Timeline: Post “Link’s Awakening”
Summary: After the dissolution of Koholint Island, Link once again finds himself lost in the middle of the ocean. Past Link x Marin, implied one-sided Link x Zelda.
Warnings: Rated T/PG-13 for cussing and occasionally-morbid themes. MAJORLY angsty Link (even heroes have their bad days). Might not be a good one to read, if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, though it DOES end on a positive note. Spoilers for the end of “Link’s Awakening” (do I even have to bother with this? It’s such an old and well-known game…)
Light… blindingly white, hot light… beating against my eyelids. ‘Let me sleep!’ It doesn’t listen, doesn’t obey. Just continues to beat at me. ‘I just want to rest… Is it so much to ask?'
Now sounds join in the abuse. Sharp, keeling noises, like pained cries. Dozens… hundreds of voices. Crying. Screaming. Sharp. Sudden. Circling around and around me. It’s nonsense. The dumb, unintelligible cries of creatures with minds the size of a walnut, pounding into my ears, urging me to open my eyes. I don’t want to listen. ‘Go AWAY! Please, just… let me sleep. Let me DREAM!’ It’s useless; the noise never stops.
The wind kicks up, and assaults my nose with salty, bitter scents. Slowly, in spite of myself, I become aware of my body. I’m cold… that is to say, the bottom half of me is cold. The top part is still being pounded by that infernal light, and the heat it carries.
I become aware of movement. At first, I think it’s just dizziness taking over, and welcome the sleep I think is about to reclaim me… No such luck. I’m wide awake, though my eyes remain closed, but I’m still moving. Slowly. Languidly. It’s… almost soothing. 'I’m floating' . Yes. Wafting in some thus-far invisible current, like a feather gently released… only, there‘s no sensation of falling; only hovering. ‘Am I dead?’ The thought carries a nearly imperceptible feeling of relief; NEARLY imperceptible, but it’s just enough to catch my attention. How strange. I can’t recall why I’d welcome death, and a small part of my brain is telling me this should concern me, but… some other part of my brain also knows it’s best not to broach this particular subject, and so I let it rest.
There is a hardness under me, under where I think my arms must be. It’s the only solid thing in my entire world: the sole anchor to my otherwise fragile existence. ‘Wonder what would happen if I just… let go…’
The thought proves fruitless. I couldn’t move to let go if my life depended on it… (if my death depended on it?) I have no strength. I’m suddenly reminded of gravity, as I become aware of my own body’s weight: it’s heavy. And uncomfortable. And itchy. The salty air makes my nose twitch with the urge to sneeze. My eyes -- I suddenly remember I have eyes -- are dry and sore under closed lids; I REALLY have no desire to open them. My mouth feels like I’ve swallowed copious amounts of sand. I taste grit, and salt, and my own morning breath (which I would not wish upon my worst enemy)… all in all, NOT pleasant. ‘Can I go back to sleep, now?’ Once again, no such luck.
The wailing cries continue to gain focus. One, in particular, is very close. I hear a soft “tack-tack-tacking” sound not far from my ear, like long nails tapping on a board, and then a loud “SQUAWK“. I wince involuntarily, and hunch my shoulders. It‘s irritating. “Go… the FUCK… away…” Gods, my voice is raspy! Was that really me?! It must be, because from that one little exertion, my throat feels raw. ‘Now my voice is sore, too. Greeeeat!' Can my day get any worse?
Something rustles against my hair -- NOT the wind -- I feel a tug, and then a pull. It hurts! ‘What the HELL is grabbing my hair?!’ I somehow find the energy to lift a heavier-than-lead arm and squat at the general direction of my head. Another “squawk”, this time indignant-sounding. I snort my derision, ignoring the pain the sound brings to my burning throat. This thing pulls my hair, then has the nerve to get self-righteous when I drive it off! ‘Jackass…’ I slowly open one eye, to better express my disdain. That… HURTS. The light pummels my eyeball like a physical punch. I scrunch my eyes closed again, and weakly bring my hand closer, to rub at the injured orb, now safely concealed behind its sheathe, once more. I soon discover the mistake of THAT move, too, as my salt-caked hand introduces just enough of the stuff between the lids to makes my eye tear-up. It stings! OBSCENELY so! Soon, I’m throwing out a string of every curse word I’ve ever word, from the military-rank whoppers my uncle used to spew with practiced ease, to the awkward childhood ones I made-up when the kids from Kakariko Village came by to “mess with the hermit-boy”. My voice is harsh and the words make my throat hurt even more, but I don’t care.
Blinking to flush away the saline-laden tears and let the new, less salty ones come forth, my eyes slowly get used to the light, and I finally get a look at the intruder who so brazenly disturbed my attempt at slumber: a white, blurry shape gradually sharpens to reveal the smaller details of a sharp, yellow beak, red, beady eyes, and long, skinny yellow legs. It quirks its head at me, utters another squawk, and flies off. ‘A… seagull?’
"AHHHH!" My heart clenches, and a wave of dizziness comes over me just as a particularly rough wave makes me lose my balance, and nearly loose my grip on the piece of driftwood I cling to. ‘Wave? Driftwood?’ YES! I’m… I’m at sea! I’m floating in the middle of the ocean! My ship capsized in the storm and I washed up on shore and…
“MARIN!” I cough and splutter as seawater enters my airways, my voice box raw and lungs burning with the intrusion.
I somehow regain my precarious balance and dangle, useless and spent, from the edge of the ship‘s plank. Though my eyes no longer have enough tears to cry, I feel my cheeks burn with the surge of grief crashing down around me. “Marin…” I rattle, the noise barely heard above the whispering wind and sloshing waves.
I mourn for her; for all of Koholint, but especially for her. Marin… whose song and laughter and warmth took me in and gave me a safe haven in the midst of alien territory. Marin: whose joy of life reminded me that living might be a worthwhile thing, after all. Marin: whose love… healed my bitter, broken heart. Marin… whom I would have gladly spent my life with… Marin… who was nothing more, after all, than the colorful dream of a sleeping deity, fused with the desperate, fevered wishes of a bitter, broken man… Marin: whose life, along with hundreds of others, I ended, with a dream-sword… and a song that she, herself, taught me. She’s dead. And real or not, I killed her. I stopped the Nightmares and woke the Sleeper. She may not have cried, or bled, but her death -- and that of everyone else that made up the isle of Koholint -- is on MY conscience. ‘Gods… forgive me!’
Dry sobs wrack my body. My arms cling to the water-logged wood, fingers clenching about the sides, nails digging into the spongy-yet-hard material and dragging across it till my fingers bleed. ‘Dear GODS, strike me down! Drown me! KILL me! ANYTHING’S better than this!’ THIS is why I earlier welcomed death. THIS is what my mind was trying to escape. Marin. And my sins. I hang onto the wooden plank, my body quaking, and let my grief ride itself out, my body floating in the water, until my thoughts finally calm, then cease, and finally float along the surface of my mind, anchorless, just as my body is.
I have no idea how long I stay like this. When I regain consciousness, the sun’s nearly set. I somehow gather what’s left of my strength and drag my cold-numbed body out of the water and onto the piece of planking, then lay shivering, arms and legs dangling over the sides, and wait for morning.
I sleep at intervals, and dream of green fields and sun-dappled forests. It seems unusual, that my dreams be so peaceful, after such violent thoughts, but, they are what they are, and even the guilt can’t shake the calm pervading my tattered soul.
I dream of a voice, soft and melodious, calling my name. I think it Marin, at first, and my heart gives a lurch, but I soon realize it’s not her. The speaker is blond, and her face, though similar to Marin’s, is NOT Marin’s. Blue eyes spear me to the core, my entire soul laid bare before them, my sins exposed. I’m certain she should be repulsed, but she’s not. I sense no anger, no contempt, no disgust. I feel… love. But, why?
As I ponder, my other sin becomes clear to me… this one, against the very woman who so gently calls to me, and whose kindness soothes my inner wounds; my sin… of desire. This woman, who so reminds me of Marin… NO; it’s not she who reminds me of Marin: it was Marin who reminded me of her. My Princess. My Liege. My… my reason for leaving Hyrule, in the first place… The one I want, and may never have... The one who inspired the vision that was Marin… ‘Zelda’ .
I am a fool. I should have realized it, from the start. Marin looked like Zelda because Marin WAS Zelda… to me. I could never be with her, in life, so I fabricated this illusion, given form and focus by the power of The Sleeping Deity: the Windfish, and let it become a substitute for the one I truly wanted. 'Forgive me, my Princess… I have defiled you with my heart'. I dared to fall in love with a Goddess made Flesh. I presumed to mean more to you than the dust under your feet. I was even so bold as to believe that you could grow to love me, back. Well, I learned my mistake. You are a Princess. You have Obligations. And a peasant boy, no matter his feats, will never be up to the task of being your Chosen. Forgive me, Princess, for I even had the audacity to claim you in my dreams.
In my dream/vision, I stand and wait for the axe to fall. I even kneel and extend my neck, for easy access. I brace myself, and merely pray the executioner’s aim be true, and the blow, clean.
But the pain never comes. Instead, she continues to call me. Her eyes continue to look at me, staring into my soul and yet… not seeing me. Her gaze pierces me, and yet, she doesn’t seem to see my body. She senses me, somehow, and smiles gently as she makes her appeals, my name falling from those honeyed lips time and again, but her eyes remain unfocused, scanning across the clearing. ‘She’s searching for me. She knows I’m here, but she can’t see me…’
“Link? Come back to me… Link… I need you… Link, please, come home… Link…” My eyes drift shut at the tender words, hope igniting once more. ‘Gods… dare I dream?’
She‘s called me, before, when she was in danger. When Agahnim attacked, was the first time I “heard” her. She spoke to me on the journey, to lend me advice. Whenever she needed me, she called. We met in our dreams, and she was kind, and gentle, and soothed my wounds and fatigue. This is why… I dared to entertain the hope… ‘Is she in danger, now?’ But, there’s no urgency to her words, this time. No panic in her eyes. No instructions to carry out. She just… wants me to come back. Why?
Her voice is hypnotic, and after awhile, I fall into a true dream. No monsters. No guilt. Just her gentle voice, and warm blue gaze, and the brazen, desperate hope I daren’t give substance: that perhaps this cause isn’t as lost as I’d thought.
When I finally awaken, it’s morning, but as I look to the horizon, all other thoughts are driven from my head: there’s land! And ships! And one of them is headed toward me! The wind blows toward me, and it carries the scent of flowers, and animals, and warm, rich dirt. A lone seagull circles above me, and for some reason, I can’t help but smile.
It seems my body has saved just enough moisture overnight, because salt-less tears suddenly run down my cheeks, and with renewed energy, I force my body to sit, albeit unsteadily, and tremblingly wave at the approaching vessel.
‘I’m going home, Princess… I’m coming home… to YOU.’
Author's Notes Edit
This little beauty came about thanks to some role-playing storytelling I’ve been working at with my friend, Lady Norbert (you can read her stories on fan fiction .net, as well). We’re doing a story that takes place post-”A Link to the Past”, pre-”Link’s Awakening”, that then shoots forward to more-or-less the point where THIS fic takes off. I was just feeling inspired, and slightly buzzed off of coffee and fandom, and wanted to write something a little different. If anyone wants to know why Link is so catastrophically angst in this story, and what happened between him and Zelda to turn his mind to mush, then, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to be a little patient, while LadyNorbert and I finish our RP story. We’ll post it when it’s done! Promise!
Reviews, as always, are quite welcomed.