A/N: Yay, another chapter! I would like to forewarn any guys who read this chapter now. Girls, when they get older, go through certain things guys might find… gross. If you have sisters, than you may know what I'm talking about. Point is, you may not want to read this chapter, and to those who do read this chapter, I do not want any crude remarks left in reviews, and I don't want anyone saying that they were disgusted by the contents. I gave a fair warning. Now, I do not own The Legend of Zelda. Enjoy!

~Moon White Rose

Chapter 22

Atayla felt ready to kill when the first rays of dawn cracked through the curtain on her room's only window. The feeble light settled over her closed eyes, but it was enough to wake the thirteen year old from her pleasurable slumber, which annoyed her greatly. She had been dreaming of fresh fruits and delightful sweets stolen from Hyrule. She had been dreaming of food recently over the past few days, but she hardly noticed; food was almost always on a Gerudo's mind, since no one was ever promised another meal.

I'd love to kill that sun, she mentally grumbled as she pulled her blanket over her head, sighing softly as the darkness sheltered her, thus making sleep once again a possibility. She didn't know why she had been so tired over the past few days, but it was what it was. Eventually, she started to drift off, but then, suddenly, her eyes shot open and her teeth sank into her bottom lip so that she wouldn't cry out. Cramps made her stomach clench painfully; the discomfort maddening as it continued its assault over her young body. What in the name of common sense; again?!

Atayla hadn't told anyone, but over the last two or three days, she had been seized by bouts of sudden cramps. Sometimes, they would only last for a minute or two; others sometimes as long as ten or fifteen minutes. The pain didn't let up, and Atayla reached out under the blanket to find her old childhood pillow. Yes, she still had the old thing, much to her father's amusement; she had also made it clear that she would kill him if he breathed a word to anyone, which he had not.

Her father was a thief, a terror, and sometimes, a flat out monster with more flaws than she could count, but it could never be said that he didn't care about her self-esteem; any insecurities he knew she possessed about herself would go with him to his grave, and he would never dare make them publicly known. That being said, he certainly didn't mind teasing her about it privately, and she could only imagine what he would say if he saw her now.

She pressed the pillow to her stomach and curled up almost into a ball; for some reason, the soft material helped alleviate the pain. At least, she thought it helped; she wasn't sure if it did or not. At this point, she didn't really care. All she cared about was getting comfy and going back to sleep. It took a bit, but the pain finally started to subside, and Atayla carefully stretched out, hoping the movement wouldn't cause the cramps to return. She pulled the blanket down so that she could breath, turned so that her back was to the sun. Finally, the familiar feeling of her eyelids growing heavy registered in her brain, and she smiled, happy at the thought of more sleep.

Her door's rusty hinges creaked and it combined with the sound of the door bottom grating across the stone floor. The offensive noise caused her eyes to shoot open; murder the only thing on her mind, but when she saw it was her mother, she settled for an annoyed groan. Of course this would happen; of course her mother wouldn't let her sleep in for any decent amount of time.

"All right kid, get up. You know the only ones who get to sleep past sunrise are either expectant mothers or those on deaths door. Get up." Nabooru waited for her daughter's response, but all she got was a groan. "Atayla?"

"Go away," she snapped back before pulling her covers over her head. Just once, she'd love it if her mother would actually listen to her instead of doing the opposite, which she knew she would do before the first word left her mouth. Sure enough, she heard her mother's feet hit the worn stone floor, and the bed dipped slightly at the new weight. Seconds later, the covers were pulled back. Atayla glared up at her, but the anger she felt in her eyes died when she saw the concern in her mother's.

"Atayla, what's wrong? Are you okay?" So long as Gerudos stayed properly hydrated and nourished, they didn't have to really worry about getting sick; the fortress was always kept clean despite the dry, sandy, environment. The women of the desert went to great lengths to keep everyone healthy, and it paid off, but sometimes people did get sick (especially the young children, but that was common) and if Atayla was ill then Nabooru wanted to know about it; now. "Atayla, what's the matter. Do you feel sick?"

"Not really," she groaned while she slowly sat up. "I'm just tired, really tired, and my stomach keeps cramping for no reason, but I feel hungry too. I think something is wrong with me." Atayla said the last part jokingly, but any amusement she possessed left when her mother didn't laugh. Instead, she just looked at her blankly, before a brief, knowing smile flashed onto her face, gone as quickly as it had come. Hmm? I wonder….?

"Well then, if that's all, get out of bed and be down in the dining hall in ten minutes, or you'll get nothing until the midday meal. I mean it." And with that, Nabooru left the room, smirking inwardly. Gibdo Head is going to have a heart attack when I tell him his little girl is about to become a woman. In a matter of moments, she entered her and her husband's private dining chamber. Ganondorf had yet to arrive, so she dismissed the attendants the moment they brought in the food. She wanted to be alone when she broke the news to the big brute.

"Hmm, Atayla isn't here yet, and I see no servants. Either you're planning something naughty, or you have bad news. I hope it's the naughty, Thief." Ganondorf playfully tugged his wife's pony tail, which earned him a slap to the arm and a mock venomous glare from his Queen. He sat beside her instead of across from her and pulled her into his lap. Before she could protest, he pressed his lips to hers while also running his large hand down her exposed back. Regardless of whatever her intentions had been, he was going to make the morning naughty, solely because he wanted it.

"Ganondorf, stop, stop! Really, we need to talk," laughed Nabooru as she pulled back. He glared at her, obviously angry at her killing the mood. The look only got worse when she climbed out of his lap, but it vanished as she took in a deep breath and gazed at him seriously. The married couple could tease and harass each other like no one could ever imagine, but when it was time to be serious they were the perfect examples of the word. "I want you to let me finish, and keep in mind that this was bound to happen at one point. Also, you've grown up with girls so don't act immature, or unreasonable for that matter." Nabooru fell silent.

"All right Nabooru spit it out." She couldn't have asked for a better opening.

"Okay then. It seems as if Atayla is going to start her bleeding soon; she's beginning to trek into womanhood. I'm willing to bet by this time next week, at the latest, we, you, will not be able to refer to her as a child." Silence settled over the small, private room; the food, normally eaten with great gusto, was instantly forgotten. Ganondorf was certain that he had not heard Nabooru correctly; there was no way his daughter, his little girl was about to start down the long road of becoming a woman; an adult. He wouldn't have it. Time couldn't have gone by that fast… could it?

"You have to be wrong. She can't-."

"Ganondorf," Nabooru cut off patiently, "denial doesn't become you. The truth is the truth. She's thirteen, possibly older for all we know; this is about the time it starts. We ourselves are in our late thirties. Time has gone on, yet you want to stay stuck in the past. Atayla is a young woman, not a child, and you are the King of the Gerudo. You need to fully accept your situation and face reality." Ganondorf knew that she was referring to that desire he had never completely buried; the desire that had drove them apart for so many years.

Even though the duties of being a king, and more importantly, a father, and later a husband, had mellowed him drastically, he still had that flaming desire from his youth. He still longed for the Kingdom of Hyrule to be his; he still ached for those green fields, the swollen rivers, and the fat livestock. Several times, Nabooru had asked him to petition Queen Zelda for an alliance but he knew the past between the two kingdoms was too bloody for the Hylian Ruler to even consider such a request. Zelda was known for her love for her people, and it was that love which made Ganondorf certain an alliance would never happen. The Queen tolerated their presence if they caused no trouble, but that was about it.

"Ganondorf?" He shook his head to clear his thoughts and looked to his wife, whom he realized was waiting for some sort of response to the controversial topic she had risked bringing up. He knew she was right, but admitting that to himself, realizing his dreams would forever stay that way, was harder than he was willing to admit; admitting it to her however was going to require swallowing his pride, something very hard for him to consider, let alone do. She gave him an encouraging smile, a rare look of tenderness and gentleness on her face.

Nabooru knew her husband well; she wouldn't tease him for admitting she was right. There was no way his inflated ego could handle so many blows at once. "I sup-." He didn't get the chance to finish for at that moment, the door flew open and a guard rushed in.

"Milady, you're needed in Princess Atayla's chambers immediately." The girl looked down and nodded in response to Nabooru's silent question. Nabooru motioned for the girl to leave, and she followed. The doors closed with a loud "bang," and Ganondorf slowly sat back down, not even remembering rising. So this was it.

His daughter, by the traditions of the Gerudo, was now officially… a woman.

Atayla had never felt so many different things in one day. Her day had started with her feeling tired and irritable, and was now ending with her still feeling the same way. However, she now also felt… different, and with very good reason. After her mother had awaken her and left, Atayla had reluctantly gotten out of bed, only to be attacked with more cramps as she had tried to relieve herself in her bathroom. Atayla had screamed bloody murder at the pain, and out of fear at the sight of the blood coming out of the area between her legs. Guards had come and comforted her, giving her knowing looks, until her mother had arrived.

"'It's all right Atayla, nothing is wrong,'" her mother had said as she helped her get undressed and cleaned up. "'Stop your screaming, I promise nothing is wrong.'"

"'I'M BLEEDING! I'VE NEVER HAD THIS HAPPEN BEFORE; HOW CAN YOU SAY NOTHING IS WRONG?!'" Atayla had fired back in such a fearful frenzy, it was almost funny. Nabooru had then grabbed hold of her arm and had forced Atayla to look her.

"'I know because this is something all girls go through eventually. Now calm down Atayla, I'm here to help you.'" Atayla had listened to her mother and after taking care of her personal business and getting cleaned, she had changed into a soft nightgown and underwear that had weird padding and made her certain she now knew what a diaper felt like. Her mother had not said much after that, only that Atayla was going through changes and that she was to stay in bed for the rest of the day. Atayla had gladly obeyed and had slept on and off throughout the morning and early afternoon, her mother or a trusted guard helping her whenever what she had been wearing would become full of blood.

Now it was early evening and instead of going down to her and her parents dining hall, her mother was going to eat with her and answer any questions she might have. This suited Atayla just fine; she had a lot of questions and she wanted answers. She waited for what seemed like an eternity before her mother entered, a soft smile gracing her lips that were almost always set in a smirk. She was followed closely by servants who carried in the food for the evening meal. They set the table in her room quickly, bowed, and left, no doubt anxious to get to their own dinner.

Atayla and Nabooru sat and for a while there was a comfortable silence as the two royals ate. "Well, how are you feeling? Do you still feel cramped?" Atayla shook her head at her mother's questioned as her mouth was full.

"No, not really," she finally said when she swallowed. "I mean, I do a little bit, but not as bad as before. I feel a little tired; mostly though, I feel really hungry." Almost as if she had to prove this, Atayla took a huge bite and her chewing was fast with more food soon replacing what she had swallowed. Nabooru laughed and shook her head.

"Yes, that has been known to be a common effect of a monthly mess, especially in the beginning." Atayla stopped mid chew, her interest piqued. This was what she had been waiting to hear about all day. Nabooru noticed the sudden, expectant look on her daughter's face and she laughed quietly. "All right, I'll answer your questions now. I would have earlier, but I knew you needed rest, and I had other things I had to attend to; namely, your father, who isn't taking this well at all. He can be such a…" Nabooru trailed off, not able to find the right word.

"Baby?" Atayla supplied, earning a loud laugh from her mother who could only nod in agreement. It was a simple but very true way to put it. Her husband at times really was just like a baby; if he didn't get his way he'd be whiny and cross.

"Yes, he's being a baby about this; he's sad his little girl is… is now a woman." Nabooru said the last part so quietly, Atayla almost didn't hear her; almost, but not quite. A woman; A WOMAN? What did her bleeding from her private area have to do with her now being a woman?

"What do you mean mother; I'm still just a kid… right?" When Nabooru didn't answer, Atayla suddenly felt her appetite vanish. This couldn't be happening. This couldn't be happening. As she tried to wrap her head around what her mother had said, her mother started to speak again.

"Atayla, you know at some given point, girls become women. According to an ancient tradition created by the earliest Gerudo Queens, at what seems to be a random time to younger girls, a girl will disappear from the society's eyes for a few days, and when she returns, she is treated as a woman. I'm sure you've often wondered about what happens during that time, and what determines when the girl 'disappears,' haven't you?" Atayla gave a nod; she was still a little too stunned to speak, but it was true. She had seen it like all the other girls had. Girls, usually around her age, would disappear for no reason, and when they returned, they would be wearing clothes like that of the grown women and they would have their ears pierced. They would not be allowed to play games with the "children" and their work changed as well. Atayla had asked about that a few times, but her mother had always told her she would find out when the time was right.

I guess now is that right time she always talked about. The thought scared Atayla; she wasn't ready to be an adult. She still wanted to be a child and enjoy all the things that were familiar. I'm not ready to grow up. Almost as if her mother could read her thoughts, Nabooru gently laid her hand on Atayla's and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

"I know this is scary, but it's a part of life, and no one is expecting you change overnight and be a perfect adult. You'll still have fun; you'll still be you." Nabooru paused and gave a half smile. "You're just going through changes."

"Like what?" she asked as they moved over to her bed. Nabooru took in a deep breath as she thought of the best way to answer the question.

"Well, the bleeding is the result of your body… preparing you for the future. It means it's starting the change so that when you're older… you can have a healthy baby." Atayla went a little white, but not at what her mother had just said; the idea of a baby growing inside her stomach was not something she found appealing. "From now on, at this time ever month, you'll bleed for a few days; this happens mostly to just let you know there is no baby in your womb."

"Oh… so what if I do have a baby in my stomach, or womb, then I won't bleed?" Nabooru hesitated.

"Normally, that is the case, but sometimes if a woman naturally bleeds heavily, then she may still bleed while pregnant. Don't worry though Atayla, you're very healthy, so I don't think you'll have any problems, and you still have years to go before you can even think of having a daughter. Besides, you'd need to go on a… hunt first before possibly becoming pregnant." The information was a lot to take in, but it made her happy.

There was a very big distinction between raids and hunts; Gerudo's couldn't go on hunts until they were at least seventeen. I guess hunts are meant for trying to get a baby. Suddenly, something struck her that made her heart swell hopefully. "So, since I'm a woman now, does this mean I'll get to go on raids?"

Nabooru gave Atayla an amused look. She was definitely a Gerudo. "Not right away, but you will soon begin training that will prepare you for raids. I'd say you'd be ready for your first one in eight to ten months, provided you listen to your instructors and show you possess the skills need to be a help, not a hindrance. Atayla nodded vigorously.

She had wanted to go with her 'sisters' on a raid for as long as she could remember. Now she was finally going to get the chance to go in just a few months if she worked hard enough. And I will work hard. I'll remember everything my teachers say and I'll practice until I pass out!

"So what other things will change? Will I, um… get bigger up top?" Nabooru nodded as Atayla ran her hand over her relatively flat chest.

"Yes, your breasts will develop, but they most likely will be a bit tender as a result. It shouldn't hurt too much though. You'll also continue to grow taller and stronger and you'll be introduced to new skills as well as receive a much deeper education on the Gerudo race. Also, skills you possess now will be worked harder than before, but I have confidence you will do fine." That didn't sound too bad to Atayla; she had always been open to new experiences. Perhaps this won't be too bad.

"Atayla," Nabooru said after a few moments. "I know this is all scary and a lot to take in, but it's really just one of many milestones you'll make over the course of your life. Your father and I will be here with you, and while you will have to let go of some things that are familiar, what really matters will always be with you." Atayla was quiet at her mother's words, silenced by the power of them, even though she didn't fully understand. Nabooru pulled her into a hug. "You will understand in time my daughter, my beautiful young woman. Rest now."

Atayla kissed her mother good night and soon she was alone in her room. As she went to sleep that night though, she couldn't tell which part of her was filled the most; her stomach from the nice dinner, her mind from all the new information, or her heart that was full of both her love for her parents and the joy that came from knowing that they loved her.

Before drifting off, she determined it was her heart because she knew that full feeling would never leave but only grow bigger with time. Yes, what she was going through was frightening, but she was determined that with her parents love and support, she could face the long road of womanhood and all it hurled at her. Her parents would always be there for her; that was one thing she knew would never change.

A/N: Well, I must say, I had an entirely different ending planned for this chapter, but it just did not work out, which leads me to a question for my readers that you can answer in a review or PM. I work hard on Divine Punishment, but not everything I write makes it into the final cut for each chapter. If you all could see how many little, and sometimes big, things get left out, I think you would be shocked. So here's the question: Do you, the readers, want me to post what gets left out as another 'story'? It would sort of be like a deleted scenes file, and you all can ask questions about the story that I would answer. Let me know. Anyway, thanks to:

Fora Beast, Katia0203, cybermage99, The Azure Heart, Arcane Valor, and DestinyPrincess289.

Well, until next time. Later!

~Moon White Rose