AoA: It was a long time coming but here it is. The next chapter of my first POV fic. I might do more of these. It seems to be going well.

Link: Why do you still do these little introductions? You get told they're in the way a lot and you dislike writing them.

AoA: True. Both true.

Nabooru: He does them for three reasons. One: He's gotten more compliments for them than complaints when you look at all his story reviews over time. Two: He enjoys reading them in other fics.

Link: What's the third?

AoA: I'm too lazy to do my own disclaimers. Speaking of which...

Nabooru: Angel of Atonement does not own the Legend of Zelda. It is copyrighted by Nintendo.

Link: Too bad the people who don't like these things probably won't even know you're giving them an explanation.

AoA: Darn. I knew I forgot something important. Anyway, please let me know if you find any writing errors. I'll correct them immediatly once found.

Link: At this point maybe we should remind them that Nabooru has no recollection of what happened after Zelda repaired the time line at the end of OoT.

Nabooru: Yeah. Angel believes that there are two of the people who became the sages. The originals who stayed as sages after the big time change and continue to protect Hyrule and the ones who never had the chance to become sages since time went back and just live their lives as they would have if Ganondorf had never existed. Basically there's the new timeline me and the sage me still watching over Hyrule, as is for everyone. Including Zelda.

Angel: Here we go!

Love or Happiness?

Nabooru - Part I: War

Maternal love.

It's quite different from anything I would have ever imagined. For one thing someone like me, who has no children of her own, is capable of having it.

And for someone I never could have predicted.

I suppose it's not entirely unimaginable, considering the circumstances that led to my small experience in the feelings of motherhood. When I was growing up and being raised to be the next leader of my people it was very hectic. The life of a Gerudo is a harsh one as it is, but for me it was even more difficult.

We Gerudo live in the desert area of Hyrule. The canyons that serve as the only way to reach the desert from Hyrule are the place we make our main home, the Gerudo Fortress. We rarely go into Hyrule unless it is on a secret mission of thievery. It is as thieves that our people supported ourselves in the past and we continue to do so today, even if it must be kept in secret to avoid breaking various peace treaties. Of course, the fact that we are dark skinned compared to the light skinned Hylians makes it difficult to go unnoticed and life continued to be made even harder on us because of that. Our common trait of long red hair is another thing that stands out and adds to the problem. Life among the sand and rocks is a tough one, especially on a little girl.

Of course, by little girl I don't just mean me. It applies to all of us, since the Gerudo are a race of females. Only once every one hundred years is a male child born into the Gerudo clan. By law that man must become our leader. In the old days his title was the King of Thieves, but since our struggling race could not be known as criminals that title would be changed.

But this ancient tradition was just one more thing that made my childhood less than pleasant. Years before I was born was the time for our next leader's birth.

But...he never came.

I was born into the family that leads the Gerudo during times without a king. Those who would normally serve as second in command of our warrior tribe. Because of the absence of a male my people were in a leadership crisis long before I was even conceived. Eventually it had been decided to just continue waiting as we normally would, even if it took another hundred years. As a result my family line stayed in command.

The responsibilities placed on me as soon as I was able to think intelligently were immense. My mother was always there for me, but more as a teacher than a parental figure. And even then she was always busy with clan issues. Most of my studying, combat training and thief practice was done by official tutors to the leading family. a Gerudo that means a mother and possibly a sister if you were born a twin. I was not and my mother was far too occupied to be there for me as much as she needed to be. As much as I now know she wished she could have been.

The desert is a harsh place to live. My mother died in that desert when I was sixteen. She managed to save the girls traveling with her by her sacrifice. I was told that she asked them to tell me that she was sorry.

I knew what she meant. I had spent few precious moments with my mother but I would treasure them always.

But I couldn't cry.

The moment my mother died I became the new leader of my people. A difficult task for a young woman but I rose to the occasion to the best of my ability. I continued to grow, learn and train both myself and the others around me. I became closer to the people around me, perhaps unconsciously looking for a family to replace the one I'd lost. Despite the fact that I found no such replacement I still loved my fellow Gerudo and they both respected and cared for me in return.

Life was hard, but we all faced it together. Like my mother I would put my people's safety and happiness first. We would overcome the desert.

Unfortunately there was another enemy we would have to face. One that I was completely unprepared for.

After years of successfully leading the Gerudo Hyrule was suddenly engulfed in a territorial war. Invaders from over the mountains and across the sea began to attack the people and pillage the towns. Land was claimed and resources secured. Hyrule's various races began to build their defences and successfully repelled the initial assault, allowing them a chance to fight back.

But not all the races. One race was the example the others learned by.

My race.

The invaders came upon us first as they crossed the mountains. Gerudo Fortress was suddenly under siege by a people who fought with a terrifying strength and frightening rage in battle. We had the advantage of location and supplies, but not numbers. We were completely overwhelmed as the people made their first camp in Hyrule.

Gerudo Fortress now belonged to them.

Most of us escaped into the fields and made our way to the castle to warn King Hyrule, but a still others were left behind to fates we couldn't bear to imagine. With our warning the other people of Hyrule prepared for war and successfully fought back against the sudden invasion.

Me and my refugees of the once proud race were accepted into Hyrule Castle at first, where we fought alongside the Hylian Knights when necessary. The enemy was good at war, as I imagine they had much practice over who know how much time. They made raiding parties of good numbers and never spread their forces too thin or allowed a weakness in their defences or allowed their slowly growing territory to be claimed back. My people soon became more well known as assassins than as the thieves of old. Many times we were made into groups to accompany the knight in secret and surprise the enemy forces with sudden attacks and quick retreats.

We all welcomed the chance to get back at the ones who destroyed our way of life, but it was dangerous work and more of my girls were lost as the battles went on.

I think I remember the very first time I saw him now. A flash of green fighting alongside the knights as we encountered the enemy party on Hyrule Field, which I barely saw due to my role as an assassin, quick to return to the sidelines. I do remember, however, a conversation some knights were having as we returned to the castle after a small victory. It was about an underage boy who joined the fight without consent. I didn't ask them about it, since we Gerudo were still not on very close speaking terms with the Hylians when it came to anything but the business of the war.

But I do remember one thing they said.

"We should have arrested the kid but...I doubt the outcome would have been so good without him."

Some day I'll ask him if it was him in that battle, but I doubt he'd remember. He's seen so many.

Eventually I saw him for the first official time. I was on my way to a meeting with the king when I saw a young lad in a strange green outfit talking to the guards at the royal gates. He was apparently begging them to let him join the army. Of course we needed soldiers, but the underage boys could only join in the reserves, where the main focus was training. This kid was demanding to join the front lines. I shrugged it off at the time as a hot headed youth just wanted to fight for his country, but I also remember the look in his eyes. It was determined. For a split second I think I admired that boy for his courage. But even if I did, it was quickly forgotten as I moved on.

Eventually the time came when my people and I could wait no longer. We had to reclaim our home and rescue any survivors. The king refused our pleas at first but we were determined. The enemy had created several settlements in the land they had captured. The defences at the fortress were as weak as they were going to get, and if they lost it their overall military strength would be vastly decreased.

In secret every Gerudo left the castle one knight, using every ounce of our skill as thieves to get out. We crossed the fields and made our way back to the desert, avoiding enemy patrols with small traveling parties. Soon we had all converged upon Gerudo Valley.

Our home.

We fought with all the stealth and speed we could muster. Many of them fell in secret before the enemy was even aware they were under attack. I myself moved through the fortress' secret passageways to the jail cells where I found the survivors in chains.

I would later learn that they were used as slaves for all that time, staying locked in the dungeons when not being used for some menial task. They were weak, but they were also Gerudo and they embraced their chance at escape. Their hope filled them with the power they needed.

But it wasn't enough.

King Hyrule was right. The enemy was not willing to let us out alive.

We moved and fought, losing few in combat but still gaining no headway. Eventually we managed to force a small opening in their blockades. Enough for half of us to escape.

I stayed behind with my most trusted warriors. We fled in the opposite direction, entering the desert.

We crossed the Haunted Wasteland with the enemy on our heels, the atmosphere of death and despair closing in on us from all sides. Two more were lost as they sacrificed themselves to slow the enemy's advances.

I could have done what my mother did, but I chose not to. I had to live to protect those who I could. We fought our way to the Desert Colossus, the ancient Spirit Temple that was constructed in the desert centuries ago. In the shadow of the giant statue that housed the temple inside was an oasis. It was there that we rested.

Our spirits were low and our hopes all but crushed. By the time those who escaped made it back to the castle to ask for help, if they made it back and if help was granted, we would already have been found.

The temple itself was useless as a means to protect ourselves. Besides the first room all other chambers had their paths sealed off by ancient traps and devices. Despite my doubts I convinced my fellow warriors to stay proud to the end. We would make our last stand here.

They came. We fought. And we retreated. Being assassins for so long, fighting alongside the knights as the main attack force, had lowered our skills in all out combat. Soon we were pressed back and surrounded. We were out of hope.

But hope came anyway.

From the same desert our enemies had flowed out from came a small party of knights. The Hylians had come with ridiculous speed, but I didn't stop to worry about that at the time. We saw our chance to live and we took it. Together we pressed at the enemy from both sides. The battle's tide was turned in our favour.

That was our first face to face meeting. Just as I thought victory was ours I was struck by a fist from behind. Falling to the sands I turned over in time to see a barbarian swinging an axe down towards me.

I closed my eyes, but the axe never reached me. At the sound of metal clashing against metal I saw as young boy in green holding back the axe with his sword, inexplicably matching the brute's strength. I saw him tremble, sweat and groan in pain and effort, but I also saw that he refused to budge an inch from his place between my attacker and I.

The spears of two knights entered the assailant's back, finally ending the battle. The boy in green collapsed in the sand in front of me and I sprung up to examine him immediately. It was my first instinct before exhaustion finally claimed my consciousness as well.

We had won. I awoke in my old fortress later that day to learn that those who had managed to escape had barely covered any distance across the fields before a massive force of Hylian Knights rode in to rescue them and resume the attack on the fortress. They had moved in and used the enemy's confusion to force them out to their other camps, making Gerudo Valley the first piece of land successfully recaptured from the invaders.

Occupying the bed next to mine in the medical wing of the fortress as the young boy that had saved my life.

At the time I had no idea just how much of an understatement that was.

According to the freed Gerudo slaves, that boy had met with them asking about me after they had been picked up by the knights. The knights asked him to leave but he kept asking. I had no idea why he would care so much about me and neither did they, but afterwards he ran off and entered the battle for the fortress.

It was after I talked with them that some knights came, wondering what to do about the boy. They told me that he had not fought for the fortress, but managed to get the attention of enough knights during the battle to organize a rescue party to enter the desert where my warriors and I had fled. Apparently he had led them across the desert as easily as if he had already known the way, and it was because of him alone that the party had managed to rescue us.

I didn't think I could feel more indebted to that boy than I did at that moment.

I was wrong.

The next person to visit me, just as I was being admitted from the medical wing with as fully recovered, as an emissary from the castle. The Sheikah woman Impa met with me in private to relay the king's message. He was furious that we had ignored his advice and risked so many lives, but also relieved that all had gone surprisingly well. From that point on we Gerudo would reclaim our place as one of Hyrule's leading races and would be more involved in the overall planning of the war.

I asked the woman to thank the king for changing his mind about attacking the fortress so quickly only to receive another shock. Almost immediately after we had left the castle a young boy in green had appeared, screaming that he had seen the Gerudo leaving the castle secretly. He had guessed that we were going to the fortress and once our absence was confirmed the King agreed and sent the largest force he could to back us up.

And even after all that the boy had still followed on his own to ensure our safety.

After Impa left me alone in my quarters I remember staring out the window into the rocky valley, amazed. I watched my people work hard rebuilding what we had lost and I couldn't help but think that we owed it all to that boy.

More specifically, I owed everything I had to that boy. My life, my people and even my home.

It was after that realization that I saw him being escorted out of the valley by some knights. On pure instinct i leaped out of my own window and raced to catch up to them.

I had to speak with that boy.

He looked happy to see me. Like someone finding an old friend safe and sound. I remember kneeling down and asking his name. His answer was Link. I introduced myself, but he just smiled like he was humoring me or something. Of course, at the time I was far too grateful to notice. I expressed my thanks but we were interrupted by the guards. They told me that Link was to be taken back to Hyrule and presented to the king for interrogation regarding his actions towards the war. Link asked the guards if there was any chance he would be allowed to fight but they told him that he would most likely still not get any farther than the reserves.

I saw the disappointed look on Link's face. I could almost feel my own heart breaking just from the sight of it. All he wanted was to help his people.

No...not just his people. My people as well. What this boy wanted was to protect all people.

And so, before they could resume taking him away, I asked him.

"Would you like to fight with us?"

I remember his smile. It was probably the first time I saw it, now that I think about it. I couldn't help but smile in returned at the overjoyed and yet determined look on his face. Especially in his eyes. The eyes that radiated a confidence I'd never known in myself.

The knights told us it was impossible. As a citizen of Hyrule Link would have to go before the king for his interference in the war.

I remember how Link just looked at me expectantly, as if he already knew what i was going to do. I guess he just had confidence that I knew what to do. There was no way he could have known about the membership card.

The card had been placed in Gerudo law centuries ago. It allowed us to make outsiders a part of our clan if they had the desire and we fount their skills or motives acceptable. The card had never once been used and I am certain it was never intended for a man, but I used it right then and there, asking Link if he would accept a place in our tribe.

He did so without hesitation.

The knights could do nothing but return word to their king. As an official member of the Gerudo Link now fell under our jurisdiction and not the king's. He was my citizen now and my responsibility.

I led Link back towards the fortress to introduce him to his new sisters after the knights left. I looked down and asked him if he was sure he wouldn't have any regrets later, joining our tribe just to fight in the war.

His words would forever cement my opinion of him from that point on.

"I didn't just join to fight a war. I also want to do my part to make sure you don't lose what you just fought so hard to win back. I won't let my people down."

It was the last sentence I remember so well. It was the way he said it that just made you instantly understand. When he said his people he didn't mean the Gerudo. He didn't even mean the Hylians.

The Gorons, Zoras, Shiekah and probably even the legendary Kokiri were all on that boy's mind when he spoke those words.

His people were all people.

Life in the desert is a tough one, but he was willing to face it.

For his people.

AoA: And another chapter bites the dust.

Link: ...

AoA: What?

Link: Don't...ever...say that again...please.

AoA: Everyone's a critic. At least I hope you all are. I need your constructive criticism more than ever because this was the first chapter to really focus more on the drama than the romance, which is the secondary category but has been getting the spotlight so far.

Nabooru: Yeah. Does this new pace ruin what you were expecting? Hopefully no one thought I was going to fall for Link or something. I'm at least twice his age.

Link: Like that matters to fanfiction readers. Anyway, more drama next chapter in part two of Nabooru's POV, but more of the emotional kind rather than the physical kind.

AoA: But plenty of that too.

Nabooru: Doesn't it ever worry or bother you that you're writing the deepest emotions and thoughts of female characters that you didn't even create yet you're a guy?

AoA: Hmm...considering that I made you ask that just now I'd say it probably does, but I'm being told that I do such a good job that I'm starting to get more confident. Of course, now I'm worried about being too cocky and getting sloppy...

Link: Sounds like you. You want this to stay your most popular fic, don't you?

AoA: Actually I'd prefer if my new Zelda story was the most popular, but I'm not giving up on this one either.

Nabooru: Was that a plug for Runes of Space?

AoA: comment.

Link: Come to think of it...that OC guy who did the disclaimer last chapter. Is he...

AoA: Peace out!