dedication: to pearls, girls, boys and glitter.
notes: i really don't like Ilia. this piece is me trying (read: failing) for unbiased.
summary: TP. "Crazy" was the wrong word for what she was. "Damaged" made more sense. — Ilia, Link.
Ilia wasn't crazy.
She was a little… damaged, sure. But not crazy. "Damaged" was fixable. "Damaged" was outside influence. "Damaged" was less dangerous. "Damaged" was okay.
But not crazy.
Because crazy was weak. Crazy was letting go of everything. Crazy was forgetting. And Ilian wasn't weak or forgetting or letting go. She was doing the opposite—she was staying strong (for Link), remembering (everything Link had ever said), not letting go (of Link).
So she wasn't crazy.
And it wasn't even that she was lonely, she wasn't. There were always people around, wondering if she was alright. And she was. She was fine.
It was just that sometimes, she missed him.
Hard not to, Ilia mused. Missing Link was like missing a limb—phantom pain in all the right places to make it hurt too much to breathe. Like missing her other half. They'd grown up together, and Link… Link had always known her better than she'd known herself. Always, always, always. As it was, he still knew her better than any other person alive.
He probably always would.
And so… it just hurt.
Because she wasn't really sure how to deal with life without him. She wasn't really sure how to deal with anything without him; not getting up, not going through the motions, not… not anything. Even during the… Ordeal (Ilia winced as she thought of it—she didn't know if it was ever going to stop hurting), the only person she'd thought of had been Link. The knowledge that he would come to save her was unshakeable . It simply was—Link always, always came to save her.
Her own personal knight in shining armour, she thought with a sad smile.
He'd come and gone and now she was alone.
Alone was different than lonely, but Ilia guessed she was that, too. Alone and lonely, but always surrounded by people.
(—have you ever been alone in a crowded room?)
Sometimes, Ilia pretended that they were playing a game—one where the point was to outwait the other. The person who gave in lost.
She counted her breaths, one, two, three, four, in, out, in out—
But she always lost that game.
She always lost all the games that had to do with Link.
Hiding from the rest of Ordon was easy. She climbed up trees and hid among the branches, the leaves, and the silence. Curled up in the crook between the largest branch and the trunk, Ilia wrapped herself in blankets and dreams and memories. Link's smile, Impaz's faith, Telma's kindness, Renado's honesty… all the things she associated with safety.
(It was funny that more than half those things, she'd never ought to have known. But…)
Link had said, once, that trees made him comfortable.
He was the script she based her life off of, so Ilia took reassurance in it, and molded it to her liking. She hid in the trees near his house, and listened to the wind—pretended she could hear him whistling.
Time passed, but she wasn't really aware of it. Time didn't quite have the same meaning, anymore. Empty green eyes watched as day blurred into night blurred into dawn blurred into dusk, until everything was a smear of colourful memories that Ilia had no place in.
Looking her father in the face took more effort than Ilia cared to admit.
"I'm fine, Daddy," she told him.
(—day in, day out.)
The sincerity came easy.
Because she was fine.
And it was working it's way under her skin, infecting everything. Ilia was snap-crackle-pop shattering, but not crazy—why did everyone look at her like she was crazy? She wasn't crazy, because crazy was for people who couldn't handle the real world, and Ilia could handle the real world fine.
Everything would be fine.
She promised herself that (five times a day, twelve times a day, a hundred and fifty-four times a day). Everything would be perfectly fine. The damage would go away, Link would come home, they'd get married and have children and everything would be okay.
Ilia knew that if she kept hoping, eventually it would happen.
The season began to change.
/ / /
The damage spread like a cancer.
Ilia didn't even realize it until she looked in a mirror and didn't recognize herself. The girl in the mirror was blonde and green-eyed and pretty, so different from the twisted shatterglass thing she'd become.
Ilia touched her face, dragged her fingers down the skin, stretched too tight across her bones. Her lips were cracking, stained red and maybe bloody, dusky and sick.
The damage wrote itself across her body in invisible ink, sinking in deep.
Ilia could feel it in her blood, curdling and sick.
And then the memory lapses started.
/ / /
Atop a tree, Ilia sang to herself about forgotten girls, empty fields and fire-flowers in the sky, about getting away and being alone with someone's smile.
But she didn't have a someone anymore.
He'd gone away.
Or maybe she'd never really had him.
Maybe she'd never really had anything.
Ilia leaned back in her tree, unaware of quite how she'd got up there.
But that was okay.
Link liked trees.
So Ilia liked them, too.
She couldn't help it—everything Link liked just made sense. He liked riding and trees and freedom and danger, and Ilia wanted to like those things too, because liking them was being that much closer to him. And sometimes Ilia thought that he was all she had left.
(And she didn't even have him, so what did that say about her?)
Sometimes she snuck into his old house, and simply breathed. It smelled like dust and quiet; for a long time, it had smelled like Link. But it was fading, fading like smoke.
Ilia hugged herself and counted, counted, counted, because she wasn't, she wasn't crazy.
/ / /
And the whispered conversation went like this:
"Is she going to be okay?"
"I—don't know. She doesn't… I don't know."
"Should we take her to someone? A doctor? Renado? Someone must know where Link is…"
"I don't think—that'll help. I don't know what would help, at this point. Maybe if we'd caught it earlier…"
A pause, and then:
"But no one said anything."
"No one ever says anything."
A sigh escaped them both, and Ilia did not dare to breathe.
"It'll be okay, Bo. Everything will be okay."
Sharp intake of breath. "She's my little girl, Rusl."
"I know. Colin—"
"Colin always knows where he is. It's not the same thing."
"No, I guess not."
Another sigh, then silence.
Ilia tilted her head as she remembered it, eyes wide. But she wasn't crazy, wasn't crazy, wasn't crazy…
/ / /
If it had been a fairytale, it would have ended when Link came home.
But it didn't end when Link came home.
Ilia only found out afterwards, that he'd even been in Ordon.
He hadn't even said hello.
(—the damage spread and spread, until Ilia was crazy; until she was shattered all the way to the center of her soul. Stir crazy, sparkle-light crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy. It was all the same.)
She sat in her tree and rocked back and forth, because damaged was better than crazy but she didn't really know the difference anymore so who was she to judge? She sang with the wind and watched the entrance because one day, he would come home, and he wouldn't be able to avoid her.
One day, he would come back, and they would be together.
One day, the damage would disappear.
Because Ilia wasn't crazy.
(The moon hung before her, white against the sky. Ilia was so close; so close to the sky, close enough to grasp the large white disc. Close enough to kiss it. Close enough to hold on.
All she had to do was stretch—)
She was just damaged.
notes2: …yeah, still not liking her.
notes3: please leave a review! :)