Making up for Lost Time

Yay! I'm a writer now! Thanks to Legend of Zelda 4 Life, Wavebreeze, and Starlll for your reviews and encouragement. This is the prequel to A Day of Joy…..it's OOT, right after Link goes back to the castle after time is turned back. This is a ZeLink fluffy thing, though there will certainly be some drama and adolescent angst, as we are going to watch our favorite Hero and Princess grow up as normal people (by normal I mean not in drag or locked away in the Sacred Realm)…..no Ganondork…..he's in the Evil Realm where he belongs.

Disclaimer: I don't own Zelda; Nintendo does. If I did, I would convert my gazillions to gold coins and go swimming in them like in the Duck Tales cartoon.

Prologue

The warm sunshine of a late spring afternoon shone down on the young boy in green as he cautiously snuck past the guards stationed throughout the gardens of Hyrule Castle. He paused briefly before entering the castle's courtyard, taking a moment to rest and attempt to calm his nerves; would she even remember him? Would she call for her guards? Or worse, what if she did remember, and….

Stop it, he told himself. You won't know unless you talk to her. What are you so afraid of anyway; you fought a dragon and a giant drumming eye and even that big ugly pig Ganon, and now you're afraid of a little girl? Some Hero. He took a deep breath and slowly moved across the grass to the stone pedestal, where the Princess of Hyrule, the Seventh Sage, the girl he'd thought of in all the darkest moments of his quest to save the kingdom, stood looking in the window of the castle, just as she'd been doing the first time they'd met. As she'd done in the other time, she suddenly turned around, a quick gasp escaping before she covered her mouth with her hand.

This time, however, she didn't tell Link about her nightmares, and her distrust of Ganondorf, and how he had to collect Spiritual Stones; she simply walked toward him, slowly, her face still wearing the same expression of surprise. When she reached him, was close enough to touch him, to see his chest move as he breathed, she began laughing, throwing her arms around him, holding him as if she never wanted to let him go. He returned the embrace, laughing also, pulling her close enough to lay his head on her shoulder, as she was once again a few inches taller than he, breathing a sigh of relief that she did remember him, and seemed happy to have him there.

"Link, you're here! I didn't know if you would come back; I didn't know if you'd even remember anything. How are you?" She pulled back slightly, arms still around him but looking down into his face, her own the very picture of unadulterated joy.

"I'm okay. I was afraid you wouldn't remember; like maybe you'd send me to the dungeon or something." Zelda giggled at this, then smiled sincerely as she spoke.

"Link, I don't think anything, or anyone short of the Goddesses themselves, could make me forget you…and I don't think they would do that, do you? I think…..," she paused, looking off into the distance, "I think they want us to be together; to be friends now that things are back to normal. Don't you?" She took his arms from around her waist and held them in her own, their eyes, similar shades of deep blue, locked.

Link thought, I sure have come a long way from being the kid without a fairy. Never in his wildest dreams would he have thought he would ever leave Kokiri Forest, let alone become a Hero and, apparently, friends with a princess. Of course, he had no problem with this; who wouldn't want to be friends with Princess Zelda? She was kind and caring and was always thinking of others. Not to mention the fact that she was the most beautiful girl Link had ever met.

"Yes, Princess," he said, blushing and looking down toward their feet.

"Link, look at me. She dropped one hand and lifted his chin so their eyes met once again. For a minute, he was simultaneously thrilled and terrified that she was going to kiss him. "I order you to call me Zelda," she said, her face displaying her amusement at his sudden shyness.

"Yes ma'am," he told her and she giggled, elbowing him gently in the ribs.

"Not ma'am; I'm just a kid, like you. Call me Zelda, silly. Say it with me; Zel-da," she said, as if he was a baby that was learning to talk.

He chuckled softly. "Okay, Zelda. Tell me what you were looking at through the window. I know it can't be Ganondorf, because you wouldn't be so happy if he was still around."

"Come and look," she told him, taking his hand and leading him to the window, where they'd once spied on the evil Gerudo king. Inside, much to Link's relief, were several servants hanging a painting of the castle. Link had seen that exact view many times before; it must've been done from the top of the gatehouse. It was the only painting whose subject was recognizable to Link; all the others were of people he'd never seen, even on his travels throughout Hyrule. "My father had this commissioned several months before Ganondorf showed up; it was just completed this morning. It makes me feel hopeful; that this time maybe things will be better. And I, we, owe it all to you, Link," she said softly, then bent to kiss him on the cheek, only he turned his head at the last minute, and their lips met for just a fraction of a second before both moved back, blushing profusely.

"Ahem," they heard behind them and both turned. "Princess, I thought you and our young Hero might enjoy a snack," the tall Sheikah woman said as she moved toward the two youngsters, carrying a tray with two bottles of milk and a plate of cookies.

"Thank you, Impa," Zelda replied, blushing even deeper as the Sheikah caught the princess' eye and gave her a knowing look. "We'll eat it over here," she said, pointing to the edge of the platform. Water from the narrow pool surrounding the courtyard on three sides flowed smoothly underneath the stones, and the princess removed her slippers and stockings before dangling her feet over the edge, her toes grazing the water. "Come on Link," she said, patting the ground next to her. He hesitantly moved toward the princess, unsure about what Zelda's nursemaid must think of him after appearing at such an inopportune time. What if she thought he'd kissed the princess on purpose; would she tell the king? He kept his eyes down, as if shamed, not aware that behind the woman's red eyes and neutral expression, she was amused at these young pups; she'd detected a hint of innocently budding attraction when first they'd met, and was not at all surprised that it had come to this, though she'd seen enough to know that the meeting of their lips was an accident. She would have a good laugh over the scene she'd witnessed later.

"Is that all, Princess?" Impa asked, and when Zelda confirmed this with a distracted nod as she handed the boy a bottle of milk, the Sheikah took her leave.

"Do you think we'll be in trouble for…..will she tell your father?" Link asked Zelda worriedly as he placed the milk bottle on the stones before removing his boots and socks and placing his sweaty feet in the water below.

"No, of course not," Zelda replied after swallowing a bite of cookie. "Impa is….well, she's a Sheikah so she doesn't always come right out and say things directly, but I would've known by the tone of her voice if she was angry. I almost think she thought it was funny. She ….I…..in the other time….." Zelda trailed off, deciding there was no way she was going to tell him about how she'd discussed her feelings toward him with her guardian in the previous stream of time. She frantically searched her mind for a change of subject, then noticed for the first time that Link was alone; the little blue ball of light that had been with him in the other time was missing.

"Link, where's Navi?" she asked him, then regretted it when she saw him pause mid-chew and a sad expression wash over his face.

"I don't know. She left after I put the sword back and turned into a kid again. She didn't even say goodbye or anything. Stupid fairy," he sighed huffily, but the princess knew he was hurt at being abandoned in such a way.

"I'm sorry," she said, taking his hand in hers and squeezing it. "I know she meant a lot to you, and Saria told me that you waited a long time to get a fairy in the first place (she had briefly met the forest girl in the Chamber of Sages, and somehow the conversation always led back to Link). Maybe she just went back to the forest"

"No," he said, closing his eyes and taking a big drink of milk in hopes of swallowing the lump in his throat. "She's gone….I just…..know, somehow." His voice cracked on the word know, and Zelda thought that he looked as though he might burst into tears any second. She knew he didn't want to, and to see him like that would break her heart, so she tried to distract him.

"So, when's the wedding?" she asked him, smirking. His sadness was immediately replaced with a look of alarm, and his cheeks turned a shade similar to that of the Goron tunic.

"What?! Zelda, what are you talking…we can't get married, we're just ten years old!" he exclaimed. The princess, too, turned bright red, partly from his insinuation of marriage between them, but mostly because she was laughing so hard that milk came out her nose, which made Link laugh. Mission accomplished, she thought.

"No, you and Princess Ruto. She says the two of you are engaged," Zelda said when she'd recovered her ability to speak.

Link's face was one of frustration. "We are NOT! I've told her a hundred times, I am not going to marry her! You made me get that stupid Spiritual Stone and now she thinks….ugh!" he said, wrinkling his nose in a way that made Zelda giggle. He's so cute when he does that, she thought.

"Oh, come on Link; don't you want to be king of the Zoras?"

"No! First of all, she's a fish, which means she's cold and wet and slimy, and second of all, I don't like her; she's a spoiled little bossy brat that made me carry her around all through Lord Jabu-Jabu, and I am not marrying her no matter what! What are you laughing at?" Link asked, his hackles still raised after his rant. Zelda was rolling in the grass, gasping for breath, and everytime she thought she'd regained control, his cross expression cracked her up. She was laughing so hard that she didn't see the young Hero dip his empty milk bottle in the pool and fill it, or the mischief in his eyes as he held it over her head. He'd only meant to pretend he was going to pour it, so she'd stop laughing about him and that stupid Zora girl, but he tipped it a bit too far, soaking her headdress and earning him a look of incredulous irritation.

"LINK! What was that for?" she shreiked.

"Oh, no, Zelda, I'm so sorry…..I was just….." He was gonna get it now for sure; who knew what kind of trouble you could get in for disrespecting the princess in that way, even if it was just an accident? She sat up, doing her best to scowl at him,arms crossed in a gesture of irritation, but a moment later she was laughing just as hard as before, and he joined her, relieved that she wasn't mad. Not that she was going to let him get away with it…..

"Zelda, you little….." he said as she poured the contents of her own bottle directly on top of his hat, making him glad that Navi wasn't in there right now. He stepped off the side of the platform so he was wading in the pool, then used his hands to scoop up more water, which ended up on her back this time. The princess jumped up and she, too, was in the shallow pool, the hem of her long dress becoming soaked as she concentrated on splashing him, their irritation quickly dissolving into childish sqeals and shouts of laughter. Within two minutes, they were soaked, and any inch which might've been spared was no longer when the Princess of Hyrule, heir to the throne, jumped on the back of the Hero of Time, who had saved the kingdom from certain destruction, forcing him down into the water with an enormous splash.

Just inside the window through which the two had been peeking less than an hour ago, the King of Hyrule smiled as he watched his daughter and her new friend play, as children were meant to do (as opposed to fighting monsters). After a few minutes, he summoned a page, bidding him to fetch Impa from her quarters. When the Sheikah, who had been on the opposite side of the castle and was unaware of the water battle, appeared, she knelt before the king, arising in surprise at the sound of splashing water, childish voices and laughter coming from outside the window. Her eyes widened as she saw the princess tackle the young Hero, knocking him into the water for a second time. Impa was sure this did not look as though she'd been keeping careful watch over her young charge and guest. "Your Majesty, I will see to it that the Princess and Hero are brought inside immediately, and I will speak with her about…"

"That will not be necessary; they are only children after all, and perhaps I was a bit too restrictive with my daughter before. Look how happy she…." Something Impa had said suddenly registered with the monarch. "Did you say Hero? That young man is the Hero of Time?"

"Yes, Your Majesty. Of course, he was a bit older when he defeated Ganondorf, but…."

"Now he will have the opportunity, as does my daughter, to grow up as a child should. And perhaps he will be able to temper Zelda's impulsive streak a bit; she might be more willing to listen to someone her own age. He has saved the kingdom from certain destruction; certainly he can mind one little girl.

"Your Majesty, I admit I'm confused. What do you propose?"

"We will find out if the young Hero would be interested in becoming the princess' personal guard. If so, he will accompany her as she goes about her duties, and whenever she leaves the castle grounds. We will also set him up to live here full-time. Do you think that would be satisfactory?"

"Well, sir, he is from the Kokiri Forest; he was left there by his dying mother when he was only a baby. I do not know how he would feel about leaving the only home he's ever known. Still, he and the princess have had a….connection, I'll say, since the first time they met. You can rest assured, Your Majesty, that young Link would do anything to protect the princess, even die for her." She sighed heavily, remembering the helplessness of watching that final battle from the Chamber of Sages, of watching two so young battle such a great evil. "He almost did, you know. If she had not used her magic to hold back that horrible beast so that he could deliver the final blow….." she trailed off, not wanting to think of what might have happened if Ganondorf had not been locked inside the Evil Realm. "Yes, I agree; he would be the ideal companion and protector for the princess, but do not be surprised if their relationship becomes deeper. I was with her almost every day in the other time, even when she had to go into hiding and disguise herself in order to teach the Hero the songs he must learn to warp throughout the kingdom. One night, while he was fighting in an especially grueling temple, she told me she thought she was in love with him. There is an attraction there even now, and it will only grow as they do.

The king looked out the window again, where the two blond children were wringing water out of their respective headpieces. The Hero stepped out of the water onto the grass, then placed his hand out to the princess to aid her, blushing as she thanked him, rubbing the back of his neck with his other hand as he did when embarrassed. She sat down on the grass, pulling his on his hand until he was beside her, then lay back, pointing at the clouds slowly passing overhead. He lay beside her, pointing to another formation, saying something unheard at this distance that made her laugh. " Impa, they are only ten. I think it is a bit premature to be thinking of anything but friendship." The middle-aged monarch chuckled at the thought of these two children growing up and falling in love, and then said, "Impa, find the children some dry clothes and tell the boy to meet me in my study in half an hour. In the meantime I will speak with Ronan (Ronan was the captain of the guards).

The Sheikah woman did a double-take. "Your Highness, do you mean to say….."

"Yes, Impa," the king laughed, "That boy has saved us all; the least I can do is to see that he becomes a knight."

Okay, what think you? I've already written (but haven't posted) some one-shots for each of the years between 10 and 17, but since I've decided to make an actual story of this, I'll gladly take suggestions for ideas to supplement what I've got thus far. This can be events you'd like to see happen (it would be great if you could indicate an age when said event might take place), characters you'd like to hear from (I'm going to be putting a bit of MM stuff in, and have already decided that the other sages and Malon will be featured) and even the structure (I thought of doing a chapter for Link and a chapter for Zelda for each year, but I'm not sure). I'll be sure to give credit for any ideas I use. Anyhoo, rate and review; I get really excited about reviews (I almost cried last time I was so happy!)