A.N. I had to get this idea out of my head. I couldn't focus on writing anything else until I did. Keep in mind that I've never actually played Twilight Princess, mainly because I didn't have the right gaming systems when it came out. I only very recently watched NCS's Let's Play of it on Youtube to see what all the fuss was about. As it turns out...this is a pretty badass game. And I'm honestly surprised that Midna has grown on me so much. I really hated the way she treated Link at first and I didn't trust her, but since I'd previously seen some of the ending scenes, I knew a turnaround was coming for her character. I just didn't expect that turnaround to be so sudden and heart-wrenching. The MUSIC, oh my God!
So anyway...hope you guys enjoy the story! I really hope I didn't mess up Midna's voice. This is just how I see her in the game, especially at this juncture, and I find that most fanfictions I've read have her as being too nice toward Link. No matter how she changes later, she does NOT treat him nicely at the beginning of the game, yanking on his ear and ordering him around and whatnot.
Moved By Light
I have him so well trained, don't I? I don't even have to give him a command this time. He's already off and running into the night, loping over the grassy fields turned to mud by the pouring rain, making always for the bastion of white off in the distance. Flashes of lightning illuminate our surroundings and sear afterimages into my eyes, which are already half blind from gazing on the spirit of Lanayru. I finally close them, clutching his fur with what little strength I have left. Even in the dead of night with heavy clouds across the moon and stars, the light of this world is slowly eating me alive, inch by excruciating inch. Link knows it, can sense it, and his pace quickens. I can almost hear his voice reassuring me, urging me to hold on.
It never crosses his mind to leave me behind. It never occurs to him that he can dump me in the mud and go to Princess Zelda alone and finally be rid of the persistent pest on his back. Stupid mutt. Link always seems a little dimmer when he's in this form, and now his instincts must be overriding his common sense. He knows nothing but his sense of loyalty, the primal impulse to protect that which his lupine form identifies as pack.
I...don't deserve it. He should reserve such fierce devotion for Zelda alone. She, the princess of light, who sacrificed even her throne for the sake of her people. Not I, who lost everything trying to selfishly cling to mine. How my people must hate me for abandoning them in their hour of need.
Of course Link knows nothing of that. No, my little wolf boy is under the impression I'm just another shadow dweller, maybe an emissary of the princess of twilight, out to personally hunt down Zant for no other reason than to satisfy my own sadistic streak. And I won't deny contemplating with great relish on how exactly I would punish that false king, that usurper. I've narrowed it down to either slow disembowelment or just tossing him off the highest cliff I can find, although castration would be another fun option...
...but it looks like that will remain a fantasy now.
Screams of fear greet us when we go sprinting through the streets of castle town. Who knew so many light dwellers would be out and about on a wet and miserable night like this? Link's fur is starting to reek to high heaven, sweat and rain comingling with the uniquely animal scent of him. He's panting and exhausted, but he pushes himself even harder, weaving among the market stalls and ducking through alleys to avoid the guards that would put an arrow through him without hesitation.
Heh...brings back memories.
He really thought the villagers of Ordon would recognize him. He thought if he acted all cute and helpless, slinking up to them like a lost puppy, they would welcome him with open arms. But no. Not those close-minded, superstitious nitwits. Even the man he considered his adoptive father shoved his pregnant wife indoors before he drew his rusty sword and brandished it at the blue-eyed beast. Link still has a scar above his eyebrow from that blade. I'll never forget the betrayal in his eyes, the confusion and frustration, but most of all the anguish as he watched his own kind condemn him.
And I laughed at him. I told him to suck it up. I goaded him, manipulated him with the constant reminder that his friends were in danger and needed his help. That's the only reason he allowed me to ride on his back. Because he had some silly notion that he had to save those children, and to do that he needed to venture into the twilight once more. For that...he needed me. And since then, I've done everything in my power to make sure he keeps needing me. I have to defeat Zant, but I can't do it as I am now. I need the power of my ancestors, the Fused Shadows guarded by the light spirits of Link's world. I can't speak with the light spirits, I can't even go near them because...well, just look at me now.
So I needed Link too. I needed a light dweller who would traverse the two worlds with me, who would willingly suffer the curse of twilight again and again for the purpose of cleansing those areas and retrieving the Fused Shadows from the light spirits. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement. Kind of like 'friends with benefits' only without the good stuff. And I never let him forget that I could end it anytime I want. I've even left him to fend for himself a time or two just to make my point. Like in Ordon. Like in the fields when those shadow beasts appeared. Like in Kakariko when that house almost blew up with him inside it.
It's a miracle he hasn't torn my throat out yet. It's a miracle he doesn't leave me now. But like I said...I have him trained.
"Beast! Get out!"
I only catch a glimpse of the warmth and light inside Telma's bar before the Goron bruiser kicks Link back out the door. He tumbles across the courtyard and crashes into the wall with a pained yelp, and the door slams in our faces. Despite the pain of my dying body, I manage a feeble smirk.
"Guess they've...got a thing...against mongrels...damn snobs..."
Link shakes rainwater out of his ears and looks at me with those big blue eyes that are just oozing concern. I know he wants to say something, but it's impossible in this form unless someone understands the language of barks and yips and whines. Growls too, if he's in a bad mood. But he knows rebellion doesn't fly with me so he hasn't done that in awhile. He hasn't even tried to bite me since that first time.
And how do I repay him? By being the same heartless and condescending bitch I've always been. I'm such an abusive mistress. Scolding him when he doesn't deserve it, rewarding him only when it suits me, belittling him every chance I get. He's gotten so used to the treatment that he doesn't even bat an eyelash when I smack him over the head for missing something obvious. It only takes a little bit of nagging to get him to do as I please, even after he's already saved everyone who matters to him.
Such a good boy...
As amusing as it is to watch him squirm and glare when I say those words, they leave such a bad taste in my mouth. I shouldn't treat the hero of two worlds, the chosen champion of the goddesses, like my own personal pet slave. I should be like Zelda and address him as an equal no matter what form he takes. I should be begging for his help in saving my world, and I should be damn grateful if he deigns to give me the time of day.
But I just...can't. Not after Zant. Not after how he destroyed my life and everything in it. I know what Link goes through each time he becomes a wolf. That's me, only all the time. My own people would never know me in this form, and I never want them to. I never want anyone to know the princess of twilight was brought so low. Nothing more than a midget ground under the heels of Zant and his followers. I can't bow to Zant, I can't bow to anyone. I will not be that weak again!
That's why, Link. That's why...
"Why do you want the Fused Shadows, Midna?"
Here were are, standing in the sandy bottom of the cistern in Lakebed Temple, Link looking utterly ridiculous in his Zora armor with the last Fused Shadow in hand. And he has the gall ask me that? Now?
"I thought we went over this already. Did you kill a couple brain cells from lack of oxygen?"
He frowns, but he does not relinquish the Fused Shadow to my waiting hands. "The spirit of Lanayru said they're dangerous."
Aggravated, I grind my teeth and patiently explain again. "He meant they're dangerous for light dwellers. Not for me. Once I put them together and combine their power with my own, I'll be able to crush Zant in one blow! Isn't that what you want too? To stop him?"
A grim determination comes to his eyes. "Yes. More than anything. For Ilia, for my home..."
I roll my eyes. "And for Hyrule, and for Zelda and your destiny, and blah blah blah...no need to make a monologue out of it! Now give it to me so we can get out of here!"
But Link fixes me with an unyielding look and speaks more harshly than I've ever heard. "I think Lanayru was trying to warn me about YOU, Midna. He thinks these Fused Shadows have the power to corrupt their wielder, and after what I've seen, I have to agree. So I'm going to ask you right now...if I give this to you, are you going to become just like Zant?"
My vision flashes red. The little bastard! He DARES to compare me to that monstrosity? Before I know it, my third hand, the one formed of shadow power, backhands him viciously and sends him crashing to the wet sands. Link spits out blood, then cries out when my hand plucks him up and slams him into the stone wall of the cistern, pinning him by his throat. His feet kick out at open air, hands clawing at the shadow fingers. His eyes are wide and shocked. He had no idea I can physically interact with the light world even when I'm only here as a shadow. I'm not about to tell him it's because he allowed me to hide in HIS shadow for so long that I can harm him like his.
"Give it to me!"
His eyes flash pure mutiny. "N-No!"
I jerk him forward and slam him against the wall again hard enough to crack his Zora helmet, almost crazed with anger at the disobedience. "GIVE ME THE FUSED SHADOW!"
He smirks feebly. "Ask...nicely..."
My grip on his throat tightens. His eyes roll up, face becoming slack. All it will take is the tiniest bit of added pressure to snap his neck. And still he clings to the Fused Shadow. I cannot HAVE this right now, not when I'm so close to attaining my goal! I will not allow this...this CHILD to stand in my way! I move close to him, hissing my next words in his ear.
"Without me, you would still be rotting in that cell! Without me, you would never have saved your precious Ilia! Without ME, you would be nothing! You owe me! You and I had a deal, and yet here you are standing in my way! I could so easily kill you right now and take the Fused Shadow, and then who would defend the light world while I go deal with Zant? I promise you, it won't be me! Make your choice, hero! Life...or death?"
His eyes, already dimmed by pain, become even darker with sorrow. "That's what...Zant said to...Zelda..."
He's right. The shock alone makes me drop him. Link slides to the sand on his hands and knees, practically coughing up a lung as he tries to recover. When I float down to his level, he raises his head with a bleak smile. "So it's the evil I know, or the evil I don't...is that it, Midna?"
I refuse to meet his eyes. "I don't believe in good and evil. But Zant and his actions are the closest I've seen to the latter. And...I suppose that would make you and Zelda the closest I've seen to the former."
"So what does that make you?"
"Right now? Undecided. In the twilight, if you will."
He chuckles, all the fight gone from him now. Long habit makes him bow his head to me, believing I have him beaten, even though I know in my heart he has come into his own strength and could very easily be the one to end me. It's only a matter of time before Link decides he's had enough of my vindictive ways and turns his back on me. And I'm terrified of what will become of me when that day comes. I don't know what I would do without him.
"Just promise me one thing, Midna. Don't make me regret this. Please...don't become something I'll have to destroy."
"...I'll see what I can do. Now give me the Fused Shadow."
He does, handing it over without another insolent word, the whipped dog crawling back to its mistress. Banishing my shame and insecurities, I give him a fanged grin and a pat on the head, crooning. "Such a good boy..."
The rain has stopped. I think. It's too bad, really, because it felt so good on my scorched skin. I wish we had rain in the twilight. The ride gets bumpy as Link carries me up a spiraling staircase in a tower. Oh, are we here already? I must have dozed off. Link reaches the top of the stairs and nudges the door open, bearing me into the chambers where Zelda spends her days of imprisonment gazing out at her kingdom and pretending to know what true suffering is.
A faint whine from my wolf boy makes me open my eyes. She's not here. They've taken her somewhere else. Figures.
I let myself slide off his back and hit the floor. More to get away from the smell of wet dog than anything else, but I also see no point in forcing Link to carry me any further. But the damn mutt doesn't take the hint and curls up around my shuddering form uninvited, wafting his rancid breath in my face. If he were in his true form, I imagine he would cradle me in his arms like a baby. That would be a lot more comfortable than the itchy fur and cold stone. And I think there might be a flea in my ear too. It's not exactly the dignified end I hoped for.
Still...it could be worse. I could be all alone.
A rustle of sheets nearby. "Midna?"
Link and I both look up, surprised. Well, aren't we stupid? Neither of us even thought to take a glance at the bed even though the hour is long past midnight. Zelda covers her shift with a robe and comes to kneel beside me, gently nudging Link out of the way. I wish I could look at him and see if he's embarrassed to see his princess in nothing but a shift, but I can barely follow my conversation with Zelda. I babble something about Zant's curse on Link, and the princess goes into a long-winded explanation on how to break it. Something about an ancient grove and a sword and the power to banish evil...that sounds familiar.
"Link...you can make it...that far...on your own, right?"
He looks at me like I've lost my mind. Even he knows he's hopeless without me. But there's no other choice. Even if by some miracle Zelda can save me, I cannot accompany him any farther in the light world. Zant will only hunt me down again, and if our last confrontation taught me anything, it's that I don't stand a chance against him even with the magic of my ancestors. No amount of defiance or conceit or senseless courage will change that.
I will not be the one to save my world, my people, from that usurper. Link will. And I won't even have to ask him. He will do it because he feels he must. Because he couldn't imagine doing anything else. I smile in contentment even though it hurts. My obedient wolf. I hope, sincerely hope, Zelda makes a better mistress than I ever did.
"Princess...I have one last...selfish request. Can you tell him...where to find the...Mirror of...Twilight?"
Zelda becomes utterly silent and still at my words, her hands clasped tightly around mine. And I know she has seen the truth I tried to hide for so long. Because I feared she would not trust me, would not help me. Because...I feared her judgment even as she feared mine.
"Midna...I believe I understand now just who and what you are. Despite your mortal injuries, you act in our stead. These dark times are a result of our deeds, and yet...it is you who have reaped the penalty. Accept this now, Midna. I give it to you freely."
Warmth and light flood into me, but this is a light that heals rather than harms. Which is impossible since I am a creature of twilight and the antithesis of light. I realize her intent far too late, and I cry out in horror even as Zelda smiles in calm acceptance.
"No! Link, stop her!"
Link doesn't move, transfixed by the golden aura surrounding us both. Disobedience again. He yelps in alarm when Zelda suddenly vanishes in a cloud of light particles, the radiant dust swiftly dispersing. My body is healed and more. Zelda has done something I never knew was possible and transferred her spirit, her very essence into me. She is there at my core, a little orb of light sheltered within my twilight, offering me protection from the light in this world even as I offer her protection from any of Zant's minions that might be sent to seek her out. As long as I allow it, her soul will remain with me until a time comes when it will be safe to return it to her body.
A mutually beneficial arrangement, Zelda says my mind with affection and humor. Then her consciousness becomes dormant. I stare at my hand that so recently held hers, stunned. How can she trust me with so much after the things I've done? Leaving in my hands not only her life, but also her kingdom, her entire world? Even her hero...
Zelda...I've taken all that you had to give, though I did not want it...
Link whines, agitated as he sniffs at the floor where Zelda was, searching for a scent that will lead him back to his mistress. His real mistress. I hop on his back again, concealing my own feelings behind a mask of serene indifference.
"We go, Link. To the forest."
He looks back with pleading eyes, but all it takes is a gentle tug on his ear to deter him from argument. Reluctantly, he slips out the door, head drooping. And even I know now is not the time for those four repugnant words I always hate myself for. But it still takes almost more humility than I possess to lean down and stroke the side of his neck.
"I'm sorry, Link. I'm sorry it turned out like this..."
Link pauses, glancing back at me. Then he bares his teeth in a wolfish grin and dashes down the stairs so fast that he nearly bounces me off his back.
"Link! Crazy mutt! Slow down!"
He barks happily, seemingly heedless of any guards that might hear us, and takes a running leap for a window that takes us out onto the roof. The dangerous height and the slanted surface made slippery from the rain combined with Link's sudden recklessness makes me latch onto him even harder, stomach heaving.
"Link, please! Stop!"
He skids to a halt, yapping like an idiot as I let go and float to a safe distance so I can properly glare at him. Link gives me a smug look, and I can just hear his lofty words.
See, Midna? That wasn't so hard. You can be nice if you try.
Grumbling obscenities under my breath, I turn and hold out my hand to materialize a portal at the roof's peak. But I pause before I enter it, gazing around, for the first time registering how familiar this place is.
"Hey, Link...do you remember the last time we were here?"
Link cocks his head and gives a cautious nod. It can't be easy for him to forget. We had just escaped from the bowels of the castle, and he still had that edgy and hunted look that said he didn't trust me. And yet, he allowed himself to be used by me because I was the only chance he had of finding his friends. Just like all light dwellers, I thought back then. Ignorant, idealistic and downright idiotic. He was just like Zelda, who humbly lowered herself to asking a beast and an imp for help when it became clear her gods would not answer her pleas.
But then again...maybe it's not ignorance or idealism. We Twili tend to be a very grim, unsmiling, glass half empty bunch. We are, after all, still suffering the punishment for the mistakes of our ancestors before us. I find it completely bizarre how light dwellers can find joy and peace in the simplest things, even when the world is falling down around their ears. I will never understand it...and yet I still find myself wishing I could. I wish I could comprehend what makes both Zelda and Link give all they have and more for the sake of someone like me, someone who never did a thing to earn it.
I wonder if maybe it's not idiocy that drives them after all. Maybe it's dedication. A willingness to do whatever it takes to save their world and the people in it. Maybe they do it because it's their duty, and nothing comes before that, not pride or personal grudges. Maybe it's...loyalty. Unwavering, unfaltering.
Will I ever know devotion like that? Will I ever feel it, from my heart to another, no strings attached? Will I ever look at Zelda or Link and actually want to do something for them that will not result in a selfish gain on my part?
...no, I don't think I will. I'm too spiteful, too steeped in the ways of twilight, which I will never admit is very close to what the people of this world call evil. But as I spend more time in this world, in the company of these stupid and noble and self-sacrificing people, I hope that one day...I just might.
Link nudges my hand with a cold nose, reminding me that we still have a sword to find and a curse to break and a world to save. Two worlds. I look down and see him smiling again, all his sharp teeth on display. And despite myself, despite everything, I smile back.
"Come, boy," I say imperiously and drift into the portal with an eager Link right on my heels.