"Impa." The Sage's head snapped up from the ancient text she was reading, her face impassive as always. The Princess was staring out a large window, leaning on her hand.
"Yes, Princess?" Her voice was rich and deep, a sound that had always comforted the monarch. Zelda sighed, her eyes not focused on the landscape outside. Even after saving the world, her perspective hadn't changed in the slightest. The earth was still a dull brown color, and grass a dark green, and the sky a muted blue. It irked her.
"What do you see when you look outside?" The Sheikah raised an eyebrow. The Princess's voice was off, her tone utterly bored and unamused. She seemed almost careless.
"I see what you see, Princess." The young woman held back a groan. Impa was such a realist sometimes! It was simply infuriating!
"Impa, I did not mean in a literal sense." Her reply was rude, her tone annoyed.
"I apologize, Princess." She said softly. She shut the book. She could read it another time, after all, and it wasn't capturing her attention anymore.
Zelda did not hear Impa until her breath was next to her ear. She shivered at the coolness of her protector's breath. She always seemed cold to the Princess, frozen and detached. I bothered her as a child, but she has become accustomed to it. Even if she hated it with a passion, she could not say a word against Impa. She was too precious to lose.
The women looked out the window together. Impa's crimson gaze roamed the landscape. The sun hung high in the sky, and the tall oaks cast shadows upon the earth. She preferred night, but the Sheikah knew that it was what most would consider a beautiful day.
"So?" Zelda prompted impatiently. Impa restrained herself from laughing. The Princess of Hyrule was so calm and cool around an audience or friends, but in just the company of Impa, her irritable attitude and immature nature shone through clearly.
"I see a sun with passion unchallenged. It defies the clam blue sky full of peace and serenity. The trees sing in the breeze, as the exited grass listens. Feet trample the brown earth of solid feelings, making emotions more concrete." It was poetic for Impa, beautiful in it's own right.
Zelda felt her heart clench. It hurt massively. Impa had always shone with a brighter light than herself. Even as a Sheikah, the Shadow of Hylians, her light was blinding. The warrior had never seen it herself, and most had not a chance to even witness it at all.
"That was amazing." She breathed, looking outside. Impa always changed a view on things. She could make it more realistic, or like a fairytale. Her stories as a child, told by her nursemaid, were always interesting. She had many talents.
More so than even the Princess.
"Thank you, Princess. I am glad you enjoyed it."
They sat in silence for moments, before Zelda turned her face up. Impa was smiling, a warm, real smile that lit up her normally dark face and made her seem soft and caring. The Princess held back a small gasp.
This moment was a present not to be wasted. She studied the Sheikah's face, the deep contours, and crease lines in her forehead. Her eyes were lit ablaze with curiosity and understanding. Her jaw was held loose, not clenched in a strong emotion. She seemed relaxed for once, and aura of tranquility surrounding her. She was breathtaking to the younger woman in that moment, stunning beyond words. She felt her breath catch, her heart pounding in her throat to a fast tempo.
"You're gorgeous, Impa." The words slipped from her lips quietly, and she cursed herself. It was unintentional, but the thought had rolled off her tongue easily, as if it was meant to be said.
The Sheikah looked down, emotions running across her face. Shock, curiosity, confusion, before finally settling on greatly amused.
"Flattering words, Your Highness, but I think people take to you more so than me." Zelda felt her cheeks burn in embarrassment. The woman had taken it as a joke. It hurt the Princess, but other thoughts soon weighed on her mind.
Why had she felt so strange? It was a new sensation, almost like...arousal?
She shook her head, arguing with herself. She couldn't comprehend what was going on with her. She loved Impa, yes, but did she want her as more? Her feelings were jumbled within her head, making a mess of the usually ordered ideas and thoughts.
An even scarier notion passed through her head. What if Impa had noticed her strange behavior?She had always been in tune with the Princess and her moods. If she had found out what she was feeling, how was Zelda to explain-
"Ah, Princess, you have a meeting scheduled soon. I suggest you leave now as to arrive on time." The woman interrupted Zelda's inner musings with a soft voice. Zelda looked into her eyes, her face back to being impassive.
"Yes. Thank you, Impa. I will be leaving now." She stood, her posture stiff and lacking grace. She felt a lock clamp over her heart. She had felt this only once before, when the Hero was sent back ot his time. But why?
When she left, Impa let a sigh escape her lips, slumping against a wall. She had come close to letting her secret slip. Zelda's emotions were mixed and awry, making it hard to gain sense of them.
The older woman closed her eyes, and stood straight. The lock over her heart had remained in place today. It was strong enough to withstand the Princess. At least, for the time being.
She knew, deep in her heart, that her love was unrequited. So she refused to pursue it. Soon, the Hero of Time would return, and snatch her job from beneath her boots.
Her would become her protector, comforter, best friend. And he would take one title she would never dare try and take: her lover.
It made Impa ache inside, but she hid it in the shadows. She still had time left before Link arrived. Before Zelda became love-struck. Before she would be left alone. These last few months would be cherished, a dear gift not to be wasted.
She promised, on the Triforce, that she'd never tell a soul that she loved the Princess more than she should.
Why confess something so pitiful that even the Goddesses looked down upon it? She belonged in the shadows. They could hide her shame. They could hide her from Zelda.