Author's Note: As many of you might know from my lack of recent posting in a few other stories that I've been working on recently, I've been experiencing a bit of a Writer's Block. I'm writing this story for a good friend of mine, Nullius in Verba, and I'm hoping to break my bad luck streak. Since this story is written for somebody else, I will not accept flames for my character pairings or the way I go about telling this story. I'm taking quite a bit of artistic license here and I'm not willing to listen to you nag me about it. Please, if you have constructive criticism, let me know what you think. This story is very different from what I normally write and, as it progresses, I'm sure that you will all agree with me.

Disclaimer: I don't own Zelda, the game, series, franchise, or (much) merchandise. I'm not making any profit from writing this story and it would be best if I was left un-sued for borrowing the characters for a bit! Thanks, yeah?


Prologue

'Am I awake? Or is this a dream?'

He asks himself that question, knowing that perhaps he may never really know the answer to it. Whenever you're awake amidst reassuringly familiar scenery you always get that kind of feeling.

Right now, it's the impression of everything having been only slightly altered so that he's quite positively unsure of whether he's awake or still sleeping.

This scene seems as though it has been recreated from one of his memories. Everything is perfectly within its place, as though waiting for him to change it.

She's standing in front of him, a child no taller than his waist. And she's looking at him through fearful sapphire eyes, deep enough that, should he find himself falling into them, he'll never be free again.

She shivers, watching him, unsure of whether he is a friend of a foe. But he knows that she'll trust him because he is her only hope.

Then she speaks, her voice is small as it echoes through the many connected caverns, "I've lost my mother's sapphire. It's a prized treasure of the Zoran people. You'll help me find it, won't you?"

He can't quite remember her or this place that he now finds himself. Everything feels so familiar to him that he's practically breathing in the memories, yet he's still unable to place the exact situation.

Is it because he's dreaming? Or is he spinning helplessly through reality?

"Well, won't you?" she asks again, interrupting his thoughts.

Something tells him that he will help her find it. Not because she is a small child and this place is dangerous, but because he, too, has a need for this jewel that belonged to her mother.

She doesn't wait for his answer, sliding her fingers around his hand and leading him further into the distance. He can no longer pay attention to his surroundings. Instead, his reality begins spinning around him and he knows that this was only a dream.

---

It was raining outside. He saw it as soon as his eyes opened, the droplets of water raced down the windows, illuminated by the occasional flash of lighting through the midnight sky. He could hear it dancing across the rooftop, interrupted only by the occasional crack of thunder. There was a feeling that told him he could even taste it; the salty nature of it ran down his face and into the crevice of his lips.

They were tears, he realized, pouring from his eyes as he remembered the world he'd just left behind in his dream. The small and scared Princess Ruto, pulling him after her, trying desperately to retrieve her mother's prized possession.

He laid there, unable to wipe his eyes dry, listening to the sound of waves washing and subsiding, rustling the sand. It seemed to be coming from somewhere below him; or it could have been miles away.

His eyes fixed on the ceiling and the smooth creamy wash of white that covered it. How long had he been dreaming?

He tried to lift his hand one more time to wipe away the tears still clinging to his eyes. But his arm refused to move. And speech was nearly as impossible as his voice refused to relent.

He could hardly force the air from his lungs and his body felt unbearably heavy. All he could manage was to direct his eyes from the ceiling towards the doorway where she was standing, looking down at him.

He was back in Hyrule. He was back in Princess Zelda's castle.

It had to be bad for her to cry like she was.

'I should be dead,' he thought. 'I should be dead for making her cry, for the throbbing in the back of my head to subside, for leaving Princess Ruto to fend for herself, even if it was only a dream.'

He should be dead, he realized.

But the more he tried to remember why, the more his head throbbed.

Zelda was beside him now, though she didn't speak. She just looked down at him with a sympathetic eyes and her smooth hand brushed away the tear stains on his cheeks. 'A hero shouldn't cry,' her eyes pleaded with him.

She was speaking to him now, something that Link couldn't quite make out; he couldn't understand her. The sound of waves crashing against the rocks had returned and he could feel his body becoming submerged in the icy embrace of the sea. He tried to get up, but still he was too weak. It was hard to see her face anymore and his surroundings began to bleed into the darkness once more.

---

She's back again; Princess Ruto. He knows that it is her this time because she doesn't look scared anymore. She's a grown woman now; strong and proud. Her eyes are still as deep as they were before, though now there's a hope in them that neither of them can deny. She smiles up at him.

Her hand still holds his. She's handing him her mother's jewel; Zora's Sapphire.

"My mother told me to give this to the man that I would someday marry," she doesn't blush and she doesn't seem to be embarrassed by her confession. "You'll marry me, won't you?"

There's a wind surrounding them. It's strong enough to lean back into. The view of their surroundings is amazing and he feels as though he's flying. So he closes his eyes, taking a deep breath of the salty air and letting it fill his lungs.

Here he can breathe again. She's so innocent. He's so innocent, his sapphire blue tunic matching the color of her eyes almost perfectly.

"Yes," his words come before he really thinks through his answer. There were always consequences, but he's too naïve to think on them. When he first made that promise to her, they were only children. But now he feels differently.

With a smile, she clenches her hands together and holds them over her heart, taking a deep breath. He's just made all of her dreams come true but he's not ashamed to watch the scene unfolding in front of himself.

As a grown man, he knows that their paths in life have taken them to different places. But, knowing all that he knows now, he won't have to break that promise he made to her so many years ago.

But he's breaking it right now. Link is letting the sea take him; the cold waters are flowing through him now, surrounding him. He's giving in to the desire to drift away and he's breaking his promise to her.

---

When he opened his eyes again it was still dark outside. It was still raining. The wind was pelting rain against the window. There was still lightning and the thunder was rolling stronger because, now, the storm is closer.

The rain and the sea surrounded him, tearing him away from his dreams. Together, he could hear them, ice cold, like a plague of darkness. But he could feel her still by his side.

Her silvery blue eyes stared down at him with sympathy.

He laid there in the silence or the longest time, letting Princess Zelda speak to him, not really able to make out what it was that she told him. Her words were lost to the storm, raging around them, to the rain pouring down on the rooftop overhead, to the lingering memories of his dreams, to the battle he was fighting within himself.

Then he managed to sit up.

He's still unsure of just how he managed to gain the strength when earlier he'd had not an ounce to spare. But he sat on the bed for a moment, watching the shock fade from Princess Zelda's face to be replaced by pure joy.

Because her hero hadn't died. He hadn't given in and let the raging sea carry him away with only his dreams lingering.