“Confound it, how long have I been searching for that thing?”
After a few moments longer of thinking, Ganondorf finally gave up. It wasn’t important, anyway. The only thing that mattered was actually finding what he was looking for. Still, it was somewhat frustrating that he had been searching for it for the Three Goddesses know how long and hadn’t even found a clue as to its whereabouts!
As he trudged down the hallway of the castle, he glanced to his left at a nearby tapestry hanging from the wall. It depicted a portrait of the King of Hyrule with his now-deceased wife by his side and Princess Zelda as a baby in the mother’s arms. The illustration was colorful and well balanced, and the artist who had created obviously had obviously poured his heart and soul into showing the kind of people he thought the Royal Family was.
It made Ganondorf sick to his stomach.
Turning away in disgust, he began to think of other possible places where the thing he was searching for might be.
“Let’s see. Royal treasury…searched that place from top to bottom. King’s bedroom…doubt a fool like him would even consider protecting something of value. A secret vault I have yet to find…too crude, and what I’m looking for is anything but crude. Entrusted to someone of great reliance…no, they wouldn’t give it to anyone outside the Royal Family…confound it, where else can the blasted thing be?”
As he turned a corner, Ganondorf’s eyes spotted another tapestry. The same artist who had made the first tapestry had undoubtedly done this one as well, because this one depicted the exact same scene as before. This time, however, it focused more on the child in the dead queen’s arms, the child princess Zelda. The artist had even taken the opportunity to decorate the baby in a radiating glow…
Unable to stand it anymore, Ganondorf took a knife from his belt and slashed through the picture with a single stroke, making sure the blade went through Princess Zelda’s face.
“It’s not like you’re going to miss one of these things,” he snarled in disgust as he sheathed his knife and stormed off.
“I have to find it,” he muttered angrily under his breath, “and soon! Sooner or later, that fool of a king is going to throw me out of this place, and I can’t do anything until I find that blasted instrument! Ugh, if only…”
He then stopped speaking and continued his march towards his room.
“Are you sure about this?”
“Positive. Absolutely positive. It’s ready.”
“Hope you’re right, because this might damage it further…”
“That won’t happen, I’m sure. Come on, let’s just do it.”
Sighing, Malon reached for the bandage sling around Link’s shoulder and began to undo the knot that held it in place. The two of them were outside in the meadows where the cows grazed during the winter months. The lush, green stalks had actually helped Malon to calm down, giving Link one of the more peaceful moments he had experienced during the past few days of his stay at Lon Lon Ranch. Lying there in the grass, Link had realized his burnt left hand no longer hurt, and he now believed his could take off the bandage.
Because a Goron had tied the knot, Malon’s small fingers had some difficulty to undo the enormous sling. Link used his right hand to help her, but even then it still took them quite a while before the knot finally loosened. With delicate care, Malon withdrew the sling from Link’s shoulder, leaving the bandaged hand free from its small prison.
“Well?” Malon asked as she held the sling in both her hands, ready to redo it if necessary. “How does it feel?”
Link didn’t answer immediately, but instead began to flex his arm a little. It felt stiff after being in the sling for a long time, but he also noticed that moving his arm didn’t create a painful response from his hand. Deciding to take a small chance, Link slowly twisted his bandaged wrist around. He felt nothing.
“It doesn’t seem to hurt anymore,” he finally said, but the answer wasn’t completely justified. He couldn’t move his fingers through the dressing, and his wrist only had limited mobility. The only way to really find out was to take the bandage off. “I think we can take the bandage off now…”
“You sure about that?” Malon asked. Her usual, quirky humor wasn’t found in her voice; she was obviously concerned about Link’s hand. “I can redo the sling, but re-bandaging your hand will take some effort on my part, and that might damage it further or even permanently. So are you sure about this?”
Link looked at his bandaged hand for a few moments before finally looking into Malon’s eyes and saying, “Yes.”
Only giving a reluctant nod in response, Malon turned her attention to Link’s hand and began to unwrap it. Like before, the knot was difficult to undo, but Malaon managed to undo it a little faster this time. She then proceeded to unwind the white, thin strip of cloth, one layer at a time, slowly and gently. Link merely watched in silence. He wanted to do something to help, but this was a one-person job, so all he could was watch.
When all the bandages had finally been removed, Link looked closely at his left hand. The skin was a little pale, but otherwise didn’t seem to have any visible scars. Nothing seemed to be deformed, and it didn’t seem to have lost anything important. Still, he was prepared to feel pain when he slowly drew his fingers inward, into a gentle fist.
Like his arm, his fingers felt stiff. Other than that, he felt no pain at all. He released his fingers again. Again, no pain. He smiled a weak smile.
“Malon, I think…”
He stopped speaking when Malon suddenly reached out and gently grabbed Link’s left hand with both her own. She caressed it gently, probing it with her fingers and flexing it softly. Link, surprised and flushed, looked up to face Malon, only to find she was concentrating solely on his hand and her long red hair hid her eyes.
Before he could continue, Malon reached with her left hand and picked up Link’s right hand. Keeping her eyes down, she placed both of Link’s hands side by side, as if comparing them against one another. Her hands continued to lightly caress them, causing Link’s face to redden further.
“You have beautiful hands,” Malon whispered softly. “Very beautiful.”
“Uh…” was all that Link could manage through his blush.
That was when Malon looked up and looked directly into Link’s eyes. Her eyes were so wide that Link couldn’t even find anything to say. In fact, he was starting to feel a little funny, as if expecting Malon to do something unexpected…
“Does it hurt at all?” she asked suddenly.
“N…n…no,” Link stammered.
“That’s good to hear,” she said before she suddenly tightened her grip on Link’s hands and stood up from her kneeling position. She then used her grip on Link’s hands to pull him upward as well. Both kept their gazes firmly affixed upon one another. When both were standing, Malon smiled faintly.
“Why don’t we get back to the house?” she said. “My dad’s making some egg-on-toast for lunch, so…” Then she stopped speaking and looked down.
“Malon, what’s wrong…?” Link asked before Malon suddenly looked up again, her smile this time a little more defined.
Link, unable to move or say anything, simply watched as Malon took Link’s separate hands and brought them together, holding them together with her own hands. She then took a step forward, bringing her face a little closer to Link’s. The Kokiri, unsure of what was going on, didn’t know what to do except stare.
Now Link knew something was going on. Malon only called him by his real name when she was experiencing something really emotional. But what emotion was possessing Malon’s feelings right now? Could it be…?
Just then, Malon took a step back and said, “I have to go make sure Epona has enough hay and water. You can find your way back to the farmhouse, right? I’ll meet you there.”
With that, Malon released Link’s hands, turned around, and ran off, leaving a stunned and confused Link standing in the pastures.
“Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it?”
Link nearly jumped when he heard Navi’s voice. He had forgotten she had been lying under his hat all the time. Moments later, the little pink fey left the comfort of her hideaway and fluttered in front of Link’s face. “So tell me, what do you think?”
Link’s cheeks were now redder than the sunset from last night. “About what…?”
“You know what, Link,” Navi sighed. “Haven’t you been noticing what’s going on with that girl? Are you blind? Or deaf? Or both? Even I can see what’s going on, and you’re asking me as if you have absolutely no clue! Come on, Link, think about what’s happened with you and that girl since you got here. Just think for once, why don’t you?”
Link, realizing that Navi was probably right, released a deep sigh before sitting down on the grass again. He looked up at the sky for a moment and mumbled something probably even he didn’t understand. He then reached into his pouch – he had decided to carry it today – and pulled out his ocarina.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Navi asked.
“I need some atmosphere if I’m going to think,” Link answered before putting the ocarina to his lips and playing it.
“Hey, I didn’t mean just think! You don’t have to sit here and…hey, wait a minute. Isn’t that that song Malon sang a few days ago?”
Link nodded as he continued to play.
“How did you learn that? You couldn’t have been playing the ocarina with one hand…”
“It comes naturally to me now for some reason,” Link said when he paused his playing. “I can’t explain it, but now I can play the ocarina very easily now. I think I’m finally understanding what Saria told me.”
“And what’s that?”
“The ocarina’s alive.”
Link then continued to play the song Malon had played. He figured it was the best thing to help him reflect upon the past few days, because, after all, he wanted to focus his thinking on his time with Malon. He played her simple song almost flawlessly, as if he had known all his life.
As Navi again disappeared under Link’s hat, muttering something under her breath, Link continued playing and reflected upon his time with Malon, from the beginning to the strange encounter he had just had with her…
…“What’s wrong with her? Why isn’t she coming?”
Malon smiled at Link’s question, as if she had expected Link to ask it. “Epona is very wary of strangers,” she answered. “She even avoids many of the workers on the farm, including my dad. The only people she seems to be comfortable around is me and mother…uh, when she was alive, that is.”
Link, who was standing next to Malon at the outskirts of the enormous pen where Epona was kept, gave the farm girl a quizzical look. “Then how am I supposed to meet her?”
Malon’s smile widened. “We’ll try walking up her. Who knows, she might see you as a friend if I’m with you.”
Link shrugged; it was all he could do. After all, disagreeing with Malon could lead to a number of possibilities, and he didn’t want to learn any of them. “I guess…”
“Great! Then let’s go!”
Before he could object, Malon grabbed Link’s right hand and pulled him forward, towards the center of the pen, towards where Epona was grazing.
The pair proceeded quickly at first, but they quickly slowed down to a slow walk so as not to alarm the horse. But Epona did manage to detect the two’s presence, and stopped grazing and looked up to see who was heading in her direction. The foal took a step towards the advancing pair before abruptly stopped and taking a step back. Epona had obviously seen Malon first and then the stranger, Link.
As Malon and Link got closer and closer to the young horse, they started to take steps one at a time to make Epona more comfortable with Link’s presence. In the end, however, this maneuver proved fruitless. When the pair was a stone’s throw from where the horse stood, Epona suddenly turned around and ran some distance away. She stopped running when she was close to the other side of the pen.
Malon stopped walking – therefore forcing Link to stop as well – and released a sigh. “Well, that went well.”
Link couldn’t find anything to say in response.
“I guess I’ll have to sing her over here,” Malon suddenly said.
“Excuse me…?” was all that Link managed to say before Malon complied with her statement.
Without giving Link time to finish his sentence, Malon stepped forward slightly, brushed her hair behind her ears with her fingers, cleared her throat, and started to sing. As if on cue, a soft wind picked up and started playing with Malon’s red locks and white dress, causing them to wave like hundreds of dancers upon a tide of air. The mere spectacle of this was enough to make Link stop talking and listen to Malon’s singing.
It was one of the most beautiful things he had ever heard, right next to the music Saria could create with her ocarina. Like Zelda’s Lullaby and Saria’s Song – by now he knew the songs so well by memory and heart that he had given them simple names – Malon’s song possessed a simple structure of notes and melody. But this song distinguished itself from those two songs by one major factor.
It wasn’t a musical instrument, but Malon herself, that created the song.
Somehow, Malon’s voice seemed to give the simple song a life of its own. The notes in her voice were smooth and flowing, creating a sound that seemed to match the ocarina for elegance and perfection. It wasn’t that her voice surpassed the ocarina; it just seemed to create its own level it could surpass.
Link was so transfixed by Malon’s song that it took him a few moments to realize something else. Epona, the horse that had moments ago run away from them, was slowly trotting back towards them! The pony headed in the duo’s general direction before heading straight for Malon and stopped just shy of the singing girl. It snorted slightly and nudged its nose softly against her stomach, as if thanking her for the wonderful melody.
Malon, while still singing, gently reached out with her left hand and stroked the animal’s face. Moments later, she lifted her right hand and motioned it in Link’s direction. Link, still captivated by Malon’s voice, realized the farm girl was asking Link to come over. Without giving it a second thought, Link slowly shuffled over towards Malon and Epona.
When he was standing beside Malon, the farm girl looked up and turned to Link. She was sti\ll singing, but Link knew she was smiling. Then, while still looking at the Kokiri, Malon used her right hand to gently grab Link’s right hand and bring it up to Epona’s face. When Link’s hand touched Epona, Malon let go and allowed Link to caress Epona under his own power.
Combined with Malon’s singing and stroking of Epona, the situation felt almost magical…
Suddenly, without warning, Epona reared back, forcing Link to jerk his hand back and Malon to stop singing. The little horse neighed loudly before turning around and racing away like the wind. She didn’t stop until she reached the edge of the pen, where she turned back around and looked at the pair she from which she had just run.
Malon, who was just as surprised as Link, chortled a little before saying, “I guess it’ll take a little more time than I thought. But at least you touched her, Fairy Boy.”
For some reason, Link couldn’t help but smile…
…“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see. Don’t worry, it’s not far, just on the other side of the pen.”
It was nightfall; the evening of the day Link had met Epona. Din’s Eye had set long ago, and Din’s Blind Eye (generally called the moon) was high along its nightly path. It was a complete moon tonight. The night sounds of the farm were somewhat louder tonight, but that was probably because Link and Malon were outside with them and therefore closer to them.
“Does Talon know we’re out here at this time of night?” Link asked as he felt the long grass of the farm brush past his legs. “If he doesn’t, then we should go back…”
“Does Navi know you’re out here?” Malon interrupted with a tone that indicated she was smiling.
“Curses,” Link thought with an uneasy gulp. “Outsmarted…”
After a while, Malon finally stopped running and pointed to something up ahead. “There it is,” she said simply when Link stopped next to her.
In the moonlight and starlight, Link saw something sitting a short distance from the pen where he had met Epona. It was a structure of some sort, shorter than the farmhouse yet definitely larger along its base. Although the darkness didn’t allow him to make out any distinct features, Link could tell the building wasn’t as well kept as the farmhouse. Whatever it was…
“It’s a storage barn,” Malon suddenly said, as if knowing about Link’s wondering. “But that’s not what I want to show you. It’s inside. Come on.”
Without questioning her gentle authority, Link followed Malon to the storage barn, trying to run as gently as he could so he wouldn’t agitate his left arm. It didn’t take the duo a long time to reach the barn, and when they did they made their way to the nearest door. Malon opened it easily and stepped inside, allowing Link to follow her before closing the door behind them.
Despite the confines of the barn, Link could see surprisingly well. Holes in the roof allowed shafts of moonlight to enter the structure, therefore magnifying them and creating an eerie representation of the barn’s interior. Link immediately saw what the barn was storing: animal feed and products, particularly the product of which Malon made very proud mention often.
“There must be a lot of milk in here,” Link said as he took a deep breath…much to his misfortune. “The stench is enormous!” He spoke his next sentence with his hand over his nose.
“Actually, the milk in here’s not for drinking,” Malon uttered. “The milk in here is becoming stale so we can make cheese. We never store drinking milk longer than a day, and even then only under special circumstances. No, this milk wouldn’t do you any good if you drank it.”
“Then what’s cheese like?” Link asked, this time with his hand removed but his nose still unable to take the stench comfortably.
“Ask me tomorrow, and I’ll give you some for breakfast. But enough about that. Come on, just follow me…”
“But I can’t see you that well,” Link stated, and his statement was true. Although he could make out the interior of the building quite well, he wasn’t able to see Malon as clearly. “So how am I…?”
Before he could continue, Link felt someone – Malon, of course – grab his right hand and squeeze it tenderly. “Malon…?”
“Just let me lead you and you’ll be all right,” the farm girl’s gentle voice assured in the darkness. “Okay?”
“Okay…” Link muttered.
Her hand felt very warm…
Malon proceeded to lead Link to the distant side of the barn, the side farthest from where they had entered the structure. They weaved between boxes of animal fodder and cartons of stale milk, making their way to a neatly stacked pile of crates that had obviously not been used for a long time and were stacked tightly against the wall. When they reached the stack, Malon stopped and let go of Link’s hand.
“Is this what you wanted to show me?” Link asked.
“Not exactly,” Malon’s voice in the dark answered. “Just wait a moment while I…”
Just then, a loud shuffle echoed within the barn. Link focused on the pile of crates and watched as the one closest to him was moving to the side. He then noticed Malon for the first time in the darkness, and she was the one pushing the crate. All Link did was watch as the farm girl moved the crate away, and when she stopped she pointed to where the box had originally been.
To Link’s surprise, a tunnel was now visible within the pile of crates.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Something that’ll lead us to what I want to show you,” Malon answered. Link watched as the shadowy figure of the girl headed over to the tunnel, knelt down, and began to crawl underneath it. “Come on, it’s not too long of a tunnel, so don’t worry about your arm.” With that, she disappeared within the small corridor.
Realizing he had no other option other than to go back to the farmhouse in the dark, Link got onto his knees and right hand and began crawling into the tunnel.
Malon was right; the tunnel wasn’t a long one, although not in the way Link expected. He predicted he would run into the wall of the barn after crawling a short distance, but he actually crawled a little farther than he had anticipated. This meant that he was either a poor judge of distance, or…there was a tunnel in the wall of the barn.
He thankfully discovered it was the latter option when he emerged in another room. Unlike the barn, however, this room was lit up quite brightly, and Link quickly discovered why. The room was much smaller than the barn, about the size of one of the farmhouse’s rooms, and the roof was almost completely gone, allowing the rays of the moon and stars to enter in vast amounts.
As he stood up, he looked around the tiny chamber. Hay covered the floor like a small rug, but thankfully the odor masked the far worse stale milk stench. Other than the tunnel from which had just come, there appeared to be no other entrance or exit. There weren’t even any windows.
Furthermore, Malon was gone.
“Malon…?” Link started when he heard her familiar voice.
“Down here, Fairy Boy.”
Link looked down and immediately felt stupid. There she was, lying on her back in the straw, looking up at him with her wide eyes and her faint smile – he could make out her features more easily now.
“Lie down,” she continued, “right next to me, on your back. Then you’ll see why I brought you here.”
Wondering what she was planning – after all, her request was somewhat unusual – Link complied. He shuffled his way to Malon’s right side and slowly sat down before positioning himself on his back. Surprisingly, the hay didn’t feel at all uncomfortable. In fact, it could almost rival the bed he had slept in last night.
He then turned his eyes toward Malon, whose gaze was affixed upward. “So now what?”
Still a little confused, Link did so. What he saw was…the full moon, perfectly framed within the collapsed roof. This caught link off guard, as he didn’t expect to see such a flawless picture of a natural phenomenon. It was like a something ordinary had been placed into something else ordinary, and the combined effect created something extraordinary. There was just no other way to describe it.
He gaped at this “picture” in stony silence, unable to say anything…
“It’s beautiful, isn’t is?” Malon suddenly said without looking away from the sky. “I come here every time the moon is full, come here to see this wonderful creation of the Three Goddesses perfectly bordered by this collapsed roof. For some inexplicable reason, the moon is always framed by this hole just right when it’s full. I sometimes watch it for half the night.”
“But why watch the full moon here?” Link asked, although he thought he already knew why. “Why not watch it outside or something…?”
“Because it doesn’t compare to this,” Malon answered. “I mean, look at it: the natural occurrence of the full moon framed so beautifully by a collapsed roof. It’s like you can find splendor in both worlds of man and nature and keep the best parts of the entire picture. If you look at it for a while, I’m sure you’ll understand sometime.”
Link thought he understood what Malon was saying, but something else suddenly came to his mind. He couldn’t shake it off for some reason, so he had to get it off his shoulders. Tearing his eyes from the beautiful frame of the moon, Link turned to Malon and said, “Why did you bring me here?”
“To show you this beautiful scene,” the farm girl answered.
“Is that the only reason?”
Malon remained silent for a moment before she finally responded, her eyes still looking up but her attention given fully to Link. “You’re the first person I’ve ever shown this to, do you know that?”
Link gaped slightly at this. “I am? But what about your other friends you said you had…?”
“How can I explain this? You see…this thing I’m showing you, it’s like a well-kept secret. A secret you don’t want anyone to know except for yourself. Everyone possesses some secrets like this, and they only share them with those whom they deeply trust. My friends…they’re good friends, but they’re not friends I trust enough to share my secrets with them. Do you understand?”
Link nodded, but asked, “Then why trust me? Why show this to me? You don’t even know me that well, and yet you show me this the first opportunity you get. Why?”
This was when Malon turned her head to face Link. In the moonlight, her eyes were shimmering pools of unknown emotions. “Because…there’s something special about you.”
Link nearly jumped up in confusion and surprise. “Excuse me…?”
“Something about you, something that I can’t put my finger on. I didn’t notice it when we first met at Hyrule Castle New City, but I’ve been noticing it ever since. I noticed it when you stayed with me for as long as you possibly could when my father didn’t come back. I noticed it when you gave me this jewel to assure me that you never forgot me. I noticed it when my father came back and told me that someone who looked exactly like you made him remember his daughter. I noticed it when we met in Kakariko Village. I noticed it on our trip to the ranch. I noticed it when I tried to introduce you to Epona.
“And, yes, I’m noticing it now.”
Link couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Was Malon being serious? Or was this some sort of joke? But that strange glimmer in her eyes quickly told Link that Malon wasn’t joking around.
“Malon…” he started before pausing to find the right words to say. “Do you even know what ‘it’ is? And don’t you think you trust me a little too blindly? I mean, what if I didn’t think too fondly of this thing you wanted to show you? What then…?”
“Link…” Malon said his real name! What did that mean? “I know this seems a little silly, but I just…feel that I can trust you with my secrets. I don’t know why or how, but there’s something special about you. This ‘something’…I have no idea what it is, but I can feel it in you. And for some reason, I know it’s enough for me to trust you with me secrets.”
She then smiled weakly. “I hope…maybe someday you’ll find something in me to trust me with your secrets…”
That statement nearly made Link break down, but he managed to keep his voice in a straight tone as he said, “I hope so too…”
After that, Link didn’t know what happened. The conversation between him and Malon probably stopped there, but he couldn’t remember clearly. The next thing he knew, it was morning, the sun beating down on his eyes and forcing them to open. As he squinted and looked around, he realized he was still inside the small room in the barn. He must’ve fallen asleep…
Just then, he felt something shift against his chest. He looked to see what it was…and found it was Malon! She was sleeping right next to him, her head lying against his chest and her right arm wrapped around his waist! It was then that Link suddenly realized his own right arm was tucked underneath Malon’s neck. He and Malon were in the position they had been in back at the inn in Hyrule Castle New City!
Link felt his face grow very hot, and it wasn’t because of the sun…
He decided to try and slip out from the awkward position – after all, he felt somewhat embarrassed – but before he could Malon suddenly sighed softly and tightened her grip on Link’s waist. And despite the fact that he couldn’t see her face, he realized she was smiling a sad smile, as if saying:
“Not this time. Don’t leave this time. Please…”
Unable to do it, Link relaxed where he was. He reached with his right hand and gently stroked her red hair, whispering, “Someday, Malon, I’ll tell you everything. But not now, not when I may never see you again…”
A few moments later, he added: “I hope you’re not going to sleep there the entire day!”
Malon seemed to giggle in her sleep at that…
…“Please, Malon, do I have to?”
“Yes, you do. Trust me, it won’t as bad as you think.”
“But I can’t even…”
“Just…do it. If you do, I’ll never ask you to do anything like this again. Promise. Just do this one thing, please.”
Link sighed and agreed with a single nod of the head. With him being in the mood he was in right now, he didn’t feel like watching Malon put on her “pleading-girl” look, or even worse: her “right-now-or-else” look! Either way, it wouldn’t be pleasant…
It was the afternoon of the day Link had woken up with Malon by his side in the barn. Luckily for the two of them, both Talon and Navi had slept in so both thought that Link and Malon had left the farmhouse sometime in the morning and not last night. Link was especially relieved because he didn’t want to hear any of Navi’s speeches.
The little fairy seemed to be sleeping in a lot ever since they came to the farm. Maybe she was just glad to be closer to her natural element, nature itself. City life was too confining and restricting. Link had to admit that he preferred Lon Lon Ranch to Hyrule Castle, and it had nothing to do with the two girls who just happened to live in their respective places.
At least he thought so…
Malon had spent the rest of the morning with Link, singing to him the song she had used to lull and lure Epona the other day. Link, with his creative mind, called it Epona’s Song. Malon had explained that when she was about three or so, her mother, who was still alive at that time, had sung this song originally as a lullaby for her Malon. After her mother died, Malon forced herself to memorize the song so she would never forget her mother. Nowadays, Malon uses the song to calm Epona because, Malon had explained, Epona sometimes feels more like a daughter than a friend. So what better way for a “mother” to calm her “daughter” than to sing the same song her own mother used to sing?
Eventually, Malon had sung the song so many times that Link knew the song in his head as well as he knew Saria’s Song and Zelda’s Lullaby on the ocarina.
Unfortunately, he had had no idea what Malon had planned for him…
Now they were outside again, and back at the pen were Epona was kept. Like yesterday, Epona was standing within the middle of the pen, grazing.
“Okay,” Malon said with her innocent-looking smile. “Go ahead and do it.”
Link rolled his eyes and grit his teeth together. “I just know I’m going to regret this…”
Taking a deep breath, Link vaulted himself over the fence into the pen, which alerted Epona to his presence. The foal watched the young Kokiri as he took a step forward, cleared his throat, and did what Malon wanted him to do.
He sang Epona’s song.
It had to be the worst sound he had ever heard, even worse than when he was starting out on the ocarina. His voice was far from the smooth and soft tone Malon’s voice was. In fact, it was the complete antithesis. The notes sounded scratched and out of tune, and despite his best efforts he managed to over exaggerate almost every single note. It was probably the most embarrassing thing he had ever done.
Epona didn’t even move. She just stared at the person who was producing the awful, unfamiliar sound.
Without even finishing the song, Link stopped. “Okay, there. I did it. Are you happy…? Malon?”
But Malon wasn’t listening. She was on the ground, howling with soft yet undeniable laughter. She was laughing so hard that nearly ran out of breath several times. Her legs were flying through the air like a violent wind, and her hands were clutching her stomach in a vain attempt to stop her breathlessness.
But that wasn’t the worst part of it. Before Link could even turn red, he heard another sound of laughter…underneath his hat! How Navi managed to creep in there he didn’t know, but now he knew that he had two witnesses to his embarrassing escapade…three, if he counted Epona, who wasn’t doing anything but stare.
Link was willing to bet, however, that if Epona were able to, she would’ve laughed as well…
…“Malon! Come down from there! You’ll get hurt!”
“Nonsense, Fairy Boy! I’ve been climbing this tree since I was five. It’s all right.”
“Then at least let me come up with you. I can climb trees as well…”
Malon stopped climbing the tall oak tree and looked down. She was standing on quite a high branch, but the path from where she stood to the ground was completely clear of other branches, which allowed her to see Link clearly.
“Why not?” Link asked.
“You know why. You’re arm’s still not healed, and you’re not going to damage it further.”
Link couldn’t argue with that logic, but he could still argue with Malon’s climbing of the tree. Since he had lived in a forest all his life, he could tell several things about trees that other people can’t. Like how old and brittle they were.
“Malon, how long has it been since you’ve climbed this tree?”
Malon took a moment before answering, “About a year, probably…”
“Then you’ve been away too long,” Link interrupted. “This tree’s changed since you last climbed it. It’s old and weak and probably won’t even hold the weight of a squirrel for much longer, let alone yours.”
Malon smiled. “Oh, come on, don’t be so cautious. You don’t have to worry about me like that…”
“Please, Malon. I really think it’s unsafe. Remember you saying you trusted me? Why don’t you trust me now and listen when I say it’s not safe?”
This made Malon’s face jerk with surprise. She did say that, didn’t she? So why wasn’t she trusting him now?
But before she could consider that thought, the branch that Malon was standing on suddenly emitted a loud crack. Both Link and Malon turned to watch helplessly as the branch beneath the farm girl’s feet snapped and fell to the ground. Malon reached out to grab the branch just above her, but her fingers weren’t quick enough to secure a tight-enough hold, allowing Malon to fall straight to the ground in shocked silence.
“Malon!” Link cried before making a move.
With lightning speed, the Kokiri positioned himself underneath the falling farm girl and outstretched his right arm. He instinctively tried to do the same with his left arm, but the cast wouldn’t allow him. But he didn’t flinch in the least from his spot until he felt Malon’s weight crash into his single arm and into his chest. Both youth collapsed onto the ground, with Malon lying across Link in a cross-like fashion.
For some inexplicable reason, Malon had missed Link’s left arm, so he felt no pain whatsoever from the impact. But before Link could even realize this, Malon suddenly scrambled off of Link and planted herself on her knees and helped Link get onto his. Both of them stared at each other during a moment of silence, stunned at what had just happened.
“Link, are you all right?” she cried.
“Yeah, I’m fine, but what about you? You’re the one who fell…”
“How’s your arm? Is your arm hurt? Tell me, did I hurt your arm?”
That was when Link realized his arm wasn’t hurting at all. “Uh…no, it’s actually not hurting at all. But Malon, are you sure you’re okay? You just fell from a tree and…Malon? Malon?”
Malon wasn’t listening any more. Instead she was crying with her face buried in her hands. And from the breathing difficulty Malon was having, she was practically bawling her eyes out, as if she had committed a terrible, unredeemable sin. As she cried, she managed to say something through her tears.
“I…I…I’m sorry…I can’t believe…what I just did…I should’ve…I should’ve trusted you…but I didn’t…I’m sorry…I could’ve hurt you…I could’ve…your arm…I nearly…Link…I’m so sorry…sorry…”
“Malon…” was all that Link could say before he decided not to say anything. Words would’ve work here. They were meaningless. But actions…that was a different story.
In the gentlest manner possible, Link shuffled his way up to Malon on his knees. He then reached with his right arm, wrapped it around Malon, and drew the sobbing farm girl into his chest in an attempt to soothe her. Malon, realizing Link’s attempt to comfort her, in turn wrapped her arms around Link’s body and kept her face buried in Link’s shirt.
Link then began gently rocking the crying girl in his arm side-to-side and whispering things in her ear to calm her. “It’s all right. It’s all right. We’re both okay, so it’s all right.”
Although she didn’t stop crying completely, Malon did seem to subside a little because of Link’s comforting…
Link stopped playing the ocarina and sighed. These and many other memories had flooded his mind. The time they both watched the sunrise on a hill under the shade of a tree and Malon had fallen asleep on his shoulder. The time they had managed to sneak some treats for the horses behind Ingo’s back. The time they had played hide-and-seek and Link found her hiding where she had shown him the framed full moon. The time Malon had picked up Link’s bomb bag and caused Link go to nearly faint with horror.
Now Link understood what Navi meant…but was it really possible?
“It took you a while,” the fairy suddenly said as she flew from underneath Link’s hat and into his face. Her shimmering light indicated she was a little more than frustrated. “You’ve been playing that song for like forever, and I was about to come out and tell you stop! So did you ‘remember’ enough to understand what’s going on between you and that girl?”
“Yes, I think so,” Link answered. “But I don’t know how it’ll work out, Navi.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look,” he answered as he held up his left hand. “My left hand is healed now, so we should head out and find that last Spiritual Stone within the next few days, and maybe even find Kaepora. And besides, Navi, I’m a Kokiri. I never ‘age.’ When Malon grows up, I’ll still be this tall. How can such a thing work out under those circumstances?”
He also neglected to mention the reason waiting for him back in the Lost Woods…
Navi hovered silently for a moment before replying, “I don’t know. I must admit, I never thought I’d hear something like that coming from you. You’re growing up, Link…if a Kokiri can do such a thing. But you can’t deny that Malon feels something for you. And you can’t just leave her like last time. You won’t have a small jewel from your sword to give her this time. This time, you have to say goodbye properly.”
Link tightened his mouth and nodded slowly. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. How long do you think that’ll take?”
“Who knows?” Navi answered. “But it can’t be too long, because as you said, we’ll have to leave pretty soon. Maybe you should tell her tonight that you’re going to have to leave in two days or so. That’ll give you a day or so to say goodbye, and that should be enough. Sound good?”
Link stood up and put his ocarina back in his pouch. Navi followed his face by keeping level with it. Link looked at his small friend for a long moment before saying, “It sounds good, but whether it will work is a different matter. I guess there’s only one way to find out. Come on, let’s go. Malon is probably waiting for us back at the farmhouse.”
With that, Link headed for the farmhouse with Navi following closely behind.
The first thing Link noticed was strange was the fact that several horses were outside the farmhouse. There had never been more than two horses located outside the farmhouse, and rarely at this time of the afternoon. The second strange thing he noticed was that there were loud noises coming from within the house, noises that sounded like it came from a large group of people.
Link began to wonder, “What is going on?”
He soon found out when he reached the front door and stepped inside. The largest room of the farmhouse, which happened to be the room connected to the front door, was filled with people, all of them adults. Everyone was drinking, eating, or talking, and all with an enthusiastic air. Two tables had been set up with rows of food and beverages, including the egg-on-toast Malon had said Talon was making for lunch. No one seemed to notice Link’s presence.
“What’s going on…?” Link started when Talon suddenly appeared out of nowhere and smiled with his twitchy mustache.
“There you are, my boy…oh, I see you’ve taken off that cast of yours. Wonderful! Just wonderful! Now you can take a more active part in our little party than before. You’re going to love this, Link. You’ll be thinking about this day long after it’s over. Now let me just go get Malon…”
“Excuse me,” Link blurted suddenly, “but is Malon here? I thought…well, that doesn’t matter. But Malon didn’t tell me about this…”
Talon suddenly made a gesture for Link to shush, glanced around quickly, then leaned in close towards Link and whispered, “Girls are strange things, my boy. They’ll tell lies so they can hide what they’re really thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if Malon did lie to you a little. She’s been here for quite some time, getting ready for this little party…”
“You’re finally here!”
Link and Malon turned to find Malon standing right next to them. Talon was surprised by the possibility that his daughter had listened to their conversation. Link was surprised by what he saw. Malon’s red hair had been braided into a single long strand that draped behind her back. She was wearing an odd paint on her lips that made them look redder. But Link was most surprised by what she was wearing: the green dress upon which he had commented back at Markest Square in Hyrule Castle New City, the same dress she seemed to make clear she hated.
Talon abruptly made himself erect, coughed, and said, “Well…I’ll, err…leave you two to do what you want. I’ll…go get things going.” With that, he disappeared into the crowd.
“I think I’m going to take a snooze,” Navi, who had been following Link the entire time, suddenly said. “I’ll see you later, Link.” She then, too, disappeared.
When her father and Navi were gone, Malon strolled up to Link. She walked with a graceful stance Link remembered seeing Princess Zelda use. “Well?” Malon said with a smile. “What do you think?”
Link didn’t know what to say, so he said the first thing that popped into his mind. “I…thought you hated that dress.”
Malon’s smile suddenly faded. “Is that all you can say? Is that all…?”
“No!” Link quickly added, hoping he hadn’t offended her. “No, I think…you look…beautiful, to say the least. It’s just that…I’m surprised. Back at Market Square, it didn’t seem like you…liked that dress.”
“Maybe it did,” Malon stated, her smile returning, “maybe it didn’t. The only thing that matters is that I’m wearing it. And thanks for the compliment. You look handsome yourself.”
Link didn’t know what to say…mainly because he looked exactly like what he usually looked like. He wasn’t wearing anything fancy, just his Kokiri attire and the pouches containing his ocarina and the two Spiritual Stones. Why was Malon suddenly acting like this? Was it because of this party? Or was it something else…?
“Attention, everyone!” Talon’s voice suddenly boomed. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and turned to the host of the party, who was standing in the middle of the room. “I think it’s time we livened this party up a little bit. What do you say to some dancing?”
Virtually everyone applauded at this idea…everyone, except Malon and Link. Link didn’t know what to think about the request; Malon just continued to stare at Link. Moments later, the sounds of musical instruments started to echo across the room. Link recognized the sound of the ocarina, but he couldn’t figure out the other instruments. Malon didn’t give him a chance to.
“Link, would you care…to dance?” she asked.
Link nearly jumped from surprise. First of all, Malon was asking Link if he wanted to do something, not forcing him like before. And to dance? The request by itself was strange. But Link saw something in Malon’s eyes that seemed to plead him to say yes, as if it meant a lot to her if he did.
So he gave in. “I guess…but I’m not very good at dancing, so…”
“You can learn as you go. We have the entire day. Dad’s parties usually last until late at night. So you don’t have to worry about that. So shall be…Link?” She then extended her hand.
Sighing, Link took her hand with his. “Why not?”
With that, Malon led the Kokiri to the area that had by now been designated as the dance floor…
Link’s first few dances were nothing to talk about. In fact, they were something to forget. He constantly tripped over his own feet and several times stepped on Malon’s toes, but luckily Malon was an understanding girl who didn’t let it get to her. Still, their first few dances were arguably just as embarrassing as Link’s attempt to sing.
In between dances, Link and Malon ate some food and chatted. They also sometimes conversed with some of the adults, although this wasn’t too often. No matter what they did, however, Malon always stuck close to Link. Link quickly realized that he and Malon were the only children at the party, so he understood why she wanted to be near him. Still, there had to be some other motive behind her actions…
As the day progressed, Link’s dancing improved. The band that amazingly played nonstop only played fast-beat songs, so Link had a more or less consistent beat to learn from. Even Malon started noticing his improvements, and her smile seemed to widen with each accomplishment.
But that was before the band started playing a slow song…
It was deep into the night yet not yet midnight when the song was played. The initial intensity of the party had now been quelled, so Link saw why they would play a slow song. But did that mean he had to dance to it when he was used to fast songs? For the first time that day, Malon made the decision for him.
“Come on, I really want to dance to this song.”
“But I don’t know if I’ll be able to do slow…”
And so Link gave in. Malon dragged him to the middle of the floor where other couples had assembled. They then got into the regular position: arms around each other, bodies close to each other, and all the rest of it. Then they danced Link’s first slow dance.
But Link noticed something different about this dance. The position he had used to dance with Malon before felt…peculiar, more personal than before. The movements they performed to keep in tempo with the music seemed more natural and flowing and far less hectic. And what was this feeling that Malon was enjoying herself a little more than usual?
“Malon…” he began to ask her something, but he didn’t have time to finish. Malon stopped him by placing her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes. Link blushed, of course, because Malon hadn’t done this with the faster dances. He also didn’t know what to say.
“Link,” Malon said as they continued to dance. “I just want to say this now before I become scared. These past few days have been some of the best days of my life. I just wish you can be here forever, but I know you have to go soon.”
“…did I know? You said yourself that you were taking a vacation to rest your hand. Now that your hand is better, you’re probably going to go sometime. I understand this, really I do. I’m just want you to say goodbye this time.”
Link immediately knew what she meant. “Malon, I wasn’t going to leave you this time without saying goodbye, I swear…”
“But are you going to leave without telling me your secrets?”
This caught Link off guard, and it took him a long moment to answer. “I…I can’t. I just can’t, Malon. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you. I wish I could come up with a good reason to tell you why, but the only good enough reason is also something I can’t tell you. I…I’m so sorry…”
“Don’t be,” Malon uttered. “I don’t know why, but I trust you. I trusted you ever since we met, and I trust you right now. I have this feeling that…I’ll always trust you. Maybe someday, you’ll be able to tell me everything. For some reason, I believe in that. Someday, Link, someday. But for now…”
Malon then tightened her arms around Link, drawing the two so close together that they practically touched. “…just stay here and let me have this moment. Let me have this moment before you go. Please…”
Link silently smiled as he, too, tightened his grip around Malon. He lifted one of his arms and pressed it gently against Malon’s head, stroking the loose strands of her hair that had escaped the braid. He would give her this moment…because, for some inexplicable reason, he wanted it as well.
Talon was right.
He’ll be thinking about this day long after it was over…