It's almost 3 am and I don't even know anymore.
Sometimes, when it rains, the empty space that used to be Navin's arm aches in a way that is nostalgic and hollow. He remembers his mother teaching him how to shoot a bow and arrow, and he remembers riding into battle with a shield on his arm and a sword gripped tight in his fingers.
He often stares out the window during times like those, while his healers fuss over him, asking him where the pain is and what they can do for him and how they can help. And there is nothing Navin can do but shrug them off because not even his mother, queen of the realm and gifted by the Light Spirits, can ease a pain that does not truly exist.
And so he often stares out the window, thinking of green fields and hidden sand fortresses and little villages nestled in the space between two stone walls, filled with dust and wind and a chance at new life. He thinks of Faron Woods and a once-peaceful place, burned to the ground by a man crushed under the weight of his father's legacy.
On one of these nights, a bay horse is cantering towards Castle Town from the south, white mane and tail almost glowing in the starlight. It is pouring in sheets of constant raindrops, and lightning flashes against the horizon. The horse's rider is cloaked and concealed by the darkness and the storm, but even so Navin knows who it is.
"Crown Prince?" the lead healer ventures cautiously, as if to remind him of her presence. "Perhaps it would be a good idea to get some rest. It is quite late, after all, Your Highness."
Navin lets out a breath and rubs his face with his single hand, hating how she speaks to him carefully, delicately, as if he is made of glass and could shatter in an instant.
It is not far from the truth, but he is so, so tired of being coddled.
"Have some towels sent up, please," is all he replies with, and the four healers exchange quizzical glances, then turn and file out of the room.
Navin begins gathering together the papers scattered around his wooden desk—trade agreements, business charters, ordinances, a lot of boring political documents that he took from his mother, in order to remind her that all of Hyrule does not rest solely on her shoulders. Being an all-powerful sovereign is not easy, and it had been harsher since her husband's death.
The papers keep slipping through his fingers, and he has to stack them meticulously, one by one, irritated with himself for having so much trouble completing such a small task. He is about to pound the desk in frustration with his own helplessness when the door opens—no knocking, no requests for entry—and that can only mean one thing.
A girl steps in and pushes the hood of her cloak back with a light gray hand, revealing long blond locks plastered to her face with rainwater. Her hair has always been the one vanity she allows herself, and so she lets it spilling over her back in a waterfall the color of autumn wheat. Moisture drips all over his rug; from her gloved hands, form her cloak, from her chin. Her shoulders rise and fall ever-so-slightly, as if she was in some kind of hurry to get here. Her small lips are pressed together, and there are telltale tear-tracks on her cheeks.
She is easily the most beautiful thing in the world.
"Hey," Alari breathes, and he realizes it has only been two weeks since he last saw her—two weeks since the sealing of the treaty between the Hylians and the Gerudo—but it feels like much longer.
Navin cocks his head to the side and considers her. A heartbeat, and then, "You're soaked."
She glares with silver-flame eyes alight, and he chuckles as she starts unfastening her cloak. "What are you doing here, anyway?" he asks. "It's after midnight."
Alari lets out a sigh and swings her dripping cloak off, hanging it up to dry. "I just…rebuilding Ordon is depressing. All those years my parents lived there—it's the only home my father has ever known…and it's gone." She shook her head. "I need some time to…get away from all that."
There is a knock at the door, and Navin rises to get it, wincing as pain stabs what remains of his right arm. He accepts a stack of towels from a meek-eyed servant, then steps back, struggling to close the door while holding the cloths to his chest. In an effort to latch the bolt, he loses his grip and they all tumble to the floor, and—Goddesses, sometimes Navin is just so angry.
There is a tightening in his throat as he kneels to gather the towels, letting his messy blond locks fall over his face in an attempt to hide his expression from Alari. Of course, it doesn't work—it never has worked. Her damp leather boots appear in his field of vision, and then her knees meet the floor next. One light gray hand rests on his shoulder, and her fingers tilt his chin up until he meets her gaze.
Alari's eyes hold none of the condescending pity that others' do, but only a sadness that makes her look far older than her fifteen years. Her arms come around him, and he leans into her, burying his face into the crook of her neck.
"I'm okay, Alari," he manages to say into her hair. "I'm fine."
"Oh, Nav," she whispers. "No. No, you're not."
During Ebon's siege on Hyrule and all the diplomatic talks afterward, there was no time for Navin to mourn the loss of his arm. Since then, he has pushed it away and buried himself in paperwork as a distraction. But now there are sobs choking their way out of his throat, and his face is burning with shame because he is empty, broken, half the man his country needs their crown prince to be.
Alari is soothing him, rubbing gentle circles into his back, running her fingers through his hair, telling him everything will be all right.
"It's not—it's not all right," he growls, whines almost, like a child. "How can I take over Hyrule when all anyone does is pity me? When—when I'm useless and worthless and—"
She pulls him closer, as if the proximity of their bodies will heal his broken soul. "Nav," she gasps through what sounds like tears—Goddesses, he has made Alari cry again. "Nav, do you remember that time we snuck out of the castle—we were little, and we snuck out to explore Hyrule Field, and instead ran into a bunch of Bublins…remember? And you, at the age of nine, held them off with a stick and the small amount of magic you knew how to use. Sometime in the confusion I broke my ankle—and you carried me all the way back to the castle."
Something warm is dripping onto his shoulder, but whether it's tears or warm spring rain leaking from Alari's hair, he does not know. "You saved my life that day," she murmurs shakily. "You saved my life when you brought the Master Sword to me in the fight against Ebon. You—we grew up together, and you've always had my back, and don't you ever think that losing an arm makes you worthless, Navin Harkinian, because I love you, and that makes you worth everything to me."
There is a pause—thunder booming outside, rain drumming on the roof, his shuddering breath evening out, stabilizing.
"Okay?" she says into the fabric of his shirt, quiet and small and she has saved him in a way no one else ever could.
"Okay," Navin agrees hoarsely, and somehow his lips find hers. They kiss kneeling there on the floor, her dripping with rainwater, him with tears still drying on his face. It is a long time before they get up, before Alari guides him to his bed and tucks him in like she would a child, before she blows out the candles and slips out of the room without another sound.
And it is a beautiful thing.