Title: Shame Sleeps Where Pleasure Lies
Characters: Zelda, Ganondorf (general universe)
Rating: T to be safe
Summary: On the third day of each month he asks for her hand, and each time she denies it.
When first they meet, in royal splendor and sun, he drops to one knee.
The motion is unnatural for a man so great in height and breadth; she compares it to watching a mountain crumbling down, stiffly, without sincerity in its falling.
He is a man wrought through fire and smoke, dark flesh that is never clean; always limned in sand and desire. He wears the colors of his people on his own skin, flaming in the red swath of his hair. The light falls around and on him and shines a deadly, rotten glow, as if he’s aflame from the very insides.
Zelda stands before him, with the sunlight gild in her golden hair, the jewels and satins of her royal garb no more than dross in comparison. The sunlight belongs more to her than it will ever belong to him; he is a man of fire and war, bringing death on the end of his blade.
They meet to please their failing Kingdoms. He is a King and she is a Queen not yet married, having inherited the throne after the death of her father. The match seems – and only seems – to be the most logical.
“Stand,” she says, voice echoing all around the empty hall.
He does so, rising to his full, monstrous height, cloaking her in the expanse of his shadow. The sunlight behind him creates a dark silhouette, shadows finding every dip and curve of his steel-hard face.
They breathe the same, silent air. Her cool eyes sweep him up and down.
“You shall only kneel when I deem it fit, Gerudo Lord. It does not become you.”
There’s something like intrigue in his smile. “Yes, Highness.”
She hears the resentment between his words.
He turns to leave; she lifts one hand – only one hand – and he stills.
“The next you bow to me and to my Kingdom, do so with sincerity.”
When next he comes to her, he is dressed in his usual dark armor, and around his shoulders sways a virulent red cape, almost, but not quite, as red as his hair.
This time, he doesn’t kneel.
Zelda gazes at him from her place on the throne, straight-backed and more regal than any statue. The jewels of her crown shine upon her brow. Outside the sky is riven with storm clouds, the air smelling of rain in their wake. Ganondorf can’t decide which he should breathe deeper of; her, or the rain.
“I see you remembered my earlier words, Gerudo Lord.”
A smile quirks his lips. “I did indeed. I don’t take the advice of the Queen lightly.”
Zelda descends the dais to stand before him. So tall is he that she must tilt her head to meet eyes with him.
Heat and the smell of desert sand streams from him in waves. It raises blood to her cheeks; her blush doesn’t go unnoticed.
“You smell like rain,” he says, as if to reassure her. Zelda settles an inscrutable look upon him.
“You must be mistaken,” she says after a time. “It’s only the weather.”
He startles her with his laughter; loud and booming, it crashes around the empty throne room, drowning out the storm clouds outside. It only startles her – she neither backs away nor flinches in his wake.
“Rarely am I mistaken, Highness. I suggest you remember that about me.”
He leans in, and her heart leaps, clogs her throat. Even his breath smells of sand as it washes across the crook of her neck. He feels her shudder.
“That’s not to say you can’t try to prove me otherwise. Beneath your crown and crinolines I know you have spirit, just like all the rest before you. Their spirits were no less intriguing.”
Even as he draws back the heat clings to her as smoke. Now, she flushes in anger. Zelda backs away from him, trembling despite herself.
“Keep your silver tongue. It will turn to lead soon enough.”
Behind her, the sun begins to drown in the night.
She is the first to leave. He stays behind hours after, where the smell of rain still lingers.
He stays not hours, but weeks in her castle, meeting her each day in the empty throne room, and each day he remains standing.
Tonight, they take dinner together. He kisses her hand in greeting. The Triforce inscribed on it glows at the press of his lips.
The servants have been ordered out. The candles burn high upon the table at which they dine, set with simple food and drink. It would be useless to show her wealth, she knows; useless still to show him all he has been denied.
He eats with haste, but is neither loud nor messy. She can’t find her appetite; something about him steals it from her. When he finishes, he wipes his mouth (she keeps herself from looking at his lips) and smiles at her from across the table.
“My manners surprise you.”
“I’m not entirely unsurprised, only unused to such gestures from a man like yourself.”
He raises one crimson brow. “Oh? Am I to take that as an insult, Highness?”
Zelda folds her gloved hands before her face. “Not at all. You simply don’t strike me as the type for gentleness.”
Ganondorf eyes her up and down. “You are correct. I am not gentle.”
The promise in his voice makes her shudder; in disgust or desire, she can’t say.
He stares at the Triforce marked on the back of her hand. Zelda puts her hands back into her lap, gripping her dress in tight fists.
“I’ll take you for your word on that matter, Gerudo Lord. I’m afraid I’ll have to retire for the night. Ask the servants should you need more food or drink.”
She makes it to the door before he speaks again.
“You could take it as more than my word, should you wish it, Highness.”
Zelda stiffens. She presses her lips together until they go numb.
“Are you afraid to see for yourself?”
She turns to look at him. The moonlight shines pale in his eyes and hair, but does nothing to diminish their ferocity.
“Yes,” she says, and leaves.
He comes to her in her study, after a tiring meeting full of too much debate and too little progress. The economy is failing and faith is falling. The times are bleak, even for her supposed Golden Kingdom. It weighs heavy on her every breath.
Her study is quiet and filled with books. Heavy drapes block the sunlight outside.
She knows it’s him before he even knocks on the door.
“You may enter.”
Zelda sits at her desk, penning letters and signing documents and sealing them all with the royal insignia. Her hands are bare, stained with ink. Her gown is such dark green it’s almost black, but its cut is plain. Her golden hair has been let down; no trinket adorns her limbs or ears, except a locket draped around her neck.
Ganondorf enters and shuts the door behind him. Gone is his armor and cape. He looks almost naked without them.
“I see the state of affairs troubles you.”
Zelda continues writing, her head held down. “It does.”
He crosses the room in little more than a step. Again, she finds herself enveloped in his shadow.
“I could offer the help you so need.”
His words hang on her heavier than any burden.
She considers it, for a moment so brief as to be nothing. But she considers it.
Zelda puts away the papers and ink. The Triforce glows on the back of her hand, matching his own. She stares at it so as not to look at his face.
“No. The Kingdoms of my forbearers have suffered enough at your hand and the slither of your words. I am my own Queen.”
He frowns. It deepens the wrinkles on his dark face. “I only offer the sensible solution.”
Zelda sets her jaw.
“I will see my Kingdom fall first.”
The weeks turn into months. He offers her union on the third of each month he stays. She knows he won’t leave until she accepts it.
In the meantime, he talks of his Kingdom full of sand and scorpions. They roam the castle halls together, side by side.
“I’ve been told the Gerudo Desert is a harsh and barely hospitable place.”
“You heard correctly, but it has its share of beauty if you only look hard enough. The beauty is rarer than that of your Kingdom, to be sure – yet it exists.”
Their footsteps echo, his so heavy hers are hardly heard.
“It must be difficult to find beauty in a place that can kill you. I doubt even I could find it.”
He laughs. Not a laugh full of fire, but a real laugh that shines through his eyes.
“It takes many years, Highness. You first laid eyes on beauty the moment you were born; my eyes failed to see it until I was much older.”
They enter a hall full of portraits. On one side hang paintings of past Kings, on the other, the Queens. They gaze solemnly out of their gilded frames.
Zelda stops. Next to her own portrait is that of her own mother, alike in her features, only her hair is the color of wheat, not sunlight. Ganondorf stops beside her.
“You knew my mother.”
He stares at the portrait, neither frowning nor smiling. “Yes.”
“She told me of your betrothal offers. You were quite insistent.”
Zelda raises her hand to brush her fingertips against the portrait’s eyes. “She denied you each time you asked. So now you come to me with better hopes.”
His monstrous shoulders tense. “I can’t deny that. I only want what’s best for my people, Highness.”
She whirls on her heels so quickly her gown flies up around her knees. She raises her blue eyes to him and glares frost.
“No, Gerudo Lord,” she removes her glove and holds her clenched fist before her face. On the back of it shines the Triforce. “You also want this. My Kingdom is merely a means to an end. If you take it, you will cast me aside and any Hero who comes to oppose you. You almost fooled her. But you will not fool me.”
Anger hardens his face. Ganondorf sets his steel jaw. He seizes her wrist and pulls her against him; he barely grips her flesh and still she winces in pain.
“I don’t deny your accusations. Indeed, the Triforce has long been my desire, as has your Kingdom. But I would not cast you aside. I promise that, and only that.”
He releases her. Zelda stumbles back, rubbing her injured wrist.
“Your promises mean nothing to me.”
Sunlight cuts the room into halves. He stands in the shadow of it.
“I only wish I could make you think otherwise.”
This time, she stays, despite everything within her telling her to go. She doesn’t approach him or even look him in the face.
“And I only wish you and your people haven’t suffered so. Perhaps then you wouldn’t tirelessly pursue things you’ll never have.”
His smirk is back. It creates cruel lines on his face. “You say that now and forget my warning to you; I am never mistaken, not even in my desires. Remember that.”
As he walks away, his shadow falls across her portrait.
It’s now three months to a year since he first stepped into her castle. His presence begins to permeate the very walls.
Zelda can’t decide whether or not she hates it. He follows her footsteps, and often she welcomes their conversations. She can feel the eyes of her ancestors on her at all moments of the day. Shame begins to build inside her.
He is an ambitious man with cruelty running in him like veins of onyx through marble. But it is only one facet of the man she no longer knows as ‘Gerudo Lord,’ but ‘Ganondorf.’ She can no longer deny the gaze which he fixes her with have now been clouded by desire.
As has hers.
They walk outside the castle halls more and more often. The gardens surrounding the castle are great, filled with spectacular plants from all across the Kingdom. Zelda favors the lilac. Ganondorf, to her surprise, favors the snapdragon. A man such as himself favoring any kind of flower is almost amusing to her.
It’s spring, so she wears a gown of fairest pink and white, spun of cotton and trimmed in gold. He hasn’t abandoned his armor or leather, hardly needs to, in weather so cool to him.
“There is only one flower that grows in the desert,” he says, as she picks a bouquet of lilacs for her bedroom. One has been placed in her hair, drooping softly across her brow.
“I was unaware that any sort of flower grew in the desert.”
She feels more than sees him smirk. “For a woman so wise, you seem to be unaware of many things. I can hardly blame you. The deserts of my homeland are frightening to your people. They fear the desert…and myself.”
She stops picking flowers. She’s gathered a great armful of lilacs and peonies, which scent her clothing in their perfume.
“What’s the name of this flower, then?”
Ganondorf fingers a lock of his violent red hair. “It’s a deeper red than anything you’ve ever seen, redder than even my hair and cloak, redder than blood or any sunset. It has no scent, but it doesn’t need one. We call it Din’s Flame. An unoriginal title, but a fitting one.”
He plucks a lilac from her arms, turning it this way and that. There is no tracery of a smile on his lips.
Zelda picks another lilac to replace the one he’s stolen. “And what about its name makes that such a fitting title?”
Ganondorf drops the lilac to the dirt. He brushes the hair away from her pointed ear. She hardly flinches at his touch.
“Because,” he says with promise, “the flower is poisonous.”
He walks her to her bedroom later that evening.
The lilacs lay forgotten on her vanity, their scent mingling with the smell of sweat and sin.
Ganondorf stares at her naked back in the moonlight. Zelda stands before a great bay window, the curtains pushed aside only enough to see through. Below her, Castle Town is dark and quiet. Not even the pubs are open so late in the night.
Her hair has been pushed over one shoulder to fall across her breasts. Bruises and purpling marks of his teeth stain her pale skin. She had welcomed each one with moans and sighs of pleasure.
“What do you think of, Zelda?”
She licks her swollen lips. “I am uncertain of even my own thoughts. I’m unable to answer.”
She closes the curtain and turns to him. In the darkness of the room her skin nearly glows, while he nearly blends into the shadows. Ganondorf reclines on her royal bed like a cat, not even pulling the sheets around his naked body. She has no complaints.
Zelda joins him, draping her golden head across his chest. He runs a large hand through her hair.
“I still deny your offers.”
His breath trickles warmth across her face. He speaks against her forehead. “I knew you would even as you led me here. This has nothing to do with any offers I have made, or will ever make.”
She runs her hand across his stomach, dark skin puckered with scars unlikely to fade. She feels him tremble beneath the brush of her palm.
Zelda rises to her elbows, hair falling all around her head. She straddles him, leaning close to his face. Their lips nearly brush as she speaks, smiling.
“Will this be it, then? You’ll be the talk of the Kingdom. You’ll be known as the man who took the Queen’s maidenhead and left her to roam her empty halls.”
Ganondorf settles both hands on her waist, kissing the crook of her neck. His calloused palms scratch across her slender back.
“I intend to be the talk of your Kingdom for entirely different reasons.”
They breathe the same air.
“Good,” she says, and kisses him hard on the mouth.
It’s been a year and three months. Still, on the third of each month he asks for her hand. She denies him each time.
Zelda sits in the library of her castle, long after the sun has set. She reclines on a chaise by a window while she waits for him to return from a meeting. Her hair is bound up away from her neck, pinned down by many jewels which pale in the splendor of her tresses.
The door opens and shuts. She continues to gaze out the window.
“I hope your meeting with my council was favorable.”
“Barely so,” Ganondorf stands behind her, resting both hands on her shoulders. “They hate me, yet I cannot blame them for it.”
He unbinds her hair, letting it fall between his fingers. The reflection of her face smiles.
“My handmaid labored to put all those pins in my hair. She’ll be devastated.”
He chuckles, the sound of sand on stone. “She was foolish to bind it so. I much prefer it down.”
Zelda’s smile vanishes. She rises from her seat to face him. She places both hands on his arms, so large she couldn’t fit both hands around each.
“There have been rumors in the Kingdom as of late.”
He grins smugly. “I told you there would be talk of me. Secrets don’t hide long behind stone walls.”
She shakes her head. He stops running his hand through her hair.
“I don’t speak of that. There have been rumors that the Hero has returned once again,” she swallows. “He has come to me in visions for some time now.”
Ganondorf laughs, throwing his head back with the force of it. “And now the Hero plays the villain! You fear his return, do you? You surprise me. You are very unlike the others.”
Zelda shakes her head. “There is no villain, at least, not in this tale. I’m unsure if there ever was. A Hero, a villain, a Princess…I tire of such simplistic roles we play. Were there others?”
Ganondorf brushes her hair away from her shoulders. “What do you mean, others?”
Her lips move, but cannot fully commit to smile. “Others like me. Other Princesses who defied their roles. I’ve been told I bear their souls, yet I cannot remember even one of their lives.”
Ganondorf takes her hand. Their individual marks of Wisdom and Power glow in unison.
“If there were, I cannot remember them.”
Zelda jerks her hand away, holding it to her chest. “I don’t fear his return. He is no threat to you so long as you make no threat to me. I have no doubt that, in many of our times as the three bearers of the Triforce, we have not fit to the molds the Goddesses made for us. This time may be no different. But I have no way of assuring that.”
When she raises her eyes to his face, there are no tears in them, but they shine all the same. “You must go back to the desert.”
Ganondorf tilts his head, smirking. “Oh? Are you so sure I will not someday return – if not for you, the one after you? That I won’t return for the Hero and the Triforce he bears? My desire leaps across any distance, Zelda.”
She takes his hand in her own, clasping both of them over his. His pulse beats against her fingers.
“I know. But so too does destiny leap those distances.”
Ganondorf folds his hands over hers. He kisses her forehead with lips that feel like sand.
“You are indeed wise, Zelda. I sometimes wish you weren’t.”
They stand, still and silent, beneath the moonlight.
He leaves before it rises again.
When they meet again in her next life, he kneels to her in death. Zelda stands before his fallen body, the Master Sword stuck straight into his breastbone. On his lips he wears a mad smile.
Zelda kneels beside him to brush a lock of red hair away from his face. His dead eyes gaze at her with glossy emptiness.
“I remember you, Gerudo Lord,” she says to the wind. It smells of heat and sand.
He makes no answer.
“I wonder if you remember me.”
AN: This actually turned out much different than I fist expected. I usually don't write romance, especially not GanZel romance, so I hope this worked out!