“Good morning, Link!” Instantly, he recognized the silvery voice and drove his shovel into the mounting snow bank to return the greeting.
“Morning Zelda!” Link waved to the girl on the sidewalk. “Another busy day?”
“Yeah, TA-ing is a ton of work but it’s really rewarding.” Zelda picked her way through the snow to lean on the fence. “What about you, lots of books to reshelve today?”
“Oh actually one of the baristas at the coffee shop quit unexpectedly, so I took her place.” Link leaned on the fence nearby “It’s a lot like working at nanna’s bakery, so I’m having fun.”
“Oh that’s great! Maybe with someone who knows what they’re doing that coffee will actually be drinkable. But more importantly.” Zelda leaned towards Link conspiratorially. “I was walking by your house yesterday and saw a real cutie in your window; do you have a girlfriend you’re hiding from me?”
Link’s face paled and he could feel his heart stop, didn’t he close the curtains? He was sure he had. There was no way Zelda could have seen him. He couldn’t believe how badly he’d fucked up, and now Zelda was staring at him waiting for his response.
“That’s...uh...my, sister?” Zelda’s face remained expressionless “She, uh, lives with our mom most of the time but she’s visiting!”
“Oh your sister? I can’t believe I’ve never met her!” Link couldn’t read anything but earnest curiosity in her face. “Seriously as much time as I’ve spent with you and I didn’t even know you had one.”
“Ha, well, you know-” Link racked his brain trying to come up with a plausible excuse. “Originally dad had custody of her when I lived with mom but eventually he decided he’d rather have a son and swapped our arrangements.”
“And she just let him?” Link couldn’t believe his luck, Zelda was actually buying it.
“Yeah well you know, the courts are always going to favor a Hylian man over a Twili woman.” He tried to infuse his voice with as much scorn as possible. “I’d have preferred to stay with my mom but you know how dad gets about the whole ‘Family Line’ thing.” He rolled his eyes dismissively.
“Yeah he’s a little driven on that point.” Zelda gave an understanding nod. “But back on the topic at hand, what’s your sister’s name?”
Link’s mouth dried out instantly as he scrabbled for answer. “L-Linkle?” That was the dumbest thing he’s ever said, Zelda is going to know he’s lying why the fuck would he say that.
“Linkle?” Zelda covered her mouth as she chuckled. “Your dad really is obsessed isn’t he?” Link nodded at her, dumbfounded. “So since she’s your sister that means she’s fair game, right? Why don’t you give her my number?”
Link could feel a flush creep across his face. “G-give her your number? What for?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Zelda grinned lasciviously “I told you she was a cutie.”
“O-oh but-” Link was sure he’d combust any moment. “N-no but she, that is, i-if that, I don’t know, Zelda.”
“Oh come on Link, I’m your best friend, do you really think I’d hurt your sister?” Zelda looked legitimately hurt, though there was the slightest hint of emphasis on the last word.
“No it’s not that.” Despite Link’s mind racing no helpful thoughts presented themselves. “She...doesn’t have a phone? Yeah since she lives with mom in Kanose her phone would be roaming here so she just left it at home so she couldn’t call you?”
“Oh that’s a shame.” She scrunched her face up in thought. “And it really wouldn’t be right for her to use your phone…” Zelda suddenly snapped to attention and looked at her own phone. “Crap I’m going to be late, this test won’t proctor itself. Talk to you later Link.”
Link was left waving at her back as she hurried off. He retrieved his shovel and got back to clearing the sidewalk, still unsure whether or not Zelda had believed him.
Link wiped the sweat from his brow as he closed the oven; the lunch rush had just ended but he wanted to make sure the afternoon girl had enough scones to get her through her shift. As he ran through his mental checklist the service bell rang. “Coming! How may I take your-” He was interrupted when he realized who was waiting there. “Oh hey Zelda! What brings you here?”
“Oh I came to get some books and thought I’d get some coffee.” She pursed her lips as she dropped her books on the countertop. “Or I came to get some coffee and thought I’d get some books, I can hardly tell anymore.”
Link smiled sympathetically. “One of those semesters, double espresso straight up?”
“That predictable, am I?” Zelda had to resist the urge to retaliate as Link stuck his tongue out at her. “Well if that’s the case I’ll take a pumpkin muffin too.”
Link quickly wrapped a muffin and started the espresso machine before leaning on the counter, but was stymied by Zelda’s phone playing the same serene melody she’d had as a ringtone for as long as he could remember.
She glanced down at her phone. “Crap I really have to take this, sorry.”
Left alone and waiting for the bitter draught to finish, he decided to see what books Zelda had brought in today. Subculture: The Meaning of Style was exactly Zelda’s speed, and one she probably picked up for personal reading. Perspectives of Developmental Psychology was almost certainly one selected to help facilitate her TA duties. Theory and Design for Mechanical Measurements was likely a textbook for a prerequisite class, and Link could probably poke fun at her for having it. Despite Zelda’s usual fervor for consistency the last book was backwards in the stack, upon turning it Link was struck dumb by its title, The Riddle of Gender.
A furtive glance confirmed Zelda was still engrossed in her phone conversation and facing away from him and so, seeing his opportunity, he decided to flip through the book. He was so thoroughly engrossed in his frenzied skimming that he didn’t notice Zelda finish her call.
“Hey Link, is my coffee ready?” Zelda chirped as she rapped her knuckles on the counter.
Link jumped at the sudden sound, slamming the book shut. A quick look confirmed that the espresso had indeed finished, fixing a lid on the to-go cup he handed it to Zelda along with the muffin. “S-sorry, I was just waiting for you to come back and thought I’d flip through the books, are these for classes, or-?”
Zelda popped the lid on her drink, breathing in the heady fumes and sighing contentedly before responding. “Some for coursework, some for pleasure, and every single one the last copy the library had, if you can believe it." Zelda didn’t seem to notice Link’s eye twitch. “But, to be perfectly honest, I did have another reason for coming to visit you.”
Link cocked his head to the side as Zelda reached into her bag and stared at her quizzically as she laid a small cell phone on the counter and pushed it towards him. “I appreciate the sentiment Zelda but I already have a phone.”
“Well yeah, but this is for Linkle.” Fuck. “It must be hard to not have a phone so I got her this prepaid with a fair number of minutes.” Zelda seemed uncharacteristically bashful. “And, uh, I programmed my number into it already if she wants to hit me up?” Link was taken aback by Zelda’s decidedly atypical uncertainty.
“I mean, I’ll give it to her.” Link was fucked, utterly and thoroughly. “But no promises, okay?”
“Thanks Link, I have to get to class so I’ll talk to you later.” She waved and bit off a piece of her muffin before continuing, mouth full. “And I expect a text from you, even if your sister doesn’t want to talk to me!”
Link sighed, one copy of The Riddle of Gender in the entire system, no other branch had one to borrow and he certainly wasn’t going to buy one. With all the trouble he’d already gotten himself into he didn’t need to add more problems.
Link stared at the cell phone sitting on his bed and contemplated how insanely precarious his position was. Zelda had seen him dressed as a girl, and he still wasn’t sure why he had done it, but she thought it was his sister, or at least wanted him to think she thought that. If he was careful he could navigate this situation, rid himself of the clothes, and never speak of this again.
So why was he considering texting Zelda?
She was a lesbian and his friend and he was an awful person for even thinking about leading her on like this. If he did it he was sure his secret would be out, and who knows what his dad might do. He had no idea what he’d even say if he texted her.
But still he considered texting Zelda. He knew it would eat at him if he didn’t, and if all else failed he could claim it was all a big joke.
He kept it simple, maybe Zelda wouldn’t even-
hey there qt :)
This is Zelda right?
yeah, and this is links cute sis?
How would he even answer that? Did Zelda always text like a 13 year old? Why was he even doing this?
The one and only
lol ur not nearly as shy as ur brother r u?
and just what is that-
He stopped, erasing what he had written so far. If he hadn’t already given himself away he soon would at this rate. He had to stop thinking of himself as Link and start thinking of herself as Linkle, and to do her level best to ignore how doing that made her feel. She cleared her head and looked back at the phone to see another text from Zelda arriving.
not tht it doesnt wrk 4 him but he has a lot 2 be shy abt i thnk
He does, but I love him anyways
So what does the renowned Zelda want with little old me anyways?
“renowned”? has link been tlking me up?
Something like that ;)
well ill have 2 do my best 2 live up 2 that
You never answered my question
well im always interested in qts and its a travesty tht u didnt even have a cell
You really think I’m cute?
pfft heck yeah! do u not think u r?
Linkle glanced at the mirror, turned at an oblique angle from the bed. She tried not to think about it most days but cute wasn’t a word she’d use to describe herself. She felt gross and masculine and thought she looked more like her father every day. Still, she had to keep up the act.
pfft more than a little ur a ttl babe
I appreciate the compliment, but that can’t be the only reason you wanted to talk to me
damn, rite down 2 business girl
i was thinking we could go 2 a lil sushi place in town, my treat ;)
Linkle knew the place Zelda was talking about. The food was amazing but she hadn’t been there in a long time because of the price. She wasn’t sure she could take take this offer from Zelda so deceptively.
I dunno, isn’t that place expensive?
not ur problem
I don’t know if can accept that kind of generosity
nope no arguin do you WANT to come or no
I’d love to but I really don’t want you to spend that kind of money on me
2 bad im gonna
friday at 8? ill pick u up
That sounds lovely, I’ll see you then
c u then ;) ♥▲♥
She fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she fucked up she could not believe how badly she had just fucked up.
That was not supposed to go like that. Why was she so happy?? She was lying to Zelda. But Zelda called her cute. But Zelda had barely seen her to judge. Did Zelda really not know who she was? Why was she still referring to herself as she and why did she not want to stop? Could she really go through with this?
Friday had come before she was ready for it, but her excitement was still palpable. Ever since her text conversation she’d barely been able to stop herself from referring to herself in the feminine. It was as if a dam and broken and she didn’t know what to do with it.
She took one last look in the mirror and couldn’t help but smile. Her hair was pulled forward in a short braid to either side of her face, a little makeup accentuated her best facial features and hid the tattoo on her hand, and her outfit was, if she were to say so herself, on point. A black-trimmed white blouse, a buttoned green corduroy skirt over a pair of white leggings, and a pair of leather boots that were much nicer than her usual fare.
She mentally thanked herself for going through the effort of hiding all these clothes from her father, and thanked no one in particular that his job kept him away from home so often. She fingered the sleeve of her usual jacket, a thick downy affair in black. Even if she could pass it off to Zelda as having been borrowed from her ‘brother’ she was still uncomfortable with how masculine it obviously was. Determining that enough time would be spent in Zelda’s car and the restaurant that ambient temperature wouldn’t be an issue she decided to forego a jacket entirely.
She didn’t have time to think about her decision when she heard the doorbell ring. Turning off her own phone and throwing the prepaid in her purse she remembered to leave the light on before going down the stairs.
As soon as she opened the door she felt her heart start fluttering. Zelda stood before her in a soft pink cardigan with a matching scarf and boots, a black peacoat, and a pair of skinny jeans. Though she didn’t look any more attractive than normal Linkle still felt privileged that she looked like this for her.
“You look amazing-” Zelda took the words out of her mouth. “I have to say, even cuter up close.”
“Y-you too.” Was all Linkle could stammer out.
“You ready to go?” Zelda frowned slightly when Linkle started towards the door. “No coat? Hm, wait here a second would you?”
Linkle could feel the anxiety rising in her chest again as Zelda walked back to her car, had she done something wrong? She was still racking her brain when Zelda returned with a large bag in hand.
“I know Kanose doesn’t have very harsh winters so I figured you might need this. Honestly I half expected you to come out wearing your brother’s ratty coat.” She giggled in spite of herself but was cut off when Zelda pulled a very expensive looking jacket from her bag. “This should be about your size. And don’t you dare tell me it’s too much, what kind of person would I be if I let you walk around with no coat in the dead of winter as both my date and my friend-” There was a microscopic pause that Linkle almost thought she imagined. “-‘s sister? Though I am going to give myself a pat on the back for guessing the color correctly”
Linkle was speechless as she examined the jacket, it was a gorgeous olive parka with faux fur around the hood. After a quick nod from Zelda she threw it on, it was amazingly cozy and already warm from being in Zelda’s car. “I love it” She was surprised to see a relieved expression on Zelda’s face, how could she not have liked such a wonderful present.
“I’m glad you liked it, shall we?” Zelda offered her arm and Linkle quickly locked the door before threading her own through for the quick walk to the car.
Though her brain was buzzing the entire time the trip was uneventful. She looked over at Zelda as they arrived at Ralis Sushi. “You’re sure you’re okay with paying for this? We could always go somewhere cheaper.”
“You sound like your brother.” Zelda rolled her eyes and gently massaged Linkle’s hand, but continued before Linkle could object. “But both of us look far too nice for fast food, so the decision is made.”
Before Linkle could open her door Zelda was there, opening it for her and once again offering her arm. As Linkle was led towards the door she could feel her anxiety rising. Did Zelda actually not realize she wasn’t really a girl? Would the wait staff see right through her? Suddenly her stomach was leaden and she was sure without Zelda’s arm around hers she would be stopped dead in the parking lot.
“Hello ladies, do you have a reservation?” Linkle blinked, realizing she had somehow gotten into the restaurant. Zelda confirmed the reservation and they were led to their booth. “Ruto will be your server this evening and will be right over to take your drink orders.”
Linkle fidgeted in her seat, sure she’d be discovered at any moment. She wasn’t sure how long Zelda had been talking when she finally looked up. “Hey, are you okay?” Zelda’s look was pure sympathy. “You look kinda out of it, do you want to go home?”
Linkle fervently shook her head. “No no no, I’m fine. I’m just.” She paused, unsure of what exactly she should say. “A little nervous?”
“Nervous, why?” She laid her hands over Linkle’s, gently rubbing them. “Am I pushing too hard? I’m sorry, I know I can get a little carried away sometimes. Just let me know and I’ll back off.”
“Seriously, you’re great.” Linkle drew a deep breath. “I’ve just kinda never been on a date, you know. So…” She trailed off, shrugging her shoulders without extricating her hands from Zelda’s. She’d been on a few dates, but never as Linkle.
Zelda opened her mouth to speak, seeming ready to refute Linkle’s claim, then closed her mouth and considered for a second. “I’m surprised a girl as cute as you has never dated anyone, though I guess Kanose is pretty socially conservative.” She shot a meaningful look across the table. “I’ve got a bit more experience than you, but my prerogative is for you to be comfortable and if you’re not I need you to let me know, okay?” Linkle nodded timidly and Zelda’s smile returned.
“So, um, what should I get?” Linkle sipped her water and looked expectantly at Zelda. “I’ve never really had sushi before so…”
“Oh, right!” Zelda tapped her chin thoughtfully with her forefinger. “Well for a beginner I recommend California rolls, cucumber rolls, things like that. If you’re not squeamish unagi or a tuna roll are great. Or.” She paused again for dramatic effect. “If you’re feeling adventurous we could split a platter and you could see what you like.”
“That sounds good, I’m sure I’ll find something I like.” Linkle really did feel at ease here, as long as she could keep her lies out of her mind. “Um, would you mind ordering if the waitress shows up? I have to use the bathroom.”
“Oh no problem, take your time.”
Linkle stood before the twin bathroom doors, agonizing. She knew where she should go but, how she looked aside, she just didn’t feel comfortable using it. Knowing that standing outside the bathrooms would only draw undue attention she decided to go with her gut and strode into the women’s room calmly.
Linkle approached the sink, glad no one else had entered in the time she’d been in the bathroom. She washed and dried her hands and moved to leave when she noticed that she’d partially revealed the tattoo on her hand.
It was a golden triangle between her thumb and forefinger with the ancient hylian word for Courage inside of it. She had gotten it soon after she’d turned 18, and Zelda and Nabooru had gotten matching tattoos with different words. She panicked, knowing that if Zelda saw this the jig was up and that her concealer was in her purse which was still at the table.
After formulating a plan she inhaled deeply and walked back to the table, careful to keep the back of her hand against her thigh. As she sat down Zelda darted an almost imperceptible glance to her hand before speaking up. “I already ordered, I’m going to use the bathroom myself if you don’t mind.” Linkle waved her off before she was even halfway through asking permission, then began to sip her water. As soon as she was out of sight though, Linkle sprung into action.
Pulling as little makeup as she could get away with out of her purse she tried to reconceal the tattoo as quickly as she could. Between constant glances back she did her best job to strike a balance between keeping the patch of makeup unnoticeable and hiding the bright yellow of her tattoo. She had only just gotten it to an acceptable state when she noticed Zelda walking out of the bathroom. She closed the various containers and threw them back in her purse, not caring about the mess she was making, and had barely finished when Zelda sat back down.
“So I think you’ll enjoy this stuff, your brother loves this stuff but getting him out of the house can be kind of hard.” She smiled at the young Zora waitress who had just brought their tea.
“Yeah I think he just, I dunno, doesn’t see the point in it?.” Linkle sipped her tea, trying to avoid giving too much away.
“Yeah I get that vibe from him too.” Zelda huffed into her tea. “He’s great when he forgets to be miserable but that seems to happen less and less these days, I wish he’d just figure out whatever it is that’s making him miserable, you know?” The look Zelda was giving her seemed a little too pointed.
“Yeah, whatever it is” Linkle commiserated. “I’d like to see him happy, he deserves it.”
“We should compare notes sometime, see if we can’t work something out.” Zelda grinned conspiratorially. “But that’s enough about Link I think, what about you? What makes you tick? Why was your dad, notorious asshole he is, willing to give you up? Do you know how to make those amazing biscuit things your brother refuses to give me the recipe for?”
“Hmm.” Linkle took another sip of her tea to give herself a moment to think. “Mostly I just work at the bakery and go to school; honestly I think staying with mom is the life Link wishes he got. Dad isn’t concerned with anything but a male heir to carry on the family name, I’m not even sure he knows he has a daughter. And I’ll give you the recipe right after mom and grandma die, or else they’ll murder me.”
Zelda giggled then glanced to the side. “Good answers, and good timing too because here comes our food, and I expect you to try everything once.”
“I promise, I’m hungry enough to eat a horse.” Linkle deftly transferred several particularly delicious looking pieces to her plate before beginning to eat.
“You’re really good with those for a beginner.” Link glanced up as Zelda motioned at her chopsticks.
“Oh, um, well they’re almost exactly like đũa so.” Linkle was kicking herself for making such a stupid slip-up again.
“Oh the square ones, I’ve seen your brother using those.” Zelda nodded before biting into a salmon roll. Link breathed a sigh of relief.
The rest of the date was largely uneventful; Linkle didn’t mess up any more and Zelda kept largely to small talk. Linkle still had the most fun she’d ever had on a date though, and she was sad to find herself at its end, standing on her front porch with Zelda.
“I had a great time tonight.” Linkle could barely restrain her glee as Zelda held her hands and leaned against her body. “I’d really like to see you again if you’d like, and, uh, maybe a kiss? Or if you like I could come inside.”
‘Hesitant’ was almost never a word he’d use to describe Zelda, but Linkle couldn’t think of another word. She knew it was time to come clean, even though it would cost her everything.
“I…” She took a deep breath, steeling herself. “I really had a fun time too, but…”
“But?” Zelda asked fearfully.
“There’s something I need to tell you that I haven’t been completely honest about and you have every right to be mad. I’m, uh, well I’m not Linkle.”
“What do you mean?” Zelda asked quizzically.
“I’m actually Link.” Linkle cast her eyes to the ground in shame and tried to pull away from Zelda, but found her hands were held tightly.
“No you’re not” Zelda’s tone was still silvery, but was now a hammer, rather than a blade.
“I- I am!” Linkle thought she was moments away from bursting into tears. “I deceived you this entire time and I’m awful and you should be furious at me.”
“You’re not Link” Zelda cupped her chin in one hand and brought her eyes up so their gazes would meet. “I’ve known you for a long time and after tonight I can honestly say whoever you are, you’re not Link. You were vibrant and open and happier than I think I’ve ever seen you. If anything I should be the one to apologize; I knew all this time and let you go on thinking I didn’t in an attempt to let you move at your own pace.”
“You knew? But how-”
“Because” Zelda interrupted, a grin half formed on her face. “I’ve known you for your entire life and I know you don’t have a sister, I know how you look well enough to know how you look, even with makeup on, and I know-” She licked her thumb before rubbing it on the side of Linkle’s right hand, revealing a golden triangle. “That you should really wear waterproof concealer on your hands.” The grin changed in character as she stared into Linkle’s eyes. “I also know that I still really want to kiss you.”
Linkle’s breath halted in her chest as Zelda held her closer, arm around her waist and lips merely inches away. She licked her lips in anticipation, hesitant to make a move until she saw the slight nod of Zelda’s head. Taking it as the signal she was waiting for she leaned forward to join her lips with the taller girl’s. Soon she felt her lips being pushed apart by Zelda’s tongue and broke the kiss, having to take a breath before she could talk. “On second thought, maybe you should come inside.”