The sun once again graced the people and creatures of Hyrule with its presence. Another spring had arrived, the third since the defeat of the Great Calamity. The winter had been a long and cold one but the last vestiges of the bitter season were finally being shaken. The wind that blew across Hyrule field no longer held a harsh cold bite and the fields themselves were well on the way to recovering their lush green color. Even nighttime held a pleasant warmth.
But despite the pleasant weather there was still one person who still seemed still to hold the chilled and strained attitude of winter. And that person was none other than the Hero of Hyrule himself. As spring had graced the land with its presence and the people of the Castle and Castletown became optimistic with the weather their hero chosen by the goddesses still seemed to hold onto the bitter pessimism of winter. His foul mood seemed to worsen with each day, ebbing and flowing between a short temper and a resigned sadness as if he were a terminal patient wasting away to some horrible disease.
To think it had all started with the announcement of a simple ball.
Although to call it an ordinary ball was perhaps an understatement. It was after all not uncommon for Nobility and Royalty to get together for a night of festivities and merriment. It was however rare for the Royal Council themselves to call a ball with the express purpose of finding her Majesty Queen Zelda a suitor. Invites for the occasion had been sent far and wide to families of note all over Hyrule and even abroad. Indeed by almost all accounts it was to be quite a special night. With one particularly notable exception being the Queen's appointed Knight himself, Link of Hateno.
In the rare moments when he was able to step back and look at the situation as his position of Knight loyal to the crown dictated he thought that he should be as happy as anybody else. The Great Calamity three years ago had left the former King gravely wounded and on the verge of death. And while the then Princess had managed to return to the damaged castle in time to speak with her dying father the time they had together was much too short to properly repair the rift that had formed in their relationship. The kind words and apologies struggled against years sterner words and firm pressure. And thus the strained relationship with her father would likely forever remain a sore spot for the new monarch, a wound that never got the opportunity to fully heal.
It was therefore reasonable to assume, at least by Link's view, that such an occasion as the upcoming ball might be good for the newly crowned Queen and the Kingdom as a whole. It was an opportunity for her to search for a partner with which to share the burden of governance. Such a man might also be able to brighten up her personal life and be somebody in which she could confide and find happiness. At least he should be anyways. Not to mention the prospect of a future heir would bring Hyrule stability it sorely needed after the Calamity had ravaged so much of the land.
However the mere thought of any of those points quickly soured the young Knight's mood. The last one in particular would make his stomach start to churn and his chest start to tighten.
The answer as to why the Hero felt this way was obvious, at least to him anyways. The answer was that he was quite simply jealous and madly so. He was head over heels in love with young royal. The woman whose life he had been entrusted and sworn to protect for the rest of his days. It was a duty which would be his sole focus now that his greater destiny of defeating Calamity Ganon was complete. A duty that would grow to encompass the whomever she chose as her new King. Another fact which only served to drive the man sick with heartbreak even more.
Link didn't know when it happened, only when he had realized it. Upon the announcement of the Suitor's Ball he had been overcome with a bitter negative emotion he had simply not expected. When his attempts to ignore or suppress this sudden sour mood had failed he was forced to put a name to what it was that ailed him and discovered to his great discomfort that it was an illness of his very heart and soul. And yet upon reflection of this infatuation it seemed at the same time both new and old, as if he had been harboring these thoughts for as long as he could remember.
For a while shame joined the list of diagnosis which plagued the Hero. He was after all her appointed Knight, her personal guard and protector. Any soldier worth his salt knew that getting too close to those they were sworn to protect was not only unprofessional but also a recipe for disaster. In that regard he was a failure as a Knight. But in the weeks that followed he found that particular emotion in remission. In its place was a simmering anger, bubbling jealousy, and a burning hatred of every nobleman that crossed his path during the course of his duties.
Zelda had not exactly helped in this struggle. Instead she seemed intent on getting him attend the ball as well, telling him that his attendance would be greatly appreciated. Link knew that she must have been oblivious to his affliction. Otherwise she would surely not be so cruel as to ask him to be present to bear witness to his defeat first hand. And so he had declined, insisting that his presence was hardly necessary when she was in a room surrounded by royal Knights and filled with people who almost assuredly posed no physical threat. He claimed that instead he would enjoy the rare night away form his duties.
But of course the Queen could be quite stubborn. Another one of her many traits that both infuriated and besotted him in equal measure. When her first request had been denied she had simply asked again a few days later. And then again not long after that at the first opportunity to discuss the subject. It had become the source of quite a few tense discussions if not outright arguments when in private. It had all culminated about a month before the evening in question when Link had in no uncertain terms stated that he had absolutely no desire to attend the ball and that he had other things to do. Zelda's own anger had been obvious but she stopped short of making it an order that he attend as she may have had the right to do so.
And so it was that the pair had spent the next few weeks in stern silence. The Queen would busy her days finishing preparations for the ball among her other royal duties and would hardly spare more than two words to her companion and only when strictly necessary. All the while Link could little help but but find his mind continuously coming back the upcoming night and what life might be like afterwards. It was as if he could not help but pick and scratch as a festering wound even if it would only bring him closer to death.
Despite his best efforts to push the coming day back by merely wishing it Link soon found that the dreaded day had arrived at last. He may have had the whole day off and yet he could think of nothing to do with it. And so he had lay in bed long after waking up feeling as if he were a hospice patient awaiting his own ultimate demise. When he had finally forced himself out of bed a glance out the window only revealed a steady stream of finely dressed guests walking into the castle.
The sight had made Link wish very much to return to bed. But he had fought off the urge, knowing that there was little use in doing so. After all he was blessed with the Triforce of Courage and it wouldn't suit him to be hiding underneath the covers.
The day did not get better from there.
Link's breakfast had tasted bland and seemed to all have the texture of of a horrible mush. Afterwards he had tried to make busy at the training yard but his blade felt heavier and his arms felt as if they were nothing but skin and bone. His time at the archery range was equally fruitless with all his shots going wide and several even missing the target entirely. His comrades had all asked if he had a fever, refusing to believe that the best among them was performing so poorly. It only took a few such questions before he no longer had the energy or conviction to refute them.
Even his attempts to busy himself at the library had proved unsuccessful. Each book had seemingly become illegible. Words blurred together on the page as if the paper had been soaked in water and the ink had run. Focusing on much of anything appeared to be impossible. And throughout it all was the tolling of the bell at the top of each hour sounding much more foreboding to him than they ever had before.
Link eventually gave up and found himself aimlessly walking the halls greeting the castle's guests and resident with a resigned emotionless tone. Every man he saw that he did not recognize he assumed to be a visitor for the ball and thus would avoid their gaze as much as he was able. If one of these men was to be his future King then he had no desire to make an early acquaintance.
Eventually night had fallen and those who he passed in the halls all seemed to be making their way in one direction. Link looked around trying to find some place to wait out the stream of people, considering returning to his chambers or perhaps retreating into Castle Town to find a pub. He may not find the cure for what ailed him but he might be able to at least numb the pain.
By the time Link came to a decision the flow of people had slowed. Just as he finally turned to leave the halls he came face to face with somebody who he had not expected to see.
"Urbosa! It's is good to see you." Link barely managed to contain his surprise. Now that he was face to face with her it seemed obvious that she would be here. Not only was she an important dignitary as the leader and champion of the Gerudo, she was also the closest thing to family Zelda had left. She was practically an older sister to the Queen in her own right. Of course she would be here. In fact she probably would not have been kept away by anything. A quick glance confirmed her reason for leaving her people as she was dressed in the finest ceremonial garb the desert people could produce. Undoubtedly for the festivities tonight. But why was she in the halls and not with Zelda or at the very least at the ball?
"It is good to see you as well Link." Urbosa replied with a raised eyebrow as she examined the young Knight closely.
"Should you not be at the festivities in the ballroom?" he asked as he raised his own eyebrow in questioning confusion.
"I could ask you much the same thing young hero."
"I have the day off." The words slipped from his tongue before he even thought to say them. It was a weak dodge of the real reason but it was not entirely false. It would serve as an adequate enough lie. Or so Link had thought. Instead the woman in front of him only furrowed her brow as she continued to stare at him. Link could only look away, feeling paranoid that she could see right through him and read his every thought. He did not need this right now.
"I should be going…" Link half mumbled as he scratched the back of his head, "I'm sure you need to be getting to the party and I'll have to report for duty again in the morning so I'll need to make the most of my time off while it lasts." Turning to face away from her he began to step away. "It was good speaking to you Urbosa. Have fun at the ball."
Not that their encounter could even qualify much as a conversation. He felt a bit guilty at blowing her off like this but he was desperate to get away and to be alone.
"Wait!" The gerudo said before Link could walk five steps down the hall. When he turned to look back to look at her she continued. "If you have the rest of the night off then perhaps you will be able to walk with me for a little while. I will not be missed at the Ball for a while and it would be nice to catch up." Her voice was polite yet firm, a request before a demand. Link could only let out a sigh before he nodded in affirmation. Urbosa was far too strong willed to take no for an answer. It was probably where Zelda had gotten her own stubbornness from come to think of it.
She stepped up to him and he quickly fell in at her side. With a bitter smile Link realized that he had simply gone back to aimlessly wandering the halls just with somebody next to him now. Not that it made much difference considering that she seemed content to remain silent for the time being. Why had she even insisted on speaking with him?
As friendly as the two champions had become the silence was not a comfortable one. Link briefly considered trying to slip away again but knew that any excuse he came up with would be weak and Urbosa would just give him hell for it.
When Link could take it no more he tried to start some sort of conversation, hoping for some inoffensive small talk that might satisfy her curiosity. But just when he opened his mouth to speak he was immediately cut off by the dark skinned woman.
"So how are things in-"
"What is the real reason you are not joining in the festivities?" Looking up to her confirmed what he had suspected. The Gerudo chieftain was currently staring a hole in the side of his head. Link looked away with a silent curse. Of course she had gotten right to the core of the issue. Of course she was going to select the one topic he least wanted to discuss and pick at the scab.
"As I said, I have the night off-"
"You're lucky you're better with a blade than you are with lies young Hylian. Now answer me truthfully." She cut him off once again. Link suppressed a surge of irritation. She was not helping but he would just end up regretting it if he let any of his anger show.
"There's no reason for me to be there. The main hall has plenty of guards already and all of the guests are trusted enough to…" Link cleared his throat, "...trusted enough to be the next king of Hyrule. My presence is not needed."
Realizing that she had stopped several steps ago Link stopped to look back at her. She gave him a glare that seemed to be as accusing as it was inquisitive. Link let out a frustrated exhale at her glare. He was not in the mood to be interrogated.
"Whatever the true reason is for your absence it seems obvious you do not quite trust me enough to tell me." Her voice took on a somewhat menacing tone and her mouth broke into a smirk. "Perhaps I shall find somebody you trust a bit more. Maybe your tongue would loosen for the Queen."
"I-" Link sputtered to a stop, his body tensing up in reaction to the Chieftain's prodding. Goddess knows what his face was giving away. One look at her confirmed what Link suspected. She had struck a bulls eye and she knew it. Link could only roll his eyes as he felt some of his resolve fading. Urbosa stepped back up to Link and resumed walking down the hallway. The young Knight caught up a second later.
"What do you want Urbosa?" He was unable to keep the frustration from his voice. Urbosa was making it harder and harder to play nice. Now that she smelled blood she was unlikely to let go until she got what she was looking for.
"I merely want to figure out what it is that has both you and Zelda acting so sour. I know neither one of you have enjoyed these sort of things but you both of you are taking that attitude further tonight." She turned to look at him out of the corner of her eye. "I wonder why that is."
Link sighed and remained silence for a moment. The only sound was that of their shoes against the marble floor echoing down the hall. With each step Link could feel his resolve fading. After all he had been feeling angry and irritable all day and he had found it was more tiring than he had expected. If Urbosa was going to see through his attempts to lie his way out of the conversation than perhaps he should simply not bother. Maybe it would help to let out a few of these thoughts. After all the worst thing that could happen to him was already happening tonight. How could a little bit of venting make things any worse?
"She wanted me to come and I didn't want to. That might be why she's upset." Link said, as his mind followed up with a bitter 'Why would my absence tonight upset her anyways? She has plenty of other company.'
"And that's it?" Urbosa said.
"I don't know what else there is to say." Link replied with a shrug.
"And what about you then? Why do you not want to be there? You've never tried to ditch one of these occasions before."
"It's a suitor's ball. I'm not a suitor."
They were fast approaching the meat of the matter. And Link could not help but second guess his decision to open up. Surely he had already revealed too much. Could there be any escape from this conversation now?
"But you wish you were." Urbosa's voice did not hold any of the teasing tone she would normally take on such a topic. A fact that Link found himself thankful for. Ridicule was the last thing he needed right now despite the fact that he very well might deserve it for his foolish notions of jealousy.
Link opened his mouth to respond but words did not come. He could only close his mouth as he shifted uncomfortably. When he did not respond the Gerudo decided to fill the quiet herself.
"It's okay, I know. Your silence speaks volumes." And with the truth finally out of his control Link felt liberated in a way. His shoulders slumped and his entire body relaxed. At the very least this conversation had gotten some of the tension out of him, at least for a while.
"Zelda has to marry some nobleman or a Prince. You may have noticed but I am neither of those things." he made no attempt to hide his defeated tone and he would probably not be able to anyways. Link began thinking once again of ways to escape the conversation. Surely he had given Urbosa what she wanted. She could not possibly expect more of him now that she knew. Maybe if she asked he would leave him to wallow in his own self pity for the rest of the night. But what she said next made him pause.
"But you are the Hero of Hyrule, that counts for something does it not?"
"I'm not fit to be a King." He said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. It might as well have been as far as Link was concerned. He was just a Knight who had already served his purpose and who's job now was to stand around with a sword that would probably never again be swung in anger.
"I believe it's the Queen's job to decide that." The Gerudo's voice now held some tinges of frustration with all the frustration of riding a mount that was intent on fighting her at every turn.
"And why would she pay me any heed anyways? Especially now that I pissed her off when she kept asking me to… " He trailed off. It was now Link's turn to stop in his tracks and Urbosa's turn to look back at him.
"When she wanted you to attend the ball this evening." Urbosa finished the sentence for the stunned hylian. She did not hide her smug smile. With a chuckle she turned and walked away, letting out some last words as she did so.
"I hope you have some nice clothes. Unless you're still intent on feeling sorry for yourself all night."
Link could only stand there lost in thought as the Gerudo Chieftain rounded a nearby corner, apparently set to return to the ball. Had Zelda really wanted him to attend the ball as a suitor? Urbosa seemed to think so and she had known Zelda for almost the entirety of the young monarch's life. And it would answer some questions, like why she had been so insistent that he attend and why she had gotten so upset when he had blown her off.
"Goddess I'm stupid." He said to the empty hallway as he turned and began making his way to his chambers. He only made it a few steps before he broke into a jog and then a run.
The door to his personal chambers was nearly knocked off its hinges as he burst into the room. Hastily throwing the door shut again he ran to his dresser in a near panic. Looking through his clothing he cursed that the only formal outfit he seemed to have his dress uniform. It was not ideal for where he was going but it would have to do. Throwing on the formal attire in what must have been record time Link was halfway out the door before he remembered that he should at least look in the mirror to make sure he looked somewhat presentable.
Moments later the Knight was walking down the halls as fast as he could without breaking into a run. He would need to hold some sort of composure when he got there. Making a fool of himself by bursting in would only work against him as appealing as the idea sounded. Soon enough the music from the ballroom reached his ears and not long after that he found himself standing in front of the closed doors to the ball. He took a deep breath. Whatever his plan was the first step had to be actually go in. And so he grasped the handles in front of him and pulled, feeling as if he was walking into battle.
The room was decorated as beautifully as it had ever been with banners of the royal colors hanging from the walls and joined by ceremonial shields emblazoned with the royal crest of Hyrule spaced throughout. But Link did not have the eyes to appreciate the decorations even if he was taking them in at all. At the moment he was too busy scanning the crowd in search of one person in particular. Then the crowd of dancers parted and when he saw her and he couldn't help but stare. The soft melody of the orchestra's strings faded from his awareness to be replaced by the quickening rhythm of his heart. The bodice of her gown seemed to fit her perfectly, accenting her body in such an elegant way. Her flowing skirts came down to just above the floor and gave off the impression that she was floating around the dance floor, far too graceful for anything as haphazard and clumsy as steps. Her normally long hair was done up into a bun showing off every inch of her beautiful face.
To call her a goddess would have been the highest flattery to the goddesses.
Link was suddenly bumped forward as a passing servant brushed up against him. Shaking his head Link managed to remember that he had actually come here to do something. How long had he been standing there gawking he wondered. Taking another look at Zelda with a bit more care not to fall into a trance again he tried to think of his next move. She was dancing with some man who must have been at least a decade her senior. Link did not recognize the man so he figured that the stranger must have been one of the foreign Princes or Kings come to try their hand. Link suppressed the surge of jealous anger and tried to maintain what composure he could. Moving his focus back to Zelda he saw that while her dancing partner held a genuinely pleased smirk on his face her own expression was noticeably forced. Or at least it was noticeable to Link and he was at least two dozen feet away.
If the man she danced with had noticed he gave no hint of it, merely continuing to dance as his mouth continued to ramble on about who knows what. Link felt the first genuine smile he had experienced in weeks. Zelda was annoyed although whether that was actually good news for him depended on exactly what the source of her annoyance was.
Glancing around again Link noticed that he was not the only one observing the dancing pair. Far from it in fact. Around the ballroom men of various ages looked on. They seemed to Link to be vultures waiting to pounce at a moment's notice. In fact several of the men seemed poised to do exactly that, straightening their jackets and taking steps toward the dance floor. It was then that Link realized the current song was coming to a close which meant Zelda would soon have to switch off partners.
This was an opportunity Link realized although he still took a glance at a nearby servant and their tray of champagne glasses. The thought of some liquid courage had its appeal but Link looked away. He didn't need a drink, he needed to focus. As the orchestra played the last notes of the song Link acted before he could second guess himself. Striding out onto the dancefloor he made his way to her, seeing another noblemen approaching her out of the corner of his eye. But Link was not about to back down now.
"Your Majesty would you do-"
"Your Majesty may I have this dance?" Link asked aloud. His rival gave him an incredibly angry look but Link was not paying attention to him. His eyes were glued to Zelda's as he held out his hand and bowed. She could not hide her shock completely. After all he had done his best to ensure her that this would be the last place he would be tonight. Her expression quickly turned from one of surprise to one of suppressed anger. Link nervously swallowed.
But it was his turn to be surprised when she place her hand in his own and gave out a simple "Yes." as tense as that one word might have been.
Links mind filled with relief. He had made it over the first obstacle. Of course now came the hard part, actually getting out of the hole he had been unknowingly digging for himself for himself these past months. Of course if his hunch was correct then it may not be so bad. She might actually be willing to help him if she could put aside her stubbornness. Link could only hope that the fact he was doing so with his own might soften her resolve.
As the other men stepped away he held her hand out to their side as he wrapped his other arm around the small her back. As she placed her free hand on his shoulder the opening notes of the next song filled the hall. Link said a silent prayer that he had been taught some basic dances when he had been appointed as her Knight. Focusing on not messing up the first few steps he got into the rhythm of things just in time for Zelda to demand attention of her own.
"You must have taken a wrong turn Sir Knight. After all I believe you made it quite clear that you had better places to be this evening. I'm sure one of the guards will be able to point you in the right direction if you tell them where it is you need to be."
Link fought back a grimace. The fact that she was calling him 'Sir Knight' when they were not likely to be overheard was toubling, as was the tone in which she said it in. It seemed he had his work cut out for him.
"I did make that clear didn't I?" His own voice was soft, an olive branch to her anger, "But I have been wrong before. And it appears this was another one of those times."
"And so you come barging in here just expecting a dance despite how rude you have been as of late."
Well you did give me a dance. Link thought in return. Not that he could say such a thing, it was hardly the sort of conciliatory tone he was trying to strike.
"I'm sorry Zelda, truly." His voice was as firm as he could make it, "I was… I was not acting rationally."
"That's hardly out of the ordinary now is it?"
He took the blow with a resigned sigh. He had expected this after all and he was perfectly willing to endure it if it meant having a chance to atone for his earlier mistakes. But this still didn't bode well for him.
"I hope you've found the evening enjoyable despite my absence." Link said.
'Just not too enjoyable.' He thought.
"Yes it had been quite enjoyable. Being paraded out here by the council to be ogled like I'm some sort of prized horse, it's all I've ever desired." There was no attempt to hide her sarcasm.
'Well at least she hasn't had some Lord sweep her off her feet. Not that she would be swooning over some guy she just met.' Link thought as he recalled her abrasive attitude when he had first been assigned to her. Despite how poorly she had treated him it was still a nostalgic memory thanks to what had come later and how their friendship had blossomed.
"Well I hope my presence has at least improved things slightly." He asked, approaching the subject that he knew he would have address.
"And why would the addition of somebody who would rather be anywhere else improve things?"
"At least then you wouldn't be the only one that hated it here." Her face softened slightly before she recovered and her scowl returned. Link may have had a point but Zelda was still intent on being angry with him.
"Listen Zelda, I-" He was cut off as the woman turned her head away with a huff. Link could only grit his teeth in a desperate frustration. Glancing around he saw the noblemen and royalty standing by ready to take his place the moment the current song ended. The man Link had forced his way in front of for this dance in particular seemed to be following them intent not to be beaten again.
Link looked over to the orchestra in fear. Just how long did these songs usually last? How much time did he have left before he was booted by somebody else? Would he even get another shot after that?
Looking back to Zelda he drew in a long breath. Whether the dance was another minute or another ten he would need to make the most of it. Whether he had blown whatever chance he had and closed this particular door or not he would need to need to try.
Whether she cared for him or not he had to tell her how he felt.
Drawing on every ounce of courage he had himself as well as whatever amount the Triforce granted him he spoke, his voice remarkably even considering how he felt.
"I've been an ass. There's no denying it. You kept asking me to be here and I just ignored you. Nobody deserves to be blown off like that much less you of all people. There is no excuse and I can't expect that you'll forgive me."
Zelda looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, still intent on ignoring him but her softening eyes betrayed a shift in thought. It wasn't much but it was something. A sign for Link to push on which he did with all his conviction.
"While I have no excuse for my behavior I still beg for your forgiveness. I want you to understand that I wasn't exactly thrilled about coming to watch the woman I love be wooed and charmed by a bunch of other men."
He had said it. Whatever happened next Link could at least go to sleep at the end of the night knowing that he had held nothing back. And yet this was little comfort to him as his entire body tensed up. He was barely able to continue the dance as he awaited her response.
Zelda stumbled in the dance and on her mask of indifference cracked as whatever conviction she held to hide her emotions from link were overwhelmed. She looked at him for a moment as if not actually hearing what he had said. But as his word sunk in her eyes widened in shock and her cheeks visibly reddened. After a few false starts at speaking she bowed her head and rested it against his chest. Link's body released its tension at her reaction. He hesitantly rested his own chin on top of her head and noticed that she was shaking. When she did not protest he continued.
"When I said I had better places to be I meant it. I couldn't have thought of any place I would have rather been tonight. I couldn't stomach the thought of coming here to watch a bunch of suitors come and try to win your hand. Especially knowing that whoever you picked I would have to watch over the both of you for the rest of my career."
Link felt surprisingly good to give voice these thoughts to her at last. After months of denying her with false reasons if he gave any at all, it was liberating to finally be telling her the truth again. Like a great weight had been lifted from his chest.
Of course her reaction could bring that weight crashing back down. But there was no getting around that she held that power over him. And at least having fought for her and failing would be a better fate than going quietly into the night.
"I don't know if you can forgive me for the way I've been acting, much less if you feel the same way. I'm sure you have plenty of other options that would be better suited than me. I don't know if I would make a good husband much less a good King or if the council would even accept me as one. All I can say is-"
She said it so quietly that had he not been listening intently for any sound that might come from her lips he may have missed it entirely. But soft as the words may have been they might have well have been a stone wall for how they brought him to a halt. His heart pounded in his chest and he could barely hear the music over his own pulse in his ears.
Zelda pulled her head back from his chest and looked him in the eyes. To Link's great relief the sternness that was in her own eyes a moment ago seemed to have vanished. She paused for a moment before speaking, seeming to struggle to find her own words. But when she did speak it was with the same tone Link had grown to know and love.
"I don't know if the council would accept you either. You may be a hero to all of Hyrule but they do love their blue blood." She shook her head and let out a heavy sigh before continuing, her voice beginning to crack. "But right now I don't care about that."
Her lip quivered and she seemed to struggle holding herself together. She paused for a moment and Link dared not utter a single word to interrupt her.
"These past few months I have just been hoping… praying even… that you might say those words to me. That I could bring you up to the council and not just be doing so for my own selfish reasons."
Throughout his life some memories had risen above the rest. Being knighted by the King of Hyrule. Pulling the Master Sword. Helping defeat the Calamity. But as great as he may have felt in those moments they all paled in comparison to the heights his spirit soared to right now.
"I'm sorry. It should not have taken me this long to say that. I should have been able to say so months or even years ago." She shook her head and interrupted him again.
"Don't be. I was wasn't exactly being fair to you either. I should have seen that you might have felt hopeless considering the circumstances. I could have told you how I felt myself after all."
"And how do you feel?" He asked, giving her a smirk and holding back a chuckle. He knew what she meant. After all she had laid her own heart just as bare as he had. But hearing her speak those words was the one pleasure he would insist on indulging in. Zelda raised on eyebrow for a second before closing her eyes and smiling.
The orchestra played the last few notes of their waltz and as the sound faded to be replaced by silence she leaned in to bring her mouth close to his ears. The words that came next from her lips flowed out smooth and soft.
"I love you Link."
To both of their disappointment she had to pull away. Their time together was at an end for now. The noblemen Link had all but pushed aside for this dance was on them in a second asking for his own dance as he gave Link a nasty glare out of the corner of his eyes. But Link wasn't too bothered by it. He no longer had any reason to be. His smile did not falter as he took her hand in his and leaned down to kiss it.
"Thank you for the dance your Majesty."
"It was my pleasure Sir Link." She replied, for once not seeming to mind the mask of formality she had to wear.
And so Link walked off the dance floor feeling as if it had been hours since he had stepped onto it rather than just a few moments. He felt simultaneously exhausted and renewed. He grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing server and took a drink as he glance around the room. His eyes caught Urbosa who had her eyes locked onto him with a knowing smile. Dropping the glass from his lips he locked eyes with her and mouthed out a 'thank you'. The first of many he would likely owe her for her words to him earlier in the evening.
The next morning Link reported to the doors to Zelda's chambers as he usually did. Although his face held a smirk that he could not wipe from his face, not that he cared to. Soon after arriving there Zelda came out of her room to greet him. Not much was said and not much needed to be said.
After breakfast and her usual morning routine Zelda had to attend a council meeting to discuss if the suitor's ball last night had borne any fruit. As they approached the council chambers Link could not quite suppress his nerves knowing that what happened next would decide the fate of Zelda and his relationship before it could even truly begin. Zelda picked up on it and whispered to him before she entered the chambers.
"Link you've always been there for me and fought for me even when I didn't treat you as I should have. So please just this once let me fight for you." She gave him a nod which he returned. During her struggle to unlock her powers she had often turned to him for support. Link thought that it was fitting that now he should be looking to her for reassurance.
She entered the chambers and Link turned to face the hallway to stand guard. And for the first time he turned an ear towards the door hoping to overhear some of the discussion. It was an effort that turned out to be unnecessary as evidenced by the raised voices that came from the quiet council.
They had after all asked Zelda to provide a shortlist of potential suitors for their final approval. And while a list of one name was short it hardly qualified as a list. The argument went on for a while and Link had to fight the urge to barge in there more than once. Doing so would not do them any favors. He would just have to rely on his faith in her.
As muffled as the door between them made their words he could not make out every word that was said. Incessant reminders about his lack of noble blood were met with reminders that he was chosen by the goddesses to wield the Master sword. When one councilor demanded that Zelda continue to meet with other suitors until she found somebody more acceptable another spoke up saying that since she was the only heir they could ill afford to delay any longer than necessary, nor could they afford the scandal of her potentially having a child out of wedlock.
The room had gotten quiet after that and Link could not help but smirk. It seemed Zelda held more power in this decision than he had thought.
It took almost another hour but when the door finally opened Link felt as if he knew the decision from the frustrated mumbling from some of the council that he could now hear. Zelda herself did not say a word as she closed the door behind her, merely giving Link the biggest smile he had ever seen her wear. And as he followed her down the hall he knew that soon enough he would no longer be walking at her back, but instead at her side.