Warnings: Spoilers for Skyward Sword, Slight Innuendoes
"Tell me a story, Impa," the princess pleaded quietly. She watched her reflection, transfixed, as the nursemaid wove her long golden locks into a tight braid.
"Are you not a bit old for my stories, your highness?" Impa chuckled good-naturedly from behind the young maiden.
"Never," the youth whispered resolutely, a small smile gracing her lips. She continued to stare somberly at herself in the glass even after her hair was completed. "Besides," she added as an afterthought, placing a careful hand atop her large stomach, "I'll soon need to know a good many stories, I imagine."
Impa smiled fondly, "Very well, milady. Which one would you like to hear?"
"My favorite one," the princess replied immediately, rising from her stool and tying her gossamer robe loosely about her satin nightgown. She was an image of ethereal beauty and splendor. She was a monarch at the ripe age of nineteen and her extraordinary wisdom had proven her suited for the position. Her beauty was incomparable throughout the land, from her slender form (though her abdomen was slightly enlarged at the moment) to her piercing blue eyes and delicate, rose petal lips. And yet, she was discontent.
The princess was forced to be both adolescent and adult due to her position—her young body and her ancient duties eternally conflicting. She had the maturity of her elders but the confusion and curiosity of her peers. The stress of continuing her bloodline, of maintaining the burden of her budding kingdom, and of performing all of her obligations flawlessly often left her weak and broken. And Impa, her nursemaid since birth and only true companion, was the only one who knew of the princess' turmoil. It was Impa who would soothe the youthful princess with song and story, and it was Impa who often mended and stitched the girl back together in order to sustain an appearance for the public eye. Thus, Impa had become a source of comfort and shelter for the ever anxious girl.
The young girl settled into her large, canopy bed after opening her curtains, allowing a clear view of the violets and blacks of the night sky, speckled with shimmering stars. The echoing song of a lonely nightingale wafted through the large bedroom as the princess settled into her silk sheets, propping herself against her pillows as Impa seated herself in the worn chair in the corner of the room. Impa folded her hands in her lap, letting her eyes flutter closed, and began.
"Once, long ago, there were three great and mighty goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore. These three deities created the vast world that we know today to be Hyrule. However, they decided to not live amongst their creation. Before ascending to the heavens, they entrusted the land they had created to the powerful goddess, Hylia.
Hylia guarded the surface carefully, willing to sacrifice all in order to fulfill the task bestowed upon her by the goddesses. Yet one day, the land split, and from the cracked ground flooded great evil. Hoards of monsters were led by the wicked demon lord, Demise, who tried to overthrow Hylia's reign and claim Hyrule for his own, evil purposes. He mercilessly slaughtered all who stood in his way. In order to save the humans from Demise's malevolence, Hylia withdrew a section of land, naming it Skyloft, and placed it amidst the clouds with all the humans safely atop it. Using the last of her strength, Hylia battled Demise with the creatures of the surface, triumphing over him when all seemed lost. She transformed him into a hideous beast known as The Imprisoned and sealed him into the earth with her magic. Yet Hylia was greatly weakened from battle and knew that Demise could not be restrained forever. Din, Nayru, and Farore had fortunately left a source of hope in the case of such horrible events coming to pass.
This source of hope was known as the Triforce, an ancient and sacred artifact crafted by the goddesses themselves. The Triforce had the ultimate power of granting any wish to its beholder. However, the Triforce was only accessible to human hands. In order that she might protect the Triforce and one day, use it to fully destroy Demise, Hylia gave up her immortality to live as a human in Skyloft. She took care to hide the Triforce deep within Skyloft so that it was out of the reach of any of the evils of the land below. As for the surface, Hylia instructed one of the Sheikah, my ancestor, Impa, to guard the seal placed over The Imprisoned until her human form was able to defeat Demise."
Impa smiled to find the princess enraptured by her tale. "You probably know the rest better than I do myself, your highness."
"Yes, but I still want you to tell it to me," the princess smiled back, clasping her hands around her knees as she brought them to her chest—a gesture of the childishness that she could only reveal in the confines of her quarters.
Impa shook her head, but continued anyways, "Hylia became a little girl named Zelda, born unto the headmaster of the Knight's Academy in Skyloft. The Knights Academy trained its students to protect the land of Skyloft from any ill fate that might befall it. And there was one special knight, a young boy named Link, of whom Zelda was particularly fond."
The princess smiled softly as her favorite part of the story began to unfold. "Link and Zelda were the closest of friends. But one day, darkness clouded the skies, and Zelda vanished, plummeting to the surface below. Link fearlessly pursued her, armed with a mystical blade known as the Master Sword to guide him. My relation, Impa, had ensured the safety of the young girl by already rescuing her from the hoards of a dark man known as Ghirahim. Impa took Zelda to different temples, aiding her in regaining the memories of her past life as Hylia. The goddess—"
"Impa," the listener interrupted gently.
"Yes, your highness?"
"You skipped a part," the princess reprimanded her narrator, "the part where Impa scolded Link for his tardiness?"
Impa grinned, shaking her head, "You know this story well enough to recite it from memory, I'm sure. You are right; Link arrived too late once to rescue Zelda from the evil to which she had fallen, and it was Impa who saved her instead. As Link rushed to his friend, Impa chastised him for his recklessness, angering the young hero but also motivating him to strive harder for his companion. May I continue now?"
"Zelda eventually regained all memories of her past life as Hylia and knew what she must do in order to vanquish Demise forever. After a brief reunion with her valiant hero, Zelda explained everything that she knew—elaborating that as Hylia, she had selected Link as her chosen hero of fate and that the two of them were capable of bringing about the end of Demise. Zelda bid Link to seek out the Triforce and wish upon it for the destruction of The Imprisoned, and in order to strengthen the seal placed upon Demise, Zelda placed herself under the spell of an enchanted sleep from which she would awaken after Link's success.
By enduring many trials and defeating countless beasts, Link was able to reveal the Triforce's location in Skyloft and did as his cherished friend had bid him to, wishing for the ultimate destruction of Demise. His wish was granted, and Zelda was freed from her spell. Yet, all was not well! In the midst of the two friends' reunion, Ghirahim appeared again, snatching away the goddess incarnate and taking her to the past where The Imprisoned was yet alive."
The princess couldn't refrain from shuddering. The climax of the story always sent shivers down her spine. Impa sensed the princess' anticipation, gesturing with her hands as she continued, "Link boldly followed the villain-but alas! He was too late! Ghirahim extracted Zelda's soul from her body and used it to return The Imprisoned to his true form as demon king and thus free him from his prison. Link was haunted by the screams of his dearest friend as her lifeless body was tossed aside, and Demise, resurrected in his true form, stood before him instead. Without a moment's hesitation, Link challenged the demon lord to a duel, intent on avenging Zelda and hoping to save her yet. There was a great clashing of blades and both opponents found themselves challenged by each other, but when hope seemed lost, Link triumphed—defeating Demise once and for all and sealing his darkness within the safety of the Master Sword. Zelda's soul was returned to her body, and the hero and the goddess were reunited at long last.
Yet, Zelda had been changed by her journey, as had Link. Instead of returning to the skies, she felt a longing to remain on the surface and guard the Triforce and the Master Sword from any future threats. And so she did, with Link forever remaining by her side. And as you well know, young princess, the two fell in love with time, and began laying the foundations for the future kingdom of Hyrule in which we live today. Your mother and grandmother followed in Zelda's footsteps by marrying the chosen heroes of their time as well, as you now have too, my dear. Hylia's blood flows within your veins, and it is now your turn to—"
The doors of the princess' bed chambers were opened abruptly, and a young man entered. He instantly recognized his mistake upon seeing the princess' disappointment and Impa's startled expression. "My apologies, am I interrupting something?" he asked quickly.
The princess sighed, casting her gaze down upon her lap dejectedly, "No, nothing. Impa, you are dismissed."
Impa bowed respectfully and exited the room, closing the doors cautiously behind her—leaving man and wife to themselves. "Zelda," the boy began, regret weighting his voice, "you needn't send her away. I—I didn't mean to intrude."
"You did nothing wrong," Princess Zelda replied quietly, not meeting the eyes of her husband. Her hand instinctively wandered back to her stomach.
The boy approached her hesitantly, his words soft, "How is our baby?"
Zelda recognized the awe of his tone as his eyes remained fixated upon her hand. If anything, a love for their unborn child was at least one trait shared between the unhappy couple. "She is fine; I feel that she is in good health," Zelda responded.
Zelda raised her eyes, meeting the matching blue eyes of her spouse. He was undoubtedly one of the most handsome men within all of Hyrule. His eyes mirrored the princess' with their deep shade of azure that left many a girl gasping for breath. His soft hair was the color of chestnuts, his jaw was sharp and defined, and his were shoulders broad. His build was strong and athletic from long days spent in the forest, and his features possessed the serenity and also the fierceness of a warrior. It was a fitting look for him, as he was the most celebrated champion in all of Hyrule. And yet Zelda could not bring herself to feel anything for him but a sense of well-placed respect. The hero smiled fondly, "You can't be certain that it is a girl."
"It is tradition for the royal family's firstborn to be a girl," Zelda said calmly, "It is an event that had occurred since the days of Her Grace, Hylia. Thus, one can assume that I carry our daughter, who will be named Zelda the Fifth, in order to keep to the custom."
The boy murmured quietly beneath his breath, "I should be just as contented if it were a boy, though."
Zelda made no response to the statement. "What brings you back from your travels? I expected you in the morning."
The young prince made his way behind the dressing screen, explaining when he was out of view, "My hawk was injured during the hunt, and I did not wish to strain her."
Zelda said nothing more until the warrior returned, settling into the bed beside his wife clothed in his nightwear. "You seem troubled," he whispered, blowing out the candles that lit his side of the bed.
"I am merely tired," Zelda clarified, completely darkening the room with a quick wave of her finger. Impa had helped her perfect some of her magical abilities that she possessed as a descendent of Hylia. She had effortlessly mastered the easier things, such as extinguishing a flame.
"Rest well," the warrior advised, "to ensure that our child remains in good health."
"Good night, Zelda," he inserted quickly, an awkward addendum.
"Good night, Link," Zelda parroted back.
But she did not rest; she could not sleep. Instead she lay awake, her heart breaking as it did whenever she assessed her role as queen. Link did not love her, and she did not love him. She had known that since the day they met—so many years ago. Had it been her decision, she would not have married. Yet, she had no such decision to make. It was a necessity that Hylia's bloodline be continued, and to be with child and unmarried would have been wholly scandalous and out of the question. To marry was Zelda's only alternative to forever shaming her family and ending the Hylian line. Link, the proclaimed hero, was the best candidate, so she had selected him as her husband. Link had saved her life once, such a long time ago, and marriage had been Zelda's proposal of retribution. She had disliked all of her suitors, and if anything, at least she had had some sort of companionship with Link when they were children. He was loved by all of the people and known for his nobility and courage—the perfect qualities for a king. So Zelda had consented to never knowing love—to spending her life with a near stranger, for the sake of duty.
She often speculated about what her life might be like if she could have remained alone. Link avoided the castle and his uncomfortable relationship with his wife as much as he could by leaving on constant hunting expeditions, so Zelda was alone much of the time regardless. She was the best wife she could be to Link, and he strove to be a good husband to her, but it was not enough. Zelda was frequently haunted by her own unanswered questions. Had she not married Link, would she have eventually found a man who truly loved her? And she him?
Love was a foreign concept to Zelda. That was why the story of Zelda and Link's friendship and later love fascinated her so. She yearned to know of true love, and to feel it for someone as the first Zelda had for Link in the times of old. Yet, that wish would now never be granted. Because of her fate. Her curse.
Zelda turned in the bed, her back to Link. They often slept that way—neither facing the other. Kisses were rare and only given when needing to appease the public at ceremonies. Physical touch was equally as sparse throughout the course of their relationship. Their wedding night, and only night of intimacy, had been one of agony for Zelda. She did not like to remember the physical pain of becoming one and the emotional burden of giving something precious to one who did not love her. Link had been gentle and equally as sorrowful as he acted, constantly beseeching Zelda to stop him if it was too much, but it did little to console Zelda. Fortunately, she had conceived, and the act had never been repeated since. Yet the thought of how a married couple was supposed to long to be close to each other, to dread separation, to sacrifice everything for the other tormented Zelda relentlessly. She would never have a marriage like the one in Impa's stories, and she felt eternally helpless and weak as she contemplated what little power she actually possessed in the situation.
A tear rolled down Zelda's cheek as she tried to force herself to sleep. "Our child." The words sounded awkward and unfitting. Zelda wept quietly until her exhaustion had shut her eyes for the night.
Hope you like it so far! I'm going to push myself to keep to a schedule, so updates will hopefully come ever Saturday. This story is set during the Era of Chaos (so post Skyward Sword, but pre The Minish Cap; google the Hyrule Historia timeline for more information). There's yet to be a Legend of Zelda game set during this time (though I'm sure there will be in the future), which is what drew me towards writing a story for it. As stated, I hope you didn't find the first chapter to be too horrible and keep an eye open for chapter two next Saturday!