EX MEMORY #5: The Calm Before the Calamity
This chapter takes place between Recovered Memory #14 (To Mount Lanayru) and Recovered Memory #15 (Return of Calamity Ganon), and recalls the events that occurred before the Champions headed to Mount Lanayru to have Zelda pray at the Spring of Wisdom.
Zelda allowed the afternoon sunlight to bathe her face in its glow as she stared through the glass of the windows above her. It was her seventeenth birthday, and here she sat, alone in her bedroom with her diary laying in front of her.
"Seventeen…?" she thought aloud, her voice filled with unbelief. She was now old enough to be seen as worthy in the eyes of the goddesses, though this came at the cost of her younger years being filled with nothing but intense training and unanswered prayers and loss.
She had been sitting there for what seemed like hours and yet, when Zelda finally pulled her gaze from the outside world and looked back to see what she'd written in her diary, she couldn't help but feel disappointed in herself for not having written more.
I turned seventeen today. That means this is the day I will finally be allowed to train at the Spring of Wisdom. When Link arrives, we will set out for Mount Lanayru. The other Champions will accompany us there. I have not seen my father since he scolded me. Things are too strained now… I will meet him when I return.
Her thoughts were elsewhere as she recalled the strange dream she had had the other night when she and Link were on their way back from the Spring of Power. She couldn't get the image of the celestial woman out of her mind, nor could she remove the feeling in her gut that things were about to take a turn for the worse.
Perhaps talking about her dream would alleviate the trepidation she felt, but Zelda didn't have anyone she could talk to right now. She couldn't speak to her father for obvious reasons. She couldn't speak to Impa because she was busy in Kakariko Village preparing as many Sheikah warriors as she could to help her with further testing in the Shrine of Resurrection. Impa had finally figured out how to activate the Shrine—with the Sheikah Slate being the most instrumental tool—but it was impossible to determine the success rate of the Shrine's capsule or how long a subject would need to be resting for to fully regenerate themselves.
Zelda could have spoken to Link after she'd had the dream. He had been there when she'd had it, of course. Zelda's cheeks flushed a soft shade of red. Herself and Link had both been asleep—together—when it happened. Zelda sometimes found herself startled by how close her and Link had gotten in these short few months, with it even reaching the point where she couldn't fathom losing him. Zelda knew that there was a word that was often used to describe that feeling, but she forced herself to wipe it from her mind. Anything that existed between her and Link would have to wait until after the threat of Calamity Ganon had been dealt with, although Zelda had begun to lose hope that they could stop him.
She decided then to return to her page and lift her quill. If she couldn't talk to someone else about her presentiment, she'd just have to hope that writing about her troubles would help ease them.
Actually… I've had a horrible feeling ever since that weird dream. No one would believe a failure of a princess, but… right now, for no particular reason, I am filled with the strange certainty that something awful is about to happen.
No sooner had Zelda set the feather down was there a knock at the door. "Princess?"
There wasn't a doubt in Zelda's mind that the voice from the other side of her door belonged to Link. She rose from the desk and approached the door. "Yes?"
Zelda was somewhat confused to open the door and discover Link with a look of pure exasperation on his face. It seemed to Zelda as though he must have run the entire length of the castle's corridors. He took a moment to catch his breath before speaking. "We have something for you."
That was only adding to Zelda's confusion. "What are you talking—?"
She didn't get to finish though, because Link took her hand in his—which he had begun to do more and more often recently, and the feeling of warmth it brought Zelda was extremely distracting—and took off through the corridors once more, this time with Zelda in tow.
"Link…" she managed to get out eventually, holding onto his hand for dear life as they sped up the red-carpeted stairs towards the Sanctum. "Where are we going?"
Zelda didn't have to see his face to know there was a huge smile plastered onto it. "You'll see."
She suddenly grew wary. "We really do not have time for this, Link. We need to be heading out for Mount Lanayru shortly and—"
Zelda was, for the second time in a short few moments, cut off before she could finish. She looked around and realised that she and Link had ended up in the Sanctum, which could no longer be recognised by Zelda as the Sanctum.
Large banquet tables stretched from wall to wall, with the aroma of the food present on them competing for room in Zelda's nose. Octo Balloons of various dyed colours hung from strings all around the large room. Looking around, she could see several familiar faces, including those of the Champions, who were stood closest to the main entrance to the Sanctum. Urbosa was smiling a stupidly gorgeous smile at the Princess, Daruk was doing his best to keep his attention from the plate of Rock Roasts that had been laid out specifically for him, Revali was sitting on the floor with his legs crossed looking like the last thing he ever wanted was to be here, and Mipha smiled a shy smile when she noticed them enter, and had begun poking Revali with her feet to get him to pay attention. Some soldiers that Zelda had seen out training when she had been watching—er, observing—Link train were also in the Sanctum, tied up in laugh-inducing chat with their colleagues.
"A surprise birthday party…" she smiled, unable to feign any distasteful emotion at what Link and the other Champions had arranged for her.
"Do you like it?"
Zelda looked to Link, whose eyes were filled with an endless amount of hope. "I love it. Thank you, Link."
He smiled a ridiculously bright smile then and began to blush. "Well, it wasn't just me. I had help."
He motioned to the other Champions with his free hand, and begun to approach where they stood, making no effort to remove his hand from hers.
Meeting them halfway, Zelda noticed that Urbosa had begun smiling a sad smile. "Urbosa? Are you okay?"
Urbosa nodded quickly, holding her smile. "Of course. It's just… Wow… Seventeen? My baby's all grown up."
Zelda smiled and gave the tall woman a hug, but Revali—whether intentionally or unintentionally, Zelda didn't know—found a way to ruin the moment. "One year closer to death, as they'd say."
They all glared sharply at him as Mipha caused him to let out a groan of pain by piercing his wing with her strong elbow. In response, he crossed his wings and stalked off to the corner.
"Ignore him, Princess," Mipha whispered softly before following the upset Rito.
Urbosa turned her attention back to Zelda and pointed towards an entire banquet table filled with presents. "We got you a couple of presents."
Zelda frowned, unable to hold back her smile. "Just a couple?"
Urbosa nodded in agreement. "Just a couple."
"Thank you, all of you, really, but we don't have time. I'd like to be finished at the Spring of Wisdom before dark."
"That's fair enough, Princess, but you know what there is time for?" Urbosa questioned.
"A dance with your appointed knight!" Urbosa exclaimed as though it were a well-known fact, throwing a knowing look at Link.
"Excuse me?" Zelda asked, turning to Link, only to have herself be led to unpopulated centre of the room by him. "You… You know how to dance?"
"Of course I do. Don't you?"
"Well, yes, but… My mother taught me… How do you know how to dance?"
"I guess I'm just a gifted natural," Link shrugged.
Zelda couldn't have had a more disbelieving look on her face. Link rolled his eyes.
"Fine… Urbosa taught me…" Zelda glanced over Link's shoulder to the Gerudo at his words, and found her wiggling her fingers as though she were waving. "You make it very difficult to impress you, Princess."
Zelda couldn't help but feel offended. "I absolutely do not…"
Link cocked his head at her, unconvinced, before looking to the band of musicians up on a make-shift stage beneath the thrones and nodding. Zelda watched in awe as they parted to allow her father, the King of Hyrule, to come out from behind them with a pan flute in his hand. Sitting down on the stool laid out for him, he closed his eyes and began to play a tune that meant the entire world to Zelda.
"How…?" Zelda asked in awe.
"Your father found out that we were planning this and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I told him we had been able to get this band of musicians from a milk bar down in South Hyrule, but we didn't know any songs that were special to you. He told us to consider our problem solved and walked away." Link looked back at her. "You do know this song, don't you?"
Zelda nodded, looking back at Link. "I could never forget it. It's a lullaby that my mother used to play to me as I lay in bed, waiting to be soothed to sleep. She would tell me that all will be well in the end and that I could do anything… and then she'd kiss my forehead and tell me, 'goodnight, my little princess'."
Link looked at her softly at her as she spoke, with the both of them continuing to sway back and forth together for some time, eventually leading to Zelda laying her head on his chest. "Thank you," she whispered.
He bopped his nose off her head with a smile on his face. "I have one more surprise for you."
Zelda looked up at him with a smile. "Oh?"
Link nodded before turning towards where Urbosa had stood before. "Urbosa!" he somewhat yelled to catch the attention of the Gerudo Champion, who was now talking to the Royal Family's court poet, Renaga. "Do we have time?"
Urbosa turned her attention from the Sheikah to smile a knowing smile and nod her head. "We do."
Link turned back to look at Zelda's interested face and stepped back from her, bowing his head. "Would you care to follow me, Princess?"
Zelda rolled her eyes. "There isn't going to be more running, is there?"
Zelda watched as her appointed knight cringed a little and began to scratch the back of his head, just behind his ear. "Eh, perhaps…" Zelda's distain must have shown, because he quickly offered, "It'll be worth it, I promise."
She resigned with a sigh and took his left hand in hers. "Lead the way."
He took a moment to beam at her before taking off sprinting down the stairs and back into the castle.
Somewhere along the way, Link had told her to close her eyes and, despite Zelda's extensive knowledge of the castle—it was her home, after all—the Princess had no clue where she and Link had ended up, only that they were finally standing still in a room inside the castle. Zelda heard as Link seemed to pick something up from where it had been resting on what sounded like a wooden desk.
"Okay… open your eyes," Link told her, and Zelda did just that, though nothing could have prepared her for the sight before her.
It was a silent princess, her favourite flower, healthily growing from soil in a dark blue pot.
But that wasn't possible. The silent princess couldn't grow in domestication. "How did you…?"
"It wasn't easy," Link told her. "Like you said, the flower couldn't be domesticated… at first, but, once the seed had been planted, the princess only required proper love, care, and attention to be able to thrive wherever it pleases, no matter the location." He reached up to inhale the flower's fumes with his nose. "I just hope to one day see a whole acre of them growing as freely as this one out in the wild."
Now it was Zelda's turn to beam, not just at the flower, but also at Link. "Me too."
She took the pot from Link and ran her fingers gently over the petals of the beautiful flower. "Thank you so much, Link…for everything."
Link blushed slightly then. "It was nothing, honestly, Princess."
Zelda cocked her head and smiled, seeing an opportunity. "Well, consider me impressed…"
Link glared at the Princess in amusement, his tongue running along his lips. "I suppose it did take a lot of effort on my part."
Zelda smiled coyly and rolled her eyes dramatically. "Oh, Hylia forbid. However can I repay you your effort, my hero?"
A beat passed as Zelda looked down to the flower in her hands.
"Kiss me, Princess."
Link's sudden words caused Zelda to look up at him again and gasp slightly. At first, he too seemed shocked at his own statement. His cheeks flushed a deep shade of red and he began to scratch the back of his head—Zelda had noticed that it was his way of showing he was embarrassed—as Zelda watch him strenuously attempt to avert his gaze, but to no avail. His blue eyes remained glued to hers. It was clear to Zelda then that Link didn't mean to make such a sudden request, but he in no way regretted it.
He chuckled quickly. "I, uh, I just mean— Well, I didn't mean to be— Only if you want to do that, of course…"
While Zelda's own words to wait until after she'd defeated Ganon to explore a relationship with Link echoed within her very core, there was someone else's voice there too. It was her mother's voice, telling her words that she had heard from her several times before.
Zelda, my love, all will be well in the end.
Her mother was right. Her mother was always right. All will be well in the end. It must be. She and Link would defeat Ganon together, according to prophecy, and her mother's words in Zelda's heart was causing her to begin believing in that prophecy for the first time since she was younger.
So? she thought to herself, gazing deeply into Link's eyes. What are you waiting for?
And, after what seemed like a century, Zelda allowed herself to smile a small smile and step towards Link, closing the gap between them. The look of awe on Link's face was the last thing she saw before her eyes slid shut and she met his lips gently, bringing her arms up to wrap them around his neck and play with his ponytail.
No sooner had she tilted her head to deepen the kiss did Urbosa come barging into Zelda's study like it was hers. "Commander! We're ready to— Oh!"
Both Zelda and Link broke the kiss without the desire to and glared at Urbosa, who was now resting her tall, lean body against the door with one arm on her hip, one eyebrow raised salaciously, and her mouth curved into a knowing smile. "Am I interrupting something?"
"No," Link replied strongly.
"Yes," Zelda replied at the same time, impatiently.
Link and Zelda looked back to each other and blushed a deeper shade of red, yet still made no attempt to move further away from one another, causing Urbosa's smile to darken. "Can it be continued at a later time? We need to go if you still plan to reach the Spring of Wisdom before dark, Princess."
Zelda exhaled loudly. "Okay, I just have to get changed into my other clothes." When it became clear that Urbosa wasn't going to leave the two alone again, Zelda stepped back from Link. "And I guess I should go do that right now…"
"Good call, Princess," Urbosa agreed, and lead the way for the two of them to follow over the bridge connecting Zelda's study and her bedroom. They descended the stairs and crossed Zelda's room in silence, although Link and Zelda continued to throw doting looks at one another.
"We'll meet you at the entrance to the castle," Urbosa added before exiting, ensuring to hold the door open for Link.
"Bye," Link said softly.
"Bye," Zelda responded, just as soft.
One the door had closed, and the reality of what had just happened set in on Zelda, she reached up to her lips with her hand, wishing she could feel Link's lips on hers once more. She smiled and turned to approach her closet and get her white praying dress out. Taking the time to undo the braid in her hair, she looked into her mirror and taught about all the people she had in her life. Her father, who she would make sure to make amends with upon her return to the castle; Impa, who had become the closest thing to a mother Zelda had known since her real mother passed away; Urbosa, who was almost an older sister to Zelda, perhaps even another mother; Mipha, who Zelda thought of as her shy younger sister who didn't speak often, but when she did, she always had Zelda's full attention; Daruk, who reminded Zelda of an older brother she always wished she had; Revali, who Zelda wasn't sure was that important to her in any way; and Link…her appointed knight.
Sliding her white dress on, she decided that, no matter their relevance to her, she always wanted them in her life. One last check in the mirror was followed by her heading to the drawbridge. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't hoping she'd run into her father. She still had to thank him for remembering that song for her. Whenever her mother had been away on royal duties, Zelda's father would be her stand-in, performing the lullaby as graciously and as beautifully as her mother would, causing Zelda to fall asleep in no time.
But she didn't get to see him. She didn't get to say thank you or that she was sorry.
She met with Urbosa, Daruk, Revali, and Mipha at the large gateway to the pathway that lead to the Sanctum. Link joined them just a few moments later, looking brightly at Zelda, and they all began their trek to Mount Lanayru. They would be travelling by horse and carriage to make things easier.
"So… you and Link, huh?" Urbosa teased as they walked towards the carriages that were lined up outside the entrance to Castle Town, nudging Zelda's side with her metal-plated elbow.
Zelda glared at her before sighing with resignation. "It's still quite new."
Urbosa cackled loudly before collecting herself. "No, Princess… No, it's not."
Zelda stared at Urbosa with confusion at her words as Urbosa increased the speed of her stride to outpace Zelda and catch up with Revali and Daruk, leaving Zelda to look behind her at Link, who was talking to Mipha about something. His eyes wandered from Mipha's to Zelda's in that moment and offered her a small smile that was filled with an emotion Zelda had been avoiding since she had met him. Looking to Urbosa once again, she took her words into account. Maybe what they had wasn't new. Maybe their joint destinies to destroy Ganon together wasn't just about destroying Ganon. Maybe it was so that they would be allowed to meet one another… so that they would be allowed to fall in love with one another.
Zelda looked back to Link and began to recall the first time she met him. She remembered getting that strange feeling in her stomach when he looked at her that she had initially identified as hatred, perhaps because she had never felt that particular way about someone before. But Zelda knew now what that feeling had been. She felt it when he had looked into her eyes then, and she continues to feel it as her looks into her eyes now.
Zelda finally focused onto Link's eyes, not surprised in the least to feel that feeling in her stomach and see that same smile on his face, and offered him one of her own, one filled with the beauty of a silent princess and the warmth of the setting sun.
A smile filled with love.
A/N: Oooh, my little babies finally did the thing! I'm so proud of them. What did you guys think of it? Hopefully you liked how it all played out. Not gonna lie, I really, REALLY loved writing this chapter! Hopefully you guys enjoyed reading it.
The whole idea for the kiss, funnily enough, came about when I began re-watching the Zelda animated series from back when I was a kid. You know how Link would always be like, "kiss me, Princess" or "how about a kiss, Princess?" and they'd constantly get interrupted before they could? Yeah, well, being the complete Zelda animated series apologist that I am, I did my best to incorporate it in here. I get that a lot of people hate the show, and I won't deny that it has its fair share of issues, but I just can't find it in myself to hate it.
Just to cover some of the references in the chapter: King Rhoam was performing Zelda's Lullaby on the pan flute (I had this notion in my head that it sounded the same as Zelda's Lullaby in Skyward Sword). Also, the silent princess that Link gave Zelda is the same one that you're able to collect from her study in the actual game. Why did it survive all that time? Because it NEEDED TO. Also, I hope you felt all of the Mama!Urbosa feels.
Anyway, the next chapter is already started, so hopefully it'll be up soon. (Except I'm starting to sorta get addicted to Splatoon 2, which isn't good for my writing schedule…)