I met the man who broke my mother's most carefully weaved spell outside a circus tent. Inside a huge cage had been set up, shadowed by the striped walls of the tent, and framed by wooden depictions of smiling moons and suns.
Initially, we went because the guy who ran the place was brother to my one friend, Chenise, and crush to my other friend, Donna. I didn't blame Donna, really. The guy had a very nice face, a white, toothy smile, and tend to wore outfits that showed off his perfect abs. He intimidated me though. Most cute guys did. Especially the ones who knew they were cute, as Chenise's brother did. Just because I was intimidated didn't mean I was shy, by all means. I joked and laughed with the rest while Donna blushed and tried her best at flirting, which Chenise's brother accepted eagerly, though sincerely I didn't know.
He asked us to wait outside and draw in customers, but what we really ended up doing was crowding to the side of the door to tease Donna about Chenise's brother.
"Why do you always call him 'Chenise's brother?' His name is Purlo."
"Because I keep forgetting." I said, shrugging as though to say, 'don't blame me,' though I really had no excuse.
And the look on Donna's lightly freckled face told me she knew it. "I don't believe you."
"I don't believe you either." said Chenise. "I mean, did you get a look at those abs?"
I made a face at her. "Eww, he's your brother!"
"Doesn't mean I can't see." she said. "I mean, what a face."
"And have you seen him when he's in the cage? Oh wow."
"Yeah, he's pretty great." I did my best to sound sincere, though in all reality, I'd rather be somewhere else, maybe up near the castle doors people-watching. I had a perfect place where I could watch without being notice while listening to the different musicians that often practiced nearby for tips.
Then I saw him. He was dressed in green with a funny, long green hat. The most beautiful sword was sheathed over his shoulder, or at least, the purple hilt was, as I couldn't see the rest. I thought him short for a guy, though he could be a little taller than me, and he had a nice face.
Though it had been the look that had distracted me. It looked strained, and something wild burned in his eye, like a beast.
But, for some reason, I wasn't scared. Instead, I felt worried. What had happened to him to give him such a ferocious look.
"Hey! You in the green!"
He paused instantly, as though he was frequently called out like that. It only took him a second to find me through the crowd walking through the street. I waved at him, gesturing him over. He hesitated, then made his way over to me.
Chenise and Donna had noticed by now.
"Hanna, what are you doing?"
I didn't answer, because I really didn't have one. But then they spotted the guy.
"Oh my..." whispered Chenise.
He kept his distance, though stood close enough to have a relatively normal conversation.
"You should try out this game my friend's brother's set up," I pointed to the tent. "You look like you've been under a lot of stress lately, and some fun will help clear your mind. It shouldn't take too much time, and it's only ten rupees."
He blinked those wolf-like eyes and glanced at my friends, who had slid in behind me, as though afraid. He sighed.
Then he paused, as though listening to something. I thought I saw his shadow flicker out of the corner of my eye, but when I looked it was just an ordinary shadow.
He rolled his eyes, to what, I didn't know. "Sure. Why not. It's just inside this tent, right?"
I nodded and he stepped past us and into the darkness of the tent.
Chenise and Donna squealed.
"His physic must be so perfect under all those clothes!"
"Goodness, Hanna, you know how to spot them!"
I shoved Chenise aside playfully, "We're suppose to be out here getting customers, or have you forgotten?"
She wrinkled her nose at me. "I have been attracting customers. Just standing here and being my beautiful self is enough." She flicked her short hair that she had dyed green in an act of rebellion. I told her it made it look like she was growing grass on her head and she didn't talk to me for a week.
"And I'm just here to help out the wonderful Purlo." said Donna, putting her chin in the air. It made the tall bob of red hair on her head bounce.
So, we weren't doing anything useful...
I sighed and rubbed my hand down my eyebrows. "In that case, I'm going home. I got cleaning to do." And people-watching.
"Aw, you're no fun!" whined Chenise.
"Why do you always have to be all business and no cool." said Donna.
"It's called being an adult. We aren't twelve anymore."
"But we're not fifty either," Chenise said with a frown. "And how do you expect to attract a husband huddle in the house or in that dark little corner of yours by the gates? Speaking of which, are you ever going to do anything with your hair?"
"What's wrong with it?" I asked, putting a hand to it. It was thick, long, and so black it was almost blue.
"All you did was tied it into some garish knot on the back of your head." she said. "And black is such a boring color. Why don't you bleach it? Or dye it more blue?"
Donna's eyes went big. "Ooo, yeah, more blue!"
"Forget it, I'm going inside."
They 'awed' and cooed after me as though I had denied a bunch of ten-year-olds ice cream and followed after me. I didn't care if they did or not, but my mind had yet to leave the young man in green.
Inside, Purlo was just opening the door on the cage for him. The grin on his face reminded me why I wasn't as crazy about him as Donna. He looked less than honest. One would even say greedy.
And the look also made my stomach drop. I had just lured that poor boy in here. Purlo would probably eat him alive for all he was worth. Ugh, how could I be so stupid!
Purlo closed the door, lifted his watch high in the air, and yelled out start.
And from there I watched as the handsome young man pulled out strange claw-and-chain contraptions on his hands and started zooming around the cage.
Our jaws dropped collectively.
The little plastic, floating lights Purlo had obtained while traveling around with the circus were all at his feet, five whole seconds before the ending time.
For the first time, I started screaming and cheering with my friends like a lunatic. I didn't even know why. All I felt was relief. I hadn't scammed him, never mind the fact it was Purlo doing the scam in the first place.
The boy glanced over at us and blushed. It hit me then that he was handsome—very handsome—but the pinkening to his cheeks and long ears told me that, unlike Purlo, he had somehow hadn't let it go to his head.
Purlo, who hadn't expected anyone to win, ended up giving the boy an old quiver he had in the back from a co-worker of his. The boy took it though, taking the time to discard his own quiver, which was half the size of Purlo's old one, and started slipping in arrows.
Chenise started hissing his name like a snake. Purlo looked over, confused, and looking more than a little annoyed.
"His name." she hissed. "Ask him his name."
Purlo looked to the ceiling, but managed to push one of his toothy grins onto his face. "What's your name, new star!"
"Link." said the boy quietly. "And, uh, thanks for the game."
"Come back again and I'll have a new game specifically designed just for you." Then, in an undertone that wasn't entirely as quiet as it should be, for even I heard it. "Let's see you conquer that one, heh heh."
Yeah. The 'heh heh's really did it for him. You know how to pick'em, Donna.
My stomach clenched as I watch him heft on his new quiver and turned to leave. While Donna and Chenise finished swooning, I caught up to him outside. After the dark tent, the sun almost blinded me and I almost ran into him head first.
He paused and met my eye. The image of a wolf crossed my mind—a huge wolf. Grey and silver, muzzle to the sky, and Link's same blue eyes closing in a silent howl.
But then there was just Link, the young man, with a sunkissed complexion and golden hair framing his face. He cocked his head to the side.
I frowned. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"You look a little dazed there for a minute."
I felt my neck heat up. "Oh, no, it's nothing. Sometimes I just see things when I look at people. I saw you as a wolf there for a minute, how crazy is that?"
His eyes widened a bit, but he chuckled, sort of tersely. "Yeah. Pretty crazy."
Aw great. What he was really saying was he though I was pretty crazy. Way to go freaking out a cute guy, I really needed to keep my mouth shut.
Best to get what I needed done.
"I just wanted to apologize," I said, folding my hands before me. "I saw Purlo in there and I don't think he's being completely honest, I'm sorry. I mean, he seemed to do the cage game fine, I never stopped to think..."
Link smiled softly. "It's okay. I sorta cheated too."
"No you didn't! There was nothing in the rules against...against...?"
"Yeah! Nothing against clawshots! And Purlo needed some humbling anyways, if you asked me. Don't tell Chenise though, she's the one with the green hair."
"Green hair?" He then looked up and a funny look came on his face. "Why'd she dye her hair green?"
"Because she wanted to become a tree."
I flinched and Link looked like he wanted to laugh, but didn't know if it was polite too. I turned around slowly to meet my angry friend. Donna was still in the tent, probably 'comforting' Purlo.
"What? I was just kidding."
"Why can't you just be supportive like...like...a good friend!"
"Well, Chenise, you did dye your hair green. I thought a good friend would be honest with you."
Her eyes teared up. Instantly I crumbled.
"I'll just be on my way." said Link.
Chenise's tears vanished and she went into full-blown fangirl moment. "Oh my gosh, it's him! I can't believe I didn't see you!"
She squealed loudly, clutching her hands to her chin and pressing her knees together.
"You were so great in there! I've never seen anyone so cool in my life! Please say you'll go on a date with me, please!"
"I'll even play! There's this great restaurant in the square that serves the most delicious cake ever! Unless you're not a sweets person, than that's really fine, there's these sandwiches with mutton and-"
"No." he said solidly, though he grew flustered when the green-haired girl froze. "I mean, thank you, a lot, but I need to be on my way. I got some really important things to do."
I thought I heard a snicker somewhere and once more saw a flicker out of the corner of my eye. I looked down to his shadow again, but once more saw nothing out of the ordinary.
She wilted. "Will, maybe when you're not busy?"
"I don't know when I'll be in town next."
"Then where do you live, I'll-"
"Chenise." I said. "You're being a stalker."
Her face flushed. Another reason why green hair was a horrible choice. Red and green, yeah.
"Bye." he said, sounding more than a little awkward.
The last I saw of him was his shield and green hat vanishing around the corner. Chenise had more than enough angry words for me after that, after which she begged me for comfort, but all I remember was thinking I saw a dark, shadow like imp come up from under his feet and lean in to speak into his ear. I shook it off, wondering if I was starting to go crazy. I had always ignored the images I got when I met people. It wasn't normal. I learned that when not too long ago my mother had given me that look she often gave when I started talking about father. The scary one. The one that was usually followed by breaking pots.
But I couldn't get the wolf-boy off my mind. There was something about him. He had done something in that cage worth far more than a quiver, and I wanted to know why he had so much suppressed fury in his eyes.