Actions

Work Header

Handprint On My Heart

Chapter Text

"For Good" from the musical Wicked by Stephen Shwartz

I've heard it said / That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn / And we are led

To those who help us most to grow / If we let them / And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true / But I know I'm who I am today /

Because I knew you…

Like a comet pulled from orbit / As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder / Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better? / But because I knew you

I have been changed for good…

It well may be / That we will never meet again

In this lifetime / So let me say before we part

So much of me / Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me / Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end / I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend…/ Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea / Like a seed dropped by a skybird in a distant wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better? / But because I knew you

I have been changed for good!


How do you know when you have made the right choice?

I'll make an answer for myself. That knowledge came just before I received that deep, calming sense of satisfaction and peace.

The true Princess of Twilight is safe…out of Zant's reach.

I have handed the key to banishing evil into our Hero's hands, the one chosen by the Goddesses for a time such as this.

That said, I have virtually lost my own life in the process.

But it is something that I do not – cannot – regret.

My true love is alive.

My Midna, my Middie is alive.

My body is dead, but my soul can't contain any more joy…

It has been said for centuries that as twilight falls we feel an odd assortment of sorrows and regrets. These emotions are channeled into the evening sky from those banished from the World of Light into that of the Twilight.

For years as I grew up, I didn't think twice about this ancient telling. It a myth to any Hylian citizen. When I was a little girl, not more than five springs, my father and I often sat on the balcony facing the western horizon. My beloved sire pulled me into his lap and hugged me close, and then told me to not look too long into our setting sun.

"The Twili, the people who live in the Twilight, will come and get you and eat you for breakfast!" I continued to watch the sun for a few moments, wide-eyed, then his comment registered and I looked at his face with a combination of disbelief and consternation.

He laughed a deep belly laugh and I started jumping up and down in his lap.

"What else eats me for breakfast, Daddy?" I shrieked.

"Why are you so anxious to find out?" He said, laughing the whole time.

"I – have – to – know!" I would shout, leaping about on the balcony. Father drew me close.

"Why, I don't know little one! You are so tiny that anyone could eat you in one mouthful! And I do believe your hair would get caught in their teeth," he would whisper conspiratorially in my ear and laugh again.

My hair has always been a source of pride and joy for me – vain to some, but any woman will tell you that her hair is a crown, regardless of her social status. As a woman, I have dark, strawberry-blonde hair, but as a child, my hair was a sight of messy, curly, white-blonde tresses. My father stroked and twisted it thoughtfully in his fingers whenever I sat in his lap. It was not a rare occasion in which he bragged to all his knights and courtiers in our throne room that I was the very image of my mother. I grinned from ear to ear and made sure everyone saw my mannerly behavior and how I was fit to be a princess.

Indeed, I was a princess by blood. My father was Guardian of Hyrule, and I was his only child, Crown Princess Zelda. My mother had been a powerful leader alongside my father, and while she lived, the kingdom never felt concern about peace and safety. My mama never failed to fulfill her role as Queen Protector of Hyrule.

Raised a warrior, she was born and bred to viciously fight to the death. The country she had been born into – San-kirla – did not discriminate between male and female warriors or rich and poor fighters. Valor belonged to any who defended their country at great personal sacrifice. Both genders and all people of all social statuses were required to fight in the wars their country waged. San-kirla was a tiny country but had ideal and diverse lands – warm and humid weather in the northeast, hot and dry deserts in the west, fertile farmlands in the southwest and piney woods and cool beaches in the southeast. Not even my beloved Hyrule can compare to the geographically varied country that is San-kirla. As Queen Mother Protector myself, I continue to carefully tend the alliance between Hyrule and San-kirla – their soldiers are the best, bar none. They would answer my country's call for help in less time than it takes to saddle a horse, I'm confident; my Hyrule is more than ready to respond to their cry for aid, as well.

But not even the most fantastical warrior is invincible. "Mankind is mortal," my tutors all repeated countless times, and the lesson was especially painful at my mother's death. She didn't die in childbirth like many women do in this age; she died in battle with an arrow to the heart. My father stood beside her when she fell and did everything he knew to do, but it was too late to save her. I was four springs when my mother died – my father aged a hundred years after her death.

When I am asked what I remember of her death and its' aftermath, I hesitate, clear my throat and beg pardon. "It is a very old memory – you must forgive me," I say.

I remember being in a bedroom, about to take my afternoon nap. My father assigned me to a room that could keep me safe if the invading Gerudo had taken it into their head to come and find me. My nurse was sitting close to my bed, knitting. Her needles made an incessant clacking noise that often irritated me, but that day, their regular prattling emitted a soothing rhythm.

Soon after I lay back on the mattress and stared up at the stone ceiling, I faintly heard the city gates being opened. At that moment, I thought nothing of it, but the distinct, restrained sound of wailing became evident in my ears. I turned my head to the window and only saw the sky and the pinnacles of tall buildings.

A deep, unsettling disturbance in my mind awoke and I became suspicious. The disturbance in my mind increased when the steel gates leading to my home opened and the wailing continued, becoming loud. The ululating, piercing noise made me quiver and I looked over at my nurse to see when she would notice that something was wrong. Just when I thought I couldn't bear it anymore, my nurse finally heard the mournful cacophony and ran out of the room, wanting to see what was happening.

I was left in that room alone. The fear slipped down from my mind into my young heart. What felt like hours later, I heard a gentle knock on my door. I tried to say, "Come in," but it came out as a tremulous squeak. A senior guard in my father's personal army came in through the door: "Lady Zelda, your mother has died valiantly in battle."

I don't remember anything much after that. I don't remember how I spent the rest of the day, I don't remember the funeral, and I don't remember seeing my father in the week following my mother's burial, although I can imagine his demand that I be kept in his sight at all times, a manifestation of his grief.

I was often told that I looked like my mother when she was a child. When her family from San-kirla and close friends came to visit, they would hold me tightly and sometimes cry when they looked at me. "Just like her mamelah," they would whisper.

But my father did not shun me as many fathers do after their precious wives' death. It is not common for the reflection of their wife in the children to force fathers to shut down completely, and this the Guardian never did. I sat close to him at dinner, I played at his feet at the endless Councils, he, instead of my nurse, would take me into the courtyard for my daily romp among the trees. I grew up basking in the attentions of the most powerful ruler on the face of the earth and taking it all for granted.

I was only subconsciously aware of it, but I missed my mother more deeply that I imagined. She appeared in my mind's eye just as the sun began to set and twilight began to eat the daylight skies. She came into my dreams and sang the songs that have been passed down from royal mother to daughter for generations. Several times, she played a musical instrument that is often given to just-beginning child musicians – an ocarina. I can guess what the reader of these memoirs is thinking, "It is the Ocarina of Time spoken of in the legends."

It is true. When my mother had it, it was already at least twelve hundred years old, give or take a few centuries. It is on display in the throne room of the castle I live and rule in now. No one touches it but for the special occasion when the marriage of the Hero of Time and our first Queen Zelda is celebrated every year. The Ocarina of Time is also played at the weddings of any pureblood Hylian royal.

These night-visions were awash in pure-voiced music, my mother's laughter, and slowly spoken words of comfort. Whatever solace these dreams yielded, they were never enough to substitute for the actual presence of my mother.

I am convinced now that it is absolutely necessary for a young woman to have a female mentor, or older woman-friend upon whom to rely on if a mother is gone. These I did not have, and even though events of the recent past have turned me into a stronger, more compassionate woman, I know that there was something missing in my growing up years. Without my mother, I grew up with a sore deficit.

As I slowly changed from child into young woman, the hole in my heart continued to widen and hurt more with each passing year. The arrival of new hormones in my teen-aged body only worked to deepen my self-pity, and among my worst habits was wallowing for hours in angst. I filled many of hours bemoaning the tragedy of my life to my bewildered handmaids, creating a worldview for myself in which everything was either dark and sinister or meaningless. I was often found to be moping about the palace.

There was no real reason for my self-pitying. Yes, my mother left for the Immortal's Plane, but my father was as loving as ever towards me and I continued to be enthralled with him. With the exception of grieving my mother's death, there was no one single cause of my anguish - now I attribute it to the typical, sordid group of emotions that seem to haunt the average teenager.

I derived only true relief from my grief when I was in my father's loving presence, and I hope that I gave my father comfort as well. Even though I was not a child any longer and a smidgen beyond my father's shoulder height, I loved to squeeze onto the throne beside him, just like when I was a small girl. I still called him Daddy, too. I know it thrilled his heart.

He acted perturbed when I said, "Scoot over, Daddy!" I slowly dropped into the rigid throne seat, looked at him and said with a grin, "That's better!" But one day, he said, "Zelda, you will one day be on this throne. You will rule in my place when I am gone. Are you prepared for that day?" I did not answer his question. In my youthfulness, I brushed aside the tone of his words.

As I grew older and my body filled out from the "coltish" form, a number of suitors began their parade in front of my father and me. In the country of Hyrule, a Crown Princess cannot become Queen Protector until they are married. Until then, even if they inherit the throne but still are not married, they remain only a Ruling Princess. It seems that this situation would lend some measure of urgency, but we Hylian Royals take our sweet time when choosing a life-partner. We have no desire to spend the rest of our lives with someone who has toes that appear as small, flesh-toned snakes or who have ungodly habits. Still, we begin the examination of suitors early in most Royals' teen-aged years. Where my suitors came from, and who asked them to my palace, I'll never know. But one thing is certain: there was never a need for good entertainment when the "Parade of Suitors" began.

Or more to the point: when the "Parade of Potential Court Jesters" began.

My father and I sat on the throne together and watched the suitors stroll, stumble or strut forward to ask for my hand in marriage. I remember the feeling of being galled at the "strutters" and "strollers" – I wanted the carpet to suddenly curl under their unsuspecting feet and make the idiots fall flat on their face. The only thing that made the "Parade" tolerable was my special game with my father. As the unsuspecting suitors waltzed up, the fun began.

"Would you look at that one, m'dear? His feet must be four furlongs in length, at least!" He whispered low.

I stifled giggles as best as I could, and my cheeks puffed out like a hungry squirrel's. "Unladylike" snorts magnified embarrassingly behind my hand. My father's commentary became worse.

"Goddesses' bones! If that man isn't the most gaudily dressed man alive…" my father paused and I looked at him to see if he would finish his sentence. He did. "I wonder, is that a live bird atop his head?"

My regal reserve broke, my cheeks deflated, and I turned and howled into my father's robes. He faced the suitors and pretended to look apologetic, but no one was fooled by his red face, strained with mirth. No one was fooled, but no one would dare condemn the King of Hyrule for tomfoolery, either. So the games continued.

Daddy took a deep breath, dismissed the suitor who carried what appeared to be a live bird of paradise in his hair, and motioned for the next suitor to come forward. It was mandatory that we had to listen to the suitors' long-winded speeches about their "character as a husband," but good heavens, they were boring!

My father waited for the man to lean his head back, close his eyes and begin his proclamation before the roasting started again.

"For the love of Nayru!" He said I'm surprised that man was able to walk in here! It looks like he might need to be rolled out if we feed him. Should we feed him, Zelda?"

"Why not?" I giggled in my throat, ineffectively trying to bring back a more serious demeanor. "He's fit to be rolled whether we load a trough for him or not!"

A silly game a fifteen-year-old daughter plays with her father, nothing more. But as I look back, this particular game did two things: One, it continued to affirm the love between my father and I. And two, it confirmed my growing desire for my own gender.

How? As I've said before, I had no older female friend to look up to, no one to imitate; just my father, his knights, and councilors, all of whom were men. I rarely saw women among the courtiers. During my father's rule, women were generally not allowed into the presence of the royal family unless they were servants. As the only girl in the household, I learned to copy a man's behaviors more readily than creating female behaviors for myself. I dressed in a feminine manner, I acted as a tomboy the rest of the time. I certainly didn't act as a tough rough-houser by any means, but I always understood that there was something fundamentally different inside me.

My desires for other women set me apart.

I do not mean to sound selfish when I say this, but I believe that I am the only princess in the history of the Royal Family of Hyrule who has had a hunger for women of the same sex.

At first, the realization wasn't uncomfortable – I had not been told differently and there didn't seem to be anything wrong about it. Admittedly I had never told anyone these desires. While the realization inside my mind wasn't uncomfortable, I had a sneaking suspicion that my confession would bring gasps and raised eyebrows.

Many times, I would notice a pretty servant girl and I would pay her a genuine compliment – her hair, her eyes, some feature she had that struck me as beautiful. She would blush, curtsy, thank me and scurry away. For a few years, that was all that happened. I would just notice other girls.

About my seventeenth year, I began aching for more than just a curtsy and a respectful, quick dash back to the kitchens. I wanted her to meet my outstretched hand and gaze into my eyes. It didn't happen. Of course it wouldn't.

But as my eighteenth birthday approached, my longings became stronger. I continued to smile and talk briefly with the few girls in the castle my age, whether they were servants or no. My father seemed to notice that I needed companions, and he invited some of his courtier's daughters to join the court.

I tried to behave and hide my desires to the very best of my ability. This is something that I have noticed that teenagers are especially good at doing – assuming that everyone visual distance is observing them all day, every day of their lives. As a grown adult, I have lost this belief, but at the time I didn't want to frighten them away or think I was behaving strangely, so I worked hard not to allow the girls see my eyes wandering over them. At that time, I was just curious to see what other females looked like.

One night, as I was getting dressed for bed, my curiosity overcame me. I wasn't about to expose anyone but myself to my "odd desires", but I was curious as to how the female body looked. I slipped off my dress and shoes, loosed my hair and walked to the tall mirror in the corner of my room.

The sight of my own nakedness gave me a thrill that tingled in my tailbone. My skin was white with a peach tone to it. I slowly lifted my hands to my breasts and watched my reflection do the same. Those mounds of flesh were soft and cushy, but smaller than I had really wanted them to be. I took note that all the courtier's daughters had much larger breasts. Still, I wasn't completely dissatisfied with my body.

My stomach was just as soft as my breasts, and I could hear my stomach gurgle as I massaged it. I studied the indention where I had been attached to my mother when I had lived in her womb. It wasn't deep, but it was certainly long.

I took a deep breath, and my hand dipped to touch the thatchy curls between my legs. Something whispered in my ear that this was scandalous beyond measure, this touching of myself. I deliberately ignored "the little voice". I argued with the voice answering that it was also scandalous not to know what your own body looks like under the layers of clothes that are worn daily.

The curls of my mons were light brown and coarse. I distinctly remember wondering what they were doing there – 'Surely not as decoration,' I thought. My tutors had taught me that every piece of my body served a purpose, but what is the purpose of these coarse curls? They cannot keep you warm, and they aren't lovely to look at. As I studied my reflection, I wondered why I hadn't looked at myself in this way before. 'Had not known to do anything differently,' I thought.

My hands prodded at the hips that curved outward and I contemplated them further. 'Now here is a purposeful design,' I thought. Obviously, these were intended to birth a baby later on in life. I laughed out loud at the thought.

I stepped back and looked at my body as a whole. Overall, it was slightly built, but not unattractive. I was pleased with what the Goddesses' had blessed me with, even if a few spots could use some more filling out.

I turned from the mirror and picked up my favorite sheer nightgown, slipping it over my head with a touch of reluctance. I made sure to catch one last look at my still-budding breasts as the nightgown slid over their creamy texture; their light pinkness was tantalizing to my own eyes.

I blew out the candles in my room and lay down on the bed. I didn't feel very sleepy, and I turned my head to look at the stars shining into my room. It was a beautiful night, and for a fleeting moment I wondered if there was someone out there for me. And if there was someone, were they looking into the same night sky?


Three years went by. I grew from a gangly teenager into a woman. I tried to carry myself with power and grace, but over the years, my father slowly transferred the burden of his rulership over to me. All those gentle warnings I received from Daddy came true. I had not adequately prepared myself for the throne and now it was being thrust upon me.

Having acquired a new motivation, I pressed myself hard in my studies and readings, learning in a matter of months what normally takes years. I worked to learn every set of manners made for every situation. I did my best to memorize policies and laws and regulations.

But I continued to keep "my secret" away from everyone, including my father. What would I have been thought of then? To this day, I doubt that anyone would have understood and I refused to re-shoulder the burden of my attitude of my angst-ridden teenaged days.

It was no secret that my father's health was failing. There were some days that he could barely lift his hand, but he would insist that he be dressed and serve his people as long and as best he could. Many mornings I would support his torso as he gritted his teeth and got out of bed as well as a sick man can. We called doctors in from every corner of the known world, but most of them said the most feared word: "Cancer".

I had been nineteen just two weeks when my dear father was diagnosed with the fatal disease. There was nothing to be done, no treatment except fervent prayer. I prayed every day that if it was in the Goddesses' Will to let my father live, that he would live a long life. But if it was Their Will for him to pass onto the next life, then he would go with little pain.

The year wore on, and it was plain that every movement, no matter how small, hurt him beyond description. He went to fewer of his Councils, and didn't meet with his people in the throne room as often as he would have liked. More and more often, I went in his stead to hear the people's complaints and the Councils. The endless string of Councils. The figurative weight of the crown was heavy, but I learned not to care. It meant that my father wouldn't hurt as much.

One night after a grinding day with meeting foreign dignitaries and discussing various polices for nearly six hours on end, I sat in my bedroom alone and stared out the window at the oncoming twilight. An echo from my past repeated the old story of the Twili.

"Daddy, why are the Twili a cursed race?"

"No one truly knows Zelda – the story is very old. But it is said that the Twili were once a people like us, with a King and a Queen and a little princess your age. But their society was a godless society. They did not worship the Goddesses as we do. They did not recognize the Goddesses' handiwork in their lands and in their newborn babies. They cursed the Goddesses and said that they need them no longer.

"Later, they created a god of their own. It was not a true god – how can a god created by human hands be any more omnipresent than the people who made him?

"The Goddesses were tired of this race's behavior, so They banished them to a place in another dimension that only saw Twilight – never true daylight, and never true night. As if that weren't punishment enough, these people could never grow old, living in perpetual torment, without the escape of final death."

How true was the legend, really? Myth or truth? I rhythmically squeezed the sheets on my bed, rocking back and forth to an old nursery tune, trying to relax enough to fall into sleep. I gazed out at the velvety purple smoothing itself over silky gold and shimmery red. That particular evening was especially beautiful. Vivid sunsets have a way of chasing away the soreness in the shoulders and the troubles that puncture the soul.

I sighed and closed my eyes, letting the last bits of the sun touch my face and warm my clothed breasts. Just as I was about to lie back onto my mattress, I heard a whisper of wind. I instinctively opened my eyes and looked at the window where the sound seemed to be coming from. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I lay on the bed and massaged my temples.

Suddenly, a pair of hot hands slid up my legs and gripped them. "I found you!" A female voice taunted.

I jumped up and kicked my legs, trying to get the hands loose. The hands let me go and I scrambled away to the furthest corner of the bed and with bated breath waited for the source of the voice and hands to show. "Where are you?" I called thinly, my own voice practically gone.

"Here," a sultry voice said softly.

A grown woman, blue skin, orange eyes and curious blue glowing marks all over her body rose up from underneath my bed.

I shook and stared at her whilst she gazed at me, almost lovingly. It was unmistakable what she was. 'A Twili! I thought. A real Twili! Senseless, I continued to shake and stare into her eyes. The woman clucked her tongue, as though she had more than enough time to spare.

The sound grated on my frazzled nerves. "Who are you?" I demanded.

"Yes…how very rude of me not to introduce myself," she said. "I am Midna, Princess of the Twilight."

She took my breath away. Princess Midna was beautiful beyond human words.

"Why you are here? How did you get into my room? If you are a Twili, how is it that I cannot see only your shadow?" I asked. I was beginning to feel stronger.

She looked at me with a deadpan expression. "One question at a time, my sweet Crown Princess," she said succinctly.

"I am here because there is trouble brewing in my home." She looked about my room as though sizing it up. "I am looking for someone who will help me drive out a most bothersome 'advisor' of mine named Zant." She spit out the name "Zant."

She cocked her head and gave me a menacing grin. My whole being recoiled – she was as terrifying as she was beautiful. "How do I appear not as shadow in your Light world?" She asked.

I nodded, wanting her to continue, but not daring to break from the suction of her eyes.

"Well, that's for me to know and for you to find out, yes?" She leaned her head back, closed her eyes and laughed in her throat, rolling her head luxuriously. I wasn't about to press her for more of an answer, but my heart beat painfully when she broke our gaze.

"As for coming into your room…" Midna looked about and her eyes settled suggestively on the bed. "I use an ancient magic begun my ancestors to warp to and fro wherever I desire. The only reason I'm out of my world is because Zant," she spat the name again, "evicted me."

"He…evicted you? If he is as you say, an advisor, then he shouldn't have the power to do that. You need to go back and execute him like the treasonous criminal he is," I said in shock.

"Yes, well, I already tried that and it's the reason why I was thrown out of the Twilight Realm." That was the first time she called her home the "Twilight Realm". It sounded like an echoing gong in my ears and a whisper of foretold doom came with it.

Twilight. A world of eternal half-day-half-night, tempered by a mockery of true dimensions – the holy Immortals' Plane and the Mortals' Plane.

I must have been staring at her too long, because she abruptly put a fist on her hip and said pointedly, "You do have rooms for traveling royalty, do you not?"

I shook out of my thoughts. "We do. If you desire, the chambers next to mine are prepared and—"

"I don't think so," the Princess Midna sharply exclaimed. "What would be said if someone saw me? I did not arrive with an entourage and come in through the front gates. I would be immediately arrested."

"You wouldn't!" I said, trying to argue. "I would explain what happened and there wouldn't be any more trouble."

"No, I must hide." Midna replied. "I have Zant and his minions tearing in their path apart everything they see looking for me and it won't do for me to be visible. I'll stay here." Midna looked down towards my bed. My bed. I never had to share anything my whole life and if she decided to settle into my room… well, this would be something to get used to. Neither did I say she couldn't stay in room, in my bed.

While I observed her shuffling about, her last statement rang in my mind. "Why is your advisor looking for you? And how did he acquire an army?"

"It's no army to speak of, hardly," she said with a curled lip. "He thinks he was destined to sit on the throne of the Twilight, but he couldn't lead a pack of cuccos if his life depended on it. He has been and will always bea follower."

She turned to look at her reflection in the mirror. Princess Midna straightened, smiled and smoothed her gown over her hips, allowing her curves to come through. My mind went white – she was beautiful.

She must have noticed my face. She suddenly began talking again. "Oh…I didn't answer your last question," she said casually. "He wants me in his alleged grip because I have something he just cannot live without."

Midna slowly raised her arm above her head and pointed at an object sitting on her head. I won't lie – my first thought was, 'How unbelievably ugly.' The thing was in deplorable condition and appeared to be made of some metal. Rusted over, maybe? Clearly, it was broken – it arched up to a pair of rounded points and on either side of the headband were jagged edges. I wanted to ask why it was broken but it had an ominous, foreboding feel to it, so I didn't ask.

She let me look at it for a long time. I finally spoke, "What is that?"

Midna arched an eyebrow and cocked her head. "What is that?" She mimicked, and I frowned. She laughed aloud at my expression and the sound threw sensuous chills down my back.

She touched it again. "It is a part of something my people called the Fused Shadows," she said.

I had heard of that. The legend of the Twili briefly mentioned the "created god" that the pre-Twili race had created. If – and that was a large if – the myth was true, the Fused Shadow was the same manmade god the ancient race had created. If the whole story were actually true, the Fused Shadow held a power that could still be awakened when the right "keys" were turned. What those "keys" were the legend never said and no Hylian could remember.

Midna shifted her weighted, continued to stare at me and gargled quietly. 'Obnoxious,' I thought but would never have said aloud.

"How long will you have to stay here?" I asked. Memories of "the legend" aside, I was still in complete awe of this beautiful Twili woman.

Midna shrugged and sat on my bed. "I honestly don't know. I'll have to leave during the nighttime to find whoever might be able to help me. While I can stay for a short amount of time in the Light, I cannot stay long. Night is the easiest on my body. I will also have to find somewhere to sleep during the day, so I shall return during the daytime," she proclaimed.

I drew a deep breath through my nostrils and slowly let it go back out through my mouth. I couldn't entertain a foreign dignitary from another dimension – the situation probably couldn't have gotten worse. "This isn't a good time. My father is extremely ill and I have been taking many of the responsibilities of the throne. It has been difficult beyond—"

"You are the Crown Princess of Hyrule. Did you think you would rest on a bed of laurels? You cannot live your whole life pampered and pleased in the loftiest tower of an ivory castle." Midna snapped. I became acutely aware of her glare aimed at me.

My breath caught in my throat at the sight of that intensity. It was enough to freeze the blood in my veins and cook my brain into mush. It made my skin crawl in horror. I wanted the soft, beautiful eyes again. When I saw the soft eyes, I could imagine, just for a brief moment, that she was attracted to me.

I was so desperate for a woman's attention then.

Midna must have seen my reaction, because her eyebrows lifted. I broke the gaze and looked at the mirror that watched our communion. In my mind's eye, I saw the young girl that had looked at her body in that mirror, and I suddenly longed to do it again. I was overcome with weariness, strong emotions and my thoughts were a terrific jumble.

I understand now that I was feeling the pangs of first love, but I had to get away from those powerful emotions. I needed a breath and not just literally.

Just as I was about to turn away and murmur that I had to go visit my father, Midna widened her eyes as she looked into the mirror. I met the gaze in our reflection and my own eyes widened. I realized with a stunned sensation that she had made a decision, and I hadn't any idea what it could be.

The Princess Midna slowly turned and came close and held the back of my head with one hand. She sent a touch of magic from between two fingers into my eyes – the feeling was so painful I choked and collapsed. My head would have crashed to the floor if Midna had not caught me. She laid a hand over my eyes and I clawed at them. "What are you doing? Stop this!" I gasped.

She held her hand firmly over my eyes and cradled my head to her breast. "It will be over in a minute, I promise. You will no worse for the wear," she said.

I continued to struggle but I didn't have the strength of a small child. "Please, what are you doing?" I whispered.

"It's almost over," Midna said, rocking me back and forth.


My mind's eye saw a rolling comet of blue and orange fire heading straight for my face. It touched me, and I was surprised at how comfortable the flames were. It caressed my face and softly sang words of comfort, but I squeezed my eyes shut. I couldn't understand why or how I was fighting.

"Princess…open your eyes…"

My eyelids remained tightly closed. "I'm afraid," I said. It sounded as though my voice came from a place miles and miles away.

"You've lived in secrecy all your life. You've learned to hide. But this fear cannot last," the voice said. I finally recognized it as Midna's.

"But when will I no longer be frightened?" I cried.

"NOW!" Midna said. My eyes flew open and the comet penetrated my eyes. My hands shook – someone restrained them. I felt the comet's freezing fire wriggle through my brain and I cried with the pain.

The pain left, the moment was past.

I stood on a pale, illuminated bridge over a shallow lake of water.

Midna stood mere inches away from me. "Now…was that so awful?" She said gently. She had a beautiful smile on her face and stroked my arms with warm fingers.

"It was painful, but it didn't last long. What exactly did you do?" I asked.

"I created a bridge between our minds. We can talk to each whenever we desire. We can also feel each other's emotions." Midna replied.

"Why is that needed?" I asked.

Her smile changed into one with a touch of wickedness. Her touch on my arms cooled ever so slightly. "You will see my Princess…you will see…"


I awoke a few hours later on my bed. I bolted upright and looked around the room for Midna, but she was nowhere to be found.

The night was black outside my window, not a star was in the sky. I felt as though my senses had been utterly raped and I wondered if the whole thing had been a dream. An unusually realistic dream at that.

My first thought was my father and I dashed out my room to see him. When I arrived, he laid abed but was visibly worse. His face was a frightening yellow, his eyes were too bright, and he couldn't lift his head or hands. Daddy turned to me as I entered the room.

"Are you feeling any better?" I asked, tucking the blankets closer around his chin. It was an unnecessary question, my question was unnecessary and we both knew it. We knew he was dying.

He didn't answer my question. What was the use? "Zelda, your eyes – they are so different," he said.

"What do you mean, Daddy?" I asked.

"Look in the mirror," he answered with great effort.

I did. My heart skipped several beats and leaped into my throat.

My blue eyes appeared as though they were on fire. They were changed.

I looked to my father for help. "I'm sorry…I should have known better…what can I do?…why do they look that way?...why is this happening?..." My words tumbled out in an incoherent avalanche.

"Be calm, child, be calm," he answered My father motioned me to come close to him. I laid my head on his chest and listened to his watery lungs labor to get air.

"There is a legend that has been passed down for centuries. I have not related it to you nor to anyone else. Your mother would have spoken of it if she lived. In the end, it was the Goddesses' Will that she pass on at the time she did." He worked to draw a breath. 'If he talks too much, it may well kill him.' I thought, but he continued.

"It has been said that there will be a Princess of the Light and a Princess of the Twilight who will bridge the gap between our two races. It has also been said that these two Princesses of such different natures will love each other more deeply than anyone could imagine." My father looked at me pointedly. I immediately understood then that he was aware of my "unnatural longings".

He had known all along and he didn't love me one ounce less because of the knowledge.

A lump in my throat rose and tears threatened to overtake my vision, but I strained to hear his next words.

"My time to pass on is at hand, Zelda. You have done well in ruling in my stead. I have many of my advisors coming to me saying they have never seen such a steady hand in someone your age ruling the people of Hyrule.

"They assure me that you are doing well, but I already knew that you would. You inherently wield the strength and Wisdom to rule this kingdom." His breaths came in shorter and shorter gasps. I lifted my head. 'It can't be happening, it's too soon," my mind screamed.

"I still have so much to learn, Daddy. I'm too young to rule, and I'm certainly too young to lose you." I said, bringing tears to my eyes.

"You will grow up so much in the next year, I promise you. And at the end, you will look back and see much pain, but you will also see enough joy to drown out the sorrows." My father stroked my back with his last bit of strength.

"I…wish…you…well…" He said.

And he crossed over.


I sobbed on his chest for hours. One of Daddy's servants found me and carried me back to my bedroom, but by then it was morning. I was inconsolable. Nothing could patch up the pain, the tears in my heart. Nothing could bring back my Daddy. It hurt. Goddesses, it hurt!

One of Daddy's most trusted advisors made the announcement to Hyrule that the King had passed away. "Long live our Regent Queen Zelda!" the people said quietly after the advisor had made the proclamation. I stood behind the advisor, veiled from head to toe in somber black.

In the days following my father's death, I did everything I could to avoid the inevitable grief. I picked at my food and drink and avoided sleep. I found small comfort in practicing with the sword and bow and arrows my mother left me, writing new policies and Council notes. I cut taxes and added new ones. I began work on a new highway and bridge that was built between Kakariko Village and Hyrule's Castle Town. I had allowed for the initial sting of death to set into me, but I did not allow any time for the healing grief that must come sometime after the extinguished life of one so loved.

In a shell, I completed the duties required of me, forcing myself to continue. I wanted nothing more than to bury myself in the sheets, blankets, and pillows of my bed and stay there for the next seven years. I desired the seven year sleep the ancient Hero of Time once had.

Yet duty pushed me forward, the world could not stop turning for my father's death. I couldn't let my people down now, not with such a monumental transition of power. While a woman on throne was not looked down upon, it was certainly different, and this was made obvious on the faces of the people as they came to see me to voice their cases. They talked as though I were a simple child and used small words. I often became short and irritated with my new subjects, and cut my hearing sessions before they were supposed to end.

In the dust cloud of activity, I almost forgot about the Princess Midna. The only thing that reminded me of her was the illuminated bridge that appeared every time I closed my eyes and rolled back into my subconscious. Much of the time, the area surrounding the bridge was silent, but there were the rare occasions when I distinctly heard faint singing on the other bank – odd, tribal melodies in a language I couldn't understand. I always wanted to cross that bridge, but couldn't name the force that held me back.

I know what that "nameless" thing is now: fear. I felt fear in seeking comfort from others – from Midna, really – when I did not feel I could give myself or anyone else any.

After an especially long and tiring day, I came into my quarters, shut the door and began mechanically eating the food that had been laid out before me. I didn't bother to put off my shoes, I couldn't feel anything physical anymore. There was nothing to heal the enormous pain that left my heart in shreds.

A whisper of wind sounded in my ears. I turned my head towards the window from which the wind came from and there the Twilight Princess stood.

She walked with measured steps to me. "I deeply am sorry for your loss, Regent Princess." She took my hands in hers, raised them to her lips and lightly kissed the knuckles. Immediately, I knew my body wasn't entirely dead – the first shivers of arousal made me aware of that.

"Please call me Zelda," I said lowly. "It seems that we will be getting to know each other very well soon."

Midna did not appear to have an answer and sat down in a chair across from me, watching my face. I wiped my eyes on the sleeve of my gown and sniffed.

"Have you found the one you seek to help you return your kingdom?" I asked. Midna shook her head. She explained to me during her previous visit that the only way she could be restored to her throne in the Twilight world was to find the Blessed Hero Beast that her culture's legends spoke of. Midna gave me a bare bones description of the legend, but I filled in the blanks.

"Zant's servants have been chasing me all over Hyrule, and they've nearly captured me several times," Midna said. "I'm being forced into another plan."

"Where do you sleep during the daytime?" I asked.

"In the darkest place I can find. There are lots of those kinds of places, Zelda, and you have many of them throughout your kingdom," she said, looking at me meaningfully. Midna allowed silence to briefly reign and I tried to relieve the tension by putting a few bites of food in my mouth. I swallowed quietly and felt my throat expand and contract.

"How has keeping a world on its toes been?" Midna suddenly asked. It occurred to me how strange it was for her to be so curious about my well-being. 'Then again,' I thought. 'It's strange for me to be talking to her in this way. It's only the second time I've seen her.'

"I just live day to day," I wearily answered. "Some days I live hour to hour. It's all I can do to get up in the mornings and I'd rather not eat," I dropped my fork onto the table. "I don't believe I want to be alive anymore," I whispered. My grief was at the point too deep and powerful for tears.

Midna regarded me carefully and then came to kneel before me. I was shocked. The ruler of another kingdom kneels before me?

She put her hands on my knees, and for some reason, I wasn't uncomfortable at all. I pushed aside the food tray and leaned forward to look into her orange eyes.

Then…then…

...I knew I loved her. I was past the point of no return, I was in love at last.

Midna spoke. "It is worth it being alive. Let me show you." She gave me a devilish grin and pulled me up from my chair.

Midna touched her fingers to my stomach and slowly slid her hands over my breasts, up my shoulders and finally cradled my head as she kissed me fully on the mouth. My mind was shaken to the core with shock, but I kissed her right back.

Some time later, we stared at the canopy hanging above my bed.

"How long have you had that awful strip of cloth?" Midna asked, her hand stroking my bare back.

"Mmmm…for as long as I can remember. Why does it matter?" I asked and buried my nose into her naked breast.

"Because it has a circus scene on it. That's not very fitting of a grown woman, now is it?" Midna said.

I shook my head in agreement, reveling in the warmth of our bodies touching. I was still trying to catch my breath.

She had shown me everything. Midna had shown me where my hands could touch, how light or heavy their touch could be, and how fast they could work to bring mind-boggling delight. Best of all, she showed me how my body could respond to these touches. Her ministrations were lovely and brought tears to my eyes. I quickly learned that while she had a dry sense of humor and tended to have an attitude on the sharp side, she had a tenderness that would soften stone. This was the healing that I craved.

I stretched and began to get out of bed. I wondered if I could fit one more policy draft into my day, but Midna apparently had other ideas.

"Just where do you think you're going, Zelda? We aren't done, not by a long shot." She grabbed my waist, digging her fingernails into me. I gasped as I fell back onto the bed.

She cradled me and I kissed her face over and over.

"My Rose-elda." She murmured. So were at the point of our relationship to have nicknames? I tried to think of a good nickname for her and said aloud the first one to come to mind.

"Middie," I laughed. She lightly slapped my bottom.

"You will not breathe that nickname outside of this room, do you hear me?" She said firmly.

The mirth couldn't stop spilling from my heart. It just felt so good to laugh, and loving someone made me giddy. Realizing that she loved me back made my heart feel grown twice as large.

I watched Midna's face soften. "That will be my name for you, but only when we are entirely alone," I said.

"Absolutely not!" Midna protested. "Walls in buildings and trees in forests have a way of gaining ears! If word were to get back to Zant, or anyone for that matter—"

"Then we will just not let that happen," I said, putting a finger across her mouth.

She sighed and laid her head on my breast. I grinned. I had won.

Chapter Text

It was the first time we made love, but thank the Goddesses it wasn't the last.

I asked Midna to stay that night, and she did; she even stayed the next day. Grief for the passing of my father continued to hang in my heart, but it did not overwhelm me as it had before. The daily rigors of a ruling Hylian Royal continued to threaten to break my figurative back, but I did not feel the stresses as before. Midna's love transformed me anew each day, and tossed me into a great sky where the troubles of this life are practically meaningless.

A few of my courtiers noticed the change in my eyes and gossiped among themselves that their Regent Princess had finally accepted a suitor, or at least had written an excellent new policy. I only smiled when I overheard the murmurs in the kitchens and hallways.

Oh, but they had no inkling.

Months passed as short days. Midna continued her search for the Hero Beast in the night, and often came to be with me during the day. We made the most of our evenings together, and watched the twilight come and dissolve into night. As the pale moments between the recession of the light and advancement of the darkness in the sky came and went, I considered how transient our existence is. Our lives are nothing more than a brief flicker of a struck flint in the face of a raging bonfire. And yet, however ephemeral our passing days are, we consider them to be a deserved right.

Ephemeral...Mine and Midna's time together felt fleeting and immaterial, not unlike our twilight vigil. We guarded our time together, cultivated those moments and tended the tiny things in our relationship. She and I understood that one night might be our last together, and that last night would not leave without one more loving word, one more caress, one more kiss. We are never guaranteed our next breath, especially not a chance at love. But there I was, breathing Midna's scent and reveling in love. Impossibly beautiful moments. Ours was the miracle romance.

In the dark cover of night, Midna and I talked for hours on end in my favorite length of gardens. The first time I took her down from my room and showed her each of the trees, flowers, and bushes, her mouth dropped and she openly stared.

"Do you not have a garden like this in your home?" I asked.

The honey-suckle potent air was clingy and delightful – I have always loved that smell. I heard Midna suck in a lungful.

"I have nothing like this," she said. "Not anything I have can compare to this."

We walked the carefully laid cobble-stoned path and kept close to the shadows of the trees.

I spoke up: "What do you have in the way of gardens?"

She answered, "We don't have gardens. What natural beauty we have is in our sky.

My interest was immediately piqued. "Tell me of your skies," I said.

She blew air through taut lips, creating a pbbbbbttt sound. "My Rose-elda, if I told you about my skies, would you dash off to my world and leave your kingdom behind? You wouldn't have the reputation of a good ruler anymore, eh?"

"You would make a perfectly good Regent in my stead," I said, smirking. I doubt she saw it – the clouds had shifted over the stars, blocking our light source.

"Oh, really, and what kind of ruler would you be in my kingdom?" She asked suspiciously.

"Every good ruler knows that the first thing to do when ascending the throne is to cut taxes for their first year. Most likely I would cut all taxes, run wine in the fountains and give free food – all of which would be at the expense of the Twilight royal treasury," I said, smiling.

"And what would that accomplish?" Midna said. I know she already knew the answer.

"Your people would love me to death and then when you came back to claim your own throne, you would be forced to create new taxes to replenish the treasury," I said. "Your people would simply love me – and be thoroughly disgusted with you!" I laughed.

"You would give them so much food that they wouldn't be able to work to make money for me to tax," Midna said with a playful surliness. I grinned and we continued to walk, arriving at a circular courtyard with a wide entrance. I changed the subject when we paused in the middle of the enclosure.

"This is the place where it is said that the Hero of Time and our original Queen Zelda met for the first time," I said. Midna and I looked at the low platform at the far north of the courtyard. Its steps were the perfect height for a child's feet – indeed, this place was given the unofficial name ofChildren's Haven.

"What is their story?" She asked, gazing at the platform.

I began, "The Hero of Time was a simple Hylian child raised in the Kokiri Forest—"

"What is 'Kok-iri?'" Midna asked. Her heavy accent butchered the word.

"It wasonce a spirit that lived in an ancient, enchanted forest. These spirits would inhabit the bodies of children and those bodies would never grow old," I answered.

"They never died?" Midna asked.

"No, they never died naturally. But many centuries after the death of the Hero of Time, they simply disappeared. No one in Hyrule knows how or why – most Hylians were never allowed in that enchanted forest under penalty of death," I said. "But you interrupted my story."

"Sorry," Midna said noncommittally. It seemed her apology was meant to be taken at face value.

I began again, "The Hero of Time was a simple Hylian child raised in the Kokiri Forest, and our ancestor Queen Zelda was also a child at that time. Events happened in the Hero's forest that ejected him, and he began his search for answers. He happened upon a girl in the marketplace of Hyrule who was willing to help him, but the future Hero of Time later discovered that the girl-child was none other than Princess Zelda."

Midna interjected again, "Right, because she shouldn't have been married as a child, so she wouldn't have had the title of Queen."

"Yes," I was growing mildly impatient. "She would not have been Queen at the time she and the Hero met." I lurched ahead in my story to keep Midna from interrupting again.

I started, "Zelda and our Hero—"

"The name of your Hero again – what is it?" Midna cut in again.

I rolled my eyes to the midnight heavens. "His name was Link, but we call him our Hero or Hero of Time out of respect."

"Since you called your Royal ancestor by her birth name, it shouldn't be an issue to call the Hero by his birth name," she said.

I was quite prepared to give up and ask if she was ready to go to bed and sleep. But she asked, "What is the rest of the story?" So I began again, but meant to give an abbreviated version.

"Link and Zelda formed a bonding relationship as children during their quest to protect the Triforce. Then one day the desert demon King Ganondorf came and made a coup d'état of the kingdom. Zelda fled with her guardian and was hidden, Link went through his legendary sleep of seven years. After the seven years had passed, Link awoke, defeated Ganondorf's strongholds, and discovered Zelda again; they married, had children, continued their line. And that is all there is to that story," I finished, stretched and took a deep breath.

I thought Midna had been sufficiently silenced, but apparently not. "How many children did they have?" She said.

I realized how sore my muscles were – I was ready for sleep. "They birthed four children," I answered.

"Hurrr, that is interesting!" Midna whuffled – why it was interesting, I couldn't understand. I would have to ask about the average amount of children Twili families had on another night. My weariness was starting to show through as irritation, and I did not want to end this night on a spat. She had one more question, though.

"For Queen Zelda and the Hero to marry," she said. "You called her your ancestor, did you not?" I nodded.

"Then you are their descendant, true?" she asked.

"I am," I said simply, then took her by the arm. I was finished for the evening and ready for sleep. "I'm taking you back to bed," I commanded.

"Aaah-haaa," Midna drawled. "So you are going to be the leader in the relationship now?"

"I wasn't aware there was a leader in our relationship!" I said.

Midna's face twisted into a smiling frown, but she didn't answer.

I laughed, feeling my shoulder muscles unwind and smooth out. I led her to bed and the noctural activites that awaited. When the sun rose the next morning, Midna was already gone, yet I felt the sensation of a lingering kiss on my mouth.

"I love you, too, Middie," I whispered to the air.

 


Midna didn't come to me at all that next week. She didn't come at night, she didn't appear at twilight, she didn't come at all. Her absence threatened to consume me, but I had no reason to suspect that something was wrong. It wasn't until a fortnight after our last night together past, I knew in my heart of hearts that something was amiss, but in the occasions that I rolled back into my subconscious to see what was on our mental bridge, nothing appeared to be out of place. I did not hear her singing or her odd speeches to the cosmos and this distressed me.

 

It wasn't until over a month after her departure that I felt an odd disturbance in the air around me. The memory of the silent bridge made me reach out into my mind to attempt touch Midna over our mental bridge. With a cold shock, I realized that something that something was missing since I had last searched our mental planes for her. Midna's presence could not be felt at all, my mind's eye could not perceive through the dark fog and the air had a humid, stifling feel to it.

I sat in my meditating room when I probed our bridge for the second time after her departure. My meditations took place on the wooden floor in those days, with staring sessions at colorful, abstract mural on the northern wall to help with my spiritual ponderings. Normally the mural calmed my soul, but at that moment it symbolized the turmoil and chaos that was just beginning. It was just beginning, and I wasn't doing anything to stop it…

...Couldn't do anything to stop it. Too late came the strange, clarion call.

My subconscious tickled and I dove back into my mind. My mind's voice called to Midna from my side of the bridge. "Middie…Midna!" I searched, praying for an answer, but received nothing, not even a hint. I quickly made the decision to walk over the bridge and onto Midna's plane – I was only beginning to feel the desperation for help.

As I walked over, several streaks of red formed on a tall, distant boulder on Midna's plane and began making intricate patterns as it spread onto the ground. At first its development was slow, but as I came closer to investigate, they spread more quickly.

My mind screamed alarms. I called for Midna again and no one answered. The lines began traveling towards me. More alarm bells sounded in my mind's ears, but when I turned to run my feet felt as though they were clad in iron. The patterns formed about my feet and were holding me in place; I cried out for Midna – if she was there, she would be the only one who could help me. The red lines made my feet sting and burn, my calves and shins were icy cold. The lines were crawling up my legs!

Powerful hands grabbed my shoulders and pushed me forward. The lines on my legs broke and I began running. The hands continued to stay behind my back, urging me on. I didn't think to look behind me. The importance of leaving the encroaching lines behind was of utmost importance.

I touched the safety of the bridge, and the lines sank onto the ground. Hissing steam came up as the lines sank into the ground in piles. I took gasping breaths and finally thought to look at the one who saved me.

A furry, red haired, tiny, dollish looking creature floated at eye level. If it stood on the ground, it couldn't have been more than three feet tall. "Who are you?" I asked hoarsely

"Midna," the imp said. Her voice scraped my ears – even at low volume her voice sounded shrill and thin.

"You call yourself Midna…?" I said, not understanding.

"I am Midna!" She cried.

I stared at Midna with my mouth open. "What has happened to you?" I whispered.

"No time…Zant's coming…you must be ready…get back to the throne room…" Midna's words came out in an incoherent tumble.

"He…Zant…Zant's coming to me? Why?" I said.

"Zelda, I don't have time," she said. "You must stand firm. His desire is to make the Light Kingdom an extension of the Twilight. How can I make you understand – what am I not saying? His desire is to conquer Hyrule! Don't surrender to him, whatever happens, please…please," she said, head bowed. "Go…get out," she said, and turned away.

My voice choked in my throat in protest as I stared at her back. Was she abandoning me? No…it couldn't be…

I left the depths of mind, haunted by her sobs.

I slipped out of my inner world and left my meditation room immediately. As soon as I emerged, I began calling orders; my home was soon to come under attack, and I would not stand by and see Zant's Twilight blot out my sun.

In answer to my calls, guards snapped to attention, ran for the armory and distributed weaponry. The servants left their duties and I directed them to the underground basement that was built for such a time. I on the other hand, refused to go down with the majority of my household. Courage would be my armor, strength my shield and power of mind my weapon. I would stand with my soldiers and face the danger head on – I determined to fulfill my role as Regent Princess to the fullest. Would it be enough?

I walked at the front of a retinue of my guards, and my lead general, Riekkan handed me my mother's sword – a subtle work of beauty. Pearlescent, smooth, perfectly balanced. Deadly. It was forged with the ability to slide through an enemy's heart like a knife through soft butter.

I walked with decisive steps into my throne room where I would soon meet this Zant. I would not come to him – he would come to me. I did not sit on the throne my father and I had so often played on as an adolescent. I stood on the front of the dais to receive the best view of the main entrance. Riekkan shouted positional orders to my soldiers, and I silently berated myself for not setting up doors to provide some measure of defense. It had always been tradition for the throne room to be free of doors – an indication that the Royal Family and the people whom they governed were never to be separated. 'Still, I thought, doors might have served as some barrier to invasions."

When the marble floor under my feet began to shake, my mind shivered; I forced it to focus on the moment, focus on defense and an opportunity to attack. Plaster came down in tiny flakes from the ceiling and walls as the ground underneath my feet trembled. I looked to the doorway and what I saw almost caused me to my knees.

A fog – not unlike the fog that had been in on Midna's mental plane – had risen and covered the entire doorway, black atmosphere edged with those same red lines. I tried to take control of my breathing, but when a blast of cold, foul air shrieked into the room, I forgot about any kind of control.

Monsters, hideous monsters charged at lightning speed into the room, grabbing up my soldiers as they hurtled. Riekkan gave the signal to charge to those who were still on the ground and I ground my teeth as those Twilit creatures grabbed up my soldiers one by one and broke their necks with sickening crunches.

Riekkan sent out another wave of troops, but I knew we were sending the men to their immediate deaths. I gave Riekkan the signal to stop attack and begin defense – there were only a few soldiers left, and it would have been meaningless to attack again. Nonetheless, I unsheathed my mother's sword and white-knuckled it and focused on preparing for the next imminent attack. It was a maneuver made more to reassure myself more than it was preparation to tear into those monsters.

Suddenly, a deep darkness cast over the massive room and in the dimness I perceived something—a man or beast, I couldn't tell—walking up to me, steps heavy and slow.

Realization hit. Visual details revealed. My mind turned white.

A steel helmet carved into the shape of a monster's head with an oddly curved tongue sat on shoulders covered with thick, black cloth. Thin, blue, glowing trails decorated the cloak which It wore. Tassels hung from the sleeves where there should have been hands, and metallic boots heavily clanked up my carpet to the dais, leaving scores in the floor.

After I stared at the marks in my floor, I noticed all my soldiers were gone. They were mercilessly killed and out of the way – they would not make resistance anymore. My only choice was to face this catastrophe head-on and with strength, but I felt more alone than I ever had in my life.

The creature, Zant, spoke in an guttural tone, "It is time for you to choose: surrender or die. Oh yes, a question for all the land and people of Hyrule... Life? Or death?" The sound of his – or it's – voice grated on my ears and made me want to cover them.

I spoke to block out the sound of his grotesque baritone, "Life or death for whom, Zant?"

In the blink of an eye, Zant flew into my face and screamed, "I am King Zant!" His boots smashed up onto the dais on which I was standing, dislodging tiles. I swung my sword at his helmet and he took three steps back. "I do not recognize you as king!" I cried. "You are a usurper and you will never be a true ruler. Your power is worthless and has been handed to you for a short time. Consider your days numbered."

I stared at his helmet for a few brief moments. I could only assume that he was looking at me through those bulbous metal eyes.

"My question Zant. Answer my question!" I softly demanded. If I had allowed fear to leak into my voice, I would have been decimated.

He spoke again, this time with more peevishness than before. "If you surrender, life for you and your people. If you fight, death for you," he said.

I aimed my sword between the eyes of the helmet. "If I fought you and met my death, what would become of my people?" I asked.

"They would die soon after you," came his answer. "Be sure of it."

I have told my husband time and time again – I would rather be burned alive than have my citizens' blood on my head. I made my decision and didn't think twice. Choosing surrender, I dropped my mother's sword.

"Then so be it," I said.

It was in this way that I signed my name on the darkness that spread across Hyrule.

My watch on Zant's helmet broke as I looked at something floating in the corner of my eye. A slender, black, squarish object spun slowly up towards the ceiling, and was followed by hundreds more – more and more all around the room. The Light that I had taken for granted all my life was extinguished, and everything I saw was drenched in a hazy, yellow-brown miasma.

Zant took advantage of my distraction, walked up to my person and leaned into my face.

Zant turned and lifted his head to the high ceiling. He spoke with reverence. "Our new Twilight Princess has taken her place..." To whom he was speaking, I did not know. An entity? What righteous entity would bless the coup of a righteous kingdom?

Zant faced me. I stared at the helmet until he raised his arm and swooped it over my head. I ducked to avoid being smashed in the face and I hit something hard. It wasn't until I opened my eyes that I suddenly realized I was in my bedroom. "Stay there…until my god and I have need of you." Zant's voice echoed ominously in my ears. The door locked behind me, but I ignored it.

My brain raved with questions. 'God? What god?

'Is this the same "god" that was created by the pre-Twili race?

Is Zant searching for Midna' s piece of the Fused Shadows? Does he have the other pieces? If he gains all the broken parts of the Fused Shadow, what will happen? How much more powerful will he become? Will this Twilight in my Lighted world be permanent? What then would it take to save us from Twilight and Zant? Could we even be saved? Is Hyrule being punished for her sins against the Goddesses? Do they punish by sending evil usurpers?"

I needed to do something to keep myself from going mad, and went to the window to watch the town market. What I saw made me want to weep - Twilight covered the marketplace and my people were slowly being engulfed. In their places, blue tongues of fire lit and their physical forms could no longer be seen. It appeared that the people were dying and their souls wandering the earth, full of resentment and desire to return to their ordinary lives.

I turned away from that sight which both horrified and condemned me.

A fierce, cold draft came through my room. There wasn't a way I could light a fire in the hearth – Zant and his minions wouldn't give me anything that could be turned into a weapon. Needing warmth and comfort, I went to the wardrobe in the corner and pulled out a long, black cloak. It had been created long ago for stealth by the Sheikah remnant, but it kept the draft from reaching my skin, but the thick clock did not seem to be enough. I pulled out a scarf – a gift from foreign dignitaries of the desert. Made from a deep purple, silken material, it was perfect for my face and neck.

Thoughts whirled again: I have just lost my kingdom to one of the most evil and power-thirsty usurper kings in Hyrule's history and I'm here thinking about clothing. Midna had told me not to surrender, but I wasn't left with much of a choice.

I half-heartedly called Midna's name and was overjoyed to see her rolling out of the unlit fireplace. It quickly became clear that she did not reciprocate the feeling of joy, in fact, she was furious. She dug her sharp fingernails into my neck and shook my head with all her strength.

"I told you, I told you, I told you, NOT to surrender! What have you done?" She howled.

In a violent burst of anger, I threw her across the room onto the bed. "And did you do any differently when Zant came to you for your surrender?" I screamed back at her.

Midna again flew into my face. "I didn't surrender, you empty-headed naïve bitch! I was thrown out!" She shrieked.

My hand surged and I slapped her hard across the face. We stood staring at each other on opposite sides of the room, both of us panting in fury.

Midna stared at me with a long spectrum of blinding wrath, deep understanding and infinite love. My anger broke and I began to shake with the expended effort of keeping up my end of the fight. I slowly sank into the nearest chair – the shame on my face was evident, I'm sure. Stunned at the bestiality of my behavior, I could not look into Midna's eyes. I pulled the hood of the cloak over my head and looked away.

My hand rested on the arm of the chair and I felt Midna sit on my arm. I didn't make the effort to move, I simply cried. The day had been too much for me to handle. I failed my father, I failed Midna, I failed my ancestors, I failed the gods, I failed my country.

"Midna, you need to leave before you are caught," I managed to choke out. "I've already ruined your plans for keeping the Twilight out. I've shattered your intentions to receive your crown again. I won't have you caught. It would make things worse than they already are."

Midna moved from my hand into my lap. For her height, she was certainly heavy. She pushed her hands into the hood of my cloak and gently brushed it aside, then leaned forward and kissed my lips. I only cried, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…You told me not to surrender and I did," I said.

"Yes," she answered simply, with no hint of malice or anger. "My words were not to surrender. But now we move on from here," she said firmly.

"I must find our Hero Beast – our hour of need is more urgent than ever," she said. "Zelda, I would take you out of here in a moment if we didn't both know that would allow Zant to track us down. I must ask you to stay and be our Twilight Princess until I return."

"Yes," I said quietly. It was the only thing to do.

"Also, we cannot allow anyone to know about…us. I'm petrified of Zant's discovering it and using you to twist my arm into something horrible. Please understand, Rose-elda." She murmured, kissing my tears away.

I held her as close as I could to my breast for as long as she would let me.

After listening to our breaths move slowly in and out of synchronization, I said, "You must go."

Midna nodded. "Please stay strong until I return," she said. "And I will return."

"Strength will be my shield," I answered.

She smiled a genuine smile and prepared to leave.

"Zelda," she whispered. "Watch me."

I lifted my head and she rose to the window. My mouth dropped as her body was split into hundred of tiny pieces and the pieces floated through the window. My mouth dropped further as the bits assembled again together to create Midna's body again. I could hear her laughter through the window.

"Like it?" She shouted through the window, and I came up and touched the cold glass pane. I smiled when she kissed the window, pressing her lips against it.

She waved and I watched until the last of her shards absorbed into the air. There wasn't anything to do after that beyond watching out the window and listening for anyone coming up to see me. I went to bed for what proved to be a fitful sleep.

 


Indeed, the days crawled on. Zant's endless cycles of guards assigned to my tower were hardly a source of entertainment. I had nothing with which to occupy myself; I wasn't given any paper or ink, nothing with which to conduct research, and certainly no weapons to practice with. It became my experience that with the routine of boredom came also deep worries that would not have bothered me otherwise.

 

Will the crops grow with Twilight on our land? If they do not, what will become of my people? Will they be forced to leave Hyrule, become immigrants of another world? What will happen to our population if they are forced to leave in droves? Our economy would crash, our military would be nothing to speak of, and the national damage would be next to impossible to reverse.

Where is my mother's sword? Where has it gone…How can I make the Arrows…The Arrows!…My power – what little power I have – is nothing in the face of Twilight…and Zant…and his "god"…Who will save my country…Midna by herself is not strong enough…and together, she and I are still nothing…Where is she?...Why am I here…Why was I born for this time…

Tedious inertia set in, my mind slowly being sabotaged. I kept my mind busy from childhood, and in captivity, there remained nothing to do. My worries ate my mind alive – viewing the marketplace in my window did nothing to ease my mental anguish. I never saw human faces, only blue tongues of flame and yet the sneaking assurance that my people were in fact alive and just imperceptible to the naked human eye gave me a small amount of encouragement.

One day, I began pacing and over just a few moments, the pressure on my mind became too much. My hands shook and I longed to grab hold of something and break or bend it with all my might. My thoughts were a ridiculous mess – really, they couldn't be imagined as thoughts at all; just utter chaos.

At the point where my brain could take no more, I separated my spirit from my body, rose out from the room, through the ceiling and the roof, reached the outside and breathed the Twilit air.

It was an ability I had practiced for years, but I did not need it until that moment. There wasn't any way that I could have taken any more mental torture – something had to cave in or else I would have lost my mind.

I allowed my spirit to float high and I looked down at my home, now Zant's headquarters. I observed it from an aerial view, and I realized how insignificant it was in the face of the horrors that had befallen it – and what was I?

I looked up to the skies, folded my hands in supplication and prayed, "Goddesses, hear your servant – please, I ask of something from You. Send the one who is to be our Hero. Our need only increases with each passing hour. I will sacrifice everything I have if You awaken him to our need." Deep in my heart, I felt they heard me.

Everything?

"I will sacrifice everything I have, even my life," I said and I meant it.

With freedom comes sacrifice, Zelda, and sacrifice could come at a great price. Everything?

"Yes…everything," I said.

I became concerned that Zant's servants would find my body in the room in its deathlike state, so I sank and continued to sink until I was settled back into my physical person.

One day after several days of not knowing her whereabouts, Midna returned. The door was opened slightly to allow for air circulation but only achieved in letting in drafts. As I paced up and down the middle of my room, I swore loudly that whoever had thought that it appropriate to let the door open would be the first to have their heads taken off when I regained the throne.

I heard her murmuring on the staircase, but when Midna pushed through the door, I was shocked to see her riding what appeared to be a common timber wolf. My first reaction was amazement at how she had tamed it.

As they walked up to him, Midna proudly announced, "I found him!"

It's him…truly him?" I asked. "Your Hero Beast?" I looked at him carefully and started, realizing how blue eyes the creature had.

"Hmmmm…."she murmured with a strange look. "Admiring my new slave, Princess? Isn't he handsome?" Midna bragged, reaching behind her to pinch the wolf's rump. The wolf twitched and growled at her as she gleefully kicked her heels against his sides.

"Not a slave, Midna," I said. "Not a slave." This wolf – was he the Hero sent from the Goddesses?

Midna ignored my statement. "Poor thing, he has no idea where this is or what's happened..." Midna sang as she tugged on his silky ears.

Why doesn't he know? My mind asked.

"So, don't you think you should explain to him what you've managed to do? You owe him that much...

...Twilight Princess!"

Ah. So she hasn't completely forgiven me yet.

I didn't know yet if the wolf had a human mind that could understand my story, but I related it all to him. Hardly had I finished before we heard Zant's guard stomping up the staircase – to discover the source of the noise we were creating, no doubt. "Please go," I told Midna and the wolf. "The guard is making his rounds and I wouldn't want you to be caught."

Midna heard as well, and didn't waste any time in tugging on the wolf's ears to show him which direction he was supposed to go. They dashed out the door and I heard Midna call softly, "His name is Link."

Link. The Hero chosen by the Goddesses. The name given to all the Heroes whose destiny it is to save Hyrule from damnation. My mind spun – the legend was made flesh in Link.

They must have made it safely out, because the guard glanced into my room and then sauntered back down the stairs, bored.

My prayers were solely for Midna and Link from that day onward; I prayed that they would never be captured in their quest to bring Zant down.

I held my own counsel in my heart about Link, and turned back to watch the rain fall through the window. I noticed that it had stopped, and somewhere, something deep in my heart rejoiced. My prayers are being answered.

 


I counted the months that passed by my woman's cycles. One month gone, two months, three months, four.

 

Little changed inside my walls, but outside them, Hyrule's future shifted always. The future rested on Link and Midna, but the importance of their – our – mission did not sink in until after the final mental conversation Midna and I had. It started in the regular manner – Midna's account of her's and Link's cross-country adventures and skirmishes. The discussion suddenly took a strange turn.

"Do you know what I am, fair Rose-elda?" She asked that morning.

"Yes, you are the ruler of the people of Twilight," I answered. "But sometimes, I don't think I know what you are about – not completely."

Her answer was cryptic, to say the least.

"The Ruler of Twilight…The Ruler of Light…and the Mirror of Twilight will separate them forever."

I understood the phrases well enough. But the name 'Mirror of Twilight' shook my brain to the core.

"Yes, Zelda. The Mirror of Twilight is seldom mentioned, and never lightly," Midna said.

"I understand you," I spoke across our bridge. "It was a device created by the Sages to banish only the worst criminals in Hyrule's history – those who attempted to break into the Sacred Realm and claim The Triangles for their own. But how does this relate to your original question?" I asked.

Her sigh was shaky. I longed to reach out, embrace her and absorb her warmth.

"I am a descendant of the tribe that almost broke into your Sacred Realm," she said.

Terrible as it sounds, I was not surprised. "I guessed as much –" I started.

Midna interrupted, "Your ancestors banned mine to the Twilight World."

My face flushed. "The ancient Sages were my tutors, they never told –"

"They wouldn't," Midna said bitterly. "They're too consumed with their own self-righteousness to truly care about what they were doing, and they will not start by feeling sorry for us – my people – now."

Stunned, I could not speak. I was looking into a part of Midna I had never seen before.

Midna turned her back on me.

"We are an evolved race – we are no longer a corrupt, greedy people. We seek peace and harmony with one another, and yet your Sages see fit to continue to punish us. Zant's insanity seems to be the strongest indication."

I leapt in. "How is Zant's mental implosion the Sages fault?" I asked.

"Zant would not have felt the need to dethrone me if he hadn't been feeling pressure from somewhere," she said. "I can only assume that it is the result of your Sage's continued punishment."

She left then, without another word.

"Wait!" I cried.

Midna did not answer or return to me that night.

 


It was a long time before she spoke again on our mental planes, but she did meet again. If she continued to be bitter, or even remember our conversation, she did not make it apparent. To fill the silent voids that sometimes stretched between us, she rambled about her adventures and Link's achievements. When Midna began speaking of Link more often than she did not, I wondered if their relationship had begun to progress beyond the slave-Mistress relationship.

 

Well into the fifth month after I had seen them last, I slipped into my subconscious to have my daily conversation with Midna. Except, there was no longer a way for me to reach her…our bridge had been irreparably splintered. Panic rose. How would I reach MidnaWas she even aware that it was broken?

My frenzy grew for over an hour. It broke only when I heard the heavy pant of an approaching animal. I hoped that it was Link and Midna, but if it wasn't? I didn't have much time to wonder. The wolf with blue eyes, Link, squeezed through.

However, I had eyes only for Midna.

She lay on his back, limp and or someone had tried to kill her and failed, but it was obvious she was fatally injured. Her coloring looked bad and her hoarse breathing alarmed my heart. It would soon be difficult for her to gather air. When she began to drop off the wolf, I dove forward and caught her.

My eyes would have filled with tears if my hot desire to keep her face in focus for as long as possible wasn't so strong. I held her to my breast as she spoke through her labored breathing. "Please... Please tell me... How do we break...the curse on this one? This...is the one... You need him...to save your world! That's why... Princess... Please... You must help Link..."

I cannot say how much I wanted to weep and scream while she spoke. I had to keep calm – any extreme emotions I felt she would be able to sense and those would only serve to worsen her condition. As I held her to my face, Midna tangled a weak hand in my hair and whispered strange, convoluted phrases I couldn't understand – perhaps she was praying then?

"You must help Link." Her last plea echoed in my mind. I observed Midna's breathing and coloration for a little while more. And then…

soul separation.

…what I had been practicing for years. The act of parting the soul from the body while the body still lived. But as I watched Midna die, I understood that more than just separation of the body and soul was required – I would have to give up the life of my body if Midna was to live.

This…this was the sacrifice the Goddesses had called me to make. This was how I was to help Link. And Midna. My mind coiled in preparation.

I softly addressed the woman I loved in my arms, "You are our last hope and you act in my stead. I cannot let you die, so please accept this."

Slowly, I let go of the threads of my life, my heart, my soul, my power. My physical senses dulled, a buzzing in my ears began, and my vision began to snow. I felt physical strength drain from me, my breathing turned shallow, and the magic that once blazed through my veins cooled. Simultaneously, Midna's color began to return, and her own breathing waxed strong.

The transition between our bodies was almost finished when Midna shouted, "Princess NO! Link stop her!" Link only stood gaping. She should have known that it was too late. The life in my body was gone – it was Midna's. My spirit stood in her – my physical body was dead.

The Goddesses asked me if I was willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of Hyrule, and I said yes. It was not physically painful, however, it was spiritually painful. Memories of my mother, my father, my tutors the Sages, everyone I had loved slipped away from me. My mind was weak, submissive and would be ruled by Midna's. Her memories would become mine, her thoughts and my thoughts would be the same.

I wouldn't have had it any other way.

 


Hours felt like days and days felt like years.

 

Everything Midna and Link worked for I witnessed through her eyes. My anger grew with Midna's when we saw my home quickly enclosed in an evil atmosphere after we had left my home. I rejoiced when the ancient Master Sword was withdrawn and Link restored to his human form. Inside and alongside Midna, I fought the creatures that tried to stop our progress.

During the rare times we rested, I watched with Midna while Link – our Hero – slept. He had a monstrous snore that consistently kept Midna awake, hence the reason why she was often the night watch. To keep him more quiet, poor Midna would roll Link onto his side, his back, and his stomach but it seldom mended his snoring.

Link was also quite the eater and often picked for himself strange fruits and vegetables out of the fields of Hyrule without examining them too closely. Once, in his hunger, Link ate a poisonous fruit – Midna was forced to create for the foolish boy a combination of water and salt to make him bring it back up. In his panic, Link did not think to ingest salted water to help himself, but in the end, he proved to be grateful. I've never laughed so hard in my life as when Midna screamed a long string of profanities while Link vomited terribly.

He was foolish in some things, but certainly not in most things. Link had the ability to dispatch a group of enemies in very quickly and many times he emerged from a one-on-one fight with nary a scratch – if he did, it was negligible. I felt Midna's admiration for him, and it seemed to me that there were feelings developing between the two of them. I was confused though – were those Midna's feelings, or were they mine? Were they coming from both our hearts? Nonetheless, I couldn't help but feel pride in how mine and Midna's hearts had melted into one, how her thoughts were indistinguishable from mine.

But there was not a way to prepare for the discovery of Zant's god, the one he had mentioned just before he caged me in my room.

We on the site of the Arbiter's Grounds, the home of the Sages' spirits and the old dungeons of judgment. It was a question we had to ask but it was an answer we weren't anticipating. "Ganondorf," said the Sages. It was the only word needed, the name that evoked terror and chaos. I felt Midna's limbs slacken and her spine bend in despair.

"You're just now figuring out where Zant got his power?" Howled Midna. "It's far too late!"

The scourge of Hyrule, the dark angel fighting against the Goddesses' hand of fate for centuries had become strong through Zant, and quickly becoming more powerful than before. Without a doubt, Ganondorf could eventually become impervious to any attack made by a mortal.

After nearly half a year journeying to find the shards of the Twilight Mirror, we returned to my home, the House of the Royals. Midna and I understood then why the evil barrier had been created. Ganondorf had no intention of allowing anyone but Link and Midna in – he had created a trap, using my body as bait to lure them in.

After months of hard work, Midna was in full possession of the Fused Shadow, the ancient god-object the pre-Twili race created after shunning the Goddesses. Midna awakened the power inside and almost instantly, she was transformed into a monstrous creature, armed with a frightening spear. With a stab that could shatter anything, she broke the evil barrier.

She had tremendous power, but I remember the horror that she felt when we discovered what had once been home to my soul in that cavernous throne room. Ganondorf had my body within his physical grasp. We didn't know what he would do with it – we were not even aware of what he coulddo.

"So you're Ganondorf," said Midna. "I've been dying to meet you." The cool tone of her voice belied the fury I felt rising in her heart.

"Your people have long amused me, Midna. To defy the gods with such petty magic, only to be cast aside...how very pathetic," the dark demon said. "Pathetic as they were, though, they served me well. Their anguish was my nourishment. Their hatred bled across the void and awakened me. I drew deep of it and grew strong again. Your people had some skill, to be sure...but they lacked true power. The kind of absolute power that those chosen by the gods wield. He who wields such power would make a suitable king for this world, don't you think?"

Midna became speechless with anger. "Conceited bastard!" She screamed. Did Ganondorf understand the chords struck within Midna's heart? And mine? He must have – his first act of violence proved it.

He gained control over my soulless body and used it to attack Link and Midna. I remember Midna's cries when Ganondorf's spirit filled my body to the breaking point. I understand now that the threads between her heart and mine communicated pain. My body was still alive to a certain point and Ganondorf's possession hurt us both. It was almost too much to bear – my mind shrieked with the strain.

Link did everything he could to fight Ganondorf but leave my body somewhat unharmed. The attacks that Ganondorf used my body to create were nothing short of appalling. The boy to whom Midna's heart had warmed parried and blocked, but never directly attacked my body. I remember feeling that first, small sense of pride in him and Midna smiled in the mental connection we had. "We needed him after all, didn't we, Rose-elda?" My spirit wept with pain, but it also wept with joy at the sound of Rose-elda, the special name I hadn't heard in a long time.

"It seems we did," my mind answered.

At last, Link weakened Ganondorf and Midna took the chance to summon the Fused Shadows and rip him out of my body.

With the absence of evil inside the body, I could inhabit it once more and I cannot express what it felt like to be home after nearly a year of being away from it. When I opened my own eyes once again, Midna was hovering inches above me. "Princess…" she choked.

"Middie…" I whispered. Words were not needed.

I heard softly shuffling feet and I looked around Midna to see Link, shyly smiling at me. As we held each others' gaze, I wryly thought that he was far more handsome in person.

"How does it feel to be back?" Link asked, blushing as he spoke.

I was struck then at his age. He couldn't have been more than eighteen years old – and yet he used all his strength to help to topple the most evil regime Hyrule has ever known. Would that every person made the choice for such sacrifice for the greater good!

"It feels….," my voice scratched uncomfortably from months of unuse. "Just right."

He grinned at me and I couldn't help but smile back. The dimples in his cheeks were…darling, for lack of a better word. When I gazed at his eyes, I saw none of the terrors, pain from battles, months of hard work, months of sleeping on hard ground in the open air. I only saw excitement, joy…and love?

"I'm so happy you're back, Your Majesty," he said, bowing.

I watched his every muscle move. He was, in one word, beautiful. My words came automatically, my heart giving meaning to them. "It is an honor and a delight to be back, Link," I said. "I am in debt for your protection and-"

Our interaction was cut short by a crackling in the air, and the distinct smell of evil. Ganondorf appeared in his spirit form, ready to fight all over again.

Midna growled. "What? Again? The son of a bitch!"

I stood up unsteadily and began to muster up a shield of protection around us, but it was clear to me that it wouldn't be remotely enough. Link drew his sword, but can a sword cut through spirit? While Link and I were busy with out battle preparations, behind my back, Midna prepared one of the Twili warp points above mine and Link's heads. I heard the sound of the point crackling and looked above just in time to be physically removed from the room. In my last glance at her, I watched her assemble the broken pieces of the Fused Shadow with a serene smile on her face, her face turned to the sky beyond the ceiling.

 


In the next blink of my eyes, I stood on the wide open fields of Hyrule. The sky had an ugly, pallor to it – ominous gray and yellow. I heard hard panting and looked to my side to see Link standing beside me, just as horrified as I. "She took you out with me, Link?" I cried.

 

He nodded in disbelief, his eyes darting about. I drew close to him and saw tears forming in his eyes. It suddenly occurred to me with a hard shock that Midna might have been in love with the warrior boy, and he with her. I took a deep breath and looked away from him as the thought blared in my mind.

A loud crash deafened me, and a small running distance away, Ganondorf sat on his great black horse. He raised his arm high above his head, and I saw something in his hand but could not make out what it was. That is, until he snapped its spire and dropped it.

My heart crunched with Midna's Fused Shadow piece – Ganondorf was the victor. Anger flared into deep rancor and I screamed a battle challenge at the evil man. His only response was a rude gesture.

I began breathing deeply, focusing my attentions on the battle just starting. Link drew his sword and steeled himself for the oncoming battle, but I stilled his hand and our eyes met in understanding. There was only one way this battle could be won. I prayed for the good spirits of this world to intervene on our behalf.. "Spirits of the light! Wielders of the great power that shines far and wide upon the lands of our world...In my hour of need, grant me the light to banish evil!"

The Spirits granted my prayer and their power surged through me. I felt strength seeping into my limbs and mind as the energy seared my veins. Light and took the opportunity to touch Link in his mind, making a bridge between us, just like Midna had done so long ago with me.

I looked into his eyes and waited until his wonder ceased so he could look at me – and not just at me but into me. When his eyes finally met mine, he smiled a foolish smile and blushed furiously despite the situation. "Link," I said. "Would you grant us the last of your power?" The battle we were about to face was far bigger than any sense of royal superiority I could have felt, so I bowed to him, waiting for his answer, waiting for either yes or no. I wouldn't be able to kill Ganondorf without Link – I knew I wouldn't. Nevertheless, I wanted the choice to be Link's

I felt him slide his hand into mine and my heart quivered with anticipation. I will," he said with a confident smile. I raised my head and our gazes met. I think we both felt it then – we had a bond that could never be broken, even beyond death.

The battle began. Link wielded his sword, I, my mother's bow and the Spirit's Arrows of Light. We fought to bring Ganondorf down together, and Link gradually wore the Dark King down enough to plant the ancient Master Sword squarely into Ganondorf's black heart.

All done.

I ran to Link to praise him, to embrace him, to kiss him even, but I paused when I realized Link's eyes were filled with tears. There was one who could not share in our joy – one whose victory was as much as hers as it was ours, but had thrown herself in the path of immediate death to save her lover and friends. But Link loved Midna as I had. The slightest pang of jealousy pricked my heart. Midna has always been mine. Whose is she now that she has gone to the Plane of the Immortals?

But I could feel no true grief and could not explain why. I knew the sadness was there, but it did not manifest itself in the same way that it had with the death of my father. I had expected blinding pain from the heart, dizzying mental anguish. Where was it? Had I become too callused?

I regarded Link and the envy rose again. I mentally slapped myself for being so selfish. The boy had spent more time with her than I had, how could henot have loved her in some fashion? And I couldn't exactly say that I have some sort of feeling for Link either.

Even as our victory rose in front of us, confusion and a double feeling in my heart grew. I knew I loved Midna - that much was certain - but I was also aware of a tenderness that could grow into love for Link. The feeling of liking someone of the opposite sex was strange and new, and not just a little thrilling.

As memories of times with Midna flickered before my mind's eye, finally, my heart clenched and cried. How could she die? I never even considered that she could – in my youthful naivety, that possibility never occurred to me.

You are not the only person who grieves. I heard Link's quiet sobs and without thinking, I touched his shoulder. He almost didn't notice, but then when he registered my touch, he looked at me…with that look of love again. It was love! My heart caught in my throat when I at last understood.

I heard voices many leagues away from where we were standing and turned towards them. The Light Spirits were assembling. I thought at first that they were holding some kind of council in regards to Ganondorf's death, but when they evaporated, I saw a small figure sitting on the ground in their places.

I sent Link up the hill to see what they had done, but before he reached the top, my heart told me what he would find – Midna, in her true, resurrected person.

 


As we three held our private celebrations and watched the people of Hyrule hold their ruckus festivals, I observed Link and Midna's interactions. The boy was quite enamored with her – that much was obvious. He constantly made puppy eyes at her and it was times like those that I felt jealousy for both of them, Midna in particular. I understood that Midna was, at the least, very attached to Link – she probably loved him. I also knew that tenderness for Link resided in my heart and it was my suspicion that Link returned the feelings.

 

I contemplated our situation at my dining table in my private quarters adjacent to a small but airy green garden. 'A sordid, twisted love triangle we're in,' I thought to myself.

There was a part of me that wanted Link, to feel a kiss from his mouth, to feel his hand touch mine, to hear him whisper in my ear. However, there was a bigger part of me that wanted Midna – I longed to feel her hands on my breasts and the apex between my thighs, longed to kiss her soft neck, longed to feel our hips touch one another.

I did not eat much at that particular supper. Link ate as though he hadn't eaten in months. The sight of him stuffing meats, breads, fruits, and fresh vegetables into his mouth reminded me at once of the game my father and I used to play – "Court Jester Parade." I remembered all the fat suitors shoveling food into their mouths, taking advantage of the free food courtesy of the Royal Family. Link had better table manners than they had, but I couldn't believe the sheer volume of food he managed to stomach.

The thought of my father and our games brought tears to my eyes. My heart ached for him, it ached for Midna's eternal embrace, it ached for a moment alone with Link. I think now that the aching was a result of the "high mountaintop" that I was coming down from. The emotional high of defeating Ganondorf combined with the memories of the small battles leading to his death was enough to make me thoroughly insane. Midna looked directly at me as and she seemed to understand what was happening. She politely excused ourselves from Link's company and went into my garden.

"I still love you," she said before we had reached the shadows of a grove of orange trees.

"But you love him back," I countered.

Midna sighed and watched a bird scuffle about in the leaves. "Love is more complicated than I'd ever imagined. I loved you the same moment I first laid eyes on you. And yet…with Link…you grow close with those whom a year of your life is spent."

The part of me that loved Midna despaired. "What can I do to win you back?" I said.

"When you died for me…you had my heart for all eternity," Midna whispered with emotion in her voice. "I don't know of a pure soul in the world who wouldn't appreciate such a sacrifice, but I will always love the woman who died so I could live."

She held me and kissed me, holding me firmly. "I love you, my Rose-elda."

"I love you, too," I cried.

I kissed her again and when we broke apart, I smiled through the tears in my eyes and hugged her tightly. As we walked back to join Link, she said something rather random. "You will be expected to marry. Your kingdom will need the security of future heirs."

"Will you marry me?" I asked, half teasing and half serious.

"I wish that were possible," Midna murmured. "I believe that your people will pressure you to marry our dear hero."

"But…he loves you…doesn't he?" I said. Midna grunted.

"He loves me as a seventeen year—old can. He will grow up, and while he won't forget me, he will soon desire a wife," she said. "I've seen how he looks at you. When your people see that he has tenderness for you, Link will be their natural choice."

"You said he was raised on a farm. How on earth can a farm boy be suitable for kingship?" I asked, trying to stall for time.

"You must be joking, Zelda – he was indeed raised on a farm, but he was chosen by the Goddesses to save your kingdom and mine. What better husband can you find other than him? He would be more than suitable for the office of King. Your deities, nor mine, would not choose an unworthy hero. If he does not want to a leader in that regard, you could be sole ruler and he would be your consort," Midna said.

"He is too young to be a husband," I said, attempting to stall for more time.

"Young – yes. But give him a year yet," she said. "I anticipate your being excellent for one another. He needs someone who is matched according to his strength and power and you need someone to be your shield as you fight the battles of life. You truly are naturally made for one another."

"And we were not made for each other?" I asked. Midna was silent.

I was stunned at Midna's match-making, but I gave up trying to evade the issue at hand. "I've never loved anyone but you. How can I love a man?" I asked.

"I should have never trained you up to the ways of women lovers," Midna shook her head. "I have caused more trouble than I imagined."

I turned her face to me and held it. "You have not – and will never cause any trouble - through you, I have learned to love. And you did not train me," I said. "I came into the world prepared to be the lover of one woman and one woman only. I only needed your awakening to realize it. You came to me at a time when I despaired of feeling again, and I will be eternally grateful for the Goddesses' gift they sent to me," I said passionately.

For the first time, I saw tears coming up into Midna's eyes. My heart reached for hers and we met on the bridge in our minds.

"I will…always…love you," I said. Midna wept.

We joined Link at the dinner table shortly thereafter. Midna and I both worked to control our emotions and Link watched us both carefully, nibbling on a piece of cheese. He looked to Midna, looked to me, then spoke quietly.

"How do you fare, my Lady?" He asked.

"I'm well, Link, thank you," I said. He was not completely at ease around me at the time, but I wondered about the truthfulness of Midna's predictions in regards to Link and I marrying one day.

That evening, Midna eventually said that which I dreaded to hear.

"As my dear friends know well, I cannot stay here. I must return to the Twilight Realm and take control of my kingdom once more," she stated. I said nothing, but Link's mouth dropped open. Apparently, the notion hadn't occurred to him.

 


Midna and I made the best of our last days together. We walked through the sprawling fields of Hyrule and swam together in my favorite lakes. Under the cover of night, Midna slipped into my bedroom from hers and we made love with urgency and a poignancy that had not been present before. Once, during a warm, springtime rainstorm, she dragged me out of bed and into my secluded garden and made love to me there with a power I had never seen before. I remember how I touched her lips, her neck, her breasts and her center with my tongue, willing my senses to imprint her scent and the sensation of her forever in my heart.

 

Many times, we took short walking tours through Hyrule and made those short walks last as long as we could. We never had a retinue with us; it would have been an invasion on sacred moments. Often, Link accompanied us on our excursions and Midna tried to help Link acclimate to my presence. Her diligence succeeded, and eventually Link and I came onto equal ground and we talked with more familiarity.

It was too short a time with Midna. We left for the portal to Midna's home, the Mirror Chamber, four weeks after the fall of Ganondorf. My Middie, while loathe to leave us, understood that her people needed her to provide stability once again.

In the last hour, Midna stood tall and proud on the glowing platform that would soon take her home, and spoke her last words to us. "Well...I guess this is farewell, huh? Light and shadow can't mix, as we all know. But...never forget that there's another world bound to this one."

"Shadow and light are two sides of the same coin," I said. "One cannot exist without the other. I know now the reason the goddesses left the Mirror of Twilight in this world. They left it because it was their design that we should meet. Yes...That is what I believe." I tried to call on the emotional control that I had been trained as a royal to have, but I didn't quite succeed.

"Zelda," she said softly. "Your words are kind, and your heart is true. If all in Hyrule are like you…Then maybe you'll do all right. Thank you..."

No, Middie. Thank you.

She walked onto the platform that presented her to the Mirror, and turned to us again. It appeared as though she was trying to say one last word to us, but only a single tear to emerged from her eyes. As I watched, she pushed the tear towards the mirror. I remember wondering briefly why she did it.

I understood a moment later. The Mirror began cracking with the contact from the tear.

Link and I whirled about to watch its splitting and Link looked as though he wanted to run and grab Midna off the platform.

But I knew this was way of things – I had to let her go.

Midna faded away…to her home…and the Mirror broke into millions of miniscule, irreparable pieces. Link cried aloud, but I just let the tears fall. It was finished, but Midna's memory was not.

I never saw her again…

…I never saw her on the bridge that we made…

…I never saw her in my bedroom again…

…I only saw her in my dreams.


It has taken me three years to completely absorb everything that transpired in that time and put it down into writing. Even now, I can barely hold back the tears, as fresh as the day Midna left.

 

Midna was right when she said that my citizens would ask that I marry the Hero chosen by the Goddesses. Loving him a great deal by then and wanting to please my people, I did so.

Midna was right when she said that Link and I were created for one another. It took some adjustment to being married (the long line of suitors are gone forever!) and it especially took time to learn making love with a man, but I must say that I enjoy the state of being married and the bond of past suffering and trial that Link and I share.

Many mornings, I wake up in Link's arms and I feel his sleeping breath on my neck. Its times like this I can't help but smile – for no particular reason.

Let it be known throughout the land of Hyrule, for this age and for future ages – this is not only a story of good triumphing over evil.

It is a love story.


A/N: Special thanks to 

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

 transcript by Jacob Stutsman.