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In the Service of the Princess

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Her Appointed Knight.

That’s what her father called him. What he was assigned to, with virtually little to no say in the matter from her. Zelda didn’t ask to be defended. Nor did she want to be a bystander; considered a vulnerable liability in a war.

And now she had a living reminder of that, following her around at every turn.

Goddess Hylia must have had a cruel sense of humor. Her father as well. He considers this boy to be the royal knight who was destined to seal the darkness plaguing their lands? He was hardly her age, much less her height. One of few words, that much she was thankful. Zelda could hardly stomach the idea of him boasting of his status, his knightdom handpicked by the king of Hyrule himself and (to her dismay) blessed by her.

That was Revali’s job, after all.

This Link was surely going to be the bigger grievance than Calamity Ganon at this point.

The knight was persistent, she’ll give him that.

She knew her father didn’t take too kindly to her inquisitive nature. That must have been part of the reason why he assigned the knight to her side; to discourage her from conducting her research. That didn’t stop the princess, not while a threat was looming right at their doorstep.

Zelda was resourceful. Many a time, she’d given him the slip, off to Purah’s lab to continue their research of the Sheikah technology. Discovering the mysteries of the Sheikah Slate, learning more of the robots and such, it made her giddy as a child. She’d excitedly arrive at the lab…

…Only to find him. Having tea with the 6-year-old Sheikah, no less.

He said nothing, allowing his “innocent” smile and ignorant casualness to speak for him. She must have been getting predictable.

Zelda was starting to think that her father was torturing her.

Li-…The Knight was no slouch in combat.

For one who lacked in size, he made up for in skill. Zelda watched as the boy overpowered two of the castle’s royal guard. For a sparring match, neither of the two were able to make a scratch. Zelda couldn’t tell if this was saying something for the castle’s guards as a whole. She watched as the boy wielded that sword with deadly accuracy. He was going easy on them.

Zelda scolded herself for concerning herself with the boy. He was her knight and nothing less.

Zelda didn’t expect him to be so…compliant with her research.

Since the boy had persisted in accompanying her wherever she went, Zelda decided to make the most out of it, testing some of her more…outlandish theories.

She expected him to decline, better yet, leave her to her own devices but the knight surprised her. Wordlessly as always, he’d sit with her and listen to her prattle on about the properties of monster parts and the sciences of wild animals. She even somehow got him to taste a frog of all things!

Yet, Zelda felt…something, a feeling inexplicable even to her, when he remained with her

Another lecture from Father about “The duties of the Princess”.

Had it never occurred to him that finding ways to improve the castle’s guards was something that should be considered one of her duties? Why was she the only one who saw the importance in using Elixirs? Now she was down another book on recipes.

Her knight stopped by her room, no doubt sent by the King to ensure that she sulks in safety. Though he seemed to be grinning wider than usual. It took Zelda a moment before she realized that the boy had indeed had a present for her.

Zelda couldn’t believe her eyes as he’d brought her the very same book. Did he sneak past the Sheikah guards just to get it? He offered her the book with a smile, watching her face light up. Zelda hatched an idea. She sat the boy down next to her, moving to the shelves and cupboards of her room to reveal an assortment of glasses with multicolored liquids. Zelda excitedly swiped the book from his hands.

“Now then, Knig-er…Link, elixirs have the potential to turn the tide in any battle. Here’s what you should know…”

“Clock’s ticking, princess.”

“Yes, I know. These divine beasts are proving to be much harder to control than I-”

Urbosa chuckled, leaving Zelda to gaze at her in confusion. “Not what I meant, Zel.” From their perch atop Naboris, the Gerudo warrior pointed at the tiny speck of a warrior just below them, traversing the desert sands in nonchalance.

Zelda knew exactly what Urbosa was alluding to but she stubbornly feigned ignorance.

She shot her a knowing smile. “I see you’ve started warming up to him.”

“Well…” she stuttered, looking away from Urbosa who saw straight through her. “He’s…proven himself.”

“Mhmm?” the Gerudo rested her head on her arm. She decided not to comment on the fact that Zelda was now blatantly staring at Link.

The princess crossed her arms. “I-I don’t know what you could possibly be referring to.”

Urbosa’s smile grew wider. “Take it from a Gerudo. With a prize like that, I wouldn’t wait around.” she didn’t wait for the princess to respond, giving her a sly wink and leaving Zelda to her intrusive thoughts.

She was a princess! She had no time to spend on such frivolities as courtship! Not while a great evil was just at their doorstep. Besides, Link of all people? That seemed incredulous at best. He probably wouldn’t feel the same way.

Would he?

Zelda shuddered.

She was unsure if that was due to anticipation or anxiety. All of her hopes, prayers, and studies lead to this singular moment.

The path she stood before them lead up to Mount Lanayru. The Spring of Wisdom, Zelda’s last chance of awakening her true potential, was waiting for her. Today was the day of her awakening, yet…

She couldn’t move.

Her body tensed, hearing the disapproving voice of her father, the whispers of the knights and residents from the castle, all those who told her that her motivations were naught but a fantasy. Her legs refused to move and her stomach churned.

However, one force managed to repel those fears.

The reassuring touch of her knight dissipated all of Zelda’s worries. One look towards Link’s smile and Zelda no longer felt alone.

“I’m alright,” she said, returning his smile, “I think I’m ready now.”

Link nodded as they began their trek up the mountain.

The rain was heavy.

The smell of fire and ash burned her lungs.

Her eyes were momentarily blinded by crimson before hearing the beeping targeting system native to the Guardians. Zelda watched in horror as Link, weakened and injured was caught in its sights.

Link, who devoted himself to her well-being, even when she pushed him away.

Link, who willfully allowed himself to be a guinea pig for her outlandish experiments.

Link, who stood by her through her best and her worst.

Zelda didn’t hesitate. She was not about to lose him.

Not like this.

In moments, all she saw was white, a glowing symbol formed at the back of her palm and all the autonomous threats were destroyed.

Zelda could hear Link behind her, groaning weakly before collapsing. She turned to him, mortified as he writhed in pain. She ran to his side, assuring him that he was going to be fine. She didn’t know if she was trying to convince him or herself.

They had all come so far. They had prepared for all of this. How did it all go wrong?

How?

He was her knight.

The one to bring peace to Hyrule.

Zelda would be damned if she was about to let him slip through her fingers.

The other heroes were out there, using their divine beasts to push back Ganon’s corruption. That was all they can do and it was all they needed to do. To delay Ganon’s evil, buy Link more time and ensure that he recovers.

Zelda needed to see him. Just one last time.

He was asleep in his pod, his wounds deep but healing, ever so slowly. He looked…peaceful. The last she seen of him, Link was battered and beaten, trying to speak but his injuries getting the better of him, slipping into unconsciousness. The nightmarish memory was still fresh in her mind. Tears streamed from her face.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

All the preparation, all the training, and for what? Their weapons turned on them, her castle was now the enemy’s fortress and the hero that was meant to end it all was defeated.

No.

Not defeated.

Not yet.

Zelda looked to her right hand, still glowing with the symbol of the Triforce, the power she used to give the kingdom one last chance, to give him one last chance. She knew what had to be done.

One last look to her knight. Her hand brushed along his warm face.

Wait for me, Link.