Chapter 26: Our First and Final Farewell
Link's blue eyes widened in surprise as he looked upon the girl before him. Here he was, standing in a hazy field somewhere within his dreams, and all he could think of was this girl. Artemis' memories, perhaps?
The stranger advanced in an easy saunter scarred limbs swaying as the grass about them. She smiled half-heartedly as Link took hesitant steps backward in alarm, his hand reaching toward an invisible sword and face paling as he realized he was unarmed.
"Link, tis me, you do not need to worry," the girl said. "You know in your heart who I am, do you not?"
The voice of his 'sister' took his breath away. So many things came spiraling back into his mind, things that Link had not thought he would even remember. Things from his past.
Reaching up toward a bloodstained hand that held all the gentleness of a mother. Fears comforted as the scarred, bloodied, and bruised face of a young girl smiled at him and whispered heartfelt promises of a better life. The sound of a melodious voice singing him to sleep as he cried.
In his dazed state Link had not noticed that the phantom now stood before him, warm and gentle arms poised about him protectively. He could feel the girl smiling into his tunic as tears began to leak forth from his hardened eyes.
"Sister?" Link asked once again. So many times had he seen her in his dreams, not knowing who she was, and so many times had she disappeared from within his grasp. He had to know for sure that she would not disappear again as she had so many times before. Link had to know she was not just a dream.
The girl loosened her grip with a smile etching her features as she spoke. "Link, it's me."
Almost instantly Link broke down, slumping to the floor and grabbing hold of his sister's tunic as he wept pitifully into her abdomen. All his years of grief and suffering were poured out as he cried for everything that had been lost and gained from the nightmarish years of his life.
He felt Amelia's rough hands work their way softly through his blood matted hair in a gentle caress. Was this the tenderness that he might have had in his life if she had lived?
"Oh Link…" Amelia murmured with a soft scold in her voice. "You've suffered for so long… I don't want you to speak right now, just listen to me."
"You've been suffering for so long, putting the blame upon yourself for things you never did. I've watched you cry while children teased you for being parentless, I've cried as I watched blood drip from your forehead, and I've frowned as you blame yourself for my death and for the Vow. None of it was your fault, brother… none."
"If I hadn't been born-."
"There you go again, blaming yourself… I chose to give up my life for you, Link, because I love you. I've watched you for eighteen years with tears in my eyes… I've watched you loose your heart and deny something very dear to you."
"Love… love for your friend Zelda."
The soft glow of the fireplace illuminated the stone blue walls and flickered off the streams of sweat currently dotting Zelda's pale skin.
The young Princess sat beside her friend's bedside with a worried expression gracing her violet eyes. With a delicate hand she reached onto the nearby nightstand and pulled from the hot dish of water a steaming cloth, placing it upon Link's contorted face as he muttered in his sleep.
"All my fault… Zelda…"
The words emitting from her friend's mouth were enough to drive Zelda over the edge of despair. It had been a good few hours since she had awaken from the long and arduous sleep that Artemis had wrought upon them, and though she was extremely tired from the long chain of events, she could not rest while her best friend still lay under the effects of some otherworldly being.
"He will be fine," Artemis had said, touching her on the shoulder, "The force speaking to him now is one of great good. He will come out from his sleep not as he was before. He will change for the better. Do not fear for his life, Zelda, he is in good hands."
Do not worry while someone of more power than the Sage of Cosmos held her friend under some sort of sleep? How could she not worry?
Zelda jumped slightly as she felt a rough, wet surface touch her dangling left hand. Within a few moments, warm, silky hair was within her grasp and comforted her weary mind.
Ragnarok rested his enormous head upon her lap and gave her a reassuring whimper as he looked with his gentle golden eyes. The familiar was so much different from earlier; almost like a little puppy instead of a huge, menacing wolf. His eyes portrayed the same message that Artemis had said to her hours ago.
Giving the wolf's head a fond scratch, Zelda smiled for the first time in many days. It was a grateful smile, thanks to Artemis and her pet for all that they had done for her.
She felt a little less anxious then before, and as she turned her gaze back upon Link, Zelda became instantly worried again as her eyes beheld and eerie sight.
From Link's closed lids came a crystal tear flickering in the firelight. Within the clear depths there was a sad mist of regret and bitterness.
As it fell to the floor and the tear broke into tiny dots of glistening water, Link tossed in his sleep, a peaceful and childlike expression wrought on his features.
Link's eyes snapped open the instant that his friend's name was mentioned. He stiffened against his sister, instantly causing her ministrations to end and a deep chuckle to rattle her body.
"You think I have not noticed the way you look at her… the things that you have done for her?" Amelia said with a slightly amused tone to her wise voice, "I know how you feel about her, brother. It is plain to see your love for her."
Link was on his feet in less than a minute, wiping his tears from his face and staring at his sister with a blank expression painted across his features.
He, in love with Zelda? No, it could not be true! He'd seen her only as a friend that would be with him all the years of his life to confide in, nothing more. Her husband, Edward, would be the one to father her children and kiss her gently when she needed comfort. It could never be him, a person of low birth with not even a penny to his name.
Yes, he was to become Commander of the Hylian Army, but how would that help if he still had no claim to Royal blood? A Princess could only marry one of noble blood, and he was most certainly the lowest of the low. A peasant had more dignity than he would ever have.
"Your heart is stronger than you believe it to be, and that is all that matters. The strength of your body does not matter without that of your heart," Amelia said, "Leave the past behind, stop blaming yourself, and follow your heart. Nothing can stand in your way so long as you have those that you cherish by your side. If you love Zelda, do not let any obstacles, especially rank, get in your way. Do you understand, brother?"
The two siblings stood staring at each other for the longest time, hands clasped within each others' as they soaked in every single detail that the other possessed. Somehow it gave the young Hero a certain sense of closure seeing his sister standing before him with a radiant smile on her face as if assuring him everything would be quite alright.
Her words were like an awakening call to him… He had been blaming himself for everything, and when he looked back upon it all he felt horrible about all the things he'd put Zelda through with his sulky mood. After these moments, he would never be the same.
Link parted his lips, speaking in a hoarse and unused voice. "Yes… Yes, Amelia."
His sister smiled one last time, her blue eyes shining with unshed tears as she gently grabbed him into a gentle hug.
"I love you, Link… I'm very proud of you… goodbye."
As these words left Amelia's mouth, Link could feel drowsiness overcome him once more. Darkness began to once more creep in on the edges of his vision as he tightened his hold upon Amelia. There was still so much more to ask… so much more to be said…
"I love you, Sister."
The familiar depths of the dark abyss swallowed him once again. Link could feel himself falling farther than ever before, fighting the ever growing loss of consciousness that seemed to flood through the cracks in his guarded mind. As he finally gave in, he was still faintly aware of his sister's warm arms about him… he could feel a single tear drip onto his chafed skin as he disappeared from the rolling meadows.
'Our first and final farewell…'
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