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Disclaimer: I don't own Zelda. I'm just borrowing.

Author's Note: I beg you, nitpick me. Tell me every single thing I did wrong. It's how I improve.

And, as always, much love to all readers and reviewers!. You people make the world go round.






Eight Years to the Day
by Startide Risen



She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t—damn.


The old lady was alone in the little vale, but still she turned her face away as if to hide her moment of weakness. She swiped at her eyes and sucked in deep breaths. In a few moments she was calm again.


She was glad to be here alone. That way there was no one to see her tears. Except, of course, for the lonely oaks and the cold gravestone they guarded.


And then there were the memories. A thousand whispers, a hundred kisses, and exactly one promise lived here.


But no matter. She couldn’t stall any longer.


The wind tugged a lock of silver hair loose from its clasp. A welcome distraction. She took her time in disentangling it from the thin gold tiara that graced her head.


Now.


She tried to smile for the cold headstone at her feet.


“It’s been eight years to the day, love. We miss you. I miss you,” she offered, looking a bit lost. What did one say to the dead?


On sudden inspiration she blurted, “Little Seren asked about you just the other day.” Her hands clenched in the folds of her skirts. “‘Grandmama, tell me about Grandfather,’ she said. I didn’t really know what to tell her. But who can resist big blue eyes like those? So I took her in my lap—and let me tell you, that girl is getting big—and I told her the fairy tale version of our story. You know, the one where they beat the bad guy and everyone gets to live happily ever after.”


Then the lines in her face deepened. “I wish it really had been like that.” She shook her head. “But even if it was no fairy tale, it wasn’t so bad while it lasted, was it? We lost a lot, we gave up a lot, but in the end we were happy, weren’t we?”


A long pause and no answer. She hadn’t expected any. Really she hadn’t.


“I’ve thought about that a lot,” she continued quietly. “Ever since Ariane married Westley and they took the throne. All of a sudden, our daughter was married and somebody else was running Hyrule… So, naturally, I had no idea what to do with myself. Since then I’ve done a lot of thinking, especially about you and me and everything that happened to us.”


She chuckled. “Perhaps that’s not completely accurate. I once said something like that to Westley, and he looked at me as if I were crazy and said, ‘Nothing happened to you and Link. You and Link happened to everything else.’


“And maybe we did. We were certainly involved in enough trouble to last us several lifetimes. But we never asked for it, we never went looking for it…


“You know, sometimes I wonder whether I would’ve still been me and you would’ve still been you had I grown up a peasant girl and you a farm boy. If we’d never had to save the damn country and each other over and over again. But then I wonder if we would have still been in love.


“Scary thought, you not loving me.


“I think maybe you still do, from wherever you are now. Least I hope so. Goddess knows I’ve seen the captain of the guard tell enough army widows something similar. ‘He’s in a better place, he’s watching over you, your guardian angel…’


“The Veraini ambassador who was here when you died tried to tell me something like that. I was on such a short fuse, I would’ve let him have it—verbally, mind you, I was never big on punching people like you were—but Westley knocked a pitcher onto the poor ambassador to distract him, and Ariane dragged me away before I could start screaming or some such thing. They handled it all so much better than I did...


“But that’s not what I came here to tell you. Really I wanted to say that...I’m happy. You gave me Ariane and she found Westley... and now I have a granddaughter. I have Seren. Oh, Link, I wish you could’ve known her. You would’ve just adored that little girl. And I know she would have loved her Grandfather.”


Dangerous waters, these. But she wouldn’t cry, she wouldn’t cry, she wouldn’t—damn.


“Grandmama! Grandmama!”


The Dowager Queen Zelda turned to see her granddaughter running down the knoll toward her. The child’s pale gold hair bounced on her shoulders, dappled in the shade of the old oaks. Behind her Ariane stood at the crest of the hill, watching with one hand shading her eyes and the other holding a bunch of flowers.


Zelda smiled, knelt, and opened her arms wide. Seren launched herself into them.


“Oh, my big girl,” the old lady said, squeezing her close and then holding her at arm’s length to have a good look at her. “What are you and Mama doing down here?”


Seren looked at her very seriously. “Mama said you were coming here because today was sad. We wanted to come with you so you didn’t have to be sad alone.”


Ariane walked up behind her daughter, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Hello, Mother,” she said quietly. She glanced at the hero’s grave, and her eyes were pained. “We thought maybe… maybe this time we could come see him together.”


Zelda stood slowly, leaned forward to kiss her daughter’s cheek, and nodded. “I’d like that,” she said softly. Ariane offered a smile, then looked down at Seren.


“Here, honey,” she said, handing her the flowers. Solemnly the little girl took them and arranged them before the headstone.

And Zelda was glad she was not here alone.


[end]


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