It was done. Calamity Ganon was defeated by Link's blade and sealed away by Zelda's power. Zelda turned to Link, her eyes finally falling upon him for the first time in one hundred years. Her heart fluttered in her chest and she only wanted to touch his skin and prove to herself that he was truly alive. "Thank you, Link, the Hero of Hyrule. May I ask… Do you really remember me?"
Her breath caught in her throat as Link moved towards her. His hands, calloused and worn, felt warm and comforting on her cheeks. His lips pressed against hers and she let herself fall against him. His strong arms wrapped around her and he nestled his face against her neck. Zelda let the tears escape from their hold. It was all over. It was finally over.
"I promised you I'd come back for you," Link's soft voice said to her.
They stayed in their embrace until Zelda's breathing steadied and she worked up the strength to pull away for a moment. She cast her eyes upon Hyrule Castle, no longer enveloped by Ganon's dark power, suddenly feeling overwhelmed.
"What… what do we do now?"
Link hesitated and followed her gaze onto the castle. Her question haunted him - now what? Ganon was gone, but there was certainly much left for them to do. And Link was far too tired to think about that. The only thing he knew for sure was that he didn't want to be there, on the battlefield, a moment longer. And it was clear that Zelda didn't want to be, either, judging from the expression of defeat on her face.
"Let's get out of here," Link said simply, pulling at Zelda's wrist. He helped her get on his horse, then mounted behind her, taking the reins.
"And go where?" Zelda could feel the anxiety rising in her chest. Where could they possibly go? How much of Hyrule was destroyed? Did anyone truly remain?
Link kicked at the horse, directing her in the opposite direction. "Kakariko Village," he said as the horse broke into a canter across the field.
The village. It was still standing. "Impa? She's alive?"
Link laughed lightly. "That woman will never die," he muttered.
With this knowledge, and with Link's arms around her, Zelda was able to relax. She had been locked away for so long, keeping Ganon at bay, that she had no idea what their world had come to. She was thankful that it was not as bad as she feared.
They were quiet as they rode across Hyrule, neither of them quite sure what to say. It wasn't until they reached the road to the village that Link slowed his horse. The setting sun set the sky ablaze in colors of oranges and pinks that slowly darkened into twilight as they entered the village, yet every villager was outside, apparently awaiting their arrival.
Zelda looked on, speechless, as the villagers got to their knees, bowing to their saviors. She was certain that the survivors of Hyrule would all soon see that the darkness was eliminated and Hyrule Castle stood tall and free once more. This would be enough for them to know that she and Link succeeded in their duty to save the kingdom and Hyrule was at peace once more.
Impa, Paya, and Dorian stood outside as Link and Zelda approached. Dorian bowed his head to them, taking the reins from Link as he dismounted, then helped Zelda to the ground.
"You have done well, Princess," Impa said with a smile. "It's good to see you safe after all these years."
"Impa," Zelda started, but she could not find the words she wanted to say to express how happy she was to see her.
"You both must be exhausted," Impa said. "Let's not worry about anything more right now, hm? You should come in and get some rest." She turned and lead them inside.
Inside, Impa turned to face Zelda, offering her a kind smile. Zelda blinked back tears and hurried to the old woman, wrapping her arms around. She didn't think she would have anything left in this world, but she had Link and Impa, and that was more than she could ever ask for.
Despite Zelda's elation at their reunion, Impa insisted that they hold their celebrations for the morning. She sent the young heroes upstairs with a sternness in her tone but a smile on her face.
Link let his body fall onto the bed, his face buried into the pillow. He wasn't exactly comfortable, the weight of his sword and shield still on his back, but he was too tired to do anything about it. He turned his head over to face Zelda as she sat on the edge of the other bed. She was talking very softly, staring at the floor, but he could barely make out her words.
"I still can't believe it," she said. A small smile parted her lips. "You and Impa… I only wish… I only wish the others could be here to see this. Urbosa, Daruk…" When Link did not respond, she looked up, but he was already asleep.
Waking up, Link turned over, his eyes opening slowly. He waited for them to adjust to the lighting, but was surprised to see the room was dim. Out the window, he could barely see light from the sun - was it morning? Evening? Had he slept for another hundred years? He pushed himself up and looked around. He was alone in the room, and his sword and shield had been tossed onto the floor. He vaguely remembered waking up at some point and throwing them off of him. Impa would have had a fit if she had seen how carelessly he treated the legendary sword.
He lay back against the bed. He couldn't remember the last time he slept so much - or at all, for that matter. He felt like he hadn't slept since he awoke from the Shrine of Resurrection. He moved his eyes to the window; the sky was a gray blanket, but he did not hear the sound of raindrops on the roof. The room was quiet, but he could just barely hear faint voices from down the stairs as Impa and Zelda spoke.
"You're certain he has all his memories back?" Impa asked.
"Yes." Zelda was quick to respond. Link strained to listen, but it seemed their conversation had paused for a moment.
"All we can do is hope for the best." A new voice. Purah.
"I don't understand," Zelda said. "Isn't that what we want? For him to have his memories back?"
Another pause. Purah's familiar child voice continued. "Of course. In a perfect situation. But you must remember, Princess - we've asked a lot of him. Regaining those memories could not have been easy. The circumstances were far from ideal."
"War takes a toll on those involved," Impa said as if to back up Purah's statement. "Everything was pushed on him quite suddenly. It's not uncommon for those affected by war to be… affected in other ways, long after the war has ended."
"It would have been kinder to keep his memories from him," Purah said.
"You can't mean that." Link could hear the waver in Zelda's voice.
"What's done is done," Impa said. "You must try to understand, Zelda. Allow him to adjust as he needs to."
"He's fine," Zelda argued. "I know."
"I'll be keeping an eye on things," Purah said. Link imagined she was crossing her arms in the way she usually did. "Any changes must be noted so we can better use the shrine in the future."
"He's not some machine you can research," Zelda hissed.
Purah's voice was light; arrogant. "I've been researching him since he came out of that thing."
"Maybe you should work on getting your body back," Zelda sneered.
"And look like that? No thank you."
"It's a shame you stopped there," Impa said. "A few more years and we wouldn't have to hear you talk."
"Of course," Purah said. "Let me get you some prune juice, Granny."
There was a loud thud. Link blinked up at the ceiling.
"You're a little rusty, there," Purah taunted.
"For the love of Hylia." This voice was Symin's.
"Put me down, Symin!"
"Yes, put her down for a nap, will ya?"
A door closed.
"Grandmother, why do you let Aunt Purah get to you like that?"
"Someone needs to keep her in line," Impa muttered.
Link turned over in the bed, his eyelids heavy, despite having slept through the night and what seemed to be most of the morning. He didn't want to be a part of that conversation, anyway.
The sun had broken through the clouds when Link awoke again, but this time, Zelda stood over him, her arms crossed and her brows knit together. He looked up at her, meeting her gaze for a moment, before turning his back to her with a light groan.
"Do you plan on sleeping all day?"
"For the next one hundred years," Link muttered.
Zelda made a dissatisfied sound. "I don't recall you being so lazy."
"I'm the hero of Hyrule," Link said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "I think I deserve a day off."
"Well, just a day, then," Zelda said, moving away from him and towards the door. She looked back at him over her shoulder. A day off with Link - or two - sounded perfect.