, finally, she fell into into slumber, and the dreams she wished for came.
    A youthful Zelda stood in a garden somewhere in one of the courtyards, beneath the fruit tree, it's blossoms showering her like sweet scented snow. The rosebushes were in full bloom, and the fountains gurgled merrily.  Zelda looked up, and saw Link coming toward her. She smiled, and ran to greet him halfway, throwing her arms around him as he kissed her tenderly. He picked her up, and spun her around, and Zelda felt a happiness she had not felt in years. She was where she belonged, with Link.
    Prince Seth walked into his mother's chambers, and found the old Queen asleep on her bed. She looked more at peace than she had in a long time, a serene smile on her face, and in her gnarled hands lay a faded rose.

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