Impa decided, that she did indeed have many faults. She hid away, very seldom helped people, and was not a cheerful person.
However, it was a pain to explain this to the young girl before her. Princess Zelda sat for her lessons, only because the Sheikah woman had asked her too. Her teacher, the Sage of Light, was slightly confused by this. Zelda was never bad, but direct orders were not followed unless given by her nursemaid.
"Child, do you see your connection with the Goddesses?"
"Yes. I hold the Triforce of Wisdom, which was given by Goddess Nayru. She blessed me help save the land of Hyrule when the next trouble arises, and to govern which fairness and peace." She recited, a small frown creasing her beautiful face. "Rauru, if the world is supposed to be ruled in fairness, then why do we discriminate against races like the Gerudo and the Sheikah?"
He seemed taken aback by the question. He had never thought about it before, he admitted to himself. "Child, there have been horrible people within those tribes, or they just don't approve of the secrecy."
Zelda stood abruptly, her eyes sharp. "Not everyone did something bad. It is not their fault if a member of their tribe acts out. Secrecy is something we all desire. Could it be that we are jealous? That we can't be the same, because of where, or how we were born? That is no life to live."
The man stared, mouth open. The girl had just made him speechless. Her nursemaid grunted, agreeing with her words. Zelda spun, the light in her eyes dying.
"Impa, I'm sorry if I ever said something about the Sheikah, I swear, I didn't mean to offend you!" The girl had never, in fact, said a word against her tribe, so she just shook her head.
"Zelda, lessons are over. Go." The girl nodded, wringing her hands. Then she walked away, trying to restrain herself from running.
Rauru recognized the look on the older woman's face, but refused to say a word.
Princess Zelda looked happily at the young Hylian boy, his blonde hair swinging in the wind. She handed him a letter, her signature clearly etched within the parchment.
"My nursemaid Impa with guide you out. Thank you, Link!" He smiled, and turned without a word. She knew, all to well what was to happen to him, to her, to the land. But she trusted him with the challenge of restoring peace.
She moved away, to head back into the castle. It was her favorite time of the day. After all, Impa promised to teach her about the Sheikah!
A now older Zelda stood before her teacher, a secret smile lighting her face. She was going to help save her kingdom, even if her role was small.
"Do not reveal your real identity to anyone, especially the dumb Hero." She scoffed.
"He is not dumb." The older woman grimaced, her eyes squinting in the dim light of the moon outside.
"He is. He lets his emotions rule his actions. As a Sheikah, I was trained never to let my weakness show."
"What is your weakness?" She asked, almost timidly. Impa allowed a rare smile to break her stern face.
"You." But before she could answer, Rauru is there, grimacing.
"It is time, Princess. He has awoken."
"How is he?"
"Shaken. He also wants to inquire about you, but he restrained. I believe he thinks you dead." The woman shook her head, her red eyes glinting.
"I am dead. Or, what I used to be is. When I see Gannon again, he will be happily surprised. He always enjoys a struggle." He words were light, but the adults felt their hearts drop to their stomachs. No one this young should have to deal with the pain of war.
And then she was gone, without a word.
Gannon stood before her, a whip in his hand. She didn't make a sound, her back back already painful from too many lashes. She had fought, but released her tension early on. It hurt less.
In the small amount of time in his possession, she had been beaten, tortured, and poisoned. Her body was exhausted, but she refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her pass out.
"I see your nursemaid isn't here. Although, I'm sure she would love to join in the festivities. Sheikah are quite cruel."
She growled, low in her throat. "Aw, how sad. You love your little protector. You also love that pathetic little hero. When will you learn to fight your own battles? Wasn't it Impa who took you away?" He grinned when she struggled against her restraints.
"I LOVE HER!" She screamed.
Across a mental link, the Sages clutched their heads as they heard the conversation. The princess had opened herself up, allowing the awoken to see into her thoughts.
He laughed, his voice fuzzy over the link. "And here you fooled everyone, Zelda. A romance between Guardian and Charge? How scandalous. Of course, she probably has no idea."
"Shut up." Her words were sharp, ringing in the listeners ears.
"No. I won't. I want to her you scream for her, scream for your forbidden romance. And when I have your and the Hero's Triforces, I will make you watch as she dies. Slowly, painfully. But she won't scream. Her pride is too great. I may not know her well, but she has quite a reputation. I want to be the first to pierce that mental armor. Yours was no challenge.
"How sad is it, that the only person you can confess your love to is the one person who wants you to be writhing in agony? I am going to take everything from you. I'll steal your innocence, child, if only so that damned Sheikah is without it." There was one last scream, before the link cut off. They saw nothing but black.
Impa, freshly awoken, jumped up, surprise and anger on her features. However, she was no match for the other Sages when they sprung to hold her down.
The pair didn't see each other until Zelda returned to the Chamber of Sages. Even then, she avoided eye contact with everyone except Saria. She walked forward, and took the young girl's hands, who looked startled.
"I didn't have a chance to apologize before, but I am sorry for ruining your forest with the death of the Great Deku Tree. He was wise, and a wonderful being." The girl shook her head.
"No, it was not your fault." She went around, trying to apologize. When she got to Nabooru, the Gerudo woman placed her hands on her hips.
"What you need to apologize for is giving us headaches. Try not to get captured next time, little girl."
Zelda didn't have anything to say to that, so she moved onto the last person. When she realized it was Impa, she knew exactly what to say.
"I'm sorry for leaving you, and going into the world. I'm sorry for worrying you. I'm sorry for getting captured when you couldn't save me. I'm sorry I got hurt, and you had to sit back. I'm sorry for breaking my promise to always be by your side, and your side alone." Her words were broken.
The Sheikah felt her heart break, so she grabbed the girl's face in her hands, and leaned their foreheads together. They breathed softly, accepting the moment.
"It's okay. You did nothing wrong. Nothing at all. I forgive you." They both had to hold back tears.
The other Sages knew what was going on, even if the pair had no idea yet. They clamped their lips shut, and prayed to the Goddesses that these two would see the truth.
The land saved, Link and Zelda happily in the castle. He didn't notice, however, her dark eyes and screams through the night. He just laughed, and pulled her through the freshly restored land.
Thankfully, he just brought her to rest under the large tree outside of his childhood home. She relaxed, but her body refused to go limp. Instead, it was stiff as a board.
The last nightmare had woken Impa, who had rushed in wielding knives. When she saw her, the protector had rushed to her side, trying to calm her. It worked, but the half awake Zelda has kissed the poor woman, mumbling unintelligible things. She fell back asleep.
When the princess had came to, hours later, the Sheikah was gone without a trace. She hadn't taken any of her meager belongings, but no one had seen her at all. Zelda remembered, vividly, what had transpired the night before. She did not regret her accidental reaction, for the sweet taste of her secret love's lips were perfect for her. However, she loathed the reaction, wishing desperately to change it.
Impa did not come back to the castle for a week, staying away. She realized her love for the princess, but was afraid to act on it, even after verbal and physical confirmation.
It was wrong, on so many levels. She was older, a different race, and her mind set was completely opposite. She wanted the girl so badly, to love and hold and call her own. Her desires were becoming a problem, and after their brief kiss, she couldn't stay without trying something. She had to control her emotions, lest they become a problem for the soon to be Queen.
When Impa decided to go back, she was not expecting the scene before her. In the courtyard, Link was on one knee, proposing to the princess. She approached silently.
"Zelda, I know this is sudden, but I love you. So very much. I want to take away your pain, and lie with you at night, and be able to call you the holder of my heart. I want everyone to see my happiness."
Impa watched her charge tear up. "Zelda, I want to show you the world. Will you let me?"
She opened and closed her mouth a good number of times, before taking a deep breath. When she spoke, her words were rushed. "Link, I really do love you, but only as a brother. It is cruel, and I feel horrible, but I could never call you my partner in life. My heart was captured by someone else, a long time ago. I want to be by your side always, and let the world see our happiness. But I don't want it to be romantic. You are my Hero, and my best friend, not my lover." He sighed, but did not stand. Instead, he smiled quite fondly at her.
"Zel, I understand."
"I hope so. I wouldn't want to explain to Ruto why I happen to be kissing you on an altar." He laughed, and she joined in. But the tension lingered.
"Who is it?" He asked quietly. The princess looked at him, not wanting to answer, but knowing it was only fair too. After turning him down, it was only right to let him know why in the most complete way possible.
"Impa." He gasped, and she blushed, a frown creasing her beautiful face. Brow furrowed, she waited for him to yell.
Instead, he grabbed her hand and pulled her to the ground into a tight embrace. She returned the gesture.
When they broke apart, his voice was full of a burning love for her. "I am glad. She is good for you. When you tell her, I want to be the first to know, and congratulate you too. Promise?" She nodded.
He stood, and they stared for a long while. It was the largest amount of words he had spoken at once, and they both seemed to crave a soft silence between them.
Impa came out immediately after he had left. Zelda noticed her, shame and guilt passing over her eyes like a film.
The woman just walked forward, almost mechanically. She paused, a hairs breath away from her love. She felt the heat radiating off the younger woman, and the intoxicating scent of her skin. All her worries and fears feel away. She wanted this. Needed it. Craved it.
She crushed their mouths together without warning, but the princess responded enthusiastically, wrapping her lithe arms around her love's neck.
The fierceness soon wore off, the gentle caress of lips trailing it its wake. When they broke apart for air, blue clashing red, the world felt so right. In that moment, everything floated away except each other.
Impa had to say something. Anything. An apology, a lecture, something. But the words that slipped from her lips were not what she had predicted.
"I love you, Zelda." The girl smiled, and wrapped her arms around the older woman.
"I love you too, Impa. I have for a very long time.
And no more words needed to be said.
They followed each other the entire day, always touching. Whether it was holding hands, or walking arm in arm, they refused to let each other go, as if the fragile relationship would disappear without the physical contact.
No one seemed to notice, for it was only natural for a Guardian to be around her Charge. Few did see the change in their faces, so soft and joyful.
When they met up with Link later in the evening for supper, he just smiled to Zelda.
"Good evening, Zel." She nodded, sitting at her usual place next to Impa. "Do anything interesting today?" There were others at the table, so she decided not to openly take about her new found relationship.
"Oh, not really. The shipments are going crazy. I also got a few formal requests for meetings today."
"Anything else?" She thought a moment, before snapping her fingers.
"Yes! Oh, Link, we have to go visit Ruto. I promised to see her within the month, and have you along. She wanted to have tea with us." He groaned.
"Zel, come on. She will try to marry me again, and I-"
"We can visit Malon and Saria." He shut up, a smile replacing the pleading look on his face.
"Really? I do miss Saria, and Malon should see how well Epona is doing!"
"I haven't seen Saria since the war. She was such a cute girl." Bile rose in the older woman's throat, constricting it. But the squeeze of her hand reassured her. They shared a glance of love, which put both their hearts racing.
That night, Zelda couldn't sleep. Impa was in the other room, snoring quietly. The princess felt cold, and vulnerable without the heat of the older woman next to her.
Climbing out of the silken sheets, and stepped quietly in the adjoining room. Impa was on her side, arms spread, as if asking for a hug.
The princess climbed into bed with her, and nearly cried when the arms tightened around her thin frame. She snuggled in the embrace, and let the Sheikah's breathing lull her to sleep.
The morning came too quickly for the protector's liking. She felt the warm body in her arms, and smiled softly, pressing a kiss to the woman's head. It was perfection.
She couldn't fall back asleep, so she examined the sleeping beauty in her arms.
Her face was creased with small worry lines, and she had faint dark circles under her eyes. Her face betrayed her troubles to the world, showing her maturity even at a young age. But, she looked like a delicate porcelain doll, ready to break into pieces at any moment.
With this analogy, her arms tightened just a bit. She refused to let that ever happen to her love. Even if it cost her life.
The Guardian was complicated, like stained glass. You can see the picture, but it is nearly impossible to look through clearly. Unless you break it, it is a mystery.
However, Zelda is that rare beam of sunlight that makes that glass very clear, and allows you to look to the other side without any obstacles.
They fit together perfectly, Pieces of a puzzle almost forgotten.
Impa is her protector, friend, teacher, and lover.
Zelda is her charge, friend, student, and lover.
And when they think about it, and about the past, they realize that they should have realized this a long time ago.
It may have been wrong, but it felt so right.
AN: Wow. That took forever to write. I saw the lack of fanfiction for this pairing, and kind of, maybe, got extremely pissed. So, I decided to write a long one to add to the hopefully growing collection.
I want to give a shout out to HermioneSparta. She has an amazing, ongoing ZeldaxImpa story called Lotus Jewel up on her profile right now. Please, go read it.