fleets: Hello, and welcome to my newest story project, Forget-Me-Nots and Violets! This is a sequel to the VaaZel story I wrote earlier, When I Return (WIR), but I think you would still be able to enjoy it even if you haven't read that story (as long as you come to terms with the fact that the pairing already happened) :P
I wasn't really planning to write this story in the sense that I thought that once I finished WIR, that would be it. I would retire and spend the rest of my free time doing something actually meaningful, like watching TV. It turns out that the conclusion of WIR gave me even more questions to consider, and well, here we are.
It won't be as pairing focused as it was in WIR since it's Adventure/Romance, but hey we'll see, right? It's not like I know what I'm doing.
Setting is Post-FS, and Pre-FSA, for those of you who skipped WIR. We're veering way off canon now though since it's assumed that Vaati survived the events of FS.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except OC concepts. Yeah.
Disclaimer 2: My proofreading is not perfect.
Chapter 1: It's Complicated
It was one year since that fateful day when everything changed. One year, since Princess Zelda was kidnapped by the wind mage Vaati and the hero set out to save her.
Things were never really the same after that.
Zelda sighed, staring at the paperwork that needed her attention and brushed a strand of her reddish blond hair away from her face. She didn't want to deal with them, because she knew that most of them were going to be about the same thing: the monsters roaming Hyrule. One year after she'd returned to Hyrule with Vaati, she still hadn't been able to convince her people to coexist with monsters. She'd tried. She'd desperately tried with the help of Vaati to somehow come to a compromise between Hylians and monsters so they wouldn't have to be caught up in another war between each other ever again. The monsters were fairly reasonable, and it seemed that they would listen to her orders simply because she'd proven that she was better than them. Her own people, on the other hand, were exasperatingly difficult to deal with and many were absolutely adamant that there was no other way to continue than to destroy all monsters.
With an unhappy frown, she tapped the side of her face, slumped forward on her desk and wondered what to do. It didn't help that no one supported her relationship with the sorcerer (she still felt it was too early to reveal to everyone that she'd actually agreed to a marriage… they were in shock enough that she was letting Vaati stand next to her), and it seemed that everyone she knew was bent on trying to convince her that Vaati had done something to her head.
"It's not fair, Impa," Zelda pushed away the papers, annoyed, and she glanced towards the tall, middle-aged woman with white hair who'd entered the room. Zelda's caretaker and most trusted servant looked up at her but questioningly as the princess muttered under her breath, "I trust my judgment of him. Why can't they trust me?"
Impa walked over and glanced out the window. There was a small group of gatherers below, just outside the castle gates, protesting. She thought she could make out an anti-monster sign. Another an anti-Vaati sign. At the very least there were no anti-Zelda signs, but Impa figured it would only be a matter of time before those started appearing. The caretaker quickly closed the blinds; the princess was stressed enough, and she didn't need to see unhappy people right outside her window. "You were kidnapped, princess, and the kingdom suffered about a month of turmoil during your absence," Impa answered firmly, but with an apologetic edge.
"I know…" Zelda grumbled with a small wince. She'd heard from Impa all of the messy details of the state of her kingdom during her kidnapping before, and it filled her with guilt whenever she thought about it. Apparently there had been much confusion and fear after she'd been kidnapped, and security had heightened to the point that the knights had cut their break hours so that they could patrol the kingdom for longer periods of time. Furthermore, there had been a scramble to organize a coalition of powerful magic users, mostly priestesses, who would be able to defend against a monster attack. Fewer people left their homes after dark, and the populace had walked the streets with fearful sidelong glances. It was no surprise, then that the people believed that the princess was mentally unsound: there was no way she wouldn't have reassured her kingdom if Vaati wasn't actually doing horrible things to her.
No way would she have forgotten to leave a memo that things were okay, and that she would be back soon.
Therefore, it had to be the case that Vaati had done something to her head to make her say such things like "I trust him."
Zelda sighed. "It's complicated."
"I have no doubt," Impa nodded gravely. She absentmindedly picked up a dagger that Zelda had left on her desk. These days the princess had begun to place weapons in very obvious places, as though visibly showing her power. They'd gotten into an argument earlier about it, that the princess's recent behavior wasn't representative of Hyrule's peaceful nature, but Zelda had refused to budge saying it was necessary to keep the monsters in line. "They need to see that we're dangerous and we mean it," Zelda had said with a look that suggested she'd fought a few tremendous battles before. Impa had yielded, but she couldn't help comparing the new Zelda to the old Zelda who preferred peace talks over threats, and it made Impa uneasy. "The people are frightened still, princess, even though you claim it is a peaceful time. Not many understand why you feel it necessary to treat the violent monsters as the kingdom's subjects."
"They are not violent if you understand their rules, Impa," Zelda answered sternly. She tried not to sound impatient, but it was difficult considering this was the kind of conversation she felt she had to repeat every single day, even to the same people. They just didn't get it. "In fact, after some of the reports I've been hearing I'm inclined to believe that we're the violent ones. We could end this cycle, Impa!" Zelda waved her hands exasperatedly, her pink bow bobbing on her head almost angrily with her, "If I succeed then we would not have to fear monsters again."
"A noble vision, but I'm not convinced it is possible. There is too much history between us, and one that is full of violence." Impa placed the dagger back down on the table, shaking her head. Her hand absentmindedly moved to her hip where there was still a scar from a lizalfos attack years ago. "Just last week a group of merchants were attacked by Moldorm. Can you imagine how devastating that was?"
"They were only attacked because they attacked first. I gave the monsters a direct order not to attack any Hylians unless it is out of self-defense," Zelda's eyes flared, offended.
Zelda's caretaker couldn't hide her sigh. "You would trust monsters over your own people?"
"The monsters are my people now," Zelda said with an edge to her voice, "And yes, I do trust them. They're painfully simple in that regard." The princess stared at the space between her hands, glaring at nothing in particular. She hadn't always looked so annoyed about her kingdom's matters, but these days she just found it so easy to be angry and upset at everything she'd heard. The ignorance in her kingdom upset her too much, and sometimes she couldn't help but feel so alone. Not even Impa, her most trusted caretaker and companion even before she was old enough to walk, didn't seem to understand her on the matter of monsters. "Besides, I've heard some rumors that there are so-called 'monster tamers' running about who've been issuing challenges to the most powerful monsters in the land in the hopes that they can earn the respect of the monsters like I had done," Zelda clenched her fists. "Do you know how many challenges the Helmaroc King said he'd taken? Of course we have a lot of casualties, these 'tamers' don't know what they're going against! The fact that they're calling themselves tamers is their first mistake, since monsters should be respected as an equal to be able to gain their respect in kind. They're not animals to be tamed! Their second mistake is that they are picking fights without expecting pain. I almost died when I was challenged by the Helmaroc King!" She looked up at Impa who was watching her silently. Then, the princess rested her head in her hands and muttered under her breath. "Honestly I am disappointed by my own kingdom's stupidity sometimes…"
"You've been quite cynical as of late, princess," Impa observed.
Zelda knew what the Sheikah guardian really meant, even though the words themselves hadn't been spoken. What Impa had really meant to say was, "You're sounding a lot like Vaati." It was an accusation that Zelda had heard all too often in the past year, and although no one had ever said it directly to her face, she could often catch bits and pieces of rumors - some gossip in the halls, or whispers in the servants' quarters - that she was under Vaati's curse of some kind. That she wasn't herself.
In other words, people thought she was crazy.
"And you are perfect that way, Zelda."
Zelda and Impa turned their heads to the sound of a sly voice in the corner of the room. Without them knowing, Vaati had opened the window and had snuck into the room, and was now leaning against a bookcase with a smug grin on his face. His red eyes gleamed from under the shadow of the purple and gold cap that he rarely took off of his head. "Hello," he added with a slight nod towards the Sheikah who was glaring at him coldly.
"You are not supposed to be here, sorcerer," Impa finally said with a tight-lipped frown. Her hands twitched against her lithe figure like a cougar ready to strike.
"Well that's for the princess to decide, isn't it?" Vaati shrugged carelessly, but with a dangerous tone in his voice that indicated he wasn't impressed with Impa's welcome.
Zelda looked back between the two from behind her desk, and then finally stood up tiredly. She walked over to Vaati who greeted her with a bright smile that was nothing like his sneer from earlier. The princess bit her lip and she lowered her gaze. He wasn't going to be happy when he heard her request. "Actually, Vaati, I really am busy right now and I can't do with distractions," she took his hand in hers apologetically, but with a small squeeze that indicated she was serious. "I'm sorry."
The smile vanished from the sorcerer's face in a flash, and it was replaced by a bitter scowl. "You've been 'busy' almost every day since you introduced me to Hyrule," he mumbled, dejected and accusing, unable to hide the disappointment. It made it worse that Impa's frown now had a tiny, victorious upward curve towards it.
"Ruling a kingdom isn't easy, Vaati!" Zelda finally snapped, taking him by surprise. "Did you think that, if you became king, you could just fool around all day and the kingdom would just run itself? You're acting like a child!"
The room fell dead quiet for several long, uncomfortable seconds after Zelda's outburst, and the princess immediately regretted it when she saw the blank look of shock on Vaati's face like that time she'd slapped him at the Palace of Winds. Impa shifted her weight and glanced out the window with a self-satisfied look that the wind mage got what was coming to him. Guilt crept up on the princess for taking her stress out on him like that, but at the same time a horrible thought nagged that all of this was partly his fault. Vaati was extremely immature in his understanding of what being a ruler of a kingdom actually entailed, and it frustrated Zelda to no end with his naïve incomprehension. Of course he said he understood it, but she didn't believe he really knew what it meant regarding expectations of self-sacrifice. Still, it wasn't completely his fault for not understanding her stress: not many other people did, and in this regard she was incredibly alone. Finally, Zelda stammered, "…I-I'm sorry. I'm just really stressed and now isn't a good time."
"Apparently," Vaati muttered under his breath, picking at his nails absentmindedly but clearly bothered by her words. His annoyance quickly vanished, however, when his face lit up mischievously and he vanished into the air. Zelda squeaked in surprise and punched him lightly on his shoulder when he reappeared behind her and grabbed her by the waist. "Then it's my job as the villain to steal you away somewhere where you wouldn't be able to think about what the people are doing, isn't it?" he purred. The wind mage sneered at Impa who was glaring daggers at him, looking positively ready to snap his neck.
"Vaati!" Zelda couldn't help but laugh, and then she saw Impa looking at them both disapprovingly and she straightened out her dress with a serious expression. "Er, I mean, did you do what I asked?" She steered the conversation back to business. Now wasn't the time for fooling around, even though she appreciated the sorcerer's (somewhat annoying) attempt to take her away from work. Well, it wasn't fair to call it annoying because a part of her didn't mind them at all, but the princess in her knew how important her responsibilities were. Unlike someone here.
"The two headed dragon Gleeok won't be raiding Hyrule's crypts again, dear," Vaati hooked Zelda's hair behind her ears softly. Zelda might have blushed, once, but she was used to his overt displays of affection in front of others, in this case Impa, to get a rise from them. She glanced to her right where he rested his chin on her shoulder, and she rolled her eyes when he was all smiles at the look on Impa's face. This made him grin even more.
"Thank you," she said shortly.
Vaati didn't miss that barely-there hint of a smile on the princess's face behind her act of aloofness. "Half a day's work, really. Maybe you should let me take care of your problem with the Hylians?" His fingers moved down towards her hands and he twined her fingers in his. "I wager I can solve your problems with a ten minute storm."
Zelda, who had been about to let him hold her hands, suddenly stiffened and pulled free, "No. What works for monsters will not work for Hylians," she said sternly.
"Sure they do. You're much too soft, Zelda. Let me handle this," disappointment flashed across his face again when the princess refused to play along.
However, this was a topic that the princess absolutely refused to even joke about, given the state of current affairs. "No, Vaati. We had an agreement. I will handle the Hylians, and you can help me with the monsters."
"What I don't understand is this: why can't you just let me flatten an annoying village, hmm? It weeds out the trouble makers and sets an example for the other people who were even thinking of causing trouble."
"And this is exactly why I need you to leave the Hylians to me."
Vaati scoffed. "Why? My idea makes perfect sense."
"Vaati, promise me you won't do anything that would make it more difficult for the public to accept you and the monsters," Zelda pleaded.
"What? I don't care what they think of me."
The sorcerer sneered with a malice that did nothing to put the princess at ease. "If they upset you in any way you can be damn sure they're going to learn a new definition for 'inclement weather.'"
Vaati had his arms crossed over his chest, his cape pulled over his stiff shoulders. He said nothing for a few seconds, before giving a curt, tart, "Fine."
Zelda sighed again, and glanced at Impa who was standing in the corner with that murderous aura around her. Although the princess didn't mind Vaati's visits too much, it was true that he seemed to bring trouble whenever he appeared, and today wasn't one of those days where she could afford trouble. She had a meeting with a priestess later today, and she had to figure out what to do about the people who were in conflict with the monsters, and she had to prepare for her meeting with a foreign ambassador for tomorrow. There were so many things she had to be doing and a distraction wasn't going to do anything to help. "Vaati, I'm really sorry but I need some time without any distractions right now."
She was afraid for a moment that he might refuse, and in a stubborn fit he would do something outrageous to get his way. Like… kidnap her for instance. After a while, however, he gave one last absentminded shrug and moved towards the door.
"Thank you," she said gratefully, giving him a small kiss on his cheek before he left. He shrugged that away too, like it wasn't a big deal. She smiled inwardly; they'd sure come a long way since that time when he'd kidnapped her so he could force her to marry him.
"I don't know what you see in him, princess."
Zelda stirred at the sound of Impa's disapproving voice. She grimaced. "It's complicated," she repeated her statement from earlier.
Impa had relaxed somewhat with the departure of the wind mage, but the way her face was pulled taut suggested she was still disconcerted by his visit and upset by his sudden, unexpected appearance. It couldn't be helped: after all, it was her duty to protect the princess of Hyrule, but how could she guard against unwanted characters when Vaati could just appear and reappear wherever he pleased? "A lot of the public's discontent will vanish with him gone. Very few understand why the evil sorcerer is one of the princess's closest confidantes now," she sniffed.
"He's not evil," Zelda replied quickly. Then, she thought about the statements he'd made earlier indicating his willingness to hurt her people. She knew where he was coming from but it didn't really give him a good case of being a white knight, especially when his track record of being a good suitor was already very terrible. From Impa's point of view, the wind mage was a violent, impatient, bratty, and selfish kidnapper who just so happened to be the evil sealed away for hundreds of years because of even more atrocities committed back before they were born. Yes, his profile was really very perfect for a princess like her. Not. "Really," Zelda emphasized, although uncertainly, since she knew how ridiculous she sounded, "He can be sweet if you let him."
"You're thinking with your heart, princess, not your head," Impa lectured, "If you understood duty, if you understood the consequences of such a relationship-"
And that was when Zelda snapped. For the past year she'd heard things like this, and it was frustrating because no one understood that everything she did, was for the sake of duty. Not once did she favor her own wants over the needs of her kingdom, and yet these days the people accused her of not thinking about her people. Her own people didn't believe it. Vaati believed it but belittled her for it, since he didn't understand what duty meant. They didn't understand. He didn't understand. Sometimes she wanted to scream. "Do not talk to me about duty when you don't know anything!" She cried.
Impa looked at her in surprise. Then, she lowered her gaze and the woman bowed her head slowly. "I apologize, princess."
The door closed with a small click as Zelda's guardian left the room. Zelda walked over to her desk and flopped back down onto the red velvet chair, her dress bunching up around her feet as she cradled her knees. She felt bad about her outburst, but at the same time she felt that Impa deserved it. They all deserved it.
Zelda shook her head, nudging those terrible thoughts aside. They were kind of right, she supposed. Before she met Vaati she'd been a fierce yet kind ruler who was peaceful and serene. They gave her nicknames that reflected her warm heart, like Lady of Wisdom or Goddess Hylia, and she listened to her people's worries with patience. Now she was almost always perpetually annoyed by the state of her kingdom, unable to understand why no one else could see her vision of peace. For the first time in her life she called her own subjects stupid, a horrible habit she must have picked up from the sorcerer unknowingly. Now she was simply a fierce ruler. They adored her but they feared her. Was this really what she wanted?
"Impa I'm sorry."
It seemed like all she was doing was apologizing lately.
About an hour later, the princess had finished running her eyes over most of the papers piled on her desk. Just as she'd suspected, most of them had been about the monster issue, and everyone's general discontent that monsters were roaming free in Hyrule. She knew it would be hard to let the people understand her decision to put monsters under her wing, but she'd never really imagined things would be so stressful. The monsters themselves, on the other hand… "Maribel."
"Yes, princess?" A poe stuck its head out from the ceiling, and then floated down slowly so that it was eye level with the princess. It was wearing a grey cowl with a wilted dry flower pinned on its head. Even though Maribel claimed she hated flowers for being too cheerful, she'd taken a liking to them once she realized they could look dead and gloomy once they withered. Maribel was one of the poes that Zelda had encountered at the Palace of Winds, and one she'd invited to lay residence at Hyrule castle. The ghost was snappy and had a tendency to complain a lot, but there was something about the brutal honesty of the monster that Zelda liked. Even though the Helmaroc King was more of her advisor when it came to monster affairs, she found Maribel easier to talk to and much less intimidating. The ghost's bright yellow eyes watched her curiously, wondering why it had been summoned.
Zelda played with a quill pen in her hands, picking it up and putting it back in the inkwell and then picking it up again absentmindedly. The feather was purple and white, with a band of maroon red. "Tell me, are the monsters satisfied?" she asked without looking at the poe. "Do they like me as a ruler?"
Maribel floated over, her lantern's metal clanking ringing with each swoop. "Ugh, Hylians and their obsession with being liked!" Maribel scoffed. Then, she covered her ghostly mouth apologetically with a wiry hand. "Oh, I'm sorry did I say that out loud?" The poe giggled lightly, and then tilted her head thoughtfully. "Hmm, well I think we're still getting used to the fact that we're actually winning for once."
"Winning?" Zelda asked.
Maribel nodded. "Yeah, like, before we were always trying to fight you since you paraded around like the land was yours even though you Light dwellers are squishy and hilariously weak. Oops, I said that out loud. Now it's like everyone is on the winning side and there's no one left to fight."
Zelda considered this fact for some time. She'd suspected as much, that now that she'd effectively prohibited the monsters from fighting Hylians, they had run out of things to fight. She'd spent so much time this past year trying to calm down her own people, the Hylians, that she hadn't really been able to spend much time thinking about how this was all affecting the monsters. "Are the monsters dissatisfied because of this? The fact that everyone is on the same side?" The princess was almost scared about the answer, and she prepared for the worst of having to think about even more problems she would have to solve.
Maribel was quick to answer with a small shrug. "Not really. I mean it's really boring now with the 'don't attack Hylians' rule, but it's not that bad. Especially since the Hylians give us an excuse to murder them whenever they scream and attack us first. Hylians are so funny!" the poe laughed. "Ah, I said that out loud didn't I?"
Zelda returned a tired smile. "You're really tolerant of your situation."
"Huh? Well it's not like we have a choice to go against you or Lord Vaati's orders." Maribel sounded confused by the princess's surprise.
"Even if it's at the cost of your own happiness?"
Now Maribel was really confused, and she scratched her ghostly head. "I don't really understand your question, my Lady."
"Never mind." Zelda waved the thought away. She still had to get used to the fact that monsters, for the most part, really didn't think anything was wrong for following orders unquestioningly from those in power. According to them, it was just the way it was that someone stronger could do whatever they wished. If she told Maribel to die in a fire (which she would never say since that was a terrible thing to say to anyone) the poe would probably do it without question. It sometimes drove her mad that the monsters, some who she was close with like Maribel, didn't seem to have any kind of self-worth. The only time they ever fought back was if they thought the other party was growing weak or losing influence, and she knew that if the day came when the monsters didn't think highly of her anymore then even Maribel, the poe she liked to consider a friend, wouldn't think twice about attacking her. "Maybe we can build a coliseum where the monsters can compete and fight each other if they wished. It sounds like an awful, bloody kind of entertainment but if it's something the monsters would like…"
The poe perked up, the lantern swinging in the air and casting an eerie glow around the room. "That sounds more exciting than holding hands with slimy Hylians, definitely. Oh, I said that out-"
Zelda laughed. "Haha, it's fine, Maribel. I actually really appreciate your blunt opinions about us. It's a refreshing change from what I've had to deal with from other people, whispering behind my back and such." She smiled when the poe mumbled her thanks. "Thank you, Maribel. You may go now."
Just as the poe vanished into the walls, there was a knock at the door. It was Impa again, and there was a fleeting look of vexation when she noticed the lingering glow from Maribel's lantern when she opened the door. It worried Impa that Zelda was so close to the monsters now.
"Princess, Lady Elise is downstairs. She would like an audience with you," Impa said, not mentioning the fact that she noticed Maribel had been in the room earlier.
Zelda frowned unhappily, not looking forward to her meeting with the priestess. It was days like this where she wanted nothing more than for Vaati to snatch her away to the Palace of Winds, away from all of the politics and the responsibilities. Monsters were the least of her worries. Her own people were giving her more headaches than the supposedly evil monsters.
fleets: Well, there's that. Not much else to say, other than thank you for reading so far! :D