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Zillah died giving birth to her son.

Her husband, Razi, grieved, and had no idea what to do with a newborn. There were not many Sheikah families to turn to. After the Great Tribulation and the Transference so many years ago, the Sheikah were nearly wiped out by the Gerudo, Hyrule's new bullies. The Royal Family was looking for an attendant for the young Prince Harkinian, and Razi had eagerly sought it out in the hopes of the best security for his son, but was turned down in favor of another Sheikah woman by the name of Impa.

Fortunately, Razi had a blacksmith apprenticeship he was working on, and would soon be allowed to practice on his own. One afternoon on the job, several horses were brought in for shoes. Overwhelmed by such a large task, and given a very short time to complete the work, Razi stepped outside to see who'd demanded such an incredible task.

He stood outside a carriage, which was somehow parked in the middle of the village square, surveying the town with his nose turned in the air, his elbow resting in the window. He was an older Hylian lord, and one of the snooty ones Razi had heard about. Just his luck. Razi took a breath and walked to the lord, in an effort to introduce himself.

"Good afternoon," Razi said, calling attention to himself.

The Hylian whirled around, and at the sight of Razi, wrinkled his nose and took a step backwards. Razi figured it was due to the soot he was covered in.

"Yes," the Hylian said slowly. "Indeed. Is there a problem?"

"I was only wondering which horses needed shoes, sir."

"Sir? Ah, I see you are at least smart enough to know your place, even if you're not smart enough to tell that all of my horses need shoes. You call yourself a blacksmith."

Know my place?

"Taurean, may I step out now? It is a lovely day, and I would like to experience this town from without this stifling carriage," a voice came from inside the buggy. Razi jumped at the sound; he hadn't realized someone was inside.

"Oh fine," he replied irritably. "But make it quick!"

"Lord Taurean? Of Hyrule Castle Town? I'm honored to meet you, sir. I am Razi," Razi said politely.

A footman helped the owner of the voice out of the carriage. It was a very young Hylian woman, who must just have become of age. She had curly brown hair, and she stood behind Taurean, drinking in everything she saw, but still keeping an ear out for the conversation.

"You call that a proper introduction? What of your surname?"

"Sheikah do not have surnames, sir. Only given names, and mine is Razi."

His wife -- or mistress, whoever she was -- behind him snapped her head to the Sheikah's direction and devoted all of her attention to him. Birds and trees could wait, especially when someone dared to speak back to Lord Taurean.

"Well what sort of name is that? Does it even have a meaning?" He laughed heartily, as though he had just thought of the wittiest thing to say in the history of time.

"Lord Taurean, I assure you that among my people, my name is just fine."

"Too right, among your own people." He turned to the woman. "Dirty shadow folk, these Sheikah. Dangerous. You have to keep an eye out for them, or they'll quite literally stab you in the back." She only nodded.

Razi ignored him, and decided to approach the lady instead.

"And such a fine woman should not have to find herself in a place such as this," he said, bowing lowly before her. Taurean's eye twitched. This was the sort of respect he was supposed to be getting from a Sheikah, not some woman!

"Good sir, you flatter me," she said with a hint of a giggle. Razi noticed that her voice was light and melodious. Her curls seemed to dance as her small body shook and her eyes flashed with a light that seemed to have been in hiding for a long time. "I am La--"

"She is my wife," Taurean barked, "And you will not speak to her, understood? Now, I believe you have some horses to attend to. Come, Penelope." He turned right around and threw Penelope into the arms of the footman, who helped her back into the carriage. Almost too quickly, they were off. Penelope peeked through the curtains at quaint Kakariko, but just as quickly as the coach had driven away, Penelope's fingers and eyes disappeared from the blinds.

Penelope.

Razi let the name play on his lips and decided he liked it.

What am I doing? Zillah. My Zillah. And Kerrith, my son. They are more important than her. And, unfortunately, so are these horses.

He sighed and went to work, hoping that whichever horse Taurean decided to ride would throw a shoe, and Taurean himself in the process.

***


"Madam, there is a Sheikah here for Lord Taurean. Shall I send him away?"

"What does he want?"

"He has horses with him."

"Fool. Those are Taurean's horses, and that Sheikah is a blacksmith. I will see him myself."

"As you wish."

Penelope thought the work on the horses was done much quicker than expected, if he was, in fact finished. She went outside into the setting sun and saw him at the edge of the manor, three horses in tow. She looked surprised.

Razi was leaning on the fence and looking around, admiring the scenery of "the other side of the castle," where Hallern Manor was. It seemed different over here than in the rest of Hyrule, lighter, somehow. He was brought out of his reverie by someone's throat being cleared.

"Razi, was it?" Penelope asked, blinking.

"Lady Penelope," he answered, bowing lowly.

"I'd have thought the horses would take longer than a few days."

"Sheikah word hard. And I need to provide for my son."

"Oh," Penelope said, surprised. "You don't look old enough to be a father."

"With all due respect, you don't look old enough to be married." Penelope went pink and Razi continued. "Sheikah age better than Hylians do, and I am much older than I appear. But my son is just a baby, only a month old."

"Then what of your wife? Sheikah women work outside of the home as well, do they not?"

Razi tried to keep a straight face.

"I lost her when my son was born," he said solemnly.

"Oh," Penelope quieted. "I'm terribly sorry." She paused, bowed her head, then touched her forehead, each shoulder, and her forehead again. "I'd like to see him, if I could."

"What?" was the shocked response.

"Your son," came the awkward reply. "I'd like to visit."

And so, routine visits to Kakariko began. The first time Penelope saw Kerrith she fell in love with the boy. Sparkling red eyes, a small patch of white hair. Of course, she would never mention the real reasons for her frequent trips to the hamlet, but the more she went, the more she grew to like the Sheikahs, and wonder what in Hyrule her oh-so-darling husband was talking about. He was so wrong about them, and wrong about everything he said. Penelope was becoming more and more aware of this and started to hate him for hating everything.

Why did she have to be married off to such an arrogant bastard?

As the months passed, and turned to years, Razi was pleased to have Penelope's company more often, and hear her complain about Taurean almost every time. He also loved that she managed to get so close to Kerrith, who'd all but adopted her as his mother. And though she far outranked him, he couldn't remember being so comfortable with a woman in so long, save for Zillah. She was just as comfortable with him, not only complaining about every little thing Taurean did wrong, but also confiding in him about her hopes and fears.

It happened. They were no longer crutches for each other; they were friends. When they realized that, they also realized that they had slowly fallen for each other. Spending four years with a person should leave little doubt as to whether or not you love them. They were almost a family. Razi felt a little guilty; no one should have to replace Zillah, but he knew that he needed a mother for Kerrith and that he had a woman to protect when Penelope came to him one night after one of Taurean's usual drunken outbursts with a large bruise on her face.

"That bastard," he snarled, gingerly touching the mark. "He has no business hitting you. No man should lay a finger on his wife in such a way."

"Razi, it's all right. It doesn't hurt, and the swelling's gone down. Really. And he was drunk, besides. He didn't mean--"

"I don't care." He held her close and she could hear his heart pounding in his chest.

"I wish I could stay here," she whispered against him, starting to cry. "You always make me feel so good. Taurean's never done anything like this for me, ever. And you... care."

"I love you," he corrected.

Penelope turned to look at him, and blinked away a few tears. Razi looked serious.

"You're a mother to Kerry, and everything I could need. I mean it, Nell."

Silence.

"I want to stay here, Razi. I want to get away. I want it all to go away. I want... you."

This silence was much longer than the first.

"Then meet me here, tomorrow night," Razi urged. "We'll... spend some time together," he soothed, running a hand up into her hair.

Penelope, catching his meaning, purred at this and agreed.

"Tomorrow night."

"Don't be nervous."

"I won't if you're not." She smiled. Razi growled; he wasn't sure if he could wait. "Goodbye, Razi," she said.

He leaned in for a kiss. Penelope followed, but only briefly and broke it before he had even realized it started. She knew she'd slipped up again the moment she broke free.

"You can't do that anymore, Nell," Razi said. "From here on in, it's either all or nothing."

"I know," Penelope mumbled, her eyes finding the floor. "But you have my word that I will come through tomorrow."

"I would hope so," Razi answered.

"I am a Lady," Penelope declared, picking her head up. "And a Lady is always as good as her word."

Razi only smiled at the thought.

I really would hope so.


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