You're not really a pirate anymore. No one fears the great Captain Tetra, not after rumors spread about your dealings with the so-called Hero of the Winds. There's not much raiding to be had, not that you did much in the first place. The old man's wish washed the ocean floor clean of relics. The Forsaken Fortress lies empty, home to more seagulls than Moblins now.

You're not really a princess either. "Zelda" sounds too foreign, too cumbersome, and "Pirate Queen Tetra" has a roguish charm to it that you can't help but relish. You don't have jewels or a castle to your name, but what are those when compared to a ship and her crew? And what a crew you have! Dozens join in the months after your proclamation. Youths from Windfall and Outset man the sails, and Rito scouts scour the horizons for any sign of new land. Even the Koroks and Mermen take part, twisting ancient roots into new vessels and charting the ever-distant archipelagos for signs of the promised homeland. The crew grumbles at first. They've never been good with newcomers. Only Niko welcomes the influx of "swabbies". He'll never be on the bottom rung again.

Link doesn't join you. He never intended to, and you never had the heart to ask (no matter how much you wanted it). You could cover more sea apart, and he would never give up the Red Lion. You don't blame him. It's all that remained of the old man. You wouldn't abandon it either.

You miss the passing of his grandmother. So does he. It brings you little comfort to know that Aryll was at her side at the end. She had already borne so much pain (all because of you, right from the very start). He tells you this a year after the fact, when next you meet at Windfall. Aryll is with him then. She has his eyes now. Eyes that have seen too much at too young an age. You're sure yours are the same, but there's a reason why you never look down from the taffrail on calm days. She joins your crew, and you're glad to have her (and her telescope. Link still grumbles about giving it back.)

Two years pass before you see him again. He's as tan as you are now, and taller. Taller than you. He tries his best to rub it in. You think about wearing your hair up again, if only to reclaim that one point of pride. Aryll settles it. "Princesses don't wear topknots," she says, and that is that. She's taken to tying your hair in braids. At first you called them fussy, but now that you've caught him staring, you don't mind as much. That night you pour over maps and treasure charts, letters from other adventurers, and the growing pile of missives from Rito scouting parties. You wake the next morning on a bed of parchment, head resting on his shoulder. He excuses himself with a blush like a sunburn, and vanishes over the side before you can ask him to stay for breakfast. You're surprised at how much you regret it.

Yours isn't the only archipelago on the Great Sea. There are other island clusters, petty kingdoms and warlords clinging to the remnants of the world that came before. Dozens flock to your banner as rumors of the Pirate Queen spread far and wide. Others are not so eager to serve. These you bring to heel, just like the good old days. You tear down fortress walls and burn ships to the waterline, and in the calm afterward you feel a budding relief that he wasn't there to see it happen.

You see him now and then, fleeting rendezvouses separated by months of yawning absence. Sometimes you meet in familiar waters, and share tales of distant wonders and new friends, of the growing fleet and maps that grew a bit more detailed with each passing day, and it's as though he never left at all. Other times you sit in the dying candlelight and listen to his whispers of distant terrors and haunted seas. There's nothing to the west, he says, just a blue desert as far as the eye can see, a merciless sun, and a wind as unruly as the whims of the Goddesses. You cancel all further expeditions west. It's not a difficult decision. You've always preferred the north anyway.

This time you work up the courage to ask him to stay. Just for a few days, you assure him, so he can rest a bit before heading off. It's hard to classify the relief you feel when he agrees. A few days becomes a few weeks, then a few months, until the Red Lion is more of a scout than an explorer in its own right. He's grown stronger, bolder, since the last time you saw him. He's not the same scrawny kid, wielding a sword too big for most boys to even lift. His back is broad and knotted with muscle, and his hands are rougher than yours had ever been. One night, when you stand on the bowsprit to watch the stars, he holds you close without a hint of a blush. You have to work to hide yours. He notices, but doesn't say anything. Somehow that makes it worse. Thoughts of petty revenge hound you for months.

Sometimes, on stormy nights, you wake in a cold sweat, jolted from the dream of the downpour that drowned the old world. Sometimes he's there, and you curl up to his side, knowing that he dreams the same dreams: dreams of the land that would never be, and of the hand that he couldn't reach. He holds you as you try to forget, even though you know it's your duty to remember.

Your other dreams are no better. You see the faces of the girls that came before, the cold eyes of those born to bear the burden you had thrust upon you. You catch glimpses of their heroes, strong and brave, and quiet too. Yours is cuter though, and in your dreams you taunt them with this indisputable truth as if one night they might respond.

You wonder if he sees his predecessors in his dreams, and what they might say to him if they could.

He tells you the magic is failing. Whatever powers the old man put in that baton are running out. He won't be the Hero of Winds for much longer. You tell him in no uncertain terms that he'll always be the Hero. A Queen always needed her Knight, and the fleet now had expectations they had to uphold. That dorky green sock is finally starting to grow on you. He isn't going to get rid of it now. He agrees on the spot, and it's only later that you realize you called yourself a Queen without any hint of irony. Aryll is starting to rub off on you. She's old enough for a ship of her own. Goddesses, she's older than Link was when he first set off with you. If he could save the world at twelve, she could captain a ship at fourteen. Naturally, she's thrilled with the idea. Niko and Senza go with her, and the ship gets a little quieter. You don't want to admit that you'll miss them. Your family is getting smaller and smaller. They all have their duties to perform, and somehow yours keep shrinking. You long for the open sea, to feel the wind in your salt-starched hair, to grip rigging and sailcloth instead of maps and pens. But this is what it means to be a sovereign, and somehow you've come to accept that.

One day, with the ship hundreds of leagues northeast of the Dragon's Roost, one of your Rito scouts darts down from the skies. The seas have been dead for days, the sails unfurled to their fullest extent to catch the smallest breeze. Quill stumbles as he lands, and hastily salutes with a feathered arm.

"An island my queen," he says. "Larger than any I've ever seen, so vast it stretched beyond the horizon."

"Which way?" you ask.


Without a word, Link draws his baton and traces a melody in the air. The keening notes die in the strengthening breeze, and Link lowers the Wind Waker with a solemn finality. "The wind, it's blowing!" Zuko says. Nudge laughs at the obviousness of his comment, but the words send a chill down your spine. Link takes your hand, and you squeeze it back, trying to push the dead man's words from your mind.

"What do we do, Miss Tetra?" Gonzo asks. Mako rushes below for your spare topsails, already anticipating the answer.

"The same order as always," you say. "We let the wind guide us!"

It's hard to believe it once you first lay eyes on it. A looming mass of grey on the distant horizon, wider than the largest thundercloud, the biggest island you've ever seen. Not an island at all really. Land. The word feels strange on your tongue. Word travels quickly. Aryll's ship, the Outset, hovers far to the southeast, a vague smudge in the distance like an oceanic predator skimming the surface. Just after breakfast, you order the Red Lion ahead in search of a safe anchorage. Link pauses at the railing and looks back at you. He must see the yearning in your eyes, because he holds out his hand. As if you need another reason to love him.

You crew the Red Lion together. Link holds the rudder steady while you trim the sails with rolled up sleeves, braided hair bound tight to keep from whipping across your face. You pull the boat onto the beach together and collapse in a heap as your soaked clothes dry in the sun. His lips still taste like bacon. You bask in the moment as the rest of the men assemble on the beach.

"Your orders, Captain?" Aryll asks. Surrounded by her towering crew, she reminds you of, well, you. You don't know what you remind yourself of anymore.

You squeeze his hand, and he squeezes yours back. You know just what to say to that. "Follow me."

You take your first breath (your first real breath at least, beaches are beaches are beaches, no matter where you make landfall) as you climb the first ridge and take in the rolling landscape before you. The air here is crisp, fresh. It's not the damp, musty, malingering scent of the forest haven or the harsh salt spray of the Great Sea, so commonplace that you've forgotten how to smell it at all. You fill your lungs, and a billowing gust of wind ruffles your clothes and blows the tie from your sun-bleached hair. You finally understand what he meant. You covet this wind too. You yearned for it all your life and just didn't know it. That night, for the first time you can remember, you pray for the man you helped kill: that he might have found a measure of peace in his last moments, that his final words had been ones of hope rather than remorse, and that his soul had finally shrugged off the hate that had clung on him for so many centuries.

You make a vow to explore it together, on foot instead of by sea. No crews, no fleets, just you and him and the endless horizon. It's as close to a proposal as you plan to get. He nods like he always does. In your travels you find a vast desert, and for the first time you taste the destructive wind that Ganondorf spoke of before the old world died. That night, Link holds you as you cry yourself to sleep, and the next morning he raises a cairn atop one of the wind-swept cliffs. You're not sure if he would have wanted this, but it brings a hollow peace to your heart, and that's better than no peace at all.

This land isn't Hyrule. You make that clear to everyone. You may be Princess Zelda and he may be the Hero of the Winds , but this land was to be a new beginning for everyone. In time, the town you found would earn the name Landfall, one of a dozen colonies across this great expanse of land. The newcomers trickle in one or two at a time. Settlers from Windfall and Outset set up fisheries and trading posts along the coast, Rito postmasters establish their eyries in the highest mountaintops. In the years to come, Koroks from the forest haven will spread their seeds among the dense woodlands of this new world, finally completing their centuries-long labor. It isn't a kingdom. Right now it's barely even a town. But it's yours, and that's what matters.

Your ship becomes the cornerstone of your castle, and when the Red Lion's boards begin to creak with age, you mount its prow atop the highest tower overlooking the coast. Together, they are the foundation of your new life, so that the old man's legacy might never truly die. When the day finally comes, Aryll sews you a dress with a veil of tattered sailcloth. A pirate's wedding for a Pirate Queen.

When weather and duty next allow, you slip out of the castle with your hero and patter on bare feet to the dockyards dressed in trousers and a vest, hair bound in a messy bun. You sit at the stern, one hand on the rudder and the other on the swell of your belly as he works the sails. You leave the docks behind and course towards the sunset until the land turns grey behind you, like a memory of what you'd found after so many years of searching. There, in the open ocean, he lowers the sails and you slip into his arms. It's getting harder to hug him with that bump of yours.

"I wish he could have seen this," he mumbles into your hair. You don't bother asking who.

A gust of chill night air stirs the calm water, and you pull him tighter around you. You press a kiss into his collar, on the edge of the world you left and the world you made for yourself. And as the sun touches the horizon, Link hoists the sail and you take the tiller once more. The cloth fills with the gentle evening breeze, the salt spray like an old friend stopping by to say hello. The seeds of your future are planted, but have so much room to grow. No matter how far you travel, the wind will always lead you home.