Inspiration: Coming to terms with one's self and others, the philosophical meaning of the circle, the word boyg (it means obstacle), the 4th light, and closure.

Dedication: This chapter and the next chapter is dedicated to ShadowMistress13 for her hilarious suggestion in her review of chapter 29. ~ZR~

Original Shout Outs: TazzyChuJelly, Useless-Materia, CassieRay, Cimar of Tiralis, Your-Mind-Eye, subsider34, Linkfangirl13, and Regina Goodbody, thank you for reviewing new (and not so new lol) reviewers.

Author's Note: This chapter is now complete.

Special Note: This chapter and the next will encompass "Closure" segments with two different characters (e.g Closure: Zelda & Ilia) for their conflict resolutions. ~ZR~

Word Count: 29,004


Chapter 37

Ordon Bridge, several hours earlier: Colin's POV

I jumped into my first attack and lunged at the fake Hero. The apparition set his stance and readied to guard the strike. I came down and struck hard against the impostor's sword. The tension between our two blades was immense. My teeth clenched when the weight of our dueling blades became caustic. The apparition was staring down at the me with a quiet rage, trying to incite fear in me.

"You fight with conviction, do you not Master Colin?" the hero taunted.

I knew what he was trying to do, but I remained focused.

That's what he wants, I thought, he wants to catch me off guard to entrap me. Well, I'm not going to be stupid enough to fall for such a trick. I have to think like Link.

It was times like these Link was preparing me for.

"All your young life you wanted to be just like your role model," the specter went on, "the same convictions, the same ideologies, the same destinies."

Suddenly the monster swiped hard against my sword, forcing me back several feet. I nearly lost my balance, but immediately steadied myself. Even still, my mother cried out in alarm.

"Colin!" mother screamed.

I didn't want to be imprudent to her concerns, but mother calling out like that was a distraction.

Keep it together mother, I told myself, I'm alright.

"I'm unharmed!" I called back, but didn't break my concentration.

I regained my gait and came at the hero again. However, this time the apparition was ready for me. The creature raised his blade and blocked my strike. I immediately realized this was becoming a continued problem.

He anticipates all of my move sets, I thought, how in the hell am I to defeat him if he knows every attack before I strike?

The frustration must have been manifested on my face, because the fake hero saw the hesitation in my next series ofd strikes and smirked.

"What's the matter?" he goaded. "Was that all you had?"

My aggravation was mounting. I never relieved myself of my position, but knew if I didn't think of something quickly, I along with everyone else, was going to be killed.

Think man! I told himself. What could you possibly do without this brute knowing it first?

The apparition narrowed his eyes when he sensed I was at a loss.

He scoffed at me.

"You truly are done," he said, "…aren't you?"

I set my feet and pivoted my body into my next attack. The movement was quick, but the hero was all ready to defend it.

Here goes nothing! I thought, hoping the surprise would be enough.

However stunningly, as soon as my blade entered the apparition's airspace, the creature caught my blade in midair with his bare hand. After catching it, he squeezed it out of contempt. No blood or Hylian tissue severed or broke. The monster just squeezed until the pressure from his hand went through the sword, resulting in a strange configuration of metal and flesh. It was strange and very disturbing to see.

My eyes widened in complete disbelief.

Dear goddesses, I thought, how is this possible? Who in the hell- no- what in the hell is this thing?

As if reading my mind, the apparition used his same transmogrified hand to snap his fingers. A sudden cloud of smoke appeared over him, and I along with everyone else behind me, had to cover their eyes.

What now? I wondered starting to cough.

"Keep your senses everyone!" I called to the caravan.

Father took several steps forward near me.

"Colin!" he shouted. "Colin what's happening?"

I had no answer for him.

I'm not sure father, I thought honestly.

The smoke was beginning to clear, but at the moment there was still too much haze for me to make out what was happening. Even so, I didn't want my father to become presumptuous and become a casualty as a result. I had to get him to stay his ground.

"Father stay back!" I called out. "You have remember the terms!"

That didn't stop father.

"Not before I know you are alright!" father replied defiantly.

He wondered where I got it from.

Now is not the time to be stubborn! I thought, trying to keep my composure.

"I'm fine!" I insisted. "Please! Stay back!"

Father refused to listen.

"Colin-" he tried again.

But then the situation shifted.

"You should really listen to your son," the apparition's voice suddenly interrupted.

I turned at the sound of the voice and realized the creature was throwing his medium in several directions to catch everyone off guard. I turned my attention back to my father and watched as he suddenly flew back several feet from out of nowhere. He fell hard onto the ground with a resounding crack.

"Argh!" father cried out immediately.

I froze when he saw what happened to him.

Sweet Hylia! I thought of the sound. He's broken some ribs!

My mother was frantic.

"Rusl!" mother called out.

Without thinking, I hurried to his side to see about him.

"Father!" I screamed. "Papa are you alright?!"

However, before I could get to him, I was circumvented by the specter.

I froze in disbelief.

How is he able to move this fast? I wondered.

My question was about to be answered, as I finally got a clear picture of what I was now dealing with.

"Where do you think you're going?" the apparition asked, finally making his reappearance.

I was taken aback and took a step back at my newly transformed foe. The creature was no longer in the guise of Ordon's hero. Instead, he was taller, with a platinum white countenance, and dark soulless eyes. There were diamond shaped sequins all over his clothing pattern now, and he seemed to have a permanent purplish shading under his eyes.

I had no idea what to make of this.

Who…? I wondered, but didn't have time to ponder over it.

Father winced from pain, but his eyes soon widened at my new predicament.

"Ghirahim!" father grunted.

I glanced over at father confused.

Ghira-who? I thought, but was quickly met with the clang of my opponent's blade.

I hurried to defend.

The monster then went to taunt me.

"Lesson number one," the demon lord said, "never take your eyes off of your opponent, otherwise something like this might happen."

The apparition struck me at my side with his fist, then kicked me in the chest onto the ground. I flew back and landed hard next to father.

"Ahhh!" I groaned at the brief pressure in my chest.

The demon lord wasted no time going into his next attack, and surprisingly I recognized it.

Wait a minute… I thought, he switched from a western style of combat to an eastern one in one attack.

"Lesson number two," the apparition went on, "always, always, always prepare yourself."

I didn't reply, but was carefully watching his stance. The attack the demon lord was going to attempt was the… the Ken Gi one: bokken shomenuchi, or the stance where a fighter raises his sword above his head while running into a strike. Master Link had been teaching me this same engagement for years. If I didn't recognized this, it would have been a cardinal sin. Link drilled into my head again and again and again that I had to anticipate what was to come next from my opponents. Otherwise I would end up as a manure heap on the battlefield. Not the most kosher words, but they were affective

The true hero's voice echoed through my head just then

"I've told you time and again that your timing into your 'shomenuchi' is way too long… You have to cut that time down by three seconds. If we were on the battlefield you would be dead... you would be dead... you would be dead..."

I knew now more than ever my teacher was right.

Time to see if that tutelage has paid off, I thought, readying my counter measure.

I finally understood why Link didn't teach me just one form of combat, but several. Advanced or experienced fighters may have had several of their own. It was always better to be versed in the elementary variances of everything, than in the constraints of one thing.

Good thinking Master Link, I acknowledged.

I stayed set on the ground, preparing to use the same attack Link used on me a few weeks ago during our scrimmage match. The demon lord came at me at full speed with his sword in the air.

Three seconds… I thought, watching his feet, if he pivots the wrong way he'll delay the attack by three seconds…

The apparition jumped, and I quickly got up with the butt of my sword ready. When he landed, I knocked the specter back at his abdomen. The initial force went throughout his body, but the blow back of the impact sent the fake lord stumbling several feet.

Everyone watching was stunned at the maneuver, even father.

"Wow," father whispered in disbelief.

Talo was practically shaking Malo.

"He did it just like Link!" Talo said. "Did you see that?!"

I remembered not to be over confident and readied my next stance, not getting distracted from my awestruck friends. I stayed on guard.

He's going to answer that one quickly, I thought.

As I assumed, the demon lord looked pissed.

"You're going to pay for that you little bastard!" he growled.

The apparition quickly came at me. I readied himself, but was suddenly halted when out of nowhere, a strange beam of white light demarcated the zone between me and the apparition. I looked around bewildered.

What in the world is going on? I thought.

I wasn't about to stand there and find out.

"Take cover everyone!" I called out.

My friends and family on the bridge immediately ducked into their wagons as the celestial lights magnified. I hit the ground and crawled over to protect my father. I knew father was probably going to have a hard time breathing with his newly sustained injury so I went to look after him. The pressure from the atmosphere was amplifying.

"Colin go back to the wagon!" father ordered.

I shook my head.

"I'm not leaving you!" I said above the winds.

I held him tight and braced him to protect him. Father knew at this point we were both going to have to just wade it out.

"Don't do anything drastic son!" father called out, holding onto to me.

I had him firmly.

"Just stay down father!" I called back.

Abruptly, there was a loud, piercing scream. It only took a moment for everyone to realize it was coming from the apparition.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

I looked over stunned.

What's going on? I thought, raising my head briefly to see if I could catch a glimpse.

The apparition was being pulled into the gravitational tow of the light. There had to have been a specific integer of some kind that made it possible for only the demon lord to be drawn in. Whatever it was, we were not going to fight against it. If it was going to help, then so be it.

I just hope there is no residual effect, I thought.

The light swelled and diffracted into a ball as it gathered the apparition's body, then levitated high in the air into the heavens. The light then ionized and suddenly dispersed, leaving no trace of it ever being there. There was a small microburst that plowed down from the trees as a result of it, and unfortunately, that was when a severe accident took place. When I got up to see if everyone was okay, the gust of air sent me flying momentarily.

Oh no! I thought.

"Ahhh!" I cried out, not having any control over my body.

I was finally dropped from the cascade and landed hard head first on a rock, knocking me completely unconscious. Everyone looked on stunned, and a rush of pandemonium went through the villagers.

I didn't recall anything else.

~SSS~

"Colin!" his mother screamed from her carriage, then hurried to check on her son. "Colin!"

Rusl's eyes widened in terror and disbelief, as he pushed aside his physical pain and went to see if his son was okay. The swordsman scrambled to his feet and went over to the bedrock where Colin was lying. He turned the young man on his back and saw the laceration that was now pouring blood out of his skull onto the rock.

"Oh dear goddesses!" Rusl whispered, then in a moment of panic shook his son. "Colin!"

No response.

"Colin!" he tried again.

Still no response.

Uli quickly came and opened her satchel. She pulled out a bottle of blue potion and handed it to her husband.

"Give him this!" she ordered.

Rusl immediately took the bottle from his wife's hands and put it to his son's lips. The young man wasn't drinking, but the elixir was getting down his throat.

"Please don't do down the wrong pipe!" the father muttered.

The next few minutes were tense, and everyone was gathered around Rusl and Uli now. Beth in particular looked mortified.

"Colin," she whispered.

Ilia came and hugged her friend.

"He's going to be okay," she assured.

Beth turned away from looking at the fallen young man as her eyes filled with tears.

"I didn't even get to tell him I loved him," she said, assuming the worst.

Talo darted his eyes to the young girl in frustration.

"Shut up Beth!" he said angrily. "That's not helping!"

Beth's words stung her friend, having known the feeling all too well.

"Talo she's scared, as we all are," Ilia said softly to the impetuous young man, then turned her attention back to her friend. "You will get to tell him," Ilia said, hugging her tight, "you will."

When Rusl saw his son move slightly after a few minutes went by, he picked the young man up through his injury. He didn't care about his cracked ribs.

"Everyone back to the village!" he ordered. "Now!"

There was no time to lose.

Colin's life hung in the balance.

~SSS~

Snowpeak Mountain: Ashei's POV

"Daphnes?" I repeated puzzled. "You mean your brother was named after the late king of Hyrule?"

Mystere nodded slowly and didn't say much else. I figured it was a very hard thing for her to discuss. Her brother was probably someone very special to her. I understood that feeling all too well because there were some days where my heart just ached for Bastion… that man had no idea how much I truly missed him… no idea at all. Even so, though I felt I was making some progress with Mystere, I still sensed she was guarded with me. It was understandable. She did reveal a great deal, and for that I should have been appreciative. It wasn't easy for her to disclose some of the things she said to me. Who wanted to admit openly that they used to be a prostitute? I couldn't imagine what that life was once like, and I couldn't just expect her to be forthcoming when essentially I was a stranger to her.

"Did he recently die?" I asked quietly.

She sighed and shook her head.

"No," she whispered, "he died a few years ago, but it seems like only yesterday."

I raised my brows, empathizing with her immediately.

"I know the feeling," I said sincerely.

Mystere simply nodded, and I wanted desperately to release the tension somehow. I decided to apologize for my previous interrogation.

"Look," I started, "I'm sorry for snapping at you earlier, but I couldn't be certain if you were trustworthy or not and my children are precious to me. I didn't want them getting close to a person who wasn't willing to open up a little."

She nodded again.

"I can understand that," she said softly.

I was glad she was willing to overlook my presumptuousness. She seemed so gentle. I really wanted her to reconsider my proposal of coming to Hyrule when the crisis was over.

"I really think you would benefit greatly if you came with me to Hyrule when the times comes," I reiterated, "there are so many ways that the queen could help you get your life back."

Mystere looked away, shook her head, and didn't even think about the notion.

"I told you no," she replied, "that simply isn't an option for me."

I wanted her to reevaluate the possibility, her rationale was making no sense to me.

"But Mystere-" I tried.

"No Lady Ashei!" she interrupted, then suddenly stood up. "No! I can't do it."

I looked at her surprised, and suddenly she rolled her eyes in frustration, then went to collect her things. I still couldn't fathom why she was so scared of meeting the queen. It almost seemed like an illogical fear.

"This was a bad idea," she said more to herself than to me, "I have to go."

My eyes widened in shock. I couldn't believe she was going to try and leave now when a storm cell was moving in.

"You can't leave in this weather," I insisted, "it's too dangerous."

She shook her head, having already made up her mind.

"I can't stay here," she replied, "I've already said too much."

That I didn't understand, and so I stood up.

"If you're worried about me speaking on your past when we get to the castle, I won't," I reassured, "I wasn't asking you these things to push you away. I'm sorry if you thought I was prying."

Mystere already had her duffel bag in hand and was heading for the door.

"It doesn't matter," she said, "nothing matters right now, except you surviving and your wonderful children."

I looked at her taken aback. Why was she speaking this way? Why did only me and my children matter in this scenario?

"And what about you?" I demanded. "You can't just leave with nowhere to go!"

She shook her head.

"I've done it before and I can do it again," she said, opening the door to the entrance.

However, I went over and blocked her.

"Miss Ashei-" she started to protest.

"It's too dangerous for you to go out there alone!" I interrupted. "I won't hear another word!"

Just then, the children hurried back into the room when they heard all the ruckus.

"Mommy is everything okay?" Bastion asked.

I looked over at my son and didn't budge from my space.

"Everything is fine honey, only Miss Mystere here is trying to leave with nowhere to go," I disclosed.

Mystere groaned in frustration, and looked away at my telling on her.

"You can't be serious," she muttered to herself.

My eldest immediately implored the pretty stranger.

"I thought you were going to have supper with us," he said, "you can't leave without keeping your promise."

His sister agreed.

"Yeah," Aura chimed in, "that isn't very thoughtful."

Mystere's frustration with this situation seemed to heighten, but she never expressed it towards my children. She seemed more in conflict with herself.

"I…" she trailed, "one day you'll understand that big people problems are a little more complicated than little people problems."

I understood her position and suddenly wished I hadn't been so poignant. I could only imagine how I would feel if the shoe was on the other foot.

"Please don't leave," I practically begged, "it's too dangerous."

She paused for a long time at my plea. However, right when she was about to reply something strange happened. To be honest it seemed coincidental. However, in that instant, a loud and sudden explosion took place outside. It must have been nearby because the blow back shook the bungalow a little. My children immediately screamed and I left my post to tend to them.

"Mommy!" Aura cried out in fear.

I hurried over to my daughter and scooped her and my middle son up in my arms. Bastion I gestured for him to follow me. We were going to have to hide deeper in the tunneling network. However, Mystere was still not willing to follow my lead.

"We have to go into the mountain!" I called to her. "Please think beyond your will and consider your safety!"

However, unsurprisingly Mystere didn't budge.

"I'll go see what it was while you take your children to a more secured location," she said, "it could have been an old mining trap and a wild animal got caught in it!"

I looked at her in pure frustration sensing that this was the out she was looking for.

"It's too dangerous!" I insisted. "You could get caught on a mine yourself!"

She shook her head.

"Please don't argue with me," she said, "just take your babies and go!"

Bastion, however, was not convinced.

"Make her come with us mommy!" he pleaded. "I don't want Miss Mystere to get hurt!"

"Yeah!" my second son chimed in. "She could die!"

What they were saying was true, but I don't think any of it was registering through this woman's head.

"Mystere please," I begged again, "don't go out there! Just stay with us. Don't you see even the children realize this isn't a good idea!"

The young woman still wouldn't move.

"You all go!" she said, not replying to my reasoning. "I'll be okay! Please just get out of here!"

I stared at her for a long moment. She was really willing to risk her life because she was so terrified of going to Hyrule Castle. She was willing to die than deal with whatever allotment was waiting for her there. This was unprecedented, and I hoped to Hylia that she would survive the elements because I knew now for a certainty she wasn't coming with us.

"Only if you promise to return once your investigation is over!" I vetted.

She hesitated, but then gave a quick nod. I knew it was simply for formalities.

"If everything is alright, you have my word that I will return," she said.

With the way she worded that I knew she was setting herself up for her departure. I probably would never see her again after this, and something about that realization saddened me. I knew I didn't know her for very long, but there was something about her that was very familiar and kind to me. Like she was a long lost kindred spirit that swept into my life and the lives of my children, but fate was suddenly calling her away. It seemed terribly unfair.

"Alright," I said, knowing this was the last I would probably see her, "please be careful!"

She nodded.

"I will!" she promised.

Afterwards, I turned and opened the door to the deeper tunnels and hurried my babies inside. When I turned to close the door, Mystere still hadn't left yet and she was still staring at me. For some odd reason, there were tears in her eyes.

"You take care Miss Ashei!" she called to me. "And I will never forget your kindness my lady! Never!"

With that she turned and hurried out the door. I was a little shaken with how she left, but I couldn't act upon it now. I quickly closed the door when another explosion went off outside just then, and I hoped against all hope that Mystere was going to be okay. Once farther in, I bundled all of my babies together against me underneath my arms and held them tight like a mother hen. I had no idea what was going on outside to make these explosion sound the way they were. Where were they even coming from? What was going on out there? This made no sense.

"Mommy, do you think Miss Mystere will be okay?" Bastion asked.

"Yeah," Aura added, "do you think she'll come back?"

I had no answers for them.

"I don't know," I whispered as I held them all close, "I really don't know."

~SSS~

Daphnie's POV (1st person omni)

When I left the bungalow, I knew there was no way I was going to return… no way. I hurried up down the mountain to a nearby wooded area and rested against a rock. When I was certain I was alone, I pulled my hand from underneath my animal coat where I had the triggering mechanism hidden. I knew I was wrong for using such a device, but a contingency plan was a contingency plan. I learned that from Elbourne. He always told me to have a plan B if plan A was a wash. I actually knew this area better than Lady Ashei realized. I hunted here all the time when the season was favorable for it. So planting mines in the snow was a specialty I acquired over time, but I only planted ones where I could trigger them. Thus the sudden explosions when the conversation went awry.

I was aware the deception was wrong to Ashei and her wonderful children, but there was no way I could go back to Hyrule Castle. There was no way I could face the queen. There was no way I could live a normal life except the one that was promised to me from Elbourne. My life and circumstances were far too complicated for Miss Ashei to get caught in the mix of them. I didn't know what the dragon prince was going through when I saw him last, or if he truly meant those words to me, but I was ready and willing to find him and find out. Even so, I couldn't pretend that I didn't enjoy seeing the woman my brother married and my three beautiful nephews and niece. They were amazing people and I couldn't believe how much Aura looked like Daphnes. That child was his mirror twin.

My eyes filled with tears when I slid down the bark of the tree I was resting against and settled in the snow. I couldn't believe I had such a wonderful rare opportunity. I had just informed Elbourne too that I had family, but after all this would I ever see them again? Would I ever tell them who I truly was? Would it even matter at this point? I couldn't say, but I didn't think so. Honestly, I didn't want to think about it now, the notion was too depressing.

"I suppose that's just life," I whispered.

Even so, thinking of them made me think of my own family. I thought back to twelve years ago, right when Daphnes had gone missing. My mother was a wreck with worry. I remember her asking the neighbors constantly if they had seen Daphnes and if they knew of his whereabouts. None of them were aware of anything, and that was when I took it upon myself to search for him on my own. My mother begged me not to go, with her constantly telling me I was all she had left, but I told her I was looking for him for both our sakes. Little did I realize how terrible the outside world was going to be from the tiny, comfortable confines I enjoyed with my mother on our farm.

I walked all over Hyrule, searching high and low for my brother, but found no trace of him. I remember at first being fascinated with all the new sights and sounds. The world was so much bigger than my small village on the outskirts of the Gerudo desert. I stopped caravans, and even travelers as I traveled to inquire of his whereabouts. Finally, I came in contact with this well embroidered carriage with black and red furnishings. It was the finest carriage I had ever seen. I knew it belonged to someone very rich.

As I inquired about my brother, the beautiful redhead listening to me was studying me very carefully. She seemed to be extremely interested in me personally. I didn't realize why at the time, but soon after leaving her company, something strange happened. A group of marauders came and followed after me. I thought they had the wrong person, but thieves were thieves… until I realized they weren't thieves after money, they were after me. When they captured me, I was brought to an underground district where hundreds of women were kept in captivity. I had no idea what that place was at the time, until I was brought forth before the madam. To my surprise she was the same woman I encountered when she stopped her coach. However, this time when I relayed my story to her, she seemed less interested in listening. In fact, as a consequence of my 'defiance' as she put it, she had me stripped naked and whipped as an example to the other girls who dared to ask about why they were there. I was humiliated and terrified. I then learned that horrible place was the Red Lantern District, and that monstrous woman was Lady Morgana, the head madam.

I endured years of that seedy life only thanks to Elbourne's protection, but I never forgot the day when Link came and liberated us all. He killed that vicious woman and we were all set free. I never knew such relief before in my life. That was years ago. Now, I was going to have to figure out a new way again. I was going to have to figure out a new life. I found one in the forest, but perhaps now I could have one with the man I loved.

Elbourne... I thought.

After a few moments, I stood and dusted the snow off myself and looked to the bungalow now in the distance once more, before I turned and hurried down the mountain towards the heavily wooded thickets in the distance. Once I got there, I could take an abandoned road back towards the forest. It would only take me a few hours to reach my destination. The only reason I even traveled up this mountain towards that bunker was due to the queen's edict, and I knew Ashei had to do the same for the sake of her children. I, on the other hand, could have stayed in the forest and knew of routes less than a day's journey from my current vantage point. I was going to go back and whatever awaited me awaited me. However, I couldn't go to Hyrule Castle… I just couldn't. I wiped the tears from my eyes and hiked a little faster. I had to make haste.

"I can't let them find me still here," I whispered, then added, "I'm so sorry Miss Ashei."

With that, I set off on my journey.

~SSS~

Meanwhile, the encampment at Dragon Roost Impasse: Link's POV (Closure: Link & Midna)

It was rough to determine how things were going. Elbourne was obviously dealing with some heavy emotional stuff right now and it was natural that he wanted Zelda to be there with him. I could understand that. His indication reminded me a lot of Ilia when her father died. All she wanted was to have me around. In situations like these it was normal for people to want those closest to them with them.

General Gunter had already excused himself when he left the tent and returned to the main campsite to check on the rest of his men. Midna and I stayed behind and sat down on a large log near an already started fire. I had a feeling this was going to be a long night. Elbourne and I may have had our differences, but I felt for the man. His world was turned completely upside down by finding out the truth regarding Ghirahim, and now he was losing the only person he had known as his father. That wasn't easy to digest in any situation. I could only imagine what he was going through, though I didn't have to imagine too hard.

I still remember when my parents passed away. The memory was so vivid, it was like it happened yesterday. I was seven and I was told they were killed out at sea on a fishing trip. I don't remember feeling numb or cold or anything like that in those moments, but I do remember feeling incredibly lost when their absence became a realization to me. I was a child, so death was an abstract concept to me, and I think it took me a full year to truly comprehend what happened to them and to realize that they weren't coming back. I never completely got over their loss as I didn't think any child would, but I was grateful to the people of Ordon for taking me in their care and under their protective wings. They made the loss feel a lot less impactful, especially Bo. He became like a surrogate father to me. So I could empathize with Elbourne. The dragon prince was going to need that same kind of reassurance and care now, and I knew the only person who could give that to him was Zelda. I wasn't ignorant to that fact, but I knew there were other factors motivating him to want her as his proxy comforter as well… like his undeniable love for her.

I took in a deep sigh and looked over at the tent housing the dying king, and tried to stay focused on something neutral. The last thing I wanted was to get into another altercation at a time like this. It was then I pondered over what I assumed Xavier's last thoughts would be. I could only imagine what was going through his head right now. There was so much for him to reflect upon regarding his own life, let alone the lives of Elbourne's and Queen Constance, and what their inclusion meant for him. Xavier could have possibly been thinking about Daphnes II, or the late Queen Quistis, or his dealings with Ghirahim, or maybe he was reflecting upon Elbourne's true origins… or maybe it was all of it, I wasn't sure. The king's guilt must have been immeasurable. I certainly didn't envy him. I stared at the flickering fire and had no words, then glanced over at Midna who I caught staring at me. I wasn't necessarily surprised, but her stare was pretty intense. I assumed she had similar things on her mind.

"What is it?" I asked.

Her gaze didn't waver.

"Are you okay?" she asked me quietly.

I raised my brows at her question. I must have looked very serious or very lost in thought or something for her to ask that. Even so, I shrugged casually and answered her anyway.

"I guess so," I replied as honestly as possible.

She just nodded and gave my face a brief once over.

"You look a little tired," she said, "not that you aren't handsome through it all though."

I grinned at her. She was always going to be signature Midna, flirty and vivacious no matter what.

"I am," I replied, not really having much to say on her other comment.

She then looked over at the tent.

"I'm sure there was a lot that was shared between the two of them tonight," she perceived.

I just nodded.

"I suppose so," I replied.

Midna glanced back over at me and caught the inflection in my voice. Something in my voice must have given her a misgiving.

"Are you sure everything is okay?" she asked me once more. "Your tone suggests otherwise."

I didn't have much to say on that.

"There is still a lot to sift through," I said.

She raised a brow when I said that.

"Like?" she inquired.

I took in another sigh and looked back at the fire.

"Like the aftermath of this whole ordeal," I said, "then of course there is the ever present lizalfos regarding Elbourne."

Midna grunted.

"What do you mean by that?" she asked.

I shook my head.

"Isn't it obvious?" I replied.

She looked back at the tent.

"If it were I wouldn't be asking," she said softly.

I paused for a moment and thought about what I was going to say so I didn't appear as a jealous fool.

"I'm talking about the dragon prince not letting his love for Zelda go," I divulged, "I think it should be obvious to him at this point that Zelda loves me."

Midna was quiet at my summation, but finally had more to say on it.

"And is he just supposed to let his feelings for her go?" she asked quietly. "Do you think that's fair?"

I turned to look at her again.

"Yes I do," I said quietly, "as I would think in any circumstance. It's time for him to move on."

Midna studied my face for a long moment.

"Is that how you really feel?" she asked.

I nodded.

"Yes," I replied.

She looked away and paused for a long time.

"Are you saying that's the case for us too?" she asked suddenly.

I looked at her slightly taken aback with her disclosure, not expecting her to bring us in the equation so readily. I suddenly sat straight up.

"I'm sorry?" I said.

Midna took in a deep sigh and had no qualms about repeating himself..

"Are you saying that about us too?" she asked again.

I didn't want to start this conversation with the wrong footing or make it become something it shouldn't.

"I was talking about Elbourne," I replied.

She scoffed quietly.

"But you distinctly added in any circumstance," she said, "and my question to you is: does that include us?"

I hesitated at her question and looked back to the fire again, not really sure how I should discuss this. I needed to be clear without being insensitive.

"Midna…" I trailed, not sure how I should say what I needed to say without just saying it, "there is no… us."

Her eyes widened slightly at my utterance and she looked at me taken aback. She was quiet for a long time afterwards.

"Well..." she said finally, "is that so?"

I didn't want to come off as cruel or blasé, but I had to be honest with her.

"I think you know that," I said softly.

She looked away as a frustrated expression crossed her face.

"I'm so glad you get to dictate the narrative here Link," she said sarcastically.

I didn't want this conversation to go awry.

"What did you expect?" I asked her softly anyway. "It's been years and I told you these things in the Twilight Realm Midna."

She shook her head and looked at me with a slight defiance.

"I did not expect this," she replied, "don't I get some say?"

I stared right back and saw the hurt swelling in her eyes.

"I could never take what you feel away from you," I said quietly, "that would be cruel of me."

She rolled her eyes.

"Except in this instance you are," she replied.

Not waiting for a reply from me, she got up just then and walked down the long walk way leading into the pass that creviced up into the mountains. I hesitated in following after her, but I knew I couldn't leave the discussion where it was. There were obviously some other things that needed to be said. So, I got up and followed after her. As I approached, her back was to me and we were now out of eye or ear shot of Xavier's tent. That was probably for the best.

"Midna…" I trailed as I walked up.

The twilight queen then turned at the sound of my voice, and that's when I saw there were tears definitively in her eyes. I looked at her slightly surprised, but not really surprised. She wasn't a woman who showed her emotions often.

"Do you honestly think after what we went through together that I could just forget you?" she demanded quietly. "We journeyed together! We traveled the world together! I still love you very much and for you to think my feelings are nothing is very cruel Link!"

I paused at her divulgence and in how I was going to proceed with this, because if there was one weakness I had it was seeing a woman cry. I hated it… I just hated it. I didn't fully have an explanation as to why, but I found it very hard for me to contemplate. Women were these incredible, beautiful creatures and it seemed their vulnerability only made them more beautiful.

"I wasn't suggesting that," I replied.

"But you were!" she insisted. "Your words are very callous right now!"

I paused again, and felt at a loss.

"Well, what do you want me to say?" I asked softly. "How did you think this was going to go?"

She narrowed her eyes slightly.

"I want you to say you still love me!" she replied. "I want you to act as though your heart isn't made of stone!"

That wasn't fair.

"You know you have no right to say that to me," I replied, "I do still love you, I told you that. I'll never not love you. You're always going to be special to me."

Her eyes refilled.

"Just not enough for you to come back to the Twilight Realm with me!" she said. "Not enough for you to become my king!

I stared at her in complete shock just then. I wasn't expecting this. I wasn't expecting this at all. How was she going to put this kind of ultimatum in front of me now when she knew I was affianced to Zelda? She wasn't being fair to any of us in this instant. I couldn't and wasn't going to break my vow to Zelda. After all she and I had been through I wasn't willing to take a chance and lose her again. That wasn't to say that Midna was not special to me, looking at her now only magnified how special she was. But did she really expect me to break Zelda's heart again and for something I was no longer sure of? Make no mistake, Midna would always be that 'certain kind of special', 'a different kind of wonderful' that no woman would ever equal. However, I could say without a shadow of a doubt that now I wanted to be with Zelda. I loved that woman more than life itself, and when I nearly lost her, it all flashed before my eyes how much she truly meant to me.

As I was contemplating all this, Midna was still waiting for me to answer her. I didn't know what she wanted me to say. I wasn't going to rehash how if she truly missed me she could have come to see me, or have me see her with there being access to her world. I wasn't going to bring up her inappropriate relationship, in my opinion, with the dragon prince. I wasn't going to speak on again how in the past I searched the world over for her, and how at that time I would have married her in an instant. And why was that? Because it was the past, and I was done chasing the past. Could have, would have, should have thinking was over for me. And to those who doubt my love for Zelda, the 'Elbournes' of the world if you will, this wasn't some eight week rendezvous or realization with the queen of light. There was a part of me that always wanted to make things right with her. I had gotten that chance, and fortunately for me, I had gotten a lot more out of it. I wasn't ever going to let her go as long as she would have me.

"Midna… time got away from us," I replied finally, "and I'm in love with Zelda. I wasn't saying that as mere lip service. I really truly love her. She's been there for me in much of the same way that you were in the past. She and I have had our ups and downs, but we love each other and that's why we're getting married."

After my utterance, Midna took a step back and took in a small gasp, not from any grand realization, but more from hurt. She then turned from looking at me and sobbed softly into her hands. As I stared at her, I felt this odd sensation of déjà vu, just with a different queen this time. Even so, I wasn't going to just let her stand there and cry. So, I went up to her and took her in my arms and held her tight.

"Please don't cry," I whispered against her hair.

The sound of my voice seemed to make her cry more and she held onto the front of tunic at my chest.

"It's so unfair," she whispered.

I suppose it was, but that was life in this world. It just wasn't fair at times.

"I'm sorry," I whispered.

Midna pulled back at my reply and looked up into my eyes. Hers were still brimming with tears. She then reached up and caressed my cheek gently.

"I'll be honest," she started in a whisper, "when you came into my chamber the day I awakened, I could tell you were head over heels in love with Zelda. You resisted me when we were near a point of no return. She has to be special to you if you were willing to do that. No man has been able to resist me. None."

I grinned with how she phrased her words. I appreciated how confident she was even now. She would always be Midna.

"She is," was all I said in reply.

Midna looked to my tunic to avoid my eyes just then.

"I see…" she whispered, "well then, I guess I just have to congratulate you then."

I gave her face a quick once over, not wanting to hurt her. My goddess… she was still so beautiful. I took her in another secure hug.

"You understand now?" I asked against her hair after a few moments.

She trembled a little in my arms.

"I have to," she whispered, "what other choice do I have?"

I took in a deep sigh at the hint of bitterness in her voice.

Midna… I thought.

"Thank you," I replied anyway, "I know saying that wasn't easy. I just feel… I feel complete with Zelda. She understands me in a way no one else can because she bears the Triforce."

Midna was silent at my saying that.

"I suppose I can understand that," she whispered with a slight break, "and... you're welcome."

The crack in her voice made me wince a little. I never wanted to hurt her, but life didn't always turn out the way we wanted it to.

I hope you can forgive me, I thought, I hope you can get through this and move on.

I held her for a few more minutes, then pulled away and took her by the shoulders.

"Let's get back to camp," I said, caressing her cheek, "the others might be waiting for us."

She nodded and wiped her eyes once more.

"I suppose you're right," Midna said, "we've been gone long enough."

She tried to smile a flirtatious smile at me and then winked. I chuckled and shook my head at her efforts.

That's the Midna I know, I thought, that's the twilight queen you always need to be.

I realized this wasn't going to be easy for any of us. There was still a great deal to sift through, and with this being the concluding matter, we headed back for the campsite.

~SSS~

Meanwhile in Xavier's tent: Zelda's POV

Elbourne and I embraced each other for a little while longer before I pulled back and looked into his eyes. He was obviously distraught and emotional.

"Are you alright?" I asked.

Elbourne swallowed hard and avoided my eyes just then.

"I think so…" he trailed, not really sure, "I'll be alright."

There was a brief silence between us afterwards where I reached up and caressed his cheek.

This has got to be killing him inside, I thought, he's trying so hard to be strong.

I wasn't sure if he wanted a moment to contemplate on his own.

"Do you want to be alone for a little while?" I asked.

Elbourne hesitated at my question, but finally nodded when he realized the good it could do him.

"Yes," he replied, "I think that would be a good idea."

I took my hand in his and squeezed it affectionately.

I nodded.

"I think so too," I whispered, "I'll wait for you outside."

I hugged him once more before vacating the tent. Outside, I sighed and stroked my cheek wearily.

He's probably in disbelief right now, I thought. Who wouldn't be? He just watched his father die.

I walked a few feet away from the tent to afford Elbourne some more privacy. A few feet away, I went and sat on a bench made of oak wood. I looked up from my seated position and watched the Hylian banners atop the marquees blowing in the evening breeze. The fabric was embroidered with the royal family's cote of arms. I couldn't help but think how much those banners meant to the people… or how much those banners meant to me. The sight of it suddenly made me think of the death of my father, King Daphnes II.

I remember the day my father died like it was yesterday. I remember how empty and devastated I felt. I was fifteen and on a trip with my mother to the kingdom of Baalam to visit my grandfather King Leonhart. At that time, there were individual rogue factions that were threatening the peace of Hyrule, but overall there were no real conflicts. Even so, as an act of good measure, my father went out personally to stop the uprising with his royal guard. He assumed it was going to be a simple search and seizure, and why he went out to investigate was still a mystery to me. However, what winded up happening was him being killed due to a military coup set up for him. Granted now that I knew what I knew from Xavier, I wouldn't have been surprised if his hand was in the matter somehow. There was obviously some bad blood between he and my father. I guess I would never know now.

When news of my father's death reached the kingdom, my mother, my grandmother and I all went into a state of shock, my mother most of all. Before my father's death my mother was a beautiful, bright, vivacious woman. She was smart as a quip and insisted that I be the same way. I got my love for academics from her. She was also very gentle and giving to the poor and needy. She often donated her older gowns to some of the ladies of the court. She also arranged for food kitchens for the hungry. Her greatest asset was her air for diplomacy. My mother was a woman of peace and often got on my father when his generals spoke of war. She always said there were no winners in those conflicts, I completely agreed with her.

However, my mother went from being the ideal woman of the court to a recluse overnight. She was completely and totally devastated at my father's death. I had no idea his death was going to affect her so deeply. All matters of state were handled by my grandmother Queen Zelda the Sage of Time, along with her councilmen. After realizing my mother was no longer fit to govern, I was being groomed for such service. But then tragedy struck me again when the following year both she and my grandmother died: my mother from a broken heart, my grandmother from illness.

At that point I was completely on my own. I remember being terrified at the thought of being a monarch so early in my life. However, the queen-ship was left in trust until my twentieth year. Until then, I governed as princess with my circle of counselors. I was so out of place with my tiny stature and still adolescent voice when we were in our proceedings, but the men loyal to me, and my father, always made sure my ideas rang through. There were some days where I felt so insecure, but I do remember one specific person there for me through it all: Elbourne.

Elbourne was going through a great deal on his own with his father, but he never hesitated to stop and make time for me. I had no idea back then his love for me rang so deeply. He even stopped his acceptance into the Royal Dragon Master's Academy for one whole year so he could be available to me whenever I needed him. He did that against his father's advice. There were a great many things I shared with him at that time, and I never forgot his kindness or his genuine concern for me.

With the way we were always together, many wondered why I didn't marry Elbourne eleven years ago. The only answer I could give them was that I wanted to wait. However, I knew there was a subtle darkness about him that I didn't quite understand at the time, and the truth of the matter was Elbourne needed to mature. I was hoping his callous nature would have softened over time, but as he got older he became more arrogant and his conceit and misgivings grew, especially when it came to the Goron people. He seemed to get more self-absorbed and selfish as the years went on. I understood why now.

Elbourne... I thought with a sigh.

Keeping with that train of thought, I had heard rumors of Elbourne's promiscuity at the time, but I never investigated the tales when presented. I figured it was none of my business and he didn't have to answer to me. I also saw it as him trying to cover up his pain. I knew he wasn't getting along with his father, and at the time he was very rebellious. Elbourne and Xavier would quarrel almost on a daily basis. So, I understood his emptiness and insatiable need to be wanted. I guess different women did that for him. I was not condoning his behavior, but I did understand it. There was a part of me who wanted to leave the confines of the throne behind and become reckless too. Not in the same way of course, but I understood why he felt so trapped. Sometimes people just wanted a little happiness wherever they could find it. It was also the main reason why I never took any of his proposals seriously, or never truly believed he was in love with me back then. How could I with his behavior?

I rubbed my hands together, hoping to warm them up. There was a chill now biting the night air. I hoped to get back to the fire soon. It had been a long day, an incredible day, but a long day nonetheless. Even so, there was still so much to do. I had to get back to the castle to check on Shad and the rest of the citizens. I needed to make sure there were enough provisions for everyone just in case they needed more food or medical attention. It hadn't been that long, less than a day really, but I wasn't sure what the aftermath was like in town. A panicked people were the worst kind of people. Besides that, I had to make sure there was a diplomatic proxy between me and the kingdom of Dragon Roost. They needed to know news of their king and prince. Link needed to return to his friends in Ordon to make sure they were alright. Midna would eventually have to go back to the Twilight Realm and check on her people. There was still so much to do.

So many cares… I thought.

I bit my lower lip at the thought of any of the Ordonians being hurt because of this mess. Master Rusl was nothing but a loyal servant. Talo and Malo were sweet and clever gentlemen. Colin was charming and chivalrous. Beth was Beth, and Ilia was…

Ilia… I thought, stopping myself.

I hoped she was okay. I couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to her, especially given she and Link's history. I knew she was still in love with him, and I knew she had her own hopes for him.

Are you alright lady of Ordon? I wondered. What are we going to find when we finally get to you? To everyone?

I knew if anything happened to her, Link would never be the same. Ilia was one of his best friend. I took in a deep sigh and looked back over at the tent where King Xavier was now resting in peace. I immediately thought about the dragon prince now becoming the dragon king.

King Elbourne… I thought with a hint of disbelief, I never thought this day would come so quickly. I hope he can say goodbye with dignity.

~SSS~

Elbourne's POV (Closure Elbourne & Xavier)

Processing information is what I do best. In my business dealings I exact, find, and negotiate, but for the life of me, I cannot process… this. Death wasn't a business transaction. How could the man I've admired, and hated, for so many years be suddenly gone? Who was I going to try to impress now? What good would striving for the best be? Where would my new motivation come from? This may have seemed untoward, but I had plans with the way this was supposed to go. This selfish son of a bitch was supposed to watch me become a great man first, ask for my forgiveness for being such a ruthless bastard, then die. This wasn't supposed to happen this prematurely.

I probably sounded bitter. 'What about the changed man you're supposed to be Elbourne?' That's a good question, and one where a deserved answer was needed, but admittedly right now I'm in a state of shock. Even though Xavier thought I was scum for years, he wasn't supposed to die. Even though we never really bonded on any level other that ambition, he wasn't supposed to die. Even though he constantly told me the whole of my life I was a disappointment to him, he wasn't supposed to die. In short, he just wasn't supposed to die. It was that psychology… thing.

Dragon Roost was now with and without a king. Xavier had been king for nearly thirty years. That was thirty years of culture now ripped from the people. Many only knew of his way of ruling, his way of thinking, his way of exacting, and his way of contemplating. Though I knew it well, it wasn't going to be my style of governance. I had my own template to go by, but Xavier's death was no doubt going to send shockwaves among the people, and especially to… my mother. My mother Constance had a particularly sad and lonely existence with my father. She had her duties as queen, but as for their relationship as husband and wife, it was far from ideal. In short, infidelity ruled the day with my father, but my mother constantly reminded me of the man Xavier was before he blatantly ignored her. She swore he was a kind, attentive man before he cheated on her right, left, and sideways with the ladies of the court. My mother dealt with his treachery with quiet dignity for years, and many revered her for her loyalty to him, but she too had her breaking point. I wasn't going to discuss that as it made me upset, but she had her own secrets to live with as well.

More than anything I think my mother hated the people's pity. Everywhere she went, though she was respected, there was a measurable amount of awareness in the people's eyes. They knew full and well the history of the unfaithfulness of King Xavier. He hardly worked to make it a secret, and now to find out that he secretly still loved another woman for so long… I didn't know how my mother was going to deal with it. Maybe she already knew; women were perceptive like that.

Anyway, I knew I was going have to make arrangements for Xavier's funeral and transition the current counsel back home to one of whom I can trust. There were many on Xavier's counsel who did not care for me, or the former me, I should say. However, I wasn't going to make it easy for them to think they can just take over when the birthright legally belonged to me. I would make sure Xavier's funeral was glorious, with all the splendor it deserved of a fallen king of Dragon Roost. Everything was going to be perfect in that regard, just perfect.

There was no telling what the true aftermath of this was going to be until maybe about a year from now. The socialization of any society was often effected on a macrocosmic level much slower than the on a microcosmic one in situations like. If this were a natural disaster then the inverse would be true. To be specific, the men now in the court were going to feel the shift before the people did. However, that was all designated by their interests. If there was no interest in advancing Dragon Roost and making the people a well educated, well founded society, then I didn't want such men in my court. There was not going to be a divergence from my plans, my true vision of Dragon Roost.

Even so, there was still the dilemma of my appearance. The immediate people in my company knew who I was, but how would I explain this to my people? Would they even believe me? I was going to need Zelda's help in that regard. The only person who would be able to convince my people that I was me was her. Her and possibly… Linux. I really hated that guy. I suppose I would get over their unholy alliance one day, but it wasn't something I needed to think about right now. At least he helped her be less of a high strung prude… though I think she would have enjoyed sex with me way more… way more, but I digress.

It is what it is, I thought.

I was still standing in Xavier's tent, still looking down at Xavier's dead body, and still trying to make sense of it all. His frail weak state was almost a reflection of what was happening to the kingdom internally; the bribes, the acquisitions, the embezzlements. I was going to fix that, but there was nothing I could do to fix this. Xavier of Dragon Roost was dead. The kingdom's biggest symbol of strength was now gone. I will always remember him as a tall, strong, powerful warrior, with too much pride and too much ambition. However, it almost worked for him. He will always be the mighty king of old in my eyes, always.

How did it come to this father? I wondered.

I went and kneeled down next to the cot and took the king's cold dead hand in mine again. I looked at his closed eyes. It was time I cleared the air and lay the king to rest. I wasn't going to lie, this was strange for me… talking to someone who could no longer hear me.

"Well…" I began, not really knowing how a rite like this went, "I will try to live as you wanted me to father. I will work very hard to preserve the positive aspects of your legacy."

The room was quiet as the candles flickered in the background.

"I know…" I continued anyway, "I know I wasn't what you wanted, but I am glad that you allowed me to be your son in some facets, even if it was just for political convenience."

I looked at my father's white thinned hair and stroked it. His scalp felt cooler than when I first touched it a few minutes ago. I wasn't a man to get frightened by many things, but that made a chill run up and down my back.

You were just here a few moments go, I couldn't help but think, you were just talking to me.

The room was silent and a dank smell began to creep in the air. I was familiar with that smell. It was the smell of death.

"Can you hear anything I'm saying?" I asked, anyway. "Do you even know that I'm here with you now?"

Of course, there was no answer. I didn't expect there to be. I felt my throat tighten at the acknowledgement of that, and decided to keep going. I needed to get a few things off my chest, and I knew if I didn't do them now, I never would.

I took in a deep breath and went on.

"I promise to make Dragon Roost the premier kingdom in the west," I said to him, "I'll cultivate one hundred thousand dragons before my rule is over."

I squeezed my father's hand and tried to smile.

"One hundred thousand father," I repeated, "that would be something wouldn't it? And I won't just make the financial strides, I'll… I'll have children too," I went on, "I want a large family so they'll live on to know of your greatness," I said, "you'll see, I'm not going to disappoint you ever again. I will make you proud."

I stared at the lifeless body as I said this in the hopes of some recognition.

There was none.

I sighed and looked away from him for a moment.

I could've done this while you were here if you had just let me, I thought bitterly all of a sudden, if you had just given me the chance.

I shook my head of the thoughts, and realized worrying about the past was not going to make it any better.

"I'll make sure mother is cared for," I said, trying to stay focused, "I don't know if you knew this, but she loved you."

The king's lifeless eyes were sealed shut.

"She loved you more than you could imagine," I said.

The king's corpse laid there, not knowing one way or the other of what I was saying. I didn't understand why, but the thought of that made me angry all of a sudden. The surge of animosity came back.

"Why did you have to wait until you were dying?" I demanded quietly. "Huh? Why couldn't you be kind when you were still here with us?"

I got no answer.

I narrowed my eyes at my father's body and swallowed hard. Realizing nothing was going to come from me becoming embittered, I got up and decided to take my leave. I was done with this. Sitting here, reminiscing on things that couldn't be changed wasn't going to add one cubit to my life. It was time for me to move on. King Xavier of Dragon Roost is no longer here. He is gone and I am king now.

It was now my turn.

The once depraved tyrannical son.

I stared down at the king as I thought about this, and for some odd reason a smile curled my lips.

Yes.

A smile.

You know what… I thought, but didn't finish.

Suddenly, I was completely okay with everything that just happened. I didn't understand why, it just came out of the blue.

Maybe it's my inherited tenacity, I thought, it does make me tick.

Yes.

That's what it was.

My tenacity.

Everything is going to be fine, I thought. Xavier's death…the transfer of power…the end of the torment I suffered for all those years at his merciless hands… my mother…everything.

I am king now.

Dragon Roost was going to be everything it should have been.

One way or another.

My smile widened.

Tenacity.

It… it doesn't leave you completely, does it? I thought out of nowhere. That karma… the thing that makes you who you really are…

So yes, a smile curled my lips at the thought of this, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

"Long live Dragon Roost," I whispered, "and thank you very much your majesty, but also… fuck you very much."

I gave the old man one last once over, then turned and headed for the exit. That was my parting eulogy.

"Long live King Elbourne," I whispered, "the new era has begun."

Afterwards, I left the tent and the past I so hated forever.

Rest in peace Xavier, I thought.

~SSS~

Zelda's POV

When Elbourne came out of the tent, I immediately stood up to greet him. There was a serious, but affirmed expression on his face. Whatever the look was garnering, it was clear Elbourne was okay with it. He must have finally come to terms with the relationship with his father. I was aware this was going to be a slow rehabilitative process, as any tragedy would be. I walked over to him, took his hand in mine, and squeezed it affectionately. It was going to be important for Dragon Roost to have all its allies at this time. I believed Elbourne could be a great king if he put his people first and relinquished his selfish ways, but only time would tell how that was going to come about.

"Are you alright?" I asked.

He nodded, but didn't really reply to my question. He tried to smile at my gesture.

"Thank you for waiting," he said quietly.

I shook my head at the gratitude.

"You don't need to thank me," I said, "I was glad to do it," I then glanced back at the tent where the dead king was. "Did you… get everything off your chest?"

The dragon prince took in a deep breath and paused for a moment. Finally, he nodded.

"I suppose so," he said, "and you know what?" he added with a hint of confidence. "I think I'm going to be okay."

My smile broadened at his determined spirit, I reached up to caress his cheek.

That's the Elbourne I know, I thought, that's the man that never gives up.

"I know you're going to be okay," I replied, "you're the dragon king now, you can do anything."

Elbourne paused at my sobering words.

"The dragon king…" he repeated.

I saw the hint of reserve he was trying to conceal. I understood that look all too well. When I first became queen I was terrified too.

"You'll do fine," I reassured once more.

He grunted softly.

"I hope you're right," he said, and tried to smile.

"I am," I reiterated, "if you put your people first how could you go wrong?"

The dragon prince was silent for a moment at my words, then nodded towards the fork in the road.

"You're right lady of Hyrule," he agreed, "you're right," he said, tugging on my hand, "let's go, the others probably miss you."

I raised a brow in how he said that.

And you too Elbourne, I didn't add.

I didn't like the subtle exclusion of himself, but I knew he was never the type to assume anything. Instead, I nodded and tried to reaffirm him myself by holding his hand tighter.

"You're right," I said.

Afterwards we headed back to camp.

~SSS~

When Elbourne and I approached, Link and Midna stood up at our return. When I looked between the two of them I sensed something important had taken place. It was the same kind of feeling I had after Elbourne and I spoke alone a short while ago. Perhaps the two of them were finally able to talk and make everything clear. If that was the case, then I hope they were both able to be honest, open, and get whatever they needed to say off their proverbial chests. It was important for them to have closure. The whole onset of this journey was to reunite the two of them. If I as a woman and a queen couldn't understand that, then I didn't deserve Link's love. I was not that same insecure woman I was over five years ago. That Zelda was gone.

Even so, in the immediate interim, no one said anything for the first few moments of our arrival, however, all eyes were on Elbourne. He went over and sat down on the log next to Midna. The twilight queen sat back down next to him and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. Elbourne didn't say anything; he just stared thoughtfully at the fire. It was evident he didn't want to talk.

I went and sat down next to Link when he resumed his seating. He glanced over at me looking for some kind of cue or clue regarding the dragon prince, not knowing whether he should ask about the king's condition or not. Midna too, had the same look on her face. I wasn't going to overstep my boundaries and speak for him. It wasn't my place. Elbourne would tell them when he was ready. From what I could tell, he was still trying to piece together what he was feeling in his own mind and heart. His relationship with Xavier was extremely complicated.

Even so, the silence conveyed on, until finally Link decided to break it.

"Um…" Link trailed finally, "how… how did everything go? How is he?"

I bit my lower at Link's question and glanced over at the Elbourne. Midna too was looking at him eagerly.

"Is he going to make it until morning?" she asked gently as well.

Elbourne simply raised his eyebrows and kept staring at the fire.

"No…" he trailed quietly, "the stubborn bastard couldn't make it until morning, he's dead."

Midna and Link both looked at him taken aback, but not really surprised. It was due more to how he divulged the information than what it was. There was another silence between all of us. It was cumbersome and uncomfortable the way any surprising information would make a situation. How was anyone supposed to reply to that?

Link gave Elbourne an empathetic look.

"He's dead?" the hero repeated.

The dragon prince merely nodded, not looking at him.

"Dead," he said once more.

Midna gasped at hearing the news once more and tears filled her eyes.

"Oh Elbourne," she whispered, taking hold of his arm gently, "I'm so sorry."

The dragon prince looked from the fire to the ground now and nodded again.

"Me too," he said with a slight crack to his voice.

His voice made me look away and collect myself. I hated seeing him despondent like this, and knowing him, he hated others seeing him this way as well. He was going to want to be alone soon. He was not the type to show his feelings to other people openly. Soon after, it was then Elbourne made my assumptions come to fruition, when he got up and started heading down the impasse towards the mountains. Even though I knew it was what he was going to do, I still looked after him worried.

"Elbourne…" I called.

However, he didn't stop his trek.

"I will be back," he replied.

Midna wiped her eyes. She then stood up and looked over at Link and I.

"I don't know if it will help, but maybe I can go and speak with him," she said.

I was still staring after Elbourne and hesitated. I wasn't sure if anyone attempting to talk to him would do any good right now, but at least her heart was in the right place. She wanted to help a friend and that was admirable. Even so, I didn't outright encourage it.

"Maybe," was all I said in reply.

Link understood her conjecture too, but it was clear to him that Elbourne didn't want to be bothered.

"Midna…" he cautioned, "you heard what he said."

Midna shook her head at the hero's warning.

"If he doesn't want to talk, then he doesn't want to talk," she explained, "I'll just be there to make sure he doesn't do anything drastic."

There was good sense stressed in her argument. Anything could happen if a person's mind wasn't in the right place, and right now I wasn't sure Elbourne's mind was in the right place. I had seen the prince in the past when he was vulnerable like this. He could be tangential and say and do some crazy things to say the least. However, Link was still not at all convinced.

"I try to take what people say at face value," he replied, "I really think we should just leave him be."

I saw his point too, and really it could go either way with Elbourne, though I still leaned more in the twilight queen's favor.

"Even so, Midna's rationale is sound," I added, "he may be more responsive to her than he was to me. It isn't good for him to be alone with just his thoughts. Thoughts can consume a person to do terrible things."

The hero shook his head at my logic.

"Or they can help a person," he replied, "you can't always assume that being alone means Elbourne wants to do something destructive."

Again, I saw his point and this time my rebuttal wasn't very sound. I merely shrugged, not having more to say other than what I said. However, in this instance, Midna was already heading down the road following after the dragon prince. It seemed her mind was already made up.

"I'll be back," she called to us.

Link grunted in disapproval staring after her, then shook his head.

"She's so stubborn," he muttered to himself.

I grinned at that and nodded.

"True," I replied, "but in this case that stubbornness is necessary. I think she'll come out the victor in the end."

Link took in a deep sigh at the notion.

"Maybe," he said.

That was a pretty consistent claim tonight, that word maybe. It was all any of us could consistently count on. I nodded, looking down the road as well.

"They'll be fine," I reassured, "you'll see."

With that, the matter was dropped for now, we would just have to wait and see what would happen. In the interim, the night air had picked up a little and the weariness of the day was fast catching up to me. I couldn't remember what time it was when we all slept last. I suppose that didn't matter right now, but the adrenaline and other physiological energy sources keeping us afloat were soon going to dissipate and we were all going to 'crash'. We needed to all be aware of that. There was only so long the body could function without proper rest. Link looked over at me just then and rubbed my back gently. I was certain he heard the weariness and lassitude in my voice.

"Are you alright?" he asked me all of a sudden.

It was a question that pondered more food for thought than I realized these days.

Am I alright? I wondered again.

I simply nodded, still staring at the fire. In my head that seemed to be such an easy question to answer, but there were so many facets to it now. I already mentioned them earlier, but as the realization of them came closer to fruition, I came to the understanding that I was going to be reexamining that question over and over again in the next few days. The answer would probably change with what I found and how things went. However, admittedly in this moment, I was extremely tired and it was keeping me from thinking clearly. I would be of no help to anyone without a lucid mind, and so I did something uncharacteristic of me in front of another person, I yawned.

"I'm fine," I said speaking through it, clearly showing otherwise.

Link grinned at my contradictory wording and disposition, then wrapped one of his strong arms around my shoulders. He pulled me in close to him, and guided my head to rest on his shoulder.

"You wouldn't be surprised if I said I don't completely believe you, would you?" he whispered as he turned his face against my hair.

It was nice that he was so close. I snuggled against him and closed my eyes.

"I wouldn't," I said honestly.

The hero's hold tightened a little.

"Then what is it?" he asked softly. "What's bothering you?"

The question should have been: what isn't it?

"It's nothing, and everything," I replied.

He nodded when he understood what I meant.

"I suppose that's a fair statement," he said absently, "but why don't we just talk about the one thing, or person, you've been avoiding all day."

I hesitated, already having an idea who he was going to bring up. I just didn't want to discuss her right now, all her memory did was make me sad.

"Who's that?" I asked anyway.

He stroked his fingers through my hair.

"Hylia," he said quietly.

There was a brief silence between us when he said her name. I shook my head.

"There's nothing to discuss," I replied.

Link pulled me back to look me in the eyes.

"You know that isn't true," he said.

I avoided his and looked to his tunic.

"What good is it going to do?" I asked. "Nothing's going to bring her back. She's stuck in some horrible place with that horrific demon."

My throat tightened just then when I realized she was truly gone.

Link's features softened.

"Just don't give up hope," he said, "she is the goddess of Hyrule."

I raised my brows.

"She was the goddess of Hyrule," I whispered.

Link shook his head.

"She is," he repeated, "I don't believe she's dead Zelda."

I wasn't going to argue with him, and this wasn't an argument I wanted to win anyway. I was just grateful he was so optimistic. I certainly needed someone like him in this difficult hour.

"Alright," I said, "if you say so."

He grinned at how I said that.

"Will you please lighten up a little?" he asked. "You act as though we didn't win against Ghirahim or something."

That deduction did get me to smile.

"I'm sorry," I apologized, "I'm afraid I've been terrible company to you tonight."

He stroked my cheek.

"I understand," he said, "you just have a lot on your mind."

I nodded, and it was then I decided to change the subject.

"How do you think your friends in Ordon are doing?" I asked suddenly.

Link gave a wayward look, sighed, and shrugged.

"My heart tells me they're all okay," he said, "but you never know considering what we saw at the Arbiter's Grounds. I just wanted to get back to them and make sure they're all alright."

I nodded in agreement.

"We'll definitely go there and see about them first in the morning," I replied. "Goodness, I certainly hope Colin is alright."

Link got a little concerned when I mentioned him.

"I think he prevailed, but the outcome is still up in the air," he said.

"Colin's a great protégé," I said, "I'm sure he learned all he needed to from the master."

Link grunted and grinned.

"I suppose so," he said, "but it's all about that timing."

I smiled when uttered that.

"Right," I said, "something about three seconds or he would be dead."

Link raised a brow at the humorous memory.

"It's either that or be a manure heap Zelda," he said.

I chuckled softly with how he said that.

"Very true," I replied, "but I think he got the point."

The hero nodded.

"Let's hope so," he said.

"I know so," I said, "he was taught by the best."

Link took me back in his arms again and held me tight.

"That's why I love you," he whispered, "you're always reaffirming things."

"I love you too," I whispered back.

There was another silence that enveloped us after that. It was thoughtful like all the other ones before it, but then I realized something strange and important in that moment. It was something I almost forgot about, but then became aware of again in that instance. When we were at the Arbiter's Grounds, Link acted very peculiarly when Elbourne brought up a certain young woman, one by the name of Mystere. I still had no idea what any of that was about and I wanted some clarity.

"Since we're alone, there's something I've been meaning to discuss with you now that we have a moment," I began, breaking the silence.

Link's grip tightened around me, signifying to me he had my attention.

"What's that?" he asked.

I paused for a moment before continuing.

"Elbourne mentioned someone earlier at the grounds that made you very upset," I went on, "you seemed to know well who she was."

Link didn't reply right away, but I think he already where I was going.

"What person are you talking about?" he asked anyway.

I hesitated, not sure if I should be bringing this up. Something in his manner changed slightly, like he was now on guard. However, I also knew there was no way to say what I needed to say without just saying it.

"Who… who is Mystere?" I asked finally.

It was then Link was initially quiet at my question and I wasn't sure why. So, I decided to go on.

"When Elbourne brought up that woman in the crypt you seemed genuinely surprised that he knew her," I said, "I have no ill intentions with whatever the answer is I swear, but I just wanted to know why you got so upset. I've been meaning to ask you this, but we haven't had the opportunity until now."

Even with my addendum, Link's silence lingered, and that was when I realized she was obviously someone significant. I pulled back and looked at him just then when he still didn't answer.

"Link?" I inquired.

The hero took in a deep sigh and avoided my eyes. He was staring at the fire now. I was starting to get a little concerned with his reaction.

"Link?" I asked again.

He shook his head at my questions.

"It's… it's complicated," he replied finally, which wasn't the best indicator for a discussion.

My eyes widened slightly.

"What do you mean 'it's complicated'?" I asked. "Why is it complicated?"

He paused for a moment.

"Because… I was never supposed to tell you about that girl," he replied.

I looked at him surprised, not sure what he meant by that statement.

"Why?" I couldn't help but ask.

"Because I promised her I wouldn't," he disclosed.

This was making no sense to me thus far.

"I still don't understand what difference that makes if I don't know who she is, so... who is she?" I asked, feeling a little uneasy with how this conversation was going.

Link grew silent again and continued to stare at the fire. That was when I felt my stomach begin to churn in knots. I always felt this way when something unusual was about to happen. I just hoped it wouldn't be bad news. I couldn't take more bad news today, but it seemed that was where this was going.

"Who is she Link?" I asked again.

He looked away when I pressed my question.

"I'm going to be breaking another promise," he muttered to himself.

My heart fluttered when I heard that.

"Link please…" I begged.

The hero hesitated again before he finally decided to be forthright.

"Alright fine," he said finally, "she's… she's Bastion's sister."

When I heard that, nothing could prepare me for the shock that then entered my veins.

Nothing.

"What?" I whispered.

The hero nodded.

"She's Bastion's twin sister," he repeated.

I felt my heart skip a beat when the words fell out of his mouth once again. I took in a shocked breath and covered my mouth in complete disbelief.

"His sister?" I repeated.

Link nodded and that was when the tears immediately filled my eyes. They spilled over instantly. I couldn't control it. He saw that and took me in another tight hug. I cried softly into his chest.

"His twin..." I whispered with a broken voice again.

"It's going to be okay," he whispered back.

I knew that, but the implications meant so much more for me. I couldn't believe she was really out there somewhere.

"I have to find her," I said suddenly, "what if she disappears again?"

The hero held me tighter when he heard the slight desperation in my voice.

"Then we'll find her," he promised.

My heart skipped another beat. I pulled back and he wiped the tears from my face.

"We have to so she can be present at our wedding," I reasoned.

He nodded.

"I agree," he whispered.

I still found the news so unbelievable.

"This is amazing," I replied, trying to smile, "she's alive, she's still… alive."

I was in complete shock and awe.

"I'm pretty sure she's just as eager to see you," he stated.

I certainly hoped so. I wiped my cheeks and smiled. This news felt so surreal.

"Do you really think so?" I asked. "Do you think she'll like me? I have so much to share with her."

Link just grinned.

"I know so," he replied.

I looked down at my hands just then.

"Did you talk to her about me?" I asked, wanting to know everything about her. "Did she seem excited? Is she funny? Does she ever talk about Bastion?"

Link nodded at my questions.

"Yes, yes, yes, and yes," he replied.

His words made me laugh and I couldn't help but feel more excited.

"That's wonderful news," I replied, "as soon as everything gets settled, I'm going to send a search party out for her immediately."

It was then Link hesitated and cautioned me.

"I wouldn't," he stated, "she's been living in the shadows for so long, she's not going to respond well to fanfare. Besides, she's had a pretty hard life."

I looked at him surprised regarding his revelations.

"Really?" I asked.

He nodded.

I bit my lower lip.

"What has she been through?" I asked.

Link paused again, not answering the question right away.

"I think it would be more appropriate if you heard it from her herself," he replied, "I'm sure when the time comes you two will have a great deal to discuss."

He was only making my suspense about her heighten.

"That's true," I replied, even so I couldn't help but smile, "I can't wait to find her. I can't believe she's still out there!"

Link smiled at my sudden happiness and took me in another hug.

"That's all I wanted," he whispered against my hair cryptically all of a sudden.

I grinned against his tunic.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

Link stroked my hair.

"I just wanted to see you smile," he said.

I held him tighter after hearing that.

"Thank you," I whispered, "thank you so much. Thank you for being you Link."

He grinned at me then lifted my chin up so I could look into his eyes.

"You're welcome," he whispered back.

Afterwards, he leaned forward and kissed me softly. It was just what I needed. It really had been such a long day.

~SSS~

Elbourne's POV

It had always been my summation that being alone didn't mean a person was lonely. However, for whatever reason, Midna and Zelda thought the opposite of that pragmatism. I think it was just a woman thing. I was currently resting against a tree that had a lovely panoramic view of the mountains in the distance, Dragon Roost, when a beautiful elusive twilight queen walked up behind me suddenly to keep me company. I figured she was here because of Zelda, or her own personal misgivings. I kept my back to her when she approached, not to be rude, but just to show I didn't want to be bothered right now.

"Yes my lady?" I asked when she stopped.

Midna was quiet for a moment.

"I'm just here to check on you," she said simply.

I raised a brow, wanting to end this quickly.

"I'm okay," I said, "you can go back and tell Zelda that now."

She was quiet when I said that.

"Zelda didn't send me," she said, "I came on my own."

I wasn't surprised at that either.

"Well now that you're aware, you don't need to worry your lovely head your majesty," I said, then added with a hint of sarcasm, "I'm king now."

She was silent when I said that.

"Does that make you angry?" she asked all of a sudden.

I found that to be an interesting question and one I wasn't expecting. I turned around to look at her just then.

"What do you mean by that?" I inquired.

Midna shrugged and took a step closer.

"It was thrown at you in a way you weren't ready for," she replied, "yes, you've been groomed, but does that really mean you want it the way you received it?"

A logical crux for an inquiry.

"I never thought of it that way," I said, "but you do have a point, and I have my misgivings, yes."

She grinned at me.

"Sometimes it's easier to see things when those things are presented to you laterally," she replied. "You weren't expecting your father's death. It's only natural that all of this is overwhelming to you."

I gave her a wayward grin.

"I suppose so," I replied, "but the old battle axe was very stubborn."

Midna nodded.

"He was," she agreed, "but that's what made him so special."

I grunted thoughtfully.

"He did have a particular fondness for you Midna," I confessed, "he really admired your father too."

She looked to the ground when I mentioned her father.

"My father was a great, but very ambitious, Twili," she said softly, "I'm just learning now that that ambition cost him greatly."

I gave her a long once over.

"That sounds like my father," I half joked.

Midna caught the inflection in my voice and looked up.

"Two of a kind," she replied.

I chuckled softly at her saying that.

She then placed her hand on her hip.

"That's more like it dragon prince," she said playfully, "now you can stop pretending that you're infallible and that you don't need people. Your father is gone, true, and that's not easy to digest, but right now you need the people you're closest to to be with you."

I grunted at her logic and looked to the ground.

"I think I see your point now," I said.

Midna smiled at me.

"Of course you see it my way now," she said, "why wouldn't you?"

I grinned at her, but then felt my smile fade when I looked past her. I took in an involuntary frustrated breath just then and looked back to where Zelda and Link were sitting. They were now engaged in a long lingering kiss.

"Speaking of our closest people," I said with a hint of sarcasm, "I think mine is busy right now."

Midna looked at me puzzled for a second, then turned to see what I was talking about. She initially looked surprised too and tried to hide it, but I saw the hurt creep into her eyes.

"Oh," she said quietly, "it looks like mine is as well."

I smirked and shook my head.

"Perhaps that's why they let you come after me alone," I said mordantly, "they wanted some alone time themselves."

Midna turned back around and looked at me with a raised brow. She seemed resolved to how things currently were.

"Who knows," she said quietly, "but there's no sense being bitter about it. If they love each other, they love each other. There's nothing we can do about it. We'll move on."

I scoffed lightly at her utterance.

"Not me," I replied, "I'm not moving on, I'm not giving up on her just yet."

Midna sighed and shook her head.

"Do you hear yourself?" she asked. "It's over Elbourne… it's been over."

I closed my eyes. I did not want to hear this. I pushed myself away from the tree at that.

"I can't lose her," I said, "you have no idea what she means to me."

She looked at me with open sympathy.

"Yes I do," she replied, "because I feel the same way about Link. I love him very much, but he's made his choice."

Even at her reasoning I was not willing to budge.

"We'll see about that," I said, then without waiting for another word from Midna I stalked back towards the campsite.

She looked at me alarmed and quickly followed after me.

"Elbourne!" she called. "Elbourne wait!"

However, it was too late I was already gone.

~SSS~

Zelda's POV

"Mmmm," I moaned softly as I kissed Link again.

It was a lot more passionate and intense than the first now. We also had to remember we were out in the open and not in some closed secluded place. There was no telling who could be watching. When we finally pulled away, Link pressed his forehead against mine and looked at me seriously.

"You're what I want Zelda," he whispered, "you and no one else."

I studied his expression for a moment and slowly felt a smile come across my face. I stared into his blue eyes for a long time before I said anything in reply.

"I feel the same exact way," I whispered back, "I'm so glad you made it out safe today."

I wrapped my arms around Link's neck and took him back into another hug. Afterwards, I rested my head on his shoulder and stared at the fire across the way. This moment couldn't have been more perfect. However, suddenly I gasped when I realized we were no longer alone.

What in the-? I cut my thoughts off in disbelief.

There, standing on the opposite side of the flames was Elbourne of Dragon Roost. He looked stoic more than upset, he had obviously been watching. It was actually a look that worried me more because I didn't know how he was going to react.

Where in the world did he come from? I wondered, and then looked beyond him to see Midna not far in the distance.

I pulled back quickly and Link was a little surprised by my actions.

"What's the matter?" he asked me, then turned and caught sight of Elbourne across the fire from us and no further questions were asked. Link looked over at him surprised. "Elbourne…"

The dragon prince looked between the both with quiet restraint. There was an uncomfortable silence between all of us in that moment. Just then Midna came rushing up behind him.

"I tried to stop him," she stated, as if needing to give a reason.

I knew good and well that Elbourne did this of his own beckoning. He could be so stubborn.

Elbourne… I thought, please don't.

My internal process was going to have no affect.

"I'm just here to inform you that I haven't given up on you Zelda," he said softly, ignoring everyone. "I still love you with all my heart, and though you have chosen Link, until you two are actually married, I'm not giving up my love up for. I deserve to keep that."

I looked over at him shocked.

Why the hell was he doing this now?

"Elbourne-" Link tried.

"That's all I have to say," he interrupted, "no disrespect intended to you Linux, but that's the way I'm handling this."

With that, he didn't wait for anyone else to rebut. Instead, he bowed, offered a quick apology to Midna, and walked back towards the main camp. I looked after him stunned, then turned my attention back to Link who was just staring after the dragon prince slightly agape as well. Midna too was staring after him shaking her head.

"He just can't help himself, he felt he had to do that," she said, "I'm sorry, I'll see if I can talk some sense into him again."

The twilight queen then took her leave without waiting for a word from either Link or me. The beautiful queen hurried after the stubborn prince in the distance.

"Elbourne wait!" she called. "I'll walk with you!"

She seemed to have the desired effect or he just didn't want to make a scene in the here and now, but he stopped and waited for her. Soon they were both walking and talking together. I turned my attention back to Link who looked like he didn't exactly understand what just happened. I understood that because I didn't either. again, why was Elbourne doing this now? Why?

"I'm sorry," I said finally.

Link sighed and shook his head.

"There's no need to apologize for him," he replied, "the man can't seem to help that he's in love with you Zelda."

I was surprised at hearing Link say that, but it was the mature way of looking at it. However, I wanted him to know I only wanted him.

"Link-" I tried.

But the hero went to silence me.

"It's okay," he interrupted, "I know you're in love with me."

My eyes widened, but I was so grateful that he was completely in tune with me. I took him into another hug. I really wanted him to know he was all the man I would ever want or need.

There's no one but you, I thought, closing my eyes, just you Link.

"Thank you," I whispered, "thank you for knowing that."

Link hugged me back, but then pulled away and looked back to Elbourne and Midna concerned in the distance.

"I hope Midna can talk some sense into that guy," he said, "but if not we can't worry about it now because we need to find lodging and have other things to do. We're riding to Ordon in the morning."

I nodded in agreement and sighed.

"That's true," I said, "we should get some rest."

This proved to be a rather eventful day. I only could only imagine what tomorrow would bring. I just wish we weren't ending on the note that we were ending on. I hoped the road to Ordon brought good news. I was just so afraid the innocent villagers there were suffering needlessly because of me. I would only know when we got there tomorrow. After all tomorrow is another day.

Please be alive everyone, I thought, please.

~SSS~

The Next Morning

The next morning Link and I rose and began the trek to Ordon. Midna decided to stay behind and help with the safety and medical efforts at the camp, while Elbourne decided to head back to Dragon Roost to bury his father. Yesterday was a very emotional and draining event for all of us, especially Elbourne. I think that was why he was so persistent with what he declared to me and Link last night. I would have to speak with him later regarding that matter, as his stubbornness never seemed to change. I had to admit I admired that greatly about him, but it was also a quality that brought him a great deal of pain. Speaking of such, I knew this trip to Ordon was of particular importance to Link. After witnessing what he witnessed I was certain he wanted to check on Colin immediately. I felt the concern too, though I hadn't known Colin that long, but he was always so kind and gracious to me. I'll never forget how considerate he was when Beth was acting so capriciously to me. Even so, the important issue was making sure he was safe.

Presently Link and I were traveling in silence. I understood why, as there was a great deal for both of us to ponder. I also couldn't help but think about Ilia and how her seeing me again was going to go. After learning about her and Link's history, it was important for me to understand her need for the hero's friendship. I knew Link loved me, and I was secure enough in it to understand that he had a past and that Ilia was a part of it. I was never going back to that insecure child I once was ever again. That Zelda was gone. Even so, on the topic of history, I was very interested to meet and make contact with this woman named Mystere. I had so much I wanted to ask and know about her. Bastion's sister was someone who was of great importance to me. I hoped to have the opportunity to meet her. I also hoped Link would share more about her with me.

It had been several months, but it was still surprising to me how far Link and I had come. I couldn't believe one day he was going to be my husband. I never thought with our past that we would be two people that would get reacquainted and actually fall in love. It was the stuff in story books, but this wasn't a story this was my life… my real life. I couldn't wait for Link to be Hyrule's king, he would be such a fitting ruler and following what was now becoming a tradition of the royal women of Hyrule: a princess marrying a peasant. Switching subjects for a moment, I hoped he wanted to start a family right away, I would love to bear his sons and daughters. The idea made me smile.

A little Link, I thought.

The thought comforted me as we continued our trek to Ordon Village. It was two hours before we finally reached the bridge. So many feelings of déjà vu hit me when we entered this intersection. It was only a little while ago when the goddess of Hyrule sent me out on this quest.

I paused for a moment.

Hylia… I thought.

The goddess's name made me tear up because I realized just then how much I missed her. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be here now. I wouldn't have had this grand adventure and found out who I truly was. I will be forever grateful to her for that, and if she is truly gone from this world, then I will never forget all that she taught me as a person and as a woman.

If you are gone… rest in peace ancestral mother… I thought.

Link and I passed the bridge and the impasse was just beyond the road we were traveling. I realized just then that I was going back to a place where the inhabitants didn't truly know who I was. I was just a peasant girl needing the assistance of their hero. I was returning now as their queen, and yet none of them knew that. How was I going to divulge that information to all of them? How were they going to react to the news about Link and I? What about Ilia? I was concerned about these things, but they weren't of the greatest precedent. Time and opportunity would appease those situations.

At the fore of the bridge Link took note of some broken tree branches and blood on some rocks. At seeing that, he hurried to the impasse ahead. I followed after him fearing the worst. We didn't bother to stop by the spring, nor did we stop by Link's home. Instead we headed straight into the village. I stayed back while Link walked on in to the center of the square. I thought it best that he greet the villagers alone, but no one was currently there. The hero looked around concerned and walked over to a garden nearby to see if there was evidence of anyone still in town. Perhaps they were already in Castle Town. However, my theory was laid to rest when a gasp of surprise from within a house was made more audible when the door opened.

"Oh my dear goddess!" the woman cried out. She was Malo and Talo's mother. Afterward she turned inward and immediately got the attention of her family inside the house. "It's Link!"

At hearing that Malo ran from inside to outside almost instantly, he looked beyond stunned.

"Link!" he called out. "Link! Is that really you?"

At hearing the announcement of the hero's name, several other villagers came outside to see what all the commotion was about. When they caught sight of Link everyone was astounded.

"Link?" Sera, Beth's mother, whispered covering her mouth. "I can't believe it! We thought you were dead!"

Link looked at her relieved and grinned at her.

"No," he said, "not yet."

Sera's eyes filled with tears.

"Not ever," she replied.

Link's smile widened.

"I like that logic more," he replied, "not ever."

Soon after, her husband came outside and gave a sigh of relief.

"Thank the goddess," he said, "we had no idea how you faired out there. It was chaos."

Link nodded.

"It was, but the threat is gone, I was working with some tacticians in Hyrule to make sure of that," he replied, then looked around again to see if everyone was accounted for. There were a few villagers still not present. "Did anyone get to Castle Town?"

Beth's father shook his head.

"No," he replied, "we never even got beyond the bridge."

A worried look came across Link's face when he heard that and he scanned the village again.

"Well then, where is everyone?" the hero asked. "Where's Rusl, Uli, Colin and the others?"

At the sound of Link's voice Talo and his father came from inside their home, as well as Uli and Rusl from the other side of the square. However, Colin, Beth, and Ilia were not yet accounted for.

"'And the others'?" Talo repeated. "Thanks a lot Link, we were really worried about you by the way."

The hero gave the youth a wayward look.

"You know I was worried about you Talo," he said, then added, "about all of you."

Talo's father chimed in.

"We know that Link," he replied and glanced over at his son, "sometimes teenagers need to be the center of attention."

I wasn't too far off from them, but that did make me chuckle quietly. Link chuckled as well, and that was when Rusl and Uli approached him. They looked relieved at the hero's return, but they were rightly stressed. I was sure they were going to divulge the prognosis of their son.

Uli came up and gave Link a hug.

"You gave us quite a scare Link," she said, "we thought the worst."

The hero sighed and hugged her back.

"I know I'm sorry," he replied, then looked over at her husband, "are you and Rusl alright?"

Uli looked up and nodded towards her husband's direction.

"I'm fine," she replied, "but Rusl hasn't slept all night and he had an injury from the incident."

Link glanced over at the fellow swordsman and raised a brow concerned.

"Rusl?" he inquired.

Rusl just groaned at his wife's admission.

"I'm fine Master Link," he reassured, "I had a blue potion and I'm feeling better. Uli worries too much."

Uli gave her husband a knowing look.

"After everything that happened, can you blame me?" she asked.

Neither swordsman could argue her logic.

Link nodded.

"Point taken," he replied, then turned his attention to the entire crowd for a moment, "what about the rest of you? Are you in need of anything?"

Everyone shook their heads. I was grateful they were such resilient people. They could have easily been eradicated by Ghirahim's phantom, but here they were venturing on. However, that didn't give the prognosis or the whereabouts of Colin. I was starting to think the youth suffered a very bad injury.

Please be alright, I thought.

Talo's father stepped forward to formally answer for everyone.

"We're all fine," he said, "we're just glad you're okay."

"Indeed," his wife replied with a nod.

Link nodded at the utterances and looked over at Rusl and Uli again. There was still no trace of Beth or Ilia. Perhaps they were with Colin and the hero assumed that. In any such case, he was about to inquire of the missing youth.

"Where's Colin?" Link asked Uli. "Is he alright?"

A worried look came across the mother's face.

"He's… he's alive, but unconscious," she said, as tears filled her eyes immediately, "that… that thing really did a number on my baby."

I wasn't close to her the way the hero was, but I could only imagine her anguish. Her voice said it all. As soon as this gathering was over, I wanted to see the young lad myself and give him a golden potion. What he did was exceedingly brave. He saved everyone's lives here. That was not going to go unnoticed, not if I had a say in it.

Thank the goddess he's alright, I thought.

Link looked troubled at hearing the state of his young pupil's condition and took in a deep sigh.

"I'm grateful to hear he's alive," he replied

Talo then left his father's side and walked over to Link.

"He was incredible Link, you would have been so proud," he divulged, "you know the timing on that move you were getting on him about, well he perfected it just in the nick of time. Colin's the reason we're all okay."

Link looked at the young man surprised by the revelation.

"Really?" he asked.

Talo nodded.

"He was just like you," he said, "I couldn't believe how brave he was."

The hero raised his eyebrows, but then shook his head and smiled.

"That's not surprising," he said, "it's a trait he's long possessed."

I found that to be the most interesting point revealed thus far. That young man was extraordinary in so many ways. Thinking back to when I first came to village I thought Link was being harsh when it came to that scrimmage match. However, now I understand why the hero was so insistent that Colin get his timing right. My 'incessant goading' could have been detrimental in this regard. I now see the importance of persistent and insistent training.

I'll never underestimate a scrimmage match again, I thought.

Meanwhile, in amongst all the talk, Beth and Ilia finally made their appearances. They were where I assumed they would be when they emerged from Master Rusl's home. They must have been attending to Colin. The two ladies were talking amongst themselves when they finally got curious with what was going on with the crowd outside. However, they stopped short when they saw the commotion was about the hero.

Beth spoke up first.

"Oh my goddess!" the young lady whispered incredulously.

Without a second thought, she hurried down the road and ran up to Link. Before he could brace for her she jumped into his arms and gave him a tight hug. Link had to pivot his foot into the ground, but he caught her just the same. He immediately started laughing.

"Whoa," he cautioned, "we almost had a crash landing."

Beth started crying and buried her head in his shoulder.

"You jerk!" she sobbed. "We thought you we dead!"

Link grinned and hugged her tighter.

"I'm still here Beth," he reassured, "I'm still here."

Everyone looked on admirably and grinned, however Ilia seemed frozen in her tracks. I couldn't say I blamed her. At seeing Ilia in the distance, Link let Beth go and stepped aside for a moment. He took several steps away from the crowd towards his best friend. They stared at each other for a brief moment.

"Hey…" he trailed softly, deciphering the expression on her face immediately.

Ilia's eyes filled with tears just then.

"Link…" she whispered finally.

The hero grinned at her stunned state.

"Yeah…" he replied.

Ilia covered her mouth and shook her head for no apparent reason. Afterwards she ran over to the hero and practically fell into his arms. They held each other tight and she sobbed into his chest. It was a beautiful moment and all I could do was smile. They had been through so much together. I promised myself to make up for my sins against Miss Ilia. I was partially responsible for her not being a mother at this point in her life and I owed her the solace she deserved.

I will make it up to you Ms. Ilia, I thought, I swear.

Everyone was looking at the two of them and grinning. When Ilia pulled away she wiped her cheeks and tried to smile.

"I was so worried about you," she said to Link.

Link sighed and took her in another brief hug.

"I know you were," he said aptly.

A few in the crowd chuckled at their interaction, even me. However, I was also trying to keep a low profile until Link was done with his greetings and inquiries, but when Ilia looked beyond the hero she caught sight of me. Her eyes widened in surprise.

"Ms. Elga?" she asked perplexed.

I was slightly off guard when she addressed me. My appearance no doubt must have had her and probably everyone puzzled. I was wearing a royal pink gown with a gold crest of the Triforce in front as well as a small golden headdress. My white gloves went up to my elbows and my hair was braided all the way down to my waist. I wasn't wearing a cloak like before, so there was no hiding my regalia. It was out there for all to see. Perhaps I should have been a little more inconspicuous since I was coming to a small village, but what was done was done.

Not the subtlest of dresses Zelda, I told myself.

"Hello there Miss. Ilia," I greeted politely.

Once Ilia made my presence known everyone then turned their attention to me too. Talo and Malo looked on in awe, but then confusion distorted their handsome faces once they realized I was the peasant girl from not so long ago. Rusl just smiled already knowing the truth. His wife Uli looked at me perplexed, but was friendly in her disposition. Beth's parents looked at me cautiously, but still with confusion. And Beth was Beth, she was glaring at me. They all had to be wondering why I was yet again with their beloved hero.

Ilia stepped away from the hero and came a little towards me.

"Thank you for bringing Link back to Ordon in one piece the way you promised," Ilia said to me sincere with a smile.

I smiled back.

"Of course," I said, "it was my pleasure."

A silence hushed over everyone now, as they were no doubt wondering why I was still with the hero after so much time had passed. They were probably inquiring why I was dressed this way, and why was there a crown on my head. It was a far departure from the woman they met the first time around. However, to my surprise Link passed Ilia and came up to me. I was a little taken aback at his affronted boldness, but I shouldn't have been shocked at anything the hero proceeded to do, it was just his nature. Even so, considering the look on his face I had an idea what he was conjuring.

I stared into his eyes when he took my hand in his.

"What are you doing?" I asked with a hint of nervousness.

His eyes searched my face for a moment and he understood my concerns.

"It's alright," he whispered back, "this is the way it's supposed to be."

My eyes widened and I looked beyond him to everyone who waiting in sheer puzzlement at our confidential talk.

"Are you sure you want to do this now Link?" I whispered. "Let's save the announcements for later. We should check on everyone first."

Link shook his head, obviously having other thoughts.

"I think it's time you told everyone who you really are," he said to me, "there's no sense hiding it when all they are going to do is wonder."

I didn't think this was appropriate right now.

This can wait, I thought.

"Master Link…" I trailed.

He didn't seem to care if it was a concern of mine.

"It's just Link," he replied, "and it's alright."

Now that we were in conference so long the others were beginning to wonder what all the secrecy is about.

"What's going on?" Talo asked loudly to his brother. "Why are they off to themselves like that?"

"I don't know," Malo replied with an exaggerated sigh.

I raised my eyebrows at that and looked up into the hero's eyes.

"Are you sure?" I whispered.

Link nodded.

"I am," he whispered back.

I looked beyond him once again to all the curious faces. When I looked over at Ilia she looked more nervous than curious.

"Very well," I said to Link finally.

When Link and I turned to face the crowd, Ilia looked between the two of us with open discomfort and looked away. She was probably fearing the worse, though she had no idea what I was going to divulge to her. I hated the anxiety the pre-announcement was bringing her. However, next to her, staying true to form, Beth saw her friend's discontent and shot me a venomous look.

This is what I wanted to avoid, I thought, I don't want anyone to be hurt.

Even so, I sighed realizing in the end this was for the best. It was better to tell the truth instead of making the issue more of a mystery.

It was then I spoke up.

"I'm afraid I must apologize to you, people of Ordon," I began, "as I have deceived you in the worst way possible."

Everyone looked at me taken aback just then.

"What is she talking about?" Beth said, rolling her eyes. "Goddesses Miss Elga, you're such a drama queen!"

I couldn't help but grin at the irony.

A queen I may be, I thought, but of drama I most certainly am not.

"Miss Beth… my name is not Elga," I confessed. "I better known by my birthright. My name is Zelda Nohansen of Hyrule. I am the Sage of Light, and the Queen of Hyrule."

After I uttered that, everyone's mouths literally dropped open and a stunned silence shushed over the crowd. It was several seconds before anyone spoke again.

"Y-you're the queen?" Malo asked me in complete disbelief.

I nodded at the young man.

"Yes my good man," I replied then went to explain further, "I borrowed your hero, not for a pumpkin delivery like I previously stated, but to help me with a very important task that involved the security of this country. Thanks to his efforts, we are all safe."

Everyone, with the exception of Rusl, was stunned by the news.

Link looked over at me and raised a brow.

"Thanks to both our efforts," he corrected, "I couldn't have done it without you."

I looked up at him and searched his face for a moment, surprised at how apparent he made the love in his voice appear. I was hoping to do this one reveal at a time, but it seemed Link had other, more forthcoming, ideas. I was flattered that he was so proud to be with me, but I couldn't help but think of the pain we were indirectly causing. I glanced over at Ilia who was looking to ground. She looked like she was going to burst into tears at any given moment.

Oh Ilia… I thought, stepping a few feet from Link and letting go of his hand.

Link sensed what I was doing, but didn't seem to have the same concerns as I. I thought it was a little insensitive of him, but he had his reasons, and he was the only one aware of the gravity of his relationship with Ilia. Even so, he went to mend the possible severances he caused by checking his tone for now and moving more towards a less gratified position. It seemed his efforts were in vain. The looks on everyone's faces now were of open suspicion between the two of us. They knew something was brewing.

This is certainly awkward, I thought.

Another silence enveloped us, when finally, Ilia of all people stepped forward.

"You honor Ordon with your presence your majesty," she said, her voice was shaky, "and bless the goddess for your safety."

Ilia bowed and I curtsied in return.

"Thank you my lady," I replied.

However, there were tears in her eyes at this point.

"But-but… if you see it as no disrespect to you my lady could you please excuse me from your presence?" she was practically begging. "I-I-I- have numerous duties to attend to in my home. I must return to helping with the reorganization of the village."

I winced a little at her tone and felt myself getting a little emotional in her behalf, but I kept in together. I felt terrible for her, but I couldn't let it show.

"Of… of course Ms. Ilia," I said, "I understand."

With that, Ilia bowed again and hurried down the road to her home. I glanced over at Link who was staring after her, but his expression was unreadable. It was almost a look of remorse mixed with frustration. His relationship with her was very complicated. I think he had feelings of both guilt and resentment towards her. It was a very sensitive subject to be sure and one I would let the two of them handle. I turned my attention back to the other villagers, but in particular Beth who was now looking at me wide eyed and in a bit of fear.

I looked at her concerned.

"Miss Beth are you alright?" I asked.

She trembled a little at my voice, and looked at me nervously.

"I'm so so so so so so so so so sorry for calling you a… you know… at the festival," she said exponentially fast.

I raised a brow and gave her a wayward stare. It took me a moment to remember what she was talking about, and when I finally did, I just grinned at her.

"Aw yes, there's no need to apologize," I replied, "I understood why you were so angry, you care a great deal about your friend and thought that I was infringing on that. I have a friend just like you."

Beth's eyes widened at my reasonable explanation. She took several steps back after hearing that.

"Th-thank you your majesty," she replied, not knowing what else to say.

Her mother then came up next to her and gave her a look of warning.

"What exactly did you say at the festival?" she demanded in a whisper.

Beth immediately turned red.

"Mother!" she whispered. "Please don't embarrass me further."

It was then I thought to intercede.

"It's alright my lady," I reassured, "your daughter is a young woman with a great deal of gumption."

Beth looked at me shocked, and stood awkwardly in front of me for a few moments before backing up and fidgeting apprehensively.

"May I be excused?" she asked.

I just raised a brow and chuckled softly.

I think I liked the spunky sassy Beth a lot more, I thought, a little disappointed she felt she couldn't be herself in front of me now. The shifts people do because I'm a queen.

"Of course," I said.

With that, Beth bowed and hurried from my presence with her mother stalking close behind her. I stared after her and just shook my head. In that moment I thought of Ilia again and turned my attention back to Link.

"Do you want to check on your friend?" I asked softly. "She probably would like to speak with you alone."

Link raised a brow at my question.

"I can speak with her later," he said rather bluntly.

I stared at him for a second.

"You should probably go speak with her now," I whispered, "her heart is probably troubled."

Link took in a deep sigh at my suggestion.

"I don't know what will mend that," he said honestly, "it's been years."

I understood his mild frustration, but it was something that needed to be dealt with.

"Link…" I trailed, "please."

The hero took in a deep sigh and let his eyes search my face for a moment. Finally he nodded.

"Alright, alright," he replied, "I'll go speak with her."

I was a little relieved at his response, but I wish he had more enthusiasm in doing it.

"Thank you," I whispered.

With that, Link nodded at me and headed down the road to his Ilia's house. I watched after him and hoped for the best. Afterwards, Rusl and his lovely wife Uli came up to greet me.

"Your majesty," Rusl said, "I'm so glad you're safe."

I nodded.

"As am I for all of you," I said sincerely, then got to the point, "but please tell me, how is Colin?"

Uli's eyes filled with tears and she pursed her lips together.

"His body is stable," she said, "but he's been unconscious now since yesterday. The only thing that gives us hope is that he is still breathing."

My heart sank at the thought of Colin in a coma. He was so young and full of life. I knew then I had to do something.

"If it is alright with you, may I see him?" I asked.

Both parents initially hesitated and I could understand their concerns.

"He really needs to rest my lady," Uli said.

I nodded.

"I know," I said, "however, I have some golden chu jelly that may be of some help to him."

Uli looked at me surprised.

"Golden chu jelly?" she repeated.

I nodded again.

Her eyes searched my face.

"You would give that to him my lady?" she asked. "That jelly cost ten thousand rupees and we have no way of paying you back."

I took her hand in mine.

"I have no intention of wanting or taking your money," I reassured, "your son saved the lives of everyone here, a potion is the least I could do to show him my gratitude."

Uli's eyes refilled with tears and she covered her mouth. Rusl took his wife in his arms.

"It's okay honey," he soothed.

I grinned.

"May I see him Master Rusl?" I asked again.

He nodded.

"Of course your majesty," Rusl said, letting his wife go and heading down the walk, "right this way."

Uli was wiping her eyes when I took hold of her hand. Afterwards we followed her husband down the road to their home. Rusl opened the door and I stepped inside the modest two bedroom house. It was quaint and comfortable, and I was pointed to the door at the corner. This must have been Colin's room. I went over to it and opened it slowly. I peeked inside and saw Colin lying shirtless on his bed. He was breathing shallowly, but at least he was doing it on his own.

"Thank Hylia," I whispered in relief.

I turned to address Uli and Rusl.

"Would it be alright if I sat in and spoke with him alone for a moment?" I asked. "I will give him the potion, but there are some things I would like to say privately to him."

Rusl raised a brow and looked over at his wife, who looked despondent. I could tell she was hesitant, but she nodded anyway. I took her hand in mine when I saw wayward notion.

"If you don't want me to, I won't," I said understanding her unease.

If Colin had a head injury, the slightest disturbance to his constitution could increase the pressure in his skull and kill him instantly. He rightly needed to be in a physician's care, but I could save him if I gave him the potion and used Nayru's Love on him.

"I…" Uli looked at me, not wanting to say no, but she was so torn on what to do.

I smiled at her.

"I'll wait," I said, wanting to be sensible, "the first faces he should see are yours and Beth's anyway."

Uli initially looked at me surprised, but then shook her head.

"No," she said, "if you can help, please by all means do it."

I nodded then looked over at her husband.

"Do you have any objections good sir?" I asked.

Rusl shook his head.

"Not at all," he replied, "just please be careful."

I nodded.

"Of course," I replied.

With that, I went into the room and closed the door behind me. I could tell by the way Colin was breathing that he was working very hard to keep his constitution intact. First thing was first, I opened my bag and pulled out a bottle of golden chu jelly. I didn't want to disturb his breathing so I decided to give the unguent intravenously. I searched the room something to prick his skin with, and saw a needle bobbin. It wasn't the best implement but it would have to do, but what could I use for a catheter? I again looked around the room only to find a deku plan in the window seal. I took one of the leaves and rolled it up as tight as I could. I was going to have to work quickly to get this catheter to stay in place after poked his skin. It did so and admittedly it took me three attempts, but it wasn't because he didn't have good vasculature, it was because my implements were inferior to those of normal medical means. Anyway, once I had the catheter in place I poured the golden chu jelly into his vein slowly. I blood gushed the other direction naturally but once I had the fixation under control I was able to pour all the jelly in. I was grateful it worked. Afterwards, I cleaned up my mess disposed of the bottle and pulled out my jewel. I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer to Nayru before casting her love on this young man. The room glowed light blue for a moment, and the jewel created a diamond shield around the sleeping warrior. I kept it in place so it wouldn't dissipate. I realized I would have to say my piece later, after Colin had fully resuscitated. I would leave him in the shell for now. After my nursing was over, I left the room to look for Uli and Rusl. They both greeted me eagerly.

"I placed a protective barrier on your son," I explained, "it's a blue shield called Nayru's Love. He will not die, but he will need the next several hours for rest like you had him doing before."

Uli looked at me stunned.

"Oh thank you so much your majesty!" she said, breaking into tears immediately. "Thank you so much, and I promise that when he awakens, I'll let you know!"

I grinned at her words.

"No need to thank me," I said.

Rusl shook his head.

"Yes my lady we do need to thank you," he said, "without you coming here he could have died."

I hated the thought.

"He's fortunate to have such resilient parents," I said, "Hylia bless you both for training him the way you did."

Rusl took my habnd and kissed the back of my palm.

"Hylia bless you too," he said sincerely, "but really, thank you from the bottom of my heart."

At the goddess's name I got a little emotional but had to let it subside. I missed her so much already.

"You're welcome," I replied, then added, "can I assist you in any other way?"

Rusl shook his head and smiled at my amiable nature.

"That's alright your majesty," he said, "we're okay here. I think you helped us enough."

I looked to Uli for reassurance and she agreed with her husband.

"We're fine," she said, but then squeezed my hand affectionately, "thank you so much for all you have done already."

I shook my head at the thanks.

"It was my pleasure," I replied, "we're Hylians, we're supposed to stick together."

Uli's eyes filled with tears at my words.

]"Indeed, your majesty," she said, "indeed."

With that, I took my leave from Rusl's home and made my way back to the square. I certainly Colin would have a swift recovery. I then went and offered my assistance to several other families when I saw they needed help. They all declined. I guess I should have expected it. Knowing that if I asked everyone would say no, I decided then to take matters in my own hands. I saw the two brothers Talo and Malo's unloading their parents' wagon and went to help them before they could decline. I jumped onto the wagon and began unloading with them. When they saw what I was doing they insisted that I stop. However, I told them if they didn't allow me to help I would command them to do so anyway. After out tit for tat, there were no more discussions. I was helping them put away pottery and tables. There was also a large distillery that was lying stationary near the wagon.

Who was going to pack that? I wondered.

When the last of their goods was cleared from the wagon Talo offered me some lemonade. He also stood at the foot of the wagon to have some with me. I smiled at him and patted the spot next to me for him to sit down. He blushed at the invitation and willingly took it. He seemed more shy than he had been in the past.

"Thank you for the drink," I said, "it's most welcome."

Talo nodded.

"Thank you for the help," he replied, "we got done much quicker."

He then got silent and looked away nervously.

I saw that and inquired of it.

"What's the matter Master Talo?" I asked him.

The young man shook his head and blushed at my question. I raised my eyebrows, surprised at the reaction.

"Nothing," he said.

I grinned and then nudged his shoulder gently.

"Come on, tell me my good man," I said playfully, "what's the matter?"

He looked down at the ground then back at me.

"I… I uh… I'm sorry for speaking to you like I did at the festival," he divulged, "you probably thought I was a jerk."

I gave him an offhanded stare.

"Not at all," I replied, "I rather enjoyed your honesty. It was quite refreshing."

Talo blushed some more and looked away.

I raised a brow.

What's this? I wondered.

"Are you sure there's nothing else you want to unload?" I asked of his expression. "You have my attention."

My question made him appear more red.

"Well…" he trailed, not looking at me, "I wanted to ask you a question."

I nodded.

"Fire away," I said.

Talo pursed his lips together and cleared his throat.

"Is it wrong to… to be infatuated with one's queen your majesty?" he asked me.

I looked at him surprised, especially at the directness, but then grinned.

These Ordonian boys, I thought, first Colin, now Talo.

I decided to tease for a bit.

"Why do you ask Master Talo?" I inquired with a smile.

His eyes widened nervously.

"Uh…" he trailed.

I chuckled at his reaction and placed my hand on his shoulder.

"It's perfectly fine," I said, then whispered in his ear, "just don't let a certain hero find out about it. He may put you in your place."

Talo blushed again and swallowed hard. I chuckled softly and took another drink of the lemonade. Before the conversation could reestablish itself Rusl, Uli, and even Beth ran back into the house.

I looked on surprised.

"What in the world…?" I trailed.

Talo immediately jumped from the wagon.

"Colin must be awake!" Talo said excited. "Come on your majesty!"

My eyes widened and I nodded. I let Talo help me down and we both hurried to Rusl's home, but then I stopped myself when I thought about how much Link wanted to also see him.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

I hesitated.

"I should go get Master Link," I said, "he's going to want to see Colin more so even than me. Besides, Rusl and Uli aren't going to want everyone converging on their home all at once. I'll wait for the hero, you go on ahead."

He nodded at my explanation, but then continued down the road.

"Please excuse me then your majesty," he said with a slight bow, "I'll be back."

I nodded and watched after him as he too disappeared inside the small residence of Rusl and Uli. I was certain it was a joyous emotional reunion.

"Link is going to be so glad his dear friend is alright," I whispered to myself, but then I looked over to Ilia's house where the hero was currently residing.

I hope everything is okay with them, I thought, I wonder what they're talking about.

~SSS~

One hour earlier: Link's POV

I sighed as I walked down the road to Ilia's home. I knew this upcoming conversation was not going to be easy but it was a long time in coming. I had been avoiding this for years, but there was no way I was going to be able to avoid it now. When I got to her front porch, I simply let myself in. Ilia and I were comfortable enough in our relationship to understand that knocking wasn't always necessary. Once I was inside, I found Ilia sitting on her couch crying, but as soon as she heard my footsteps she jumped up and started scuttling about her home. She hurriedly went about putting things away to avoid looking at me. I hated that she was so hurt by the news, but it shouldn't have been a surprise to her when I told her at the festival that I care about Zelda more than just a friend. In any such case, I needed to be kind to her but clear.

Ilia didn't stop working, though she knew I was here. To assist her in some way I went and gathered several pieces of pottery from one of the boxes she was unpacking and placed them on her table. I remembered her telling she liked them up there because her father put them there. However, to my surprise Ilia quickly came up and removed two of the pieces.

"Wrong spot?" I asked. "I thought this was where you always had them."

She shook her head.

"That's okay," she replied, "I have a place for them on the floor now."

On the floor? I thought.

I simply nodded.

"Oh… sorry," I said, "I just remember them being there."

Ilia didn't reply and placed the pottery on the ground. Afterwards, she turned her attention back to me to gather the rest.

"Can I have those please?" she asked, without looking me in the eyes.

I paused for a moment, but I wasn't going to needle her. I just handed her the last two ceramic urns and let her go about her business. I knew she was attempting to avoid this conversation like the plague.

"I'm surprised you moved them from that spot," I said, "you're always so specific with your things."

She raised her eyebrows at that and still wouldn't look into my eyes.

"Apparently things change," she replied, "I moved them because they can fall from there, I found a better place for them," she placed the ceramics down and wiped her hands on her pants. "We all find better things and places in the end, don't we?"

I stared into her eyes and was silent for a moment after she said that. I knew it was going to get to this eventually. It was obvious she was hurt about Zelda and me coming back this way, but it didn't mean I didn't still care about her. I stepped back when she walked past me to get another box.

"Do you need something?" she demanded. "Because if you haven't noticed, I'm really busy."

I pursed my lips together at her tone.

"Actually, I do need to talk to you," I said.

She shook her head.

"It can wait," she replied, "I'm busy."

I raised a brow.

"No Ilia," I said firmly, "it can't."

After hearing me say that how I said it she froze. Her back was facing me. There was a silence between us before she broke it.

"You're in love with her right?" she asked quietly.

I sighed at the question, not at all wanting to address it this way.

"Yes, I am," I said honestly.

She hung her head slightly when she heard that.

"Then what more is there to say?" she whispered with a slight break.

It was then I walked up to her and she turned around to stop me.

"It's okay," she said with tears in her eyes, "I swear it's okay. You've already told me how important she was to you."

I winced a little with how she was looking at me.

"Ilia-" I tried.

"Don't tell me I'll find someone better because I won't," she interrupted, "who even comes close to you Link?"

I shook my head.

"You don't understand Ilia," I said, "I haven't been good for you since… since you lost the baby."

She broke down just then and started crying.

"Why are you bringing this up now?" she demanded. "You know I hate talking about this!"

I looked away and ran a hand through my hair.

"We've been avoiding this for years," I said, "we need to hash this out."

Ilia looked at me repulsed.

"What the hell do you mean 'hash this out'?" she demanded. "Link I'm in love with you! I can't just hash that out."

I closed my eyes and sighed.

"Ilia… you haven't even tried to move on," I said, "there is life outside this village. You've seen it I've taken you there."

Tears were just streaming down her cheeks now.

"Do you honestly think this is helping right now?" she asked. "Look you're in love with another woman I get it. I'm not what you want, you don't have to make a big deal about this!"

I found her saying that ironic.

"Ilia-" I tried.

"Please leave Link!" she said. "Go, and don't bother me anymore!"

I froze and looked at her surprised.

"Ilia-" I tried again.

"If I couldn't make it anymore clear to you, get out!" she interrupted again. "I mean it! Get out and get the hell out of my life!"

I stared at her stunned when her bottom lip quivered and the tears wouldn't stop streaming from her eyes. I hated that she was feeling this way, but what else was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to make things right when she wouldn't let me? Why couldn't she be the girl before our mistake, before the pregnancy, before my adventuring? What happened to that Ilia? I didn't know what to do about her now, but I knew she couldn't keep clinging to idea that was never going to come to fruition. I simply raised my hands in surrender and headed for the door.

"Alright," I said quietly, "alright you win."

Before leaving I turned to look at her, she was hugging herself and looking at the ground. I really hated seeing her like this.

"Ilia…" I tried one last time.

She closed her eyes, but this time she didn't interrupt me. Instead she didn't reply and just looked up at me. She waited with a raised brow, and all I could do was stare at her.

"I'll… I'll talk to you later," I said, then opened the door and took my leave.

Well that went horribly, I thought, heading for Ordona's Spring.

"I'm sorry Ilia," I whispered to myself, "I'm so sorry."

~SSS~

Colin's room: Colin's POV (Closure: Colin & Zelda)

I blinked several times before taking in a shocked breath as I sat up realizing I was finally conscious. I was breathing hard and sweating profusely. The last thing I remembered was me fighting a creature named Ghirahim and afterwards being struck unconscious. I looked around the room and instantly recognized the surroundings. I was home. I closed my eyes relieved, but my relief was short lived when a stinging sensation of pain pierced through my skull.

"Argh," I groaned, "that damn rock really did a number on me, didn't it?"

I pulled the sheets back and tried to throw my legs over the side of the straw mattress, but was hit with some vertigo. The dizziness I had was too great. I sat there thinking of some way to try and stand, but the more energy I exerted, the more pain I felt. I ran my hand over my bandaged forehead and decided to just stay put. I lifted my legs back onto the mattress and sighed.

"I guess this is as good as it gets," I whispered.

Inadvertently I looked to the door when I heard the sudden scuttling of footsteps outside my bedroom.

That has to be mother and father, I thought, expecting a barrage soon.

As if on cue with my thoughts, the door opened and my mother's pretty face peeked in. I stared back at her and smiled. Her eyes then widened and she immediately left the room and closed the door. Surprised at her reaction it actually made me want to sit up. I tried, but still was to no avail. A few moments later, the door to my room opened again and the worried faces of both my parents showed up this time along with Beth. They were all looking at me astonished. They all hurried into the room. My mother took me in her arms and immediately broke into tears.

"Thank Hylia you're alright," she whispered.

I hugged her back and closed my eyes.

"Thank Hylia indeed mother," I managed to say.

I could only imagine how worried she must have been about me. I looked over at my father who had a serious, but relieved expression on his face. Disobeying him nearly cost us our lives, but had I done nothing we would all be dead. Even so, I saw my faults, I was presumptuous and a warrior is never supposed to be presumptuous, especially on the battlefield. When I got better I was never going to hear the end of it. However, that chastisement wasn't going to start today.

"Are you alright son?" he asked me.

I nodded at him, still hugging my mother's hug.

"I'm getting there father," I said honestly.

Father nodded and then touched my mother's shoulder. He saw that she was holding me too tight.

"He's alright Uli," he said, "let him be so he doesn't have a worsened headache."

My mother reluctantly nodded at my father's words and let me go. She wiped the tears from her face and stood up.

"I'm sorry sweetie," she said to me, trying to compose herself, "you know how mothers are."

I smiled at her saying that, understanding what she meant completely.

"It's alright mother," I said, "I love you too."

Uli covered her mouth and held in a gasp of relief. My father gave me an erroneous look for making my mother more emotional than necessary.

'Sorry father,' I mouthed, and then turned my attention to Beth.

She was standing just behind my mother and looking at the floor. There were tears in her eyes and she was avoiding my gaze.

"Hey Beth…" I trailed.

She rolled her eyes when she heard say her name, then swallowed hard and looked at me.

"What?" she demanded upset.

I looked at her surprised initially, but soon understood the bite in her voice. She thought she was going to lose me.

My father looked at my mother and then took her by the shoulders.

"Come on," he said, "let's start unpacking the wagon."

My mother protested.

"Rusl you can't be serious," she said, "Colin just woke up."

My father raised his brows and gave my mother a knowing look. He was trying to cue her without outright telling her.

"Uli…" he trailed, "come on."

My mother sighed at him and then hesitantly obeyed, finally taking the hint.

"Fine," she said, "but I think you're being very insensitive Rusl."

Father shook his head and grinned.

"I know honey," he said, "I know."

Father guided my mother out of my room and closed the door behind them. I shook my head at the two of them, and then turned my attention back to Beth. She was still avoiding my eyes.

"Are you okay?" I asked her after a few moments.

Her eyes shot back to mine.

"Does it look like I'm okay?" she demanded. "I was worried sick about you!"

I looked at her surprised but then grinned at her tone. She was just showing how much she cared.

"I'm sorry for making you worry," I said quietly.

Beth looked away as tears refilled her eyes.

"What if you had died Colin?" she asked upset. "What if your stupid attempt at being a hero backfired and I had lost you?"

I felt my eyes widen at her genuine concern.

I never thought of it that way, I thought honestly.

"I'm-" I tried.

"Stop saying you're sorry!" she interrupted and then knelt down by the side of the bed.

Beth wrapped her arms around my neck and held me tight. I hugged her back and sighed against her hair.

"I love you, you jerk," she said in a cracked voice.

I raised my eyebrows in surprise.

"I love you too," I replied.

She trembled a little at my words and hugged me tighter. I didn't let her know, but her grip was really making my headache worse. She then sighed and pulled away to look me in the eyes.

"You're going to be just as reckless as Link," she tried to joke.

I chuckled at that.

"If I should be so fortunate," I replied.

Beth grinned at me, but it slowly faded. She leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. I guess she wasn't pulling any punches today. I held her tight and kissed her back.

It looks like you were right Ms. Elga, I thought, holding this girl I held dear close to me, all I had to do was tell her.

Things were just the way I wanted them: we were alone, the mood was perfect, and I had my girl in my arms. However, suddenly the moment was ruined when the door to my bedroom opened. Beth quickly jumped out of my arms thinking it was my parents returning, but her discomfiture immediately turned to fear when she saw who it was. I wasn't going to lie, I was shocked myself, but I didn't understand Beth's reaction initially. The woman behind the door was Ms. Elga.

She's met Ms. Elga before, I thought, she couldn't have forgotten her already. Why is she acting so surprised?

"Ms. Elga?" I asked stunned. "What are you doing here?"

Ms. Elga smiled.

"I hope I'm not intruding Master Colin," she said in the cool serene voice of hers.

I shook my head.

"Not at all," I replied, "please come in."

"Thank you," she said graciously.

The beautiful woman came into the room, and for some odd reason Beth bowed. I looked at her odd, but Ms. Elga just smiled at her.

"There's no need for that Beth," she said.

It was then I noticed her dress along with her manner. Ms. Elga was wearing a pink gown with a royal crest and seal with the symbol of the Triforce. It was far different from the peasant wear she came in when I first met her.

What's going on? I wondered, realizing something was amiss.

Ms. Elga came and sat down next to me on the bed. All the while, Beth inched towards my bedroom door to make her exit. I didn't understand why she was so hasty to leave. She hated Ms. Elga true, but why was she acting so differently now?

"Beth…?" I called to her, not wanting her to leave.

Beth turned around and looked between Ms. Elga and me.

"I'll come back later, okay?" she said.

I gave her puzzled stare, but had no choice but to agree with her.

"Okay," I said with a nod, "then you can explain why you're acting so strange."

Beth blushed at my words and then hurried out the door. Ms. Elga grinned at Beth's reaction and shook her head. She then turned her attention back to me. I had to admit this woman was a most welcome sight for my tired eyes. She was possibly the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, and her stunning blue eyes and rich dark hair falling down her back made her all the more alluring.

She was definitely blessed by the goddess, I thought.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

Her voice was so sexy.

I smiled at her and eyed her pretty face.

"Better now," I said, "thank you so much for coming to visit me Ms. Elga."

She smiled when I said that and reached up to caress my cheek. I hated myself for it, but I blushed at her touch. I still had a remnant of that infatuation with her. It was hard for me not to, she was striking.

I'm sure she's been the fantasy of many men in her village, I thought.

"You don't need to thank me Colin my dear for your brave deeds," she said, "you saved your people."

I looked down away from her face and grinned, but she lifted my chin and stroked my cheek once more. I was surprised at how tender and loving she was being towards me. I didn't mind it, I was just surprised by it.

Maybe it was good Beth left, I thought, she'd probably be upset if she saw this.

"Yes, well…" I trailed, not looking into her eyes.

She saw that and smiled again.

"Look at me Master Colin," she whispered, and her voice was like electricity to me.

I couldn't help it. I had a strong pull of attraction towards her.

Forgive me Beth, I thought, I just hope nothing… embarrassing happens, I glanced down at my pants just then. Please don't have a hard on Colin... please, I told myself.

I did as she said and looked into her eyes.

"Yes?" I asked her.

Her eyes alternated from mine to my lips. I could hardly believe it.

"From the bottom of my heart," she started, "thank you."

I looked at her stunned, not completely understanding why she was saying this to me.

She's acting so formal, I thought.

"You don't need to thank me," I said to her, "it was my duty to protect the people of Ordon."

She smiled at me again, liking the sound of that.

"Your duty?" she repeated.

"Indeed," I said with a nod, "I am going to be soldier soon."

She raised a brow and nodded.

"Hmph," she replied, "that's right isn't it?"

Why am I getting the strangest feeling about all this? I wondered.

"Well, then even more so you must allow…" she trailed for a moment and paused, "you must allow your queen to thank you."

I looked at her perplexed at what she just said.

"'Your queen?'" I repeated confused.

She nodded, still searching my face.

"Your queen," she reiterated.

I gave her an offhanded look.

She can't possibly mean… I stopped my thoughts.

The puzzled expression never went away, but then realization hit me and I felt my eyes widen.

Did she really just say what I think she said? I wondered in disbelief.

"I-I'm sorry?" I stammered nervously.

She dropped her hand from my cheek and took in a deep sigh.

"I have a confession I have to make to you Master Colin," she said softly.

I sat up on full alert.

She can't be! I thought. She isn't… is she?

She stared straight into my eyes.

"My real name is Zelda Nohsnseen," she said, "I'm the Queen of Hyrule."

I felt my breath still and the pit of my stomach drop.

There was a brief silence between us after that.

Remain calm Colin, I told myself, don't overreact.

"Y-you're th-the queen?" I whispered stunned.

So much for that, I thought disappointed.

Queen Zelda grinned at my reaction.

"Yes," she replied, "I am, and I wanted to thank you personally for your loyalty."

I couldn't believe any of this was happening.

The Queen of Hyrule is in my bedroom! I thought. No one's ever going to believe this!

"I-I-" I stammered, not knowing what to say.

The queen put her finger to my lips silencing me.

"Shhh…" she whispered, "it's okay Master Colin."

I looked down at my hands, knowing my face was red.

This is embarrassing! I thought. What she must think of me when I tried to flirt with her when she first came here! She probably thinks I'm a fool!

"I-I wish to apologize for my behavior when you first came here, and at the festival," I said swallowing hard. "I realize now that was very disrespectful to you."

Queen Zelda smiled again.

"Colin-" she tried.

"Of course if you can't forgive me I understand as well!" I said hurried, and then realized what I had just done. "Oh sweet Hylia! I just interrupted you!"

She chuckled at my behavior and shook her head.

"Colin," she said, "there's no need for you to be nervous. You're a chivalrous young man, and I respect you greatly for flirting with me and making me feel welcome when I first came here."

My eyes had to be as large as saucers.

She's okay with what I did? I thought incredulously.

"I-I- we- you-" I stammered, not able to get the words out.

"In fact," she said, putting her finger to my lips again, "I'm going to return the favor," her voice dropped.

I looked at her stunned, having no idea what she was talking about, until she came close and kissed me softly on the cheek.

Will the wonders never cease? I thought. Apparitions that look like Link, and now peasant girls who are really queens.

Can the day get anymore surprising?

"Thank you for being my knight in shining armor Colin of Ordon," she whispered only inches from my lips, "you've made me very proud."

I felt my throat tighten in disbelief.

My goddess, I thought.

"Anytime your majesty," I managed to reply.

She smiled and got up when she heard me say that. I was still in incredulity about what was happening.

"Shall I call for Beth back Master Colin?" she asked.

I couldn't hide the shock from my face.

She's asking me? I thought incredulous.

"Uh…" I trailed, having to shake my head, "yes if you don't mind."

Queen Zelda thought nothing of it.

"Of course I don't mind," she said, "but I'll only do it under one condition."

I looked at her surprised.

"What's that your majesty?" I asked.

She came back over to me and leaned over so that her face was only inches from mine again.

"Promise you won't tell your little lady friend about our little kiss," she whispered, then raised her brows, "deal?"

I stared into those beautiful blue jewels in her face and nodded inadvertently.

"D-deal," I stammered.

She stood up and stroked her dark hair behind her ears.

"Good," she replied with a smile, and then headed for my bedroom door.

I watched her walk away, wishing she didn't have to leave.

Am I terrible for thinking that? I wondered.

"Um… your majesty?" I asked.

Queen Zelda stopped at the door and turned to look at me.

"Yes Master Colin?" she replied.

I took in a deep breath wanting to burn that pretty face in my memory for all times.

"Thank you," I said.

She smiled at me again and then surprisingly bowed.

"It was my pleasure," she said.

With that, she took her leave, and I was left feeling a sense of awe and confusion, but a good confusion.

"That's our sovereign?" I thought out loud, and then looked back at the door.

She's one hell of a woman, I thought, one hell of a woman indeed.

~SSS~

Zelda's POV

When I left Rusl's home I inadvertently caught sight of Link leaving the main village to the impasse. He had a despondent expression on his face. I was worried when I saw that.

"Oh no," I whispered, fearing the worst.

Concerned about what may have transpired, I went after him. I followed him past his house and surprisingly I saw him turn into Ordona's Spring. I hesitated for a moment thinking he may want to be alone. However, I may have been able to help him if he allowed me to. I saw him seated by the edge of the water and went to sit down next to him. We didn't say anything for the next few moments, but I saw the look on his face and inquired of it.

"Is everything alright?" I asked.

Link took in a deep sigh.

"Truthfully?" he asked.

I nodded.

He shook his head.

"No," he replied.

I had a feeling.

"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked him finally.

Link sighed and shook his head again.

"Not really," he replied.

I pursed my lips together.

"But don't you think we should?" I asked.

He looked away for a moment.

"She's hurt Zelda," he said, "what more can be said?"

I swallowed hard.

"I figured as much," I replied.

Link stared at the water.

"It couldn't be helped," he said, "it was bound to happen sooner or later."

I bit my lower lip.

"I feel terrible," I said to myself.

The hero then turned to look at me.

"Why?" he asked rhetorically. "Because we love each other and everyone can't be happy with it?"

I rolled my eyes and gave him a knowing look.

"You know what I mean," I replied.

He looked back out to the pool.

"I don't mean to be short with you," he said, "I'm just tired of feeling guilty for not loving someone who loves me."

I raised a brow.

"I know that situation all too well," I replied.

Link turned and grinned at me. He reached over and caressed me cheek.

"I'm sure you do," he replied.

There was a brief silence between us before I finally broke it.

"I think I should go talk to her," I suggested.

Link shook his head.

"Not a good idea," he said.

I looked at him at a loss.

"Why not?" I challenged.

He closed his eyes and sighed.

"Zelda she's-" he tried.

I then shushed him with my finger.

"Please," I interrupted, "it would be a dignified conversation. I just want to know if she wants some Nayru's Love, that's all."

Link looked over at me perplexed suddenly.

"Why is that important now?" he asked.

I stared at the blue spring.

"You said she was never the same when all those terrible things happened to Ilia," I divulged. "Nayru's Love can help lift some of the psychological scars she may have and then perhaps you and Ilia can have the conversation you need. Maybe her pain is too great for her to speak with you right now."

His eyes widened slightly.

"You'd do that for her?" he asked.

I reached over and took his hand in mine.

"She's a beloved friend of yours and was the mother of your child," I said, looking him straight in the eyes, "of course I'd do this for her."

Link swallowed hard and stared back at me. He then reached over and kissed me softly. It was short, but it was tender.

"Thank you," he whispered when he pulled away, "that's just what she needs."

I smiled at him and caressed his cheek.

"I know," I said, "I know Master Link."


The chapter is complete. Chapter 38 will be up by 3/25/2018