You made a mistake when you chose me.
I don’t know what sorts of stories you’ve heard about princesses, but I can assure you I’m a very poor example of one. We’re supposed to be gentle, but I’m not always. We’re supposed to be kind, but I can be mean. We’re supposed to be genial and calm and ephemeral but sometimes I think I’m more at home in the dirt than I am in a big, empty castle.
It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me feel like I’m being torn apart, because all I’ve ever done is lie to you, send you away, and call on you when I was silly and weak and powerless. And then you came in like a hero, a knight in shining armor, and all to save a pretty poor excuse of a princess. At least I have nice blonde hair like yours, but that’s the end of our similarities. I’m small and I’m frail and I have no womanly charms to speak of. I’m an awful choice for a partner, and I’m dreading the day you discover that.
The happiest days of my life were when I was lying to you, Link. As Sheik I was helpful and strong and knowledgeable. I could tell I wasn’t a burden anymore. I still remember when I saw you in the Temple of Light, when you started to come awake. 7 years is a long time to miss you, but I still felt my breath catch when you turned your eyes to me. I was almost as much a mess then as when you pulled out your Ocarina—my Ocarina—and played along with me in the forest. It was so hard not to cry.
I could have told you who I was, Link, but I didn’t want to. As Sheik I could be someone besides Zelda, besides the powerless damsel. I could be your friend without worrying about you discovering all the ways that I, as a princess, am lacking. It was like a dream. I just wish it could have gone on forever. But, of course, when I did reveal myself it didn’t take two minutes for me to be useless again. Trapped. A burden.
And now you must hate me, not only for forcing you to rescue me but also for lying to you for so long. Who would want a girl like me, who spent seven years dressing like a boy? I’d be surprised if even the Hero of Time could still see me as a girl, let alone as a woman. I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t: it’s hard for me to think of myself as a woman.
I’m terrified, Link. I know what married couples do on their wedding night and I just know you’re going to find out I have less than no experience—just what Impa has begrudgingly told me. I have nightmares where you lay me down in bed and look at me, and my clothes come off… and I have a man’s body underneath. I wake up reaching for you, calling out as you turn in disgust and you leave. You’re going to find out all the dirty parts of me and you’re going to come to hate me and you’re going to abandon me. I wouldn’t blame you: you’re the incarnation of hope and I’m just… Zelda. Not a very good princess. Not a very good girl. A really poor woman. I didn’t even make a good man.
Why me, Link? You could have picked anyone. I don’t deserve you, not like they do: Saria knows you far better, and raised you herself into the man you are today. Ruto promised herself to you and she’s a much better princess than I am. Nabooru is a fighter, twice as strong as she is alluring. Malon is beautiful like I’ll never be, and she’s free.
With me you’ll never be free, Link. Not like you could be with them. There’ll always be meetings and diplomacy and trips and boring politic. Ganondorf put me in a crystal prison but it wasn’t too much of a change. And now, after living free for seven years, I don’t know how anyone could stomach life as a princess. Or a prince. Or a king.
It’s not too late for you to choose someone else. You could have anyone, anyone you wanted, and they could give you everything I can’t. All I have to offer is a silly little kingdom and a gold crown and myself, but I know it’s not enough. You’re a hero, a paragon, a legend, and I’m just… me. A silly little girl. You’re courageous and Ganondorf is powerful, and what am I? Wise? What good has wisdom ever done me?
Because I’m wise I know I’m nothing like what you deserve. I’m nothing like what you could have. And it’s only in my dreams you’ll ever love me the way I love you.