Happy Monday, everyone! Get those yawns and eye rubs out of your system, face the new week with new energy, and enjoy one final update!
Zelda had a hard time holding in her mirth, so she didn't try. She was having fun with the whole thing, after all, and with all the work she had been putting into her sailcloth lately, it couldn't have been a bad thing to get her mind off the frustration of her rejected attempts.
But before she could sit herself down to crunch on her final revision in full force, Karane's door slammed shut, causing her to yelp.
"Er, sorry about that, Zelda," her roommate apologized.
As soon as her heart settled down—which was only after a couple seconds, conveniently enough—she accepted the apology and giddily sat down on her bed. Karane followed by reclaiming her spot next to the opening in the room's partition.
"Well, you're in a good mood again, aren't you?" she said, the impression evident in her speech.
The "Mm-hmm!" that followed filled the room with such vibrancy and positive energy that Karane couldn't stop herself from contributing her own laughter.
"So what'd you do? Lecture him 'til he groveled?"
"No," Zelda replied, "but I did get him to promise to meet me in front of the Statue of the Goddess tomorrow morning."
Karane raised an eyebrow. "That's it? You made him promise to wake up early?"
The smile on her face didn't falter as she fervently nodded and bounced her golden hair every which way.
"Link's never going to keep his promise, you know. Expecting him to wake himself up in the morning is like expecting Groose to stop posing in a mirror; it's just not going to happen."
Again, Zelda found herself caught in the brunt of another planning misstep. How many changes to her game plan was she going to have to make until she avoided every fatal flaw? It wouldn't have been so bad if Link didn't condition himself to sleep through the morning bell every other day, but alas…
The corners of her mouth drooped into a brand-new scowl. "Oh, yeah… Good point. Again."
Karane subconsciously adjusted her hat, instantly wishing she controlled her tongue a bit better. "Sorry to burst your bubble so much tonight."
"Don't worry about it," Zelda sighed. "I guess I'm not that good at winging it, so I'm sure I'll think of something. At any rate, I have a sailcloth to finish by tomorrow, so I'll have more time to whip up a plan, I suppose."
Karane gaped at her. "You're not going to work on that all night, are you?"
"I may have to, yeah—but you know, I may not be able to sleep tonight anyway. I'm nervous about the race tomorrow, to be honest."
"Well, someone's gotta be, for Link's sake." On that note, Karane got up and trudged over to her bed. "Don't worry too much about it, okay? Remember, it's not the end of the world if he doesn't win tomorrow. You'll still be able to tell him."
Zelda was very thankful of the support she was being given, even over something so apparently trivial. She smiled, glad that there was someone there to give her a leg up when Link wasn't eligible. "Yeah, you're right. Thanks, Karane."
The elder student hummed happily in reply as she wrapped herself in her comforter, but Zelda could tell that she was still worried about Pipit, judging by the context of the sigh that followed her chirp.
"And don't worry!" she reassured. "Just do what I told you, and you'll have the courage to go after him before you know it!"
"If you say so," was all she said. She wasn't exactly brimming with confidence, but deep down, she really did want to try it. Perhaps she would begin giving it a shot tomorrow morning…when no one was looking, of course.
Their discussion of the matter finally over, they bid each other good night, allowing Zelda to refocus her energy into her project while her roommate snoozed soundly in the late hours of the night.
She spent the next few hours continuing to work hard on her ceremonial gift, all the while giving her situation plenty of thought. There was little incentive to resist laughing at herself for all the attention she was giving to every little detail in her plan, much like her meticulous decisions of where to next weave her needle.
Thread after thread, she thought more of Link and how maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't be able to win tomorrow. In one way or another, that thought would always return to her like a persistent ghost bent on haunting that oft-visited corner of her mind. Her progress slowed while her worry escalated, but the worry diminished when she put more and more of her faith into Link's special Crimson Loftwing. If any creature were to bring him to victory, it would be that majestic red blur of a bird.
Then dreaded thoughts of Groose popped up, right as she got around to hemming the edges. The idea of having to spend the postrace ritual with that pompous, arrogant, pompadour-sporting jerk nauseated her. It was bad enough that she'd have to put up with his hitting on her, but the thought of him getting yet another weapon to emotionally torture Link filled her heart with rage.
Groose can't win tomorrow. He just can't.
This mindset carried well into her project's twilit moments. However, before long, the edges of the fabric were completely sewn, and she could finally take joy in the fact that, unlike her previous attempts, this one was turning out no less than perfect. The only thing left was the emblem…
What was she going to say to him? If—no, when—Link won, that is. How was she going to break it to him, short and sweet? She had been constructing that part of her plan for months—years, even—and not once did she come up with a speech that she was satisfied with. It frustrated her, to be sure, that the perfect moment she had dreamed of for years had hinged not only on Link's victory but also on her courage to finally let her spirit out.
Then Karane's advice came back to her. Why didn't she just tell him? Like she said, she doubted that he would mind if the circumstances weren't as stellar as she was hoping for…but indeed, it would make it harder to do without making it seem out of left-field if turned out to be that way, Groose's easily-inflatable ego notwithstanding.
However, with that final thought, she broke her thread and looked at her handiwork. It was finally done! This year's sailcloth was finally done. Looking at it, she couldn't find a single thing to critique. One could've easily attributed that to lighting or fatigue, but after her accelerated hard work, she wouldn't stand for it. As far as she was concerned, she was done.
She got up and folded the cloth as gently as she could, trying to avoid unnecessary creases and wrinkles so early in its lifetime. She tenderly placed it onto her desk and gazed at its splendid form with a wide grin and hands on her hips. Wow, she thought, this really did take me a good part of the night, didn't it? Not that she minded too much; the feeling of accomplishment, universally shared by all great artisans of the age, sapped her enervation.
Suddenly, though, she noticed something at the corner of her eye. Her journal was sitting lonely at her desk, patiently waiting for its owner to take time out of her day and recollect. How silly of her! She had been so busy she almost forgot to write her entry for the day. Time sure flies when you're working hard…
Feeling sorry for her poor journal, she decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to at least make a start before the day ended. The time didn't matter as long as she completed it before midnight, right?
She sat down and picked up the quill lying precariously on her desk. She frowned at the drops of ink that had dried on the finish but didn't dwell on it too much; it could've been worse. At the least, she forgot about it as soon as she dabbed the ink-stained tip of the quill into her bottle of ink, already half empty despite only a week of use, and started writing.
"Tomorrow's the big day! The Wing Ceremony!" she wrote. "Finally, Link can take a big step toward becoming a knight.
"I can't wait to see him promoted to full knighthood, but I'm a little worried he might have some trouble winning the race. Lately, Link hasn't taken his flight training seriously. Someone needs to make sure he doesn't mess up his big chance!"
Drat. It was only a couple minutes into her writing until her mind wiped itself clean—whited out, to put it another way. Writer's block already? Separate contemplations in her head, one regarding Link's flying skill and another regarding her own actions to ensure the former could be maximized, clashed against one another. Was she really so confident he was going to lose that she felt helpless to do anything?
Her frustration steadily growing, she daubed her quill into her ink jar anew…and then, an idea hit her. The little, yet major, detail of Link simply sleeping in past the time he promised to meet her…she knew what to do. And the answer was so completely obvious that she wondered why she didn't think of it earlier when Karane brought that possibility up!
"So I've made up my mind," she continued, the words finally coming to her easily after a night of bottlenecked thoughts. "Tomorrow, I'll wake him up extra early and make sure he gets in some last-minute practice, whether he likes it or not." Yes, that's perfect! If he won't get himself up, I'll just have to get him up for him!
Granted, that was something she'd done many times over the years, but it was never a chore; one could say engineering forceful awakenings was like a hobby of hers, actually. She'd used smelling salts, pots and pans, nose pinching, water to the face… What to use tomorrow, I wonder? She looked up from her diary and glanced around the room in search of inspiration…and her eyes fell on the Loftwing carvings Link so-lovingly crafted for her.
She could've fallen out of her chair laughing if she hadn't been worried about waking Karane. My Loftwing! Of course! Never had she used her own Loftwing to wake him up by proxy, and it had great promise. The only downside was that she wouldn't be around to see the look on his dumbstruck face, but that was a small price to pay.
Realizing she was falling victim to distraction once again, she quickly snapped herself out of it with a headshake and a deep breath. Her quill scratched the parchment much less furiously than before; the words she was going to write, gone as soon as they came. After a few more minutes of writer's block, all she could come up was, "He has to win, or we won't be able to perform the closing ceremony together!"
There was something about it that didn't feel finished, but by then, her day's long, strenuous labor was finally catching up to her. She put her hand to her mouth in a loud yawn, accidentally getting ink on her face, but she paid it no mind. Her eyes soon drooped, and before long, her head had sunk onto her desktop.
Her worry of Link's performance the following day did not follow her into sleep, fortunately. Instead, the only thing she could see was clouds, a blue sky, and her dear childhood friend smiling at her as they circled around each other and flew alone across the endless heavens— together.
That was her perfect moment.
I'm sure you remember what happens next. ;)
And with that, another project comes to a close. Thanks to all of you readers and reviewers for seeing this thing through; without you guys, this wouldn't be even close to worth it. Also, one last time, many more thanks to Alpha for beta reading. You made this entire thing about 20% cooler. I can't thank you enough, man.
Until next time, folks!