It's been a while since I've picked this up. A lot has happened. I proposed to Zelda – she said yes can you believe – and we completed the trials given to us by Maz Koshia. Got something called a Master Cycle for my troubles too, except Zelda keeps trying to dismantle it to see how it works.
She says she wants to get married as soon as possible, can't say I disagree. She admitted to me that she enjoyed some of the attention her engagement brought her but she just wanted to have me as her husband already. I might have gotten a little weak when she said that and I think it showed, but the feeling is mutual.
Thankfully, neither of us are big on ceremony these days.
Since the defeat of Ganon, and the subsequent retreat of Hyrule's monster population, more and more people were starting to use the roads. Villages were no longer the confined and cut-off settlements that they used to be. Trade and the swapping of valued skill sets in this new self sufficient age had sprung up in earnest between the races.
Zelda was pleased to discover that this increased skill trade was occurring naturally, thus reaffirming her theory that a monarchy was not necessary in this era and might even have disrupted this natural balance. However, if the people had been expecting a grandiose wedding – considering the participants – they were disappointed when the rumour mill started back up again.
“I think we should be married somewhere quiet, with only a few people present,” Zelda suggested, placing her chin in her hands as she rested against the dinner table, “or we could just elope, of course.”
Link, being the reserved person he was, whole heartedly agreed – to the small wedding, not eloping. So, the question that remained was where? Lurelin was briefly discussed after Zelda very tentatively suggested it over a plate of bacon and eggs. Very crispy bacon.
Link gave the suggestion a few minutes of silent thought before shaking his head. “No. I know why you suggested it, and I appreciate the thought, but... I promised Aryll that I would not look back.”
His sister, Aryll, had lived the majority of her life tucked safely away in Lurelin village along the south coast. She was now very old, stretching even Hylian limitations, but she had been given the chance to see Link again, see him alive, and confirm all the stories she had heard from a Rito bard that liked to visit the area. Just as Link got to see that she had survived the rise of the Calamity, even if she had lived her life without him.
“She made it clear to me that she did not want me being tied to that place simply because she was there. She lived a good life... now it's my turn.”
With the subject of Lurelin put to bed another location suggested was Kakariko Village.
“Impa is already there, as is Paya, and I've always felt welcome there,” Zelda said, mentally drawing up a pros and cons table.
“It is pretty, but it's a Sheikah Village. They went there to live in solitude and preserve their culture. We're both Hylian,” Link pointed out.
“I suppose … it is a shame though. Ideally we need a neutral location, somewhere all races can feel welcome, given our select group of friends.”
A thought occurred to Link in that moment; a place he had, guilty, almost completely forgotten about.
“Isn't that the settlement you helped Hudson build on a plateau in the south of Akkala?”
“That's the one.”
“...that could work.”
We decided on having the ceremony in Tarrey Town in the end as it's the most diverse area in Hyrule currently. That is until we can get Castle Town renovated into a place of commerce again but Zelda is still hashing out the details with the Nation leaders.
Of course, we needed to actually ask the inhabitants of Tarrey Town if they wouldn't mind hosting us first. Thankfully, they were happy to accommodate us, but Zelda ended up staying there for the entire day. Wouldn't say why, just that it was a secret...
As soon as the seamstress had caught wind of the reason behind Zelda's visit, she had immediately enquired about her wedding dress. The blank look on the researcher's face had said all it needed to on that topic and Zelda was shepherded into her store, intent on taking matters into her own hands.
“Oh yes, he's officiated for many people from what I've heard … mostly Zora mind you … just make sure he doesn't slip in a weird clause at the end of your vows,” she warned as she finished noting down Zelda's size and moved on to show her colour swatches. “Now, of course a bride's dress is traditionally white-”
“That was only to demonstrate the family of the bride's wealth, that they could afford to keep things pristine. Admittedly, for me that would have been a moot point and it was more of a symbolic gesture that the bride was a virgin and therefore 'pure',” Zelda rolled her eyes along with her use of air quotes. “But, Rhondson, I'm going to let you in on a little secret; I'm not a virgin.”
“Oh honey, do you think I was? I just look good in white.”
Still, the idea of wearing white reminded Zelda a little too much of her prayer dress, so it was agreed that they would stick to pastels and light shades but no pure white. For example, a pale, cornflower blue that would gradually fade towards the hems as they collected around her ankles. Rhondson even started designing some appliqués that she could sew onto the bodice of the dress after she caught sight of Zelda's engagement ring.
“That boy really does have attention for detail, doesn't he?”
There was no response from the scholar as she had become transfixed by her ring again, a giddy smile adorning her face as she stared at it. Rhondson left her to it, drawing up her patterns on waxed paper and selecting fabrics before a thought occurred to her.
“What is Link going to wear? I don't think I've ever seen him in anything formal... that would be a sight to behold.”
Zelda came out of her reverie with a giggle, “oh he always looked rather presentable in his Champion's tunic but it's seen better days now. I'm not sure what he'll wear, I suppose we'll just have to see.
Rhondson fixed her with a disbelieving stare.
“That's brave of you.”
“Oh, it will be fine,” Zelda assured, waving the words away, “he can wear what he likes, I'd marry him regardless.”
“... very brave.”
We've discovered a problem. How do we get everyone there? We don't intend for it to be a very long ordeal so for everyone to travel to Akkala, the trek itself would be longer than the event. I could just go and teleport everyone but it seems as though Purah has a better idea, we're about to go and see her now.
Purah is a wonderful friend, never let it be said that we don't appreciate her because we do. Despite her complaints.
She has perfected her technique to make Teleport Tablets. Last we saw of them she was still learning how to carve into guardium with the Ancient Flame – Zelda explained - but she can now make tablets that have fixed Shrine destinations written onto them! So, all our guests will need to do is activate one at a specific time to be transported to the Shrine that overlooks Tarrey Town.
Zelda is going to help Purah make the tablets that will return people home so that she can learn how to make them too. Purah's only request was to be one of Zelda's bridesmaids. As if she would say no.
Now I just need to actually finish writing the invites.
Link actually melted a little bit as he thought about it and draped himself over the table top, pushing half written letters and labelled envelopes aside while he dissolved with utter contentment.
He had taken responsibility for delivering all of the invites to their wedding in person. Hence the letters. He'd met many people during his travels and introduced Zelda to them later on, but it was the individuals who had personally invested themselves in aiding Link through his quest who would be joining them.
The Sheikah Directors Robbie and Purah, Impa and Paya of Kakariko, Teba and Kass of the Rito, Yunobo of the Gorons, Chief Riju of the Gerudo, and Prince Sidon of the Zora. Each were encouraged to bring someone with them if they so wished – Link highly doubted that Sidon or Riju would be 'allowed' to leave their domains without an escort and it was equally unlikely that Teba or Kass would want to leave their families behind.
An invite was also extended to Bolson and Karson. Even though they had not been instrumental to Link's Quest to defeat Ganon, they had offered their services in other ways. Carrying out renovations to their home, offering their assistance whenever they had need of it, puppy-sitting Toast, and simply being good neighbours to talk to and have their back. It would also provide them with an excuse to see Hudson after so long.
Still, compared to a wedding that Zelda would have once been dreading a century ago, the one they had crafted was looking to be very cosy.
It had been a bitter realisation when it occurred to them that they had no family to invite, however.
No parents to lead them to their significant other at the altar, no guiding hand or advice for what to wear or what to expect. No last minute familial teasing or threats to mention embarrassing stories. It was just them, working things out together the best they could. It was oddly fitting.
Link picked himself back off of the table when he felt something brush against his legs. Toast had trotted out of her alcove under that stairs to bother him for petting. With one hand reaching down to scratch her behind the ears, he finished addressing the last of the letters and stacked them up into a neat pile to one side. Then he settled himself in to wait for his soon-to-be wife to return from Hateno lab. He had a surprise for her.
Today is a very special day, but I don't think Zelda has remembered.
She's with Purah at the moment and I didn't get chance this morning to mention anything before she left. I'm waiting for her to come back so I can show her all the gifts our friends have sent. I didn't think that when I told people what I had panned that they would be able to respond so quickly … but the cupboard full of presents says otherwise.
An entire year had passed since the battle with Calamity Ganon had ended, an entire year since Zelda's body had started to breath again. To age again.
The former Princess of Hyrule had woken up that morning – the morning of her eighteenth birthday - completely oblivious. Leaving Link still fast asleep in bed with a note placed in his unruly hair to let him know that she had gone to meet Purah at Hateno Lab. His surprise planned for her therefore had to be delayed and he hoped that Purah would not spill the beans before she got home. It was unlikely given that the young Sheikah's focus was undoubtedly fixed on their work, but either way she had already handed Zelda's gift off to Link to add to the others.
After I proposed, Zelda had insisted that we inform our friends in person. I believe her words were “They deserve to know from us, not through the grape vine, Link. You forget how much they care about you, they're going to be so happy for us!”
Once again, hard to disagree but I just don't think about telling people these things.
So, after Zelda and I were drowned in congratulations and well-wishes, I was pulled to one side to endure a variety of different comments.
“Took you long enough,” he'd grumbled before grabbing Link around the shoulders with one wing and rubbing his hair furiously with the other. Looking for all the world like a proud parent, taking personal joy in the small Hylians progress.
Riju had looked extremely smug upon the announcement and wiggled her eyebrows at Link shamelessly, mouthing out of the corner of her mouth, “how did you manage that?”
He'd stuck his tongue out at her but was then surprised when she gave him a genuine hug and added, “I really am happy for you. You deserve this, so much.”
There hadn't been any sort of sarcastic commentary to accompany the good cheer that came from Yunobo. He had waved his gigantic arms excitedly, clearly at a loss as to what he should do with this newfound energy before he gathered Link and Zelda into a hug. A far more gentle hug than either of them had come to expect from Gorons. He was so emotional that he accidentally summoned his crystalline barrier around them.
Then there had been Sidon, who cried. In between the sobs of joy they were each able to discern his words of heartfelt congratulations before he'd folded and drawn them into a secure embrace. It wasn't until after he had managed to pull himself back together that he had tapped Link's shoulder and grinned at him, baring all of his many shark teeth.
“I guess she likes mutts after all,” he whispered, conspiratorially.
I'm still not sure how the hell Sidon remembered that conversation but I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of seeing me offended. I now regret teaching him how to engage in friendly ribbing.
Still, once I had endured all of the 'teasing' I was able to let everyone in on my plan to surprise Zelda for her Birthday – given that it had been moved and all. This then prompted a discussion of when my birthday was but it looks like everyone has sent something. Hopefully, I can pull this off.
Link was near vibrating when Zelda finally came home, hands covered in soot and a couple of fingers wrapped in plasters but with an accomplished smile on her face. After cleaning herself up, she dropped into a seat at the table. She tickled Toast's fluffy chest as the Hylian Retreiver came over to greet her, and then peered at the completed invites with interest while she inhaled the scents of spices and poultry cooking over the fire.
“We've finished off all the tablets we'll need so you can take those with you when you hand out these invites.” She patted Toast on her side to let her know that fuss time was over and she stretched against the back of her chair, taking in another lungful of air. “I recognise that smell. Urbosa used to have this made for me whenever I visited Gerudo Town with my mother. Took me a while to get used to the spices.”
“I know,” Link replied, hiding a knowing smile with his back to her as he continued to chop tomatoes and herbs, gently nudging an insistent dog away with his foot.
“Oh, how would you- Urbosa's diary? You little snoop,” Zelda accused, narrowing her eyes as Link gathered up his ingredients and added them to the pot above the fire.
She tried to catch his eye and see his reaction but he kept his face hidden from her the entire time he stirred the contents of the pot, replacing the lid and stoking the fire to raise the temperature. After watching him return back to his counter in equal silence she gave in with a groan.
“Alright, you win. What's the occasion?”
Halfway through counting out some raisins he paused, the lights along his prosthetic flaring, before he placed the raisin jar to one side and turned to her. His face was devoid of emotion, determined to give nothing away but the highlights along his right arm betrayed him. Glowing with excitement as his heart raced.
It had actually become a very good indicator of his moods.
“Don't you know what day it is today?”
Zelda's eyebrows furrowed together in thought and Link turned back to the counter to finish measuring out the last of the ingredients to add to their dinner. Once everything was left to stew in a thick, amber sauce, he sat himself down at the table opposite Zelda. He watched her continue to work out why today was so special and bit down on his bottom lip to prevent a smile as he saw the minute set of expressions that always preceded a realisation spread across her face.
“Today's the day we defeated Ganon! Has it really been a year? It feels like it's been longer but at the same time it's still surprising that so much time has passed.”
While she marvelled at the passage of time, Link waited for a few more seconds before raising his eyebrows and inclining his head at her as if to say 'go on'.
“Is there something else? I mean that's a pretty big occasion in and of itself...” Zelda trailed off as Link got up and opened one of the cupboards under his counter.
From inside, he retrieved several brightly coloured packages, all tied up with ribbon, and tucked them close to him as he returned to her side of the table. He let them gently tumble out of his arms and slid the pile over to her, leaning down to place a kiss against the top of her head.
“Happy birthday, Zelda.”
Jaw dropping, she nearly choked with how quickly she inhaled in shock, spluttering a bit as she grabbed a hold of Link's wrists to get him to look down at her. Her eyes widened as she took in the grin taking over Link's features, obviously amused at her surprise.
“I had completely forgotten! My Birthday used to be just before the onset of winter, not in the middle of summer... Oh, Link!”
Zelda threw her arms around him, nearly bringing him crashing down onto the table as she squeezed his ribcage. He tried not to wheeze too audibly.
“I can't believe it. I'm eighteen. I've awakened my powers, saved Hyrule, spoke to the Goddess Hylia herself and now I'm about to get married. I'm eighteen.”
Hysterical laughter continued to fill their house as Zelda wiped tears from her eyes and she started to unwrap her many presents.
I think Zelda enjoyed her surprise birthday yesterday, she certainly didn't waste much time after we'd finished dinner to drag me to bed. I didn't even get chance to tell her about the cake I had hidden, but in my defence I was thoroughly distracted. I'll have to give it to her today.
She's currently tinkering with her new carving tools and flame cradle that Purah and Robbie gave her. We're going to visit the Ancient Flame at the top of the village to bring some back for her lab and then she's asked if I'll help her with organising her material storage. The highly cultivated seeds Riju gave her are being divided into glass tubes at the Kitchen table. I can hear the rattling from up here in bed.
I'll have to thank everyone for being so thoughtful with their gifts seeing as I gave them very little notice. None of them were overly dramatic or fit for a Princess, which delighted her; Lab equipment, seeds, preserved manuscripts from civilisations past, and rare materials mined from deep within the earth that still hold magic from eons long forgotten.
Zelda really took the Sheikah Monks words to heart. She's been scanning every book we've saved from the Castle library for any mention of past magic use. Apparently, it used to be pretty common place, but not commonly accessible. Unlike today. She's determined to bring the magic arts back into today's society, but with everything else she's set out to do I'll have to make sure she doesn't burn out.
Time to worry about that another day. For now, I suppose I should actually tip myself out of bed, these invites won't deliver themselves.
The day is finally here and I both want to curl up while squeezing a pillow to death and run around screaming. I'm glad I have Sidon here with me. He's keeping up a steady stream of encouragement and small anecdotes to distract me.
My legs won't stop shaking though. Today, I'm going to marry Zelda.
While Zelda had wanted to stick to tradition for this one occasion, she had not been willing to part ways with him until that morning. Something about missing her 'living pillow'. So, it was at the break of dawn when Zelda had taken Toast and travelled ahead of Link to meet their Sheikah guests already in the town, who had gathered together to help her get ready and otherwise keep her company.
This left Link with nothing to do except hover in the area of the Dah Hesho Shrine waiting for their guests to arrive as the tablets activated, unable to stay in one place for long due to accumulating excitement.
Chief Riju and her bodyguard had been the first to arrive, swiftly followed by Teba and Kass with their accompanying family. Riju had never met any Rito children before and was quickly enamoured with the brightly coloured swarm as they surrounded the young Cheif, peppering her with questions. Kass had laid a comforting wing on Link's shoulder before assuring him that he could lead the way to Tarrey Town.
This meant that the Hylian Champion was able to receive Yunubo, mere minutes later. The young Goron looked extremely uncomfortable with the sensation of teleporting and immediately conjured his shield upon arriving. It took Link a couple of minutes to comfort the shaking ball, but once he had Yunobo had marvelled at the view.
“It's so red here, like Death Mountain, but there's no rock anywhere, goro! I should leave the town more often...”
They took their time walking down the slopes of Kaepora Pass, discussing the advancements the Gorons had made with mining out a vein of magically charged ore. It was a very volatile material according to Yunobo and the Goron's had needed to take additional care with their cargo while transporting it but it had opened up a whole new area of trade for their region.
Their conversation came to a halt as Yunobo spotted his fellow Goron's tending to the cooking fires and left Link to join them and catch up. The Hylian wandered about the town to make sure that people were mixing in well, but it seemed that everyone was taking the opportunity to talk with the members of their nations who had left to populate this town.
Aware that he was now only waiting for Sidon to arrive, Link walked back up to the Shrine and settled down to wait. He was starting to become a bit confused by the lateness of the hour with still no shark Prince in sight until a loud whistling pierced the air.
Standing in the plains below the Shrine was Prince Sidon, accompanied by a motley crew of guards: Bazz, Gaddison, Rivan, and Sergeant Seggin.
“As much as I want to use that tablet you gave us,” Sidon yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth as Link scaled his way down from the high rise, “I was once again told to not be lazy!”
Seggin looked extremely unimpressed as he turned to berate the Prince while Link jogged up to them.
“That was merely one of my concerns, your Highness,” Seggin huffed at Sidon, but he came forward to greet Link cordially. “Since our Domain is only just on the other side of the cliffs behind us, it seemed a little redundant but I appreciate the consideration. Our main concern, however, was that we would be unable to all hold onto the device and travel together given … how many of us deigned to join the Prince.”
The remaining trio of Zora grinned unabashedly.
“You didn't think we were going to miss this did you, Link?” Bazz laughed, as if the idea were ludicrous.
Link rubbed a hand over the fabric covering his right arm in a nervous gesture. [I didn't want to be picking favourites. I love all of you.]
“That's very sweet Link but we all know that Sidon's plus one was going to be Bazz,” Gaddison explained, “and we couldn't let him have all the fun, the pompous snot, so-”
“Hey, hey now! When did this become about me?” Bazz spluttered, face tinting slightly as he blushed, eyes darting between Link and his 'friends'.
“Bazz, relax,” Sidon said, stepping in as he placed both hands on Bazz's shoulders, “you shouldn't feel the need to be bashful because I favour you over anyone else. After all, you are my partner!”
“Bazz? Bashful? Now that's a new one,” Rivan stage whispered to Gaddison, who fought hard to save face.
Meanwhile, a truly accomplished grin had spread across Link's face and he cheered, leaning back to exclaim to the clear skies above.
“Ha ha! You hear that Zelda? I won!”
Bazz, who had been in the middle of trying to form a comeback, choked and the Prince, Bazz's backup, whipped his head over to stare at the crowing Hylian.
“You … you made a bet? With Zelda?!” He exclaimed, completely losing his composure as he too began to flush, gripping onto Bazz's shoulders now as if to keep himself upright.
Link locked eyes with him and smirked, wiggling his eyebrows as he said, “not great when people bet about your romantic life, huh Sidon?”
Rivan and Gaddison were no longer trying to stifle their laughter as they held each other up but even the Sergeant could not help but let out a smirk before turning away. Effectively abandoning his son to his torment, the old Zora made his way towards Tarrey Town.
He and Kapson had been in contact ever since the Priest left the Domain and he was confident that he could make his own way there to meet his old friend at his own pace. Leave the youngsters to their chaos. The sounds of continued teasing and whining followed him all the way into town.
By the time Link and his entourage of Zora made it back, there was little under an hour left for the groom to get ready and that was when the nervous energy exploded.
He was quickly shepherded into the Inn that Kapson managed, catching a quick glimpse of Toast walking around with a flower crown perched on her head before he was subjected to a thorough grooming by Teba. Once his hair had been tamed to an acceptable level by the Rito's assessment he was then passed off to Bolson, who sat him down on a bed and brandished a stick of eyeliner at him.
“I cannot express how much I need you to stay still for this,” the designer implored, bending at the hips to apply careful lines of black around Link's eyes. “Now, the big, hunky Zora over there tells me that you haven't told anyone what you're going to wear. Risky decision in my opinion, but we trust you so please don't let my efforts here go to waste.”
Without moving his head, Link let his hands answer for him. [I won't and that Zora is taken]
“Doesn't mean I can't appreciate the view, young grasshopper,” Bolson retorted, tapping Link's nose with a soft brush, scattering beige powder over his cheeks. “Now that I have you here, I've been meaning to ask. Who is taking whose name after this? I didn't want to assume.”
Link smiled softly, trying hard not to move his face too much.
[Both. Hyrule-Sylvis. Together it would translate as Hyrule Forest. We saw an opportunity and took it]
“Never let it be said that love is dead,” he sighed, “still, that is rather cute. Alright, all that's left is for you go into that room over there and work that weird mojo you do with that Slate of yours.”
He did as he was told, running on autopilot as his excitement peaked, and retrieved the various pieces of clothing for his chosen outfit, laying them out onto a table. For the millionth time, he thanked the Sheikah of old for the Slate and it's ability to literally warp his clothes around his mechanical arm. Getting a clingy shirt and elbow length gloves to pull over it would have been near impossible.
Link was fastening the last item in place just as he heard someone enter the Inn and Sidon start to speak to them.
“Riju? What are you doing here, shouldn't you be with Zelda?”
“Oh please, she's drowning in attention and I want to make sure that Link isn't about to go out there looking like a … Oh,” Riju trailed off as she caught sight of Link walking into the room, now fully dressed for their inspection. “Oh damn, Link, you clean up really well.”
“Well he did manage to capture the hearts of two Princesses,” Sidon quipped as he too took in Link's appearance in an approving once over.
The deep blue fabric combined with the golden accents of the Royal Guard uniform went well with his blue eyes and blonde hair. The deep red of the under shirt along with the thigh length white boots and elbow length gloves completed his striking appearance. Even though he was marrying a scholar, he did look fit to marry Royalty.
“I'm … sorry I doubted you,” Riju said, looking a little taken a back. She then turned to Sidon, “was this your doing?”
“Absolutely not,” the Prince announced proudly, “it seems he was set on this outfit from the get go and I can see why. Now then,” he rubbed his hands together, “it's time!”
The actual ceremony itself passed by a bit blurred for Link. He walked confidently up to the altar to stand before Kapson, who appraised him briefly before looking back out over their guests. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Teba and his family giving him a thumbs up, but everything after that was a mystery because the moment he saw Zelda walking towards him, led halfway there by Impa, his brain took it's leave completely.
Their vows were shared, rings were exchanged, and then they were able to express their love in front of their new found family. But the entire time Link and Zelda had stood before Kapson and their many witnesses, he couldn't help but wonder what he had done to please the Goddesses so much that they would let him have this.
Zelda looked stunning. Now I know why Zelda had spent the entire day in Tarrey Town. Rhondson really outdid herself but I can't help but feel that on anyone else the dress would not have been as effective as it was on her. I think I might have started crying, I'm not sure, I just knew that she looked beautiful. Covered in her favourite flowers and wearing the same colours, she was every bit the Silent Princess I have come to love.
I still can't believe she's now my wife.
It's here, it took way longer than I had intended but -shrug emoji- it's here. It also grew a bit so yeah, have a 3 part epilogue I intend to update every Friday…
Additionally, with Tumblr shooting itself in the foot and shadow-banning fanartists, I have an Art Twitter you can follow and a Pillowfort account where I will be continuing to create for BotW even after this story is done! Please consider supporting me there~
I'm still marvelling over the ring on my left hand, I can't quite believe it's there. I've always wanted a family, to live with the person I love, I never expected it to be her though. Now the thought of anyone else seems laughable.
Then again, there are few as driven and passionate about the things they love as Zelda. When she told me she wasn't going to be taking back the crown and instead picking up her old research I didn't question it. But, after a while, it became clear that she didn't want her studies to be confined to her lab in the house. She had seen the progress that Purah and Robbie had made over the past one hundred years and had wondered how much more progress they could have made had their network been bigger.
It shouldn't be surprising that her small comment about making a research-focused academy would lead to the plans for an entire Institute supported by every nation within Hyrule. Yet here we are and I am still astounded that this is something that has been organised.
Hyrule of a century ago would have a heart attack.
But once they had settled into the notion that they were now husband and wife, Zelda was keen to finish what she had started in regards to a Hyrulean Research Institute.
Her communications between the races had been going well and the sentiment for a central halfway point for commerce appeared to be mutual. The additional benefit that those who contributed to the research within the institute would be provided with housing within the new Castle Town increased the proposal's appeal.
That and the project already had a source of funding. Link's concept of wealth had been fragile at best, but now that he had a better understanding of Hyrule's current economy he had pushed all of his amassed fortune into Zelda's idea. At last, his hoarding habits had an outlet.
Because of this, the other races had been a lot more keen on the idea of a coalition effort when Zelda pitched the idea.
“You'll be pleased to know that the monetary side of this project has already been taken care of. All I need from you now is confirmation of your support or your refusal to participate. I leave it to you.”
Predictably, every nation responded positively to Zelda's speech – which she'd been determined to give in person – and she soon had a list of names who were all willing to be involved with the Institute. This then lead into into the next stage of preparations. How would this research facility be run?
One proposed idea was to base the management of the Institution off of the coalition of the Champions. A member of each race, elected by their home nations, would come together to form a council. That way, each domain would have an equal voice in any discussion pertaining to advancements needed for the whole country and it's development into the future. The council members themselves would then vote on one member to chair meeting proceedings for a set period of time before passing it on to another council member.
“It's the Kingdom of Hyrule, not Hylians,” Zelda reasoned, writing up more legislature that needed to be sent back to Chief Riju. “It hasn't been the land of Hylians for a very, very long time and it isn't just Hylians who live here now. Everyone should be able to have a say in how this country progresses and what improvements can be made.”
“Can we still call it a Kingdom if there is no King or Queen?” Link asked, mildly curious as he nudged Zelda's tea cup forward slightly to remind her to drink.
“Honestly, at this point it's more a force of habit than anything else, but technically no. The Kingdom of Hyrule no longer exists. It's just Hyrule now,” Zelda answered, pouncing on her tea once she had signed the document.
The announcements were made in each nation, after Nayru's Celebration, for the people to vote on who they wanted to represent them in the council. Then, Hyrule waited.
“I hope people don't think I'm trying to go back on my decision. I have no motivation to rule, I really don't, and this new system should be much more fair, at least in my opinion. You don't think anyone will consider this as a more covert way for me to return to a governing role do you?” Zelda fretted.
She had been feeling a little-self conscious ever since her plans had gone public, overhearing the feedback from the Hateno Villagers as she went about her day. She had been tempted to shut herself into the house for a few days – the heavy snowfall would have been an ample excuse - but in the end she refused to be a coward. Zelda had worked long and hard on this proposal, she was proud of her idea and she was going to own it.
“Maybe mention in passing that you're not interested? You know, just, casually,” Link suggested.
So, when the opportunity presented itself one cosy evening in the Hateno Tavern, Zelda was quick to point out that the Hylians of this age had only known her as a neighbour, at best, for the better part of a year. No doubt they would wish to elect someone they knew far better and who had a better understanding of Hyrule for the current age. Besides, she would be much better suited as a researcher and could easily advise if needed.
What neither of them had considered was that perhaps Link himself should also have made it known that he wasn't interested in the council position. As it happened, the Hylians did want to nominate Link as their representative even without him actively vying for the role.
“I'm not sure why you didn't see this coming,” Hateno's Mayor said, chuckling a little under his breath at the absolutely floored look on Link's face following the reveal of the Hylian votes. “After everything you've done for the people of this Kingdom? Who else would have such hands on experience with this land and such good relations with the other races? Besides, you assist Zelda with all of her research anyway, you already have such a good partnership and understand the lingo. Honestly, son, if you didn't want to be elected you should have made that clear from the start. Even the folks from Lurelin threw their votes in for you.”
Link didn't really have the heart to tell everyone that they needed to vote for someone else, so he had gracefully accepted the position. Besides, he did make a good team with Zelda and, the more he thought on it, this would give him something to do.
“Don’t say a word,” Link warned, as he and Zelda trudged their way home through thick snow from the village tavern, the usual place for village meetings to be held.
Ahead of them they could just make out Toast creating furrows through the snow, her head poking out to see where she was going every so often. They would need to give her a warm bath when they got home to melt all the snow off of her that had clumped in her fur.
“I don’t need to," Zelda replied, smugly, "I’m just going to drink my tea."
Now, they just had to wait to hear back from the other nations. It had already been made expressly clear from the start that neither Cheif Riju nor Prince Sidon would be electable. As the leaders of their own communities, they could not be involved personally with a joint effort based elsewhere. However, this did not prevent them from supporting other members of their communities who were advocating for the position.
Finally, it was revealed that Laflat, Secretary to the Royal family, would be the Zoran council member and Barta, in an effort to get her to learn responsibility and sate her wayward nature, was to become the Gerudo representative. Yunubo was only too happy to take up a position on the council; it meant he had to leave the boundaries of Death Mountain regularly and it provided him with the opportunity to actively spread awareness of those who needed help. Teba had been tempted to join for the Rito, but in the end he was more of a warrior than a debater and would not do well discussing terms and compromises. Instead, he would be joining Link to teach a new regiment of guards while Kass took a seat in the council. With the bard's many years of piecing together fragments of history, along with his expansive knowledge of places within Hyrule, he had been an obvious choice for the Rito.
Interestingly, it was Dorian who would be representing the Sheikah and not Paya as previously expected.
“I would have loved to, but as I'm due to become the next Matriarch of the Sheikah I will be needed elsewhere. I cannot take on another position of responsibility, so I suggested Dorian,” Paya explained, avoiding the stink-eye Purah sent her way among the congregation of Sheikah.
Robbie was wisely keeping out of it.
“Oh? It was you who suggested him, hm? What about me?” Purah cried, looking as offended as her eight year old frame would allow. Dorian was also keeping quiet.
“I just assumed you would prefer running a lab and you can't do both,” Paya answered, sagely, and Zelda had to wonder when she had developed her knack for diplomacy.
Purah's ego had been immediately soothed.
While Dorian had intially expressed some misgivings with the decision due to his history Paya stood by her suggestion, claiming that he had always tried to do the right thing. Despite everything, and how much it had cost him, he still would not abide injustice and he would go out of his way to ensure no-one else had to either.
He was honoured to be included.
The council convened a number of times while Zelda moved on to drawing up construction plans and calculating material costs. Each meeting was hosted in a different nation as a gentle way to encourage a cultural exchange, however the climate limitations proved to be a challenge.
“Well, that's an item to add on the list of research topics, isn't it?” Barta commented, scribbling the words 'desert make unhappy Zora' on a notepad.
“That would be appreciated, thank you,” Laflat conceded, draping a wet towel around her shoulders as she and the rest of the council sat in the shade of Kara Kara Bazaar. Deep winter meant nothing in the Gerudo Desert it seemed. Link leaned over to hand her his sapphire circlet, exchanging a look of sympathy with her gratitude.
The Gerudo had not been expected to bend one of their oldest laws and traditions for these council meetings and instead a community building was to be constructed alongside the Bazaar.
Among the suggestions for research projects were talks about the best routes of travel for transporting goods into the new city of Central Hyrule, which would house people working in research and provide accommodation for merchants. The use of the Sheikah Slates stasis ability, if it could be replicated, would also provide merchants with a way of transporting perishable good over large distances. The meetings inevitably unravelled into more and more bizarre uses for the Rune abilities until someone had the mind to bring the assembly back in-check.
“Eventually, the topic of opening up Hyrule again came around,” Link relayed to Zelda, who was for once not working.
“Ah, let them know I've already started talking to our construction team about that and there are plans already set in motion,” Zelda said, looking pleased with herself.
She wiggled her eyebrows at him, “who do you think?”
“Cube town here we come.”
My wife is a force of nature and everyone should fear her. Except me, because I love her instead.
Zelda's idea for a research institute to be built from the ruins of Hyrule Castle is about to become a reality.
After months of planning, that began even before we took on the trials of Maz koshia, Bolson and his crew are finally starting to excavate the Castle ruins and begin rebuilding Castle Town. It's rather symbolic that this is starting at the beginning of Spring, right after Hylia's Rebirth and trees are starting to bloom. The amount of preparation that had to go into sorting the infrastructure was insane. Still, it's nice seeing something you've been apart of creating start to come to life before your own eyes.
Zelda had wanted to be there on site when Bolson and company swarmed the place, divided into groups to manage different areas. The Castle itself had already been stripped of items that had been held inside and since the land technically still belonged to Zelda so now did all of these antiques. They would all find homes eventually.
All that had been left to do was give Bolson free reign over the area along with a once in a lifetime offer; be the ones to build the new heart of Hyrule. The man had gladly accepted and had even been lenient on his naming policy.
“Technically, they'll be working for you, not for me. So, the naming rules do not have to apply.”
Link had still requested that he and a few guards from Kakariko inspect the lower levels of the Castle that he had missed on his first pass through. To this day, new memories were still popping into his head and with them a new wealth of information. Such as how to reach the dungeons and where the Stalnox resided, whose defeat would have earned a knight his Hylian Sheild.
While Grante was the only person alive who could recreate the Hylian Shields that were once made for Knights who passed the initiation test, Link enjoyed the idea of earning his the old way. Plus, he had worn the Royal Guard uniform to his wedding, he should probably earn that too the old fashioned way while he still could.
It would also rid the castle of the Stalnox once and for all so that the lower levels could be converted into laboratories.
Thankfully, Link was able to slip away and challenge the undead giant without an audience. Except for Toast, she followed him everywhere these days, whether he told her to stay or not. Thankfully, she did listen to his commands to sit outside of the dungeon so she wasn't trapped inside with him when the grate fell down. Smart pup.
Even though it became apparent that he had gotten a little rusty in terms of his fighting prowess, he was still able to deal the finishing blow without too much stress. The glowing pupil within the onyx orb faded into nothing before the whole eyeball dissolved along with the disintegrating bones of the Stalnox.
Link was about to turn around and leave, satisfied with the job done and sheathing the Master Sword, when a chime sounded throughout the room.
No, Link thought, no, there's no way that this was...
That chime had reminded him so much of the sound the Shrines would make when he had completed them. Swivelling to face the back wall he saw the dust on the floor rise up into a small whirlwind. Within the rushing cyclone appeared a chest, sat below a crumbling inscription on the brick wall.
Once the dust settled again, leaving the chest sitting there expectantly, Link came forward to read the words that had been carved over one hundred years ago:
[Test of the Royal Guard. Strike down the giant foe
to become recognized as a knight of the kingdom]
He pushed Toast's inquisitive nose out of the way, obviously having taken the initiative herself to enter the room now that the coast was clear, and pried the lid open. Inside sat the embellished blue metal of the Hylian Shield waiting for him. He reached inside and took a hold of it, holding it up against the torchlight to eye it critically. He liked it, a lot.
He offered it towards the dog so that she could give it a sniff and also give her opinion. She sneezed on it and wagged her tail. Link chose to take that as approval.
Clipping the shield to his back, he closed the chest and took his leave of the dungeons, with nothing but empty holding cells left in his wake.
Zelda's attention was diverted from her inspection of an abandoned bird nest, holding a couple of brightly coloured feathers in a cloth square, when the barking of a young Hylian Retriever crested of a pile of rubble.
Link was not far behind, not looking at all hampered by his excursion and none the worse for wear as he tried to avoid tripping over a meandering dog. He eventually shoo'd her out of the way and she barked before dashing off to bother somebody else.
“So, I take it the Stalnox is no more? Not that I expect anything else at this point, but it's still polite to as-” Zelda stopped dead on her approach when she caught sight of what Link was taking off of his back to show her.
Peering over the rim to gauge her reaction he was curious to see her transfixed by the sight of the Hylian Shield. She was staring at the emblem of the Royal Family; the scarlet bird and golden triforce were reflected in her emerald eyes. For a moment he worried that a reminder of the life she had passed by, surrounded by architectural ghosts, would bring her spirits down, but instead she lifted her gaze to stare at him.
“Link, where did you find this?”
Zelda was wide-eyed and incredulous, her voice a mere reverent whisper as Link lowered the shield. It was almost as if she were afraid to hear the answer.
“It was given to me. Inside a chest. It appeared after I defeated the Stalnox in the Castle Dungeons,” Link explained, haltingly. “There was an inscription. Saying how those who defeated the Stalnox would earn their shields. Just as I remember.”
“Oh they did, they did, Link,” Zelda affirmed, nodding her head in a daze as she came forward to take hold of the shield. “But the knights that undertook that trial in the Castle one hundred years ago would have a shield made for them. A shield in homage to the true Hylian Shield worn by the ancient Hero which was lost centuries ago. They were specially made, I told you, only Grante knows how to make them any more. For you to have one now, for it to appear before you as it did...”
She left her sentence unfinished and Link could fill in the rest.
This was the shield, returned to him after so many years. Better late than never.
He tilted it up so he could see the design on the front, casting a mix of blue and red light across his face as it reflected the afternoon sun beaming down from above them.
“That shield has been seen time and time again throughout history as it protects the Hero. It's almost as symbolic as the Master Sword,” Zelda carried on, reaching out a hand slowly to brush her fingers against the metallic edge. It looked pristine.
“So, what I'm hearing is... This Shield won't break on me?” Link said, looking hopeful.
Zelda sighed fondly, “Yes, Link. This Shield is blessed by the Goddesses themselves and has stood up to the tests of time, which even includes your rough treatment.”
They later gave the go-ahead for people to enter the Castle and start ripping out the dungeons, pretending not to notice the way people looked on in awe at the brightly coloured shield on Link's back.
I can tell Zelda is excited, but it'll be another few years yet before the construction is complete. I'm not sure what we're going to do with ourselves.
Today, we're going to surprise people with what we've decided to do next.
She's written up all of the projects she wants to actually follow through with, and the material requirements she would need but... Hyrule isn't the only land out there. We can't remain as an isolated country, cut-off from everyone else, forever. Especially since the Construction Crew have rebuilt the bridge that spans across the northern gorge from Akkala.
Who knows what else is out there now?
Link and Zelda were an adventurous duo. They were not made to be confined, even if their new boundaries were the limits of an entire country. Every so often the need to discover something new pestered them and they would leave their home in Hateno to find some untouched recess within Hyrule. But now, it seemed as if every corner of the land on their map had already been visited.
Before construction began on the Castle ruins, the old bridges connecting Hyrule across the Northern Gorge were repaired. It was made a lot easier with multiple magnesis runes – courtesy of Purah and Robbie, of course - highlighting just how useful their research could be. The old tales of a mighty sea beast living in the Faron Sea were also put to rest after a couple of brave fishermen from Lurelin tested the deeper waters only to find that such claims no longer proved true.
Link theorised that there probably used to be something lurking in the ocean, a creature that would drag ships down to the depths so that no-one could escape Hyrule and Ganon's influence. But it wasn't there any more. It had either died over the past century or left with Ganon's defeat as many monsters had done.
Unfortunately, nobody had a deep sea faring ship readily available just yet, so any ocean based expeditions would have to wait.
For now, it was just Link and Zelda taking one last high adrenaline ride across the plains of Akkala on Vah Epona - the Master Cycle - before they stepped onto the Great Akkala bridge. They made it half way before they turned back to look at the country they were leaving behind, their home. It would not be forever of course but they did not know how long they would be away from everything they knew. Toast pottered about their legs, subtlety urging them forward so she could investigate new smells and finally, they all crossed over onto land that no-one from Hyrule had touched in over one hundred years. Neither of them had ever had the opportunity before the Calamity either. The Sheikah Slates map dimmed and then came back to life as a single pulsing dot against completely blank expanse, similarly to how Link had found it before activating any of the towers.
“Right then,” Zelda said, taking in a big lungful of air to steel herself, “which way should we go?”
Link took her hand in his, giving it a swing, and handed her the Slate. Toast trotted on ahead of them; gone was the gangly bounce of puppy-hood and instead long legs carried her sure-footedly over alien ground. She turned back to look at them and barked impatiently when she saw that they hadn't kept up with her.
Link smiled as he looked over to Zelda.
“Wherever you want.”
The more land we cover, the more the Sheikah Slates map gets filled in. The Slate can't highlight areas such as towns, or inns, or even the names of land features unless we put them in manually, but it can scan the terrain. Not sure how. Zelda will probably find out during our adventures though I'm sure.
We've been travelling for a few months now, we miss our friends back home, and our house! Still, it's interesting to see a completely new landscape. Zelda has already filled one journal with notes on the plants and animals we've come across and we can't take many more photo's. Sadly, Vah Epona only seems to function within the realms of Hyrule, probably tied to the Tower network, so it's been slow progress on foot. No less enjoyable though.
We've also met a few people on the roads – once we eventually reached them – apparently, pointy ears are unheard of in this country.
“Yes, we are. We're Hylians,” Zelda informed them, brightly, “although I'm not sure where we are. What country is this?”
The travellers looked at each other in bewilderment before answering.
“This is Hytopia. We all thought Hyrule was gone. It's nothing but a myth now.”
Link snorted but Zelda simply raised an eyebrow.
“I assure you, Hyrule still exists and so do it's people. We are thriving perfectly well, thank you, something this country would have known if anyone had thought to check.”
The Hytopians looked sheepish, the one on the ground in front of them shuffling a little as he coughed behind his hand. “Where are you heading? We can give you a lift if you like?”
He gestured back to their cart and the driver waved them up invitingly, in way of apology.
“Thank you, that's kind of you but we're happy to just keep wandering,” Zelda said. The idea of going to an area with a main populace right now was just too much for either of them. “Safe travels to you!”
“And to you!” They replied, as the man on the ground hiked himself back into the seat at the front of the cart, while the man in the drivers seat looked back over his shoulder occasionally, clearly still marvelling over their existance.
Link gave them a loose salute and waved them off as he and Zelda kept walking, he whistled for Toast to follow them. In the opposite direction of the way the cart was going. Let the rumours travel in their own time and people would eventually get curious and start coming back into Hyrule. Hopefully by then, Hyrule would have a lot of new things to offer.
Judging from the way they reacted to us, I don't think either Zelda or I want to test our luck in an actual town. We'll stick to the countryside on our expedition I think, and maybe a village or two. Although, imagining how those travellers would have reacted if they knew they had just spoken to the last Princess of Hyrule is kind of funny.
Zelda brought something up this morning. Something I never thought was even on the table. How wrong I was.
Time to start breakfast.
It wasn't until the smell of cooking food seeped into the tent that Zelda woke up and dragged herself out of bed to sit with Link outside on a petrified tree stump. Toast had not deigned to join them, enjoying the warm abandoned bed, that Zelda had just left, all to herself.
“Morning,” she said, accepting a kiss on the head from her husband and she reciprocated by giving him one on his cheek. She felt the soft peach fuzz that had started to appear along his jawline against her lips.
“What are you cooking for me today?” she murmured, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Eggs, rice, and some tomatoes,” Link shrugged, “nothing fancy.”
“Doesn't need to be when you're the one making it.”
“Hmm, sweet talking me won't get the food to cook any faster,” Link smirked, nudging her gently.
They watched the food sizzle, sputtering every so often, for a little longer before Link said, “oh, we should take our potions before we forget.”
He leaned over to search through the Slate that was lying on the floor by his feet and produced two small vials, filled with liquid. They had both been taking their contraceptives each morning with breakfast since Link had offered them, not that they were particularly prolific but it was better to be safe. He passed one off to Zelda before uncorking his and raising it to his mouth, but before he could down it she placed her hand over the top of it.
“Zelda?” Link looked down at her as she remained leaning against his side. She forced the bottle down.
“Don't take it,” she said and she looked straight into his eyes, which were opened wide. “I've been thinking about this and, I want to try. What if we just … let nature decide?”
There was something lodged in Link's throat that prevented him from talking for about a minute, but he eventually managed to croak out a sentence.
“You mean it. I have to ask, but, are you sure?”
Zelda took a breath and let it out slowly, “yes, I'm sure. We're both stable, we have plans for our future and we have a home. I am perfectly healthy and have a wonderful partner who I trust and know will support me. Plus, I'm going to need someone to inherit my ideas.”
She beamed up at him and he gave her another kiss on the tip of her nose.
“You really want a kid? With me?”
“Yes you, the idea of being with anyone else is truly repulsive. I also know that you're very good with kids and … that you have probably wanted one of your own but chose not to say anything because I never gave you any indication that I wanted any.”
He gave her a bemused look, and it was clear that she had hit the nail on the head. She was fluent in 'Link' after all.
“But,” Zelda sat herself up, taking hold of both of Link's hands in hers, “there is a possibility that we won't be able to have any of our own.”
Link felt his heart dip a little, just a fraction, and his eyebrows titled up in concern but he squeezed her hands in reply, urging her to continue.
“Due to the fact that we were both kept in stasis for such an extended amount of time, plus all of the damage and trauma you sustained that had to be healed over all those years... there is the possibility that neither of us can have children.” She paused, swallowing hard, “I just want you to be aware, so that you don't get your hopes up too high. We can try, we'll let nature take it's course and see what it has in store for us but, I would like to try.”
A few tears had started to well up in Link's eyes, but he blinked them away as he nodded vigorously.
“So would I, Zelda. I want to try too.”
She threw herself at him, knocking him off of the tree stump and onto the floor. The leaf litter stuck to their clothes as they embraced and laughed. It was the only time Link didn't mind that the food he made was slightly over cooked.
I've always wanted a family. I never really told anyone because joining the military and becoming an appointed knight meant that my ability to meet anyone would have been slim. Then I wouldn't have even had the spare time to spend with a family if I did have one. It wouldn't have been fair.
It was a wish I had been content to leave as just a dream. I hadn't realised how much I still wanted it until Zelda brought it up. I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, in all likely hood she's right, we might not be able to have kids of our own. But now I know she is willing to have a family with me. She wants us to have a family.
A child doesn't have to be ours for us to love them.
The bit with the Hylian Shield might sound familiar if you've read 'Memory Album' but I've tweaked it a little. It was writing for that prompt that actually gave me the idea for Link to finally get his shield now.
Thank you all for the comments on the last chapter, I'm happy that so many of you are still here for the completion of this story!
So, that whole letting nature take it's course thing? Nature works fast it would seem. A month and a bit to be exact. It's just a guess right now because Zelda's usually pretty on time with her cycle and she missed the last one. She wanted to wait it out for a while before telling me but she's pretty certain. It was a bit of a surprise.
We're on our way home, taking a more direct route back to Great Akkala bridge using our map but it's still going to take us several weeks. We can't wait to tell people. I still can barely believe it.
I'm going to be a dad.
“You do realise I'm going to be unbearable now,” Link mumbled into the back of her neck as they dozed in the early morning. She had his back to him, lying across his prosthetic as he cradled her, and his other arm wrapped around her waist so that his hand could rest flat against her stomach.
“Link, you promised,” Zelda groaned, even as she stretched her neck to allow him to kiss more of her skin. He obliged.
“I know, I know but,” he continued to place kisses in the pauses between his words, “please,” another kiss, “just this one thing.”
“Hmm,” Zelda curved her back and rolled towards Link slightly so that he could reach the shell of her ear. “You say that now but I know when we get home you're going to try and wrap me in a blanket and refuse to let me leave the house.”
Link wiggled his mechanical arm free and propped himself up on his forearms over her as she now lay flat on her back. He grinned at her, one eyebrow raised.
“Well, yeah,” he said and Zelda tugged on his hair in retaliation. He bent his head down to laugh against her jaw but he still had a point to get across, “it's a long way back. Reducing strain can't hurt.”
“Exercise during pregnancy is actually good for me. And the baby.” She felt him grin like a loon against her throat as he made a happy humming noise, but she did have to admit, his idea had some merit. “It is rather warm though.”
That made him perk up, lifting his head from the crook of her shoulder to look down at her again.
“Does this mean I can catch a horse for you?”
She rolled her eyes and huffed, but there was still a small smile on her face.
“We don't even have a saddle or bridle with us. Wait. No, you do not!” Zelda started, pushing up on Link's chest so she could sit up.
“Do you really think I go anywhere without horse equipment?” He asked, sounding almost insulted, “I found some like the one I had for my military horse when we were clearing out the Castle grounds.”
“Now you just need to find a horse.”
“That I do. Do I have your permission?”
Zelda scoffed, “you don't need my permission to wrangle a horse, Link.”
“Then do I have your permission to put you on it?”
She held his gaze for a while, taking in the fragile smile he was determined to keep in place just for her, in hopes that she wouldn't notice the upturned eyebrows, or the tightness of his jaw. He was fretting and trying not to be obnoxious or too overbearing about it. Just as he'd promised.
“Yes, I will ride on the horse if it will make you feel better. But you'll be riding with me,” she conceded.
It was entirely worth it for the look of relief that spread over his face. In time, he'd get used to her pregnancy and relax. Or he would get worse once she actually started to show and become physically limited.
She sighed good-naturedly as she watched her husband flit about their tent in search of his clothes. Of course he was going to find a horse right this second.
Shame. She'd been rather enjoying being lavished with attention.
I went and found a horse that would be strong enough to travel large distances with a rider, not that Toast helped me whatsoever. The horse is a mare. She was grazing all alone, no herd in sight and no foal with her. I wonder if she had gotten lost, but she warmed up to me quickly. Her markings are eerily similar to the horse I had one hundred years ago.
The gear looks good on her. Zelda named her Cinnamon.
Cinnamon has been a very gracious mount, carrying the both of us all the way back to Hyrule. I'll make sure she gets a good long rest when we get home, hopefully she'll settle in easily enough.
Zelda has been so tired throughout the whole journey, she'll need to rest too once we're home. Maybe take a couple of days before seeing anyone. She's also not been having the best of mornings and eating food even I'm thinking twice about.
Apparently this is normal. Hylia help me.
Link chuckled as he recalled watching such an incident, the poor guy had gotten teased for about a week straight but at least he had ended up endearing himself to his girlfriend. Small victories.
His wife didn't stir, content to stay nestled in his arms as he wrapped them securely around her middle, lulled by the softly pulsing blue and orange glow running down his right arm. She had situated herself side saddle, finding the straddle position very uncomfortable on her hips, but curling into his lap wasn't as easy as it used to be. The journey home had taken them longer than they had expected given Zelda's fatigue and nausea. Neither of them had wanted to overdo it, but she was certainly showing an obvious bump by now.
Cinnamon's hooves began to make sharp tapping sounds as she crossed over the stone bricks of Great Akkala bridge and they re-entered the Land of Hyrule. The vibrant, warm shades of Akkala lay before them, welcoming them home. The countryside looked much the same as it had when they left, although it looked like the Tech Lab up on the cliff had been expanded slightly.
“Hey, Zelda,” Link whispered, nudging her gently so that she woke up gradually, “we're home.”
Blinking her eyes open, Zelda regained conscious to see the hilly terrain of Akkala, forever displaying it's autumnal colours. They were passing by skull lake, and looking down they could see the strange flora that resided at the bottom of the clear waters. She smiled.
“It's been over a year. I've missed this place,” she said, stretching her spine a little against Link's prosthetic, which was supporting the majority of her weight.
It would take them just over a week to get back to their home in Hateno and they would pass right by Robbie's Lab. It would be amiss if they didn't visit him and Jerrin since they were so close by and it would be a good idea for Zelda to have a proper sit down, give her hips a rest from sitting on a horse for so long.
Link led Cinnamon up the cliff side path towards the Laboratory, which was steadily churning out steam. No doubt Cherry, the Ancient Oven, was hard at work, whirring away with new inventions. They both wondered how much progress had been made in their absence.
Once he had positioned his horse in front of the blue flame out front he dismounted and then reached up to gently guide Zelda down to the ground, mindful of the swell of her stomach. If his hands lingered at her sides for longer than what was necessary neither of them mentioned it.
She leaned against the horse's flank and stretched her legs, hands on her hips as she leaned from side to side. During the reading she had done prior to expressing her desire for a child Zelda had discovered that light but regular stretching was important. She had endeavoured to do as much as she could but certain physical changes made it difficult.
“Goodness, I've grown to enjoy a scenic horse ride just as much as you do Link, but my hips are killing me. The pregnancy probably doesn't help. Did you know that my hips have actually already shifted in preparation for giving birth?” Zelda said, and she probably would have gone on to share more interesting facts but then the Lab door opened.
“Princess? Link? Wow, you're back, it's been so long and we've missed – woah!” Robbie had come speeding out of the house to greet them before skidding to halt once he had taken in her appearance, causing Toast to bark in surprise. “Pregnant, Zelda's pregnant. Huh, didn't see that one coming.”
“Hello, Robbie, that's actually why we've come back. Thought we'd visit since we're passing by on our way home. How have you been?”
The Sheikah Scientist stared, mouth open as his eyebrows rose above his chameleon goggles while their Retriever sniffed at the man's boots. “How am I doing? What about you two!? Come inside, clearly there's a lot to talk about.”
He waved them on in, pulling chairs away from the walls, from where they had been pushed out of the way, for them to sit on and calling up into the rafters for his wife.
“Jerrin, dear, guess who's here?”
A face appeared at the top of the stairs, leaning over the banister, “Who?”
“Link and Zelda are back.”
“Oh!” A rumbling of footsteps descended the stairs and Jerrin appeared at the bottom, looking flushed but excited to see them, “goodness, you're back. How was your trip you must be so... You're pregnant.”
Zelda sagged a little in her chair, smiling bemusedly all the while.
“I get the impression we're going to be getting that a lot. How about 'what's it like outside Hyrule?' or 'did you find anything new?' or even 'it's good to see you, you look well'.”
“You look pregnant,” Link pointed out, leaning away from Zelda's weak swipe at his shoulder with a sneaky grin.
“This,” she pointed to her bump and then to him, “is your fault.”
He responded with a wry smile, voice pitched high, “is it though? I definitely remember us both agreeing to have this baby. It takes two to tango, Princess.”
Robbie snorted hard from where he had been pottering around making some drinks and unearthing a box of biscuits from under the clutter of his workbench. Jerrin was laughing, sitting herself down into her own chair as she tickled Toast's ears.
“It's good to see that neither of you have changed that much though. None of us were sure when we'd ever see you again,” she said, catching her breath and helping her husband with his tea tray. She still had to brush off a couple of odd screws and a tool of some kind from it when he put the tray down on a small coffee table. A coffee table that looked like an upturned Guardian helm in Link's opinion.
“We were always going to come back eventually, but I had no idea how expansive the lands were around Hyrule. The people living there didn't even know that Hyrule still existed, so I expect we'll be getting some curious individuals coming around soon enough. I'll make copies of my field notes for both you and Purah to look over, but my research had to end a little sooner than expected, for obvious reasons,” Zelda explained, patting her stomach.
“I can't believe we're the first ones to find out,” Robbie murmured cheerfully, chin propped in one hand. “Purah's going to lose it, you know.”
“Oh, I'm sure she will,” Zelda agreed, taking her drink in hand, “but this baby is going to have a lot of aunts and uncles.”
“Purah's got competition and the kid isn't even born yet,” Link lamented, taking a hearty sip of his own drink.
“I hadn't even considered that. We cannot let our child be spoiled, Link, they'll become impossible.”
He gave her a withering look, “you say that like we won't be the ones spoiling them.”
“That's because we won't... will we, Link,” Zelda said, emphasising her words as she leaned towards her husband who was suddenly very interested in his cup.
“Finding that balance between indulging your children and keeping them disciplined is never as easy as you start out believing it is, trust me,” Jerrin warns. “If you ever want some help you just have to ask, alright? Grante was, thankfully, quite an easy child to reason with but I can still offer some advice during you're pregnancy.”
Zelda placed her cup back down on the tray as she reached for Jerrin's hand, looking at the older woman with stars in her eyes.
“Thank you, thank you so much. I have read so many books on this and yet I was not prepared, and great Goddesses the cravings. What I am eating cannot be healthy and yet my body demands it,” she threw her arms up into the air, at a complete loss.
“Oh, I remember those, though that was a few decades ago now. Charcoal was a favourite of mine,” Jerrin recalled fondly, and out of the corner of her eye she saw Robbie shudder. Clearly, he remembered those times too.
“It was terrifying,” Robbie said.
“Tell me about it,” Link agreed, staring off into space as he remembered the bizarre combinations of food that Zelda had been consuming lately.
Jerrin viewed them both, unimpressed, and turned her attention back to Zelda, “honestly, anything you need, I'm here for you. I know some good tips and tricks that could make this easier for you.”
“Jerrin, can I just steal you away, would that be ok? How about it, Robbie?” Zelda asked, but the Sheikah Researcher hadn't heard her.
He was too deeply engrossed in conversation with Link about his progress in the field of prosthetics and with him back Robbie would finally be able to go public with his designs. The medicinal applications for the ancient technology had filled more than one notebook in Robbie's hand while Link and Zelda had been away. It was incredible to think that Link's single, costly mistake had led to the advancement of mechanical aides for the whole country.
Robbie would probably have gotten there eventually, but Link had certainly provided the motivation and in this instance he was very happy to have been the 'guinea pig'.
As they continued to talk about how they would introduce these new ideas to Hyrule, Jerrin and Zelda eventually joined in, adding in their own opinions. They all found themselves discussing plans and hopes for the future as easily as they had done over a year ago. Before half of their group had left to explore foreign lands.
Despite all they had gained in terms of new experiences and knowledge, none of them had really changed at all.
We visited Robbie and Jerrin on our way back home. They were happy to see us and surprised by the announcement, but they were very supportive. Jerrin has even promised to help Zelda out with some of the unexpected side-effects of her pregnancy. She's given her a list of food stuffs which should help settle the stomach.
They also insisted we stay here for the night, which is probably for the best as we still have another few days to go before we'll be home. Our route takes us straight past Zora's Domain and then we have to go through Kakariko to reach the road that leads into Hateno. There's no way we won't be visiting more people.
The more people we meet and the more people we tell that we're expecting a child the more real it becomes. The Zora we're very happy to see us, and the old gang were quick to tease me and call me old now that I'm about to become a dad. Rivan was pleased he finally had someone else with him in the 'Dad Club' from the old days.
The path through Lanayru Wetlands has been rebuilt so our journey through it should be a lot easier and less dangerous. The waterways are more actively patrolled too, by Zora and Hylians alike from the sounds of it.
It was good to catch up with everyone, especially as it was just the two of us for so long.
Link cocked his head to one side, “you don't have to whisper, you're not going to wake it up.”
“Yet,” Zelda said, shortly. Today was just an irritable day and there was nothing she could do about it.
“Oh, yes I know I just … I don't know, this is a special moment isn't it. I feel like I should contain my boisterous enthusiasm for just a moment,” he explained, which was oddly thoughtful.
They had wandered into the Domain and immediately attracted attention. Understandable given that they had been away for so long, but then the attention had turned into a different kind of excitement and Sidon had been drawn to the area. He'd welcomed them back with his signature grin, leading them into the heart of the Domain so that Zelda could sit down in the Inn. Their dog hadn't spent much time here so the whole place held a whole array of scents that kept her busy, truffling about the fountain and splashing with the children.
She remembered when she had come here during the trials of Maz Koshia, how long ago that seemed now. Kodah gathered all of her friends together once again to catch up with Zelda, only this time Link was not banished from the gathering and Sidon had settled in as well.
While the Zora chatted about recent developments the Domain had been involved in, the shark Prince was still gazing in wonderment at Zelda's stomach.
“I've never seen a Hylian about to have a child before,” he said when there was a lull in the conversation, “it's so different from Zora mothers.”
“We're not there yet but, yeah, no egg hatching for us,” Link laughed while Zelda groaned beside him.
“Unfortunately,” she quipped, “I feel that would be easier.”
It occurred to her suddenly that perhaps there had been a time when Link envisioned waiting by a pool of Zoran eggs, all belonging to Mipha. They would have been his too, even though Zora and Hylians together could not procreate. Then again, romance had been far from his mind back then, but the mental image of him surrounded by his tadpole babies brought a smile to her face.
“Well, at least it's only the one,” Laflat comforted, “Zora can have multiple offspring at once, but we're all here for you hun.”
“Thank small mercies, and thank you” Zelda said earnestly, leaning back against the squishy bed to alleviate the pressure on her hips with a sigh. She had meant to say more, but after leaning back so far it was easier to just lie down and she nudged Link to speak for her.
“Could you ask about...?”
He gave her a bewildered look; him? Speak for her? But she looked at him so beseechingly that he suddenly found it very easy to ask for a favour. He cleared his throat to attract their attention.
[We wanted to ask if Zelda could give birth here. In the Domain]
Sidon blinked, “here?”
[The birthing pools, if they're still here. We wanted to be here, where Mipha is]
The Prince's golden eyes softened at the mention of his sister, and he turned his gaze from Link to Zelda, who was still lying down on the bed but very much alert. She nodded, and then poked Link again, gesturing at her hips and then pointing down at the ground. He lit up with understanding.
[Zelda says it's also easier if she's upright, which she would be in water]
“Well, yes, of course,” Sidon assured them, still looking a little lost but as eager to please as ever. “I don't think any of them are being used right now so I'm sure we can get one ready for you in due time. Still, here in the Domain? That's a way to go from your home.”
Link shrugged, “it was Zelda who brought it up. Besides I think the little one should be near their godfather when they're born, don't you?”
The Hylian Champion grinned slyly as Sidon's jaw dropped and stayed that way while he stared openly at both Hylians. Words utterly failed him.
“Nice, you actually made our Prince speechless. I'm impressed.”
I'm glad we went to see Sidon, it was a good excuse to let him know of something we'd both discussed at length since we found out we'd be having a child. Given Zora longevity, he'd be able to look after our little one if anything ever happened to us for a long time. It was a similar reason we also chose Paya as their godmother, but ultimately it's because we know them the best, their both old enough to take on such responsibility and they live in places that can easily support Hylians. Especially a young one.
Visiting the Sheikah had been a little different than walking into Zora's Domain. There was the expected congratulations and joy of us returning, but they were much more reserved in showing it. Refusing to crowd us and letting us reach Impa's home without much fuss. It occurs to me that Zelda is still such an important figure to them all, more than just a Princess but a symbol of Hylia's presence still on this earth.
And now she was going to be having a child. Someone who might inherit her powers. I hadn't considered it before we got to Kakariko, but there was a chance of having a daughter who would have Zelda's gifts. According to Impa, however, it might be more than just the one chance.
Zelda nearly spat out her tea, but Link did not succeed in controlling the impulse.
“I- Impa, what?” Zelda stuttered, eyes wide as she took in the Sheikah Matriarch, calmly sipping from her own tea as if she hadn't just dropped a bombshell on the two Hylians in front of her.
“My dear, I have seen many pregnant individuals throughout my life and have been one myself. Granted, it can show itself in odd ways and each person will be different. However, these eyes are not yet quite old enough that they would not be able to see the tell tale indicators that you, my dear, are most certainly having more than the one. My congratulations to you both. Now, tell me, how were your travels.”
Paya, who had been standing to one side during this exchange, took in the shocked and slightly frazzled looks both Link and Zelda were sporting and decided to step in.
“Grandmother, maybe give them a little time to digest what you just told them? It's … quite the big deal, I would imagine,” she requested, absent-mindedly making soothing motions with her hands as she too joined the Hylians on the floor.
[Thank you, Paya] Link signed, stilling wiping his mouth dry with his sleeve but once he was finished he went on to signal [this is why your the god-mother]
“You're quite welcome, Li- I'm the what?” Now it was Paya's turn to choke as she connected the last two signs together.
[If you wouldn't mind] Link amended, looking a little sheepish.
He figured that as they were already dropping sudden announcements out of the blue he felt he may as well get that one out of the way. Sidon had been quick to agree once he got his voice back and Link hoped that Paya would do the same. It looked like he might be getting his wish because the longer they both sat there, staring at one another while Impa laughed in the background, the more pronounced Paya's smile became. As did her blush.
“Really? You want me as your baby's godmother?”
“Of course I do, Paya. We do,” Link said, emphatically, and then because emotions were hard sometimes [You were someone I always felt I could talk to. Still are. Zelda says the same, as you helped her adjust to this era with your letters. Can you be that for my … children?]
He looked down at his side where his wife was now leaning against him heavily, Toast curled up at her side like a cushion. She gave Paya a sleepy wave and a tired smile, nodding her agreement before looking back towards Impa, who was now eyeing Zelda more critically.
“Oh, yes, yes of course, I would love to. Thank you!” Paya exclaimed and Link couldn't help but laugh.
“We should be thanking you. You're the one doing us a favour.”
“Well, I guess I'm thanking you more for considering me for this role. It's an important decision, so I'm honoured really,” Paya explained, running a strand of her hair through her hands.
“You're very important to us, Paya,” Link said out loud, the word coming to him easily this time.
“Master Link! You can't just say things like that.”
Now Link was laughing openly and Paya, red in the face, was patting the floor by his knees aggressively to get him to stop. It was a few more moments of this before Impa spoke up.
“Zelda, dear, I think it's time you went to bed.”
Zelda woke briefly from where she had begun to nap at Link's side, looking around her a bit confused but clearly still trying to cling to the realm of sleep.
“There's a spare futon upstairs, Link, if you want to bring that down here for her to sleep on. I think you'll be staying in the village for the night,” Impa suggested, gently, but voicing it in such a way that Link dare not argue.
As he moved to get up and swap his position with Paya, Zelda groaned and gripped onto Link's tunic tighter, preventing him from rising so much as a foot above the ground. He sat back down.
“Ah. Paya, be a dear and get the futon, please.”
Impa told me that we should get a physician for Zelda as soon as we can. I told her about all the difficulties Zelda's been having so far and she reckons some of it could be due to her suspicions of us having twins. Still, it would be better to have someone who is notified of her condition on hand.
She also said that she was happy that we chose Paya as our godmother.
'She still thinks so highly of you, you know. The both of you.' Well, jeez Impa, just what am I supposed to say to that?
It's been a few weeks since we've been back home now and Zelda has officially moved on from looking like she swallowed a hydromelon, to looking like she's shoved an angry octorok up her shirt. A quick visit from a physician confirmed that she is indeed having twins. There were two heartbeats and I often find myself with my ear pressed up against her belly listening to them myself. Although, I usually get a kick to the face for my troubles. From the kids, not Zelda.
I can see her getting frustrated sometimes, she can't move about as much as she'd like, all of her experiments put on hold. Purah has already been over to scream at us, and left Zelda with a comprehensive list of everything she's thought of over the past year, so hopefully that'll keep her occupied. At least she doesn't have to go up the stairs any more, I moved everything to the ground floor and if she wants something I can go and fetch it for her. I can't imagine her trying to get up there when she's this big.
Not that I say that to her face though, Zelda has gotten a little … temperamental of late.
He'd opened the door and taken a breath to announce his return when he spotted her sat on the floor, shoulders shaking with her face in her hands. The words curled up and died in his throat and he strode into the house, leaving a confused dog in his wake as he shoved his cargo onto the table and came to stand beside her. He knelt down and gently tipped her over so that she came to rest against his chest, encircling her with his arms, completely baffled as to what was causing her such upset.
The motion prompted her to look up in surprise, eyes and nose red from crying but her face devoid of sadness.
“Oh, hello Link.”
“Are … you ok?”
She sniffed and blinked at him, “ what? Oh yes, I'm fine.”
He frowned, taking in her blotchy skin and the drying tears on her cheeks, “you're sure about that?”
Zelda nodded again, this time a little more slowly and she wiped away latent tears before Toast could lick them off of her face, “it's just hormones. I knew this would happen, I just very suddenly needed to have a good cry. I feel a lot better now though, if that helps.”
“It does, sort of,” Link said, weakly, and holding onto her tightly he helped her to stand. As he let go she wobbled a little bit before she found her balance and Link's arms had automatically snapped forward to brace her should she need it.
Zelda noticed and she raised a hand up to rest against his jaw, brushing against the soft bristles she found there.
“I should have warned you but it just slipped my mind. I'm fine, I promise. If I do actually have anything that's bothering me I always make sure to tell you. You know that.”
Link conceded the point and nuzzled into her hand, rubbing his recently-trimmed beard against her palm until it became too ticklish and she had to move away.
Another such instance of unexplained emotional turmoil was when Link was banished from the bed because he kept 'smothering' her. The glare she sent his way after successfully shoving him off of the mattress would have broken his heart if he wasn't thoroughly used to this manoeuvrer by now.
When going to bed, she insisted he join her, often dragging him down into the blankets with her, but at some point during the night the switch flipped and he became nothing more than a pest. A pest that had to be removed immediately.
She narrowed her eyes at him over the edge of her duvet as he sat there, watching her gather up the rest of the blankets around her petulantly. This was why there was now a futon placed on the floor directly beside the mattress on the side Link went to sleep on, and a spare blanket folded up on the dining table which he now reached for to go back to sleep.
Come morning, Zelda would wonder why Link was so far away from her and then she would remember and become annoyed with herself.
“It's such a nuisance,” she bemoaned, sitting up in bed surrounded by a wall of blankets. “I understand, logically, that's it's just an imbalance of signals within my body that make body heat unbearable and the sensation of someone else so close feels as if I'm being crowded. I find myself with so very little space to work with these days that what little room I can bring myself makes sleeping that much easier. But it's very hard to get myself to stop and consider my actions at the time.”
Zelda reached out over her bedding to caress Link's face, “I am sorry, Link, I love you very much.”
Link took her hand and placed it against his lips, “I know that, and I love you too.”
It wasn't all bad though. Sometimes, Zelda would be halfway through a sentence and she would just stop, her gaze becoming unfocused as she stared off into space. A grin would form on her face and she would fumble for Link's wrist, placing his palm down against the top of her baby bump. There, he would feel a fleeting vibration from within, followed up by a much stronger punch which gave Zelda the hiccups.
“They're getting rowdy in there,” Link said, marvelling at the activity going on as he placed both hands against her stomach, ignoring the futility of trying to feel with his right appendage. All the while Zelda beamed. It was a nice change from the weary and pouting expressions she more commonly exhibited these days.
“Yes, they are, but I suppose it must be getting cramped in there. Still, they're being remarkably space efficient given that there's two of them,” Zelda pointed out, peering down at herself in scrutiny.
“I mean, we're both kind of small,” Link remarked, ignoring the scowl his wife sent his way.
“Link … it's still relative.”
Despite her ever changing opinions, I think she prefers having me around.
The Hyrulean Council have had a meeting since I got back but I refused to leave Zelda alone in the house. I recognise I'm being paranoid, but when I didn't even hear any complaints from Zelda herself, I knew that she wasn't having as easy a time with this as she thought she would. The knowledge that we're expecting twins surprised us both, but I don't think either of us can say we're disappointed about it. Far from it.
We're getting close now.
It appears that our friends - the 'Neo Champions' - didn't want to wait any longer to see us again and decided that they would come to Hateno instead. At first I was prepared to reply with Absolutely Not, but Zelda was actually rather interested in having some extra company. Not that I can blame her, she's been stuck with me for a long time now so this should be a good distraction for her.
“Hello, to you too, Riju,” Zelda answered, dryly, before welcoming everyone else into the house as they stepped through the door.
Sidon had to crouch and shuffle in slowly so he didn't clip his head crest on the door frame and Yunobo had to roll himself in but they managed. Link followed them from behind, closing the door after himself and making a beeline for his cooking station; his default decision in any social gathering was to make food.
“So, how's the brooding life treating you?” Teba asked, settling himself down at the table, just as Riju grabbed the pillow off of the other chair and sat on the floor with it pulling Toast into her arms for a cuddle. So different to Sand Seals.
“Pregnancy, Teba,” she corrected, leaning around the mass of fur to look at him, “with Hylians and Gerudo, it's pregnancy.”
“Actually, 'brooding' is a rather accurate term in this instance,” Zelda sighed. “Not well, is the answer. I knew what to expect but the constant attitude shifts are so tiresome, and entire days can go by where I'm just stuck in apathy.”
Yunobo winced and looked over at Link in sympathy, but he had his back to them, busy with snack construction.
“That doesn't sound great, goro. If it's so bad why go through it?”
“Because the end product will be worth it, or rather products as I'm told, and not everyone has the same experience. I've just drawn the short straw with my time of it,” Zelda said, feeling oddly patient today. She didn't notice one of Link's ears flick back at her words.
“You don't seem quite as despondent as you were back in the Domain at least,” Sidon noticed, in an attempt to lift her spirits. “But the news of twins must certainly have been a shock, I can't wait to meet them!”
“Two for the price of one,” Teba muttered, but only Link heard and he threw a wildberry at the stern faced Rito with a smirk on his face. Teba snapped his beak to catch it mid-air.
Discussion eventually meandered away from Zelda's pregnancy, which she was thankful for, and instead moved onto all of the developments that had been made from the council meetings in their absence. The most heavily debated topic was the use of Ancient Sheikah Technology, not because of a reluctance to use it, but because of the sheer range of it's applications.
Nobody had been able to activate the platforms that let people down into the Shrines – which was probably a wise safety mechanism – so without Link and the Slate any proposals were purely theoretical. However, Purah had knowledge of some of the Shrines contents from Zelda's meticulous notes, including hovering transportation, electricity circuits, conveyor tracks, and kinetic energy activated switches. These alone had kept the council very busy during Link and Zelda's vacation.
“It wasn't a vacation,” Zelda insisted, but her words were for naught as everyone, including her own husband, gave her a sceptical look.
There was also the implementation of new roads and repaired outposts that would support monitoring stations positioned by the Sheikah Towers. Of course, some areas were easier to cultivate than others.
“Hebra is still an issue,” Teba started. “There are Shrines all over it, but with the weather being so temperamental there's no point making areas more accessible when they can't be maintained with any efficiency. For a Rito, it's a simple matter of flying over the terrain, but everyone else needs to use the footpaths, and that can get dangerous.”
“There was a suggestion to start taming the Great-Horned Rhinos, like we did with Sand Seals to cross the desert, but they're too aggressive,” Riju grumbled, rolling a ball across the floor between her hands for Toast to paw at.
“We're still looking into it, but we may have an easier time with the Moose,” Teba concluded, but then they all heard Link laugh.
“Good luck catching them,” he said, bringing over some simple savoury pastries and prepared fish, which was immediately set upon.
“Aren't horses just as tricky? I remember what you looked like after getting kicked off of one once, goro,” Yunobo piped up, earning a set of interested faces all round.
“It happened a bit more than once,” Link admitted as he sat himself on the arm of Zelda's chair, “but Moose scare much more easily and they're faster in the snow. Bigger too.”
“How big?” Yunobo asked, unused to the idea of Link giving up on an idea so quickly.
“Put it this way, I need to glide on to one.”
“To be fair,” Sidon started, and his tone made Link brace for the inevitable, “I'm sure even with horses, at times it would be easier for you to mount them from above, given your stature.”
“Was that a short joke?!” Zelda shrieked, curling back into her chair with delight as Link's jaw dropped in betrayal.
“Says the tallest one here!” Riju yelled, but she too was laughing. “Although, Link isn't as short as he used to be. You may not have noticed from way up there but our Hero here has grown. He's taller than Zelda now.”
Link looked on into the middle distance in defeat as his friends abandoned him emotionally and his wife raised her hand, gleefully, to pat his head.
At least she was happy.
Since Zelda is so close to her due date we suggested that we start to travel to Zora's Domain tomorrow. We haven't dared risk teleportation while Zelda's been pregnant, we're still not too sure on how it works. So, Sidon has claimed the pond outside to sleep in, it's nowhere near big enough but it's keeping him damp, and we've sent a letter to Paya and our physician asking them to meet us in the Domain. Sidon will be escorting us back tomorrow in case he needs to swim on ahead and get some support, but, hopefully, we still have time to go yet.
Better safe than sorry though.
Sweet merciful Farore help me.
I'm not even the one about to give birth and I'm panicking. How does Zelda DO IT?!
Both Link and Paya had spent the past week desperately trying not to hover around Zelda at all times and failing miserably as they jumped up to attend to anything she asked of them.
Thankfully, her irritation at the constant entourage was nowhere to be found and instead she found everything rather amusing. Especially when she had the Prince of the Zora acting in much the same way, always checking in with her condition throughout the day whenever he had the time.
The physician, who graciously accompanied them to the Domain, was much less of a hindrance, only popping in to speak with Zelda once a day. The rest of the time he spent using this trip as an excuse for a well-deserved break. Hyrule was in desperate need of more medical professionals, so it was nice to see quite a few of them here amongst the Zora.
Despite the constant attentiveness, the sudden onset of intermittent pressure and discomfort had not brought Zelda any alarm and thus the first signs of labour went unnoticed.
She had taken to swimming lazily around the sun-warmed lakes, located near the birthing pools, as the water provided her with the wonderful sensation of weightlessness. The birthing pools differed as they contained water that had been filtered through the iridescent mountain rocks all around them, and was constantly flowing, making it very clear. It's purity was also maintained through the use of filter plants such as rushes and water lilies. The lake she was in was devoid of any fish but contained an abundant and varied amount of aquatic plant life, which kept her entertained as she tried to identify each species. The odd frog passing by also brought a smile to her face.
The whole experience was awfully liberating. As such, the occasional pain she felt deep in her hips was soothed by the warm waters as the late summer sun shone down upon her.
She knew Link couldn't be too far away, probably prowling about the cliffs collecting luminous stones to give himself something to do. Her due date was the start of autumn and already the leaves were turning, even in the valleys of Lanayru. Surprisingly, she felt very unconcerned about this and joked that Link was actually leeching all of her stress from her.
“'Tis my job,” he'd said.
Her Zora friends were also basking in the sun, their bodies deep in the water, eyes closed, as they let the light filter in through the rippling waters across their skin just as it did over hers.
Zelda's modesty had been left back somewhere during her fifth month of pregnancy, after being poked and prodded in varying states of undress her complete nakedness no longer bothered her. She giggled at the thought of her castle nursemaids seeing her now. Besides, Zora's were always naked, and secretly revelled in it as they watched other races compulsively try to cover themselves up at all times.
“How are you doing over there?” Gaddison asked as she drifted her way over across the water on her back, using her arms to propel herself along.
“Doing well actually, this is probably the best I've felt in months,” Zelda said, leaning back against the rocks at the edge of the lake. She wiggled her toes in the water even if she couldn't see them over the bump.
“Good to know, but you yell up if anything changes.”
With that, Gaddison continued on with her lazy laps. Now that Zelda thought about, Gaddison being here was probably why Link felt it was ok to stray further away from her. She rolled her eyes.
Just as she was about to consider calling his bluff and yelling for him anyway, just to see if he would respond and reveal himself to be close by, she felt a twinge. A very strong twinge.
That one was new, she thought to herself, looking down through the water at her belly.
Another twinge and then something popped.
“Oh. Hmm,” was all Zelda could say before she began to flap her hands under the water, creating a rush of air bubbles and noise.
Laflat and Tula poked their heads above the water, while Gaddison came to a shuddering stop in the middle of her swim. Zelda pointed down at herself.
An immediate flurry of splashing commenced as Gaddison zoomed towards her so she could help get her moved over to one of the birthing pools, and the other Zora's leapt out of the water to race back to the Domain.
“Ok, here we go,” Gaddison said, hefting Zelda up and then supporting her back down into new waters. She conducted her movements and voice with all the calm and strength of someone who was used to dealing with split-second changes in activity. Being a guard does that to you, apparently.
Although, perhaps not all guards reacted the same way as Link came careening into view, skidding against the slick rock surface left in their wake. His frazzled appearance belayed his attempt at composure.
His voice cut off when he saw Zelda wincing and biting her lip against a bout of pain. It passed quickly, leaving her to sigh in relief but Link was already struggling to get his tunic off, kicking his leggings to one side as he moved towards the pool.
“The other's should be back soon with a mid-wife and your physician, no doubt Sidon and Paya will be close behind. I'll stay here until they arrive,” Gaddison placed a clawed hand on her shoulder, “you're gonna be fine.”
Link had finally managed to extricate himself, wearing only his Zora armour and under-shorts as he slipped into the water behind Zelda, settling on an underwater rock shelf. She immediately shuffled back against him and he took the hint to support her body so she wasn't constantly floating away from the edge. The water was intended for a Zora, so naturally it was a bit big and a tad deeper than necessary for a Hylian, but they managed.
Being in water had already helped Zelda's mental and physical health, so she felt that the right decision had been made requesting a water birth. She unconsciously traced the Zoran symbol embossed onto Link's armour as she played with a water lily floating in front of her.
Soon, the called upon midwife had arrived, along with their physician and the designated godparents. Now all they had to do was wait.
The mid-wife, a lilac coloured Zora with very frilly head fins, seemed to be the quiet type. She nodded her head at Zelda before sliding herself in the waters in front of her, able to keep herself level and stationary by treading the waters with her fins.
Her commands were quiet and firm, but not harsh as she guided Zelda through what she had to do and what to feel for. All the while she kept a comforting hold upon the Hylian's knee in an effort to keep her calm and grounded.
A fleeting movement behind Zelda's back peaked the mid-wife's interest and then she saw two bright blue eyes peering back at her.
Link blinked hard before responding [Hello]
[You hold her tight now]
And then Zelda was asked to push. She didn't scream so much as seethe through her clenched teeth and Link was suddenly very glad that she couldn't reach behind her to get at him. Or, so he thought.
As Zelda bore down, with all the concentration she would give an arithmetic puzzle, she managed to latch onto Link's fingers at her waist and crunched them in her grip. She didn't notice his sudden inhale, nor the legs he quickly tucked up against her sides as he tensed with pain. Damn, she had gotten strong. When she relaxed again she let go of his hand and was just about able to hear him whine under his breath.
“You couldn't have grabbed the hand that doesn't feel anything?”
She whipped her head down to see that she had in fact grabbed his left hand, the one that still had a functioning sensory system and winced. His prosthetic hand was grabbed very firmly and deliberately this time, ready for the next time she needed something to hold onto.
“Sorry, thought I was,” she muttered but she heard Link scoff and felt him shake his head behind her.
“It's nothing, nothing compared to what you're doing.”
He brushed her hair aside to kiss the nape of her neck.
Eventually, Zelda was able to lean back fully against her husband, thoroughly out of breath, and rewarded with the sight of two, very small, Hylian babies. Both were being held out for her to see; one wrapped in blue, supported by Paya, and the other wrapped in green, cradled in two giant webbed hands by Sidon. A girl and a boy.
“Oh my goodness, where did you two come from,” Zelda whispered, a little surprised to actually be looking at them. Despite the influence they'd had on her body for past nine months they had still only been a concept and now here they were.
Link peered over her shoulder, getting a good look at his offspring for the first time and the sight of them made him gasp. Removing his chin from the crook of her neck, he hefted himself up to sit on the pools edge, cinching Zelda between his knees as she took his spot, so he could reach out for one of his children. Paya handed him the infant in blue while Sidon passed off the one in green to Zelda.
Both little ones sported bright blonde fuzz a top their heads, but they're eyes were still scrunched tightly shut. The green one seemed content to be held and warbled every so often, very confused by the sudden change in his surroundings. Meanwhile, the blue one in Link's arms was fussing and wiggling with all her might, clearly unhappy with being out in the open.
“Me too, baby, me too,” Link soothed, wiggling a finger at her which she immediately latched onto so she had something to express her displeasure to.
He couldn't help but wonder if the sensation they were feeling was similar to the one her remembered after waking from the Shrine of Resurrection. Having that nice comforting warmth drain away from around him as he was forced into a world where he had to do stuff. The baby grumbled again and he could sympathise, grinning despite himself as he rubbed his nose against hers.
“Hey,” Zelda said, bumping back against him, “swap.”
They swapped babies.
The Zoran mid-wife was happy to announce that Zelda didn't seem to be showing any adverse effects from childbirth and that there had been no complications with the delivery. A quick inspection of both infants by the physician confirmed that they were healthy and probably hungry so Zelda was going to need to eat and drink plenty. Which suited her just fine as she brought the louder of the two babies up to her chest.
“I swear to all the Goddesses, Link, if they've inherited your never-ending stomach I will strangle you,” Zelda said, matter-of-factly.
Surprise, I went over my estimated amount of chapters again. There's still one to go.
Also I have never been pregnant, nor have I been around people experiencing it so all of this was just from research I did and the odd question to my mother. I'm sorry if it comes across as inaccurate, but this is a work of fiction. I just enjoy making my stories have some ring of accuracy to them.
The last two chapters (yup, two) has excerpts from Zelda's diary instead of Link's, just for a change of pace. There will be another, final, update tomorrow.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After taking a couple of days rest in the Domain, which I spent mostly asleep I have to admit, we've made it safely back to our home in Hateno.
I took a bit of a risk, which is highly uncharacteristic of me, to test the teleport function of the Slate with one of my newborns. It worked perfectly fine, as I fully anticipated it to, but apparently Link suffered a bit of a meltdown after I disappeared. I had no reason to believe that teleportation would cause any adverse effects as myself and Link have been using the ability for well over a year. We can hardly expect anyone else in the country to accept and use this technology if we appear to shy away from it, but even with this argument Link became very protective of the baby he was left in charge of.
He wouldn't let go of her for a long time.
Travelling back home from the Domain with only the one horse they took to get there was impractical, given that they now had an additional two passengers to bring back. Paya travelled to Hateno alongside Zelda and her baby boy, leaving Link clutching his daughter to his chest as he watched half of his family disintegrate before his eyes. Even Sidon had difficultly keeping him calm and it seemed as if the only thing keeping him standing was the small infant in his arms that he had to protect at all costs.
Paya returned with the Slate in hand and between herself and the Prince they were able to assuage Link's fears. Zelda and their son were perfectly fine and anxiously awaiting his arrival, and Paya would bring Cinnamon back from the Domain once she had concluded some business with the Zora. Link used the Slate.
“I still wished you had talked about the decision with me more. He's mine too,” Link mumbled quietly.
He'd finally placed both of his babies onto their floor mattress, after fussing over them excessively, and now lay beside them with Zelda framing their children on the other side. Their children. The mattress would soon be returned to the loft space and even though it would take a while for Zelda to lose the baby weight they could go back to sleeping in their proper bed, together. But perhaps not today, today it was convenient to have on the floor
As he watched the babies, breathing softly in sleep, Link couldn't tell if he was really angry or whether it was latent stress from this whole event. Very rarely did he get truly angry so he wasn't used to the sensation but the more he considered the matter the more he realised that this situation probably warranted his ire.
“Link,” Zelda sighed, “you're right, of course, I should have fully explained my thought process to you before acting. Like I usually do. I just wanted to be at home, with our new family – just us – and sitting on a horse did not sound very appealing.”
Oh, who am I kidding? Link thought, already feeling the tightness in his chest relax as his irritation faded away, she's right, as she always is.
“Still, please don't do something that reckless again without us both talking about it,” Link insisted, voice softening, “recklessness is my thing. It's just wrong if you do it.”
“Is it truly reckless if I was absolutely confident that it would work?”
Link lifted his mechanical arm up and gave her a jaunty wave, wry smile set in place, “I was confident too.”
Zelda had to concede he made a good point.
They returned to fondly gazing upon their newborns, occasionally tugging at the tiny hands and feet that poked out of their blankets. The twins remained fast asleep, having been overwhelmed by the sensation of teleportation but neither had cried, clearly too confused and unable to process. Link shuffled more onto his side to free his other arm.
[It would be wrong of us to expect people to use a teleportation network if we didn't fully trust it. Trust you]
Zelda looked proud of him.
“Thank you, Link,” she said, propping herself up to lean over their children and kiss him on the lips.
As if they could sense the ensuing intimacy, the babies started to wake up from their brief nap, blinking their baby blues open. They didn't begin crying immediately, content for the time being to look from one parent to the other and test the strength of their tiny limbs.
“They're so small,” Link breathed, playing with the tiny toes of his son.
“Thank all the Goddesses,” Zelda grunted.
Link sent a rueful smile her way before switching his attention down to his daughter who was trying to escape her confines, to little success before tiring. Zelda could see how besotted he was with them already and she felt it prudent to bring up a topic of conversation now rather than later.
“Link, as much as I love our babies, and I can't believe just how fiercely I feel about them already,” she said in a rush, steeling herself for what she had to say next, “I don't think I can have any more.”
An alarmed look of concern spread over Link's face instantly but she waved a hand to forestall him.
“I don't think there's anything wrong, the medical professionals didn't notify me of such, I just can't do this again.” She rolled over onto her back to stare up at the high ceiling, “I don't want to go through that again. It was so draining and confusing and I couldn't control what was happening to me and … I'm sorry, Link, but I won't be having any more. I can only give you the two.”
Her voice petered off into a sad whisper, still looking up into the rafters and she felt the mattress dip on one side as Link shuffled closer. The oddly stone textured fingers of Link's prosthetic hand tilted her face towards him and she could hear the deep underlying hum of energy working constantly beneath the plating cupping her chin.
“Only?” He said, incredulous, “Zelda, I would have been happy to spend the rest of my life with just the two of us. You spoke of having a child and I was overjoyed that we might have another person joining us. Then you had two at once. It's always been your decision and I'll never take that from you. Don't be sad for wanting to do something that's good for you, Zelda. Please don't.”
He dropped his forehead against hers as tears built up behind her closed eyes, having shut them with the onslaught of emotions. Perhaps her days of being led by her hormones were not quite as behind her as she thought.
A cry of frustration broke them apart and they saw their daughter's face scrunched up, mouth trembling, as she waved her arms. Someone was hungry again.
“Come here you,” Zelda sniffed, wiping her tears away as she picked up the baby wrapped in blue.
Settling back she pulled aside her robes and started to feed her daughter, watching as her pointy ears wiggled while she fed. It was very endearing. Not for the first time, a thought occurred to Zelda as she tended to one of her babies. A very important thought.
“Link, we never discussed names!”
He blinked at her, a vague expression of panic starting to settle over him as he looked at his two children who would one day grow into adults bearing the names they gave them. There was no way he was getting involved.
“May I remind you I called my first horse Geoffrey and a stallion Ophelia,” Link said delicately, verbally distancing himself from this conversation. “I cannot be trusted with something this important.”
Zelda wasn't having any of it, however.
“Well, it's as you said, they are your children too.”
Now it was Link's turn to look unimpressed.
“Oh, come on,” Zelda encouraged, adjusting her hold on the baby in her arms. “I'm sure between us we can find two perfectly suitable names that they will not become ashamed of ten years from now.”
They looked from one baby to the other. Any defining facial characteristics would not grow in until later so for the time being it was a little difficult to tell them apart. The only clue they had was that one was always wrapped in blue while the other was wrapped in green. It was a choice on the Zora's part to wrap their boy in green due to Link's association with the Goddess Farore and likewise the girl was given blue for Zelda's patron Goddess, Naydra.
Link squinted a little.
“We had twins. They should have matching names,” he suggested. When Zelda didn't instantly shoot this idea down and instead gave him an enthusiastic nod he continued, “well, what if we name them after our Patrons?”
At this, Zelda cocked her head, “Farore and Nayru?”
“Perhaps not directly after them, but in homage,” Link corrected. He gestured to the colours that adorned their offspring. “We just happen to have twins? A boy and a girl?”
“You think they're going to inherit our aspects. Or, at least, channel them,” she considered the idea for a moment as she gently lay their daughter back down on the mattress before moving on to feed their son. “I'll admit, the idea is not entirely without merit.”
Link gave an extravagant hand flourish along with a shallow bow, “why, thank you.”
“Naydra instilled law into the world, into nature, the pursuit to understand these laws is a science and requires wisdom. Something I refused to give up and should have put more stock into, as it turns out. Farore breathed life into the world, populated it and gave the world it's character. Something you revel in exploring and find natural to traverse.”
Link drummed his fingers on the mattress, “am I hearing that we're actually going along with my idea?”
“Yes,” Zelda said simply, “I don't see why not. All we need now are names inspired by the Goddesses of Wisdom and Courage.”
“Faro and Naya?” He suggested, off-handedly, but a sudden gasp from his wife made him whip his head up. She was smiling.
“That's it!” Zelda looked down at the baby held to her chest, “Faro,” she then looked to the baby rocking from side to side on the mattress, “and Naya.”
Pure astonishment took over Link's features and his jaw dropped. There was no way he had actually managed to come up with names that worked, let alone names that Zelda approved of. Yet, here she was, cooing down at Faro in her arms as she whispered his name to him and he soon found himself nuzzling his daughter's face, murmuring her own name to her, Naya. Another intrusive thought popped into his head.
[Bet you they take on the opposite aspects now]
“Oh, but of course.”
I can't believe we didn't consider baby names ahead of time. I had weeks upon weeks of doing nothing but sitting in a bed, with ample time to think on names and yet it managed to completely slip my mind. Me! Not planning ahead for something!
Still, I am glad that both I and Link worked out names together, albeit a bit late.
Naya and Faro, born on the cusp of autumn, a season that has absolutely nothing to do with Nayru or Farore. Perfect.
It's taken us a few days just to get used to having two very dependant beings in our house with us, but we're learning by doing. Just as we always have. For instance, Link learned that babies do not enjoy having their heads nuzzled when it's done by someone with a beard, even a short one. He's been clean shaven ever since and I don't think it'll be coming back. I suspect he was beginning to miss his more androgynous appearance too.
We've taken our babies out for several walks so people in the village can see them, strapped to our chests in 'blanket hammocks'; Link's words not mine.
Bolson and Karson were ever so kind to make us a cot, 'for when the little tykes get bigger' they said. It's even got a depiction of Naydra and Farosh carved into the woodwork around the bottom edges. Karson's work, I was told.
They offered to keep a hold of Toast for a bit longer if we wanted more time to get accustomed to our new family members but we missed her. She's a full grown dog now who is quite happy to take care of herself, patrolling the borders around their house. We didn't expect her to be quite so taken with the babies though.
It was a curious event, watching as their dog lay down beside their babies on the futon looking for all the world as if she were smiling as she panted contentedly.
Link and Zelda looked at each other.
“Well, I don't think we need to worry about the dog.”
Toast proved to be a fantastic baby sitter, taking to them as if they were her own puppies. If Faro or Naya started to fuss or cry, she would alert either Link or Zelda to attend to the issue, whoever was supervising at the time. It made going about daily tasks and other responsibilities that much easier when Link and Zelda didn't need to be in physical contact with their offspring constantly.
They still found it difficult to go too long without picking them up or cuddling them.
Toast's presence didn't stop their sleep schedule from being interrupted, however, and they had now taken to power naps and three hour bouts of sleep instead. Still, knowing that there was a dog on guard at all times, even when she herself appeared to be asleep, was comforting to know and allowed them to sleep deeply whenever they could.
While the infants remained immobile under Toast's watchful gaze, Link and Zelda took it upon themselves to baby proof the house. Making sure nothing was left within grabbing distance of the floor, laying down rugs on the hardwood floor to prevents slips, and covering any sharp corners of cabinet units. All weapons were neatly tucked away out of sight or firmly secured into their displays on the walls and the Sheikah Slate itself was kept far out of reach.
Neither of the babies would be moving of their own volition any time soon but once they could the idea that an accidental screen touch could transport either of their two children half way across the country terrified them.
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, Zelda would not quite wake up fully to feed her babies and Link would need to support them both. The raising of their children was already proving to very much be a team effort. In fact, during the day, Link could be found hovering over his children more than Zelda was, but that was because Link had more free time on his hands.
The council had received news of the twins birth and were excited to see them but were also aware that Link would not be leaving them for meetings any time soon. Castle Town had now been rebuilt and the Castle structure had been repaired but it was still being refurbished on the inside. So, there wasn't much to occupy his time for the moment while Zelda was finally free to catch up with all her of her research topics. She was also now free to move and move she did.
“I am determined to get back into shape, it's unbelievable that I've managed to lose so much muscle in the few months I was unable to exercise,” Zelda explained, working on her biceps as she tested her draw strength repeatedly with an old Royal Bow. She didn't want to wear out her Ancient Bow.
[You don't remember how quickly I gained extra padding when I stopped my early morning work-outs] Link signed, eyebrows raised to indicate a question.
“Actually, what happened to that?” Zelda asked, holding a draw for as long as she could before gradually relaxing her arms again. “You were so cuddly.”
[I can easily put it back on]
“I'm sure you can,” Zelda responded with a rueful smile, before she tested the bow strength once more, “now are you going to help me or just watch?”
As it happened, Link was very happy to just sit back and watch her go through her strength training but he couldn't help himself. He liked doing things with her rather than remain passive.
I hope to soon be able to don my Sheikah gear again, I have missed it and I feel now more than ever I should not take my motility for granted. I enjoy my freedom and I wish to relish in it.
I worry that perhaps Link may feel that he is being left behind to care for our children, but the more I watch him the clearer it is that he is a natural with child care. He just seems to instinctively know what is required and if he cannot fathom it we work it out together. I am sadly lacking in this department, but I am learning.
Naya and Faro continue to grow everyday, they're so much bigger already even after just a few months. I've started a record book to keep track of their growth and any morphological changes; I think Faro's eyes are steadily turning green. Link tells me I'm supposed to just marvel at how quickly our children are changing without having exact numbers to measure it by, but I think it's useful information to have.
I have missed being able to collect and compile data. Due to the majority of my pregnancy being spent stationary in a bed or in a chair, Link hadn't felt the need to become overly protective. In fact, he'd been rather worried about my lethargy but in the end it gave me ample opportunity to transcribe some of the books we saved from the old Castle library into a timeless format within the Slate. It will eventually be handed off to Purah and replicated, somehow, but for now the Slate rests with us.
It must be quite thankful for the break as we've become far too distracted by other things to use it of late. Two things in particular.
“I'm going to put a net over that crib, I swear to Hylia,” Link slurred, picking up his daughter for the third time that night as she made her routine journey across the floor.
“She can't hear you,” Zelda mumbled into her pillows, always waking up whenever Link retrieved their wayward child no matter how hard he tried not to disturb her. “The net's a good idea though.”
The first time Naya had attempted a break-out was during the day and Link had caught her in the act, quite literally catching her before she managed to fall out onto the floor. Toast had been whining rather loudly and when Link had turned to see what the problem was he'd spotted one of the twins halfway out of the crib. After making sure that she was safely placed back inside, snuggled up next to her brother, he placed several pillows on the floor around their cot just in case.
The stairs leading down from the loft space were now always blocked off by a collapsible fence.
It had become apparent that they would need additional space in their house; once their children grew up they would need a room of their own. Link in his youth had slept in the loft space while his parents slept in the room below, however that room was now Zelda's lab. Their dilemma necessitated an extension to their house, so that the twins could have the loft space and Link and Zelda could have their own bedroom. However, given that their house was already heavily renovated they were not sure where to build off from.
Thank fully, with Bolson on hand a solution was found.
“Why not expand from the back, where your store room is currently? Let's be honest, you don't really need a whole room as your materials are all sorted in the lab – love what you've done with it by the way, “ Bolson added, patting Zelda on the back of her hand, “and you have that Slate of yours for everything else.”
It was a good point, anything that stayed in the house permanently could find a new home or just be stored within their new bedroom. The idea of having their own room closed off from everywhere else was rather appealing and this time they gave in to the idea of cubes.
“I promise, I'll colour match it to the rest of the house exactly, Oh! I need to let Karson know right away, hm cheers!” He quickly swigged the rest of his tea and dashed out of the door.
Combining a little something new with something old is kind of what we're aiming to do with Hyrule and the cube units are very space efficient. It'll fit onto the back of our house alongside my lab quite well I think. I'm actually rather excited.
We're keeping our bed though, it holds a lot of good memories.
Purah had some interesting news for us today.
We travelled to Central Hyrule to see the unveiling of the finished Research Institute. It's wonderful and it warms my heart to see the Castle be home to such technological advancements. Filled with people who want to push the boundaries of what is known about our world.
Purah and Robbie have been leading this every step of the way and were very proud to show it off to Link and myself. Surprisingly, Yunobo was also vital to the progression of the Institutes construction but he took a back seat for most of the festivities. Happy to just be there I think.
I'm glad our children were here to see it with us even though they certainly won't remember it. They're only a year old after all.
The entire place had been remodelled to include electricity circuits fashioned after those found powering Shrine puzzles. Link had been able to guide a group of engineers and researchers down to take a look and they copied down schematics and calculations before he had left to explore outside of Hyrule. The integrated circuits provide power to operate different bits of machinery dotted all over the old Castle and as the sun set the lights within it's rejuvenated frame were switched on and the Institute was officially open.
Zelda began to cry. Fat, happy tears streaked down her face as her Neo Champions gathered around her to congratulate her on her dream becoming a reality.
Faro was becoming more and more confused by the second as he was hemmed in on all sides from where he was held by his mother. Luckily, his father took pity on him and plucked him from Zelda's hold before he was squashed. Naya was already safely strapped to his back, taking in the sights over his shoulder but she was actually sleeping through all this excitement for once.
“Come, come,” Purah ushered, no longer looking quite so small at over ten years old, and she pulled Zelda towards an intact guardian that stood protectively in the centre of the court yard.
Link couldn't help but notice that there was a very clear zone of avoidance around the guardian as all the people who had gathered to watch the opening ceremony stayed clear of the automaton. He couldn't blame them, but if they wanted this place to work those attitudes would have to change.
“I finally figured it out, Princess!” Purah exclaimed in a hushed voice. She re-directed her attention to her own fabricated copy of the Sheikah Slate – it was smaller with less detailing – and swiped through various screens to reach what she was looking for. “I found it curious how Ganon was able to completely control these machines when there doesn't seem to be any way to bond with them. They're not like the Divine Beasts, which can be mastered as you proved with our new Champions here. But the Guardians can have their objectives changed. Take a look.”
The young Sheikah handed off the Sheikah Tablet to Zelda and on the screen she saw a simplified compendium of known creatures within Hyrule. She owned a more detailed version within her own Slate.
“Where did you get this?”
Purah's eyes sparkled behind her owl glasses, jerking her head back towards the Guardian, “from that. This was in it's coding. It had lists of creatures ranked 'hostile', 'passive', and 'protect'. We used to be in the protect list but at some point the 'hostile' and 'protect' listings were swapped. That's why they turned on us.”
“Purah,” Zelda breathed in astonishment. This was huge.
“I know right?”
The Calamity had corrupted the Guardians core purpose to turn it against them. It'd had only been doing what it was coded to and to it they had become a hostile force. But now that they knew how a Guardian decided what was a target and what was to be left alone it meant that Purah could lock those controls out and even implement protections so it could not be changed.
After seeing the conflict pass through people's eyes as they heard the Sheikah's explanation, Link made a decision.
“Sidon, Purah, can you take them for a second?” He handed Faro off to Paya and then gestured at his daughter still snoozing on his back for Sidon to take.
“Oh, sure,” Sidon agreed, leaning down to gently lift Naya out of her blanket wrap.
Both infants were now big enough to fit into their knitted onesies and the texture against the soft webbing of Sidon's hands was an interesting sensation. Faro had begun to play with Paya's hair, just like he did with Link's, and she waved a strand of hair about for her nephew to catch.
Once freed of his charges Link strode up to Robbie, drawing the eyes of everyone there as he met with the older looking researcher.
“How about we carry out our demonstration now?” Link asked, genially. Robbie's grin took up nearly his entire face and he clapped in glee, rushing to gather everyone's attention.
Over the next few minutes Robbie introduced his new programme for integrated prosthetics. He highlighted their versatile uses and how they could be customised to fit and match each person on an individual basis. They grafted to a person on a bio-mechanical basis allowing for a smooth transition from body to machine movement.
At this point, Robbie invited Link to join him and the Hylian Champion obliged, turning to Zelda quickly for the Slate. She handed it over and gave his hand a quick squeeze before pushing forward lightly. Not that he needed it.
Link's under-shirt beneath his Hero garb cut off just above his elbows, which allowed him to show off his prosthetic proudly. But at this moment he swapped his green tunic for his loose climbing shirt so that he could pull the material back at the shoulder and show people what Robbie referred to as 'grafting'.
“I assure you it doesn't hurt,” Link said as he heard mutters within the crowd combined with concerned faces. “It's just a new set of nerves. Reading what I want it to do.”
He flexed his arm and then lay it flat out beside him so they could see it move, with his confident, calm smile still set in place. Bit by bit he could see the uncertain fear fade from people's faces.
“But I couldn't have gotten this unless my dear friends here hadn't worked tirelessly on Guardians like the one you see before you,” he said, voice loud and clear as he addressed the gathering. “A Guardian was the reason I lost my arm, but I no longer fear them. We know so much more about them, I trust the people who have told me that they are no longer a threat to us. Nor will they ever be.”
He feared them?
One of those things took his arm? He wants us to feel safe around them?
Isn't Link the Champion of Courage?
Yeah. I didn't know they frightened him...
Can you blame him, supposedly they killed him one hundred years ago...
The whispers died out as they watched Link turn from them and approach the Guardian. It's singular blue eye trained on him as he moved towards it and he fought against the clench of muscle that told him to run, resisted the urge to summon Daruk's Protection. He had nothing to fear, not any more. Placing his bare hand against it's stone-like hull, he watched as the Guardian assessed him and then moved it's eye away, disinterested.
It resumed it's surveillance of the area.
Link turned back to the courtyard full of people and raised his hands, palms up.
“I do believe that means that the Guardian isn't interested,” Robbie concluded, “but I hope some of you will be. If you have any questions you know where to find me.”
With that, Robbie and Link walked off of their improvised stage to the sounds of applause. They both shared a quick fist bump in victory as they rejoined their friends and Yunobo made an announcement.
“Please, feel free to roam about!”
The Goron had been there on site from the get-go during the reconstruction of the Castle while Link and Zelda had been away. Lending a hand here and there or acting as a liaison between the workforce and the council in order to find solutions to new problems. He was now a very familiar face within the grounds and he knew the names of all the people who had moved in to the new Castle Town.
No longer was he the indecisive young man Link had met during his early adventures, back when he was still an amnesiac with both arms. He was glad that Yunobo had found this niche to be comfortable in and grow into the confident person he saw now, directing people about the place. As Link came back to them, he patted the Goron's thick arm with his prosthetic. Rock to rock.
“Nice work, boys,” Purah said, actually looking impressed which was an achievement all by itself.
Predictably, as talk moved on, their attentions inevitably drifted from the new Institute – which they were all intimately familiar with given all the planning they had been involved in – towards Link and Zelda's children.
“They've gotten so big and I thought Gerudo grew quickly,” Riju said, wiggling her fingers in Faro's face only for him to hide in Paya's shoulder.
“How are you two coping? The first ones are always the hardest and you guys got two of them,” Kass pointed out, looking from one parent to the other.
“It's been challenging in some aspects I will admit but,” Zelda paused to glance down to where Toast sat neatly at their feet. Her blue eyes were trained solely on her adoptive puppies; Faro and Naya. “We've had some help with looking over our new family members. We mustn't forget our first daughter, after all.”
Riju wheezed, remembering fondly a misunderstanding she'd had a few years ago but would not soon forget. Zelda's face as she tried to explain the confusion had been priceless.
“Whose our best girl?” Link crooned, looking down at their dog who wagged her tail and gazed up at them happily before returning to her duty.
Still, he hadn't forgotten his other daughter and turned his attention to Naya, still held in Sidon's grasp, looking completely unfazed by being up so high but very much awake. The Zoran Prince was holding her carefully against his chest and the small baby looked even tinier in comparison to his gargantuan frame. It was almost funny. Except, after watching the ease with which Sidon held his daughter in one hand an intrusive thought barged into Link's head.
She could easily fit into his mouth. Snack sized.
“Hey, Sidon, can I have my daughter back now, please?” Link asked, smile set in place as he tried not to visibly wince at the idea. He didn't for one second believe Sidon capable of such a thing, but lack of sleep and first-time parent paranoia was a fiendish combination.
He felt a lot better when he had Naya back in his arms.
Naya took her first steps today. I wasn't particularly surprised that she reached the landmark first as she has always been the more active and adventurous of the two, but she's walking now. Without help. There had been a lot of coasting around the furniture, admittedly so she could reach more things to put into her mouth, but she's actually working out balance and hand-to-eye co-ordination. It's fascinating to watch.
I know Faro will start demonstrating this skill soon, we just need to find what motivates him. He's definitely been the more accommodating of the two. If an infant can even be described as 'accommodating', but it turns out that Faro definitely takes after me.
“Oh yeah, she definitely takes after you,” Zelda announced, watching as their daughter used the bars of her play pen to spin herself around and make the trek across the room again.
Link swooped in mid-journey and hoisted her up above his head and she shrieked with delight at the sudden motion, flailing her limbs about in excitement.
“But what about you, Faro?” Zelda murmured, switching her gaze to her son still sat inside the play pen, “when are you going to step out?”
So far, Faro had shown no signs of wanting to escape whatever container he was put in. Happy to sleep in his crib and content to play in his pen, even as he watched his far more rambunctious sister attempt a jail break at any given opportunity. Much to their father's panic.
As she watched, Zelda noticed how Faro would occasionally look over to the activity going on in the room before he returned to what he was doing. What was he doing? She got up and walked over to the pen, looking down to see what he was moving about in his hands. It was a puzzle. A solved puzzle.
“Hey, Link, were you playing with the kids toys again?” Zelda inquired over her shoulder, refusing to take her eyes off of her son.
“It was one time, I wanted to show Faro how to do it. Don't think Naya was interested though,” Link answered, before placing said trouble-maker down over his face so he could blow a raspberry onto her stomach.
“So, you didn't do this then?”
Zelda pointed down at what Faro was holding, catching Link's attention, and he shifted Naya onto his hip as he came over. He peered down into the pen and huffed a laugh when he saw the completed puzzle clutched in Faro's hands. Their baby boy blinked up at them, confused by the sudden attention but smiled when he saw his parents waving at him.
“That definitely wasn't me, Zelda,” Link said through his smile, “that's all him.”
They made sure to get more puzzles for Faro to work on while they removed the fences of the play pen. Not much point having it when one of their children had worked out how to climb over the sides and the other had no desire to move when he was focused on something else.
A week later, Faro had begun to coast around the furniture. Turns out, he just couldn't be bothered to heft himself out of the pen.
Sinks under a desk... The diary excerpts following the growth of Link and Zelda's kids got way too long to upload all in one go and so I split it into baby moments and events where the kids are older. Whoops.
Chapter 4 was uploaded yesterday in case you missed it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
I was adding some new transcribed books to the Institute's archives today and as usual got lost in a book or too. Naya and Faro were playing hide and seek with Toast behind all the bookshelves. I didn't want to ruin their fun by informing them that Toast could easily find them through her sense of smell and that hiding from visual sight would not help their case.
But, as they were entertained, I allowed myself a moment to re-read some old books and came across a section I must have skimmed over before. Or simply not followed up.
It certainly led Link and myself on an impromptu adventure.
They had not so far given her reason to believe that they wouldn't behave, especially not around Aunt Paya, and yet Zelda had her reservations. Naya had developed an intriguing habit of winding up on the roof of their house and Faro's interest in fire was beginning to border on concerning. Link couldn't help but feel that his son's interest in the bright, flickering flames was somehow inherited from him and he was always careful to put a wire mesh screen securely around the fireplace whenever it was ignited.
For now, their children were being obedient and nodded in understanding to Zelda's request. They accepted forehead kisses from both of their parents before waving them off as they mounted Vah Epona and zoomed out of the village towards Sahasra Slope.
It was a testament to how common place it was to watch their parents drive off on the Master Cycle that the twins thought nothing of it and looked up to their Aunt, wondering what they would be doing today. They dearly hoped it was not more lessons as their mother had started teaching them at home lately and while it was by no means boring, it meant that there was now a portion of their day where they were not chasing koroks and getting as filthy as possible. Their father was absolutely no help at all when it came to preventing said lessons, if anything he helped her. At least their parents had left Toast with them in Kakariko Village, she was always fun to play with.
The cause of Link and Zelda's departure was due to a vaguely worded passage of text from a book pertaining to the Era of Time that Zelda had read the day before. It's meaning was so unclear that she had become determined to get to the bottom of this new mystery, if only so she could amend the text for future readers.
“It just said 'more details on this venture can be found in the Temple', what Temple?” Zelda had fumed upon coming home after a days work within the Institute library.
“Not the Temple of Time?” Link asked, dropping a plate of food in front of her.
Their children were already digging into plates of their own. Unfortunately, both of them had ended up inheriting Link's voracious appetite but given that they had been 'helping' Link in the garden all day it was justified on this particular occasion.
“No, that's always mentioned by name. I can only assume that this Temple is not expressly named because at the time this reference would have been easy to understand. It is from a very old book, one of the oldest we have, but still, did they not consider such information could be lost?” Her voice then went into a mock deep tone, “Oh 'The Temple'? Obviously, they must be referring to this one Temple we all know about.”
Faro choked on his drink as he tried to laugh and swallow at the same time. Link patted him on the back and took his cup away so the small boy could get his breath back before suggesting some more locations.
“Well, what other Temples are there, the Springs perhaps? There's some odd monuments still left in the Faron region, and then there's the Forgotten...” Link's voice trailed away and he suddenly looked guilty.
“The Forgotten...?” Zelda prompted and the twins stopped eating so they could watch.
Link put a hand over his mouth and sunk into his chair, muttering through his fingers, “the Forgotten Temple.”
This was why Link and Zelda had set out to ride straight across Hyrule Field to reach the north end of Tanagar Canyon the very next day. Pulling up beside the cliff edge, they peered down to see a disheveled, flat, stone roof of an abandoned structure. It was very obviously man-made. Link pointed to the front and swiveled the bike around to drive along side the expanse of roof until they could see the Temple's face, covered in trailing ivy and sporting numerous fissures in the rock. Close to the top was an opening and with careful use of their paragliders they made it inside. Zelda was surprised at the number of Guardians within the Temple. All of them appeared lifeless, at first, but one close by activated at their movement and surveyed them with its spiraling eye before swiveling away again.
“Alright,” Zelda started, taking a picture of the Temple's layout, “lets look for any words or murals that would lead back to the Era of Time. Perhaps symbols of the Ocarina, seven circles in a ring, or any mention of the- Link, what?”
Link had been pulling at the hem of Zelda's jacket sleeve for a few seconds before he successfully captured her attention and guided her sights down to the walls around them. Carved into the stone were scenes that ran along the wall in a continuous band half-way between floor and ceiling. The space above and below the carvings, were filled with pictographs and old words that must have detailed the events transpiring within the scenes depicted all around them.
Shooting a fire arrow deeper into the Temple illuminated the details of other murals as it sailed past and landed beside a very recognisable figure etched into rock; a Hylian man wearing a tunic, wielding a sword with a wing-shaped guard, and a pointed cap placed upon his head. The Hero.
“What is this place,” Zelda gaped, staring at the figure even as the burning light gradually faded.
Another arrow, fired on the opposite wall, revealed a similar figure following a large wolf and a floating Imp with a bizarre, angular crown. Geometric, yet fluid, patterns branched off from this scene to join a more familiar group of symbols that detailed the rise of Sheikah Technology. The further they explored, with the help of Revali's Gale, the more history they uncovered, history Zelda knew to be true from the writings of her ancestors. Past Queens that had seen through time into other realms and shared what they knew with their successors, over and over again.
Apparently, it had been a practice for each Legend to be recorded here and she couldn't help but notice that the large bird that featured in the Hylian crest was very prominent here. There was still much space to be filled on the walls within the Temple it was so vast. Then, right at the back, Zelda discovered an activated Shrine.
“You've been in here before,” Zelda said. A statement not a question.
“Yes,” Link confirmed, coming to stand beside her, “I came here to receive my Tunic of the Wilds. But I had no idea all of this was here, I didn't have time to really look at it.”
Overlooking the Shrine was a large statue of Hylia, gazing down at them through the gloom, with ivy and moss winding round the edges of her dress. It was odd to find such a prominent statue of their country's patron Goddess hidden away down here, but then again, this was the Forgotten Temple. It probably hadn't intended to be lost.
“We need to share this place with people. How has no-one come searching down here?” Zelda wondered, taking pictures of the statue and the Shrine.
Link looked over his shoulder, back at the dormant Guardians, “I can think of a few reasons.”
Zelda looked back at him quizzically and then she understood what he meant as Link gestured to the blue gem on his right palm and then back into the Temple behind them.
“Ah. That's fair enough I suppose, but they're safe now. If a team can get down here via the Shrine they could bring proper light equipment with them. Unraveling all the information here could take years, but at least now we know where all the information on past Heroes went. It was kept safe here.”
“We should have Kass come here,” Link suggested.
“Why? Not that I'm against it,” Zelda queried, lowering the Sheikah Slate so she could watch Link's face.
“He didn't know what he was going to sing after he completed his teacher's works and he seemed to enjoy them. Songs travel through history well I've learned.”
Zelda made a sound of agreement, mentally adding Kass to the exploration team she was constructing. Her husband's comment could have been misunderstood as arrogance, but she knew that Link only wanted to have these stories preserved so that they would not be lost again. People of their future could draw hope from these tales; evidence that their home was always guarded, whether they actively saw it themselves or not.
“I wonder how old this place is,” Zelda said, running her hands over the moss covered walls. “It might even pre-date the Zonai structures, which would make the relatively good condition of this place all the more impressive.”
“Zonai?” Link prompted, not having heard of that one yet.
“Those monuments you referred to in the Faron region. They are the remains of the Zonai culture; Hylians, as far as I can tell, who integrated themselves with the natural wilderness on a spiritual level and in return received supernatural abilities, they favored feats of strength and honored their warriors. That is why they clustered around the Spring of Courage. It might even be possible that there was a past Hero who was born into their people, but we might never know if we can't decrypt this place. Iconography was never my forte,” Zelda admitted, with a sad droop to her shoulders.
“You mentioned abilities, like what?” Link asked, his imagination running away from him as he conjured scenes of people sprouting entire forests around them through sheer force of will.
“Well, they... ” A brief pause allowed a sly grin to spread over Zelda's lips but it was gone as quickly as it came as she changed the subject slightly, “actually, you have the Barbarian Armour don't you?”
Confused as to the sudden turn in conversation, Link nodded.
“Did you know that the Barbarian Armour – terribly crude name by the way – was worn by their warriors? Wearing it imbued their fighters with increased strength and according to the Slate you maxed out the potential of that armour,” the corners of her mouth curled into a coy smile. “I want to test something.”
With that, the Hylian pair teleported to the humid, lush jungles of the Faron region. Zelda immediately tore off her outer jacket as they made their way out of the Spring of Courage but she stopped Link from trying to remove the under-shirt beneath his green tunic.
“Change into that armour.”
The green and brown shades of Link's Hero garb were replaced by dark shades of leather and cream furs. Bright red streaks of paint stood out against the colour of his skin and the white bone of the skull headdress.
It was a bit annoying that no matter how many pastries Link managed to put away he always managed to maintain his lithe figure, which had filled out a little since his teen years. Then again, Zelda was constantly challenging his lifting abilities and he had recently moved on to using his own children as arm weights so she wasn't quite sure what she was expecting. Even though she got to enjoy looking at him naked at some point nearly every single day there was something about him wearing this armour that made the idea she had gotten back in the Temple all the more appealing.
Maybe it was an effect of the armour itself, it made the wearer look more intimidating and powerful, even when he wasn't particularly muscle bound to begin with.
Clearing her throat, and her thoughts, Zelda began to explain herself.
“I'm curious to see which parts of the armour carry the magical effect or if removing pieces of armour will reduce the enchantment.”
Link probably should have gotten suspicious by this point but he didn't, eager to involve himself in one of Zelda's tests. Bless him. Instead, he took this prompt to heart and began to look about his surroundings for anything that would help him demonstrate his current level of strength.
Bit by bit, he would lift sizeable chucks of rock he had found and then remove pieces of his armour by hand, before trying the same piece of rock again. He had expected his strength to decrease with every piece removed but so far he could still lift the assortment of rocks with ease, he even tried throwing them to see if the distance changed. It did not. Eventually, he was standing in nothing but his under-shorts and decorated in red paint all over his body.
Looking down at himself in consternation and then up at his wife he watched as Zelda was not quite quick enough to wipe the look of self-satisfaction off of her face. He squinted at her.
“You know, you really should read the descriptions for each of the armour sets the Sheikah Slate gives you. They're quite informative.”
Link dived for the Slate, swiping through the screen manically to try and find out what new ploy he had unwittingly just walked straight into. He found the greyed out slot for his Barbarian Armour and read the attached description;
[Worn by the warriors of an ancient warlike tribe from the Faron region,
the war paint brings out your inner strength and increases attack power]
“I can't believe I fell for that,” Link said still kneeling on the floor, but that was a lie. He absolutely could believe he had fallen for that.
Zelda on the other hand moved to stand in front of him, hands on her hips, “maybe I'm just that good.”
When she didn't move away, Link straightened his back and rose up onto his knees so that his face with level with her stomach before pulling her hips towards him with both hands. He looked up at her face, one eyebrow cocked.
“So, what are you going to do now that you've got me here?”
“Oh, so many things,” she assured him, pushing him down to the ground as she covered him with her body.
There was probably something sacrilegious about engaging in carnal pleasures next to one of the Goddess Springs but neither of them particularly cared at that moment. If Farore had a problem with it she could make her opinion known. The lack of an imminent thunderstorm to drown out their cries of ecstasy either meant she wasn't paying attention or simply didn't care, and a Nature Goddess probably wouldn't.
Today we learned that Link's predication of Faro and Naya taking after each other's namesakes has come to pass. It only took seven years.
Faro has been hoarding every bit of information he can gather on past magic use, focusing heavily on the elements of the Seven Sages, and compiling them into a scrapbook which Link found under his bed while cleaning the house. It's obvious that a lot of effort went into making it, complete with his own little annotations at the sides and results from his own experimentation with it. While I'm very proud of him I have made him aware that I know what he's doing and I would feel a lot better if he allowed me to supervise.
I was informed that I am the Best Mum Ever.
Naya also had her own collection going on. An assortment of weapons organised by size under her bed and there was a shoebox full of letters from a fellow student in her sparring class. A sparring class that Link teaches alongside Teba's archery course. A fight club if you will. Link still refuses to rename his lessons. But if the letters are with the girl I'm thinking of then it might explain her sudden desire to train with the Gerudo.
Link was hurt by this request, I could tell and he told me as such, but it wasn't entirely what he thought so I told him what was really going on.
He still couldn't stop the erratic glow from the lights along his prosthetic.
That night, he aired his grievances to Zelda as they both sat up in bed after their children had gone to sleep and the door to their bedroom was shut. Toast was curled up at their foot of their bed and one of her pups, a sooty coloured male named Twilight, was tucked up next to her but neither of them could soothe Link's distress.
He was upset. Wasn't he good enough? Or maybe Naya had gotten bored of him. It stung even more to see how well Zelda and Faro had started to work together but it was beginning to look as if his daughter didn't want anything more to do with him anymore. Maybe he was an embarrassment to her. Zelda, who knew the actual reason behind Naya's request, couldn't let these harmful assumptions continue to build up within her husband. She placed her hand on top of his head and his mutterings came to a stop.
“Link, I need to come clean with you. Naya is only going to Gerudo Town for a weekend, to spend time with her friend and get a few lessons from Buliara.”
She felt Link tense the arms he had wrapped around her middle and then relax completely as relief surged through him. She instantly knew she had made the right decision, even if it meant Naya might be upset with her later. Children could be unintentionally cruel and their daughter would forgive them later for revealing the 'plan'.
“Why didn't she just say that then?” Link asked, voice muffled as he pressed his face into her lap.
“Because it was part of a plan the twins had constructed.”
Link tensed again, turning his face out of the blankets so Zelda could see one eye peering up at her.
On several occasions, the twins had gotten a hold of the Sheikah Slate and, being the nosy little kids that they were, had gone through all of the items kept within it. Thankfully, Link and Zelda had never kept more sensitive items in the Slate so there wasn't anything embarrassing in there for their children to find. They did, however, find a long, ice blue tunic that had sleeves that gathered at the wrists and white detailing around it's hems. Link's femme clothes.
“They asked me why I never wore it and I told them that it was yours and that you used to wear it when we were younger. I think they assumed it was something you were not proud of since they've never seen you in it and didn't want to ask you about it directly. But,” Zelda continued, rubbing her fingertips against Link's scalp, “I knew for a fact that they were curious and Faro was actually the one to devise the plan but didn't want to test his luck with it. As you can imagine, Naya had no such problem.”
Link buried his face back into the duvet, groaning.
“She takes after me a little too much.”
The noisy disturbance had roused Twilight from sleep and he padded his way over to them, nestling himself behind Link's knees with a huff. Zelda had to laugh as Link brought the puppy up for a cuddle, but between them they formed a plan of their own.
So, the next morning, Link put on his knee-length slim tunic, with the loose sleeves that fit over his prosthetic, and cinched it around his waist with the belt from the Royal Guard uniform. He put on his own set of Sheikah tights underneath and topped it off with the sapphire circlet. He was pleased to note, after looking at himself in their bedroom mirror and throwing on his white, silk scarf, that he could still easily pull off the look despite being nearly thirty.
He flounced into the main part of the house and was delighted to see Naya drop her spoon into her breakfast and Faro freeze with his mug of milk halfway to his mouth.
“Eat up, I'm taking you to Gerudo Town today, remember. Are you all packed?”
Slowly, still having not retrieved her spoon, Naya nodded.
It took a while before they could actually leave as Naya had found herself utterly focused on her father's new appearance, and she didn't stop even after they had teleported to the Shrine outside the gate of Gerudo Town, hand in hand. He just looked so confident and happy with what he was wearing. Clearly, the outfit wasn't a source of embarrassment for him at all, she almost didn't recognise her own father.
Once they crossed the sands to walk through the entrance archway, Link even waved at the Gerudo guards as they passed by and they nodded to him in turn. Naya was stunned. The guards must know who he was as her father was on a first name basis with their Chief, he must have come here many times before. After they crossed over the town square, Link gave her an encouraging little push in the direction of the training grounds.
“Off you go.”
But Naya didn't move, instead she opened and closed her mouth, clearly blind sided and second-guessing the plan. Eventually, a confident smile took over as she decided to just roll with it.
“Hey, Dad, you know I'm only going to be here for a weekend. I just wanted to see you dress up to get in here,” and with that she began to march off towards a group of Gerudo guards standing outside the training area, who were watching them closely.
Before she could get too far away, Link had caught up and then lifted Naya around her middle causing her to squawk in surprise. He held her at chest height as he continued to walk forward, whispering into her ear as he went.
“I know, your mother told me. Next time just ask if you want something, don't try and trick me into it” he said, causing her to freeze in his hold but he blew a raspberry against the side of her face through the sheer fabric of his scarf to show that he wasn't holding a grudge. She was a child and a lesson had been learned here. In a louder voice he addressed the amused Guards, unable to hide his grin.
“Here, take her, I have the receipt.”
I may have accidentally poisoned my husband today. ACCIDENTALLY. Link has often tested my new elixirs to gauge their efficiency and after-effects, much to the delight of our children. I say that completely without sarcasm too. He's always had a robust constitution and has never faired poorly because of our tests before.
Of course, that was when he was only trying one at a time. I should probably lay off using the love of my life as a guinea pig. For a while, at least.
He had tried out each one of her new elixirs as she finalised them and then compared them to the effects of the single action elixirs they were comprised of. They were definitely more effective combined.
Link and Zelda's marriage was not what one would call 'average'. Yet, the peculiar dynamic between Zelda and Link meant that the research for the combined elixirs had been completed within the comfort of their own home and no-one else had to be put at risk.
The invention was announced in the great hall of the Institute, which was the same great hall of Hyrule Castle one hundred years ago. Minus all the Royal insignia and plush carpets. Instead, there were flame-proof rugs on the floor because some of the younger mages-in-training were prone to causing small explosions. Faro among them. Once the invention was introduced it was tradition to demonstrate them and Link had volunteered. It was a common sight within the Institute and there were a few chuckles of solidarity from the crowd as they watched Link be brought onto stage, yet again.
One by one he tested each elixir and showed off his new dual abilities that could be drawn on at the same. Some were harder to show off than others but just from the few that Link ingested, Zelda was getting requests for the recipes. Unfortunately, the technique was not something that could be replicated easily at a cooking pot like regular elixirs, but if people had the necessary tools and experience they could follow the recipe that she had already placed in the library.
As was tradition after a new invention was showcased, the residents and researchers of the Institute began networking over lunch. Which was just as well because Link was suddenly feeling rather ill.
He sat down on a chair beside Faro, who had a small flame held in one hand and a book open in his lap but he wasn't looking at it. Instead, he was watching his father's complexion get slowly paler and paler before it was hidden behind his hands.
Link was breathing in and out slowly through his mouth, swallowing hard every so often. Faro decided to go get his mother. He may not be very good at it yet but his progress with manipulating the element of water had brought him an unexpected side-effect; his empathy had gone through the roof and he could tell that his father was not well at all.
He waited at the sidelines of a conversation his mother was having with Dorian and a Gerudo he did not know. Naya probably would, but she wasn't here right now and was instead exploring the grounds around the Castle with Paya and Twilight. Toast, their first dog, had passed away in her sleep the previous year, very old and grey furred, and it was the first time Faro had ever seen his parents cry. They'd all cried. But Twilight was her descendant and apparently he demonstrated the same wilful habits Toast had done in her puppy days, guarding Naya and Faro everywhere.
Zelda noticed her son patiently waiting a couple of feet away and excused herself from the conversation. She leaned down a little as Faro beckoned to her.
“I don't feel so good, can you and Dad take me to your office?”
Faro didn't look unwell but he wasn't fond of crowds either and perhaps the noise was getting a bit much for him. Zelda took his hand and said her goodbyes to her audience, before leading Faro over to where she spotted Link bent over his knees on a chair. What a minute...
“We need to all go to your office,” Faro repeated and his intentions finally sunk in. Clever boy.
If people saw Link reacting this badly just after a demonstration it might send out the wrong message. Gently, Zelda managed to get Link upright with Faro holding each of their hands and they casually walked out of the hall. If anyone noticed they would assume they were taking their son outside for a bit.
Safely tucked into Zelda's office, Link dropped into an armchair and groaned as he curled over his stomach.
“Just to check, but you're feeling fine I take it?” Zelda whispered to Faro, who nodded.
“Yeah, I'm fine. It just looked like Dad was gonna throw up all over the hall. Which would not have been great.”
Zelda was very much in agreement with that and another pitiful moan escaped her husband, still hunched over in the chair.
“I feel like I'm gonna be sick,” he rasped, keeping his mouth tightly shut afterwards.
She was quick to find a metal bin to hold out in front of her husband and all the while she tried to think of what had caused this. Link had never displayed such a reaction after consuming the completed elixirs before and they had both tested them thoroughly, without any side-effects besides the intended ones. Nothing had been changed about the recipes, they had been prepared the same way and he consumed them the same way. A thought suddenly struck her.
“We never tried them in succession before,” she realised, out loud, just as Link snatched the bin from her and shoved his head in it.
“Oh, yeah,” Faro said, emphatically, as he watched his father finally lose the battle with his rebelling stomach.
Zelda made a mental note to include an addendum to her recipes as she rubbed her husbands back, whispering fervent apologies the entire time as a light blue sheen glowed across Link's skin before dissipating again.
Hopefully, Mipha's Grace could work for nausea as well as physical damage.
It has come to my attention today that my children are not nearly as oblivious as they make themselves out to be.
Link and I were very upfront about their heritage and that it should never dictate what they want to do with their lives. We've always tried to be honest with them and never shied away from topics that might be considered 'taboo' in other households. We also made it expressly clear that whatever they choose to pursue in their lives would be their choice and I've never tried to restrict their spirit. As long as they conduct themselves safely and respectfully towards those around them I did not have a problem with them trying out new things. I was not about to subject them to what I had to endure.
Link was always the more safety conscious parent but even he refused to place heavy restrictions upon them, he'd just like to know where they were going before they went anywhere for his peace of mind. Even our punishments were meted out fairly when they had to be.
I thought we were approachable parents, that we could discuss anything.
So why did they feel the need to hide this from us?
Naya had her left hand plastered over the back of her right, looking irritated with herself. A golden light was still flickering through her fingers, betraying her strong emotional distress. Dressed in a bright blue tunic, knee high boots and beige leggings her resemblance to Link was uncanny and intentional. She even had her blonde hair tied up into a ponytail, but it rested higher on her head than Links and it was much longer.
Yet, the glowing mark on the back of her left hand left no doubt that she was a daughter of Hylia.
Faro, with his wavy, shaggy mane of hair, was fidgeting next to her as he rubbed his foot along the back of his ankle and his fingers played with the fraying hems of his cloak while static electricity passed between his fingertips. Strictly speaking the cloak was too big for him as it was an old one of Links but he'd fallen in love with it as soon as he'd seen it, so the excess material kind of bunched up around his shoulders and neck like a scarf. At least he could hide half of his face in it to avoid the searching gaze of both of his parents.
He was always Naya's partner in crime and keeper of secrets. This situation was no different and he would not budge.
“Naya,” Zelda started gently and she could practically see her daughter tense. It broke her heart a little bit, “why did you hide this? We're not angry.”
Bewildered sky-blue eyes whipped up from where they had been staring down at the floor to meet Zelda's concerned emerald ones.
[We're just confused] Link added and he watched as his son slowly freed the lower half of his face from his cloak. Both children exchanged a glance, another set of blue on green, and then Faro gave her a subtle bump to the shoulder.
“We know how hard you found getting your powers, mum,” Naya explained, maintaining eye contact, “so when mine just kind of appeared I thought you'd be upset at how easy it was for me.”
“Oh, sweet heart, no, never!” Zelda soothed, coming forward to envelop her daughter into a hug and a matching golden light shined out of the back of her hand too. “I'm happy you managed to activate it without a struggle. It came to you naturally as it should, but I am curious as to what sparked it. What did you do?”
At this, Naya looked unsure again, eyes flicking over to Faro. That was unusual and Zelda stepped back from her.
[What did you do?] Link repeated, switching his focus from one twin to the other as he waited for one of them to crack. They were being shifty, which was never good.
“We didn't do anything special,” Faro mumbled, “it's just that I nearly crashed into a Talus on Vah Epona so-”
“YOU STOLE THE CYCLE?!” Link shrieked and suddenly Naya's earlier hesitance over the situation was gone.
“Run!” Naya ordered, shoving at Faro to get him to move towards the door as they both legged it out of the house, laughing slightly hysterically as their father tore after them.
“Get back here!”
At least the tension was gone and Zelda laughed until tears streamed down her face. Now she wanted to know how they had managed to take the Slate and the Master Cycle out for a joy ride without either of them noticing.
But more than anything, she was relieved.
Our children are now around the same age Link and myself were when the Calamity hit. Our worlds could not be more different.
Technology exploded over the past decade and it's now so common place I barely recognise Central Hyrule. It's an odd amalgamation of wild nature next to sleek, powered structures and 'modern' architecture. The old ruins are still there, they're pieces of history that have been a part of this landscape for more than a hundred years but it's oddly charming to see them next to what was once thought of as the 'future'.
It didn't take that long. Which, I'm sad to say is also true of our children. They've grown up so fast and are moving off to do their own things, having found the paths they want to take.
We're so proud of them. We made some good kids.
On the one hand, Link and Zelda were happy that Faro was obviously having fun and seemed to be well liked. On the other, they were slightly worried by his new tendency show off.
However, Faro's strange behavior became explainable after Link walked through the front door of their family home to find his son posing in front of a mirror, wearing his old Hero of the Wild outfit. His son had even taken down the Hylian Shield and Master Sword from the wall, but he hadn't been able to draw the sword from it's scabbard so it remained strapped to his back.
Link was understandably surprised to see that outfit again, on his son no less who had previously shown no interest in such a thing. But once he had been spotted in the mirror, the sudden burst of speed his son displayed to shove him back out of the house and close the door behind him brought Link's world to a stand still.
That was what got him. Not being faced with a near identical copy of himself back when he was that age, but the fact that Faro could use Time magic just like him.
Link knocked on the door.
It opened with a creak to reveal a narrow gap and Faro's blushing face. He wasn't looking at Link.
“Hi, Dad,” he greeted weakly and Link placed an artificial finger against the door to push it all the way open. Faro let him, standing aside but still refusing to meet his eyes as he brought his hands up to sign. [I'll put these back]
He scuttled off to place the Shield back on it's display and hang the Master Sword in it's bracket while Link removed his cloak and boots. He put his shoes together neatly at the bottom of the stairs, next to the empty dog bed. Hearing Faro clear his throat and pull a chair out from the table to sit down, Link turned in time to see his son try not to hide in his cloak, which he still wore over the green tunic.
Ah, now that's familiar, Link thought.
[Tea?] He offered.
The shaggy haired teen glanced up from the table top and nodded.
[I have some herbal teas left if you would prefer]
Tea making happened in complete silence as Faro tried to make himself disappear but unfortunately he had not tried that branch of magic yet. He made a mental note to do so if he ever escaped this house without dying of embarrassment.
Link, on the other hand, did not find this situation uncomfortable at all and he was more amused by the whole thing and a little touched. It was odd to see that outfit again after not having worn it in years; it didn't really fit him any more and he had taken to wearing a cream coloured Hylian tunic that Zelda had embroidered with blue details around the edges. He could not recall why he had stopped wearing it.
Pouring out two cups of tea, Link set them down on the table and then pulled a chair out for himself. Once he was settled, he gave Faro a poke to his shins with his foot and raised his eyebrows expectantly.
Faro swallowed, “so, this is awkward.”
[Is it?] Link signed.
“Is it not?!” Faro asked, hysterically, still waiting for the axe to fall. He had been using the Hylian Shield and the Master Sword, his father had to be pissed off.
[You just want to look like your old man]
A sigh escaped the blonde teen and he placed his elbow up on the table so he could rest his chin in the palm of his hand.
“You're not that old.”
[Thank you for that winning encouragement]
Sensing that he was digging his grave even further without meaning to, Faro whine and practically withered in his seat, sagging against the edge of the table.
Link couldn't contain himself any more and threw his head back in laughter, leaning away from the table as he rocked on his chair. At least now Faro knew he wasn't actually angry and the young boy released a breath he didn't know he had been holding, now allowing himself to reach for his tea. It was good tea too, made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Safflina and cinnamon, his mind supplied helpfully.
“I'm sorry, it's just you look just like me!” Link crowed, catching his breath again as he looked over his son who was no longer fighting the urge to hide in his cloak. “Except for the green eyes and your refusal to tame your hair.”
“I like my hair,” Faro mumbled. “Still, you're taking this awfully well. I was a bit worried.”
“I'm not angry, Faro. They're just clothes and if you want I can teach you how to use the shield and a sword. Just not that one, it's picky,” Link said fondly. “But, believe it or not it's your Time magic I'm more interested in. Just, for future reference, if you're going to borrow any more of my clothes please stay away from my pretty tunic. I'm rather partial to it.”
While all of this was happening, Naya was enjoying the independent, single life. Free of any social entanglements and avoiding thoroughly embarrassing conversations that her brother was now having to endure. She also seemed content to continue this trend for the rest of all time, despite all interested parties that wished otherwise. There had been brief fling with the girl who used to be her penpal from her sparring class, but Naya had soon realised that she preferred to keep her own company.
After training hard to become an accomplished swordsman she expressed her dissatisfaction with just being proficient in one discipline, unknowingly echoing her father from a century ago. She had decided to take up a solo mission to visit each region and learn their signature battle styles, complete with a schedule and checklist to keep track of her progress. Never let it be said that her mother didn't have some influence over her as she grew up. Her latest set of recorded achievements had been overseen by Tulin, who was now a fully fledged Rito adult. He had offered to train with Naya when she sent word ahead asking for a mentor within Hebra. She could have just learnt archery from Teba in his classes at the Institute but she wanted to learn it in the harsh climates of the northern mountain ranges, which the Rito could respect.
She had left to begin her scheduled training a couple of months prior and was now walking across the bridge that lead to the Silvis-Hyrule household for a visit with the family guard-dog, Twilight, close behind sporting a very thick coat of fur. Her parents and brother had insisted she take him with her as a travel companion and she was glad she hadn't resisted, travelling alone would have been much harder on her psyche.
As luck would have it, she arrived through the front door just in time to see her twin brother mash his face into the dining room table, ears flaming, as their father looked on without mercy. There was also the matter of the outfit Faro was wearing and their fathers complete nonchalance over the situation. Naya smirked. It's good to be home.
“What have I missed?” She asked, dropping her travel bag by the closed door and shucking her boots off to set them neatly beside Link's. Twilight took the opportunity to flump into the dog bed under the stairs. He'd missed his bed very much.
“It appears Faro wants to be a Hero,” Link explained, taking a sip of tea before he got up to make Naya her own cup as she came to join them at the table.
Once she sat down, she watched her brother resurface to give her a weak wave. They had, of course, been in constant contact during her months away and he had even requested certain materials to be sent back from whichever region she was in at the time. However, if Faro thought that the appearance of his sister was going to be his salvation he was reminded that fate was cruel as his mother opened the door and walked in.
Zelda took two paces inside, saw her husband, her daughter and then her son who looked so much like a younger version of Link she had to take a step back again.
“Yeah. Hi, Mum,” Faro grimaced in way of greeting before placing his face back on the table again.
Naya grinned wider.
Talk started up between Link and Zelda; customary greetings, a shared kiss, and then the beginnings of dinner preparation. Their chatter moved onto a recap of of all the bizarre jobs Link had been asked to help with around Hateno and how how much progress Zelda's new lab assistants had made, who seemed very eager to be working for her.
“And before you ask, yes, your guards have checked them out and there's nothing weird about them. Not even a single banana on their person,” Zelda reported before Link could ask, as he always did.
The stringent background checks for people coming into the labs were carried out by the security detail Link had built during the Institute's infancy. Some may have called it paranoia, as the Yiga had been silent for years except for the odd wayward straggler, but Link knew as soon as he let things get lax they would get in. He had been trusted with keeping this country and it's denizens safe by the Goddesses themselves and that didn't stop just because he no longer wore the garb of the Hero. Speaking of.
“Oh, by the way, Zelda. Faro here has Time magic,” Link said, casually, causing Faro to spit the remainder of his tea back into his cup.
“Oh, you did inherit it after all! I did wonder,” Zelda said, looking pleased about this development.
“Inherit?” Naya asked, squinting a little as she looked at her twin and then her mother. “From who? That's a thing?”
“Not as far as I know,” Faro answered, looking perplexed, “it's more a case of magic potential that can be passed down but I've not heard of specific disciplines going down bloodlines. Besides your Light, of course.”
“Yes, well,” Link scratched the back of his head and he though on how to explain it, “there's a bit of history that goes with that explanation.”
“It's convenient that you wear that outfit, actually,” Zelda pointed out, and Faro was reminded that he was still wearing his father's old tunic. “Time magic has often followed the Hero, most prominently with the Hero of Time. But, your father can also manipulate Time in small amounts.”
The twins gaped, clearly disbelieving, which was fair enough as Link hadn't had to exercise it outside of a combat setting for many years. He still tried it from time to time though, just to prove that he still could. Like now.
One second Link was sat at the kitchen table, nursing his half drunk cup of tea, but within the next all of their tea cups were in a stack upon the table and Link was leaning against the back of Naya's chair.
“I've gotten better over the years,” he admits, basking in the expressions of awe his children were sending his way.
As one they turned back to look at Zelda, who was dismantling the tea cup tower, a nostalgic smile growing on her face. The twins knew that look, that was a look reserved for when their parents were reminiscing about past adventures. Adventures that they had never really been told about, only hinted at.
“Oh, we need explanations, right now,” Naya declared, looking between her parents with a certain urgency. If the glance they shared was anything to go by, they both seemed to be on board with a little story time.
“I'll get the Slate,” Link said, leaving the table to retrieve it from their bedroom.
While he was gone, the twins shuffled their chairs together on one side of the table so that they could both face their parents. Zelda waited until Link had returned with the Slate and sat beside her before turning her attention to her eager children.
“Well, you already know the story of the Calamity and who Link and I were. So, I suppose we'll start with when the Calamity came to an end and all the small things that led up to it.”
As Link and Zelda regaled their children with stories from their youth, of all the Quests they undertook and the discoveries they made, Zelda realised that perhaps their children growing up was not so bad. It was just the start of something new to explore after all and her journal still had many pages left to fill.
Centuries from now a new Zelda, the Institute Head's young daughter, would read from the diary of her Ancestor that lived in the Era of the Wilds and be filled with joy at how happy she had been despite everything she went through. That Era had spawned the world that surrounds her and the journal would bring her comfort when a Triforce bursts into existence on the back of her hand.
It also means, that when a boy wanders into the Institute looking for someone who can explain why he has found a sword with a wing-shape hilt that calls to him, she will immediately introduce herself with a hand out in front of her.
“Hello, I am Zelda.”
And the boy will take her hand and shake it.
“Hi. My name is Link.”
ooooooooh my god I can't believe I actually finished this series but I am so happy I did. I couldn't resist that little bit at the end because ofc their Legend won't ever truly be over but it might get easier. This has been such a fun and comfy thing to write and dive into when I've been stressed. I'm really happy so many of you enjoyed this world so much, leaving me comments both on my stories and on my tumblr, they were so motivating and kind, thank you all of you for staying with me this far. THANK YOU!!!
If you're willing to stick with me for a little while longer I'll have another multi-chapter fic to share with you. I've been mentioning it here and there on Twitter and Tumblr, but my new fic 'The Dragon Knight' will be starting this year hopefully by the end of Spring (if I can keep up with my MSc and writing!). Hope to see you there~