A/N: Just two more parts and this train wreck will be done. /flop
Hyrule mourned for their fallen king. There were more people than Zelda had ever expected attending the funeral and wishing him a safe journey to the hereafter.
She sat alone in the pew in the temple, listening to men speak of her father as if they had known him everyday of their lives. She scoffed at them for they knew nothing of the man who had loved her for the last sixteen years of her life. He had been so much more than Hyrule's sovereign and Zelda began to wonder if she would ever be thought of in the same manner. She still had so much to learn.
Ganondorf had stayed by her side through most of the service and though they had received looks, no one dared say anything that could be heard by either of their pointed ears. When they left together, the people wondered amongst themselves if their future queen had found her king already.
They made a royal pair, the two of them together, with her on his arm. And how little she was compared to him. But, somehow, she seemed to fit, as if she had been made to trail regally with his long powerful strides.
The chatter and rumors that had once been negative were now filled with hope and admiration. Hyrule would have a king again. And what a powerful king he would be.
Zelda's focus in her studies changed several days after her father's funeral. Instead of spending time dwelling in Hyrule's history, she focused instead on Her politics and current state of affairs. It felt like the whimsical days of Zelda's youth had been spent in a matter of moments, buried with her father in her family's monument. Even time spent with Ganondorf had been limited, in favor of broadening her knowledge of how to properly and efficiently run a country.
After all, she had a role to fill; the people had become accustomed to a certain way of life and she would not allow them to flounder because she was deficient.
Zelda's absence did not go unnoticed by her tentatively confirmed consort. He spent time with her while she scoured over Hyrule's politics, held lengthy discussions over what could change and be made better and what should remain the same. The time no longer spent with her, left him to pour energy into moving his plans forward and it came to the point that the two unavowed lovers were very rarely seen together outside of the castle's library.
Her nightly trips to his quarters became a rare occasion and once Ganondorf realized exactly how he wanted to proceed, he sought to remedy that. He found Zelda, as usual, occupied in the library. Scrolls of various ages were scattered about the table and she was dressed simply, comfortably to accommodate her long hours spent in the wooden chairs.
"Princess. Or shall I call you Regent?" He smiled amicably and took a seat close to her.
She returned his smile and gratefully pushed the scroll she had been reading away. "Not yet. The ceremony is still being prepared. I fear I am not ready."
"You have done so much reading. Why would you not be?"
She looked down, her eyes studying the smooth, natural patterns in the table. "Because. I feel any direction I take will be a wrong one. My father was so sure, so confident in how he ruled. How could I possibly match him?"
"Why would you want to match him?"
Zelda looked up at him, her expression a mix of curiosity and incredulous. "My father was a wonderful king! To match his wisdom and kindness would be an incredible feat."
"So would surpassing him." Ganondorf's gaze shifted from his princess to the wall behind her. There were two portraits there, painted with the greatest care. One of a sunset over Hyrule and the other of the sunrise over the desert. "Imagine, if your people prospered under his rule, would they not more so under his daughter's, if she were to change his ineffectual system to something better?"
She fell silent, unable to fully process what Ganondorf was saying to her. She was young, inexperienced. How could she possibly change what had taken years to build? She hardly knew where to begin. "I...I could not. It works, there is no need for it to change."
"Change would be good for this world." He said this simply, as if it were the single most absolute truth in the universe.
"How would I? The council would object!"
"Then you would need someone on your side, would you not? Someone to support your decisions, to offer you guidance in areas you lack." He rose from his seat, to study the paintings closely. He could almost feel the heated wind as he stared down the painting of the desert.
"What do you mean?"
The Gerudo did not reply right away. But when he did, he smiled. It chilled her and she shivered. "You have been studying long and hard. Perhaps it would be best if we continued this discussion at a later date. You need rest."
She wanted to agree. But it felt as if he was making a point and she was missing it entirely. The abrupt change in subject did little to abate her curiosity. Still, she did not want to spark an argument by pressing the issue. She nodded and began putting away the scrolls.
Ganondorf stopped her, his hand resting lightly on hers when she came to gather her remaining items. She looked from their hands to his face. "I do hope your rest will involve your presence in my quarters this evening," he said with a small wry smirk.
Zelda would have protested, if it had not dawned on her how little time she had spent with him. It became painfully apparent how much she had missed him. The point he was making was then tucked away in another part of her mind so she could focus on the man before her and the offer he was making. "I would love to." When they were relaxed, she thought it would be the perfect time to question him on what he meant.
Later, as she curled up against him, his arm draped over her shoulders, she looked up at him and studying the strong line of his jaw. "What is it?"
"Nothing. I was only...thinking."
He shifted, moving his arm and propping himself up with it so he could see her properly. "About what, my love?"
She gave pause, took a moment to feel her Triforce piece resonate. "Hyrule. My father." She set her gaze on him and smiled faintly. "You." Everything.
Ganondorf leaned over and pressed a kiss to her collarbone. "Ganondorf?"
He continued pressing feather light kisses along her neck and jaw. "Hm?"
She settled her hands on his shoulders and tilted her head back. Zelda willed herself to remain focused despite his attention. "Wha---what did you mean earlier?"
"About what, my love?" He asked, lips brushing against her neck as he spoke.
She took a few steady, even breathes to calm herself before speaking again. "You said I should have a guide to assist me in the areas I lack. What did you mean? This is what the council is for is it not?"
He stopped, then laughed quietly, his face pressed into the curve of her neck. "Your father's council is full of fools, Zelda. Surely, you do not trust them implicitly."
"I do. Why should I not?"
"Not even your father trusted them completely," he said, sitting up and leveling her with a serious stare, "Their judgment can be stilted so things will work in their favor. You must be wary of them."
"...You are a member of that council."
He chuckled, then lifted her hand and kissed her palm. "True. What possible reason do you have to trust anything I tell you?"
She took her hand from him and placed it against his cheek. "Because I love you. And I would like to think that you feel the same."
Ganondorf said nothing, opting instead to capture her lips in a kiss.
Zelda took her breakfast late that morning. She was only part way through her meal before she was interrupted by a servant. "Majesty, there is someone here to see you. It is extremely important." She rose without a word, and followed this servant to where her mystery guest was waiting in her father's study.
The first thing she noticed when she entered the room was a floppy green cap, stitched and sewn with mismatched patches and it sat upon a head of stark white hair. She gasped, unable to believe her eyes as the withered old man turned and offered her a toothy grin. "Hello, Zelda."
She swallowed. "Link?"