Link started to walk through the castle gates, when suddenly he was stopped by a guard.
“Oh, Link! Nice to see you, but unfortunately the princess isn't feeling well.”
“Oh, well… may I see her?”
The guard spoke again, “Well that's just the thing, the king gave me specific orders that, if you came by today, not to allow you to see her.”
Link looked shocked then.
“I'm sorry… but at the risk of you not listening to me, I'd rather you didn't even go into the castle today, understand?”
Link nodded, disappointed, and began to head back to his home.
It had carried on like that for some time, day after day, week after week, until Link was awoken early one morning by the sound of someone at the door. He yawned, crawled clumsily out of his bed, and headed to the door. He opened it tiredly, and then snapped awake when he saw who it was, one of the king's messengers.
“Hello! Link, right?”
“I have a message to you from the king himself, he wishes for you to report to the castle immediately. He is concerned for the princess's welfare, and er… thinks it best if you come see her.”
And with that the messenger bowed, sprinted off to his horse, and rode away. Link still stood at the door, shocked, and looked up at the foreboding, gray morning sky and took a breath of the cool air.
“Zelda…” He whispered into the sky before heading back inside and preparing to leave.
Soon after he was suited up and back out under the dark sky.
He sighed, “Looks like rain…”
And stomped around back, leaves crunching under his feet, to where Epona stood anxiously tied to a post, staring up at the sky. Link undid the knot and mounted the horse with a feeling of sheer dread in the pit of his stomach, and urged Epona forward on the route they both knew so well, the route that led to the towering Hyrule Castle.
Somehow the chestnut colored horse seemed to sense Link's reluctance to proceed, so she too, seemed to falter. So when they finally did manage to reach the castle it had taken them at least twice as long as normal. The soldier dismounted and tied Epona up outside the castle walls, then bent his head down upon her and buried his head in her fur, making a soft prayer that no one could hear. He then lifted his head up somberly and slowly made his way up to the castle gates. There was the guard who had turned him away so many times before, except this time instead of stopping him he calmly stepped aside without a word.
Once inside, Link noticed the heavy aura of despair hanging over the castle, but continued to make his way up to Zelda's chambers without a word. Once outside her door he met up with the king himself, he looked very worried and saddened at the same time.
“Link…” He said, and approached him, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“The princess…we're not sure if…we've tried everything but her condition keeps worsening…all of the finest doctors in the land have come to see her… but nothing…nothing works…they don't know what…”
Link was struggling to find words, “Sir…why didn't you tell me earlier…that…that she was in such poor condition…”
“We thought it nothing when she first became ill, and besides we didn't… want you to be worrying about her…everybody and their mother knows how you feel about my daughter, Link… and we couldn't afford to have the best soldier in the entire force distracted…”
Link was fighting back tears now.
“If you knew how I felt about her… then you should've known that… I would want to know that something this serious was happening to her before… it could be too late…”
The king squeezed his shoulder and then spoke again, “Link please, hold yourself together, how would Zelda feel if she saw you this way?”
Link nodded and attempted to regain his composure, and then the king spoke again, “Here,”
He held out one of those doctor face mask things, “Put this on and then you can go see her.”
Link took the mask, “What's this for?”
“We don't know if whatever she has could be contagious or not, Link…”
Once again Link nodded and tied the mask around his face, and the king opened up the door. Link walked in, quietly, his eyes fixed upon the frail figure lying on the bed before him, and heard the door shut gently behind him.
He approached the sleeping girl; she was pale as a ghost and looked as if she had been sweating, and every breath a gasping for air that made Link cringe every time she inhaled. He knelt down next to her bed and placed a hand on her forehead, brushing her hair back. He heard a moan and then felt her small fingers slide upon his other hand. Then her eyes slowly opened,
“L…Link?” She said in a small voice, barely more then a whisper.
“Yes…” He replied, and continued to brush back her hair.
She coughed, and then spoke again, “I don't think I…I'm going to be of this earth much longer, Link…I feel myself getting weaker everyday…but I…I just had to hang on…because I…I needed to tell you something…”
She turned to meet his eyes.
“I…I love you…Link…”
Link knelt closer to her still, and whispered, “Long have I waited to hear you say that…”
And he suddenly stood up and began to untie his facemask. Zelda covered her mouth almost immediately then, as if afraid she would contaminate him.
“What…what are you doing Link!!”
He crumpled up the piece of fabric and tossed it on the princess's nightstand, then replied, “I can't very well kiss you with that thing on, now can I?”
“No! You might get sick!” She yelled through her hands, but Link was already back at her bedside, waiting.
She hesitantly removed her hands.
“Are you…certain you're going to…” She trailed off as Link neared her lips.
“I love you Princess Zelda…so much…”
Link took the princess in his arms and pressed his lips to hers in a fervent kiss, exploring her mouth deeply.
When they broke the kiss, Link slowly pulled his arms away and looked down at the princess, who was deeply out of breath.
“Link…thank you…that was…wonderful…at least now I can rest easy…”
Link looked down at the fading princess, shocked.
“Zelda, no! Don't…”
His voice finally broke, and he began to sob. Her eyes were fading, and she weakly took his hand again.
“I'll be ok…I can't hold on any longer, Link…I have to go…”
The soldier bent down and kissed her once more.
“Zelda…my best friend, my princess, my love…I'll miss you…”
She gazed up at him, and her hold on his hand began to weaken.
“Yes…and I you, my hero…but we…we'll meet again someday, and until then, just remember that…I love you…”