Disclaimer: Still don't own Zelda. Or Garth Brooks' "Every Now and Then"… It doesn't entirely fit, but it's close, and a couple of lines are just perfect.
Dancing in the Rain
I walked down to the park last night
Warm breeze stirring up a soft moonlight
And my mind started drifting to way back when
Yes, I do think about you
Every now and then
She's here and she's real
But you were, too
And every once in a while I think about you
I heard a song
The same one you always asked me to play
And when the song was over
I wished they'd played it again
Yes, I do think about you
Every now and then
PART ONE: Serenade
He saw her for the first time as he made his way across Hyrule Field, back towards the ranch his parents owned and operated. The torrential downpour he was currently riding through had begun while he had been in the market, doing business with merchants who sold his family's dairy products and meat in exchange for a share of the goods. His horse was moving slowly, mired in the grass which sheets of water were pounding into the earth, but he could see the shape of his home ahead when he lifted his head and squinted towards it.
"Come on, boy," he urged his mount. "I know it's rough, but the sooner we get home, the sooner we can be warm and dry—"
He stopped when he spotted a girl about his own age, perhaps nineteen or twenty, standing in the middle of the field. Just standing there. Concerned and puzzled, he pulled the stallion towards her, though the animal gave a whinny of protest at the detour, to investigate why the young woman wasn't indoors.
She stood perfectly still, her face upturned towards the sky, her palms as well open to the heavens as if offering penance. Rainwater traced the curves of all the features of her face, sparkling on her eyelashes, lingering on her parted lips, exploring paths along her rose-tinted cheeks like tears and continuing in rivulets down the creamy skin of her neck towards her collarbone. Her long, bright hair was slicked back with water, though a few rebel stands stood out like flames against her forehead. Her dress, too, was soaked through, and clung to her body. But what made her so enticing wasn't that she didn't care about the downpour raining onto her. Quite the opposite—It was that she exalted in every moment of it.
"Excuse me?" he spoke up uncertainly.
She opened her bright green eyes and turned them upon him with a smile. "Yes?" she asked in a sweet-toned voice.
"Um… Are you okay?" he asked awkwardly. "Do you need a ride somewhere or something?"
"Oh, no, thank you," she replied politely, still smiling.
"Well—Well, if you don't mind my asking… Why are you standing out here in the storm?"
"I was just taking a break," she told him mildly.
She offered no further explanation, apparently feeling none was necessary.
"You—were dancing?" he inquired. "Out here, or…?"
"Yes," she answered serenely. "This is the best time to dance. I just can't help it," she confessed with a hint of a laugh.
"But it's raining," he pointed out slowly, knowing how obvious his statement was. "Shouldn't you be inside?"
The girl shrugged. "I don't see why."
"Well…because it's wet out," the young man said, gesturing to the world in general. "Nobody likes the rain."
Raising an eyebrow above eyes that sparkled with energy, she said, "I love the rain." She spread her arms wide and elaborated, "This is life pouring out of the sky. If you listen, you can hear the heartbeat of the goddesses." She paused, tilting her face upwards again like a flower to the sun, a slight smile on her lips. "It's beautiful music."
He had never heard anyone say something so strange. But… Intrigued by the depth of her words, he closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of the storm.
It was true that there was a rhythm to the steady drumming of rain against the ground, and the distant rolls of thunder that swelled out over the land. He didn't really know that it could be called music, though… Maybe…
His horse gave an impatient snort, jerking towards Roku Ranch, and he snapped his eyes open to return to the present. The girl smiled.
"I should get home," he told her. She merely nodded.
"Thank you for your concern," she added.
He now felt quite stupid for being worried about something as trivial as why she was outside in a storm, though there was no hint of sarcasm or condescension in her words.
"Yeah," he said sheepishly. "No problem."
He was about to leave when she spoke up unexpectedly.
"I'm Katma Niamey. What's your name?"
He glanced back to see her smiling at him curiously. It took him an abnormal amount of work on the part of his throat to answer her question.
"I'm Talon Roku."
She seemed pleased, not by his response in particular, but by the fact that he had given one. "Nice to meet you, Talon Roku. Maybe I'll run into you again."
"Yeah," he agreed sincerely, "I'd like that."
He didn't notice, as he continued on his way home, how the rainwater chilled him through. But he did notice the rainwater.
It rained through the night.
One week later, Talon was once again in the market doing business, but this time, it was sunny. For that reason, he took some time after trading and selling to do some shopping of his own. His life was always busy and completely structured, since his parents expected him to inherit the ranch and run it on his own, and therefore urged him to be serious about it rather than having fun. Although he was a fairly serious person by nature, he did like taking occasional moments to observe the chaos of the world that existed outside the perfect organization in which he lived.
In the middle class areas of Hyrule Castle Town closest to the main gate, chaos was not uncommon in the course of morning commerce activities. His eyes caught onto a pair of men vociferously arguing over a trade they were making; they were taking the deal so seriously that the sight was quite entertaining, and as such he didn't notice where he was going. Until he walked directly into a woman whose arms were full of groceries, and gave a start.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, stumbling backwards. Her purchases tumbled out of her bag in a shower of colours. "Oh, no…"
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Talon said quickly, dropping immediately to help her pick them up and feeling his face burn in humiliation. He hoped that the passing crowd would continue to ignore them. "I didn't see you…"
"It's all right," the woman sighed in a harried voice, brushing back the slightly greying hair that was beginning to slip from its loose bun. Talon could tell that she wasn't angry with him, but merely inconvenienced. "Accidents happen."
The hem of a purple skirt brushed into sight as Talon handed the woman her bag of potatoes, and he froze.
"Talon Roku," said a voice that he recognized.
Slowly, he glanced up, looking into bright green eyes beneath bright red hair that he had last seen soaking wet. She looked very odd when she was dry. His brain jammed slightly.
"Katma Niamey," she finished for him.
"Yeah," he agreed with a nod. "Hi."
Without another word, she knelt down and began to help the other woman pick up the things Talon had knocked from her arms.
"Oh, you don't have to do that, dear," the woman told her kindly.
Katma directed the woman a smile, said simply, "I know," and continued.
When the three of them had reorganized everything, the woman arranged her parcels comfortably in her arms and said, "Thank you very much."
"Sorry again," Talon added, still feeling embarrassed by his negligence.
"It's really no trouble," the woman assured him, and this time, it seemed she truly meant it. Looking from Katma back to the young ranch boy, she added, "That's a sweet girlfriend you have there."
Feeling the heat rise in his cheeks again, Talon stammered, "Oh, she's not—I mean…"
But the woman was already on her way, leaving him standing there with Katma, who turned a light smile in his direction.
"Thanks," he said uncomfortably, trying to give her a nonchalant smile. "But you really didn't need to do that."
"I know," she said again. "But I also had no reason not to. If everyone was only nice when they had to be…Well, then no one would really ever be nice for real," she concluded with a shrug. "On the other hand, think what would happen if everyone was nice when they didn't have to be, even just once a day, even to just one person."
As she spoke, Talon weighed what she was saying; there was no denying the truth of her words.
"I think the only reason why people sometimes don't do nice things is that they're worried what people will think of them," she went on thoughtfully. "It's kind of sad, isn't it, that people have to be worried about being judged for things like that? Or that people have to worry about being judged at all."
She paused, considering something off in the distance, her smile gone and replaced with a look of delicate contemplation. Momentarily, however, the smile returned, and she said, "Well, it was nice to see you. Maybe I'll run into you again."
He mouthed soundlessly, attempting to say that he hoped so, but the words lodged in his mouth, and so he managed only half a wave. She returned it, still wearing that smile that looked like sunlight, and began to walk away. When she had gone five steps, Talon found his voice.
She turned back, bright hair swinging around her face. "Yes?"
Before he could allow himself to think better of what he was about to say, Talon blurted, "D'you…Would you like to maybe go to dinner some time or something?"
Her smile took on a quality of shyness which he wouldn't have expected to ever see on her face. "I'd like that."
Talon hoped she couldn't see how stunned he was. "Oh," he said; he had no idea what he was supposed to do next. "Well…then…" His effort at a sentence died in his throat.
Katma gave a slight laugh. "I live right there," she said, pointing towards a small white house nearby. "And I'm not doing anything tomorrow night, if you're free."
"Great. See you at six?"
"Okay." She beamed at him. "See you then."
He watched her walk away, weaving through the crowds of people walking in straight lines.
"You're going on a date."
"You actually worked up the nerve to talk to a girl?"
Pause. "So…I suppose I should expect the universe to implode tomorrow morning, then."
Talon glared at his brother. "Shut up."
Jenkar grinned. "I'm just saying, I would have thought the odds of one would be about the same as the odds of the other."
"And I'm just saying, shut up."
Jenkar continued to grin, leaning back against the pillows he had propped up on his bed in the room he shared with Talon, who was at the moment getting dressed to go out with Katma. Dating was, as Jenkar had so tactfully implied, not Talon's strong suit. It was the younger of the Roku brothers who was more charming and confident, and thus more popular. It was Jenkar who had a social life, while Talon lived and worked in the shadows.
"Okay," said Talon, letting out a deep breath to calm his nerves. "How do I look?" He turned to face his brother for judgment.
Jenkar placed a hand to his heart and wiped an imaginary tear from his eye. "My big brother's all grown up!"
Talon punched him in the arm on the way out the door, though he wore a rare smile as he did so. Jenkar hopped to his feet to follow.
"So who is she?" he pressed, trailing his brother down the hall and downstairs.
"Just a girl I met in the market today," Talon answered shortly.
"Yeah. But more importantly," he added sanctimoniously, "she's nice."
Jenkar rolled his eyes. "Does she do charity work often? This date, for example."
Although Talon never really took his brother's insults to heart, he did wish he were better at devising comebacks. As it was, he was forced to resort to another punch in the arm.
"You know, I'm so used to having a bruise there, I wouldn't feel whole without it," Jenkar commented, rubbing the spot in question.
"Well, if you want it to go away permanently, maybe you should do likewise."
Out of respect for the occasion of the fact that Talon had actually managed to retort with clever words, Jenkar made no comment.
Neither Mr nor Mrs Roku made as big a deal about Talon's date as their youngest son. In fact, as the two boys made their way to the front door, their parents didn't move from their seats in the living room.
"What time will you be home, Talon?" his father asked.
"Don't be out too late, though," added his mother warningly.
"I won't," Talon promised.
"And tell me all about it," Jenkar ordered, smirking.
"You wish," Talon retorted. Failing utterly to look annoyed, he closed the door in his brother's face, and only then allowed himself to laugh.
Once he had recovered himself, he mounted up and made his way to Hyrule Castle Town. He had access to the town via a pass that identified him as an owner of Roku Ranch, which he flashed to the guards posted at the drawbridge. They whistled to their peers, who knew the signal and allowed the bridge to creak down. Thanking them briefly, Talon crossed and passed his horse off to them; he was allowed into the town, but outside animals were more carefully monitored, and so the stallion would have to remain stabled at the guard post until his master returned. Patting the animal on the flanks in farewell, Talon set off on foot for Katma's house. He knew the town well enough that he was confident he could find it within five minutes.
As he knocked on the front door, worst possible scenarios careened through Talon's mind. She had overprotective relatives who hated him. She had forgotten about their date. She had lied about this being her house.
When the door opened, he managed a smile, but it wasn't Katma who stood on the threshold. It was a redheaded boy, about ten years old, who grinned up at Talon before asking bluntly, "Are you Katma's boyfriend?"
"Thirad!" cried another voice in the distance; this one was female, but still not the one Talon knew. A girl who looked very much like Katma, though several years younger and with slightly darker hair, appeared in the doorway. Pulling the boy, presumably her brother, away from the doorway forcefully, she corrected, "He's not her boyfriend! He's her date!"
"Same thing," Thirad muttered.
"All right, both of you little hell-raisers, leave the poor boy alone," laughed a third voice. A smiling blonde woman, apparently the mother of the two children, appeared. Her son and daughter fell silent and still, though visibly anticipating when they would no longer be expected to be on their best manners and could finish their fight. Addressing herself to Talon, Mrs Niamey said personably, "Katma's almost ready. Come on in. What was your name again? She told me, but I'm terrible with names."
He hadn't even said hello yet. Stepping into the entry way, he answered as though reading from a script, "Hi. I'm Talon Roku."
"Hi, Talon." Nodding towards the children, she added, "These are Katma's little brother and sister, Thirad and Anjema."
"Uh…Hi, there," Talon replied. He found that he didn't know what to do with his arms, and so held them behind his back.
Apparently the gesture looked overly stiff, because Mrs Niamey laughed, "Oh, you don't need to be so formal! Katma's father may be a soldier, but we're not a military family."
"Where would the fun in that be?"
Talon recognized that voice, and looked up to see Katma walking down the stairs. As usual, she wore a smile that could light up a room, and she looked lovely, but she didn't look as if she had gone to an abnormal amount of effort to do so.
"If we had to maintain the same rigid standards of behaviour that Dad always has to follow when he works, we wouldn't even get to breathe on our own. I think that being the children of a Royal guard gives us a healthy appreciation for our own freedom, and all that it takes to build it."
At the end of this speech, she reached the bottom of the stairs, and stood before Talon.
"Hi," she said pleasantly.
"Hi," he echoed, adding truthfully, "You look nice."
"Thanks." With a wave behind her, she said, "I guess you met my family. Well, except Dad. He's on duty tonight."
"He's a Royal guard?"
She nodded, and was about to speak when Thirad jumped in.
"I'm going to be a guard when I grow up, serving under King Churo and Queen Alea," he stated in a proudly, standing straight and tall. "Just like Dad."
"Is that so," Talon said, glancing at Katma for her response. The eldest sister merely turned her fond smile towards her brother indulgently before glancing back up at Talon.
"Once Thirad sets his mind to something, he always gets it done," she assured him, "so I'm sure that he'll become one of the greatest soldiers in Hyrule's army if that's what he really wants."
Thirad beamed; apparently his sister's endorsement was valuable.
"Oh," Talon said uncertainly. "Well, then, good luck with that, Thirad."
"Shall we go?" asked Katma, waving towards the door.
"See you later, Katma," spoke up Anjema. Katma gave her a quick hug.
"See you later. But don't wait up!" she gave her sister a serious look. "Go to bed when Mom says, okay? Promise?"
"Thirad, you too."
"Promise," he muttered; it was clear he was displeased, but equally clear that he would keep his word.
Katma nodded her approval solemnly. Then she put on her smile again, waved to her siblings, and walked with Talon outside.
Glancing back, probably to make sure Anjema and Thirad weren't watching through the window, she burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Talon asked, wondering if he had missed an inside joke.
"Oh, nothing," Katma assured him, waving her laughter away. "They're just so cute, that's all."
"And they really like you."
"Yeah," she admitted. "They listen to me more than Mom or Dad. I don't know why."
"Probably because they realize that if you tell them to do something, you must have a good reason," Talon told her honestly.
Katma gave a quiet chuckle.
"No, I'm serious," he insisted. "Parents never tell their kids why they should do things."
"I know, you're right," Katma agreed. "They really should, though. It makes for a relationship built on mutual respect, and that's a healthy family. Our parents know that, and they always give reasons why we should do things. So I really have no idea why Anjema and Thirad listen to me."
"Well, it must be just 'cause it's you, then, I guess," Talon suggested with a shrug.
Once more, Katma laughed. "What do you mean?"
"You're the type of person that people don't like to let down."
"You barely know me," she pointed out.
"But I know that about you."
She tilted her head at him thoughtfully, studying his face to see if he was serious. Arriving at an affirmative conclusion, she once again smiled.
"I like you," she told him candidly. "And I know I barely know you, either, but to borrow your own words, I know that about you."
Talon smiled right back, and found his steps magically lighter; he thought he had never received such a compliment.
Even the next morning, as he tended to the horses, Talon found himself inexplicably much happier than he had been in a long time. He was humming to himself, unable to keep a smile from his lips, and unable to stop thinking about the evening before. The rest of the world was outside his awareness.
"You're in a good mood," observed a dry voice.
Still grinning rather stupidly, Talon turned around and greeted his best friend. "Hey, Ingo. How's it going?"
The other boy shrugged. "It's going. But it sounds like life is good for you. Am I right?"
In answer, Talon informed him, "I found her, Ingo."
His friend raised an eyebrow. "Found…who?"
"Her. The one. The girl I'm going to marry."
Ingo gave a loud, wholehearted laugh. "Oh, really? And who would that be?"
Talon hadn't expected Ingo to take him seriously; in fact, he would have been surprised if anyone had. Unfazed, he replied, "Katma Niamey. I went on a date with her last night, and she's absolutely amazing."
Ingo folded his arms guardedly. "Are you sure you're not just thrilled because she paid you some attention?"
Talon felt his face burning slightly. It was true that he had never had a girlfriend, because, as Jenkar had reminded him the night before, he wasn't very good at talking to girls. His previous attempts at flirting had always fallen drastically short and left him utterly humiliated. More than once he had been left wishing he had been nobly enough born that he could have an arranged marriage, just so that he wouldn't have to worry about figuring that sort of thing out on his own, or else that there could be some way to ensure that he could keep the ranch within his family that didn't involve his having to settle down with a family. The obligation he knew he was under to find himself a wife had always weighed heavily on his shoulders, and though he had been able to easily brush it off as a young boy, he was feeling pressure about it as he approached twenty years.
Now that he had found Katma, though…
He grinned confidently. "If you met her, you'd know what I mean," he assured his friend. "She just makes the world a better place."
Ingo shook his head in bewilderment, a slow smile crossing his face. "You're one of a kind, Talon, you know that, don't you?"
"Of course," he agreed, still beaming.
"And she's really gotten to you already," Ingo added, raising an eyebrow judgmentally. "I mean, you're like a five-year-old having a birthday. What's wrong with you?"
Laughing, Talon clapped his friend on the shoulder and told him, "Ingo, buddy…someday you'll understand."
Ingo chuckled. "Nah, I don't think I'll ever understand you. Your brain is one of the great mysteries of all time."
"And yours is another, my man."
Over the next two years, Talon's admiration of Katma never faded. In fact, the more he learned about her, the more he became convinced that she was the perfect woman. First and foremost, she never missed an opportunity to dance in a storm.
She was also the most loving person he had ever known, she could write beautiful music off the top of her head, her kindness to all people knew no bounds, her laugh was infectious; and though she loved nothing better than the song of the rain, she found the brightness in all things, even darkness itself.
"It's so peaceful at night," she told him one evening as he walked her back to her home after dinner. "Without all the distractions of the rest of the day, all the sights and sounds and everything else, I can hear my thoughts more clearly." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out in a long sigh.
Talon watched her, smiling, enjoying her presence as much as she enjoyed every moment of her life. "You're amazing," he told her.
She opened her eyes, looking at him to see if he was serious, and gave a small laugh.
"No, really," he insisted. "No one in the world is like you."
"No one in the world is like anyone else," she pointed out. "The goddesses made us all unique. That's what makes life interesting."
"True enough," Talon admitted. "Okay, then, no one else is as wonderful as you."
Again, she laughed, but this time was blushing as well. "Oh, come on…"
"Don't be modest, it's true," Talon told her, grinning as he slid one arm around her waist. She dropped her head against his shoulder in a gesture that never failed to make his stomach flip over; his anxious reaction was more pronounced tonight, though, because he was already nervous enough. What had until now just been nerves took a sudden and dramatic leap into terror. He tried to stay relaxed, but didn't have much success. He was already on edge enough from hoping for days that this evening would be perfect. It would have been nice if it had rained.
"Aw…" Katma wrapped her arms around him and lifted her face up to kiss him on the cheek, apparently not noticing his sudden fear. "I love you."
"I—I love you, too," he choked.
It wasn't the first time he had told her so. But tonight it was different.
Her brow furrowed. "Something wrong?" she asked worriedly.
"No," Talon answered too quickly, without looking at her. He still saw the worry in her eyes, though, and felt her stand up straight.
"Talon, speak to me," she ordered him gently. "What's going on?"
They came to a halt, she facing him, he fidgeting uneasily. He had practiced this before the mirror months ago, ignoring Jenkar's intermittent taunts, but it was only recently that he had been able to actually take the idea seriously.
"My brother moved out on his own two weeks ago," he explained by way of beginning.
"Oh," said Katma slowly. "Do you miss him?"
"No, not really," Talon said, shaking his head. "That's not really my point. See, my parents decided now, because of that, that it's about time for them to leave the ranch and pass it on to me. I'm twenty-one now, I'm a fully grown man, they figure I'm ready."
"That's wonderful!" Katma gasped happily, smiling at him affectionately. "What's the problem, then? Are you worried that you aren't ready to take charge of it all?"
"No, no, of course not," Talon assured her. "I've been doing this practically since I could walk, and I've already talked to Ingo, I'm going to hire him and he's going to move into the guest room and be a ranch hand for me… No, I've got the whole thing set up and under control. No problem."
Katma frowned. "So…?"
"So," he echoed slowly, choosing his words carefully; he had rehearsed them, but suddenly his mind was blank mush. "Now that I'm going to have a home of my own…I thought…I was wondering…I mean, I was hoping…"
He paused to swallow; his mouth was very dry. Katma gave him an encouraging smile. He looked at her squarely and resolved to plough on and get through what he needed to say.
"Katma, I love you more than anything else in the world," he told her, taking from his pocket the diamond that was the only thing he'd been able to think of all night. "Will you marry me?"
To his astonishment, the smile on her face made it clear that she had been just waiting for him to ask. Without a word, she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him into a kiss. When they separated, they were both laughing.
"So are you going to give me an answer?" he inquired curiously. "Yes or no?"
She threw her head back in further laughter, then dropped it forward again to lean against him. "Of course!"
That, Talon decided as he let out a shaky breath and rested his chin atop the hair of the woman he loved more than any other—his new fiancée—had to be the most wonderful, and terrifying, moment he had ever experienced. But it was worth all the emotions just to have her.
That night, it rained.
They were married in the fall, in a small ceremony, on an overcast day, when the curtain of clouds over the sky was as bright as the sun would have been if it had shown its face.
"It's like we're inside a pearl," Katma said fondly, sitting at the head table of the reception lunch that took place outside. "Or…it's a blank canvas." She waved a hand lazily up at the clouds. Don't you just feel like you could paint a masterpiece across the sky?"
Talon gave the lopsided grin that he only ever wore when Katma said something that convinced him yet again of how lucky he was to have her. He wore that grin quite frequently, but she still didn't recognize what it meant. She still didn't understand just how special she was.
"What?" she asked slowly when she noticed the expression, responding in kind.
Talon shook his head. "I just can't believe you."
"I don't know whether that's a compliment or an insult," Katma informed him, laughing.
"It's a compliment," he assured her.
"Oh, good," she said contentedly, giving him the kiss she knew he wanted. Even after two years, he still had troubling remembering that he could kiss her whenever he wanted. As strange as it was for him to believe, the truth was that they were married now, and that she loved him as much as he loved her.
That night, it rained.