AN: This is getting a complete make-over. Originally this was meant to be a one-shot, but now that I've decided to make this a proper story, this will now act as a prologue. Just to be confusing, this is the only part that will be in first person, seeing as how I already wrote this before I decided to turn it into a story. Normal font is for Zelda's thoughts, and Italics are Link's thoughts.
I never thought it would come to this. I never thought I would see this day come so soon, while you could still wield a sword one-handed. I didn't go to your burial, but I come alone, everyday, to that courtyard, where you can finally rest in peace. No more battles, no more bloodshed to stain your pure heart. You can lay down your sword, your weapons. The weary warrior can to put to sleep.
But when I come, I can't stop the tears, and I can't help but feel the cold chill of the wind. The earth won't even let my tears reach you; they catch them with their strong blades and carry them valiantly. And when I see them carrying that burden upon their shoulders, somehow I think of you. No matter what the task was, the mission, the quest, the adventure…you took it on regardless. You would carry everything with you, holding it high above your head, never tiring from your duty.
Yet I think you knew that it would be your duty that would take away your life. It wouldn't be old age or sickness; it would be by the way of the sword. And I don't think you would have wanted it to be any other way. You died a brave and courageous man, fighting for your country, my kingdom…my kingdom that is now a broken and hollow place without you. Even though you saved and protected this beautiful land, the gentlest sunrise with every warm colour bleeding across the sky…it just can't be as beautiful without you being there.
I don't know how that can be. The simplest fact that you're not somewhere roaming in the farthest mountains or trudging through the deepest forests is enough to drain away that invisible essence that nature holds. I know that you can't see the same things I do. I know you can't see them with me either. I know…that you'll never see me again.
I'm kneeling beside you, but your eyes will be closed, locked away under the dark, gritty earth beneath my feet. The grey stone surrounds us both in a dull circle, worn and weathered by the wind and the rain. No sunshine is breaking against the walls; the clouds hold and restrain it behind their billowing fingers, casting a solemn gloom upon this small courtyard. The flowers won't bloom anymore, not even if I give them the utmost care; they die and wilt back into the soil…to you.
For a moment, I didn't know where I was. Everything looked so familiar to my eyes, and yet I refused to believe where I was standing. Was this a dream? Was this…what it's like in the afterlife?
I touched my chest, feeling the raised skin bulge over the deep ravine that had sliced across my body. My fingers lingered over it, feeling the dried blood in untidy, clotted spheres. There was no pain. They rested over my heart for a while, the beginning and the end of everything I'd lived for. I smiled sadly, hanging my head in my hands, lifting them away from the silent muscle slowly.
"Link, what are you doing?" Gloved hands slid around my waist and something warm pressed against my back. I froze. "Don't be so glum. It's a beautiful day, Link."
"Zelda? Is that you?" I said nervously. How could she be here?
"Of course it's me," her voice scolded playfully. "Look, all the flowers are blooming ever so nicely in the courtyard."
She came to my side and looked up at me with smiling eyes, her hand catching mine. I looked through the archway out into the circular garden where the sun shone brilliantly down upon everything it touched with its golden rays… All except one dark figure crouching by the steps leading to the window.
I walked forward with Zelda by my side, out into the bright, glinting panels of grey. The grass was alive and healthy, fresh with new dew beaded through the forest of green blades; the flowers were alight with colour, fiery reds and yellows and pale, fragile whites waving in the cool breeze… but my eyes kept glancing back to that dark figure by the steps. It was a woman, her head buried in her hands, veiled completely by the locks of hair that cascaded down her face. She was trembling, her breathing short and quick like she were crying, although I couldn't hear her.
"Link, what are you staring at?" Zelda asked.
"Don't you see that woman over there?" I said, not allowing my eyes to wonder from the strange figure.
"There's nothing there, Link." I let go of her hand, and strode across the courtyard, kneeling down beside her.
A new gust of wind brushed past me, blowing away the hair that hung over my shaking face. I tucked away the loose strands of hair behind my ear, and in the silence I thought I heard someone breathe. I looked up, but no one was there.
"Zelda," I whispered, "why are you crying?"
"Link, you're not acting like yourself today," the ghostly voice said behind me, but suddenly I knew that it wasn't her voice.
"Zelda, tell me why."
The tears came again, as if strung and forced out by the strangling hands around my neck. I stare at your grave, and they just fall. Sometimes I dream of being a warrior like you, so I could go with you and fight by your side, and be of some use to this cursed land. I always thought that if you were by my side, I could do anything in the world. You gave me that strength, the courage to face everyday with a renewed faith that you'd come home.
"Why? Why did you have to go?" I choked out.
Silently I cursed myself. I remembered once as a child Impa telling me something. 'You always want what you can't have.' At the time I had denied it, but as I grew older, waiting for you to awaken from that seven-year sleep, I began to see the truth in her words. I wanted safety…freedom from the mask of the Sheikah…peace from Ganondorf's reign…but most of all I wanted you. I knew you'd come to rescue us from Ganon's evil terror, that you'd bring back the light into this world. But you ended up extinguishing it too.
"Why did I rely on you so much?" The words more or less tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them.
I bit my lip in shame. It was true.
I couldn't say a word.
"This is what you've always wanted, isn't it Link?" the cold distant voice said. "The only thing you've ever wanted was a home…someone to love. This is what you want."
I touched Zelda's crying face. "Yes," I admitted.
"Then why don't you embrace your paradise as you ought?"
I paused for a moment. Why? I had what I always dreamed of…but there was something fake and unreal.
"Because the woman I love does not belong to this world." Everything went oddly quiet. I looked up and saw the image of Zelda had disappeared.
It felt as though someone touched my cheek and I brought my head out of my damp hands. The breeze blew raw at my eyes, stinging them with a more painful misery. But for a moment I thought I saw someone beside me, gazing at my face with concern. The blurred figure reached out and pulled its arms around me, filling the aching void in my heart with a brief, tender warmth. It was fleeting, a light breath of the air, but I felt it. I blinked away the tears and moved to embrace the odd, green shape, only to find my arms return to my shoulders, empty and cold once again.
"Link, where are you?" I murmured in the silence as I cast my head toward the sky.
She was like a shadow; a faded blur of a person, but I knew that she'd realised I as there. Somehow, I found myself being content sitting beside her. Even though I couldn't touch her or heal her wounds, I was happy in this strange security that led me to believe that this really was Zelda here beside me, the woman I'd left behind and the woman I had loved with all my heart. I was at peace knowing that I could watch her and see her beautiful face. That was enough for me.
For a long time I had wanted somewhere to call home. I had wanted to know what my parents were like and where they had come from. But I came to find that I would never really come to attain what I wanted to know. Yet I still found myself yearning for somewhere to rest where there wasn't battle. I suppose I have that now…now I'm no longer of that bloodstained world. I knew that someday I would be able to go home. But now that it's here…it doesn't seem half as peaceful as I thought it would be.
There was something else though, something more than a home that I had wanted. I never came to know my mother, or my father. I don't know what it's like to be brought up by a loving family, by people who care about you sometimes more than themselves. The Deku Tree had told me that my mother died trying to save me by entrusting me to the Kokiri. She'd done everything possible to make sure I was safe because she knew that she couldn't take care of me.
Zelda had taken my place of being the protected child, and I had gone to do everything I could to keep her safe. I knew that I was needed elsewhere other than in her arms. I knew I couldn't protect her alone. It had been a difficult departure, and one I wish I never had to make. Someday I had wanted her to understand that.
But rather than hoping to come back to a place I could call home, I wanted to come back to her, the real Zelda. I didn't want to live in a fantasy world, satisfying whatever I desired. Until the time was right, I was ready to wait here in this limbo between life and death, the time when Zelda would join me and we could walk together toward that one exit.
Something lit up in the sky, and the sunlight sprung forth from behind the cloud's dreary prison. I stood up, smiling slightly as I felt the tears cease in my eyes.
"Are you up there, Link? Birds cooed in the second morning light as if answering my question, and I smiled again. "Of course you are." I looked back at the raised mound in the ground, and then toward the exit of the courtyard. "I think I have overstayed my welcome." I crouched down and ran my hand over the grass. "I hope you'll wait for me, Link."
Taking one last look I turned and left through that single archway, both the only entrance and the only exit, feeling a fresh breeze walk along with me.