Although, at least she was told to believe, princesses don’t have these sort of fantasies. The sort of fantasy which burns deep in her chest, dropping low, aching, and despite the slight embarrassment, it is a welcome sensation. The daring kind. She knows there is something morally questionable about what she thinks about, late at night, wondering if there is the possible chance these thoughts may, in fact, be returned.
Princesses don’t fantasise about having sex with their bodyguards.
The problem is, as soon as Zelda thought of Impa in that manner, she hasn’t been able to stop.
It is remarkable what the mind chooses to latch onto whilst it deals with grief, stress, the trauma of war. The distraction is nice. In a sense, it allows Zelda to feel human. That she isn’t necessarily just a weapon. That she does, indeed, have a heart. Even better, she has needs, she has a hunger she didn’t quite anticipate to strike so fiercely and suddenly. This dangerous, impatient want which both confuses her and yet thrills her all the same.
Most of the time, Princess Zelda isn’t able to enjoy these thoughts for very long, if at all. Engaged in battle almost constantly, the princess is focussed and brilliant; yet, usually after a conflict, bloody and bruised afterwards, the adrenaline begins to flare into something else entirely. A sort of relief, a strange boost of confidence, and a crash of uncivilised emotions, urges, this throbbing which makes her weak at the knees.
Impa is great to fight alongside with. Supportive, protective, and they make an exceptional team. And that knowing, we won, we did it again, together, and Impa praising Zelda’s efforts; always encouraging, so caring, hands soft when she touches her, and the princess, chest tense, body still trembling from the fight, wonders what her lips feel like, how she kisses; how Impa would kiss her, press her palms to Zelda’s skin, push her hips to hers, rub herself against her, how perfect her breasts would feel; whether Impa would be rough with her as she is in battle, or as gentle as she is afterwards; whether she would be a mix of the two, the taste of her, what she might possibly sound like if she allowed Zelda just to try, to make her feel really good—
‘You look tired, princess. Maybe you should take a break? Have some rest.’
Zelda shakes her head. ‘No. We must push forward.’
‘Very well. With all due respect, Your Highness, exhaustion shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can be the cause of accidents.’
Slip ups. Making a mistake. Leaving one vulnerable to getting killed.
Zelda is more than aware. However, she doesn’t think it is fair she rests, while the others continue fighting. She throws Impa a stern look. ‘Don’t patronise me. I know exactly what I am doing. This war won’t resolve itself.’
‘Advising, princess,’ Impa corrects.
Impa tries again, ‘I didn’t mean to sound patronising. I was only advising.’
For a brief second Zelda is certain she sees it. This subtlety as Impa’s gaze abruptly lands on Zelda’s lips, but it’s so quick, hardly anything worth noting, as Impa drags her focus back to Zelda’s face, her face, and nothing else. A deliberate effort. And Zelda breathes, trying to ignore it, to ignore what she makes her feel, what Impa isn’t saying.
When Impa speaks, she seems to struggle. ‘I—I suppose—’ she stammers, and Impa doesn’t stammer, ‘—one should expect to lose sleep at a time like this.’
‘Losing sleep,’ Zelda murmurs. ‘Yes, you’re right.’
Certainly, without a doubt, it isn’t just the war which exhausts Zelda.
It happens later on, too. As Zelda, Link, and Impa are going through their next approach. Zelda, as always, is engaged, suggesting most tactics. Link, this time around, listens silently; always quiet, contemplating, whereas Impa is much more vocal of her thought processes. She is smart, she sounds reassuring as she offers her own input, and when Zelda responds in agreement, the princess observes how Impa’s expression almost turns vacant. As if something has distracted her and now she is locked in the thought.
Because it is honestly admirable to witness how much Zelda has significantly matured in the past few months. To the point of being no longer recognisable, yet she is still as wonderful as ever. Zelda smiles through her words, a small, irrelevant feature; her eyes practically glow in her enthusiasm, her commitment, her duty, she’s almost proud. How she glances at Link, just for confirmation, engaged and thinking through each sentence before voicing them. And looking back at Impa, a slight wobble in her voice as the two watch the other, no longer sure if this war even matters anymore, what this silly feeling is, and Zelda stops mid-sentence.
Link blinks. Completely unaware.
‘Have I made any sense so far?’
Link nods. ‘Are you okay?’
Zelda exhales, ‘Yes, of course. Impa?’
Noticeably, Impa is snapped out of her reverie. ‘Yes,’ she replies, a little too quickly. ‘Yes, you make sense.’
As all three share their plan with the others, Zelda isn’t really paying all that much attention to her own words.
At one point, in an attempt to lighten the mood, Daruk makes some amusing remark, and Zelda almost instinctively looks at Impa; some of the others break into laughter, and Impa does this thing of screwing up her face at the bad joke, before her face blossoms as she lets out a laugh, and it’s a stupid moment which doesn’t matter, and yet the whole of Zelda’s world just stops, staring at her and thinking, I am in love with this woman, and it’s such a normal thing to think, something natural and expected, and that is when Princess Zelda begins to worry.
To walk over, grab her incredible face between her hands, and kiss her; not just kiss her, but drag her tongue across her lips, and into her mouth, across her teeth, the roof of her mouth, and Zelda nearly slaps herself. Breathes. Tries to breathe. They are in a war, for Hylia’s sake, and all she can think about is Impa, about throwing herself on top of her, how much she wants to feel Impa’s palms on her breasts, feel her frustration as they so recklessly tear at each other’s clothes.
Instead of doing any of that, Zelda decides to move away from Impa entirely, and stays close to Urbosa for the remainder of the evening.
It’s a bad day. A really shit one, in which many have died. One of Zelda’s plans fell through, and that vicious guilt of her father’s death and the whole of Hyrule looking up to her as some sort of saviour when she is only so small and insignificant. Those kinds of days when it’s easier to cry and scream than stand up and try again.
Zelda is sick of trying. She chooses to be alone once the body count is complete, but, as she expects, Impa doesn’t allow her privacy for long. Quietly, the sheikah warrior sits beside her, and they watch the sun slowly setting behind the mountains, disinterested, numb and beyond tired. The whole of Zelda’s body feels bruised, and she can’t imagine what Impa must be enduring. How much pain she must be in every day.
Despite wanting to be alone, Zelda can’t deny it’s nice to have Impa close.
She feels a longing to just rest against her, to be held by her, warm and wonderful as Impa must be.
‘Are you going to be alright?’
‘Of course,’ Zelda breaks a little. ‘Just—I’m a little sad.’
‘I know you know,’ the princess looks at her, their eyes meet, and Impa watches her so tenderly, and Zelda’s heart could explode into a million pieces. ‘You know me better than I know myself.’
And Impa touches her. Briefly. She gently massages her hand through Zelda’s hair, and Zelda goes rigid; in fact, Impa is sure Zelda has stopped breathing, and Impa freezes, hand still in Zelda’s hair, wondering if they had ever agreed to an oath together; whether a limit had ever been made transparent. Whether this, this, is something either one of them considered, and they’re both shocked, paralysed, at how easy the other is to read, both mirroring one another, and Impa starts to wonder if Zelda loves her maybe, and if Zelda has any idea she loves her back, but perhaps the silence is better, perhaps the truth is better off dormant, but sometimes, sometimes, it is so hard to deny it all, because she wants her so much.
Just like now. Zelda studies Impa, and Impa is so readily exposed to be deciphered, suddenly vulnerable, all she is on the battlefield dismantled before Zelda’s very eyes. Zelda sees it, how Impa’s eyes are a little bigger than usual, and how her body is just so stiff, as if resisting what is making her breathe just a little bit harder than normal. How fragile this moment is, so terribly easy to shatter, and they can make it hurt, or they can make it one of sheer ecstasy. Zelda shudders, a small, quiet, high-pitched noise passing her lips as Impa slowly moves her hand away, and the princess closes her eyes, thinking—
—if Impa kisses her now, then they will have sex. And she wants Impa to kiss her. Zelda clenches her fists, opening her eyes slowly, and it is clear what a stupid mistake that would be. How complicated and messy all that they are would become. Her heart is palpitating, hurried, rushing, and Impa makes her feel as she does in battle; terrified and excited, and so fucking alive, it is those rare occasions where she truly fears death, if only to miss out on experiences such as this. How they both just unravel each other’s insanity for one another, and how devastatingly easy it is to just grab her, she’s only inches away.
They don’t have sex. As much as they both have a pretty detailed vision in their minds of how it happens. Impa imagines what she wants, how she wants Zelda, how Zelda wants her too probably. Oh, Gods, she would hold her so tight, kiss her senseless, kiss her deeply, constantly, as Zelda quickly learns, adapts, responds, the soft moans she makes in Impa’s mouth, their hands clumsy, how Zelda would pull and twist her hand in Impa’s hair, crashing back into the hard earth, and they would kiss for ages, Zelda’s hands tracing the curve of her hips, her waist, coming round to cup and squeeze her breasts; all Impa can imagine doing, more than anything, is kissing Zelda enough so the poor girl knows just how much she is loved, except there is so little time; they may just die tomorrow, and the urgency of Impa’s mortality draws Zelda nearer, her palm pressing up between Impa’s thighs, already soaked, the heat in Impa’s cheeks reddening as Zelda massages her, again and again, their kisses messy and greedy and Zelda would be able to tell when Impa is close to coming, how much the thought excites her, and when Impa orgasms, she whispers her name Zelda, her name, breathless, if only she could just say it—
But they don’t have sex.
Impa looks away. Glances at the now hidden sun.
‘Let’s go back, Your Highness.’
Zelda nods. Smiles briefly. And follows Impa to camp.
As they draw nearer to Calamity Ganon, everybody manages to quash their fear. Zelda hopes she can express the same. But it’s not really her own life she is afraid of losing, but everybody else’s. All those who have fought with her, who have helped her, the people who deserve to live for an eternity. She can only pray for a victory.
Is it normal to be afraid?
Only Zelda isn’t allowed to be afraid. She has to be brave. She has to be strong. She has to be better. The Goddesses love and watch her, safe in their heavens, taunting the little princess to achieve what is only impossible. Zelda feels heavy of sin, realising she might just loathe her own fate.
It is so easy, nowadays, to feel lonely.
Which is probably why acknowledging Impa’s wounds upsets her so much. Mipha has done good work of healing the more severe injuries, yet her powers have been used so often, the zora princess needs a break. Zelda doesn’t blame her, and she isn’t angry at Mipha—if anything, the opposite. But there’s something about seeing Impa’s torn skin, fresh blood still oozing from where she has been cut, knowing the warrior is undoubtedly used to such pain, and that she would do it again and again, for her princess.
There’s something about it.
Something which drives Zelda mad. Which makes her cry.
Impa vividly panics. The tears just—burst. Zelda weeps, and it’s obvious she doesn’t just cry for Impa, but for everybody and everything. This war is just too much, she’s so young, so small, so beautiful and wonderful, it isn’t fair. Witnessing her best friend like this, all of her broken body, and how is it that in her tattered state, it is Impa comforting Zelda?
And she embraces Zelda so tightly, and Zelda holds onto Impa as if her life depends on it; she shudders, trembles, scrunches her eyes shut as more tears continue to betray her. Impa doesn’t know what to do. And she’s so sorry she is useless at comforting Zelda, wishes she wasn’t so emotionally challenged at times, but it’s okay because Zelda just needs to let go a little. She just needs to cry and let it all out and then she will be fine.
Cautious, Impa wipes a few stray tears.
Zelda feels inconsolably selfish for a few moments. She drags her hands down her face, drying her face, and breathes in harshly, regaining her composure. A princess again. She looks up at Impa, and the warrior’s broken nose is almost endearing; finally, Impa has a flaw in her appearance, yet Zelda has never been more in love with anybody in her life.
Her lips are cut.
They need to be kissed. Impa needs to be kissed better.
They both need to be kissed better. Exhausted, so tired, Impa watches Zelda calm down, but, in fact, Zelda seems to be doing the opposite. A tenderness passes Zelda’s eyes, almost submissive. As she steps closer, she can feel Impa’s breath on her lips and it’s torture to resist.
‘I can’t have you die out there,’ Zelda whispers, and Impa isn’t sure if this is a command. ‘You must promise to survive.’
Because without her, what is the point in living anymore?
Impa recognises this terror. She smiles, ‘Promise.’ And it’s a stupid promise. One she cannot keep. ‘Nowhere without you, princess.’
And this is when they should kiss. And it would be soft, slow; oh, Zelda would be so careful with her, stroking her, loving her; they would kiss with passion and patience, tender with each other, healing and vulnerable. She would feel Impa’s tongue hesitantly brush her lower lip, almost timid in her mouth, and Zelda would just sigh, because this is all she has wanted for months, thumb passing Impa’s jawline, her palm coming round her neck, to the back of her head, and pushing Impa harder against her, initiating something, initiating more, and there would be this short beat as they come to terms with what they’re doing, and what they are about to do.
She can’t be sure what they do. All she knows is she feels weak, vulnerable, needy and Zelda would let Impa be aware of that; moaning and gasping as her warrior presses kisses down her neck, using her teeth and tongue, marking her skin; making it clear Zelda is hers. And the patience and softness they’ve expressed to one another sort of falls apart, realising how close Impa was to dying out there, how tomorrow she may be dead, and the days, hours, the minutes they have are so limited, and Zelda is desperate, petrified of Impa’s seemingly inevitable death; she bucks her hips up, presses her knee between her legs, sending a clear message to Impa what she wants, and where she wants this, and just how long she has waited.
Whispering, begging, Take me.
Zelda hasn’t moved, nor has she kissed Impa.
‘My apologies,’ she says, voice remarkably steady. ‘Please, rest. I need you, Impa, and you’re no good to me like this.’
Good. Make it formal. Punish her for nothing.
Impa nods. ‘Yes, princess.’
There’s almost a temptation to say no, call me Zelda — please call me by my name, but Zelda stops herself, that kind of world torn from her, and Impa watches her questioningly as Zelda refocuses again. The young princess turns to leave, very self-aware, knowing Impa’s eyes are on her until she turns the corner, out of sight, never out of mind.
Immediately after Ganon’s destruction, Zelda could weep again; out of joy, but she’s too tired to even stand. Somehow, somehow, they won and it’s everything she could ever ask for; to have spared Hyrule Kingdom; to have saved her friends, to have won. To finally live up to the old legends told, to have actually made her father proud for once.
Immediately after Ganon’s destruction, Zelda is torn from Impa for the first time in so long, as she finds herself having to address her armies. Thanking them, congratulating them, pretending this is all in a day’s work because a princess cannot crumble and admit how relieved and happy she is that they actually did this; she cannot feel, she isn’t allowed it, and this life has become a very bizarre one all of a sudden.
When Impa sees Zelda again, hours later, she blames her exhaustion for the reason she doesn’t practically run for Zelda, grab her close, and kiss her and press her up against the wall, and show just how much she loves her, how much she has missed her even though it’s only been a couple of hours, but even just looking at Zelda is nearly enough to make Impa collapse.
They stare at each other, oblivious of all else around them, and then a funny moment passes, one of utter bewilderment, when they laugh because they honestly cannot believe their luck.
‘Well done, Your Highness,’ Impa can’t think of anything else to say, only that Zelda would make the most perfect Queen. ‘It was an honour to fight alongside you.’
Zelda wants to touch her.
Cuddle her, at least.
Her body screams for Impa.
‘The honour is mine. You fought valiantly. I couldn’t have done this without you.’
‘Ah,’ Impa grins, fetching and gorgeous. ‘You flatterer. I am sure that’s not true.’
‘Wanna bet?’ Zelda challenges.
Impa chuckles. ‘I’ve seen you fight, Your Highness. I won’t try anything.’
Bravely, Zelda has come over, and she only means to initiate an embrace, because they deserve to cuddle each other, but then she pauses, her eyelids droop, lips slightly parted as she leans in towards Impa, as if she’s going to kiss her—and she wants to kiss her more than anything right now—and the motion is wisely interrupted as Zelda rests her forehead to Impa’s, sighing, closing her eyes, all the years of trauma ever so slowly beginning to lift.
Their noses bump. Impa’s is cold. Zelda winces, because the thought of Impa being cold breaks her heart, and it’s so silly, but she would honestly do anything for this woman. Anything, anything anything.
Impa smiles crookedly, resting her palm to Zelda’s cheek, passing her ear, her other hand coming to her hip, and she holds Zelda balanced against her, and then they’re embracing finally. Zelda is held by the love of her life, and she breathes, they breathe, exhale and inhale, and the world is a little brighter, she can now face tomorrow, and already Zelda can feel herself become stronger, small ounces of life returning to her body and she brushes her cheek against Impa’s, nuzzling her, content in this moment.
It’s easy to imagine they could have been like this for hours. Years.
Barely minutes, as Zelda reluctantly pulls herself away.
Except, to her pleasant surprise, Impa refuses. Gentle as ever, she welcomes Zelda back into her arms, and Zelda presses herself against Impa, never once wanting to be released, wanting this forever.
All their fantasies and hidden words ever so gradually disclosed.