Chapter Sixteen Resolutions

Dark watched Nabooru as she rocked Link gently, holding him to her breast and he felt jealousy that she held another so closely; even as he understood and agreed that the other boy needed the comfort. He listened as she said sweet words to him, trying to get him to come back to them from where he had hidden himself in his mind. Link's face was still too white and drawn she noticed, as she stroked his hair away from his forehead; petting him much as a mother would do for her distressed child. Nabooru was used to dealing with the lovesick and broken hearted; many of the girls had troubles of the same sort from time to time.

"Dark will you stop pacing and go and sit down, or better still go and make us all something hot to drink. I have a potion that will calm him."

"Calm him? He's not exactly lively at the moment; although, perhaps he likes lying where he is and getting all your sympathy."

"Just do it Dark, this is all your fault in any case." Nabooru hissed; she was not in the mood for arguing right now. Dark went and got the drinks ready, but his mind was brewing up a storm; 'stupid Link, over reacting any time Zelda came to his mind'. Taking the drinks back in to Nabooru, he found that Link was clutching onto her waist, his head still resting on her breast while they were whispering to each other. Dark's jealousy flared and he slammed the drinks down, then pulled Link away from Nabooru.

"Come on, you're alright now Link; get up and have your drink and stop drooling over Nabooru." Dark's fists were clenched and Link watched him with total understanding, nodding his head. He said nothing though and went to get a drink from the tray before going to stare out at the night sky through the window. He did not need to speak for Dark to know that he was still in pain, it was rolling off him in waves and hitting Dark Link forcefully.

"Snap out of it Link; I didn't mean any of it." But he received no answer and his guilt was making him angry again. "I wish I could bottle all this misery Link, I'd be set for life. Your anguish is far more potent for me than your anger. Now all I need to bottle are your tears...but you're too stingy with them."

"Leave Link alone Dark, you've done enough damage for today." Nabooru was now angry with him and puzzled over his hostile attitude especially when the shadow turned round with his own look of pain.

"I've done the damage? No I haven't; it's his wife who did the damage Nabooru, all I'm doing is capitalizing on that."

"Well it's wrong, Dark; profiting from the misfortune of others." She was startled and upset at herself when she saw his face. It was almost identical to the one still by the window; stark and white with unshed tears filling the eyes.

"I know it's wrong, but it's all I have. All I am. All I will ever be. There is no counter spell for me is there? I am dark in nature as well as name, Link is himself the light with his happier emotions. I hate it, but I hate the thought more; that soon, when he makes up and is all lovey dovey with the Princess again, I will diminish to almost nothing. But I will still be me, I will still know what is going on. I will know when you take another in my place. What am I supposed to do? I don't want to be nothing anymore, nothing to you but an erotic memory. I want to be able to fight for you, to let no one else near you but me. Don't you understand? I want to be real." Dark choked on a sob as he finished his tirade.

Nabooru gazed in astonishment at this outburst; a warm and pleasant feeling surrounded her heart as she realised what Dark was meaning. He loved her; love, not just lust and she felt the same for him; but what could be done? Outburst it might be, but unfortunately it was true as well; Dark was reliant on Link to keep his body from becoming a shadow again. Nabooru didn't know what to say or do this time, both boys were in turmoil and she could do nothing; a position she hated to be in.

But it was Link who shook himself out of his self pity; someone needed help and that was his role in life, to help. Dark found himself with Link's arm around his shoulders and being pressed to sit down.

"I'm sorry Dark, I haven't been thinking about how this has been for you. I've been so wrapped up in my own misery that..."

"Stop being so noble all the time Link; you make me sick, you're so self effacing." Dark turned to face to Link; scorn all over his face. "You should hate me for saying all those things about you; not be trying to make me feel better." His words and expression made Link turn away as he suddenly felt very alone; he needed to get away.

"I don't have the luxury of hate, I feel it but it never stays...I think I must say goodbye and thank-you Nabooru for your hospitality." Link kissed Nabooru on her forehead and picked up his bag; immediately leaving into the velvet night. Neither Dark not Nabooru had moved by the time they heard the Ocarina calling for Epona. Dark was ashamed of himself, none of this was Link's fault and he had suffered enough at the hands of Ganondorf without his shadow berating him for being caring. He turned troubled eyes on Nabooru.

"I must follow him; he did not deserve such harshness from me." He received a nod from Nabooru and as he too vanished out of the door, she dashed away a few of her own tears and whispered, 'come back though, my love; come back.' Dark did not approach Link directly, he just watched as the other boy waited for Eponato answer his summons. He saw Link brush his sleeve across his eyes and felt guilt again, even as he felt the welcome strength flow into him and he turned away in exasperation.

"Don't worry about it." murmered Link. He hadn't moved to look but he knew that the shadow was behind him and he nodded his acknowledgement as he heard the whispered 'I'm sorry'. Dark came up to Link, standing by his side and watching with him until they both saw Epona as she rode up to them; the boys were perfect mirror images of each other, as the rider on her back noticed for the first time.

Zelda had awoken to the sound of Epona's song, as the sweet notes lilted on the night air and she moved as Epona immediately responded to the insistant call. But this time the horse did not gallop of straight away, she remained standing and looking at Zelda; tossing her head until the Princess realised that the mare was inviting her to mount. Joyfully she did so; knowing that she would be taken to her husband and as the morning sun started to crest the horizon, she saw him again alongside the stranger she had seen before.

The new sunlight landed on both the Links, highlighting their similarities and their differences to her. One had fair hair lace with the gold of the sun and the other's was dark with the accent in the silver of the moon. Their faces were identical as were their expressions as they sombrely watched her approach from eyes of sapphire blue or ruby red. Zelda's throat tightened as she looked at them, they were both beautiful men; but her heart constricted as she couldn't then take her eyes of her husband.

Epona reached her master and blew into his hair as a greeting, she stared into his eyes and there was no apology for bringing Zelda with her to be seen. Link could see quite clearly, the wisdom in their depths; she even seemed amused before she repeated her loving gesture with Dark, to the surprise of both boys. It seemed an age before Link finally looked up at his Princess; their faces matched with blushes and Zelda was the first to look away, hiding the tears that threatened to fall and undermine her determination.

Determination not to let him escape again until their lives were put back into their proper places; side by side and not miles apart. Her ruby eyes then turned to look into the pair that were nearly the match of Sheik's; Dark however returned her gaze, with a disapproving scrutiny she didn't know if she could hold. Eventually she took control once again and spoke her first words to Link since he had walked out of their room.

"Please Link, come back to me; I miss you so much. The...the Deku Tree wants you to go home to him as well, he asked that I bring you. Please Link." She waited, her heart rate racing in the confines of her tight blue top. Link heard the genuine plea and wanted to just crush her to him and never let her go, but that would not sort out their deep seated problem. He nodded and sighed.

"Very well, I will go to the Deku Tree. You are to come with me?"

"Yes; as I understand it."

"Do you wish to come as well Dark?"

"Yes Link, I will come. I will find out my own destiny when you have found yours."

"So be it. You may ride My Lady; Dark and I will accompany you on foot." Link didn't notice the look of anguish that crossed Sheik's face at the use of the impersonal title he used; but until he knew where he really stood with the girl, he couldn't get too close. Dark looked from one of them to the other and sighed. It had the makings of a long journey. They set off silently together, hoping to get a couple of hours travel in before stopping for breakfast.

It was hard on all of them; by the time they did stop and Link and Dark had hunted up some food, no one had spoken a word; all being lost in their own thoughts. Link was unfailingly kind and courteous to his Princess, with no hint of rebuke in his voice or demeaner when he had to interact with her. But inside he was in turmoil, he wanted to comfort her and love her while at the same time he wished to punish her as well and his thoughts frightened him. His strongest wish was to take her away quickly and reclaim her body and soul whether she wanted to or not.

The depth of his passion alarmed him but he was strong enough to heed the warning bells. No one would have censured a husband who had to 'teach his wife a lesson' but the mere thought of forcing Zelda, whatever his so called 'rights' made Link sick to his stomach. He had seen the female victims of war and also the women who often followed the armies. Never would he reduce his wife to the level of those poor girls; however because of his respect for Zelda, his attitude instead of being passionately hot was icily cold.

When they set up camp for the night, nothing much had changed; the couple were still formally polite when they spoke and even Dark was preoccupied with his own thoughts which were black for the most part. He could understand more how Link was feeling and stopped making all the facetious jokes, that once would have made him smirk at the other's expense. He knew now how painful the thought of someone else laying claim to your love could be; Nabooru after all would not remain faithful to the love of just a shadow.

Epona once again lay down as a shield and comfort for her companions; Zelda tucked against her legs and neck, while the boys rested against her back. She looked between them all and blew through her nose, snorting loudly and Dark knew that she was exasperated with them all. He couldn't sleep, there were too many thoughts going through his mind; it was a pity that he couldn't be self sustaining, he had plenty of negative thoughts and emotions. Link stirred in his troubled sleep; proximity to Zelda was giving him painful dreams and Dark leaned over, gently wiping the (for him), life giving tears from his original's face; making sure that he didn't awaken him.

They reached the entrance to Kokiri forest before mid morning of the next day and had to leave Epona outside as she would have frightened the much smaller childlike Kokiri. They were met by Navi who was pleased to see Link and she remembered Dark of course as she buzzed around his head. She told them that the Deku Tree welcomed them to the forest and that Link's tree house was still his if they wished to rest and eat.

The tree house was a welcome sight for Link; it had been his retreat from any of his childhood worries and upsets as well as his comfortable, safe home. But how small it seemed now; especially with three adults who were uncomfortable in such close quarters with each other. He couldn't cope with the tension anymore and after bidding them to make themselves at home, Link left to go to the Deku Tree. The Sprout had grown quite tall now and had a more mature look to it, but Link looked sadly behind to the now dead tree that had been like a father to him and all the Kokiri.

"I am still here Link; it is the nature of plant life to die and be reborn. I am still your father even though you have seen me since I sprouted; I have still all the knowledge of the past. Come, sit down close to me and let me ease your heart as I used to when you were very young and troubled by the taunts of the other children. I know what ails you and I am sure I can help."

Meanwhile, Zelda looked at Dark out of the corner of her eye as he walked around taking stock of the little house where Link had spent his early childhood. He sighed heavily several times as he picked up various articles, many made by the owner's small hands. Finally he spoke to her; at last taking pity on the girl who looked so wan and exhausted and he was more gentle than he had wanted to be at first.

"He's the last person on earth who deserved any of this mess Princess; all Link ever does is give without asking, or expecting, anything in return."

"I know, but will he ever forgive me; will he ever want to touch me again after..."

"His worry is that you were as good as forced into marriage with him, not that someone else almost had you. He is a fool for you, I haven't told him this but it is not only his negative emotions I feel; I know he lusts for you still, have no fear."

"He feels I was forced to marry him...why?"

"Something he overheard and you didn't deny, he said." Dark really didn't want this conversation with Her Highness and there was silence between the two while Zelda realised that she and Link were worried mainly about two different things. She had to see him to put things straight between them as soon as possible. At least she could reassure him that she loved him and only him.

"I didn't deny...I was too incensed to deny or say anything. I just wanted my cousin to leave me alone and go away. Link read too much into Tarin's words. I must find him now; I can't wait any longer."

"Then may I suggest you at least become a woman again My Lady; you do not wish to reconcile, dressed as a man!" He sniggered as she glanced down at her blue attire and grinned at him sheepishly;

"I've been like this since he left, I'd forgotton." She no sooner finished speaking, than she changed and Dark gave her a supercilious bow;

"A great improvement My Lady. He will not be able to resist you, believe me." He smirked as she blushed and pushed past him. As soon as she left though , Dark sank to the floor. 'He will not resist her and by this time tomorrow I will just be a mere shadow once again. Good-bye Link, be happy.' Dark pulled his knees to his chest and grieved bitterly for the life he would never have; before going to lay down all curled up on the small bed. Perhaps he could stay here in Link's old home as he had nowhere else to go.

Zelda was taken to the entrance to the Deku Tree's glade by Saria; but she was left to carry on by herself and she stood in awe at the size of the Tree that dominated the clearing. But it was the figure sitting in exactly the same position as his shadow that gained her attention and she started to run towards him, longing to take him in her arms. She stopped short of her target however when she heard that the tree was talking to him; gently chiding him for forgetting the Goddesses words and promises that he had heard for himself, at the end of his quest.

Her heart broke at the sight of her beloved Link, full of self doubt and she went to him;

"Link, please forgive me, my love; I cannot live without you, there could be no other for me. I've loved you since you first entered my courtyard all those years ago; when we were innocent children. Please don't push me away now. Please." She was not prepared for the strong grip around her as Link pulled her to him, nor for the terrible sorrow he displayed as he broke down and wept against her. Her own tears matched his for a long time; neither being prepared to let the other go, or loose the hold for fear that the other would vanish like an apparition.

The Deku Tree sang softly to them through the grass that swayed gently; calming lullabies to heal their wounded hearts and allowing them to sleep, entwined together totally exhausted by their emotions. Then, while they slept he built a private bower from new growth to surround them; hiding them from view and when they awoke, Link took Zelda forcefully and passionately; pouring his grief into his powerful movements.

He didn't mean to hurt her, nor did he; but it was not something she enjoyed, she recognised it purely as an act of need, to assert his rights to her body and she was willing to accept him. She was also more than willing to just hold him afterwards; as once again he cried in remorse and relief to have her back again. Within minutes he was ready and wanted her again, but this time he was more gentle and considerate of her.

Then as they lay replete, he promised that in future he would give her the jewels and flowers that her position deserved, she should never be embarassed at his gifts again. She in turn was angry, she didn't want some blooms that he could get from a gardener; she wanted the ones he had picked, knowing she would like the scent; or that the colour matched her hair or eyes and lips. Likewise she didn't want garish gems, she would rather have the enamelled daises that reminded her of picnics they had shared.

It would take time for all the hurt to be healed; she could tell that there was still anger in his lovemaking, but she welcomed the feel of his hands and body expunging the residue of the other who touched her and she knew that Link's nature would forgive the past very soon. They stayed in the grove all afternoon and evening, listening to the songs of the Deku Tree and refinding each other until they realised they were no longer alone.

The green boundaries of their bower opened up to allow Dark to enter and both Link and Zelda drew him in to them. It was obvious that he too, had been weeping; which upset Link as he didn't know how to solve the problem. But Dark was not now unhappy and hastened to explain to them not to grieve for him. He had been sleeping in Link's old bed when he had what he thought at first was a dream but soon realised was a vision. The three Goddesses had spoken to him and told him that because he was willing to help Link, even at the sacrifice of his own desire; they were willing and able to grant him life of his own.

He would no longer be dependent on Link to sustain him and now he could go to Nabooru as a complete man and ask for her loyalty for himself. This was indeed joyful news for them all and the three who had entered the forest completely despondently would be leaving jubilantly. However one bit of news that the three beauties had shared with him, Dark was to keep to himself for a little while longer. He was going to be an uncle after all, to two little girls and Link and Zelda were going to have their work cut out for them soon.

THE END