Chapter 47 – Memories and a Book
''So this is it, then?'' Midna said, peering down into the water basin below them. It was like a little pond filled with crystal clear water, a narrow edge around it with a little more space at the back where the red stone formed a high, protective wall.
''Yeah, you'll see, it's wonderful to just swim around and get all the dirt from your body.'' Link answered.
''Okay, if you say so. I just not fancy the idea of submerging my body in this deadly substance.''
''It's not deadly, Midna.'' Link protested as he worked the leather of his belt out of its clasp. ''You just have to know how to swim and everything will be fine.''
Midna now looked ashamed to the ground. ''Ehm, that's the problem. I don't know how to swim. We don't have water in our realm.''
''What?'' Link exclaimed. Midna looked at him, an apologizing look in her eye. ''Don't worry, I'll teach you then.'' he said with a smile before pulling his green tunic over his head and deposing it on the ground. ''Let's just go down to the shore and have a quick wash, and let me relax a little, then we'll practice.''
Midna nodded, getting wide eyes the moment Link stripped off his tan shirt and revealed his bare, muscular chest. The moment his head reappeared, she quickly looked away and instead floated over to the shore down below. Link followed down the stairs, wearing naught but his leggings.
Midna sat down opposite the entrance above and let her feet dangle in the water. Link next to her took a little running start and jumped gracefully into the water, head-first. Emerging quickly after, Midna smiled as he striped his wet hair out of his face and began to rub his arms and body. She did the same with her legs, and watched the swirls and clouds of dust coming off and floating in the water. What remained was her nice, black and white skin with its glowing green lights running through it.
While she was working, Link swam to the edge again and heaved himself out. Dripping wet, he stepped up the stairs, halting at the edge of the outreaching, narrow platform that ended a few feet over the water. He stood there for a while, inhaling the night air in deep breaths, before jumping high and landing feet-first in the water once more. Midna shielded her body with her arms as water rained over her, but she chuckled as she went back to her washing. Link was still a boy somehow who liked to play, be it in water or elsewhere.
Behind her, a night bird chirped once before flapping its wings and startling the young imp. She sighed and worked her way up to her knees and thighs where more dirt crusted over her skin. The water in front of her was still and quiet, only the soft burbling of the spring down below met her long, pointy ears. She smiled a little, noticing just how calm it was around her.
It was calm, indeed. A little too calm, in her opinion. Wasn't there something missing? Or someone?
Midna only now realized that Link had not emerged from the water since his plunge, and her forehead crumpled with a frown. That was odd.
Leaving the rest of her body dirty, she stood up and carefully leaned forward to gaze into the pond. It was quite deep and the light of the moon shining just above reflected on the quiet surface and blocked her view. Now becoming alarmed, she stepped around the edge and searched for a place where the moon was not disturbing. At the middle of the back rim, she crouched down and glanced into the water.
''Ah!'' she screamed, eyes wide in shock. She could see Link's immobile form right at the bottom of the water, eyes closed, with a foot caught between two big stones. She screeched again, thinking of flying to the inn and call for help, but it she would never be there in time. She had to do something herself, and quickly.
Without thinking the threw herself into the glistening wet, taking in a deep breath. The shock of the sudden cold let her gasp and half her air was already expelled from her lungs, but she didn't care. She paddled madly with arms and feet, the weight of her Fused Shadow pulling her down further. It was so unfamiliar in this suffocating, dark substance, and she soon felt the need to breathe. When her mouth opened out of pure reflex and her chest heaved, she choked on water and frantically pressed a hand on her mouth in fright.
It was no use, she could never rescue her companion alone. She had to get out of the water and call for help as soon as possible. The only problem was … she couldn't swim up any more.
The Fused Shadow on her head was bulky and heavy, and whenever she performed big strokes and moved up two inches, she sank down three. Her lungs screamed painfully for air, she felt dizzy and like squished between two rocks, but she could not ascend. Her strength was leaving with every second, her head spinning like mad in loss of air. She found herself looking down, and saw Link's immobile form with his arms floating at the level of his shoulders, his mouth loosing a little air that drifted in bubbles up the walls of the basin. She stretched out a pleading arm for him and moaned once, ere her consciousness started to bade her farewell.
Her closing lids just saw how Link suddenly tore his eyes open, turning his head and staring frightfully at her floating body above him. She frowned a little in confusion before her mind shut down, just seeing Link dash upward in her direction.
He wound one of his strong arms around her small form and propelled his body with powerful strokes up to the surface. Breaking through it, he took in a deep, laboured breath and pushed Midna over the edge, following quickly after and turning her around. She didn't respond to his call, just lay there with eyes closed, senseless. He nearly fell back into the basin from lack of space and his frantic moves, so he pushed Midna a little more towards the wall of red stone, taking her head into his bigger hands and pressing his lips on her mouth.
His thumbs pulled her minuscule teeth apart, giving him enough room to suck the water in her airway out with his mouth. Spitting it out, he breathed once and blew the new air into her lungs. A shaking move from his little companion let him pull away, and Midna's eyes flung open as she began to cough violently. Link turned her around in his hands so that she faced the ground and supported her by the chest like a small child, giving her the opportunity to spit out the rest of liquid that had invaded her body.
Midna coughed awfully, her little voice high from pain and shock. She felt him holding her from behind and wanted to turn around, but a new coughing fit obstructed her. Then the supporting hand on her breast gave way slowly, laying her gently down in the sand. Next moment she heard a muffled thud to her right, where she could just see Link's bigger body collapse to the ground, landing on his back.
For a few minutes they both lay there, panting and coughing. Midna felt her dizziness dissipate slowly and let a feeling of peace overcome her agitated senses. She also turned on her back, her chest still heaving with deep gasps of cool night air. Next to her, Link had closed his eyes and was breathing calmly through his nose. His soaked hair stood out in all directions, but he looked cute to Midna's eyes. She carefully lifted herself from the ground when a sudden rage crept into her mind.
''What were you doing, you moron?! I thought you had drowned!''
Link instantly drew himself up in fright at her brisk scolding. Midna sprang to her feet in fury. ''What on Earth did you think by that? Drive such a fright into me! How can you–'' her voice cut off as her legs gave way under her, and she toppled into Link's outstretched arms with a shout. He held her firmly, trying to calm her down by rubbing over her back soothingly. Midna was panting in effort and completely forgot her scolding.
''Better?'' Link asked after a moment. She nodded slowly and sat down with Link's help.
''I'm sorry. Really, I didn't want you to be so frightened about me, or think that I had drowned. I would never have thought that you'd throw yourself in after me.'' At that, he looked a little amazed, and Midna just had to chuckle. ''Of course I would throw myself after you, you lunatic. I'm responsible for you, I have to protect you.'' She smiled, letting Link look down in shame.
''But what were you doing?'' she then asked. ''You had your foot under a stone, I thought you were trapped.''
''No, that was just so that I'd not float to the surface again.'' Link answered, earning a baffled look from Midna. ''I was relaxing.'' he explained.
''Well, I was enjoying the silence and weightlessness of the water around me. You can't imagine how relaxing that is.''
''But you couldn't breathe!'' Midna exclaimed. ''How can you stay so long underwater without breathing?''
''Well, I just can.'' Midna looked even more confused. Link shifted in the sand and drew one leg up around which he wound his arms. ''You know, we have a little pond back in Ordon and in the summers, when I was younger, I often went there to have some privacy. Eventually that lit in me an urge that drove me into the water, and I began to just submerge myself for a few seconds and try to feel the water around me. Over the years I'm doing that now, I guess that my lungs became quite trained by now and are able to stay longer without oxygen than others.''
Midna nodded slowly, looking to the once again unmoving surface. ''Weird.'' she mumbled. ''My wolf is slowly turning into a Zora.'' she added in her cheeky voice. Link chuckled and made a grab at her, she trying to dodge, but she forgot that her legs were still sore and she fell back to the sand, Link's hand brushing over her side softly.
Turning deep red, Link hastily pulled his hand away again, facing the water to evade her shocked, amused look. ''My apologies, again, for letting you think that I was drowning. I should have told you.'' he quickly said, looking away. Midna smiled at the shame tainting his face red, but answered nonetheless. ''It's okay. I forgive you.''
But she didn't want the conversation to be over. Link already got ready to stand up, so she quickly held him back. ''Wait! You saved me, didn't you?''
Link glanced at her an instant before sitting down again. ''Yeah, well, I guess I did.''
''Thank you.'' she said, sounding truthfully thankful. ''I think I would have drowned without you.''
Link smiled. ''Quite odd, isn't it? First you think that I'm drowning, and then it's you.''
''How did you save me?''
''What did you do to save me? I mean I'd better know, if you happen one day to really drown and I have to save your butt for real.''
Link flushed once again crimson, searching for words. ''Well, please don't slap me if I tell you that I … well, it's quite simple, you only have to … oh Goddesses, this is complicated.'' he muttered, running a hand through his drying hair.
''Just tell me what to do in case of drowning, and I promise I won't say anything embarrassing.'' Midna promised, though inwardly she was burning with curiosity.
Link took a deep breath, then indicated his chest. ''In fact, it's just air a victim needs when drowned, when the heart is still beating. And the water must be removed from the airway by tapping on the back, or by punching the chest, or by … ''
Midna leaned in closer, waiting for him to continue. ''Well, since you are smaller than a full-grown person and I knew I'd likely hurt you by beating you, which I didn't want to do anyway, I … well, I used the gentler way to do it.''
''Which was?'' Midna felt adrenaline pump its way into her nerves, already guessing what Link had actually done, but not daring to hope it. He would never do such a disgusting thing only to save her.
Link sighed once again, giving in. ''I pressed my mouth on yours and sucked the water out, then I helped you breathe. That's the best way to revive a drowned person.''
Midna's chin hit the ground. As Link noticed her bafflement, he quickly turned around and evaded her eyes. ''I'm sorry if I did something like that, but you were in danger, and I couldn't let you lie there without air. I needed to save you.''
Midna still couldn't believe it, but she forced a kind smile upon her face. ''I hope it wasn't too disgusting for you, to be forced to breathe for a silly little imp who was trying to be brave when there was no need.''
''Oh!'' Link exclaimed. ''Well, I wouldn't say disgusting, just … unfamiliar. I would do it in a heartbeat were you in danger again.''
''Ah, okay. Thank you.''
The awkward silence following let them both look down in shame. Link shifted nervously in the sand, Midna trying to find the right words to rescue this already peculiar conversation.
Then, Link moved suddenly. ''Since you have such difficulties with water, I should at least make up for my stupidity and teach you how to swim. You want to give it a try?'' He was extending his hand towards her, smiling crookedly. Midna grinned and accepted his help to stand up. ''Sure, why not? I think I have nothing to worry about with my Zora wolf as teacher.''
They chuckled as Link sat down on the edge, Midna lowering herself next to him. Link then began to explain her the basics of swimming. ''It's actually quite simple, but fear is the most dangerous part in the process of learning how to swim. You are always scared to sink and not find your way back up quickly enough, which leads to panic. The first thing you have to learn is how to move your arms and legs simultaneously and calmly in order to stay afloat.'' He lowered himself into the water and swam a little away from the edge.
''See? All I do now is making slow movements with my arms and legs in the right way, and I stay on the surface. The fact that I can talk to you is proof that it's not very tiring.'' Midna nodded, observing his moves. His arms he moved a bit like wings of a bird flying in the air, his legs made paddling movements which gave him the uplift he needed. Coordinated in relation to his bodyweight and size, he was staying perfectly afloat without much effort. Midna was amazed. ''It's actually quite simple!'' she said. ''I think I got it.''
She was preparing to jump into the water, but Link stopped her by quickly racing to the edge again. ''Wait, Midna!'' he called. ''It's easier said than done. I'd prefer to be right next to you should you go under again. For safety, you see?''
The little imp grinned. ''Oh, okay, if you say so.'' Carefully, and with Link's aid, she lowered herself into the wet, shuddering a little from the cold. ''Don't worry, you'll get used to it.'' said Link as he saw her dither.
As soon as her body was immersed, Midna let go of the edge and tried to move her limbs like Link had done, but upon loosing the halt the Fused Shadow on her head pressed her down in one go, letting her cry out the moment she went under. Link immediately wound his right arm around her once more, lifting her up quickly. She sputtered in his embrace, but as soon as she became aware of where she found herself, she blushed.
''Midna, don't you think this thing is a little troubling?'' Link was asking, indicating the Fused Shadow on her head. ''Maybe you should remove it, just to familiarize yourself with swimming.''
''Eh,'' Midna hesitated. She did not fancy the idea of Link seeing her broad head with its bright, orange hair only tamed by a metallic ring. ''I don't know if this is such a good idea. I'd prefer to keep it on.''
Link shrugged. ''Okay, have it your way, then. But it could hinder you and likely pull you down all the time.'' Midna agreed that he had a good point. She pulled herself up on the edge again, Link following her.
''It's not that I don't want to remove it. It's really quite heavy and squishes my head something awful. But … oh, I don't know.'' She lowered her head in shame, and Link cocked his head. ''What?''
''You're not ugly.'' Link immediately said. ''Shall we find out?''
Without warning he grabbed the big, grey object and gently gave it a tug. Midna protested loudly and pressed her hands against it to keep it in place, but Link was relentless. With a grunt, he pulled it away completely, setting it aside.
When he turned back to her, he was startled. Midna was pressing her tiny hands on her face, her body slumped to a little, fragile looking heap. Without the big Fused Shadow on her head, she looked so much smaller than before. Link heard her whimper in shame as she noticed his look, turning away from him.
''Midna.'' Link whispered, placing a gentle hand under her chin and lifting it slowly. Her hands blocked his view on her face and her left eye he had never seen until now. He softly swiped her limbs out of the way, looking into her entire face for the first time. She looked back at him with sad eyes full with shame, a shame he could not understand.
''See? I told you that I'm ugly!'' she said in frustration, trying to hold back tears as she lowered her head again. Link's thumb then grazed her cheek gently, and she suddenly felt something creep inside her belly.
''You're not ugly.'' Link simply said, smiling. His look searched hers, gazing deeply into her eyes as soon as they met, his blue sparkles full to the brim with kindness. Wordless, she let herself guide back into the water, her head pounding strangely from the sudden weight being absent. She would have to get used to it, but for now, she just tried not to stare at Link's bare chest as he lowered himself first before helping her in.
Her fiery hair was soon soaked wet and pulling her down, and she realized just how dire her situation had been underwater, having been weighed down not just by the dark embodiment of Shadow, but by the wavy mass of her long hair as well.
''And? How is it? Do you feel a difference?'' Link asked, still supporting her by letting her sit on his drawn up thigh, which resulted in a deep blush from the Twili as soon as her buttocks and legs touched his limb. It took a few seconds for her to utter an answer. ''Er, I think so.'' When she felt Link's leg slowly move down and let her support drop, she immediately choked on water.
''Don't worry, I've got you.'' he assured, placing his thigh once more under her behind.
For a while, they practised the basic wing-moves and paddling which Link had performed earlier, the young Hylian always slowly relaxing his supporting limb, letting Midna try to hold herself above water on her own. Strangely enough, she soon got the idea, earning a success quite quickly. She was soon floating alongside Link who grinned from ear to ear. ''Well done!'' he praised. ''You look as if you did that your entire life!''
''I think I got it!'' Midna chimed joyfully, moving a little from the edge and floating over the ominous black pitch underneath her. With Link at her side, she didn't fear moving around carefully and discovering what her body did according to this or that move she performed. ''Look! Look I'm swimming!'' she squeaked, making Link laugh heartily. ''Yes, you did it!''
She was soon swimming around with her body flat, stretched out and floating belly-down in the water. When Link joined her, he swam on his side, paddling with his legs sideways. ''You swim strangely.'' Midna stated, observing his movements and trying to do likewise. ''Er, no, that's how I always swim. I've learned it like that.'' As Midna , due to a unpractised and unfortunate move, sank down again, he scooped her up and placed her on his belly while he swam backwards, looking amused at her while she coughed.
''That's not funny!'' she cried out, giving him a downward push powerful enough to send him underwater. Gulping, he went under, disappearing from her sight quickly and letting her float on the surface alone, searching. ''Link!'' she called.
He had completely vanished, the black of night and the deepness of the pond shielding his submerged body from her view. He grinned, slowly moving around her to position himself behind his little companion. When he was sure she wouldn't turn around, he performed one stroke and slowly drifted up, breaking noiselessly through the surface.
''I'm not joking, Link! Come back, please!'' Midna was saying, gazing down into the water worriedly and not noticing her friend float behind her.
With one quick move, Link grabbed her under the armpits and dragged her backwards with him, she screaming in fright and protest. ''Oh, you bastard! You'll gonna pay for this!'' she laughed, struggling in his hold vainly. He just chuckled as he heaved her out of the water and set her down on the edge, following after her. She surprised him by promptly jumping on top of him, letting down a rain of light punches down on him. ''Hey hey! Stop it! Ouch!'' Link yelled from underneath her, laughing despite her little fists smashing against his bare chest. Midna giggled and squealed as he tickled her under the arms, both of them rolling around for a little while, torturing the other with tickles.
The moon was shining high and bright that night, the crickets singing quietly in the trees and grass surrounding Kakariko Village. They got company by laughter and giggles from the two companions at the spring and seemed to take on the challenge, singing louder and faster at their places under the blades of grass. Soon, the ruckus made by the two friends died down, letting peace come over the sleeping village once more.
Midna was now lying on Link's belly, panting from the effort their little quarrel had cost her. Link laid on his back, his chest heaving with deep breaths and moving her small body up and down gently.
''Link? Could you show me how do that thing you did earlier? That 'feeling the water' thing?''
Link lifted his head which he had rested on his arms, looking at her. ''Yeah, why not? But you'll not be able to stay as long underwater as I can, you know that.''
''Yes, of course. I just want to try it out, since you say it's so relaxing.''
The Hylian smiled as he drew himself up, causing Midna to tumble off of him. ''I think I saw a place where the ground is higher, we can practice there. It's better to place a stone on your foot to keep you down.''
''Why? Will you float up again? I didn't float up like that.'' Midna pouted, crossing her arms over her chest. Link smiled. ''Well, at least I do, since I'm bigger than you and breathing more air. Normally it's the air in your lungs that pulls you up.''
The higher platform was soon found, the water reaching up to Link's neck as he stood. Midna still found it too high for her, but with her companion at her side she would have nothing to worry about. Link quickly dove down to fetch two rocks from the far bottom of the pond while Midna got used to the coldness of the water once more and practised a little more swimming before Link emerged again, panting.
''Okay, all you have to do is take a deep breath, propel yourself down – you can take the wall here as help – put your foot under the stone and close your eyes. Try not to move, and search for the water's touch. Oh, and if the pressure in your lungs becomes a little too great, just release a bit of air through your mouth and it gets better. But don't forget to come up some time, that's what happens to me occasionally.''
''What? You forget to breathe again?'' Midna widened her eyes in disbelief. Link chuckled self-consciously. ''Well, my body always tells me sooner or later to move up again. But generally I'm not feeling quite well after that. Just come up as soon as you feel afraid that you couldn't get up quickly enough, and if you run into trouble you can always touch my arm and I'll help you up.''
Midna smiled happily and nodded. Link would really do that with her, just feel the water around themselves and help her when she was panicking. He was so kind all the time, she wondered if he had ever been mean in his life, just out of fun. She had been, but that side of her faded from day to day in his company, letting her become as kind-hearted and humble as him. Well, not entirely, her cheekiness would remain, of course.
They made themselves ready, Link breathing in deeply a few times, and Midna doing likewise. Then he suddenly jumped up a little and let himself fall down under the surface. Midna inhaled once before following after him, closing her eyes as soon as her head submerged. Her right foot felt the stone under its sole, the other pushing the rock over it. She didn't dare to open her eyes yet, fearing that the touch of the water might hurt. It actually had when she had been underwater desperately trying to surface again, but if she just opened them a crack, that could not be so bad. Besides, she wanted to catch a glimpse of Link and what he looked like underwater. He would have his sandy hair float and curl around his face cutely, maybe even his eyes set on her to do the same. After an inward breath of resolution, she slowly separated her lids.
Her sight was blurred and dim from the darkness of night, but she could discern Link's unmoving form float right in front of her. She could actually see all of his face quite clearly, his stern but relaxed countenance and closed eyes. He had his arms hanging near his chest, and she guessed that they were lighter than the rest of his body and were pushed up because of that. She noticed then that she pressed her own arms tightly against her body and wasn't relaxing like that, so she decided to just let them go loosely. Her entire body seemed to float just like in the air, since she was accustomed to fly, but something was different any way. The water pressed in on her from all sides, moved gently along with her, cradled her in security. She totally re-experienced the feeling of 'hovering' in this unnatural environment, and she just had to agree with Link; it was extremely relaxing.
Were there not the crushing need for air that soon gripped her lungs, she really could have lingered there in that delightful position for a long time. Pushing the stone away from her foot, she quickly swam up and inhaled deeply, feeling a little dizzy despite the fact she had stayed down just for a short while. Link also came up to her once more and shook his head violently to get his long bangs out of his eyes, which resulted in his usual messy strands sticking out everywhere.
''And?'' he asked with a curious smile. ''How was it?''
''Great!'' she exclaimed. ''It's totally different from when I'm flying around in the air. It's really pleasant, you were right.''
Link smiled happily while his finger brushed over the tip of her nose cheekily. ''And you were afraid of water!'' he chuckled quietly, earning a hearty giggle from Midna.
She smiled as those pleasant memories from that night so long ago came up in her mind. How hilarious it was indeed, learning in one evening to love the water despite its dangerous characteristics and a near-drowning experience. It had been the first time in a long while that they had actually taken a break from their unending struggle against Evil. It had been on of the nights before Link got warped away to the city in the sky, still healing from his arrow-wound he had endured in the abandoned village. Thanks to that night and what she had learned from Link, she had been able to save him at Lake Hylia. Without the life-saving acts he had shown her, he would have died.
It made her shiver in horror just to think about it.
The spring always seemed to glow from its lightly inhabitant. And of course, this night too, the water glowed faintly as if it breathed together with the Light Spirit sleeping. Midna enjoyed it, the dim rays shimmering on her dark skin and certainly the cleansing water washing her soiled body.
She had been rubbing herself for nearly ten minutes now, sitting on the edge of the pool where the water only reached to her knees. By the time, her tiny palms ached quite a lot from the constant reaming and were red with blood. But it was Link's that now coloured her hands and not her own.
While she had bathed there at the spring, she had recalled her intimate moments with Link. She was still barely able to believe that they had truly happened, here, at this very place, only minutes ago. Link's words rung in her ears all the time, filling her to the brim with mellifluous happiness. But still it felt hard to believe …
Her hand which continued to rub at her body moved up to her face, stroking her cheek. It made her remember Link's touch the moment he had kissed her – or she him – as he had caressed her cheeks while stroking her lips with his tender ones. How is it possible that Hylian lips are that soft?
And his look, so sad yet so happy, the moment she had pulled back when she had felt his tears. His cerulean eyes were unendingly beautiful in every point of view, but there, wearing this look of pure Love, she could have melted away instantly like a block of ice in the desert. It had made her blood boil as it had moved up her head yet had let a chill run down her back that could have frozen every fire instantly. This was it, Love, the most powerful magic there was, with the might to freeze, to burn, to begin life and to end it, to soften even the toughest heart of stone and to give birth to one capable of destroying their world from simple desire for Power. That was the fate she knew Ganondorf had succumbed to, but it was just another way of Love that could be broken with Link's heart and hers united. She was certain of that. As for Zant … I don't think he will ever be able to become normal again, not after what Ganon has done to him. Besides, he lusted for power already long before it all came to this …
She was just about to work cleansing her legs by pulling one after the other up to her and rubbing it with her hands, when she heard reverberating footsteps in the cavern above. As she looked up, first she thought it was Link coming back to her, but after hearing heavy panting that sounded more feminine, she frowned suspiciously.
Her eyes widened as she discovered that it was Luda who came running along and stopped in the frame of the opening. ''Midna?'' she called in a frightened voice. The imp instantly got to her feet. ''Yes? What's the matter?''
Luda looked down at her, and even through the dark of night, Midna could discern deep worry in the girl's look. ''Please, you have to come quickly! My father needs you! It's Link, he's … there's something wrong with him!''
An icy shiver shot down Midna's back. No … please no! She sprang into a run instantly, racing up the stairs and rushing past Luda still immobile with fear. Whatever had happened, it must have been horrible since the shaman's daughter had seen enough to frighten even the toughest knight.
As she ran and felt the warm wind blow at her face, her mind was a single and desperate question mark. What on Earth had happened now?! Did he trip from exhaustion and broke something? Or did he collapse and banged his head like earlier? This little wound had healed without any serious aftermath. What was wrong now?
The wooden porch of Renado's house creaked and clanked under her frantic footsteps as she shot passed the door and entered the hall lit with candlelight. Nobody was there, but she instantly heard voices from the room above. Someone opened the door, saw her panting in the entrance, and called down to her. ''Oh, it's you! Come quickly, Renado asks for you!'' It was the scholar, Shad.
Midna sprinted up the stairs at full speed and nearly knocked Shad over as she rushed passed him, only stopping, breathless, in the doorframe to Link's room. Everyone within the chamber looked at her at the same time, except for Rusl who sat on a chair next to the bed, looking down anxiously. She saw Link under the sheets, lying on his left side and turning his back to her. He did not move.
''What happened?!'' she immediately burst out while entering. ''Is he – ?'' Renado moved to her, bending down to one knee and placing a hand on her shoulder. ''Fear not, he is asleep and safe, at least for now.'' Midna cast him a confused look. ''What? I don't understand, Luda told me that … something happened.''
Renado looked down for a moment before peering into her crimson eye again. ''Yes, something happened, but we can't explain it. That is why we wanted you to tell us if you noticed anything unusual about Link at the spring.''
This question startled Midna, having not intended to tell anyone about Link's and her Love confessions. But was it this what the shaman wanted to hear, or was it something else, a certain behaviour she might have noticed from the Hylian? ''Could you just tell me what happened, please!'' she pleaded. Link's sudden sleeping figure frightened her, and the fact that the shaman was looking unusually worried.
Renado cast a quick look towards the inanimate Hero before standing up and moving towards the door. ''Rusl, I'll be right back.'' With that, he indicated the rest of the gathering to follow him downstairs where they would have more room and seats to talk. Midna just followed with head hanging low.
''Okay, lets put it straight.'' Renado started as soon as the lot of them were sitting at the table in the centre of the room. ''Link had a fit, and a damn violent one, if you ask me.'' As soon as his words were out, the imp gasped terrified. ''What?! A fit?''
''He was coming back from the spring when suddenly he collapsed.'' continued the healer in a worried voice. ''We heard Luda's scream and came as quickly as we could. He was jolting terribly, even spat out blood. And then, he lost consciousness.''
''It's this curse, Renado,'' interjected Auru as he watched the top of the table thoughtfully. ''Or rather its remains, the scar.''
''What?'' Shad and Ashei asked back, looking totally confused. ''I thought the Light Water defeated it!'' the warrior finished.
Auru's look was dark as he let his chin rest in his palm. ''Yes, I thought so too. But this wound that remains on Link's belly, what about that? The Light Water didn't let it scar over like the others. And it bled when he had that fit, didn't it?''
The shaman nodded but frowned sceptically. ''Yes, but it's not unusual that it does with Link's movements.''
The old man seemed unconvinced. ''Something about that fit Link suffered is familiar to me.'' he said, immediately earning a loud gasp from Renado. ''What? You saw such a curse before? Where?''
But Auru quickly shook his head. ''I read about it once during a training, but it was years ago and I don't even know if that book still exists. There was talk about a curse, a fit and a scar, but I don't remember the entire description.''
Shad spoke out. ''And where have you found this book?''
The older man clenched his eyes to tiny slits while he thought hard. ''I think in the old library in Castle Town. But that was years ago, Shad, I don't know if the ancient section is still intact after all those attacks.''
Instantly, Ashei sprang to her feet. ''Well, what are we dawdling here any longer? We have a curse to break!'' she said, clenching her fists. ''Yes!'' shouted Shad excitingly and shot up too. Before Auru could intercede, Renado had also risen from his seats and was approving with a determined nod. Only Midna had remained on her chair, staring at them and wanting just one thing; go back to Link and lying herself beside him, feel his warm body against hers, hear his soft breaths …
At long last, Auru stood up too, muttering in a low voice which became louder and resolute. ''Yes, damn it, you're right. Let's go and find this book!''
''I'm going with you!'' they heard from upstairs where Rusl stood, leaning over the railing. He had followed the conversation from upstairs since he had left the door open, and his reply let Ashei and Shad shout out loud war cries. Renado had to stop them the moment they began to shriek, hushing them by saying that all this was great but that they would not help Link by screaming him out of his deserved rest.
The cries from Ashei and Shad apparently had woken the children within the adjacent room, for soon, they all stood in the doorframe, Colin at their lead. ''Father, where are you going?'' he asked drowsily as he watched the Group leave through the door to get their horses saddled. Rusl turned back and ran a comforting hand over his son's head. ''Don't worry, Colin, I'm departing with the others for Castle Town. We need to get some answers, that's all.'' The moment he wanted to turn away, though, Colin reached out and grabbed his hand. ''It's about Link, isn't it? Will you find a way to help him?''
Rusl froze there a few seconds before facing his son again, bending down to him. ''I will do everything that is in my might to help him, trust me.'' He did not say more, just looked at Colin for a few moments then straightened again to walk out of the house. The children cast the departing group worried looks, but already Malo breathed out a hearty and contagious yawn which pulled everyone out of their stare. One after the other, they turned around and scuffled back to their warm beds, squeezing under their sheets to fall back into a deep child sleep.
Only Colin stayed in the ground floor, watching the door close behind the resistance Group. The moment he heard the sound of numerous hooves clanking outside, he raced to the window and looked outside. Soon after Renado came back into the house and disappeared in Link's room after allowing him to stay up a little longer.
As soon as the door on the first floor closed, he felt a breath on his shoulder from above, and turning around he saw Ilia standing behind him, hands clapped over her heart, looking with sad eyes at the place where the riders had disappeared.
''Ilia?'' Colin asked softly. The young woman turned her head slowly, not locking eyes with the boy but looking down instead. ''Yes?''
Rusl's son came to her side in front of the window. They both looked out into the dark night, thinking the same thing, hoping the same thing; would this horror stop one day? Would the young man they so loved be able to live a normal live again without having to suffer pain and fits?
The children had been playing with Ilia near the counter in the inn and had heard Luda's scream from outside. As they had arrived in a run to see what was the matter, they had seen the adults near the sanctuary, leaning over Link's convulsing figure. Ilia had shrieked in fright, and Luda had quickly ushered them back inside the hotel once more. Since then, Ilia had cried in sorrow all the time, pleading the goddesses for Link's cure.
While the Group and Renado carried the unconscious Link to his bed in the upper room, the warrior girl from Castle Town, Ashei, had come into their room to send them to bed, assuring them that Link was all right. But Ilia, who also came with them, had not believed her. She had said that she had had all day an odd sensation concerning Link and that it still wasn't away.
''Calm down, okay? Renado will know how to help him.'' Ashei had said in a her usual gruff voice, before she had gone upstairs, closing the door behind her.
Colin now placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. ''Don't you think that you're worrying a bit too much about Link?'' Ilia looked at him, her eyes wearing a slightly affronted look. ''Didn't you see him, Colin?!'' She breathed out heavily. ''There's something seriously wrong with him, he never behaved like that before. But no one wants to tell us, and I can't live like that, Colin! I can't live when I know that Link is in danger …''
The boy saw Ilia holding back her tears, but her eyes were filled to the brim and threatened to break out instantly. ''Ilia, really, you should relax. Mr. Renado and Luda will help him, I'm sure of it. And Midna, she is there too, she can –''
Suddenly, Ilia smacked his hand off her shoulder, bursting out a loud ''NO!'' and taking a few steps back from the window. Colin looked shocked at his hand.
''Don't speak of her! She's a shadow being! It's because of her that Link is in such a bad state! She's a monster!'' Ilia screamed out, and the door to the kids' room opened again with Beth and Talo standing in the frame, confusion in their tired eyes.
Colin clenched the fist which Ilia had struck, staring fearlessly at his furious friend. He couldn't believe what she had just said about the young imp, being a … monster! He thought very highly of Midna, and he could not understand the hatred Ilia bore towards her. ''She's my friend, Ilia, and I trust her. I don't want you to speak of her like that.'' he said calmly yet sharply.
''But I'm Link's friend, and I cannot understand why the others don't tell me what has happened to him.'' Ilia answered, now more desperate rather than angry. ''This Midna knows it, right? And Luda, and Mr. Renado. They all know it, but I don't, and I can't stand this any more! I'm so worried, Colin … ''
Rusl's son took the steps separating them to stand in front of her. ''I told you before, you worry too much. Link is strong, he can do anything. I know that because he saved me, and I know it because I'm his friend.''
But Ilia frowned and shot back. ''If you're really Link's friend, you should start to act like one and worry about him instead of letting him suffer this pain for days without doing anything!''
The two behind them gasped quietly, and Colin clenched his fists tightly while staring at her with a deadly look. For a brief moment he let silence reign around them, before murmuring in a threatening, nearly disappointed voice. ''I do worry about him. But now I'm worried about you, Ilia … how can you say I'm not acting like his friend? What is wrong with you?''
With that, he walked passed her and opened the big inn door, leaving a stunned Ilia behind. She was temporarily quiet while digesting the actual meaning of her sentence and what effect it had had on Colin. Gasping as she realized she had deeply hurt him, she quickly turned around. ''Colin! I'm sorry, I didn't mean it!''
But the smith's son shot her an angry look from the porch, ''Just leave me alone, Ilia!'' before disappearing in the dark of night.
Midna and Renado watched the Group disappear behind the first turn that led out of the mountain village. The wind blew now a bit stronger through Kakariko and let Midna's orange shining hair flutter softly in the gusts. Renado stood beside her, not leaving the dust swirling path with his dark, vigilant eyes. When his look moved up to the sky, Midna shifted her sight too. The night was cloudless so the silver shining half moon could be admired in its entire glory. She looked at it as if it was for the first time, taking a moment to be enchanted by its pure light, its endless beauty. At home in the Twilight Realm, there was no moon, as there was no sun. She had to admit that the light dwellers lived in a place of real fascination, filled with countless wonders of nature that made it what it truly was; a land of peace.
She still felt guilty that a twilight being from her realm had broken that tranquillity.
''You seem very thoughtful.'' she heard the calm voice of the shaman ring out beside her. She glanced at him, trying to hide the slight look of guilt and sadness that had overcome her within her musing. ''Really?''
Renado smiled kindly. ''I did not mean to incommode you. But I wanted to tell you that I will go upstairs again to stay the night at Link's side.''
Midna felt a twinge inside her that scolded her. Damn! How could you forget him? ''Wait, I'll go.'' she cut him off. ''I'll watch over him, you don't need to do that. I'm sure you're tired after all this.''
But Renado shook his head. ''No. Please forgive me to ask this of you, but I wish to speak to Link as soon as he wakes up. Alone. I have to make sure he's not fallen into some state of madness again after this fit. A seizure can be quite traumatising, and you never know what it can provoke.''
Midna lifted her brows in worry but didn't complain further. The shaman seemed to notice her understanding, for he nodded briefly before turning around to walk back into his house, letting Midna alone on the wooden porch. She did not attempt to follow him, she preferred staying there and watching the moon glide along in the dark sky coated with stars. The peace reigning at that moment was too sweet to be broken. Link, for now, was safe in his sleep, the Group was gone searching a way to defeat the new threat gripping is body, and she? She was here, left to herself but with the thought that she wasn't alone. It seemed odd to think like that, but the severe wounds Link had endured had at least served to one good thing; Midna had shown herself to the others, had revealed her presence to humans, something she would never have done before. And she really had to admit that the light dwellers were not as naive and weak than she had thought. They were, in fact, extremely kind and permissive since they had accepted her the way she was. And selfless, all were so selfless, except for a few that were more … special, to enunciate it generously.
At that, she glanced with a cheeky expression on her face towards the end of Kakariko, where the two-storied house of Barnes the bomb-maker resided. She could remember all too well the countenance on Link's face as they had met the small, round-in-the-middle man for the first time in Link's Hylian form. She recalled having gazed up at him from her hiding place in his shadow and seen the smirk he desperately had tried to suppress at the sight of Barnes coming much too carefully out of the safe sanctuary.
Suddenly, a memory came to her. Barnes' bucket she had borrowed from him and which she never had brought back still laid at the spring where she had washed Epona the first day they had arrived.
Perhaps I should bring it back to him, she thought as she watched the wooden pail being stirred lightly from the water's low waves.
However, as soon as she decided to pick it up and started to walk down the stairs, the door behind her creaked loudly as it opened. Turning around, she saw Colin storm out of the inn, calling back to a very disturbed looking Ilia. ''Just leave me alone, Ilia!''
The moment he banged the door shut once more, she approached the upset looking young boy with a kind smile. ''Hello Colin.''
The boy jumped as he heard her high pitched voice, but smiled back the moment he made her out in the dark. ''Hi Midna. What are you doing here?'' he asked kindly, his mood frighteningly normal once more.
''Oh, Renado and I just said goodbye to the Group when it departed, and I stayed a bit outside to enjoy the silence.''
The boy grinned as he looked over the imp's freshly washed figure. ''You took the opportunity to have a bath as well?''
Midna laughed. ''Yes, I'm feeling much better now without Link's blood covering me.''
Colin suddenly hung his head, and Midna's joviality collapsed instantly. Perhaps she shouldn't have said that. She saw that Rusl's son was still quite struck from the moment he had stormed out of the hotel, a sadness she hadn't noticed on his young face before. She only now wondered why he went outside at this time of night. When she asked him, he answered in a voice that tried to erase its grief from being heard within it. ''I had a dispute with Ilia and I just needed to be alone for a moment. But if you aren't too busy, would you like to come with me? I'm going to the graveyard.''
Since Midna only had to bring a bucket back to a cowardly bomb-maker, she agreed immediately with the decision that Barnes would surely be able to wait a few days longer getting his pail back.
So they walked side-by-side across the village until they came to the archway leading to the Kakarikan cemetery. She found this area always a bit eerie at night, but she reckoned most graveyards in the Light Realm were. There was this thought about dead bodies being buried in the soil, and their restless ghosts wandering around with no apparent place to go, that freaked her out a bit. But compared to the Arbiter's Grounds in the desert she and Link had gone to, this holy place was as peaceful as the night enshrouding her and young Colin walking beside her.
''Do you come here often?'' she demanded just to begin a conversation.
''Hm,'' replied the boy, nodding. ''Not always by night since Mr. Renado forbids us to go outside when it is dark. But these days, when my dad was here, I used to go with him here to talk a bit.''
They passed the first old, disfigured headstones with illegible markings on them, and as they entered the cemetery, their resounding footsteps on the dry leaves let some crows in the distance cry out in protest as they flew away.
Colin indicated a fallen tombstone where they sat down. It was very dark around them, and the wind was howling in the distant mountains and treetops over them to send shivers down their spines. Somewhere from inside a hollow tree, an owl was hooting sadly.
''You said Ilia and you had a dispute?'' Midna continued. She wanted to know what had happened in the first place, but a more sinister half of her mind burned to have a reason in hating the fifth ordonian even more.
Colin let his head sink down and sighed. ''Yeah, well, she was worried mad about Link and what happened today with him. I said that she shouldn't worry so much. Link is strong, I said, he can do anything, and Mr Renado and you would look after him. And then she just shouted at me. She said I didn't act as a friend to Link, which hurt me quite badly, I guess.''
Midna looked at her toes and thought of an answer that would not insult the Ordonian girl too much. ''Well, she has quite the temperament, doesn't she?''
''Yeah.'' Colin chuckled, but he still seemed not very content. He was quiet for a moment, looking down, not meeting her gaze. He seemed to muse over something that he didn't want to tell her. Midna just waited for him to carry on, hoping silently that he would reveal a little detail about Ilia and her rage against herself.
Finally, when Colin glanced at her, he locked eyes with the imp. ''Midna, I think Ilia doesn't like you very much.''
Immediately, Midna slapped herself mentally. Stop it, Midna! Link likes her, she is his childhood friend. You will anger him if you start to make her your enemy. And I'm sure he would rather choose her than his sneering, ugly imp companion which just crashed into his life like that.
''Really?'' she asked but could not prevent the ironic tone in her voice from being heard. Colin seemed to notice it, for he looked at her with a little mistrusting side glance. Midna immediately felt overtaken by his strange intimidating influence and was forced to look down at her toes. It was amazing just how strong this young boy's character was against her own, cheeky one. She and Link were not the only ones that had changed during the invasion of the Twilight.
''I mean, yes, I noticed that she doesn't like me, and to be honest, neither do I. I think it is my fault that she hates me like that, because I never really … accepted her.''
The fair haired boy then looked surprised. ''Accepted? What do you mean?''
Midna did not really want to reveal her jealousy of Ilia and Link's care for her to a boy she had met only a few days ago, and who was friend to both of them. And, seriously, he was, after all, only ten, so who would think a boy of such a young age would understand her point of view and, most of all, her infringed feelings. That being said, she could not help but admitting that Colin was very mature for his age. He was understanding and intelligent, like his father who had been, after all, surrogate father to Link. Then why not talking to him in the same manner than to her Hero?
''Well, I think accept is not the right word to express it. I think that I am, well, a bit jealous of her.''
When she said that, Colin gasped and cocked his head. ''Jealous? You? About what?'' His voice sounded very kind yet was filled with sweet sarcasm. He was just like Link …
''Yeah, jealous because … because Link cares about her, that is why!'' Midna nearly shouted out and instantly stared downward stubbornly. She didn't want Colin to see that, in her silent rage against Ilia, water had already filled her big, red and golden orbs. Having confessed for the first time her real feelings to a human, she at least wanted to keep the little bit of her pride remaining by not bursting out into tears in front of him.
Colin first didn't answer, looking down as he seemed to think about what she had just said. When he raised his head again, he looked directly at her. ''Midna, I think you're in Love with Link.''
His reply came so suddenly that Midna felt an icy shower run down her back. Her spine immediately straightened so that she sat rather stiffly on the fallen tombstone, still staring motionlessly in front of her.
''I saw it in the way you look at him all the time. And you know what? He looks at you in the same manner. Did he never say anything about Love to you?'' Colin proceeded.
Midna was so numb with feelings that she didn't really hear what she was saying. ''He said that he loved me … at the spring …''
Colin burst out in laughter, however it was not sneering, but happy, true laughter. ''Did he really? Then why still be jealous of Ilia? I'm absolutely sure that he doesn't love her, they were very good friends from the beginning, but nothing more!''
That last sentence from the fair-haired boy engineered something inside the young imp. How could she ever have forgotten that? Only barely an hour ago, Link had confessed that he loved her, so she really didn't need to feel envious any more. In fact, she didn't even need to hate Ilia since she, just like Ilia, owned Link's care, only in another way. For Link, Midna was a lover, a companion, a friend whom he trusted with his life. Ilia was a childhood friend, someone to whom speaking when in need of a listening ear, someone to meet in an afternoon to pass amicable moments. Both these Loves were very strong, but, in the core, sorely different. And since Link cared for them both with the same Love, but not in the same manner, there was no reason for Midna and Ilia to be rivals.
''You're right … of course! You're right!'' she laughed and had to stop herself in the last moment before her long, thin arms could wind themselves around the Ordonian next to her. But barely a second after her catching, she felt Colin's arms hug her closely. She couldn't understand why he did that, but perhaps it was a thing that a lot of children in the Light Realm did when satisfied with the other's agreement. He was, after all, only ten …
''Thank you, Colin.'' she said with a broad smile when the boy released her again. ''Thank you for having listened to me. No one except Link really did that before.'' Colin smiled jovially while saying. ''No one except Link and my parents really listened to me either. I think we owe Link a great deal of things, and help now since he is that bad.'' His happy countenance transformed into a worried look. ''Midna, can you help him?''
Midna's eyes sparkled with silent determination. ''I don't know yet, but I promise you that I'll do everything that's in my might.'' She stood up as the fire boiling inside her reached her melting point. ''I have to go. See you tomorrow!'' She turned around and attempted to walk back to the village, when Colin called back to her. ''Midna, wait!''
When she looked at him, however, he didn't come to her but stayed settled on the lying headstone. ''I will tell no one, I promise!''
At first she could not understand why he said that, but then it dawned her. He promised that he wouldn't reveal Link's and her Love confessions, the whole fact that they were lovers. He surely knew what the reaction from the others, especially from Ilia, would be if they learned that a light dweller and a shadow being loved each other. She trusted Colin a hundred percent that he would keep his promise.
''Thank you, Colin! You really are a good friend!'' she called before she turned around again.
Quick author's note: I think you know by now that I don't like Ilia very much :)