Zelda, Day 16
When she followed Link into the sanctum alongside the few guards that remained, and when they looked upon the remaining yiga that clustered around her throne, Zelda felt a fire rise in her chest. She wanted to fight. She wanted them gone. The intruders looked at the group quizzically, and she removed her hat, realising that Link had done the same at exactly the same time. It must have looked ridiculously dramatic, but she didn’t have time to think about the humor in it at that moment.
“What!?” one of the men exclaimed, and jumped up, having been lounging across the royal throne a moment before. “How are you- you- ” he hissed, pointing at Link, “alive?”
“I did ask you if you’d killed me before,” Link replied, and Zelda could hear the smile in his voice. “I don’t go down that easily.”
“I put a sword through your fucking heart,” the yiga snapped back, and Zelda’s eyes widened, looking at the way the man’s black hair was parted, his squinting green eyes, the blood-tipped sword hanging loosely from his waistband.
“How dare you,” she spoke, walking forward and ignoring the hand that Link put out in attempt to stop her. “This is our castle. Calamity Ganon is defeated. There’s no purpose in worshipping him any longer.”
“ We are preserving real Sheikah culture,” the yiga spat back, turning his attention to her, and as he walked towards her, she saw Link move closer in her peripheral vision. “Kakariko Village has lost all touch with what the Sheikah were supposed to be. We had technology that could change the world - and the only one who put it to any purpose was Calamity Ganon, while the rest of you shunned us!”
Link was getting restless beside her now, but Zelda stood her ground, even as the yiga came barely five feet away, hand resting on the hilt of a sword at his waistband.
“I would kill your chosen hero a hundred times over as revenge for what he did, not just to Master Kohga, but Calamity Ganon as well,” the yiga snapped, and spat at Zelda’s feet before tilting his head. “Maybe… we could keep you alive… I’d make a great King,” the yiga sneered then, and finally something he’d said had gotten to her. She felt her stomach twist, and Link moved ahead of her then, sword drawn, pointing at the yiga’s throat within a second.
The few other yiga in the room drew their weapons, and as they did, so did the guards that Link and Zelda had brought with them.
“You say anything more and I’ll kill you the way you tried to kill me,” Link said, his voice quiet and low. The yiga swallowed, looking clearly uncomfortable, but spoke anyways, his gaze passing Link to look back at Zelda.
“How do we kill your invincible boyfriend, then? Over and over? What if we just take him apart, piece by piece?”
She was so angry she was shaking, and wondered how Link had managed to stay so calm, but even he seemed to be running low on patience. He struck forward, but the yiga disappeared in a flash of fire and smoke, along with all the others in the room. When they reappeared, hovering inexplicably midair, each fired two arrows.
Zelda fell backwards as Link pulled her, though one struck his leg as a result. His guards had responded quickly, and were already fighting the yiga behind them.
“Something we say strike a chord? Didn’t you forget all about him anyways? Some couple,” the voice jeered, and when the yiga reappeared again, he had a blade at Zelda’s throat, and pulled her away from Link, who wheeled around in shock but staggered slightly due to the arrow.
“Let’s play a game. If you don’t stand down, we’ll see whether the Princess can come back from the dead just like you did,” the yiga snapped.
Everything stopped. Eyes wide, Zelda looked at Link, shaking her head in a panic. No, no, no- her thoughts were muddled. She desperately wanted to go back to a few seconds ago when she was safe by his side. Why was it that she could have made a mistake, not covered her six, at a time like this?
Frustrated, Link threw his sword down, and the guards at the other side of the room dropped theirs in turn. One of the yiga pushed Link down to his knees, and another came to help pull Zelda to the ground.
“I don’t think it’s a problem with the sword, but there’s no harm in testing it,” the yiga said thoughtfully, pulling out the blade still stained with Link’s blood from earlier. He held it down at Zelda’s chest as the other yiga pinned her knees down. She grasped the blade with her hands; one of them was already cut from earlier, and although pain seared through her arm and blood dripped down the sword onto her dress, she didn’t let go. Her strength was nothing compared to the man standing above her. But she couldn’t die. Not after all of this.
She looked sideways, panicked, to find Link. If she was going to die, she at least wanted his face to be the last thing she saw.
“No silly powers to get you out of this one, hero?” the yiga chuckled, and as Zelda watched him, his eyes widened.
“What do you want?” Link asked, head still dipped. Zelda glanced up towards the yiga.
“I don’t want to kill her. Really don’t. Not now that we have her. I mean, look at that face,” the yiga replied, smirking down at Zelda, who winced and looked away. “But we’ll take you and figure out exactly what makes you tick. You know. Torture and all that. Maybe - what did you call her before?- Zel and I can come and see you now and again.”
“Fine,” Link said, standing up slowly. “Don’t touch her, and you can have me.”
The yiga pretended to think it over, and then laughed.
”Hmm… no. I’ll just have both of you - right now.”
He lifted the sword. Began to strike it downwards. Zelda wanted to close her eyes tight, to not look, to disappear somewhere else, but she looked at Link instead. He was grinning at her. She didn’t have time to make sense of what that meant; didn’t even have time to finish her thoughts. What-
Link spun. At a ridiculous speed, he’d spun, and snapped his fingers in the process. An image of Urbosa flashed in Zelda’s mind as a thunder filled the room. Lightning struck from all directions, and she shut her eyes tight, lifting her arms above her face. When the onslaught of sound and electricity finally stopped, the room crackled a little before settling. The blade that had been above her fell sideways with a loud clatter.
Swords and sickles hit the ground, followed by the yiga’s bodies, as if there’d been a sort of comical delay of them waiting in the air. Zelda lifted her head warily, and as her eyes met Link’s, she scrambled to her feet to meet him in an embrace. The two of them fell to their knees, holding each other tight and breathing heavily. One of Link’s hands rested on the back of her head, and she shut her eyes, still trying to convince herself that this was real.
It was quiet for a little bit then, and as Zelda finally lifted her head from out of the crook of Link’s shoulder, all she could ask was:
“Is it over?”
He laughed weakly and pulled back, nodding once.
Link, Day 19
It took a few days before life settled back into a comfortable groove. Waiting was hell, but Zelda had asked Link to give her some time while she brought the castle back up to speed, and he’d needed time to help the guards as well. Many had been injured, and others wanted to train harder for the future. He had a lot of explaining to do when it came to the rumors of him coming back from the dead, and summoning lightning within the sanctum. There was some skepticism regarding his ‘powers,’ but the kingdom could do nothing but accept it when their own Princess vouched for him. One way or another, the yiga had been defeated, and that was enough.
A day finally came when she felt she had some time off, and though she desperately wanted to see Link, she figured he still had work to be done. She left for her room, thinking that a nap would be perfect. Part of her wanted to simply go to bed, but it was only three in the afternoon, and that seemed improper for the ruler of a kingdom.
When she finally got to her room, she shut the door behind her and leaned against it, letting out a long sigh. If she skipped dinner, would anyone from the kitchen really notice? Maybe she could send a message saying she was tired and going to bed early, but then they’d surely ask to make sure she wasn’t sick, or find out if she wanted something sent up, or-
Amidst her thoughts, Zelda had begun taking off her dress when something caught her eye, and quickly she turned to look at her bed. On top of the duvet, cross-legged and perfectly still, was Link.
She gasped, startled at the sight of someone else in what she assumed had been an empty room, and then tripped over the hem of her skirt, falling back against her bookcase. A few tomes tumbled out above her, and Link rushed over from the bed to help her get her footing.
“ Hylia, Link, you completely scared me, I didn’t know you’d be in here - what are you…?”
She trailed off as she looked up at him, noticing the way he was looking down at her. Her heart jumped to her throat seeing him so close, seeing the freckles on his nose and his blue eyes watching her evenly. The air between them was tense, as if he was restless, and immediately she felt an energy in the room that hadn’t been there before. Thankfully, he spoke before she’d gone flush with colour.
“I miss you.”
Miss. Not missed. He was currently missing her, like he knew this moment of privacy was short-lived, like he had no idea how long the two of them would have to continue sneaking glances at each other from afar as the citizens of Hyrule continued to drag them away for more and more tasks to do. But she knew something he didn’t, and when the corners of her lips twitched into a small smile, he noticed. Link tilted his head at her, asking her a wordless question.
“I actually… don’t have anything left to do today,” Zelda answered him, keeping eye contact as she spoke, hard as it was. She was sure her cheeks were bright red by now. Having him so close was intoxicating, and now the look in his eyes had changed. He seemed almost… hungry.
“You don’t?” he asked, voice soft, and finally he broke his gaze from hers, trailing his fingers along the side of her face and moving closer.
“No,” she replied, her eyes falling shut as Link bent down. She could feel his breath hot on her neck, his hand moving further down to her waist and finally cupping her hip. His other hand left her arm, clearly distracted, but it had been holding her up. She tried to catch herself from the fall, but tripped over the hem of her skirt, and grabbed at Link as she went. The two of them tumbled onto the floor and hit the bookcase again, which dropped more tomes and scrolls atop them.
“S-sorry!” Zelda stammered, feeling one of his arms beneath her; he must have wrapped it around her last minute to help break the fall. She looked up at him in a panic, but he only laughed and shook his head.
“No, I’m sorry. You tend to distract me.”
“Sorry then,” she said again, and Link gave her a skeptical look.
“Why sorry? That I’m in love with y-”
He was smiling, but it disappeared quite fast; it was clear he hadn’t meant to speak so brazenly. His eyes, bright and wide, looked down at her with an emotion that took her a moment to place. Was it fear?
She reached for him as he went to get up, and he paused, but didn’t look back at her. She shuffled to try to get a look at him, and he seemed embarrassed and frustrated, cheeks red as he tried to hide his face.
“Link, I- it’s just hard, because-”
“It’s fine. I shouldn’t have said anything,” he replied, voice shaking, as he tried to get up once again.
“For Hylia’s sake Link, listen to me!”
She’d spoken a little sterner than she’d wanted, but it worked, and Link stopped and looked back at her in surprise.
“I just want to make sure you love me , not just… her.”
She prayed to the goddesses in that moment that he wouldn’t ask her to explain any further, because she knew that doing so would make her cry, and she was sick of crying. Still above her, he swallowed, no doubt partially wondering why this incredibly emotional exchange had to happen while they were on the floor of her bedroom, surrounded by books and spilled scrolls.
“Don’t make me say it again if you don’t feel the same.”
His voice was low, and a little bit pleading. He’d answered her question - and happy as she was to hear it, it hurt. Even now, part of her wanted to hold back - part of her was saying it wasn’t enough yet, that it had only been a few weeks, that there was no way she could know for sure. Doubt was nagging and pulling at her, but her heart was full and there was a stronger voice within her that was telling her: jump.
He’ll catch you.
She could have told him all the ways he confused her, told him all the ways she confused herself and how hard it all had been. She could have said how difficult it was to separate herself from her past self and how impossible it was - for now - to accept any of it. To accept that she would never be the Zelda from before, but also to accept that that Zelda... was gone. To accept that it was just her, to be happy with herself. To accept that there was nothing else to be done, and to accept that her heart flipped when she thought of him, that her stomach twisted in knots at the sight of him, that his simple presence made her feel happy and safe and comfortable, and that she just wanted to be with him all the time; she could have worked through every little thought and doubt she had, given him a disclaimer to her feelings, but she’d had enough of that. Enough, now.
“I love you.”
The words left her lips more as a decision than a statement, but were honest nonetheless. She knew Link was happy despite his trembling as he used his arm behind her to scoop her up towards him.
“I’m sorry it’s been so hard,” he whispered, “Zel. I’m so so-”
“I’m sorry I took advantage of you before I’d figured out my feelings,” she interrupted him, and pulled back slightly, hoping that the way she looked at him would tell him exactly what she was thinking about. She hadn’t wanted to bring it up at all, but it had been bugging her. He looked confused, but only for a moment.
“Hebra?” he asked, and she nodded ashamedly, but he only laughed.
“You have to be joking. I was confused, sure, but -” he cut himself short. “Maybe we should just… not talk about all of this now. Maybe we should get off the floor.”
“Ah- right,” Zelda laughed, smiling up at him. He stood slowly, but as she went to follow him he tucked another arm under her legs and lifted her princess-style upwards. She gasped, grasping at his shoulders in surprise.
“What were we doing before all of this?” Link asked, but in a tone that told her he already knew the answer. She, however, had to take a moment to remember; he set her down on the edge of the bed, and looked at her again with an expression that spread heat through her chest and face.
At the same time she remembered, he kissed her.