She dreams of lands fair and green, she dreams of a castle garden. The white marble glints under the Hylian sun, she sits in the garden, waiting for the boy in green to approach her. She dreams of the moment when she ceased to be princess and became something else.
The knowledge of it was in the blue eyes, she had been waiting for him, the fairy boy who ran from the forest. And yet she had never expected his eyes, the clear blue wisdom that saw through her facades, through all the lies she had told herself. Princess he called her, but his eyes called her by some other name.
Perhaps it was he, the fairy boy, who had decided her fate. She remembers how he stared after her, as she rode into the night, remembers how cold his eyes had seemed in the darkness. Princess, he called after her. And yet he never came, he dived after the ocarina instead and he disappeared.
Yes, she blames him sometimes; she blames his calloused hands and his crystal eyes. She blames the fact that he was too good at following orders; she blames him because he succeeded where he should have failed. After the dreams, when she wakes up crying for the name she has lost, she blames him. She curses his name—Link, fairy boy, Kokiri. She curses all the names she knows, but it is never enough.
(Princess, he called her when he approached her. Such apprehension in his blue eyes, and yet he accepted her charge as if she were a goddess. Princess, he said when she spelled out his destiny. Would he call her princess now?)
And yet when the sun rises, and she is left shivering in her tent, dirt covered on her pristine hands she knows that old names no longer suit her.
She is not Sheikah by blood, and they can see through her disguise as easily as if she were masquerading as a Goron. She is not like them, she can't shift through shadows, she can't fall through walls, and she can't disappear into a cloud of smoke. She has no talent for illusion, and though she wears their ragged clothing and attempts to speak in their harsh accents she has no talent for it.
To them she is still princess, blonde fair Hylian hiding among them till the storm passes overhead. Princess still, even covered in rags, even when silent, even when grieving over mistakes she was too young to understand.
Though she binds her hands in bandages, though she walks on silent feet, though she hides her face from the curious eye of the sun, she is not Sheikah. Her blue eyes speak the truth for her, those naïve eyes that have doomed the world through her ignorance.
She remembers how they burned her clothing, for the Sheikah were a dying race and no one was fit to look like a princess. Even Zelda, that is the princess's name, that is the elegant name meant to impress it is not the name of the hidden tribe. Zelda glows too brightly, it could never descend into the earth, meld into the shadows. Zelda was abandoned, Zelda was burned with the royal clothes. Her past is wrapped in bandages, it is in the soft crunch of the snowfall underfoot as they travel through the fields, her past is in her failure to hide herself.
Zelda will never be Sheikah. She will be nothing more than the child of a foolish king, and patron of a foolish mission, but princess died at the bank of a river. Princess died when the ocarina fell from her hand, Princess died when her past was burned before her eyes.
(The boy with the blue eyes calls her princess in her dreams, there is a sword at his back and a wooden shield, and yet in his eyes she can only see the sheltered trees of the Kokiri Forest. And when she wakes she is reminded of all she has forgotten, and she curses him for it.)
She is Sheikah, she is her forgotten tribe, she is the dust that settles beneath the world's feet, she is the breath of the morning wind, she is the shadows that dwell in the most secret of places. She disappears into wind with only a thought to guide her, she falls back into the earth with ease, she is smoke on the horizon drifting farther from the past she has long ago forgotten.
(And yet the boy does not call her Sheik, or Sheikah he merely calls her princess, and waits kneeling before her. Green jewel in his palm, waiting so expectantly, his blue eyes soaring years beyond himself.)
She plays the harp as they travel through the countryside, the Hylian streets seeming so familiar and yet not one of them sees her hidden face. They see the eye upon her breast and turn from the sight of her bandaged hands. They see her as stranger, as nomad, as Sheikah a tribe that has too often been underestimated. She is nothing to them, they adored their princess, she remembers how they cheered for her as she climbed upon her throne. But they can't recognize her now, they can't see how their little princess has changed, her golden hair is hidden and her eyes are dark.
The harp sings beneath her fingers, such a delicate melody laced in the market air, a memory of the sunlight. It is growing darker in the world, for though wisdom and power remain courage is lost. He is gone; he has disappeared into the mountain face, into the depths of the ocean, beneath the earth where all things are forgotten.
The goddesses are in hiding, their power scattered across the world, and so the world turns to darkness as the sky is torn into pieces. The green of the earth is fading and the sky is overcast, only the earth remains strong in face of the poison. The others have yet to notice, but Sheikah can feel the earth beneath her feet, she can feel the decay.
She harps the only requiem she knows, the lullaby once played for her so gently upon a blue ocarina. For it is the song of all things that come to pass, and she sighs with the sound of it, forgotten in the wind.
"So where do you come from?"
"I come from everywhere and nowhere."
"You are not Sheikah."
"I am the thing that has no name, I am wisdom."
"Where did you learn to harp like that?"
"I learned from the wind."
"The past is a thing that chases, and in the end even you cannot out run him."
"So I will face him when he comes for me,"
"What if he is coming now? What if he is here?"
"He's not here; I'll know when he's here. He will have blue eyes."
Seven years pass to quickly. He still wears green and his eyes are still blue. She can hear his footstep in the winds; she can hear his silent voice as he stalks through the tall grass. It as if the world were bowing to his unseen presence, the child in green, the boy who wears the face of a man.
She follows the whispers into the shadows of the forest, where she waits for him harp in hand seated upon a stump. The melody comes to her fingers and the Kokiri spirit plays within the Lost Woods, sounding throughout the canopy of the trees and in her mind's eye she sees him; drawing ever closer.
She hears his footsteps before she sees his angled face, for she is expecting the child who has haunted her dreams, she is expecting his naïve blue eyes. She is not expecting the stranger in familiar clothes, his eyes worn with betrayal of his hopes and dreams. But it is him, she knows it, she can see it even as she stares at him. She waits for his words, his condemnation, but they never come. He merely looks at her, his eyes steady as the noon-day sun, not a hint of recognition.
(And it hurts to know that he can't see the princess anymore, and that Zelda has all but disappeared behind Shiek's wrapped face. And that even he, the spirit that has kept her hidden, the blue eyes that haunt can't see her for what she used to be. But Sheik has always been masked, and emotions are easy enough to hide.)
Her fingers stall, the notes fade away into the leaves, waiting for inspiration to come to her in the form of words. For she has many things to teach him, many things to tell him, to lay the blame upon him, to look in his eyes and ask how he could fail to recognize her.
But in the end it is only the sound of the ocarina that remains in her mind, the sweet tone that has been present so often in her nightmares, lost in the minuet of a dying forest.
(And she knows that she will see him again, see his silent face and hear his quiet footsteps, for destiny is a hard task master and demands much of them.)
"I remember his eyes, blue as ice, night, sea, and the morning sky."
"The past has eyes to see the unstable ground you tread upon."
"His voice soft as the wind, a whisper of knowledge upon the trees, upon the light."
"Your past has a voice to warn you with, for the ice is thin beneath your gloved feet."
"He will leave again, he drifts in and out of this world, he is smoke upon the horizon."
"Do you believe in your lies?"
The depths of the mountain burn, and in the red glow she can see the embers of his eyes, the blue flames that burn so clear in the night. The green has burned away so he has taken the clothes of the molten earth, red for the blood that stain his fair features, red for the fire that will burn through his boots, red for the eye of the dragon that waits inside.
Again they watch each other, there are new scars upon his face. In his hand the sword is held loosely, but gripped all the same between his calloused fingers. A bitter smile greets her, because they recognize each other in the heart of the mountain.
The blood of the mountain jumps around them, burning holes into the precarious bridge they stand upon. Sheikah and Kokiri, they are so very far from their homes. And it is not ice beneath her feet, but dried wood, wood that ways gently above a lake of fire.
"Sheik." He greets her, no bow, no acknowledgement of princess to be seen. She is the nomad now, the illusionist, she nods towards him tempted to call him 'Kokiri' for it appears they both choose to be addressed by lies. Hers for the past she is attempting to forget, his for the childhood he longs to cling to.
The notes speak for her, the rhythmic song of the mountain, the short notes fluttering about them as little pinpoints of light. The dragon's pulse, the movement of his eyelid as he struggles into consciousness, roused out of his sleep.
(And for a moment she regrets his burnt skin, the scars on his hands and face, she regrets all she has sent him through. She remembers the well of innocence in his blue eyes, gone are such days though. The world has been cruel in seven years, and it has taught him the meaning of irony.)
She stays this time, watching as he leaves her, wandering into the deep glow that was the heart of the mountain. To save the mountain people, to save the city of stone, the Gorons need their hero just as Hyrule needs its hero.
The princess's heart bleeds for the Kokiri boy, with his wide blue eyes and his awed smile. But Sheik merely narrows her eyes and turns from the sight of his red (green suited him better) tunic, and vanishes once more into the smoke.
The first string is serenity, the peace that comes with the clear morning sky. The sun in the distance, the winds gently wafting through the golden fields, and the sound of the earth coming to life.
The second string is sorrow. It is the ashes in her fingers, it is the starving children's faces, it is the sight of the abandoned market place, it is the remains of the world.
The third string is love. It is the memory of her people, their open happy faces, the children's eyes as they stare up at their parent. It is the look in a fairy-boy's eyes.
The fourth string is fear. It is the monsters, it is the night, it is the dragon and the phantom, it is the ghost that haunts the fields, and it is the shadow that looms over their small kingdom.
The fifth string is betrayal. It is the realization that he has left them, that the sun cannot burn away their terror and fear, that he might not come back after all. And that prophecies don't always come true.
The sixth string is simplicity. It is the farmer's crops, the rancher's cattle, it is the Goron's stone, and the Zora's scales. It is the heart of things, the blood and veins of the people, beyond the decoration that is so often tacked on.
The seventh string is mystery. It is what can't be seen or heard, what can't be played, it's the whisper of what they left forgotten in the depths of their temples.
The eighth string is life. It is the joys and struggles, the hardships they endure even as their world falls to pieces. It is both the wilting and the blooming flower.
The ninth string is nostalgia. The homesickness she feels for her empty palace and the chattering courtyard, for the blue skies and the light hearted years.
The tenth string is epiphany. For in her new clothing with her hands hidden safely beneath the blue bandages she sees the future beckon her and the past fall away into the depths.
The eleventh string is the shadows. The things that thrive underneath the Emperor of Night, all the beasts and monsters he has created, and yet it also the terror and fear that has wrapped around her own heart.
The twelfth string is death. She touches that string last, listening to it echo across the empty plains, not a sign of life in sight. Even the golden fields have turned barren and now only the ghosts remain.
"I wonder, what awaits me now?" He asks even before she approaches hearing only the soft footsteps.
"Will it be another dragon? A painting? Or something worse? Perhaps it is something I have yet to imagine…" His bitter laughter stops her approach, she cannot see the new scars but she knows they are there, he has grown tired in his old age and she can no longer see the child in his eyes.
Sheik says nothing, for there is nothing for her to say. She is not sorry, he is a pawn of the Hylian Goddesses, a pawn of the kingdom and she must use all the resources she has. Sometimes though, sometimes she thinks he can see very easily through her mask. That those blue eyes can see through her crooked soul.
Instead she plays the slow melody for him upon her heart, listening for the water drifting through the notes, he doesn't respond right away but merely looks at her with raised eyebrows before lifting the ocarina to his lips.
She leaves before he can say anything else, all the while aware that his eyes are watching her back.
"Impa, I think he knows."
"He can't know, you are very well disguised."
"No, I know he knows. He sees everything."
"Does he say anything?"
"Then it doesn't matter."
Kakiriko is burning, the smoke filled sky looms over head and the windmill has caught fire. Sheik stands in the middle of it, the smoke burning his eyes as she waits for the fairy boy to come.
It's getting worse, she thinks, to remember what she once was. Sheik is such a convincing disguise and Hyrule no longer has a place for its lost princess. She is the mask; she's Sheik's wary eyes of burgundy, his pale skin and light hair, and his calloused unmoving hands.
It's Sheik's home that is burning, not her's, she must remind herself of this. Her home has already been reduced to rubble, her kingdom crushed beneath Power's thumb, and here she is watching another village burn away to nothing. (It hurts though, perhaps more than the castle, more than the golden fields, inside her Sheik's soul writhes in torment.)
When he comes he looks at her with cold blue eyes, it's worse, the demon inside of him has grown and left him weary. There is blood on his tunic that hasn't washed out, faded scarlet stains that have clung to him regardless of how many times he tries to scrub him out. Sometimes she thinks they are killing each other.
He says nothing but then he doesn't have to because she already knows that it's just another village and that in the scheme of things it means nothing. It's just another pile of dust that once was Hyrule.
"It's in the well isn't it?" He asks her after the demon has passed overhead, his eyes are sharper than she gave them credit for and she has to blink at the question.
"The temple, it's down there, in the dark." He affurns his eyes hardening in a forced apathy, his hands shaking slightly and his face pales.
She doesn't ask him how he knows or why he guessed but he answers her anyway.
"Because it's always in the dark."
Sometimes she thinks that she loves him, in spite of his battle scars and his sharp blue eyes. He reminds her of Hyrule's lost innocence, wandering in the guise of a knight in green armor, and even as his eyes grow darker and his skin grows paler he still holds that promise of hope in his eyes.
Time hasn't touched him the way it has the living, and she has to remind herself not to blame him, that it isn't his fault that they're all dammed and that he wasn't there to save them and that now it's almost too late. She doesn't say that. Instead she plays the notes time and time again, he listens and plays them back faultlessly and life goes on.
They've changed though, she is no longer a princess, and it hurts to accept this fact but it's true. She's Sheik now, the Sheikah young man who has travelled across the land with his harp playing a tune into the winds so that he might save the face of Hyrule's barren fields. She tries to imagine herself, the young man with the red eye of truth upon his chest, sitting in Hyrule Castle with a piece of embroidery in her hands listening to another nobleman's fumbling fingers upon the harp. The image doesn't stay, and even as she hopes that she can go back, that Link will save them the image doesn't linger like it should.
Where will he be at the end of it, should they succeed, will he join her in those palace walls? Will he stand guard to a room filled with embroidery and stumbling music? Will his silent blue eyes watch her in pity as the word princess dies on his lips?
Goddesses, they have changed.
What will become of them?
He looks surprised when she finally removes the mask, there is a horrified recognition in his blue eyes as he gazes on her pale feminine features, and though he says nothing she knows that he did not expect this.
(Is he surprised at the face beneath the mask or the fact that she removed it after so long?)
She tells him her name but he already knows, she can see this in his eyes as he looks at her with so much pity, as if she was the one the Goddesses had condemned and not him. She doesn't want his pity.
Suddenly she is a child back in the palace gardens looking at that desert man with such suspicion and then turning back to the boy in green and in a commanding tone telling him of her dreams of darkness. Did he pity her then too? She can't remember, she never looked in his eyes then, she only saw the triangle of Courage upon his left hand and that was good enough for her.
She wants to shout at him, to shake that useless pity from his eyes, what good has his pity done her? She needs him but she doesn't want him. He was useful, he still is, but now she knows as she looks him steadily in the eye that she will grind his heart into dust because in the end she does blame him.
She knows what she's going to do with him, he won't be there guarding her chamber as she knits like the dutiful princess that she will be once again, he won't be her general, he won't be her prince, he'll be nothing to her and he'll drift out of her life like a distant breeze from the desert.
She'll throw him back; she'll release him back into Hyrule's dreaming past, through time he'll fall all the while looking up at her with that horrified betrayal and recognition in his eyes. Even now she can see it, and the prescience burns like fire in her eyes, because she can still see the pity in his eyes.
Is he surprised to find her so heartless or did he know all along?
"I am alone." She says to the empty throne room, once she has sent him back and the world begins to crumble.
Soon Sheik will no longer exist, his world will fade, and everything will be righted once again. The ruins of Hyrule will be no more and she will fall backwards like him, to that princess she had once been, and remember nothing.
Smoke rises from the rubble and she stares at the sky seeing the stars burn brightly, so very far away. He is gone and with him her world's state of reality.
It had to be done. Not just for her but for the world. They had to go back, forget, pretend it never happened.
And yet she is perfectly alone.
Author's Note: As you can see Zelda one-shot, hoorah. Thanks for reading reviews are always great.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Legend of Zelda