The shadows had been vanquished, and once again peace was restored to Hyrule. In the idyllic farms dotting Hyrule field, songs of the sun were still played to honour the Hero of Time who had set the precedent for all those after him. Amid Ordon's cheers, the reincarnated hero, Link, walked with his head low. People clapped him on the back and rushed to shake his hand. Giggling girls tried to catch his eye and he smiled wanly, shy from all the attention.
The mayor had declared that the day of the hero's triumphant return to a peaceful Hyrule with the princess was to be commemorated as a holiday. The festival was in full swing. Link hadn't even been home for more than a few hours before word of his success spread and everyone wanted to celebrate. Normally he would have been ecstatic over his success, but the toll of the battle with Zant and then Ganondorf had been great. Sometimes, the shadows of twilight still clung to the corners of his mind, leaving him with nightmares.
He rubbed his eyes and managed to pass through the crowd of people celebrating his return. The sounds of celebrating quieted as he walked along the rocky path away from the main village. He headed for the corner of the woods with his tree house residence. A little beyond that, his final destination was to be the sacred spring. Even though Link had personally dealt with the threat of evil monkeys from the nearby forest temple, not many villagers liked to get too close to the pool. The fact that orcs ambushed Illia in that same place probably added to its negative reputation.
He reached the spring and sat on the banks of the pool. Small ripples of water reached up and touched the tips of his shoes, darkening the scuffed leather. Link leaned back on his elbows and sighed. He closed his eyes at the memories which this location dredged up. He remembered speaking with the great spirits of legend that he had encountered at pools such as this one. A smile, similar to that of a weary soldier appeared on his face when he thought about the many unexpected turns his adventure had taken. There had been triumphs and defeats, successes and failures, all on the way to fulfilling the prophecy. There had also been fishing, bug catching, clawshoting in a circus tent, and delivering hot spring water. So, even though the fate of Hyrule rested on his shoulders, Link believed that he had still been true to himself and he had done the village proud. A small tear welled up in the corner of his eye. He hoped to be worthy of the praise that the villagers were giving him. But being happy at this time was difficult.
He missed her. They had been through so much together. While he was adventuring, their paths inexplicably crossed and entwined into a dance of destiny. Ultimately, their individual loyalties and obligations had demanded that they separate. It was just so difficult to see her go, especially when their goodbye had done anything but provide closure. How was one expected to say goodbye when both individuals know that they will likely never be reunited? Link sat up and punched the ground in frustration, trying not to cry. Hero's didn't cry. She would always be his twilight princess.
"I thought I'd find you here," a lyrical, honeyed voice echoed.
Link hastily swiped at his eyes and looked up. Zelda, dressed in traditional Ordon clothing, was standing over him. There seemed to be a certain level of understanding in her expression. Link scrabbled to his feet and descended into a deep bow.
"Princess," he said, his hand closed into a fist and his gauntlet pressed into his chest. He knew that if he looked down, he would see the mark of the triforce on his hand. It matched the green tunic he was still wearing, reluctant to change and admit that his journey had come to an end.
Zelda walked toward him and pulled him down to sit beside her. Their hips touched and Zelda leaned her head on his shoulder, sighing. Link stared off at the waterfall without really seeing it. He thought about the one who was lost to the twilight realm forever.
Though she could be nagging at times, there was a fiery spirit within her. She fought against Zant to save her people. And when Link had seen her human form at the mirror, he couldn't believe the infinite melancholy in her expression. His hands tensed on the hard ground beneath him as he remembered their goodbye. He shuddered and tried not to think about her being in a different realm forever. Zelda hummed quietly under her breath, her long light brown hair teased by the breeze. She seemed to know that as much as Link craved space, he needed support. He raised his arm and put it around Zelda's shoulder. They remained silent, in the same position for a long time.
The day was dying. As the sun descended over the hills behind the pair, the forest became awash with tones of red, orange, and brown. If Link didn't know any better, he'd have thought that the whole forest was burning in the flames of a renewed Hyrule. As the shadows in front of him lengthened, his eyes remained fixated on the dark ground.
Nothing moved. She was not there.
Since travelling through the portal of twilight, Midna had almost instantly reverted back into her imp form, though Zant's curse no longer forced her to take on that appearance. The mischievous light was gone from her eyes and there was no slight upturn to her mouth. She drifted around listlessly, her head bowed. She was as ephemeral as the twilight, hovering, clinging to cliff faces, and translucent. She had recently taken up the habit of humming to herself in frustration.
Her companion in the realm of twilight noticed her sadness immediately. But he didn't say anything for a time, preferring to let Midna mourn her loss by herself.
Time meant little in this realm. Days didn't exist. There was no such thing as night. And everything was veiled in the muted tones of twilight. Midna sat on the edge of the cliff and looked out over Hyrule. Of course, her view was not of the actual castle, it was of its strange shadowy double. But when Midna squinted through the swirling miasma beneath her, she could see through the twilight to another plane. This was actually the land of Hyrule. That was how she knew that the hero was well. And as she watched him sit near the pool with Zelda, a sad smile appeared on her face.
Midna detected the clanking sound of rusted armor and turned her head to face her companion. The Hero's Shade, his features mangled by battle and decay, stood by her side. He breathed a heavy sigh even though he no longer had any lungs.
"The young hero is safe. You have both fulfilled your destinies," he said quietly. "As I have mine."
Midna nodded and closed her eyes. She was sad to see that everything was over, but happy for the hero. He was back in the normal realm, with Zelda. He was safe and that was all that mattered.