Chapter 4
 

Chapter 4: Danger

 

When Zelda woke up it was already around noon. She was still huddled up in Link’s comfy bed. What had happened the day before anyway?

She had felt so close to her memories when her thoughts were accompanied by this melody that sang to her heart.

But nothing had really returned. Only a faint image of her, wandering in the woods and holding an ocarina in her hand. She only saw her own steps and the end of her long silken dress. Then, even this tiny fragment vanished and she could no longer  remember how the forest had looked.

She snuggled up under the blanket. It was so wonderfully comfortable there. She loved hugging the fluffy blanket and the soft pillow, dreaming and wallowing in her secret fantasies. She mumbled: “No, I won't get up, Im...”

 

At once she was wide awake, trying hard to remember, what had just been about to say. A name, yes... but whose? She guessed that at least gradually things were coming back to her.

 

Suddenly an appetizing smell caressed her nose, which tempted her enough to get up after all. She struggled out of bed and followed the scent. She ended up in the kitchen.

Can you believe that; Link was cooking. He stood in front of the stove, watching two pots while humming a little tune. The view alone was enough to make Zelda laugh. Smiling, he turned his head towards her and said: “Don't laugh, that is about the only dish I won't mess up. Except pudding of course.”

“Is that so? Well, for that it smells excellent.” Zelda looked over his shoulder. Ah, spaghetti it is then.

“How 'bout good morning first...” Link said, which got him another smile and indeed a morning greeting.

She marveled at the big pot with noodles and the smaller one with the ketchup-red sauce. She sniffed at it and smiled once again.

It was, as if the night's sleep had changed her completely. Link was a little anxious about her sudden change of demeanor and wondered, if she was really as okay as she seemed. He continued to eye her incisively for a while, then asked: “Is there anything that you remembered since yesterday?”

“No, at first I thought that something was coming back, but the whiff died down.”

“Okay then.”

 

Link turned around to face her. “Would you like to do something today? The shops are open, so, if you like, we could have a stroll through town.”

“Yes, I would like that.”

The doorbell rang. “Wait here, I'll open. Could you watch over the sauce?”

Before Zelda could say yes, Link had already sprinted towards the entrance.

First he looked through the door viewer and upon recognizing the person behind it, he opened. It was the about 35 year-old postman Cornelius, as always wearing his red pullover with the ugly and childish motive of a bunny at the front. Link knew the guy, because from time to time he would distribute newspapers or leaflets himself to improve his allowance.

“Hi” he mumbled.

“Morning. You've got mail.” And already he shoved a few letters and a large box in Links hands. After a quick signature to prove that Link had taken the delivery, the postman ran off with lightning speed. Link had a look at the letters and found one without sender. Strange, he thought and shook the envelope a little, to make sure that there was nothing fishy in it.

He tore the envelope open and, without any patience, began to unfold the paper and started to read the delicate handwriting.

The letter was addressed to him and there was a distinct warning in the few sentences. An explicit advice to be very careful from now on.

“Things will happen, that affect the destiny of your very soul.”

Link had to read this sentence twice, to even rudimentarily grasp its full meaning.

He skimmed through the words a third time, assuring once again, that they really were meant for him. He remained in the dimly lit corridor, completely lost in thought. 

 

Maybe the time had come. Maybe there was no turning back and Link had finally the opportunity to prove his worth, to prove what potential was hidden within. All answers   had to be so close that Link only had to extend his hand and take hold of them. Destiny apparently ran its course more unquestionably, even in this world...

 

Link placed the large box in front of his mother's bedroom and suspected that yet another expansive vase had found its way into her collection. It was a passion of Mera's, every vase that she deemed usable to a minimal extent had to have a place in her house.

The letter was thrown into the bin and Link padded back into the kitchen, where Zelda, with an air of slight desperation on her face, was standing in front of the stove and tried to wipe up the boiled over water from the pot. She grinned and tried to appear as innocent as a lamb when she made moon-eyes at Link. 

“Errr...” she errred. “the water didn't want to cooperate with me... sorry.” Link had to laugh at that.

“What's happened has happened. No need to apologize.” He stepped close and quickly wiped the over the hob.

“I believe you are not meant for the household anyway.” he added while rummaging for two dark-blue plates for pasta.

She absentmindedly sat down on the corner bench and supported her head on her arms. For a few seconds she just closed her eyes, enjoyed the moment dreamily. There was this one thought...

 

He was right, she never had to do any chores before. She had never done any such things as cook or clean. It was almost, as if it was prohibited from bothering about such lowly work. A hidden memory, newly inflaming the feeling of loss. She knew it, she understood...

 

Link's voice tore her from her exploration of her own mind when he whispered in her ear: “Are you sleeping?” She jumped and bumped her head heavily against his.

“That was rather unpleasant.” Link moaned and rubbed his thankfully quite hard skull.

Zelda was holding her head, feeling for a bump. “You're telling me? I'm afraid my head isn't quite as resilient as yours.” she mumbled. But at the end, a smile flashed over her face when Link started to laugh.

“Shall I help you with the cutlery?”

He shook his head. “Rubbish! You stay seated. I'm gonna set the table.”

And again there was this odd feeling... she had never set a table in her life, at least that is what her sixth sense told her.

Her eyes watched every step that Link took and was infinitely grateful that he was there. Although, she had to remind herself, he was still a stranger and she only knew him for two days.

Link got the eating irons, laid them neatly beside the plates and then vanished into the basement. He quickly returned though, a bottle of orange juice in his hand which he placed on the table as well. After that he stretched to reach at two glasses from the topmost shelf of the cupboard. All the while Zelda stared at him, scrutinizing his lean body and his every move. Oh my, he was uncannily attractive. But for some reason she did not want to see or know that, almost as if somebody had forbidden her to watch handsome people more closely.

Sheepishly, her eyes wandered to another corner of the room, looking for another activity than marveling at his physique. Did he have a girlfriend? Surely, she thought...

He sat down across from her, smiling. He started loading up the plates with spaghetti. “Much or not so much sauce?”

“It can be a little bit more.” she answered and continued watching how he took on every bit of work for her. God, it was so familiar. This situation between them, as if they had eaten together for years. She looked smiling into his deep blue eyes that could hypnotize. A pure, dark color, not washed out or pale. She adored this color and imagined descending into and getting lost in it.

“Is it any good?” Link asked almost anxiously and crammed a huge portion of noodles into his mouth.

“Delicious!” she replied and had to grin an account of his insufferable table manners.   But she wasn't surprised; again, as if she knew perfectly well about his constant questioning the usefulness of fork and knife. He grinned as well in his sly, silly way but avoided her inquisitive look.

Only now she noticed the silver earring in his left earlobe. Without thinking what she was doing, she leaned across the table and touched the small, simple piece.

Link jerked back and looked surprised. “What is it?” he asked.

“Err...” she said a little embarrassed. “Your earring caught my eye...”

“Oh, that...” he mumbled and touched it himself. “It was a present from Sara for my 16th birthday. Probably because she had no clue what to buy me that I could use and... well... she insisted that I wear the thing.”

“It looks good on you.” Zelda said and took a sip of juice.

“I know...” he remarked and emptied his plate.

 

All of a sudden Zelda was up. She staggered towards the kitchen window and gripped the rough windowsill almost painfully. Breathing heavily, she looked outside through the glass and felt a sting in her stomach, then a pounding in her head.

The world outside changed to her eyes within a fraction of a second. Colors vanished, shades of gray merged with a sensation of unreality before her eyes. The divine ability to see behind the apparent, raised her perception of the undeniable that lies behind into the infinite.

Almost painful her eyelids sank and the blaze in her head violently drowned all other senses. She turned her shadowy gaze away from the window, looking for Link in a magnificently colored, shimmering room, no longer discernible as a kitchen.

He was running towards her, his lips moving slowly, as if he wanted to say her real name, as if to ask, what was wrong. But she couldn't hear him. He was running towards her and to Zelda he seemed to take hours to reach her.

It crackled in her thoughts, images of the distant past flashed by, images full of life, yet doomed to die. A piercing pressure behind her eyes and the pictures became more numerous, fast and threatening the poured into her mind, taking energy, robbing innocence.

She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry, to beg this strange power to stop these images, to stop the nightmare she was kept in.

Squealing loudly she threw herself with her back against the wall, didn't want to see, didn't want to accept the memories as such. Pictures of the dead, perished in the course of fierce battles on green planes. Blood over the smooth hills, fear in the wide open, glazed eyes of the fallen warriors. Fear of the true face of evil...

 

Link had dashed towards her grabbed Zelda at her upper arms. Her eyes were empty, her skin ice-cold. She trembled and suddenly screamed hysterically.

“Zelda!” he hissed, shaking her carefully. He was helpless, didn't know what happened here, had to watch in a shock how Zelda started to cry. She stammered random things, confused syntax, uttered words that didn't exist in any language he ever heard and at the end sagged down to her trembling knees. She fainted, falling forwards, directly into Links arms.

He picked her graceful body up and carried her into the living room where he placed her gently onto the comfy, creme-colored couch. He tapped her lightly against her delicate pink cheeks and said her name vigorously, asked her to open her eyes again.

But she remained motionless. Even when Link put a moist towel on her forehead and covered her with a blanket, she didn't react.

Deeply worried, Link remained at her side and watched over her for a couple of minutes. What to do now?

But Link wouldn't be Link, if he had ever run out of ideas. A few moments later he raced into his room and returned promptly with his white ocarina. Soft, low tones soon sounded in the room, loosening the ban of frightful memories, soothed and caressed the senses with a calming melody. Link found comfort in his play, closed his eyes and leaned back.

He didn't notice Zelda's slight twitches when the gently tones reached her ear, didn't see the squinting of her eyes or the puzzled expression on her noble face when she recognized the melody of the flute.

Zelda sat up, didn't remember what had happened a few minutes ago and enjoyed the ocarina's play. Smiling a little she let her feet dangle from the couch and beamed at Link, who was so enchanted by his melody that he had forgotten everything around him.

Link's eyes opened and he stopped playing abruptly, sat down beside Zelda on the sofa and studied her with his worried, serious look. This expression on his face told a lot and Zelda suspected, even though she did not remember.

“What happened, Link?” she asked in her normal voice, with familiar words.

“You broke down in the kitchen and...” She grimaced in disbelief, didn't want it to be true. “...to be honest, I wanted to know what happened from you.” he finished.

“I can not tell you. Forgive me, but I can't say because I do not know what I did.”

“You have no idea at all?” She shrugged her shoulders and looked pleadingly into the deep blue of his eyes.

“Did I worry you?” she mumbled

“Well, yeah, I didn't know what to do...”

“You played the ocarina...”

“It woke you up, so...” Damn, he felt like an idiot, didn't know what to say, didn't want to tell her how distraught she had behaved before the unconsciousness had engulfed her. Tenderly he took her hands into his, stroke the velvety skin of the back of her hands. His gaze was fixed on them, maybe, because he could not look her in the eyes honestly at the moment.

“Please don't scare me like that again, Zelda. I was... afraid for you.” he mumbled cautiously. He hardly understood himself, he had never before said something like that to anyone.

“For... me” she repeated, comprehending the meaning of these words only sluggishly, like there had never been anyone who was afraid for her. Only ever afraid of her? Maybe that was what made her so different, this imagination, others could fear her. Maybe that was why she wanted to escape from her miraculous beauty.

“Is that a mistake?”

“Maybe your biggest mistake...” she muttered and stood up.

 

Another evidence for the deceptive face she bore. More affirmation for the undeniable feeling that she did not belong here, that she in many ways differed from  other people. Maybe even that she would bring mortal peril into the life of this caring young man at her side, into this possibly pleasant world.

Proof for the insight, something was wrong with her actions and decisions, possibly with her as a whole.

“I played the harp...” she said, her first returning memory, trying hard to suppress the darkness in her thoughts.

“You mean, you played the harp in the past?”

“Yes... when I go to sleep, it is as if I regain my sense or the strings and I imagine playing. I can almost see myself in this small round room, only me and my harp. Light shines into the chamber from everywhere. I think it might be a tower... So, I sit down in front of the harp and play a melody...”

“I'm happy for you...” Link said with his calming and pleasant voice. He now stood right behind her. He wanted to touch her, but at the same time considered, that he had no right to do so.

“I cannot help being so abnormal. Please don't see me with different eyes because of that...” she mumbled weakly, hesitantly, her voice getting more silent with every word.  “Please...” she reinforced and turned her head to the side. She could feel his uncertainty, his rising nervousness, but also his honest sympathy.

 

Link walked around her to look her deeply into the eyes and softly, encouragingly said: “You can't possibly be more abnormal than me, Zelda... I will always see you with the same eyes.”

“You always manage to make me smile, against all odds, somehow...”

“Yep. Quite a gift, right?”

“Better than all others...”

“Oh... so you think I have even more magnificent talents?” he asked, grinning ever so slightly. He took a gulp from the water bottle that stood besides the sofa.

“You simply didn't find or accept them yet...” she replied a little more seriously.

“Just like you, Zelda.”

“Like me...” she kind of agreed. Realization dawned in her, how strong their threads of destiny had to be intertwined.

He handed her the bottle and she hastily drank to help her dried out tongue.

 

Link used that moment to sneak around her to scrutinize her slender body.

“You know, Zelda, I am definitely not a friend of extended shopping sessions but I'd say that you need new clothes.”

 

She looked at him with wide eyes. “But how would I...”

He interrupted her: “I'm going to lend you some money, it's as easy as that. I've got quite a bit on my bank account, still.”

“But what if I simply cannot afford that?” she objected.

“Then we could sell your tiara. That thing must be worth a fortune. And if not, you can always pay me back in installments. I won't even demand interest.” he mused, chuckling. With a little help from his overwhelming charm, Zelda was convinced.

“Thank you, Link.”

“Don't mention it. So, what do you say? Would you like to go somewhere today? If not it's no problem at all, we'll just make ourselves comfortable here.”

She shook her head and took the arm he offered her. “Alright then, mademoiselle, let's be off.”

 

Without further thought the two youngsters walked towards center of town until they stood in front of a large, multistory fashion shop.

“In you go!” Link said, grabbed Zelda's hand and dragged her with him into the building.

Zelda looked around, marveled by the uncountable amounts of racks with colorful, summery jackets, tables with Jeans in all forms and variations and stands with fancy blouses, T-shirts, coats and other things. She slowly followed Link, who was heading towards an escalator.

He turned around and suggested: “I'd say we start with undergarments and nightgowns, my lady.”

She followed only uncertainly, questioning the tremendous selection of goods, asking, whether anybody actually needed all of that. Or any of it, for that matter.

They reached the top floor. Immediately Link turned towards a rather pretty lady, who stood behind the counter. A brunette woman, wearing a chic, dark suit. She seemed to be in the middle of sorting some paperwork when she greeted Link in a noticeably familiar way. Then, her gaze fell upon Zelda, who felt more and more watched.

There were indeed a lot of people in the store, perusing through the offered clothes. There were especially many peers, Zelda noticed in passing. Some politely looked away, others stared as if she came from Mars.

The lady from the counter went over to Zelda with Link in tow. With a kind “Hello!” she greeted the apparently 17 year old girl.

“Zelda, may I introduce my aunt Lydia, mother of my cousin. She will help you find appropriate stuff, since I have absolutely no clue about fashion.

Zelda nodded thankfully. “If there's anything, I'll be over there.” He pointed at a red couch, close to the counter. “Is this okay for you?”

She nodded. How often would she have to thank him for his helpfulness?

“Oh, one more thing. Whenever you need someone to judge the clothes on you, just come over here. I'll be waiting.” Link slowly walked towards the couch. Over the shoulder he released her with: “Take all the time you need. Since we got nothing else to do...”

With a wide grin he got comfortable on the couch and payed no mind to the indignant faces of other customers as he cheekily rested his feet on the stuffing as well.

Smirking, Zelda focused on Lydia, who carefully measured her size and physique. “So, Zelda, Link told me you needed a new outfit.” The lady had a beautiful voice, remarkably soothing and gentle. Zelda nodded.

“I didn't even know my nephew had a visitor.”

“Well...” Zelda started, not wanting to give away too much. “I hope, I won't have to jar on his nerves for too long.“

The lady's fawn eyes scrutinized her. “It's not my intention to interrogate you, where you come from and what you're doing here, but forgive me if I'm a little nosy.”

Zelda smiled, but avoided looking directly into the unfamiliar woman's eyes. “Well, no matter. I'd suggest we start by looking for fitting lingerie for you. Should not be difficult with your perfect size...”

Zelda followed the roughly 40 year old woman through the forest of clothes racks and lifeless mannequins.

They reached a corner full of all manners of undergarments, as well as dressing gowns and lingerie. Absentmindedly Zelda looked from one object to the other, again feeling this slight unease. This whole situation, the sight of the store, as well as the people inside it, felt so utterly alien.

Within a blink Lydia had conjured up a few pieces of lingerie, three nightgowns, one beautiful red pajama and a pile of socks in front of her.

“Over there are the changing cubicles.” she said and stuffed the whole stack into Zelda's arms. Sighing, the pretty girl strolled into the cabin and started trying the clothes on, with a little initial difficulty.

After a lot of examination from Lydia, who always clapped loudly if something fit well, this first part was done. However, there already was a considerable heap of clothing on the table next to the counter. Link, daring only to take a small glance at it, realized that this little excursion would probably render him stone broke... and that was only the beginning. 

Lydia seemed to be completely in her element now. Numerous jackets, trousers and sweaters, among other things, Zelda had to try and show off on her model-like body. One entire outfit followed the next and so the time went by. Over an hour later Link was at the brink of falling asleep. He fought it, stretched and looked over to Zelda, who once again vanished grinning into the cabin with a pile of T-shirts on her arms. Exhaling loudly, he leaned back and thought about what he had done for Zelda, but most of all, he thought about everything he would do for her, even though there was no way he knew her at all. She was, after all, still a complete stranger. These feelings of affection... were they even right? Could it be a mistake, to get himself into a girl like this? A girl, whose real name he didn't even know?

He suddenly felt two hands over his eyes, interrupting his thoughts. A cute voice behind him said: “Guess who!”

“Hmm... Zelda, I would have recognized you even if you hadn't spoken.”

She moved her hands away and stepped in front of him. A little shy, she mumbled: “Your aunt said, I should ask you what you think of this dress.”

Link stared at her in shock. The gorgeous being in front of him bore a seductive, delicate pink dress, which fit tightly and emphasized her graceful body. Zelda looked at the ceiling with flushed cheeks, waiting for Link's reaction. He was, however, utterly speechless, seemed to be entranced by her appearance. Two braided straps held the precious summer dress in place. They were the only adornment; the rest was kept in a noble genuineness. And if the right person wore it, that's the effect you got: natural perfection.

“Erm... it is...” Link finally managed to utter and stood up awkwardly. “You... You should take it, if... if you like it.” he stuttered in stupor, trying not to appear like he was unrestrainedly staring at her. But Zelda smiled, turned around and scuttled back to Lydia.

Link hated himself for seeming so mindless, as if every last bit of his brain decided to just abandon post. Why? Why did she have such a strong impact on his clear thinking? He usually wasn't this nervous when looking at a girl his age...

 

Lost in thought like this, Link failed to notice that he was being watched. Two artificial blue eyes had him in their sights and snickered, when he slumped back down on the sofa. He had just closed his eyes when somebody sat down uncomfortably close beside him.

“Lovely Herooo...” the somebody cooed. Instantly Link's hair stood on end. Not her, he begged. Please, not again! But the voice, even more false than the rest of her appearance had already made it clear, who was sitting beside him. Ilona was her name. Ilona.

Link jumped up from the sofa and grumbled: “What do you want?”

Ilona got up as well and purred seductively: “Why so rude? I only wanted to say hallo to you, lovely hero.”

“Stop that!” Link hissed and something new, something dangerous resonated suddenly in his voice. But Ilona didn't understand, what he meant, so she continued in her squealing, high voice: “I, your princess, wanted to ask you, if you would like to catch a movie with me, or maybe have a stroll through the park... Please!” The last word she spoke in what she ridiculously enough thought to be an alluring tone.

“You are merely a cheap floozy without a drop of royal blood. And, as you know perfectly well, I have absolutely no desire to be in your company.”

Pulling a sulky face, Ilona fumbled around her blue contact lenses, acting as if she had missed the first part. “Why not?”

“Because, firstly, I'm in somebody's company, and secondly because I can't stand your false character.”

She walked up to him, and breathed in his face: “Please Link.”

“No. End of discussion.” He left, his patience hanging by a thread, walking past Ilona and looked for Zelda. He could however feel the pesky girl following his every step.

 

Zelda was standing at the counter, watching Link's aunt as she laboriously removed all the price tags from the close to hundred pieces of clothing.

Link found her, high spirited and light-hearted, his true princess. He almost ran up to her, a little quicker than he would have chosen, if he could ever retain his sanity when he saw her.

“I'm afraid this will cost a lot...” Zelda observed guiltily. “I feel terrible thinking that you have to pay for all of this.”

“And I will feel terrible if you have no other clothes than Sara's. It's alright Zelda.” he responded and, without further ado, payed for the whole bunch. It even pleased him to do so.

“Thanks for the help, Lydia.” Link added.

“My pleasure! I had a lot of fun creating Zelda's outfit.” she giggled. “But there's one thing that I'd like to know.”

“Which is?” Link asked, surreptitiously glancing towards this impossibly annoying Ilona who was prancing towards the counter.

“How did you two get to know each other? As your aunt I should, I mean, I could at least know who you spend time with.” she corrected herself. Just like her sister Mera she immediately jumped to conclusions that she enjoyed.

“I think I will tell you another time... Now that I remember, I forgot something. Would you wait for me for a second, Zelda?”

“Of course. Or are you afraid I could just disappear?” Hearing those words got Link to thinking; he didn't find them as funny as they were meant. His gaze wandered towards the corner where Ilona had loomed, desperate not to miss anything that was happening. But it seemed, the phony pest had given up. Link could no longer see her, so he went through with his plan. Gleefully he took the escalator down to the ground floor, while Zelda waited at the counter.

 

Ilona's face screwed up more by the second. She was still watching, only from another vantage point. Who was that girl at Link's side. Why did he talk to her? He even payed for her shopping! Jealousy was starting to boil in her like acid, she pondered, what she could do now...

She sneaked towards the counter, her insides giving a twitch, when she saw Link smiling at this new girl. He even held her hand for a brief amount of time. Ilona crept up even closer, hid her ridiculous appearance behind a rack of clothes. Now she could hear them talk and... laugh.

Then, Link went away, apparently. My chance, she thought.

Lydia too was busy attending to a customer. The unknown girl was alone now, she almost seemed insecure. Now or never!

She used this moment to take the chance and hastened towards the intruder. Disgusted, Ilona eyed her beautiful face, another surge of jealousy swept over her.

Zelda coolly greeted the meager girl that had positioned itself in a way, that she could not be ignored.

“Hello.” she dared a careful glance behind Ilona's disguise that was hiding her true face. A repulsive being, without ideals or a speck of truth in her heart. Pictures of a ruined family, wearing discussions about unjust situations. But still there were desires, deeply hidden, blanketed by coldness and the want to let others pay for her own hardship.

“Hallo.” Ilona said spuriously, but almost relieved that Zelda looked her in the face.

“What's your deal with Link?” A disparaging question that only served to tell more about her unlikeable character behind the actually pale, murky eyes, where light had been replaced with mist. Zelda also immediately noticed the unnaturally high voice Ilona delivered.

“Maybe more than both him and me can understand.” Zelda replied with a firm look in her opposite's disgust-showing face.

“Leave him alone! He doesn't belong to you.” Ilona getting right to the point, since she apparently could no longer speak sensibly. Or maybe she didn't want to.

“It is his decision, whom he want's around him and, by the way, he only belongs to no-one, only himself.”

Ilona stared defiantly at the ceiling, searching for words. She looked around herself, when she had an idea. The best weapon, to get rid of this person had to be jealousy.

“He's my boyfriend!” she exclaimed, already full of glee about her supposed triumph. But Zelda was not impressed in the slightest. She did after all see so many lies behind her made-up face; Ilona had spun such a tight web of them, that she couldn't even trust herself any more.

“Link is my friend to me too.”

“But you don't mean anything to him!”

“I'm happy just knowing him. And he's happy knowing me.” Zelda said self-confidently. She cast a dreamy glance towards the escalator, waiting for Link to return.

“You big-headed piece of dirt, Link is mine!” she emphasized, leaving any kind of civility behind her.

Zelda turned her head towards the girl with a sovereign look in her eyes. Ilona flinched, her eyes widening. In Zelda's gaze were indignation and calmness alike, but also something... else.

“Do not provoke sleeping beasts. Your poor choice of words will only bring harm to yourself.” Under Zelda's cold stare, Ilona's expression changed slowly from arrogant to respectful. A little drop of sweat gleamed on her forehead, so maybe it was even more than just respect.

“Go.” Zelda ordered. Ilona turned and crept towards the escalators, but not before hissing: “You're crazy!”.

 

Zelda waited another ten minutes for Link's return. Slowly, the whole situation became tedious. Wanting to check her surroundings she moved towards the  staircases to have a look down to the ground floor. She couldn't make out Link anywhere. What was he doing that took so much time? Where in the gods name had he gone?

But suddenly a figure appeared in the crowd, wearing a forest green shirt and waving at her. She waved back. She couldn't understand, why she felt so happy and relieved to see him. Leaning a little over the railing of the stairs, she could just barely see him take the other escalator to go upstairs. He seemed to be holding something small in his hand, and he had his characteristic honest, cheeky smile on his face. An expression which had immediately caught her eye. Time seemed to be standing still; it took so long until he was almost back with her.

A sudden painful jab into her back made her lose her balance. Yelping, she turned her head, but she could only see something disturbingly sinister in two fake blue eyes, before she tumbled over. Not quick enough to hold on to the rail, she fell down the stairs to Link's side. His stomach clenching in horror he had seen her tipping over. His muscles moving on their own, he jumped over the banister that separated her side from his' and was just able to grab her arm and prevented her from tumbling down all the way. Sighing in relieve but with very wobbly knees they reached the end of the stairs. They looked around them, still in shock.

“Is everything alright?” Link stuttered, startled, how angst-inducing this brief moment had been. Zelda nodded but avoided his gaze. Nothing was alright at all! Someone had just tried to kill her! Somebody wanted her death; it really was, as she had felt it to be from her awakening in Link's house. And Zelda knew who.

 

“Stay here.” Link prompted. With a few quick steps he darted up the steps. He too had seen who had been standing behind Zelda on the stairs. He had seen who wanted to take her life. Entrapped between indescribable fury and the fear, Zelda could come to harm, he chased around the hall and soon found Ilona standing at the counter.

Shaking with anger and disbelief, Link approached her and scolded: “How could you do that? Why?”

“Do what?” she answered, looking at Link in a wanton way.

He advanced another step. “You know exactly what I am talking about. Don't play little miss innocent with me!”

At this moment Zelda came running towards them, against Link's protective instruction. She placed a soft hand on his trembling shoulder.

“Who do you think you are? You would almost have been a murderess.” he roared, so the whole store tremored from his voice. He seized her roughly by her arm.

“I didn't do anything wrong!” she yelped.

“You almost killed Zelda!”

“Oh, her name's Zelda...” she pointed with her index finger right into the pretty girl's face at Link's side. Zelda only nodded.

“I could sue you, you beast!” he snarled, failing to understand this overwhelming wrath in his insides.

“Link, I'm alright, nothing happened. Please, calm down...” Zelda muttered. She put her second hand on his other shoulder. “Please. This is not worth it.”

Link stared at Ilona for a few more seconds. He took a deep breath, slowly relaxed and released her arm, never taking his eyes off her hated face. He slowly turned his head and his anger cooled down at seeing the gentle blue in Zelda's eyes.

Ilona turned on the spot and ran away. She looked back once, saw the dreamy look in their two faces and hastened on, mad at her own stupidity.

 

“I seem to be giving you more than one opportunity to watch over me, huh?” Zelda asked encouragingly. Link's lips slowly, reluctantly formed a little smile.

“There may be a lot more to come...” He took two of the great bags with Zelda's new clothes in each hand.

“I... suddenly was... so afraid for you...” he admitted and regretted his words immediately.

“That...” but he only shook his head. He preferred it, if she didn't comment that. She could have said a lot of things, most of them would probably inappropriate and... wrong.

“She will make atonement for it, even without her wanting it.”

“I hope so...” he growled. Zelda took the remaining two bags and, trying to forget this dark incident, the two youngsters, heavily laden, made their way back home.

 

It was late in the evening, as Link was clearing away the table in the living room. What a day, he thought. Following the incident with Ilona in the fashion store, the two  teenagers had discussed it thoroughly, had pondered about the ifs and buts of the whole situation.

In the end, they had calmed each other with the thought, that nothing bad had happened and had dismissed the topic.

Link activated the dishwasher in the kitchen, turned off the light and hopped cheerfully up the steps and steered unerringly towards the guest room.

Zelda, all the while, was busy with trying on her new clothes. She took pleasure in the things of the modern world. She liked the new, that had initially seemed so unreal, so alien.

The bedside lamp was the only source of light. The soft twilight it created made her feel even more comfortable in the room than normally. Slowly she shed the red blouse and the jeans from Sara, got rid of the uncomfortable corset she had worn until now. Giggling she stepped in front of the mirror and examined a black, striking piece of lingerie on her trim figure and was greatly pleased with herself. She immediately thought of the person who she had to thank for all of this. Wasn't there something that she could do for him?

She fished out a violet top from one of the bags and held it in front of her body.

In that moment Link opened the door, not considering that Zelda would be busy with herself and simply entered the room. Squealing, Zelda spun around, almost dropping  the protective top, which barely covered her upper body.

Link gaped with his mouth wide open. Petrified, he looked at her, before he fully realized the situation and recollected himself. He swallowed and stuttered: “I should... knock... the next time.” and with a few wobbly steps he had turned around. Zelda quickly put on her pajamas and, still a little beside herself with shock, she sat down on the corner of the bed. Damnation, that was embarrassing.

Link, abashed and still facing in the other direction, mumbled: “I just wanted to ask you, whether you feel like having an evening stroll, or watch a movie from our collection?”

“Gladly. If you could just give me a few minutes, then we can have a walk.” A great possibility to put her new stuff to the test. Dark-blue stretch-jeans, a long-sleeved, white (but not too wide) sweater, a fashionable jacket...

“Sure.” he said and left the room without taking another peek in her direction, which probably did his rational thinking a lot of good.

 

Bathed in the light of the old, blood-red sinking sun the two walked along the edge of the forest. Close to ancient creatures of wood and leaves, which, deep in sacred places, kept many of the last mysteries in the world.

“Are you doing this regularly? Strolling around the woods in the evening hours, I mean?”

“Yep!” Link affirmed and looked past Zelda into the deep darkness, that was frighteningly mystical, that could conceal all manners of things no-one has ever seen.

“Aren't you afraid of the dark of the woods, if you're all alone?”

“No, I'm just telling me that all the animals are more afraid of me, than I could be of them.”

Zelda fastened her steps so she was a few meters ahead of him and could look him in the eyes. “But I don't mean the animals, Link.”

His look got more serious.

“There, in the blackness, don't you think that there could exist things that use its gloom for sinister deeds?” she said quietly, hoping her words didn't sound too farfetched and weird.

“Zelda... in this world of ours, there are no monsters or demons. In the darkness of the night looms nothing you have to be afraid about. If it was so, it would have been discovered already. These past centuries served science and progression. Fairy-tales don't have much importance any more.” Slowly they continued on their way, now and then hearing the cries of a lone owl, or a faint rustle, hidden deeply in the dark.

“Link?” Zelda started, again stopping to look at him. “You would wish for it to be different, though, am I right?” She wanted him to look at her, but he trod onwards.

“Sometimes, yes. But there is no alternative. Reality is, and will always be, reality. Fairies, wonders and demons only have a place in dreams.” he stated with a notion of finality in it. “What about you?`”

“Oh, I have the feeling that I don't need to desperately miss all these things.” Link's eyes widened, astonished by her words, and replied curiously: “How do I understand this?”

But Zelda didn't reveal her thoughts, partly for uncertainty, and partly for shame about things, she thought were natural. These included demons in any form, as well as these powers she apparently possessed.

They reached a little crossroads and decided for a way, which lead them deeper into the dark, but would eventually show them many lush green meadows. By then, the sun had vanished behind the horizon and the soft curtain of night had been laid over  Destinykeep. 

Every now and then, Zelda peeked into the darkness, not feeling all that comfortable at the thought, that there lurked more in these old woods than mere wild animals.

“If it comforts you, I have my flashlight with me.” Link reassured, almost physically feeling Zelda's unease.

“I find it an increasingly foolish idea to have a stroll in the forest...” she mumbled.

“I am sorry, Zelda. Maybe you're right.” he replied a little chastened. “But I'm here and I take full responsibility if one of those greedy demons with a giant ax and heavy armor decides to show up.”

Zelda nudged his arm with her elbow. “Don't jinx it!” squeaked, feeling more and more helpless in his company. Was there something missing in his brain that, in normal people, induced fear. Was he even sane?

“Oh, Zelda...” he sighed and briefly placed his arm around her shoulder. “Don't take it so hard. You'll see, there is nothing here that's worth being afraid of.”

She really did want to believe him, but with his weird sense for adventure, that was a nearly impossible task.

They continued on their path, which got increasingly harder to distinguish. Link finally got his flashlight from his pocket, when it suddenly dawned on him that he had stupidly forgotten to change the empty batteries.

They both perceived a peculiar rustling in the underbrush and Zelda jumped forwards and was now accompanied by even more uneasiness than before. Her fingers unintentionally clawed firmly into his palm. He didn't say anything and let her hand be exactly where it was: in his. In a sense, this feeling was even very pleasurable to him. “Could we maybe walk a little faster?”

“If it comforts you.” he said.

It wasn't long before the two of them stepped out of the blackness of the woods. Zelda breathed in and out deeply, when she discovered the green pastures, Link had hinted to. Following a beaten path, Zelda's discomfort vanished into nothing.

The moon beamed from the sky, spreading his cool light over the lush field, creating a scenery of pure tranquility. Zelda stood still, taking in more of this natural piece of art and looked at the landscape, smiling. Her gaze wandered towards a valley in the distance, which was surrounded by a protective ring of mountains, enfolded in mist and thus shielded from the moonlight.

She spread her arms and enjoyed the infinite naturalness, the beckoning freedom and felt in her heart the wish for a challenge.

She smiled broadly, turned around to Link, who also had a faintly happy expression on his face. “I had a feeling you would love this place, Zelda.” he said and took another step closer towards her.

“Is that why you dragged me through this insufferable darkness?” she laughed, exhilarated.

“Yep!”

“I have to say, it was definitely worth it.” and her dreamy gaze got lost in the dark night sky, where stars glinted like little sparks.

“Thank you Link. You have no idea what such a moment means to me.”, she whispered. Link saw a marvelous twinkle in her eyes, a light which may become strong enough to let the shadow in them fade. After a few minutes, where they only stared at each other in silence, they continued walking, until they reached the opposite edge of the glade.

Zelda once again reached for Link's hand, which he thought to be a heavenly gift, and gazed reverently into the darkened world.

“Link?”

“Mhm?”

“You're wonderful, do you know that?”

“'Course, especially since you've reminded me 10 times now.”

She giggled quietly. “Yeah, I know, but apparently I can't say it enough to do it justice.”

Link too laughed happily. “Since you're here, it's...”, he began and smiled at her sight.

Even if she couldn't see much of his expression, in all this night. “... I feel better.”

“I know...”, she said masterfully and followed the path ahead.

 

From afar, they could see the first, dim lights of Destinykeep. Silently, they walked side by side, relishing the clean air and the sounds of nocturnal life.

Eventually, Zelda broke the silence with a loud yawn.

“Tired already?”

“Well, such a walk tends to induce sleepiness.”

“We're home soon. Can you see the large complex back there?” She followed the direction indicated by Link's pointing finger. She could only see a unlit yard and structure, a little off the first illuminated streets.

“It's our graveyard. If we take the route past it, we'll be quicker, than going further east and walking back through half the city.

“A graveyard?” Zelda inquired, anxious to suppress the fear, this word carried.

“What are you planning here? Some kind of shock-therapy?” she joked.

“Well, I'm afraid I'll have to get you used to shocks, if you're going to stay within my vicinity.” he replied, thinking involuntarily of the strange incidents of the last weeks, that somebody else might not have borne quite so well as he did...

“I didn't think you'd be quite so dangerous...”

“There is a lot about me, one wouldn't expect.”

“Maybe that's what makes you the center of attraction for people around you.” she mumbled and looked decidedly away

“A dangerous point of attraction, wouldn't you say, Zelda?” he purred in her ear. He was amazed how much fun it was to make a complete fool of himself in front of her.

“Well, alright. You convinced me. Let's walk past the graveyard. But you have to promise me that we won't stay there for long.”

Link smiled, but didn't say anything, almost as if he didn't want to make that promise.

The moon vanished, it's smooth light warded off by thick clouds, turning the meadow into blackness. With every step they came closer to Destinykeep's old cemetery. They could barely see a high wrought-iron fence, and past that many ancient leaf trees, slightly hiding the stone cemetery hall.

The path led them fairly close past the high enclosure. Some people told about audible voices of the dead, pleading to be released from their prison.

 

Link purposely took Zelda's hand in his, for even someone like him felt reverence at a place of death.

Zelda suddenly stopped and pointed with her free hand towards the inner cemetery. A faint light shone from somewhere on the inside.

“What could that be?” she muttered at equally surprised Link. It appeared to be  torchlight, to vivid for an electrical source.

“No idea, but I'm going to find out.” Zelda's eyes widened. Was completely out of his mind now? He abruptly let go of her hand and marched towards the circumvallation to climb over it.

“Don't move, I'll be right back.”

With a doubtful nod, Zelda leaned against the fence, glancing nervously from one side to the other.

 

Link slowly snuck from tree to tree towards the little flame, occasionally looking back, but he already couldn't see her anymore. He was conflicted; for one he wanted to find out what was going on, but on the other hand he hated to leave Zelda alone...

'But what could possibly happen?' he told himself. He quickened his pace.

The young adventurer with the green baseball cap hid behind the thick trunk of an oak and carefully peaked around its bark. He spotted a bowed down person, encircled by graves. This character indeed carried a torch and Link could hear him mumbling to himself, almost as if he was cursing...

The enigmatic person stuck the torch in to the ground right beside him and sat down on the grass. He didn't notice Link creeping a bit closer. Now he could scrutinize this figure more clearly. It was an elderly guy. He looked almost like a monk, wearing a rough, dark-brown frock and having a half-bald head with only a thinning circle of gray hair around it.

Link had never seen the guy before and an uneasy feeling crept over him. For unexplainable reasons, he did not seem so harmless, as the monk-like appearance would insinuate. No... he emanated a sense of dread that Link found familiar. Horrifyingly familiar...

The old man dug around in the soil, as if looking for something.

“To foolish... always to foolish Drokon.” he spat with an seemingly unnaturally scratchy voice, like two plates of rough shale being rubbed together.

“Serve the master...” he smarmed, then savagely hit the earth with his fist.

“Bad Lord... always you punish poor Drokon, who can do nothing, who always is faithful, so faithful, so tries to be faithful.”

Link listened tensely, unable to comprehend the crazy babbling of this guy. But something made him listen, some instinct to not dismiss this as just a madman's ranting. For his own good... and Zelda's.

“Hoho... the Lord knew, the Lord hated, the Lord murdered...” then the lunatic started giggling hysterically, randomly snapping his fingers

“And the bad Lord... he always punishes poor Drokon...” he now yammered. But Link was far from feeling pity. Only disgust.

 

Within a heartbeat two hands pressed against Link's mouth. He could feel his heart skip a beat and with shock in his eyes he turned his head. He knew the guy who was holding him. It took a second for Link's alarmed brain to recognize. It was Josh, one of the twins from his parallel class. He put his finger to his lips and Link understood. Somehow he doubted Josh was here quite as accidentally as he was.

 

A sharp snap from under Josh's shoes made the strange man hiss. “Who disturbs the Master's hour? Who disturbs poor Drokon when he must serve the Master's hour?”

Drokon stood up and a yellow glow emerged from his eye slits. He looked exactly at the spot where Link and Josh were standing and screamed with an surreal, grating voice: “The Lord kills, who stands in his way! The Lord murders... haha!” His words ended in sick laughter and with cracking joints he darted towards the two boys.

Josh assessed the situation as too dangerous, drew back and yelled at Link “Run!”

Hastily the two youths got two the fence and scrambled over it quicker than ever before in their lives and jumped the whole height down to not loose any time. Link immediately looked back, scanning the graveyard for the crook. Fearlessly he walked a little closer to the fence, using another of his abnormities, being able to sense some people, to locate the the guy in the darkness. But he neither saw nor felt anything.

After a while he jogged to the place where he left Zelda and to his relief he found her right there. Two other people stood next to her. One of them was Josh, he was sure.

She was pacing up and down, asking loudly: “And where is Link?”

“I dunno.” Josh replied, “He just stopped.” Apparently he had already told her the whole creepy story.

Link got closer to them, hearing desperation in Zelda's voice. But then she already noticed him and called him. Josh grabbed her arm, sweating. “Are you crazy? If that nut hears us, were done for.”

“It's impossible. This... monk has apparently vanished off the face of the earth.” Link grumbled, reaching the other three. Zelda stepped right in front of him and gave him  a quick but effective slap in the face. Flabbergasted, he looked at her worried face.

“Zelda, wh...”

“Do you have any idea how much I've worried? Don't you dare do that again!” she spat. She evaded his gaze and gloomily looked at the far grassland.

“Sorry...” he answered lamely, slowly realizing how insensible he had acted.

“Josh already told everything I assume.” He watched the two boys beside Zelda. They nodded their confirmation.

“Hendrick appeared shortly after you had to climb over the fence.” Zelda grumbled. Now the second twin spoke for the first time. “Link, about a week ago we found burn marks. We decided watch more closely at night and we could actually see light coming from the cemetery from our home. We even saw this guy a few times, always mumbling and cursing. Seems like he comes here every evening now.”

Link remembered their house and the view from the twins' room towards the hills.

“Every evening?”

“Right. And today we saw you and Zelda walking there and wanted to warn you. We immediately recognized her.”

Link remembered her telling about how nice the twins had helped her with shopping.

“We didn't know she lived with you. Since when do you have such nice guests?”

“Not long.” Link replied honestly.

“Lucky bastard.” Josh responded with a wink. “I'd have nothing against such a guest of my own.” Once again, Zelda had a breathtaking effect on the people in her surroundings.

“This graveyard business is really scary...” Hendrick concluded. “I have a hard time sleeping cause I constantly think about it.”

“Then I want to know,” Link asked in his overexcited courage, “why you always scram. Never tried to confront this nut job?”

Josh got a step closer with a disbelieving look on his face. “Are you mental? Why don't we just join him outright when he does his rituals? You have no idea what we've heard this guy say and do...” Link raised his eyebrow and didn't understand what their secrecy was about.

“If we tell you, you would never believe us another word.”

“Whatever. How late is it anyway?” Link asked. Zelda clung to Link's arm and yawned.

“Twelve already.” Hendrick answered. “We should go back to the city.”

The others nodded in consent.

“So what do we do with this lunatic?” Zelda asked.

“In any case, we can't call the police.” Hendrick stated. “This guy has nothing to fear from them.” And with those mysterious words the twins left in the opposite direction. The two chosen also made their way home and reached Link's front door at one o'clock.

 

 

Link was just standing in his room, already wore his short, dark-green pajama-pants and once again checked his wound. He delicately removed the bandages and examined the peculiar injury. Finally a normal scab had formed over them. Sighing, he lightly touched one of his wounds and squinted his eyes at the resulting jolt of pain.

That very moment Zelda entered his darkened room in her red pajamas. Only the lava lamp in the corner bestowed a little light. Her long, golden hair was banded together and hanging over her right shoulder.

“Hey.” she mumbled softly, her gaze immediately shifting to his torso. She stepped towards him and asked: “How are you?”

“Err... fine, actually.” he said in a sincere way.

“Do you want me to apply new bandages?”

“That would be great.” he replied and sat down on the edge of the bed. Zelda sat down behind him and started the procedure.

“Am I doing ok?”

“Mhm” he breathed gently. “Thank you.”

“About earlier...” Zelda started, “I'm sorry for slapping you.”

“I think I might have deserved it.” and turned his head so she could see his smiling face.

“I really was worried, though.”

“You believe Hendrick and Josh's story, don't you?”

“Sure!”

“Me too. They don't have any reason to lie to us.”

“Hendrick told me, this Monk is calling himself Drokon, and that he has magic powers...”

Zelda finished wrapping Link's chest and stomach in bandages and got up. Satisfied with her work and with a cheerful yawn she let herself slump down in one of Link's comfy chairs beside his desk and stretched her arms. Only now she saw Link's kind of puzzled expression in his handsome face.

“Magic powers... and you just throw that out like a fact?”

Zelda shrugged her shoulders. Apparently another obviousness in her eyes, that people have some kind of special abilities.

“Dear me, Zelda...” Link got up sat back down at her feet and placed his hands on her knees. “In our world it's very unlikely that people have these kinds of talents, and that they would show them.”

“Oh...” she just exclaimed and rubbed her eyes. “And what should we do, now that we know what mysterious things this character is arranging at the graveyard?”

“I don't know yet, but maybe time will have the answers.”

“Mhm. Possibly.”

And it would, even if the sought answers came with even more questions...

 

Suddenly an flash of genius from earlier knocked impatiently on Link's mind and he started rummaging in one of the drawers for something. Having found it, he impishly held a pair of modest but pretty, silver earrings in front of Zelda's nose. Baffled, she eyed him, then the rings.

“What... are they...”

“For you...” Link said, blushing ever so slightly. “Today in the shop, well... you know, I just wanted to have a present for you.” he sheepishly tried to make excuses.

She took the earrings in her right hand and couldn't help but smile brilliantly in glee.

“I noticed that you... have holes in your ears, but aren't wearing anything inside them and so...”

“That's so sweet of you!” she exclaimed and without thinking threw her arms around his neck. The hug was only brief, and still, it seemed wanting to tell him something... Memories of desire... and long lost wishes.

“But I really can not accept your gift, you already did too much for me.” she mumbled and, abashed, she retreated away from the embrace.

“Don't worry, they were actually cheaper than a box of my favorite ice-cream...”

She nodded in a telling and grateful way and within a moment she had fixed the little piece of jewelery in her earlobe.

“Now I like you even better and that's saying something. Thinking of ice-cream, would you like some?”

“Do you really want to eat sweets now? It's already past two in the morning.” she doubted his sanity as she contemplatively looked at the display of the DVD-recorder.

“Sure! I could always eat ice-cream, no matter how early or late.”

“Alright, why not. But not too much, okay?” Having received Zelda's consent, Link hopped out of the room and quickly returned with a full load of the sweet substance. So they spent half the night together, with conversation, watching a repeat of a horror-movie, which only Zelda found slightly scary, until she, with a yawned good-night-wish, left his room.

 

 

Tuesday morning the doorbell surprised the young man out of bed. Link rushed down and opened the door.

“Hey Rick. What's new?”

“Morning moron. Did you forget it's Tuesday?

“Comforting retort for the one calling me moron: no I have not. Is there anything special 'bout today?”

“Oh, man. You really did forget our training.” Link touched his head with his palm, then shook it.

“Sorry, I really did.” Tuesdays had been archery-training since god knows when.

But since Zelda honored his house, he admittedly had a hard time thinking about anything but her.

“Listen Rick. I got a guest. A very dear guest, yes, so if you would excuse me. Erm... training doesn't start until in two hours, right?”

“A guest? Really? A female guest?” Link's cheeks got noticeably redder by the second.

“Oh what the hell.” Link exclaimed. “Want to come in?”

“Definitely!” Rick replied and closed the door behind him.

Link's cousin wondered, what girl could have made Link not only not flee, but also make him invite her to his home. He entered the corridor, pulled off his shoes, even though he knew that his aunt Mera wasn't home. She had often enough yelled at him for wearing his “devilishly” dirty sneakers in her house that he had learned his lesson.

 

Rick was very curious. Link always seemed to have some secret or other and now he could finally uncover one of them. The TV was on and someone sitting in front of it, her legs stretched out on the sofa, was zapping back and forth.

Rick moved closer, puzzled, why he suddenly felt  slight unease, almost as if he was about to meet the most glamorous pop-star ever. He stopped and saw the profile of an unbelievably gorgeous girl sitting in the couch. Long blond hair, a slender, breathtaking body... Rick almost lost his ability to speak.

He really has a girlfriend! I can't believe it, he thought to himself. And what a girlfriend he has!

She turned her head towards him and smiled a bit shyly.

“Hello.” she said in a strangely insecure way.

Only by scratching all of his courage together, Rick also managed a hoarse “Hello”

Who was she, he wondered and stared at the regal, immaculate face with all its soft features, the porcelain skin and the red lips and the two blue eyes that twinkled like sapphires.

“Hello.” Rick stuttered a second time. He felt, as if it was required of him to bow down before her.

He got yet a bit closer, just to make sure that this divine girl was truly sitting on the beige sofa. He said: “Err... I'm Link's cousin Rick. Nice to meet you.”

She stood up and Rick now had to admire the grace with which she moved. She extended her hand and spoke with a smile. “I'm called Zelda.”

Rick had to take a few moments to ascertain that he had heard her correctly, while grinning in her innocent face.

“Zelda? Now I think I've truly gone mad...”

She grinned and replied: “It is not the way you think, Rick...”

“Okay, okay. I'm sure Link will share the story with me.” Zelda nodded politely.

 

Link chose that moment to reenter with two bottles of Cola under his arm. He crossed the living room until he stood right next to Zelda with a wide smile on his face.

“So, Rick, I think you may find that a few things happened and you're not currently up to speed.”

The three teenagers sat down around the glass table in the living room and Link started to explain to his best friend everything that had occurred. At least as far as he needed to know... He did not leave out the story about her having lost her memory and that Zelda was not her real name. However, he kept his silence about one thing: the incredible fact, how similar Zelda's voice was to that, which had called to him more than once.

No, damn it! He had to admit to himself, that it was not just similarity... It, simply and truly, was her voice!

“So what are you two going to do?”

“Wait.” Link answered.

“Wait.” Zelda agreed and turned to look warmly at her savior.

He returned her look and expression. Now, even Rick noticed the drastic change in his cousin. How long has it been since Link had smiled like that? Definitely a long time... Rick was delighted for him and already thanked the strange girl for her appearance in his life.

Zelda hopped up from her place and from a little bar she snatched three glasses for the Cola. Four unblinking eyes followed her every move. She knew, she sensed their gazes in  the back of her neck.

“She is unbelievably beautiful!” Rick whispered, so that Zelda couldn't hear.

“Yeah, she is...” Link mumbled sheepishly, not something he could possibly deny.

“...you have something going on with her?” Link blushed furiously within a second.

He coughed and said: “No! What makes you think that? She's a friend, nothing more!”

“Oh, well good, so I can try my luck!”

“Don't you dare!” he exclaimed a lot louder than he had meant, drawing Zelda's interested gaze. Link subconsciously clenched his fists as he felt a surge of monstrous jealousy because of that angelic face. He looked at her, smiled once again when she sat back down at the table.

“What shouldn't he dare?”

“Erm... nothing important.” Link replied and avoided her piercing, knowing gaze. Her lips twitched into a smile, apparently having read his thoughts anyway.

The three teens were enjoying their time for a while until it got around noon and Rick announced that he was going to leave now.

In the corridor he had one more thing to whisper to Link. “You know, she really looks... a lot like the Zelda from the game...” At Link's side, the girl in question too tried to understand what was being whispered.

“Zelda is a game-character and she is a human being.” Link was a little startled at himself. He had never snapped at his best friend like this.

“I'm sorry, Link, you're right of course, but...”

Link looked at his guest, scrutinizing her cherubic face like never before.

“...She resembles her just too much, is what you mean, right?” he sighed, knowing that the cat was out of the bag anyway. He let his head hang a little.

Zelda was completely calm and stated: Link, I really don't mind, okay? I too chose to bear this name, and I do so with pride and respect. So, let's forget about that and let us eat.”

“Alright! I will scram now. Link, you going to honor us at the archery range?

“I definitely will, if...” Before he could even finish, Zelda had already read his thoughts again. “I don't mind at all. I can come too, can't I?”

Link smiled mischievously. “We will be eager to examine how good your eyesight is, hmm?” She nodded.

Link accompanied Rick to the door and the few meters through the front yard.

“Come on, I'm sure you got something going on with her.” Rick deliberately repeated his words, suspecting that there was indeed more going on than Link would admit. He knew, Link was hiding something of importance regarding her sudden appearance. This girl did not only possess grace and charm, but also embodied something much more powerful.

Link inhaled, avoided eye contact, stammered unintelligibly while shifting from one foot to the other.

“I need her...” he managed to exhale. He let his eyes wander towards the living room window. He could make out Zelda inside, sitting on a stool, pensively and almost a little sadly she watched the TV, which she had only turned on to take her mind off her melancholic thoughts.

“She tells me so much... I don't mean literally, but the way she talks to me, how she looks at me, how she treats me in general. It's as if I know her since forever.” He leaned back against a street lamp and crossed his arms.

“I don't want to dampen your spirits, or doubt your judgment, but something is wrong here. Now that she's here, I... I somehow can't just have a good feeling about this.”

“I know... but what am I supposed to do in your opinion? Should I send her away and forever hate myself, because of this nagging instinct, which tells me I have waited all my life to find her? Should I throw her out of my house with the absurd justification that she brings danger to the city?”

“No... and somehow yes.”

“There is danger...” Link concluded, turning to go back into the house. Rick just nodded.

“And the funny thing is, Rick, I don't care. As long as she is here nothing matters. School, dreams, or any creature of hell one could come up with. I will not send her away. Ever. On the contrary, I want her to stay and I...” he could hardly believe what he was saying, but his feelings were just welling up to the surface now. “I protect her, cost what it may.”

Rick was silent. Either Link really did come from some other solar system or he had lost his mind utterly now. Had her presence gotten him so badly?

“Rick, it was her... voice.” Link admitted in a low voice, turning his back to his friend.

“What?” taken aback, Rick once more looked at Zelda, who sat almost trance-like in the lounge.

“Yes. I just know. It must have been her voice. She called me, and if I hadn't heard her, or hadn't reacted like I did... hadn't found her... she would not be alive now.”

Link felt Rick's hand firmly on his shoulder. “Destiny, Link.” he said reassuringly.

The green-capped boy laughed out loud, but not out of fun or joy.

“Destiny indeed.” Link murmured. Finally he said: “So, I...”

“Don't worry too much about it.” Rick interrupted. “As many things do, all will become clearer in time. And you'll probably have a good laugh, remembering the weird thoughts we are having here. And now, I suggest, you cheer up this fairylike being in your house a little. She is making such a sad face, I can hardly watch...”

Link grinned. “Yeah, you're right. Thanks Rick.”

“My pleasure. See you later!” the brown haired lad called over his shoulder and walked down the street.

 

Link returned to the living room and saw Zelda sitting in the exact same position as before. Cross-legged, on the stool, staring into nothing.

“Zelda?” he mumbled. She looked up, a little surprised. “Is everything alright with you?” Link asked, just to be sure. Sorrowful, she shook her head and sent an indescribably yearning look his way. He sat down on a chair, right in front of her.

“Rick... he is afraid of me...” she declared in a subdued way and with a trembling voice.

“Hey now, that...” Link started to say.

“Don't. I could feel it, Link. It wasn't real fear, just a feeling of unease, telling him to stay far away from me.”

He gently laid a hand on her shoulder. “So what? You still got me! I am neither afraid of you, nor do I feel any kind of aversion when I'm with you. You're someone exceptional, Zelda... We are going to find out what's wrong here and Rick will be able to see you with different eyes... yes? Apart from that, I feel he is already about to shrug off that uneasy feeling.”

She nodded and smiled slightly. “Thank you. Did I mention that you are a gem, Link?”

“You did. But I enjoy hearing it from you.”

“You mean to say, I could say it a few more times?”

“You could of course even add something to it...”

“Something like: You are the most precious being on this earth?”

Link grinned. “Yep. I do accept that!” He pulled her up on her feet. “And now we cook something nice for us two, hm?”

She followed him into the kitchen. “How about something healthy for a change?”

“Salad, potatoes and other such things?”

Zelda smiled. “Exactly what I was thinking about.”

“Good.”

“Good.”

Zelda and Link ate unhurriedly together and subsequently started on their way to the archery-range.

 

When they reached the giant building of the old gym, Zelda was beaming with excitement. She had always wanted to learn to shoot with bow and arrow. Many people, old and young were here to sharpen their skills. She studied these people, their cheerful faces, their happy laughs and joyous calls. Some where pretty impressive with their weapon, others couldn't even draw their bow completely, let alone hit their target. Zelda was enthusiastic, Link could sense that from a mile away.

A few moments later Rick showed up. “Hey! There you are. Why don't you go and get two bows, while I show this pretty young lady the ropes?” Link looked at Rick sternly for a second, then left to do as asked. Rick smiled at Zelda, purposefully ignoring the uneasiness he felt in her presence.

“Zelda, well, it's really great making your acquaintance.” Zelda was glad that Rick was now trying to engage in conversation, despite his worries. Link was right, Rick really was someone you could trust right away.

“Link told me a lot about you...” Rick said quietly.

“Excuse me?” That hardly seemed possible. She only knew him since a few days and Rick had only learned about her earlier that day...

“You don't know what I mean, right?

“No, I'm afraid you'll have to explain.”

At that moment, Link returned with two beautiful bows in his hands.

“Well, I'll explain another time.” Link held one of the weapons in front of Zelda's face.

“Now you just watch carefully!” Rick said loudly and excitedly. “'Cause there is a pro among us.” and his outstretched index-finger pointed at Link.

He however was already leisurely walking towards the shooting range, gracefully nocked an arrow, felt the tension in the bowstring and the power it reflected, waited for a moment, then let go. The arrow zoomed away at incredible speed, and with a muffled thunk embedded itself perfectly in the middle of the target. A few people around them stared at Link, more in awe than Zelda could have possibly been. Somehow, that was precisely what she had expected of him.

Link motioned Zelda to come and try herself. She stepped to Link's side and held the bow with hopefully appropriate draw weight in front of her.

She tried multiple times and was, in Link's estimation, uncannily good at it. Link sat down on a bench and observed the people in the hall.

He noticed one familiar face... it was Maron. The girl Rick was so fascinated with, and a good friend. She was smaller in stature than, not quite as perfect, almost as graceful, but still very beautiful to behold.

It had been a long time since she had called Link her 'prince', because he had rescued her cat from a tree in seventh grade. Even weeks later, Link was still downright fleeing from her, because every meeting with her ended with her vigorously inviting him to her home.

Link really didn't fancy doing that. She was a nice girl, but he couldn't have reciprocated what she had wanted from him. Thank god, this early, naïve infatuation has never been detrimental to their later on friendship.

Everything, Link had ever felt for anybody he kept as a well guarded secret, and only Rick would, sometimes accidentally, be let in on it.

 

Link was suddenly yanked out of his thoughts. Attentively, he looked around, saw laughing people here and there, made out many smiling faces, enjoying their hobby. But there was something else. Something was out of place, he could feel it.

Cold entwined his heart. He looked at his hands. Especially his left trembled. It shook so violently, he had to hold it fast with his other. He could sense a malevolent, dark Energy grow and rise. Cold. Nothing but icy, dry cold.

Exhaling deeply, Link lifted his hand, still trembling as if it was controlled by someone.

At his next exhalation he saw little clouds of mist rise from his mouth. This coldness wasn't just in his mind, but already outside, gathering in the air, dominating one of the elements, endeavoring to subdue them all.

Link shakily stood up and looked around. He saw Rick shouting someone in his direction. He had no time for this though. He felt, he had no time to waste. As if time had allied with this dark energy that crept around.

 

Link suddenly grabbed his head in both hands. His mind burned, a sinister pressure seemed to crush his brain. There was pain, images from his dreams tearing at his will, appeared without him wanting to remember. Nightmares. Creatures of darkness, lightning, thunder, blood and pitch-black night without even a glimmer of light.

This Hellish pain.

This pressure on his head. 

 

He thought he could hear a voice, a vile voice speak to him. No more than a chilling hiss, it betrayed a being of similar uncaring coldness than the mysterious iciness that had manifested in the entire hall.

 

You will not protect her this time.

 

Link shuddered. He checked his surroundings again but still couldn't see anything unusual. He strained to suppress and fight this voice in his mind, with which he felt worryingly related... just as much as with Zelda.

With laboring, slow steps he walked towards her. He looked around once again, unable to detect anything.

 

You will not protect her this time...

 

Again this despicable grumbling from a deep, cruel voice, that belonged to an even more cruel character.

Link closed in on Zelda. He now realized, that the sense of danger he and Rick were feeling was never emanated from her, but from something that was in search of her.

He gazed around him for one more time and with a terrible feeling of dread he saw something nearly incomprehensible.

Maron drew her bow and calmly aimed at Zelda.

For Link the world ceased to exist. Within a heartbeat, everything around apart from himself, Zelda and the arrow him sank into gray unimportance. His scream resounded through the room. “Zelda! Run away!”

A few people turned to see who was shouting. But Link didn't even notice, only Zelda's well-being was of importance now. Again, a yell from Link's throat and Zelda turned around to look at him, then noticed the drawn arrow pointed at her heart.

Link ran as fast as his legs would allow, saw the arrow being released at his helpless prey, saw its high-speed flight in terrible slow motion. In a millisecond Zelda's face twisted to utter horror as the arrow sped murderously at her.

Link jumped and yanked Zelda to the ground. The deadly projectile shot past their heads. Protective, Link lay on her, hearing only his distraught breaths. He smiled at her for just a tiny moment, then righted himself.

Most people had seen the event, bewildered, didn't understand and looked frightened at Maron. The brunette girl nocked another arrow. She had to be out of her mind!

“Maron, wake up!” Link yelled and positioned himself between the girls, shielding Zelda with his body.

But the cursed girl only started cackling disgustingly and proceeded drawing her bow and aiming with bloodlust, hate and insidious hostility. She laughed as she released her second arrow. It flew directly at Link, who jerked his head away at the last moment. It barely missed his right ear and landed in the wall behind them. Instantly the arrow burst into flames.

Now people realized the gravity of the situation. Parents grabbed their children and hastened from the hall. Students dropped everything and ran out of the high entrance door.

The flames spread unnaturally fast and apparently from all sides at once. Small flames already danced in the corners of the floor and Maron's ringing laughter resounded in the hall. 

Wild cries of fear ripped through the air as everyone stumbled over others to get out.

Only Zelda and Link would not run. Everything that happened, and was about to happen, did so because of them. Spawned out of revenge and murderous intent.

Link grabbed the bow he had used, snatched Zelda's hand and pulled her. He dragged her behind a bar in the next room. He carefully peeked over the counter. Rick was apparently the last who had remained and was now running out as well.

Maron must have lost her sanity, what has possessed her? Link's question was quickly answered, as the glowing eyes of Maron crossed his.

“Link, my god, what...” Zelda was in shock. Her eyes and face were frozen and she leaned trembling against the bar. Black smoke now danced inside the building

“Damn!” he gasped. “What should we do. I can't just kill her.” Link looked distressed at the bow in his hand, then at Zelda's scared face.

“Come out, you fools!” Maron's voice sounded unnaturally deep. Was she really dominated?

“We have to get out of here somehow. Meaning, you have to get out of here at once.” Zelda didn't want to believe what she was hearing.

“I want you to run for the exit when I tell you to, okay?” Zelda shook her head.

“I couldn't. Not without you!”

Link narrowed his eyes to slits and snapped at her: “You don't get to decide now. You scram, I said!” He proceeded, a little calmer. “I don't want anything happen to you.” Zelda's eyes filled with tears. “Okay. When I say 'Now' you run.”

Link didn't wait for an answer and jumped to his feet. He could see Maron, or the demon that possessed her, knock over the wooden, 3 meter long tables with a careless jerk of her hand. This was no longer Maron. It was a monster now. As the ominous being had Link in it's sights it readied its bow and drew.

But Link was faster.

“Now!” he yelled and fired his arrow, which thudded into the girls weapon, ripping it from her hand. Link saw in the corner of his eye that Zelda had cleared the exit. She was safe. A heavy burden dropped from his heart.

“So. Now to you. Maron, can you hear me?” He appealed to the human being, to her real self. “Maron!”

“Maron is no longer here, little maggot.”

“Who are you?” Link wasn't intimidated.

“You took away my destiny and don't even know who stands before you?”

If Link hadn't been so appalled, he would have laughed out loud. “Took your destiny away, you say? Seeing how pathetic you look, I can hardly believe you ever had one.”

The demon's eyes turned dark threateningly and he bellowed: “You dare affront me? To query my purpose?”

Link stared unperturbed at at the now black eyes of the monstrosity that had enslaved Maron's body.

“If what you say had any basis, you wouldn't need others to execute your delirious cravings for revenge.” Link himself didn't fully understand what he was saying.

“You impudent, little imbecile. You obviously have no grasp of who you are talking to. You don't even know about your past self.

“Really? But apparently you atrocity do know. So you also know that I will bring you down.” 

Something from deep within seemed to fuel Link's resolve...

The creature laughed maliciously, cruelly. This sinister cackle seemed to paralyze Link as if his whole body had been chained.

The darkness in the room increased in intensity and a giant, icy shadow erupted from Maron's twitching body.

Before his mind could even comprehend, of his body react, it had fired some kind of ball of energy at Link. The only thing he could do was protect his face with his hands.

He screamed out in pain as he felt the impact of the fiery projectiles and upon opening his eyes, he saw plenty of wounds covering his hands and arms. The shadow however crawled along the walls and vanished under the door with sardonic laughter.

“One day my real self will find you and torture you until you beg for death out of despair and fear. This was only the beginning...”

The evil vanished from the hall. Maron's body lay helpless on the floor, like a shred of cloth carelessly thrown away.

Only now the thought occurred to Link, that this Something must have been responsible for all the maladies that befallen him. Exhausted he let himself sink to the floor for a moment.

 

Link escaped the building with the unconscious Maron on his arms and saw the crowd standing around, gawping at the burning hall. Police cars and fire trucks had already arrived, but more were coming, judging by the sound of sirens. Link detected Zelda. She was talking to Rick, agitated and crying.

 

She noticed Link, pale as a corpse and she didn't hesitate a second to run towards him. She wanted to fling her arms around his neck.

But Link was unable to feel anything right now. He turned her down, didn't say a word, not even when she stared aghast at his bleeding hands.

A few firemen ran into the building while others were already extinguishing the flames.

Link was utterly spent. He was so sick of pointless, painful experiences. Enough already!

 

Maron just wouldn't wake up and was brought to the hospital. Rick accompanied her, but didn't say a word to either Link or anybody.

The interrogation at the police station was fruitless, since Link was unable not addressable at the moment. Neither did the inquisitive reporters get any information from the young man.

With deadpan faces Link and Zelda exited the headquarters. Link's whole being was in turmoil, in devious confusion. He had never been in such emotional disarray, not when hearing the voice for the first time, not after his encounter with the strange guy in the dark alley, not even when something had inflicted these strange wounds on his body.

“Link. Come. Let's go home.” Zelda dragged him behind her. He didn't say a word the whole time, not even when they finally entered Link's house. He was just out of his senses.

When Zelda stepped into the living room with a first-aid kit he only stared into her sky-blue eyes. Zelda couldn't properly classify the look in his eyes. Link was not showing any sign of hurting, not even his skinned hands. Even when she knelt down before him to treat his hands, he didn't react in any way. His condition seemed to be like some sort of trance or waking sleep.

“Link, please say something.” But he just looked at her, almost as if he was neither really here nor away.

“Link...” she didn't know what to do. What had happened in there? Link looked as if he had gazed at death himself.

“Link!” her voice got louder and more powerful than usual. But didn't seem to hear her. Zelda was so distraught that she had no other solution... She stood up, tensed up her whole body and dealt a mighty slap on Link's face. Link was jerked to the side, flinched and then rubbed his cheek where you could clearly see a red imprint of Zelda's hand.

Link closed his eyes and finally managed to speak again. “Zelda... I'm so sorry.”

“What?”

“I have brought great misery upon you.”

“You... you've saved my life. I thank you!”

“It will go on...”

“Link, I don't understand...”

“Something is lurking out there, waiting to finish us, destroy our lives. He will find us...”

“Who?”

“I don't know.” Zelda looked at Link's eyes. They seemed to have returned to normal. Yes, slowly the courage and strength that lay dormant in them returned. She sat down at his side and he told her everything that had happened.

“We must be very careful from now on.” Link said, still rubbing his cheek. “You pack quite a punch, you know that?”

Instead of laughing she smiled inquisitively and leaned closer to him until her forehead touched his. Remaining like this, she looked him deep in the eye.

“Say, did my savior not perhaps keep something from me?” Link found that he couldn't make excuses now. There were many things he he hadn't told her. Some he kept secret to protect her, some he just hadn't told anyone ever.

“Yes I did.” With Zelda's eyes so close, there was no point in trying to hide anything.

“Rick told me, you...”

“Rick?”

“...you dreamed about me, long before we even met.”

Link turned away, stood up and walked to the window. “Well... It was two or three years ago. Our class had a field trip. I had to share a room with Rick. Back then, he had told me about a game I just had to play because... the hero of the story had the same name as me.  I looked at the illustrations and was in denial that this game-character looked so much like... me. I also saw the pictures of the princess and I was under the impression that I had seen here before. But I refused to believe that and ignored it. The same night Rick apparently woke up because I talked in my sleep. He spoke to me about it the following day. I told him everything. I told him that almost every night I crawled through some dungeons or temples with a sword in my hand, searching for something important. I told him what monsters I had killed, what demons had blocked my path and that I had... executed them all... cold-blooded and ferocious... with these hands.”

Link walked around in the room nervously. He squinted his eyes, cursing to himself. Why had he told her, even though he had once sworn to himself, never to tell anybody any of this.

Zelda just observed him. She didn't know what to say, how to tell him what he was awakening in her. It seemed indescribable. The way she felt drawn to him. The way he looked at her... these deep blue eyes. Did she really not know him from her... real life?

“I told him that I thought a voice was calling for me, and that I was afraid to go mad. But this voice didn't vanish because I had confided in him. A girl's voice, first only in dream. After a while, also in reality. And then you showed up, and... I found...” He looked back into her eyes, saw doubt and fear in them. “I found the voice that called me, in yours.”

 

Silence. What could be said, now that words could hurt. Zelda sank back into the couch, buried her face in her hands. She looked back at him, met his gaze and saw even more insecurity in it, than she felt herself. Link slowly walked towards her, his steps so unsure, as if he wanted to turn and run away any second. He knelt down in front of her and mumbled, while he tried to hold her gaze, requesting honesty and trust.

“I didn't... want to hurt you by telling you this, Zelda.” he started.

“You didn't hurt me, just... unsettled me.”

“Sometimes... I felt as if I was the monster that...” She placed her right index-finger on his lips. He looked at her, surprised at first, then dreamily.

“You are not a monster... you are...” she couldn't possibly know, what the consequences would be, if she told him what he was for her. A wonderful and caring friend. The best friend you could possibly have. And still... something in her forbade more. Why should she hide it from him?

Mumbling she revealed: “You are the most kind and selfless being I have ever met, that I know of... Link.”

She smiled shyly, stood up, and felt like a complete idiot. A little shocked about her dangerously talkative mouth she pressed her hand against it.

The way she had said his name, convinced him even more, despite himself. It had been her voice. How was this possible. Her voice had called out for him... her voice...

Link didn't grasp what was about to happen. Zelda, if this really was her name, trusted him completely, as he trusted her. How could this be? His brain told him, that there was no way they knew each other.

This whole surge of emotions, the thoughts he had, whenever he was with her... nothing like this had ever happened in anybody else's presence. Deep within him slumbered this silent, but strong desire to hold her, so she could never vanish again. But why? How could she cloud his senses in such a magnitude. His deep-blue eyes were captivated by her, and he always tried to keep her in his view.

She understood him. And as if it was the very first time he had been understood by someone, he wished to thank her. For listening, for being able to calm him and for looking deeply into his young but troubled heart. He wanted to thank her with more than just words.

After a few calming breaths, taking courage, he walked towards her and gently placed his hands on her shoulders. Only after rallying all his confidence, Link managed: “Thank you. You have no idea how much you have helped and relieved me. Thank you, Zelda...”

She turned around and smiled bashfully.

Link reciprocated the smile, trying to conceal his increasing nervousness, to suppress his tension and his racing pulse. She rendered him fidgety, incompetent, turned him into a brainless idiot and made him do things he had thought impossible.

How the heck did she do it? How did she unhinge his whole existence like that?

After a while, Zelda whispered: “You are hiding something else, aren't you... something that only concerns you.”

“Yes. Do you know?”

“Mhm... I felt it.” Link was amazed. She knew him and even seemed to be aware of his deepest secrets.

Link was adopted. His parents had died in a fire in their own house when he was but a baby. It was thought to be a case of arson and Link had made the foolish oath to find the culprit. And Zelda had somehow found out. Wasn't it possible she could read his thoughts, or reach a part of his soul that even he himself didn't know of?

 

“Say... this woman we met at the lake, do you think she would know something about this... dark energy?”

“You mean Naranda Comandante?”

“Yes, exactly. She has made quite a few weird remarks, when you saved this child.”

“That's right. I suggest we pay her a visit tomorrow morning.”

Link grinned and Zelda, overjoyed that he was feeling better, beamed at him. “Okay, we shall go to see her.”

“And today? What should we do now? It is already 5 o'clock, but the evening is still long.”

“If I'm brutally honest...” she said snuggling down on the sofa, “...I'd much rather just loaf around.” She propped up her legs on one end of the couch, and her head came to rest on the other armrest. After such a day, lounging seemed like the best medicine.

“Sounds perfect. I will join you.” he replied and sat down on the remaining free space of the couch. Link too put his feet up, enjoyed the serenity of the moment as well as Zelda's presence. She had her eyes closed. Did she hope to fall asleep now? How boring, Link thought.

Even after such a dreadful day, he would not let his recovered good mood go to waste. The terrifying events of earlier slowly sank into the softening realm of memories. 

Link had an idea... Zelda's tender feet were in immediate range. He slowly shifted a little closer towards her and let his fingertips glide playfully over the sensitive parts of her feet. Zelda gave a shriek, then laughed.

“You wouldn't be ticklish, now would you, Zelda?” he hummed. She didn't answer at once, but had to continue giggling. She knew, she had no chance of escaping from such a wicked devilry. Nor did she really want to...

She pulled her feet away from him and sat up. But Link was far from done with his tickle-treatment. Grinning, he moved closer and got her under her arms.

Zelda felt another surge of laughter and now engaged in counter-attacks. Now it was her turn to tease him.

Slyly she pinched in his right side, gleefully noticed a silent swear from his mouth, which immediately turned back to cheery giggling. By now they lay next to each other on the couch, teasing each other, laughing and enjoying the closeness of each other.

After a few minutes, which even though they seemed to last an eternity, were still much too short, Link slowly stopped bringing giggling Zelda into even more hopeless situations and slowed down with his nasty tricks.

Slightly bent over her, he looked into each of her crystal blue eyes and asked: “You you give up?”

She shook her head and smiled more magnificently than ever before.

Link cheekily poked her nose and let his left hand caress her cheek, all the way down to her right arm. Then he held it fast.

“And now?” she turned her head slowly from right to left two times, her smirk widening. At that provocation, Link also seized her other arm.

“But now you've got to give up, Zelda” he said grinning. She could hardly move now, but again she only laughed.

She started to fidget and squealed as Link restarted tickling under her arms. She struggled until they both slipped from the couch and crash-landed on the floor.

“I give up.” she breathed with her gorgeously cute voice and shaken by laughing fits she turned to face Link who lay face down on the rug.

“Link?” she righted herself and aimed at more teasing. She pinched and poked his entire upper body in a quick flurry of hands.

Yelping, he bolted upright and pinned Zelda gently against the couch. Sitting right in front of her, he gazed upon her immaculate face, rousing his emotions just through one look at her expressive eyes, her smile which seemed to tell him so much.

A pleasant feeling flowed through him, something he had no prior experience with. Without any retarding prudence he took her in his strong arms and pulled her towards him. Perplexed, Zelda's eyes widened. A little helpless, she didn't move any more, just let herself indulge in his embrace. What happened now? Why did it happen?

So intimate... so enjoyable... almost reminiscent...

Link broke away from her and stood up abruptly. A soft-spoken “Excuse me” from his mouth didn't change the situation however, didn't revoke what he had just shown.

Again he murmured “Excuse me...” and quickly left the living room without looking back.

 

 
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