Hyrule Castle, 2 years in the past…
Zelda sat in the Royal Courtyard Playing the Ocarina of Time. She played Zelda’s lullaby mostly, with some variations. Playing the Ocarina was one of her most relaxing pastimes, and as always Impa wasn’t far watching over her from the entrance of the courtyard.
Once Zelda was done playing the instrument she carefully placed the Ocarina on a small safe box with golden exterior, and motioned for Impa to join her.
“Come Impa. Sit with me. It is a beautiful afternoon, isn’t it?” Zelda asked Impa as her care taker sat on the white marble bench with her.
“It is a warm after noon your highness, and a very beautiful one indeed.” Impa replied.
“Impa…there is something I want to let off my chest. But my father was never a good listener. And so, I turn to you!” Zelda said with a wide grin on her face.
Impa returned her smile with one of her own and nodded.
“I am all ears.”
“I have been thinking, well more like I can’t stop thinking about what Link said that day. Before he left.” “You mean before you sent him away?”
Zelda smiled, she had told Impa about how they parted ways at Arbiter’s Grounds and Impa was right the only reason Link had left was because she dismissed him.
“Yes…well he said that when he first met me here in this very same courtyard, something jumped in a scare within him.” Zelda paused as if waiting for a reply, but none came so she continued, “I can’t quite explain it, but it is similar to how I felt…how I feel when I look into his eyes.”
“Mutual love at first sight?” Impa added raising a brow.
Zelda took a deep breath, and shook her head,
“No it is much more than that…deeper, a yearning. As if there was always something missing, something deep with in me, and I didn’t know about it until I met him.” She finalized.
A sudden expression of grief overtook Impa’s crimson eyes. Impa’s reaction didn’t escape Zelda’s curiosity.
“Impa? Is there something wrong?”
“No. I just thought I remembered something.” Impa replied shaking her head, “You still have much to learn Princess, about History and duties.”
“Yes I know. Duty above all else you, and my father have taught me well.” Zelda nodded.
“Perhaps too well my Princess, and that perhaps was a mistake.” Impa replied prompting Zelda to frown in confusion.
“How it is a mistake to remain true to my duties?” Zelda asked with a hint of displeasure in her voice.
Impa closed her red eyes as if to search for the right words to say,
“When duty gets in the way of doing what is right child.” As she said the words she placed a reassuring hand on Zelda’s shoulder.
“So you think I erred when I sent him away?”
“Time will tell, it always does. I do think every word the boy said about what he did in the future was true. Including his resentment at being sent back. It is something that you would do or would have done in the name of duty.” Impa said.
“Yes. It was not fair for him to lose his childhood, and for you, and my father to die. My duty would have been to restore the kingdom to the way it was before Ganondorf entered the Sacred Realm. So I did the right thing…in the future.” Zelda countered.
“Perhaps. But Ganondorf still holds the Triforce of Power, which means the Sacred Realm remains corrupted which leaves the Kingdom in peril.”
“No one has ever escaped the Twilight Realm.” Zelda interrupted. Impa gave her a look as if to say that she wasn’t done, before continuing.
“Sending Link back nullified his effort…his sacrifice in defeating Ganondorf. Because your future self remained in the future, you have no recollection or idea of what that poor forest boy went through. He remembers it though, probably daily, and with his Fairy gone he has no one to share and talk about his experiences, because no one will believe, or understand him.” Impa explained with a Stern expression.
Zelda didn’t take Impa’s words well, they felt like a reprimand for something she technically didn’t do. “I must remind you that I didn’t send him back, and that I did believe his story however unfathomable it may seem to us here in this timeline.” Zelda replied.
“My point is…what you did in Arbiter’s Grounds is exactly what you or should I say she did in the future. You sent the boy away without asking him how he felt about it. Because you didn’t care, it was your duty. Whether it was right or wrong. I am trying to make you see that.” Impa continued pressing the issue but those last few words struck a chord in Zelda.
‘I didn’t care? Is that what she thinks? Is it what he thinks?’ Self doubt began to creep in and ask difficult questions inside her head. She wasn’t heartless, when she dismissed Link that day at Arbiter’s Grounds she had killed a part of herself in order to do what she felt was right, what was dutiful.
“Like my father, you are the most dutiful person I have ever met. But after all of these years you are trying to convince me that duty does not come first and foremost? Someday I will be Queen. My duty is to protect the people of the land.”
“Does your father look like a happy man? Do you think I am a happy woman?” Impa asked. There was no mocking tone in her voice, it was a serious question which in turn surprised Zelda.
“I, well, You are not happy with me Impa?” Zelda felt like was about to cry over the sudden revelation that Impa, her best friend and care taker wasn’t happy with her duty.
“I didn’t mean it like that. You are the daughter that I will never have. It however doesn’t change the fact that I will never have a daughter. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my own. Your father spends more time in the throne room than he does with his precious daughter. He loves you, but duty has always come first.” Impa replied.
“Well that’s why he is a great King. My father always does what is best for the Kingdom.”
Upon hearing that last statement Impa rose to her feet, smiled, and looked around the courtyard to make sure no one would over hear what she said next,
“My duty is to raise you to be smart, independent, and wise. As such some truths must be told. Starting with the fact that your father is not a great King.” Impa paused for a moment as Zelda gasped in disbelief, “He unified the country in the civil war. But at what price. He started a war over land using the pretext that he was defending the sacred realm. Well…while his energy was focused on that war, he completely ignored the Evil Gerudo King on the rise, despite constant warnings from his daughter. This led to his death, the deaths of thousands and the corruption of the sacred realm with the Triforce of Power ultimately falling into the worst possible hands.” Impa paused as Zelda clutched her chest.
“This…” Zelda barely whispered.
“A forest boy had to travel in time to fix his mistakes. The boy couldn’t fix the fact that the Triforce was split into 3 pieces and that Ganondorf still lives. All of these terrible events happened during your father’s tenure as king. You can either accept this, and learn. Or deny it and remain oblivious to how the world works your highness.” Impa finalized.
“This is treason Impa…”
“Under the law it is…and it is your duty to report me to your Father.” Impa said extending her hands in a gesture of surrender.
“They will hang you …and I love you too much to cause you any harm.” Zelda sincerely answered shaking her head with a sigh.
“I am glad. You are wiser than your father. You did the right thing…over the dutiful thing.” Impa replied with an expression of pride on her face. “I broke the law speaking ill of the King. I deserve a trial, and yet you know in your heart that I will never harm him. So you chose to say nothing and spare me. You did what was right.”
Zelda nodded, she had learned a valuable lesson. Still it had. been easy to tell right from wrong in that instance. The issue with Link was much more complicated.
“I still don’t know however whether it was right or wrong to dismiss Link.” Zelda said, she wasn’t asking Impa anymore, it was a question she would have to solve for herself.
“First ask yourself this…Why did you sent him away?” Impa advised.
“Well…Link is a free spirit. He doesn’t have a place in the court, the only reason he would stay here in the Castle would be to be near me, but to what end? What would be the point?” Zelda explained, she clutched her chest before resuming, “I have been selfish, I am in love with him but we can never be together, so he is a distraction from my duties. If I had kept him around I would have grown more fond of him…enough to falter someday. I was bound to break his heart one day, better now than later.” Zelda finalized wiping a tear from her cheek, before forcing a smile at Impa.
Impa embraced her. Impa’s Silver hair, crimson eyes and strong muscular frame bellied her softer side. She was 50 winters old, young for a pure blooded Sheikah, but half a century of life made her wise beyond her youthful appearance.
“Perhaps it was the right decision then.” Impa nodded. “The most important thing, is that you also feel the same way. That it was the right thing to do.” Impa finalized.
Zelda stood still for a moment, looking into the small artificial Creek that surrounded the inner courtyard. ‘We can never be together’ Zelda had long accepted her sad fate. She would marry a Prince or an important Lord. Her marriage would be one that would strengthen the kingdom, only if she was lucky would she find happiness in such an arrangement. Link was an orphan, raised by a Tree, Lordship and more so Royalty was beyond him. Her father and the court would never consent to such a useless marriage.
Perhaps in the future where the world had been destroyed, where she ruled alone, where Link was the Hero of Time. Perhaps there they could have been together. Perhaps ‘You shouldn’t have sent him back’ Zelda lamented not only for herself but for that ‘other’ her from the future.