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It was long after sunset, but the town of Kakariko was lit bright as day by dozens of large bonfires.  People from all over Hyrule were gathered in the still-damaged town to celebrate.  And for good reason; after seven years, Ganondorf was finally gone, his curse upon the kingdom lifted.  

Sixteen-year-old Link smiled as he looked around at the revellers from the bench on which he sat.  His quest may have been long and an absolute pain in the rear to carry out, but seeing the tension and unease lifted from everyone as they partied was more than worth it.

It was worth it, too, to see the fruits of his labor bringing the whole country together for this celebration.  He had expected to see the remaining Hylians, Gorons, and Zora here tonight, but to his surprise, scores of Kokiri and Gerudo had joined in the festivities.  It seemed as though Ganondorf had never really endeared himself to anyone once he’d taken over.  

“This is so cool,” marvelled Mido, seated beside him on the bench.  “I’ve never seen so many people in one place.  Or so many types of people.  Did you help them all, Link?”

Link looked back to his old friend with a smile.  “Not each on their own,” he replied.  “But I guess my mission benefited everyone.”

Mido smiled back.  “If I’d known you’d become such a hero,” he said, “I don’t think I would’ve said all those mean things to you back then.”

Link put a hand on the Kokiri boy’s shoulder.  “It’s no problem,” he said.  “I hadn’t known either. Who knows?  Maybe you’ll do something cool one day.”

“I sure hope so,” Mido jibed.  “Can’t let you have all the fun!”  The two boys laughed at that, joined by a third laugh from Mido’s other neighbor: a nine-or-ten-year-old Gerudo who’d been relentlessly flirting with the Kokiri all night.  Then the three relaxed on the bench (the Gerudo child surreptitiously laying her head on Mido’s shoulder) and took in the sights of the party once more.  

Link couldn’t help but smile again as his gaze swept over all of the friends he’d made on his journey.  Darunia and Saria looked to be having a dance-off near one of the bonfires; Zelda and Malon were playing a board game while a small crowd raucously cheered them on; Nabooru and Ruto were laughing exuberantly as they played tag with a collection of children from all corners of the land.  

Link’s gaze continued up the terraces until something caught his eye.  There was a figure seated atop the roof of one of the finished houses.  They were silhouetted against the moon and just outside the light of the nearest bonfire.  But Link knew exactly who they were.  There was only one person he knew who would willingly take such a position.

Link got up from the bench and looked back to the two children.  “I’m gonna try to find someone,” he said, before winking at them.  “You two enjoy yourselves.”  Then he turned and strode away, leaving a very nervous-looking Mido alone with his amorous companion.

Link passed through the party, calling greetings to various friends as he passed by.  Three minutes and two terraces later, he found himself at the foot of the house where he’d seen the figure.  Getting up to the roof was a simple affair, aided by the crates stacked against one wall.  As his head cleared the roof, his eyes finally met Impa’s.

“I’m flattered you decided to keep me company,” the white-haired Sheikah said warmly as Link moved to sit next to her.  For once, she wasn’t wearing her armor, he noted happily; with all the peoples of Hyrule living in harmony, there was no longer any need for it.

Link smiled at her comment.  “I don’t think I could let anyone sit up here all alone,” he responded.  “Besides, I was hoping to see you tonight anyway.”

“And now you’ve found me,” Impa quipped with a wry grin.  Then, after a pause, she added, “I suppose I should thank you, you know.  Not many would’ve had the fortitude to finish your quest.  But you went and did it without hesitation.  And because of it, not only is Her Grace safe, but Hyrule now has a peace that it hasn’t had since before you were born.”

Link shook his head.  “I’m not sure I can take credit for all this,” he said.  “I’ve wanted to tell you for a while, but I almost chickened out at first.  The Great Deku Tree had just died, and I had left my home when Zelda laid this task on me.  It seemed so big and she looked so scared of what could happen if I failed, that once I left Castle Town, I was tempted to find someone bigger and braver than me and run home as fast as I could.”  Then he looked up at Impa as he continued, “But then you were there, and you said you trusted that I could do it.  That - more than anything, I think - that’s what convinced me to get going.  And it kept me going this whole time.”

Impa’s brows rose hearing Link’s words, then even more as the blond lad threw his arms around her waist and laid his head on her shoulder. “So thank you,” he half-whispered, “for inspiring me.”  With that, Impa’s shock melted away, and she gently returned Link’s embrace.

She expected Link to pull away after a few seconds.  Instead, he kept one arm around her waist, his head still on her shoulder, and relaxed again, watching the ongoing celebration.  Impa sat uncertainly for a few seconds, before relaxing herself, laying her head against his.

They sat in silence for several minutes, watching the party, which was broken when Link said with a laugh, “Oh, look at that!”  Impa followed his gaze and saw that, back at the bench he’d been sitting on, Mido had finally given in to his Gerudo companion’s affections, shyly sharing a kiss (his first, Link was sure) with her.

Impa smiled at the sight.  It certainly was nice to see people from all corners of Hyrule brought together in such a way by the relief of Ganondorf’s sealing.  It reminded her once again, of the strange affection Link was showing her.  She looked back at him.  “Are you, by any chance, trying to tell me something?” she asked, half-humorously.

Link’s head suddenly left her shoulder, a bewildered look on his face.  “With those two?” he asked, chattering, “What?  No, I’m not dropping hints or anything.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really like you, but I wasn’t trying to...I just said it, didn’t I?”

Impa grinned.  “Yes, you did,” she teased gently.  Then, as Link looked ready to panic, she wrapped her free arm around him.  “Hey, relax,” she whispered.  “Don’t sell yourself short, Link.  I could certainly choose worse.”

Link looked confused.  “Wait, you mean to say you’d…”  As he trailed off, Impa nodded, knowing what he was asking.

Link was having trouble processing this.  “But...but you’’re Impa,” he stammered.

“So I noticed,” Impa teased again.

Link shook his head.  “I don’t know, it’s just...I always thought you wouldn’t want…” he trailed off again.

Once again, Impa knew what he was trying to convey.  “Link, my duty will always come first,” she said gently. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a life beyond that.  If you truly want this, I would be happy to be with you.”

Link looked up into her eyes again, shock written all over his face.  Her crimson eyes held a warmth that he hadn’t seen since that day seven years ago when she’d spoken those words of encouragement to him.  But could she really mean what she was saying?

Impa saw the bewilderment in his gaze; she could tell what was on his mind.  And so she resolved to put his doubts to rest.  Her hand came up to his face, cupping his cheek as she stroked it with her thumb.  “Link,” she urged gently, almost whispering, “relax.”  And then she leaned in.

The first touch of Impa’s lips on his sent a jolt through Link’s body.  For a few seconds, his mind had to work to catch up with the present.  But when it did, then he relaxed, fully and completely, his lips moving with hers as she pulled him further into her embrace.  They pulled away for a heartbeat, then their lips were pressed to each other again, Impa tilting her head a little to draw Link deeper into the kiss.

Neither of them said anything as their lips finally parted.  They simply held each other tightly for a while.  

A rousing cheer from the crowd watching Zelda and Malon’s game brought them back to the world around them.  Still wrapped in each other’s arms, they settled into each other’s company and watched the celebration continue below.