Beginnings - 1.3 “The Unity Ceremony”
Finally, the big day! Hop in to read how our Unity Ceremony went! - Zelda
(This one has pictures, too, by the way! - Link)
1.3 The Unity Ceremony
“Link, stop moving, I can’t work like this!”
Link snapped into a straight position again, moving his hands away from the collar of his undershirt. “Yes ma’am.”
Luv looked up at him disapprovingly for what was probably the tenth time that evening before resuming work on his ceremonial suit, working on seams and pinning fabric. Meanwhile, Wryna stood on his other side with an amused smile, sewing some decorative feathers onto the shoulder hem of his sleeve.
“Don’t worry, dear! Things will go fine!”
“I guess…” Link didn’t look entirely convinced. In fact, he looked flat out disheartened, looking down as his hands played with the edge of his sleeve.
“Stop fidgeting!” Luv cried.
Link let go immediately, biting his lip.
“Seriously Link, after so many years you are getting nervous now?”
“I’m sorry! I just…” Link sighed. “Do you think there’s a chance she might… you know… reconsider…”
A raucous laugh coming from the corner of the room made him jump. Groose stood up from a chair with a grin and made his way towards him, twirling an indigo feather in his fingers as he straightened his formal tunic with his other hand.
“Considering she had been the one pining for you before you even realized, I doubt she’ll be second guessing anything now.” Groose said, fastening the union token feather to a clip hidden behind Link’s ear. “You are the one I’m worried about! You sure you won’t collapse in the middle of the ceremony? I’m your right hand man; you better not make me look bad!”
Link chuckled at his best friend, his uneasiness dissipating somewhat. “I’ll try not to!”
“That’s the spirit! Now stop slouching!”
At last, Luv smiled as she finished tying a ceremonial sash around the belly warmer wrapped around Link’s waist. She clapped her hands together with a satisfied grin.
Link looked at his reflection in a tall mirror standing nearby, admiring the crafty handiwork the ladies had done on his suit. He couldn’t help a smile, impressed with how they had made his scruffy, battle worn self look groomed and presentable.
“You look so dashing, dear!” Wryna said lovingly as she tried to comb his hair down, though she quickly gave up when she realized it would not stay put. “I don’t think Zelda will be having second thoughts about anything!”
Link flashed them a grateful smile and bowed his head. “Thank you for all your hard work. I’m sorry for the trouble!”
“Not at all, dear!” Wryna said, smoothing his tunic as a mother would, “This is your big moment! Your parents would be so proud of you, Link!”
His cheeks warmed at the sincere affection in both women’s eyes, and for a moment Link’s heart clenched slightly, suddenly yearning to have both his parents present in what was probably the most important moment of his life - his unity ceremony. However, he was able to brush aside that tinge of melancholy, taking solace in the fact that they’d be present in spirit, just as they had always been.
His smile widening, he nodded once.
As Link stepped out of Groose’s house in his full ceremonial tunic, he found himself at the receiving end of well wishes and praise from the rest of the village, which he humbly accepted with a bow of his head and a “thank you”.
To ease his friend’s anxiety, Groose tried to spark idle chat with him as they made their way to the Goddess Statue courtyard; but, as usual, Link’s attention seemed to have drifted off, his eyes immediately darting to the window of the second floor of Zelda and his house.
He unwittingly slowed his pace and found his thoughts wandering towards his bride-to-be. He knew that her friends were probably still inside, helping her get ready. He wondered what kind of dress she’d wear, his mind’s eye creating an image of her clothed in beautiful flowing fabrics as his favorite scent of lavender wafted from her silky skin, all while blooming flowers adorned the crown of her head and —
“Hey! Snap out of it!”
Link jumped and looked at Groose, who had started snapping his fingers in front of Link’s face.
“U-uh, sorry…” Link said, scratching his cheek.
“Focus, bud! You’ll see her soon enough.” Groose said as he draped an arm over the shorter man and they continued through the gate to the courtyard. Link sighed inwardly, and did his best to assuage the fluttering of the blessed butterflies building in his stomach.
Link gaped at the sight of the courtyard before him. Ribbons of several colors hung between the marble columns around the area, the knots adorned with beautiful floral arrangements. The rest of the scene was just as festive-looking; unlit torches had been set up around the perimeter for the celebration later that night, and a particularly large iron cresset was set just in front of the Goddess Statue, which was to be lit once the vows were exchanged. Flags and pinwheels of various colors and shapes hung from strings in the surrounding trees, and several long tables and benches had been set up for the feast Henya and Piper were going to prepare. Unity ceremonies had always been celebrated with grandeur in Skyloft, but it truly warmed Link’s heart to see how tight-knit and involved their community really was and how everyone was genuinely happy for both of them.
“Ah, Professor Owlan,” said Link, turning towards his former teacher, “those floral arrangements look amazing!”
“I had my doubts,” Owlan said as he descended a stepladder propped against one of the marble columns, Oolo perched securely on his head. “But they do look good, don’t they?” The professor placed a pensive hand on his chin. “The flora down here is so rich, and it was difficult not to use every single specimen I’ve found thanks to Oolo here.”
Link grinned at the little Kikwi, who scratched is head sheepishly as Owlan set him down.
“I can imagine. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for us, professor!”
“Not a problem, Link.” He said with a smile as he approached the young man and patted his shoulder. “How are you feeling?”
Link gave a nervous chuckle, “Excited, I guess!”
“Everything will be fine, my boy. Don’t you worry. I had better go get ready; I’ll be the one presiding over your ceremony!” The professor said cheerily before he squeezed Link’s shoulder and made his way back to the village, Oolo close behind.
“See? Everything is flowing smoothly!” Groose said as he moved to light some of the torches. “The food is almost ready, everyone is on their way, and the decorations are set. Am I a great right hand man or what?”
“The best, Groose,” Link said with a laugh but then he smiled sincerely. “I couldn’t have gotten everything ready without you. Thank you.”
The corner of Groose’s lips trembled as he tried to keep himself from smiling and he waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, shucks, enough of that. Groose has got everything under control; you just worry about getting the Leap right and everything will be smooth sailing.”
Link sighed softly.
For a moment, he had forgotten about the Leap of Trust, the paramount moment in the unity ceremony. It was a fairly straightforward process, one that figuratively “sealed the deal” between the two lovers, but that didn’t mean it always went without a hitch. Despite that, Link tried to block any worry from entering his mind. Everything will go all right, he silently told himself. He had practiced beforehand; things couldn’t really go wrong, unless…
“Wait…”Link said suddenly, “Groose, where is my-“
A loud shriek interrupted him, and before he realized what had happened Link found himself knocked to the floor by a large ball of feathers, a big yellow beak rubbing affectionately against his cheek.
“Hey, big guy!” Link said with a laugh as he scratched his Loftwing’s feathery cheeks. He then held onto his bird’s bill, allowing him to lift him up from the floor effortlessly. The bird shook its bright red fur excitedly, ruffling its feathers and crooning in what was the Loftwing’s way of showing Link how happy he was to see him again.
“See? Groose has everything under control!” But as Groose tried to pat the Loftwing’s side, it snapped its beak menacingly at him. Groose jumped back with a yelp, pulling his hand away defensively.
Link chuckled. “I think he may still be a bit resentful…”
The two laughed for a moment; then, Link began to look around, searching for something.
“Uh, did you also bring…”
“Up there,” Groose pointed at the Goddess Statue and Link raised his head. There, perched on one of the stone wings of the Goddess, was Zelda’s indigo Loftwing. It stared back at Link, its keen eyes trained intently on the young man with its feathers slightly puffed. Link was sure that if the Loftwing was human, he’d be raising an eyebrow judgmentally at him.
“I guess he’s still not too keen on the idea…” Link chuckled nervously.
“Eh, he’ll have to deal. You proved yourself and Zelda chose you.”
Link smiled at Groose’s choice of words, a modest blush blooming in his cheeks.
“So, wanna go check on the food?” Groose asked, pointing back towards the village.
“I’ll catch up with you,” Link said as he patted his Loftwing’s chest and it spread its wings, taking to the skies with a single, powerful swing. “I need to do something first.”
“All right, just don’t take long,” said Groose as he walked down another road towards the village.
Link nodded and walked down the cobbled path towards Hylia’s temple. He pushed the doors open with an echoing creak and made his way to the furthermost room in the back, taking in the image of the glinting sword sat in front of him on a pedestal. He smiled warmly at it, stroking the familiar purple pommel gently, his fingers trailing on the Triforce shaped indentation on the silver blade. It glinted momentarily, as if it was replying to his greeting.
He then raised his gaze towards the image of the Goddess Hylia carved on the wall. He knelt and, with a small, grateful smile, placed his palms together and closed his eyes, bowing his head in silent prayer.
Link gulped as he tapped his fingers on the ceremonial sword strapped to his waist. Everyone –Skyloftians, kikwis, gorons, and others alike - had already filed into the Temple of Hylia, chatting among themselves and waiting expectantly for Zelda to arrive. As per tradition, Link stood back at the stone doors, waiting to escort her to the atrium. He tried to ignore the fluttering in his stomach by looking around and responding to smiles and waves being thrown his way. Pipit flashed him a thumb up as his wife Karane stood by his side with her arm hooked in his, waving her other hand at Link. They’d had their unity ceremony about a year before them, Link recalled as he waved back.
His ears perked up at the sound of the music coming from the corner of the room. Horwell was conducting, swinging a baton back and forth as Fledge and a few others played a melodious folk song on their wind instruments. It was soothing to say the least, though it only assuaged his anxiety slightly.
As minutes ticked by, Link’s stomach churned uncomfortably. It then jumped when he noticed several of the guests looking towards the door with gasps and smiles. Link’s head turned and he gaped, warmth brewing in his cheeks at the sight that met him.
There she was, smiling and radiant; his Zelda, looking more beautiful than Link had ever seen her before. She was dressed in flowing fabrics of white, gold, and blue, with wing shaped sleeves draping over her arms and a silk skirt cascading from her waist and trailing elegantly behind her. Her flower-decorated golden hair was pulled up in a half pony tail, with the rest falling gracefully over her back and shoulders, all while a single red feather hung behind her left ear.
In one hand, she held a modest bouquet of purple and yellow flowers. Gaepora walked beside her, holding her other hand and leading her to the temple. The quiver of his mustache and eyebrows alerted Link of the headmaster’s attempt to hide his emotion, and he couldn’t help his smile from widening.
The music reached a crescendo when they arrived at the threshold, and Zelda smiled sweetly at Link, her own blush glowing brightly on her cheeks.
“Do you like it?” she asked softly.
“I love it,” he said breathlessly.
Gaepora cleared his throat and reached for Link’s left hand, raising it slowly before resting Zelda’s hand on his open palm. He then encased both hands with his own and squeezed lightly.
“Please take good care of my daughter.” Her father told Link with a smile and a slight tremor in his voice.
“Always,” said Link with a bow of his head. With an approving nod, Gaepora patted his shoulder and gestured them forward. Link gave her fingers a quick, chaste kiss before he lead Zelda down the aisle towards the end of the room where Owlan waited.
Customarily, the ceremonies were held in the Goddess Courtyard, but Link had insisted the first part of his and Zelda’s ceremony be held in Hylia’s Temple, if only to have his dearest friend Fi present at the event. Karane and Groose, Zelda and Link’s right hand man and maiden respectively, stood at the front row of the guests assembled. Karane giggled excitedly at Zelda as she held onto to her bouquet, and Groose flashed Link an awkward, tremulous smile.
They reached the last step of the atrium as Owlan smiled at both of them, congratulating them on their special day. Zelda and Link bowed their heads respectfully and Owlan snapped his fingers. Oolo came forward, carrying a large, aged book in his tiny arms. With a thank you, Owlan took the book from him and opened it on the middle.
“Shall we begin, then?”
Owlan recited some old passages about the history of Skyloft and their ancestors, of their divine heritage from the Goddess Hylia, and other such citations. Meanwhile, Zelda and Link faced each other, and he held her gaze, gently caressing her fingers in his hands. They would both repeat and answer phrases when prompted to without missing a beat; phrases they had carefully memorized for the ceremony. Several minutes went by like this, reciting and repeating prayers, until finally, the closing part of the rite started.
“Now, under the eyes of our Goddess, recite your vows.”
Link nodded, and got down in one knee. He unsheathed his ceremonial sword of silver and gold and held it right in front of him, his eyes never leaving Zelda’s.
“With this sword, I swear to protect you from the evils of the earth and sky. Come sleet or gales, I swear to stand by your side and never falter. Shall metal break or melt, my life will be your sword and shield until the end of my days.”
Zelda smiled, and her eyes shone at the devotion Link instilled in his words. He stood up, sword still in hand, and Zelda reached out, placing her hand over his on the hilt. She then began her vows with a voice that slightly betrayed her sentiment.
“With this hand, I swear to care for you on the earth and sky. Come sleet or gales, I swear to heal you, love you, and protect you. In happiness or strife, in darkness or light, my heart will always rest with you until the ends of my days.”
Owlan opened his arms wide and Karane and Groose came forth, each holding a small golden loop in a plush fabric on their hands. Link had to stifle a chuckle at Groose’s face, contorted awkwardly as he tried to contain his emotion. Sheathing his sword, he and Zelda each grabbed their respective loops carefully and held it in front of the other. Zelda reached forward first, and Link tilted his head so she had better access to his left ear.
“With this earring, Link, I mark you as my one and only, and as symbol of my faithfulness and devotion to you.”
She deftly hooked the golden earring in the second tiny hole he had gotten pierced beforehand, just beside his Fireshield earring. Before she pulled back, she brushed his cheek affectionately, causing his blush to return. In turn, Link reached out as she offered her ear to him and smiled sheepishly as he clumsily fitted the earring to her ear.
“With this earring, Zelda, I mark you as my one and only, and as symbol of my faithfulness and devotion to you.”
They held hands once again as Owlan resumed his speech, spreading his arms wide and raising his head to the heavens.
“With these earrings you swear yourselves to each other eternally. With the blessing of your guardian birds and under the watchful eyes of our mother Goddess, I proclaim you united as husband and wife, in a bond that neither earth nor sky will be able to rip asunder.” He then turned to the newlyweds and bowed his head. “Congratulations.”
As the crowd erupted in cheers, Zelda and Link gazed at each other before leaning in, locking lips in their first kiss as united couple.
They parted, and when he grinned, Zelda giggled as she noticed that some of her lipstick had smeared all over his mouth. She reached up to clean it off, and he leaned into her hand, looking at her with a warmth and happiness unlike any she had ever seen in him. Overcome, she let a few stray tears escape her eyes, which Link promptly brushed away gently with a thumb.
“Now, as the last testimony of your bond, you are to perform the Leap of Trust. When you are ready, head for your birds outside and take to the heavens.”
Zelda then turned to Link with a grin.
Taking a deep breath, he nodded with a small smile.
The last step. The Leap of Trust. The ultimate proof of their faith in each other.
Outside the temple, Zelda and Link’s Loftwings waited impatiently in excitement, their harnesses decorated in beautiful silks and flowers just for the occasion.
“Are you ready for this, bud?” Link asked his crimson Loftwing under his breath as he made sure the harness was well tied. The bird crooned and spread its wings as if saying “As I’ll ever be!” before he ruffled Link’s hair with his beak. Link chuckled at his excitement and stroked his chest feathers before the bird bent down to allow Link to hop onto his back.
Across from him, Zelda was already mounted on her indigo Loftwing. It stared at Link with doubtful eyes, as if frowning at him. Link ignored him and turned towards Zelda, smiling reassuringly at her. She smiled right back and, simultaneously, they took to the skies.
The birds swooped into the sky as the crowd below gathered and exploded in music, though Link and Zelda were already so far up that it simply sounded like faraway garble. They hovered over the Goddess Statue, just above the glow of the golden Triforce. Link’s heart thumped hard in his chest as the birds circled each other in ritualistic movements, soaring and dancing around each other.
The general procedure of the Leap was usually having the newlyweds jump off a platform together. As a sign of their trust, the woman would not call her bird, and would instead allow the man to do so and expect his bird to catch them both successfully and take them back to safety. This would then solidify the trust not only between the man and woman, but also between the couple and their birds. Due to the lack of a high enough platform, however, Link and Zelda had to improvise a little.
Bird and human were completely in sync with each other, and Zelda glided gracefully in beautiful arcs over Link as he utilized some bolder moves. Their eyes constantly sought one another, and at moments they’d reach out and momentarily brush fingers in midair as their birds pulled in particularly close. At last, their birds marked the time for them to perform the jump as they swung their powerful wings down and gained even more altitude. Once they were certain that their height was sufficient, Link and Zelda pulled their legs up and held fast to the harness. Their birds aligned themselves into the perfect position, and Link and Zelda exchanged one last glance before they took the leap.
They thrust into the feathery backs of their birds with their feet and leapt into the sky, spreading their arms out as they began their descent. Already with quite a lot of experience under his belt, Link glided expertly towards Zelda and hooked his hand with hers. He then turned on his back, pulling her around so she was right above him and hooked his arms securely around her waist.
Zelda smiled at him, inching close and kissing him.
When they parted, Link buried his head in the nape of her neck.
“Call my bird,” he said in her ear. She pulled back, eyes wide.
It was an unusual request, for sure. It was usually the man who called the bird and made sure that both he and the woman landed safely on the Loftwing’s back, but not the other way around.
“He won’t listen to me!” she countered.
“Do you trust me?”
Zelda hesitated. The ground was zooming closer and closer by the second.
“I… I do, but…”
“Then call him.” Link said with a small smile, “Trust me that he will listen.”
The Goddess Statue was approaching fast, her eyes already catching the golden light of the Triforce.
“I trust you, Zel,” he said, “You can do it.”
Her ears rang with the rush of the wind in her ears and the thumping of her heart. Looking into his eyes and seeing nothing but firm resolution in them, she nodded and allowed him to turn her around so her back rested against his chest as they freefell together. Putting her index and thumb in between her lips she whistled as loudly as she could, imitating Link’s own whistle. As soon as the sound died out, Link pulled them both around so that they faced forward once again.
Link held fast to Zelda’s body, but when she saw the ground zooming in dangerously fast with the wind beating aggressively at them, she closed her eyes. Suddenly, Zelda felt the air being knocked out of her lungs as they collided against a soft, feathery surface. She felt the shift in gravity suddenly pull at her, but she was kept firmly in place by Link’s embrace. She gripped the feathers underneath and opened her eyes, seeing red and white. A triumphant squawk and the cheers from below let her know that Link’s Loftwing had listened and had swooped in at the last moment to catch them both on his back.
She returned to her senses when she felt Link kiss her cheek.
“See? What did I tell you?” he said with a deep inhale; he seemed to have been holding his breath during the fall as well.
“I never thought you’d be the type to show off!” Zelda giggled as the bird swooped excitedly over the guests, her indigo Loftwing not far behind.
“I’m not showing off,” Link said rather seriously, but he softened his tone with a smile, “I just wanted you to be sure that I’d always be there to catch you, no matter what… and so will he.” he finished, patting the back of his trusty companion.
She smiled back at him and kissed him again. She then grinned.
“You haven’t asked me…”
“Asked you what?”
“What it feels like to be Mrs. Link now.”
Link blushed deeply and grinned. “Well, how do you feel, Mrs. Link?”
“I think I can get used to the sound of that.”
They laughed together and Link stirred his bird toward to ground. When they landed, Link helped Zelda hop off the crimson Loftwing, who chirped enthusiastically in self-satisfaction. Link chuckled at this and patted the creature’s wing. “You did a great job, buddy!” Zelda’s Loftwing landed shortly after and rubbed its beak against her.
“I’m okay, friend; you were fantastic,” she told the indigo bird, patting its beak. It squawked softly before raising its head to look at Link again. Then, it started walking towards him, lowering its neck.
“Hey, wait!”Zelda urged it, trying to hold it back by his harness; but the bird was much stronger and broke free of her grip. It towered over Link, tilting its head to stare at him with one big, keen eye. Link stood still, stroking his Loftwing’s chest behind him as he felt it puff its feathers menacingly.
Then, the thing Link least expected to happen unfolded. Zelda’s indigo Loftwing lowered its neck, taking a tuft of hair from Link’s head with his beak and playfully tugging at it. It then chirped amiably, rubbing its beak against Link’s face.
“Whoa!”Link said, carefully petting the Loftwing’s cheek. “What’s going on?”
“I think he trusts you now!” Zelda said happily as she moved to stroke Link’s Loftwing, who was in turn nibbling affectionately at Zelda’s ponytail. “He likes you!”
“Hoo hoo hoo! It seems the Leap was a success!”
Link and Zelda turned their heads to meet Zelda’s father. He approached them and pulled them both into a tight hug, ruffling Link’s hair in the process.
“Great job, you two!” chuckled the old man.
“Heh, thank you!” Link said bashfully. “For everything, sir…”
Gaepora’s eyes softened and he patted Link’s shoulder gently. “I don’t think I would’ve chosen anyone more suitable for my daughter. Treat her right, you hear?”
“Like a princess!” Link said, winking an eye at Zelda, who leaned over to plant a kiss on his cheek.
“Well, then, let’s get this celebration going!”
As the sun began to set and the large torch before the Goddess Statue was lit, it was finally time for the newlyweds to join in the merriment and celebration. The smell of the delicious food Henya and Piper had cooked filled the air, and music reverberated in the Courtyard, accompanied by singing and dancing that carried on well into the night.