Disclaimer: I dont want to get in whatever trouble people can get into when using other peoples characters so - The Legend of Zelda, Link, Zelda, Ganon, Hyrule and other related characters and settings belong to to that wonderous console company, Nintendo. No infringement intended.
Juliet A. Singleton (Scullys@bigfoot.com) & Kirsty Singleton (Indigo_Spacen@mail.com)
The following day, Robert and the party he had travelled with returned. They had searched Death Mountain every last inch, and it hadn't been until they were returning that they heard of Ewan's safe return. It was late afternoon before they returned, and Robert headed straight for Link as soon as he laid eyes on him.
"Robert," exclaimed Link as he saw his kinsman approaching.
"Kaibre Lainge, where is he?" demanded Robert. Link looked at Robert, an expression of surprise at his attitude.
"Well, I assume he returned with the others," said Link. Robert stood closer to Link.
"It was him," said Robert quietly. He spoke sharply, he sounded angry.
"What?!" asked Link, lowering his voice also. They were in the drawing room, and Zelda, Nick and Selina were all present, along with Kendar Hartrend who was being closely attended to by none other than Fayette.
"Look, I know him. He worked in the court of Queen Seline a while," explained Robert.
"And he came highly recommended," interrupted Link, remembering Zelda's words.
"While he was there, the Tanolians killed his wife and child," continued Robert.
"Really? That's awful," gasped Link, looking down at his feet.
"He took Ewan to replace his own son. He took your son, and tried to frame someone else!"
Link looked at Robert.
"Do you have anything to back that accusation up?" he inquired. Robert moved his gaze from Link for the first time as he noticed the stranger in the room.
"Who is that man?" he asked.
"Answer my question and I'll answer yours," said Link.
"I found her," sighed Robert, turning back to Link.
"Mara. I found her in Death Mountain, and she was so distraught. Link, Ewan wasn't there, we searched the whole mountain, she was telling the truth!" insisted Robert. Link frowned.
"But Kaibre was near death, she attacked him. He couldn't have taken Ewan, he was injured himself," retorted Link. Robert shook his head.
"When was he found? Morning?" Link frowned once more.
"Then he had all the time to kidnap Ewan, deposit him somewhere else, and get back to the castle and be found," growled Robert, angered that Link would question him. He wasn't used to people questioning him. He grimaced as he saw Zelda approaching, the Queen of Hyrule placing her hand on her husband's shoulder.
"What's going on?" she questioned. The two had been in close conversation for a while now, and she wasn't going to sit and watch.
"Nothing," dismissed Link.
"She should know," contradicted Robert, his eyes locking onto Zelda's.
"That Kaibre Lainge was the man who kidnapped your son," spat Robert, glaring at Link.
"Give me evidence and I will believe you," said Link. Zelda glared at them both.
"Kaibre Lainge is not a man capable of such a deed. It was Mara Hespera, the despicable witch, if it hadn't been for Kendar, we may never have seen our son again," she whispered harshly, defending Kaibre with a passion for him she didn't know she had.
"Kendar?" echoed Robert.
"The man you were inquiring about before," said Link. Robert nodded.
"I'd like to know why you think Kaibre took my son," demanded Zelda, annoyed by the side-track.
"It's already obvious where your loyalties lie, your majesty," said Robert darkly.
"Pardon?" asked Zelda. Link knew that tone, it was a dangerous one. He placed a hand across Robert's chest, forcing him to back away.
"Ignore him," advised Link, speaking to his wife.
"No. He obviously has an opinion. I wish to hear it," retorted Zelda, staring at Link. Link stepped away, bowing his head. He was confused. He was weary, and emotionally drained. These last few weeks had been far from kind, he had yet to recover. The last thing he wanted now was to be in an argument. He wanted to spend time with his son.
"I'll go and see to Ewan," he said quietly, before leaving. Zelda watched as he left, feeling slightly angry with herself. After what her husband had been through...she promised she would apologise to him later on. She turned back to Robert, who had laid his intense gaze on her, his green eyes burning right through her.
"Explain your words," she instructed. He let out a sharp snort and smiled.
"I pity Link."
"What?" demanded Zelda, her eyes narrowing.
"You. What he says or thinks means nothing to you. You're all your own person. And you'll never change, he thinks one day you might change, but he's wrong, isn't he?" accused Robert. Zelda frowned.
"You know neither me or Link. You're hardly in the position to start making judgements about our marriage."
"Kylara was infatuated with Link. She loved him unconditionally," started Robert.
"She wasn't sane," bit back Zelda. Robert glared at her hatefully.
"Link would have been better off with Kylara. She would never have betrayed him." Zelda gasped at the implication.
"How dare you!" she snapped in a whisper.
"Kaibre Lainge, you seem strangely loyal to the man," retorted Robert.
"He saved my life."
"It was his job."
"You had best leave this castle. I desire to no longer have you a guest," said Zelda shortly.
"Kaibre Lainge framed Mara Hespera. Think. How did he recover? Very convenient if you ask me? He was in charge of Ewan when he disappeared, it's obvious!" hissed Robert.
"What do you know of Mara?!" demanded Zelda.
"That it was not her who took your son," said Robert, before turning to leave. Zelda caught his shoulder.
"Wait!" she called, and he turned back to her. "Do you know her?"
"No. But I know Mr. Lainge. He is not to be trusted," replied Robert. Then he left. Zelda turned to see a concerned Nick and Selina watching her from across the room, and then she left.
Link looked down at Ewan, who was asleep in his parents bed. He sat down beside him, and ruffled his hair a little. He stared and looked up into his father's concerned face, and gave a sleepy smile. He was looking a lot better than the night before.
"How you doing?" asked Link softly. Ewan nodded.
"Okay," he said. Link gave him a small hug.
"You had us really scared there," murmured Link. Ewan nodded again.
"But, where were you? And mother? She went again," he asked meekly. Link let out a small sigh.
"I'm sorry," he apologised, giving Ewan a tighter hug. "I'm sorry." Ewan looked up at his father, his skin was pale, and he looked tired, exhausted. Link looked down to him.
"Who did this Ewan?" he asked. Ewan shook his head, his lower lip trembling.
"I can't remember," he admitted. He dove into his father's chest, trying to choke back a sob, and Link just held onto him, trying to comfort his son in whatever way he could.
"Shhh. Come on now, don't worry. It doesn't matter," he assured his son, just hoping whoever had taken Ewan wasn't going to try it again.
Zelda walked along the castle corridor towards her tower, when she spotted Kaibre coming out of his room. She walked up to him, and grabbed his shoulder, making him turn to her.
"Your Highness," he gasped in surprise. Zelda met his eyes with hers, and held the gaze, searching for something, anything, that would suggest he had taken her son.
"You should be thankful that Ewan was returned safely," she stated. Kaibre broke her gaze, hanging his head in shame.
"You don't know how relieved I was to hear the news," he murmured in a husky voice.
"No. I don't. Look at me Kaibre, what is happening here? How did Ewan disappear?" asked Zelda. Kaibre looked at her again.
"Mara. She had infected my blood with some poison that reacted to an amulet she held. I was able to fight it off but.."
"Why didn't you call the guards?" demanded Zelda.
"I tried. Just before I fell, I called for the guards. Anyone who could have heard me was dead," sighed Kaibre.
"What is to say you didn't kill them?" questioned Zelda. Kaibre stared at her, blinking.
"Surely you don't believe..." he began.
"What is to say you haven't killed Mara?" Kaibre stepped back at this remark, shaking his head.
"When I heard Ewan had been kidnapped, I went out and searched, despite my health. I searched harder and longer than any man in the land, so desperate was I to make amends. I thanked the Gods when I heard he had been found, and I composed this, to give to you," said Kaibre, handing Zelda an envelope. She accepted it and opened it, taking out the letter. She quickly read it, and when finished, she looked to Kaibre.
"You resign? A coward's path," accused Zelda. Kaibre shook his head.
"Maybe so. But it is plain to see I am not able to continue my post. I am in no correct mental state. I was a fool to even accept the job," said the man. Zelda stared at him evenly.
"You can resign, but it makes you seem all the more guilty."
"Or what? I can stay and be presumed guilty?" asked Kaibre, his anger evident.
"No. You can stay and prove yourself innocent," replied Zelda. Kaibre looked at her.
"Who told you I was responsible for Ewan's disappearance?" he inquired. Zelda lost his gaze for the first time.
"It doesn't matter. What does matter is that you find Mara, and you prove to me that those who claim it was you are wrong," she said quietly. Kaibre watched her carefully, and nodded.
"Then I will. Please, look at me," implored Kaibre. Zelda obeyed his request, and met his eyes. She knew he hadn't taken Ewan. But she knew others might not agree, including her husband. Kaibre reached forward and gingerly touched Zelda's cheek, and she looked sharply towards him, yet made no move to brush his hand away.
"I'm sorry you feel this way," he admitted, moving his hand away. Then he moved away down the corridor without turning back. Zelda swallowed as he left, touching her cheek where his hand had been. Shaking her head, she quickly turned and walked into her tower, where she ascended the stairs to her room.
When she got inside her room, she closed the door and turned around to witness Link in an embrace with Ewan. She ran over and sat beside him, hugging them both.
"Link, Ewan, I'm so sorry," she murmured, kissing Link on the cheek.
"It's okay," accepted Link softly. Zelda turned to him, her eyes beginning to fill with tears.
"No, it isn't. I've let you both down," she sobbed, and Link leaned forward and embraced her, kissing her on the forehead.
"It's all over now. It doesn't matter!" he insisted, Ewan clinging to his side.
"It does Link. Oh, I've been so awful to you both. I've never cared for anyone but myself," said Zelda, her forehead creasing in anguish.
"No, no, that isn't true Zel, you've always been wonderful," contradicted Link, trying to crack a smile amid the tears. He pulled her further onto the bed, and lay down, picking up Ewan and placing him in the middle of the two. Then he put his arm around Zelda, and smiled at her. "I love you both," he said. Ewan hugged his mother, and she leaned forward to kiss Link, so grateful to have him for a husband.
"I don't know where I'd be without you Link. If I ever lost you..." she began. Link hushed her.
"You won't," he promised.
Robert was skulking about the castle grounds when he saw someone leaving the castle. He waited and watched, realising he recognised the figure to be none but Kaibre Lainge. He jogged over to him, beckoning him to stop. Kaibre turned as he heard Robert's voice, and stood waiting.
"Kaibre Lainge. So we meet again," greeted Robert with a short bow. Kaibre stared at him.
"Robert?" he asked.
"What are you doing here?" questioned Kaibre.
"I accompanied Zelda and her husband back to Hyrule."
"What do you want of me?"
"I want to know why you took the Royal couples son," replied Robert. Kaibre shook his head.
"So it was you who planted those ideas in Her Highnesses head," he presumed with disgust. Robert smiled.
"So, she did take stock in my words after all. For a moment there, I feared she may have had certain...loyalties to preserve," retorted the Catalian General. Kaibre glared at Robert.
"Be careful with your words sir. I may take offence. You know I never took Ewan," warned Kaibre.
"Then who did?" questioned Robert.
"Mara Hespera. She was the castle healer, but it turns out she is no more than an evil witch!" answered Kaibre.
"Where is your proof?"
"I have none. But when I find her, I shall prove it was her and not me who took Zelda's son," pledged Kaibre.
"What makes you think you will find her?"
"I will find her."
"Well, I wish you good luck friend, for it is hard to search when you are dead," informed Robert, drawing his sword swiftly, and pointing it at Kaibre. Kaibre reacted quickly though, his sword was drawn no more than half a second later, and he nimbly deflected what could have been a fatal blow. Robert laughed as he fought off Kaibre's own attack, amused by his efforts.
"If Seline were to realise your true intentions..." began Kaibre, Robert's sword scratching his face. "She would never have made you next in line."
"But she loves me like a son Kaibre. She wants Catalia to be great again, and she knows I will achieve that," replied Robert, catching Kaibre across the chest with a glancing blow. Kaibre backed off, a groan emitting from his lips, and stared at Robert from under his brow.
"At the cost of how many lives?" he asked.
"Everyone in the Catalian army are prepared to fight for their flag. They will live by the sword, and they will die by it with honour," answered Robert. Kaibre was a good fighter, but he could never claim his skills to be superior to Robert's. And he had had so little rest recently.
"You are insane," stated Kaibre, dodging another strike. Robert grinned, his green eyes glowing.
"Insane? How so?" he quizzed.
"You want to rule the world. I know that is your ultimate aim. You want it all, forever. But we all die Robert, you could fight for years and win it all, but you'll die before you can even enjoy it. And even if you didn't, with such blood on your hands, could you enjoy it?" asked Kaibre. Robert growled in fury and smashed his sword against Kaibre's, sending both blades flying. He dove on top of Kaibre and pushed him to the floor, his elbow pushed against his throat.
"You want to find Mara Hespera? You want to prove your innocence? Then search no further than Death Mountain, for that is were I found her, and that is were she told me that you were the one who took Ewan."
"She's lying. I thought you had calmed down Robert, but your ambition is as overblown as ever, I see. I will warn Zelda of your intentions, and then I will find Mara and bring my name to justice."
"How can you do that if I kill you?" asked Robert ironically, grasping his dagger from his belt and poising it at Kaibre's throat.
"I can't," admitted Kaibre. Robert took the dagger away and stood up.
"Nothing you could tell your beloved Queen could help her. I can guarantee that if you do, I will return to Catalia this very day and announce war. No country is prepared for what Catalia has planned, nor will they be when the time comes," informed Robert. Kaibre stood up, dusting himself up.
"When the time comes? I assume you mean when Seline dies. She would never let Catalia go to war with any country over greed," said Kaibre. Robert smiled.
"If you are so sure," he acknowledged with a nod.
"Yes, I am," retorted Kaibre. Robert just smiled, then walked away, back to the castle he had been banished from. Kaibre watched him leave wondering what he should do. If he were to tell Zelda of Robert's ambition plans, then he had no doubt that Robert would carry out his threat. It would be best to say nothing for now, he hoped.
Early the next morning, as Zelda left her tower, she was confronted by Drake.
"Drake?" she asked, not quite sure it was the knight in the dim light. He stepped forward, and bowed to her. She watched him, then asked him what he wanted.
"I wanted to speak with you about Mara," began Drake. Zelda frowned.
"Yes, actually, come to think of it, so do I," she said. Drake paused, looking a little unsure. "Go on," she prompted him. He continued.
"I'm not altogether sure about her being the villain of this crime," he admitted. Zelda's frown deepened.
"You would question Kaibre's words? I had come to understand you two were old companions."
"He could've been easily mistaken. I got to know Mara during her stay, and she didn't seem that way...inclined," said Drake. Zelda thought for a moment, running one hand through her hair.
"You got to know her? In what way?" she asked. Drake looked to the floor at this question, scratching the back of his neck.
"We talked a few times," he began.
"Anything else?" asked Zelda sharply.
"All that I am saying is that I don't feel Mara did it," said Drake, looking directly at Zelda.
"If not her, then who?" finally asked the princess. Drake shook his head.
"I wish I could tell you." Zelda did not seem satisfied by this answer.
"If she didn't take Ewan, then where is she now? It seems very odd that she left the very night Ewan disappeared," she pointed out. Drake shrugged.
"Perhaps she was taken too," he lamely suggested. Zelda exhaled a short breath, then spoke.
"I want men out searching for her. Once we do locate Ms. Hespera, then we will be able to determine all the more easily her innocence." Drake nodded.
"Certainly. I shall see to it straight away that she is found," promised Drake. Zelda nodded and he left, walking down the corridor with some purpose. She stood there in a daze for what must have been a minute, then realised she had come down here in such early hours for a reason. She turned and walked down the passage, intending to carry out her intention.
Kendar awoke later on in the morning, and smiled as he realised where he was. He couldn't believe the friendliness of the Royal family, how willingly they had accommodated him. Speaking of accommodating, Lady Fayette was certainly that. She was the one that had insisted he stay another night. He hadn't refused, he would have been foolish too. But he knew he had to return home sometime, if he could call it home. But he would return, certainly. If they would let him, that is. He could not deny that he was attracted to the Queen-to-be's step-sister, and he was sure she felt the same, but he knew she was unsure. After all, she knew him to be nothing special, just some wandering adventurer, searching for something he himself wasn't sure of. He rose from the comfy refines of the bed, and quickly dressed and washed, packing his few belongings in a small knapsack. He supposed he should stay and thank the castle for their hospitality, but he decided he'd just pay a visit to Fayette, perhaps let her thank the castle for him later on.
Fayette woke with a start. She blinked in the dim morning light, and slowly sat up, glancing around warily. Something had woken her up. Her whole body tensed as she remembered that whole affair with Zelda, hoping whoever it had been hadn't grown bored of Zelda and decided to target her instead.
"Hello?" she asked, suspecting it could be one of her children, crept in for a prank of some sort.
"I hate to intrude..." spoke a deep, masculine voice. Fayette jumped as a figure stepped out of the shadows, and into the morning light that was filtering through the heavy drape curtains. "But I couldn't just leave without saying goodbye," he finished. He sat on the bed beside her, smiling.
"Kendar?" questioned Fayette, feeling slightly groggy.
"It is I," confirmed the man. Fayette smiled a little. Then she realised his words.
"You're leaving?" she asked in dismay. Kendar looked down or a second, before raising his eyes to hers.
"For now. But if you wished me to return..." he said, his words fading. Fayette swallowed a little, nervous in the man's presence.
"If you wish to return then do so," she encouraged. Kendar smiled, and reached forward, taking Fayette's hand. She eagerly let him do so, a sharp, tingling sensation jumping from his hand to hers.
"Last night I told you I was looking for something," he leaned closer, "I think I may be close to finding it." Fayette smiled at his words, and swallowed again, nervous with excitement. Could it be true that this man, this incredibly attractive, handsome brave man was interested in her? Despite the fact he knew she could never be anything more than a mere princess, and that she had five children in tow? "I would stay longer, but I must return home for a short time. I would stay to thank the rest of the castle, for their hospitality, but I thought perhaps you could do it for me. I do not wish to be rude, but I am already late in returning, I do not wish to be any later," explained Kendar. Fayette just nodded.
"Certainly, of course," she obliged. Kendar kissed the back of her hand tenderly, then stood.
"Then I shall be going," he announced, but Fayette stood with him, grasping the sheets of her bed and wrapping them around herself.
"When will you return?" she asked.
"Soon, if that is what you wish," replied Kendar.
"Yes, please, soon," affirmed Fayette. There was a short pause of silence between the two, and Kendar stepped closer to her, and seized both of her hands in his strong ones, causing her to reveal herself in nothing but a thin night dress. He smiled at her, then leaned forward, gently touching her lips with his in a sweet kiss. At that moment, a crash came at the window, and they leapt apart, shocked by the noise. Kendar ran to the window and pulled back the drape, looking outside, Fayette expectantly waiting by the bed. Kendar frowned as he peered out of the window and turned back to Fayette.
"I can see nothing," he told her. Fayette's heart slowed at his words, having leapt at his touch, and even more so at the crash at the window. Kendar strode back over to her and kneeled before her, kissing her hand and then standing. "'Til we meet again," he bid goodbye, and Fayette nodded to him before he left. She sat back on the bed dazed by the man's effect on her. She was normally much more forthright with men, but there was something about Kendar Hartrend that made her come over all timid. Not that it did any harm. In fact, she was sure he found it all the more appealing. She leaned down and grabbed the bed covers, hauling them over herself, and slipping back into a more blissful sleep.
Zelda paused outside the doorway into Impa's quarters, unsure. She desperately needed to talk to someone though, and her old nursemaid was the only person she felt she could turn to right now. It was times like this, that she still wished her mother was alive. But even her memories of her were becoming hazy, maybe she couldn't have helped. The princess fingered the door handle, letting out a small sigh. And Fenella. Fenella was her step-mother, but they would never be able to talk. They never did. Zelda treated Fenella with about as much fondness as she would hold for a moblin, and Fenella treated her exactly the same. They would never share a mother-daughter bond like her father wished them to. Thus it was Impa who took on that mother role, she always had done. Impa would help her out, Zelda was sure. She would at least help her make sense of her feelings, anyway. Taking a deep breath, Zelda knocked upon the heavy oak door.
"Come in," called the nursemaid's kindly voice. The princess pushed open the door, and stepped around it, closing it quietly behind her. Impa was sat over by the fire, knitting some small article. She rose as Zelda entered, and smiled warmly.
"Hi," Zelda said softly, walking slowly over towards one of the overstuffed chairs.
"I've been waiting for you, princess, since you returned for Catalia. But with all the business over little Ewan..." Impa started. Zelda nodded.
"I'm so glad it's... over," she said, pausing slightly. It wasn't, really.
"I think we all are," Impa agreed. "But anyway, let's not discuss such a dire subject. How about some of my herbal tea, and some home-baked gingerbread?"
"Yes please," Zelda said, smiling a little. Impa always had delicious treats on hand, and even as a grown-up, both Zelda and Link loved to have them. Impa wandered over to a cupboard, and took out a tin of biscuits, and set about making the tea.
"So princess, how fare you and Link?" she questioned conversationally. Zelda swallowed nervously.
"Both well, as always," she replied, somewhat truthfully. They had made up their previous arguments, and got on as well as ever. But Zelda was still worried over her feelings for Kaibre, and everything else that had happened. She hung her head, golden strands of hair dropping in front of her eyes.
"Why do I sense it's not quite so perfect?" Impa questioned, turning to look at Zelda. Zelda looked up, a guilty blush spreading across her cheeks.
"Oh Impa... I'm such a... such... I..." she trailed off, looking away again. A single tear slid down her cheek remorsefully. Impa shuffled over, and handed her a warm mug of tea.
"Here, get this down you, you'll feel better," she promised. Zelda accepted the cup gratefully, and sipped it. Regaining her composure, she looked up again.
"Link and I... we really are fine. I love him so much, I always will, but Impa, I'm such a hypocrite!" she said sadly.
"In what way?" Impa asked, not in a nasty way, but far more caring. Zelda felt glad that Impa would never judge her unkindly for her actions, whatever they were. It gave her some reassurance.
"I..." Zelda started. She looked down into the cup, watching the liquid swirl for a moment. Then she glanced back up. "I think I feel something... for someone else," she said, not daring to look at her nursemaid. By this, Impa looked shocked.
"Oh Zelda..." she murmured, sounding disappointed. Zelda gave a small sniff.
"I never meant it to happen, I didn't even want it to!" she defended weakly. Impa came and sat down in the opposite chair.
"Sometimes Princess, sometimes we do feel such emotions. You're only human, after all," she said kindly.
"But Impa, I hated Link for even looking at another! Any girl, it didn't matter who she was! And after the way I acted with Leigh... I'm so, so horrible, I never deserved Link, I didn't deserve his love. Not after the way I've treated him!" Zelda wept.
"Hush, don't cry Princess. We all make our mistakes, and I know you've learnt from yours. Don't let the past trouble you so," the old nursemaid consoled wisely.
"That's the whole part of the problem though!" Zelda wailed. "If Link knew, he'd never forgive me, never!"
"But, is there anything he should know? How far has this infatuation... gone?" Impa questioned. Zelda sighed, and ran a hand through her already tousled gold hair.
"Too far," she murmured.
"Zelda!" Impa said sharply. The Princess looked up again.
"I don't love him Impa, not like I love Link. It's just, when we're together... I feel... something," she tried to explain.
"Then you must fight it, Princess. You can't risk what you have with Link, just for the sake of some feelings that probably would fade in time," Impa replied.
"I've tried! We both have! But it's not as bad as you think! We haven't acted on them, barely. I love Link too much for that, I wouldn't, I couldn't! Only, it's tearing me up so much, the guilt, and I'm just so afraid that Link will find out!" Zelda interjected.
"I don't agree with keeping secrets, but after what that poor young man has been subjected to in his home country, I don't think this is the right time to tell him," Impa stated.
"But he suspects, I just know he does!" Zelda exclaimed, more tears beginning to pour down her cheeks. Impa shook her head.
"Link would never think bad of you, Zelda," she said. Zelda's lower lip trembled.
"No," she agreed. "He wouldn't." With that, she suddenly got up, and made a dash towards the door, unable to control her tears any longer.
Impa rose slowly from her chair, shaking her head to herself. "Princess, wait!" she called after Zelda's retreating figure. The golden haired heir paused, but didn't turn to face her old nursemaid.
"I didn't want this!" she said.
"Of course you didn't, and don't, I hope," Impa said.
"I would never intentionally hurt Link," Zelda replied, looking round. Her blonde hair hung in disarray, and her eyes and cheeks were stained red from crying.
"I'm sure he knows that," Impa soothed.
"But after the way I treated him over Leigh, how could I possibly expect him to be fair with me?" Zelda asked, her face clearly pained.
"Link is one of the fairest people I know," Impa replied. Zelda pouted slightly.
"I..." she started. Impa ushered her back into the room quickly, and shut the door.
"You are not the first woman, and you won't be the last to feel like this, I assure you. But you have to get past it, for the sake of your marriage," she said.
"I won't have one soon, at this rate," Zelda muttered darkly, turning away again.
"No! Don't you dare speak like that, Zelda. You won't give up, you're going to repair the damage you've done. Starting tonight," Impa remarked sternly.
"What, how?" Zelda asked, her eyes wide.
"You'll spend time with your husband, and show him how much you love him. And in doing so, you'll prove to yourself that this other man means nothing. Nothing at all," Impa replied.
"He does mean nothing!" Zelda snapped.
"Then it should be easy, then," Impa answered. Zelda broke down again.
"I'm such a terrible person, I hate myself!" she cried, weeping once more.
"No, you are just a confused young woman, who has had too much responsibility too soon," Impa stated wisely. She laid a hand on Zelda's shoulder gently.
"I..." Zelda started. Impa didn't allow her to finish.
"You fell in love so young too, only one lover, you have a right to be curious, perhaps. But not that curious, Zelda," she said.
"I wasn't curious! Just..." the princess protested.
"You're going to put this behind you, put it down to experience, and nothing more. And you'll put it right, as I'm sure you can. I have every faith in you, Zelda. I know that you can do this for me, for Link, for yourself. And you children," Impa said. Zelda let out another sob. She let Impa hug her.
"I love Link so, so much," she wept.
"I know you do. And you're going to show him that," Impa said. Zelda wiped her eyes, and nodded.
"I'm going to try," she said.
"You'll do more than just try," Impa said, her tone still austere.
"I promise," Zelda replied. Impa smiled.
"Well, off you go, then!" she said. Zelda took a deep breath, and nodded.
"Thank you," she said sincerely.
"Anytime," Impa replied, smiling again. Zelda smiled back faintly, then quickly walked out, banishing all thoughts of Kaibre from her mind.
Link looked up with relative surprise when Zelda entered their room.
"Zel, where you been?" he inquired, noting that her eyes were a little reddened.
"Nowhere," she replied dismissively, walking across to the bed where their son still lay, sound asleep, one arm wrapped greedily around the edge of the blanket. Link nodded, pulling on a dark green tunic to accompany the white shirt and trousers he was already wearing.
"You look like you've been crying," he said quietly, still a little hurt at her reluctance to discuss things with him. "I thought we got that all out last night." Zelda took her eyes from her son, and placed them on her husband.
"We did, I just..." she began, trailing off, her eyes wandering from her husband's concerned face. He walked over to her.
"If something is still worrying you, then please, just tell me," he pleaded, grasping both of her arms in his hands, trying to look at her. She returned her gaze to his and smiled.
"Really Link, it's okay. I was just a bit upset that's all. I think everything is really sinking in now," she explained. Link didn't look convinced, but he nodded anyway and let go of her.
"I love you, you know. No matter what," he reminded, before walking out onto the balcony. Zelda quickly checked on Brianna, then followed her husband outside.
When she saw him, she couldn't help but notice his slumped posture over the balcony, and his hands hopelessly rammed in his pockets.
"So do I," she replied, joining him at the rail. He stood up and turned to her.
"I look at you everyday, Zel, and wonder what it would have been like if you'd never returned my feelings. I mean, I'd still probably be working at the castle, and I'd see you everyday with your husband, some prince I suppose, and wondered where I'd gone wrong. But I'd know really. It'd be because I was never good enough for you. Because you deserved better. Or at least that's what I'd be allowed to think. But when I see you upset like this, I still think the same thing. Where did I go wrong? And I wonder if your life would have been better if you'd married someone else, someone who deserves you," started Link. Zelda silenced him suddenly with a hand on his chest, and a tear in her eye.
"Link, how could you even think that?" she asked. He hung his head.
"Because maybe it's true." Zelda shook her head.
"No it isn't Link. Without you, my life would have been miserable. When you went to Catalia, and when I saw you in that cell, I realised how much I love you Link, how much I have always loved you. If it's anything, it's me who never deserved you. You've saved my life a dozen times over, and not just from some evil maniac, but from some other life that would have never been half as happy and eventful as ours. And I don't deserve it, I never did. All my life I have been selfish and arrogant, with hardly a thought to how anyone else would feel. No wonder there were others that loved you so much, even when you never reciprocated the feeling. How could anyone blame them? And Link, if I was standing here alone right now, I could hardly blame you, or anyone else but myself. The way I've treated you, and others throughout my life is shameful. And I will never forgive myself for that. But Link, I love you so much, just sometimes, I know I don't show it enough," replied Zelda, her eyes glistening with tears. Her last words were cut off by a sob, and Link wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to his chest, stroking the back of her hair with one hand, her back with the other. After a few minutes they slowly parted, and Zelda placed one hand on Link's chin, gazing at him longingly. "I've missed you so much," she choked, and he leaned down to kiss her, long and lingering. The kiss slowly became a longing embrace, and it was all either could do from stepping inside to continue. Link especially acknowledged that Ewan would be non too impressed by being witness to the passionate cinch of his parents, and they were soon interrupted by a call from below, the voice of Fayette.
"Really!" she exhaled as loudly as her lungs possibly could. "It's only just gone eight! There is a time and a place for that sort of thing you know, and it isn't early morning on the balcony!" Link smiled at Zelda, emitting a low chuckle.
"She's just jealous," he whispered, and Zelda nodded, parting from Link's arms and leaning down over the balcony.
"Oh, we're dreadfully sorry Fayette, we quite forgot where we where," apologised Zelda stifling a giggle.
"Hmmph, I for one agree," joined in a second voice, close to Link's ear. Link jumped as he recognised Sprite beside him and gulped.
"Where were you?" he asked. Sprite smiled.
"Wouldn't you like to know," she mused.
"Yes well, one would appreciate it if you kept yourselves to yourselves in the future," called Fayette haughtily from the balcony below. Zelda nodded.
"Of course," she agreed.
"Acting like a pair of newly weds. I don't know," stated Fayette before disappearing back inside. Sprite frowned.
"Hmmm, me and...erm, my last husband never acted like that when we were newly weds. He was practically a stranger!" exclaimed the faerie. Zelda smiled.
"Come on, let's go back inside," she suggested to Link, ignoring his companion. Sprite frowned once more.
"Well, I for one am coming with you. Just to make sure you aren't late for breakfast," she said quickly. Laughing, both Link and Zelda waked back inside, Sprite shortly behind, seemingly a whole heavy load had been lifted from their shoulders out in the morning air.
Breakfast at North Castle was a jovial affair, the relief evident in not only the royal couple, but all those around them that things were finally settling back into routine. Although Drake assured Zelda quietly beforehand that Mara was being searched out that very minute, the events of the last few months were happily forgotten.
"Has anyone seen Kendar this morning?" asked Zelda, as she served herself some more of Milona's poached eggs. At this point, Fayette, who had been relatively quiet, spoke up.
"Oh yes. He told me to give the castle his thanks, he was expected home, and had to leave," said Fayette, the look of smugness that spread across her face almost unbearable to witness. Zelda raised an eyebrow.
"Really?" she asked, wondering if the smug expression of her step-sister had anything to do with the possibility that her son's saviour had said more than just goodbye to Faye. Fayette took a piece of toast and buttered it, nodding.
"He didn't even ask for a reward," commented Link, cleaning off his plate. Drake was second to finish his meal, and nodded.
"No, and we never found out much about him either," he commented.
"All I now is that we'll both be eternally grateful to him," said Link, putting one arm affectionately around his wife's shoulder.
"I think we all will be," seconded Nick. The King nodded and took his glass, raising it in a gesture.
"To Kendar!" he toasted.
"To Kendar," the rest of the table echoed. After everyone had put down their glasses, Drake again opened the conversation, speaking specifically to Link and Aaron.
"I was wondering...neither of you have paid a visit to the hold in a while. Since the kingdom seems at peace, now would be a perfect opportunity to visit, and perhaps to bring along young Ewan and Tim," suggested the knight. Link paused, placing his knife and fork on his plate, and then looked up.
"I can't say I'm sure. I mean, Ewan is still pretty shaken up," he said. Drake nodded.
"Of course, I understand, but perhaps this could be the thing to take his mind off what happened," said the knight. He turned to Aaron, who nodded.
"I think it's a good idea, and opportunity. You can count me in." Drake looked around the table.
"Anyone else who is interested is invited to come, Nick? Your Highness?" he said. Selina smiled.
"Oh, and the ladies at the table don't get an invite?" she asked, mock offence tingeing her voice.
"Hmmph, who would want to go? It's all that way and for what? A miniature version of North Castle with less luxurious rooms. No thank you," said Fayette emphatically.
"Oh, I don't know. All those young nights training..." started Zelda with a michevious grin. Fayette scowled.
"Really!" she exclaimed. Drake turned to Fayzie, who had been silent throughout breakfast.
"You have a son, don't you?" he inquired. She smiled.
"Yes, Aden," she replied quietly. Zelda noted Fayette's expression of distaste as the knight conversed with what Zelda was sure Fayette would think her - a 'mere peasant'.
"Well, he is welcome to join us on our little excursion, as are you," invited Drake with a pleasant smile.
"Why thank you, Sir Knight," said Fayzie, smiling shyly across the table at Drake. The King suddenly stood and nodded to the rest.
"I think this meal is finished," he announced, and Fenella stood with him, both leaving.
Zelda stood along with Link, as did most of the rest whom were present. Selina walked over to the couple straight away, an excited smile on her face.
"I think we should all go," she said.
"To Valour Hold?" asked Zelda. She nodded.
"Oh no, I see what's coming," sighed Link.
"What?" asked Selina, a look of innocence on her face. Zelda watched the exchange, noting the natural banter that both seemed to exchange so well.
"I think it's a good idea. We can get away from here for a while, and from Fayette! And protocol," said Zelda, nodding in agreement. Selina suddenly left, and caught Fayzie by the arm as she prepared to leave, leading her over to both Link and Zelda.
"I believe we haven't been introduced," said the Queen on Dalsona pointedly. Link nodded, and took Fayzie by the hand.
"Fayzie, this is Selina Rowen...well, no Selina, um, Queen of Dalsona," introduced Link cheekily. Selina just smiled.
"Pleased to meet you milady," said Fayzie, curtseying before the Queen.
"And the same to you," said Selina, giving the woman a genuine smile. She continued. "Listen, you must come to the hold with us. It's simply beautiful," she pressed. Fayzie paused, giving Link a nervous gaze.
"Well, I suppose it would be an honour," she finally replied.
"And you shall bring your son?"
"Of course." Selina looked to Link and Zelda.
"Please say you will come," she implored. Zelda looked at Link, who finally nodded.
"Fine. I am tempter. And I'm sure Ewan will be eager to attend," he relented. Nick walked over and smiled at Selina, noting Fayzie's presence. Link noticed, and quickly introduced her.
"It is a pleasure to meet thee, Fayzie of the Kokiri," he greeted amiably, taking one of her hands and kissing it on a bent knee. Selina noticed her flushed expression.
"Oh ignore him, he does that with every woman he meets," she dismissed. Nick turned to Selina.
"So what is this gathering about?" he questioned.
"We're all going to Valour Hold," she told him. He raised his eyebrows.
"Really? All of us?" he asked, grinning. Selina paused.
"Yes, you are, aren't you?" she assumed. He grinned at Link.
"Well, I suppose I could hardly pass up the chance of going to one of the most beautiful sites in Hyrule, in the company of both the Royal couple and their delightful friend, could I now?" he said, chuckling. Selina smiled.
"Then it is arranged. Does anyone know when Drake plans to leave?"
"You need only ask him," answered Drake, creeping up behind Selina. She turned to him and swatted him.
"When do you leave, Sir Drake?" she asked. He paused, looking to be deep in thought.
"Well, sometime this week at least. I had thought tomorrow to be apt, but now we have all these women attending, we shall have to wait another week at least to allow them to pack their cases," he joked.
"Yes, quite," Nick agreed. Zelda frowned.
"No, you forget. That would only be if Fayette was coming!" she insisted.
"Did someone mention my name?" the princess suddenly intervened. Zelda let out a groan as Fayette sidled up to them. She looked at Fayzie, casting her eyes up and down, when Link quickly introduced the two.
"So, what do you do?" she asked Fayzie.
"Well, I don't actually hold an occupation, milady," began Fayzie. Fayette nodded.
"Well, I suppose at least you aren't a BAR WENCH. Now that really is the most degrading occupation," she said pointedly, glaring at Selina.
"Yes, a job so degrading that fate saw it fit to make one a Queen," noted Selina, a small smile playing about her lips.
"I did make a point of inviting My Hartrend to the hold, to which he agreed most eagerly," mentioned Drake casually, observing Fayette for a reaction.
"Oh, really?" asked the Sosarian in a small voice. "Then perhaps I will accompany you to the hold," she added, before promptly leaving.
"Drake!" cried both Selina and Zelda.
"What?" he asked.
"Why on earth did you tell her that?" asked Zelda.
"Looks like your sister-"
"-okay, STEP sister has a thing for Kendar Hartrend," observed Drake with a grin.
"Well anyone could have told you that," said Selina.
"Look, with any luck she'll bring that sod of a son, Roderick, and we can get him into proper form," retorted Drake.
"I suppose," sighed Selina. She turned to Zelda. "Should we go and pack?" she inquired. Zelda nodded, and looked to Fayzie.
"You've been here for days and we still haven't sorted you out with any proper clothes. We'll go and see Aimee first, Aaron's wife, and get you some decent attire," said Zelda.
"Oh really, your highness, there is no need," began Fayzie. Zelda frowned.
"Please, you helped my husband when no one else did," she said in a low voice, "And I intend to thank you in whatever small way I can."
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