A/N: It should be said here before anything that this is the exact same story I am posting on AO3 of the same name. :) I figured there's some people however that still use FF for certain fandoms (I'm partial to still using FF for Zelda myself) and therefore I should make the effort to post/update to both sites! If you prefer the AO3 format, however, I definitely suggest you head over to there as the formatting is a LOT nicer. Link for that will be right here: /works/14817224/chapters/34286717 - Nice.

Other than that, here's a note I wrote at the end of the first chapter on AO3, with a few changes made to reflect how far I've come in just a few short weeks. All other chapters on here will NOT feature A/Ns and will only be content so if you're interested in what I've got to say, def check the fic out there. Enjoy guys!

Despite the fact that I don't have this fanfic finished and I don't know when I WILL; I figured maybe I should finally just post it. I'm tired y'all. I want it out there. I'm 118 pages in and we ain't even done. Oh well. I'll try to update every other week. Hopefully then I'll fuckin' have this hellbeast over and done with. For now; enjoy.

Two hundred fifty five billion, fifteen million, nine hundred eighty six thousand, two hundred and thirty four breaths. He has taken two hundred fifty five billion, fifteen million, nine hundred eighty six thousand, two hundred and thirty four breaths since he started counting. And calling them breaths is generous, for he doesn't have a form in this prison, so he can't quite call whatever it is he's doing breathing, but it almost feels as if his whole chest - or his whole being, that is - is inhaling and exhaling, growing bigger and releasing that energy with every second. They say that the average Hylian takes twelve to twenty breaths a minute. In an hour, they've taken a thousand two hundred. In a full day, twenty eight thousand, eight hundred breaths. In a year, ten million, five hundred and twelve thousand breaths.

Counting breaths is the only way to count time, and even that is unreliable. They did good with strengthening his seal this time. It's wearing down now, though. He feels it, slowly. Like a window cracked open just a fraction of an inch every year. He remembers their names and faces. Princess Zelda and the ever heroic Link. His anger still bubbles, but it's almost distant now. Harder to recall. A lot of things are getting harder to recall.

His childhood. He knows what he stole. He knows that he was small - a pint sized rat with a passion for power. He can still feel what he felt then - insecurity, fury, pain, confusion, empty, the overwhelming urge to just be whole-

He couldn't tell you what pushed him to wrap those greedy paws around that cloth. He couldn't tell you his birthday or his family's names. If he ever had a family. His friends. His classmates. His favorite treat. Why he took on magic. Even now, he can't quite remember how he felt that first time. What were his exact actions? Why?

Maybe that's what the Goddesses wanted out of him. Make him forget everything. Become some little vegetable. Something they could mold into a perfect upstanding citizen.

Well, no thank you.

He wasn't going to let them have things their way. He was stubborn, he knew that. He wouldn't be anyone but himself. Wouldn't let anyone else dictate what that meant.

But still, he was so so tired.

Tired of counting breaths.

Tired of staring out into the white. Was this staring or was he the white?

He wants to close his eyes and sleep.

Or feel the wind on his face. In his air.

He wants to lay down in Hyrule Field.

He doesn't want a heavy crown.

He wants what he doesn't think he's ever had.

He wants to be happy.

For the good guys, the moment you discover what you want, you get it. Like a flash of lightning. As if the Gods themselves were waiting for you to just figure it out so they could put everything in place. Right in your lap. Maybe that's precisely what they did. Farore's destiny or some divine bullshit. Door's open, Hero, your prize is sitting right in front of you, go get it.

Vaati wishes to be happy and free.

All he gets are more breaths to count.