A/N: Yet another revision. ^.^ All I did in this case was delete about 300 words from this particular chapter to make the reading a bit more smooth. As always, critiques of any kind are welcomed.
"For Good" from the musical Wicked by Stephen Shwartz
I've heard it said / That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn / And we are led
To those who help us most to grow / If we let them / And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true / But I know I'm who I am today /
Because I knew you…
Like a comet pulled from orbit / As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder / Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better? / But because I knew you
I have been changed for good…
It well may be / That we will never meet again
In this lifetime / So let me say before we part
So much of me / Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me / Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end / I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…/ Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea / Like a seed dropped by a skybird in a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better? / But because I knew you
I have been changed for good!
How do you know when you have made the right choice?
I'll make an answer for myself. That knowledge came just before I received that deep, calming sense of satisfaction and peace.
The true Princess of Twilight is safe…out of Zant's reach.
I have handed the key to banishing evil into our Hero's hands, the one chosen by the Goddesses for a time such as this.
That said, I have virtually lost my own life in the process.
But it is something that I do not – cannot – regret.
My true love is alive.
My Midna, my Middie is alive.
My body is dead, but my soul can't contain any more joy…
It has been said for centuries that as twilight falls we feel an odd assortment of sorrows and regrets. These emotions are channeled into the evening sky from those banished from the World of Light into that of the Twilight.
For years as I grew up, I didn't think twice about this ancient telling. It a myth to any Hylian citizen. When I was a little girl, not more than five springs, my father and I often sat on the balcony facing the western horizon. My beloved sire pulled me into his lap and hugged me close, and then told me to not look too long into our setting sun.
"The Twili, the people who live in the Twilight, will come and get you and eat you for breakfast!" I continued to watch the sun for a few moments, wide-eyed, then his comment registered and I looked at his face with a combination of disbelief and consternation.
He laughed a deep belly laugh and I started jumping up and down in his lap.
"What else eats me for breakfast, Daddy?!" I shrieked.
"Why are you so anxious to find out?" He said, laughing the whole time.
"I – have – to – know!" I would shout, leaping about on the balcony. Father drew me close.
"Why, I don't know little one! You are so tiny that anyone could eat you in one mouthful! And I do believe your hair would get caught in their teeth," he would whisper conspiratorially in my ear and laugh again.
My hair has always been a source of pride and joy for me – vain to some, but any woman will tell you that her hair is a crown, regardless of her social status. As a woman, I have dark, strawberry-blonde hair, but as a child, my hair was a sight of messy, curly, white-blonde tresses. My father stroked and twisted it thoughtfully in his fingers whenever I sat in his lap. It was not a rare occasion in which he bragged to all his knights and courtiers in our throne room that I was the very image of my mother. I grinned from ear to ear and made sure everyone saw my mannerly behavior and how I was fit to be a princess.
Indeed, I was a princess by blood. My father was Guardian of Hyrule, and I was his only child, Crown Princess Zelda. My mother had been a powerful leader alongside my father, and while she lived, the kingdom never felt concern about peace and safety. My mama never failed to fulfill her role as Queen Protector of Hyrule.
Raised a warrior, she was born and bred to viciously fight to the death. The country she had been born into – San-kirla – did not discriminate between male and female warriors or rich and poor fighters. Valor belonged to any who defended their country at great personal sacrifice. Both genders and all people of all social statuses were required to fight in the wars their country waged. San-kirla was a tiny country but had ideal and diverse lands – warm and humid weather in the northeast, hot and dry deserts in the west, fertile farmlands in the southwest and piney woods and cool beaches in the southeast. Not even my beloved Hyrule can compare to the geographically varied country that is San-kirla. As Queen Mother Protector myself, I continue to carefully tend the alliance between Hyrule and San-kirla – their soldiers are the best, bar none. They would answer my country's call for help in less time than it takes to saddle a horse, I'm confident; my Hyrule is more than ready to respond to their cry for aid, as well.
But not even the most fantastical warrior is invincible. "Mankind is mortal," my tutors all repeated countless times, and the lesson was especially painful at my mother's death. She didn't die in childbirth like many women do in this age; she died in battle with an arrow to the heart. My father stood beside her when she fell and did everything he knew to do, but it was too late to save her. I was four springs when my mother died – my father aged a hundred years after her death.
When I am asked what I remember of her death and its' aftermath, I hesitate, clear my throat and beg pardon. "It is a very old memory – you must forgive me," I say.
I remember being in a bedroom, about to take my afternoon nap. My father assigned me to a room that could keep me safe if the invading Gerudo had taken it into their head to come and find me. My nurse was sitting close to my bed, knitting. Her needles made an incessant clacking noise that often irritated me, but that day, their regular prattling emitted a soothing rhythm.
Soon after I lay back on the mattress and stared up at the stone ceiling, I faintly heard the city gates being opened. At that moment, I thought nothing of it, but the distinct, restrained sound of wailing became evident in my ears. I turned my head to the window and only saw the sky and the pinnacles of tall buildings.
A deep, unsettling disturbance in my mind awoke and I became suspicious. The disturbance in my mind increased when the steel gates leading to my home opened and the wailing continued, becoming loud. The ululating, piercing noise made me quiver and I looked over at my nurse to see when she would notice that something was wrong. Just when I thought I couldn't bear it anymore, my nurse finally heard the mournful cacophony and ran out of the room, wanting to see what was happening.
I was left in that room alone. The fear slipped down from my mind into my young heart. What felt like hours later, I heard a gentle knock on my door. I tried to say, "Come in," but it came out as a tremulous squeak. A senior guard in my father's personal army came in through the door: "Lady Zelda, your mother has died valiantly in battle."
I don't remember anything much after that. I don't remember how I spent the rest of the day, I don't remember the funeral, and I don't remember seeing my father in the week following my mother's burial, although I can imagine his demand that I be kept in his sight at all times, a manifestation of his grief.
I was often told that I looked like my mother when she was a child. When her family from San-kirla and close friends came to visit, they would hold me tightly and sometimes cry when they looked at me. "Just like her mamelah," they would whisper.
But my father did not shun me as many fathers do after their precious wives' death. It is not common for the reflection of their wife in the children to force fathers to shut down completely, and this the Guardian never did. I sat close to him at dinner, I played at his feet at the endless Councils, he, instead of my nurse, would take me into the courtyard for my daily romp among the trees. I grew up basking in the attentions of the most powerful ruler on the face of the earth and taking it all for granted.
I was only subconsciously aware of it, but I missed my mother more deeply that I imagined. She appeared in my mind's eye just as the sun began to set and twilight began to eat the daylight skies. She came into my dreams and sang the songs that have been passed down from royal mother to daughter for generations. Several times, she played a musical instrument that is often given to just-beginning child musicians – an ocarina. I can guess what the reader of these memoirs is thinking, "It is the Ocarina of Time spoken of in the legends."
It is true. When my mother had it, it was already at least twelve hundred years old, give or take a few centuries. It is on display in the throne room of the castle I live and rule in now. No one touches it but for the special occasion when the marriage of the Hero of Time and our first Queen Zelda is celebrated every year. The Ocarina of Time is also played at the weddings of any pureblood Hylian royal.
These night-visions were awash in pure-voiced music, my mother's laughter, and slowly spoken words of comfort. Whatever solace these dreams yielded, they were never enough to substitute for the actual presence of my mother.
I am convinced now that it is absolutely necessary for a young woman to have a female mentor, or older woman-friend upon whom to rely on if a mother is gone. These I did not have, and even though events of the recent past have turned me into a stronger, more compassionate woman, I know that there was something missing in my growing up years. Without my mother, I grew up with a sore deficit.
As I slowly changed from child into young woman, the hole in my heart continued to widen and hurt more with each passing year. The arrival of new hormones in my teen-aged body only worked to deepen my self-pity, and among my worst habits was wallowing for hours in angst. I filled many of hours bemoaning the tragedy of my life to my bewildered handmaids, creating a worldview for myself in which everything was either dark and sinister or meaningless. I was often found to be moping about the palace.
There was no real reason for my self-pitying. Yes, my mother left for the Immortal's Plane, but my father was as loving as ever towards me and I continued to be enthralled with him. With the exception of grieving my mother's death, there was no one single cause of my anguish - now I attribute it to the typical, sordid group of emotions that seem to haunt the average teenager.
I derived only true relief from my grief when I was in my father's loving presence, and I hope that I gave my father comfort as well. Even though I was not a child any longer and a smidgen beyond my father's shoulder height, I loved to squeeze onto the throne beside him, just like when I was a small girl. I still called him Daddy, too. I know it thrilled his heart.
He acted perturbed when I said, "Scoot over, Daddy!" I slowly dropped into the rigid throne seat, looked at him and said with a grin, "That's better!" But one day, he said, "Zelda, you will one day be on this throne. You will rule in my place when I am gone. Are you prepared for that day?" I did not answer his question. In my youthfulness, I brushed aside the tone of his words.
As I grew older and my body filled out from the "coltish" form, a number of suitors began their parade in front of my father and me. In the country of Hyrule, a Crown Princess cannot become Queen Protector until they are married. Until then, even if they inherit the throne but still are not married, they remain only a Ruling Princess. It seems that this situation would lend some measure of urgency, but we Hylian Royals take our sweet time when choosing a life-partner. We have no desire to spend the rest of our lives with someone who has toes that appear as small, flesh-toned snakes or who have ungodly habits. Still, we begin the examination of suitors early in most Royals' teen-aged years. Where my suitors came from, and who asked them to my palace, I'll never know. But one thing is certain: there was never a need for good entertainment when the "Parade of Suitors" began.
Or more to the point: when the "Parade of Potential Court Jesters" began.
My father and I sat on the throne together and watched the suitors stroll, stumble or strut forward to ask for my hand in marriage. I remember the feeling of being galled at the "strutters" and "strollers" – I wanted the carpet to suddenly curl under their unsuspecting feet and make the idiots fall flat on their face. The only thing that made the "Parade" tolerable was my special game with my father. As the unsuspecting suitors waltzed up, the fun began.
"Would you look at that one, m'dear? His feet must be four furlongs in length, at least!" He whispered low.
I stifled giggles as best as I could, and my cheeks puffed out like a hungry squirrel's. "Unladylike" snorts magnified embarrassingly behind my hand. My father's commentary became worse.
"Goddesses' bones! If that man isn't the most gaudily dressed man alive…" my father paused and I looked at him to see if he would finish his sentence. He did. "I wonder, is that a live bird atop his head?"
My regal reserve broke, my cheeks deflated, and I turned and howled into my father's robes. He faced the suitors and pretended to look apologetic, but no one was fooled by his red face, strained with mirth. No one was fooled, but no one would dare condemn the King of Hyrule for tomfoolery, either. So the games continued.
Daddy took a deep breath, dismissed the suitor who carried what appeared to be a live bird of paradise in his hair, and motioned for the next suitor to come forward. It was mandatory that we had to listen to the suitors' long-winded speeches about their "character as a husband," but good heavens, they were boring!
My father waited for the man to lean his head back, close his eyes and begin his proclamation before the roasting started again.
"For the love of Nayru!" He said I'm surprised that man was able to walk in here! It looks like he might need to be rolled out if we feed him. Should we feed him, Zelda?"
"Why not?" I giggled in my throat, ineffectively trying to bring back a more serious demeanor. "He's fit to be rolled whether we load a trough for him or not!"
A silly game a fifteen-year-old daughter plays with her father, nothing more. But as I look back, this particular game did two things: One, it continued to affirm the love between my father and I. And two, it confirmed my growing desire for my own gender.
How? As I've said before, I had no older female friend to look up to, no one to imitate; just my father, his knights, and councilors, all of whom were men. I rarely saw women among the courtiers. During my father's rule, women were generally not allowed into the presence of the royal family unless they were servants. As the only girl in the household, I learned to copy a man's behaviors more readily than creating female behaviors for myself. I dressed in a feminine manner, I acted as a tomboy the rest of the time. I certainly didn't act as a tough rough-houser by any means, but I always understood that there was something fundamentally different inside me.
My desires for other women set me apart.
I do not mean to sound selfish when I say this, but I believe that I am the only princess in the history of the Royal Family of Hyrule who has had a hunger for women of the same sex.
At first, the realization wasn't uncomfortable – I had not been told differently and there didn't seem to be anything wrong about it. Admittedly I had never told anyone these desires. While the realization inside my mind wasn't uncomfortable, I had a sneaking suspicion that my confession would bring gasps and raised eyebrows.
Many times, I would notice a pretty servant girl and I would pay her a genuine compliment – her hair, her eyes, some feature she had that struck me as beautiful. She would blush, curtsy, thank me and scurry away. For a few years, that was all that happened. I would just notice other girls.
About my seventeenth year, I began aching for more than just a curtsy and a respectful, quick dash back to the kitchens. I wanted her to meet my outstretched hand and gaze into my eyes. It didn't happen. Of course it wouldn't.
But as my eighteenth birthday approached, my longings became stronger. I continued to smile and talk briefly with the few girls in the castle my age, whether they were servants or no. My father seemed to notice that I needed companions, and he invited some of his courtier's daughters to join the court.
I tried to behave and hide my desires to the very best of my ability. This is something that I have noticed that teenagers are especially good at doing – assuming that everyone visual distance is observing them all day, every day of their lives. As a grown adult, I have lost this belief, but at the time I didn't want to frighten them away or think I was behaving strangely, so I worked hard not to allow the girls see my eyes wandering over them. At that time, I was just curious to see what other females looked like.
One night, as I was getting dressed for bed, my curiosity overcame me. I wasn't about to expose anyone but myself to my "odd desires", but I was curious as to how the female body looked. I slipped off my dress and shoes, loosed my hair and walked to the tall mirror in the corner of my room.
The sight of my own nakedness gave me a thrill that tingled in my tailbone. My skin was white with a peach tone to it. I slowly lifted my hands to my breasts and watched my reflection do the same. Those mounds of flesh were soft and cushy, but smaller than I had really wanted them to be. I took note that all the courtier's daughters had much larger breasts. Still, I wasn't completely dissatisfied with my body.
My stomach was just as soft as my breasts, and I could hear my stomach gurgle as I massaged it. I studied the indention where I had been attached to my mother when I had lived in her womb. It wasn't deep, but it was certainly long.
I took a deep breath, and my hand dipped to touch the thatchy curls between my legs. Something whispered in my ear that this was scandalous beyond measure, this touching of myself. I deliberately ignored "the little voice". I argued with the voice answering that it was also scandalous not to know what your own body looks like under the layers of clothes that are worn daily.
The curls of my mons were light brown and coarse. I distinctly remember wondering what they were doing there – 'Surely not as decoration,' I thought. My tutors had taught me that every piece of my body served a purpose, but what is the purpose of these coarse curls? They cannot keep you warm, and they aren't lovely to look at. As I studied my reflection, I wondered why I hadn't looked at myself in this way before. 'Had not known to do anything differently,' I thought.
My hands prodded at the hips that curved outward and I contemplated them further. 'Now here is a purposeful design,' I thought. Obviously, these were intended to birth a baby later on in life. I laughed out loud at the thought.
I stepped back and looked at my body as a whole. Overall, it was slightly built, but not unattractive. I was pleased with what the Goddesses' had blessed me with, even if a few spots could use some more filling out.
I turned from the mirror and picked up my favorite sheer nightgown, slipping it over my head with a touch of reluctance. I made sure to catch one last look at my still-budding breasts as the nightgown slid over their creamy texture; their light pinkness was tantalizing to my own eyes.
I blew out the candles in my room and lay down on the bed. I didn't feel very sleepy, and I turned my head to look at the stars shining into my room. It was a beautiful night, and for a fleeting moment I wondered if there was someone out there for me. And if there was someone, were they looking into the same night sky?
Three years went by. I grew from a gangly teenager into a woman. I tried to carry myself with power and grace, but over the years, my father slowly transferred the burden of his rulership over to me. All those gentle warnings I received from Daddy came true. I had not adequately prepared myself for the throne and now it was being thrust upon me.
Having acquired a new motivation, I pressed myself hard in my studies and readings, learning in a matter of months what normally takes years. I worked to learn every set of manners made for every situation. I did my best to memorize policies and laws and regulations.
But I continued to keep "my secret" away from everyone, including my father. What would I have been thought of then? To this day, I doubt that anyone would have understood and I refused to re-shoulder the burden of my attitude of my angst-ridden teenaged days.
It was no secret that my father's health was failing. There were some days that he could barely lift his hand, but he would insist that he be dressed and serve his people as long and as best he could. Many mornings I would support his torso as he gritted his teeth and got out of bed as well as a sick man can. We called doctors in from every corner of the known world, but most of them said the most feared word: "Cancer".
I had been nineteen just two weeks when my dear father was diagnosed with the fatal disease. There was nothing to be done, no treatment except fervent prayer. I prayed every day that if it was in the Goddesses' Will to let my father live, that he would live a long life. But if it was Their Will for him to pass onto the next life, then he would go with little pain.
The year wore on, and it was plain that every movement, no matter how small, hurt him beyond description. He went to fewer of his Councils, and didn't meet with his people in the throne room as often as he would have liked. More and more often, I went in his stead to hear the people's complaints and the Councils. The endless string of Councils. The figurative weight of the crown was heavy, but I learned not to care. It meant that my father wouldn't hurt as much.
One night after a grinding day with meeting foreign dignitaries and discussing various polices for nearly six hours on end, I sat in my bedroom alone and stared out the window at the oncoming twilight. An echo from my past repeated the old story of the Twili.
"Daddy, why are the Twili a cursed race?"
"No one truly knows Zelda – the story is very old. But it is said that the Twili were once a people like us, with a King and a Queen and a little princess your age. But their society was a godless society. They did not worship the Goddesses as we do. They did not recognize the Goddesses' handiwork in their lands and in their newborn babies. They cursed the Goddesses and said that they need them no longer.
"Later, they created a god of their own. It was not a true god – how can a god created by human hands be any more omnipresent than the people who made him?
"The Goddesses were tired of this race's behavior, so They banished them to a place in another dimension that only saw Twilight – never true daylight, and never true night. As if that weren't punishment enough, these people could never grow old, living in perpetual torment, without the escape of final death."
How true was the legend, really? Myth or truth? I rhythmically squeezed the sheets on my bed, rocking back and forth to an old nursery tune, trying to relax enough to fall into sleep. I gazed out at the velvety purple smoothing itself over silky gold and shimmery red. That particular evening was especially beautiful. Vivid sunsets have a way of chasing away the soreness in the shoulders and the troubles that puncture the soul.
I sighed and closed my eyes, letting the last bits of the sun touch my face and warm my clothed breasts. Just as I was about to lie back onto my mattress, I heard a whisper of wind. I instinctively opened my eyes and looked at the window where the sound seemed to be coming from. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I lay on the bed and massaged my temples.
Suddenly, a pair of hot hands slid up my legs and gripped them. "I found you!" A female voice taunted.
I jumped up and kicked my legs, trying to get the hands loose. The hands let me go and I scrambled away to the furthest corner of the bed and with bated breath waited for the source of the voice and hands to show. "Where are you?" I called thinly, my own voice practically gone.
"Here," a sultry voice said softly.
A grown woman, blue skin, orange eyes and curious blue glowing marks all over her body rose up from underneath my bed.
I shook and stared at her whilst she gazed at me, almost lovingly. It was unmistakable what she was. 'A Twili! I thought. A real Twili! Senseless, I continued to shake and stare into her eyes. The woman clucked her tongue, as though she had more than enough time to spare.
The sound grated on my frazzled nerves. "Who are you?" I demanded.
"Yes…how very rude of me not to introduce myself," she said. "I am Midna, Princess of the Twilight."
She took my breath away. Princess Midna was beautiful beyond human words.
"Why you are here? How did you get into my room? If you are a Twili, how is it that I cannot see only your shadow?" I asked. I was beginning to feel stronger.
She looked at me with a deadpan expression. "One question at a time, my sweet Crown Princess," she said succinctly.
"I am here because there is trouble brewing in my home." She looked about my room as though sizing it up. "I am looking for someone who will help me drive out a most bothersome 'advisor' of mine named Zant." She spit out the name "Zant."
She cocked her head and gave me a menacing grin. My whole being recoiled – she was as terrifying as she was beautiful. "How do I appear not as shadow in your Light world?" She asked.
I nodded, wanting her to continue, but not daring to break from the suction of her eyes.
"Well, that's for me to know and for you to find out, yes?" She leaned her head back, closed her eyes and laughed in her throat, rolling her head luxuriously. I wasn't about to press her for more of an answer, but my heart beat painfully when she broke our gaze.
"As for coming into your room…" Midna looked about and her eyes settled suggestively on the bed. "I use an ancient magic begun my ancestors to warp to and fro wherever I desire. The only reason I'm out of my world is because Zant," she spat the name again, "evicted me."
"He…evicted you? If he is as you say, an advisor, then he shouldn't have the power to do that. You need to go back and execute him like the treasonous criminal he is," I said in shock.
"Yes, well, I already tried that and it's the reason why I was thrown out of the Twilight Realm." That was the first time she called her home the "Twilight Realm". It sounded like an echoing gong in my ears and a whisper of foretold doom came with it.
Twilight. A world of eternal half-day-half-night, tempered by a mockery of true dimensions – the holy Immortals' Plane and the Mortals' Plane.
I must have been staring at her too long, because she abruptly put a fist on her hip and said pointedly, "You do have rooms for traveling royalty, do you not?"
I shook out of my thoughts. "We do. If you desire, the chambers next to mine are prepared and—"
"I don't think so," the Princess Midna sharply exclaimed. "What would be said if someone saw me? I did not arrive with an entourage and come in through the front gates. I would be immediately arrested."
"You wouldn't!" I said, trying to argue. "I would explain what happened and there wouldn't be any more trouble."
"No, I must hide." Midna replied. "I have Zant and his minions tearing in their path apart everything they see looking for me and it won't do for me to be visible. I'll stay here." Midna looked down towards my bed. My bed. I never had to share anything my whole life and if she decided to settle into my room… well, this would be something to get used to. Neither did I say she couldn't stay in room, in my bed.
While I observed her shuffling about, her last statement rang in my mind. "Why is your advisor looking for you? And how did he acquire an army?"
"It's no army to speak of, hardly," she said with a curled lip. "He thinks he was destined to sit on the throne of the Twilight, but he couldn't lead a pack of cuccos if his life depended on it. He has been and will always bea follower."
She turned to look at her reflection in the mirror. Princess Midna straightened, smiled and smoothed her gown over her hips, allowing her curves to come through. My mind went white – she was beautiful.
She must have noticed my face. She suddenly began talking again. "Oh…I didn't answer your last question," she said casually. "He wants me in his alleged grip because I have something he just cannot live without."
Midna slowly raised her arm above her head and pointed at an object sitting on her head. I won't lie – my first thought was, 'How unbelievably ugly.' The thing was in deplorable condition and appeared to be made of some metal. Rusted over, maybe? Clearly, it was broken – it arched up to a pair of rounded points and on either side of the headband were jagged edges. I wanted to ask why it was broken but it had an ominous, foreboding feel to it, so I didn't ask.
She let me look at it for a long time. I finally spoke, "What is that?"
Midna arched an eyebrow and cocked her head. "What is that?" She mimicked, and I frowned. She laughed aloud at my expression and the sound threw sensuous chills down my back.
She touched it again. "It is a part of something my people called the Fused Shadows," she said.
I had heard of that. The legend of the Twili briefly mentioned the "created god" that the pre-Twili race had created. If – and that was a large if – the myth was true, the Fused Shadow was the same manmade god the ancient race had created. If the whole story were actually true, the Fused Shadow held a power that could still be awakened when the right "keys" were turned. What those "keys" were the legend never said and no Hylian could remember.
Midna shifted her weighted, continued to stare at me and gargled quietly. 'Obnoxious,' I thought but would never have said aloud.
"How long will you have to stay here?" I asked. Memories of "the legend" aside, I was still in complete awe of this beautiful Twili woman.
Midna shrugged and sat on my bed. "I honestly don't know. I'll have to leave during the nighttime to find whoever might be able to help me. While I can stay for a short amount of time in the Light, I cannot stay long. Night is the easiest on my body. I will also have to find somewhere to sleep during the day, so I shall return during the daytime," she proclaimed.
I drew a deep breath through my nostrils and slowly let it go back out through my mouth. I couldn't entertain a foreign dignitary from another dimension – the situation probably couldn't have gotten worse. "This isn't a good time. My father is extremely ill and I have been taking many of the responsibilities of the throne. It has been difficult beyond—"
"You are the Crown Princess of Hyrule. Did you think you would rest on a bed of laurels? You cannot live your whole life pampered and pleased in the loftiest tower of an ivory castle." Midna snapped. I became acutely aware of her glare aimed at me.
My breath caught in my throat at the sight of that intensity. It was enough to freeze the blood in my veins and cook my brain into mush. It made my skin crawl in horror. I wanted the soft, beautiful eyes again. When I saw the soft eyes, I could imagine, just for a brief moment, that she was attracted to me.
I was so desperate for a woman's attention then.
Midna must have seen my reaction, because her eyebrows lifted. I broke the gaze and looked at the mirror that watched our communion. In my mind's eye, I saw the young girl that had looked at her body in that mirror, and I suddenly longed to do it again. I was overcome with weariness, strong emotions and my thoughts were a terrific jumble.
I understand now that I was feeling the pangs of first love, but I had to get away from those powerful emotions. I needed a breath and not just literally.
Just as I was about to turn away and murmur that I had to go visit my father, Midna widened her eyes as she looked into the mirror. I met the gaze in our reflection and my own eyes widened. I realized with a stunned sensation that she had made a decision, and I hadn't any idea what it could be.
The Princess Midna slowly turned and came close and held the back of my head with one hand. She sent a touch of magic from between two fingers into my eyes – the feeling was so painful I choked and collapsed. My head would have crashed to the floor if Midna had not caught me. She laid a hand over my eyes and I clawed at them. "What are you doing? Stop this!" I gasped.
She held her hand firmly over my eyes and cradled my head to her breast. "It will be over in a minute, I promise. You will no worse for the wear," she said.
I continued to struggle but I didn't have the strength of a small child. "Please, what are you doing?" I whispered.
"It's almost over," Midna said, rocking me back and forth.
My mind's eye saw a rolling comet of blue and orange fire heading straight for my face. It touched me, and I was surprised at how comfortable the flames were. It caressed my face and softly sang words of comfort, but I squeezed my eyes shut. I couldn't understand why or how I was fighting.
"Princess…open your eyes…"
My eyelids remained tightly closed. "I'm afraid," I said. It sounded as though my voice came from a place miles and miles away.
"You've lived in secrecy all your life. You've learned to hide. But this fear cannot last," the voice said. I finally recognized it as Midna's.
"But when will I no longer be frightened?" I cried.
"NOW!" Midna said. My eyes flew open and the comet penetrated my eyes. My hands shook – someone restrained them. I felt the comet's freezing fire wriggle through my brain and I cried with the pain.
The pain left, the moment was past.
I stood on a pale, illuminated bridge over a shallow lake of water.
Midna stood mere inches away from me. "Now…was that so awful?" She said gently. She had a beautiful smile on her face and stroked my arms with warm fingers.
"It was painful, but it didn't last long. What exactly did you do?" I asked.
"I created a bridge between our minds. We can talk to each whenever we desire. We can also feel each other's emotions." Midna replied.
"Why is that needed?" I asked.
Her smile changed into one with a touch of wickedness. Her touch on my arms cooled ever so slightly. "You will see my Princess…you will see…"
I awoke a few hours later on my bed. I bolted upright and looked around the room for Midna, but she was nowhere to be found.
The night was black outside my window, not a star was in the sky. I felt as though my senses had been utterly raped and I wondered if the whole thing had been a dream. An unusually realistic dream at that.
My first thought was my father and I dashed out my room to see him. When I arrived, he laid abed but was visibly worse. His face was a frightening yellow, his eyes were too bright, and he couldn't lift his head or hands. Daddy turned to me as I entered the room.
"Are you feeling any better?" I asked, tucking the blankets closer around his chin. It was an unnecessary question, my question was unnecessary and we both knew it. We knew he was dying.
He didn't answer my question. What was the use? "Zelda, your eyes – they are so different," he said.
"What do you mean, Daddy?" I asked.
"Look in the mirror," he answered with great effort.
I did. My heart skipped several beats and leaped into my throat.
My blue eyes appeared as though they were on fire. They were changed.
I looked to my father for help. "I'm sorry…I should have known better…what can I do?…why do they look that way?...why is this happening?..." My words tumbled out in an incoherent avalanche.
"Be calm, child, be calm," he answered My father motioned me to come close to him. I laid my head on his chest and listened to his watery lungs labor to get air.
"There is a legend that has been passed down for centuries. I have not related it to you nor to anyone else. Your mother would have spoken of it if she lived. In the end, it was the Goddesses' Will that she pass on at the time she did." He worked to draw a breath. 'If he talks too much, it may well kill him.' I thought, but he continued.
"It has been said that there will be a Princess of the Light and a Princess of the Twilight who will bridge the gap between our two races. It has also been said that these two Princesses of such different natures will love each other more deeply than anyone could imagine." My father looked at me pointedly. I immediately understood then that he was aware of my "unnatural longings".
He had known all along and he didn't love me one ounce less because of the knowledge.
A lump in my throat rose and tears threatened to overtake my vision, but I strained to hear his next words.
"My time to pass on is at hand, Zelda. You have done well in ruling in my stead. I have many of my advisors coming to me saying they have never seen such a steady hand in someone your age ruling the people of Hyrule.
"They assure me that you are doing well, but I already knew that you would. You inherently wield the strength and Wisdom to rule this kingdom." His breaths came in shorter and shorter gasps. I lifted my head. 'It can't be happening, it's too soon," my mind screamed.
"I still have so much to learn, Daddy. I'm too young to rule, and I'm certainly too young to lose you." I said, bringing tears to my eyes.
"You will grow up so much in the next year, I promise you. And at the end, you will look back and see much pain, but you will also see enough joy to drown out the sorrows." My father stroked my back with his last bit of strength.
"I…wish…you…well…" He said.
And he crossed over.
I sobbed on his chest for hours. One of Daddy's servants found me and carried me back to my bedroom, but by then it was morning. I was inconsolable. Nothing could patch up the pain, the tears in my heart. Nothing could bring back my Daddy. It hurt. Goddesses, it hurt!
One of Daddy's most trusted advisors made the announcement to Hyrule that the King had passed away. "Long live our Regent Queen Zelda!" the people said quietly after the advisor had made the proclamation. I stood behind the advisor, veiled from head to toe in somber black.
In the days following my father's death, I did everything I could to avoid the inevitable grief. I picked at my food and drink and avoided sleep. I found small comfort in practicing with the sword and bow and arrows my mother left me, writing new policies and Council notes. I cut taxes and added new ones. I began work on a new highway and bridge that was built between Kakariko Village and Hyrule's Castle Town. I had allowed for the initial sting of death to set into me, but I did not allow any time for the healing grief that must come sometime after the extinguished life of one so loved.
In a shell, I completed the duties required of me, forcing myself to continue. I wanted nothing more than to bury myself in the sheets, blankets, and pillows of my bed and stay there for the next seven years. I desired the seven year sleep the ancient Hero of Time once had.
Yet duty pushed me forward, the world could not stop turning for my father's death. I couldn't let my people down now, not with such a monumental transition of power. While a woman on throne was not looked down upon, it was certainly different, and this was made obvious on the faces of the people as they came to see me to voice their cases. They talked as though I were a simple child and used small words. I often became short and irritated with my new subjects, and cut my hearing sessions before they were supposed to end.
In the dust cloud of activity, I almost forgot about the Princess Midna. The only thing that reminded me of her was the illuminated bridge that appeared every time I closed my eyes and rolled back into my subconscious. Much of the time, the area surrounding the bridge was silent, but there were the rare occasions when I distinctly heard faint singing on the other bank – odd, tribal melodies in a language I couldn't understand. I always wanted to cross that bridge, but couldn't name the force that held me back.
I know what that "nameless" thing is now: fear. I felt fear in seeking comfort from others – from Midna, really – when I did not feel I could give myself or anyone else any.
After an especially long and tiring day, I came into my quarters, shut the door and began mechanically eating the food that had been laid out before me. I didn't bother to put off my shoes, I couldn't feel anything physical anymore. There was nothing to heal the enormous pain that left my heart in shreds.
A whisper of wind sounded in my ears. I turned my head towards the window from which the wind came from and there the Twilight Princess stood.
She walked with measured steps to me. "I deeply am sorry for your loss, Regent Princess." She took my hands in hers, raised them to her lips and lightly kissed the knuckles. Immediately, I knew my body wasn't entirely dead – the first shivers of arousal made me aware of that.
"Please call me Zelda," I said lowly. "It seems that we will be getting to know each other very well soon."
Midna did not appear to have an answer and sat down in a chair across from me, watching my face. I wiped my eyes on the sleeve of my gown and sniffed.
"Have you found the one you seek to help you return your kingdom?" I asked. Midna shook her head. She explained to me during her previous visit that the only way she could be restored to her throne in the Twilight world was to find the Blessed Hero Beast that her culture's legends spoke of. Midna gave me a bare bones description of the legend, but I filled in the blanks.
"Zant's servants have been chasing me all over Hyrule, and they've nearly captured me several times," Midna said. "I'm being forced into another plan."
"Where do you sleep during the daytime?" I asked.
"In the darkest place I can find. There are lots of those kinds of places, Zelda, and you have many of them throughout your kingdom," she said, looking at me meaningfully. Midna allowed silence to briefly reign and I tried to relieve the tension by putting a few bites of food in my mouth. I swallowed quietly and felt my throat expand and contract.
"How has keeping a world on its toes been?" Midna suddenly asked. It occurred to me how strange it was for her to be so curious about my well-being. 'Then again,' I thought. 'It's strange for me to be talking to her in this way. It's only the second time I've seen her.'
"I just live day to day," I wearily answered. "Some days I live hour to hour. It's all I can do to get up in the mornings and I'd rather not eat," I dropped my fork onto the table. "I don't believe I want to be alive anymore," I whispered. My grief was at the point too deep and powerful for tears.
Midna regarded me carefully and then came to kneel before me. I was shocked. The ruler of another kingdom kneels before me?
She put her hands on my knees, and for some reason, I wasn't uncomfortable at all. I pushed aside the food tray and leaned forward to look into her orange eyes.
...I knew I loved her. I was past the point of no return, I was in love at last.
Midna spoke. "It is worth it being alive. Let me show you." She gave me a devilish grin and pulled me up from my chair.
Midna touched her fingers to my stomach and slowly slid her hands over my breasts, up my shoulders and finally cradled my head as she kissed me fully on the mouth. My mind was shaken to the core with shock, but I kissed her right back.
Some time later, we stared at the canopy hanging above my bed.
"How long have you had that awful strip of cloth?" Midna asked, her hand stroking my bare back.
"Mmmm…for as long as I can remember. Why does it matter?" I asked and buried my nose into her naked breast.
"Because it has a circus scene on it. That's not very fitting of a grown woman, now is it?" Midna said.
I shook my head in agreement, reveling in the warmth of our bodies touching. I was still trying to catch my breath.
She had shown me everything. Midna had shown me where my hands could touch, how light or heavy their touch could be, and how fast they could work to bring mind-boggling delight. Best of all, she showed me how my body could respond to these touches. Her ministrations were lovely and brought tears to my eyes. I quickly learned that while she had a dry sense of humor and tended to have an attitude on the sharp side, she had a tenderness that would soften stone. This was the healing that I craved.
I stretched and began to get out of bed. I wondered if I could fit one more policy draft into my day, but Midna apparently had other ideas.
"Just where do you think you're going, Zelda? We aren't done, not by a long shot." She grabbed my waist, digging her fingernails into me. I gasped as I fell back onto the bed.
She cradled me and I kissed her face over and over.
"My Rose-elda." She murmured. So were at the point of our relationship to have nicknames? I tried to think of a good nickname for her and said aloud the first one to come to mind.
"Middie," I laughed. She lightly slapped my bottom.
"You will not breathe that nickname outside of this room, do you hear me?" She said firmly.
The mirth couldn't stop spilling from my heart. It just felt so good to laugh, and loving someone made me giddy. Realizing that she loved me back made my heart feel grown twice as large.
I watched Midna's face soften. "That will be my name for you, but only when we are entirely alone," I said.
"Absolutely not!" Midna protested. "Walls in buildings and trees in forests have a way of gaining ears! If word were to get back to Zant, or anyone for that matter—"
"Then we will just not let that happen," I said, putting a finger across her mouth.
She sighed and laid her head on my breast. I grinned. I had won.
A/N: I'm in the process of revising Part II. Thank you for reading!