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He wakes up in an unfamiliar, dark location not knowing even what his name is. Though he is soon told that it is Link, not much else comes back to him as conveniently as his own name. All he knows is that he really wants to remember who she is, the bearer of the voice who woke him from his slumber. The woman who guides him forward on unsteady feet which have obviously not been used for walking in a long time. How long, he wonders, has he been in here?

The shrine he wakes up in is dark, cold, unfamiliar. But, then again, what is familiar to him? What is he doing here, and why? Who is he, besides a man whose name is Link? What is his connection to the woman speaking to him from afar? Why does it sound like she’s so close, when he can’t even see her?

Link’s questions will soon be answered, one by one. Memories start coming back to him, and he relives the pain, fear, shock, and terror of them as they resurface. The King of Hyrule is dead, and only his spirit lingers to help guide Link even further. He honours King Rhoam’s requests by meeting and reuniting with people who help him remember. He visits places he’s apparently been to before, and more pieces are put in place in the giant puzzle that is his life up until the moment he woke up in the Shrine of Resurrection, as it was called.

The more people he meets, the more often he gets to hear her name. Zelda. Zelda. Zelda. And for each time he hears the name of the princess who saved his life, the stronger his resolve grows to save her. It’s taken him a hundred years to get to this point, but Link finally feels ready to face the demon who caused his defeat a century ago. And this time, he’s sure he has the upper hand, because even if he doesn’t have all of his memories back and sorted, Link at least knows what went wrong, and how he can remedy things.

Being back in the castle helps even further to restore some of his memory and tie them to previously disconnected memories he’s recovered. The security around the castle is tough, but he manages to get by it with the help of his old friends and their powers. Daruk saves Link from the strongest of guardian blasts that would definitely wound him gravely otherwise. Urbosa helps him defeat several enemies surrounding him at once with no more than a snap of his thumb and middle finger. The power of Revali’s wings and wind carry him into the air and then lead him to land right in front of the sanctum entrance, and Link is glad he’s saved Mipha’s power for last, as he knows he’ll need it, no matter how confident he is now.

Link stares up at the tall tower in front of him, and he takes a deep breath, clenching and unclenching his fists at his side. He knows without having to draw it that the Master Sword glows brightly in its scabbard, ready to slay the arch nemesis of Hyrule. He’s ready, but he also isn’t, to jump right in and face his fears and his fate. Just before he goes inside, a gust of wind blows by, and Link turns around to face five spirits, five now very familiar faces, standing right in front of him. The sight makes Link lose all the air in his lungs.

“You’ve done well in coming this far,” Revali says. “I didn’t think you could do it, but… I guess I’m fairly certain you’ll be able to beat Ganon with my help.”

“We believe in you, little guy!” comes Daruk’s booming voice, and Link can’t help but smile despite the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.

“We’ll be right with you,” says Urbosa. “Don’t keep her waiting, Link.”

“Link…”

Link turns to face Mipha, and suddenly it’s just the two of them. Link understands that the other Champions have returned to their Divine Beasts in preparation for the final battle. He turns his attention back to Mipha, who gives him one of her gentle, warm smiles. Her spirit doesn’t move closer, though—even now, she insists on keeping her distance.

“It’s finally time, isn’t it? Time for us to take back what’s ours, time to end things. Time… to let those of us who have fallen get the peace we’ve sought for so long.”

Her voice is filled with sorrow, but there’s an unmistakable tone of resolve in it, too. It makes Link’s heart ache for a multitude of reasons, and he can’t help but feel grief-stricken once again. He had been warned that regaining his memories would be painful; and it is, it still is. Hesitant, Link takes a step forward, and the spirit of Mipha reflexively backs one step.

“Urbosa is right, you know,” Mipha continues. “You shouldn’t keep the Princess waiting any longer than she has already been waiting for you. It has been a long time, after all.”

Link opens his mouth to speak, but Mipha puts a finger to her lips, and so Link decides against arguing. Instead, he lets Mipha continue talking, for he fears this is the last time he will hear her voice.

“I may have loved you for a long time, but so has she. And… I know you have loved her, too. Even if you may not remember it, I am sure you will someday.”

It pains him to hear those words, and he’s angry with himself for not having remembered her and his feelings towards Mipha sooner. They had started out as feelings of admiration and wonder when he was but a child, but Link kept those feelings, and they developed over the years into something completely different. Which is why learning of her death at the hands of Calamity Ganon made life so much harder to live, made it so much more difficult for Link to stay away in order to prepare himself rather than recklessly throwing himself at Ganon to attempt avenging Mipha’s death, and subsequently, the deaths of his other friends.

“So go,” Mipha says with finality in her voice. “Go, and save Zelda. Save Hyrule.”

Link stares at Mipha for a good few seconds, to burn her image into his mind, because he knows that once he turns around, he probably won’t see her again. The last thing Link sees before he turns around is Mipha smiling bravely, as she always has done no matter the situation. She faced every tough situation with courage she didn’t always have, but initially had to pretend she had. Mipha was the pride of her people, the role model of her brother, the beloved daughter of Dorephan. Mipha was a Zora princess in every sense of the word, and her untimely death devastated not only the Zora, but a greater part of Hyrule, because of how she had influenced people with her generosity and kindness.

Remembering this, Link forces himself to smile before he takes a deep breath. Another gust of wind pushes him forward, or so it may seem, but Link is certain Mipha is the one pushing him forward.

If someone ever tries to harm you, remember that I will be there to heal you.

No matter when, no matter how bad the wound, I hope you know… I will always protect you.

With Mipha’s encouraging words echoing in his head, Link looks up at the entrance to the sanctum, and he heads inside. The second he sets his foot inside, a rumbling can be heard and felt all around him, and Link looks up to see a giant blob in the ceiling—the seal Zelda had created to keep Ganon trapped with her for all these years. To think it was able to stay like this for such a long time… Zelda has had a lot of time to perfect her powers, to get stronger, but she has also had time to become the opposite—weaker the longer time passed.

Link, I… I’m sorry,” he hears a voice above him as he walks further inside. “I can’t… hold him… any longer…”

And then the ceiling comes crashing down.

Calamity Ganon puts up quite a fight, but it isn’t a fight Link feels is impossible to win. He’s trained so hard for this, he’s learnt to move swiftly, like how a Zora swims up a waterfall. He’s mastered combat skills that could even best a Gerudo. His archery skills are nearly perfect now, and Link knows Revali’s spirit is watching him fight Ganon with conflicted feelings. The Goron chief’s power of protection helps Link to lessen the damage he takes whenever Ganon comes too close.

The sudden burst of confidence he gets, despite the situation, is one hell of a drug that helps Link bring Ganon to the brink of his demise, and when he’s suddenly teleported out to the vast fields of Hyrule, facing the transformed beast of Ganon, it feels like said confidence grants him even more strength.

Equipped with the Bow of Light bestowed upon him from the still trapped princess, Link follows her voice, as he always has done, and he finds Ganon’s last weak spots that he shoots with his arrows, and then Zelda finally, finally breaks free from the weakened beast, and—

Link watches in complete awe from where he sits on his horse, watching Zelda stretch a hand out towards the beast that is now merely a menacing spirit charging towards her from skyward. On the back of Zelda’s hand, Link sees the sign that he’s seen faintly glow on the back of his own hand a couple of times, except on Zelda’s, the Triforce mark shines even brighter, and from her hand sprouts a light that envelops the demon that almost ended Link’s life a hundred years prior. As the orb of light has enveloped Ganon, it grows smaller, smaller, and then… he’s gone. It’s over.

Zelda slowly descends, and the golden aura surrounding her fades into nothing. All Link can do is stand there and watch as the princess of Hyrule lands on the ground. She has her back turned to him, and Link wonders what expression she’s wearing on her face. Is it one of sorrow? Relief? Happiness? Even though he wants to find out, Link stands still. He’s still taken with shock by the battle that had just ended, and he’s struggling to realise that it all happened and that they actually managed to seal Ganon away.

“I have watched you this entire time,” Princess Zelda begins. “I watched you travel, remember, fight, get hurt, experience victories. And I… I am so glad you are finally here again.”

Zelda turns around, finally, facing Link. “Do you… do you really remember me?”

Link is taken aback by the question, but he does not let it show. He has travelled too far and achieved too many things to let such a question throw him off now. So, in response, Link smiles, and he nods.

“I remember you, Princess.”

There’s still a distance between them, but Zelda is the one who takes the initiative to try and close it. But as soon as she does, she starts to wobble on her feet, which makes Link dart forward without thinking. He manages to catch Zelda just before she falls, and as she looks up at his face, she smiles.

“I have not used my body in a century; I hope you can forgive me.”

 


 

As much as he’d really like to get away from the castle as soon as possible, Zelda insists they give it one last look-through so she can gather a few things. Because, she says, this might be the last time she’ll want to be around the castle for a long time. Which Link understands, given the fact that she’s spent a century trapped inside it with Ganon, and Zelda was obviously born and raised within the castle walls.

Since Zelda hasn’t really used her legs in all those years she spent locked up in the castle with Ganon, Link helps her get around. Sometimes he carries her, sometimes she wants to try and walk on her own, though hold onto Link’s arm for support. It doesn’t matter to Link how long it takes for them to get around the castle, as long as Zelda gets what she wants and needs, that’s what’s important.

It’s very different getting around the castle this time around. Ganon isn’t there anymore, his minions have fled the castle what seems like quite a while ago, and now it’s just Link and Zelda walking around in the very big, empty, and quiet castle. It’s a little eerie, honestly, but Link knows nothing will probably scare him more than Ganon did. And besides, he’s pretty sure he’d be able to deal with a threat should there be one. He doesn’t want to say it out loud, but it feels like they’ll be safe for a while.

From the sanctum, Link and Zelda walk over to her room and her study. Zelda packs a bag full with clothes and other necessities, and that’s about as much time as they spend in that part of the castle. They haven’t said much more than a few words since they had been out on the field following Ganon’s defeat, but it’ll come in time. For now, Link focuses on the task at hand, and that is to finish all of the remaining business they still have at the castle.

As they head through the library, Zelda stops in front of one bookshelf in particular. She stares at it in an odd way, and it makes Link curious.

“Father’s study lies behind here,” Zelda says before Link even has the time to ask. “He wanted to keep it a secret from many, because he didn’t trust people with his notes and general belongings inside his room. So he resorted to hiding it behind this shelf.”

“Have you ever been inside?”

Zelda casts a quick glance Link’s way, and then she turns her attention back to the bookshelf. “Once, when I was little. It was before Mother passed away.”

A little hesitant—because it is the King’s study, and because it feels wrong to snoop around in places belonging to a deceased person—Link takes a step forward, standing next to Zelda. “Do you want to go inside?”

“I would, but I don’t think we can move this shelf so easily.”

Link unhooks the Sheikah slate from his waistband, and he taps the screen. “This thing has a rune for these kind of obstacles.”

Zelda turns to look at the slate, and she gasps. “Of course it does. You know, I’m still very jealous of you for being able to uncover so many of the Sheikah slate’s secrets when I was never able to.” When Link frowns and looks down at the slate, Zelda lets out a little laugh. Link can’t help but think it sounds like music to his ears; it’s been so long since he heard her laugh. “I’m just joking, of course. Go on, use it. I want to see how it works with my own eyes.”

Link nods once, and then Zelda takes a few steps backwards so Link can utilise the magnesis rune on the slate. As it connects, Link slowly begins wriggling the bookshelf loose from where it’s been sitting, and sets it in front of another shelf he’s sure they won’t have to go through. Before them, a room has been unveiled, but Zelda is still staring at the Sheikah slate.

“That’s amazing. I can only imagine how useful it must have been for you.”

“It certainly has,” Link agrees. “There are other functions on it that I wish to show you later, Princess.”

Zelda’s smile fades a little. She turns to face the opening, and then she walks inside. Link follows behind, and is astounded to find that the King’s study has been kept in an immaculate shape all this time. Though, really, it should be, considering how it’s been hidden from both people and most of the rumbling that has been going on for so long. It’s just very strange to see a room in this condition in comparison to the rest of the castle, which has been left in complete ruins.

As Zelda begins exploring her father’s study, Link stands by the entrance, letting her explore on her own. He briefly thinks that this feels so familiar, yet it is so new. How he would always follow Zelda wherever she had to go, or where she wanted to go. It’s strange to think about the fact that he didn’t remember anything not that long ago. He had no idea who Zelda was, had no memories of his past—Link didn’t even know his own name until Zelda spoke it, and he felt that it just sounded so right.

From there, she guided him from afar despite seeming so close. Even in the past, Link now remembers, Zelda would be his guide in many ways—initially unknowingly—and he’s glad to know that, despite a century having gone by, many things have managed to stay the same. It will be tough to figure out just how they pick themselves up and move on from this, but they have to. Not just for the sake of Hyrule, but for themselves, too. Link feels certain he would insult the memory of his dear departed friends if he let himself crumble and fall here, and never get up again.

“Link…”

The sound of Zelda’s voice makes Link turn his attention back to the study, to where she stands by the King’s desk. She’s holding a book in her hands, and as Link looks up to meet the princess’ gaze, he sees that she’s teary-eyed; lower lip trembling ever so slightly despite how hard she so visibly tries to will it away. Before he can think, he’s there by her side, eyebrows lowering into a concerned frown.

“Father’s journal,” Zelda explains. “I now understand why he scolded me so for my interests, for not always heeding his words. He was my father, but he was also the king of Hyrule. I cannot imagine the conflicted feelings he must’ve bore inside. These pages tell me so little yet explain a lot about who my father was. Even if he was the king, he… was my father, and I was his daughter before I was the princess of Hyrule.”

Despite the many things that Link now remembers that he didn’t after waking up in the Shrine of Resurrection, he still doesn’t remember much about his family. The only people who would know are dead, so there’s no one he can ask to find out what happened to them. Of course, they would’ve been dead regardless by this point seeing how an entire century has passed since he last saw his parents and his sister, and Link probably doesn’t want to know exactly what happened to them. It might be for the best that he doesn’t find out, and keeps the few memories he has of his family from getting tainted by what happened to them in the end.

Link doesn’t hesitate when he reaches out to pull Zelda towards himself. He remembers that she doesn’t like to be held, but she stays still in his arms while she cries. She doesn’t let herself show emotions often, as she is supposed to be the strong, independent princess of Hyrule, daughter of King Rhoam. Link remembers seeing Zelda at the funeral of the late Queen, and how she hadn’t shown anything but a face devoid of emotions. The same had went for the king, but Zelda was only five years old when her mother passed away. It would seem more natural that Zelda cried than the opposite, yet… she showed nothing.

Only after having known Zelda for a while did Link figure out that it’s just the way Zelda had to live. With many people’s eyes on her and their expectations weighing heavy on her shoulders, it wouldn’t be appropriate to show herself weak should she rule the kingdom of Hyrule herself one day. The kingdom doesn’t need a queen who can’t control her emotions, what they do need is one who can. That’s the way it’s always been, and the only one who can change these rules now is the princess herself, as she’s the last surviving member of the royal family.

“You know,” Zelda says between sniffles, “this is the first time I’ve cried since… you know, we ran away from the castle.”

Link slowly lowers his eyebrows in concern as he realises what it means. “It must have been tough, Princess.”

“Well, I didn’t have much time for it, as funny as it may sound considering I was trapped for a hundred years. I had to use all of the powers I had to keep Ganon at bay. As time went on, I… forgot the reason why I was in there with him. I just knew I had to keep fighting him so he wouldn’t destroy Hyrule. But I forgot that I went in there when all other options had been exhausted, when everyone was already gone. I had to fight Ganon, because he had killed everyone that I loved.”

“I should have been there to protect you,” Link murmurs, and he clenches his jaw, taking a deep breath. “I failed you, and I did not keep my promise to the King.”

Zelda pulls away a bit to look up at Link, and she wipes away the tears still lingering on her face. “Don’t you dare say you failed us. You… you almost died for us, for Hyrule. There is nothing you have to apologise for, Link. You are the hero who saved us.”

“I could not have done any of it without you, Princess.”

She frowns, and looks away to the side. “… Likewise. We should probably get going.”

As Zelda separates herself from Link, she walks out of the King’s study. Link notes that she still has the book in her hand, but he doesn’t say anything about it. Instead, he follows Zelda through the hallways, passing by many rooms and common areas Link now vividly remembers having been inside, if only briefly. He remembers the big dinners he took part in, alongside the royal family and the other Champions inside the dining hall. He remembers his knighting ceremony where the King officially appointed him as Zelda’s personal knight, and the head of the kings guard. As they make their way outside the castle, Link looks up to the walkway where he and Zelda had stood several times, watching researchers trying to tame and understand the Guardians they had excavated along with the Divine Beasts.

It feels strange to walk away from the castle knowing they probably won’t be back in a long time. They don’t have a concrete plan as for what to do now that Ganon is gone, but it is undoubtedly something they will discuss soon. For now, Link knows they need food, a bath, and to sleep—thankfully, there’s a stable not too far away from here where they can get all three things.

Suddenly, Zelda stops walking. She turns around to face the castle again, and so Link does the same. He doesn’t know why she does it until he looks further up, and then he lets out a gasp in surprise. Five spirits have lined up next to each other with the castle behind them, and they are all looking down at Hyrule’s two heroes with gentle smiles. Even Revali, who rarely smiled unless he was showing sarcasm. The sight makes Link teary-eyed, but he blinks his tears away, and swallows hard.

When Zelda reaches out to grab his hand, Link holds hers back. And then, before they know it, the spirits fade into nothing, and the two are left alone again.

“Rest well,” Zelda says. “You helped us save Hyrule. Thank you, dear Champions. Thank you… Father.”

They turn around again so that they have Hyrule Castle at their backs. Link brings his thumb and index finger to his mouth and makes a whistling sound, and soon enough, his trusty steed Epona comes galloping towards them. Following the battle with Ganon, part of which Link had spent on Epona’s back, she had wandered off, but Link never doubts she will come if he calls for her. He has a few horses in stables all across Hyrule, and they all have their good points, but Epona is the most loyal horse Link has ever encountered. It was strange, because it was almost as if she wanted to be tamed once Link found her. Not once has she given him troubles or thrown Link off her back; Epona’s always been gentle, kind, and patient.

When Epona approaches them, she approaches Zelda first. The princess seems a little surprised, but she does take a step forward and reaches her hand out to let Epona get familiar with her. Slowly, Zelda begins stroking Epona’s muzzle, and Epona lets out a satisfied snort.

“She’s very kind,” Zelda says. “And beautiful. You got very lucky when finding her.”

Link smiles. “I did, indeed. Allow me to help you get up on her back.”

Zelda returns Link’s smile, appearing grateful. “Thank you, I would appreciate that.”

Once they’re both up on Epona’s back, Link gently urges his horse forward, bit by bit leaving Hyrule Castle behind them. He almost gets the urge to look back, but resists. If he is to move forward, he shouldn’t look back, if even just at the castle. It’s different for Zelda, and Link won’t hold it against her if she turns around to look at the place where she grew up. But Link feels like the wounds are still fresh, and that he would feel that the bad memories outweigh the good ones, even though they in reality don’t, thankfully.

To the southeast of the castle lies a stable which Link steers Epona towards. There is no doubt among the people when they arrive that the one before them is the legendary princess who sealed herself away with Ganon to protect Hyrule. And by association, they realise that the man whom they’ve seen pop by stables and towns every now and then named Link is none other than the knight who fell in battle at Fort Hateno shortly before the princess went to the castle. It makes Link uncomfortable to be recognised as someone he technically is no longer, as he is very different from his past self. It also makes him uncomfortable because his past self failed to protect Hyrule, and he doesn’t want people’s opinions of him to be based off what he failed to do a hundred years prior.

It doesn’t seem, however, like the inhabitants at the Wetland stable harbour any ill will or negative feelings towards him now that they know who he really is. Time will tell if the rest of Hyrule will behave the same way around them, but Link mentally prepares himself for a lot of attention turned their way, especially Zelda’s. She, however, is used to a lot of commotion being raised as soon as she takes a step outside of the castle, so maybe she’ll handle it better than Link can ever hope to.

As they finally approach the stable, it’s just about to get dark. The sun has almost set behind the Duelling Peaks in the distance, so they’ve made it to a resting spot at a good time. Link hops off Epona and leads her and Zelda up to Lawdon by the window, who upon just a quick look at Zelda widens his eyes, and then he bows.

“Princess Zelda. Or am I dreaming?”

“You are not,” Zelda says. “I wish there was a good way to explain.”

“No need,” Lawdon says quickly. “I imagine it is a complicated story to tell. It is truly an honour to have you here, of all places.”

“Thank you,” Zelda replies. “Likewise, I would be honoured to be your guest for the night.”

“Of course, of course. We still have a few rooms available. Would you like a double, perhaps?”

“That would be great.”

Link helps Zelda off Epona before a girl working at the stable comes up and offers to take Epona in. Thankful, Link hands over the reins, and then he and Zelda are showed to their rooms. They will be served food in their rooms after their baths, and on the menu tonight there’s a mushroom and meat stew that Link is particularly looking forward to. He hasn’t had a decent meal in what feels like ages, so it’ll be nice to have a hearty bowl of stew for dinner.

Zelda heads off into her own room after she’s assured Link more than once that she’ll be fine on her own ‘if it’s just taking a bath and getting dressed again’. Link doesn’t necessarily distrust her judgment in her own abilities, but he is worried. Nevertheless, Link lets Zelda handle herself, and he sets off into his own room to draw a bath. He places the Master Sword in the corner of the room before getting undressed, and when he’s done, the bath is practically filled. He slowly sinks into the almost scorching hot water with a satisfied sigh, and then Link closes his eyes.

Earlier today, he had just set foot inside the castle courtyards. Now, at the end of the evening, Link has successfully saved Hyrule with the help of its princess. It took them a hundred years to get to this point, but it took merely a day to defeat the monster that had been plaguing Hyrule for that entire century. Of course, it all took years upon years of planning, fighting, growing, and recovering to get to this point, but it was all worth it in the end. It has yet to sink in, and Link figures it’ll take him a while to get used to his new life, but he’s strangely enough looking forward to getting used to things.

Completely relaxed, clean and wearing fresh clothes, Link emerges from his room to just about bump into Zelda outside. She still has a towel around her neck under her hair, rubbing the towel over her hair to help dry it. It feels like Link shouldn’t see the princess like this, like he just breached her privacy and barged into her room despite the fact that she’s outside her room. He clears his throat and averts his gaze to the nearest wall instead.

“How… how was your bath?” he manages to sputter out.

He hears Zelda’s footsteps, and then they stop, just before she responds. A quick glance tells Link she’s standing by a window looking out. “I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time. It was very much needed… for many reasons. I feel more like myself now.”

Link nods once, quickly. “It pleases me to hear that.”

Zelda laughs a little. “You don’t have to be so formal and stiff around me, Link. I’m sure you remember that we used to be quite close a hundred years ago.”

That’s a fact Link can’t deny no matter how much he may try. They had a rocky start, for sure, but at some point, their relationship took a turn for the better, and Zelda had started opening up more to Link. In turn, he had opened up to her, as a result of her often telling him he didn’t have to keep everything to himself. And at the time, Link had found it nice to have someone to talk to who was surprisingly a lot like himself in many ways.

Despite the fact that a hundred years have passed and Link both lost and regained most of his memories, things… are still different now. Now that Ganon is gone for the foreseeable future, now that Zelda has to fulfil her duty as the last member of the royal family and rebuild Hyrule. Things cannot go back to the way they used to be, no matter how much they may want to. Even if the King is not around anymore, Zelda still is, and that means she still has a duty to fulfil beyond sealing Ganon as a princess with powers bestowed upon her from the goddess Hylia herself.

Link clears his throat, and dares to look at Zelda again. “I remember that, yes.”

“Then please don’t act like we are strangers. We have been through too much together to create a gap between us again. Do not make the mistake I once did.”

“… Okay,” Link says. “Forgive me in advance, as my attempts at… acting normal around you may fail time and time again. But I will try, that I can promise.”

Zelda nods, seeming satisfied with his response. “I like that. Now, let us go have dinner? I have been doing nothing but thinking of food since we arrived here.”

 


 

It’s funny and interesting to see how people at the stable behave around someone they’ve just found out is the princess who sealed herself inside Hyrule Castle a hundred years ago to fight the Calamity. Nervousness is something they all have in common; some speak too fast, some apologise profusely for the smallest of things. Link recognises himself in some of it, and realises how hard it must be for Zelda to have to smile through all of it though she most definitely wants to say what she truly feels, which Link knows doesn’t match her facial expression.

He first noticed it back at the castle before they left, and he’s seen subtle hints of Zelda’s true feelings several times since then. Could it be that Zelda has grown tired of her role, that she wants nothing to do with it all now that she is the last surviving member of Hyrule’s royal family? What would she want to do if not rule the kingdom she has all the right to call hers? Could Hyrule survive without someone to rule them, even if it was Zelda?

Dinner is a short and relatively effortless ordeal. The two heroes thank the stable manager for food, and excuse themselves from the dining area. Link takes the opportunity to take Zelda outside to the back, to a place where they won’t be bothered by other people. There’s a little grassy hill with flowers, which is visited by fireflies at night and it overlooks the castle a little bit off in the distance. It makes the little hill seem like a serene place, and that was the first thing Link noticed when he came to this area, as it had been close to nightfall around his arrival.

“Wow,” Zelda says, voice filled with awe. “This is beautiful.”

Link offers Zelda one of his tunics to sit on, and though she hesitates, he insists. The sky is free of clouds, and soon they’ll be seeing nothing but stars above them. It’s still a little warm outside, so they thankfully aren’t in a hurry to get inside anytime soon. Getting a break like this is needed for them both, because they’ll soon be on the road again, and then they might not get many moments like these for a while.

“I must apologise to you for what I asked you when we met again.”

Link looks over to his side, confused by Zelda’s words. “Pardon?”

“I asked you ‘do you really remember me?’ and I knew… I saw in your eyes that I should not have asked such a question. Even if you didn’t, so what? You still came to me. Even if you did, what difference would it make? None.”

It was indeed a tough question to answer, but Link won’t admit that directly to Zelda. He knows he has to understand her side of the whole thing, too. It hasn’t been easy on either of them, this entire time, so Link is quick to forgive any such things coming from Zelda as he cannot even fathom what she has been through when he has done nothing but sleep for a hundred years.

“Then, may I ask why you asked that question?”

Zelda sighs. “Out of pure selfishness? I was afraid that I had all but pulled you out of your century-long sleep and that it still may have been too soon, that maybe you needed more time.”

“If I had gotten more time, then maybe we would not have saved Hyrule when we did. Maybe then it would have been too late.”

“Perhaps,” Zelda says. “There are many things we can now ask ourselves without ever getting the answer. I’m afraid we’ll have to get used to this.”

They have to adjust to living a peaceful life in Hyrule now that the Calamity is gone, for now, but they also have to get used to the negative side of it, the negative aspects that come with the life they’ve led and the experiences they’ve been through. Link, however, wants to be optimistic, carefully so. If they have gotten this far, if they managed to defeat Calamity Ganon, then they should do all right managing to adjust to living life again. At least they aren’t in this alone.

“If I may be so bold, but I must ask,” Link says, and remembers how Zelda had previously asked for him to stop being so formal around her. “You do not seem comfortable whenever I say ‘Princess’. May I ask why?”

Zelda, as expected, doesn’t look Link’s way. She instead looks out towards the castle, and lets her shoulders sink with an exhale. “I’m tired of being Hyrule’s princess. I want to be… me, you know? I have never been allowed to live a normal life, to give into my desires and dreams. The word ‘princess’ reminds me of my duties, of my dull and closed-off life as the heir to the throne.”

Link recalls a conversation he and Zelda had once, a hundred years ago. They were taking shelter from the rain, or at least Zelda was, and she spoke out to him when he was practicing with his sword. She asked him if he would have chosen another path than the one he was destined and expected to walk down, if he really felt he wasn’t fit to be a knight like his father was. It was an obvious nod to her own life, how Zelda tried so hard to fit the role of Hyrule’s princess and the descendant of Hylia. Her attempts were constantly rendered as failures in the end when her powers wouldn’t awaken, and King Rhoam constantly berated her for having interests outside of her royal duties.

No, Zelda has never lived an easy life, and Link can completely understand should she not want to live that life anymore. It’s very likely, however, that she feels conflicted in these wishes, because the choice is only up to her now that the only person who can stop her has passed away a long time ago. Did the King die so that his daughter could denounce the throne and decide to live a life free of royal duties? What will Hyrule do without a Queen to rule them?

“I am, however, well aware of the risks involved in this,” Zelda continues. “It’s just… far too heavy of a burden for me to carry alone. Father knew how to do this, but I don’t.”

“Maybe Impa could help,” Link suggests carefully. “She was closer to you than most, and she is probably the most fitting person you could ask advice from.”

A spark of hope ignites in Zelda’s eyes. “Impa is still alive?”

“She is.”

“Then, yes, we could go see her. I would love to.”

“If you want to, then of course. I do, however, suggest we go to Hateno Village before we see Impa. I have some adjustments I wish to get done to this Sheikah slate to make travel easier for us.”

Zelda tilts her head to the side in curiosity and confusion. “Not that I oppose, but I am intrigued by what this means. Travel? Sheikah slate?”

Link smiles. “How else do you think I made my way across Hyrule in the time I did? Had I not been able to teleport using the slate, I would not have made my way halfway to the castle yet, Zelda.”

“Is it… some sort of teleportation?”

“It is.”

This time, Zelda’s eyes widen, and she hops forward on her knees to sit closer to Link. “I would love to try it.”

“I do not know whether it supports more than one person,” Link says hurriedly so Zelda won’t just snatch the slate away from him and accidentally teleport herself to Akkala or some other faraway place. He knows that she would not know how to get back to him if that happened, and if he’s without a slate… well, the outcome is obvious.

“Who is in Hateno?” Zelda asks, and Link realises the complications that have suddenly arisen regarding a certain ancient researcher in Hateno Village.

“It’s… well, Purah.”

“Purah lives there? Wow, I am so glad she is still alive,” Zelda says with excitement. “We should definitely go see her, and then Impa.”

All of this eagerness makes Link slightly uncomfortable, knowing it won’t be that easy to break it to Zelda that Purah isn’t who she remembers. Purah wanted to keep it a secret from everyone but Link, even her own sister, but it’s inevitable that Zelda will find out soon, too. And how Purah will react to this, Link doesn’t dare to think about.

“We can leave tomorrow after breakfast,” Link says in an attempt to calm Zelda a bit. “Are you sure you are ready to travel again come tomorrow?”

The last thing Link wants is for Zelda to overexert herself so soon after having been freed from her captivity alongside Ganon inside the castle. She was barely able to walk a couple of hours ago, and considering she hasn’t done much walking since then, Link wants to make sure Zelda’s body is capable of doing even the simplest things like walking a smaller distance or other things that require her physical strength.

“I think so. I promise that I will be careful.”

Link nods. “We will be on horseback for most of the day, so we will not walk for long.”

“I should probably try to walk a bit, though. To get used to it again, I mean.”

“Okay,” Link says. “But when you get tired—”

“—we get back on Epona. Got it.”

Link laughs quietly. “Good.”

 


 

As promised, they leave the stable after breakfast the following day. Epona has gotten some well-deserved rest and more treats than Link has ever spoiled her with at once, so he figures she will be good to go all the way down to Hateno Village in a single day. It normally takes Link a lot less time than a day, but now that they are two people on one horse, he doesn’t want to take any dumb risks galloping at full speed when they really don’t have to, this time around. It will take Link some time to get used to how things will fundamentally change from now on; the way he thinks about travelling, fighting off enemies, finding food, et cetera. Of course, Zelda has a lot of readjusting to do as well, though in very different ways.

When they can no longer see the stable, Zelda wants to get off Epona to practice walking again. Link offers support but the princess refuses it, saying she will not learn if she cheats. Many times, Link admires Zelda’s stubbornness and perseverance, though sometimes he worries she takes on too much by not taking a helping hand stretched out to her. He understands that she heavily dislikes being looked down upon, but what Zelda does not know is that often times that isn’t the case—people are simply trying to be helpful. It may also have to do with her royal status, which obviously doesn’t help, either, since Zelda now has come to see it as nothing but a burden and a hindrance.

Zelda stops, suddenly, and so does Link with Epona. She bends down to untie her sandals, and suddenly, she takes them off to walk barefoot. Wide-eyed, Link stares at the odd sight.

“Pr—Zelda?”

She takes a step to the side so that she stands in the grass, and then Zelda smiles. “I wanted to feel grass beneath my feet again. It has been such a long time that I forgot the feeling of something so natural and simple. I realise I have taken many things for granted, this being one of those.”

Link furrows his eyebrows, but doesn’t protest since he knows he has no right to. “I understand. Watch out for bees in the grass.”

Zelda looks up at him, and she snorts a laugh. “That must be the first joke I have heard leave your lips in over a hundred years.”

“It was half a joke.”

“Fifty percent more than what I’m used to. It’s enough, and I promise to be observant.”

Zelda takes a few slow, first steps but soon quickens the pace ever so slightly. It is as if she is a child again and has to relearn the very basics, though it’s very far from reality. The corners of her lips turn up a little, and she looks as if she is experiencing nostalgia. It may seem trivial, but Link knows this is important. It’s important to him, too, that Zelda is finally safe and able to live a normal life, albeit at the cost of many lives. It is something they both have to live with, and while it is tough, they have to, or they’ll never survive. Instead they have to make sure they make the best out of what they now have, what they all fought so hard to achieve.

They continue walking in comfortable silence, save for the sounds coming from nature around them. Birds chirping, leaves rustling on tree branches in the wind, the fast wings of a dragonfly zooming past Link. Then, a sound not at all befitting their surroundings and atmosphere. Link’s ears perk up at the sound, and he instinctively reaches for his bow.

“What was that sound?”

“Bokoblin,” Link replies. “Stay here, I will be right back.”

He hands over the reins to Zelda, and then he crouch-jogs over to where the sound came from. Once again, he hears the sound of a bokoblin, though this time it is screeching. Link fears the worst, and quickens his pace, taking cover behind trees and bushes as he gets closer. Further up ahead, he sees the blue beast standing bent over a person on the ground. Link draws his bow, slowly adjusting his aim to make sure he wastes as few arrows as possible on this.

His index and middle fingers pinch the end of the arrow, and he takes a deep breath to focus better. Once he’s perfectly still and has his arrow in the perfect position, he fires it away. The arrow hits the bokoblin right in the side of its head, and it instantly falls to the ground. Making sure there aren’t any other monsters in the vicinity, Link gets up from his crouching position, and runs over to the collapsed woman on the ground. He lifts his arm and waves in Zelda’s direction to let her know things are okay now, and then he lifts the woman up into his arms, and is relieved when he can feel her pulse.

Link carries the stranger woman over to Zelda and Epona, laying her gently down in the grass to wait until she wakes up. Both Link and Zelda sit down in the grass on the side of the road, and Link reaches for his bag to pull out something to give the woman to eat once she wakes up.

“Will she be okay?”

“I think so. It doesn’t look like she was seriously injured, probably just knocked in the back of the head.”

Zelda lowers her eyebrows slightly, face coloured with worry. “You must have seen this a lot.”

Link shrugs. “I have. You get used to it.”

Too late does he realise that saying it that bluntly might have been a bad idea, but at that point, Link can’t really take back what he’s already said. Instead, the two of them let silence fall as they sit and wait for the woman to wake up. At this point, they’ll make it to Hateno by evening unless they’re on horseback and pick up the pace a bit. Link really doesn’t want to travel like this at night since there are still dangers lurking about after nightfall, and they don’t need more dangers around them.

When the woman utters a sound as she awakes, both Link and Zelda turn their heads. Link prepares for the worst, making sure he knows exactly where his arrows and sword are on his back as the woman opens her eyes.

“Ugh, what happened?”

Zelda leans forward a little, and she smiles warmly. “You’re safe now. How are you feeling?”

The woman’s eyes wander over to Zelda, and she blinks a few times. “I have a bit of a headache, but otherwise I think I’m fine. Where is this?”

“Close to Ash Swamp,” Link replies. “Where were you headed?”

“To the Duelling Peaks stable. Which thankfully isn’t far away.”

“Do you want a ride there?”

The woman sits up, and she shakes her head. “I’ll be fine. Thank you for saving me, I’m forever grateful. I don’t have anything for you to show my thanks, but…”

“Oh, that’s fine,” Zelda says. “All that matters is that you are safe. Are you sure you want to walk back to the stable alone?”

“I do,” the woman says, and she smiles. “I like walking. There aren’t as many monsters around now as there used to be—maybe I just got unlucky.”

It doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to convince her, so Zelda and Link see the woman off as she starts walking back towards the stable. Once she’s disappeared behind the bend, Link gets up from the grass, and stretches a hand out to Zelda.

“Come on. I want to get to Hateno Village before it gets dark.”

Zelda takes Link’s hand, and he pulls her up with ease. “You’re right, and I do, too. When does the inn close in Hateno Village?”

“Oh, we will not be staying at the inn. I have a house in Hateno.”

“You have a house?”

Link smiles. “Yes. Admittedly I have not been back for a while, so the house is probably not in the best shape, but it would be a waste to stay at an inn if there is another place we can stay at, and for free.”

“Well, now you have made me curious. I would love to see this house of yours.”

Zelda gets up on Epona, and so does Link. There are no enemies in sight now that the one bokoblin is dead, so Link can relax a little as they leave Ash Swamp behind them. The good thing about Calamity Ganon being gone is that there probably won’t be any more blood moons bringing back the dead monsters Link has spent too much time on killing, only for it all to be in vain. Now, he can focus on actually defeating them and not have to worry about Ganon’s mysterious powers bringing them back.

It’s a little difficult to start conversation back up after what happened, but after a little while, it isn’t as stilted anymore. Link feels a bit of relief over the fact that they can just be themselves, that they can talk about anything and everything without having to worry about duties and oncoming horrors and dangers. It’s so new, but so exciting and exhilarating at the same time. New doesn’t have to be scary and make you have to be alert, it can actually be exciting, too.

Link doesn’t think about it at first because he barely notices it, but once Zelda’s grip on his tunic tightens, Link slows Epona down to a halt.

“Is something the matter?”

Zelda doesn’t respond immediately, and her grip is still as tight. Link wonders if maybe he should get off Epona so that he can see Zelda properly, maybe try and decipher what it is what she wants to say based on her facial expressions. But he can’t quite find it in him to hop off, because he gets the feeling Zelda doesn’t want him to.

“I was not prepared for us returning here. Of course we would have to if we are going to Hateno Village.”

Link looks out over the field expanding around them inside the now mostly destroyed walls of Fort Hateno. He looks at the decayed guardians all around them, and remembers the moment when most of them had been shut down by Zelda’s power, how it had been the last thing he saw before he collapsed and nearly died. He remembers Zelda’s fading voice calling his name over and over, until he no longer heard it and anything else, for that matter.

“I apologise. I could have thought of a way around.”

Zelda loosens her grip on his tunic a little, but she doesn’t let go. “It’s okay. I know we have to deal with this, face all of these things now. And maybe it’s for the best so that we one day can move past it. It’s just… tough to think about.”

“I understand.”

Zelda laughs, but Link hears the complete lack of humour in it. “You almost died protecting me, and all I could do was watch you close your eyes in my arms. It’s the worst thing I have ever experienced, and I still have nightmares of that day.”

Link looks down at his hands gripping the reins. Slowly, he loosens the grip of his right hand, and places it over Zelda’s hand still gripping to the fabric of his tunic. “I know this may not be of any sort of solace, but… I am here now, Zelda. I am here thanks to you.”

“And I’m here thanks to you.” She sighs. “Maybe if I had not antagonised you for as long as I did, maybe we could have prevented most of—”

“Please do not think that way,” Link interrupts. “There was nothing we could do. Trust me, it took me a long time to come to terms with that fact, despite the King’s efforts to try and make me accept it sooner.”

“When you talked atop the Temple of Time?”

It catches him off-guard for a moment that Zelda knows, but then he remembers that she’s seen most everything that happened after he left the Shrine of Resurrection. Hell, she probably watched over him for all of those years he spent in there sleeping and recovering, too; it wouldn’t surprise him.

“Yes.”

“You had barely just gotten out of the Shrine of Resurrection at that point, Link. In no way could I or anyone else have expected you to accept those cruel consequences so soon.”

“Then the same goes for you. I know you have barely had any time to think of anything but the task at hand when you were in the castle for all those years. It is the same for you, Zelda.”

She seems to hesitate for a second before she replies, which she does after what sounds like a sigh of resignation. “I suppose so.”

They continue riding through and eventually out of Fort Hateno. Once they’re out, Zelda surprisingly urges Link to quicken Epona’s pace, so he does. He assumes she’s probably just tired and wants to reach their destination faster, which he does, too, of course. Link really hopes that Purah can make it possible for them to both use the Sheikah Slate to travel, because it would make things so much easier and save a lot of time. Even though they have all the time they could possibly want and need, travelling for hours on end isn’t always the most fun way of spending time.

Finally, Link sees the arch outside Hateno Village in front of them, and a smile automatically grows on his lips. He slows Epona down to a trot upon entering the village as to not wake the villagers, most of who are asleep at this hour. It’s almost pitch dark out by now, so Link decides to leave the introduction of Zelda to the villagers for the next day. For now, he can’t wait to be back in his own bed to sleep.

They turn the corner to where the shrine is, and cross the bridge. Zelda gasps as they get closer to the house.

“This is your old house, isn’t it?”

“It is. I had no idea it was until the memories of it came back to me. This house was actually up for demolition, but I managed to save it.”

“Why was it going to be demolished? It’s your house.”

Link hops off Epona and leads her to the little stable behind his house. He takes Zelda’s hand again and helps her off the horse.

“It had stood here uninhabited for a long time, for obvious reasons. The villagers didn’t know who it belonged to as they had all moved there after I left for the castle. Since no one else was interested in buying it, they didn’t see the reason why it should just stand there.”

“But you bought the house off them in the end.”

Link laughs a little. “Yes. In the nick of time, actually; Bolson and—well, the construction company responsible for the buildings in this village were standing ready with their sledgehammers when I walked by. So I bought the house off them and subsequently rebuilt it.”

Zelda looks up at the house, and Link can’t help but smile at the expression of awe on her face. “That is quite the story to tell, I imagine.”

That isn’t even half the story, but Link decides to save the rest for later. For now, they need sleep, so Link leads Zelda inside the house, and they start getting ready to go to bed. Link realises a little too late that they will have to share his bed. If the thought had even entered his mind a hundred years ago, he’s sure that the King would have sent a Sheikah after him to have him killed for it. The mere concept of the princess and her knight sleeping in the same bed has always been unthinkable and impossible.

But now, it is completely up to them, and that scares Link a little more than if it hadn’t been their choice.

Zelda takes the liberty of giving herself a tour around the house as Link puts their bags away and prepares a washbowl so that they can wash up before bed.

“Please do not take this the wrong way,” Zelda says as she walks up the stairs. “But it doesn’t look like you were in charge of the décor.”

“I suppose I should take that as a compliment.”

In truth, Bolson was in charge of most of it. Whenever they’d finished refurbishing the house, Bolson had been so overjoyed with how good it came out that he offered Link some furniture and decorations for free. Which was good, honestly, because the whole house ordeal in general had been very expensive. When it was all done, though, Link couldn’t really be upset about how much money he poured into it, because the house is impeccable now. Even better than it was a hundred years ago, which he never would’ve imagined.

“You definitely sh—oh, Link. I had no idea you had this saved.”

“Hm?”

Link looks up to where Zelda stands on the loft, and sees what she’s looking at. He walks up the stairs to join her, and looks at the framed photo of himself, Zelda, and the four Champions Urbosa, Revali, Mipha, and Daruk. He thinks back to when Kass had presented him with the photo, when the memory of that moment came back to him. Things were so promising, it seemed like they were really going to succeed in conquering Ganon, and yet, they had no idea what kind of dark powers Ganon actually possessed, what he was capable of doing. And that spelled the demise of all but two people present in the photo now hanging up on the wall by Link’s bed.

He glances at Zelda by his side, and clears his throat to speak again. “A dear friend gave it to me; it was something he found hidden in between his teacher’s notes. I hung it up here not only because it is a fond memory, but also to make sure I do not forget them or you again.”

“Did your friend know them?”

Link shakes his head. “Do you remember the court poet, Merth? He was that teacher.”

Zelda raises her eyebrows, and hums. “Oh. Of course I remember Merth, yes. Will we be able to see your friend anytime soon? I would love to meet them.”

“We can absolutely go see Kass. He lives in Rito Village.”

“Ah, so he is a Rito. I would love to go back there, as well as other places we must revisit.”

“You are not concerned about how far away Rito Village is?”

Zelda laughs. “No, of course not. We have all the time we could possibly need now, why should I be concerned?”

Time is a strange concept. Many times, Link felt like it would take him forever to get to Zelda in the castle, but the ghosts of the Champions would encourage him and tell him to think of things differently, whenever he met his old friends inside of their Divine Beasts. Now that it’s all over, however, Link has to get used to the fact that they do have all the time they need, and more. There’s no need to rush, no need to worry, at least for the time being. When it comes to it, that will be the time to start worrying. But now, Link and Zelda deserve a break.

Link glances over at his bed, and he feels his heart skip a beat in nervousness. “You can take the bed, Zelda. I will sleep downstairs.”

“On what?” Zelda asks, looking confused.

“The chairs. I will use a few pillows and a blanket to make it a little easier to sleep on.”

Zelda looks like she’s about to say something, especially with the way she partly opens her mouth, but she seems to regret it as she seals her lips once again, and looks back up at the photograph on Link’s wall. He takes this as his cue to leave her to it, and he descends the stairs to get ready for bed.

Shortly after he’s finished his unusual sleeping arrangements for the night, Zelda returns from having washed up. She bids him goodnight, and heads back upstairs. Link sits and listens until he hears that Zelda has fallen asleep, and then, he goes to get some rest, as well. It’s still a little strange to have someone with him when he travels, and especially for that person to be the one he set out to save in the first place. It may be strange, but it’s definitely a nice change from being alone most of the time.

Link has only just about fallen asleep when he hears Zelda talking in her sleep. He lifts his head up and only then realises she isn’t talking—she’s crying. Link slowly gets up as to not wake her, and then he quickly makes his way up the stairs. As soon as he kneels by Zelda’s side, she gasps, opens her eyes wide, and Link watches as tears start falling down her cheeks.

“Link, I… I’m—”

Link eyes the bed and then looks back at Zelda for confirmation. Her panicked expression slowly fades, and then she nods without saying anything. She does, however, move further in towards the wall so that Link fits beside her. Link puts his own panicking thoughts aside regarding whether or not this is okay, and instead just does what the princess wants and needs. She needs someone close, and Link is the only one around to offer that closeness Zelda has lacked for most of her life.

Once he’s lying down next to Zelda, he notices how her tense body slowly relaxes. It goes against everything he’s ever been taught, forgot and then remembered, but it’s what he knows Zelda needs, so Link wraps an arm around her middle from behind to assure her that she isn’t alone and that if she has another nightmare, that’s all it is. She will wake up to the safety of being in the arms of the knight who once risked his life to save hers.

Things are definitely different now, and they have things they need to both overcome and learn to live with; this is just one of those. In time, their wounds will heal even though the memories will remain of what once transpired all those years ago, and even after.

 


 

The next morning, Link is glad he didn’t sleep on the chairs down in his dining area, because he now wakes up fairly well-rested and without an ache in his body. He is startled for the first moment of waking up when all he sees is golden hair. He connects it to Zelda and then realises he sleeps in the same bed as the princess of Hyrule, and for that one moment, all is chaos and Link fears for his life more than he ever has before. But then he remembers the terrors Zelda suffered through the night before that prompted this unusual sleeping arrangement, and he calms down a little.

It is, however, still very nerve-wracking to be lying in bed wearing very little clothing next to the princess who does the same. He swallows hard, and turns to lie on his back and stare up at the ceiling. Link is still glad he managed to save this house, his house, before Bolson and his workers hammered it to the ground for good. Had Link not realised this was the house he lived in before he left for the castle, things would have been different, but Link may have still ended up wanting to save the house from demolition just to have a place of his own.

While Zelda is still asleep, Link sneaks out to make them some vegetable soup for breakfast. To make it a little bit more filling, he also makes mushroom rice balls to go with it. The location of his cooking pot is ideal because it’s placed directly under a tree, so it doesn’t matter if it rains, because the tree protects the fire under the pot from going out if Link is cooking. The weather is nice right now, but still a little chilly considering how early it is.

Link thinks about the night before, how raw, honest, and open of a moment it had become out of Zelda’s nightmare. Too much for Link to share with someone like her. It was way out of line even though Link felt like Zelda needed it. He shakes his head and attempts to get it out of his head, hoping Zelda has forgotten about it when she wakes up from her sleep so that they can easily leave it behind them as they go to see Purah later that day.

As if Zelda can read his mind—which, from the point of waking up in the Shrine of Resurrection to him having rescued Zelda, Link has often been thinking she can—she comes out of Link’s house, looking like she didn’t have a nightmare last night. It puts Link at ease a bit as he attempts to greet her normally.

“Good morning,” he says. “There is breakfast if you want. I made soup and rice balls.”

Zelda approaches the pot over the fire, and sits down on her knees by it. “That sounds great; I would love to have some of both.”

They both sit down to eat in the grass as the air around them starts warming up with the sun rising over the mountaintops in the distance. Link enjoys having breakfast early in the morning like this, sitting outside and witnessing the world waking up around him. Wildlife start poking their heads out from various hiding places, birds fly out of their nests, Hateno Village just across the bridge starts to slowly bustle with life as its inhabitants wake up for the day. Most notably, Link hears Nebb and Narah laughing loudly as they’re probably chasing each other, as they often do whenever Link visits the village.

Many times during his travels, Link felt… lonely. He would come across stables every now and then where he would spend the night and meet a few people, but whenever he was out and about on horseback or otherwise, Link was all by himself. Whenever strangers would approach him on the road, they were Yiga, and whenever they turned out to not be a Yiga soldier, Link had already scared them away with how apprehensive he was, and still is.

But whenever Link returned to Hateno Village, he was home. People greeted him, talked to him, asked about his experiences, shared their own stories. After a while, he would have his own house to call home with a sign outside telling outsiders that he now has a place where he belongs. Having initially been suspicious of Link, the villagers grew accustomed to him and got to know him, and vice versa. Link realises that Zelda has had a similar experience of being alone, and for a lot longer than he has. She spent a hundred years trapped inside a castle holding back the Calamity from getting out and crushing Hyrule to rubble.

He glances at Zelda by his side, and then looks down into his half-empty bowl of soup before he shakes his head. Things are different now, they aren’t alone anymore, and they will get used to their new reality in time.

“Link?”

Startled by Zelda’s voice abruptly piercing the silence long after they have finished breakfast, Link looks back at Zelda again. “Yes?”

“Thank you for last night. I do not think I would have been able to fall back asleep had you not been there.”

He averts his gaze, and nods curtly. “I should have handled it differently, but I am glad you found my presence calming.”

“What do you mean? You handled it exactly the way I needed you to.”

Link opens his mouth, but closes it again and clenches his teeth, tightening his jaw. “It does not matter. We should head for Purah’s laboratory soon.”

He gets up from his spot in the grass, but Zelda grabs his wrist before he is able to move away. “Why are you so distant all of a sudden, Link? What happened?”

“I stepped out of line, and it was unacceptable. You would do best to forget it happened, Princess.”

“Do not call me ‘princess’ and then tell me what to do, Link. We have already been over this; I do not wish for us to revert to our old roles as the princess and her knight. What more do I have to tell you so you will understand?”

Link just barely hinders a sigh from rushing out of his lungs past his lips. “It is not that easy, Princess. You cannot just say things are one way and then they will magically become so.”

“They can if we want to. Do you not want us to be equal?”

“It does not matter what I want, because I cannot make those decisions.”

Zelda scoffs, but Link does not dare look at her. This is only for the best; they aren’t supposed to be close other than strictly in the terms of the princess and her knight appointed to her by the king, her father. Link does not want to think about what the king and other people in the castle would think if they saw him and Zelda as they are now, as they were last night. Too close, erroneous, way out of line. It doesn’t matter that Zelda was having a bad dream, Link could have just sat by her side until she fell back asleep. A moment of self-indulgence and poor judgment put Link in the same bed as his princess, and it should not  happen again.

“The only one who could make those decisions was the king, and he is dead, Link. My father and the Champions sacrificed their lives so that we could be here today. Trust me when I say that it isn’t easy for me to accept this fact, but it is still a fact. As the deceased king’s daughter I am the ruler of Hyrule, and I can—”

“But you do not wish to be.”

A brief moment of silence passes before Zelda speaks again, and Link is still too afraid to look at her and see what facial expressions she is making to accompany her speech. “I don’t, but then isn’t it like you said? ‘It does not matter what I want, because I cannot make those decisions’. I am still the regent of Hyrule, and by your philosophy I should be so until the day I draw my last breath. And if so, I get to dictate the rules by which you, as the stubborn knight who refuses to leave that role in the past where it belongs, have to abide.”

Zelda presents a very valid point that Link cannot refute no matter how hard he searches his brain for an argument. They are now in charge of their own fate and lives, now that the kingdom of Hyrule has fallen. It is up to them what they want to do with it, and Zelda has made up her mind. She wants it once way, Link may want it another, but he cannot give himself the pleasure of having it his own way. Despite the memories Link lost and retrieved along the way, some things didn’t get lost over the century he spent recovering in the Shrine of Resurrection. His determination to stick to what he knows is one of those, and he doesn’t know if it’s okay to just leave it behind.

Zelda stands up, as well, and she lets go of Link’s hand. The resignation in her facial expression is hard to miss. “I wish you would have at least answered my question.”

Link bites the inside of his lip as he watches Zelda return inside the house. He goes out back to wash their dishes, and then he goes to give Epona some attention and affection. She leans closer as Link embraces her neck, and he screws his eyes tightly shut for a few moments while taking a deep breath. Epona moves a little, and then she snorts, but she stays still in the same spot. It’s strange how she seems to understand him though no words have been spoken, which Link is grateful for. He doesn’t really know how he would verbalise his thoughts, anyway.

After a little while, Link steps back, and leaves Epona to eat her breakfast as he walks back to his house with heavy steps. He’s glad they’re seeing Purah before Impa, because even if she’s the younger sister, Impa is far more terrifying and Link doesn’t want to anger her even in the slightest. Purah will definitely scold him, but there’s just something about the fact that she looks like a six-year-old that makes Link less scared of her.

Before leaving, Link switches his bag out for a sturdier and bigger backpack he bought from a travelling merchant not that long ago. Since they’re going up to see Purah at her lab, Link packs a bunch of ancient parts. They will probably be back at the house before they continue to Kakariko Village, so Link leaves most things at the house for now.

Few words are exchanged between Zelda and Link before they get up on Epona and make their way up the hill to the lab. Link is really in a bind here, because as much as he knows their relationship should stay professional, he doesn’t want things to be like this. They could have reached a different point at which maybe they might be at odds but still be able to cooperate and talk to each other. Now, Link is unsure that they can do either of those things.

As they finally see the laboratory tower in front of them, Link realises he has yet to prepare Zelda for what she is about to witness. How he does that without adding onto the tension and foul mood between them is beyond him, but Link has to say something, regardless.

“I must tell you about Purah before we go see her,” he begins carefully. “As you are aware, she conducts a lot of experiments. One of such she has performed on herself, which… resulted in her becoming younger.”

“… younger?”

“A lot younger. I wish to prepare you for this before we enter the lab, because you will not recognise Purah from a hundred years ago.”

“I see. Has she aged back mentally, too?”

Link finds the question somewhat humorous, but he doesn’t laugh. “No. She is still the same as she was back then. Like an old lady trapped in the body of a child.”

This time, Zelda actually laughs. “I cannot wait to see this.”

Already before they’ve entered the lab, Link hears Purah and Symin argue on the inside as they get off Epona by the entrance. He gives Zelda a quick look before he knocks on the door and opens it.

“… not possible with our current funds, Dr. Purah.”

“Of course it is, you just have to be a little flexible! It’s—oh god. Oh no.”

Purah’s attention turns to her two new guests, one of whom she hasn’t seen in a century. Link glances at Zelda by her side whose eyes are widened, and then he looks back at Purah who looks ten times as shocked and terrified,

“… Purah?” Zelda asks as if she’s unsure of the name she just uttered. “Is that really you?”

Purah hops down from the chair on which she stood as she was arguing with Symin. She runs off to hide behind a pillar, exactly like a child would do, and it causes Link to laugh out loud despite his efforts to try and keep it in.

“This isn’t funny, Linky! Why have you brought Zelda here?!”

“I thought you would be glad to see her alive and well after all this time. I also have a favour to ask of you.”

Purah growls like a little puppy, and she narrows her eyes. “You shouldn’t be so good at deceiving and manipulating people like this. Who taught you?”

“Is that not beside the point? We should focus at what is at hand, don’t you think?”

Purah looks conflicted, but after she’s given Link a death glare, she comes out from behind her hiding place, and suddenly breaks into a sprint towards Zelda. The princess gets down on her knees just in time to catch Purah in her arms.

“I’m so glad you’re here, Zelda. This… this is quite a complicated story to tell, but I assume Link’s already told you most of it.”

Zelda pulls back a little to look at her not-so-old friend, and she smiles. “Indeed.”

Link clears his throat. “Excuse me, Purah.”

“Oh yes, you wanted something again. What is it?”

“Is there a way you can make the Sheikah Slate capable of transporting two people? Is it possible?”

Purah wriggles out of Zelda’s embrace, and walks over to Link. She puts her hand out, and Link hands over the Sheikah Slate that she then proceeds to take to her Guidance Stone. When inserted, a soft, orange glow covers the entire downstairs portion of the lab, and the Guidance Stone makes a noise to confirm the slate.

“I need various ancient materials, of course, but most importantly a giant core.”

Link raises his eyebrows. “You can do it?”

“I can. Do you have what I need?”

Link opens his backpack and presents Purah with the ancient material he had in his bag from before. He does lack a giant ancient core, however, but knows exactly where to get one.

“I will be right back,” he says. “I will go and get you a core.”

Link receives the Sheikah Slate from Purah again, and opens the map to find the shrine where he first obtained the bomb rune. Just outside of it sits a smaller guardian from which Link can get what he needs, so he lifts his hand in a little wave before he presses the icon of his destination, and then he’s off.

The area around Ja Baij Shrine is calmer now than it was the first time Link visited, at which point he was still not confident in his Guardian slaying skills. Now that he is, Link has no problem walking up to the guardian and shooting its eye with an arrow to stun it. While the Guardian is stunned, Link uses a sword to weaken it to the point where the Guardian stops moving, and then Link gets to work.

He picks off parts of the iron plate shell using an axe as leverage. Bit by bit, the Guardian comes apart, and inside it, Link finds more than what he needs, but packs it into his backpack, anyway. Maybe Cherry can provide him with a few materials using all of this if they swing by Akkala. If they’re able to both travel using the Sheikah Slate, travelling all that way won’t be a problem.

In the corner of his eye, Link spots a Bokoblin, but he isn’t too worried nor in a hurry to get away from it. He continues methodically disassembling the Guardian, pocketing parts he’ll either need now at the lab in Hateno or later on at Robbie’s. After all this time, Link learnt how to successfully deflect blasts from Guardians and easily taking them out, not to mention disassembling them to get their parts. It makes him wonder if he would’ve had a better chance at Ganon all those years ago if he’d had all this knowledge and gear he now possesses. Would things really have turned out for the better at that point if they had actually been ready for what was to come?

Once the Bokoblin runs up close, Link turns to the side, quickly drawing his bow and firing a single arrow that hits the enemy in its head, effectively killing it. Link hops down from the Guardian, putting on his backpack again and taking the Sheikah Slate off his belt. A few taps later, and Link is already on his way back to the lab in Hateno Village. A few blinks later, and his feet touch the ground of the Travel Gate right outside. It took some time for him to get used to how fast he can travel across the entirety of Hyrule, not to mention the slightly nauseating feeling of being temporarily disembodied in teleportation, and then ‘reassembled’ upon reaching the destination. Now, though, Link doesn’t think much of it, which is nice.

“There he is! Speedy delivery as always, Linky.”

Link enters the lab and walks over to Purah. She grins widely when he hands over the parts and the ancient core she needed for the slate’s upgrade. Once all parts are in place, Link hands over the Sheikah Slate again so that Purah can work her magic, whatever it is she does.

Upon looking around, Link notes that Zelda is nowhere to be found. Symin is admiring the collection of books on their shelves as he tends to do, and Link had expected Zelda to either be with him or Purah when he returned, but Zelda is with neither. He knows Purah and Symin wouldn’t just let her wander off now that she’s finally back and still alive after everything she’s had to endure for so long. Even so, Link can’t help but feel slightly worried.

“Where is Princess Zelda?” he asks.

Purah turns her head slightly, and she offers him a mischievous smirk. “Well, well. Considering how you two were when you first entered, I wouldn’t have thought you cared about where she would wander off to.” When Link furrows his eyebrows and gives Purah a look, she lifts her hands up in a surrendering gesture, laughing. “She’s out back, admiring the view over the village. Don’t worry; both Symin and I warned her not to go off anywhere without someone to accompany her. She wasn’t too happy about it, but she obeyed nevertheless.”

Now that Link knows where Zelda is, he exhales a sigh through his nose, and relaxes his shoulders. He decides, however, not to go out and look for her, because Zelda might need a little space after their argument that morning. Link has already pushed things pretty far, he doesn’t need to make things worse. He knows they won’t be able to see eye to eye on many things, the tricky part is learning to live with it and being able to move on from it. Finding a way around it, somehow, which won’t be easy—but they kind of have to.

Instead of going after Zelda, Link takes a seat and watches Purah work with the Sheikah Slate on the Guidance Stone, and the two converse about all sorts of things in between. Sometimes, Symin joins in, but he eventually returns to either dusting off parts of the lab or taking down a book from the shelves to flip through. Link has never met anyone who loves books as much as Symin does, but he finds it strangely endearing and impressive that someone is able to take the time out of their day to read as much as Symin does.

“Linky.”

He turns his attention from the Guidance Stone to Purah, whose hands have suddenly stopped working. He’s never seen Purah this serious before, and it can only mean one thing. He wonders briefly just how long he had been gone if Zelda and Purah have already talked about things that much.

“I think you should go out and talk to Zelda again. You don’t want to leave here and head to Kakariko being annoyed with each other, trust me.”

Link lowers his eyebrows again, and looks down at his hands. “I do not know what to say or do to make her happy.”

“It seemed like things were fine until this morning. Why can’t you continue down that path?”

“It is a very sudden change,” Link says. “I cannot just change overnight.”

Purah hums. “Sounded to me like you didn’t want to change.”

“I do not know what I want,” Link replies honestly.

“Then tell her that. That’s a lot better than what she told me you said this morning. She’ll probably understand and give you time to figure things out. Don’t just leave her hanging, give her some sort of answer. Even if you don’t think it’s what she’ll want to hear.”

Link huffs, and shrugs. “I understand. Thank you, I… I will do that.”

“Honestly, it really isn’t a sudden change, Link—it’s been over a hundred years.”

Purah laughs after that, and Link can’t help but smile a little. He nods at her, and then gets off his chair to head out back to look for Zelda. He knows there’s a risk she doesn’t want company, but if he prolongs this, it’ll only get worse between them. Link isn’t the best at communicating, but he’s trying to get better, and while this isn’t the best opportunity to get in some practice—he still has to do it somehow and sometime. Better late than never, perhaps.

Around the back is where Link was once sent by Symin to photograph sunshrooms with the newly updated Sheikah Slate. More mushrooms have popped up since, as well as flowers and other things. The very top of the hill where the lab is located is a peaceful, quaint place, quite a bit away from the village and noise other than sounds coming from nature itself. It’s ideal for a place where researchers have taken up residency and are working every day, because the distractions are next to none.

Link takes a look around the immediate area, but he doesn’t see Zelda, so he continues down the hill towards the forest. The closer he gets down into the forest, the lighter Link’s steps become. There’s a lot of wildlife living in this forest; deer, squirrels, birds, foxes. He doesn’t want to scare them away, but he also hopes that the more dangerous animals haven’t gotten close to Zelda, because that might mean he has to do something he would rather avoid right now.

He finds Zelda sitting on a little rock, facing away from him. She’s petting a deer, somehow having gotten it to come to her, and it’s a strangely beautiful sight with the sunlight streaming in through the leaves on the trees. Link stops and hides himself behind a tree so that he doesn’t scare the deer away, and he just allows himself to take in the scene in front of him. Though he can’t see the facial expression Zelda bears, he can tell that she’s happy. It’s a relief to see a moment like this when most of the time they’ve spent together since they left the castle has been anything but happy.

The deer bows its head and walks away from Zelda, back into the forest. Link makes sure the deer doesn’t spot him by crouching down and hiding in the taller grass. When the deer has safely left, he stands up again and starts making his way towards Zelda. A small branch breaks beneath his foot, and the sound makes Zelda turn to look his way. Link expects her to react negatively, but instead she barely reacts at all. She probably expected him to come after her, as he always used to do even when she had told him not to.

Suddenly Link loses the ability to think and speak. Every thought he had conjured up until this point vanished into thin air, and it almost feels like he hasn’t given this any thought at all. But the truth is that Link hasn’t been able to stop thinking about just what to say to Zelda since the very second their argument had faded out into silence earlier that morning. Purah’s encouragement has definitely helped him get the courage needed, and he thought he had a few sentences ready, but now Link realises that even if he had, they’re all gone and he no longer knows what to say now that Zelda is right there in front of him again.

“Prin—er… Zelda,” he begins as clumsily as he feared it would come out. “I know you longer want to be Hyrule’s princess, even less so do you want to become its queen. I wish for you to understand that I, despite this, cannot change as quickly as you.”

Zelda looks back at him, and her facial expression is still impossible for Link to read. Anything he says at this point may very well worsen their relationship and maybe even make it impossible for them to continue travelling together like they have been, both before and after the Calamity. If they cannot agree on things, a companionship is impossible.

Companionship?

“Maybe you can’t,” Zelda says, “but the question is whether or not you want to. If you want to, I want you to let me help you.”

Link furrows his eyebrows lightly, and casts his gaze downward. “It might mean a lot of work.”

“I don’t care, Link. I have more patience than you may think; remember, I was stuck in a castle for over a hundred years. It taught me a lot.”

“I… I know this. But I—”

“Are you not even in the least bit interested in trying out something new, something unfamiliar to you? I understand your hesitance because of the horrors you have faced, but as we have already established a few times—things are very different now. Maybe I want to return the favour and attempt to protect you for once.”

Link raises his eyebrows in sheer surprise, and Zelda probably realises the meaning behind the words she just spoke, as she clears her throat and looks away for a brief moment. The distance between them is bothersome, Link realises, and only just recently had he wanted it to only grow so that they wouldn’t become too close.

“… Do you?”

“Yes,” Zelda replies. “I am tired of being the helpless princess who cannot do anything on my own and instead have to rely on others to do things for me, to save me. I want to be useful in ways other than to rule a kingdom.”

Finally, Zelda gets up from where she sits, and Link dares take a few steps closer. There is still some distance between them now, but it feels a little better knowing they closed some of that distance, finally.

“What I cannot do, I want you to teach me. Teach me to fight, to defend myself. Ganon may be gone, but we may still not be safe forever. We should both be able to fight the way you can, the way you have learnt to fight.”

Link exhales a long sigh, and he nods once, slowly. “Okay.”

“’Okay’?”

“If that is your wish, then I will teach you.”

Zelda smiles—finally, she smiles. “Thank you.”

Things have changed, and Link knows he has to get used to it. He can’t always have it his own way, he has to compromise, too, and agree to things he may not be too fond of if they are for the greater good, in the end. He has to admit that this is for the greater good; having Zelda know how to fight and defend both herself and the both of them is only a good thing. Zelda once saved his life, so Link at least owes her the time out of his day to teach her what he has been taught and what he taught himself in order to survive.

The two return back to the lab, and Purah notices the change in atmosphere between Zelda and Link, so she takes the opportunity to tease them a little.

“There’s something else,” Purah says. “The upgraded Sheikah Slate!”

“What did you manage to do with it?” Zelda asks, and Purah raises a playful eyebrow, grinning.

“Oh, you’d be so surprised, dear Zelda. Now the slate can transfer the physical mass of not only one but two people at once. You don’t have to spend days travelling anymore!”

Link steps forward and looks down at the slate, and he notes that the interface on it seems slightly different. Purah continues rambling on about the technical stuff on it, and Zelda appears to try her best to keep up with it all, which Link finds hilarious. There’s definitely an art to mastering the facial expressions that fool Purah into thinking you understand what she’s talking about, and Zelda still has some left to learn in that regard.

“Thank you,” Link says. “As fast and efficient as always.”

Purah giggles. “Oh, Linky, you’re too kind. Go on, get out of here and start adventuring. I bet you’re anxious to get to my sister.”

Zelda bends down to give Purah a hug. “Thank you, Purah. We will definitely make sure to visit again sometime soon.”

“Oh, I know you will. About this feature, though; you will have to maintain physical contact while travelling for it to work, or one of you will be left behind somewhere along the way. Which obviously wouldn’t be fun, because then that person is left without the slate, and has a long way of travelling ahead of them.”

Link looks up carefully, clearing his throat. “Physical contact?”

“Just a simple touch will do. Grabbing onto a wrist, holding hands, you name it. The entire hand has to touch the other person, that’s the only thing you have to think about. Not too difficult.”

It really isn’t all that difficult, and very convenient. Even in dire situations it shouldn’t prove too hard to pull off, so Link is happy Purah was able to tweak the feature to work in such a way. She really is a scarily talented scientist, that’s for sure.

“Now, be off—we have some important researching to do. Like how to age me up again but maybe not to a hundred and twenty…”

Purah’s voice fades into a mumble, so Link takes the cue to pick up the Sheikah Slate from the Guidance Stone and lead Zelda out of the lab. Once they’re outside, he looks down at the slate again, and marks Kakariko Village for travel. Zelda looks down at it by his side, too, and she hums, sounding impressed.

“You really have been all over Hyrule with this thing.”

Link shrugs. “Some places may not have been necessary for me to visit, but I happened to stumble upon them.”

“Do they only show up on the map once you’ve been there?”

“Yes, but we can only travel to places which have travel gates that this slate can connect to, which means the shrines and towers.”

“There are a lot of shrines around the kingdom, though.”

“Over a hundred, I believe.”

Zelda whistles. “The fact that you managed to visit them all in such a short amount of time before rushing the castle is amazing.”

“Hm,” Link says. “Oh, I should warn you before we travel that it may make you feel a little sick for the first few times until you get used to it. It is a little… uncomfortable.”

Zelda grabs onto his wrist. “I’ve probably experienced worse. Let’s go see Impa.”

Link glances quickly at Zelda by his side, but he doesn’t say anything else. He marks the travel gate just outside the fairy fountain in Kakariko Village on the map, and then taps it to teleport them to where Impa is. It takes but a second, but the very moment their feet touch ground at Ta’loh Naeg’s shrine, Zelda falls to her knees.

“I… I know you warned me, but that… was definitely something else.”

Link immediately crouches and reaches a hand out to her. “You will get used to it.”

“I know. Is there a trick to getting used to it faster?”

“… No.”

Zelda laughs, surprisingly, and she shrugs before she takes Link’s hand. “Oh, well.”

Link pulls out a flask with water out of his backpack, and offers it to Zelda once she’s back on her feet. She takes a few sips and hands it back, sighing.

“Let’s go. I’m really excited to see Impa again.”

 


 

They descend the hill from the shrine, and walk into the village down below. The people who see them bow to Zelda as they walk past, but they are respectful enough not to stop Link and Zelda. The Sheikah have definitely heard of, and noticed, the fall of Calamity Ganon, so it would probably be expected that they were to see the princess back in Kakariko Village shortly after to see a dear old friend of hers.

Link leads Zelda up the steps to Impa’s house. He knocks softly on the door, and then opens. The first person they see is Paya, whose eyes widen at the very sight of Zelda, and she jumps up into the air.

“P-p-p-princess Zelda!” she squeaks, and then bows so low she’s basically bent her upper half ninety degrees. “It-it’s an honour to meet you. My name is Paya, and I am the great grandniece of Impa.”

Zelda bows as well, which makes Paya utter a high-pitched noise again. “It’s very nice to meet you too, Paya.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to keep you,” Paya says. “Please, come inside.”

Paya runs off upstairs, face redder than the apples hanging from the trees outside. Link shakes his head, smiling, and then he and Zelda walk up to where Impa sits on her pillow. Impa lifts her head, weighed down by the hat she always wears, and she smiles at Zelda and Link standing in front of her, for the first time in a century.

“I knew you could do it, Link,” Impa says. “You brought Zelda back to us, and you both vanquished evil. It is so nice to see you again, Princess.”

“Oh, Impa,” Zelda replies, and she falls to her knees before Impa, bringing the old lady into an embrace. “I missed you.”

“I missed you as well, dear Zelda. I cannot even begin to imagine what you have been through all these years.”

Zelda pulls back, but only so far that she can still see Impa up close. “We can’t change what was, but we can influence what will be. So I will do my best.”

“That sounds like a good plan. Speaking of plan, do you have one from here on out?”

“We were in Hateno to see your sister,” Zelda informs the elder. “A visit that made it easier for us to travel, thanks to Purah’s inventions and never-ending knowledge.”

Impa chuckles, and she nods. “I have heard of Purah’s inventions and experiments. I’m glad she was able to help you. She upgraded the slate, did she not?”

“Purah made it possible for us both to travel with it,” Link confirms. “I was only acting on a hunch when taking the tablet to her, only hoping Purah could do something.”

“She can definitely do more than one would think,” Impa says, and she laughs a little. “As to be expected of my older sister.”

The three sit down and talk for what feels like a very long time. They all have a lot to catch up on together, and they allow themselves to take the time to do so. Impa’s servants also serve them lunch over which they continue reminiscing and catching up, getting to know each other anew. They share memories of the past: happier, brighter times. Moments spent with the Champions, Link and Zelda’s rocky journey from being at odds to becoming allies, Link’s stories from his travels after leaving the Shrine of Resurrection.

Using the Sheikah Slate, Link also shows photos he’s added to the album alongside Zelda’s from all those years ago. He’s quite fond of taking photographs, mostly of the scenery he comes across, stables, towns, the many people he met along the way. He also has a few photos from situations less ideal that he for some felt like capturing; there’s one where the camera shows him in the foreground with an angry Lynel charging at him from behind. It makes Zelda gasp and Impa shake her head, which only makes Link smile.

“Link, you would do well to show Zelda around the village,” Impa says. “A lot has happened in a hundred years, and I’m certain she would like to see some of that change.”

Link takes this as a hint that Impa needs to rest, so he and Zelda say goodbye for the day, and leave Impa’s house behind. There’s one location in particular that Link wants to show Zelda now that the sun is setting, so he leads Zelda towards the hill from where they came, but beyond it. The nightshades are glowing in the forest behind the shrine, casting a mysterious, calming glow around them. When Link hears rustling in the grass, he takes Zelda’s hand and stops her from taking another step.

“Wait,” he says in a hushed voice. “Stand here and watch.”

“What is it?”

“Just wait and see.”

Link crouches down, and Zelda does the same after him. It takes a minute or so, but finally Link spots a Blupee on the road up to the fairy fountain. In the corner of his eye, he sees Zelda’s jaw drop, and it makes him want to laugh, though he doesn’t.

“What is that?” Zelda whispers.

“It’s called a Blupee, or so I was told by a Korok.”

“A what now?”

Link huffs a quiet laugh. “You will meet one, in time, when we go back to see the Great Deku Tree.”

Zelda makes an oh-sound. “They’re forest spirits, aren’t they?”

“Yes. One of them asked me to take a photo of a Blupee once. That is the thing in front of us. If you shoot it with an arrow, it will drop Rupees.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“I can only assume you know this because you tried.”

Link shrugs. “They are spirits, so they do not get hurt. Of course I had to find out if the rumours were true.”

Zelda shakes her head. “It’s beautiful, but also a little unsettling.”

“They do have a unique appearance, yes. Shall we move forward?”

“And scare it?”

“It will be back here when we have left. There are always Blupees around here.”

Zelda seems hesitant, still, but she still stands up, and Link takes the first steps towards the Blupee and the fairy fountain along the road behind it. As expected, the Blupee jumps when it hears Link and Zelda, so it runs off into the forest, and subsequently disappears. Link and Zelda continue toward the fairy fountain, and once it’s visible right in front of them, Zelda lets out a gasp in disbelief and awe again.

“This is such a beautiful place. Has it always been here?”

“Yes.  I imagine we did not have the time to go all the way up here when we were here last.”

Zelda looks around her, and her gaze gets stuck on something surrounding the fairy fountain that was once considered an endangered flower. Link recalls the time when Zelda had told him the name of it, and about how they had been struggling to get it to grow in the wild like it does now. Many things that both she and other people had once struggled with seemed to come naturally with time. A long, long time.

“There are so many of them,” she says. “I’ve never seen so many Silent Princesses in one place.”

Link bends down, and picks one off the ground. He looks at it for a second, and then speaks. “They have started growing in smaller numbers here and there, but it seems they mostly grow around sacred spots like fairy fountains and the goddess springs.”

Zelda looks at the flower Link has in his hand, and she smiles, as if she’s looking at an old friend she’s just reunited with. Link takes the opportunity, bravely so, to tuck the flower in behind Zelda’s ear. Why he does so, he doesn’t know, but it just seems right.

“It… it suits you,” he says. Zelda brings up a hand and lets her fingers brush the petals of the flower, and Link thinks that maybe he detects the slightest change in colour in Zelda’s cheeks.

“Thank you, Link. I’m glad you brought me here.”

“So am I,” he responds honestly, and the night air suddenly feels a little warmer around them, somehow.

 


 

The beds at the Kakariko Village inn are among the most comfortable in all over Hyrule, at least in Link’s opinion. He wakes the next morning feeling well-rested, which doesn’t happen often, and he’s in a better mood than yesterday. It’s a new day, and he can actually start over since he and Zelda made amends last night. They will always disagree on things, but they can still make things work so that they can continue to cooperate and travel together. The road ahead is still a long one, and it would be terrible if they had to spend their time travelling while unhappy with each other in some way.

After a hearty breakfast, Link shows Zelda to the shops in the village. He wants to stock up on various types of arrows, as well as ingredients they can use for cooking while they’re travelling around Hyrule. Link is really glad Purah was able to make it possible for both him and Zelda to travel with the Sheikah Slate, because it would have otherwise taken them months to travel all around Hyrule to see the places and people they plan on seeing before they can properly start their new chapter in life.

“The stealth set is gorgeous,” Zelda marvels. Claree, the shop owner, giggles.

“Thank you. Tickled your fancy, Princess?”

Zelda nods once, determined. “I will take all three parts of the set.”

“A splendid decision. Would you like to change into it right now or do you want me to pack it up for you?”

“I think I’ll change into it now. It seems a lot easier to travel in than what I’m wearing.”

Link steps outside and talks to Lasli while Zelda gets changed into her new clothes. Lasli is one of the few people who knew before most other Sheikah about Link’s status, and she was very quick to recognise Zelda, as well. It’s great that she keeps a low profile regarding it all like the others who know of Zelda, because Link knows that attention is the last thing Zelda wants right now.

Moments later, Zelda comes back outside. Like the Sheikah do, she’s put her hair up in a tight bun using two dark-blue sticks. It’s a tradition to do so with this type of Sheikah clothing as it keeps hair out of the way and also helps to keep the person wearing the clothing more stealthy. It’s very useful when hunting and ambushing enemies, the latter of which was probably the purpose to try and combat the vengeful Yiga.

“How do I look?” Zelda asks.

Link raises his eyebrows. “It looks very good on you.”

“Thank you. It’s a very comfortable outfit, I have to say. It reminds me of the Champion set I used to wear way back when.”

“Oh,” Link says. “Speaking of which, I think Impa has repaired it for you, should you wish to take it with you.”

“Did you bring it here?”

“No, other Sheikah brought your clothes here along with mine after… well, after that day. Impa and Paya spent a lot of time and took great care in restoring our clothes to what they used to look like. You cannot tell they were torn in the first place.”

Zelda smiles. “As expected of them, I suppose. Yes, we should probably retrieve our clothing from them before we go.”

Link had seen this when he was first given his Champion tunic from a hundred years prior, because Impa and Paya had perfectly restored it so that it no longer showed any signs of the battle Link had once lost. Now that they get Zelda’s Champion outfit as well, the same careful and meticulous work has been poured into putting hers back together.

Zelda looks at her tunic for a few long seconds, and it’s difficult to know just what’s going through her mind. It’s safe to say that seeing it brings back bad memories for her, because Link had gone through the same thing once he got his memories back. It doesn’t look like Zelda wants to leave this clothing back in Kakariko Village, however, because she’s at least touching and inspecting it.

The Champion tunic isn’t the only thing among Zelda’s clothing that Paya and Impa have repaired; among them is for instance her winter coat that she wore whenever she and Link would travel to Rito Village, having to go through the very cold Hebra and Tabantha regions. It will no doubt come in handy again when they return to those places, not to mention the chilly nights in Gerudo. At least Zelda doesn’t have to wear a disguise at night like Link does if he’s in or around Gerudo Town, which is very tough considering how cold it gets.

“Thank you so much for repairing all of these,” Zelda says. “I am very grateful to you both for repairing our clothes—I barely have any with me.”

Impa laughs quietly. “It was all our pleasure, Zelda. Anything we can do to help.”

Their goodbye would be so much more difficult if Link and Zelda didn’t already know they can come back to Kakariko Village in a heartbeat with the use of the Sheikah Slate. The next stop is Akkala all the way up in northeast Hyrule, where Link and Zelda will see Robbie, and Link can stock up on ancient gear.

The Akkala region used to be one of the more dangerous areas in Hyrule whenever Ganon was still around. Tons of Guardians swarmed the plains much like the area around Hyrule castle, but other monsters roamed about as well. Link can’t even count on ten fingers how many times he’s slayed a Guardian or a Lynel around these parts.

Now, when they’re touching down on the travel gate pad outside the lab, the area seems almost serene. The atmosphere is closely resembling that of Hateno by this point, and that is a huge improvement from mere weeks prior when Link was still shutting down Guardians around the Akkala tower. There is still the empty husk of a smaller Guardian down the path from the lab, but it—as well as every other decayed Guardian across Hyrule—serves as a reminder of what once was.

Link knocks on the door and almost immediately opens, knowing Robbie doesn’t mind. The first thing he sees when coming inside is Cherry and her creepily glowing slits for eyes. Then, Link hears a voice call from upstairs that makes Zelda jump next to him.

“Already back for more arrows, eh?”

Link looks at Zelda by his side, and he smiles. “That’s only one of the reasons we’re here. If you would come down, maybe you would understand.”

“We?”

“Oh wow. Is… are you… Zelda?”

This time, Jerrin is the one who speaks, and she’s the first of the pair to come down the stairs. Zelda steps forward to greet Jerrin, who stops right in front with wide eyes.

Zelda?

A light thundering of footsteps comes raining down the stairs as the old man Robbie comes crashing down, almost crashing into his wife. He adjusts his glasses, leaning forward a bit as he takes a good look at the princess who has just appeared in front of him again after so long.

“By Hylia, it is you! Link, you did it, boy! Oh, I am so sure Impa will be out of her mind when she finds out.”

Zelda smiles a little, looking briefly uncomfortable by the sudden bombardment from above, before she seems to shake it off. “Impa already knows, and so does Purah. We left the castle a few days ago, and have been travelling ever since.”

“But you should rest, Princess!” Robbie insists. “If you didn’t get to do so in neither Kakariko or Hateno, allow this lab to be the first place where you get some proper rest. It’s not much, I know, but—”

“Robbie, love. Let them say what they’re here for before we throw all sorts of things at them, hmm? I apologise, Princess.”

“No, please—I don’t mind,” Zelda says, putting her hands up in a gesture signalling peace. “We came by to say hello, and to stock up on supplies for the road. And it would be our honour if you would have us for a little while.”

Jerrin nods a little too excitedly. “Of course, of course. You’re always welcome here. Forgive the rudeness, Princess—my name is Jerrin. I’m married to this doofus right here.”

“Oh yes she is!” Robbie boasts. “Come in, you two. Let’s catch up over some tea.”

Outside of what Link found out while snooping through Robbie’s journal, he learns a lot of other things Robbie never bothered to write down. Things that happened way before Calamity struck, around the time of the excavation of the Divine Beasts. The story of how he, Purah, and Impa had split up after they brought Link to the Shrine of Resurrection to ensure that at least one of them would still be alive when Link came back. Link has already heard this, so they’re mostly talking about this so that Zelda can be in the loop, too.

There are many things they still have to talk about and reveal that will be less pleasant, and while Link would rather not talk about it, he knows they have to. It’s a part of the healing process that feels like it hurts more than heals, right now. He tries to have faith that one day it will turn for the better.

That night, Link and Zelda take up Granté’s old room at the lab, located a floor above Jerrin and Robbie’s. The lab used to be fairly dilapidated with holes through the wood and brick of the building, but Robbie finally swallowed his pride and hired Bolson Construction to come patch things up. So now that Link and Zelda are preparing for bed, they won’t have to worry about potential wind blowing through the cracks in the walls, or getting rained down on.

“They have a son?” Zelda asks in a hushed voice. Link laughs a little.

“Yes. He moved to Tarrey Town southwest of here a while ago.”

Zelda frowns in confusion. “Tarrey Town? I’ve never heard of that place before.”

“The town is fairly new in and of itself,” Link explains. “I helped Bolson’s company build it out of what was basically nothing. It was nice to see it all come together.”

“We should go see it tomorrow. Now I’m very curious.”

“Of course. I haven’t been in a while, so it is a good chance to say hello to the residents and shop owners.”

Zelda sits down on the bed, and she yawns as she looks out the window. “Despite everything, I’m glad you got to meet so many people on your journey so that you wouldn’t have to go through it completely alone. The people we have met so far are all lovely, and I think that the future of Hyrule can be bright if its citizens are as kind and generous as them.”

As much as Link wants to think the way Zelda does, he knows it’s still dangerous even with Ganon gone. Some monsters still remain, and a certain clan are still active, looking to end the lives of those who oppose them and Ganon. The greater threat has been eliminated for now, but Link knows that they can’t relax just yet. On the other side of it all, Link sort of agrees with Zelda, because many of the people he’s met have been kind, generous, selfless, and overall made his journey less lonesome.

 


 

Jerrin is the one who sends them off the next morning, having made them breakfast to go with enough for Granté, as well. Robbie seems to have a bout of newfound inspiration as he’s deeply immersed in research as Link and Zelda are about to leave, so they merely wave goodbye in his direction as they step outside the lab. Despite their visit being short, they’ll be back again soon, and it’s a comforting thought for the places where their loved ones live.

The weather is nice and sunny, so instead of using the slate to travel, Link and Zelda walk all the way down from the lab to the bridge connecting Akkala to Tarrey Town’s separate little island. Zelda still insists on walking as much as she can so she can properly get used to it again, though it feels like she definitely has gotten used to using her legs and feet by this point. Link won’t complain, however, as it’s a nice change of pace instead of him using the Sheikah Slate whenever he wants to get somewhere. In most cases it’s definitely necessary, unless he wants his journey to the destination to take several days.

Granté is very grateful for the breakfast Zelda presents him with once they arrive in town. They sit and talk to him for a while as he eats said food, and then Link and Zelda proceed towards Hudson, in close proximity to his wife Rhondson, as he often is. Not a lot has changed in Tarrey Town since Link was there, but following the wedding ceremony, not a lot was left to be done. All of the houses are now occupied, and the inn gets regular customers, as do the shops. It’s still amazing to see what became of an isolated place full of trees and rocks; the fact that Link saw the progress of a town being built from the ground up is something he won’t soon forget.

While they’re by Rhondson’s shop, Zelda buys herself a Gerudo outfit for when they visit Gerudo town. In actuality, Zelda really doesn’t have to dress up, but she likes the outfit Rhondson has tailored herself so much that Zelda couldn’t resist buying it. Link, on the other hand, still has the outfit he bought off of Vilia when he was first about to infiltrate Gerudo town. Nowadays, he doesn’t really have to use it, but Link mostly uses Gerudo clothing when he visits Riju and the others out of courtesy. Rules are rules, and he doesn’t care for exceptions made for him just because he’s helped them out.

“Have you ever considered buying one of the still vacant houses here?”

Link looks over at Zelda, and he shrugs. “Briefly, yes. I don’t really have to, because I can easily travel from anywhere to my house back in Hateno Village.”

Zelda hums. “Of course. The Sheikah Slate really defeats the purpose of actually travelling around, huh.”

“Mmm, now it does. When I first picked it up, it didn’t have any travel gates registered at all, so I had to discover all of Hyrule before travelling became useless.”

“That’s one way to put it,” Zelda says, and she laughs.

That night, they spend the night at the Tarrey Town inn. Despite the increase in visitors to the town, Kapson still refuses to charge guests for staying the night. Link does, however, discover that someone has set up a tip jar for him in the corner of the reception. He suspects that it’s Monari, because she’s said more than once to Kapson himself that he should think a little more for himself. Luckily, Kapson has left said  tip jar alone so far, which makes Link wonder if the old Zora just hasn’t noticed it yet, or if he’s actually accepted that it’s there.

The next day, Link and Zelda begin the next part of their journey, which involves visiting the hometowns of the late Champions. Their first stop is Zora’s Domain, where a very surprised Zelda meets a now grown up Prince Sidon.

“Oh my god, you’ve grown so big!” Zelda gushes. Sidon bends down to hug the tiny Hylian princess, and he laughs.

“It has been a long time since we last met, Princess. I am very glad to see you are alive and well.”

Link remembers when he had first met Mipha, when Sidon wasn’t born yet. Years later when he had come back to Zora’s Domain, Mipha had a little brother, and she herself had grown up though not as drastically as Link had. Despite the years of having been apart, Link and Mipha picked right up from where they’d last left things, and soon enough, Mipha warmed up to him enough to not be so nervous around Link anymore.

His heart aches when he thinks of all the missed opportunities, of what could have been if they had succeeded in defeating Calamity Ganon a hundred years ago. Things would be so vastly different it’s hard for Link to imagine, but he can’t dwell on unrealistic thoughts like those because it’s all in a past he can’t return to. Instead, he keeps his promise to the King and to the Champions that he will make the best out of what they fought so hard to achieve back then.

Link and Zelda continue their revisit through Zora’s Domain, greeting the residents and Zelda experiencing everything again after all this time. This will definitely become a theme for the places they go to, but only for the first time. Slowly but surely, Zelda will regain familiarity with the towns of Hyrule just like Link recovered his memories of their past. Given time, their wounds will heal, their memories will return, and they will be able to get back up again.

The process repeats itself though in a different manner when Zelda and Link visit the Gorons, then Gerudo, and lastly, the Rito. In Rito Village, Zelda finally meets Kass whom Link has told her about before, and as expected of the travelling bard, Kass has a song prepared for the princess’ arrival. It’s very pretty, and it sounds familiar though Link doesn’t know how it does.

“I have awaited your arrival for a long time, Princess,” Kass says following the end of his song. “I do not doubt you have heard this many times already, but it really is a relief to see that you both are well considering everything that has happened.”

“Thank you,” Zelda says. “I wouldn’t have made it this far had it not been for Link.”

Link looks down at his hands, uncomfortable with the praise he feels undeserving of. “It really goes both ways, Princess.”

Kass narrows his eyes slightly, and smiles. “If it is to any consolation, I believe this old-and-new fame will subside in due time. You will have to forgive those of us who tell you the same things over and over, but remember that it is because we are thankful to you both, and we are glad to see you are still here with us.”

Link absolutely understands what Kass means, though it’s difficult for him to accept praise and compliments for something he was destined to do, something he had to succeed with. He failed once, and it could have carried greater consequences. He got lucky, that’s what it comes down to. Zelda saved his life, and after a hundred years, Link got a second chance, and was able to finally complete the task given to him by King Bosphoramus: to save the king’s daughter, and to save Hyrule.

It feels strange to not stick around these towns for long, but Link keeps reminding himself that they’ll be back more than once. This is just the beginning, this is just so that Zelda can get reintroduced to the towns from where her friends hailed, get familiar with some of the towns’ citizens. Their journey isn’t over yet, and they will definitely come back to each town regularly.

“I’m very pleased with what I’ve managed to discover and experience so far,” Zelda says as they’re leaving Rito Village the next morning. “Hyrule is doing okay, despite everything. We just have to make sure it’s doing better.”

Link nods. “We will.”

“I know. I’m glad that—”

“Hello, fellow travellers! Over here!”

Zelda and Link stop walking, and their attention is turned to a person standing by the road, waving at them.

“Yes?” Zelda asks. “Are you perhaps lost?”

“You could say that,” the man says. “You see, I’m looking for someone. I don’t know where he is, but someone told me he could be around these parts.”

Link’s heart skips a beat, and he instinctively grabs Zelda’s wrist. She turns to face him, and her facial expression shows exact the amount of surprise he had expected.

“Apologies,” Link says. “We do not know many people around here. We must really take our leave.”

“Oh,” the stranger replies. “How peculiar. I was pretty sure you would, after all this time, Link.”

He knew it was impossible to avoid, but Link still foolishly tried as best he could. In this particular moment, Link regrets not having started to train Zelda in combat sooner. Faster than he can think about it, Link reflexively lifts his bow from his back and pulls out a shock arrow from the quiver hanging from his belt. The stranger snaps his fingers and produces a puff of smoke, and immediately as the smoke disperses, a Yiga soldier appears with a sickle raised above his head.

“What a bonus for me,” the Yiga soldier says, “to find not only you, but the princess as well! Oh, Master Kohga would be so pleased—shame you had to kill him so soon.”

“Zelda, run!” Link yells, and he pushes her to the side as the Yiga starts running towards them. Zelda, however, jumps in front of Link instead, and puts her right hand up in front of them.

“No,” she says. “No!”

On the back of her hand, a mark starts glowing in the shape of the Triforce that Link saw in their battle with Calamity Ganon. A blinding light sprouts from her palm, and the shockwave produced from her divine powers sends the Yiga flying. He drops his sickle, and is thrust into a rock wall on the other side of the road. As his back hits the rock, the Yiga grunts in pain, and Link takes the opportunity to send his arrow flying and end the life of the soldier lying on the ground.

Zelda falls to her knees, and Link is immediately by her side. He knows more are coming, so he has to be quick in getting them out of there. The second Link unhooks the Sheikah Slate from his belt, the wind starts rustling and he hears the familiar, maniacal laughter of the Yiga. Link opens the map on the slate, grabs Zelda’s hand, and presses the first travel gate his eyes fall on. As they’re about to teleport, Link sees two Yiga soldiers and a blademaster appear in front of them, and he’s so glad they’ll make it out of there in time.

In the next moment, they ascend onto the travel gate platform in Hateno Village, just outside of the shrine. Zelda remains unmoving, so Link lifts her up in his arms and hurriedly makes his way over to his house. The last thing he wants and needs is to call attention towards them, because he can’t think of a good way to explain their current state to the villagers without them getting worried or suspicious of Link and the princess of Hyrule.

Link runs across the bridge to the house, and as soon as they’re safely inside and on the top floor by his bed, he slowly bends his knees and lets Zelda down on the bed. He knows just by her general appearance that she’s in no condition to stand up right now, and his concerns are confirmed when Zelda curls up with her arms hugging her legs as he lets go.

“He… he was just a traveller,” she says in a low, distant voice. “He just… wanted to ask us a question. How… how did he turn out to be a Yiga?”

He hasn’t talked to Zelda about this yet because Link doesn’t quite know how to. But this seems like the best moment he’ll ever get to talk about his past encounters with members of the Yiga clan. Link sits down next to Zelda, and he sighs quietly before speaking.

“The Yiga have continued to develop their magic to make it harder for us to tell them apart from normal people. They disguise themselves for the most part as people I’ve met along my travels, because that would obviously be a good way to get close to me without me noticing it’s not actually someone I know.”

Zelda lifts her head a little. “I don’t think it matters how many times I ask why, because no one knows the answer to that but them. Who was Master Kohga?”

“Their leader,” Link explains. “Riju of the Gerudo asked me to retrieve their stolen heirloom from the Yiga. At the very back of their hideout, I encountered Kohga, and… well, I am sure I do not have to tell you the rest.”

“You did what you had to do.”

“Yes.”

Zelda’s fingers brush the tips of Link’s on top of the bed, and he musters the courage to lace their fingers together. She leans her head on his shoulder, and lets out a sigh.

“You’ve had to endure a lot, Link.”

“I did it for you,” he says, which makes Zelda lift her head. Link feels her eyes on him, and he swallows hard before he turns his head to meet her gaze. “And I’d do it again.”

“Even if you wouldn’t remember me?” Zelda asks, voice a mere whisper. Link nods once.

“I would remember you, Zelda.”

Zelda regards him for a moment, and then she smiles, looking… relieved, somehow. Rarely has Link seen her smile, not to mention heard Zelda laugh, but he’s determined to make it more common over the next days, weeks, months, maybe years. How much time do they have together like this? How long before the next threat appears? It doesn’t matter, not for now, because all they have to focus on is living in the moment. Making the best out of the King and the Champions’ legacy.

For them, the journey has only just begun.