Finally the last part! Read all extra notes at the end before making any comments or leaving reviews!


Part 3


The night was deep and pleasant. All too soon, they awoke to the sound of Link knocking cheerfully on their door. The sound, as Talo vocally expressed, was not welcome, and the darker-haired of the two threw a pillow at the door weakly.

"Rise and shine!" Link nevertheless commanded. "Today's the day you finally get to meet the princess!"

The boys sat up suddenly in their respective beds, exchanging looks. Did Luda rat out on them? The thought made them panicky, when suddenly Colin whispered, "Oh, no. That's right. Today's the Summit. We're supposed to see the princess."

Infinitely relieved, they fell back on their mattresses, sighing in reassurance.

There was a short silence, when suddenly Colin repeated, with sharp clarity, as though it had only just occurred to him, "Dear gods. Today's the Summit."

"… Damned Spirit!" Talo suddenly cussed, sitting up straight, and they heard Link sigh loudly on the other side of the door as he walked away, mumbling about inappropriate language.

Two hours later, after quick preparations and a healthy meal, they were standing in front of the castle's massive doors, dressed in the traditional Ordonian garb. Link was looking up at the towers, and though the boys searched his profile, they found no sign of yesterday's melancholy. He was as good-humoured as usual. Colin started to doubt that perhaps he'd only dreamed Link's sadness, but a quick glance at Talo's face indicated that he, too, recalled the hero's expression.

No sense trying to understand for now. They were ushered into the vast gardens of the castle.

The sky overhead was blue and fluffy white clouds drifted lazily in the broad expanse of it. The gardens themselves were lush and green, reminiscent of Ordon greenery. Also, the city bustle quieted down to the point that Colin wondered if perhaps they hadn't stepped into another world. The towers rose high against the sky, their delicate forms and arches and pathways a pearly grey that looked like shreds and chips of stone of impressive size and intimidating fragility.

The boys had to pause and admire the awe-inspiring construction. They really were country bumpkins if this is what Link had meant when he'd said 'castle'. Even in his most grandiose thoughts, Colin hadn't come close to knowing how immense this place was.

Talo nudged him, and nodded surreptitiously to their right. Colin glanced there, and saw the stables. His eyes widening in understanding, he gave Talo a comprehensive look, then motioned for the two of them to catch up with Link.

The throne room, Colin soon learned, was at the highest point of the castle. This meant climbing seemingly endless flights of stairs and walking long, ostentatious carpeted hallways. If he hadn't trained with Link all this time, Colin was confident that he'd have run out of breath a good four stories lower.

They finally stepped out onto a large balcony, and from here, Colin was sure he could see as far south as Ordon. The wind was strong, and he was sure he had but to outstretch his hand to touch the clouds. It was the most breathtaking view he'd ever seen.

"Colin, come on. The Princess expects us."

Colin turned and caught up to Link and Talo as they climbed the final flight of stairs.

The throne room was impressive too, with columns and statues of haunting beauty. Sunlight entered here unrestrained. The hall was lively with people. The Hyrule Summit concerned emissaries from all over Hyrule, and they all chatted away as they waited their turn.

Colin's eyes followed the blue carpet up to the far end of the room, and saw a heavy, white marble throne there. And on the throne presided one of the most beautiful women he'd ever laid eyes on.

"That's Princess Zelda," Link softly said, noticing the direction of Colin's gaze. "One of the wisest and fairest beings in Hyrule."

"Mother used to say that fairies were fair and wise, but I bet fairies aren't that beautiful," Colin whispered, smiling.

Link chuckled. "As a matter of fact, they aren't."

"Yeah right," Talo mumbled, rolling his eyes. "Like you ever met a fairy to compare her with, Link."

Link didn't grace Talo with a response, but he nonetheless sent Colin a conspiratorial wink.

"Your highness," their guide said, and the princess' gentle blue eyes turned towards them. "The emissaries from Ordona Province. Sir Link, Sir Colin, and Sir Talo."

Until then, the room had been humming with discussions, but when the princess failed to respond, a hush fell over the guests.

Uncertain, Colin and Talo exchanged glances then looked at Link. The hero's face was serious, and his gaze did not waver: he and Princess Zelda were looking at one another so directly that it seemed they were trying to communicate through thoughts alone.

There was a muted gasp: the princess had stood from her throne. This was, apparently, unexpected.

And, to everyone's stupefaction, Princess Zelda's serious look melted into a heartfelt smile as she hurried to descend the steps and walk over to Link.

Colin and Talo could only watch in shock as Link suddenly let the princess embrace him; he even wrapped his arms around her! They stayed like this, silently, as every onlooker gaped in stupefaction, until finally they broke away and the Princess finally said, her voice soft and gentle, "Chosen hero. I was looking forward to this day."

"As was I," Link politely said, curtly bowing, and the princess looked amusedly pained by his observance of courtesy. "I was wondering how you fared in the past year, since we last saw one another." There was something theatrical about their words, but Colin couldn't pinpoint why he felt that way about it.

"Quite well. Come." She smiled ever so gently at the boys, giving them the same warm look, before turning back to Link. "I expected you later in the day. You arrived yesterday, haven't you?"

It wasn't long before the boys realised that the princess, in spite of her kindness, was much more interested in Link's words than anything they could have told her. They didn't really blame her: she and Link had much more in common than they did. So they strayed and started walking around the room.

It wasn't long before Luda, dressed in the traditional Kakariko apparel, hurried over to them. She was quite a sight, and Colin and Talo refrained from looking at one another, in case either of them got jealous. She shot a strange look at the Princess who sat across the room on her throne, with Link seated unusually close, speaking in low tones, a faint smile on both their faces.

"She didn't look nearly that happy to see anyone else. Glad, maybe," Luda conceded, "but…"

"It's hard to believe that they're supposed to meet up later today, though," Colin remarked. "Sure, they look friendly, but not all that suspicious."

At this point, Ralis walked over to them. He's been talking with a few emissaries from Zora colonies on the outskirts of Hyrule, but he made a point of greeting them. The Prince bowed, shook hands with Colin and Talo, before pressing a kiss to Luda's hand.

It occurred to the boys that perhaps they hadn't been courteous enough towards the girl, but Luda shot them an embarrassed smile that told them she wasn't comfortable with the formalities either. Ralis seemed a little pained by the rules as well ―he was still their age, after all― and he righted himself.

"It seems to me," he commented, "that Link knows the Princess far better than he willingly claims."

"That's also what we were thinking," Luda said, but quickly chose to change the subject. "Oh, look, there's Darbus!"

The massive Goron patriarch was hard to miss. He towered over all the other representatives with a sort of hulking, threatening presence that, they knew, was just for show. Gor Coron accompanied him and they were discussing the mining industry with a few other Goron emissaries from the outer reaches of Hyrule.

"He looks like he's doing good," Colin observed.

"For his age," Talo mumbled, but then he paused, and asked, "How old is he anyway?"

Luda giggled. "A hundred and forty-five years old."

The boys glanced at her to see if she was lying or not.

"Well," Luda said, shrugging a little, "he's a rock. A hundred and forty-five is relatively young for a rock eater. Gor Ebizo and Gor Liggs are both over three hundred."

The thought was intimidating. It was true that the Gorons had looked roughened by age, but they hadn't suspected just how much time they'd lived in reality. They acted quite gregariously and welcomed change as well as any young generation. It was a humbling thought, to compare oneself to the Goron tribe.

Talo summed up their general impressions with a shudder and an incoherent mumble.

"How long do Zoras live on average, Ralis?" Luda asked, politely, turning to the young monarch.

The Zora prince looked at them, a small expression of shame coming over his features. "The Zoras live to roughly forty years, sometimes less." The boys were stunned. As means of explanation, the boy-Prince added, "Well, for a Zora, the moment one grows too old to swim faster than their prey, they become a burden to the school and prefer to die honourably than depend on others. Royals are sometimes the exception, but they are just as prideful."

It was true, Colin thought. He hadn't seen many Zoras, but all of those he'd seen seemed to be in the prime of their existence.

"But Zoras are so athletic!" Luda exclaimed. "It's so hard to imagine…!"

"Well," Ralis said, smiling now, which relieved Luda and the boys, "I've discussed this matter with a couple of outlanders, and they've confirmed that trading with Hylians helped the older Zora live for at least a decade more. Pride is dying out, and in our case it's a positive thing." He grinned.

"I wonder what an old Zora looks like," Talo said, smirking.

Ralis scrunched his nose ―he had no nostrils, as that nose was merely a physical cartilaginous prominence, but if he'd had nostrils, no doubt they'd have flared comically― and he said, "Their scales grow white and somewhat translucent." He laughed a little. "And their fins get a little frayed. It's a strange sight."

"Maybe if you open trade with Hylians," Luda suggested, "the Zora school will live longer too!"

Ralis nodded. "That's mostly why I came. The idea upsets the more old-fashioned minds of the Domain, but…" He shrugged. "I'm Prince, and I'm in charge."

Colin and Talo laughed.

"You tell 'em, Ralis!"

At that moment, there was a tiny chorus of horns and the four young emissaries turned. Link was standing now, no longer by the princess' side, and he was motioning for them to come over. They hurried to get closer. Something was about to happen. Ralis waved to them then joined his group of advisors again. Luda waved as well, going to join the familiar presences of the Goron leaders. It seemed that the numerous emissaries were organizing themselves by province, even though the Princess had never requested such a thing.

She stood before them, smiling gently and benevolently. Servants brought a long table and set it before the few steps that lead to the throne, followed by many chairs. The Princess kindly motioned for all to take a seat, which they did quietly. Colin and Talo flanked Link, wondering what was about to happen.

When everyone had found a seat and complete silence had fallen over the assembly, the Princess gently spoke.

"Greetings," she said, and she was met with a few quiet responses. She smiled. "It is an honour to welcome you all to this annual Hyrule Summit. As most of you already know, it was established centuries back by my ascendant in order to ensure the prosperity of Hyrule and its many denizens." She calmly came down the steps and sat at the table with them, to a few emissaries' surprise. "We've discussed a few major issues together as you came in, and before we get into the brunt of things, I wished to express how grateful I am that you are honouring me with your loyalty and friendship. I am confident that we will reach many agreements and work to make this land a truly peaceful and prosperous one."

There were many nods and smiles exchanged. Colin felt glad that the intentions of all were aimed to this one honourable goal. It was comforting and it made him proud to be part of Hyrule.

"If you'll excuse me," an emissary ―he was pale, with platinum blonde hair and red eyes, almost albino, and wore a red eye symbol on his chest; perhaps the symbol of his tribe― softly spoke up. The Princess looked at him with patience and curiosity. "But before we start, we were wondering if we could not offer you our particular gifts, as tribute to your good will."

The Princess seemed a little surprised, almost as though she had forgotten that she was to receive gifts. But then she smiled and laughed a little, and said, "Of course. I'd nearly forgotten. We can start with that, if it will break the ice, so to speak!"

There were a few good-humoured smiles. Colin turned to look at Link. He'd forgotten that Ilia had given him the gift for Zelda back in Ordon, and now he was curious to know what it was that Ordon Village had chosen to give to the Princess. But Link did not glance at him. All he was looking at was Zelda's face, her every movement, almost hypnotically.

He turned and searched for Luda's gaze. The girl was looking at him fixedly too, and they knew with one glance that they thought alike: Link and the Princess had something in common, like a strong friendship or perhaps even shared love. It wasn't clear, though, and Colin preferred not to allude to anything. With one last look, he tried to signify to Luda that they would find out later, at sunset.

And so, a slow, respectful procession began, as emissaries described the gift their clan, tribe, school or province had prepared for her royal highness. The Princess took them all with grace and gratitude, and Colin's mind spun, just thinking about the value of some of those items.

Ralis' gift was a large pouch of fish bait, the kind that attracted the rare and elusive black bass, which the court considered a rare delicacy, along with a map of all the areas where the creature swam rife. The Death Mountain Gorons gave the Princess scrolls explaining magnetism and how to use it. Luda's gift was a charm specially prepared by her father that warded off the spirits that lingered in unrest. Colin thought he heard Link mumble about how that would have been practical four years ago, but when he glanced at the hero, he was merely looking at the wrapped package Ilia had given him.

"What is it, Link?" Talo whispered, unbearably curious.

Link merely smiled at him. "You'll see. We're up next."

And so they were. When the Princess looked at Link expectantly, the hero stood and offered her the pack.

"It is as you specifically requested," he said, softly. "A friend drew the plans, I carved it myself, and it was painted with a special paint that will make it last for a long, very long time."

The Princess carefully unwrapped the gift. And out of it she took a baton.

Talo seemed stunned and disappointed, and many emissaries looked a little confused, wondering why the Princess would have requested such a thing rather than a great quantity of jewels or rare items.

But Colin knew there was something more to the baton. It looked plain, and it was white and varnished, undecorated, but he sensed there was something about the baton that was different.

"This is…" The Princess delicately cradled the item. "Did you…?"

Link smiled. "I spoke to the Fairy of the Winds. She blessed it herself. Now the wind gods themselves shall do the conductor's bidding."

There was a gasp in the assembly.

How, Colin wondered in confusion, could an item or a conductor's baton possibly force the gods to do a mortal's bidding? And why would the Princess request such an item? There was no need for one: Hyrule had no sailors.

But the Princess looked infinitely grateful. Cryptically, she said, "I'm sure this will be very useful one day."

And that was where Link's part ended. He returned to his seat and smiled at both boys.

"I do not know why she requested that item," the hero whispered to answer their unspoken question, bearing no ill will against the Princess and apparently trusting the woman to know best. "But if she did, she must have a reason that we wouldn't possibly hope to grasp in this lifetime. She is Wisdom."

Talo merely looked at Link as though he were half-insane. Colin could not fully understand either, but knew better than to question it. Link would only tease him.

The Summit, after that, was long and tedious. The only other highlight Colin could think of was when Luda exposed Kakariko Village's state. It gave him a reason to look at her pretty face for an extended period of time and examine how she moved her hands to accentuate her words.

He tried not to blush as he remembered that, her exposé finished, she glanced at him and caught him staring. She'd only smiled, her teeth pearly white, and taken her seat again.

It took a long time, but after a short, conclusive and thankful speech, the Princess dismissed the assembly, promising to look into each issue that had been brought up and seek appropriate solutions. People took time to wave goodbye, and when they finally exited the hall, they found out that the sun was already low on the horizon, casting long shadows and bathing the world in a comforting orange light. The view from the high towers of the Castle was more than spectacular. It was breath taking.

Colin paused. There was something about the setting sun that made him melancholic. Link stopped at his side, shooting the boy a curious glance.

As an explanation, Colin merely looked up at the hero, who patiently smiled, and said, "I always feel a strange sadness as dusk falls." Link's eyes widened imperceptibly, but then he settled into a curious look. Colin couldn't meet the hero's eyes, choosing instead to look at the far horizon as it was bathed in blinding orange light. "Dad once said… They say it is the only time when our world intersects with theirs… the lingering spirits who left our world."

Colin didn't know why his father's words had come back, then, but they filled him with a strange feeling, like he could hardly explain his own sadness.

"Loneliness always pervades the hour of twilight," Link softly said, and Colin glanced up. The hero smiled. "Your father said those same words to me, four years ago."

At this, even Talo could not say a word. The three travellers looked upon the sunset, ever so calmly. The sun was touching the horizon now, and soon it would be fading. Colin didn't like seeing the sunset. He always feared he'd never see it rise again.

As though he knew those thoughts, Link said, "I like twilight. It means there was a day, and it means there will be another to follow, no matter how long the night." He ruffled Colin's curly blonde hair affectionately then said, breaking off from their lyrical views, "We should get going. It's a long way down."

Without another word, the boys followed Link down the stairs. Luda, it turned out, was waiting for them in the main hall. Zelda was there too, saying goodbye to the last few emissaries. When the Princess saw the hero, she seemed glad.

Link paused. To the boys, he said, "Why don't you two get going? It's late and you must be hungry."

They knew only too well that Link wasn't nearly as concerned for their stomachs as he claimed, but the thought had to be silenced, lest they smile knowingly and blew their cover.

Luda joined their side and took Colin and Talo's hands. The motion itself made them feel warm, and they let themselves be dragged away.

"Thank you once again, Princess," Luda politely said, forcefully dragging the boys out the massive doors. They hurried down the steps into the gardens, but before they reached the doors to the city, Luda pushed them sideways and they tumbled into a thicket of bushes. There was little space for them to crawl in, but at least they were out of sight. At the bushes grew on the side of the outside walls, the boys, followed by Luda, quietly waded through the thick branches and leaves, finally getting close enough to the stables that they wouldn't miss anything that occurred nearby.

They sat comfortably, backs against the stone, grateful that no guards had taken notice of their disappearance.

Soon, they spotted Link and the Princess as the two young adults came down the paved path in the gardens. There were a few low hedges, but nothing truly hindered their sight. Link was courteously escorting Zelda, and the princess' arm was delicately placed in the crook of the hero's.

"They're so beautiful together," Luda sighed, almost inaudibly, and Talo elbowed her. She shot him a glare, but they eventually just grinned.

By some fortunate circumstance, the hero and the princess chose to sit nearby, just within earshot. There was a stone bench there, and the hero wiped it clear of leaves so that the princess could sit cleanly. He then seated himself next to her, though not so close that it'd be considered intimate. There was no one nearby to spy, yet they did not embrace. It seemed that they were not, as the boys and Luda originally assumed, hopelessly in love, but merely very close friends.

They stayed silent for a short, awkward moment, before Link cleared his throat and said, "I received your note."

Zelda smiled at this, ever so gently. "I thought you ought to know…"

Link looked at her, curiously. He was much easier to read, it seemed to Colin, whenever he was alone with the princess than when he was alone with anyone else. The boy wasn't jealous of his 'older brother', however. He assumed that Link and the Princess merely shared more common experiences. They had, as Link once told him, fought off a power-hungry usurper together, four years ago, after all. The experience seemed to have filled Link with maturity and a thirst for adventure, but he otherwise disliked speaking of it.

"Know what?" Link asked.

Zelda removed her long gloves, and, from Luda's expression, this symbolized something, though he didn't know what. Zelda's now bare hand came to brush against Link's cheek and she said, in a tone that was so low, nearly whispered, that they had to strain to hear properly, "I have found a way to communicate with the Twilight Realm."

Link's expression, at that moment, was a mix of shock and disbelief, as well as rekindled hope. "You… really?"

Zelda lowered her hand, and looked at her pale hands. "When I gave a part of my soul to Midna, she and I were as one for a moment." Colin shot his two companions a glance, and they looked as confused as he felt. Rather than try to figure it out, they decided to keep listening. "When she returned it to me, we had already been together for a time long enough that we were mingled. A part of me remained in her, and she gave me a part of herself in return. I hadn't tried to harness it before, but now…"

Link's face had been serious throughout the explanation, fully attentive. When the princess trailed off, he asked, "So the Mirror was not the only way?"

Zelda's eyes rose to the dark pink sky even as it slowly turned into dark blue. "I can only communicate properly at this time of day, however. I thought you needed to know."

With those words, before Link could say anything, the princess stood from the bench, took a few steps forward, and started praying. Link only sat, transfixed, as though he feared to breathe and ruin all.

Then, to the young eavesdroppers' shock, a dark portal, marked with bright green markings, opened in mid-air. The Princess stopped praying, exhausted, and slumped onto the bench. Link's arm came to support her, but his eyes were fixed on the portal as it pulsed and absorbed air from this world, rejecting air from another land.

From the portal, then, particles of matter came out, and started forming a tall shape. Soon, the shape revealed itself to be womanly in form, and all those present, hidden or not, could only stare, jaw agape, as the form became a beautiful woman, with skin as dark as the portal she came from. Her hair, on its part, was as bright as a sunset sky, her eyes reflecting the bright orange of a setting sun. Her lips were a pale purple, such an unusual colour for a woman's. She wore a black cloak with intricate designs, the kind Colin had never seen before, and under it, black fabric moulded to her form like a second skin.

Colin had seen beautiful women before, but she was definitely a sight, exotic and otherworldly.

"Holy goats," Talo breathed almost inaudibly, and Luda elbowed him in warning.

Link stood from the bench, and Zelda sat up straighter. Hesitantly, as though he couldn't be sure that the woman was real, he stopped some distance away, and merely spoke one word. "Midna…?"

The beauty looked up. She looked pleased, but then her face contorted in teasing annoyance. "And here I thought I was rid of you."

Link's face, which until then had been desperately holding back his hope, broke into a gleeful smile. "I knew it was really you!" He giddily reached for Midna and, to the woman's shock, brought her close in a tight, happy embrace. They were the same size, so the woman called Midna must have been quite tall.

Uncertainly, Midna brought a hand up to pat the hero's shoulder. "Ah… there, there, Link. Are you feeling alright?"

Link broke away and said, excitedly, "Of course I am! It's been four years since we last saw each other!" Suddenly, his joy died down and his face became accusing. "It would have been less if you hadn't broken the damn Mirror in the first place."

Midna sighed. "It was for the best."

"Best of what?" Link asked, now annoyed. "Were you scared the Twilight Realm would become a dream vacation spot or something?"

Midna shuddered. "That would have been quite awful."

Zelda laughed good-humouredly.

Link and Midna exchanged glares, but it was impossible to hide how glad they were to see one another again.

"Well, then," Link asked, "why did you break the Mirror?"

Midna sighed. "The last time Light beings used it, they thought of the Twilight Realm as a waste disposal dimension." She leaned forward and brought a squinting, comical face close to Link's. Detaching every syllable, she said, "We don't want your trash."

Zelda cleared her throat. "I assure you that the sages sent Ganondorf there to bind him in darkness. They were unaware that―"

"That's beside the point and it's too late now," Midna said, waving it off, and Colin wondered by what authority this woman could interrupt a princess. "So maybe I acted a little brashly, who cares? We're here chatting away anyhow, aren't we?"

"Midna, if you weren't the Twilight Princess, I'm sure I would―"

"You'd what, sweetie?" Midna leaned forward, shooting the hero a cute pout. "Hurt me?"

Link let out a loud, exasperated sigh. "By gods, now I'm starting to think breaking that Mirror wasn't such a curse after all! You're as insufferable as always!"

Midna and Zelda laughed at that. Link motioned to the Princess of Hyrule, and said, to the Twilight Princess ―Colin had to wonder how Link knew that many royals―, "Now Zelda had to tire herself out just to call you up here!"

Midna looked at Zelda, and the two women exchanged amused, comprehensive looks.

"She seems fine to me," Midna said, shrugging, sounding detached only to annoy the hero.

It worked. "Damn you to the depths of the dark realm, Midna!"

This didn't seem to bother the woman in the least, but she commented, "Was I called forth just to satisfy his frustrated need to scream at me?"

"I thought he'd be civil," Zelda assured her.

Before Link could spring into another tirade of insults and remarks, Midna placed a hand over his mouth and put an arm around his neck, which worked, unsurprisingly, to quiet the hero in a split-second. He tensed, uncertain, as the Twilight Princess brought her face close to his.

"Now tell me how the little chosen one has fared in the past four years." Link was silent; stupefied that she was still so close to him. Apparently he wasn't comfortable with such overt advances. Exasperated, Midna said, "Nod once for yes and nod twice for no. Have you trained your sword skills?"

Link nodded once, holding back a grin. Midna was listing things off her fingers, as though she was trying to get past the formalities.

"Have you visited your many acquaintances regularly?"

He nodded again, once.

"And ridden a female other than your horse?"

At this, Zelda gasped and laughed out loud. Midna too was grinning in amusement as Link pushed her away, both annoyed and exasperated.

"That's none of your business, Midna!"

"Of course not. Well then, in case you were wondering, the Twilight Realm is faring wonderfully." She glanced up at the sky. "And the night is falling. I should get back soon, or the portal will be harder to pass through."

Link's previous annoyance melted, and he glanced between Zelda and Midna. "What? Already? But…"

"But you still have insults to launch at me?" Midna asked. "Sorry, buddy, but they'll have to wait."

"That's not what I―"

"Don't worry, Link." The Princess' voice was gentle and she had apparently recovered from her previous effort. "Summoning the portal is easier every time I do it. We can arrange to meet again, all three of us."

This relieved the hero. He turned back to Midna, who was looking at the sky, willing time to slow down. "Um… I'm sorry for my outbursts. Now that that's over with, next time we'll have a more serious conversation."

Midna laughed, waving it off. "Don't count on it. I haven't had this much fun in a week. Next time we meet, we're having a brawl."

Link sighed. "And I thought we could act like mature adults."

Midna grinned. "Too bad." She leaned forward and kissed the hero's cheek. "You're too nice of a man, Link. It's so fun to upset you." The hero's face was tinged in pink, but he scowled and crossed his arms ―which was childish enough to disprove his claim of being a mature adult.

Zelda stood and stepped forward. The two princesses smiled at each other then exchanged a respectful embrace.

"Call me back whenever you're together again," Midna said, and Zelda nodded. "We can't be together for long moments at a time, but hopefully we'll find a way to extend my stay."

With those words, she waved to the princess and the hero, then stepped back into the portal, disintegrated into more black particles, and vanished with the portal.

Link was silent for a long moment before he turned to the princess. "May I come back in two weeks?"

Zelda smiled. "You'd be welcome to." And, to the hero's surprise, she also leaned forward and kissed his cheek ―the other cheek.

Before he could say anything, the princess brushed a fallen leaf off his shoulder and shot him a benevolent look, then walked back down the path, leaving the hero in her wake, stunned.

In the bushes, Talo, Luda and Colin exchanged looks.

They sealed a newly formed decision with smirks. They were coming back in two weeks, for sure.

Now to address issues that some picky or observant people will have, here's a list of things I anticipated you'll bring up.

Lon and Romani, the names of Colin and Talo's horses, are obviously references to Malon (OoT) and Romani (MM). Does that imply that I think that either of these characters are horse-like? No. They're just names, and it's not because TP was set centuries after OoT that an author can't include references. There.

Colin's baby sister's name is Aryll! Omg, I played with names and references. Again. See above.

Blondie and Pint-size, the insults that Talo and Colin exchange on a regular basis, are a reference to nothing except the boys' physical appearance: Colin is blonde and Talo is shorter than Colin.

"Heroics are a lucrative business," is a sentence that I thought to myself when playing through TP. Seriously. Dungeon solving is like, the best way to make mad cash. You just go through a dungeon and you're sure to find way more money than a flimsy 300 rupee wallet can handle (boy was I glad to get the giant wallet!).

Celestia, the name Shad claimed was the City in the Sky's, is a name I picked up from the Hylia's unofficial TP soundtrack. It appears in WMP as the CitS' music track title, and I thought, that's a damn good name for a City in the Sky. So Celestia it was.

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," is a blatant quote from the Wizard of Oz. Not because Oz is one of my favourite movies or anything, but I had to put that quote in because... well... don't you think it just fits? I thought so.

As for old Gorons and young Zoras... well, I thought it was plausible. You see plenty of Goron elders, and it makes sense because, um, rocks are like, a thousand years old (the rocks in your garden? Yeah, they're a hundred times older than you, so treat them with respect!), but on the other hand you never see an old Zora. And I was like, why aren't there any old Zoras if there are old Gorons? Obviously, no one has been flushing any Zoras down the toilet bowl... So I chose to address this issue once and for all.

Gah, now here's the tough part.

The Wind Baton. I can practically hear timeline theorists descending upon me with their Sticks of Smiting. Especially in light of the fact that Aonuma recently confirmed the split timeline theory and that TP follows Majora's Mask and the childhood OoT line, while TWW follows the adulthood OoT line. So if Link from TP made the Wind Baton, it would not reach TWW's Link through the Royal Family, making that plot either impossible or completely inaccurate.

To this, I answer, with all the wisdom of my years... I don't care! The Timeline Theory is already enough of a b!tch to us poor mortals, and people have pretty much been doing anything they please with it since 1998, so what's my little story going to change?

That's right, nothing. Get my drift?

And, ah. One last issue. Pairings. CM, you'll ask, what kind of pairing was this story all about? I don't get it, you'll say.

Well, let's just say it's no pairing at all. Or, if you so desperately insist, it is Talo/Beth Fado/Beth Colin/Luda Talo/Luda Link/Zelda Link/Midna Shad/Ashei. All. At. Once.

Will this settle the unsettled? Will this appease the unappeased? Probably not, so there's no point trying to classify it all. I went for a character study, not a romance. This is the most plausible sequel to TP that I could think of. Now I can get back to writing my lovely AUs and stop being harassed by any TP related plots.

I've done my part! Now I'll move on.

You should too. But leave a review.