A/N: So I know I said on my profile that I wouldn't be starting this until I've at least finished Villainous, but it's been lurking in my mind for days and I just had to get it out so that I can focus on finals. (I'm a failure at studying btw). So here's a preview for you to enjoy!
This will be a multi chapter fic. Setting is Ocarina of Time, after Link is sent back to relive his childhood. In this he passes a year in the castle before he goes off to find Navi and thus commences the events of Majora's Mask. I believe that in canon Link was sent back in time on his own while Zelda stayed in the destroyed Hyrule, but in this story Zelda was also sent back in time and she and Link meet once more as children, memories intact. The rest of the sages will also remember the events of OoT.
Whew, I think that's everything. Tell me if I missed something else that needs explaining.
Disclaimer: I do not own LoZ.
They stood on the edge of Castle Town, bordering the expanse of Hyrule field. The sun was setting and the air was becoming colder. A few minutes more and the drawbridge would be raised, but Zelda was reluctant to go back. She had no desire to return to the castle just yet.
"Do you really have to go?"
Before her, Link, pack in hand, a light cloak drawn over his shoulders, stood solemnly next to a young Epona, looking out into the distance.
"It's been a year, Zelda," he responded silently. "Navi still hasn't returned. I need to find her, to make sure she's okay."
Zelda nodded in understanding but could not prevent the tears from budding in her eyes. It felt so soon after they had defeated Ganondorf then gone back in time to warn her father against the threat he posed and have him imprisoned then executed, their world peaceful once more. Life had returned to normal, Zelda still took her lessons and Link had come to live in the castle with her, taking on the role of a page.
Life had been so happy for them. They could play and laugh freely without the persistent cloud of despair hanging over their heads. For a short while they had been children. But then Link had begun acting restless, and could often be seen on the rooftops staring out at Hyrule, and many times his tutors had caught him daydreaming during his page classes.
At first she had thought it was the early onset of puberty and involved all the arbitrary complexities that came from the hormone disruptions, but she'd been wrong.
When she had confronted him a few days ago he had explained it thusly:
"I've become accustomed to castle life. I feel that I'm starting to forget my origins, who I am. I was once a Kokiri, Zelda. Maybe not in reality, but that is what I believed myself to be. And a Kokiri needs his fairy, otherwise he has only half his existence."
That is when he'd begun to plan and set his few affairs in order. He had thanked the king for his gracious hospitality, gone to see the Gorons, Zoras and Gerudos, bidding them each farewell. Lastly he had come to her, asking her to see him off.
"Your face is the last I wish to see when I leave. Whenever I think of Hyrule, I want yours to be the vision that comes to mind."
Idiot, Link. If he stayed he could see her every day. If he stayed he could live with her and become a knight! However, she wisely kept these thoughts to herself, recognizing them as selfish. Link loved Navi. It would be cruel of her to prevent him from searching for her.
"Link, I'll miss you," her voice nearly broke as she did her hardest to repress her tears. She would not cry in front of him. If hers was the face he wished to see when he though of Hyrule she would make sure it was not a sad one. She'd smile for him, even though it hurt, because she knew it would be even more painful if whenever he thought of her it would be with an expression of misery.
As he took Epona's reigns in hand he looked back at her and smiled that boyish smile that he was well known for. Heart panging, she waveringly smiled back.
"I'll miss you too," he said softly. "And I promise you, Zelda, I will return. Wait for me?"
It was the last straw. She ran to him and leapt into his arms. He yelped in surprise then returned the embrace. They both clung to each other one final time.
Hesitantly she pulled back and smiled at him through the tears that were now running along her cheeks. "I will. I promise, I'll wait for you."
His resulting smile was infectious and it made her laugh. She believed in him. He would return, until then she had only to be patient. He'd find Navi and come back to her, because somewhere in that time disguised as Sheik, running around Hyrule, helping him and guiding him along on his quest, she had fallen in love with him.
But then he stepped away and took all happiness with him.
"This is goodbye then."
She nodded, bottom lip gripped between her teeth. "Goodbye, Link. And thank you for everything…"
And with one last smile in her direction he was off. Lithely he mounted Epona, the filly nickering softly at his weight on her back, then kicked her into a trot.
She watched him as he traveled down the road. All the while she kept her smile, hiding away her true feelings, just as a princess was taught to do. She masked her emotions, pretending that the hurt didn't exist, that it was not abandonment she felt as she watched his back for the final time shrinking into the distance.
A presence appeared behind her and she didn't have to turn to know who it was.
Calmly, Impa took her hand. "Come, Princess. The drawbridge is about to rise. It is time we return to the castle."
Nodding, at last she turned away and as she and her guardian made their way steadily back to her home she couldn't help but wonder when she would ever see him again.
Three months after Link's departure …
She sat on the windowsill in her room, legs pulled up against her chest, arms wrapped securely around them as she hugged them to her. Another day of waiting faithfully. Another day that he hadn't come.
She tried to tell herself not to be disappointed by his continued absence, it was still early in his journey and Navi was a teeny tiny little fairy in a big wide world. She could only imagine how difficult it would be to find her.
Idly she wondered where Link was now. She supposed he'd be out scouring the forests since Navi was a forest fairy, it would only be natural that she return to an environment that was familiar to her. But there were an awful lot of places to hide in the forest, and the density would not help with matters. Link would be hard pressed to look for her, assuming that Navi wasn't purposefully keeping away from Link. Goddesses, she hoped not. Link had made many friends during his search for the spiritual stones but if he lost a single one of them he'd be devastated. She didn't want to think about what would happen if he didn't find Navi.
He didn't realize though that in leaving he was hurting more than just one friend. Everyone missed him. Ruto in particular was rather petulant about it, coming to the castle at least once a week, surrounded by her exasperated guards, and demanding to know if he had returned or not.
She sighed, pressing her hand upon the pane and watching her breath fog over it.
Every morning and every evening before bed she waited with high hopes for a sign of his telltale form running across the fields and then fighting his way through the market place in order to get to the castle.
She dragged her hand down the pane then tucked it with the other beneath her legs.
Another day of waiting. Another day he didn't come.
A year and two months after Link's departure …
It never ceased to amaze her tutors how suddenly diligent she had become in her studies. This they credited to the absence of Link, her usual partner in mischief, who they had always disliked since he was constantly stealing her from the classroom to run around the castle and inevitably getting her into trouble.
They were wrong. It had nothing to do with Link. Yes, he'd been quite the distraction when she'd been focusing on her academic assignments, but she was also not ungrateful. It was her own dedication that motivated her to do well. Under Ganondorf's reign she had not had the opportunity to receive a proper education befitting a princess. She wouldn't waste such a privilege now.
Although her tutors were delighted by this change of character, it worried her father, who fretted over the increased amount of time she spent in solitude, thinking her to be falling into a depression. It was this that had led him to force her to suffer the presence of other children her age, despite abundant protests on her part.
She disliked these playmates. They were of the snobbish sort, young self-entitled noble whelps who wouldn't deign to do all the adventuring she enjoyed. She recognized that it wasn't entirely their fault. They'd been reared from birth to look down on childish behaviors, trained to become the perfect mini adults. Because of this, unfortunately, indulging in time to herself was becoming less and less of an occurrence.
The only times she really was alone was when she was cooped up in the library studying or in her room as she went to bed.
There was the padding of soft footsteps approaching from behind her chair. Impa hovered closely at her back. Zelda laid down her quill and massaged her sore wrist.
Her father had never worried when she'd been around Link. He told her once that he enjoyed watching them be so bright and playful.
She sighed and rested her chin in her palm. It had been so long since she'd seen him last. She no longer thought of him everyday, nor did she bother to wait for him by her window. It was all disparaging.
But she hadn't given up on him. Some day soon he'd come riding in on Epona and she'd be ever surprised to see him. Some day…
"When do you think he'll return?"
A comforting hand was placed on her head and set to smoothing over her tresses. "That I cannot say."
She smiled dolefully. Straightforward and truthful, that was what she liked most about her guardian. She believed that it was best she not be ignorant to the facts lest misconceptions be made, even when those facts revealed the more horrible aspects of life or the most saddening...
Nodding at the answer, but not at all satisfied, she picked up her quill and continued writing her equations.
Five years after Link's departure …
A week after her sixteenth birthday the king passed away from illness.
Donned in black, Zelda stood near his coffin as the priest anointed his body and prayed spiritual chants for his soul, wishing it a safe rest in the embrace of the Goddesses.
Incense filled the air as well as the scent of wax from burning candles. The temple was filled with black clad Hyruleans, some wailing, some sniffling softly, some muttering prayers beneath their breaths.
Zelda stared at her father's cold face, features relaxed as if merely in sleep. His dark hair was littered with gray streaks, crows feet had only begun to gather at the corner of his eyes, he was clothed in a white burial gown with a blue tabard emblazoned with the Triforce and royal insignia. He had been far too young to die… but then the same could be said for many people.
The priest stopped his chanting and men came to close the cover over the casket and grab the poles on either side to bear it to the King's Hall, the resting place of all of Hyrule's past rulers, where one day she too shall be laid to rest.
What a dreary thought.
Zelda joined the procession behind the casket, head bowed, face concealed behind a veil. People reached out to her as she walked down the aisle, offering her their condolences, murmuring prayers in her name. She ignored them as the cortege left the Temple of Time and continued down the road, passing the equally distraught commoners.
She carried herself with a nonchalant reserve, staring straight ahead. She was the picture of calm solemnity. She was not permitted to cry, not permitted to show any form of sadness. Her people would look to her now. If she so much as showed a moment of weakness…
They made their way through the market and down the cobbled street that would lead them to Hyrule field. Her horse waited for her in a stable near the gates. A knight assisted her to mount it sidesaddle as others around her swung up on their horses.
The casket would continue to be born by its bearers on foot, at each hour a new set of bearers would take their turn while the other rode on horseback.
She stared at the casket, imagining her father's still body within.
Link should have been here for this. He had been like a son to her father. The king had even given them overt hints that he'd like to see Link legally part of the family one day, to which they usually blushed in mortification but also with anticipation. And Link had loved the king. Having no parents of his own, the only person akin to such having been the forest sage Saria, he had eagerly basked in the king's fatherly nature toward him. He'd given praise, helped instruct him on fighting techniques, and enjoyed meals with him just as any father would.
Zelda flicked her eyes down to the priest, standing before her with a book in hand. He and the others of the Holy Order would make the short pilgrimage on foot, chanting prayers around the coffin.
"We are ready, your highness," said the priest kindly. "We wait only for you to give us leave to begin."
After a short moment of quiet thinking, she flicked the reigns and prompted her horse forward. She took the lead in the procession next to Impa who would be riding beside her. The others followed, horses treading slowly to remain with the casket.
As they clopped over the drawbridge, Zelda couldn't help sweeping her eyes over the fields, becoming downhearted when she didn't see anyone.
The ceremony would continue in Kakariko village where the Gorons and Zoras would join in the mourning. Then she would be required to spend a full night of silent vigil next to her father's body in the tomb by herself.
When they returned to the castle she would write Link a letter, informing him of the king's demise and pleading him to return home. She only hopped that wherever he was, the postman would be able to find him.
She needed him with her. She needed the comfort of his arms; his reassuring voice as he told her everything would be okay, that she'd be fine, that they'd make it through this.
Oh Link, where are you?
Seven years, four months after Link's departure …
Of all her father's duties she had to now attend to not a one proved to be more aggravating than this.
Seated in her father's throne – her throne – guards on either side lower down on the dais, the nobility hovering near the back of the hall, she listened as one by one those wishing to receive an audience with her brought forth their complaints.
As a law she had ordered that she hold no more than twenty audiences a day, maximum. Usually it never came to that amount, only ever having to deal with ten or so people on average, and these audiences normally went by quickly. But today her patience was limited. She had two meetings to attend to right after luncheon, and she had the orphanage to visit for her charity. In addition to this the most recent man who had come for an audience had wasted nearly an hour trying to explain to her about the economic state of Hyrule and the important part he played in maintaining it.
It was enough to have her openly kneading her brows. Yes she was well aware of Hyrule's economy and the blessedly stable condition it was in, and no he was not as important as he thought himself, she could always find another to transport goods in and out of the country, he was only one of many. It had taken him forever to reach his point and by the time she realized he had simply come to complain about his competition she had almost had him thrown out of the hall.
Impa offered her a glass of wine and she took it gratefully. She sipped lightly, feeling the tension in her muscles and the weight of the circlet on her brow. It felt far heavier than it should.
"How many more are there?" she asked, taking another sip in preparation for her answer.
"Just one," Impa replied. "But you might not like who it is."
Zelda swirled her glass and looked up at the announcer. "Bring in the next!"
The announcer bowed deeply. "Yes, your highness."
He disappeared to the waiting area and when next he returned it was in the wake of a tall middle-aged man, dressed in fineries with a cape slung over his shoulders.
"Lord Hector Demaras, Duke of Kakariko," the announcer called.
Zelda mentally groaned. She knew the Duke to be a tenacious man, persistent and unrelenting when it came to something he wanted. His only good value that buffered this was that he was devotedly pious, resulting in him having a sense of justice and honor that went virtually unrivalled.
He strutted up to the podium and bowed then looked her in the eye. Zelda felt her eyebrow twitch in its want to be raised. Instead she straightened, resting her arms on the armrests, she stared down her nose at him.
"And what brings you here today, your grace?" she asked smoothly. She was both curious and apprehensive. If there was something so important that he found the need to personally seek an audience with her rather than approach her in court then it had to be something he considered of greatest importance.
She tried to hold in her ire. What was important to others could not always be said to be the same for her.
"Your royal highness, esteemed lady."
He was over flattering her. This couldn't be good.
"I have come with a proposition for you," he went on, voice booming in the chamber. "I would propose a union between the house Demaras and the great house of Harkinian."
Zelda's eyes snapped wide and her heart missed a beat.
"My son has already agreed, we only require your acceptance," he said firmly, confidently, as if he truly believed that she'd say yes. "He is close in age to you, capable and knowledgeable in Hyrulean laws and politics. It has not escaped your court that you are the sole heir to the throne and will be requiring descendants to pass on the title. I offer you my son in this."
This was what he had to have a public audience for? He was offering his son to her as if he were goods to trade? Ah, she understood now. He thought to pressure her to accepting. By making the proposal public she'd either be looked down upon or not depending on how she dealt with it. But there was one thing in particular that irked her.
"Could your son not have come himself to propose?" And this time she didn't restrain herself from raising an eyebrow at him.
He answered succinctly. "He is otherwise occupied and does not wish to miss his chance by waiting."
"And did you mention to her highness that your son is as frail and sickly as a newborn?" called one of the men from the back.
Now this was curious. She hadn't seen Emil Demaras for some years now, not since they'd been children. He had always been pale, but her young mind had never realized it was because of fragility.
Lord Demaras, however, didn't react more than a scowl. He was not dissuaded by the remark. "Be that as it may, he has grown much stronger. He would still make a good king for you."
Zelda took a sip from her wine and suppressed a smile. "So you say. However, I cannot have a man susceptible to weakness as Hyrule's king. I am honored by the proposal, Lord Demaras, but the answer is no. You are dismissed."
Face hardening in acceptance, Lord Demaras bowed in stiff form then left.
Relieved that there were no more audiences for the day, Zelda allowed herself a moment to relax before she went to prepare for luncheon and the meetings afterwards.
She had just taken another sip of her wine when one of the women from the back raised her voice. "Your highness, now that the subject has been breeched, perhaps-"
Abruptly, Zelda stood, cutting the woman off. She handed Impa her empty glass and removed the king's mantle, passing it to a pair of servants, who gathered the heavy cloth to store away until tomorrow.
"Any future audiences that consist of marriage proposals shall be rejected immediately," she stated loudly for the whole room to hear, the announcer quickly taking notes on a small pad. "These audiences are to hear the concerns and complaints of the people. My lack of husband is a concern that I am well aware of. Do not waste my time seeking to remind me of it."
With that she strode from the room through a private door at the back. She closed it and leaned on the heavy wood, brows scrunched as she felt a headache coming on.
"You can't wait for him forever."
She looked up at her guardian, looming tall above her, face stern and expression set with a stone-like quality to it.
Impa looked her over and sighed. "I hadn't wanted to say this to you, but what if he never comes?"
Zelda felt something cold grip her heart at that thought. "He will come," she said with conviction. "He promised me."
"You're going to have to marry someday to continue the Harkinian line," said Impa boldly. "Or would you rather be forced to abdicate and watch as another house claims the throne?"
"No!" she shot furiously.
The very idea of it sent spikes through her heart. Hyrule was hers. Her family had cared for it and watched over it for all these years. She had gone through untold horrors to see it safe. She would not just hand it over as if it meant nothing to her.
Impa's red eyes bore down on her. "Again, what if he never returns?"
"Then I will accept suitors," Zelda hissed, feeling her heart wrench deep within her. "I will marry. But not yet…"
For now she'd wait a little longer.
Nine years, two weeks after Link's departure…
Zelda found herself stifled both by the heat and the crowd of people around her. It was the Hyrulean annual ball. It was to celebrate the new year, which began at the start of spring. It honored growth, life, and renewal.
All manner of men had come from across Hyrule and from a few neighboring countries to attend. The instant it was made public that she was accepting suitors her already complicated life had become that much more chaotic. The only reprieve she had was the fact that her councilors had excused her from much of her work, as eager as anyone to see her wed.
Zelda felt trapped, surrounded by so many young men, carrying multiple conversations at once and doing her utmost to keep track of them all. She must have danced over a hundred dances, each time staring up at a different face. When it came time for the waltz the men had practically erupted into a cockfight. She had been whisked away under their noses by a gallant, albeit sneaky, count from Holodrum.
It was easy to pretend to be flattered by all the male attention. All one had to do was bat the eyes, giggle, act nervous and swoon on occasion.
Come to think of it, it was nearly time to be overwhelmed by the heat and fake yet another swoon.
As she made to flutter her lashes and fall to the side, she suddenly paused, eyes going wide. There… across the ballroom… that golden head, could it be…?
"Excuse me, I'm feeling unwell all of a sudden," she said hastily and tore away from the group of men.
Her arm was caught by one of them, his brows furrowed in concern. "Do you need assistance, your highness?"
She pried her arm away from him, trying to keep track of the blonde head among the other courtiers. "No, I simply need to take a respite."
Hurrying as fast as she could without looking undignified, she weaved through the crowd, making the same excuse to everyone who tried to approach her. When she reached the area that the blonde head had stood she was panting. Her heart sunk as she looked around, trying to locate him. He was gone.
The first few notes of the minuet started up and people were already finding partners and making their way onto the dance floor.
Zelda stood bleakly, hands wrangling the fabric of her dress.
She set her jaw and turned, about to give the man the same excuse as the rest when she noticed his golden blonde hair and startling blue eyes. Her eyes roved over his face, heart fracturing when she realized it wasn't him. The man shared the same coloring as Link, but everything else was far different.
He smiled and offered her his hand. "May I have this dance?"
Zelda returned his smile, hoping he could not see how strained it was, as she placed her gloved hand in his. "Yes."
With that she was once more swept across the floor, carried in the arms of a man she didn't know.
She should have known better. There were plenty of blondes in Hyrule. Finding Link at the ball would be just as likely as finding him having tea at the bottom of the Kakariko well. He was not a noble, nor had he been invited, although, it would not have been beyond him to sneak in anyways.
Throughout the rest of the night she kept glancing towards the doors, but no matter how many times she looked, no matter how many times they opened, it was never him.
Nine years and three month after Link's departure…
My dearest Link,
I am writing to tell you…
Zelda frowned and scratched the sentence out then started again.
I have news of which you may wish to hear…
Biting her bottom lip in frustration, she tore the paper, throwing it in the bin next to her desk, then began anew.
My dearest Link,
His name is Alistaire. He is kind, yet firm, wise in the way of politics and well-liked among the people. He fights well with a sword and does even better with a bow. When he speaks to me it is in a voice that is soft and gentle. I honestly can find no fault with him, and by the Goddesses I've tried. He possesses prime qualities difficult to find in any man. Such is a rarity, an opportunity I cannot afford to pass up. He would make the perfect king.
I write to apologize to you for breaking my promise. I've waited so long for you, but I can't anymore. Both Impa and my council have been pressing me to marry for years now. I've been fortunate in the first little while that I was able to find passable fallibilities with all the suitors who have proposed to me, however there is no excuse to refuse Alistaire.
Link, I know we never formally agreed upon it, but I think we both always knew that we were meant for each other. In here 'meant' is an arbitrary term. We always assumed that we'd marry. It is all relative now. Fate is not set in stone, the hero was never destined to be with his princess.
I hope that wherever you are you are doing well. And Goddesses, Link, please do not be dead! However, I find myself guilty of preferring such as the reason you've not yet returned to finding out you stay away by your own will.
She took a moment to wipe a few stray tears from her eyes before they could hit the paper. Biting her lip, she wrote on.
I, Princess Zelda Lisette Nohansen Harkinian, cordially invite you to my wedding this year upon the day of Farore, the first day of spring.
This is your last chance, Link. Hurry up and make things better like you always do. I miss you so much.
She read it over twice to make certain there were no mistakes, that each i was dotted and each t crossed. Afterwards she diligently set about folding the paper neatly in thirds, the two ends overlapping the middle then slipped it in an envelop and addressed it to Link.
She stared at the envelop for a while, before scooting back her chair and leaning towards the hearth, dropping it into the fire.
The corners curled as it burned, the not yet dry ink turning the flame a hue of green. Forcefully, she tore her gaze from the sight.
He hadn't been getting her letters anyways…
Day of the wedding…
During the weeks leading up to her wedding, Zelda became more and more anxious. Those weeks had gone by swiftly and it seemed everybody in Hyrule was excited for the occasion, even her future husband had expressed his anticipation in way of lingering kisses. Everybody, it seemed, but for the bride to be.
At the altar, standing before what seemed like all of Hyrule, Zelda heard the old priestess drone on as she spoke, but did not listen. They had the recital the day before, she knew all that she had to say, when and what to do when saying it. That was enough for her.
The priestess gave the cue for them to face each other. Zelda turned and looked up at Alistaire from behind her veil. Seeing the smile in his eyes made her stomach churn. Both of them were aware that there was no love between them, but there was undeniably a certain fondness present.
There was no doubt in her mind. He would make a good king, as well he would be a good husband to her.
The priestess chanted and sprinkled them with holy fountain water as she blessed them in ancient Hylian.
Unconsciously, Zelda's eyes slid to the doors of the temple. She waited for them to open, for her green-clad hero to come striding through.
This is your chance, Link. Please…
Alistaire took her hand as he said his vows and placed the ring on her finger. Without pause, she did the same for him, voice steady as she pledged eternal devotion to her husband.
He then reached forward and lifted her veil. Zelda expressed no evidence of her sadness. He bent down and kissed her on the lips. Her eyes went once more toward the doors, willing them to open.
They parted and the temple erupted in cheers. Alistaire smiled as he swept her up in his arms and leaned in for another kiss.
All Zelda could think of in that moment was that he hadn't come.
Wedding night, after the festivities, Princess Zelda's chambers...
She lay there tiredly under the covers, naked and warm after their consummation. Beside her, Alistaire slept peacefully, breaths coming out in soft snores, an arm draped over her waist.
Zelda stared into the darkness, unable to sleep, having woken in the middle of the night by the tears streaming down her face. Everything was catching up to her, the reality of the situation was only just setting in. Her's and Alistaire's coronation was scheduled for the morrow, her dress set up and ready on its mannequin in the corner, they'd then be leaving for a short honeymoon to her estate at Lake Hylia, afterwards they'd return to begin their duties as king and queen.
She reminisced on earlier that night. It hadn't at all been as painful as Impa made it out to be. Alistaire had been slow and gentle, making sure she reached her peak before he had even considered seeking his. She had felt untold pleasure and in the end had fallen limp, body satisfied. And her heart had shattered further every second of it.
She let out a chocked sob then stilled as her husband shifted in his sleep. She stuffed a fist in her mouth to stifle the noise then continued sobbing quietly.
All of this she would have shared with Link. She would have given her body and soul to him. If only he hadn't left her, if only he hadn't kept her waiting for so long…
And now it was too late.
He didn't come…
A/N: I'll say this now. I know Majora's Mask only lasts 3 days, therefore, if you are of the wise sort, you'd be able to conclude that there must be other reasons for Link's continued absence.
For those of you who are reading Dead Inside, you know how painfully frustrating the characters tend to be. Well, you'll find the same thing applies here, so be warned!
Thanks for reading, and please leave a review! Feedback is always appreciated!