Come even if you have broken your vow a thousand times,
Come, yet again, come, come.

- Rumi -


She existed.

Hylia had no idea of when or how she came into being, but seemed to pass from one state of conscience to the other. And so she conceived that she was the protector of this land, that her mother goddesses had forged the soil and breathed life upon its surface.

And she was the keeper of the holy relic, the daughter of the goddesses, the magic blood running through the land's veins. She kissed magic into a blade or pure strength and brought the people music, her smile upon the people she rested within. They were dear to her.

She existed in many forms and did not need a physical body. Hylia was present in the cool flow of the water, the light of the land, the fire that burned bright. She was present in the people of the surface's hearts and whispered secrets in their ears.

And so ages passed as she slept in the things that made up her world, keeping the peace and watching over the lands the goddesses had created.

That was how all the goddesses lived. In a state of constant presence, with knowledge that expanded throughout the depths of time and powers to rule over life itself. Her duty to protect, her spirit build of love. And yet there was no memory. No yesterday, no tomorrow. Endless presence, infinite knowledge, boundless power.

To be a goddess is not to live, nor to grow, nor to remember. There is nothing for a goddess to learn, nothing to discover, nothing to strive for. It is simply forever.

And yet she understood nothing, in all her infinite knowledge, of what life was.

What is wisdom without courage? What is power without wisdom?

. . . . . .

And then it started. And there was a change.

Evil rose. She needed hands to lift her sword, to wield her magic, to banish. Legs to stand up for her people, eyes to see the oncoming storm.

And Hylia built herself a body. Skin of the soil, blood of the water, hair of the light, heart of the fire.

. . . . . .

Hylia fought. It was not quite enough.

She first laid eyes on him in battle and his heart radiated.

A blessing, from the goddesses. Hands to help her, a courageous heart to yield a heavy blade.

A mortal with the strength of a god. He who was made up of pure courage, with love of land and love of people. And he was strange and for once she was not quite sure, not quite understanding.

And this mortal was her favorite, the soldier who stood beside her as she lifted the mortals into the sky and met the shadows that craved the holy relic she protected. She scattered the pieces, folding them into the sky to hide. Too powerful for this world, it was no longer safe. It would not be again.

He was with her all the while, her chosen champion for the goddess.

He was only mortal.

And he fell. Hylia met his eyes as shock pulsed from him, hand clutched over his ripped flesh.

He faded, red soaking out. Death.

Hylia clasped her hands around his blood-soaked palm. Silver drops fell upon his skin, melting the symbol of the holy Triforce on his skin before it chased after his fading spirit.

She encased his body into pure light and laid the spirit of his sword down for him to find when he would need it next. And she was goddess no more, following him into the never-ending circle weaved for human life. Death, rebirth, death, rebirth.

He and I are tied forever. I will follow him as he will follow me.

The endless cycle began.

. . . . . .

Zelda stared up at the sky, her left pinky barely touching the hand of the boy lying beside her. She felt like she was on the very edge of some great revelation. It felt important and strange and scary. It felt like growing up and getting younger and time just stopping, all at once.

It bothered her. It made her feel like parts of her were missing.

She grabbed Link's hand, frowning solidly as a Loftwing swept across the night sky.

The feeling would never escape her, no matter how many bodies she lived in.

. . . . . .

Two fair-haired children danced, feathers delicately pinched between their fingers.

They laughed

. . . . . .

Link wiped sweat from his brow. Zelda watched him, sitting upon the cart filled with newly cut stones. He sat down next to her, dipping the cart.

They watched the sun rise and Zelda felt as if the half-built castle in front of her was something she recognized already.

She leaned her head on his shoulder and he pressed a kiss to her hair.

. . . . . .

Princess Zelda giggled as Link chased her through the castle gardens.

She felt like light was inside her. And she was happy.

. . . . . .

They never met at all, but passed one another in the street with a polite smile.

. . . . . .

The Queen looked at her children with their hair of red, the color of their father. She felt her heart sink and wished it were gold.

. . . . . .

She watched him slice through the evil creature, awed that he could do so much damage with a weak blade and wooden shield.

For some reason she felt as if he was fitting of a better garb.

He pushed her with spoiled hands, eyes intense.

Leave. Run. I'll protect you.

. . . . . .

She felt the wind rage, whipping her hair across her face. Her eyes darted to Link. He looked serious, eyes straight ahead. She felt, almost, a little better with him there.

But Zelda thought he felt the foreboding too.

Darkness swept over the pair.

A hand, cold as ice, grabbed at her.

. . . . . .

Skin against skin.

He smelt of fire, with scars marring his skin. She dragged her lips across the scar over his chest, her fingers pressing into his muscles. He clung to her, bringing her lips back up to his. She felt like she was on fire and she felt afraid of what was to come and she knew he did not have any time left.

The fire raged. They found one another.

I need him.

. . . . . .

The prince and princess took their first steps the same day, tiny hands holding each other up, and their tired mother clapped for the cheery toddlers.

The twins were side-by-side throughout their long lives, never to be parted.

. . . . . .

Link kissed her and pulled her closer.

It was not the first time.

. . . . . .

They laughed.

. . . . . .

Zelda remembered meeting him, so long ago, and feeling like the evil that crept upon them was something she could so easily scheme away. A game, an adventure, the makings of a great song of courage.

And so she had brought him to this. Had stolen time.

She had aged so much, had changed. The world whispered its dark secrets to her, and she made herself listen. Zelda fell into a disguise, blood-red eyes that never quite met his and a silver tongue to aid him.

She felt that it was all her fault, her failing, that she should be able to fix this. But she couldn't. So much death and destruction and time. She needed him to fix it; she couldn't do it herself.

And so she could help him, but she could not look him in the eyes.

He played the sad song of their shared fate.

. . . . . .

Some part of her seemed to tear into parts. She had broken it. Had rifted open something fragile.

There was a tear, a crack, a change. And from that one decision a dozen new timelines were formed, each with a different future. A different Zelda. A different Link. With time spinning on.

Link was defeated. Link died.

Link won. Link was a child. Link grew up. Link never came back.

Link won. Link never got to be a child.

The world was cracked but kept spinning. The worlds lived on.

Water and darkness.

.

. . . . . .

.

Link was defeated.

.

. . . . . .

.

One of her lived a life that almost mattered, but it was not much.

. . . . . .

She watched him die and die and die and die. And this did not feel right. But it felt familiar.

I'm so sorry, Link.

. . . . . .

She held their child to her breast and wondered with sick fascination at how much blood her husband had seemed to have in his body and how much of it could possibly continue to spill out?

. . . . . .

Queen Zelda laughed with a full heart and toasted her hero. He said no words, but they were happy.

. . . . . .

Thank you. For my father, for your uncle, for my people, for the safety of this land.

. . . . . .

Zelda felt the glow of the Triforce sweep across her and felt its presence vibrate under her skin.

Link stared at his hand, glowing triangles etched there. He looked at her in awe and she felt her own tattoo pulsate across the back of her hand. She grabbed his golden hand in hers, squeezing it tight.

Proof.

. . . . . .

Zelda screamed, feeling like every fiber of her being was being forcibly torn apart.

No matter how much screamed, the pain never ended.

And Link could do nothing but match her scream with his own, his pain singularly located in his heart.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

The Queen frowned at the knight in the courtyard, but never looked further.

. . . . . .

She watched his head roll across the floor.

. . . . . .

His eyes were the last thing she saw.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

She awoke from a nightmare. She could never remember what it was about.

She slept.

. . . . . .

Another her slept on. And kept sleeping.

Time passed.

. . . . . .

His arms were around her and she thought maybe she was safe. She was.

. . . . . .

She looked at the woman with the golden hair, whose eyes and nose and lips were so much like her own. And she watched the way Link looked at her and she felt dread.

Impa wrapped her arms around her.

Princess Zelda did not like this other Princess Zelda, who knew Impa and who was saved by Link and who she was just a copy of.

There were too many Zeldas.

. . . . . .

But then, that timeline never was. And never happened. And happened all at once.

.

. . . . . .

.

Link never got to be a child.

.

. . . . . .

.

Zelda was selfish. But as he whispered soft words of love into her ear, his fingers floating across her swollen belly, she was glad.

. . . . . .

They acted like children

. . . . . .

Zelda coughed.

. . . . . .

Something was wrong, but she was too old. She couldn't place it.

. . . . . .

Her father smiled indulgently. She smiled sweetly at him and kicked Link under the table. He yelped and the king's eyes turned to him. He colored, shyly ducked his head.

She knew she'd pay for that later.

. . . . . .

She loved him. He wouldn't let her.

. . . . . .

Link traced his fingers up her ribs, tickling the skin. He beamed at her and pressed a kiss to her navel.

. . . . . .

Queen Zelda stared coldly at the man who broke her heart.

. . . . . .

They clung to one another in dark corners. They never asked permission. They knew without asking. And so he stole into her bed in the middle of the night. And when she married he took her when her husband was away and whenever they were alone. Her husband trusted him above all others. All the children she bore her king were not of his noble blood. No one ever knew.

. . . . . .

Everyone knew. No one said anything.

. . . . . .

Everyone knew. The King sent him into battle and he returned from the front lines without a scratch. Zelda held their child for only a short time and Link was pushed off the castle wall.

. . . . . .

They hated one another.

. . . . . .

She smiled fondly at Link and he smiled back.

They were best friends.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

For a second she wondered where he was. But then she forgot.

Water poured into her lungs.

She floated to the surface.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

He shared a kiss with her, then realized his mistake. He returned home to his wife.

. . . . . .

Zelda and Link built a house. They had three children, two sons and a daughter, and watched them grow up. They fell asleep in each other's arms and listened to the waves. It was peaceful.

. . . . . .

She married her best friend and he ran off with another woman. She was fine. His brother helped her raise their children. He was the kindest man she ever knew.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

Her father died at sea.

. . . . . .

He kissed her in the rain.

. . . . . .

She remembered everything, all the lives before her. And she never met Link. She grew bitter.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

She wore a different name and she sold her body for stories of adventure from the sailors that landed at port. He said nothing, she kissed him, and when it was over he left without uttering a single word.

. . . . . .

She drowned at three. Her brother swam out to save her and drowned, too.

Her mother screamed out his name. So familiar, more fitting than her own. It was the last thing she heard.

. . . . . .

One day a man came to her island. He was strong and handsome and courageous. She was sixteen. She ran away with him.

. . . . . .

She killed him in battle.

. . . . . .

She was not the same.

. . . . . .

She grew bitter.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

She punched him in the stomach, tears in her eyes. From laughter or from sadness, she didn't really know.

Their friends grinned knowingly.

. . . . . .

The first time she met him he was sneaking into her house. She held a sword to his neck and offered him an ultimatum.

They went looking for gold together.

. . . . . .

She closed her eyes as she hummed, the cave echoing her music back to her. The sound was familiar. She opened her eyes and smiled at the spirit before her.

. . . . . .

Tetra loved embarrassing Link. She made all the soldiers wear his funny green hat and green clothes, snickering when he sulked. She kissed the pout from his lips, then laughed at his surprise.

They had all male children who she named after birds and Link died before the third was born. Tetra pretended it didn't hurt.

. . . . . .

Princess Zelda's spirit floated around the green-capped engineer, happy despite the adventure and the bad guys and her absent body. He was funny, odd. But she liked him. She liked him a whole lot. She really, really did.

. . . . . .

And on and on and on.

. . . . . .

And yet it never happened. The ocean never came.

.

. . . . . .

.

Link grew up and was a child once again.

.

. . . . . .

.

He was gone. She missed him. But she would see him again.

But not in that life.

. . . . . .

Zelda was alone.

. . . . . .

He didn't speak, but bowed before her. She knighted him and returned to her husband.

. . . . . .

Zelda gasped as he clutched her hips, her skin too hot. She clung to him, fingers twisted in blonde hair. He bit at her collarbone and frantically pulled her closer. He brought her back down on him with a moan.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

A little girl with hair of orange played with the King's son. Link looked on, smiling at his little girl, and never saw her watching. She saw him.

. . . . . .

They never met at all.

. . . . . .

He drowned and she ruled and she got old and her brother's oldest child put poison in her cup for a chance to rule. And they never lived at all.

. . . . . .

Zelda read. Link worked.

. . . . . .

The Queen braided her daughter's hair, tying silver ribbons into brown locks. A knight let her know it was time to begin.

. . . . . .

Zelda was lonely.

. . . . . .

And they never met at all.

. . . . . .

Queen Zelda smiled knowingly at the man she knew to be a forgotten hero.

She let him have his peace and stayed away.

It wasn't time yet.

. . . . . .

Princess Zelda's wisdom did not save her. As she sat in her dark prison, she considered all that had passed and all that would. Alone, she felt more herself than she ever had. She was denied everything, living in endless twilight.

But she remembered. And she felt her age, a soul of thousands of restless years resting in this tiny mortal body.

It was lonely. And with all she remembered, she knew very little ever went right. It was so few times that things had been like she had wanted them, when she had taken on this new soul.

And Princess Zelda was stoic as Hylia wept inside her, waiting for the time where they would come.

She felt his presence immediately. A howl, and it was time. Time to go.

And then she was gone. And then she was a puppet. And then life was breathed back into her body as her soul slid back in. A relief and a curse.

Time ticked on and Zelda was never happy, knowing all she knew. He wasn't either.

. . . . . .

They scattered and she was alone. Always alone.

Her uneasiness grew as the shadow stepped towards her. Her uneasiness no longer had anything to do with Vaati.

He smirked and Zelda felt her stomach sink. He reached out and grabbed her, drawing her to him and enveloping her whole.

.

. . . . . .

.

Zelda laughed and lived and loved. And Link was right beside her.

Sometimes.

.

. . . . . .

And on and on and on.

.

. .

. . .