Chapter list: (1), (2)
Summary: Zelda and Link get Impa's blessing. Zelda is less than thrilled.
a/n: This chapter’s more for world-building purposes, but hopefully you still enjoy it! Again, I utilize traditional views of marriage for the gag (i.e. living unwed w/ a guy is a "sin"), so if these values are important to you/or you find these values offensive this is your warning. (i also make characters religious, but I feel that isn't much of a surprise with LOZ)
lol also to the lone person who was like “this title’s giving me real fiddler on the roof vibes,” yay! yes! That’s on purpose, lol, I really like that song. I think it’s funny, so I’m stealing the lyrics for titles haha. Tbh just glad someone caught it.
Chapter 2: Find me a find, catch me a catch
“Commit yourself to the Temp—”
Zelda met the Impa’s unimpressed gaze with her chin held high.
Paya, who sat near them polishing the floors, seemed to be holding her breath, waiting for the tension in the room to snap. Zelda, though, paid her no mind. Like Paya, she had once bowed to the authority of her elders, figuring they had known what had been best for her and Hyrule. But Impa was only older than her in appearance, and necessity had demanded Zelda’s role as a doormat to cease over a century ago.
Without a word, Impa seemed to notice Zelda’s resolve and conceded to her with a sigh.
Zelda let out a puff of relief.
Despite all her previous talk, she had been close to cracking. Sure, she’d likely be able to refuse a stubborn Temple Monk (if there were any left), but Impa? Absolutely not! Goddess Din had been with her today!
“—marry Link.” Impa finished, almost instantly killing Zelda’s sense of victory. The women, Zelda thought with a tinge of annoyance, always had to have the final word.
“G-grandmother! Don’t be so forward!” Paya jumped up from the floor, disturbing her soapy bucket of water.
“Bah,” Impa waved her granddaughter off, “hush.”
Zelda caught Paya’s bucket before it could tip over completely, splashing herself slightly with dirty water, and laughed, “Oh, Impa, you know I couldn’t do that to him!”
She stood from where she was kneeling, waving off the towel Paya had thrust her way and walked over to one of the front windows. Below her was the entirety of Kakariko Village, and she quickly found Link by the cooking pot where the Sheikah shared their communal meals. She smiled down at him, observing how he stole bite after bite of whatever Koko was making, much to the young girl’s adorable displeasure.
“He’s already done so much for me—for Hyrule—and to place that burden on him too?” She paused, resting her head against the window, “I just couldn’t. You remember how he was when he pulled the sword. I think he’d detest being King if things go south…though, I suppose,” she mumbled to herself, “it would appease the Zora greatly….”
“He wouldn’t be a King,” Impa pointed out, “he’d be your husband. And he’d be fine with it.”
“You can’t decide that for him,” She tsked, chiding her friend, “Link can’t be my babysitter forever; you must know that by now. He deserves a chance to forge his own path.”
“He wouldn’t be your babysitter. Again, he’d be your husband.” Impa emphasized, “There’s a vast difference between the two.”
Zelda’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Zelda,” Impa sighed, “a husband won’t see you as a something to babysit. They’ll see you as a partner.”
“Which is why Link can’t do it,” Zelda shook her head.
“He doesn’t see you as someone to babysit,” Impa disagreed.
“That’s not true,” She argued back, trying to keep the guilt out of her voice, “ever since Link freed me from the Calamity, he has done nothing but take care of me—Hylia bless him—because he still sees me as the Princess—”
“—which you are—”
“—which I’m not, and I wouldn’t be able to convince him to see a marriage between the two of us as an equal partnership.” She frowned, “I know I’m inept—” She held up a finger to silence Impa, “—ah, ah, let me finish, I’m inept in this new world; some things still don’t make sense to me, so I know I still need his help, and yours as well, but Impa, I couldn’t live with the guilt. Link needs a useful partner. What have I got to offer someone like him?”
Impa licked her dry lips and blinked, looking over at her still-flustered granddaughter, “Paya, go get your grandmother her special tea. She feels a headache coming on.”
“B-but it’s only ten in the morning,” Paya protested, an uneasy look crossing over her pretty features.
“Go.” Impa demanded, turning back to Zelda, “What do you have to offer him? My dear, it’s more like what does he have to offer you. You are the Princess. He is the common knight. He should be honored by my recommendation alone that I see him a smidge fit to call himself your husband.”
There was a fire in Impa’s eyes that kept Zelda quiet. Impa’s words, however, did not still her expressions. Looking back out the window, Zelda made a show of rolling her eyes.
“I swear if you’re rolling your eyes right now—”
“—I’m not.” Zelda huffed, rolling her eyes again.
“Stop being stubborn about it,” Impa snapped as Paya poured her the special “tea” she had requested, “Link has all the connections you desire and has garnered a significant amount of influence over the people. He would be the most suitable husband out of anyone else in this country for purely political reasons.”
“Besides,” She continued after taking a sip of her tea, “Link doesn’t take care of you because he needs to, but simply because he wants to. It’s how he shows his love, even if he doesn’t know it yet.”
Then, Impa took a deep breath and put down her drink, “And, I would feel most comfortable with you being with him. At least when I pass on into the Spirit Realm, I know you’d be in good hands. I’d only have to worry about this one here—” Impa nodded her head in Paya’s direction, and the girl’s face bloomed red once more. “—she can’t talk to men,” Impa explained, “I don’t know what to do with her.”
“Grandma!” Paya protested.
“Sure, Robbie has a son, but, ugh,” Impa grimaced, “I don’t think I could do it. Robbie in the family? Purah would either laugh or kill me or both—” She thought about it a moment before tacking on “—or worse.”
“I’m right here!”
Zelda smiled at Paya, “She’s teasing—”
“—I’m not—” Impa bristled.
“—you have no reason to be worried about marriage yet, Paya. You’re still so young! You should enjoy yourself first. When the time comes, we’ll find you a wonderful partner just as sweet as yourself.” Zelda could feel tears pricking her eyes, “Y-your, excuse me, your parents would be so—oh my,” She fanned her eyes, “—oh no, I’m not crying. No.”
“Princess,” Paya reached for her, handing over a hanky, “p-please don’t cry.”
“I’m not,” She sniffed, “these aren’t tears.”
“You’re still having fits?” Impa asked curiously, and Zelda shook her head no, then yes, sobbing into the hanky.
“T-they’re happy t-tears! I promise.” Zelda sobbed, looking up at Paya, who looked on the edge of tears herself, “They would just—just be so p-p-proud of you.”
Her weeping fits were a cumbersome byproduct of her time with Hylia, and it seemed she couldn’t go a day without them. Most often, poor Link bore the brunt end of it. As hard as she tried to explain the fits to him and others, no one seemed to believe the tears weren’t hers—not really.
The miscommunication was her own fault. There was simply no meaningful way to describe her time with Hylia, especially when she only had mere words to work with. Time with Hylia had been an experience best felt than explained, and those feelings still lingered in her heart and, more embarrassingly, in her tear ducts.
Her best attempt to explain it started with her sentient stasis in the heart of malice itself. The physical part of her had been trapped there, but her spirit had been embraced by Hylia and the spirits of her grandmothers before her. Some days, when fighting the Calamity became almost too much to bear, the spirits took turns sharing their sharing sweetest memories with her. She could no longer recall these memories; they had faded almost immediately, and she kicked herself every day for not writing them down.
Hundreds of years of history were just gone because she had been too awestruck with freedom to do anything remotely productive, but that was beside the point.
When she was not communing with the spirits and the Calamity rested, Hylia would show her the world as an omnipresent being.
Thanks to Hylia, Zelda had witnessed the breathtaking life that unfolded out of the ruins. She had watched the wilds take over, counted every blade of grass, measured the dewfall, and stalked small creatures as a delighted shadow. She saw the deer populations rise and the plethora of children born after the Age of the Burning Fields and could feel how much Hylia loved them. Even monsters, like the Bokoblins, who Hylia admired for their naïve curiosity and silly dances. And even though Zelda had grieved heavily the first four decades of her imprisonment, Hylia, or maybe even Time (a fickle concept and God, believe it or not), had eventually won her over, mending parts of her heart that were, admittedly, still broken.
But it was easier now.
Out of all the things to watch in her stasis, her favorite had obviously been Link. However, at the height of her power, she had been able to watch over many things all at once. She had followed the dear “court poet” (a boy three years her junior) partaking in the grand adventures he had once only sang about and the lonely spirit of her Father haunting Link’s resting place.
She could not reach the other Champions, but she had watched their descendants with quiet rapture. She had witnessed Sidon grow into the Zora he was today, praying over his battles, and she had watched Yunobo take his first roll out of the hot spring waters that brought the little pebble to life.
And Zelda, of course, watched Impa’s family as if it were her own, which delighted Hylia because Impa—for reasons now lost to her—was favored by their Goddess.
She watched Impa fall in love, lose that love, and mourned that love with her. And she watched Impa’s daughter have her first bath, her first kiss (but she never pried any deeper than that), and was with her when she had Paya. And then, when Zelda could, because her powers had been weakening to the point that she could only witness the world through Hylia’s statues, she watched over Paya and saw how she helped Link when he woke.
She knew all of these people the way Hylia knew them, and when she was finally able to physically join them again, anytime she was around them, what was left of Hylia in her heart swelled to the point of tears. Zelda would find herself sobbing over nothing but the pure joy and love their Goddess felt.
And it wasn’t just Link, or Impa’s lineage, that she found herself crying over. Since Hylia loved everything so much, Zelda often wept around anything that tickled Her fancy. Especially children. She was a mess around children. And oddly, large birds, so, for the sake of her pride, her meetings with the Rito were often peppered with elongated breaks.
Impa snapped her out of her crying fit this time with a loud laugh, “My, Princess, what Ubrosa would do to see this! She was always hoping you’d have a good breakdown.”
“Oh, shush, you know you’ll only make it worse!” She argued through her tears, blowing her nose.
“Now, now, no more of that,” Impa cooed, “why don’t we take a break and calm down, okay? I don’t want your knight chewing me out again. Let’s have you rest while we—“ Impa gestured broadly around her, “—prepare for the ceremony. We’ll do it tomorrow morning, something simple. Paya,” She looked over at her granddaughter, “tell Cado to have his damned Cucco’s under control. I won’t have them ruining this wedding.”
There was a pregnant pause in the room before Zelda and Paya reacted to her words.
“Wait—!” Paya cried.
“—what?” Zelda sniffed, “Who’s wedding?”
“Yours, obviously. And Link’s. I feel a big ceremony with all the races would take some time to prepare, but you’re right. We need to ensure the bloodline’s survival, so we’ll have something small tomorrow, and you two can start right on that.” Impa nodded, “Anyway, the sooner you’re married to him, the sooner you two can stop living in sin, which is a huge relief.”
“I’m not marrying Link, Impa,” Zelda dabbed at her eyes, “I’m sorry. I stand by what I said. I have nothing to offer him but a chance to be free to pursue his own interests.”
“You have plenty to offer him!” Impa huffed, gesturing to all of her, “Plenty! You want a child, don’t you?”
“Well, yes,” Zelda stared at her, “but what does that have to do with anything?”
Impa’s eye twitched, “it has to do with all the plenty of things you have to offer!”
“Grandmother!” Paya chided, blushing again.
“How? Having a child isn’t exactly useful,” Zelda huffed, “it requires a lot of bed rest and—”
“Oh, Hylia, help me!” Impa cried, “Fine! You want useful? You can read. You can write. You understand mathematics. You can manage a budget. You can discuss politics. You can identify medicinal herbs. You can mend clothes.” Impa listed off on her fingers, “You’re an educated woman, Zelda, with a sizeable dowry. Hylia favors you. What do you mean you have nothing to offer?”
Zelda looked away because what Impa said was true. She had plenty to offer. She knew she was not desolate. But then, she thought of Link, Old Link. The one who would not talk. The dark circles under his eyes. The frown on his face. The scars he had endured for her, for Hylia, for Hyrule. Then, like a little worm, fragments of memories—memories that did not belong to her—wiggled their way to the forefront of her brain.
Because her Hero had not been the first Hero. If Impa was favored, Link was revered, or at least, his spirit was. He owed nothing more to Hyrule. Nothing at all, and She (Zelda and Hylia) wanted him to rest. He had more than earned a release from his oath with all the lonely horrors he had endured.
“You don’t know what I know,” She spoke quietly.
“And you do not know what I know,” Impa didn’t budge, “He will not refuse you!”
“No, he won’t.” Zelda agreed, “And that’s why I cannot ask him. I don’t trust him to be honest. I told you, he takes care of me, at times, even before he takes care of himself. That’s not freedom, to feel so beholden to someone. He’ll confuse his true feelings with his sense of duty to the crown, to Hylia; his mind is still too muddled not to.”
She stood to her full height, towering over the now quite squat women in front of her, “I’ve released him from his oath, Impa, whether you or him like it or not. I will not command him to marry me.”
Impa did not flinch at the venom in her tone, “You will not need to command him to do anything. He will do it simply because he loves you.”
“And I love him,” Zelda replied without hesitation, “which is why I will not ask him.”
“If you love each other,” Impa spoke through gritted teeth, “why can you not marry each other.”
“I just explained to you why!”
“But you love each other!”
“He is my dearest friend, yes!”
“Paya!” Impa barked, shaking her teacup around in the air, “Get me another round! And make it strong!” Then, as Paya poured her another cup, Impa turned her glare back on Zelda, “Why will you not listen to me?”
“Why will you not listen to me!” Zelda threw the question back.
“You admit to loving him!”
“Just as I would admit to loving you!” Zelda yelled back, “Snd if he were you, and you were him, I’d say the same thing! This unending duty to Hyrule must cease! Once I’m married, Link will be free to live. He is not beholden to me!”
Impa took a long swig from her cup, red in the face, and slammed it down on the ground when she was done. “Fine!” She threw her hands up, “Fine! If you want Link to run around Hyrule playing matchmaker, be my guest! But don’t come crying to me when it backfires!”
“Fine!” Zelda hissed, “I won’t!”
“Great!” Zelda threw open the door.
Zelda stuck her tongue out at Impa, blowing a wildberry and slamming the door behind her.
“And Koko’s restaurant is gonna serve pumpkin stew.” Koko explained to Link as he munched on lunch, “And Koko’s restaurant is gonna serve mama’s honeyed apples. And Koko’s restaurant is gonna serve—”
He, Koko, Cottla, and just about the whole rest of the quiet village jumped when the door to Impa’s home slammed open and shut. He stood up, hand on the handle of his sword, before realizing it was just Zelda, stomping her way down the stairs towards them. She seemed to be muttering to herself the whole way down, gesticulating about something, and he shared a concerned look with Koko.
“How’s Impa?” He asked, sneaking a look at Impa’s home, where Impa herself stood glaring through the blinds. When she noticed him staring, the blinds snapped closed, but Link was sure the Sheikah was still watching.
The old bag was always watching.
“Augh!” Zelda huffed, plopping down in a chair around Koko’s cooking fire, “She thinks she knows everything!”
Link had a sneaking suspicion Impa did, in fact, know everything, but he decided it was best not to say so.
“About the same, then?” He said instead.
“Actually,” Zelda pouted, “better than expected, but still. Anyway, we got the okay.”
“Great,” Link nodded, passing over the bowl of soup Koko had prepared for her, “should I, uh, run some things by her?”
“No,” Zelda sent a withering stare towards the home.
“Are Ms. Princess Zelda and Grandma Impa sisters?” Cottla asked, looking up from her food with wide eyes. Link smiled and shook his head no, wiping a smudge of soup off her mouth.
“They fight like it, though, huh?” Link sent an amused look over at Zelda, whose attention was solely on Cottla.
“Like Koko and Cottla!” Koko smiled, refilling Link’s bowl.
“Yes, that’s it, just like you and Cottla. But, don’t worry,” Zelda beamed at them, “Master Impa and I aren’t mad at each—oh my, uh,” Zelda began to blink rapidly, her eyes filling with tears, “sorry, I’m not—” She sniffed, her face contorting.
“Is Ms. Princess Zelda gonna cry again?” Cottla put her bowl of soup down with a grimace.
Link’s heart leaped into his throat, and he jumped up from his spot to rummage around for a hanky.
What an idiot he was, making her cry again! He shouldn’t have said she and Impa were fighting! This was what he got for saying the things he could only assume!
“N-no,” Zelda sniffed, waving off his efforts, “I’m not—these are happy—are happy—happy tears—” She broke down into sobs, reaching for one of the girls.
“Not it!” Cottla yelled, taking off and leaving poor Koko behind.
Impa scowled at Zelda and Link, watching a teary-eyed Zelda scoop Koko up into her arms and squish the life out of her. Link hovered around the pair, concern, and guilt scrawled across his face, while Koko squirmed in Zelda’s clutches. It was adorably domestic of them, and it made Impa’s tension headache pound.
“Look at them, Paya,” Impa shook her head, “it’s worse than before.”
“Before?” Paya asked, “I don’t know, grandmother. Usually, Cottla can’t get away fast enough…or maybe Cottla is just getting faster….” She trailed off.
Cottla was getting faster, but that hadn’t been Impa’s point. Zelda was such an intelligent and astute girl in all ways except when it came to herself. Unfortunately, the death of Zelda’s mother and the behavior of the late King had done a spectacular job in that regard, and Impa was now forced to pick up the pieces.
She breathed deeply through her nose and took another sip from her cup. The spike of fire whiskey went down smoothly. While the whiskey wasn’t as strong as she would have preferred, it did calm her frayed nerves. Thank Hylia she was not a young woman anymore. She could hardly stand pining back then, much less now.
She stood there in thought, swirling the contents of her tea around the cup.
Yes, Zelda was stubborn like her father. The Princess would not see what Impa saw until she was good and ready to, just like every other Bosphoramus. She would learn when her silly little plan backfired, and either she or Link came to her on their knees begging for help.
The thought made her smirk. She wondered which one would crack first. Her money was on Zelda, and Impa was seldom wrong.
Before the Calamity, she had been well acquainted with Link’s father, the Captain of the King’s Guard. The man had beaten duty, obedience, and loyalty into the boy so thoroughly it had withstood the test of time (and amnesia). On the other hand, Zelda had a rebellious streak in her, which, Impa was sure, had been inherited from her mother.
Yes, Impa thought with a wicked grin, it would be Zelda who cracked first, and she would be waiting here, ready. A person was never too old for a good I told you so.
“Paya,” She called out to her granddaughter, “go fetch Nanna and her girls. And I suppose Rola will want a say too,” She tacked on, rolling her eyes, “tell them we’ve got a wedding to plan. And that discretion is key. Make sure Rola understands that.”
“B-but Grandmother, the Princess said—”
“—the Princess can say and do whatever she likes. Her stubbornness only gives us more time to plan.” Impa turned back to her pillows, mind on stationery, invitations, and wedding dresses, “She’ll come to her senses in no time.”
“B-but what if—” Paya looked at her with large, earnest eyes and pink cheeks, “—what if she’s right? What if, maybe, Link wants to marry…someone else?”
Impa reached up to cup Paya’s cheek, and the girl stooped down to lean into the touch.
“Ah, Paya, sweet fruit, still your heart,” She hummed, pushing a strand of hair behind her granddaughter’s ear, “your time will come. Now, before you head off, go, get grandmother more of her special tea, and don’t water it down this time.”