Chapter 2:

Sleepers

Thwump

Thud

Link awoke, kicking and pushing, trying to force his bindings away. As his arm broke free an icy sheet enveloped him, the stabbing bringing his mind into focus just as the blanket landed on the floor. Details coming into focus, the bench he was previously on formed above him.

Oh

He pulled himself onto what was his makeshift bed, just sticking his eyes above the window ledge. Darkness covered most objects, but he could still make out the silhouette of the realm's titular forest, tree's praying in the wind. Nothing.

His muscles unfurled, head dropping to his cap-pillow as he relaxed. Echoes of wind rattling the carriage windows bounced about him. It was a miracle he'd fallen asleep in the first place. He was never like this with Alfonzo around. Then again, he supposed he'd never really been responsible then either.

Bang.

Was a shutter loose? If he got up now he definitely wasn't falling asleep any time soon. Still he couldn't let another train, especially this one, get damaged. Propping himself up, he stole his nerves. But as he turned, something caught his attention. Or rather didn't. The soft glow his companion had been giving off was gone. The Princess was gone.

Bang

His sword was in his hand before he noticed where it was. Sliding along the cabin, he caught the shutter mid swing, tying it back and securing the carriage. It was then, without the bangs and the echoes, that he heard it. A quiet sound, but definitely a person.

Working his way out of the carriage, the cold wind pulled goose bumps out of his arms. But the sound was clearer now, coming from…the roof? He clambered up the cabin, trying to use the door handle to force his way up. But it was impossible. Looking around, he caught glimpse of a small nook in the cabin wall. Springing himself across, his foot bounced off the makeshift platform, sending him flying up the gap.

He took it all in; the roof, the ledge. He saw it all. And a second later, it punched him in the stomach.

His breath stung as it fled his lungs. Flopping onto the carriage, he panted, pulling as much as possible back in. Pausing for a second, his head rolled to the side, almost out of his control.

Their eyes met. The Princess, stared at him. He stared back. Nothing was said. The silence slightly unnerving. Then, as if the world was pushing them forwards, the wind picked up.

The Princess spun around, hiding her face.

"Are you ok-I mean I was just-Why are you up?" she asked, arms swiping at something on her face. Coupled with the sounds he heard earlier, his brain finally made the connection.

Is she – has she been crying?

"Do you - would you mind if I join you?"

A moment passed, the wind blowing his messy hair back, sending a shiver down his spine. She shook her head.

He stepped over, slowly, each step delicate.

Plopping down, Link hung his legs next to hers. Cocking his head slightly, he got a better look at her. He'd seen The Princess' face before of course, but it was clearer now than ever. While her ghostly glow's lack of colour hid it well, she'd definitely been crying. But before he could even think, he was looking into her eyes. And hers were looking back, blinking.

You're creeping her out, say something!

"You're not in bed!" What?

"What?" she asked, confusion building on her face.

His brain cells scrambled, without a target, just jumping around his head. "You were asking before, why I'm up I mean. I was worried."

Everything was silent. She seemed to be mulling what he said over. Then her face softened and, while it was nearly lost under the wind, he heard her laugh. "Well that makes sense I suppose."

Finally, his brain cells returned to their stations. "What about you? Looking at the stars?"

"Trying to," she sighed, raising her head, "but it doesn't seem like I'll get the chance."

He followed her gaze up. Instead of the bright spots popping out of the sky, there were only clouds. It was disappointing, he supposed, but not something to be crying about. Something else is wrong.

"Aww, I like the stars." He said, dropping his head into his palm. "We use them all the time for navigation."

She hummed in agreement, "I like them too. I just usually can't stay up long enough to see them."

"You're still up now though?"

She leaned forwards to speak, but hesitated, playing with her fingers. He let her think. It was something she needed. Something he recognised.

"I-I can't sleep."

He spoke softly, "Is…something on your mind?"

She shook her head. "I mean I can't sleep." She pulled her legs up to her chest, taking a huffy breath to calm herself. "I should. I-I haven't slept since we met."

Since they met? For his graduation? That was, what? At least three? Four days ago now?

"That's…concerning."

"It's not just that," she was starting to heave, "I-I can't feel the breeze, or the cold, or anything." She swallowed, trying to control her breath. "What if I can't get my body back? What if I can't feel, or do, anything again? I just feel so useless."

Was she panicking? What was he supposed to do? Just anything, try to cheer her up. How? When he was upset, Niko always hugged him. But if anything, trying that could just make things worse now.

"I'm so stupid." She buried her face in her hands, unable to hold back her tears. "I should have done something earlier."

Sobbing overpowered the wind.

"I'm a terrible princess, I'm supposed to protect the kingdom, not worry about myself."

He shifted closer, enough to feel the heat coming off her. "You're definitely not being stupid." He replied. The Princess turned to face him, pulling her hands from her face. "If anything, I think you're being really brave, Princess, going somewhere completely new, risking everything to protect your kingdom."

She tried to wipe the tears from her face.

"And yeah, maybe you could have done something sooner. But also maybe not." He paused, hoping this was coming out right. "What I mean is, we're acting now, protecting the kingdom now, so we've just got to make sure that works."

He smiled slightly as she stared at him and, for a second, her eyes shone in the dark.

"You really think all that don't you?"

He rubbed the back of his head, only just becoming aware of what he actually said. "Well, yeah. I think you're cool, Princess."

A grin to mirror his grew on her face. They were silent, the wind's tune ringing around them.

"Thank you, Link." She floated up, stopping over mid-air in front of him. "I-I think you are too."

She started ushering him down. "Now, you should go get some sleep. If we're going to the temple tomorrow, you need to be well rested."

He chuckled, getting up. She was in better shape then, if she was commanding him around. "You feeling better now, Princess?"

She stared at him for a moment, contemplating, before nodding enthusiastically. Good. But when he spun towards the engine, he heard her speak up again.

"Zelda."

He kept walking, and suddenly noticed how the windy chill didn't seem to bother him anymore.

"See you in the morning, Zelda."