To Woo a Queen

By dress without sleeves

Let it never be said that Queen Zelda Hyrule lacked possession of grace and dignity such as was almost otherworldly. She was intelligent and caring, firm yet gentle, wise and easy to smile. She was graceful and loved by all of her subjects. She never acted out in public or let anyone take advantage of her. She was someone to look up to, someone to admire.

But at the heart of every matriarch was a woman, and this particular one could be found not surrounded by her High Council or distributing charity in Castle Town—rather she was moving carefully through her gardens, eyes closed, cheeks flushed slightly from heat and laughter.

“One more step . . . good. Now turn to your left.” The all-powerful Zelda obeyed, her lips betraying a small smile. The voice chuckled in amusement as she stumbled a little bit. “Good; come forward a bit more. Well I must say, your Majesty, I’m coming to like this compliant side of you very much.”

She reached out, swatting at air. “Careful, lest I decide to stop humoring you and use the wisdom I’m so famous for to throw you out of this castle,” she warned playfully, lifting her skirts nervously off the ground. “By the way, if you run me into something, I'm going to kill you - Hero of Time or no.” She took a graceful step forward and then another, the venom of her scowl lost in the suspicious twitching at the corners of her mouth. “Keep going straight?”

“Just a bit.” She put one more foot in front of the other, and felt her toes wrap around something soft. Her mouth opened and formed a small 'ha!' as her eyes snapped open. She found herself facing a grinning Hero of Time, his arms folded across his chest. “Hullo, Highness,” he said with a crooked grin.

For a second she just grinned foolishly at him and then shook her head. “All that trouble and all I get is a hello?” She asked, raising an eyebrow. “And here I was thinking you came bearing gifts.”

“I am but a poor goat herder,” he answered teasingly. “What could I possibly give to the sovereign of all Hyrule?”

The Queen’s whole face glowed mischievously as she leaned onto her tip-toes, bringing her nose close to his. “You stayed away for a month, Hero,” she murmured accusingly. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

The Hero wordlessly bent down to kiss her mouth, his lips playfully parting hers as he brought a hand to her cheek. They broke apart only when the need to breathe overpowered the need to touch, and neither could prevent the markedly undignified grins from claiming their faces. “The wedding had a few setbacks,” he explained. “And you know how it is at Lon Lon. If you’re going to spend a night there, you’re going to spend a week.”

She laughed, eyes softening around the edges as she looked at him. Her hand slid down his arm until their hands were clasped and she stepped back, tugging him gently into step beside her. “How is Malon?” She asked idly. “I trust everything concluded well?”

Link smiled, giving her hand a light squeeze as he adjusted the sword at his hip. “Malon is newly wed,” he replied with a small shake of his head. “She was blissfully distracted for about six seconds before she was back to ordering me about, like always.”

Zelda reached down to pick a blossom from its bush, bringing the soft petals to her nose as she inhaled. “They’ll be happy,” she told him with that knowing smile she reserved for predictions she enjoyed sharing. They were silent for a moment before she added, almost tentatively, “I’m glad you got to go. You deserve a vacation. You’ve seemed . . . worried, of late.”

He grinned over at her, raising his eyebrows beneath his shaggy blonde hair. “Sick of me already, Majesty?” He asked, half-laughing as she punched his shoulder lightly.

“Are you incapable of taking anything seriously, Link?”

“Completely.” She glared at him for a moment before giving in to her mirth and allowing her mouth to quirk upward at the tips. He waited a beat before admitting, “Actually, there has been something on my mind.” He leaned in confidentially. “You see, there’s this woman.”

Zelda turned to face him, expression amused. “Oh? What about her?”

“Well, she’s beautiful,” he began, “With long, golden hair and eyes as crisp as a clear spring morning. Her voice is like a lullaby played on a musician’s ocarina. And her mouth, when she smiles, absolutely defies propriety.”

“She sounds charming. What’s the problem?”

He grinned shamelessly. “Well, she’s very stuck-up,” he deadpanned. “And has absolutely no grace whatsoever . . . always tripping over things and knocking over furniture. It’s very distracting.”

She yelped indignantly, leaping at him with playful knocks against his chest. “You horrible liar! You just want to antagonize me.”

He pretended to think about it. “Maybe,” he conceded finally. “I like you angry.”

She paused her assault, looking up at her opponent with a bewildered tilt of her head. “What? Why?” Link grinned crookedly, capturing her wrists between his thumb and forefinger on each hand. She twisted her face into her best menacing and queenly expression for him, feigning affront.

He rolled his eyes affectionately at her, tugging her into a bone-crushing hug. “I especially like this part.”

She giggled into his tunic. “I can't breathe, Link,” she managed through mouthfuls of green fabric. “Or don’t you want my continued attentions?” He released her grudgingly, winking. She rolled her eyes. “Why green?” she complained suddenly. “I’m almost sorry I couldn’t make the wedding, if only to see you in some decently shaded fabric.”

The handsome man rolled his blue eyes and laughed. “Why does everyone always say that? I like green!” he defended, a touch petulantly. “I don’t tell you not to wear boy’s clothing and lurk around Castle Town like some bandit.”

“Shut up, you. I do not lurk. But fine, I give up. Just don't think you'll get the girls wearing that.”

His expression became serious. “Well isn’t it lucky that I have the only one I’ve ever wanted right here?” She blushed and smiled at him, reaching up to pull his head down. Their lips met and she put her arms around his neck as he lifted her off the ground.

“Are you sure that’s entirely appropriate behavior for a Queen and her Hero to partake in, Majesty? Particularly if they are unmarried?” Zelda started, leaping away from Link an a hasty, uncoordinated jump that very nearly ended with her rump in the mud. If it hadn’t been for Link’s quick hand she’d have ruined (yet another) court dress.

Heavens, Impa, don’t do that!”

Link entwined his fingers with Zelda's, smirking unabashedly at the Sheikan woman. “Are passionate, torrid love affairs indecent these days?” He asked cheerfully.

“Link!” Zelda gasped, throwing him a disapproving glance. “What if someone heard you?” She turned to her old nurse and said guiltily as a child caught with her hand on the pie window, “We’re two responsible adults, Impa, and anyway. Everyone knows we plan to marry as soon as things . . . settle.”

Impa arched an eyebrow. “All the same, Highness.” Without another word she was gone, seemingly to disappear.

Zelda swore. “I hate it when she does that,” she said darkly. “You’re think we were still in the middle of war, the way she sneaks about.” Link laughed and led her away from the door, winking at the air as though Impa might see it. Zelda turned to face him. “Oh, sure, take her side. Always barging in like I'm still ten . . .” the Hero laughed again, and Zelda fought to control a smile. "I hate you," she said, her tone somber. "You always make me laugh."

Link grinned. “I take my job as protector of the queen’s health, strength, and mood very seriously, your Grace.”

Zelda rolled her eyes and relented with a light, “Yes, well, only with my grace will you be allowed back in the castle at all. So I suggest you start repaying me a month-long debt, Sword-boy.”

She broke free of him, laughing as he clasped his hand to his chest in mock despair. She darted ahead, mud splattering up her skirts and onto her arms. Her hair was falling out in places, rebellious little wisps framing her flushed, smirking face.

Looking at her, Link smiled to himself.

He leapt forward, hands barely brushing her fleeing form. But he wasn’t worried—he’d catch her yet.

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