Hateno village had seen quite the boom since Calamity Ganon's demise, so much so that the local inn keeper had expanded his business to include a vegan drink bar, dessert counter, and an al fresco cafe, at which the Princess and her Hero could be spotted many an afternoon, sipping foamy drinks or nibbling on finger foods.
"Snack time is the most fundamental meal of the day," was Link's sage explanation, should anyone care to ask.
Zelda, in particular, was fond of the princess blossom tea, and Link, to his eternal surprise, could never get enough of their world-famous frog legs.
"And to think I was horrified when you first suggested it." He spat out another bone. "I'm not sure what my old self had against culinary adventures, because out in the wild there was nothing I wouldn't throw into the cooking pot at least once."
Zelda quirked an eyebrow. "Nothing?"
Link leaned across the table and whispered, "I'm convinced beetles simmered in chuchu jelly will be the next big thing in gourmet fusion." He placed a finger over her lips. "But that's just between you and me."
Zelda suppressed a shudder. Clearly, she would need to take a firm hand where meal planning was concerned. "Even so, it was wrong of me to force it upon you."
"Probably." He popped another fried leg into his mouth. "But you are the wielder of wisdom. I should remember to trust your judgement."
Trust. Zelda opened her mouth, then closed it. If ever there was a time for clean breaks and new beginnings. "Is my judgement really so trustworthy?" She poured herself another cup of tea.
"What do you mean?"
One lump of sugar, a splash of cream. The clink clink of the spoon as she stirred. Every one of her movements calm and unhurried, and a glowing smile plastered indefatigably on her face. Growing up in a glass palace had molded her into a fine little actress, indeed. "Only that it wasn't me who completed all the shrines, released the Divine Beasts, and dealt Ganon his death blow," she said between sips.
"And it wasn't me who kept him at bay for one hundred years while my Knight Escort indulged in a very long nap." His eyes crinkled. His smiles were never a forgery; he could never be anything but sincere. "You've always been too hard on yourself, princess."
"Shall we call it even, then?" She held out her hand.
They shook. "Deal."
"And that's the best one I've made in the last one hundred years!" she laughed, and the coil in her chest wound tighter.
The afternoon waned. Shadows fell across the cafe patrons languidly nursing their drinks, a stark contrast to the bevy of children released from school and running riot in the town center. Link watched them for a pensive moment, a cryptic little smile forming on his lips.
He whipped out his Sheikah slate and thumbed through the pictures. "Found it!" He handed the device to Zelda. On the screen was the image of a plump, red-headed baby. "My godson," he explained.
She nearly spat out her tea. "Where did you find the time to get a godson?"
"Oh, here and there. Reawakening the Divine Beasts had me riding all over Hyrule, and with that much mileage one is bound to do things like meet people, make friends, help any number of strangers with their personal problems, develop several cookbooks' worth of recipes, accrue an obscene amount of money, purchase a house, build a new town, embark on an ambitious recruiting campaign for a company I don't work for, unite a couple in marriage, agree to become a godfather for said couple…." He shrugged. "You know, the usual stuff."
"And they decided to have a baby so soon after the wedding?"
"Well, isn't that what people do when they're married. Have babies?"
Alarm bells exploded in Zelda's head. As far as she knew, she hadn't transformed into a frog leg herself, so why was he looking at her like he wanted nothing more than to gobble her up? "What did you say his name was?" she squeaked.
"Hudson and Rhondson decided to name him after his father."
"So it's Rhondson?"
Zelda's eyes narrowed. "Please tell me it's not 'Link'," she whispered.
"No! It's Hudsonson. Apparently, Bolson Construction Company has very strict naming regulations when it comes to their employees." He chuckled. "A bit odd, if you ask me."
"Perhaps. But I shouldn't be one to judge, considering how much I know about archaic naming conventions."
"Yes." His laughter died. "I'm sure you do."
Link fell silent. His eyes drifted past her to the children playing and the townsfolk rushing about their chores. Zelda, who by now had gained the ability to distinguish between Link's 'normal quiet' and his 'meaningful quiet,' had surmised that something was not quite right.
"Is there something wrong, Link?"
Perhaps he had not heard her, for he was quiet many moments. Zelda was on the brink of repeating her question when he sighed.
"The truth is, Zelda, I've recalled quite a few memories over the past months. And yet, with all I've gained, there's still one crucial memory that's strangely missing."
"Oh?" The teacup shook as she raised it to her lips. "Was it when you pulled out the master sword?"
"The knighting ceremony? When you were chosen as my champion?"
"That memory was a little too vivid, actually."
"The time you ate caterpillars for science?"
His blue gaze, clear as the sky after a storm, all but stopped her heart. "I have no memory of our wedding."
She swallowed, and set down her cup. "Why don't you tell me exactly what you do you remember?"
"Where to begin?" He leaned back in his seat. "I have a lot of memories of you hating me. Then I have some memories of you not hating me as much. Then I have a few memories of you and I being somewhat friendly. And then – all of our friends and family horrifically dying." He ran a hand roughly through is hair. "Putting them all together it appears to me there's not much room for a wedding, to say nothing of a honeymoon!"
Zelda lowered her head. The tea leaves swirled in her cup, the brew cold and bitter. "No. I suppose not."
"We never got married, did we?"
"Then why did you tell me you were my wife?"
"Did you think it was the only way I would rescue you?"
"That I would be so cowardly as to abandon my duty to you unless I thought –"
"No, of course not!" She stood. "It was just a stupid, stupid impulse, and I know I've ruined everything – but please believe me when I say that the last thing I ever wanted was to hurt you."
Could he hear her heartbeat? It was thunder in her ears. Too loud, too much – everything was too much.
She turned to flee. But a strong hand gripped her arm and pulled her back.
"Please don't go, Zelda. I'm not angry, I just want to know why."
It was so easy for him, wasn't it? The world was so black and white. Link, with all his goodness and bravery, never dabbled in the shades of gray.
Could she really make him understand?
"You were asleep for so long," she said. "One hundred years! And everyday, all I could think about was the moment you would wake up. And when your eyes finally opened, and you started telling me how beautiful I was…"
"Ah, that…." He rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish smile. "I realize I may have been a bit...forward… at the time."
Talk about understatements. "You were. But you weren't yourself. And you didn't remember who I was. You had no idea at all." Now came the hard part. "I told you I was your wife because that's what I wanted to be true, because I was too afraid to tell you the truth."
She looked away. "That you didn't love me."
"I do love you!"
"You only think that because of what I said. But one hundred years ago, you didn't. Back then, I was just your duty."
Link reached out a hand and turned her face back to him, brushed away the tears. "Back then I was too afraid to say what I felt."
"How can you know?"
"Maybe I can't know for sure. But what I did or didn't feel back then – none of that matters. All that matters is how I feel today." He smiled. "A very wise person once told me there are things that need not be remembered."
"Like love." Then he bent down, his face drawing closer, closer.
Zelda held her breath.
"Link! Buddy! Pal!" A hand slapped hard across Link's back. "Been awhile since I've seen you, not since the wedding, right? How's that house been holding up?" Bolson stopped as he noticed Zelda. "Why hello there..." His eyebrows waggled. "Don't remember seeing you around. Who's the new lady, Link?"
Link wrapped an arm around tight around her shoulder, and she'd never felt so much like she belonged.
"She's my wife!"
I realize this chapter was a bit less humorous than the others, but I do genuinely ship these two and wanted to write something at least a little shippy! Hopefully there was enough lolz to appease the crack addicts.
Anyway, thanks for all the reads, reviews, and kudos. This is my first Zelda fic and I was blown away by the response. I have a few other ideas for LOZ fics (some funny, some not so funny) and hopefully I'll have the time to get to them this summer.