It wasn’t the first time they’d met since Calamity Ganon. He had come by a few times randomly. He hadn’t said or done much, like he was just trying to watch her, to remember. This time, the birthday was a good excuse. He was holding something in a small burlap sack. “For me? Thank you.” He was more than a good guard in the past. He was a good friend back then, memory or not, so she gave him what he wanted.

She didn’t pretend with him. He was the only person who saw every side of her personality, royally uncouth or not. “Today isn’t going the way it was supposed to, Link,” she admitted as she took the little sack gift. “I know everyone wanted me to have a wonderful day, to remember that we’ve made such progress in the last year, but it’s very hard to do.” She watched him take a seat at the table. “Perhaps I shouldn’t have rejected an actual celebration for it, but it felt like it was too much. For not doing that, I feel like today I am being punished.” She looked at his gift that was wiggling around in the burlap and opened it. “A frog and a recipe.” She smiled as she grabbed the frog in one hand with the recipe in the other. He remembered the frog! He found a memory. “My theory was correct.” She looked at the recipe. “Cooking it released the abilities.” She glanced toward Link. “I guess you were right not to eat it raw.” She laughed, a little beside herself he finally remembered that. “Thank you for the gift, Link. It truly makes me feel better.”

It did. It was a small step, but it was a step. She had no idea how many memories he had retrieved specifically of her, but at least she knew he had one.

Then? The Nutcake woman was back. Not again. “I have no time for grievances for you to air, I am busy. Leave.”

“Make me.” She slammed her palms on the small table. “You can’t reject me forever, the world deserves to know the truth.”

“There is no truth and only pain in what you want from me,” Zelda insisted, but then the crude woman tried to take her frog. Zelda pulled it away, but she kept reaching for it. Link stepped in and made her keep her hands back.

“What are you holding, and what’s that in your other hand?” the nosy woman demanded.

“It is a frog and a recipe.” Easily revealed.

“So you can answer that but nothing else I asked?” she demanded. “Do you feel 18 or do you feel 118, did you feel like you and Calamity Ganon were the same creature, did you feel its evil inside of you?”

She didn’t answer, staying silent. Trouble, Zelda, she’s trouble. Be careful.

Link took it upon himself to escort her out. Speaking about the calamity probably didn’t make him feel better either.

“I don’t understand,” Zelda said as he came back. “Why today of all days has someone chose to ask me those questions? Do I really have to answer them before she leaves me be?” She covered her nose and mouth with her hands. She glanced at Link who just shook his head. His eyes. There was something else to them. He hadn’t just remembered the frog incident. Could it be? Did he . . . remember everything? Maybe. Until he said it, she wouldn’t assume. “You’re right. I shouldn’t say anything that I don’t want to. I simply remember the gossip mongers. I fear that she won’t bring any more good than they did.” She looked on the other side of her. “Right about now, Urbosa would be saying something to me about it. She can’t though.” She wiped her eye briefly. “She never can again. None of them can. Sometimes I think ‘what would father think of what happened to our kingdom’? Then I remember it doesn’t matter. He could do nothing.” Memories were being driven hard back into her mind. Oh great, the woman was coming back. Now what was she going to say?

“Is that what you do with the hero that defeated Calamity Ganon? Talk his ear off about your problems, really?” she criticized Zelda. “Like he doesn’t have any problems and just wants to hear about you bawling about everyone being dead?” Then she left.

Thank the goddesses, she was finally gone. Now Zelda could focus on more important-

“Hello there!” A Zora came into the room. “I am Prince Sidon! Do you remember me?”

She had met him more than once. The Zoras lived a long time. She had met him both before fighting Calamity Ganon, and afterwards again about a year ago. “Yes. Hello, Prince Sidon.”

“Ah, Link!” Sidon flexed toward him. “Still keeping up strong being the hero of the world?” Of course, Link didn’t answer. Prince Sidon turned back to Zelda. “The Zoras need some extra help in our building.materials. As you know we are building outwardly now to make the kingdom easier to access over the mountains, and we are in need of vast amounts of luminous stones.”

“Yes.” Good, something she could help with. “I am sure we can assist you in finding luminous stones.” Even she knew where some had been at.

“We have some too,” A different Goron said as he came in. “Hello!”

“Hello, Yunobo.” Daruk’s son. Such a long way to travel. “It’s lovely to see you again.”

“I came for your birthday. Boss says I was excused for your birthday.” He gave her a diamond. “Hylian’s really like these.”

“Thank you.” He could have given her anything and she’d still be-

“Unless you want this instead?” Yunobo held out rock salt. He also held out topaz and a luminous stone.

“Oh, could I have that?” Prince Sidon asked him. “We need those.”

“They are all over. Um?” Yunobo looked toward Zelda.

“Consider giving it to him as the gift to me,” she said to him. She watched as Yunobo gave it to him. It was good to keep associations between everyone strong. “I need to visit Gerudo soon.” The Zoras and Gorons were decent allies, but she should keep in touch with the Gerudos too. They were also bound to have problems, and their own leader was quite young. Younger than her.

Zelda glanced as Link laid a veil down on the table. He was warning her of the dangers. “I have traveled there before, I know its temperature dangers, Link.”

He picked the veil back up, but not gently. Did she misinterpret him wrong? Without his memories and experience away from each other, she may have messed up something. Did she belittle him? Oh, she hoped she didn’t do that. She had tried to watch for that kind of thing.

“I can go to make you feel better!” Yunobo said. “Gorons can go into Gerudo.”

“No, that’s quite alright,” Zelda told him. Gerudo was not close to Goron City at all, it was far out of the way. She didn’t want Daruk’s son to get into trouble.

She heard the sounds of the master sword being picked up and drug against the wood of the table before Link simply left. 

Or so she thought. Looking out the stable later, she had seen him. Guarding. Guarding the stable? Link. How much do you remember?

 

——————————————————

When the sun rose, she saw Link up and beside her bed. That was highly unusual. He often gave more space. “What is it?” He held up an article. Rito village was used as a central source for journalists to spread news quickly. It was happening more and more. At first it was the weather, then it was inventions, then it was unique people and interests. Her own volunteer watcher was from Rito. If it held Links interest, it couldn’t be good. I don’t even need to look. “I remember the gossip mongers of the past, Link. I assume it’s terrible. After all.” Father had warned me what the kingdom thought of me back then. I was not fit to rule. She still didn’t feel fit to rule, but as she was the last of the royalty, there was little choice.

Link laid it next to her. It must be something terrible that wouldn’t go away easily. It probably spoke of all the terrible things the woman mentioned yesterday. Trying to make her look cruel and unjust.

Nope! It didn’t even look like it was written by the Nutcake woman. “What?” The article heading was Best Choices for the Next Hyrule King, Part 1! She already placed it down. Just turned eighteen and this muck had to begin? “I am going to need something to eat.” Link was already ready with some hearty bass and rice. “That’s kind of you, Link.” Zelda moved from the bed with the food and sat at the same table with it. Link joined her as she ate.

She only scanned the beginning, knowing it would be a full list of reasons why she wasn’t capable of ruling Hyrule alone.

Prince Sidon was considerably a good guess in their gossip since Zelda led ‘unaided help of a gift for her turned to him’. Since he was also the Prince of Zora’s Domain, joining a Hylian and the Zora’s domain would strengthen their alliance with each other, each being ruled together. Sidon was also kind, women adored him, and Zora’s Domain and Hyrule were not far from each other. They also shared a past time that Zelda remembered, which would be a strength to their bond. Part 2 would come out tomorrow. “I’m fine, Link. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before.” Link gestured toward the top of the article. “Oh. You want to know that?” She had not told anyone but Impa those details but she wanted to keep a connection with him. If he felt he should know? “If you close your eyes, and simply hear your voice. That’s what it was like,” she told him. “I felt his darkness next to me, trying to press over me, to take over the light I was holding him down with. I felt it like a hot, radiating sun trying to burn me. Although, there was no skin. I was . . . bodiless, feeling more like a spirit than a person. Time existing and not existing, passing and yet standing still.” She looked back at the table. “It changed me. I’m not the same anymore.” She held her fork. That was a good enough explanation for him. “So much is missing now. You must know what I mean.”

“Hyah!”

Zelda moved as she watched the table being split in two. Link was beside himself. Are you kidding?! She could not even feel the difference between Link and a Yiga clan member in disguise? Even the most basic spirit power was gone now. He was disappearing and fighting Link, but Zelda’s heart felt so heavy after that. They tricked her into revealing her innermost thoughts. Link came back but the damage was already done. Her personal words were now fodder for the gossip mongers. The only thing she could be happy about is that she didn’t reveal too much, only her feelings.

Still? It irritated her! Those were her feelings. “I am going for a ride.” She went toward the front and retrieved her steed, Endura. Link quickly followed beside her, getting his horse as well.

She rode her horse for some time at almost max power, stopping to give it a break and an endura carrot to feel better. “You want this? Of course you do, and you deserve it too.” She patted her horse to show it some affection. Her horse loved those carrots so much she had called her Endura. Link got off his horse and came over to see her. “She knows when to ride like the wind for me. She deserves a treat. Does your horse want a carrot too?” She felt Link’s hand gently touch her shoulder. He did retrieve more memories, he was developing a softer spot for her. More personal than just ‘she was princess’. “I will be okay. I must be okay. If I’m not, the kingdom will insist I marry someone that fits their likings. Like my own feelings don’t count for anything, just like father . . .” She shook her head. “No, I won’t do that. I loved him.” Her eyes started to water again. “I loved them all.” Birthdays, blasted birthdays! Only useful to stir her heart and hurt. She looked toward a second carrot. “I don’t feel fit to rule Hyrule.” She stared at his eyes. “I never have been, even before this. I’ve tried for so long. I am just an ambassador trying to keep peace. Hyrule hasn’t had royalty and it survived just fine. Can’t I just be Ambassador Zelda?”

He moved back toward his horse and his hands slid slightly against the reigns.

She sighed and looked at her horse. “It’s not the same. None of it.” She brought out the article again. “Even a Yiga member can fool me now.” He moved closer with his horse. That’s right, he hadn’t seen the article. She gave it to him.

Link looked at the article and his eyes grew wide as he was shaking his head back and forth.

“Mipha’s brother as King of Hyrule,” she said. “I just don’t see it.”

“No.” It was rare he spoke up like that when he could have just shook his head. Link often picked a non-verbal cue when he could.

“I know. A choice by best facts and opinions of people. Not me.” She looked toward Link. “I do not plan on mounting any kind of husband right now anymore than I did then.” She smiled at her horse. “I much prefer her.” She watched Link drop the article. “I suppose I should head back.”

 

Link followed her back at the slower trot. Hiring a Yiga to get Zelda’s thoughts out loud. If Link could have tracked him down, he would have taken him out. In the morning, the words he overheard while he was getting ingredients for breakfast would be shared with the world against her will.

When he first fought Calamity Ganon, his focus was on getting rid of the evil. He got strength from the monks in the shrines and pulled the divine beasts to him. He couldn’t remember his past, and the more he learned, the more tragic it seemed to be. All of that would only distract him from what was important. Getting rid of Calamity Ganon for good. He’d seen the destruction of Fort Hateno and even read several stories. Yet, he should have been doing something else in his quests.  Something personal.

Tell me, Link . . . do you really remember me?

He should have been finding those painful memories, regardless of how much they would have distracted him. When she first came back, he could see it there, in her. Eyes of welcoming he should have known. He was honest with her though. He didn’t remember her, and so the former Princess Zelda had left to Zora’s Domain on her own.

When he finally saw her, face to face though, he knew it was time to deal with his own memories. Calamity Ganon was gone, the Princess of Hyrule was saved as he promised King Rhoam, and it was time to discover himself. He’d had a few memories that hit him like a rock as he was helping to get rid of the divine beasts. Bits and pieces of the other Champions, with tiny nuances of her involvement. It was time to know more though, time to stop ignoring the bright areas of his memories.

Using his sheikah slate, he had to roam all over as he did with the shrines. From Gerudo to Tingle island. It only took discovering a couple of memories before he was going everywhere, looking for any sign or clue to find in those pictures. Pikango had been a traveler and he helped Link as he could.

Now, he was only one memory short. He didn’t know if everything would be complete when he retrieved the last memory so he stayed silent on the subject. Princess Zelda had enough to worry about.

Dilapidated and torn down, he’d been there at the castle after the fact for more memories. There was a small area of sleeping bags and a table placed in the front entrance. Everything else still looked the same as when he went to find Calamity Ganon. Staying there couldn’t have been easy, so he understood why she wouldn’t stay there long. While she often stayed within Hyrule, she was always moving, and staying around in stables or small villages.

It took forever to run into her the first time he wanted to find her.

Link had known it hadn’t been easy for Zelda. The day he was assigned to her in the past, he just did his best to stay up with her. Even if she didn’t want his help. Back then, she spoke out loud to herself and less to him.

She had been his complete opposite. While he hated to speak, she chose to speak in the quiet all the time. After she started to see him as the knight he truly had been, she didn’t talk as much. Before, when she hadn’t cared, she had felt free to express herself. According to her own diary though, he had told her why he was so quiet. Most likely, he had to share something to make her share in that same carefree-

“Ooh, hang on!” She stopped her horse and got off, running away into the distant grass.

Link stopped his thinking, got off his horse and ran after her. The actions felt familiar, so familiar.

“Perfect! I was hoping I could get a hold of some of these soon.” She was picking the most common type of mushroom in the region, the Hylian mushroom from the ground. “Now if I just had some hearty bass. I do have a hearty radish.” She smiled at Link. “That’s a meal in itself.” She tucked the mushrooms away. “I want to cook plenty for my journey. When I don’t have it I end up eating apples or simply mushrooms and it doesn’t last very long.”

She placed plenty of mushrooms in her satchel but what she just did was a dead giveaway too. He reached his horse, also taking plenty of mushrooms. When she got on hers, he kept looking back at her.

“What, the mushrooms? I will be leaving for Faron first before Gerudo. I’ll stop at a small village for a day, and then I’ll proceed through the stables and make my way to Gerudo.”

He knew it. Faron. Lurelin. She wasn’t putting Gerudo off and she would have been gone before he found her again. He’d go straight to Gerudo and she would have taken a detour out of the way. He shook his head as he trotted behind her horse.

Link had to deal with amnesia. He used his instincts and what people told him to keep going. That feeling? While he felt loss, the sensation of not knowing the loss-

“Rushrooms!”

Link watched her head off of her horse and count the big purple mushrooms on the side of the mountain. Just like before, it felt so familiar. She must have done that frequently. He got off as she started to climb up. “Aye,” he warned her.

“I am quite capable of getting my own rushrooms,” she insisted as she climbed.

Of course, she felt like she was capable of everything it seemed. Was she? No, but she strived to be. Link left the smaller one to her, but quickly climbed to get the rest. Seeing some ore up above, he went ahead and took a whack at it with his sledgehammer. Rock salt was prevalent, but sometimes the most common ingredients weren’t found when you wanted food. Link learned a long time ago to scour everything in each direction. Some of the best items to get for an area were from a different one.

While he was picking up his rock salt though, he started to hear a traveler stop to talk to Zelda. He seemed friendly, introducing himself, but Link wasted no time in paragliding back down. When he was back on the ground, Zelda was still traveling down from picking her rushroom.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Zelda placed her rushroom away and acted as polite as she could to the stranger. The traveler smiled, just wanted to say hi, and then he was on his way. After he was properly gone, Link gave her his rushrooms. “I have one,” she insisted. “You got six? How did you do that?” He tried to give them to her again. “Fine, we can share.” She smelled them. “Oh, it smells so good.” She looked toward Dueling Peaks stable, and then on the other side. “I wonder if Impa has had some in awhile. Maybe I should go share a meal with her. Half a day away, but it won’t be bad by horse.”

Yes. Impa.

And he would eat with them.

 

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