Chapter 1 - The Ghosts of Who They Were
A beautiful young woman went to the windows, reaching for the ties that were currently holding back the deep, red curtains. She wrapped her fingers around the thick, gold braid and allowed her grasp to linger as she looked out over the field spread out before the castle. Her eyes followed a man moving throughout the scattered trees. His pace suggested that he was not in a hurry, his steps unplanned, maybe even unconscious.
The woman at the window sighed quietly, releasing a section of the curtains from its tie. She silently moved to the other section without looking once again at the man in the field. Instead, she went about letting loose all of the curtains in the room. When she was finished, it was quite dim, though she could still see.
Her eyes fell upon the empty crib beneath one pair of windows. It had been almost a year, and still, she couldn't help the sickening feeling that seized her stomach whenever she looked upon it. It had been months before she could even walk by the room without sobbing. Though a piece of her heart would always be broken, she had learned to cope with her feelings and come to some kind of closure.
The same could not be said of her husband.
With another quiet sigh, the woman went to the crib. It was absolutely beautiful. It had been crafted by Darunia, the leader of the Goron tribe. Darunia was superb with metals and welding. With his bulging muscles, his Herculean strength, and yet his surprising poise and patience, he could create anything with his skilled hands.
When the Goron tribe had received their decree from King Harkanian announcing that the princess was expecting, Darunia had begun work on a crib for the heir almost immediately. He loved the future king as his own flesh and blood, his Sworn Brother. He had also developed a special friendship with the princess ever since he had been awakened as a Sage, and learned of her bravery and wisdom.
When the crib had been delivered to the castle a few months before the princess was due, it had come with a letter assuring the soon-to-be parents that their baby would be safe and secure, as well as quite comfortable.
Now, the princess ran her fingers along the cool metal with no baby to look down upon. The tiny, royal blue mattress and blankets were smooth and undisturbed. The tightness in her stomach squeezed and throbbed painfully within her. She took her fingers back and began to move away. As she stepped backward, she bumped into the rocking chair that had belonged to her mother.
The princess slowly eased herself into the chair, her weight immediately sending the chair backward. She gently rocked, using her feet to steady the chair's swaying. As she went to rest her head against the back of the chair, the dozens and dozens of clasps and pins that held her hair up dug uncomfortably into her scalp.
While still rocking, she peeled the gloves from her arms and let them fall to the floor. The air against her bare skin felt heavenly. She took a moment to stretch her fingers, wiggling them now that they were free. Once she was satisfied, she began removing the pins from her hair. A few of her hairs were caught and pulled from her head. She used her fingertips to massage the sore spots.
It was rare to see the princess with her hair down. As a monarch, certain things were expected of her: leadership and public speaking skills, a knowledge of the history of Hyrule, and other things of that nature. But she was also expected to look the part. That was why her wardrobes were filled with intricate and expensive gowns, why a hairdresser and stylist were sent to her bedroom each morning. Her father disapproved of his daughter, the future queen, allowing her hair to be wild and the few simple country dresses she had hidden away in a drawer.
With all of the clasps out, the princess' hair fell in waves midway down her back. She ran her fingers through her golden colored hair many times. Though her scalp pulsed and the knots in her stomach continued to tighten, she felt slightly better.
She decided to remain in the room for a few moments more. She knew that her husband wouldn't be returning for some time, and felt no need to rush to greet him whenever he did wander back.
Ever since the baby, her husband had began to take long walks at twilight. It was a ritual. When the sun would begin to show signs of setting, he would excuse himself, and go off to wherever he chose to go.
The princess closed her eyes as she felt tears begin to rise. Streams ran silently down her cheeks from beneath her eyelashes.
"Oh Link," Zelda whispered, her voice quavering with emotion, "what has happened? What has happened to us? To our life?"
When Zelda opened her eyes, it was darker than it had been before. She blinked a couple of times, and saw her hair pins glittering on the floor in the darkness when she realized that she must have fallen asleep. Sleep didn't come easy to Zelda, ever since…
It took her a moment more before she realized where she was. Her eyes widened, and she would have gasped had a yawn not beaten its way out of her mouth. She was in the baby's room, and though Link stayed out on his walk for quite some time, there was a possibility he was already back. She had no way of knowing how long she had napped.
In one quick movement, Zelda snatched up both her gloves and all of the pins from the stone floor. She balled them up in a fist while feeling her way towards the door. She bumped into a few pieces of furniture along the way. As she reached for the doorknob, it began to turn beneath her hand. Startled, she nearly fell backward.
The door opened slowly, so slowly that Zelda wondered if it had simply creaked open on its own. But the silhouette of her husband stood in the doorway when he had finally pushed the door open all of the way. She couldn't see his face but she knew he must have been extremely angry.
"What are you doing in here?" Link asked coldly, his voice low. His tone sent shivers down Zelda's spine. She was about to answer him when she realized that she was shaking.
"I…I came in to close the curtains." Zelda answered meekly. She knew that she must have looked pathetic, her face filled with fright and her body quivering. "I-"
"That is what maids are for, Zelda." Link retorted, his words serving as a hand across her face. Her hand twitched at her side, as though she wanted to press her palm to her cheek to check for a handprint.
They stood in silence for a beat or two, but to Zelda, it seemed like an eternity. She didn't know what to say to him. If she admitted to falling asleep in the room, he would know that she took the time to sit and be. And so she said nothing. Though his eyes were hidden in the shadows, she refused to look anywhere else but the floor. She tried to swallow the lump that had begun to form in her throat.
Link then stood aside, his back against the door.
"Get out." It was a command. She obeyed quickly with a nod. She walked past him, and immediately started for her bedroom.
She listened for his footsteps, but heard nothing. Just as she was about to open the door to her room, she heard a deafening slam. She whirled around, her eyes wide, to see that Link had thrown the door to the baby's room closed.
As he looked up at her, his eyes filled with rage, and marched towards her, the door teetered forward and fell off of its hinges, landing with a thud on the floor. He didn't flinch or falter from his brisk pace.
Without hesitation, Link grabbed Zelda's arms roughly and pressed her to the wall. She squeaked in both surprise and in pain, his hold on her tight.
With his face this close to hers, she couldn't hide from his eyes. The blue eyes that Zelda had fallen in love with had become two hate filled spheres that bored into her soul. She felt as though she couldn't have escaped his penetrating gaze had they been miles apart. His jaw was clenched, his nostrils flared.
"What have I told you about that room?" He asked sternly, his grip tightening when she didn't answer him quick enough. He shook her hard once, earning another squeak. "What have I told you about that room?"
"I-I'm s-s-sorry Link. It w-won't happen again." Her voice was hoarse and barely audible. She swallowed hard and took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm her pounding heart.
"So help me Farore, if I ever catch you in that room again Zelda, I'll have it boarded up." Link loosened his grip at a minimal, his face still the epitome of anger. But his eyes drifted to his wife's heaving chest. They lingered there for a moment before meeting her eyes again. He realized how badly he had scared her, and released her without another word.
Zelda watched him head down the hall towards the stairs. When he was out of sight, she closed her eyes and began breathing even harder. She had only seen him that way with her one other time. And that had been what seemed like a long time ago.
She had tried to follow him on one of his twilight walks. She had wanted to see where he went, what he did. She wondered if it was during those walks that he let out his emotions and his tears over the baby. Link had never shown them to her.
Unfortunately, it must have slipped Zelda's mind at the time that Link had gone on enough adventures and had faced enough foes to have grown eyes in the back of his head. He had sensed her sooner than she thought, but he had waited to confront her until they were somewhere vacant.
Zelda still remembered how he had looked, what he had said. When they were amongst the trees heading in the direction of the Kokiri Woods, Link had turned and grabbed his wife so quickly that she hadn't had time to react. He threw her backward, onto the ground, and got on top of her.
"What are you doing? Why are you here?" He had growled, his hands pinning her wrists to the ground. She had struggled beneath him, but he had just held her down with more force and gotten closer to her face. "Did I ask you to come with me?"
Even then Zelda hadn't spoken up. She looked up into his eyes, and was met with such indignation that she was forced to rip her eyes from his.
He had then leaned in, roughly kissing the crown of her head before letting go of her. He hadn't bothered to help her up, but simply continued on his way.
"Go home." He had ordered over his shoulder. And then he had been gone.
Zelda thought she heard footsteps, and, fearing it would have been Impa, quickly disappeared into her room. She absolutely hated the ways Link had changed and the things he said and did out of frustration and hurt, but he was her husband and she loved him fiercely. Whenever possible, she hid Link's fits of rage, though not everything he did went unnoticed.
"Zelda?" Impa's voice was muffled from outside the heavy door.
Zelda's hand flashed to the doorknob and locked it just before it began to twist and turn as Impa tried to open the door. She cleared her throat and tried to steady her breathing before she answered.
"Yes Impa?" Her voice sounded fairly even, but most likely would not convince Impa that all was well.
"Is everything alright? And what happened to the door down the hall?" She continued to fight with the doorknob. "Open the door Zelda."
"Impa everything is fine. One of the windows blew open and the wind must have been too strong for the door." Zelda knew that her lie was a poor one. It was summertime, and the winds weren't at all high during the summer months in Hyrule.
There was silence on the other side of the door, and the doorknob became still. Zelda could hear a heavy sigh and breathed her own sigh of relief that Impa was going to drop the subject. But she was sure that in the morning she would be interrogated further.
"I'll have Talon send Ingo over first thing in the morning to fix the door. And I'll have him take a look at the windows too." Her last statement dripped with skepticism. There was another sigh when Zelda refused to answer. "I will see you in the morning princess. I love you."
Tears instantly began pricking at Zelda's eyes, and the lump that had gradually deflated returned. She cleared her throat a little louder than she should have.
"I love you too Impa." She wasn't even sure if Impa heard. But after a few seconds, Zelda heard her footsteps fade.
Zelda turned around to face her bedroom. It had once been sort of a sacred place. After she and Link were married, they would sneak off to the bedroom, the only place they knew that they could be alone together. They would stay up into the early morning hours talking about everything and nothing. They would make love…
After the baby, Link had quietly drifted from the bedroom. He began sleeping in one of the bedrooms that had once been used by guests. He hadn't set foot in he and Zelda's bedroom since. Nor had they made love.
It was very rare that Link be affectionate with Zelda at all. Over the past year or so, she could count only a handful of times he had embraced her or kissed her or held her hand. Before they were even married, it seemed as though Link always needed at least one of his limbs touching Zelda. He would always have his arm around her or his lips on her forehead and so on and so on.
Now, the bedroom was the last place that Zelda wanted to be. It held the ghosts of who she and Link had been. They were always there, lying on the bed, wrapped in each other's arms or sitting out on the balcony beneath the stars. Zelda couldn't look at anything without seeing them.
Like she did every night, Zelda undressed and slipped into her nightgown. She then ran a brush through her hair until it was tangle free before putting it into a single braid that draped down her back and swung from side to side whenever she walked.
After she had blown out the candles scattered around the room, she climbed into bed. It was entirely too big for just one person to be sleeping in. Often times she would stuff pillows beneath the blankets beside her. It wasn't very comforting, but when she awoke in the middle of the night and was still tired enough to not know what was going on, she could pretend things were the way they used to be.
She set the lantern she had been lugging around with her to blow out the candles beside her bed on the nightstand. She then closed her eyes, and bowed her head.
"Oh wise Nayru, help my mind to be strong. Keep me sane, save me from the dark and evil thoughts that linger in the back of my head in times of weakness. Bless me with your wisdom, that I may find some way to guide myself and my husband through this.
Oh courageous Farore, hold my husband in your strong arms. Give him the strength and the bravery to face our demons, as well as his own. Hold him close…"
She prayed to them every night. She had been praying and asking for the same things every night since. And she would continue to do so until the ghosts in the bedroom faded, until it was really her husband beside her in bed and not his pillows.
"Goodnight Link. I love you." She whispered. Carefully she leaned towards the lantern and blew the flame out.
Zelda laid in the darkness alone, her eyes closed so that she wouldn't have to be reminded of what her life had been such a short time ago.