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08 September 2012 @ 07:05 pm
who by fire [14]  

Title: Who By Fire (Ch14 - "Obsession")
Characters: Ghirahim, Zelda, others
Rating: PG
: He wants to strip her bare and skin her alive; he wants to strip her bare and watch her blush.
A/N:  AU exploring the idea of Zelda being captured, too late for Link to save her - of Zelda, facing Ghirahim herself.

Previous chapter.

"Affliction, like the iron-smith, shapes as it smites." – Christian Nevell


She's running so quickly that her hair flies behind her, a thick yellow streak, the grass slipping between her toes -

She's free. She's freefreefree, of all the darkness and featureless walls like nothing, free of the stale bitter air, and most of all, she's free of him – she tumbles down a hill of grass -

-and into Link's embrace, his tunic stained with the black blood of a demon, alive and well –

-his arms come around her, but they aren't his, not in shape or color; where her fingers meet his flesh there are scales, shining thin ebony light -

Link is not Link at all; he morphs, shrinks in on himself, growing long and thin, skin meshing into scales, the scales of a snake –

-and it winds about her neck, through her flaxen hair, its soft belly pressed flush against her throat, tail dipping low between her breasts – its words are drawn in tight a, seething hiss against her ear -

"Sweet, Zelda, Goddess…"

Her hands lift to clutch it, trying to pull it away, but the snake tightens, tightens until she can't breathe – it licks her nape with its forked tongue.

"You'll never be the same…"

The sky above her whirls, clouds passing so quickly they become shapeless blurs– she gasps as the snake undulates, winding and winding –

Zelda screams louder than she has ever screamed before, clawing at the snake's ebony scales.

The snake slithers between her breasts and across her belly -

"Never the same…"

-the snake is no longer a snake, but hands, thin ebony hands which choke her pale, and he leans down to press a kiss to her neck, breathing hotbluefiresilverwhite against her skin –

"You'll never be the same after this…"

Zelda shoots up in bed, hair sticking to her throat from sweat, heart smashing against her ribs. She wheezes, casting panicked glances across her room, into every shadow. The moon shining through her window is her only company.

Shaking, she presses the blunt of both palms into her eyes, rubbing the dream away. Sweat drips from the end of her nose, onto the red blankets strewn about her naked legs.

She raises her head to stare at the dress (not hers), draped across the vanity chair. The black trail dips low onto the floor, melting into the shadows beneath her bed.

She has worn it every day for the past three weeks, tight around her like the chains a prisoner would wear. No matter how many times she slips it on, she cannot become used to it; it has a life of its own.

Each time she wears it, it reminds her of him – so in the night before bed, she takes it off.

In the vanity mirror is her reflection, naked, wide-eyed, body halved into sections of red slashes of wax she has dripped onto the mirror's surface, to count the days.

It's been three weeks.

Zelda wraps both arms around herself, hunching over, the arch of her back pale in the starlight.

Three weeks since that night, three weeks since she's been forced to wear his awful dress and say sweet words and play obedient.

The snake has invaded her dreams every night for three weeks, always the same, always kissing the air out of her lungs before she wakes, screaming.

Rising from the bed, she approaches the mirror, leaning in close to observe her neck. Where she expects bruises there is only her own pale skin, unmarred. All the same, she can feel his hands around her, his lips on her nape or forehead or wrists, weaving demonic inflections into her hair.

She remembers the snake undulating around her in that dream, only it's not truly a snake; sometimes it grows limbs and wears his thin, silvery face –

"You'll never be the same after this…"

Zelda bites her tongue to keep the words at bay, turning from her naked reflection to crawl back into bed, pulling the blankets all around her.

She tries to remember what Link looks like; sweet, brave Link, who carves her pretty birds from wood like magic, who sings her lullabies when she can't sleep, who doesn't fill her dreams with strangling snakes.

She tries and tries and tries until her head hurts, but no image comes forth, nothing with solid shape or familiarity.

All she can see is that thin ebony snake, wrapping tight around her neck, kissing the air from her lungs.


 (Ridiculous, she thinks later, observing herself in the mirror. Dreams are dreams and belong in her head, and snakes can't make love, no more than a demon can. But she knows he would try if he could).

Zelda thinks she's going insane.


In his pocket, Link can feel a few Gratitude Crystals, pressed

He pulls one out, holding it between his thumb and forefinger. It glows with soft orange light, its warmth seeping through his gloves. He smiles a little, rolling the crystal against his fingers, before stashing it in his pocket again.

He rests against a wall inside the Sealed Temple, in the far corner. Sunlight slips through cracks in the ceiling, glittering on the moss-ridden floor. The old woman sits at the base of the Gate of Time, so motionless he's sure she's sleeping.

"Ya think she snores?"

Groose emerges from behind a pillar, grinning mischievously.

Link snorts. "I'm not about to ask her. If you're so curious, go up there and see for yourself."

Groose waves one large hand. "Psh, I'm not that curious. She'd probably chop off my pompadour if I tried."

They grin at each other.

Groose shuffles his feet, looking down. "Well, how was everyone in Skyloft? Were Stritch and Cawlin upset?"

Link shakes his head. "No, not too much. Cawlin was, er, upset about something else. Stritch took it all right. He said to keep a lookout for bugs for him."

Groose chuckles boorishly. "That's good, I guess. I'm sure Cawlin will get over it. Was it Karane? She turned him down, I take it?"

"You knew?"

"It wasn't exactly hard to figure out! Cawlin's had a crush on her for ages. It's kinda sad, really. She's way out of his league. Like with me and Zelda."

Link pauses. He averts his eyes, scratching his nose nervously. "Well, not exactly, Groose."

Groose leans against the wall beside him, crossing his meaty arms. "Naw," he shakes his head, "It's true. Zelda's too good for a big oaf like me. I've always known it, actually. I just never admitted it to myself."

Link gnaws on his lower lip. "But Zelda likes you."

"Yeah, likes," he elbows Link in the ribs, "it's you she really likes, if you know what I mean. Always has. I can't imagine why, though." He laughs.

Link flushes all the way up to his ears.

Groose becomes serious, gazing blankly up at the ceiling. "You can protect her in ways I can't, and I'm not talking about that fancy sword. I have brawn, but you've got courage. I only helped you beat that big sack of teeth last time because I had the Groosenator. Without it, I'd be helpless."

"I might have courage, but that doesn't mean I don't get scared. I can hardly sleep because of the nightmares."

"That's not what I'm talking about."

Link looks up, tipping his head in silent inquiry.

"What I mean is, you might get scared, but you push on anyway. As much as I'd like to think otherwise, I couldn't do that. I'm not a Hero like you are. The stuff you've had to face…I couldn't do it. That's why Zelda needs you, not me. I guess that's why she loves you."

Link's mouth parts. "W-well. Uh. Thanks, Groose. Zelda and I…well, Zelda, she's…"

Groose chortles, patting him hard on the back. "Don't break something, Stink. You know it, I know it, and practically everyone on Skyloft knows it. You two don't exactly hide it well."

Link laughs, rubbing the back of his neck, still flushed. "I never thought you'd say these things, Groose. Ever since we were kids, all you did was pick on me. I thought we'd be that way for the rest of our lives."

Groose shrugs. "I guess destiny had other plans."

The air grows serious. The sunlight shines just a little less bright. Link looks to the ground, frowning.

"What if I can't save her?"

Groose sets his jaw. "Ya can't really think of that. Whoever that guy is that has her, well, he'd better hope the two of us don't get our hands on him. You'll get her, Link. You're the only one who can."

"No," Link shakes his head, slumping back against the wall. "You don't understand. Someone…someone the Goddess herself knew…I met her when I went through the Gate of Time. She said Zelda will have to save herself. But I can't help but think that I should still help. I just have no idea how."

Groose is silent.

Beneath them, the ground booms, dust and bits of stones fall from the ceiling, the very building shaking around them.

Groose and Link look at one another. Groose smiles.

"I'm ready when you are."


Within the void there is nothing; no walls, no distinguishable landmarks to give him a sense of space. There is only endless, nebulous black, swirled by an occasional flash of red or deepest purple.

This time, there is no fire to light the darkness. Ghirahim hovers, hands at his sides, head tilted back. His black limbs meld into the darkness around him. He breathes deeply, pale lips slightly parted.

The darkness pulses.

He thinks of her.

Zelda brushing her hair or gazing out the window or bleeding or screaming or anything he can imagine her doing, in the deepest corners of his mind, places he has never explored.

In these last few weeks, she has lit a fire within him that cannot be gratified.

In his mind, he replays her over and over, a marionette on constant repeat. In these last few weeks, he has visited her more often than ever. Sometimes it's only to speak into her hair (things of little consequence – just words to fill the space of time) or to watch her shrink away from him. Other times, he leans in close, to run a few fingers up her arm or her wrist or her neck – or to simply breathe her in.

In doing so, he hopes to make this mysterious burning shrink within him.

The fire within him does not quell.

It grows.

It breathes.

It pulses.

He replays her over and over in his head, as he leans down to speak against her forehead, her breath warm against the sensitive plane of his throat.

"You'll never be the same…Zelda, sweet, Goddess. Not after this."

As the fire grows, the spell to weaken his magic lessens, hour by hour, day by day. It will not be long, he knows.

Ghirahim dreads it as much as he welcomes it.

His goal has only ever been to resurrect the Demon King, his Master, the end to which she is the means.

He desires her. He hates her. He wants her – her eyes or lips or skin or blood, he can't decide. He wants to strip her bare and skin her alive; he wants to strip her bare and watch her blush.

These desires play at equal odds, and the fire grows.

Larger and stronger each time he sees her, thinks about her, wants her blood on his lips.

It infuriates him.

Each time he tries to push her from his thoughts, she invades them again. Her, or how he wants her to be, Ghirahim can no longer tell –

Each time he tries to imagine her as anything but what he wants, wants, wants, he cannot imagine her at all, because –

She'll try to escape again. He licks his lips.

The thought uncoils a strange feeling he is not familiar with. It's close to jealousy, but hotter, stronger, like the bitter taste of embers. The feeling is unknown, but not unwelcome. He lets it reach into every part of him.

She won't if I can help it…

Ghirahim holds up one hand, palm-up, and out of his fingertips slithers a thin black chain, glowing red; metal made from his own being. The chain pools into his palm, sparkling light onto his angular face.

Within the other hand emerges a small diamond-shaped gem, alike to the one strung about his waist in look, small enough to slip onto the chain. It shines a dull, inky onyx.

He slips it onto the chain before holding the completed necklace up to admire; it throbs bright crimson amongst the void.

Slowly, he furls his fingers around it, gathering it tightly in his hand. The pulsating light reaches out, washing everything in red.

"She's mine."


It's almost unfair, that The Imprisoned can fly. A monster of such evil has no right to invade the skies.

Link has no time to consider such blasphemy.

"Yo, Link! Hurry it up! I've seen Grannie run faster than you!"

The sound of Groose's voice echoes down into the pit. Link grunts, stumbling as he quickens his pace, sweat and dirt sticking to his face. The Imprisoned hovers high above his head.

Just a little more, a few steps, if he could just run faster.

Skidding to a halt, Link throws himself on a geyser of wind, to fly up to the platform above The Imprisoned. He runs frantically to catch up, out of breath, head spinning.

It's then that Groose fires a bomb, blasting The Imprisoned straight in its side. It stumbles just long enough for Link to scurry beside it, jumping down upon its scaly head. He strikes the seal once, twice, just one more.

The Imprisoned promptly throws him off. Link screams as he plummets, helpless, toward the earth.

He crashes to the ground, face-first. Groose yells down into the pit, words indelible against the ringing in his ears. Link struggles to his feet, vision lurching sickly to one side, bile stinging his throat. The Imprisoned moves farther and farther away.

In moments, it will be upon the temple.

Everything hurts, joints burning, ribs aching, each breath tearing into his lungs. Desperately, Link stumbles back into a run, limping slightly, eyes wide with desperation. He must catch up.

From above, Groose watches, unable to help, just as he has feared. Being helpless, useless, like a hatchling that has fallen from its nest. Sweat pours from his forehead. His limbs shake.

There are no more bombs.

Why use bombs? Think, Groose, you big oaf!

The Imprisoned approaches.

I don't have to use bombs!

"Link, get up here! I'll use the Groosenator to launch you onto its head!"

Without time to think, Link does so, stumbling along the tracks until he reaches Groose. His skin is pale with fright.

"I've never done this before, but it's all we've got. Climb on!"

Clenching his teeth, Link eases himself onto the catapult, The Imprisoned moving ever closer.

Link takes a deep breath.

His organs squash together as he's launched into the air, tumbling down onto the monster's back. The Imprisoned thrashes and roars, but Link continues to claw his way up, hand over hand, until he reaches its head –

He loses his grip. Link falls, watching the sky shrink farther and farther away, so slowly he might not even be falling at all –

Link catches onto a tuft of black fur sprouting from the monster's back. The world screeches back into place.

But The Imprisoned is close, too close, to the Temple. Link looks down toward Groose. They meet eyes.

Groose looks back helplessly.

The Imprisoned opens its great jaws.

Do something.

Groose flings himself across the pit, limbs flailing, to catch onto the monster's scaly side. It thrashes violently, but he never lets go.

Link crawls up, faster faster faster, blood rushing in his ears, the entire world narrowing down to one singular point: The sealing spike.

He draws the Master Sword, blade ringing, flashing in the sunlight.

Link strikes the spike once.

The Imprisoned thrashes, roaring so loudly it makes his entire body hurt.

Link strikes the spice twice.

The Imprisoned moves closer to the temple. From below, the old woman wails.

Link strikes the spike three times.

The Imprisoned stills.

Link leaps from its head, opening the Sailcloth to float, safely, back down to the ground.

As it has done so many times before, The Imprisoned bursts into glowing white fragments, twisting into the air for a few, tense moments.

They crash back together, the sealing spike forming anew. It imbeds itself deep into the earth.

"Seal it, Link! Seal it now!"

Magic rushes up into his arms as Link swings the Master Sword, drawing glowing runes into the air itself. The markings on the ground beneath his feet light up. The Imprisoned is sealed again.

The sky brightens, sunlight sparkling back down through the clouds. Twittering birds fly from their hiding places in the trees.

Link begins to laugh. He looks up toward the temple.

"Groose! Looks like you aren't such an oaf after all! We did it!"

The birds call down to him.

Link frowns, sheathing his blade. "Groose?"

He looks around, face paling. His gaze finds something bright red in the distance.

His heart lurches down into his belly.

Beyond him, at the bottom of the pit, Groose lies, completely still.


The dress presses against her like the deepest ocean would, pushing the life out of her with each movement.

She's afraid to sleep; she fears the day now as much as the night.

The day, she has discovered, has its share of shadows.

Zelda sits before her vanity mirror, observing herself, with the thin wax lines glaring dully in the sunlight. They line the top edge of the mirror in neat, tight rows.

She's running out of wax to count the days with.

Zelda peers hard into the mirror, yet her reflection remains the same, no matter how long she stares. Her cheeks are still pale, and though her hair remains a molten yellow, it has lost much of its shine. The blackness of the dress has given her skin a pale white glow, crimsoning her lips, brightening her eyes.

Her reflection is the same. But that is all.

And through the reflection she can see him – standing behind her, still, silent, observing her with an expression she has seen only on the faces of hungry animals.

They gaze silently at one another.

-his arms come around her, but they aren't his, not in shape or color; where her fingers meet his flesh there are scales, shining thin ebony light -

Zelda lowers her eyes to hide the fear in them.

Ghirahim steps forward, into the sunlight, which glitters off his jewelry – and something dangling from his hand.

"You know, sweet, the more I look at you in that dress, the more you begin to look your part! I'm sure we both agree what a wise decision I made in giving it to you…however.."

He gazes at her through their joined reflections in the mirror, unblinking, smiling a wicked, devilish smile.

"Almost, but not nearly…not yet. There's something missing."

In his thin fingers Ghirahim lifts a shining black necklace, adorned with a small diamond-shaped jewel much like his own - and in the mirror Zelda sees her own face grow white.

Ghirahim leans in to press his lips to the shell of her ear, as one hand lifts the golden fall of her hair, to slowly bring the ebony chain around her throat -

-and it winds about her neck, through her flaxen hair, its soft belly pressed flush against her throat, tail dipping low between her breasts – its words are drawn in tight a, seething hiss against her ear -

"Sweet, Zelda, Goddess…"

Zelda's mouth falls open as the chain pulses a thin, shivering gold the moment it meets her flesh, the black diamond hanging from its chain blossoming violent crimson. The light washes the color from Ghirahim's already pale face, stark white and yearning in the mirror.

He snickers warmly into her ear, breath washing down the sensitive path of her neck, where the jewel dangles low between her breasts.

the snake undulates, winding and winding and winding –

"Consider this a token of appreciation. You've been so wonderfully obedient as of late, and what sort of Demon Lord would I be to not reward it?"

Her tongue cleaves to the roof of her mouth, lips drawn over her clenched teeth. Zelda swallows heavily, the whites of her eyes shining in the sunbeams.

His hands settle on her shoulders, gripping them with the strength to bruise. He smiles sweetly down at her.

"Well? I trust it's to your liking. It makes you look a little cheerier, I think."

Ghirahim trails a few ebony fingers up her nape, into her hair, strangely warm, as if he really does have a pulse, however impossible it is.

"I'm waiting," he hisses, just like a snake.

Zelda's hands curl into fists atop the vanity, fingernails scraping against the rosewood.

"Thank you," she whispers after a time, weakly, not looking him in the eye.

Ghirahim grins wider, hands trailing down her arms, across the lacy fabric of her dress. Her shoulders tense, drawn up with a shudder.

His hands ghost back up again, to rest, firmly, at the base of her throat, slender fingers splayed across her collarbones.

-the snake is no longer a snake, but hands, thin ebony hands which choke her pale, and he leans down to press a kiss to her neck, breathing hotbluefiresilverwhite against her skin –

His breath burns across her nape as he leans down to kiss it.

When he leaves, Zelda tries to rip the necklace away, yet it cleaves to her flesh no matter how hard she pulls.


Next chapter.