Start time: Thursday August 2, 2007; 10:19 AM PDT
At last, the final chapter of most definitely my most successful story to date, Charm Bracelet, has come to your screens. Because you all have been waiting so long, I'm skipping the lenghthy pre-Author's Note at the beginning and saving all I have to say for the bottom of the chapter, mmm'kay? BUT I WILL SAY THIS: this chapter, like chapter 22, will have an alternating point of view. This time, it's in reverse, though. The first half is told by Link, and Zelda tells the second. Once again, you'll be alerted when the POV changes.
Without further ado, here is chapter 27.
GATEWAY WARD—ZELDA'S HOUSE- ENTERTAINMENT ROOM: NOVEMBER 12, 2010; 1:04 PM HYLIAN TIME
Like Zelda told me following her concert at the Metrodome, she released "Never too Far" as a single a little over a month after "Daydream" ended its eight consecutive weeks at the top spot. "Never too Far" also debuted at number one, making it her sixteenth number one single. It stayed at number one for not one week, not two—sixteen consecutive weeks.
I guess it goes to show just how happy her fans are to see her back after so long. I shudder to think how many times they requested the song on the radio and bought the single CD to help keep the record at number one for that long.
"Never too Far" is right now in the middle of its sixteenth week. The past Wednesday Zelda threw what she called a "Sweet Sixteen" party for the record. Like the name suggests, it was to celebrate her sixteenth number one breaking the record for the most weeks at number one—a record that remained unbroken for over twenty years. It was held at Hyrule International Forum's Courage Hall, and anyone who was anyone was there.
The album as a whole is still doing very well. After seven months, it's still in the top five of the Blazing 200. Sales have slowed down a little bit, but it's still selling consistently. It's sold a little over ten million albums in Hyrule alone, making it her first album to surpass the ten million mark and to receive a Diamond certification by the RIAH in honor of ten million albums sold. Worldwide, it's sold seventeen million albums.
Last month Zelda and I renewed her contract with The Rarity and Hylia Music under new terms. Like her old contract, she still owes five albums, but we're giving her ten years instead of five so that she has some time for a break inbetween. That way, she doesn't have to push album after album for the next five years. In return, we're paying her fifteen million Rupees per album instead of ten million, not including her songwriting royalties. Altogether, her contract is worth 75 million Rupees her album and five million Rupees per year. If she completes her required five albums before her ten years is up, she doesn't get the five million Rupees for the years she didn't use.
The past Monday was the reading of the nominations for the 52nd Ocarina Awards, which are being held on January 28, 2011 at the Metrodome, as always. One major change was the elimination of the Artist of the Year award. HARAS said they discontinued it because of a "fix" in one of the previous Artist of the Year nominations. The name clearly states "Artist", yet two people were given a shared nomination—Marin and Zelda back in 2008. It seems rather trivial when they use the name as an argument, but whatever floats their boat I suppose. That leaves just Record, Song and Album of the Year, plus Best New Artist.
Once again, Zelda is leading the nomination pack with nine nods, like in 2008. She's up for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Daydream", Best Pop Vocal Album for Charm Bracelet, Best Pop Vocal Collaboration with The Indigo-Go's for "Never too Far", Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Starry Night", Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Please Don't Make Me Cry", Best R&B Song for "Starry Night", Record and Song of the Year with The Indigo-Go's for "Never too Far", and Album of the Year for Charm Bracelet. Hopefully come January 29, she doesn't walk away empty handed again.
Since I co-produced and co-wrote almost all of Charm Bracelet and "Never too Far", I'm also part of the Record, Song and Album of the Year nominations. I'm also up for a nomination for myself: Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.
I'm lounging on the sofas in the entertainment room at Zelda's house. All the girls are out at school, and Zelda's out at a storage building getting something. I'm reading the old September 2010 edition of Hylian Magazine, the most popular magazine in Hyrule. The cover has in big bold capital letters, "CHARM BRACELET: THE UNTOLD STORY", with a picture of Zelda posing in front of her award collection in the house. Sometime in early August, an journalist from the magazine came over to Zelda's house for an interview, which was labeled by the magazine as "the most intimate and personal interview of her music history making career". After reading through it a couple of times, it sure seems to fit the bill. The article was called, "Charm Bracelet: The Untold Story", just like the cover said. Reading the interview really helped me put Zelda's position into perspective—namely hers—and gave me an idea of what she was thinking at the moments when those events were happening to her. I especially like that questionnaire at the beginning. That question about "boxers or briefs on Link" made me laugh a bit. I'll remember her answer for future reference.
I hear the front door open and close softly as I turn the page of the magazine.
"Link?" Zelda's voice calls. "Are you here?"
"I'm in the entertainment room!" I yell out, taking a drink from my iced coffee.
Her footsteps head for my direction, gradually becoming louder. "Link, I found it!"
I don't look up from the magazine. "Hey Zelda," I say. "Do you want me to wear boxers or briefs tonight?"
I turn around and look over my shoulder at her, smirking pointedly. She's holding a brown box filled with something. She gives me a questioning look, asking with her eyes, "What are you talking about?"
I raise the magazine in my lap and show her the cover. She stares blankly at it for a second, but then she shoots me a dirty look. "Shut up!"
I snicker teasingly as she walks around the sofas and sets the box on the coffee table-ottoman.
"What's that?" I nod my head towards the box, closing the magazine and resting it next to me.
"Check this out," she grins, digging through the contents. She pulls out a rather old looking answering machine and shows it to me.
"What's that?" I ask her, furrowing my brows. She just places it in my lap and takes the power cord, plugging it into an outlet built into the ground.
"You're gonna love this, Link," she laughs, taking the machine from me. She presses a few buttons here and there and she looks up at me. "Listen."
I nod softly and lean into the machine, listening to a few scratches on the tape as it plays back before a female voice comes up.
"Hello, you've reached the phone of five poor girls," I hear my Zelda's voice say. My eyes instantly light up and I beam widely at her. I'm about to say something, but then she presses her index finger to my lips and then points to the machine, telling me to listen on.
"If you've managed to get this number, chances are is that you know our address as well. If you do, and I know you do, please send money!" Malon's voice yells.
"Lots of it! We need money!" Ruto's voice chimes in, and Nabooru's voice comes next. "Do it or I'll come after you and beat your ass!"
There is a few moments of laughter on the message before Saria's voice comes in. "Please leave a message," she says very calmly in contrast to much of the voice message.
Zelda and I both break out into hysterical laughter as the message ends. Oh wow, that voice message brings back so many memories…
"Jeez, you saved that thing!?" I cry out incredulously, but then she shakes her head quickly. "Hold on, there's more!"
We both lean back into the machine and another voice comes back on.
"Um… This is Link Avalon from Rarity Records at Hylia Music Entertainment…"
Oh. My. Goddesses.
"I'm calling for Zelda Harkinian… I've called about five or six times, but no one has answered… I have something that belongs to you, and I'm coming over right now to give it back."
The machine beeps, and Zelda presses the 'Stop' button. I sigh loudly in nostalgia, reclining into the sofa as Zelda unplugs the machine and puts it back inside the box.
"I can't believe you saved that..." I look up to the ceiling and resting my hands behind my back.
"Of course I did," she cuddles into me, resting her head on my shoulder. "It took me a while to find that thing, but I did."
"Back down memory lane…" I breathe quietly. "You need to show that to the girls."
"I'm going to," she nods. "When they come back from school."
A short, peaceful silence falls between us. We shift around in our places a bit, and then she looks up at me.
"Link, are you a person to hold grudges?"
I give her a questioning look at her inquiry, but then I just shrug it off. "I don't think I am."
"Then if you had a disagreement with someone, then you'd try to fix it, right? No matter who it was?"
"I'd at least try to. But I'd give it my best." I yawn softly. "…Why?"
"No reason," she shrugs her shoulders. She kisses me softly on the nape of my neck, and the doorbell rings. "…I'll get that."
"Who is it?" I ask her as she pulls away from me. She dusts off her shorts and smirks at me. "I invited someone over."
I raise an eyebrow at her, and then she runs out of the room and to the door. I hear the door open and close. From here, I can tell that the person Zelda invited over is a female… Either that or it's a guy with "the voice".
Zelda walks into the room and then the other person walks in. Sure enough, it's a girl. And the girl it is causes my eyes to widen in shock.
Oh Goddesses, is Zelda kidding me?
Marin is standing rather close to Zelda; she might as well be clinging onto her. Her arms are folded tightly against her chest, occasionally, raising a hand to tuck a few strands of her chestnut brown hair behind her left ear and fixing the hibiscus flower tucked behind her right.
"…Hi Link," she smiles timidly.
"What are you doing here?" I ask her, getting up from my seat.
Zelda takes her hand and leads her up to me. "Link, I don't know what happened between you and Marin while you two were dating. You said it's none of my business, and you're right… However, seven years holding a grudge against her is long enough." She stops right in front of me, her expression serious. "It's time to make peace."
"…Zelda," I shake my head, but she stops me.
"If you won't believe me, then you'll definitely believe her," she nods.
She turns around and heads for the kitchenette. She grabs her purse off the counter and I nod my chin at her. "Where are you going?"
"The Metrodome," she replies. "The Indigo-Go's and I have to prepare our performance for the Ocarina Awards in January. I'll see you guys later!"
"But Zelda!" Marin and I exclaim in unison. We look to each other for a second, and then back to her. She just waves us off and walks out the room. "I should be back before nightfall! When you've made up, you can come over!"
The door opens and a few moments later, it closes.
Marin and I are left standing together alone, a very painful and awkward silence between us. She folds her arms again and moves from side to side. She always used to do that when she was uncomfortable. I scratch the back of my head nervously, and after what seems like a minute, I gesture to the sofa.
"Marin?" I speak. I seem to have startled her, because she snapped out of her trance. "…Huh?"
"Have a seat, yeah?" I point to the sofa again. She smiles weakly and takes a seat, adjusting her red skirt. "Can I get you something to drink?" I ask again.
"No thanks," she shakes her head.
I nod softly and take my seat next to her, lifting my left leg and resting it on my right. There's yet another moment of silence, before Marin speaks up.
"Link," she leans over to me. I flinch slightly, but I manage to calm myself down.
"Y-yeah?" My voice cracks. I clear my throat quickly, my cheeks blushing softly.
She giggles slightly and runs her hand through her long hair. "Zelda's right. We have a few loose ends we need to tie up."
"I guess," I shrug my shoulders, putting up a façade of indifference.
"…Link, what is it about me that you don't like?" She asks. I turn to her, and her chocolate brown eyes pleading for me to answer.
"Don't tell me you don't know," I whisper, staring pointedly into her eyes.
"I don't, Link," she shakes her head. "Enlighten me, would you?"
"Those months we were together!" I cry out, throwing my hands in the air. "Every day of that relationship you'd throw a fit if I even looked a girl that wasn't you!"
"Is that what's been bothering you all these years!?" Her face twists in confusion.
"Please, Marin," I laugh bitterly. "Don't act like that kind of jealousy is no big deal!"
"I have an explanation—"
"Ganondorf?" I cut her off, raising an eyebrow. "What, is he your scapegoat for anything that goes wrong in your life?"
"Yes, he's my excuse," she nods. "But no, he's not my scapegoat!" She shakes her head.
"Ooh, now we're getting somewhere!" I exclaim sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
"I'm serious!" She protests. "I knew Ganondorf during our relationship. Hell, I knew him years before you and I met!"
My mock smile fades slowly fades away, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah," she nods softly, twiddling her thumbs. "Ganondorf's parents knew mine for a while. I was best friends with him when he was just an intern at Sheikah International. And then you and him got jobs working your own labels, and then there was this media whirlwind about you and him being this record-producing rivals. You and I met in Hylia Village; we hit it off, and began dating, even though I knew how he felt about you. Ganondorf found out about it, and he naturally got all bitter because, you know, he hates you."
I smile softly, urging her to go on.
"He was like, 'Marin you know how Link and I are, wanna have a little fun with him?' Then he gave me all of these things to do, like being the horrible jealous type and everything…"
"Wait, wait, wait," I shake my head and my hand. "Why'd you even give into him?"
"He was my best friend, and we used to do all these crazy and ridiculous things. It was something like, 'If you don't you this to Link, then I'll reveal that to your parents'," she looks down sadly, tucking a few stands of hair behind her ear. "So then I did whatever he wanted me to do just to drive you crazy. Then you broke up with me…"
I let everything she said soak in, absorbing every single word. So Ganondorf ruined a relationship that could have been perfect?
"But…" I furrow my brow. "Why'd you begin dating him? It seems kind of strange that you'd date someone who blackmailed you."
"I signed with his label before we started dating," she shrugs, her head still down and her long bangs covering her face. "And the blackmailing thing carried onto my career. I wanted to be successful, but I was always insecure with him riding on my back… I thought a relationship with him would make all of that go away…" I hear her sniffle softly. "But it only made things worse… And then the fact that even if I broke up with him, I was legally bound to him by my contract… Then Zelda signed with you and that's when things really began getting out of hand."
Through her bangs, I see drops of water fall from her face and onto the sofa, the cushions absorbing the liquid. Tears. Her arms, which were supporting her as she leaned towards me, began shaking unstably.
I look over to the copy of Hylian Magazine and think back to the part where Zelda was talking about Marin and Ganondorf.
"Marin was essentially his puppet."
I slowly reach for the poor girl and take her into my arms, wrapping them around her upper body. She grabs onto my upper arms gently, pressing the side of her face against my chest.
"Shhh…" I try to ease her tears. I hate to see her like this, and I feel even worse when I think back on her career. Zelda and Rauru's situation couldn't be better compared to hers and Ganondorf's.
"I… I don't expect you to believe me," I hear her muffled voice say. "I just thought that you should know the truth."
"Of course I believe you," I reply quickly into her ear. Sure, I didn't believe her for a second, but I know that the tears she's crying are anything but fake. Plus, Zelda told me—or at least tried to—the same thing. There's no way they could both be lying to me, especially Zelda. If she can be a big girl and put her disagreements with Rauru behind her, then I should be able to do the same with Marin.
"I'm just glad you didn't renew your contract with him," I chuckle softly. "…You couldn't terminate it earlier?"
"My contract was fully binding," she responds. "It didn't have any sort of clause like in Zelda's…"
Of course. I expected as much from Ganondorf.
I gently lift her head from off my chest and she looks up at me, tears rolling down her cheeks. I wipe them away with my thumb, and she smiles softly. She wipes her eyes with her fists and clears her throat, pulling away from me.
"Didn't Zelda tell you this… when I sent her that letter about the duet?" She asks, choking a bit.
I smile sheepishly, running a hand through my locks. "I didn't believe her."
Her jaw drops at my answer. "Link Avalon! You'd accuse that girl of lying!?"
I blush softly, folding my arms in front of my chest and simply shrug. She slaps her hand to her head, shaking her head. "Link you haven't changed a bit."
I just roll my eyes, sighing softly. "Whatever… At least we can finally put all of that ugliness behind us."
"Yeah," she sniffles, blinking the last of her tears away. "So… Do you think we can start over?"
I stare blankly at her for a few seconds, before a soft smile creeps onto my lips. "Of course we can."
She extends her arms out for a handshake, and I slowly accept before catching her off guard and pulling her in for our first friendly hug in over seven years.
EMERALD WARD—HCT METRODOME- BACK ENTRANCE: JANUARY 29, 2011; 7:02 PM HYLIAN TIME
Once again, I'm leading the nomination pack for this year's Ocarina Awards with nine of them, just like in 2008. I'm not expecting to appear on stage for any reason other than for the performance with The Indigo-Go's. We're opening the show with an a cappella version of "Never too Far". Absolutely no instruments will be used during our performance. We also included a vocal intro for the song, sung by the guys, which was part of "New Wave Bossa Nova"'s original composition before we combined our songs. It will also serve as a counter melody throughout the entire performance.
But I won something during the pre-show ceremonies! "Never too Far" won Best Pop Vocal Collaboration. Winning that award really meant a lot to me, since its such a personal song, and having it recognized by members of the music industry like that is very rewarding.
I just got out of the press room after accepting the award, and I gave my award to Lulu, asking for her to take it to my trailer as I head for the back entrance to the Metrodome, prepping for the performance in an hour.
I turn around, and I see Raven, microphone in hand, headed in my direction with a camera crew right behind him. I can't help but smile softly as he runs towards me, calling for the cameraman behind him to catch up.
"Hey Zelda!" He slows down to a walk and I step forward next to him. "Hi, Raven… What's up with the camera and everything?"
"I'm a correspondent for the Ocarina Awards for HMS tonight," he chuckles. "I was wondering if you could spare a few minutes for an interview?"
"Sure thing!" My eyes light up. "Anything for my friend."
"Alright," he nods. "Before anything, I'd just like to say that you look fabulous tonight."
I look down at my dress. It's a pale pink colored dress with a plunging neckline, exposing a pretty good amount of cleavage. But this time, I checked from all angles and made sure that no one got an extra view. It's backless as well, so it's kind of a halter-top. It flows down to just a few inches above the ground, so I don't have to keep pulling up the skirt so that I can walk properly. My hair is in a loose bun with my long bangs running down the sides of my face, but with more on the left side.
"Thank you," I grin at him. "You're looking fabulous as well!" I gesture to his navy blue tuxedo, white dress shirt and tie, and black dress shoes. His blonde hair is a tad shorter than Link's, and is in the same old unruly fashion. I have to admit though, that he and Link are probably the only person that can make the messy hair work with formal clothing.
"Thank you. Is this what you'll be wearing tonight for the performance?" He asks me, and I shake my head, "No, I have a separate ensemble for that. This is my red carpet and ceremony dress."
"I see," he nods. "Where's Link, if I may ask?"
"He's out taking care of some last minute business," I reply with a slightly faltered tone. "He wouldn't tell me exactly, but he said he'll be here just in time for the ceremony."
"So you've been working the red carpet alone?" He raises an eyebrow, and I laugh softly, nodding as I do so. "Okay… Now, we've just gotten word that you won your first award of the night at the pre-ceremony!"
"Yeah!" I exclaim. "Best Pop Collaboration… Really, really nice moment."
"So Zelda," he clears his throat softly. "It's pretty obvious that 2010 has definitely your year."
"I guess you can say that," I shrug.
"But check it out, though… Charm Bracelet became the best selling album last year and your best selling album so far with fourteen million copies in Hyrule alone. It sold almost thirty-five million copies worldwide. It's spawned two number one singles, one of which broke the record for the most weeks spent at number one… How did you react to all of that?"
"Honestly," I twirl a few locks of my hair, "I haven't really thought about it. Since day one I haven't really been paying attention to how many albums I've sold or whatever… If I were to actually sit down and think about things like, 'Wow… I've sold this many albums!' then I think I'd pass out or something."
He just laughs at me and I nod quickly. "I'm serious! But now that I think about it, all of that commercial success for this album is a really big deal for me. This is what I feel my best album to date creatively, and…" I trail off, shaking my head slowly, trying to think about where I'm going with this. "…I haven't gotten this much media attention since… my first album!"
"Ahh, so it's a really good reward?" He asks.
"A very good reward," I grin. "But what's more rewarding to me is being able to do things like meet the fans face-to-face and just talk with them."
"Okay," he looks at the ground quickly. "Do you think fame and success and all of that has changed you?"
I pause for a second, thinking the question over. "…I don't know," I shrug. "I don't think so… I think I'm still the same girl I was seven years ago. I'm still the driven, good hearted, sometimes quirky and wacky eighteen year old I was before I was in the limelight… If fame has changed anyone in my life, I think it's the people around me and the way the perceive me."
"What do you mean?" He raises an eyebrow, crossing his arms.
"I mean that once you're so famous—or if you get any significant level of attention for that matter, people start treating you differently," I explain to him. "They tend to lose their sense of… reality, if that makes any sense. But luckily, I have some really good friends that have stayed the same like me. We can still talk like how we did seven or eight years ago, without the whole 'Zelda Harkinian the superstar' thing interfering with a normal conversation."
"Interesting," he nods slowly. "On topic with your whole fame thing, have you ever seen a group of girls your age walking down the street laughing and having fun and think to yourself, 'Man, I wish I could do that', or anything?"
"…Well, I still can, you know?" I shrug.
"But what I mean is," he tries to reword the question, "yeah, you can do it, but not without someone noticing you and asking for a picture or something... 'Do you miss being able to walk down the street without someone noticing you?' is what I'm trying to ask."
I take a deep breath, pondering the question. "Sometimes. I mean, there are those times where I can't go out to the supermarket without someone pointing," I point in the air and feign a shocked look, "'Oh my Nayru, it's Zelda!'" We both chuckle softly. "Yeah, it gets overwhelming sometimes and there are moments that I wish that I could just walk outside without being photographed or someone pointing me out. But then again it's just one of those things you have to take, you know? You take the good with the bad, so what can you do?"
"Good answer," he smiles. "Very good answer… Now, a little while back you were scheduled to tour, but then some things came up…"
"Yeah," I nod, frowning slightly.
"Do you plan on touring anytime soon?" He asks me. "You really haven't done anything like that yet."
"As a matter of fact," I start. "I actually am coordinating a tour!"
"Really!?" His eyes light up.
"Yeah," I giggle. "I'm working out the dates and the venues, but what I'm hoping for is that I'll kick it off here at the Metrodome sometime in March. Then to Kakariko Village, Gerudo Fortress, then Hylia Village. I'll take a break during April and May, and then I'll pick the tour back up in June and go worldwide hitting Termina, the Great Sea, Koholint, Labrynna, and then ending sometime in July in Holodrum."
"Ahh, good plan there, Zel," he gives me a thumbs up. "Do you have any plans as to what's on the set list?"
"Um…" I bite my thumb softly in thought. "It's kind of hard because I have so much material, you know? Had this been my second album or something, it would have been easier as far as choosing material to sing. I mean, because I've done an album every year since I came out… Most artists would be on their second album by the time Ichiban was released. They release an album; take a year or two off, maybe a tour and then work on a new album. But, uh, I didn't…" I chuckle softly. "…I'll work it out. But the staples are going to be there. Definitely "Never too Far", "Daydream" and "Starry Night", those are givens since this tour is for the album."
""Gateway to Freedom" too, yeah?"
"Definitely that," I nod. ""The Only One"…" I stop myself, waving my hands in the air. "Wait, wait, wait! Getting a little too far ahead of myself! One thing at a time!"
"Of course," he nods, laughing. "You heard it first from Zelda Harkinian herself," he says to the camera. "She's touring this spring and summer!"
We both chuckle softly, going on with the interview, taking it inside the Metrodome.
A few minutes later, we're standing right in front of the center of the stage, next to the center-front row.
"This is where I'll be sitting," I run my hand along the velvet armrest of a chair on the far-left side of the front row. "My name's right here, see?" I point to a large piece of cardboard with my name in big capital letters.
"I do see," Raven nods, chuckling. "And I'm guessing the seat next to you with "Link Avalon" written on the cardboard is mine?"
I give him a questioning look before a grin creeps onto my lips, pushing him playfully. "You two may look alike, but not that much!"
"Alright, you caught me," he shakes his head. "But I'm guessing the seats around you are reserved for your entourage?"
"Yeah," I shrug. "The Indigo-Go's are two rows behind me, as well."
"Did you reserve the front row yourself?" He asks. "Or did they assign you the seats?"
"I reserved them," I nod. "…So I don't have to make such a long walk every time I have to walk up on stage to get my awards!"
His eyebrows shoot up at my arrogant comment. "Excuse me!"
I just laugh loudly, shaking my head. "I'm kidding! …Just kidding."
"But since you brought it up," he chuckles, "do you expect to win a whole lot tonight?"
I look up at the air-supported dome, sighing softly. "…If attending the last few Ocarina Awards has taught me anything… It's to not get my hopes up too high."
"Ahh…" He nods. "Oh yeah, since you were snubbed the past years?"
"Well I wouldn't put it that way…" I raise an eyebrow. "I don't think it's because they didn't think I was worthy of the awards I didn't win… It's because someone else was more worthy in that nomination… And that's just how things are, you know? Can't expect to win everything… Besides, at this point in my career, I really don't strive just for success like millions of albums sold or getting all the Ocarina Awards I can get my hands on, you know? I mean, they're nice to have, and it's all such an honor, but that's not so much of a focus to me."
"I see," he smiles. "Now Zelda…"
"…Yes?" I smirk.
"About your interview in Hylian Magazine last year…"
"You know that comment you made about Link's choice of underwear?"
I just shake my head, giggling softly. I knew that question would haunt me! First Link and now Raven…
"Whatever you're about to ask," I laugh, "save it."
"I want to interview you," I cut him off, trying to avoid his question.
"You want to interview me?" His eyebrows go up.
"Yeah," I nod.
"Fine," he hands me the microphone, holding up his hands defensively.
"Okay," I start. "You've collaborated with quite a few people."
"Yes I have," he runs a hand through his hair.
"But who's the best person you've ever collaborated with?" I smirk mischievously. "…Besides me?"
There's a short silence between us, until we both break out into wide smiles, chuckling amongst ourselves.
"…Now I can't answer—"
"Why?" I whine, feigning a hurt look.
"Because the world isn't interested in an artist like me, they want to know about Miss 130-Million-Albums-Sold," he defends himself.
"Of course they want to know about someone like you," I giggle. "They do!"
"No, they want to see you!"
"They've seen me for seven years, they know what I look like by now," I laugh.
"…Okay, so this is what I think about your boxers or briefs on Link comment," he snickers after another short silence.
"And what do you think?" I ask him, interested in what he has to say.
"I think that tents aren't your thing," he says naughtily.
My jaw drops slightly at his blatant vulgarity. "…And who said that?"
"I did," he replies cheekily. "You prefer bulges over tents!"
My face instantly blushes a furious shade of red as I break out into hysterical laugher.
"Big, bulging mountains are the kind Zelda Harkinian is into!" He yells into the microphone.
"Shut up!" I slap his upper arm. "This is on TV, you know!?"
"On a channel watched predominantly by teens," he counters. "This stuff is tame compared to the sex they see everywhere they turn… Miss Cleavage!"
"No!" I shake my head defiantly through my unstoppable laughter. "No! You're trying to go down some dirty road, and I'm not letting you!" I wag my index finger at him in a scolding manner. "…So who's the best person you've ever collaborated with… besides me?"
"I'm not—" He laughs, shaking his head, "You know what?" He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper, unfolding it. "I'll just refer to these questions I wrote during the commercial break earlier."
"Your writing is terrible," I giggle. "How can you read that?"
"No, wait," he pauses, staring at the unfolded note. "…These are your questions…" He turns to the camera. "During the last break, Zelda wrote a few questions she wanted to ask me… I'll just read these off to you…"
"Question one… 'Raven Ambi, what is your name?'" He just smiles straight into the camera and sarcastically strokes his chin in wonder. "Hm…"
His actions cause me to laugh once again, my giggles high pitched and girlish.
"Question two… 'How many of my past Ocarina Award nominations can you name? …And why was I nominated for them?'" He gives me a crazy look, as if to ask me if I have been smoking something. "What the hell do you mean, why were you nominated for them!? …Oh, and the last question is Zelda at her finest: 'Would you sleep with Link for three million Rupees?'"
I stumble back, almost tripping on my stiletto heels, unable to maintain my composure because I'm laughing too hard.
"Honestly, Zelda…" He shakes his head in disapproval, and I lean on his shoulder to support myself, laughing into his neck. "This is why HMS hired me to interview people and not you."
"Shut… Shut u-up," I manage to croak out weakly, shaking my head as my face is still buried in his neck.
"Let's take it back to the studio at Hylia Square," he says to the camera through soft chortles.
EMERALD WARD—HCT METRODOME- BACKSTAGE: JANUARY 29, 2011; 7:45 PM HYLIAN TIME
It's ten minutes before the show starts. Link called me a few minutes earlier; he said he's "making it as fast as he could". The Indigo-Go's are crowding around Lulu and Malon, who are both holding Ralis and Mikau, Jr.
The guys are all in matching white tuxedos with matching white ties and white, polished dress shoes. Lulu and I are in matching dresses. The floor length skirts are the same snow white as the guys' suits, with a very light blue hemline. The top of the dress is the same shade of light blue, and is much more concealing than the outfit I was wearing earlier, showing significantly less cleavage and the back isn't as revealing either. It holds the dress to my body by wrapping around the back of my neck. Lulu's wearing gold and blue earrings modeled after the Zora's Sapphire, an ancient Zora relic, while mine are modeled after the Triforce.
I walk over to them and join in their conversation, waiting for the show to begin.
"Malon," Lulu starts.
"Do you and the girls mind watching over these two during the show?" The Zora asks with hopeful eyes.
"Of course, Lulu!" Malon exclaims.
Ruto comes up to us and plays with Ralis in Malon's arms, tickling his belly gently. We all fall silent. Ruto loves children, but she hates babysitting.
"We'll, uh, watch over the B-A-B-Y," Malon winks at Lulu, hoping Ruto won't catch on.
Ruto looks up at all of us with a confused expression. "Who's Bobby?"
We all shoot her incredulous looks, shaking our heads in disapproval. Just like I thought, she didn't catch on.
"The baby," Lulu tells her bluntly.
Ruto just laughs lightly, resting her hand on her shoulder. "Lulu, his name is Ralis!"
We all once again groan simultaneously. Nayru, Ruto can't be that air headed, can she?
All of us turn to one of the backstage entrances and we see Link headed for us. He's in a finely cut black tuxedo that hugs his figure, defining his muscles underneath his clothing. He's wearing his small rectangular eyeglasses, tilted down slightly. His hair, like Raven, is combed nicely, but tousled subtly… if that makes any sense at all.
"Link!" I pick up my skirt and run towards him, decked out in my four-inch heels. I catch him in a tight embrace, and he laughs softly, wrapping his arms around my waist.
"I bet you thought I wouldn't show, eh?" He raises an eyebrow, winking at me. "I'm a man who keeps his word."
"I know," I giggle, pulling away from him.
"Zel!" We both turn back to the group, and the girls are walking down a hallway with Ralis and Mikau, Jr. Lulu motions for me to follow her. "Come on!"
"She'll be there!" Link answers for me. "I have to tell her something first!"
Lulu nods and the group of Zora walk away. I turn back to Link, and I find that his expression is rather serious. "What's wrong, Link?" I ask him.
"Zel," he reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper and hands it to me. I stare at it for a couple of seconds before taking it with both hands.
"…What's this?" I raise an eyebrow.
"Rauru's family called me this morning," he says. "They said that I could take whatever I wanted from his house in Ordona Ward."
"Anything you wanted from a multimillion dollar mansion…" I say softly with a smile. "And you take a piece of paper?"
He doesn't smile or laugh or anything. "Read the note."
My cheerful expression slowly fades away, unfolding the piece of paper. I flatten it out, and find that it's a letter. I look back up at him. "What's this?"
"I found it on Rauru's desk," he tells me. "Dated the night before he died… Read it."
I nod softly and read the letter aloud.
As you read on through this letter, you may be wondering why this isn't addressed to Zelda. But that will be explained soon enough.
The last couple of months, you may have noticed that I've been complaining about chest problems… Heart failures run in my family, and I'm afraid I'm no exception to this. As they have been growing more frequent, I feel I have little time left, and therefore, will not be able to tell Zelda what I need her to hear the most. So if you're reading this, please tell her what I'm about to say.
Tell her that I'm sorry. Tell her that I'm sorry for everything that I have put her through the last two or so years. Tell her I'm sorry for driving her to her breaking point, making her work all those sleepless nights and sing all those performances against her will. Tell her that I just wanted her to be successful… I know success is what she's been wanting her whole life, and I would do anything to give her that success… I guess I was just too blind to see that she was really hurting… both inside and outside. But Goddesses, she had so much potential! And she still does… I guess with a voice like hers, I forgot that she's just human… I know this is what she still wants, to be a singer. She's told us numerous times she's wanted nothing more than that… Link, do whatever it takes to bring her back to Hylia Music. Help her succeed. I know you can do it.
I can't tell her myself. Something in the pit of my mind tells me I'm the last person she wants to speak to, even now. But if she'd listen to anyone, it's you. She loves you… Even then, if she does not believe you, show her this letter… This letter is all the proof she needs. It's all she needs to know just how truly sorry I am… for everything.
I'll mail this to you tomorrow morning. Promise me you'll give this to her… I'll talk to you later, Link.
When I'm finished reading the letter, I'm left staring at the paper, scanning across his clean cursive, written in black ink. But parts of the letter begin to run into a puddle of gray liquid as tears fall from my eyes and onto the writing.
"He died during his sleep," I hear Link whisper. "He never was able to give me this… I think that's why it took so long for this letter to get to us."
To be honest, what Rauru just said in his letter… I kind of expected it. Rauru was always predictable like that. But all the same, what matters about this letter is that I can finally rest assured that no more animosity plagues us anymore. I finally know that he was just as sorry that we never made peace as I am.
The arguments we left unsettled and the ends we left loose can finally be tied.
"Link…" I choke, looking up at him. He leans forward, taking me into his arms and wiping my tears away.
"Shh…" He kisses me softly on the forehead and on my lips.
"Zelda!" I hear Lulu's voice call from behind me. "We're on in two minutes!"
"…You'd… You'd better get out here," he whispers. I nod softly, pulling away from him. I give him the letter back and I wipe away the last of my tears.
"Smile for me," he grins. I giggle softly and manage the brightest beam I can manage. He winks and gives me a thumbs up, patting me on my upper arm. "That's my girl."
"Zelda!" Lulu yells again.
"She'll be there!" Link calls back to her. He turns to me, pointing behind me. "Well hurry up!"
"…Right!" I laugh. "You'll be watching?"
"As always," he nods. "Go on, I'll be there."
I wink at him quickly and turn around, picking up my skirt as I run to my spot behind a few curtains on stage right, a stagehand giving me my microphone as I do so. The entire arena is dark, with the ambiance panels glowing dark blue serving as the only sources of light. Behind a few curtains on stage left is Lulu. She gives me a thumbs up and I giggle, returning the gesture.
"Performing the first of the five Record and Song of the Year nominations," the male announcer's voice booms throughout the dome loudly as the audience gradually begins cheering. "Please welcome The Indigo-Go's and Zelda Harkinian!"
The lump in my throat grows at the audience dies down, the stage's lights slowly turning on, creating a dark navy color. The curtains at the top of the central stairs rise, revealing the large screen and the three guys, standing at the top of the stairs, hidden in the darkness. The three of them begin singing the intro, slowly walking down the steps and their spotlights coming on as they do so.
I know you're out there
Shining your light down upon me
Guiding the way to your heaven
And I know I'll be there
I know one day we'll be together
But for now all I can do is pray that
We'll finally reunite forever
By the time the intro ends, they're all standing together in a line at the bottom level of the stage between Lulu and me. Japas sings the first verse, with the other two guys humming along the melody, acting as a second voice.
Though there was so much to tell you
You never heard what they were
Even though I can still feel you
You're out of reach
So out of reach
As he slips into falsetto on the last note, I slowly walk on stage, my spotlight coming on as I sing. Japas joins the other two in humming along the music. Without the band or anything, it's amazing how much my voice echoes over the microphone. I look out to the audience, and right there in the front row, as always, is Link.
As I go on without you
Never to be by my side
(Never, ever by my side)
I remember that what we had
All the bitterness
As we switch into the chorus, Lulu slowly walks on stage. Lulu and I sing the chorus together, while the guys sing the intro over as a counter melody.
But then I look up to the skies
Knowing you're in Heaven
Smiling down upon me
Lighting up the way
Now I realize that although you're so distant
For the second chorus, Evan sings with Lulu providing a second voice. The others go back to humming the melody, and I take a step back, hugging my microphone to my chest, both hands gripping onto it tightly.
I know (I know) there were those times
(Those times, those times)
That I'd take you for granted (For granted, ohhh)
And although I looked like I was taking advantage
(I was taking advantage)
I cared for you
(Please know that I cared)
I loved and cared for you
(Yes, baby I loved you)
As the song shifts into the second chorus, Tijo steps up, ad libbing over the chorus with Lulu. Japas and Evan go back to singing the counter melody, and I sing the full chorus over.
But then I look up to the skies
Knowing you're in Heaven
Smiling down upon me
Lighting up the way
Now I realize that although you're so distant
The song raises its key a bit as Lulu takes the song to the bridge, the boys humming the melody again.
Without you, my world will never be the same
But inside my heart you'll forever stay
I sing the next two lines of the bridge, raising the pitch another key.
But I know that as I cry my quiet tears
We will finally be with each other
Lulu and I sing the next line together, raising the key until we're singing one full octave higher than when we first started the song.
The guys sing the counter melody over and the Temple of Time Choir comes out on the catwalks on either sides of the stage, the dark blue lights softening and providing more light. The choir sings the full chorus, and Lulu and I sing over them.
Knowin' you're in Heaven
Always lighting up the way
Though you're so distant
You're never too far away
The choir sings the chorus again and the boys sing the counter melody, leaving Lulu and I to sing over them once again. The now neutral blue lights slowly lighting up to a lighter shade.
I look up to the azure skies
You're in Heaven, smiling and lighting the way
Oh, yes you are
And although that I know, I know that you're so distant
You're never too… far away
Lulu and I trill down on the last line, the choir and the guys stopping. The entire arena falls silent, the lights slowly dimming so that the only two lights on the stage are on Lulu and me.
Lulu and I both smile warmly at each other before I turn away and look up at the screen behind us. Our faces fade away to black and the same Rest in Peace message that displayed at the concert last year appears. As I look at Rauru's name, soft tears begin rolling down my cheeks. I turn back to the audience before singing the last two lines of the song with Lulu in falsetto.
Although you are so distant
You're never too far away…
I bow my head softly, my tears falling onto the stage. The house lights all come back on and Lulu reaches for me, wrapping her arm around my shoulders. The entire audience gets up to their feet, roaring loudly. I smile softly and wipe my tears away, waving to the audience.
"Thank you," I choke softly. I turn to the others and gesture to them. "The Indigo-Go's."
The cheering gets louder and we all bow in unison and walk backstage.
I'm sitting in my seat in the audience next to Link, back in the dress I was wearing before the show began. It's halfway through the show, and so far, I still haven't won anything other than the Pop Vocal Collaboration. I've lost Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Daydream", Best Pop Vocal Album for Charm Bracelet and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Starry Night".
Koume and Kotake walk up on stage, both wearing red and blue dresses respectively.
"The Song of the Year award goes to the composers of the nominated song," Koume says into the microphone.
"This year," Kotake speaks, "that award will be going to…"
She lifts the envelope in her hand and tears it open. Koume leans in and reads the contents, and they both break out into a smile before saying into the microphone at the same time, "Link Avalon, Japas Goht, Tijo Gyorg, Zelda Harkinian, Evan Odolwa and Lulu Zoraxe for "Never too Far!""
My eyes widen in shock as they announce our names and the chorus to "Never too Far" plays over the sound system, applause filling the room. I turn to Link, who's giving me a ecstatic beam and I turn around to the Indigo-Go's who are already standing up, hugging each other. Link and I get up to our feet, walking up the steps to the stage. They give each of us our own golden Ocarina statuettes and I examine the engraving on mine closely, the playback of the song fading away.
HYLIAN ACADEMY OF RECORDING ARTS AND SCIENCES
LINK AVALON, JAPAS GOHT, TIJO GYORG, ZELDA HARKINIAN, EVAN ODOLWA, LULU ZORAXE
"NEVER TOO FAR"—SONG OF THE YEAR
The Indigo-Go's give their acceptance speeches first, then Link. When he's done, he steps aside, gesturing for me to step up.
"…Wow," I smile, reading over the small plaque. "It's been a while since I've been on this stage to accept one of these." I chuckle softly. "I just want to thank HARAS for giving me this award… Link and The Indigo-Go's for a memorable experience during the writing of this song," I turn to them, and they smile at me. "I want to thank Rauru Sayge most of all for serving as my inspiration for my part of the song and for his undying faith in me. Rest in peace, Rauru. Thank you."
I flash a quick grin before turning around and walking backstage with the others.
So far my tally is three out of nine. I lost Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Please Don't Make Me Cry" and Best R&B Song for "Starry Night". A few minutes ago I was also given Record of the Year for "Never too Far", which I shared with Link and The Indigo-Go's again.
I never thought that I'd be accepting any of the big awards, especially since I lost most of my genre-specific nominations. Still, I'm very grateful to be recognized like that.
One more award is left, and it's Album of the Year. Artist of the Year was discontinued starting this year, making Album of the Year the most prestigious of the awards.
"The last award of the night," King Nohansen says into the microphone, "is Album of the Year. It is awarded to the artist and the producers of the album in question… The Ocarina Award for 2011's Album of the Year goes to…"
My heart is pounding, the tension too much to bear. But then again, I didn't even win Best Pop Vocal Album, so that lowers my chances of winning this—Album of the Year.
Goddesses, I swear I almost passed out in my seat right there. I suddenly become dizzy as the arena erupts in applause as King Nohansen continues reading off the envelope and the chorus for "Daydream" plays over the sound system.
"Artist—Zelda Harkinian. Producers—Raven Ambi, Link Avalon, Japas Goht, Tijo Gyorg, Zelda Harkinian, Evan Odolwa and Lulu Zoraxe. Executive producers—Link Avalon and Zelda Harkinian."
"Zel!" Link, who is standing up on his feet with the rest of the arena except me, bends down, an ecstatic grin on his face. "Stand up! You won!"
I look up at him and manage to prop myself upright without my legs giving way. All of us—Link, The Indigo-Go's, Raven, and myself—walk up the steps to the stage and over to King Nohansen, all of us bowing in respect. He extends the Ocarina Award statuette to me, and I thank him, bowing again. I turn around to face the others, and they're all receiving their own awards from the King as he passes them out individually. I turn around and see that the entire audience is standing on their feet, cheering my name loudly. I laugh girlishly into the microphone, reading the inscription.
I wait a few moments for the cheering to die down and the playback of "Daydream" to end before speaking into the microphone.
"People…" I start. "People have different ways of recording their memories so they have something to remind them of their pasts… Some people write out journals and diaries, with each entry a written account of an event in a person's life… Some people record them in pictures or on video, because like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words… Some people even keep weblogs on the Internet, giving them the opportunity to share their lives with the millions of people online."
I sniffle softly, fighting away my tears. "Me? …I keep a charm bracelet," I gesture to the silver bracelet on my right wrist, numerous charms dangling from the chain. "Charm bracelets are special pieces of jewelry that carry ornaments and pendants, which are tiny representations of memories of the wearer's life. When linked together, these charms create one giant story."
I pause shortly before turning around to face Link. He just gives me a thumbs up, winking softly. I turn back to the audience.
"My life has had its ups and downs. There are memories that I think I'm better off forgetting about…" I think back to the meeting in Rauru's office that November when he first told me about "the key to commercial success"… When I was in the studio with Link before I passed out… When I told everyone that I was leaving Hylia Music.
"There are memories that I'd go through over and over just to feel the happiness of that time." I think of when I first met Link and when I got my recording contract… When Link and I first kissed and made love… When we both performed "Love We Share" for the first time… During the concert that took place here last May.
"Be that as it may, they are still memories, and most importantly, they are my memories. All of these songs are memories. They are representations of times in my life, both good and bad."
The audience slowly begins cheering loudly as I continue.
"…When linked together, these songs create one emotional story… one long chain of memories…"
I smile softly to myself as joyful tears roll down my eyes, as my entire career flashes right before my eyes, speaking into the microphone.
"…One glittering charm bracelet."
After six months, Charm Bracelet has finally come to a close. It's been really fun, guys. This chapter is my ultimate favorite… Namely the beginning with the answering machine and the interview between Raven and Zelda.
Now you know where that quote at the beginning of the story came from. Yes, did you notice? Zelda's acceptance speech for Album of the Year is those two italicized paragraphs at the beginning of chapter one.
If you haven't heard, Charm Bracelet is so big of a story it even has it's own spin-off! WHAT!??! Yep, look in my story archive and you'll see Charm Bracelet: The Untold Story. That's where the Hylian Magazine stuff came from if you were confused about the deal with Link in underwear. But there's a fine distinction between spin-off and sequel. IT'S NOT A SEQUEL, and THERE ISN'T GOING TO BE ONE. I think I just lost five or six reviews saying that; I bet a good number of you was going to ask for a sequel. What a spirit breaker.
Also, check my deviantART, and you'll see concepts of the front and back cover art for Zelda's CB album. I suggest checking that out as well.
But what's to come after this story? When's the next story being published? It already has. Yes, on Friday August 3, 2007, my new story was published. It's called A World of Lies. I don't blame you if you don't know about it; Fanfiction refuses to send New Story Alerts. The following paragraph is a summary for that story.
Link Avalon, twenty-seven, is a new Ancient Hylian History professor at Hyrule University. He has just been appointed a job teaching the twenty-four year old Princess of Hyrule, Zelda Harkinian. During a break from giving the princess her history lessons, he wanders around Hyrule Castle, and stumbles across one of the castle wizard's incantation readings. It's at that moment when he discovers Hyrule's history has been nothing but one giant fallacy—the six Sages, the four Light Spirits, the Hero of Time, the Princess of Destiny, the King of Evil, and even the three Goddesses and the Triforce… have all been nothing but a world of lies.
It's going to be Link/Zelda evidently, and it's set AU. It's kind of the plot you'd expect from a classic Legend of Zelda game set inside an AU. WOW! You want more information? Well, you gotta check it out (as well as my blog on deviantART titled "1st Tribute + Applying Nintendo's Strategy"). Also, you can see the character design for Princess Zelda there to get an idea of what she looks like this time around also.
Once again, thank you so much to the readers and reviewers. Without you, this story would not have become my most successful story to date. Thank you for all 12500+ hits and 280 reviews (these stats as of 080307, 11:27 PM PDT). Hopefully I'll see you all over at A World of Lies. Be careful though, it might go AWoL… Get it?
Enjoy Life and Smile.
End time: Friday August 3, 2007; 11:28 PM PDT