Blizzaga Saga: The final chapter is here at last. I hope you've all enjoyed the ride as much as I have!
Fanart! Wow! I never expected anyone to do a picture for this fic, but fluffehwhitebunneh made an awesome piece featuring Link, Romani, and the Stock Pot Inn. Romani looks amazing in it, but Link could use some work. (I kid, I kid.) Check the link on my profile to see it.
Her eyes lit up. "Romani's never seen anyone perform before! She'd love to go!" Now that Link had returned safely, her dream from last night of going to the carnival with him danced in her head. "But why don't you want our family to be with us? Romani told you that you don't have to be alone anymore."
Without a hat on, he found it more difficult to hide behind his bangs. "I know, but...well..."
Kafei smirked. "I think Link is asking you on a date."
The younger sister's eyes widened. She knew little about dates, but she knew they were part of the courting process. And despite Cremia telling her she was too young to think about marriage, she was thinking of every possible way to be close to Link after she almost lost him.
"I-Is that true, Grasshopper?" she asked, smiling despite how nervous she suddenly was. When did Link become so forward? Not that she minded.
Link didn't know what a date was, but the word seemed to make her happy, so he nodded. He'd figure it out later. For now his top priority was finding a way to talk to Romani alone before his chest burst with emotion.
"I hate to say it, but you shouldn't be escorting anyone right now," interrupted Anju. "The Gerudo might be looking for you."
"They won't target me or anyone I'm with."
The innkeeper sighed. "I know you managed to escape, but..."
"I have faith that they won't."
Anju had witnessed Link's sadness since he first started living with her. She recalled hoping he'd have faith that things would get better, but to have faith in his attackers... "But they're the ones who..."
She cut herself off. Noticing she didn't look him in the eye, Link placed a hand on his cheek and, to his horror, felt a groove which hadn't been there last night: his scars were now visible for everyone to see. Suddenly he wasn't too confident talking to Romani, or anyone else.
Upon seeing him retreat into himself, Cremia nudged her sister. "We're getting you a new dress before we go home. Anju, whether you let Link travel today or not, we'll see you soon."
Romani didn't hear what her sister told Anju. Her heart beat quickly as she remembered what Link had said last time Cremia told her she needed a new dress:
"Does Romani look more womanly to you?"
"Um, yes, you're really pretty. You...didn't know?"
Her outfit was a little tight around her bust and hips, and the skirt was too short. Had she grown prettier? Was that why he wanted to go out with her? If so, she wouldn't complain.
"Romani will be sure to look good for tonight," she said teasingly, but Link was too busy fretting over the new marks on his face to notice her suggestive tone. "Come on, sister!"
She pulled Cremia outside by the arm, and now that they had privacy, Kafei at last asked what everyone had been wondering. "Link, what happened last night?"
"The Gerudo had me tied up on a boat, but before they could take me anywhere, lightning struck it. Then while I was knocked out, I had a dream..."
"Wow..." Kafei uttered, head spinning from the tale Link told.
Link nodded. "I don't want to lose the people I've grown close to in Termina, even if keeping them means losing Hyrule."
He felt vulnerable and exposed in his new outfit, the Gerudo having destroyed his tunic. Seeing how he kept his hand on his face, Anju hugged him and kissed the top of his head.
"You'll never lose us. And we don't care that you have more scars; we're just so happy you're alive."
He returned her loving embrace with strength which told her he was afraid. "Um, I know that couples like to spend time alone when they first get married, but I really like staying with you. Can I live here?"
"Of course," Kafei answered easily, making her glad that he could sense Link's feelings of worthlessness as well. She smiled tenderly at her husband; he always did his best to put people at ease.
Upon seeing the couple's serene expressions, Link thought he might burst with happiness. Like his feelings for Romani, his feelings for the man and woman who had taken him in were too strong even for the stoic boy to contain.
"Really?!" he exclaimed. "Thank you! I'll try really hard not to wake up screaming, and I'll learn to cook too!"
"Don't worry about all that, sweetie. We're glad to have you with us."
"But...is it okay for me to miss dinner tonight and be with Romani?" His relief melted into shame. How ungrateful was he to shrug off their company right after they accepted him? To his surprise, Kafei grinned.
"Don't feel bad for wanting to spend time with someone special."
"Yes, we'll find a way to have fun without you when you go," Anju said, giving Kafei a meaningful look. "But not tonight. Even if you're sure the Gerudo won't attack you, I'd like to wait until Cremia's next delivery, just to be safe."
"But the Gorman Troupe won't be performing anymore after today."
"No buts," scolded Anju. "We're not punishing you. You just recovered from a horrible event. This is for your safety. I'll write a letter so Romani will know not to expect you until next week."
The Hylian's spirit deflated—he'd heard Romani complain about never going to the Carnival of Time and wanted to show her something like it—but he quickly perked up; this was just like when Jim's parents made the bomber follow their rules. It was like Anju and Kafei were really his mom and dad. "Okay."
The next week was torturous for him; his time with the pirates showed him what was most important, and he couldn't wait to tell Romani. The great clock ticked slowly until at last the night arrived when he was supposed to go to the ranch.
Kafei inspected the black shirt and dress pants Link wore. Dark colors looked good on the blonde, he decided.
"Be nice to Romani tonight," Anju instructed as she combed the boy's hair.
Her advice only confused him. "Why wouldn't I be nice to her?"
"She means you have to be extra nice to a woman when you're on a date with her."
"What's a date?"
Anju and Kafei looked at each other. Had he really asked Romani for a date without knowing what it was? "It's..." Kafei began, but couldn't find the right words.
"It's when two people who like each other spend time together. A date can be a walk, a trip to the carnival...It can even be a man and a woman staying home while their children are away." As she said the last part, she grabbed Kafei's hand.
"It's a gentleman's job to make sure a lady enjoys herself." He squeezed Anju's hand, a silent promise that she would enjoy herself immensely once Link left. "So just make sure Romani has fun, and you'll be fine."
As he reflected on how strange he still felt without a hat, Link didn't understand why his appearance was important—he wanted to tell Romani what happened and that she had been in his dream constantly, not to go on a "date"—but for some reason, he wanted her to think he looked good. And he definitely didn't want her to regret going out with him...
Romani beamed as Cremia brushed her hair. Despite her frustration at having to wait a week to see Link, she'd been positively glowing all day.
"When you were little, I could never get you to stay put long enough for me to do this properly."
"Romani is more mature now," the little sister insisted, looking in the mirror to make sure her reflection corroborated that statement. Link already thought she was pretty, but with her long red hair smoothed all the way down to her waist and a sky blue dress, she was determined to blow him away.
A small part of Cremia was jealous of her little sister for getting a date before her, but mostly she was proud; she wouldn't have let Romani go on a date had the girl not truly matured in the last few months. "You certainly are. Make sure you tell Link he looks handsome."
"Why?" the preteen asked defensively, remembering the hugs and kisses on the forehead Cremia gave him which were too affectionate for her liking.
"Asking someone on a date can be very scary. Link will probably be nervous tonight, and a compliment might help him relax, which means you'll both have more fun."
Hearing the word "date" made her glow all over again. She'd dreamed of marrying and being courted her whole life, and now her first date was with Link! Knowing him, he probably was nervous. She was nervous too—that was the real reason she was so still—but her excitement outweighed her anxiety.
"Thanks, sister. Romani will be sure to tell him he's cute."
Cremia thought to tell her that most boys preferred to be called cool or handsome, but Romani was likely to speak her mind no matter what advice she received. She wished her sister good luck, and after Romani bounded outside, Cremia brushed the cows, thinking silently.
She no longer yearned for Kafei. She was free to move on whenever she wanted; nothing held her back except herself. Like Romani, the older ranch sister dreamed of finding someone to love who would love her in return, so she vowed to ask Anju next time she was in town if the innkeeper knew of anyone who was interested in mingling. Cremia didn't consider herself particularly good-looking, but nothing would change if she continued the way she always had, so what did she have to lose?
"Grasshopper!" Romani cheered when he arrived at the ranch on Kafei's horse, and Link's heart pounded as she ran toward him, a skirt he had never seen flowing about her legs.
When she came closer, her eyes widened, and he tensed. Did he look that bad?
"Romani never sees you without a hat! You look handsome."
"Thanks. You look..." Her hair was more neatly brushed than he'd ever seen. The dress was the same color as her eyes, and he averted his gaze from where it hugged her form. "...really pretty."
She giggled. "Thanks, Grasshopper." She had hoped he'd call her beautiful instead, but she'd settle for his awestruck expression. "Romani is glad you asked her out. She's done nothing but work lately."
Today she didn't have to worry about money, or work, or making sure her big sister didn't try to shoulder the burdens of the ranch alone. Today was her special day with her best friend, and upon mounting the horse, she held onto him from behind, her hands meeting in front of his stomach. Despite a not-so-smooth ride, the normally energetic girl felt oddly serene as she snuggled against his back.
Link, on the other hand, was terrified. What if she didn't have fun with him? What if, despite Anju's kind words, his scars really did make him less of a person and more of a monster, and Romani realized she could find someone better to hang out with? Or worst of all, what if he told Romani how much she meant to him, only to find out she didn't feel the same way for him? He wouldn't blame her...
When they dismounted and Romani grabbed his hand, she felt how much he was sweating. "Why are you so nervous?" she asked, masking her worry. Did he not want to hold hands with her?
"I...I don't know," he said, though he knew perfectly well: the Hero of Time, who had fought monsters, spirits, and death itself, was terrified of his beautiful best friend.
"Let's just have fun, okay? What should we do? Oh! There's the—" She stopped short of saying "archery range", remembering how much archery had bothered him when he visited her home. Link, however, seemed to have no trouble completing her thought for her.
"Do you want to go?"
"You don't have to..."
"No, I want to try. If I can't have fun doing it, then...it will always remind me."
Smiling, she intertwined their fingers but noticed to her dissatisfaction that his attention wasn't solely on her. His free hand hid his cheek from the people walking by, and abruptly she tugged his arm to stop him.
Pulling his hand away from his cheek, she stood on her tiptoes and tenderly kissed the scar beneath, taking both of his hands in hers so he had no choice but to look at her. "You're not ugly, Grasshopper. The people who did this to you are. There's nothing wrong with you, so keep trying to be happy. Don't give up."
Her sincerity melted the last piece of ice that had encased his heart since his fairy left him. For so long he'd carried the shame of being worthless and scarred, but finally all the things his family had said to him—how much they cared for him, how happy he made them and how he deserved to be happy—sank in.
He smiled back timidly. "I won't give up. But I'm glad you're here to talk sense into me when I come close. Sometimes it feels like I'm missing something without you, like you're a part of me...the stronger part," he admitted, somewhat embarrassed.
"Oh Link, you're so sweet..." No one ever called her strong. So many people in Clock Town looked down on her because of her age and gender, but not him. He always tried to understand others before judging them. Abruptly she giggled. "Don't worry; Romani will kick your butt when you need it."
He laughed as well before sobering. "The Gerudo aren't ugly, though. I mean, it's not like they're pure evil."
She rolled her eyes. "Romani knew you would try to defend them."
They let their arrows fly at the archery gallery. Link heard Stalfos screaming, but told himself that he was hitting a target and nothing more: wood, not blood. He didn't quite succeed in removing himself from the past, but Romani's presence made the memories less effective than usual. He was awed by her movements: so powerful and graceful, her fiery hair flowing behind her. He'd long known that she was pretty. Why did he only realize tonight just how pretty?
Because she admired and wanted to surpass him, their training session meant a lot to her. She still didn't know what storms and using weapons made him remember, but she knew it was hard for him. When she looked to see how he was coping, she caught him staring at her, memorizing every aspect of her appearance. Pink dusted her cheeks as she played with her skirt, making no attempt to stop him.
Because no one was performing, the city didn't offer much entertainment. At the end of the day, they went to where they always wound up playing: North Clock Town. Their date hadn't been all that eventful, but they still sat together contentedly.
"You've gotten better with a bow."
"Romani knows," she bragged and then shivered. She liked skirts, but they had disadvantages. When he put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her against him to warm her up, she looked at him in shock; the shy boy she knew never did things like this, and when he saw her confusion he realized what he had done.
"Romani doesn't mind," she said, laying her head on his shoulder and trying to recapture the memory of how warm he'd been when they shared a bed.
His arm trembled. "I-I thought about you a lot while I was kidnapped. I tried to be brave like you, and when I was getting away, all I could think about was seeing you again."
"Romani couldn't stop thinking about you, either. She was terrified." She pulled away to look at him seriously. "You can't die, Grasshopper. Not ever. Romani can't be happy if you're dead."
Link doubted that; she was the strongest person he knew. She didn't need anyone to be happy, but he chose not to argue. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Romani's glad you decided to stay here...but why are you giving up on finding Navi and Hyrule?"
She thought the question might upset him, and indeed his smile was bittersweet, but there was some happiness in it too.
"Remember the place I told you about beyond Great Bay, the place I found a map of?"
"The Island of Dreams?"
"Yes. The Gerudo had me on a boat, and lightning struck. I was knocked out, and I had an incredible dream. In my mind, I found the island. It was called Koholint, and it was peaceful. But...no one there had ever heard of Hyrule or Termina. I was terrified. I thought I'd never see you again." He returned her serious look. "It felt like it lasted for much longer than the time I was gone. In my dream I searched for weeks for a way to get back to you and the others."
"It was just a dream," she soothed, seeing how the memory shook him.
"No. When I came to Termina, Hyrule disappeared. There's a chance that if I ever find my way back to Hyrule, I'll lose Termina. I refuse to lose you. That's why I'm staying."
"Grasshopper...are you saying that you're staying in Termina...for me?"
He nodded, afraid to speak, and her heart fluttered. She knew he cared about everyone since he was a hero, but she still felt special when he cared about her. Her mood fell, though, when she remembered what she was supposed to talk to him about.
"Um...is it okay if we...don't marry each other?"
Link looked like he had been punched in the stomach. "You...don't want to marry me anymore?"
"Of course I do! It's just...Cremia talked to Romani after you proposed. She said we were too young to be thinking about things like that."
"Anju and Kafei told me something like that too," he said, defeated. "They also said we were too young to share a bed. I don't get it."
"Me neither. But Romani knows Cremia's only doing this because she cares."
"Yeah...I know Anju and Kafei care about me too."
"We can still get married when we're big like they are," she offered, and he smiled.
"And until then, we can still go on dates, right?"
Her heart pounded. He had been so sweet tonight. He wasn't perfect, she wasn't perfect, and their date hadn't been perfect (she still wanted to see a carnival!), but she wouldn't trade it for anything.
As if on cue, the first fireflies of the night emerged. Link frowned when she removed herself from his grip to chase them, but he was quickly entranced by her dress and hair flowing about her. Like the balls of light, she was impossible not to notice.
"Aren't they pretty?" she asked once she'd exhausted herself running.
Link wasn't looking at the lightning bugs. Instead, he examined Romani in the moonlight. "Yes, Firefly..." Romani turned to look at him, eyes wide, and he snapped out of the trance she put him in. "R-Romani! I'm sorry...I didn't mean to stare..."
He had been staring again? Romani's whole body grew warm. "Grasshopper...what did you just call me?" she asked, fighting a smile.
He blinked. "I didn't call you Romani?"
"You called me Firefly!" She giggled. "You have a nickname for me, just like I have one for you!"
Link shrank into himself. Had he really let that slip? "Sorry..."
Blushing happily at the realization that he was paying attention to her and only her, she sat next to him once more. "Don't be. Romani likes it. Tee hee...Firefly and Grasshopper! She doesn't mind you staring, either. You can look if you want," she said more shyly than she meant to. That was why she wore her new dress, after all.
He was so cute when he was nervous. She liked having this power, yet she knew he had power over her as well. The revelation from two days ago that she liked being close to him was no longer enough; she wanted to explore more. His black shirt became invisible in the near darkness, drawing attention to his handsome face, his bright blue orbs, and the brilliant hair he always hid beneath his hat.
"Romani, I…" he began, but had no more words. He took her hand in his and looked into her eyes, their faces less than a foot apart.
Her heart sped up. As usual, she saw so much more in his eyes than in his words. This was what she had wanted from the moment he asked her out. He was looking at her so intensely. What was he thinking about? Why was he looking at her lips? Was he going to...?
Link hesitated. Seeing Anju and Kafei kiss each other and receiving kisses on the cheek from Romani had naturally made him curious, but he saw what happened to men when their advances were unwanted. He didn't want to get slapped, but more than that he didn't want to upset Romani. His goal was to create a world where people were free to be happy, and her happiness was more important than anyone else's.
Unconsciously she licked her lips. She saw the way to a new stage in their friendship and wanted more than anything to go there with Link. Seeing he needed encouragement, she tilted her head up to give the taller boy easy access. She parted her lips, breath heavy with anticipation.
Link's breath caught in his throat. She was too pretty, and too close. Why was it suddenly so hard to think? Was she leaning in? Was it possible she wanted to...?
Unable to stand it any longer, he closed the distance between them, bringing their mouths together clumsily. Romani gasped, even though she had wanted and expected this. Her first kiss was with Link, her best friend and hero. And it was under the moonlight where they played their first game in Clock Town...
Her heart beat so quickly she thought it would burst from her small chest. Link's heart pounded as well with fear of how she would react, but touching her was irresistible. He couldn't believe he hadn't done this sooner.
The kiss lasted only a moment, but their lips tingled when they pulled back. Both faces were flushed.
"Romani, I... You mean so much to me." He tensed for a moment before asking, "You're not going to slap me?"
She captured his lips again. It was just a brief moment of contact, but Link smiled as widely as she did when they finished, which made her smile even more widely since he rarely showed this much emotion.
"Romani will slap you when you deserve it, not when you make her happy." As much as she wanted to keep doing this, however, she knew that darkness was quickly approaching. "Will you take me back, Grasshopper?" she asked, feeling guilty. Link frowned, understanding that their date was over, but nodded.
On the horse ride back, she hugged him more tightly than before, no longer afraid of scaring him away and wanting to let him know how much their short time together meant to her. As expected, Cremia waited for her outside their house. Link grew nervous, wondering how she would react to her little sister holding hands with someone after a date, but the young woman only smiled.
Romani turned to him, beaming with happiness. "I had a wonderful time, Link. Ask me out again soon, okay?"
He waved awkwardly as he left, and Romani smiled to herself.
"Did you have fun?" Cremia asked warmly. It would not occur to her until much later that her sister had refrained from calling herself Romani twice in a row.
Once the high from being close to Romani wore off, Link's thoughts turned bittersweet. Despite Kafei's promise to keep looking for Epona, who had vanished like his sword and tunic, he doubted he would ever see her again. All of Hyrule had abandoned him: it was Termina's magic which saved him on the pirate boat, not his homeland's.
The knowledge that he would never see Hyrule again tore his heart, but his love for Termina and the people in it was mending it. He promised to defend his new home, knowing the magic he learned here would return to him whenever he needed it to protect others, as it had returned to him when the pirates threatened to harm Romani.
It was nearly too dark to travel when Link returned to Clock Town, but the lights in the Stock Pot Inn were still on for him. He supposed it had been his home for a long time, but tonight it felt like new. He couldn't wait to keep growing with Romani and learn all he could from his mom and dad. Eager to start the next day, he tucked himself in and dreamed of family, friends, and fireflies.
Blizzaga Saga: The story's title is finally explained, and you can all accuse me of being cheesy. XD One of the inspirations for this fic is the following quote: "A sweet friendship refreshes the soul." It was extremely important to me that "Firefly" focused on both friendship and romance as opposed to just romance, and IMO the result really was a sweet friendship that, at the very least, refreshed my soul.
Yep, the events of Link's Awakening happened while Link was kidnapped. The lightning strike at the end of chapter 9 was the one that happens in the opening cutscene. Betcha didn't see that coming! He went through an entire game between chapters, because he's a boss like that.
I wanted this story to be like Majora's Mask: emotional and dark, but with happiness and hope at the end. Let me know if I succeeded. And speaking of Majora's Mask, it's criminal that there aren't more Romani/Link stories, am I right? I hope you enjoyed my attempt and that it inspires more people to write about them. They're adorable and you know it. Thanks for reading!