Title: Lotus Jewel
Disclaimer: The characters and canon situations in the following story belong to Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka and Nintendo. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
Summary: They never saw it coming, even after they were too far gone to stop it. And both knew...they wouldn't change a thing.
Warnings: Female and male same-sex relationship, sexual references, adult language, drug abuse, child sexual abuse, suicide attempt, torture and mention of historical incest.
The First Signs
It had been years since they'd left the castle.
For her safety, for the safety of her country, Impa had spirited Zelda from the only home she had known. Guided only by the bright stars and a half-formed plan, neither knew where their journey would take them. Neither knew what would become of their land, of their hearts.
But…even then, as the white mare raced across the dark land, they knew change had come. Not what change, nor why, only that it had arrived.
As they hid within the deepest caves within dawn, Guardian and Charge could only acknowledge the deeper truth. While many changes had occurred within the last few hours…the most drastic were to come once they returned.
Some said they were destined for each other; they said it was Fate.
Zelda said it was as worthless as fake Rupees.
Link said it would never happen.
Impa said nothing.
Through the years the prophecy of Link and Zelda's intimate relationship would be whispered when neither party was present; it would become the gossip of Hyrule. And over time, Link and Zelda would no longer acknowledge such words...until the day when silence became a weapon against them, rather than their defense.
She had been under Impa's care since she was a child, since birth. Her father doting yet distant and her mother dead, there was no others she called family. She had servants whom she considered friends and teacher who were as impersonal as the books they used to teach her…but none of them were family.
Many considered it odd that she smiled at this seeming "lack".
Years of observation from her gilded perch allowed her to see the agony of grief, of loss. Even in her youngest years, Wisdom had been a constant within her mind and soul. Understanding beyond her peers was a heavy mantle, one which made her realize she had no wish to experience the pain of the mourners.
Impa and her father were her family; they were the ones she loved and it would remain that way. Within the scant decade of her life, she had become firm in this view. As she grew older, her small family grew to include a handful of others. Even then, only one other would be as close to her heart as her Guardian and sire.
With each passing year, many people asked Zelda who Impa was. They would remark on how she was so rarely seen, how they weren't sure she existed.
To their perplexed expressions, she would only smile and say, "She is Impa."
From the shadows of her watching place, Impa would share that amused smile when she heard these simple words. They explained far more about herself and the young Hylian than most would understand.
Though charged with Zelda's care from her birth, regret nor indecision never plagued Impa regarding the younger female. Eleven years had passed since they'd first "met", though the child had not yet been born. For over a decade, her entire world had been centered around the princess.
Those questioned her position, her motivations, did not understand. What had once been common knowledge had become such obscure legends, only a handful understood exactly what she was
Any adult could become a child's guardian, but only a few could ever be true Guardians. Her official title fluctuated between Maderone and Celestial Guardian depending on the addresser, though she had only heard the latter used a handful of times. Most often she was simply called Guardian Impa.
Many said Guardians were picked by the Goddesses themselves. The majority of them did not understand how true such legends were. She existed for the sole purpose of protecting her Charge. With every breath she drew, she watched it grow and thrive every day. Her heart beat to sustain the strong spirit which resided in the small body.
How odd it was, to know such a vast spirit resided within a tiny shelly. There was no need for the powers Spirit, Time, Light or for the Triforce to tell her what most would never believe. Her heart, her soul…it told her the truth, and that is what mattered
There was talk, as there always was. Impa knew the rumors, the whispers that she took her duty too seriously, that she was obsessed with the girl she considered her daughter and sister. She never commented on such tales; Zelda was the one she answered to.
The Goddesses had given her life to care for the girl, and care for her she did.
She was her nurse and mother, her caretaker and trainer. She was the one who fled with Zelda during Ganondorf's attack upon the castle. And months later, when the Dark King had been forced away by the other Sages, she was the one who brought her back.
She was also the one who found Link, the boy who quickly became one of Zelda's closest friends.
Or more accurately, she is the one who found Link after Zelda discovered him during her morning run through the marketplace. The princess had spoken of a boy dressed in green lying near the castle's lake. Upon inspection, Impa did in fact find a boy. He was soaked to the bone, his wet clothing weighing nearly as much as he. She carried him back to the castle, aware of the sickly heat which poured from his skin much like the water dripping from his tunic.
She took him to the infirmary, and with the healers' help, managed to bring his fever down. It wasn't until she saw Zelda hiding in the corner that she realizing her Charge had heard the boy as he screamed in panic at his nightmares and saw the wounds made from whom- or whatever had left him in the water.
Later that night, she held the princess as she shook with sobs, unable to understand how such a young boy could endure so much. Despite Impa's attempts to shield her from the true horrors of life, Zelda was quickly learning what it meant to be a princess and future ruler to a country in the midst of war. She kept the princess company, as she always did, during the meetings with her father.
This is not to say Impa did not trust King Daphnes, merely her Charge came first in all matters. Some would ask what she meant when she said such a thing. Her answer would always be this:
"I exist, live, breathe for my Charge. Princess Zelda of Hyrule is the reason I walk the earth and the reason my eyes open every day. She is the blood in my veins and the heart in my chest. She comes before family, before the country, before any and everything else. Some would say they would die for those in their care...but would they live for them? Would you endure the worst torture, the horrors of darkness and pain beyond agony to protect someone? I would.
"She is all that I know and ever will know; I will protect her with everything I am and shall be, even when she does not wish me to. I am a Guardian and that is my duty...but also my passion. She is my daughter and sister, my friend and partner. You may misunderstand my words, for what a Guardian and Charge are to each other goes beyond what I can speak...but know this: No matter the circumstance, she ALWAYS comes first. I will never know anything else."
Silence would meet her words, along with disbelief and astonishment. The king and his daughter would never doubt her words, nor be shocked by them. They understood with perfect clarity what she meant. Though the years would forge a bond between Zelda and the Link, it would never match the power of the Impa and Zelda's bond.
Her natal day, a day of joy for many across the land, was also one of mournful observance. Before she had even drawn her first breath, her mother had taken her last.
Faced with an impossible task so many years ago, neither King Daphnes nor the midwives could not decide who to save...the laboring queen or her unbon child. Impa, barely out of training, took the decision from their hands. The queen gave her a smile and closed her eyes. "I trust you with her, Guardian, make me proud," she whispered for Impa's ears alone.
The Sheikah touched a knife to the older Hylian's stomach as she took her last breath. As her heart stopped, her flesh parted under the sharp blade. A stream of crimson tears bathed the table as her child was freed from the cord which choked her. Impa cradled the baby as the midwives worked to revive the bleeding woman and find something to wrap the newborn in.
Hours passed before the King saw his daughter, and when he did, he knew. He could tell by the lullaby's perfect pitch which fell from Impa's lips, by the way Zelda stared at her with such rapture, that the right choice had been made. He buried his wife with a lighter heart than most, knowing she had given her life for their child's.
From then until she stumbled upon that unconscious boy, the Hylian king knew Zelda and Impa had something no one could understand. When Zelda cried at night, barely a month old, it was Impa who rocked her to sleep or spoke to her about things a child could not hope to understand.
When she was a toddler and then a child, it was Impa Zelda ran to when she was hurt.
As she neared her tenth birthday, it was Impa who heard her cries of pain and fear before the statue of armor fell on her. Though the length of the castle was between them, King Daphnes had watched as Impa whispered his daughter's name and vanished from sight seconds before the crash of armor echoed through the halls, quickly followed by a child's shrill scream. He knew his late wife would approve of Impa's vigilance over their daughter, just as he knew she would approve of the boy now in his care.
Though barely ten, whereas his daughter was almost eleven, the young boy seemed nearly as old as the king himself. He carried his small weight like a stone, as if the world rested on his shoulders. When he spoke his name, it was broken sound, almost as if he had little energy to force the words out. Zelda had taken his hand and given him a hug of such affection the king had felt tears in his eyes. She had always possessed a gentle heart, despite her warrior-like mind. She was often compared to a lily, fragile and beautiful. But Impa and the King called her a rose, a seemingly delicate flower which possessed thorns sharp enough to draw the blood.
The boy, Link, would soon agree with them. While he noticed her beauty, he also saw the sharp mind which hid in wait. He knew when she saved him she was different. Link quickly learned the young heir had no time for those seeking power and would quickly dismiss all those whom attempted to gain such from her, especially when she learned they spoke lies.
He grew to love her as a sister, despite those in the kingdom aiming to have them court and marry. He became her best friend, aside from Impa. He is the one she told her secrets, the things she could not tell Impa for fear of her reaction. He is the one who found her many years later, bloody and wounded from battle, and trying to run from the truth. He kept Impa from her, assuring her as Hyrule's Hero, that his Princess was well; he would do everything he could to keep her safe. He knew she did not believe his words, but he would never understand why she trusted him enough to leave her Charge in his care.
What he didn't know was Impa had never left them alone; she had watched from the shadows.
Over time, his pseudo-sister and her father would become his family. Although he was the kingdom's Hero, he would refuse the King's offer for the status as prince, for he neither wanted such a station nor Zelda's birthright taken from her. As his familial love for the Time Sage grew, so did their bond. Hero and Sage often spoke with their minds, fighting as one rather than two. Though he was not as close to Zelda as Impa, Link often knew where the princess was and could sometimes tell of her wellbeing. While she often kept her physical and mental state from him, he did know when she was harmed.
It was this knowledge that made him run through the halls. Only ten years of age and having been at the castle nearly two months, Link was often called a speed demon, for he was always running as if racing Epona. He halted in front of the private garden which served as Zelda's training area and carefully opened the door. What he saw caused him to rethink his action.
Impa and Zelda all but flew across the vast area, their swords nothing but blurs. He watched, fascinated as the blond girl leaped into the air and clung to a window, sheathing her sword in the process. He stared at her bleeding shoulder, amazed at the strength which held her.
"Watch out!" he called as Impa took to the air, her sword aimed for her Charge. Startled, Zelda lost her hold on the windowsill and fell. Without hesitation, Impa dropped her sword, caught the girl and landed without a sound. She slowly turned to face the boy, her red eyes narrowing with anger. She gently set Zelda on her feet and stalked over to the door. Frozen with fear, Link did not move as she opened the door and pulled him inside.
Silence filled the garden, his pounding heart the only sound he heard.
"What. Do. You. Think. You. Are. Doing?" Her voice was soft and steady as she spoke, though her anger was clear. He swallowed.
"She...I felt...she was hurt..." He flinched back from the lightning in her eyes, closing his eyes to hide from the truth. He prepared for the blow that did not, and would not, come. After several moments, he peaked at her.
Zelda watched from near the wall, her gray-green eyes clouding with pain. She pressed a hand to her shoulder, wincing when the pain of the torn muscles made itself known. She heard Impa speak, and Link reply, but she knew not what they said. As the world began to spin, she leaned against the wall and slid to the ground. Her breathing became ragged as the pain grew, the adrenaline of battle no longer shielding her from the truth.
She didn't see Impa set Link on his feet and run to her side, nor did she see Link run from the room in search of a healer. All she saw was the dimming sunlight as her eyes fluttered closed. She barely heard her name being whispered aloud and through her mind. She felt Impa lift her...
And then there was nothing.
AN: Ok, enough with the fairytale sounding intro chapter! Let's get to the real story. This is going to be Impa/Zelda romantic. No sex in Book One, although there will be sexual situations.
Impa from Ocarina of Time.
Zelda and Link from Twilight Princess.
King Daphnes from Wind Waker.