By dress without sleeves

"They say love makes us do crazy things. Maybe love just makes us crazy." – We Fools Who Love

She was seventeen, and crying. She'd sent him back, sent him back for his own good, and it hurt her more than anything else ever had.

She was ten, watching as a pretty Gerudo – Nabooru – knelt before her father, the King, and offered the Gerudo's service, a treaty, and the backing of the Sage of Spirit.

She was eleven, wandering around the castle, marveling at how much she had missed these walls when Ganondorf stole them away from her. Her feet were soft on the damp grass, leaving tiny imprints as she made her way through the garden.

She was twelve, and had never been so lonely. She needed some sort of playmate, someone her own age, but who was there available? She slipped into her Sheik garb and escaped the castle.

She was thirteen, taking a trip to Kakariko Village with her father. The stupid tiara was perched on her golden head. She forced a smile, wondering when she would be able to go home and be herself again. Her eyes caught his in the crowd, and she could have cried.

She was fourteen, trembling in the cold but not willing to go back inside. She needed to get away, to go, but wasn't sure where. She could become Sheik; she could go to Kakariko…but to what end? What was the point? She didn't know where he lived. She didn't know where he worked. She didn't know if he was even awake. She remained in the courtyard, shivering.

She was fifteen, her body blossoming back into the adult one she had grown accustomed to in the other timeline. She wore a simple white dress, a flowing gown that danced around her legs as she walked. She saw his faint form as he rode across Hyrule Field, and the sight made her smile. At least he was happy.

She was sixteen, lounging in the throne room when he barged in. She sat up straight as a rod, wanting to disappear. He was standing just behind a huge man, who was glaring at her and her father angrily. The man began to bout off incoherent shouts about cuckoos, or pigeons, or something, and he grinned ruefully behind him. "Sorry," he mouthed, and rolled his eyes. She offered a trembling smile, the sight of him so close making her want to cry.

She was seventeen, with nothing to do. She crept from her rooms, begged Impa to "cover" for her, and rode from the palace. She rode as fast as she could go until she reached the Lost Woods, and sat on her horse staring into them.

It all came back to here.

She bit her lip. She could go in, if she wanted, and visit the Kokiri. They liked her, and they liked Sheik. She'd gone often as a child and even a young adult, needing to taste some semblance of him. Needing something tangible to touch, to be in his house, to sleep on his bed. Saria knew it was why she came, and her pitying eyes somehow made Zelda ashamed.

Her eyes filled, and she hated herself for being so weak. For unraveling because of something silly, like love.


She whirled around. He was standing there, staring at her with a puzzled expression, as though he couldn't quite place who she was. They stared at one another for a moment, and then he arched an eyebrow.

"I'm Link," he said finally.

Her words caught in her throat. His voice was the same, the exact same as it had always been. And he was standing there, before her, smiling quizzically as though he was thinking, what's going on in the mind of this crazy princess?

And it hurt, more than she cared to admit, that he didn't remember. That he'd forgotten her, and his feelings for her and – and her feelings for him.

"I…hello, Link," she managed finally, her throat dry and words raspy. "I'm…Zelda."

He nodded. "Hello, Zelda," he said pleasantly. There was a silence that stretched between them heavily and she knew he was going to be polite, irritably polite, and stand there until she said something.

That hurt, too, because he'd never treated her like a princess before. He'd just treated like she was another random person, a friend, an equal.

She didn't like the polite side of him.

"I should go," she murmured, her voice low and eyes downcast. "I…I've got to…be somewhere."

He arched an eyebrow. "Where?" He asked, as though he knew she was lying. "Do you come here often to sit and stare at the Woods?"

She blinked. "I – yes."

His lips twitched. "Really?"

"Well," she admitted, "no, but I'd really hate to … intrude … on your visit. And … I don't feel entirely comfortable because – well, I can't tell you why – and I just – I need to go."

He blocked her way, frowning. "You seem so … familiar," he stated, his face puzzled. "And I don't know why."

Her heart stopped. She was caught between laughing, throwing her arms around his neck, and running like a frightened animal to somewhere where he couldn't find her. "I … do," she said quietly. "But it's not worth going into." She paused. "You're happy, right? You're happy?"

He blinked at her in surprise. "I … guess so," he said slowly. "I'm a little …" he trailed off, thinking. "I'm a little bit … lost. I don't know who I am. There's something – something, I don't know what … in my heart of hearts, I guess you could say … that is missing."

She ran a shaking hand through her hair. "Then … you're not?"

Link paused, frowning again. "No," he decided finally. "That's not it. I am happy. It's just that … something's missing." They said nothing for a moment, until, "Why do you ask?"

She felt trapped. "Because …" Because I love you. Because I need you. Because I'm lonely. Because it hurts, standing here talking to you – it's killing me just looking at you, and because I'm lost, too. "I …"

"Princess?" He prompted.

"Call me Zelda," she answered automatically.

"Zelda," he repeated. "All right. Zelda. You were saying?"

She bit her lip. "Because I didn't ask when it mattered," she murmured finally, and fled.

She was eighteen, and her talk with him was continually on her mind. She wished she hadn't run away, but knew it would have done no good to stay. She wrapped herself in her quilt and stared out of the window – the stars were shining brightly, and Epona was grazing in Hyrule Field.

She was nineteen, and her father died. How is it that the sight of one man can bring tears to her eyes, yet her own father's passing caused no pain at all? She was Queen. Each day melted into the other until it was just one streak of life that she couldn't seem to step out of.

She was twenty, lying in bed. Her head hurt, her eyes hurt, her stomach hurt, but mostly, her heart hurt because he was in the castle. He was there, beneath her window, talking to Impa. Her guardian caught her eyes questioningly – she continued to stare.

He was there. In her home. She wanted him to remember so badly that it was a physical ache. Finally, he looked up and saw her. He frowned, but offered a small wave. She nodded slowly in return, and stumbled from the windowsill.

But no sooner had she taken a breath, he was sitting on her window and staring at her, puzzled. "You confuse me," he told her bluntly. "And yet I understand you perfectly."

"All … all right," she said slowly. "Erm … congratulations."

"For example," he went on, ignoring her completely, "I understand that you're in love with me – " She choked on her own tongue and her eyes widened, " – but I don't understand how you can be, because the longest conversation I've ever had with you wasn't exactly something to fall in love with."

She blinked at him, her cheeks flaming. "Uhm," she murmured. "Uhm."

"And another thing. That question – 'Are you happy?' I understand why you asked it, it made sense to, but the answer to my answer … now that I don't get."

She could do nothing but stare. They were both silent for a little while, until she gathered her courage and said boldly, "You don't remember, and that's why you don't understand."

He arched an eyebrow. "Well, that makes sense," he replied sarcastically. She sighed.

"I can't explain it to you, because you'll think I'm crazy." She paused, and then said quietly, "For what it's worth, I wish you did remember." Her eyes caught his, and she searched them for some form of the love she knew once lived there. She found none. "But you won't. And I don't think you ever will."

She blinked back tears and turned her face away, wanting to be angry with him but knowing that she couldn't be, because after all: this was her fault. She had done it to herself.

He nodded. "All right," he said, accepting that. Her hands shook as he began to climb out the window, and she shut her eyes against the wave of nausea that hit her. She clung to consciousness, but it eluded her and she blacked out.

She woke, and she was on her bedroom floor. He had not seen her fall, and Impa hadn't come to check on her yet. She gazed around from her position on the ground and let out a desperate sigh. She wanted to go back, to change her decision, but knew it was impossible. Rather than cry again – she cried too much, these days -- she curled into a ball and slept.

She was twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, and somehow it didn't matter that she'd fought a battle against herself and lost. It didn't matter that she was dying because nothing mattered anymore.

Queen Zelda Hyrule

Always fresh and young in our hearts and minds –

A young prophetic princess,

A young Queen,

A young death.

She fought for everyone's life but her own.

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