Setting: At/After the end of Twilight Princess – spoilers ahead!
She came to herself and spent several moments staring at her limbs, long and lean. She was herself again and, moreover, she was alive. Midna noticed a familiar figure approaching her. She stood up tall and gained her composure. Link stood and stared at her, a thousand different emotions flashing over his face. His eyes conveyed confusion, elation, awe and relief, all colliding into one another. Midna had always liked those deep, expressive eyes of his.
She replied to his silent entreaties with smug elegance.
“Am I so beautiful you have no words left?”
The young man smiled.
It was then that Midna noticed his appalling wounds. Link’s legs were shaking and his pants were torn in places, revealing dirt-covered scrapes and cuts. His left side was bloody and she could not tell if he’d been wounded in the side or in the back. His face had little scrapes and cuts, but they were barely noticeable. Link looked tired and beaten, as though only his will was keeping him on his feet.
Midna stepped forward. Link just kept smiling that stupid smile at her. Then he collapsed.
“Link!” she heard Zelda shout. The princess of Hyrule had just come up the hill. Midna stooped and gathered the young swordsman partially into her lap. He moved and groaned. He looked up into her concerned eyes.
“Brave, stupid wolf,” Midna gently scolded. She brushed the hair out of his eyes and steadied him.
“The last battle was most grievous,” Princess Zelda said. “I watched Ganondorf lay the Sage’s Sword to his back, and, before that, he was thrown from his horse many times.”
Midna looked up. “On top of being run over by a giant pig… He does not heal when he’s transformed. Anything gained as a wolf stays with him.”
“Don’t I get a say?” Link protested, “I’m alright, really.”
He shifted, trying to get up. Midna held him down. “Don’t be proud, Hero,” she said.
“Stay,” Zelda said softly. “There are people approaching.” She dashed down the hill with a strange sort of grace, leaving Link and Midna alone.
“I’m happy to see you alive…” Link said. “And….you’re gorgeous…You’re so…tall.”
“Well, you did it,” Midna replied, “You saved two worlds today. How does it feel, Mr. Important Hero?”
Link coughed deeply, leaving a faint speckle of blood on his chin. Alarm shot through Midna like a bolt of light-magic. She could feel the warmth of his blood on her legs, soaking through her royal clothing.
“Hurts,” he said weakly.
“It must,” Midna replied, stroking his cheek. “Your Princess Zelda is getting help… I hope. What were you doing, Link? You left yourself wide open, obviously. Stupid, stupid wolf!”
“Midna…” Link began. His breathing was softer now, weaker. He was still smiling. “Midna….I…. s…see you later.”
Link closed his eyes and his body went slack. His head flopped to one side. Midna’s heart froze. Fear ran through her soul like a glacier-fed river. “Link?” she asked cautiously, “Link?”
She lifted him up and held him against her chest. His blood was sticky on her hands and arms. She began a high, keening wail. Most light-dwellers would take it for incoherent grief, but any Twili would know it immediately as something sacred – the Death Song. It was sung only for those closest to the heart of one bereft, for family. Midna rocked back and forth, holding Link’s body, singing with all her might to send his soul to peace when she noticed something ticking the bare skin above her breastbone.
Midna laid Link back down comfortably on her lap. He was still breathing. Before she could scold herself for panicking, Zelda returned with several other people. Midna heard Zelda mention her, some muttering regarding “the ruler of the Twilight Realm.” Midna recognized these people. They were the members of the resistance group that had helped Link out at various points. The blond man at their front was a man from Link’s home village, his mentor Rusl. Link had talked fondly of him many times.
Rusl stooped before Midna, shock on his features.
“He’s just unconscious,” Midna assured him.
The man felt Link’s neck. “Ashei! Bandages quick!” he ordered. “If we can get him to Telma’s, he’ll be alright.”
was a blur of chaos. Midna followed Princess Zelda closely. Shad and Ashei carted Link around on a light stretcher. Old Auru carried his equipment. People gathered and stared. They crowded around Zelda, pleading with her to tell them what was going on. Castle guards came to her, a few of them mildly hurt. She commanded them to take care of the citizens and to gather them in the central plaza. She designated her personal guards to leave her and to search the rubble of the palace grounds for wounded people. Any that the town doctor could not handle were to be brought to Telma’s Bar. Castle Town
Midna’s mind was spinning. She followed down familiar streets. It was strange to her to be treading them with her own feet. The people used to be huge. Now they were short. Hylians and humans were so short compared to Twili – at least to Twili in their true forms!
“Oh….” an old woman clucked, “It’s that nice young swordsman…. What a pity. I am sure the doctor is still in his office.”
“I don’t trust that man to work on my boy,” Rusl declared. “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of him.”
A trio of children came up to the group to see what was going on. “Hey! It’s the Hero!” one of them said.
“Is he gonna be alright?” a little blond girl asked.
“He looks like hell,” the eldest boy said.
“Joseph!” the girl scolded.
Link opened his eyes. Apparently, he’d heard the conversation because he responded.
“I’ll be fine,” he said weakly. He gave the children a pained smile. It broke Midna’s heart.
Cats followed the group. Kittens darted around Shad’s legs and pawed that the stretcher.
“What is with these cats?” Ashei asked, disgusted. The group got inside Telma’s. Zelda proclaimed “royal business” at the door to keep the crowd at bay and urged them to listen to her guards and soldiers. A small black kitten managed to sneak inside before she closed the door.
Telma took a look at both her princess and the Twilight Princess. “Oh, my…” she said.
“Clear off the big table,” Rusl commanded, “We’re going to need it.”
Shad and Ashei lifted Link onto the table. They stripped off his tunic and chain mail. Rusl began unwinding the bandages he’d put in place earlier as a quick-measure to staunch bleeding. Telma brought out potions, a wash-basin and liquor. She poured a shot of dark brown whiskey, tipped the glass to Link’s lips and forced him to drink it. He coughed, sputtered and winced.
“You’ll thank me in a few moments,” she said, “This is the best painkiller I’ve got.”
She turned to Midna. “I don’t know who you are, dearest, but I imagine you want to clean up.”
“Yes, thanks,” Midna said hesitantly.
Telma, a person Midna decided was being entirely too calm in this multi-faceted situation, led her to a large wooden wash-tub in the bar’s lavatory. She did not much like being referred to as “dearest,” but now was not the time to reply to that woman with her own choice terms. After handing her a few towels, Telma left and closed the door to give Midna her privacy. The Twili wet a towel and sponged her body off. She removed her skirt and rang it out in the washbasin.
She tried to ignore the noise going on outside – a crash like a chair being kicked over, then Rusl’s strong voice – “Hold him down, Ashei!”
“Please be careful! He may have some internal damage!” – The voice of the scholar, Shad.
“He’s making it worse on his own!” – Rusl again.
The lavatory had a skylight. Gray light filtered in, glistening over the wash-basin’s water and the red Midna rang out of her clothing into it. She watched blankly as the blood dripped into and swirled in the water. This wasn’t the first time he’d bled on her. She remembered lying beside him on a cold night in Faron Woods, he as the Sacred Beast, blood matted in his fur after a hard fight against a carnivorous plant that had caught him off-guard. She remembered the time he’d spent recovering in an abandoned animal den in Hyrule Field after one of the
guards sliced him with a spear after he’d approached the city’s outskirts as a wolf. It had taken a good strip of skin off his back. There was the day when, in his native form, he’d fallen through the broken floors of the Snowpeak mansion, scraping himself up on splintery boards on the way down. His lost blood dripped right into his shadow. Midna would never forget its bright color on the blinding-white snow. Castle Town
Midna wondered idly if these idiots had any bottled fairies. They probably did not, as fairies inhabited special places in the countryside and were notoriously difficult to catch. Even Link had trouble with that sometimes, although every one of the sparkly little things proclaimed they were eager to help the Chosen Hero. They did help, but only so much. There were injuries that even a fairy could not heal completely. Midna’s wolf had the scars to prove it.
She dried out her clothes as best she could and stepped out into the bar. She saw Zelda approach the table where Link was writhing. As brave as he was, he was still a victim of his instincts and would not let anyone touch his wounds. Zelda cupped his cheek and chin with her right hand. A light began to glow from her palm. Link’s eyes snapped open and he stared up at her. “Calm down, Hero,” she said.
Immediately, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
“That was amazing!” Rusl said.
Zelda swayed. Auru caught her and helped her to a chair.
“I’m afraid… that is all I can do right now,” Zelda sighed.
“Don’t overextend yourself,” Auru cautioned. “Right now, despite our affection for the boy, Hyrule needs you more than it needs him.”
Midna did not know how to feel. Part of her was livid at the old man’s words. Link had sacrificed so much for Hyrule and had just defeated a being of pure malevolence… he was the bravest, most selfless being she’d ever met, in this world or her own! How could that old fart imply that Hyrule doesn’t need him anymore? Hyrule needed more people like him! Should evil return to the land, these cowardly people would need him again!
Another part of Midna felt a twinge of jealousy. Even after all Ganondorf had done to Zelda, even in her weakened state, she was able to use just a little bit of her life energy to calm Link. It was more than what Midna could do for him.
She caught her thoughts. She’d always prided herself on being aloof – especially when it came to light-dwellers. Did she love him? When she’d thought the worst had happened, she had sung the Death Song for him without hesitation or forethought.
Midna sat down and watched Rusl work. He set down the needles and instruments Telma had given him in a tray of something they called “Kakariko Vodka” to sterilize them.
Link had told Midna a lot about Rusl. The man had been something of a father to him. Link had talked of how his parents had died in an epidemic that swept through
one winter when he was young. He had gotten very sick, himself. Rusl had helped him to recover and had taken him in after that, until he was grown up enough to live alone. Rusl was the Town Guardian of Ordon, but he and his wife also served as the unofficial town doctors. Link had said that most of the people of his village knew how to take care of themselves and each other, but if they had any serious problems, they’d go to Rusl and Uli. It was clear to Midna now that Rusl was the one who’d taught the boy the “battlefield surgery” he’d so often found a need to practice on himself during their travels. Ordon Village
It would be unfair to take Link away from the people that loved him. The Twili princess was thinking about doing just that. She knew what she had to do to protect both the Light and Twilight realms. It would require a complete severing of the connection between the two. The powers of her world were not meant for light-dwellers, and should the eternal evil that called itself Ganondorf rise from the ashes; he could destroy both worlds if the gate was left open.
Midna wondered if she should tell Link of her plan and if she should ask him if he would like to come with her to the other side. He would make a fine prince for her people – kind and courageous. The Twilight would change him, though. In time, perhaps a few years, his skin would pale and change pigment, his eyes would adjust, but would probably stay dark blue, and judging by the color of his hair now, it would probably turn silver, dark at the roots and light at the tips. He would look magnificent. The perpetual gloaming, however, might throw him into a depression. From what she knew, the light-dwellers loved their light and were bound to it. Their hearts could be affected if they did not get enough of it. Stories were passed down by Twili storytellers about how the First Ones suffered quite severely from depressive illness in the Twilight.
Link was too… bright. She could not subject his rich heart to that, even if he went willingly. His people probably would need his might again, someday and… they loved him. All of his friends and all of the people he’d helped along the way could provide him more love than the shadow-heart of a lone Twili. The young man deserved the love of a nation. Wanting to keep her pet wolf was just selfish.
Rusl and Shad moved him to a bed Telma kept at the back of the bar. They would observe him before moving him to a secret spare room later. They tucked a blanket over his bandaged chest to keep him warm. Telma cleaned up the table and the area around it, wiping up blood as though it were not unusual for her at all. Perhaps the woman was used to this kind of thing because members of the Group suffered wounds sometimes, or because she was a bleeding-heart who took people in from the street, Midna thought. Maybe it was just because this place was a bar and the tavernkeep was accustomed to cleaning up far worse messes. The Princess of Twilight wondered now many of Hyrule’s gutless soldiers had fights in here, or how many sorry old men had too much to drink and threw up all over the floor. Even more curious to her was that Telma mentioned off-hand that the most popular beverage ordered here was milk.
Midna asked Zelda for a private conversation. They found a dark, quiet corner of the bar.
“We both know what I have to do,” Midna said to Zelda.
“Is there another way?” Zelda asked. “You will be missed.”
“You are the keeper of Wisdom,” Midna replied ruefully, “You tell me. I need to protect my kingdom….and yours.”
“He loves you, you know,” Zelda said with a nod toward Link. “I could see it in his eyes when we’d thought we’d lost you. He wasn’t just fighting for Hyrule; he was fighting to avenge you. And I…felt it…when I touched his cheek to calm him. I was a part of you for a while, Midna. I know that you feel the same way.”
“I cannot deprive your kingdom of him, or him of the light. It would not be fair to either of you.”
“I understand,” Zelda said with a light nod. “Are you going to tell him?”
“No. If I do, it will make it that much harder to say goodbye. Can you grant me a favor, Princess Zelda?”
“Technically, we are both queens now,” Zelda replied sadly, “but yes, what do you ask?”
“Would you… take care of him?”
“He is one of your subjects. Make sure he has what he needs – land, health, peace... Give him a good life.”
Zelda nodded. “I will. In Hyrule, we know how to take care of our heroes. I need to address the townspeople in the plaza. Go sit beside him. I’m sure that you are the first person he will want to see when he wakes up.”
Midna pulled up a chair and sat at Link’s bedside. The little black kitten that had come in earlier was curled up on his stomach. Midna had thoughts about it sautéed with garlic and olive oil, but instead of acting upon such temptation, she gently petted the thing. There was something else about the Twilight Realm that Link would never get used to: Twili culinary practices. Link had a great affection for cats. She, herself, could never get used to cheese and pumpkin.
The kitten stirred with a sharp “Mew?”
Link’s nose twitched and his eyes opened. He looked up at Midna and gave her a tired, stupid smile.
“And, again, you’re dumbstruck by my great beauty,” she teased.
“You stayed,” he weakly whispered.
Those two words… Stupid wolf! Why did he have to say something like that? Why those words? Midna felt as though an arrow had just slid into her chest.
“Are you okay?” Link asked, noting the way she’d gone perfectly still.
“I’m just worried about you,” she lied. It was not a whole lie – she was very worried about him.
The kitten rose and stretched, arching its little back high. It padded over to Link’s face and started licking his nose. He laughed a whispery laugh. “If it isn’t a kuroneko!”
“A kuro-what?” Midna asked.
“Kuroneko – black cat,” Link explained, “It’s from a bit of a language some of the traders who’d come into Ordon used to speak.” He then addressed the cat. “I talked to you when I was a wolf…. Your name’s Blackie, isn’t it?”
“I’d rather call it ‘Blackened’ with a side of scallions. Go on, kitty, shoo.”
The cat jumped to the floor, leaving room for Midna to stroke Link’s hair and ears.
“Where are my Hero’s Clothes?” the young man asked.
“Being washed and repaired,” Midna answered. “Reckless, reckless, getting them so dirty like that.”
“You didn’t have to push yourself so hard. You got sloppy, but you did it. You saved the day and all that. I suppose you should be proud.”
“What are you, then?”
“Hurt and… slightly drunk, I think.”
She helped his friends to take care of him for the next week. Link rested in Telma’s secret spare room. Telma offered to put Midna up in the Castle Town Inn (where Zelda was staying), but she refused. Link seemed to be more comfortable with her near him. Rusl assured her that he had always been a fast healer, not that she did not already know that. A week to the day he’d fought the King of Evil, he was on his feet and eager to travel.
Zelda delegated and calmed the populace. She divulged all that had transpired, to the best of her knowledge. This meant that Telma had her hands full denying the requests of her patrons – both regular and new – to bother the recovering Hero during that week.
Midna insisted that she needed to get back to her kingdom as soon as possible to establish order. Her people needed her, but moreover, she knew that if she lingered too long in the Light Realm – and with Link, it would be impossible for her to leave. She had to make “goodbye” quick and clean.
She savored her last moments at the Mirror Chamber. She paused to enjoy simple things, things that only the Light Realm offered – the sand beneath her feet and the rays of the sun that she’d once thought were unbearably harsh… even in the desert, where the glare from that celestial orb was the strongest, she didn’t think the sun’s rays were so painful anymore. She gave a small hug to Zelda and a long, tight hug to Link. She ascended the stairs and gave them parting words.
She looked to Link. “Goodbye” had to be clean, clear-cut and final, for his sake and for hers.
So why was it “…see you later?” Perhaps, across time and space, she would see him again. The hurt in his eyes would live in her memory forever. All she could think about as she crossed over was his waking up in that bed at Telma’s saying “You stayed.”
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