Hi everyone. Thanks for coming here. It means so much to me that you read my stories. Just as a bit of warning this story is probably darker than other Saria stories and I portray Saria as more mature. I hope you like it though.

All those years ago he had left. He had promised he would come back but he never had. She could still remember the night on the bridge. Or maybe the sun was out, all Saria could remember was feeling a deep darkness descend over the two of them. Somehow, somewhere deep within, she knew that she would see him again, and she had. But just once, and only briefly.

It had been a few weeks since Link left the forest, and Saria had found that life among the kokiri was boring without her friend. This was the deepest discomfort she had been able to discern when she was young. Technically, she was still young. And she always would be. But just because her body never grew, that didn't mean her mind was attached to perpetual naivety.

Some days, Saria thought that naivety might have been a blessing, but it was a blessing she was refused. Because since the Deku tree had died at the hands of some terrible illness, she had become a sort of replacement for the tree. More of a steward than a full replacement, though. She could feel in the back of her mind that her responsibility was only temporary, and that someday, someone or something would come to relieve her of her task.

But until then she was both blessed and cursed with a heightened awareness of the world around her. Sometimes it allowed her to see the true beauty of things. Things that went unnoticed by the other kokiri, such as the suns final rays burning across the surface of a pond, or the majesty of the seemingly endless forest around them. But most of the time, her eyes were filled with images of darkness and decay. Images of the forest dying around them, and a terrible prediction that soon the peace of the kokiri would be interrupted by something horrific. She didn't know what it would be, or when. All she knew was that it would happen someday, someday soon.

She sighed.

It would have been easier if Link had been here with her. Although she had never noticed it to this degree, he had always seemed more observant of the world around them. Maybe that was what had set them apart from the rest of the kokiri. They could both tell that something was wrong beyond the children's haven. Link had left, attempting to fix it somehow. Saria was left to defend the kokiri from the impending darkness.

Saria was sitting in her house, looking out the window at the sunset. At least there were a few things in this world worth witnessing. It wasn't much, but the burnished beauty of the setting sun seemed to cast away some of her apprehension. But not much. She could still feel a dark cloud hanging over her and all of the kokiri. But it was her duty to stand between the darkness and the kokiri.

How long had it been since she had felt like a kid? Years. Probably around the time Link left, and that was years ago. She was ten at the time, and soon she would be fifteen. Not physically, physically she was still around eight years old and probably always would be. But in her head she could feel the years that had passed. Slipped through her fingers without leaving so much as a mark to remember them by. But that was the burden of all kokiri, but really only her. Because none of the other kokiri knew how to or could bear the weight of any sizable burden.

And that was why Saria couldn't sleep. Because the burden they couldn't carry had fallen to her. All of their burdens were resting on her shoulders. Saria wasn't too weak to hold them up yet. Yet.

But after only five years of guiding the kokiri, Saria could feel the stress taking its toll. And no matter what happened, she knew that someday the weight would break her, possibly leaving room for a new protector, or possibly leaving the kokiri utterly defenseless. And that scared Saria the most. What would happen to the kokiri if they were left without a protector of some sort?

Squeezing her eyes shut, Saria shook her head slowly. That wasn't going to happen. Because she would be strong and there was no way she would leave them alone. Saria would do what she needed to in order to keep them safe.

The thought of Link crossed her mind again. She wondered what had happened to him. Where he had gone after their last meeting. Wishing she had paid attention when he explained his quest to her, Saria tried to drop the subject from her mind. But her friend would not leave her thoughts. His face floated across her vision and she smiled. Two types of smiles all at once. The first was the type of smile reserved for a very close friend. Someone you can tell anything to. Someone who would keep your secret and who would expect you to keep theirs in return. The second type of smile was one of fear. Because the image of Link was not simply a daydream, but a seemingly physical entity which flickered across her vision.

She knew that she really should get some sleep, but for the past few days, the ominous clouds had seemed to be growing and growing. Moving perpetually nearer to the home of the kokiri. And no matter how hard she tried, sleep continued to evade her. Her vision was blurry and her eyes felt grainy. Each movement felt forced and disconnected, as if she was executing a puppet show, but the puppet was her own body.

Saria took the glass of water that was resting on the table. She took a sip, and her senses cleared a little.

Saria sighed.

The past few nights had all been the same, sitting in this same chair until late at night. Thinking the same thoughts until her mind was numb. Finally after many hours of exhausted pondering she would retire to bed. But it felt different this night, because this night was supposed to be special. Every year, this day had been something special. But tonight it was just her. Just her and her own thoughts.

A twitch of a smile crossed her lips. Raising the cup in a mock toast, Saria said, "Happy birthday…" She downed the water then headed over to her bed. Quickly throwing a blanket over herself, Saria thought, "Maybe Link will come back tomorrow. Maybe the dark cloud will pass and I'll finally be done with all this grown-up stuff."

Sighing again, Saria closed her eyes and drifted off into a deep sleep.