((LEGAL STUFF: Link, Zelda, Impa, and the other game-based characters are property and copyrights of Nintendo. No infringement intended. No profit made--these stories are purely for reader enjoyment. The new characters introduced here are mine, purely fictional--do not use them without my permission! Any similarities to events and persons in reality or other peoples' stories are purely coincidental. Thank you for your patience.))
((NOTE: This takes place immediately after the game "Ocarina of Time" ends. Essentially right after Zelda gets done sending Link to the past. So there's no room for in-between stories, and this fanfic hopefully keeps within the Zelda Universe continuity. Read on!))

The Legend of Zelda: Journey to the Past
by Becky Tailweaver

Chapter 1: It's Finally Over...

Princess Zelda lowered the Ocarina of Time from her lips, the last notes of Zelda's Lullaby fading as echoes among the ruins of what had once been the Palace. Sadly, she placed the Ocarina in her belt pouch. "Goodbye... Link..." she whispered, a few last tears in her eyes. She stood for what seemed like years in the bitter wind, shivering. An eternity of moments, already missing him.

There was a footstep behind her. "Zelda?" a familiar voice asked.

She whirled, shock rippling through her at the sight of the figure standing behind her. "Link!" she gasped, nearly fainting from relief and dismay. "I sent you home! I sent you back in time!"

Link, Hero of Time, stood before her, hand on hip, looking just as he always had. "You tried," he replied. "But the past seven years weren't meant for me, I guess."

"But...how...?" she stammered, embarassingly unprincesslike.

"You know how the Master Sword trapped my spirit in time," Link explained, sounding a little confused himself. "It placed my spirit in my adult body after seven years spent in limbo. When Ganon was defeated, you tried to send my child-spirit back to the past, to my child body, so I could grow up. But there was nothing for me to return to--a paradox, I guess you could call it. I was meant to be here. Sage Rauru explained that I am most needed here, because time flows only forward. I couldn't stay."

"So...you're really here? You're not a ghost?" Zelda asked.

"Yes, it's really me," Link replied with a smile as he held out a hand to her.

Zelda took his strong hand and came close to him. "What did you see? How did you come back?"

"I left the Master Sword in the Pedestal of Time," Link said, frowning in concentration. "I walked out to find you, in the Castle. You were still there, and you turned and stared at me for a long time. You said to me, 'Link, you've come!' When I asked about your health, you seemed surprised at something happening to me. Everything disappeared into swirling blue light. Then Sage Rauru appeared, all glowing, and he spoke to me: 'Time itself has seen the taint of the future upon you. Time flows in one direction only--you cannot stay here; you no longer hold the balancing element, the Ocarina of Time.'" He paused, frowning. "It was the Ocarina that allowed me to remain in the past those times I had to go back. Without it, I was pulled back to the present."

"So what did you do?" Zelda asked. "I remember you being there, and then you just disappeared into the blue light, and I haven't seen you since--well, apart from when I was disguised as Sheik."

"Rauru raised his arms and summoned the Light, which he said would protect me on my journey back where I belonged," Link replied. "It was like a vortex--I think time itself hiccuped me out. It sent me back to when I'd last been--straight at the foot of the Master Sword, only this time it wasn't in my hand. It was buried in the marble Pedestal of Time. The Sword is still in the Temple, sealed behind the Door of Time, which closed when I took these," Link said, reaching into his belt pouch and drawing out three shining objects. "Here are the three Spiritual Stones. I can return them to their rightful holders, to be guarded to prevent entry to the Temple."

"Amazing..." Zelda breathed. "I was wrong again. I thought to send you back to remain, but like you said, without the Ocarina to create a...a 'time shield', you weren't able to stay. I've got to stop thinking I know the answer to everything."

"The wise know they don't know everything," Link said mock-solemnly. "The old Deku Tree told me that once."

"And I'm supposed to be the Sage of Wisdom," Zelda scolded herself.

"Being Sage of Wisdom doesn't mean you're always wise. It means you're wise when you need to be," Link said with a grin as he led her down the path to the old Marketplace. "The door between times is closed. There'll be no more confusion, now. I guess I'm here to stay."

When they reached the old market square, the ugly ReDeads were gone, and the bitter, biting wind that had perpetually blown was absent. Even the dark clouds overhead were beginning to break up, letting the beautiful moon shine through. The ruins of the homes and shops now seemed only lonely, instead of haunted.

They continued, Link helping Zelda to cross the broken drawbridge. When they stood at last beyond the moat, they looked out at the starlit plains of Hyrule Field. In the distance, lights flickered on the hilltop.

"Looks like someone's home at Lon Lon Ranch," Link observed. "Would you like to go there, or to Kakariko Village?"

Zelda leaned close to his shoulder. "I think I'd rather go to the ranch. It'll be quieter there."

"I hear you," Link agreed. "Maybe Malon'll put us up in one of their bunks."

The pair silently began their journey down the road toward the distant hill.

* * * * *

There was a party going on at Lon Lon Ranch.

The Zoras, the Gerudos, the Gorons, the Kokiri, and the Hylians were all gathered around a big bonfire, laughing, dancing, talking, mingling, singing, and enjoying themselves in a way that hadn't been seen since the old King's coronation day. The fire, burning on specially treated woods, strange powders, and a little magic, glowed with festive multicolored flames.

Biggoron and Medigoron were dancing a jig, thumping the ground. Malon sang a sweet, sprightly tune to the sounds of many instruments. The Hylian villagers happily chatted with the Gorons, and the Zoras kept watch as the little Kokiri laughed and ran about like the young children they were. The Gerudos whirled like dervishes as they performed traditional dances. The only two who did not share in the festivities were King Zora and the little Kokiri boss Mido. Both mourned for loved ones gone: Saria, Sage of Forest and Mido's friend, and Princess Ruto, Sage of Water and the king's daughter.

Suddenly, amid the music, there was a bright tone like a flute that rang out above all the other noise. Startled, the celebrating folk paused their dances and laughter, looking about in confusion. The source of the tone soon became visible: Five points of light, one green, one red, one blue, one purple, and one orange.

"They're back!" Mido squeaked, leaping to his feet. Only he and King Zora had seen these same points of light pass overhead not an hour ago.

The lights swooped down to them like a rainbow of fireflies, growing larger even as they came in for a landing. The glow became unbearably bright, forcing all present to shield their eyes. When the light faded, five familiar figures could be seen in the firelight.

There was a sudden joyous outburst from those gathered. Princess Ruto was scooped up and embraced by her loving father. Darunia, the Big Brother of the Gorons, was bear-hugged by his people. The Gerudos exhuberantly surrounded Nabooru, jabbering in their excited female voices. Saria rushed to hug Mido, and the rest of the Kokiri piled around them. Impa of the Sheikah smiled in her typical sternly happy manner as she shook hands with the Kakariko villagers.

The Sages gathered by the fireside to call order to the meeting. Excited voices chattered ceaselessly, all complimenting the five heroes.

"What a good job!"

"How'd you do it?"

"The magic of the great Sages is amazing!"

"All's right in Hyrule!"

Another voice rose from the rear of the group, a voice young and strong. "Hey, and what are we--chopped Cucco?"

At that, a cry rang out from the edge of the gathering. "They're here! They're here!" folk shouted. "The Hero and the Princess!"

A path was cleared so that the new arrivals could reach the fireside. Link and Zelda came into the light, stopping before the Sages present.

"Welcome, Hero of Time," Impa said, as implacable as ever. But for some reason, she seemed very relieved to see them. "Good work, both of you. Your Highness..." The stolid Sheikah woman came forward to embrace the Princess, for Zelda was like a daughter to her. Darunia thumped Link on the back in congratulations, guffawing in joy. Ruto blew him a shy kiss, and Nabooru crossed her arms and grinned.

Link stopped when he stood before Saria. She smiled at him, and he knealt to hug her, engulfing her tiny form in his strong arms. "Thank you," he whispered. "I couldn't have done it without you."

"No--thank you," the little Kokiri replied. "None of us would be here if not for you."

Mido, jealous, crossed his arms and tapped his foot impatiently. "Hmph!" the elfin boss snorted while the other Kokiri looked on in confusion.

Impa came to stand beside Link and Saria, Zelda close behind. "What angers you, little one?" the Sage of Shadows asked.

"Nothing," Mido said quickly, but his voice was sullen. "But Saria's my friend--not his! He's not even a Kokiri!"

Link gave a small smile. "You're absolutely right, Mido. I'm not a Kokiri."

The little elf jumped. "Hey! How'd you know my name? What are you talking about?"

The tiny Forest Sage giggled, taking Link's larger hand in her own small one. "Silly!" she laughed. "I'm surprised you didn't recognize him. But then, we Kokiri never grow up, so how could you know?"

Mido scratched his head. "Huh? Who?"

Saria laughed again. "Mido, this is Link!"

The elfin Kokiri made a strange, startled noise and jumped about a foot backwards, staring up--way up--at the tall youth before him. This person was Link--grown twice his size?

Mido nearly choked in surprise as he suddenly recognized the rich blue eyes, the unruly golden hair, the familiar half-hipshot stance. "Link!" he gulped. "Really?"

Link nodded. "Really. You were right all along, Mido. I never was a Kokiri--not a forest elf, no fairy, nothing. I'm Hylian."

Mido remembered all the times he'd teased little Link about his lack of a guardian fairy, his lack of forest instincts, and his completely un-Kokirish looks. He also remembered all the times he bullied Link, pushing him around just because he was smaller. Now that he looked up at adult Link, he quivered with fear. "W-why didn't you say so before?" he stammered.

Link put his hands on his hips. "I didn't want to scare you."

"Well, I'm scared now!" the little Kokiri squeaked. "You got so big!"

"No hard feelings. Really!" Link grinned, kneeling and holding out a leather-gloved hand. "I'm glad to see you, Mido."

The Kokiri boss stared at him a moment in disbelief, looking as if Link were about to pounce on him. Seeing the familiar lopsided grin and gentle gaze, he relaxed. Then, a slow smile crept across his elfin features, and he shook Link's offered hand. "Glad to see you too, Link. I think I actually...really...missed you. I'm...you know...sorry I pushed you around."


"Peace has been made at last!" Saria said with a giggle. "No more fighting over me, you two. Link--" she turned to her kneeling friend. "--I am Mido's. No--don't say anything. It's not personal. I do love you, Link--you're my best friend. But...I'm the Forest Sage...and a Kokiri... And, well...you're not."

A sad frown creased Link's handsome face. "I...understand."

Saria looked across the bonfire at the Princess of Hyrule, with her slim, slight form and beauteous pale-blond locks. "She is for you, Hero of Time. I saw this when I first awakened. I think it's destiny--to each his own."

Link stared at her, shocked. "But--you'll always be my friend, won't you?"

"I promise, Link; always," Saria replied. "You're like a brother to me. But the Princess will be yours. Don't worry about me. I'll always be in the Forest--if ever you need me, just play the song." She winked.

"I will." Link stood, saddened and surprised. "But...Zelda? The Princess of Hyrule? That's out of my league."

"She's right, Hero of Time," Impa said softly, coming up behind him. "I see a young man, the Heart of Courage, and he stands beside the Heart of Wisdom in the Castle. I see two thrones, two crowns, and...two kingdoms united--?"

She broke off, looking startled, shaking her head. "Ah...these are just shadows of things that might be--if you want them to."

Link asked her no more, and she and Saria went on without him. The party went by as he contemplated, seated on the grass by the fence. He--on a throne? Impossible...he was just a commoner, a nobody; an orphaned, roaming warrior.

Zelda walked up beside him, a soft, weary look in her eyes. She sat and took his hand, leaning against him. "I feel so tired," she whispered. "It's not as quiet here as we thought it'd be."

"Indeed," replied Impa, coming up once more. "The other Sages agree; it's time for our peoples to return to our homes. It is late--and the restoration of our land must begin soon. We must rest and gather our strength for the rebuilding."

Already the moon was beginning its journey to the far western horizon, and morning would be coming soon. Link stared up at its pale surface for a moment, then looked out at all the folk. They were comfortably arrayed about the dying embers of the fires, looking sleepy and content.

Gradually, the Sages roused the peoples to begin their journeys back to their homelands. Ruto blew Link one last kiss as she and her father led the Zoras out of the ranch and to the river that would take them home. The Gerudos paid their respects, then made a single file line to trek the day-long journey to the desert.

Darunia ruffled Link's hair like a proud uncle before grunting commands in his own language. The Gorons, along with the two giants, plodded towards Kakariko. Close behind them went the Hylians of the village. The little Kokiri all made a gaggle about Saria as she said goodbye to Link and Zelda and herded her people across the plain to the dark, mysterious forest.

Before leaving with the villagers, Impa stopped and turned to Link. "Will you come with us, Hylian?" she asked, emphasizing his race. He was gazing longingly after Saria and the Kokiri.

Link heaved a deep sigh. "I guess so."

"It pains you to see them go, and not follow." The Sheikah's statement was not a question.

Link nodded. "They were my friends, my family. I was one of them. Even now it's hard to look down on all of them, still so small, and know that I'll never be a part of them again."

"The passing of time brings change, young Hylian," Impa said, again emphasizing his origin. "Things that we once were, we must leave behind. Things we once had...we can never hold again." Link did not see the Sheikah woman gazing at him with deep longing, her ruby eyes sad. But Zelda did.

"I know," Link responded glumly. "I'll go with you, Impa."

Again, Link didn't see Impa's expression change, this time to intense relief, though she masked it quickly and well. Zelda, watching her mentor's every move, did. But she said nothing.

Impa flashed one of her typically grim smiles. "We'll stay at my home. It should still be in good keep. I left several villagers to watch it."

The journey back down the ridge, across the flatland, and to the river lasted many hours, but soon the foothills of Death Mountain were visible. Link and Zelda were inestimably weary, and Zelda leaned on Impa during the last leg of the journey, Link trudging behind. By the time they crossed the river, the light of early dawn shone in the east.

Most of the Kakariko Village's lights were out when they arrived, and Impa led them straight to her house near the outskirts. She lit a lamp and assigned sleeping quarters; she and Zelda up in the loft on the large bed, Link on the ground floor on a comfortable cot. They could get a scant few hours' rest before the day began in earnest.

Link was so tired he could barely lift his shield to unstrap it. Hastily undressing and burrowing into the cot's quilts, he listened to the soft, indistinguishable murmers of the women upstairs preparing for bed. The voices, along with the soft flicker of the slowly dying lamplight, lulled him gradually to sleep.

To Be Continued...