Ganondorf clicked through Link’s pictures, which Zelda had saved in a folder on her desktop. He wasn’t sure what happened before he woke up in the shower. Now that he saw the thing in the photos, he was even less sure. There was something wrong with the exposure, and most of the pictures were terrible. Nevertheless, Zelda had managed to create a clear composite image. No matter how carefully he studied her work, it made no sense to him. It was impossible that he had turned into this thing, unconsciously or otherwise; the nature of the transformation would have broken the level of concentration needed to sustain it. Even if he had managed to accomplish such a feat, it would have been almost impossible to return to his original state. It was highly unlikely that he could have done something like this on his own, which meant there had to be someone else involved.
Ganondorf had been exhausted when he woke up. His entire body ached, and he had a crushing headache. He could barely think straight. He was too tired to object to Link’s suggestion that he allow Zelda and her friend to bring him to Lanayru, and the drive passed in a dim haze. He collapsed as soon as he was shown to a room, and he slept until the sun went down.
He was woken by Buliara, the woman who seemed to serve as a personal assistant to Riju. She brought a change of clothes and insisted that he come with her to some sort of banquet. There were dozens of people there, and Zelda’s attention was occupied by Riju and an imposing woman he immediately recognized as Urbosa, the Gerudo queen. He hadn’t been seated with them, and he was still far too tired to attempt conversation. It didn’t help that the language everyone spoke was radically removed from his own. Hylian presented little difficulty to him as a foreign language, but the Gerudo these women used was familiar yet frustratingly different from his native dialect. His headache persisted, and he ate almost nothing. He performed his role as a guest as decently as he could manage, but he took his leave and slipped away as soon as it was possible to do so without arousing suspicion.
He’d kept his eye on Zelda, who seemed to be enjoying herself. He didn’t know what she was planning, but he was loath to waste this opportunity to find out. None of the palace staff thought it odd that he inquired about the location of her room, and he was able to locate it quickly. He expected to have to search for her laptop, but she’d left it in plain view in a bag lying on her bed.
Ganondorf transferred the image files onto a small flashdrive and closed the folder. The desktop of Zelda’s computer was almost empty. She still had a document labeled “Passwords” in the upper-left corner of the screen, and beside it was a document titled “Diary.” He took the precaution of transferring that file onto his flashdrive as well before removing the stick from the computer. He could study it later on his phone.
He’d gotten what he came for, yet he lingered. The temptation to use the laptop’s word processing software to run a quick search was too strong to resist.
Ganondorf opened the document and skimmed through the text. It wasn’t what he was expecting.
Zelda seemed mostly concerned with the food she’d eaten. Ganondorf couldn’t help noticing that her diet wasn’t great. She also listed the names of people she worked with, as well as the names of people she encountered at various other places, like the café in the lobby of the office building that housed her lab. She’d annotated this list with job titles, birthdays, and summaries of what these acquaintances said to her, as well as random inanities that seemed to be, as far as he could tell, possible topics of future conversation. Her spelling and grammar were meticulous.
Ganondorf searched for his own name, but the only instances that appeared in the document were small notes on the days he visited her. He kept clicking back until one passage jumped out at him: I love the way he smells. I wonder what he tastes like?
Ganondorf felt heat rise to his face. It was time for him to leave.
He closed the document, shut the laptop, and put it back where he’d found it in Zelda’s bag. He hadn’t uncovered anything useful, but she might have been using a code that wasn’t immediately apparent.
“Find anything interesting?”
Ganondorf jerked his head up to see Zelda standing in the doorway with an amused expression on her face.
A wave of anger swept over him. It hadn’t been an accident that Zelda left her laptop in the open, of course it hadn’t. She’d probably been watching him this whole time. It was a clever trap, and he’d walked right into it. He refused to give her the satisfaction of seeing how much this bothered him.
“You and Link took a disturbing set of photos last night,” he said. “I assume you were planning on discussing this with me.”
“Eventually, but not today,” she replied. “I’m a little tired, what with you turning into… whatever that was, last night. Do you do that with every girl you bring home, or am I special?”
Zelda laughed at her own joke, and Ganondorf realized that she’d been drinking.
He was exhausted and on edge in a place he’d only seen in his nightmares, yet here she was, enjoying herself and laughing at his expense.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” she continued, “but I don’t know anything more than you do. I hope you didn’t come expecting answers, and I certainly hope you’re not expecting to sleep here. One night in your arms was enough, all six of them. And what’s that about, wasn’t Ganon supposed to be a pig?”
As Zelda stepped forward into the room, her foot caught the edge of the carpet. She tripped and began to fall. On instinct, Ganondorf leapt forward to catch her.
“What a hero.” Zelda laughed again as she pushed herself away from him. “Couldn’t keep your hands off me, could you?” Ganondorf could smell the alcohol on her breath. She had definitely been drinking. At this point he could use a drink himself.
“I’ll get you some water,” he said, taking her by the shoulders and pushing her forward as he guided her to the suite’s small kitchen. He sat her down on a high stool and then crossed to the other side of the counter, where he found a carafe of chilled water in an old-fashioned icebox. He took it out, poured a glass for Zelda, and watched her as she threw her head back and drank it like a shot.
“How much did you have to drink?”
“What does it matter to you? I’m not a child, and you’re not my boss.”
“Tell me honestly. I’m going to call Riju if you’re going to be sick.”
Zelda shrugged and held up two fingers. Ganondorf frowned, thinking she was lying to him, but then he remembered that he hadn’t seen her eat. She only had a few bites while they were out with Link and Sidon, and most of the parfait Riju ordered earlier that afternoon had gone to waste. For all that she kept a meticulous record of her meals, Zelda must have some sort of complex about eating in front of people, and she probably hadn’t eaten all day.
She handed her empty glass back to him. He refilled it and poured a small glass for himself. The water was slightly alkaline and colder than he expected.
Ganondorf exhaled slowly. The last thing he wanted was to babysit Zelda, but he couldn’t leave her like this. Riju would come to check on her soon enough. In the meantime, he might as well make sure that she ate. He knelt and checked the icebox, where he found a few cucumbers and tomatoes, some slices of flatbread, an avocado, a bottle of tonic water, and a small jar of electric safflina liqueur.
He arranged everything on the counter, which was equipped with a small hotplate. He turned it on and mixed a drink for himself as he waited for it to warm up. A half-finger of the liqueur gave the tonic water a pleasing taste of mint and anise. Satisfied, Ganondorf opened drawers until he found a knife, which he used to slice the tomatoes and cucumber as he toasted small squares of flatbread. It smelled heavenly. He peeled the avocado, which was perfectly ripe. He cut small slices for himself and ate them raw.
Ganondorf’s mood mellowed as he passed Zelda small slices of toast topped with cucumber salad. She sat on the other side of the counter and didn’t speak as she ate. She started with small bites but gradually picked up speed. After a few minutes, she asked him to share his drink with her. Against his better judgment he mixed a drink in her empty water glass. Perhaps it would help her sleep.
“You’re pretty good with a knife,” Zelda said once she’d begun to slow down.
Ganondorf’s mouth was full, so he nodded.
“So here’s a thing about Ganon. In the old legends, I mean. Some accounts say he was a demon thief and the most skilled swordsman in the history of Hyrule. Besides the hero, of course. Can you fight?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Why not? No offense, but you seem like someone who would have enemies. What with all the high-powered finance fraud, maybe people come after you.”
“There are ways of dealing with people like that. Only an idiot would put himself in a position to fight.”
“But could you? If you had to? I mean, without turning into some sort of hideous insect creature.”
Ganondorf’s annoyance at Zelda’s levity returned with a vengeance. She wanted to see him fight, did she? Like he was some sort of animal in a cage. He pivoted his wrist and flipped the knife he’d been using to eat before jabbing it at Zelda’s face, stopping barely an inch away from her mouth.
She flinched, but then she and he both saw at the same time that there was still a small slice of avocado clinging to the blade. Zelda grinned and licked it off the edge of the knife. Ganondorf was entranced by the darting movement of her tongue and the wetness of her lips. I wonder what he tastes like.
He could feel himself blushing. He looked away from Zelda and set the knife on counter. The day felt as though it had lasted forever, but he was no longer tired. He was starting to feel restless, in fact. Even a weak drink had probably been too much. It was definitely time for him to leave.
“So you like Riju, do you?”
Ganondorf looked up at Zelda. “What is this about?”
“She’s looking for a mate, you know. Her room is right here, right down the hall from mine. She’s told me before that it’s probably better to go ahead and make a baby so she can get it over with and get on with her life. You’d be doing her a favor, really.”
Ganondorf studied the blank mask of Zelda’s face. She was upset, and for some reason she’d decided to take it out on him. Because he was currently standing in front of her, more than likely. To be fair, he had only himself to blame for putting himself in this position, but he had no desire to return to their earlier conversation about “breeding stock.” He picked up a towel and began cleaning the knife to disguise his irritation.
“Is that why you brought me here, to do your friend a favor?”
“It is, actually.”
“I’m not interested in ‘mating’ with anyone.”
“You seemed plenty interested at dinner.”
Ganondorf looked up again to find Zelda glaring at him. She seemed to be genuinely angry, which was ridiculous. He should be angry at her for leaving him on his own in unfamiliar company. He decided to ignore her.
“Don’t play innocent,” she insisted. “You were surrounded by women.”
“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, Zelda, but the Gerudo are primarily women.”
“That may be, but you didn’t have to let every single girl at that table touch you.” Zelda scowled and began speaking in perfect Gerudo. “Oh, what lovely ears you have, how rare that they aren’t pointed! What a strong and handsome nose you have. Where is your mother from? Your skin is such a lovely color, you would look so much better if you wore gold. Why don’t you let your hair down? I would love to braid it for you.”
Ganondorf threw the towel down on the counter. “Enough.”
“I’m not done eating.”
“I’m not, actually. Since you’re apparently too dense to figure this out for yourself, let me explain the situation so even you can understand it. I was only pretending to be drunk so that it wouldn’t be awkward for me to come back to my room and catch you snooping on my computer. I’m not drunk, and this is a serious question: How can you be so charming with everyone else but still treat me as if you can barely tolerate me? I’m not your enemy.”
“Well then, Zelda, how about you explain something else for me – why did I wake up this morning to find my apartment destroyed and you and Link cornering me in the shower?”
“You almost killed me!”
“I have no way of knowing that whatever happened wasn’t your doing. I saw the photos, and I got a good look at that thing’s mask. That’s Sheikah technology, Zelda. While we’re on the subject, don’t try to deny that you left the Sheikah Slate with Link.”
“How did you know that?”
“I have eyes.” She had, in fact, left the tablet in Sidon’s car, but he’d seen it shining like a beacon in the Twilight.
“Fine. We’re all out to get you, are you happy? Sidon and Riju are in on it too. This goes all the way to the top. Does that make you feel special and important? Listen, I don’t know what happened to you, I just know that I had to get you out of Hyrule before the Sheikah found you. I’ve decided to work with them, and I can’t be held responsible for you.”
“So you intended to leave me here.”
“It would be ideal if you stayed in Lanayru, yes.”
“Like I stayed in my apartment when you left me this morning.”
“You are so stupid sometimes, Ganondorf. What don’t you understand? When I woke up in your bed last night, you weren’t even human. You became the thing that burst into my apartment earlier this summer, and you did it while I was sleeping right next to you. Can you get that through your head? I don’t even know you. I was scared.”
“But here you are, eating the food I make for you. Shall I mix you another drink, Princess?”
Zelda slammed her empty glass on the counter. “Yes.”
Ganondorf used the last of the liqueur to pour drinks for them both. The mix was probably too strong, but he no longer cared.
“I hope you are Ganon so I can kill you with my own two hands.”
Now she was just being difficult. “Good luck with that,” he said.
They clinked the rims of their glasses together and drank.
Ganondorf felt better now that he’d eaten. He rinsed a ripe persimmon that had been left on the counter and cut it into quarters to use as a chaser. He put Zelda’s half on the counter but didn’t look at her as she ate it. Her face was slightly flushed, and the last thing he needed was to see the juice of the fruit staining her lips.
“Did you read my diary?” she asked.
There was no point in denying it. “You should change the password on your laptop.”
“So now you know my big secret.”
Ganondorf smirked. “Your ‘big secret’ is that you can’t talk to people.”
“It’s true. I hate making small talk, but I’ve been trying to practice. To be more ‘relatable.’”
“That wasn’t a revelation. I was more disturbed by the fact that you’re incapable of feeding yourself.”
Zelda took another bite of persimmon and chewed it slowly with a pensive expression. “The medication I used to take before I met you dulled my appetite,” she explained. “Nothing tasted good to me. People kept trying to diagnose me with an eating disorder. Who knows, I may have had one, but eating was like chewing wet cardboard. I was never allowed to cook when I was growing up, so I didn’t even know what I liked.”
She took a sip of her drink and continued. “Until I stopped taking those pills, I couldn’t even see color properly. Can you believe that? I would just wear white and pink all the time, whatever was laid out for me in the morning. Like it was a uniform. I never imagined I would look good in blue.”
“It suits you,” Ganondorf said, carefully cleaning the knife and cutting board to avoid looking at Zelda’s face.
“That was one of the reasons I distrusted you. I thought you dressed too nicely, and I wondered why you did that. What were you trying to hide, who were you trying to fool, that sort of thing.”
“You’re saying it never occurred to you that I dress well because I want to look good.”
An odd expression crossed Zelda’s face. “So how much of my diary did you read? Did you read that…”
Zelda mumbled something that he couldn’t make out.
“I didn’t read much,” Ganondorf replied, hoping she would let the matter drop.
“Don’t you care what I just said?”
Ganondorf didn’t answer as he put the leftover vegetables and bread back in the icebox.
“Are you just going to stand behind the counter and clean things all night? Maybe you should leave.”
Zelda was clearly baiting him to provoke a reaction, but she was right. Ganondorf felt full of energy, and he didn’t want to be stuck inside and alone with his thoughts. Perhaps he should go out into the city, he thought as he dried his hands and walked out of the kitchen. He wondered how best to leave the palace. He wasn’t dressed for the chill of the desert night, but he could use magic to change his clothing once he got outside. He felt a sudden longing to leave the city and drive into the desert. He could easily find his way back to the underground garage, which wasn’t heavily guarded. He should be able to steal a car without any unnecessary trouble, but he’d prefer an ATV or a motorcycle if he could find one.
Zelda grabbed his shirt from behind. As he turned, she put her hand on his stomach and pushed him back against the wall with an astonishing amount of force.
“You’re not going anywhere until you answer my question.”
Ganondorf opened his mouth, but he didn’t trust himself to speak. Zelda was very close to him, a fact his body was acutely aware of.
She rested her forehead against his chest, and he could smell the soft fragrance of the lotion she used on her face.
“I asked if you read when I wrote that…”
She finished the sentence in a whisper. When he bent down so that he could hear her, she looped an arm around his neck and kissed him, shoving her mouth against his and running her tongue along the seam of his lips.
You wanted to know how I taste, he began to say, but his mouth was occupied, and soon his hands were as well. His mind was filled with her, and how good she felt against him, and what she had admitted to herself, and what she was too embarrassed to say to him. He pictured her mouth on his body, and then her hands were at his hips, lifting the hem of his shirt and unlacing the cord at his fly.
Ganondorf knew he should stop her. Zelda was angry at him for reading her diary, and she was doubtlessly still upset about whatever happened last night. She may only be pretending to be jealous of the attention he received earlier, but it was obvious that she was using sex to gain control over him and assert some form of ownership. He needed to put an end to this, but she had already freed him from his pants. As she held him in her beautiful and delicate fingers, he was powerless to do anything except watch her do as she wished.
Zelda stroked him with her fingertips as she studied him. Ganondorf could feel her gaze touch him like a feather along his skin. It became difficult to breathe. He made a low noise in his throat. Zelda smiled and stretched the pink tip of her tongue to the head of his cock before enfolding it in her lips. The pleasure was so intense that it caused a violent shudder to rip through his body. The strength drained from his legs, and all he could do was brace himself against the wall as Zelda took him into her mouth.
She only attempted a few inches at first, but she was so warm, and so wet, and she wanted him. As she continued to kiss and caress the head of his cock with her tongue, she stroked the skin at the base, pulling at him in a gentle rhythm.
It felt incredible, but Zelda was still only exploring him. Ganondorf’s sensitivity reached a plateau, and he was no longer in danger of losing control. He would allow Zelda to enjoy herself for a minute or two more, but then he would put his hands on her shoulders and push her away. He didn’t want to do this with her now, not tonight, not in a place he didn’t know while surrounded by people he didn’t trust.
Zelda strengthened her grip at the base of his cock and then took as much of him as she could into her mouth. She wrapped her tongue around his overheated skin and slid her lips along him in a tight vise of the softest silk. Her strokes were no longer gentle, but fierce and insistent. Without knowing it, he had already passed the point of no return, and there was nothing he could do to deny her.
He was so hard he could barely stand it; he felt like an iron spring had tightened in his gut. Everything about this was wrong, but by the gods, he wanted her.
Ganondorf gasped, and his hips jerked forward as he came. He gave an involuntary moan of pleasure, and then it was over. He shuddered and slid down the wall as he lost the strength to remain standing.
Sitting on the floor, he was now face to face with Zelda. She met his eyes, smiled, and wiped her lips with the back of her hand.
Zelda had most certainly planned this. She had wanted something from him, and she took it. He expected nothing less of her.
Ganondorf reached forward and enclosed Zelda in his arms, pulling her into his lap and cradling her head against his chest. His desire had been temporarily sated, but he still wanted her. He wanted to hold her, to keep her close to him, to wrap her up inside himself and never let her go. He felt the urge to possess her like a primal instinct welling up from deep inside his mind. Whoever he had been before he woke up in Hyrule, whatever he had been – that part of himself sent him visions of lives he couldn’t possibly have led while filling his sleeping mind with dreams of this woman. He was afraid of what lay hidden inside him, but it wanted her, and he wanted her as well.