Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Comes to Light Pt. 01: What More Can I Say? ( Chapter 46 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Chapter Forty-six

"Do you remember the first thing I said to you after we were married?" Link asked.

Nabooru briefly hesitated, but soon replied, "You said that I was the best thing in your life."

He walked methodically around the outskirts of the orange glow cast down from the chandelier of torches, existing almost as a fluid shadow to her, before stepping into the light to ask another question.

"Do you remember the first thing I said to you after everything settled from the first time I caught you?" Link then asked, pausing as he looked across the bedroom at Nabooru, only his face clearly shown through the shadowy haze.

She replied in her usual quiet and controlled tone, "You said that I was still the best thing in your life."

"Now that I've had time, space, and a desire to actually make those feelings impossible, it still holds true: You're one of the best things in my life."

As he stopped talking, Link disappeared back into the shadow, before fading into place across the tables from Nabooru. The estranged couple took a seat at the center table amongst those that his son had warped there, noting the change. She was now one of the best. There was little point in asking who or what now occupied her space, but it was still more than a little irritating. Nevertheless, Nabooru said nothing, even as he took her hand in his and just held it. There was nothing left to say, but there was still a feeling that something should be said.

"I feel like I should say something," Nabooru chuckled uncomfortably, wriggling her fingers inside his large hand.

Perhaps if he'd made some kind of allusion to this meeting prior to just warping her from the table in the middle of her father's story about his training days, it wouldn't have been so awkward. Of course, even if her marriage was dissolved to the man, Nabooru knew Link well enough to know that expecting conventional anything from him was just stupid.

"There's nothing to say," Link said eventually. "For better or for worse, I'm stuck with your ass."

"I suppose I should be flattered," Nabooru shot back at him, automatically allowing a subtle sting to grace her tongue before her brain could decide if it was appropriate or not.

"You should be," he sniped back, playfully, if one could believe it.

Their houseguests were currently in the midst of dinner or what was left after his father's little indulgence. And, as previously noted, he and Nabooru had ducked out during her father's umpteenth story about his training days, but not before sitting through the long, awkward series of silence following the comedic escapades of Link's father versus the Stomach Monsters. From there, they ended up here-a few words here or there, followed by a long stretch of nothingness, all of which was consciously stifling. Still, what was left to say now? Link watched as Nabooru got up from her seat and walked overtop the table to sit beside him. His arm tightened as she leaned her head against him, a sort of wilted and tired look suddenly crossing her face, he noticed. Link stared at the top of her head for a long time there after, never imagining what he would do if they reached this point.

"I don't think I've had a decent night's sleep since you left," Nabooru whispered, rubbing her cheek against his bicep for a moment, as she grew genuinely calm for the first time in years, and even more so once his arm relaxed.

"I haven't bothered to make myself sleep-well, not that soundly-now that you mention it," Link added in an offhanded understanding. He stood then, bringing Nabooru to her feet as well, before saying, "Let's go to sleep."

And so husband and wife, or whatever their classification was, did just that-they slept-even if she was so stunned by the invitation that she couldn't verbalize. It would be a lie to say that they were immediately comfortable in their old bed, but, then, they didn't really expect that. How could they? After all, even people like Link and Nabooru, two people accustomed to the grimmest side of reality, had allowed themselves the idealist's dream that their marriage would be perfect, which made it that much harder to cope with when it just wasn't. So, as they eventually fell into mutual slumber, little frowns were etched into their faces, as though lucid dreams of the past seemed to weigh on them.

It was in this slumber that things changed, though, as unconscious nocturnal movements began to take hold over them. Even though the room was warm and both of them lay atop the sheets fully clothed, Nabooru muttered and tugged for the sheets. Accustomed to this, Link's body hovered above the bed until Nabooru's motion ceased, and she was spun delicately within the silk. Of course, as with most couples, even the most miniscule of annoyances and petty nuances were common knowledge; they just weren't always acknowledged like they were today. So, it wasn't an issue for Link to once again float and allow Nabooru room to punch and kick her way free of the sheets moments after procuring them. Unlike the last time, however, this time Link landed on the bed, draped his arm across her body, and swept her up against him.

There was still … then a sort of blind skirmish for position … and then there was nothing.

The frowns had disappeared, replaced by two entirely neutral expressions. In this timeline, Nabooru had come to sleep in a sort of tangle around Link's left side-her left leg coiled on top of his, left arm stretched haphazardly across his chest, head snuggled pleasantly on that firm-yet-soft spot where his shoulder and chest met. And, unbeknownst to him for the time being, his body radiated that perfect temperature that quelled his wife's unconscious rumblings for climate control. Naturally, this was cause for alarm. Sleeping alone for long stretches of time produces a sort of individuality, a sort of accustomed aloneness that makes a person acutely aware of someone or something sharing their space. Needless to say, Link and Sepaaru slept together, sure, but they usually retired to their individual corners of the bed more often than not, a sign of their almost overwhelming similarities. So, even Link, whose mind was an entirely different plane, was becoming more perceptive to this intrusion of space, as it continued to agitate their nerves. As the hours mounted, so, too, did this annoyance.

Then it happened-one golden eye snapped open. And no sooner than her eye came into focus, Nabooru found herself peering up at Link's face, which arced down at her due to the large pillow propping his head up at such an angle, before his eyes popped open, reflecting her face in their white blankness. But, as though it floated up through a glass of milk, the color blue faded into the center of his eyes, and focused on the woman nestled against his side. Despite the puzzled frown, there was no misunderstanding on how they'd ended up like that-at least on Link's part.

"Gods don't possess a subconscious, not in the sense that we'd act without knowing why, as mortals sometimes do. Their brains aren't really able to handle the load of processing every thought and so on that they've ever had," he remembered Din telling him years ago.

Indeed, because with a little thought, Link recalled the floating, the tugging, and the rustling that got them like this.

"I guess we should get back downstairs," Nabooru nervously said, sitting up to break the uncomfortable staring contest. "I'm sure they're wondering where we disappeared to."

"Actually," Link began rather matter-of-factly, "time's out of synch here. We've been gone for less than a single second to them. In here, we've been asleep for little over seven hours."


"I want it the way it was, in some regards," he admitted to the bewildered question, before elaborating further. "No distractions, no council meetings, no worrying about everyone else, no godly connections-I just want a moment where it's us again … to see if these feelings are real or just machinations of a greater force or just our twisted minds grasping at straws. So, we don't leave this room until we reach something close to comfortable with each other."

"And if we don't reach that point?"

"Guess there's always friendship," Link told her, as he casually leaned up and kissed her … cheek.

"Outside of the first time, I never kissed him," Nabooru's mouth seemed to say before her brain, a sort of innate feeling suggesting that was the cause for Link's last second aversion toward her mouth.

For a moment, just the mere mentioning of that "man" seemed to make him grow ill. But Link laughed it off, though-a pale, sort of unusual laughter.

"You know, it's kind of funny when I think about it," he said, laughing a little more now. "We've been here all this time and that never crossed my mind. I think I'm actually scared to touch you like that."

"Oh," Nabooru muttered, reclining back onto the bed and staring at the ceiling, laughing herself this time, but more so at the fact that she was wrong about his thoughts. "Welcome to my world," she said with a poignant sigh. "How'd you do it?"

"Do what?" was the natural response from Link.

"Make going without sex seem so easy," she asked bluntly, noting the air suddenly became quite stiff again. "I mean, I'm not trying to sound as one-sided as all of that, but how did you juggle it all-the meetings, the organizing, the teaching, being a father, a husband-without some form of release?"

Link was thinking of a proper response, though, not getting as upset as the silence suggested. Of course the longer, he delayed, the more Nabooru felt as though she'd stuck her foot in her mouth up to the knee. The question was too flippant, she thought despondently. He probably thought she was making light of his emotions and how much that must have hurt him by asking that. Nabooru was wrong.

"Well, if it was dependent solely on how well I juggled, I didn't do as well as I thought I did or we wouldn't be where we are." Link looked at her quizzically, trying to determine whether or not she was trying to spin this as his fault.

"I didn't mean it like that," Nabooru said with a deep sigh.

"I found release, as you call it, in different things," Link said in lieu of that, attempting to talk things back to neutral ground. "Well, I can't exactly explain it. I just know that I went from this space where I was quite familiar with 'release' into this void where I wasn't, all in a matter of seconds it seemed. So, I channeled the energy I put into that into other things-improving my fighting skills, archery, and whatever else I came across. I guess by the time I got here with you, I was so set in my ways that I didn't notice the gaps between 'release' dates, so to speak. All I know is that I was happy. My life had a point beyond saving the princess or the world. Now, I was a husband, a father, a man that fought diapers, dishes, and a daughter becoming a woman, while trying to ensure nothing ever took that away from me-and then it just … crashed." An understood silence came into being around them for a time, as he didn't seem particularly torn about his last words. Soon, Link chuckled, adding, "Remember when we found out that Zelda could talk?"

Nabooru smiled, and then laughed herself. "Do I remember? How could I forget? I sat her in her crib and was talking to Varia, and then, out of the blue, she says, 'Where's Daddy?' We stopped, came over and looked at her. Then she looked up at us and said it again …"

"And then I heard you screaming my name and I ran through the walls again," Link said as they both laughed even harder. "You and Varia were all huddled up, pointing at the crib as though something horrible had happened. So, I walked over …"

"And there Zelda was gnawing on her foot," Nabooru continued, laughing a little lighter.

"And I asked you both, 'What happened?' Then Zelda said, 'They screamed, Daddy.' Naturally, I shit a brick to find my girl is barely out of the womb two months, and she's already smart enough to talk. Thus, I passed out again," Link sighed, along with Nabooru, ebbing out with a found chuckle. "Where'd the time go? I mean, I know where it went, but it still feels like that happened just the other day, you know?"

"I know," Nabooru concurred, reminiscently. She went on to ask, "Why didn't we have more children?"

Link raised an eyebrow, but replied, "Because you said, 'Link, never do this to me again' when Zelda was being born. It's kind of weird, though, because Sepaaru said almost the exact same thing when Junior was born."

As he shut his eyes to his surroundings, Nabooru looked over at him and just sort of sat dumbfounded. For all of his intelligence, those few moments where Link completely missed simple context were still startling. She was passing something the size of a watermelon through a small hole in her body-what the hell was she supposed to say at a time like that? "Oh, that was fun! Let's do it again!" No, you curse, you say things-all kinds of things-that you don't mean. In hindsight, it was those few moments where he did or said things like that which made her think it was done on purpose. But how the walls came thundering down when Victorious clued her in, revealing the difference between a man who's had genuine social interaction versus the one, like Link, who'd picked it up from books and observation. Nabooru had to remind herself that, while Link could walk into a room and tell her who had weapons within thirty seconds, it didn't mean he necessarily understood all forms of social context-and being a god who didn't read minds didn't change that.

"Hard to believe I was so stupid," he muttered, causing his estranged partner to believe he'd read her mind. Link hadn't, though. "Anyhow, what's the deal with you and Sepaaru? I couldn't help but notice you took quite a while to come down."

Nabooru snorted. Loudly. "Oh, her," she muttered. Link didn't apologize for mentioning the name, she noticed. It wasn't like she was expecting him to, but still-this was all so … new. "You know the witch picked me up like a baby? I almost wanted to pat her down and see if she grew balls, disrespecting me like that! When I get my body back in order, I am going to maul that woman."

Link laughed in earnest, as Nabooru glared over at him. "What? Don't give me that look," he said, complete with goofy grin smeared across his face. "If you two want to crack each other over the head, be my guest. You won't die, so there's really no point."

"Bah, it's the general principle of it," Nabooru continued by saying. "I even offered to give her birthright back, but no-she just throws that back at me, like being Queen of the Gerudo is a soup bone or something. And you want to know the worst part?"

Link nodded, still amused a great deal by all of this, where guilt most notably took hold prior to his mother's advice.

Nabooru turned onto her side, propped her head up on her right hand and said: "I kicked the big bitch right square in those massive balloons she calls a chest, and she just shrugged it off. I used to be pretty good with my feet, you know? And she just … took it like it was nothing."

Following her lead, Link rolled onto his side-his left side-and propped his head up on his left hand. He then replied: "Sepaaru's a different person now, Nabooru. What you saw in that fight with Varia was just the tip of her abilities, and she's progressed since then. Couple all that with what my mother said and, even without the battle training, Sepaaru would've still probably shaken the kick off in your current state. And with it-just be thankful you didn't break your leg."

To that, Nabooru, again, snorted.

"You make her sound as though she's indestructible," she mused to the godly giant, who made no moves to deny her slighted claim. "Are you saying you can't beat her?"

He pursed his lips in a half pout/half smirk, and said, "As a mortal, I lost that fight. She knocked me unconscious three times, with three consecutive hits."

Link watched as Nabooru's eyes grew wide with a sort of disbelieving dishevelment. "That's impossible- Why'd she never say anything?"

"Because it was never about saying anything," he told her, obviously quite unfazed by his loss. "Like I said, she trained to kill me. And when I took her as far as I could as a warrior, we fought-me as the Hylian who killed her father and her as the Gerudo Avenger or whatever you'd call her. I had an estimate of what I thought her power to be, but I was wrong. So, the first punch she landed was on my jaw and the first time I shifted into unconsciousness. I woke up, and she was standing over me telling me to take this seriously. Second was a kick to the stomach. It took thirty minutes to wake up from that one. The last and final blow saw her slip me an uppercut, which threw me about twenty feet into the air, and when I woke up after that, she called the fight over and said, 'It's done.' Her training had paid off more than she ever hoped for-I know, because I looked-and with it, she'd gotten her 'revenge' in seeing that she was now my superior. She was so fast and so strong that, even as I tried my hardest, Sepaaru quite literally found openings within seconds, and made me out to be little more than a child swinging a stick at a soldier."

All Nabooru could think to ask was how come this didn't bother him.

"Easy," he quipped, smiling once again. "I never liked fighting; it was just something I picked up out of necessity. I will admit, however, that the loss was softened because I had other things … other people … that meant more to me and brought me more pride than how quick I could cut something down. With that in mind, I accepted it for it was: a loss. Plus, if I wanted to cheapen things, I could say that Link the Hylian never really existed, thus never lost, because I'm a god." He chuckled some, pausing as he thought. Link continued, "But yeah, I wouldn't, because perception says he did exist. Sepaaru knew the group's mindset and how much power tied into it, so she was content to hold onto that 'secret.'"

"Is she indestructible, though? Barring immortality, does she not feel pain or something that would give her an edge?" Nabooru persisted, a bit perturbed by this whole thing and Link's casual stance on the matter, infidelities and so on falling into the far recesses of her mind.

"As far as mortals go-and from what I've gathered of reading their strengths and weaknesses-Sepaaru is …" Link paused, baiting Nabooru along until the tension became too much, "not indestructible. To answer your real question, though: No, you can't beat her. Zelda's the only mortal that can do that right now-and even she isn't 'mortal' mortal-and she has an unfair advantage in that she has my father's entire fighting repertoire at her disposal, along with being half god."

And despite the whimsical shrug that finished his explanation, Nabooru sat on pins.

She sighed after a time, calming herself with a few deep breaths through her nose. "It's not that I'm some power-mongering whore; it's just that I don't like the idea that I'm going to be spending the better part of forever with a woman I can't trust, knowing she could snap my neck whenever she felt like it. I can accept that she was born to be this powerful. I can also accept that there are always going to be people stronger than me but-"

"I understand," Link interjected, reaching out and stroking a piece of her untied hair behind her ear. "You're making this a com-pe-ti-tion," he sang, almost mockingly if it weren't for the playful razz he gave her at the end.

Nabooru laughed and shoved him back with her free hand. Much to her surprise, Link held on and yanked her down on top of him, before tossing the squealing Gerudo on her back and trapping her there by pinning her arms beside her head and sitting on her thighs. "I'm not making this a-"

"It's okay," Link, once again, interrupted to say, as he continued to somewhat force himself to feel the emotions he'd become so accustomed to numbing. "You wouldn't be the woman I … love without the incessant need to be better than someone," he added, having moved his face so close to hers that he could feel the heat coming off her cheeks.

Again, the presence of silence moved in to cover the situation, sinking into every possible corner of the room. Fear-unyielding, mind-numbing fear-reduced them to hollow hulls of the people that they once were-and it annoyed them. All they had to do was act. A touch … a kiss … something-anything-that passed for movement! But neither one of them moved, though, until the tension became so much that Link cursed. Nabooru closed her eyes, inaudibly cursing herself as a tear burned its way out of each scrunched eye. They were so comfortable a minute ago, but now-now it was ruined.

That was, until Link threw his fear off and cast himself to the wind, like the fearless plunge he took toward Ganondorf.

It was a peck, at first, shocking Nabooru as she felt his lips upon hers for a second. Then there was another, this kiss lasting a moment longer, as he seemed to grow more confident despite her stunned immobility. His weight then settled on top of her, as he released her wrists, so much so that Link could feel her breasts mashed against his chest, which only added to the growing lust. With all the apprehension of a frightened deer emerging back into the sunlight after escaping a starving wolfos, Nabooru slowly inched her arms up around his neck and began to kiss him back. Everything seemed to move in an exaggerated slow motion for them, as hours seemed to crawl by before they instinctually craved more than a melding of the lips. Link wedged his knee between her legs, inching his tongue into the far reaches of her mouth, causing Nabooru to … giggle.

"You know, I forgot how long that thing was," she whispered, barely taking her mouth away from his for the first time in almost forever it seemed, as evidenced by her breathless panting.

Link chuckled, kissing her throat, adding, "Figures."

She didn't know how to respond to that, but he didn't seem to be upset, so Nabooru didn't push the issue and simply let him do what he would. And what Link did was unhook the gold circlet that held her top around her neck, before sliding his hands nimbly to the middle of her back and unhooking the clasp there, as well. There was another pause, then. Nabooru took the initiative this time, sitting up beneath him some on her elbows, removing the top from her body. Her nipples were erect with nerves, even as she put on a confident front, Nabooru still wondered if he could ever be attracted to her body again. She was damaged in her eyes, and Link would-

"And you insult her endowments," Link chuckled, admiring Nabooru's breasts for the first time in years, loving the way the soft glow of the flames highlighted her bronze skin and how it aroused him.

Nabooru was surprised. He didn't seem to be disgusted or forcing himself to enjoy her at all. She smiled then, a feeling of pride coming over her, despite the blatant comparison to Sepaaru. Ah, but Sepaaru wasn't there. This was her time, now, and she'd have it all. "Come on, I demand skin, big man," Nabooru coaxed, sliding the tip of her tongue across her top lip, with a brazen sexuality that was slightly forced, yet comfortable enough to keep the mood.

Link set about undoing the strings on his tunic, saying, "As you wish," before snatching the tunic from over his head and throwing it into the darkness beyond the border of the bed posts. "Next," Link continued, playfully challenging her to take this further.

It was her time to sit and marvel, though. Nabooru's eyes ran over the musculature of the giant god, almost as if checking to see if anything had changed or was out of place. Nothing had. He still looked as though he was chiseled out of the most pristine marble by the finest craftsman to ever walk the face of the Earth in her eyes. Again, the guilt faded from her mind as the desire rose and their mutual appreciation of the other's physicality manifested in a pleased set of grins.

"As you wish," Nabooru eventually replied, sliding her pants down inch by methodical inch in front of him, pausing as the waistband reach mid-thigh, suddenly embarrassed. "I-I don't think my legs can … spread the way they used to."

Link's head crooked to one side like a confused animal staring at its reflection in a lake, but it then dawned on him. She used to spread her legs almost painfully wide to arc around his body before pulling them shut to take her pants off, like the opening and closing of a pair of scissors. He loved that old taunt and tease routine, but it wasn't a necessity. Link laughed, before sliding the leg of hers that was between his legs out, and holding it with a sort of hidden mirth. As Nabooru sat, mood twisted by even that slight miscue, she watched him take hold of her other leg and push them together, and say, "Well, if you wish, I can get you back into … performance condition."

And despite the fact that he was stripping her pants off, Nabooru could only think to ask, "What?"

"Same as with Sepaaru," Link replied, tights and boots seeming to evaporate as he lay down on top of her, "I'll train you for a decade, if you'd like."

Dumbstruck, Nabooru replied not with words but a strangled moan, heels digging into the bed as Link pushed his cock into what seemed to be her tonsils. He, again, smirked, but realized the proceedings had gone on like an encounter with Sepaaru, where conversation and fucking blurred into a unified front. Still, there was an undeniable familiarity that existed in the moment, where all wrongs, rights, and second thoughts disappeared on a wave of vapor, leaving two people-one god and one mortal-in the grips of burgeoning ecstasy. Link's body settled into a familiar state, allowing him to feel every sensation, every ripple and contraction of Nabooru's pussy around his dick-and it was good. The question was soon forgotten as the couple reunited their flesh in a tryst that grew louder, hotter, and more vicious by the minute.

As her legs, long and sculptured still, were forced back toward her chest, Nabooru found her moans beginning to turn into enrapt screams as Link pounded deeper into her, his swollen balls clapping against her anus like the head of a mace at a castle gate. It was fucking amazing! Link watched it all while biting his tongue with force enough to crack steel, loving the way Nabooru scrunched her nose and pulled his hair. He stooped his head, then, kissing her hard and thrusting his tongue into her mouth, lustfully wrestling hers in a battle that neither would win, dick straining his skin even further as her moans reverberated inside his skull. She raked her nails down his back, forgetting just how good it felt to have Link that deep inside of her. He saw fit to remind her again and again and again …

"UGH!" Nabooru gasped, ripping her lips from his as though hit in the chest with a war hammer.

And Link relented on his borderline assault, watching her grind the heel of her right hand into her forehead and shake, mouth completely agape. The ferocity of their escapade had taken her there that quickly, but the edge had been taken off, Link saw, rubbing his hands across her breasts. Nabooru gasped as Link gently resumed, this time working with an all together more pliable and less conflicted woman. He rolled onto his back, careful not to break one of her legs, allowing Nabooru the control this time-and she unwittingly embraced it. Her hair, coiled and ever so wavy from the sweat, had remained untied ever since meeting her mother earlier that day, an unconscious reminder of how it almost always ended after sexual encounter, which had Link in a state of sexual repression from the moment she emerged from the bath.

"Shit," Link gasped, looking on as Nabooru threw herself down his dick and attempted to grind him into powder once she'd taken it all in, all in one glorious moment.

Goddess, he fucking missed that! He took hold of her hips after a while, guiding her completely to the bottom of his shaft, causing the Gerudo queen to nearly topple over in ecstasy as her eyes snapped open. Her nails dug bloodless crescents into his chest while she braced herself, but Link didn't mind. These few inklings of pain made him begin to thrust harder, smiling quite broadly as Nabooru eyes began to roll back into her skull. The slow chant then began: "Link! … Link! … God, Link!" And with that, Link's speed escalated, not unwittingly, but uncontrollably. He was taking her beyond the realm of safety, but he couldn't stop himself. Link sat up, wrapped his arms around her, and drove his dick in deeper, which made Nabooru scream sharply each time he went balls deep. The underside of his shaft was nearly in flames from the friction of rubbing against her rear wall so furiously. Tears were rolling down her face as the orgasm mounted and her breathing began to fail, but Nabooru didn't care. She bit his collarbone and took it-every grunt, every thrust, everything-until her vision went black with her own mind-shattering scream. The orgasm soon seized her vocal cords, causing the Gerudo to go quiet and just shake, her heart stopping long before the tremors of orgasmic release ever would.

"Nab!" Link screamed through his clenched teeth, exploding inside of her with an earthquake's force.

And, like her first orgasm, Nabooru came gasping back to the world with a garbled breath: "UGH!"

For a long time, neither said anything, choosing to silently bask in the glow of the sublime moment, despite the cooling bodily fluids pooled between their thighs and interlocked nether regions. Link had taken her over the edge and sat her in Charon's lap, only to see the last leg of an orgasm yank her back into the land of the living. Despite this very obvious kill, Nabooru hung around his neck, with her arms folded behind his neck and her head just to the left of his face, smiling. This could be the return of the old Nabooru, in her eyes. Let the old, cheating wench die. Death would be her cleaning of the slate.

"Thank you," she murmured, licking a bead of sweat from Link's cheek. It had no salt.

"I just killed you," Link replied, not quite sorrowfully, but definitely aware of his actions.

"I know," Nabooru added. "I just don't care."

He pulled his head back away from hers, his wet hair sliding back from hers, hanging on like two people being forced apart trying to keep the contact for as long as possible. Link then said, "You're sick, you know that?"

"What can I say? I need help," Nabooru sighed, smirking as Link did similar. "As for the offer, what happens after ten years?"

"Whatever you want," Link replied cryptically. "I just teach how to do things, not how to use them." He then sat there, almost as if lying in wait for something.

"Well, when do we have to start?" she asked, evading his trap without ever knowing it. "It's not like I have anything going on, so whenever you wish is fine," Nabooru then added, noticing his listless expression.

Link smiled then, as Nabooru hadn't gone the route he'd expected-namely, asking him to make her better in an instant as opposed to working for it herself. He unwove his arms from around her back, sliding the lithe thief's face between his hands, marveling at her beauty. Nabooru had never gotten the chance to put on her "face," as she sometimes called her more made-up self. It was a flawless sort of natural beauty, and every aspect of her face worked in tandem to express that. From her cheeks, slender and smooth as they were, to the gold eyes and their almond fixture to the way her skin seemed to be made of rained upon sand-Nabooru was quite literally flawless in his eyes.

"This is going to feel weird," Link whispered, continuing to hold her face.

She, in turn, whispered back, "Okay," still quite transfixed by his … gentleness.

Link closed his eyes to her for but a second, only to open them and send a pristine white light blasting into hers. The Gerudo queen's arms fell limply away from Link's neck, as they were now tethered by the eyes with this light.

"What is this place?" Nabooru asked, her voice echoing across the expanse of whiteness, noticing that she and Link were now fully clothed-her in her typical red Gerudo garb and Link in his usual tunic and tights.

"This is the beginning," he informed her, opening his arms as if to present her with the surroundings. "From this point on, everything you're going to encounter has happened in a prior life-my life, actually-the same way it happened to Sepaaru. The only differences will be in weaponry used, guides, battle strategies, and healing. If I ever sense confusion on your part, I'll provide clues as to where to go and give occasional insight where it's needed. However, for the most part, you'll be completely alone."

Nabooru's eyebrows rose in accordance to the revelation, but she didn't renege. "What weapons do I get? I'm okay with a sword, but I-"

"A staff, at first, because the first part is the easiest," Link interjected, smirking some. "Depending on how you explore and who you meet, you'll encounter at least two other variants, with a possible third. The rest will be surprises."

"What do I do for defense?" Nabooru was quick to ask. She then added, "I know the staffs will give me offensive range, but-if I've learned anything from you-I'll need more defense to be effective,"

To this question, Link smiled a bit broader. "Good question. I'll leave that as a surprise also. I will say the best defense you're going to have is your brain. Don't underestimate anyone or anything, because that's when you die."

"Die?" she asked, before Link's visage began to fade away along with the expanse. Nabooru found herself standing inside of a wooden home, a feeling of smallness suddenly taking hold of her. "I'm immortal, though."

"Not anymore," Link's voice said from all sides. "So, a word of advice: Keep a fairy at all times-you'll need it."

And like that, Nabooru felt his presence fade before a light blue creature buzzed in through the door behind her. It was a fairy, she knew, and an annoying one from the high-pitched ding it kept emitting.

"Well, what is it?" the Gerudo demanded, startled by the childish tone of her voice. "What's wrong with my voice?"

"That's not important. The Great Deku Tree has summoned you, Nabooru!" Navi shouted, her irritating chime turning into a slightly less annoying voice.

"Oh, and by the way, welcome back to age ten, Nab," Link said with a bit of laughter.

The Gerudo looked down at her body and shrieked. The breasts? Gone. Her hips? Nonexistent. The only thing Nabooru had that remained of her former self was her clothing. "This is going to be hell, isn't it?" Nabooru said to no one in particular from Navi's viewpoint. The lack of response from Link said all it needed to, though. "It's going to be worse," she then said, before taking a deep breath and unwittingly exiting Link's old tree house.

Back in the bedroom, to an onlooker, the scene looked quite concerning-a man and a woman with lights coming out of their eyes-especially when the woman's body began to jerk. Though seconds had only passed around them, the world within the connection had saw weeks of advancement. Wounds opened and closed across Nabooru's body, slashes and burns, bruises and whelps all appearing and disappearing for seemingly no reason at all. They were the telltale signs of battle. Blood then began to pour from Nabooru's nose after a time, followed by a large gash to her right bicep and the complete severance of her left hand, as she was now losing ground in her first battle with Ganondorf's phantom.

"Why won't you die?" Nabooru screamed at the phantom of Ganondorf, unwittingly thinking it was really him who dangled like a grotesque marionette before her very eyes.

Nabooru was now seventeen years old, facing her first major foe since awakening from the stasis. In that world, Nabooru had come into the possession of the Hero's Guard; they were identical metallic blue shin and forearm protectors that allowed her to defend against projectiles and sword slashes that missed the Master Lance. The lance, a mythical weapon comprised of a shiny, silverish metal with an ornate crescent blade at one end, took the place of the Master Sword, which allowed her to move back and forth through time when removed from the Pedestal of Time. It had been a godsend of a replacement for the Kokiri Stick, which was nothing more than a wooden staff that took entirely too long to kill something in her eyes. Besides all of that, though, Nabooru was at odds with this battle wondering why it wouldn't end and just how it could get any harder from here. She'd leaped up and hit his body at least a dozen times, scored direct contact with arrows enough to knock him off his horse, yet there was no sign of wear or tear on him! The fairy even tried to help by buzzing around his head and doing that annoying jingle bit, but none of it proved useful. And the only reason she hadn't bled to death was because the sphere of energy Ganondorf lopped her hand off with cauterized the stump.

"Listen to the fairy, Nabooru," Link's voice called out to her for the first time since it all began.

"I can't hear her from there!" she shouted, diving to avoid another blast of energy, gasping all the while as fatigue set in.

"Listen with your mind and see with your eyes," he said calmly, immediately sparking Nabooru to listen to his advice and try it.

"Use his attacks against him!" Navi seemed to shout into Nabooru's mind. As the fairy spoke, a translucent line, like a spider's web shimmering with dew, led from the phantom's neck to Nabooru's lance.

The blast of energy came down from Phantom Ganondorf almost in slow motion, and this time Nabooru swung her lance at it, trying her very hardest to smack it along the fading web's course into the creature's neck. The Phantom, however, swung back, speeding the attack up. But Nabooru did likewise, still aiming for the neck.

"AH!" Phantom Ganondorf shouted, having missed and taken the attack full on in the throat.

He convulsed and fell from the sky, and Nabooru capitalized. The one-handed Gerudo lunged for her gasping foe, swiping, smacking, and beating the thing with her lance, completely crippling him with her speed. Back into the air he rose, though, but she saw the way now, laughing as he tried to attack again. This time the line faded quicker, but it told her to hit the energy for his abdomen and she did. The last thing Ganondorf's Phantom saw was her lance spearing its way through his chest, before he began to crumble and be sucked into the abyss by the real Ganondorf. Beaten, bloody, one hand short, and completely exhausted, Nabooru collapsed in the center of the floor.

"You've done well, but it isn't over, Nabooru. Now, get up," Link insisted, a low-pitched hum emanating in the room with her all of a sudden.

She lifted her head to stare beyond her toes, noticing the pool of swirling light, and the floating heart-shaped vial only to grimace. More "health," she knew. This was perhaps the worst part of the whole thing-the drinking of the enemy's life blood to replenish her own. Still, it was the only way the hand was coming back, so Nabooru did the deed.

In accordance with this act, Nabooru's hand grew back in layers inside the bedroom-blood, bone, then muscle, and last skin. Similarly to Sepaaru, the improvements and physical enhancements continued as the fight for life became harder and more savage. In the physical realm, her body lost less blood and received fewer injuries, just like she was in the construct world. With the minutes mounting in the room, her physical appearance tightened to reveal more muscle definition and strength, but her body continued to jerk and spasm as she parried, blocked, or threw blows. Once, twice, three times, four-she'd eventually go through Link's Hylian trials.

Within the alternate reality, Nabooru was experiencing Link's knighting coronation and the celebration thrown in his honor by Zelda in the fourth line. As the crowd shouted her name, Nabooru's vision went white. When the world came into view, Link stood before her in all of his godliness at the foot of the Desert Colossus. Nabooru had seen what it was to be "number one" and what that truly meant. Being number one wasn't the head of the crowd. Number one was the crowd-solitary, alone, and maddened with no one but itself for company. The victory wasn't glorious afterward, as even experiencing Link's knighting and the adulation from the crowd chanting her name didn't replace the tremendous loss of that indescribable something that the quests had taken from her. She was secure with her power as a fighter, but even that didn't make her feel altogether whole. Shit, it wasn't even comparable to the wholeness she felt when Link hated her. And for what it was worth, Nabooru didn't even harbor the feeling that this illusion was somehow the cause of her feelings. This was reality. If she'd lived this life exactly as it had unfolded for her, it still wouldn't make her feel anything more than a needling loneliness.

"Still feel like training?" Link asked, a breeze blowing his white hair across his face, abstracting it as though a slanted snowstorm were obstructing his features from view. "Was the victory everything you hoped for?"

Nabooru looked at her hands, calloused and scarred, running them across her body and feeling the various nicks and chunks of scar flesh. She then looked at Link and replied, "To be quite honest with you, this sucks."

Link laughed a little. "Yeah, it sucked a lot. The question still remains, though: Do you want to finish?"

"What's left to accomplish at this point?" Nabooru asked with a sigh, holding the golden forearm guard on her left arm-noticing she still had the final upgrades to her various armaments still on her-and rotating it some.

Link placed his hands together and spread them apart slowly, a thin, crackling energy stretching between them, which formed a two-foot-long black, lacquered rectangular box. Despite the length of time they'd spent apart, Nabooru approached him with a surprising ease and eagerness. She touched the box, running her hand over the symbols. There was a ruby star and an emerald crescent moon, etched into the trunk of a giant golden tree-a merger of Kokiri and Gerudo symbols, obviously.

"Open it," Link encouraged her.

She smiled up at him, while simultaneously lifting the lid. Inside the box, in a plush blue silk groove, Nabooru found a shimmering gold baton. Puzzled, she picked it up and gauged its weight by bobbing it in her hand a few times. It was about a pound in weight, maybe two or two and half feet long, but what the heck was it?

"Wrap your fist around it and think 'kill,'" Link instructed her.

Nabooru did, and then jumped a little as it moved. "Oh!" The baton grew an additional five feet, gained roughly thirty pounds, and a rather menacing scimitar blade on either end, all within an instant. Nabooru gave it a twirl, noticing it was lighter than Biggoron's Staff, but heavier than the Master Lance, while being twice as deadly as either of them with the inclusion of a blade on both ends. Inspecting the staff even further, Nabooru found a few inscriptions written along the centermost part where her hands would reside the most. Holding the staff vertically to better read them, the inscriptions spelled out Link's name, hers, and Zelda's. Turning the staff horizontally and rolling it over, one word appeared on the opposite side of the weapon between where her hands held it: Family. She looked up at Link and felt … happy-a slow, warm kind of return to genuine happiness for the first time in years. Nabooru stood the staff back on its vertical axis, but noticed the word Family now read up and down, like it had from left to right. She did it one more time, somehow amazed by this localized twist in reality, despite the nightmare she'd just walked out of.

"No matter how you hold it, it's always going to say family, because that's what we'll always be," Link informed her, feeling some of the happiness pulsating through her within his own being as well.

Tears ran from Nabooru's eyes in both realities, as she threw off restraint and embraced Link. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist and just sobbed. This was the most important moment in her life, Nabooru believed, because this was redemption. The guilt of her infidelities caused the tears, the realization that Link still considered her family continued her tears, and the fact that he held onto her as tightly as she held onto him sealed everything. Still, there was something else to do before the training was complete. So, as Link unwound her from around his body and dried her eyes, he smiled.

"Unfortunately, this is where the training begins," he admitted, rubbing his hands down Nabooru's arms.

She stared at him as though he were kidding. Sniffling, Nabooru said, "Ha-ha, Hero."

"I'm not kidding," Link replied, a little more sternly. "You've endured the mental and the physical. Now, it's time to analyze and improve. This is where the decade begins."

Her eyes grew wide with … with what should've been rage. Nabooru wanted to be furious, but there was just empty. This wasn't right, a part of her felt. There was happiness with Link. Yes, she definitely felt happy. But her anger seemed to be replaced with expectation. Nabooru looked within herself for quite sometime and realized one thing: She expected this. Was this why Link never seemed surprised by shitty situations? Was he always expecting them? Yes was the answer to both questions, she realized.

"I don't want to hit you," she said after a time.

"You forfeited the right to make that decision," he replied in a stern voice, but smiled. "But, because I'm nice, I'll let you fight the puppet. It'll start slow but its speed and power will increase until you've reached your maximum and can longer fight back successfully. Then, tomorrow, you'll fight the previous day's maximum, but prior to that, we'll walk through the mistakes and missteps to let you see what you need to focus on."

After his voice stopped, a long, spindly puppet of himself appeared, dressed exactly like Link. It sort of hovered about in the air, bobbing ever so slightly, before lowering in between the couple and unsheathing its sword and taking up its shield. Nabooru raised an eyebrow, before asking a question.

"And Sepaaru did this?"

"No, she fought me."

This gave the Gerudo queen pause. Nabooru then asked, "What's the most she could take?"

Link looked to the puppet and it seemed to fade away to Nabooru, before she felt the sword pressed to her throat.

"That's not possible!" Nabooru shouted, watching the puppet leisurely float back to Link's side.

"She couldn't see it move, but she could anticipate where it would re-enter reality," Link said as though he were describing uprooting a blade of grass. "Last chance: Do you want to call it done?"

Nabooru took her time to respond. Who would've ever thought that, after experiencing Link's life, battling a puppet would be the most harrowing experience of her life? She gripped her staff a little tighter, before declining his offer to back out. Link sighed, muttering something about people never listening to reason.

"I should tell you, the staff has five forms: Neutral, Kill, Speed, Crush, and Defend."

"And how do I initiate them all?"

"Think one of those words."

Nabooru thought kill and it stayed in its current, dual-bladed state. She then thought speed, and the blades disappeared and the weight seemingly halved, leaving little more than a golden stick with which to inflict damage. Thinking the word crush caused the staff to sprout a Morning Star head at either end and gain roughly sixty pounds of bulk. Lastly, the word defense caused a shield comprised of light to appear in a slight arc about four inches in front of the staff's last form, which worked like a miniature wall, before fading a few seconds after the thought. Neutral, as the word suggested, returned the staff to its smaller, less lethal form. Nabooru was then struck with an idea: She thought about two of the words in conjunction with each other. The staff sprouted one of its kill form's blades, while simultaneously retaining part of the weight and spiked heads of its crush state.

"I can use them in combination," Nabooru said, smiling with self-satisfaction and already forming a set of stratagem for her new toy.

"Now put it to use," Link voice said from the world surrounding her. "I'll be watching you."

And, with that, the puppet attacked.