A cold night in Ordon Forest:
If one did not know exactly where to look, the two figures lying on the forest floor, hidden among undergrowth, were practically invisible in the darkness. The young man was wrapped snugly in his traveling cloak with his long green cap folded beneath his head; he was sound asleep. The other – a small shadow – was sitting rigidly against a tree trunk, her mystical orange hair tucked behind her to prevent its glow from attracting attention. She was clearly not asleep.
Midna's arms and legs were curled tightly against her body, but still the cold found its way around her defenses and she shivered miserably. She hoped it wasn't so cold that her face would freeze into the scowl she currently wore… although maybe it would finally force her companion to realize she was not happy.
The veil of Twilight had been lifted from Ordona Province, and Link had been thrilled. Midna, too, had been happy with their progress, at least until night had fallen. She had thought night in the forest would bring a little relief with its deep shadows and silence, but she had been painfully wrong. This darkness was not warm, welcoming Twilight. This was emptiness - unfriendly, cold emptiness – and it made her long for her own realm even more.
She looked down at herself, at the pathetic, powerless form that was her prison. Her teeth clenched and she began to shake not with cold but with anger. All this was her fault, because she had been too weak to prevent Zant from overthrowing her and seizing the realm of Twilight in the first place. And now here she was – a princess – huddling on a forest floor next to an oblivious Light dweller, questing to save a realm that should not even be her concern. In her frustration she lashed out and punched her helmet that lay next to her, but the fused shadow was harder than rock, and her hand – nerves raw from the cold – pained as if broken. Midna recoiled, nursing her fingers, and glared at her unmoved helmet.
I will not cry. I will NOT cry.
But the pain had opened the floodgates for all her pent-up emotion to come rushing out, and she curled into a ball, sobbing noiselessly.
Link didn't know what woke him, but his dream had turned suddenly from a scene of Ordon Village to Midna, reaching out to him, her face full of sorrow. That image haunted him, and he twisted his head to look for her – she was curled on the ground a few yards away, presumably asleep. But something didn't feel right, and as his eyes focused in the darkness he could see she was shaking rather violently.
Oh no. This was all she needed – attention from him. He was tolerable as a wolf, but as a human… or whatever he was with those pointed ears… he could be absolutely unbearable, especially when she just wanted to be alone.
"Go back to sleep. I'm fine."
There was a pause. Then, "You're crying."
Oh, really? I hadn't noticed. She said nothing. Maybe if I just ignore him he'll give up.
"You miss your home. You don't like it here."
It wasn't a question. It was a statement, and exactly right. Maybe you're not so thick after all.
"I said that out loud?"
"Yes." There was amusement in his voice, but he said no more for a long moment. She used the silence. Come on, she thought bitterly, pull yourself together. This is no way for someone of your stature to behave.
What stature? mocked a voice in her head, That of an imp? Her thoughts were paralyzed for a moment, then she cried even harder.
"Midna." She felt Link's hand on her shoulder, but didn't even have the motivation to smack him away. "I…"
She cut him off. "You don't know what I'm feeling. You cannot. You cannot understand how it feels to be cursed, exiled, and forced into a war against my own enslaved people with only an over-heroic Light dweller for company!" It was only when she had run out of breath and words that Midna realized how loud her voice had been, and the words she'd said. "I… I didn't mean…" Link stared at her, his boyish blue eyes taking on a new depth and seriousness. There was hurt in his gaze. Speaking quietly now, she said, "I really am glad for your help. I could never do this alone." It didn't feel like enough. She continued," And I am also thankful for your company. It's nice to know I'm not completely alone here."
"No one should be alone. Zant is alone, and it will be his downfall."
Midna stared at Link. "That's the most profound thing I've ever heard you say."
He pretended to think for a second. "I think it was, too." He was smiling. Midna felt her heart thud in her chest, and she tingled with a rush of affection for the Ordonian. "I'm sorry, Link."
"It's all right," he replied, then looked around with a shiver. "The cold can't be helping you sleep."
She looked away from him. "I'll live." What she really meant to say was, I will not show you any more weakness tonight.
The intensity was back in his blue eyes. "Midna, you've saved my life many times just in the last few days. I could never do any of this without you, and you already have my eternal respect. I promise, I won't judge you. You can use my cloak if you'd like."
Stunned, Midna murmured, "The way you're reading my mind tonight is unsettling. But thank you."
Link grinned and unfurled his cloak. He spread it on the ground for her and lay next to it.
Midna eagerly rose from where she'd been crouched and crawled onto the cloak, wrapping it around her. Beside her, Link curled his legs against his chest…
"What will you do?" she asked.
"I'll be fine," he said nonchalantly.
She sighed. This wasn't right. "You know there's more than enough here for me. I'm a third your size – I only need a corner."
He seemed to think for a moment. "Are you sure?"
"Of course! Here." Midna adjusted herself so that she only took what she needed, and nudged the rest over to Link, who gladly covered himself with it. "There. Now I won't have to feel so guilty."
Link chuckled. "Good night, Midna."
She closed her eyes and tried to sleep. But her mind still hummed with nervous and lonely thoughts, and once the heat of movement had gone the blasted cold assaulted her again, coming up through the ground, snaking under the cloak, stinging her face. She was soon shivering again, and her gaze fell on Link. He seemed perfectly content; his breathing was slow and deep. Stretching a hand toward him under the cloak Midna could feel the heat radiating from him. She didn't know if it was because he was a Light dweller or just because he was larger, but the cold did not affect him so terribly as it did her. She scooted closer to him; there was a little relief for her right side. Closer. Oh, heat! Closer…
Link's eyes flew open, and Midna froze, her face inches from his. They stared at one another for an eternity before Midna realized her mouth was hanging open in surprise. She rolled and faced away, mumbling an embarrassed apology.
"Are you still cold?" Link asked.
"No," Midna lied. Yes. Cold and miserable, as I've been.
There was a quick movement behind her - suddenly Link's arms were around her and she was pulled against him. "Hey!" she cried, struggling, but he was much stronger than she. He held her with one arm and tucked the cloak around both of them with the other. Finding herself, Midna demanded, "How dare you touch me so?" She prepared to summon magic to shove him away… but the warmth! The cold couldn't touch her here; she was safe from this empty, hungry darkness-that-wasn't-Twilight. "Why…?"
He chuckled again. "I knew you'd never agree if I suggested it. But it doesn't remain summer forever; we're going to have to weather some cold nights, even worse than this one."
Midna shuddered. "It gets worse?"
"But… isn't this… a little too close?" Even as she voiced the necessary protest, Midna felt her muscles relaxing, her eyes trying to close. Yes, she was safe from the cold here.
"Are you uncomfortable?"
She thought. "Maybe…" her voice trailed off into a massive yawn. "Maybe not." Her eyelids were very heavy, and she pressed lightly against the rough fabric of Link's tunic. He held her gently, protectively. It had been so long since she last felt safe like this, in someone else's arms. It made her forget her cursed physical state, if only for a moment. "Thank you…"
"Good night, Midna."
"Mmhmm." She let herself go; there was no awkwardness or tension, just sleep and nothing more.