AN: Written for yuuzaiden and previously published at my LiveJournal. Takes place after Twilight Princess.


Cages

The sun doesn't rise here, nor does it set, but things grow.


There's a tree she used to climb when she was younger. It belongs to a valley. In her downtime, when she's not sitting on a throne in the dark, she sits under the black, curling branches and recalls a sun she'll never see again.

It's something she should be afraid of. Everyone else would be—and why not? The bright of it would be too bright; the yellow of it would be too harsh. The simple existence of it had the power to turn their bodies to mournful shadows.

Yet fear isn't in her memory of it. She had been a different Midna when she lived under it. She had been small and fierce and chittering, secretly celebrating the daylight on the back of her wolf-boy. How many times had Midna the imp urged him on to greater speeds, to greater heights, so her heart could outgrow the little chest it was trapped in? Midna the Queen can climb to the loftiest tower and turn her face to the sky, but she knows the wind will never touch her that way again.

Under her tree, she recalls, while above her the branches weave in and out of each others' paths.

Memory is a cage, she thinks.


The gray stones of the throne room are beneath her feet. A year has passed since the usurper tore the worlds open and took most of her people with; the survivors have gathered to remember. From her throne, Midna can see the room's a little fuller now than when she returned home, but their numbers, mostly women, are still so few. The reasons why haunt her every end of day.

Was that your husband he ripped the throat from? Was that your son's blood arcing across the sky? Was it your lover he cut in two? Would I, could I, do anything differently?

She keeps her thoughts hidden behind a queenly, passive smile. She risked her life for her people, that she loves them is unquestioned. When they lift their eyes to her, she lets their gratitude chase the ghosts away for a little while. But each missing face is a sin she counts as her own. After all, it was she, Midna, not the usurper, who whispered instructions into a wolf's ear.

After her people leave, she's left alone with the endless twilight outside her window. The framed, muted glow reminds her of a mirror, of a moment's temptation to stay. Her mind fills in the cracks easily.

Guilt is a cage, she thinks.


There's a river that runs through the land. It winds for miles, twisting and pooling in known and unknown places. It is to one of the unknown places, a grotto, that she often retreats. There, she sheds the Queen and steps into the black waters as the woman.

Naked, she floats in the darkness and dreams she's with him again, this time as her true self. She isn't small and fierce; she's tall and proud and no longer afraid of what's inside her. In her dreams, he loves her, though her hair is fiery, not the tame gold of his princess. In her dreams, they live under a sun that turns his skin brown, not blue, but it doesn't matter; Midna still licks the salt from it.

She cups her breasts tightly to keep the anguish from spilling into the pool, the river, the rest of her life, but it's too late. Her yearning is already a poison, ruining her. She knows there will be no one else.

Love is a cage, she thinks.


The sun, the wolf, and the man aren't here, but things grow. In the darkness, Midna weeps for herself.