Stories by Alexandra Spears
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The Legend of Zelda: Afterward

By: Alexandra Spears

Author's Note:  Okay, the usual disclaimer applies, Link, Zelda, and any related characters, places, whatever, belong to Nintendo.  This is based on the 1989 cartoon--and it's one of my little sagas.  Too bad only a few of us write cartoon-based fics, they're fun to write!  :)


Chapter One:  Showdown and Repercussions

It was a pleasant autumn afternoon in Hyrule, certainly a nice day for horseback riding, which was something Princess Zelda of Hyrule and her friend Link were doing at that moment. Leaves of red, gold, orange, and brown were falling, and some of these crunched under their horses' hooves as the pair made their way back to North Castle, where they lived.

"Won't be long before it gets cold," remarked sixteen-year-old Link, who was a rather handsome young man with longish brown hair and warm brown eyes. He looked over at Zelda, with whom he was in love. He sighed to himself quietly. She was beautiful, with her emerald-green eyes and her golden hair, which fell to the middle of her back. He so wanted her to be his first girlfriend....

"Winter's so depressing," Zelda sighed. "I can hardly wait until spring comes again."

"I don't know, there can be some good things about winter," said Link dreamily, picturing in his mind himself and Zelda sitting together in front of a nice roaring fire, underneath a blanket.

"Like what?" Zelda asked, looking at him and seeing the dreamy look on his face. She'd known him for a year and she had a very good idea what he was thinking about. No doubt he was imagining them together somehow--and she wasn't sure if she should be flattered. She wasn't even sure if she wanted to know what scenario he was dreaming up in his head.

"No spring cleaning," Link said quickly, mischievously.

Zelda reached out and gave him a light swat on his arm. "You would say that," she said, clearly trying not to smile.

"You punch like a girl," Link chortled.

"I am not even going to be drawn into that one," Zelda sniffed, her nose going into the air.

"I'm surprised you don't trip over your feet, your nose is up in the air so much," Link snickered, purposely pushing her buttons. He enjoyed their occasional bantering.

"At least I'm graceful--unlike you, my hero," Zelda said, turning her head and smirking at him.

"Well excuuuuse me, Princess," Link retorted, knowing she'd won this round.

Zelda rolled her eyes. "We should really hurry we have time to clean up before dinner," she said, changing the subject to one she knew would interest Link. In Zelda's words, he was capable of eating enough to feed her father's entire army. She pulled back on her white horse's reins. "I'll race you!"

Before Link knew it, Zelda was racing ahead. "Well, I bet we can beat her, Catherine," said Link to his horse, who was brown with a black mane and tail. He was just pulling back on Catherine's reins when he heard Zelda scream, saw her horse rearing back. To his horror, she flew off, landing hard on her left arm.

"Zelda!" he cried. "Let's go, Catherine!"

Seconds later Link and his horse were at the scene, and he saw a Stalfo, a Goriya, and a Molblin there. The Molblin had just slung Zelda over his shoulder. "Look out--it Link," he said to his cohorts in his rough, dumb-sounding voice.

"Let go of her," Link commanded, quickly dismounting and unsheating his gold-and-red-handled sword. A quick glance told him that Zelda was unconscious; she wasn't even trying to get away.

"Get him," said the Molblin as he began running towards a nearby Underworld entrance. "I give Zelda to Ganon."

Link was pounced upon by the skeletal Stalfo and the wolf-faced Goriya; his sword flew out of his hand. "I have no time for this!" he growled as he struggled against the minions of the evil wizard Ganon. The girl he loved was in danger, and that fact alone was enough to get his adrenaline going. He brought up one leg, kneeing the Goriya between its legs, causing it to howl in pain. Quickly he grabbed the bottom of the Stalfo's armor and threw the Stalfo off him. A split second later he rolled onto his stomach on the ground and grabbed his sword.

He aimed, and a pink magic bolt shot out of his sword, dispatching the Goriya, who was still doubled over in pain. At that moment the Stalfo pounced onto his back, wrapping its bony arms around Link's neck, just about cutting off his air. Link spun around, hitting the skeleton against a nearby tree and freeing himself. "Back to Ganon you go," Link snarled as he fired off a magic bolt; the Stalfo disappeared in a pink flash of light. "Now to find Zelda."

The first things Zelda felt as she regained consciousness were the intense pain in her left forearm and the ache in her head. She thought she felt something wet on the left side of her forehead. Her left arm hurt far too much to move it, so she reached with her right hand and touched her forehead. Looking at her hand, she saw blood on it.

"Link," she moaned quietly, not bothering to open her eyes.

"Why not me?" asked a familiar, rather high-pitched voice. "Must you always be so hung-up on that hero, my dear?"

Zelda's green eyes fluttered open. She was in one of Ganon's dungeon cells, and the porcine-faced wizard was gazing down at her through the bars. "Ganon," she said. "Just wait until Link shows'll be sorry...."

"It's Link who'll be sorry," said Ganon. "My minions should be making short work of him right this minute."

Zelda didn't bother to reply; she was dizzy and in too much pain. She was sure Link could handle Ganon's incompetent minions. She closed her eyes, wishing she could sink back into unconsciousness....

Link clutched his sword tightly as he made his way through the underground labyrinths. He knew Zelda was hurt, probably badly. Ganon was going to pay for that, he thought as he carefully looked around. Protecting Zelda was in his job description, but that was no longer the reason he did it--he looked after her because he loved her. She might be a spoiled young princess on the outside, but he knew her better than most others did. There was just something about her that attracted him to her.

"I'm on my way, Princess," Link whispered softly as he made his way across a bridge that went from one underground turret to another. Long way down, he thought as he glanced around at the complicated maze of staircases and underground towers. He proceeded cautiously--he'd be worthless if he were killed down here. With that in mind, he slipped his hand into the pouch on his belt and found his forcefield ring, slipped it onto his finger.

It was a good thing, for as he approached the door he was headed for, two Gibdos--mummy-like creatures--flew out the door and charged at him. "Guess I'll take the shortcut down," Link said as he grabbed the bandages of one and jumped over the side of the bridge. He had his forcefield ring on, but this was much more fun, he was thinking as he used the unravelling bandage to slow his fall. The dim-witted Gibdo was holding on to its companion, which was holding on to the door jamb. As soon as Link landed, the bandage had completely unravelled, and the Gibdo disappeared in a flash of pink light.

"Now to find Zelda," Link said to himself for the umpteenth time as he selected a door out of the myriad of doors. He opened it, and found himself in Ganon's dungeon.

"Welcome, hero," said Ganon in a deep, low growl. "Now I can finish off you and the Princess, and I can get the Triforce of Wisdom!"

"Dream on, Ganon," said Link. "Where's Zelda?"

Ganon grinned maliciously. "She's already gone."

"WHAT!?" Link screamed as he angrily rushed at Ganon and knocked the evil wizard off his feet. His face was red with rage as he held the blade of his sword to Ganon's neck. "You are going to pay for that!" he sobbed, tears coming to his eyes. Before Ganon could react, Link stood up and grabbed the front of Ganon's navy-blue robe and violently shook him. All he could think of was Zelda dying down here, alone, probably frightened. He could not stop himself from wondering how much she might have suffered. He slammed Ganon down on the steps that led up to his throne, which sat high up in the chamber, causing him to drop a ring of keys to the stone floor.

Quick as a wink Link took out his sword and zapped Ganon three times, sending him into his Evil Jar, which was in the next chamber. It would take Ganon a while to get out of it, he had to build up power over the next few days; and so Link fell to his knees, tears in his eyes. "Zelda," he moaned, tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Link," said a soft, feminine voice from nearby. It sounded rather weak.

"Zelda?" Link went to the other end of the chamber and peered down into one of the cells. There lay Zelda--and she was alive! "Oh, Zelda, I'm so glad--" He couldn't bring himself to say the rest of it. He didn't want to think of the possibility of Zelda dying. He rushed over to the steps, got the keys, and went and unlocked the cell Zelda was lying in.

"You really do care, don't you?" Zelda asked weakly as Link carefully lifted her into his arms. "I--I think you lost it when Ganon lied and said I was dead...."

"Of course I care, Zelda," Link told her as he carefully hugged her to him. "Are you going to be all right?"

"I--I think I can walk," Zelda told him as she held her left arm.

Link carefully set her down on her feet. "I think your arm's broken," he said, touching it gently. Zelda cried out in pain.

"Link...let's get the Triforce of Power," Zelda said through gritted teeth. "Then--then we'll head home."

The pair headed into the next chamber. Inside the Evil Jar, Ganon was tumbling in the pink mist, pounding on the glass. "Leave that Triforce alone!" he shrieked.

Just beneath the Evil Jar was a pedestal, on top of which sat the red pyramid that was the Triforce of Power. Zelda held on to Link as he reached up and brought the relic down and cradled it in his arm. "At last," said Zelda quietly.

"Let's get you home and get you taken care of," said Link.

Some time later, Zelda lay in her bed, wearing a short-sleeved pink nightgown. Link was in a chair, sitting at her bedside and holding her right hand while a healer tended to the girl's injuries.

Zelda winced as the healer daubed antiseptic on her forehead with a soaked cloth. She looked up at Link as the healer then proceeded to bandage the wound. "Fortunately the wound isn't that bad," the healer said as she reached for a cup. "It's the broken arm that's the worst of your injuries, Princess. Now let's tend to that."

Link slid his arm underneath Zelda's shoulders and propped her up, and the healer placed the cup to Zelda's lips. "Drink this," she told Zelda.

The princess drank the cup's contents and Link laid her back down on her pillows. Soon her eyes closed and her breathing became deep and even. "She'll be out for a few hours," the dark-haired healer explained to Link. "Otherwise setting her arm will subject her to a lot of pain."

"She'll be all right then?" Link asked as the healer took Zelda's forearm in her hands and set it.

The healer nodded. "She's had a slight concussion but she'll be all right. Her arm, though, may take up to two months to heal completely." She carefully wrapped Zelda's bruised arm in a bandage and made a sling for it. "Right now it's best if she gets some sleep."

The next morning Zelda was sitting up in her bed, having just eaten the breakfast Link had brought up for her. Link was sitting at the table in Zelda's huge bedroom, eating his own breakfast.

"Link, I really want to thank you...for getting the Triforce of Power from Ganon. He will no longer be a threat to Hyrule," said Zelda as she crumpled her white linen napkin in her good hand.

"Guess I'm out of a job now," Link smirked.

Zelda looked up at him. "I wouldn't say that, Link. I'm sure others will be after the Triforce...and I'd, well, I'd really like you to stay and help guard it. And my father thinks you should stay and protect me, like you've been doing."

"I'd be glad to," said Link. "By the way, I hardly think you'd need to stay in bed with just a broken arm."

"I still feel slightly dizzy, because of my head," Zelda reminded him.

"Yeah, that's right," said Link as he went over there and moved the tray out of the way. He sat it on the floor and sat down on the edge of her bed, facing her. "Yeah, it's better that you lie down for a while."

Zelda lay back and Link gently pulled the blankets up to her chest, carefully lifting her broken arm up and resting it on top of the blankets. She studied Link as he helped her. He really seemed to genuinely care for her. She was sure he'd been crying yesterday when he'd thought that she'd been killed...she'd been able to hear it in his voice and for the first time she'd seen tears in his eyes. She had always been attracted to him but had hidden her feelings because she had always thought that he was just out for a good time--and he wasn't of royal birth. Yet Link was treating her like he cared for her, unlike some of the princes that had wanted to court her.

Link started to get up, and Zelda took his hand and gently pulled on it. "Link...I think I owe you big time for getting me the Triforce of Power," she said. "A nice, big kiss." She pulled herself up into a sitting position.

"You really mean it?" Link asked, sounding hopeful. This time he should get a kiss in, he thought as he gently placed his hands on Zelda's shoulders. Sprite, a fairy princess who resided in the castle, was at her family's fairy spring, so she shouldn't interrupt. No monsters should be around.

"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it," Zelda replied. "Now are you going to kiss me or not, hero?"

"Of course," said Link.

Seconds later, the most magical moment of their lives occurred. They closed their eyes as their lips touched. Link's heart started racing as Zelda ran her fingers through his hair, knocking his green cap off his head. She was pulling him closer as she parted her lips, wanting him to deepen the kiss. His hands went to her face and gently caressed her cheeks as he obliged her. He had to restrain his hands from wandering; he was wanting to do more than just kiss.

It ended all too soon. "My first kiss," Zelda told him, her cheeks pink.

"Mine too," said Link. "Boy, was that good...."

"I've seen you kiss a girl before," Zelda said, sounding a bit indignant. "That girl that turned into a Gibdo and turned you into a frog...."

"Please. I just did that to make you jealous--and let's not forget that evil twin of yours. And you're the only real girl I've ever kissed," said Link, his eyes twinkling. "And the only one I've ever that...."

"I do care about you, Link," Zelda confessed. "As...more than just a friend. You know what I'm saying?"

"You're finally admitting that you love me?"

Zelda nodded, her cheeks turning pink again. "I--I you felt about me...."

Link's expression turned serious. "I love you more than anything, Zelda. I always have, from the moment I first saw you. Maybe one day...."

Zelda looked up at him expectantly. "Maybe one day what, Link?"

Link shook his head. "I'd be pushing my luck there. Besides, it'd never happen."


Link stood up. "It's...nothing. I'm sure your father will want you to marry some prince, not some peasant like me." He sighed as he leaned against the post at the foot of her canopied bed. "It doesn't matter if we love each's the fact that I'm not royalty...."

"That was never my father's problem," said Zelda quietly as she looked down at her injured arm. "It's always been my problem."

"What do you mean?" Link was curious now.

"My father has been hinting to me that he'd like to see us together. I always dismissed it because you're not in a prince's class." She looked up, saw the sad, hopeless look on Link's handsome face, immediately felt ashamed. "Link...."

Link merely sighed sadly. "I guess it was wishful thinking."

"Link, it's always been up to me," Zelda said softly. "Like I said, I was the one with the problem. I've been thinking about this past year or so...especially yesterday...that's the only time I've ever seen you cry...."

"What, you mean I may have to do it more often?" Link teased as he sat back down and took Zelda's good hand. "Or maybe be a bit more emotional...?" He lifted her hand to his lips and gently kissed the back of it.

"Well...lately I've come to realize that maybe you aren't...well...just out for a good time, that you want a serious relationship."

"It wasn't obvious?" Link asked. "I thought it was." He gently cupped her left cheek in his right hand and stroked her temple with his thumb, careful about her wound. "Zelda, I'd really like to marry you. That's how much I love you."

"Oh, Link," Zelda sighed as she leaned forward. Once again their lips came together, and they shared a kiss as intense as the one before.

This time Link gently broke it off. "We keep this up...and something's gonna happen too soon," he said. "Something I'm sure you'd want to save for the wedding night."

"I see you're something of a gentleman too," Zelda said, gazing into his eyes. "Yes, Link, I'll marry you." She leaned forward, up against his chest, heard his heart beating.

Link put his arms around her and held her for a while, gently stroking her hair. "Link, I'm tired," she whispered. "I need to sleep."

"All right." Link gently eased her back onto her pillows and pulled the blankets back up over her. "I'll take the tray and dishes downstairs. Later on you can tell your father about our engagement. And of course I'll have to get you a ring." He gave her a brief kiss on her lips and got up.

Zelda smiled and closed her eyes while Link gathered up the dishes to take downstairs. He too was smiling...not only did he get a kiss from the girl he loved, but she had agreed to marry him. He felt like cheering.

That afternoon Link went up to Zelda's room, saw her father, King Harkinian, sitting in the room. The lovable old man looked up as Link entered. "My daughter tells me that you two are wanting to marry," he said, smiling.

" don't mind, do you?" Link asked uneasily, shifting from one foot to the other and scratching the back of his head. He remembered actually being encouraged by the old man to pursue Zelda one time. Pursuing Zelda, though, was one thing--marriage was another.

"Of course I don't mind!" Harkinian exclaimed, chuckling. He looked at Link. "Just as long as you keep proper until you're married."

"Oh, Daddy, don't worry," said Zelda, who was sitting up in bed. "Link is a gentleman. And you know I like the gentlemanly type."

"When are you two planning on getting married?" Harkinian asked.

"Definitely after Zelda heals up," Link said. He looked over at his fiancee questioningly.

"Maybe in the spring," Zelda suggested. She smiled. "I think a spring wedding would be romantic, don't you, Link?"

Link gave a somewhat embarrassed grin. "I agree." No doubt she was remembering the past spring when he'd told her that to him spring meant that love was blooming. Of course he wasn't going to say it with her father sitting there and look like a total sap.

"Good, good," said Harkinian. "It'll give us plenty of time to plan. And we'll also make it into a huge celebration...since Ganon is no longer a threat."

"How are you feeling, Zelda?" Link asked.

"Somewhat better," she replied. "My head doesn't hurt so much and the medication is helping with the pain in my arm...but it makes me sleepy."

"Sprite will be back tomorrow, and she'll be able to help you, what with bathing and whatnot," said Harkinian. "Don't want to get that bandage wet."

"I hate not being able to do anything," Zelda sighed.

"Oh, we can still go horseback riding together, I'd just have to ride with you and help you on and off," said Link. "Once you're feeling better, that is."

"I appreciate that, Link," Zelda said.

"Don't worry, my dear, soon you'll be able to do the things you want again," Harkinian consoled his daughter. "It's not permanent." He got up from his chair. "Well, I have some duties to attend to, you two talk, do whatever." He bent over and kissed Zelda on her cheek and hugged her carefully, gave Link a gentle clap on his shoulder, then left the room.

"Link, there's my Hylian chess set on top of my bookcase," said Zelda. "Bring it here and I'll teach you how to play."

"Sounds like fun," said Link. He went and got the game board, careful not to spill the pieces.

"This game was my mother's," said Zelda. "She loved to play. She disappeared when I was only seven years old; I remember her, but not much."

"What do you remember of her?" asked Link as they sat cross-legged on Zelda's bed, the board between them.

"She was a blue-eyed blonde, and she loved holding me on her lap and reading to me," Zelda recalled. "She taught me how to play this game. Now let me show you what each piece is...." Apparently her mother's disappearance nine years ago still bothered her.

Link listened carefully as Zelda explained about each piece and how it could move. Once Link had it down pat, they started a game, with Zelda guiding him through it. She won, but told him, "You did very well, Link, for your first game."

"I'll get you next time," Link teased as he leaned forward and kissed Zelda's cheek.

The next day, Sprite came back to North Castle. "Hey, how are you doing, Sprite?" Link asked the strawberry-blonde fairy as she flitted across the drawbridge.

"Just fine Link. And where's Zelda?"

"We have some pretty big news, and where Zelda is is part of it," said Link. He then proceeded to update Sprite on what had been going on.

"Oh, poor Zelda!" the fairy squeaked. "I mean about the broken arm. It's good that she finally fessed up, though! Really, I'm jealous." She grinned to show that she was kidding. "And you actually got the Triforce of Power, I can't believe it, you lug!" The three-inch-high fairy sat down on his shoulder.

"Yeah, the entire Triforce is in a hidden vault now, where no one can get to it. Only Zelda and I have the means to get to it," Link informed her as he walked into the castle.

"I'll go see how Zelda is doing," said Sprite.

Zelda looked up when the door opened and Sprite flitted in. "Sprite--welcome back!" Zelda said as she stood up.

"Link told me what all happened. So we're safe from Ganon?"

"Pretty much," said Zelda. "Now that he no longer has the Triforce of Power." She managed to get her nightgown off. "I need a bath."

Sprite made sure the door was locked so Link wouldn't be able to accidentally see his bride-to-be before the appropriate time. "I'll help you," she said.

"I was hoping you would," Zelda smiled. "A lot I can do myself, with just my right hand, so I won't need that much help." She went into her huge bathroom, where earlier some servants had filled the tub with water, and stepped into it and sat down.

Sprite grabbed a washcloth and Zelda managed to hold her broken arm up while the fairy helped her bathe. Zelda was able to pretty much wash her own hair with one hand, though it was a bit clumsy.

Zelda finally stepped out and dried herself; then Sprite helped wrap a towel around her body. "Thanks, Sprite," said Zelda.

Finally the day came when the healer, using her magic, was able to tell that Zelda's arm had healed completely.

"I feel so much better," Zelda told Link as the healer took off the bandages.

"Now you get to play in the snow with me," Link said, grinning impishly. Quite a bit of snow had fallen the previous night, something that didn't happen in Hyrule all that often.

"I'd love to," smiled Zelda.

"Oh--and now that your arm is healed up...." Link took something out of his pocket. Zelda gasped as he gently took her left hand and placed a diamond ring on the ring finger.

"Oh, Link, how beautiful! Isn't it?" she asked the healer.

"Yes, very much so," the healer smiled. "I'll leave you two alone together."

Zelda stood up and threw her arms around Link's neck, hugging him tightly. She loved him even more now. The past couple of months he'd been so supportive of her, helping whenever she needed him.

"Why don't we go outside and play?" Link invited, giving her a kiss on her lips.

"You love to play, don't you?" Zelda teased her fiance. "Let's get our coats."

A little later, Link and Zelda were teasing each other in the forest just east of the North Castle, throwing snowballs at each other. Sprite was with them, and sometimes Link tried to lob a snowball at her as well.

"Hey, look over there!" Sprite said suddenly.

"Yeah, right, that trick is so old," scoffed Link.

Zelda looked to where Sprite was pointing. "Link, she's not kidding," said Zelda. "Look over there!"

The three looked, and saw what looked like a small blonde girl in tatters, staggering through the snow. Zelda hurried to the girl's side, just as the girl collapsed.

"Sprite, go to the castle and tell Mari," Zelda ordered, referring to the healer. The fairy rushed off to obey.

Link came rushing to Zelda's side. The child, who had blonde hair the same shade as Zelda's and blue-green eyes, looked from one to the other. "What's your name?" asked Link gently as he took off his coat and wrapped it around the little girl.

"Adelle," the child replied, coughing. "Help my mommy...." Her eyes closed.

"Link, we need to get her into the castle right away," said Zelda.

Link lifted the child into his arms. "She looks like that picture of you when you were about that age," he observed. He shrugged.

Little Adelle was in a guest room in North Castle, safe in a warm, soft bed. Mari had said that the child was very sick but would very likely recover.

Later that evening the girl was awake, and Zelda was at her bedside. "Adelle, how old are you?" she asked.

"I'll be nine in the spring," Adelle replied.

"Who are your parents?"

"My mommy's name is Audra. She said my daddy's name is Harkinian and I have a sister named Zelda." Adelle looked up at Zelda. "You're Zelda!"

Zelda gasped and placed her hand on her chest. In her mind she counted the months. It was certainly possible. Adelle looked like Zelda and her mother--and she had Zelda's father's nose.

But Zelda's mother was presumed dead. Yet here was this child claiming to be Zelda's younger sister.

Zelda was determined to get to the bottom of this.

Chapter Two: A Trip into the Cesspool

"So you say Adelle might be my daughter--and your sister?" King Harkinian asked as he, Zelda, and Link sat in the den, in front of the fireplace, in high-backed wooden chairs. He sat staring into the fire, looking unusually pensive.

"Adelle didn't go into detail, and I don't expect her too, Daddy--she's really sick," said Zelda. "And I don't think she's lying. At least I hope she isn't."

"I noticed the resemblance to you right off," Link put in. "Remember? Only difference is, her eyes are a little bluer."

"Audra might have been--expecting--when she disappeared," Harkinian said softly. "It certainly is possible. But she could still be dead."

Zelda shook her head. "She said we had to help her mother. And I hope that's my mother she was talking about. Why would her mother need help if she's dead?"

"I think the only thing we can do right now is wait for her to get well, or at least well enough so she can tell us what's going on," said Link. "I mean, with the fever she's got, she could very well be delirious and think her mother is still alive when she's not."

"You have a point there, Link," said Harkinian. "But what if my Audra is still alive?"

"Link's right, Daddy. We're just going to have to wait until Adelle is better," sighed Zelda. "Even if we knew where she was, Adelle would have to be able to tell us how to get there--and of course how she got here." She paused. "The hard part is going to be waiting."

"How exactly did Zelda's mother disappear?" asked Link, who only knew that Queen Audra had disappeared nine years ago.

"It started just before I married Audra," Harkinian began. "She had been torn between me and this prince fellow from the kingdom of Darkmar, which lies to the southwest of Hyrule, across the ocean. She could be Queen of Hyrule or Princess, then Queen of Darkmar. I was considerably older, of course, but she chose me anyway.

"The prince was jealous. He tried everything to persuade her to marry him, but she knew he wasn't a very nice person, especially after all the nasty things he tried. That only convinced her more that I was the one she wanted.

"Two years after we married Zelda, our first child, was born. The prince, now King of Darkmar, kept writing letters saying that Zelda was really his child, but it's impossible. He became so very jealous that he went mad. Very irrational. Poor Audra was upset, she didn't like him and she was so afraid that I didn't believe her when I did. She was a very loyal and caring wife, I knew she would never do such a thing.

"When Zelda was seven years old, she and her mother were walking through the forest together...." He broke off, unable to continue. He buried his face in his hand and shook his head.

Seeing tears in Zelda's eyes, Link reached over and took her hand. Zelda took a breath and picked up where her father left off. "I had strayed a little bit to pick flowers, but with Mother's permission," she said haltingly, mechanically. "I had seen a couple of black horses in the forest, but thought nothing of it, as there are oftentimes riders in the forest. While I was in the little meadow I heard Mother's scream. I--I ran back to the path where she'd said she'd wait for me, and all I saw were her tiara and her shoes--nothing else.

"I looked everywhere for her, calling for her. It must have been hours, because then a couple of the guards found me--they'd been sent to look for me and my mother. I kept begging them to find my mother. I showed them where I'd seen her tiara and shoes...." She buried her face in her hands and started weeping.

Link got up out of his chair, knelt before her, and took her hands. "I wish there was something I could do," he said sincerely. "Do you think this king kidnapped her?"

"It had to have been him," sighed Harkinian. "We haven't heard from her since. We sent search parties to Darkmar and found no trace of her, and King Solon of Darkmar, that prince--he denies everything. We really have no concrete proof that he's behind it. For a while we heard rumors that a couple of horsemen kidnapped and killed a young woman...but so far we don't know if that was her. No one's even found a body. If it was Darkmar, I would have expected him to try to ransom her somehow."

"Maybe he did it and he's not saying anything, because he knows you'll go and rescue her," suggested Link.

"Right now our key is little Adelle," said Harkinian.

A few days later Adelle's fever broke. That morning Link and Zelda, along with Harkinian, went into the room where the child lay in a canopied bed, wearing a blue long-sleeved nightgown, her long golden hair, just brushed, spread on the white pillows.

"She's still sick, but at least her temperature is down," said Mari as she tossed her dark curls back over her shoulder. "She should be fine. The poor child had been starving when she came here."

Zelda went over to the bed where her alleged sister lay and tucked a doll in with her. "This was mine when I was a child," Zelda told her. "How are you feeling?"

"A little better," Adelle replied as she hugged the doll. "Is that my daddy?" she asked, looking up at Harkinian.

"Probably," said Zelda.

"And who are you?" Adelle asked, looking at Link.

"I'm Link," the young hero replied. "I'm going to be marrying Zelda in the spring."

"Adelle, we need to ask you some things," Zelda said, cutting right to the chase. "Where did you come from? What land?"

"Darkmar," Adelle replied. "I was born there. The king there tried to say that he was my daddy but Mommy said my daddy is King of Hyrule. I was born in a dungeon, she said."

"How did you get all the way over here?" asked Link.

"When a guard wasn't looking one time I managed to get away. I stowed away on a ship that was going to Hyrule," Adelle replied. "I didn't want to steal food but since my mother said I was the second Princess of Hyrule I didn't feel so bad about it. I also got rides on wagons when I could. I walked a lot of the way and it took a long time to get here."

"Where is your mother now?" asked Harkinian.

"She's still a prisoner," Adelle replied. "She was alive when I left but that king likes to hit her--and me." She looked up at Zelda. "You look just like Mommy."

"What's this?" asked Zelda, picking up a locket from off the nightstand.

"Mommy lets me wear it sometimes," Adelle replied.

Zelda opened the heart-shaped locket and gasped. "This is the locket Mother always wore!" she exclaimed.

Link looked inside the locket. There were two pictures in it--one of Zelda's parents on their wedding day, and one of Zelda as a baby.

"When exactly were you born?" Zelda asked as she closed the locket.

Adelle told her the date. Once again Zelda counted the weeks in her mind. Her mother had to have been pregnant with Adelle when she was kidnapped--if indeed Adelle was her sister. She was more convinced that this little girl was her baby sister.

A few days later Zelda was making plans for her and Link to go to Darkmar and see if they could rescue Queen Audra. Adelle was a bright little girl and she was able to tell them where the dungeon was where she and her mother lived.

Link was in the child's room, entertaining her by teaching her how to read and write; she'd barely been taught, though her mother had tried to teach her some. To Link the little girl was like a kid sister, as he himself was an only child. And if she truly was Zelda's sister, she would be his sister-in-law once he married Zelda.

The little girl was rapidly recovering from her illness and she no longer looked so starved. She idolized her supposed older sister and looked up to Link like he was an older brother.

"Did you really beat Ganon and save Hyrule like Zelda says?" Adelle asked, looking up from practicing her letters.

"If she says so, then it must be true," Link said, grinning.

"Do you really kiss Zelda?" Adelle asked, giggling a little.

"Sometimes," Link admitted. "Because I love her."

"Do you stick your tongue in her mouth?" Adelle pressed.

"Now where do you hear about things like that?" Link wanted to know. She'd probably ask about their sex life next thing--but there was absolutely nothing to tell, as all he and Zelda had ever done so far was kiss.

"I saw you do it last night, when you were kissing her good-night," Adelle replied. She made a face. "Why do you do that?" Her tone indicated that she thought it was rather disgusting. Link remembered thinking the same thing when he was around that age.

"'s another way a boy and a girl kiss when they're in love," Link explained. "One of these days you'll get engaged and everything and you'll be doing that."

"Do you have sex with her?" Adelle asked innocently.

"No. And why are you asking?"

"I'm just curious," Adelle shrugged. "Why don't you?"

"Because we're not married yet," Link explained, desperately wishing that she would shut up or that someone would come in and interrupt her little interrogation.

"Those soldiers in Darkmar do it all the time with lots of women and they're not married," Adelle informed him, making him realize that he, Zelda, and everyone else had not heard the entire story about life in Solon's dungeons. "Mommy told me that's what they were doing, 'cause I asked her."

"Well, it's really for a husband and wife," Link said firmly. "It's the proper way to do things." Great, now he was sounding like Zelda at her most arrogant...but he had to admit that she was right about some things.

"Are you mad at me, Link?" Adelle asked, looking up at him with eyes that suddenly looked more blue than green.

"'s just these questions are really personal, and most people would get angry if you asked them those kinds of things," Link explained tactfully.

"I'm sorry," said Adelle. She paused. "Are you and Zelda going to rescue my mother?"

"Yes, we're going to be leaving tomorrow," said Link, relieved that she'd stopped hauling him over the coals concerning his love life. At the same time he wondered what all Adelle had seen, what kinds of things she might have been exposed to--and if anything unspeakable had happened to her.



"Are you and Zelda going to have kids?"

Link had to laugh at that. "Of course. Zelda is the next heir to the throne, and our oldest son will be heir after that--or our oldest daughter if we have all girls."

"What if you don't have kids?"

"Then it'll go to you...and after that any kids you may have."

"I hope when I get married he's just like you," said Adelle as she lay back on her pillows. "You're really nice. Zelda's lucky."

"Aw...thanks," said Link as he moved the books, papers, and pens out of the way and tucked the little girl into bed. "Now be sure to tell Zelda that, okay? That she's lucky." He grinned mischievously as he gave her a small kiss on her forehead, and she smiled as she drifted off to sleep.

Link was just leaving the room when he saw Zelda. "Adelle's sleeping right now, Zelda," he said as he quietly closed the door. "Oh, and we should be careful about little spies when we kiss," he added with a sheepish grin.

"Little spies?"

"One by the name of Adelle," Link said as he put his arm around his fiancee's shoulders and walked with her down the castle corridor. "She was, um, asking questions. Something I'd hardly expect out of an eight-year-old."

"Oh." Zelda nodded in understanding. She smiled a little. "She's certainly inquisitive, that's for certain."

"You mean nosy," Link chuckled.

"More like curious. I remember being like that, wanting to know what people were doing, why they did it. She reminds me a lot of myself at that age." She sighed. "Well, tomorrow we're going to see if that's my mother we're rescuing. I'm coming to accept Adelle as my little sister, but I want to be absolutely sure. What if the whole thing is some kind of set-up?"

"Either way I get a kick out of her. She's the kid sister I never had," said Link. "She really looks up to you...she firmly believes that you are her sister. Zelda...what if it turns out she's not your sister?"

"We'd probably have to find someone to adopt her, if she has no parents," Zelda replied.

"Maybe my parents would," said Link. "I was the only one they could have. Any other time my mother had a stillbirth or a miscarriage, or the baby died afterward. I could have had a dozen brothers and sisters by now."

"Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there," said Zelda. "I really like her too...I just hope no one's using her for their own evil purposes. She's just a little girl."

"She definitely wasn't faking being sick and starved, Mari can tell you that," said Link. "Poor kid. I'm glad she'll be all right."

The next morning Link and Zelda were both up early. They went into Adelle's room after breakfast, found that the child was awake and that Sprite had set up a bed on Adelle's vanity table. "She just took her medicine," Sprite told Link and Zelda. "And she just had her breakfast."

"Well, Link and I are going to Darkmar now," said Zelda as she bent over and hugged the little girl.

Link also gave the child a hug. "You be a good girl," he told her. "Soon we'll have your mother out of there."

"Be careful, it's really cold and icy out there," said Sprite.

"Don't worry, we have blankets and everything," said Link. "We're taking a carriage to Saria Town, and from there we'll catch a ship bound for Darkmar."

"I'll keep an eye on Adelle," smiled Sprite. "We'll have fun together once she's well."

Soon Link and Zelda were in a dark blue horse-drawn carriage, headed for Saria Town. It was freezing outside and therefore a bit cold and drafty in the carriage, so Link sat next to Zelda in the carriage, a blanket wrapped around both of them.

"I'm so nervous...what if that really is my mother we're rescuing?" Zelda wondered.

"Everything will be fine, sweetheart," said Link as he drew her closer to him. He gently placed a hand on her cheek and tilted her face upward, and she closed her eyes as his lips touched hers. After a few seconds he gently broke off the kiss and just held her, partly to keep her warm, partly to comfort her.

"We're fogging up the windows," Zelda said, sounding a bit amused.

"Just wait until we're married," Link reminded her.

The ride to Saria Town was uneventful, especially since Ganon had withered away and died not long after his defeat and his minions were virtually nonexistent. Soon Link was asleep with his head against the window and Zelda was curled up against him, also asleep.

Zelda woke up just as the carriage came to a stop. "We're here, Your Highness," the bundled-up driver called.

"Link...wake up, sleepyhead," said Zelda, gently shaking her fiance awake.

"We there yet?" Link asked sleepily.

"Yes, and we have a ship to catch," Zelda reminded him.

Link sat up, yawned and stretched, and got their things together. They stepped out of the carriage and into a gray, snowy afternoon. They were in the middle of town and children were skating in the frozen waterways. Snow fortresses had sprung up and children were lobbing snowballs at each other, the adults on errands scurrying by, afraid to get caught in any crossfire. Snow was on the rare side in Hyrule and the children were enjoying it.

The docks were on Saria's west side, and Link and Zelda picked up their items and went to the dock. The Hyrulean ship, the Farore's Wind, was already docked there, and she would be departing for Darkmar in half an hour.

Zelda paid the fare and she and Link stepped aboard. "I got us some decent accommodations, since it's a three-day trip," she said as they went through a door and down some steps. She opened a door on their right. "Our room," she said.

They carried their supplies into the cabin, which had two beds, one on each side of the room. It looked fairly decent as far as accommodations on ships went. There was a nightstand next to each bed, and a writing desk was up against a wall. Against another wall was a dresser. The walls were a cream color, brightening up the room somewhat, and there was a porthole between the bed at the far wall and the writing desk. Next to the dresser a door was ajar, revealing a small washroom--a good place for them to change clothes.

"I'll take this bed," Link offered, sitting on the one next to the porthole.

"Thought you might," said Zelda, as she began putting their clothes in the dresser, taking care to fold them neatly. "Good thing we have extra blankets, or we'd freeze."

"Too bad we can't sleep together...that would keep us nice and warm," Link said, sounding a little suggestive.

"Don't you be sneaking into my bed during the night," Zelda said in mock-warning. "Besides, these beds are only big enough for one person each. And I'm really not in the mood for teasing right now."

"Okay, okay, I'm sorry," said Link, going over and giving her a hug. At that, Zelda started to cry.

"Link, what if she's dead? What did they do to her?" Zelda sobbed into his shoulder. "I'm so scared...."

Link merely held her close and let her cry on his shoulder. He hated seeing her upset like this. "I love you, Zelda," he murmured in her ear as he stroked her long hair. She raised her head and he gently brushed the tears from her eyes. "Why don't you lie down for a while," he suggested as he led her to her bed.

Zelda lay down on her bed and kicked off her thigh-high brown boots. Link lovingly covered her with the blankets and kissed her cheek. "I'll be right here if you need me, okay, Princess?" he said, using what was now his pet name for her.

"Okay," Zelda whispered. "Thanks, Link."

After dinner that evening Link and Zelda stood near the rail and looked out over the black ocean together. It seemed that the stars were the only thing one could see; the horizon was not easily discernible. "It's been so long since I've seen my mother, Link," said Zelda. "And I'm cautiously excited about having a younger sister."

"I just hope they're not looking for Adelle," said Link.

"She'll be safe in the castle," Zelda reminded him. "It almost seems to good to be true. I just hope that if that is my mother there in Darkmar, she's still alive."

Link pulled her into his arms gently. This was one of those times when Zelda looked older than her sixteen years. A haunted look had settled into her emerald-green eyes the past few days, giving her the older look. Link couldn't imagine what he'd have felt like if he'd been that seven-year-old child suddenly finding a parent missing and knowing that something bad had to have happened. "Maybe they'll think she's still somewhere in Darkmar, hiding," he mused. "I sure wouldn't expect an eight-year-old to try to find her way to Hyrule like that. One thing's for sure--bravery runs in your family too--if she is your sister."

Zelda sighed as she eased herself out of her fiance's arms and put her hands on the railing. The cold wind whipped through her golden hair, blowing some of it into her face, and caused the skirts of her warm burgundy-colored dress and her wool cloak to flutter.

"Do you want to be alone?" Link asked gently, as he placed a hand on her back.

"No--no, stay here, if you don't mind," Zelda replied, sounding distracted. "Please?"

"If that's what you want," Link said. Fortunately he had extra layers underneath his usual green tunic, orange shirt, and orange leggings, so the cold really didn't bother him. He leaned backwards against the railing, and his hand reached up and gently caressed her cheek.

"I'm going to bed," Zelda said after a while. "I'll change in the washroom so you won't have to knock on the door."

"All right," said Link. "But first a kiss good-night."

Zelda leaned up against him and they shared a long, deep kiss, the kind of kiss that made Link wish like mad that they were married now so they could do more. "Good night, Link," Zelda said sweetly as she laid her hand on his cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too, Zelda," Link replied as he smiled at her.

A few days later the ship pulled into Darkmar's northeastern port. Link and Zelda were dressed in their adventuring clothes--Link in his usual tunic, Zelda wearing her pink leggings, purple blouse, and sky-blue vest. Looking towards the southwest they could see Castle Darkmar, home of King Solon.

Link and Zelda found themselves in the middle of a bustling town. "How seedy," Zelda commented. "Nothing like Hyrule's villages."

"I see what you mean, Zelda," agreed Link as he looked around. Scantily-clad women were offering their "services" to men, calling to them.

"Hey, handsome, I bet I'm better than that blonde you're with," one of them called.

Link just ignored her while Zelda gave her a scathing glance. "Let's just find somewhere to stay until tomorrow, when there will be a ship bound for Hyrule," Link said quietly to Zelda.

"I've always heard that Darkmar was a bit on the shady side," Zelda said as they found what could pass as a decent inn.

"Like its king," agreed Link as they stepped into an old inn.

Going up to the counter, Link and Zelda had to weave their way through some tables and chairs. Sitting at a few of those tables were what looked like drunks, and some of them leered at Zelda when they saw her. Zelda wrinkled her nose at the men, some of whom were snaggle-toothed and greatly in need of baths.

A huge, balding man tended the counter. "What can I get you two spiffy-looking people?" he asked boisterously.

"A room for the night, preferably two beds," said Link.

"Sure you don't want just one?" the innkeeper asked suggestively.

"Two," Zelda reiterated.

"Okay. Fifty rupees."

Zelda handed him a purple rupee and the innkeeper handed her a key. "Room five," he said.

The couple hauled their bags up the steps that were to the right of the old, worn wooden counter, found Room 5 to be the third room on the left. Zelda opened the door, found that there were indeed two beds in the room. A window was equidistant between the two beds, which were separated by a single nightstand, on top of which sat an oil lamp. The walls were dark, making the place look drab and depressing.

"So when do you think we should make our move?" asked Link.

"Tomorrow morning. The next ship to Hyrule arrives here tomorrow afternoon--I checked the schedule," Zelda replied. "That's why we're staying here for tonight. If we rescued her and they came looking for us, they could very well catch us if there's no immediate way back to Hyrule."

"Makes sense," said Link. "Why don't we rest up a bit, then get something to eat?"

"I'm not hungry," Zelda stated as she flopped down onto her bed. She kicked her boots off and sat there, drawing her knees up to her chest. "How can you think about food at a time like this, Link?"

Link sighed and reached into his bag, pulled out an adventuring magazine, and sat down on his bed to read it. "I know you're upset, Zelda," he said as he kicked his own boots off and lay down on his stomach, placing the magazine on his pillows. "Ever since we found Adelle out there you've been like this, and I can understand that."

"I'm almost positive she's my sister," Zelda said as she stared out at nothing. "She looks so much like me, like you pointed out. We'd always assumed that my mother was dead since we could never find her. I feel like we let her down because we gave up hope."

"What were you supposed to think?" Link asked, looking over at her. "For all you knew she could have been buried in the forest--"

"Link, please!" Zelda cried, sitting up and glaring over at him.

"I'm just saying," Link protested. "I'm just saying that you had no way of knowing!"

"Maybe you just shouldn't say anything," Zelda suggested, her tone biting.

"All right, fine," Link sighed as he promptly stuck his nose back into the magazine. There was no point in egging it on and making both of them feel worse. Zelda was going to continue with her mood swings until they rescued the woman who was Adelle's mother--and who was quite possibly Zelda's mother as well.

A little later Link and Zelda went into the inn's gloomy dining room to get something for dinner. "I'm not very hungry...I'm just going to have a little bit," Zelda told Link as they sat down at a table.

"That's fine," Link told her.

They sat next to each other, their backs to a wall. It was probably safer in a place like this--especially in a place where the best inn was nothing but a run-down hole-in-the-wall, which this definitely was.

Once they were served their dinner, Zelda picked at her food while she looked around warily. Next to her, Link was shoveling food into his mouth as he always did. She never could understand how he could eat so much and still be as slim as he was.

Any appetite she did have was lost when she saw what apparently passed for this town's night life. The prostitutes were propositioning men Zelda wouldn't even give half a glance. A couple of men had apparently decided to hold a belching contest, which was nearly enough to make Zelda literally sick to her stomach. Zelda pushed her plate away when she saw a man and a woman on top of one of the tables, openly engaged in sexual activities.

"You okay?" Link asked her as he drank some of his water.

"Just hurry up and eat," Zelda mumbled. "This place is sickening."

Link looked up, saw what she was talking about, remembered what Adelle had told him. "Yeah, I see what you mean. I avoided those type of girls like the plague--never know where they've been. I want a relationship first--and you'll be my first," he added, taking Zelda's hand.

"Link--they're doing it in public!" Zelda protested.

"Not surprising considering what Adelle told me," said Link.

Zelda turned and looked at her fiance. "What?"

"She told me that she saw people doing this openly," Link recalled.

"Sickening," Zelda spat. "Not enough to do this...and to expose children to it...."

"Well, I'm done, and if you are let's go upstairs and go to bed," said Link. "Provided we can sleep with all the noise down here...."

The next morning Zelda was up at the crack of dawn. She'd hardly been able to sleep. Last night she'd been awakened by a nightmare that had haunted her when she first lost her mother, and Link had sat with her until she was able to go back to sleep.

Link was still asleep even now, his sword beneath his pillow, his hand up near the handle. Instead of his usual nightshirt he was in a warm pair of pajamas that somehow made him look younger than sixteen. He had a slight smile on his face; no doubt he was dreaming about her.

Zelda started to take off her nightgown, realized Link might be pretending to be asleep. She thought she'd seen an eye opening. Going over to his bed she pulled the blankets up over his head. A muffled "Hey!" came from underneath the blankets.

"No peeking," Zelda said as she quickly changed to her regular clothes. Once she was dressed, she pulled his blankets back. "Time to get up, my hero. We have a rescue mission, remember?"

"Just getting to that," Link said as he yawned and stretched.

Zelda turned her back to him and busied herself with packing up a few things while Link dressed, not caring if she saw him. "We'll have to stop by here and get our things, then get on the ship," Zelda said as she turned her head a little, saw that he was dressed. "Let's hurry up and have breakfast, then go to Castle Darkmar."

"Do I get a kiss good-morning from my bride-to-be?" Link asked quietly.

Zelda hugged him and gave him a kiss on his lips. "You know, your little peeking games won't be as much fun," Zelda told him, "once we're married."

"I'll make up for that," Link promised. "Now let's go get your mother--if that's who Adelle's mother is."

"We'll rescue her no matter who she is," said Zelda. "I just feel more obligated to do so because of the possibility that she is my mother."

In a little copse of trees not far from Castle Darkmar, Link and Zelda sat upon an old fallen tree and studied a map of the castle. "Daddy got this from his soldiers when they went searching for Mother," said Zelda. "And thanks to the information Adelle gave us, we should find the dungeons pretty easily."

"One heck of a brave kid," Link said, impressed. "So how are we going to do this?"

"We need to sneak in and go to the dungeons, which are on the lower level," Zelda said, pointing to the map with a perfectly-manicured fingernail. "Once we get--Mother, we'll simply bomb our way out and make a run for it."

"You make it sound so easy. I know we can pull it off," said Link. "Now let's get up out of this snow."

Link and Zelda managed to blend in with a crowd of people who were going in to request audience with King Solon. They easily crossed over the wide moat, which had a wall surrounding it. Link discreetly eyed his surroundings, going over plans and contingencies in his mind.

Once inside the castle, the couple walked on for several more yards; then Zelda pulled Link into a passageway that branched off the main entry. "This way," she whispered.

"And just where do you think you're going?" asked a harsh voice.

Link and Zelda turned, saw a guard standing there. The guard, upon seeing Zelda, began literally drooling--and making Link rather angry.

"We--we just got a little misplaced," said Zelda. "We wanted to see the dungeons."

"I'd be glad to show both of soon as I try you out, my pretty," said the guard, as he pinned Zelda against the wall.

Link saw an opportunity and he took it, taking out his sword and whacking the guard upside the head with the flat of it. The guard slumped to the floor, unconscious.

"Should know better than to mess with my girl," Link muttered. "You okay, Zelda?"

"I'm fine." Zelda sounded greatly relieved.

Hand in hand the two proceeded cautiously down the corridor. They came upon some stairs and Link went first as they descended to the castle's lowest level. Lit sconces lined the brick walls of the narrow stone stairway, providing them with enough light. "I guess he was the only guard in that corridor," Link whispered.

Zelda occasionally looked behind them. "All the guards were busy with the people. Guess they weren't looking for us," she surmised. "But they had to know that Adelle escaped."

"But they have no way of knowing she went to Hyrule. They could have assumed she died of the cold, whether she was here or in Hyrule," Link suggested. "She was half-dead when we found her, remember?"

"I wonder how she's doing," Zelda said.

Finally they reached the dungeons. It wasn't hard to guess where they were. An occasional torch was between cell doors, dimly lighting the area. The smell told them that people had died here and were possibly never even buried; in fact, as they walked past the cells they saw bones in one cell, a decomposing corpse in another.

"I don't see her anywhere," Zelda whispered frantically. Had they been led on a wild goose chase?

They came to a sudden dead-end. Two torches hung there. Link stood there and stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Zelda--look here. There doesn't appear to be any cement here...looks like this may be a secret door," said Link.

Zelda reached up and pulled on one of the torches. Nothing. She then tried the second one...and the door swung open, revealing what appeared to be a dismal-looking bedroom. There were two beds, one adult-sized and one child-sized, both not much more than mattresses on wooden frames.

A blonde woman sat on the larger bed, and she looked up. "Audra?" asked Link.

The woman stood up. She was in rags. Her long golden hair fell past her waist and there was no sparkle in her blue eyes. She stared hard at Zelda. " daughter? My first little girl?"

"Mother!" Zelda cried as she rushed into the room and hugged her mother. "Mother, we really thought you were dead! Adelle--we found her, and she told us you were here...."

Audra held her daughter at arm's length. "Adelle--she made it to Hyrule?" she asked. She looked relieved.

"There they are!" a voice shouted.

Link turned, saw a number of guards. There were half a dozen of them--he was outnumbered and cornered. Before he knew it, a couple of them shoved him into the room and the door closed. "We'll deal with you later."

"Oh great, we're all locked in here!" Zelda cried.

Chapter Three: Unions and Reunions

"Don't forget our plan," said Link, patting his pouch.

"Who is this young man?" asked Queen Audra.

"My fiance, Link. He saved Hyrule from a wizard called Ganon," Zelda replied. "Link, how are we going to get out?"

"Remember the plan to bomb our way out? I memorized the map. I think this chamber is in a corner, which means we just bomb our way out and cross the moat."

"What about the wall?" asked Zelda.

"You'll see," Link grinned. "Now, ladies, if you'll be so kind as to step back...."

Zelda led her mother to one side of the room while Link reached into his pouch and took out a miniature bomb, which then expanded to its full size. He threw it, and seconds later a hole was blasted in the wall, big enough to walk through.

"Ladies first," said Link, making a sweeping gesture with his arms.

"You have a nice young man," Audra told Zelda as they went through the chamber's new doorway.

Link followed them out. They found themselves standing on a narrow strip of turf between the castle and the moat. The moat touched the wall surrounding it, so there was no way to swim across the climb the wall.

There was a tall tree on the other side of the wall. Link took out a magic bow and shot an arrow with a rope attached into the tree. "Should be strong enough," he said. "Zelda, you first. Get up on top of the wall."

Zelda took the rope and swung into the wall, hitting it with her feet. She climbed up the wall using the rope and sat down on the top of the wall. "You'll have to swim out to it," she called. "And I bet that water is no hot spring."

"Too bad that water isn't ice," Audra commented.

"That's an idea. Zelda, can you use what magic you know to make some of the water into ice?" Link called to his fiancee.

Zelda held her hand out, and an ice pathway appeared over the water. Link and Audra crossed it, and together they climbed up the wall using the rope. Immediately after that the ice disappeared. "My magic is stronger with the Triforce," Zelda said as they used the rope to lower themselves to the snowy ground.

Link jerked the arrow out of the tree and coiled the rope up as he, Zelda, and Audra quickly made for the town. He guessed that it would take a while for the guards to figure out what had just happened.

"We need to get to the inn, get Mother in some clean clothes, and head to the ship. It leaves in three hours," Zelda said.

A little later Audra had taken a bath, and she put on a clean dress Zelda had brought for her. "I am so amazed...Adelle made it to Hyrule," Audra said as she brushed out her long golden hair--hair that was the same shade as her daughters'. "Yes, she was born in that room. Zelda, remember that day I disappeared, I said I had some news to tell you and your father?"

"I remember," Zelda said. "Was that your news--that you were going to have another baby?"

Audra nodded. "I never got a chance to tell you and your father, though. Solon's men kidnapped me. He was angry when he found out I was with child. He decided to hide me away and not tell anyone where I was. Seven months after that Adelle was born and he kept trying to make her call him father, but when he couldn't hear I told her who her true father was--your father. I told her all about Hyrule, that she had a father and a sister who didn't know about her yet. And a week ago, when we were brought food, she ran right through the guard's legs and managed to escape. How is she?"

"She was sick and near death when we found her," said Zelda. "But she's recovering now. Mother, is that why no one found you? Because you were in here?"

"Yes, and a guard made sure I stayed quiet. I was drugged so I could not call out while your father's men were searching." She looked at her daughter. "Zelda, I don't blame you or your father for thinking I was dead. I might as well have been...Solon didn't hesitate to...use me whenever he wanted, not even in front of Adelle. Fortunately, as I found out, he's unable to father children. And I'm just grateful that he didn't try anything with Adelle, though that probably would have been next when she got older."

"I'm sure Daddy will overlook that," Zelda assured her mother. "Well, we really need to get going."

At the appointed time Link, Zelda, and Audra boarded the ship bound for Hyrule. Their room had a set of bunk beds and a single bed. Zelda took the top bunk, Link the bottom. Audra had the single bed.

"I hope you two have been behaving yourselves," Audra smiled as they settled in for their trip back to Hyrule.

"Of course we have, Mother," Zelda smiled.

"Yeah, Zelda keeps me in line," Link grinned mischievously.

Link, Zelda, and Audra went up to the main deck just as the ship was departing the port. "Look over there," Link said, pointing.

The women looked, and they could see some of Solon's guards on horseback, and they looked pretty angry. Audra laughed. "I think they're a bit too late," she said as the ship pulled further away from the dock. "Unless they plan to swim out to us in this freezing water." She suddenly started to cough.

"Maybe you should rest, Mother," said Zelda as she gently led her mother to the cabin.

"Did Adelle have my locket with her?" Audra asked.

"Yes, she did."

"Good, I was hoping she wouldn't lose it. Solon hated that locket and one time beat me for wearing it. Sometimes I let Adelle wear it, and I'm glad I let her wear it the day she escaped. I can hardly wait to see her again...and your father...."

Once in the cabin Audra changed to a warm nightgown and got into her bed. "We'll bring you something when it's time for dinner, Mother," said Zelda.

Audra snuggled down into the warm blankets and looked up at her older daughter. "How did you meet that handsome young man?" she asked. "I can tell he really cares about you, which is very important."

"Kind of a long story," Zelda chuckled.

"I'd like to hear it. I haven't seen you in nine years and we have a lot of catching up to do--and a three-day journey," Audra insisted.

Zelda sat in a chair. "Well, it started when I was fifteen and there was this wizard called Ganon...."

Link meandered around the ship, a bit bored. There always seemed to be some let-down after pulling off a rescue or defeating villains. He almost wished they'd boarded the ship so he'd have someone to fight. Still, he was glad he was able to solve a nine-year-old mystery and help Zelda find her long-lost mother. He'd never seen Zelda so happy.

Of course it hadn't been as much of a challenge as he would have liked, because the guards at Castle Darkmar were stupid and ignorant. They hadn't even thought to look in his weapons pouch for anything...but then again, they probably didn't expect him to carry magic bombs that shrunk down. That had been his ace in the hole. He hadn't resisted that much when they pushed him into that room, because he'd known he'd still be able to get out.

Link wondered what Harkinian would say when he found out that guy Solon had been messing with his wife. Link knew that if it had been Zelda, he'd still love her, because she hadn't asked for it. He was surprised Adelle hadn't mentioned this; but then again, she'd seemed somewhat reluctant telling him the things she had told him. Poor kid, he thought. Probably afraid Link would condemn her mother, after he'd told Adelle that sex was for husband and wife. He wondered if Adelle, who was going on nine, knew the difference between sex in a loving relationship and rape. Probably not. To her there was no difference--sex was sex.

He decided to go to the cabin. He hadn't gone right away because he figured maybe Zelda and her mother needed a bit of time alone together. They sure did look alike, except Audra's eyes were blue while Zelda's were green.

Link opened the door quietly, just as he heard Audra asking, "Why did you wait so long to tell him how you felt?"

"Yeah, why did you, Zelda?" Link grinned as he stepped in.

Zelda turned her head. "Link!" she protested. "Eavesdropping?"

"No, I just heard the one question," Link admitted.

Audra looked back and forth between her daughter and Link, and she smiled. "Well, what's important is that you finally let him know, Zelda. I'm glad I'll be able to see my little girl getting married."

Link gave Zelda a kiss on her cheek and went and sat down on his bed. "Think I'll take a nap before dinner," he said as he took his boots off and lay down. "Sometimes rescue missions wear me out a bit."

Three days later the ship arrived at the dock in Saria Town. Waiting for the Queen, the Princess, and Link was the dark-blue carriage. "Your Majesty," the driver said, bowing. "Welcome back to Hyrule."

"Thank you," said Audra.

Link helped the women into the carriage and climbed in. Audra sat on the bench facing the rear, while Link and Zelda sat across from her. "I can hardly wait to see Harkinian again," Audra said, sounding excited. "And to have our whole family together."

"When is Zelda coming back with Mommy?" Adelle asked as she sat on her bed and played with some her older sister's old toys. She'd never had any toys.

"They should be back sometime today," Sprite replied.

Harkinian sat in a chair, just watching the little girl that was supposedly his younger daughter. He was hoping that this was true--that his beloved wife would be coming home to him. He hoped Adelle really was his daughter, as she was a sweet little girl, and she reminded him so much of Zelda at that age. She'd been calling him "Daddy" without hesitation, saying that her mother had told her that he was her father. She certain had some of his features and some of Audra's, and had she been closer in age to Zelda they could have been easily mistaken for twins.

There was a knock on the door. "Come in," Harkinian called.

A guard came in, and he was smiling. "Your Majesty, the Princess and Link are back...and they have brought your wife."

"Mommy!" exclaimed Adelle.

"Take it easy, Adelle, you're still recovering!" Sprite reminded her.

"Bring them in here, please," said Harkinian.

"Yes, Your Majesty."

The guard left and minutes later Audra and Zelda, along with Link, entered the room. Harkinian stood up. " that really you?" he asked, blinking, unable to believe that his long-lost wife was home at last.

"Yes, it's me, Harkinian," Audra said, her voice barely above a whisper.

They rushed into each other's arms and hugged each other. Zelda went over to her younger sister's bed. "Now I'm sure you are my little sister," Zelda told her as she sat her on her lap, tears of happiness streaming down her cheeks.

"I told you I was," said Adelle.

Audra pulled away a little. "What do you think of our younger daughter?" she asked.

"Quite a nice surprise," Harkinian told her.

Link went over and kissed Zelda's cheek. "I'll leave you all alone, okay?" he whispered.

Zelda nodded. "Thanks so much for helping me, Link. I love you."

"I love you too, Princess." He smiled and left the room so the family could have their reunion.

A week later Link was sitting up in his room reading. Tomorrow night there was going to be a big celebration--combination victory party, engagement party, and welcome-home party for Queen Audra and Princess Adelle. A new outfit for Link was hanging up in his armoire, something Zelda had helped him pick out. The celebration would have been held sooner but Adelle had still been sick and now the little girl had just recovered.

There was a knock on his door, and Link put down his book. "Come in," he called.

The door opened and Adelle came bouncing in. She climbed up onto his bed and sat across from him. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"Just reading," Link replied.

"Come outside and play with me?" she asked. "Zelda's busy planning a bunch of stuff for the party tomorrow and she told me to come ask you."

"Sure you should be playing outside when you just got over being sick?" Link asked.

"Mari said it was okay. Even ask her."

"I will. Because I don't want you getting sick again," Link said as he got up off his bed. "I've had enough of a time convincing your sister I can be responsible," he added, grinning.

As soon as Link had cleared it with Zelda and with Mari, he and Adelle were outside on the castle grounds, making a snowman together. He enjoyed playing with the little girl, who was like a sister to him. She seemed to like the idea that he'd be her brother-in-law when he married Zelda. "Forget that in-law stuff," she'd said. "You get to be my brother."

"Okay, this one is the head," Link said as they prepared to roll a third big snowball.

"This is fun, Link!" Adelle exclaimed. "I never went outside until I escaped that dungeon."

"Well, as you'll find out, the snow will melt away in the spring. It'll get really warm outside," Link told her.

Adelle made the snowman's head, and Link placed it on top. They packed snow around the bottom of the head to hold it in place. Link found a couple of sticks and stuck them into the sides for arms. Adelle found a couple of rocks and these became the snowman's eyes. More rocks became the snowman's nose and mouth.

Zelda watched from her window as Link played with her little sister, and she smiled. She was taking a short break from all the preparations. Link had his outfit and Adelle already had her dress, so that left them free to do what they wanted. She was glad that Adelle had someone to play with; Link really seemed to be good with children and Zelda had no doubt that he'd make a good father. Link was definitely doing his part by keeping Adelle entertained.

She wondered how Adelle would interact with the children who would be coming to tomorrow night's celebration. The only person she'd had any interaction with until a couple of weeks ago was their mother--and the evil King Solon and his men.

The next evening Zelda and Adelle were in Zelda's room, getting ready for the party. Adelle sat still while her sister brushed out her long golden hair. "Zelda, can I wear some make-up too?" she asked.

"I suppose...but it's going to be light, as you're still a bit young for that," Zelda replied as she brushed the sides of Adelle's hair back and fastened it in the back. Adelle was wearing a turquoise dress that set off her eyes, so Zelda tied a turquoise-colored ribbon in the girl's hair.

"When you and Link have kids, will that make me an auntie?" Adelle asked.

"Of course, because you're my sister," Zelda replied as she found some make-up to put on Adelle. "Now turn around."

Adelle turned around on the stool and sat still as her sister put make-up on her. "You're a pretty little girl," Zelda told her. "To be honest I had always wanted a sister...and now I have one. Here--take a look in the mirror."

Adelle turned and looked in the mirror. Zelda had put just a touch of eyeshadow on Adelle's lids...just enough to show that there was a hint. Adelle was also wearing pink lipstick.

"Can't forget this," Zelda said as she sat a silver tiara on Adelle's head. She smiled. "You're a Princess of Hyrule and you have to look like one."

"You really look like one, Zelda," said Adelle as she looked at her sister. Zelda was dressed in a long-sleeved green dress that left her shoulders bare and went down to her ankles. She was also wearing a silver tiara.

"Thanks," said Zelda.

"I like this dress," said Adelle as she stood up and lifted up on the skirt, which went to just below her knees. The long-sleeved dress on her had see-through sleeves that had silver threads running through them, and a silvery sash was tied around her waist.

Adelle perked up when she heard the knock at the door. "Probably Link," she said.

"Come in," Zelda called.

The door opened and Link entered, wearing a short-sleeved green tunic with a snug-fitting long-sleeved white top and white leggings. "I came to escort a couple of princesses to the party," he said, smiling. He gave Zelda a soft kiss on her lips.

"What about me?" Adelle asked, tugging on his sleeve.

"Okay, okay," Link laughed as he kissed the child's forehead. "Shall we go, ladies?"

Zelda linked her right arm through Link's left, and Adelle took hold of Link's right hand.

In the huge ballroom, guests had already begun arriving. Adelle spotted her parents, and she let go of Link's hand and ran up to them.

"Doesn't she look beautiful, Audra?" Harkinian asked as he hugged his younger daughter.

"Is that make-up on you?" Audra asked Adelle.

"Zelda said she would only put a little on," Adelle replied.

"She did a good job," Audra said approvingly as Link and Zelda came up to them. "You and Zelda both look lovely."

"You look beautiful yourself, Mother," said Zelda. It was true; Audra looked considerably better since her rescue. Her long blonde hair went down to her waist. She was dressed in a long-sleeved blue dress with a square neckline, and its sleeves were puffed up at the shoulders. She wore a crown on her head.
At one end of the room were two thrones for Harkinian and Audra. Three more seats were nearby. The seat to Audra's left was for Adelle. The seat to Harkinian's right was Zelda's, and to the right of Zelda's was one for Link, since he would soon be a member of the family. The five headed to the seats and sat down, and waited for the party to begin.

The band was playing a slow number, and so Link and Zelda were dancing together, gazing into each other's eyes dreamily. Occasionally they kissed.

"Let's go outside for a little bit," Link suggested when the dance was over.

"All right," said Zelda.

They went out the doors and onto the patio. "It's a bit cold out here," Zelda said, hugging herself as she looked out into the snowy night. The snow covered the ground like a thick, white, sparkly blanket.

"Don't worry, I'll warm you up," Link said as they sat down on a bench. He put his left arm around her bare shoulders and with his right hand gently tilted her face upward. As their lips met in a long, deep kiss, his right hand gently caressed her left shoulder and stopped just above her breast.

Zelda moaned quietly as his lips went to her neck. "Link...," she murmured.

"Think we should go up to your room for a little while?" Link suggested as he planted kisses along her lower jaw. His hand slid down a little lower.

Zelda caught his hand in hers. "," she said gently.

Link realized that he'd gone a little too far. "I'm sorry, Zelda," he said as he hugged her to him and played with her hair. "It's's like I'm dying to know what it's like and everything...and sometimes I don't think I can control myself...."

"We'll find out what it's like in a few months," Zelda told him.

Just then, Sprite came out. "Link, Zelda...everyone's assembling for'd better go inside," she told them. She eyed them suspiciously. "And just what were you doing out here?"

"Nothing you would approve of," teased Link as he and Zelda stood up, holding hands. They followed the fairy back into the ballroom.

Harkinian, Audra, and Adelle were already seated when Link and Zelda took their seats. Audra smiled knowingly at her older daughter; she knew that Zelda and Link cared deeply for each other.

The guests were gathered around the dais where the thrones sat, looking expectantly at the King. Seeing that he had everyone's attention, Harkinian stood up. "I wish to honor a brave young man tonight, and reward him for his brave deeds. Link, my daughter's fiance. Link, come and kneel before me."

Link stood up, his heart pounding, and went and knelt before his fiancee's father. All was quiet as Queen Audra pulled a sword out from behind her throne and handed it to her husband.

King Harkinian touched the tip of the sword to each of Link's shoulders. "Arise, Sir Link of Hyrule," he commanded. "This is your new sword, Link."

Queen Audra took Link's right hand and placed a knight's ring on the ring finger, then hugged him. "Thanks so much for helping our family," she told him.

"Thank you, Your Majesties," said Link. He felt so happy, he felt like crying. He was a knight! He was no longer just a lowly peasant with whom the Princess had fallen in love. His smile became wider when everyone applauded.

Link felt like he was on cloud nine for the rest of the evening.

For the rest of the winter wedding plans and preparations went on, pausing only for Link's and Zelda's seventeenth birthdays, which fell at the beginning of spring, Link's two weeks before Zelda's, and for Adelle's ninth birthday, which was a week after her sister's. People had to be fitted for dresses and outfits, and those outfits made.

Finally the day of the wedding arrived, and Link was up early, getting ready. "Last time I sleep in this bed," he said to himself. A large bedroom had been made ready for Link and Zelda; they would share it starting tonight. "Come to think of it, last time I sleep alone."

Link was glad the big day was finally here. He'd been finding it increasingly harder to keep his hands off his fiancee, and tonight he would no longer have to hold back. In fact, the thought of tonight had filled his dreams last night. All he could think of was what it would be like to have sex, and that tonight he'd have his first experience.

He took a nice hot bath and dressed in a white tunic and leggings and a blue sash. He proudly looked at the knight's ring, which sat on his dresser, and he picked it up and put it on. Before the day was out he'd have a wedding ring on his left ring finger.

Link hurried down the stairs to the castle's chapel, where the wedding would take place. This was his dream come true.

He took his place at the altar in the high-ceilinged room, which had painted-glass windows. An old sage stood there, a book in his hands, and they waited as the guests came in and filled the pews. "I'm so nervous," Link whispered to the sage.

"Don't worry, lad, I haven't lost anyone yet," the sage chuckled quietly. He was a portly, balding man, and he wore a red robe that had a rope tied at his ample waist. He was also a good friend of King Harkinian.

Soon the music played, and Link took a deep breath. The door to the chapel opened, and in came Princess Adelle, holding a basket with a small pillow, on top of which lay the wedding rings. She wore a pretty dress of royal blue and she had a crown of flowers in her hair. She smiled prettily at Link as she took her place at the altar.

Next Zelda came down the aisle, between her parents. Link's heart skipped several beats when he gazed upon his bride. She was in a pure white wedding dress that had a five-foot train. The gown had long sleeves that puffed at the shoulder, and a rounded neckline, and it had diamonds sewn into it. The veil, which trailed down to her ankles, was anchored in place by a white-gold tiara, and a short flap of it covered her pretty face. In her hands she held a bouquet of flowers. Link noticed that she'd switched her engagement ring to her right hand, to make it easier for him to put her wedding ring on her left ring finger.

Link discreetly pinched himself, to make sure he wasn't dreaming. In minutes the girl of his dreams would be his wife, and tonight she would become his lover. He took a deep breath to calm himself down.

When Zelda approached the altar, Link held out his hand and she took it, whereupon her parents seated themselves in a front pew next to Link's parents, Arn and Medilia. Zelda's mother was dabbing at her eyes with a lace handkerchief, happy that she was seeing her older daughter get married.

The sage read from the book, and asked Link and Zelda to repeat their vows, which they eagerly did. Zelda gave her bouquet to Adelle, who placed it in her basket carefully. Link and Zelda then took the wedding rings. More happy tears came to Queen Audra's eyes as Link placed a ring on Zelda's finger, and as Zelda did likewise.

"I now pronounce you, Sir Link and Princess Zelda of Hyrule, husband and wife," the sage said happily. "You may now kiss your bride."

All Link wanted to do was pounce and Zelda and take her right then and there, but instead he carefully lifted the veil from her face, took her into his arms, and gave her a deep, gentle kiss. As he did so cheers went up.

Link took Zelda's hand and led her into the ballroom, the guests following. It was time for the wedding reception, where brunch would be served.

"I'm starved, Zelda," said Link. "I was too nervous to eat breakfast."

"Me too," Zelda giggled.

Link and Zelda sat down at a long table, in the middle. Their parents and Zelda's sister also sat at that table.

"Congratulations, Son," said Arn, Link's father. He was built a little bigger than Link, and he had short light-brown hair, brown eyes that Link had inherited, and a short beard.

"Thanks, Dad," said Link.

"Our son is also a knight," added Medilia, Link's mother, who was a slight woman with brown hair and green eyes. She sounded very proud, as she should. She was sitting between her husband and her son, and she leaned over and gave Link a hug and a kiss on his cheek. "Our village sends their congratulations, Link."

"Tell them thanks," said Link as he grinned. He was from Calatia, which was to the west. Some had poked fun at him for wanting adventure, but here he more or less had the last laugh. He was now a knight, and he had just married the heir to the throne of Hyrule.

"Look at him being modest!" said Sprite as she flitted over. "That's a first."

"No one asked you," Link grinned at her.

"I was just teasing," Sprite giggled. "Congratulations, you two!"

"Thanks, Sprite," said Zelda, as she looked over at her new husband.

After the meal the dancing began. Link eagerly led Zelda out onto the floor for their first dance as husband and wife. "You look so beautiful, Zelda," Link whispered to his wife as they started to dance.

"Thanks, Link," smiled Zelda. She briefly looked him up and down. "You look very handsome in your outfit."

"I know," Link teased. Zelda gave him a small, playful swat. Link merely laughed at her and pulled her closer to him.

For the rest of the morning, on into the afternoon and evening, the party went on. It was not every day that there was a royal wedding--especially when it was the heir to the throne getting married. The heir getting married meant that eventually there would be children to continue the line, the more the better.

At sunset Link led Zelda out onto the patio, in much the same way he had a couple of months ago. For a while they sat there and watched the sun dip below the mountaintops to the west. "How romantic," Zelda murmured as she snuggled closer to her husband.

Link leaned in close to her and kissed her. Zelda responded eagerly, wrapping her arms around his neck. This time she did not resist as his lips went to her neck. "Link...maybe we should take this to the bedroom," she whispered.

Link lifted his head and smiled at her. "Now you're talking my language," he teased as he kissed the tip of her nose. "So you want to sneak off now?"

"I can't think of any better time," said Zelda as they stood up.

"Zelda--pinch me," said Link as they went back inside.


"This has got to be a dream," he replied as he led her through the ballroom and through the doors that opened out into the main corridor. "A very good dream."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Zelda said as Link led her through the castle's corridors to their new bedroom.

They opened the door that led into their room and both were awed by it. Directly ahead was a huge four-postered bed. Beyond the bed, to the right, was a door that no doubt led to a huge bathroom. To the right, next to the door, were a vanity table and matching stood for Zelda. On the opposite side of the door was a huge armoire, and standing nearby was a full-length mirror. To the left, underneath a window whose doors were closed, were a table and two chairs, and someone had put on the table a small bucket of ice that held a bottle of Zelda's father's best wine. Two crystal goblets stood near the bucket. On each of the two nightstands was a lit lamp.

"Looks like someone's expecting us to have a party," said Link as he went over and sat on the bed, which easily had enough room for five people lying in a row. "And there's plenty of room to romp on this bed...."

Directly across from the window, on the opposite wall, was a small fireplace. Zelda went over to the window and opened the doors. "Link, why don't you light a small fire...and I'll get ready for you," she suggested.

"All right...Princess," Link said, smiling up at her.

Zelda gave him a quick kiss on his lips and went into the bathroom. Link kicked off his boots, got up, and walked around the bed to get to the fireplace, where he got a small fire going. To his left was the bathroom door, and he really wanted to open it and watch Zelda get ready. But then that would ruin whatever surprise she had for him.

He went back over to the table and opened the wine bottle and poured some into each of the crystal goblets. He was just sitting down when Zelda emerged--and his heart started beating so furiously he was sure it would jump right out of his chest.

Zelda was wearing what at first glance looked like a long-sleeved pink swimsuit. It had a ruffled skirt on it that barely went past her hips. In the front were two huge gaps, as it was closed in only two places--directly over her breasts and right below her ribs, so her navel was exposed and her breasts were barely covered.

"I'm dreaming for sure," Link murmured, his eyes drinking in the sight.

"I take it you like it," Zelda said, smiling prettily.

"It's a good thing I don't have to leash it," Link replied, his heart still pounding in his chest. "That's got to be the most I've ever seen of you."

"And you'll soon see more," Zelda whispered suggestively as she sat down in the other chair.

Link nodded, still staring. If he undid that upper clasp her breasts would be completely exposed, he couldn't help thinking. He was glad Zelda was wearing that sexy outfit. He'd been a bit nervous because tonight would be his first time, but desire for her drove any nervous feelings away just like that. He wondered what Zelda was feeling.

"Zelda...are you...nervous?" Link asked as they took a sip of wine.

"A little," Zelda confessed. "You?"

"Not really. I guess I'm too excited to be nervous."

They finished their goblets of wine; then Link lifted Zelda into his arms and gently laid her down on the bed. All he could think was that if this was a dream and he woke up he would be very sorely disappointed. He put out the candles that were in the bedside lamps so the only light came from the moon outside and the small fire in the fireplace. Then he lay down beside her.

To his surprise, Zelda rolled over on top of him, her blonde hair spilling over her shoulders. As they kissed he undid the top clasp....

The daylight streaming in through the window was what woke Zelda late the next morning. She found herself in Link's arms, her head on his shoulder, her left hand on his chest and for a split second she wondered why they were in bed together. Then the memories of yesterday--and of last night--came rushing back to her.

She gently disentangled herself from Link's arms and stretched, laying her head on her own pillow. Next to her Link was fast asleep, the hint of a satisfied smile on his handsome face. His clothes were slung over the back of one of the chairs, and her outfit was probably somewhere amongst the blankets...oh there it was, right near her feet. She hooked her foot in it and fished it out from underneath the blankets and dropped it to the floor.

Link's brown eyes fluttered open. He saw Zelda lying there and he smiled. "Morning, Zelda," he said, sitting up, the blankets covering him up to his waist. "So it wasn't just a really good uninterrupted dream...."

"It was definitely good," Zelda told him as she sat up, leaned over, and kissed him. "Who says the first time isn't any good?"

"Let's see what you say about our tenth time," Link suggested as he pinned her back against the pillows.

"Has it been that many times since last night?" Zelda laughed.

Link shrugged. "I lost track...."

That afternoon, Link and Zelda were at a small lake that was pretty well hidden in the forest, having a picnic together. As it was getting towards late spring, the weather was warm and just right for a swim, though they had not brought their swimsuits.

"Why don't we go for a swim?" Link suggested some time after they'd finished eating.

"We didn't bring swimsuits," Zelda reminded him.

"So who needs a swimsuit?" asked Link as he kicked off his boots and took off his cap, then his belt.

"Do you want to get your clothes all wet?" Zelda asked, amused.

"My clothes will stay dry," said Link as to Zelda's surprise he stripped completely and stood before her naked. He grinned. "Don't you want to go skinny-dipping?"

Zelda looked scandalized. "Naked--out here?"

"Who's going to see you besides me?" Link asked as he fished a piece of rope out of his belt pouch and tied one end of it to a boomerang. "I scouted this out sometime back and I don't remember ever seeing anyone here." He tossed the boomerang over one of a nearby tree's thick, strong branches, which hung over the water. Zelda watched as he tied the rope so he had a kind of a rope swing. "This is lots of fun, you've really got to try it."

Zelda watched as her husband climbed up into the tree and swung out on the rope, releasing it when he was just above the water. He yelled happily as he splashed into the water. He sure did seem to be having a lot of fun....

"C'mon, Zelda, now's not the time to be all prissy and proper," Link called as soon as he'd surfaced. "Water's fine!"

Zelda stood up and took off her blue tiara and brown boots. "Keep going," Link called out.

"I--I just don't know," Zelda said as she hesitantly took off her light-blue vest.

"Hey, on the off-chance that someone sees you, you can order their silence," Link teased.

"All right, since you're so persistent," Zelda sighed as she stripped off her clothes.

"Boy, what a view!" Link quipped.

"Don't push it, buster," Zelda said mock-threateningly. She couldn't help but giggle nervously. She was the Princess of Hyrule and here she was standing in the middle of the forest naked!

"Now swing on in here," said Link. He took the end of the rope and threw it to her.

Zelda caught the rope and climbed up the tree, found it relatively easy to climb. Just as Link had done, Zelda swung over the water on the rope and let go, landing not too far from him.

"Was that fun or what?" Link asked when her head emerged from the water.

"I've never done that before," Zelda told him.

"Well, I think it's time I showed you how to have fun," Link declared as he pushed some her wet hair back from her face. "And by the way I did bring towels. I had this planned out."

Zelda splashed him, starting a little war that escalated into something akin to water wrestling, which further escalated into the inevitable....

One day a few weeks later, Link and Zelda were sitting on the edge of one of the pools in Zelda's father's water park. Zelda's little sister Adelle was learning how to swim, and Zelda was keeping an eye on her.

"Zelda, look!" Adelle called out.

Link and Zelda both watched as Adelle practiced her backstroke. "Very good, Adelle," Zelda said approvingly.

The child, who was clad in a baby-blue swimsuit, swam up to her sister and brother-in-law. "Zelda, when are you guys gonna have kids?" she asked. "I want to be an auntie."

"It'll happen when it happens," said Link, playfully tickling her under her arm with his big toe. "It hasn't happened yet."

"I thought when you had sex you had a baby," said Adelle.

"Not always," said Zelda. "It doesn't happen every time; if it did there would be a lot more people in the world."

"So it just didn't happen yet," said Adelle.

"I told you that," said Link.

"Trust me, Adelle, you'll be among the first to know when it does happen," Zelda assured her sister.

"Okay. I just didn't want to be left out," said Adelle as she hung on the side, next to Zelda.

"You won't be, trust us," said Link.

"Oh, there you are," said a voice behind them.

Zelda turned her head. "Mother. What's wrong?" she asked, seeing the worried look on Queen Audra's face.

"Remember when you and Link rescued me from Darkmar? Well, King Solon has just sent a letter to your father declaring war. He claims that your father kidnapped your sister; Solon claims that she's his child." Audra looked shaken.

"That's impossible, she looks like both you and your husband," said Link, shaking his head.

"That's not all. He also wants you two as his prisoners," Audra told him. Tears came to her bright blue eyes. "All he wants to do is stir up trouble between me and the girls' father."