I had been planning this fated day for several weeks now. To be quite honest, I actually had been anxiously anticipating the arrival of it for so long and with such fervour that I nearly broke my own protocol and moved it much earlier than my original plan had expected. In the end I just couldn’t bear to move it; after all of the research in the library I had spent to predict the night of the next full moon in Hyrule along with finding the perfect spot in the garden just on the other side of the castle wall, the three-and-twentieth day of Frimaire was the right day in all respects. It was too perfect to be ignored, and so long as that very day demanded my homage, so then I was forced to follow its decree.
Since the moment I began planning it, it all fit so perfectly in my mind. I knew precisely where he and I would be going, exactly when there was a change of the guards to allow us to get there, and how we would overcome the drawbridge that was likely to be raised on both legs of the journey. It had all seemed so complicated at first, planning everything perfectly, making sure that there was exactly enough time to get from place to place without having to wait or, even worse, getting caught. Despite all this, there was a simple elegance in the end, almost as if Destiny were guiding my thoughts on how the evening would turn out, for indeed, Destiny had given me the dreams I needed to see, and those dreams told me that I had no need to worry; all would turn out well...
At least, it would turn out well up until a certain point. For nearly a fortnight, ever since I had finalised my plans for the evening, I could see the outcome of it in my dreams—nay, my visions—as if I could predict exactly how he would respond to my actions. Every night the same vision came to me, every detail from the night before accounted for and identical. What irked me was that every night I always woke without fail right after I kissed him in my dream; no matter how hard I tried, the future beyond that moment laid hidden to my eyes of foresight. At first I thought it uncanny, and in second thought I believed it to be just another riddle sent by Nayru for me to solve, but the grace and wisdom of my goddess of favour did not come to me; such as it was, despite my greatest efforts, it would remain an unseen vision to me. Such an occurrence had never happened before in all my years; never had my visions ended so abruptly without seeing its outcome, but this one remained locked away so stubbornly without any seeming reason, and so I was left to conclude my own answers for why the future remained unseen, all of them that I could conceive of pessimistic and fearful in nature. The inability to see beyond an event of my own choosing forced my spine to chill whenever my mind paid it visit in kind.
Such were my thoughts this very night; my mind dwelt with my fears as my eyes feasted upon the darkening sky, watching as the stars gradually made their presence known to me. There in the sky, I could see it—the raw, untainted magic that the goddesses had left for us. It was a magic that only the wisest could see, yet a magic that the strongest of mages could not even dream of touching. Once aware of it, I could feel it pricking my skin, making it numb to the world about me, as if my body had fallen asleep with my mind still intact, as if that magic were calling me to it, asking me to let loose of my body so that it could absorb me into it. The temptation was beyond great, so great that maybe I would finally give in to its call tonight.
“I love you,” said a hazy voice.
Before I knew what had happened, I spun around to face behind me, the sudden voice calling me back to remain within Hyrule for just one more night. As my mind unclouded, still foggy and confused from being betwixt reality and fantasy, it directed me to search for him whom sought to keep me here within the world to which I properly belonged. There, just a few metres from the door I saw him standing, looking at me... Link. He was as he usually was, garbed in the verdant of the trees, his blonde hair tossed by the wind, his twin sapphire portals staring at me with kindness, a warm kindness. I stared at him for a moment before remembering that he had spoken to me, and then, upon realising what those spoken words were, my fears redoubled in shock and horror. Contrary to my expectations, instead of joy, panic rushed through my limbs as incredulousness flowed through my veins. “What? What did you say?” I begged of him.
Link seemed to take amusement to my reaction, and I could hardly blame him. My face had to look ridiculously silly in my state of fright. After a light chuckle, keeping it barely audible on my behalf so as perhaps to prevent me from turning flush with embarrassment, Link spoke again. This time, the words were as crystal to me. “I said, ‘I love that dress on you.’ It looks really good, as always.”
Despite his attempts to avoid my embarrassment, I could tell my cheeks were already turning rose. My eyes knew that there was a look of sincerity in his own as he clarified his statement, but there was that nagging thought in the back of my mind that would not be dismissed no matter the effort; had he really said what I had heard, or was I just too distracted to pay notice?
My eyes gazed down at my dress to confirm sufficiently to my own mind exactly which one I had selected for the evening. “Oh yes, this one,” I answered with a slight chuckle. It was perhaps the simplest of the garb that I owned; the dress was made of dark blue velvet—varying darker and lighter in its azure hue depending upon how the light danced upon it—trailing all the way down to my ankles while leaving my shoulders so that the entire world could view. About my waist lay a golden length of rope, tied at my left side, its tassels falling to my knee while a small leather purse hanging from it at my right. It was hardly the garb of the princess or the Hyrulian courtiers; it was ludicrously simple, and no piece of the garment seemed to demand as much attention as it could stomach. At the same time, it wasn’t exactly that which the people of the city wore, since smuggling that into the castle walls was atrociously inconceivable. However, this at least could blend in amply for my tastes. “I actually wore it especially for you tonight.” I always knew it was his favourite, even more than the lavender gown in which he typically saw me. “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long, and if so I’m horribly sorry.”
“Oh no, no,” he said, still with a humoured grin. “It wasn’t long at all.” Knowing Link, that was a sure sign that he had probably knocked five times upon my door without answer only to have then gone to find one of my handmaidens to make sure I was both there and decent before entering! He sighed slightly as he looked me over once again, his eyes sparkling childishly; how I loved that sparkle. “Well, are you ready... and where are we going?”
I just had to curve my lips into a sly grin for him as I began to walk towards him and the door. “Yes, and it’s a secret... respectively. Shall we, my hero?”
From the corner of his eye, I could see Link roll his eyes at me, almost suddenly afraid of the trouble that I could cause him, him conveniently forgetting all of the trouble into which he has managed to involve me in the past. “We shall, but after you, my princess. I do not know the way.”
“I think you do, hero. You just don’t know it yet.”
I opened the door to my room and let Link come out before closing it and once again leading the way. Though I could not see it, as we left I could almost feel his wry smile beaming upon me as brightly and hotly as the sun at noon on midsummer’s day.
“I never knew anyone else had ever studied the castle guards’ routines so thoroughly,” Link said in amazement. “I have to hand it to you, Zel, you’ve impressed me.”
Now outside of the castle walls and into the streets of Hyrule, I decided it was safe to risk a little laughter. The streets were patrolled of course, but not so stringently as the path leading outside of the front gate of the castle. “Wow, if I knew it took so little to make you amazed, I would have stopped trying to awe you long ago, Link,” I said jokingly as I playfully pushed him upon the shoulder. Were we not out in the city, that would have lead into a mock-fight of Link tackling and tickling me until I begged and pleaded for him to stop, both of us resting upon the soft floor of my quarters without breath in our lungs. I saw him smile suddenly, almost confident that he was mulling the same thoughts as me, and with that smile I couldn’t stop from smiling back at him. “We have to wait for about a minute until after the last guard passes by this point. Once then, we’ll be as good as there, dear.”
Link looked at me with a start, suddenly surprised, and his eyes examined me, trying to stare into my soul. I peered back at him curiously, trying to discern his intent or his thoughts, or even perhaps both, all of which without immediate success. I traced back through my words, parsing them for whatever hidden meanings could be extracted from them. It struck me then; I had never called him “dear” before now, or at least not so without some semblance of sarcasm or playful banter involved. “What?” I asked him quietly, hoping to pass my error off as an innocent mistake. “Is something wrong?”
Link just shook his head at me in disbelief. “How would you know about the patrols out here, Zel?” Link whispered, apparently believing my claim for the instant, perhaps choosing to err on the side of caution and not reckless danger now that he was with me as his companion. “I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve taken you outside the castle walls after dark, none of which with any sort of permission. The only other person who would let you out was Impa, and that would be only to the marketplace and only during the daytime. How would you know—?”
“Shh!” I hissed at Link, placing my finger sternly to my lips. I really hadn’t wanted to silence him so urgently, but I was regretfully forced to do so. Seconds later, just as I had foreseen, two guards started walking along the street before us, by the alley where we laid hidden, conversing amongst themselves as they marched. They walked slowly by, their words faint at first but soon clearly audible to those invisible to their eyes.
“—have ‘t lucky in da castle,” the first voice had apparently concluded.
“You’re tellin’ me, Zelwan,” agreed the second. “They don’t have to be rained upon, suff’rin’ the heat an’ cold. Half the time they just sit at the entrance of one o’the hallways, makin’ sure no one’s walkin’ down it. They also get t’eat in the Great Hall wit’ the rest of the Court.”
“Yer kiddin’ me? Wit’ all dose ladies in da Court? An’ da princess? I hear she be a fine one. Wot I wouldn’ do t’spend a night wit’ her.”
“You an’ just about every man there. She is a strange one, she is, but with that figure, who can complain? Perfect. But she’s royalty an’ that rules—“
As the voices died as they passed, I realised my eyes were pinched shut in a silent rage. My fists were clenched tightly as I suffered the verbal abuse from the overzealous guards, so typical in their thoughts. Worst of all, it would be an insult that I would be forced to carry, unable to ever exact any reprisal upon them without consequence to myself... and also Link. To resist the urge to rain down justice and fury upon them was to fight a prolonged, losing battle; how I wished to surrender to my anger and wrath. If it didn’t happen nigh, I knew my body would burst into flame.
Without expectation, a touch then came across my fist, both familiar yet foreign at the same time, but in both there was a surprising comfort, seeming to disarm my fiery emotions instantaneously without any semblance of conscious thought. Slowly, my hand relaxed and allowed the touch to take my fingers between it, the urge to conjoin with the sensation both seductively thrilling and calmly serene. A smile spread across my lips, my eyes slowly opening to see that it was Link’s fingers caressing my own, his comfort overflowing from him into me. “Thank you” was all that I could think to say to him despite those words being so terribly inadequate to voice sufficiently my thoughts.
“It’s what I’m here for, Zel,” said Link as he smiled back at me.
All at once, the memory of recent history, while not forgotten, faded within the recesses of my mind, and I remembered why this night was special and what remained yet to be done. “I’ll answer your question later. Let’s get going before someone else comes.”
Link nodded silently, although the intrigued grin was still present upon his features. I knew his curiosity wouldn’t fade even by the night’s end and would likely spawn again from his mouth, but other things were more important, and those lesser concerns would be handled all in due time.
Not letting go of his hand, for the thrill of it was too intense to allow to decay, I pulled Link across the street into another alley, turning to my right as we reached the outermost wall of the castle behind a quaint, thatched-roof home facing the street we had just overcome. There I saw the next sign from my dreams: a patch of fertile ivy grown thickly into the wall of stone. “Here it is,” I breathed silently, afraid that even the tiniest voice now would divulge my precious secret.
“I don’t remember ever being here, Zelda,” Link responded equally as quiet. “Are you sure I’m supposed to recognise this?”
“Here, no, don’t be silly,” I said. I placed my free hand upon the ivy, feeling the dampness of the evening dew caressing its fronds and vines. It was so beautiful, so coincidental that it should be interlinked with my purpose this night. I gradually pulled the greenery aside to reveal a tunnel, a split within the outer wall that must have been eaten away by Farore’s blessing upon the ivy. “Through here is what I expect you shall remember.” I looked back at him as I leaned against the wall, ivy in my hand, a sly smile upon my face as my eyes lingered over him. What Link saw in me I could not tell, for his eyes did not betray any of the emotions for which I looked, but somehow I felt as if my stance were on the edge of promiscuousness, as if my very intentions and most intimate desires could be read from my eyes as clearly as ink from a newly written page.
Link merely shook his head as he submerged himself within the rocky cavern within the fortification, his hand pulling me inside after him. “I don’t know how you know of this, Zelda,” his muted voice said from ahead of me, “but this is something. I can’t even remember this being here, and believe me, I’ve looked for every secret way into the castle imaginable.”
“Really? For what foul purpose would a delinquent youth be wanting with an entrance like this?” I joked, teasing him for the very traits that I admired so strongly in him, incidentally the very traits that had allowed him to save the land of Hyrule.
“What else but to sneak in to see some demonic princess just outside of my reach every night after the hour of nine?” came the retort.
“Touché,” I said. That trait of his was something that was secretly charming about Link. In virtually every respect, he was my equal. We shared so much similarity despite our differing backgrounds and heritages; it was an irony almost to see it play out. Perhaps that’s why my heart fell for the hero when it could not fall for any of the other princes of the neighbouring kingdoms; though I was fully a princess in rank, half of my heart laid with the people of the village. What Link had that they didn’t was a heart just as evenly split as mine between commonality and nobility.
“Oh yes, I see where this leads now. This is...”
“This is our garden...” His voice was awash with amazement, and it pleased me to feel his happiness in his heart. As I emerged after him, I saw the small grove of no more than a dozen trees that grew on the southwesterly side of the castle. It wasn’t a garden in true right; aside from the grass, only a few flowering weeds competed for the sunlight with the tall trees, and it hardly could stand with the botanical variety the Court was privy to outside my balcony, but Link and I had called it our special place, our secret garden, ever since our childish eyes had claimed it for ourselves. “It’s even a full moon, just as it was back then. How many years ago was it, Zelda? It seems like only yesterday.”
“Nearly six years, Link. I remember it so clearly. You were eleven then, and I had just turned twelve. Father had let you stay over, for reasons I’ll never guess. After Impa had tucked me in, here you came in from my balcony window. You begged me to come with you to this place, and I willingly followed you. Here we sat in this tree, watching the stars, basking in the midnight light of the full moon. It was early Germinal, during the first fortnight of spring. I’ve yearned to come back to this place ever since that day.” I sighed as I became lost in memory, milling about past events as if I had been dancing through a field of tulips. “Do you remember it, Link?” I turned to face him, wishing desperately to hear his answer, only to find empty space where I had remembered him last.
“Of course I do,” he called at me. Realising that my once-taken hand had been left to its sad solitude, I looked up only to find him already in the very tree we had climbed that day nearly six years back. “Now are you going to climb up here, or am I going to be sitting here up here alone all night long?”
I laughed at him, now free to be as loud as I wished. “I can’t deny a request so gallant as your offer, hero! But you’ll have to assist me up; I’m afraid to admit that I don’t have quite the practise climbing trees than you have acquired!”
As I placed my blue-shoed foot upon the bottommost knob that had been my handicap then as well as today, I reached up for the highest branches my arm could reach. Pushing and pulling myself upward, Link reached down and took that hand outstretched to him so that he could pull me upwards further so that my second foot could find landing on the still out-of-reach second limb. The most difficult part of the journey below me with the majority of the footholds yet above me, I continued clambering into the tall expanse until I finally caught up with him whom I pursued, myself still jovially laughing since the beginnings of my ascent.
As ladies should, I seated myself elegantly next to Link upon the lofty branch, and as I looked at him I smiled brightly before turning my head up to the night sky. “I’m glad you remembered. This place still holds so much magic in my heart; I don’t think it will ever die.”
“How could I forget it?” Link answered. He placed his closest arm upon my back and held me in a brief half-embrace before his eyes joined my gaze in the sky. “Of all the Hyrule and the lands beyond it that I have seen, this is perhaps the most beautiful spot of which I know.” He paused a moment, letting his spirit glide upon the precious magic surrounding the tiny glade. “Thank you for bringing me here. This is a night I shall truly not forget.”
“Nor shall I,” I said, and I couldn’t help but smile even brighter. I looked back at him, nudging him gently in the shoulder. “Though, I think this night will be more memorable than you believe.”
Link’s gaze redirected itself at me with a newfound curiosity; his blue eyes held the same intensity in me as a kitten chasing after a dangling string. “Now I’m intrigued. I should have known this wasn’t just a casual visit after all, is it, Zelda? You came with a purpose!” He chuckled as he made the good-natured accusation, himself perfect on the mark as he always was. “Confess now, princess. What are we out here for?”
“I have something for you,” I said smugly.
“You couldn’t give it to me back at the castle?”
“Of course not! Someone might see it! You know how private the events at the castle are!” Indeed, had I chosen that as our venue for the eve, it would have become gossip of the Court by morn, only to spill over into the market square by noon! “For shame,” I laughed.
“Very well, very well. Out with it now. Don’t keep your hero waiting!”
“You are worse than a spoiled child, Link. Alright, but you have to close your eyes.”
Link nearly lost himself in laughter at first, but after one look at my mockingly stern gaze, he relented willingly. “Okay, as you wish,” he said, closing his eyes as requested. He straightened the arch of his back, his posture seeking a vertical with the ground beneath him. He looked so very charming... and cute.
I breathed a sigh of relief. All so far was precisely as I had seen it in the days and weeks before; the magic of the air was infinitely familiar to my soul, and my heart was beating in tune with the forest upon which I sat, and he was here with me, his emotions seeming to mirror mine. Despite my foreknowledge of the events that had only recently occurred, it wasn’t until this moment when I had realised that it had all been staged, as marionettes dancing from the strings which held them. But soon, the strings were to be cut loose from my hands, for as my right hand fumbled at the purse hanging from my makeshift belt, I realised that in just a moment, my vision of the future would reach its denouement. In my vision, my next move was to kiss him softly, doing something I had wished I could do for longer than I could remember yet never having had the blessing of Farore’s courage to do, and already what little I had was crumbling beneath the weight of my doubts.
Wait. I had a choice, though, yes? I could abandon my vision and let it not happen. My prophecies weren’t constrained to actually come true; they were merely possibility, probability, plausibility—predictability? No. Never mind that they always came true in the past, it sounded ludicrous that my own prophecies now had to be self-fulfilling! I had choice over my Destiny; I could control my actions, so I could control the resultants of my dreams. I refused to submit to the certainty of my own fate. I decided firmly that I could not kiss him; it risked too much; it was reckless beyond imagination.
But then what else could I give him? I had made a promise, a promise to the dearest of all my friends, a promise to the one I loved. How could I face him again knowing that I failed to fulfil a promise to one so dear to my heartstrings?
I kissed him.
I leaned over, placing my left hand at the back of his neck, and I placed my lips upon his own, kissing them and gently caressing them, pouring my love and devotion to him into the sweet kiss with which I sought to imbue him.
And in so doing, I shattered my control of the future.
His lips returned the favour to mine after a few moments, no doubt stunned into inactivity at first; his touch upon my lips was so light yet moving, so delicate yet strong. I could feel an emotion deep down within him, though my own focus was too absorbed in other affairs in order to transcribe it in my mind. Moments passed, and I slowly backed away, my heart racing, myself unsure if it was from the thrill of my love for him or the terror at the possible consequences of my actions. My eyes, somehow now closed, reopened, but clearly upon them there was displayed a lingering fear despite my wildest hopes.
Link remained rigid for a few seconds longer, finally opening his eyes as well, looking at me with a myriad of emotions, almost too numerous so as to count them, much less describe their full measure. There seemed to be a question atop his mind, but it remained unspoken, him withholding it from my knowledge. I could tell he was trying to discover an answer by himself before asking me to hint him along, but in doing so, without Nayru’s wisdom, Din’s power, nor even Farore’s courage, all of which escaping from me and leaving me in frailty, Link unknowingly tortured me inside.
Finally, he spoke. “The guards... the hole in the wall... the full moon... the tree... the kiss... did you see all of this?”
I couldn’t lie to him, not Link. “Yes.”
Link nodded slightly, still leaving me without an inkling of his thoughts. “You knew what would happen tonight?”
“What am I going to say next?”
There it was, perhaps—my saving grace. “I don’t know,” I said weakly.
“You don’t know?”
“No. The dream ended... a minute ago. I don’t know what you’re going to say.”
Link sighed lightly, almost pained in a way. Why did I have to pursue this folly of mine?
“You know I can’t give you what you need, yes?”
That sentence was harsh. The first thought that came to mind was “why?” only to be quickly pursued by “whom?” I thought I was going to be suddenly sick, my stomach as pained as it was. I simply shook my head, not knowing what to say nor do.
Perhaps Link knew my feelings; he always managed to do so when I couldn’t explain them. He looked at me, placing a hand upon my lap. “Zelda, you have given me a wonderful gift this night, one I will never forget. Sadly, it is a gift that cannot be given again. Zelda, I adore you; you are one of the best people in my life. You know the rule, though; anything between us more than friendship, which we had to fight for on its own accord, it’s moot; it cannot be. My status is far inferior to yours. I can’t risk committing something to you that I cannot guarantee down the road.”
From within the darkness, a narrow beam of light sprung forth, shrouding my eye with a glimpse of hope. “What if that weren’t the case, Link?” I asked.
Link frowned. “Zelda, don’t make me answer that.”
“Link, I need to know... for me. What if that weren’t the case?”
Link paused a bit, swallowing painfully as if now I were the torturer of him, as if I had given him precisely what he had done to me seconds ago, trading my slippers for his boots.
With his eyes clenched tight, he sputtered brokenly, “Then it might be different.”
Link couldn’t say the word he wanted to say. I could tell.
I pulled open the leather strap that kept the pouch at my right closed, pulling from it an object that I myself had fought so viciously and strongly to get. “Then I might be able to change that.”
Link reopened his eyes and tilted his head halfway towards me, almost as if he disbelieved my claim. “How?”
“Open your hand, Link.” As he did so, I placed that which was within my hand upon his, not letting him see it just yet. I narrowed my eyes, looking down at my hand resting upon his. “This that I give to you is more precious, more valuable, more magical than all I have ever come to know in this land. My friend, I battled monsters that even you have not had the courage to fight to obtain this, for indeed, battling your own allies is more difficult than Dragmire himself was for you. This symbol that I give to you was given to me by someone you know very well, and likewise someone that knows you the same. He has always admired you in secret, but he chose to never make you aware of his admiration for reasons I never knew until this day. You are not required to take this from me, Link, for both good and ill are likely to come from it. Link, I give you—”
“Zel, tonight you have spoken in more riddles than I have known you ever could, but this is the easiest of all of them to solve. Is it your father’s acceptance?”
I giggled slightly and nodded. “I knew I liked you for good reason.” Hiding my happiness for just a little longer, I continued. “This ring did not come easily, for with it comes responsibilities which I would not wish upon anyone, most of all those closest to me. Link, you know what they are. I offer you the ring of my father, given to me so that you would have the opportunity to accept it of your own free will. It is yours for the taking should you wish it so.”
Link breathed deeply, collecting himself as the weight of the ring shifted from myself to him. The tension of the air was so thick that it could choke any wayward trespasser that would happen to walk by. I closed my eyes so he would not feel the pressure of my gaze upon him atop his current burdens as my Hylian ears awaited his verdict.
“Then I have no choice, Zel. I am obligated to accept this ring, for though it may tie me down from my adventuring days, it is the only chance I will ever have to fulfil the wish that I have sought for so very long,” He curled his fingers about the ring beneath my hand, and as I looked at him happily, he just had to add, “Besides, going on adventures is becoming overrated!”
Laughter filled my lungs and heart as I shook my head. “Only some adventures, love. Now kiss me; let’s make tonight an adventure we won’t forget.”
“We already have.”
A sweeter flavour than that of his eager lips upon mine I have still yet to find.
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