Chapter 2: All I Want is You
Zelda watched Link strip down to his pants. She had stripped to undergarments and a simple gown in preparation for a long swim. Zelda had tried not to stare, but she was enjoying the view. Link's shoulders and torso had gained quite a bit of definition since the last time they'd swam together in the great pond on Skyloft. He had some hard muscle now where he used to be a skinny kid. He also had a number of small scars. Discolored patches and raised skin evidenced past injuries – and there were the veiny marks of former burns. The scars gave her a pang of sadness. It was for her that he had gained them.
It may have been more prudent to swim in just undergarments, but Zelda retained the robe in order to retrain decorum for an audience with the Water Dragon. One of the Kikwis had come to the new Hylian Settlement to announce that Faron wished to see them both as soon as possible. Zelda watched Link plunge headlong into the waters of Lake Floria and she followed suit. She grasped him by the foot as they swam together. Contact with him meant that the sacred scale he'd hung on his neck would work for the both of them. Her Grace Hylia may have been a goddess, but Zelda was quite mortal now and mortals had a difficult time holding their breath for long periods underwater without magical aids. Link steered them through fissures that bubbled up air, for even the Water Dragon's Scale did not give a person breath forever. Spinning and breaching like a leaping fish – now that's something that Zelda found strange, yet exhilarating.
She and Link climbed up on the platform where Faron waited. The dragon chuckled softly at the dripping wet duo.
"Her Grace and the Hero, I am glad you have come."
"What service do you wish of us, Great Water Dragon?" Link asked, politely bowing. "Listen, if this is about your basin… I'm still having some trouble getting that back to you. It's all the way up in Eldin, you see, and the robot-helper I was using to cart it around pretty much up and quit on me, refuses to do anything I say anymore-"
Faron held up a claw and Link was silenced. "It is not about that," she said. "I wished to see you and Her Grace in order to talk about your people."
Faron gestured to Zelda. "Your Grace, I am ever your servant, but I do believe that since you have become mortal, you have gone soft."
"Soft?" Zelda asked, "Whatever do you mean?"
"You have become too sympathetic with the mortals. You are far too lenient with them. You are not ruling as you once did. I hate to be so forward with you, Your Grace, but you are not ruling as you ought."
"Ever since they've been coming down from the sky," Faron began, "Your people have been running around doing whatever they please. They are taking far too many trees from my forest, and they are not planting seed to replace them. They have been polluting the local waters with their daily chores and laundering – especially that old woman with the greasy clothes. They are building too far into the forest, too deep and they have no respect for my land."
Link spoke up, tentatively, "They are trying to build a new life here – what else are we to do if we are to restore Hylians to the Surface? I'm sure no one meant to do any harm or to violate your sensibilities."
"I rather like the fellow who's been studying the plant life," Faron mused, "And the bird-watcher. They both conduct their business very respectfully in my forest. I do not mind that innocent little girl who chases the butterflies and plays hide-and-seek with the Kikwis, but the rest… no, the rest I just do not care for."
"Surely," Zelda pleaded, "There has to be a way for us to live side-by-side."
"Rule your people, Your Grace," the dragon said, "With an iron hand if you have to. I have the respect of my Parella precisely because I rule firmly and command such respect. I expect you and the Hero to start bringing some order to your rabble very soon. If you fail to, when they wander too deeply into my domain, I will start eating them."
Link suddenly got a dangerous look in his eyes. He reached for the sword on his back that he usually carried, though it was not there. The Water Dragon roared, shaking her hall. Link and Zelda wobbled, attempting to keep their balance.
"Would you attempt to become a dragon-slayer, Hero? If I were such a fragile creature, I would not dare to even think it!"
Zelda cleaved to Link's side, as if to protect him from the dragon's wrath. Faron calmed and eased herself into a smile, then a hearty laugh. "Oh, I do not condemn you, boy. I would expect nothing less as a reaction from the world's avatar of courage. However, if you truly wish to protect your people, you will rule them, lead them…give them guidance. If they go without discipline and boundaries, they will ruin not only my domain, but also ruin themselves very quickly – for my ancient eyes have seen the ways of mortals in the deep past.
Link stepped forward. "Why do you assume that we are suited to rule?"
Faron reached down and caressed his shoulders and chin with the tips of her left claw. "It is the most simple and obvious choice. Your Zelda was Hylia, Her Grace. A former goddess is a natural ruler. Her wisdom shall be a beacon. You are the Hero. You have proven yourself strong of both body and spirit. You were well-balanced enough to use the Triforce. Yes, you are the obvious leaders."
"But I'm just -?"
Faron took her claw from him and folded her arms. "Do not underestimate yourself, Hero. I would expect more confidence from you and Her Grace."
Zelda wrung out her robe as she and Link sat in the grass beside the Great Tree, hoping the sunshine would dry them somewhat. They were alone; save for the chirping birds that alighted in the field around them and in the branches of the Tree. There was not even a Kikwi near, at least not any that were out in the open, which was fine by the two Hylians; for Zelda was embarrassed to be stripped down to a dripping gown and Link didn't particularly want to show off his bare chest to Bucha.
"This place is much nicer than the first time I saw it," Link said. "There used to be Bokoblins everywhere. There are still a few keese around – perched up in some of the high branches in the shadows… right… up there."
Zelda looked to where he was pointing and laughed. "They look pretty peaceful up there."
"The usually are, when not disturbed. They aren't really like other monsters. I've felt bad sometimes having to dispatch them. They're weak, not really worthy opponents."
"It looks like you've faced a lot of worthy ones," Zelda said sadly. She reached out and traced a long scar across Link's chest. "Oh, Link, I'm so sorry…"
Link took her by the hand. "It's okay. I would have gladly gone through it all just to have you back. It was no picnic for you, either. You almost lost your soul… If I had been… sooner…"
"Link, don't. You came out of this worse for wear than I did."
"You were hurt?"
"When my body was thrown… Groose caught it, but… I came back to it missing a couple of teeth in the back. See? Aaah!"
Zelda opened her mouth wide and tried to point it out. She then giggled a bit, "Shows I'm truly a mortal now, doesn't it? Don't worry, Link. I was too preoccupied for it to hurt any."
"I know Ghirahim hurt you," Link insisted. "You were whimpering and struggling when he was working his spell."
"You were whimpering and struggling after you came back from fighting Demise."
In the immediate aftermath, Link remembered standing upright just fine, putting Fi into her sleep and watching the Elder Impa vanish. After the heat of the battle had worn off, he'd collapsed, the full force of what he'd suffered in battle hitting him. Perhaps it was because he'd finished it and had gotten Zelda back and thus felt safe to show weakness. Groose had carried him over to the base of the temple's tree. Things were pretty vague after that, but Link remembered Zelda stroking his hair, his cheeks, and his shoulders to calm him out of his tremors.
"I guess I was," Link said. "I hope Demise didn't fry my brain too much, especially if the Water Dragon expects me to become a leader."
"You know, Link," Zelda said gently as she caressed his cheek, smiling softly at him, "I've been thinking of the prospect of creating a royal family for our people, to last through the generations. I am – or was – the Goddess, after all. A royal family should be of strong blood. I can think of no stronger blood than that of the Hero, or that of the Goddess and Hero together."
"What are you saying, Zelda?"
"Shut up and kiss me, you idiot."
Link leaned in and kissed her. She caressed his shoulders and traced the scars on his back. He gently removed her wet robe and laid her down in the grass. He looked around for stray Kikwis or wandering Skyloftians. Zelda laughed and pulled him down.
In their dry, hastily thrown-on clothes the couple wandered back to the settlement hand-in-hand.
"Father!" Zelda called out as she saw the man before the Goddess statue.
"Did you two have a good meeting with the Water Dragon?"
"Yes, we have much to talk about," Zelda answered.
"You took quite a while, and is that grass in your hair sweetheart?"
Link stood aside, scratching the back of his neck nervously.
"What's wrong with Link?" Mr. Gaepora asked.
"Nothing, nothing at all," Zelda hesitantly replied.
Link dropped to one knee. The people who were milling about and doing construction and chores around the tents stopped and stared at their Hero as he bowed low before the Knight Academy Headmaster.
"Uh… Mr. Gaepora," he shakily began, "You know how you had some rules about the fraternizing of students…"
"Ho-ho?" the old man asked.
"Well, your daughter and I… kinda… Um… I really, really, really like her, sir, and…"
"Daddy, Link and I want to create a royal family for our people in this land and we already started!" Zelda blurted out.
Gaepora laughed heartily. "Hoo-hoo, hoo! Get up, dear boy. That's it, off your knees."
Link stood before him, his face nervous, and the injury-twitch in his arm acting up.
"Of course, I approve of you, Link," Zelda's father said, "You gave your all to save Zelda's life and her soul. You did more for her than her poor old father could. I have no doubt that you will give me beautiful grandchildren, Link."
To his surprise, his former Headmaster stepped forward and hugged him. The people standing around cheered and whistled. Zelda laughed her beautiful, tinkling laugh. Gaepora took Link aside, slapping him on the back. "We'll have to have a ceremony as soon as possible to celebrate and, of course, to uphold tradition. Just because this is a brave new land does not mean that we should set our traditions aside."
Link smiled shyly. "I am sorry… that we just couldn't wait."
Zelda gave him a playful slap on the upper arm. "What you mean is that I couldn't wait, silly."
"To be honest," her father said as he led them inside the Goddess' shrine to speak privately, "I thought you were already…shall we say, officially paired."
"Father!" Zelda yelped, her face red.
"Sweetheart," he replied, "I just want you to be happy. Now, about your meeting with the Water Dragon…"
Skyloft emptied out for one day as all its residents, even those that chose to keep living up on the island, came down to Faron Woods to celebrate the official wedding of Link and Zelda. The couple stood atop the Goddess statue as Mr. Horwell read some words of officiation. Normally, this was a thing that Gaepora would do, but since he was Zelda's father, it was considered more appropriate for one of the other keepers of tradition to be master of ceremonies. This joining was also a bit awkward in that it was the mortal vessel of the Goddess herself being married. As such, it was the blessing of the Old Gods that was beseeched and the focus was upon vows of love.
Zelda wore the ceremonial clothing she'd worn at the Wing Ceremony, cleaned and repaired. Link wore his green knight's uniform, also freshly mended and pressed. They spoke words of devotion to one another while clasping their hands over each other's on the hilt of Link's knight's sword. After that, they both dove off the Goddess statue's hands. Zelda clung to Link as he deployed his sailcloth. Their friends gathered to catch them as they drifted down.
This was also a ceremony to celebrate their status as rulers. While the people who remained residents of Skyloft would continue on with their own leadership, the people of the surface were to look to Link and Zelda for guidance.
"Come on now!" Link insisted as he was greeted by Fledge just before the grand feast, "It's not like we can't still be friends! I just need you to trust me…"
"Oh, I do, Link, I've always trusted you!" Fledge said. "It's just, it's gonna be kind of weird now, thinking of you as a king."
"Then, please, just keep on thinking of me as your friend." Link looked skyward and sighed, "I guess Zelda and I really were the default-leadership when everyone started coming here, but I really wouldn't have wanted this if it weren't for … keeping folks from getting eaten."
Zelda put her arms around Link's waist from behind and rested her chin on his shoulder.
"Well, you know the land better than we do," Pipit said, coming up to him with Karane and his mother. "You understand its limits and dangers better. It looks like you're the 'senior' here, along with your Goddess."
"I hope you aren't put out about that, Mr. Know-it-All."
"Not at all. I've got my own goddess."
"Pipit!" Karane giggled. She turned to Link and Zelda, "He really is too gallant, isn't he?"
"I must say," Mallara teased, "I am a little disappointed that it was a young thing that won your heart, Link."
"MOTHER!" Pipit put his palm to his forehead.
Link looked slightly serious for a moment. "I've heard things have been a little better for you."
"Well," Mallara went on with a flourish of her hand, "Since Pipit's been bringing home lots of little birds for his studies, I've had to keep the house clean so they can breathe and keep their feathers tidy. Their cute little morning songs make me happy."
"I am glad to hear it."
"Life is a river that rolls on and on," she said, moving toward the buffet table that was being set up. Pipit and Karane joined her.
"What was that about?" Zelda yawned.
"Do you remember how you, me and Pipit used to play all the time as kids?" Link asked her.
"We kind of lost touch with each other's families after that, when we got into school. I didn't lose touch with your family, since your father is the Headmaster and I didn't have a family for you to lose touch with, but we didn't keep in touch much with Pipit's, did we?"
Zelda's eyes were downcast. "I think the last time I visited his home was… just after his father's funeral."
"Exactly. During my quest, I found myself at his place a couple of times at night… First place I'd wander to feeling sick and hurt after taking a sunset landing… wild remlits everywhere… Pipit hid a lot from us at school, you know? Mrs. Mallara didn't just grieve and move on… she developed a full-blown depression."
"What do you mean? She's always seemed so optimistic…"
"She had signs of it… of a chronic condition, I mean. She wasn't taking care of herself –at all. Her home, herself, or her son… I don't know if he's told Karane yet, but the reason Pipit always took up the night watch hours at the Academy is because they're strapped for rupees."
"Oh, I wish I had known! My father could have reduced his tuition or something. He'd certainly qualify for a scholarship!"
"Pipit is proud. When we've been out exploring and hunting for birds… I've… kind of been taking him to good treasure-hunting spots and letting him know Rupin's prices for particular items. He's been supplementing his income."
"Oh, that's good. Hey, who is that over there? I know there are many people from the other islands here today, but what's that guy doing with little Gully and Kukiel?"
"Ah! Here is someone you should definitely meet. That's Mr. Batreaux."
"Link!" Batreaux exclaimed, clasping his hands in his characteristic manner. "So wonderful to celebrate your mating! So wonderful to meet the lovely Zelda!"
"Hey! Hey!" Gully exclaimed, "My mom and the lady from the school cafeteria are making all the food! Hey, hey, Link! There's lots of cool bugs down here! Will you take me bug-hunting later, will ya? Will ya!"
Kukiel ran around them, her arms out like she was pretending to be a Loftwing. "Uncle Bats is watching us while the adults do adult-stuff. My mom brought her art-stuff, she wants to draw you! You should kiss for it!"
Zelda giggled and patted Kukiel on the head. "We'd like that. In a little bit, okay?"
"I'm gonna draw you, too!"
Batreaux took Zelda by the hand and kissed it. "I wish you two nothing but happiness, since Link has given me so much happiness!"
As Zelda and Link wandered off, slowly making their way to the grand table where food was newly being laid out, Zelda whispered to Link; "What is left of the Goddess in me can sense that Mr. Batreaux has a very pure soul. He is such a big man, but he is like a child."
"He used to be a monster," Link said causally. Zelda stifled a little gasp. "Literally - a monster. He wanted to become a human, so I enacted a spell for him. He is seeing the world through new eyes, so he is very much like a child, newborn into the world."
"Oh, that is amazing, Link! While it is very easy for men to become monsters, it is almost unheard of for monsters to become men."
As they approached the table, Link spared a glance for Peatrice, who was being chatted-up by Cawlin. Stritch appeared to be trying to explain something scientific to Orielle while her brother was having a slow-dance with one of the senior Skyloft Knights. Kina was singing as another knight played a round-shaped flute. Fledge showed off his arm-muscles to Keet while the old man that hung out at the Lumpy Pumpkin with him all the time laughed.
One end of the buffet-table sagged with the offerings laid out for the Goron guests – glistening stones, wafer-thin slate and something they called "rock sirloin." The human side of the table was laden with many recipes made with pumpkin, including Mr. Pumm's famous pumpkin soup. At center was a roasted terrestrial animal that had become a new favorite food for the people of Skyloft that had come to or made regular visits to the surface. The historical texts had called it a "pig." They lived wild in the woods and, while not particularly easy to hunt, fell to well-shot arrows. There were many fruits and vegetables, both from Skyloft and the Surface, and there were small, roasted birds that the Mogmas insisted the people try – they called them "cucoos." The Skyloftians were, however, reluctant to eat the flesh of birds, even small, stupid, bad-tempered ones.
Link was brave enough to give it a go and found that he rather liked the taste of cucoo. He believed in exploring all of the native foods (save Goron-cuisine, to avoid the tooth-damage), because people would need to know what they could eat to survive.
As he and Zelda were plating up food for each other, Karane came storming by. "That fortune teller!" she huffed. "Pipit and I asked him for a reading and he told us our future together was 'clouded.' The nerve!"
Link laughed. "Oh, you can't rely on Sparrot. Even when his visions are correct, they're rather vague and he tends to tell you things you already know."
"But I know Pipit and I are right for each other! Don't you agree?"
"Wholeheartedly," Link said with a smile. "You remember the way he charged in when he thought Cawlin was about to win you with his letter. He was desperate for you! You don't have to worry about me or Zelda stealing him away from you now."
"Wait, what, YOU?"
Link rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "I suppose it was more of a hero-worship than anything, but I had kind of a crush on him when I was younger."
"Is that possible?" Karane said in puzzlement.
"One can question what one wants for a while," Link said as he turned to his bride. "All I want is Zelda now, though."
"Maybe we should get our fortune told," Zelda said cheerily. "I'm sure he doesn't have nearly the intuition of a goddess, but… it'll be fun!"
After they set their plates down at a table, Zelda dragged Link over to where Sparrot sat and asked for a fortune.
"Oooh!" the fat-faced man said, "My big, lovely eyes behold a grand future for the two of you! You shall be the roots of the mightiest of kingdoms. I see much hardship on the horizon, I'm afraid, but if you persevere, it will work out. Good luck, you two!"
The newly joined monarchs of the reborn Realm of Hylia spent the rest of the day eating and dancing and enjoying the love of their friends.
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