Silent Courage

Chapter 20: Birthday Surprise

Chapter 20: Birthday Surprise

-Link’s POV-

For once, I don’t feel awkward when I wake up with Sheik’s arm around me. Guess it’s happened so much that I just got used to it. I yawn a little, still drowsy from sleep. Goddesses, I hope I can just lay back and relax for a while before having to go find the last Sage. I smile, a little giddy. We’re so close to finishing this! And maybe after I find the Sage, I won’t have to worry and can just relax.

I snort. Yeah, that’s just wishful thinking. I turn to look around and look out the window, only to have the sun shine in my eyes. I jerk back and turn my head into Sheik, making him tense for a second before relaxing. “Did you want to give me a heart attack? Because you almost did,” he mutters into my hair. I laugh.

‘Sorry, Sheik,’ I pull back with a grin. ‘The sun just surprised me.’

He chuckles. “Out of everything that happened yesterday, you get surprised by the sun?”

‘…Yes,’ I nod shortly and he laughs again, pressing his forehead into mine.

“You’re amazing, you know that?” I rub the back of my head, I’m not that amazing. “Just take a compliment, will you?” he shakes his head and shoves the covers off, stretching as he stands.

‘I will when you will,’ I think and go to change. Luckily someone, I suspect Charlie, put my usual tunic and breeches on a small table, along with my hat. Once dressed, I peek out of the washroom to find Sheik gone and shrug, guess he went to go eat.

My ears fall when my stomach growls loudly. Guess I should go eat. I didn’t realize how hungry I was before, but now it feels like my stomach wants to eat itself. Shaking my head, I leave the bedroom and look down both the corridors, at a loss of where to go. It’s not like I’m bad with directions, but the inside of palaces and castles all look the same to me, so I usually get lost in them. It’s just by a stroke of luck I found my way around yesterday. I shiver at remembering everything that happened. It felt so unreal, me talking and using magic. It almost feels like it didn’t even happen, like it was just a dream. But then my muscles ache and I feel the new cut on my neck from the Hollow’s hook, and I know I didn’t dream it. I have a feeling this cut will be a new scar soon.

Disregarding that for now, I walk down the right corridor, hoping my growling stomach will lead me to the kitchen or mess hall.

Passing by a number of people, I find myself pulling my hat almost over my eyes to keep them from staring at my ears. Some of the teens my age and younger take a few steps back if they see me to try and get a glance of me, but I run off before they can really look at me. I wish there were some place that I wouldn’t attract attention because of my race.

As I think this, I round a corner and stop short from bumping into Charlie, who smiles brightly when he sees it’s me. “There you are, Little Beast! C’mon, I wanted to talk to you,” he slings an arm around my shoulders and steers me the way he came. “Because I am your uncle, I know that your birthday is in a few days, and I wanted to make up for the seventeen and a half years I’ve been gone, so I have a great idea. How about I take you and Sheik to Hylia Village?” he beams and I blink at him. Hylia Village? He smiles softly and pulls me into a hug, I’m not really sure how to respond. “Link…Hylia Village is where the Hylians live. And it’s the place where you were born,” I look up at Charlie with wide eyes. “I want you to know you’re not alone, and to show you, I’m going to take you to the village, and we’re going to visit your parents’ graves. I think it’s time for you to know your heritage, and about your parents,” my eyes sting slightly and I look down, biting my lip. “Hey, cheer up, Beasty. I promise you you’ll have the best time of your life. And Sheik will be coming as well.”

I tilt my head. That would be nice, but why do I have the feeling Charlie’s planning something devious?

“We should go get something to eat, you must be hungry,” he says and my stomach growls in replay, making him laugh. I smile a bit and we go to the mess hall to find it crowded with Sheikah guards and other residents of the Palace. I keep my head down as we go through and Charlie gets us to a free seat and makes me sit down. I glare at him and he grins wolfishly as his eyes flick behind me for a second. I look to see Sheik sitting there, looking about as surprised as me. He looks at Charlie blankly.

“You had to practically drop her on me?” he asks.

Charlie shrugs and grins. “It was my goal,” he chuckles and leaves before we can respond.

‘My uncle’s weird,’ I think, smiling fondly.

“It’s a family trait,” that comment earns a smack on the arm. Sheik laughs and catches my hand, putting it on the table so he can eat.

We’re silent for a few moments before a question enters my mind. ‘Sheik, do you know about the Hylia Village?’

He shakes his head. “No. Master Hitoshi only mentioned your parents living just outside of it, he never explained where it was exactly or how you got there. All I know is that only Hylians and people Hylians trust can get in.”

‘So you’ll be able to get in then!’ I smile brightly and eat some soup. Sheik raises an eyebrow.

“You trust me?”

I nod. ‘Yep. With my life!’

Sheik beams at that, looking overjoyed. Without his shawl, his hair is tied out of his eyes and they shine brightly despite being deep crimson. I never knew he could look so cute…

…What did I just think?

I’m taken out of my thoughts when Sonja sits down between me and Sheik, saying loudly, “Hey, Lovebirds!” and slams a tray down in front of her. Sheik glares at her and I smile in greeting, moving over a bit to give her more room. “Jeez, being a Duchess is hard work. I got ten different meetings I’ve got to organize and I need to go to Hyrule Castle in the next week to clear up that peace treaty with Princess Zelda,” it sounds so weird for someone to be saying Zelly’s whole title. I honestly don’t hear it much, it’s either Princess or Zelda. “And to top it all off, the trials to see if the people in the dungeons are going to stay there will take months to complete,” Sonja bangs her forehead on the table, letting out a deep, stressful sigh before a smile breaks on her face. “But I’m happy. At least we never have to worry about a certain tyrant ever again.”

“So, Osamu’s…” Sheik trails off as Sonja straightens. The Duchess nods slowly, eyes fading a bit.

“Yeah…Osamu’s dead. He didn’t even last a full day in the Sun Chamber, which is pathetic considering the people he sent in there and could live like that for a week at most,” she looks down. “It was so…weird to see his body not moving…”

I give Sonja a one-armed hug. Despite Osamu being a bitter tyrant, he was still Sonja’s father. She must have had a hard time fighting and defeating him. She gives me a smile in return and ruffles my hair, to my annoyance. “Thanks, Short Beasty,” oh great, new nickname. “So I hear you and Sheik are going to Hylia Village. I’d advise you to be careful, Sheik. The Hylians may not trust you because they won’t know the news about Osamu yet. I’ve sent messengers ahead of me to Hyrule Castle, but I won’t hear from them for a few days. Just make sure you don’t anger them, because they will kill you if you set them off.”

‘I’d never let them do that!’ I think, looking at my bowl of soup. ‘I don’t care if they are my own race, I will defend Sheik if they try to hurt him!’

I glance at Sheik to see him talking to Sonja, patting her shoulder reassuringly. He’s a great guy. He cares so much about people, even though he tries to hide it by being the tough guy. I smile to myself, I remember when we first met, he only cared about getting himself out, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. He cared, he just didn’t want to tell me, a stranger, about his plans, I guess. He’s never once shown that side of himself after we got to know each other, and he’s becoming more and more open with me. He told me about his past! He told me something he had told no one else! To think he trusts me enough for that, I love it.

Sheik smiles and I feel my heart flutter. His smile is so real, I can’t see anything fake behind it. He opens up so much more than me, and I have a deep feeling that once someone has his trust, they have it. No middle ground, they just have it. That’s the kind of person who I can always be with. Someone who trusts me with every little thing.

“It will be alright, Sonja. We’ve still got each other, and Master Hitoshi will always be there for us. You’ll get through this,” Sheik says and my smile grows as I watch my soup become cold. He acts like a brother to Sonja. Well, they did grow up together, so they might as well be. But when he’s around me, he acts a little different. He doesn’t treat me like a sister, he treats me like a close, best friend, and I’m so grateful that he does. If he ever said he loves me like a sister, I think it would hurt more than I would expect.

Huh, why am I thinking about this all of a sudden? Whenever I think deeply of Sheik, my stomach gets filled with butterflies and my heart feels like its flying. What a strange feeling. It’s so alien to me, yet somehow it feels like…I’ve felt like this before. I close my eyes to try and think of when I felt like this, but I can’t place any time in my life I’ve felt the way I do.

‘I guess it’s just nothing,’ I think and push it out of my mind, tuning back into the conversation.

“-and no matter what, I’ve got your back,” Sonja says, hugging Sheik. “If Hyrule does fall into a war, than you’ll have the shadows on your side.”

Sheik hugs back. “Thank you so much, Sonja. You’ve been a great help.”

“Thank you two. The Sheikah would still be under Osamu’s control if it weren’t for your sacrifices,” Sonja looks at both of us and stops on me. “And the pain you went through, you withstood it all, just to help set my people free. I can’t thank you enough, Link,” she hugs me too and stands, rubbing her slightly red and puffy eyes. “I’ve got to go. Master Hitoshi is going to help me set up the next meeting,” she walks off, rubbing her eyes on her sleeve.

I look around the mess hall, smiling at all the happy faces. The guards are joking and laughing, the Pages and Squires are running around for their jobs, and even the Mythical Beasts are relaxing. Chimera is resting by the double doors, with Cerberus chewing on a large rug beside him. Through the open doors I can see Elsie and Felix perched outside, basking in the desert sun. I see Rocky stretch, waking up from his sleep, and smile, getting an idea. I tug Sheik’s sleeve and get up, heading towards my dragon.

“Where are you going, Link?” he asks as he comes outside. I’m scratching right under Rocky’s chin and he’s rumbling loudly in content.

‘Come here,’ I wave him over and Rocky becomes silent once he sees my friend. I calm him down by rubbing his scaly nose, and motion for Sheik to stand beside me. ‘Keep calm and don’t get scared if he jumps suddenly,’ I tell him, listening to Rocky coo and purr. ‘You never really met Rocky before, and I want you guys to get to know each other! I’ve taken care of Rocky when I was young, and you’re such a close friend, so you two will see each other a lot. Why not become trusting of one another?’ I smile and take Sheik’s hand, slowly bringing it to Rocky’s face.

‘And if he bites my fingers off?’ Sheik asks through telepathy as Rocky sniffs his hand.

‘He won’t,’ I assure him and gently push his hand on Rocky’s nose, seeing his eyes widen at the feel of the water breathing dragon. Rocky calms under Sheik’s touch and coos, pushing his nose into him as I let go and step back. Rocky rumbles and coils around me and Sheik, pulling us so close to each other that our noses touch. I blush lightly and see Sheik’s cheeks turn red as I feel Rocky looking at both of us, as if expecting something to happen. Elsie and Felix both snicker and fly off, which makes me mentally yell at them to shut up and help.

‘Does he normally do this?’ Sheik asks.

‘No. Dunno why he’s doing it either,’ I turn my head to look at him, my dragon just smiles. ‘Rocky, let us go.’

Rocky makes a rumbling noise that sounds like a sigh and moves away. I tilt my head at him, wondering why he did that. ‘You can be very strange sometime,’ I think, scratching between his eyes. I smile and lift myself onto him to sit behind his head and give Sheik my hand. ‘C’mon, we’ll go for a flight.’

Sheik smirks and I help him get on. ‘You might want to hold on,’ I tell him as he sits behind me. ‘Rocky can get pretty fast,’ I lower my head a bit and pat his neck. He shoots off the balcony and I feel Sheik wrap his arms around my middle and laugh, turning my head to look at him. ‘Told ya.’

He rolls his eyes. “You didn’t give me any time,” he mutters, straightening but not letting me go. Odd. Rocky flies higher into the air until we’re so far up the Palace looks like a toy before evening out and gliding through the air. “How does he fly without wings?” Sheik yells over the wind and I wince. He yelled in my ear.

‘Use your telepathy thingy while we’re here. And I’m not too sure, but I think he uses some sort of magic to manipulate the air and wind around him, allowing him to fly,’ I think.

“Where are we going, Ma?” Rocky asks, flying in circles over the City.

‘Can you tell him we’re just going to soar for a bit? It’ll be good for him to relax,’ I ask Sheik and he nods.

“She wants you to relax and fly around easily,” he says and Rocky nods.

“Okay, Pa,” he says, making me tilt my head. He just called Sheik ‘Pa’.

-Sheik’s POV-

My eyes widen when Rocky calls me ‘Pa’. Why the Din’s Hell did he call me that? Okay, think this through. He calls Link ‘Ma’ all the time, and judging by how Link’s tilting her head adorably, she’s never heard him say that to anyone. And to mention he practically forced Link and I together on the balcony. Does Rocky know my feelings for Link, or does he just think we should have feelings for each other? Come to think of it, Elsie and Felix both seemed unsurprised Rocky did that to us, so maybe, since they are animals, they can sense my feelings.

I blush at the thought of when Link and I had been so close. It took so much of my willpower not to move in and just kiss her. Her eyes are starting to pull me in harder, and she doesn’t even realize. I sigh quietly. This is going to be much harder than I thought. I can’t go right out and say ‘I love you’ to her. Sure, I said it last night, but she had been asleep, and I wasn’t fully ready for it. But what if she doesn’t love me back? What if she thinks of us as ‘just friends’?

My mind drifts back to what Master Hitoshi told me yesterday. I have a Connection with Link, and I’m supposed to be her Guardian. He looked as if he wanted to say more, but he also seemed to know he couldn’t. It could be something he wants me to figure out on my own, but what is it?

I’m taken out of my thoughts when Link leans back into me, letting out a soft sigh of content. ‘I’m so glad it’s almost over.’

‘What?’

‘This quest to find the Sages. It’s been so tiring and it seems like such a long time has passed, but it’s only been a little more than a month. So much has happened during that time too, I found out I could be a wolf again, I saw Midna again, Zant came back, a new threat is coming. But the best moment I’ve had is when I met you, as a human,’ my face heats up and my heart pounds heavily. I hope she can’t hear it. ‘You did come off as an arrogant jerk at first, but I know now that that was just to keep strangers at bay. You really care for people, for everyone, and you seem like you’d be a great brother, or even a dad,’ okay, now my face feels beetroot. ‘You’ve helped me so much. You saved me as Shorty, you helped me break free of that curse, you saved me from blood loss in Jabu’s Temple, you came after me when I was captured, even though you hated Osamu, and you told me about your past. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like you, Sheik,’ she turns her body to look at me in the face, a huge smile on her face and her eyes shining with brilliance. ‘I’m so, so grateful I met you. You’ve made the last few weeks bearable, and fun. Thanks. For everything,’ she pushes her head into my neck and I smile gently as I rest my head on hers.

I open my mouth to say the three words of truth, but stop. No. I know my feelings, but I don’t think Link is ready to hear it just yet. She still has a lot on her plate, and I don’t want her to get distracted. And she’s so young still. She’s not even an adult yet.

But she will be in three days. She’ll be considered an adult everywhere, and even if there’s not much of a difference in her, I feel that it will feel more right if I wait these few days. I tighten my arms around her, pulling her onto my lap as she makes a soft squeak, which makes me chuckle. ‘You’re welcome, Shorty. I’m happy I met you two. And you saved me as well. I was giving up hope about saving my people, I was at the end of my rope and I couldn’t find out how to climb up. But when I met you, I didn’t feel it at first, but I felt so relaxed around you and the nightmares I had been having disappeared, as if your innocence radiated off of you. And after that dance we had during Edward’s party, I felt as if I’d never find that girl, that beautiful, wonderful girl, behind the mask,’ I feel her face become hot on my neck and she looks up, blushing deeply. ‘But turns out it was really you all along. Thanks for bowling me over,’ I laugh.

‘You’re, uh, welcome?’ she laughs and looks ahead, seeming not to notice she’s still on my lap. ‘Should we go back now? Charlie will probably want to leave soon.’

‘Yeah, let’s go,’ I nod and I tell Rocky to head back. The dragon nods and turns by flying up in a circle like a backflip, making me grab onto him and hold Link to make sure she doesn’t fall off, and he straightens his course, flying smoothly again. I open my eyes, only now realizing I closed them, and look down to see Link peeking out of her arms, where she was hiding her head.

‘What’s with Rocky today?’ she wonders as I help her sit up.

‘I’m not sure,’ I look at the dragon’s head to see him glance at us and I see a smirk in his eye. So he is trying to get us together. He could have done it in a better way.

We come back to the Palace and I slide off, landing on my feet. I hear a squeak and don’t even look up before I hold out my arms and Link falls into them, being the clumsy person she is. She looks at me and blushes, mind muttering a ‘sorry’ and I help her to her feet, smiling.

“Don’t worry about it, Shorty,” I say and pat Rocky’s shoulder. “Thanks,” I whisper, having a feeling he helped just now. Rocky nods and takes off for some more flight as Link and I head into the Palace.

Link stretches as she follows me through the corridors, letting out a yawn. “You’re really tired from yesterday. Maybe you should get some rest,” I suggest.

‘Naw, I’m fine. Besides, I’m too excited to sleep. I finally get to see my own race!’ she thinks happily, smiling.

I smile back, putting an arm around her shoulders as she stifles a yawn with her hand. “I’m happy for you. Now let’s go find Charlie. We’ll probably be going soon.”

She nods and we keep walking through the corridors, talking about where we think the last Sage will be. ‘So we need to go see the Gerudo. I hope Nura can help, I only saw them from afar when I went through the Gerudo Desert last time,’ she thinks.

“In that case, you might want to dress like a girl,” I say. “They’ll be less hostile if there are two women.”

‘But I don’t want to wear a dress,’ Link frowns.

I open my mouth to say ‘you don’t half to’, when Charlie calls from down the hall. “Hey, you two! You guys should get packed, we’ll leave in a bit. It will most likely take about a day to get there, but I remember the way perfectly so we won’t get lost,” he grins.

Link grins back and runs towards the chambers. I shake my head as I watch her go, so childish. “Hey, Sheik,” I look at Charlie, who’s smirking. “Take care of her, will you? I don’t want my niece to get hurt or lost again. And if a battle or something breaks out, protect her. She may be a great knight, but I fear she won’t be able to fight in a war. So make sure she doesn’t get herself killed.”

“I do that already,” I reply and head off to pack, my mind swimming. With the way things are going, I’m worried that there might actually be a battle, or possibly a war. The Twilight Smog will probably aid Ghirahim and his demons, so they will have the advantage. And if something goes wrong, I’ll make sure Link is safe and sound.

I come to my room to find Link talking to Navi about going to Hylia Village, and I hide behind the door to listen. ‘…and I’ll finally be able to fit in! This place will have Hylians like me. I won’t ever have to feel like I’m the only one anymore! I can barely wait!’

Navi giggles. “I’m happy for you. Was it hard growing up?”

‘Yeah. Since no one else in Ordon had pointed ears, I always felt out of place and alone. When I went to Castle Town for the first time as human, I felt so lost and disoriented, and everyone kept staring at me. Some would whisper that I’m an obvious outsider, some talked about how I looked so out of place, and a couple even scowled at me because they thought I smelled. But most people saw my ears and would gasp, trying to get a better look as if I was some exotic creature. It was scary.’

“Does that still happen now?”

‘Yes, only it’s worse now because they know me as ‘The Hero of Hyrule’ and try to talk to me and make me do simple things they’re too lazy to do.’

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry in Hylia Village, so at least there’s that. I’ll be going with Sonja to Hyrule Castle so I can tell Zelda where you and Sheik will be. I hope you have a good time.”

‘I know I will!’ I can practically feel Link grin and smile myself. I’ll make sure of that. Navi flies out the door and bobs to me as she passes. I nod back and look into the room to see Link stuffing her arm into her Dimensional Bag until her shoulder, looking for something.

“Need help?” I ask and she jumps at my voice. She looks at me and shakes her head before looking back at the bag.

‘No, I was just curious of how far I could get my arm into the bag,’ she smiles as she ties the bag to her belt. I shake my head, somehow, that doesn’t surprise me.

-Later, Link’s POV-

Sheik, Charlie and me walk out of the Palace after saying goodbye to Sonja and Master Hitoshi, ready to head to Hylia Village. When walking through the City, the Sheikah go about their business like they did the day I arrived, but everyone seems cheerful and relaxed, instead of scared and tense. Some Sheikah wave to us as we walk by and I laugh when I get hugged by the little girl I saved the other day. Harmony, I think her name was. She thanks me in squeals as her brother comes up to us, smiling brightly.

“I can’t tell you how thankful I am,” Thomson says, bowing to us slightly with his left fist in his right palm. “It’s all thanks to you we can walk out and not be afraid. It’s almost like a dream.”

“I’m just happy it’s not a dream. I think I prefer reality to dreams anyhow,” Charlie says, grinning at me. I grin back. My uncle-hee, still can’t get over that-looks back at Thom and bows his head. “I should be thanking you. I’d still be stuck as a slave if it weren’t for you leading the Rebels.”

Thom smiles as he takes Harmony’s hand. “We need to get going. I hope to see you again,” he waves and we continue on, my excitement growing by the second.

Sheik laughs. “You’d be singing right now if you could, wouldn’t you?” he asks, nudging me gently.

‘Yep!’ I say cheerily, nudging him back. We enter the stables that lead out of the City and I beam when I see Epona in one of the stalls. ‘‘Pona!’ I mind-cheer, running to her and hugging her neck. ‘How are you, girl?’ I ask, backing up to rub her nose. She nuzzles me happily and I laugh. ‘What are you doing here?’ I wonder, taking an apple I snatched from the mess hall out of my pocket. I was going to eat it, but I think Epona would like it more.

Charlie comes up beside me, whistling. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she? Animals really did always love you. Except cats, they seemed to just scratch and bite you,” he chuckles. I knew cat’s where evil. Charlie gives out his hand for Epona to sniff, but my temperamental mare just lays her ears back and watches Charlie, not trusting him.

I pat her neck, clicking my tongue quietly. ‘It’s alright, this is Charlie. He’s my uncle,’ I think. Epona’s ears flick up and she looks sideways at Charlie, not really liking him yet.

“I don’t think she likes me,” Charlie says good-heartedly.

‘Sheik, could you tell him Epona just doesn’t like strangers?’ I ask, hating to ask him to translate.

He yells from the other side of the stalls. “Epona doesn’t like strangers!” I stifle a giggle, that’s right, a giggle, when the owner of the stalls yells at him to pipe down. That’s when I hear a small squeak and look down to see Rouge standing on my boot, looking up at me.

‘Yay! Cell buddy!’ I mentally cheer and bend down, picking him up. He climbs into my hair again, squeaking, and settles down, making me laugh. I look at Charlie when he clears his throat to see his eyebrow is raised.

“Is that the same rat?” I nod. “He seems to like you. Lucky, you get the whole animals-love-you-thing from your mother,” my ears perk up at this. “She could befriend even bears if they weren’t tired from hibernation. I remember one time, you’re father freaked out because he saw you playing with a bear cub, and your mother was standing beside the cub’s mother, patting the bear’s shoulder. I cried from laughing so hard,” Charlie whips an imaginary tear from his eye at the memory and I look down slightly, still smiling. That sounds hilarious.

Epona nudges me and I laugh, climbing into the stall and getting onto her back, which is bare. I still wonder how she got here, but I’ve learned not to think about it. My mare’s faithful as Din’s Hell and always finds her way to me.

I walk her out of the stall and see Sheik trotting up on a Joyce, smirking when he looks at my head. “I see you’re cell buddy doesn’t want to leave you.”

‘I don’t mind,’ I think, smiling as I look cross-eyed at my forehead. ‘Besides, maybe he can help me pull a few pranks on people.’

He chuckles, shaking his head. “You may act cute and innocent, but deep down, you’re evil, aren’t you?” he jokes. I laugh.

‘It’s always the ones you least expect…wait, what was that about cute?’ I tilt my head and I see his cheeks turn pink.

“What? You are cute,” he mutters, his face turning back to its normal colour. I wish he wouldn’t wear the shawl so much, I don’t like not being able to see his face.

I’m about to ask him to unwrap his head when Charlie comes up on a steely grey stallion. “Well, let’s get going!” he says enthusiastically and leads his horse out, us a few paces behind.

While we cross the desert, I pull at my tunic neckline. I’m not wearing my undershirt, that would kill me in this weather, but my tunic is still pretty warm. Not to mention that it takes close to nothing for me to be hot, but I don’t get cold, usually. Snowpeak was testing my limits and I was just lucky my blood is so warm. I would have frozen to death if it weren’t for that. I notice Sheik looking at me in concern and smile reassuringly at him, not able to think much from the heat. This just makes his eyebrows meet in deeper concern. “You alright, Link?” he asks, making Charlie look over his shoulder to look at me.

“If you want to stop for a rest, we can,” he says. I shake my head. I want to get to Hylia Village as soon as possible. I want to see where I was born. “You shouldn’t push yourself, Beasty. We can stop for a bit. We’ll make it before nightfall.”

I just shake my head again. I’m fine, just a little warm. Charlie, not looking fully convinced, looks ahead of us again and Sheik keeps an eye on me. I do my best to sit up straight and keep my eyes focused, knowing that they’ll force me to rest if they see I’m so exhausted, but it’s so hard. My vision blurs every now and then and my throat starts to feel paper dry.

I’m only half aware of everything when Sheik guides Joyce to Epona’s side, my mare doesn’t even try to nip at the Clydesdale for being so close. I feel arms wrap around my back and lift me up under my legs and I soon find myself sitting in front of Sheik. He whispers in my ear that I should rest and I shake my head slightly. No, I want to see the Village when we get to it. But listening to Sheik’s breathing and his heartbeat, I find I can’t stay awake.

-The Next Day-

I wake up when I feel shade fall over me, and I open my eyes to see I’m still sitting in front of Sheik and we’re just moving under some trees of a forest. The air is cool and damp, giving me a sense of familiarity as I blink and wake myself up. I yawn and sit up straighter, seeing Charlie still leading, whistling softly to himself.

“Hey, Shorty,” Sheik whispers and I turn my head to look at him. “How was your sleep?”

I smile. ‘Good. I guess you and Charlie were right. Sorry for that, I’m not used to the desert and I’m still a little tired from yesterday.’

“Don’t say sorry,” he whispers. “It’s alright.”

Charlie’s ears twitch and he looks at us, smiling. “Oh good, you’re awake. We’re only a few minutes away from the Village, but we’ll have to make the rest of the way on foot, horses can’t get through the tree roots and vines.”

We nod and dismount Joyce. I pat Epona’s neck, silently thanking her for making rest, and we head into the bushes, Charlie by our side. “Alright, there are a few things I’ve got to say first. The Hylia Village isn’t really even a village, it’s a big community and can only be seen by Hylians, Half-Hylians, and people who have our trust. They may not let Sheik in, so we’ll have to be careful. They’re so out of the way that it takes a long time for them to get news when Hyrule Castle already knows about it,” he explains as we start to go up a steep, treeless hill. Charlie’s grin widens with every step and I subconsciously grip Sheik’s hand, worried about what I might see, but excited at the same time. Sheik squeezes my hand in assurance as we near the top of the hill, my legs are burning from the steepness, but I ignore them as my eyes are set on the top, and waiting for what lies behind it. Charlie doesn’t even have to say anything for me to know that the Hylia Village is just beyond this hill.

We reach the top, and I find myself near tears. A huge, massive city stands before us, fortified walls built near a kilometer high, stretches for about six kilometers, and is made out of strong oak wood, turrets are lined on the walls and I see bowmen patrolling the wall, clad in chain-mail and plate armour. Behind the walls, I can see the top of houses, and to my surprise I see no keep. Two large, polished-to-shine gates are the only thing standing between us and the inside of the City-Village. I see four guards standing in front of the gate, two on each side, and they spot us when we spot them. They raise their weapons in defence and two of them start their way up the hill, not even panting when they reach us at the top.

“Halt, who goes there?” one of the guards, a woman I’m surprised to see, asks, her voice strong.

“I apologize if we created a surprise. My name is Charlie, and this is my niece Link,” he puts a hand on my shoulder and I just stare at the woman, almost unbelievingly, as she looks at me. “And her friend, Sheik,” Sheik bows slightly, holding my hand tighter as I feel my heart rate increase. I’m so close! I look beyond the woman at the gates. I’m. So. Close. I feel like running passed the guards and just going in, but I hold myself back. I know I can’t afford to mess up my chances now.

“I, too, must apologize. No Sheikah are allowed to pass through the gates, in case they are a spy sent by Osamu,” the woman says, raising her sword to Sheik, but I snap out of my daze and step in front of him, arms spread to protect him. The woman and man raise their eyebrows at this, but I just stare each of them in the eye, daring them to make a move.

“Calm down, Link, it’s alright,” Charlie whispers and looks back at the guards. “I know it’s the rule, but Osamu is dead and these two helped with that.”

The man’s head snaps up so fast I’m surprised he didn’t get whiplash. “He’s dead?” he whispers.

“Yes. He died a day ago. You can have full trust of us. If you didn’t, Sheik here wouldn’t even see the walls,” Charlie says.

The guards look at each other before looking back at Charlie and nodding. “Very well,” the woman says. “You may come in. But any suspicious activity and you won’t be able to come back. Understood?” Sheik nods, understanding perfectly. “Good. Come along, you three,” they turn and we follow the guards down the other side of the hill. I find myself gazing at the walls again in awe, my eyes stinging heavily, but I force myself to keep it in and walk on, my legs feeling weak.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be by your side,” Sheik whispers, squeezing my hand in comfort as we pass under the gates. We come out of the shadow and my eyes widen as I gasp. Little kids are playing with dogs or small goats, grown men laugh heartedly as they walk by, thumping on each other’s shoulders at something hilarious, women chat on the sidelines as their own kids play with dolls at their feet. A couple of teenaged boys are kicking a ball around near a large tree in the center and the building stand tall and proud. No carriages go by, only people.

And. Every. Single. One. Of them is a Hylian.

I only now realize I have tears falling down my cheeks and I look down, feeling my shoulders shake as I take a deep inhale of breath. I…I’m not alone.

Sheik pulls me into a gentle hug and pats down the back of my head, whispering quietly to me. “Come on, Link, let’s go. We need to find an inn,” he says.

He helps lead me through the crowd of people as we follow Charlie. As we walk, I try to take everything in. The smells of the spice merchant’s stalls, the fresh bread, the sound of metal being hammered at a smith, children’s high-pitched laughter, the sights of people hustling about and all of them with pointed ears. I notice some stare at me, but not at my ears for once. They’re just looking at me curiously, probably wondering who the strangers are, and I smile at a teen girl who I notice was staring the longest. She blushes and looks away, running off with a basket of flowers in her arms.

‘Uh-oh,’ I think. Sheik looks at me curiously.

“What’s uh-oh?” he asks.

‘Hm? Oh, nothing,’ I think and trot to keep up with him and Charlie.

“Okay,” he says, not really believing it. He lets it go with a shrug and we make our way further through the crowd. I just wish I had seven more eyes, then I could look at everything better. I start to notice that everyone is heading off, and I see the sun starting to set and wonder how long I had rested while we came here.

We come to a place called the ‘Think of a Name Yourself Inn’ (best name ever), and Charlie requests two rooms from the desk lady, who nods and gives him two keys with the numbers ‘13’ and ‘14’ on them. “Just up the stairs and to your right. The bigger of these rooms is thirteen, so that should be good for you. Is that all for tonight?” she asks.

“Yes, thank you,” Charlie bows his head and heads up the stairs. Handing Sheik the room 13 key. “Here, you two will share. Good night,” he says quickly and goes into room 14 with a laugh, locking it behind him.

My ears fall. ‘My uncle’s mean,’ I think as Sheik unlocks the door and we step through.

“I thought that was funny,” the Sheikah says and I look around the room. Nothing much but two beds, a bookshelf, two windows and a lantern. “Well, I’m going to sleep. There was a lot of traveling today, not like you’d know that though,” he teases, tweaking my nose.

I stick my tongue out at him and he grins as he puts his satchel on his bed. I sit on the opposite bed, my back to him, as he takes off his shirt and I try not to look. Funny how I need to try and not look, it’s like I want to see him half naked.

Ew! Bad thoughts! Bad, gross thoughts! No want!

I rub my temples, trying to think of every detail of the City-Village to take the unwanted thoughts away, but I find it very hard. Dammit. I didn’t get to see much of anything because I was half-awake and the other half I was too excited to take it all in. Oh well, we’ll see everything tomorrow. I yawn and pick Rouge up off of my head and place him on the pillow before I lie down on the bed, curling up and snuggling my head into the pillow but being careful not to bother my cell buddy. Hopefully this one last rest will give me the energy I need for tomorrow. Man, it feels like I’ve fallen asleep a lot the past few days. Guess this is what using magic feels like.

I hear a chuckle and feel the covers move from under me before falling over me. I open my eyes and look over my shoulder to see Sheik going into the other bed and smile. Tomorrow is going to be great. I know it.

-The Next Morning, again-

I feel a hand shake my shoulder and scrunch up my face, not wanting to get up yet. “Link, wake up,” Sheik says gently but I just ignore him in favour of burying my head into the pillow further. Sheik shakes me more firmly, but I roll away from him. I hear him sigh and his footsteps before a hand rests on my head. “Happy birthday,” my ears perk up and I move my head to look at Sheik, shocked.

‘Isn’t my birthday tomorrow?’ I ask, confused. Sheik shakes his head.

“When you slept on Joyce, you slept through the rest of the day, the night, and all of yesterday. So yeah, you’re officially an adult,” he says. I look down. I really slept for a long time, didn’t I? “Hey, don’t feel so bad, you used magic for the first time, honestly I’m surprised you didn’t get sick.”

The door suddenly slams open loudly and I jump up in surprise, staring at Charlie as he yells, “Rise and shine, Little Beast!” Sheik takes his hand off my head as if I burned him. “Alright, I’m going to steal her for this morning, then you can have her for the afternoon and tonight,” Charlie says, picking me up and flinging me over his shoulder. I hit his back, mind yelling at him to put me down. He just laughs and I look at Sheik for help, but he just blinks, seeming dumfounded.

‘Save me!’ I mind-yell, but Charlie leaves the room and puts me down before dragging me down the stairs.

“I’m going to make you look like a girl today, no exceptions,” he says and my ears drop. Please don’t tell me I have to wear a dress. “Hopefully I remember where we’re going,” he chuckles and guides me out of the Inn and onto the street. I am much more aware of everything than I was yesterday and I find my neck starting to hurt from trying to look at everything at once. Everyone seems busy and excited about something, and I tug Charlie’s arm to get his attention. “Oh, you’re wondering why everyone’s out and about. Well, the special thing about your birth is that you were born on the thousandth day the Hylians escaped the pledged Hyrule, and they celebrate that day by having a huge festival,” he explains, smiling. I look around in awe, I was born on a celebration day? Cool. “That’s why I’m getting you ready for tonight. When the sun sets, the festival begins. There will be silent fireworks, which will be like normal but without the explosions because these are all Hylians after all.”

I know. And I love it. No one is staring at me like a freak or outcast, no one is acting like they’re better than me, and no one is being rude or pushy, everyone, although getting somewhere quickly, take their time to watch out for each other. I love it here.

“I’m happy you feel safe here,” Charlie says as we pass a salt merchant. “We know there’s no room for hating each other here, and hide out here to stay safe from the Hyrulians, since when they first came here, our ancestors were treated poorly. It may not be like that anymore, but this place just gives a sense of security and only a few Hylians live outside the Village. Your parents lived outside so Sheik’s father could visit.” I tilt my head curiously. “Yes, Sheik’s father knew you as a baby. So did Sheik. He was the only who you stood still for, besides your mother,” I feel my cheeks heat up a bit and look away, biting my lip to keep from smiling. “You two were so cute together. I swear, if you could talk, Sheik’s name would be the first thing you said!”

Somehow, I can imagine that happening. So Sheik knew me as a baby. Maybe that’s why he seems familiar. How can I remember so much of when I’m a baby, but I can barely remember my past lives? It’s weird and makes my brain hurt if I think about it.

Charlie finally takes me to a building and walks in, knocking on the inside of the door. “Hello? Anyone here?” he calls and a woman comes out, a measurer tape in hand and her hair tied into a tight bun.

“Yes?”

“I was wondering if you could make a more fitting tunic for my niece here,” he claps a hand on my shoulder. The woman looks me up and down, eyebrow raised.

“Niece? Why in Hyrule do you look like a boy?” she asks, taking my arm and guiding me to a stool. “Stand still, I need to measure you.” I do as she says and stand, gulping lightly. I hope she doesn’t make the tunic too girly. “Hmm, I’ll see if I have something small enough,” I glare at Charlie when he snickers. He fights to keep his face straight, but is losing horribly. “Sorry, Beasty, you’re the same height as Amy,” he snorts. I smile at that, I have something in common with my mum!

“Alright, this is the smallest tunic I have, and the smallest pair of pants,” the woman comes back, carrying a light blue tunic and tan breeches. She holds the tunic up to me and I feel my ears fall when the bottom only reaches my mid-thigh. “Go put these on, I’ll hem them if I have to, but they should be fine for a new set of clothes. These ones are so ripped. What in Hyrule did you do to make them that way?” she asks as she hands me the clothes and I jump off the stool.

‘Saving people,’ I think, going into the back room to change.

-Sheik’s POV-

I stare out the window as Rouge sits on my shoulder, sleeping. Guess Link’s cell buddy has taken a shine to me. I shake my head and watch the people walk by, going about their day as the air buzzes with activity. Something big must be happening today if these people are so excited. How lucky that it’s Link’s birthday. I hum to myself, resting my head on my fist. I’m trying to come up with a way to make tonight special for Link, but I can’t come up with anything. I don’t know much about this place, so I can’t show her around and explain things to her, and I’m not sure what kind of thing the Hylians are celebrating.

I smile softly to myself. I saw the look in Link’s eyes yesterday when we came through the gates. I saw the relief, hope and happiness shine brightly in her eyes. She finally belongs somewhere and I couldn’t be happier for her. After all she’s been through, she deserves to know about the place she was born in.

It’s hard to believe that I actually knew her as a baby. But is it true that I’m her Guardian? Do we really have a Connection, or is it just coincidence that we can hear each other’s thoughts? On the other hand, I do care deeply for her. I do love her. But…does she love me back? I find I’m asking myself this more often now that I’ve accepted my feelings.

Sighing, I look outside again, seeing that it’s almost noon. I blink, I spent the entire morning thinking of just Link. Man am I losing it. I hope this doesn’t interfere with fighting.

‘Charlie! Put me down already!’ I jump when I hear Link and look at the door as Rouge scrambles off of me in surprise. ‘I have legs, y’know!’ she’s not even trying to block her mind.

I hear whistling and the door bursts open, letting me see Charlie walk in with Link thrown over his shoulder like when they left. Charlie places Link down and she stumbles a bit before turning to him with a hard glare. ‘I might not like crowds, but I can walk, Charlie!’ she mind-yells, but I barely pay attention. I’m surprised at what she’s wearing.

She has a light blue tunic that falls just at her legs and seems to shape her better. Unlike her usual tunic, this one doesn’t just fall around her; it lets me see just how tiny and scrawny she is. But I can also see she does have muscle and a slight, slight curve. The breeches she’s wearing reach to the middle of her calf and are a light tannish-brown. She looks like an unmistakable girl. Cute.

I realize I’m staring and look away as my cheeks heat up, but I force the blush back and look at the two in time to see Link turn around. The first thing I notice is that her eyes are shining a brighter blue than before, probably because of the tunic, and her unruly hair is held back by a black band tied around her forehead, letting me see her face better and making her look more grown-up. She notices I’m staring again and looks down, her face slowly turning red. ‘Is it really that bad?’ she asks, her voice small.

I shake my head slowly, dumfounded by how different she looks. ‘No, you look amazing,’ I think, blinking. She blushes deeper and Charlie clears his throat.

“Well, I’ll leave you two to your fun. Remember where everything is, Link, because I’m going to have some fun of my own,” Charlie winks with a wolfish grin and walks out, leaving us alone in an awkward silence.

Link glances at me and smiles lightly, tugging the bottom of her tunic. ‘How do I look, anyway?’ she asks.

“Like a cute girl,” I say, smiling. She rubs the back of her head, her face going beetroot. I walk over to her and tap her head, making her look up. “Come on, let’s go look around.”

‘You should probably take off your shawl, you don’t want to attract attention with your suit either,’ she thinks and I look down. True, my eyes are enough to throw people off around here.

“Alright, wait her for a minute,” I say and go to change.

-Link’s POV-

I don’t get why Sheik was staring at me, I mean, I’m not dressed much differently. I’m only wearing a smaller tunic and pants. It’s not like I’m in a dress. Thank Nayru. Oh well, it honestly doesn’t bother me much.

“So, where do you want to go first?” Sheik asks, looking around. I shrug and look down the street to see a crowd forming.

‘Let’s go see what’s over there,’ I think and we head over to see a man preforming some magic tricks.

“Alright, for my next trick, I will need to assistance from the audience,” his eyes scan the crowed and I half-hide behind Sheik, not wanting to be picked. His eyes fall on us and I mentally scream at my bad luck when he smiles. “Young lad with the red eyes, would you mind stepping up?” I blink and look at Sheik as he shrugs and nods, stepping through the crowd to stand beside the man. This might actually be interesting. I squeeze passed some people, smiling in apology, to get a better view.

I laugh at Sheik as we walk away from the crowd. The man’s trick, which was supposed to turn Sheik into a rabbit, failed horribly and now he has rabbit ears and whiskers. The man promised it would ware off after an hour or so, but I still can’t stop laughing and soon my gut is hurting. Sheik glares, not amused at all. “Ha ha, very funny. Do you want to turn into a wolf?” he asks, growling. I bite my lip, trying to keep from smiling, but it doesn’t help much.

‘Sorry, sorry. It’s just…so funny!’ I grin, trying to stifle my laughter. He sighs and pulls my hat, which I had stashed in my Never-Ending Bag, over his head more. ‘C’mon, Sheik, you gotta admit that that was funny,’ I poke his side and he swats me away.

“I’ll admit it when you admit being Shorty was funny,” I smile wolfishly.

‘Alright, being Shorty was actually hilarious,’ I say truthfully. Now that I’ve been able to hindsight it, I realize just how funny it must have been to see me like that, and put into those stupid saddlebags. ‘Now you have to admit it’s funny!’ I laugh.

“You little devil,” he breaks into a smile and pulls me into him, tickling me with his new whiskers. I laugh as I try to pry his arms away from me, but he lifts me up and swings me around, careful not to hit anybody.

‘Stop it! I give! I give!’ I mind-yell, trying to struggle free.

Sheik lets me go and we keep laughing as we walk down the street, not caring about the stares we receive. I notice a merchant stall with armour and grab Sheik’s hand, dragging him over. I look at some plate-mail armour that glows a faint blue/green, it looks a lot sturdier than my current armour, but plate armour is always too heavy for me, so I’m forced to wear chain-mail, which, while good, doesn’t hold back a lot of the damage.

“I see you’ve noticed my enchanted armour,” the merchant speaks up, making me jump and look up to see him smiling. “All my armour and weapons here are enchanted by me professionally. The enchantments I grant make the armour light and able to withstand a lot of damage, but if they get too hot, they will melt and the enchantment will fade, making the go back to their old weight,” my ears perk up. This can help so much! If I can get this armour, I might be able to fighting better. “Are you interested in trying some on?” he asks.

I nod and the man turns, picking up a smaller but identical chest plate to the one on the counter. “Just try this on over your tunic,” he hands it to me and Sheik helps me up it on. I fix the bottom a bit and smile. Wow, it doesn’t even feel like I’m wearing it! I try on the rest of the armour and my smile widens. This will be great for later battles! “Are you buying it?” I nod, taking out my Rupee Bag. “That’ll be two hundred Rupees.” I summon four purple Rupees when I hear the man speak. “Thank you, young man,” I look up to see Sheik putting away his own Rupee Bag, smirking at me.

‘Call it a birthday gift,’ he thinks and helps me out of the armour. I smile slightly and store the armour in my Baggie, waving to the man as we go.

‘You didn’t have to buy it, I had the money,’ I look at Sheik.

“Link, it’s your birthday, shut up and be happy,” he says jokingly, ruffling my hair, making me huff.

‘I’m eighteen and you’re still doing this?’

“Yes,” he nods. I roll my eyes and we keep wandering through the City-Village. I’ll just call it the Cillage.

My thoughts are rudely interrupted by my stomach growling, and Sheik laughs. ‘What’re you laughing at, Bunny Boy?’ I tease and he quickly stops, gaining a mischievous grin. I grin sheepishly before running, hearing him coming after me. ‘No bunny, no bunny!’ I mind-yell, laughing as I weave in and out of people. Thank you small size! I turn into a small alley and hide behind a barrel, holding my hands over my mouth to keep from laughing. I peek around the barrel to see Sheik run by and snort, hiding behind it again.

“You think it would be that easy?” I jump violently and look up to see Sheik hanging upside-down from an empty clothesline with his arms crossed nonchalantly. “Hey, how’s it going?” he jumps down and lands cat-like on his feet, crouching.

‘For a bunny, you have good balance,’ I think, awed.

He snorts. “I just have rabbit ears right now. That doesn’t affect my balance,” he says.

‘Wow,’ is all I can think. ‘Can you do another Sheikah trick?’ I ask, sitting up straighter.

He raises an eyebrow. “You want me to show you things like this?” I nod quickly. “Well alright, but we’ll have to do it where it’s less crowded,” he says, taking my hand and helping me up. I smile widely and we walk out of the alley, no one really noticing us.

We come across a small plaza where there are only a few people wandering around, and I sit on the edge of a fountain, my boots off and my feet in the water, as Sheik jumps onto the top of the Triforce Symbol that looks identical to Hyrule Castle Town’s center piece. He leaps up into the air towards the sky, which is clear despite us being surrounded by trees. I raise my hands over my eyes to see him flip and spin in the air, almost as if he’s flying. He lands on the tip of the Triforce Symbol with his right hand, his left out to the side to keep him balanced. He bends his arm and propels himself off of it, summersaulting backwards in the air while somehow coming forwards. He goes over my head and I spin around to see him land gracefully on his feet, hands in his pockets as he turns to face me. His hair is blowing in his face as he smiles, a little breathless from the act, and his crimson red eyes smile as he bows from his waste.

I stand up and clap enthusiastically, grinning. ‘Wow! That was awesome!’ I think, grabbing my boots and running up to him. ‘How’d you do that?’

He shrugs, hands still in pockets. “Years of practice. That’s nothing compared to some of the other ‘tricks’ I know,” he says.

‘Wow, it must have been hard,’ I pull on my boots, hopping on one foot.

“It was, but the thrill I get from doing those now is great,” he says when I stumble over just as I finish getting my other boot on. Sheik catches me and I blush lightly when his bunny ears fall and tickle my nose. He helps me stand and I take a small twig out of his hair, just below where his ears are. “What was it?”

I hold it up. ‘You had a twig in your hair. Y’know, you’re ears are really soft,’ I think absentmindedly, flicking the twig away. ‘It’s cute,’ I grin, closing my eyes for a second before opening them and seeing Sheik looking away, his cheeks pink.

“You called me cute,” he mutters.

‘Yep! You call me cute all the time. But I think you’re cuter without the ears.’

“Why do you say that?” he asks, looking back at me.

‘Because I like the way you are naturally,’ I intertwine my hands behind my back, looking down as I kick my foot on the ground a bit. ‘You look cute with the ears, but it’s your natural self that I like the most.’

I look at him through my bangs, which are falling out of the band on my forehead. Sheik’s face is red, which makes me blush a bit, and that blush deepens when he takes my headband off and brushes out my hair. “You look better naturally too. So keep that hairband off, it doesn’t suit you,” he murmurs.

‘Okay,’ I think quietly, my stomach becoming filled with butterflies as he tosses the hairband away. Then my stomach growls again, and I remember where we were heading before I ran into the alley.

“Come on, we should get something to eat. It will be night soon, and Charlie said that’s when the real festival begins,” Sheik says, taking my hand and leading me out of the plaza and into the crowd, being careful not to let go of me. I feel my face heat up as I stare at my hand in his, and I glance up at Sheik, smiling slightly. He makes me feel so safe. I think I…actually like someone looking out for me.

As we eat, we just ‘talk’ about what we plan to do when night falls and during this time, Sheik’s ears turn back to normal and he loses his whiskers. ‘Sheik, would you mind if we went to the graveyard after we eat?’ I ask.

“Of course, Link. We’ll try to find it before it gets dark,” he says, smiling softly and pulling me into a one-armed hug. “We’ll go get some flowers on the way, too.”

I smile back, nervous about what I’ll see.

“Did Charlie tell you where the graveyard is?” Sheik asks as I hold a bunch of white and red roses in my hands.

‘Yep, he told me it was just a little away from the plaza we were in earlier. Sheik, would you also not mind if I…see it alone?’ I look up through my bangs, afraid of what he might say. He smiles softly again and puts a hand on my shoulder.

“Sure. I’ll be standing outside of the graveyard if anything goes wrong. Just take your time Link, we’re in no rush.”

‘Thanks.’

The graveyard is like any other, tombstones litter the grassy hills and fences keep people from stepping on them. I stand in the crossroad of a small dirt path, looking around and trying to find where they’re buried. I turn my head over my shoulder to see Sheik standing at the entrance. He gives me an encouraging nod and I smile weakly as I turn back to the beaten down path, walking forward and trusting my gut.

My gut feeling takes me through the rows of gravestones and passed many fallen Hylians. I walk by the odd Poe, but don’t pay them any heed, so they just leave me alone as they feed off of the darkened air of the graveyard. Despite the biting cold of the setting sun, I feel calm and relaxed as the moon rises slowly. I can’t see it very well because of the trees surrounding the Cillage, but I see the soft, silvery glow break through the branches and vines.

My gut feeling vanishes as I come to two tombstones, side-by-side and decorated in some flowers. I feel tears burn my eyes as I read the names. Joshua and Amethyst: Beautiful Soul Mates, fantastic friends, and loving parents. I ignore the ‘Soul Mates’ part and bend down onto my knees, gently placing the flowers in-between their tombstones. I sit back on my calves and gulping down the lump in my throat, my vision getting blurry from crying. I wish I could have seen their faces, I wish I could remember more about them, but I’m scared that if I find out, that I’ll never be able to let go. I wish I had grown up with them, but I wouldn’t be who I am if that had happened. I wouldn’t be friends with Ilia, I wouldn’t know Rusl, Uli or Colin as well as I do, I might not have even met Midna or Zelda.

Or the same Sheik I know.

If anything had gone differently, if dad had survived, if mum had gotten out, if Charlie had found me, I wouldn’t be Link. I would just be another person with that name.

‘I’m sorry. I miss you. A lot. I really do, but…I like my life the way it is. I wish I could see you, but I know what reality is. I hope you’ve rested peacefully, I hope you’ve been able to see me grow and become who I am, I hope you’re proud of me, despite being mute and having a hard time reading. Zelly, one of my best friends and current Princess of Hyrule, is helping me read more, and even though I don’t find reading books my favorite pastime, I can read faster and better than I could in Ordon. Midna, another close friend and the Twilight Princess, also helped, but she practically forced me to by shoving a book in my face once. I was healing after saving the Goron Patriarch and she made me read the book cover-to-cover,’ I laugh a bit at the memory. ‘I cheated and read only five pages of each chapter. She still doesn’t know. And she calls herself observant. She was actually the first person I could talk to through mind, and she helped me build my mental walls throughout our quest to save Hyrule. I thought that adventuring was over, but apparently not just yet. I’m almost done my new quest, and I’ve met and seen so many people and places. I even got to see Old Hyrule! Although it’s overthrown by demons now, I can tell it used to be a wonderful place when peaceful. And I’ve met the nicest guy I could possibly ever be with. His name’s Sheik, and I think you know him. Charlie-yep, my uncle! He found me!-said that you knew Sheik’s dad, and he met me a few times. He’s really great, and he doesn’t treat me like a burden or outcast, like most Hyrulians do. And whenever I’m holding his hand or my face is close to his, my face heats up and my stomach gets butterflies in it. Is that normal? I really don’t know. Mum, dad, I miss you. And I know I love you. I hope you didn’t have too much pain before passing on, and I really hope Din, Nayru and Farore are being nice. I’ve only met Farore once, but hearing Lune go on and on about Din losing her head, I have a feeling she’s a little short-tempered. Don’t tell her I thought that, I don’t want the Goddess of Power to blow up my bombs in my sleep,’ I wipe my eyes on my sleeve, pushing my hands on my thighs to get up. ‘Bye mum, bye dad. I’ll try to visit once this mess is over. May the Goddesses bless you with eternal happiness in the Realm.’

And with that, I bow to my parents’ graves and turn slowly, my knees unsteady and feeling like stone. I bump into someone and look up slowly, gasping when I see onyx black eyes and snow-white hair. Oh no, not him. Not now!

Ghirahim smirks, walking towards me as I step away from him, shivering. “Hello. Did you miss me?” he asks. “I know I missed you.”

I gulp and go for my sword, only to remember I left it at the Inn, along with most of my weapons. I only have my bombs and bow right now, and I don’t dare use my bombs here, and using my bow will take too long. With no other option, I stand my ground and put up my fists, ready to fight the demon if need be. “Tut tut tut, put those hands down. I’m not here to fight you, but to ask you something,” he waves his hand and roots come out of the ground, circling around my ankles and holding me firm to the spot. Well crap. “I am aware that my partner, Majora, gave you the same choice, but perhaps you’ve reconsidered. My army is large in numbers and well-trained, girl, they can fight a dozen Orcs and lose no warriors. Their magic is beyond the normal standings of Hyrulians, and quite possibly even a Hylian Mage, and they have dealt with Harpies every day for the past month. They are trained hard and are scarred from their battles, but they are ready to fight at a moment’s notice. It would be foolish to try and fight against them, and I would not like losing such a promising young swordswoman,” he brushes his hand down the back of my head and I shiver, slapping his arm away from me. He grabs my wrist and holds it firmly, bringing his face close to mine. “So, not wanting to let a young fighter like you go, I want you to come and join me. You will rise above all ranks, and stand beside me as a demon. As my demon.”

I don’t like where this is going. At all. I have a feeling, a horrible, horrible feeling, that he doesn’t just want me for his army ranks.

“You catch on quick, love,” he grins as my eyes go wide. Oh Sweet Nayru, please don’t- “Yes, I want you beyond just you’re skills. I want you to become my Demon Lady. The process is quite painless, and will only take a week for you to recover, but it really is worth living for a longer amount of time. What do you say?”

‘Get you’re filthy hands off of me!’ I mind-yell, head-butting him as hard as I can, which makes my head hurt a little. ‘There’s no way in Din’s Fiery HELL that I’ll join you! There’s a more likely chance of me giving up on meat than there is of me becoming you’re Demon Lady! Which is zero to none, you stupid ares!’ I punch him in the nose and rip my feet out of the roots as he recovers. I’m proud to see his nose is bloody. ‘That’s for punching me in the Crypts,’ I think, starting to run when I feel a whip wrap around me, pinning my arms to my side as I try to struggle. Ghirahim pulls me back harshly and I drag along the ground on my back, coming up to him for him to kick me in the head, making my ears ring.

Wrong answer, girl,” he snarls, getting ready to kick when he’s suddenly thrown back by something. I struggle to sit up, but my head is pounding too much and I just lie here when I feel hands untie me and help me up. I rub my pounding head and look up to see two misty figures crouching in front of me, a soft, caring smile on their faces.

‘We miss you, too,’ the first voice is soft, almost like bells, and my ears twitch slightly.

‘And we’re always proud of you,’ this voice is deeper, very calm and soothing.

Then together, the two voices speak. ‘We love you,’ they say, and the two misty figures disappear. I blink in shock for a few moments, a slow smile growing on my face.

‘Thank you…mum and dad,’ I think, standing up with a little more strength than before. I look over to where Ghirahim is, but find the Demon Lord gone. Senses on high alert, I head back to the entrance of the graveyard, wanting to tell Sheik what happened. I’m just about to turn the corner when Ghirahim appears, grabbing my shoulders and forcing me into the wall behind me.

“You’re going to become my Lady, and you’re going to have no say in the matter,” he growls, his eyes becoming wild, when a rock bounces off his head. We turn our heads and I beam when I see Sheik standing there, narrowing his eyes as he spreads his feet into a fighting stance.

“Get your hands off my girl,” he cracks his knuckles and makes fire appear around his hands. His hair whips in a strong gust of wind that passes and the fire glows in his eyes. My smile fades when Ghirahim waves his hand over my face and drops me. My limbs become heavy and my mind gets sluggish, as if I’m going to sleep. I refuse the urge to close my eyes and look up to see Sheik and Ghirahim fighting, Sheik with fire and Ghirahim with sparks coming off of his sword. I need to help, Sheik doesn’t know what Ghirahim is capable of.

Somehow, my mind pushes the sluggish feeling away and I stand slowly, careful not to rise too fast and get dizzy. I put a hand on the wall and feel my throat rumble in a growl. Jeez, what a nice birthday gift, a stalker demon trying to make me his Lady. And I thought today was going to be easy and peaceful.

Ghirahim strikes Sheik, causing him to cry out in pain as electricity runs through him. The cut he received from the sword isn’t that bad, and can easily be healed by a bit of red potion, but he falls due to the charge, and I see his hair and clothes smoking.

I snarl and raise my hand to the back of my neck, hitting it before I can think. The quick, now painless sensation of becoming smaller takes over and when I shake it off, I look down to see I’m a wolf. A grown, ready-to-fight wolf. I feel myself grin as I look up. Ghirahim won’t know what hit him.

I run at him and bite his calf, making him turn to me and smack me in the face with the butt of his sword. I recoil back by leaping at him and landing on top of him, biting down on his shoulder. He grits his teeth, jeez he can hold a lot of pain, and grabs a dagger, also drabbing my ruff to keep me from getting away. He goes to stab my side, but the dagger gets kicked away by Sheik and he goes to kick the Demon Lord in the face, when he disappears from under me and his voice rings through the air.

“You are so annoying. And mark my words, Sheikah, this isn’t the last of our little battle,” Ghirahim’s voice echoes off into nothing as I pant, looking up at Sheik and seeing the cut on his side.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” he says, bending down and patting my head. “Come on, we should get cleaned up. It’s night now.” And so it is. The real festival should have started by now. Sheik helps me turn back to human and we manage to walk out of the graveyard without any help, and on the way, I tell Sheik what happened.

“So you think those two misty figures were your parents?” he asks as we change clothes, backs facing each other.

‘It had to be. Who else would look after me like that?’ I think, pulling on a silver shirt Charlie left on the bed for me. It’s small enough to fit me like a glove but big enough to not be tight. Same with the pants I’m now wearing. ‘Thanks for helping me, Sheik. And I thought my birthday would be without a fight,’ I roll my eyes.

“Well, I’ve got to say, life with you is never boring,” Sheik says, his voice light with humour. “Are you dressed?”

‘Yep. You?’

“Yes. Alright, we both turn around on three, okay?”

‘‘Kay.’

‘One…two…three,’ we think together and turn. My eyes widen when I see what Sheik is wearing. He has a black tunic on and his hair is tied back in a ponytail with a few strands falling out and framing his face and letting me see his eyes better. He stares back at me, and after a few moments of silence, we break out into smiles.

“You look good in that,” he says, coming over.

‘Thanks. You don’t look too bad yourself,’ I smile, hugging him gently.

“Come on, we should go. We don’t want to miss all the fun,” Sheik says and we head out. I hold onto Sheik’s arm as we go through the crowded street, colourful lamps are lit everywhere, making it easy to see, and music plays as people in the streets dance along and laugh. I see a few men already getting drunk and their wives are standing a few feet away, shaking their heads as their children run around with their friends. I spot Charlie coming out of a bar, an arm around another man’s shoulders as the both of them sing and cheer with the crowd, toasting their drinks.

‘It’s so lively!’ I think, smiling to a little kid as I kick a ball back to him. ‘Are all festivals outside of Ordon like this?’

“Yeah, mostly. Are Ordonian festivals very calm and quite?”

‘Yep, we usually just have some food and chat a bit. I like that, but I really like this!’ I smile.

“I’m glad. After everything, I think you can stand to have a fun time.”

‘You make that possible,’ I think when I get distracted by the plaza, where people are slow dancing. How they dance without breaking each other’s feet is beyond me.

“Hey, Link, how about I show you how to properly slow dance?” Sheik asks, smiling down at me as I snap my head up and shake my head. “Come on, it’s not that hard. We’ll take it nice and easy, since Edward isn’t here to sneak up on you,” he jokes, bringing me into the crowd of people. He puts my right hand on his shoulder and takes my other hand in his as he holds my side. “Alright, now just follow my lead. That’s right, nice and easy. Forget about how those guys are going a bit faster, we’ll go our own pace,” he whispers, stepping forwards as I follow, looking down at my feet. “Hey, look up at me,” I look up and find myself falling into his eyes. “If you look at your feet, you’re going to mess up more than if you weren’t looking. Just keep your face on mine and trust me.” The moment he says ‘trust me’ I start to relax, just looking at his face and not thinking about my feet. I do step on his feet a little, but he just shrugs it off, saying that he doesn’t care.

Another song, even slower this time, starts to be played by the band and I stare up at Sheik, slowly losing myself. His eyes pull me in and my heart flutters as I look into his warm, fiery eyes.

-Sheik’s POV-

I stare into Link’s eyes, falling into their depths. With the silver shirt and lights, her eyes look more purple than blue, and I find my heart beating faster. Her eyes look so calm and docile, and they give me shivers that run down my spine. But they aren’t cold or terrified shivers, their more like shivers of joy or something similar. I blink a bit when she steps on my foot, but I ignore it in favour of her perfect eyes. Her beautiful, beast-like eyes. My own eyes linger off of hers and to her entire face. I brush a strand of her hair behind her ear and she blushes a bit, but otherwise she smiles and keeps looking at me. With her hair out of her face, she looks so grown up and mature, but I think I much prefer her usual cute and childish face. It just fits her so well. If that demon wants her, he’ll have to go through me ten times over.

I pull Link into me gently, and she lets me. I rest my face in her hair, taking in her musky, sweet sent. How someone can smell like barn animals and fresh rain at the same time is beyond me, but Link, my amazing, beautiful Link, manages to do it. I hug her to me, and she hugs me back as I slowly rock her, losing time and sense.

Sadly, after such a short time, the music stops and becomes more upbeat, much too fast for any type of slow dance. We part from the hug, but I keep my arm around her as we walk away. She hides a yawn with her hand and I smile softly as I look up, seeing the stars. I get an idea and grin as I guide her away from the crowds. I lead her to a building and I look back at her to see her yawning again, her eyes faded a bit from being tired. Just a little longer, Link. I want to show you something.

I help her onto the roof of a tall building and find we’re able to see almost all of Hylia Village as we lie down. She’s lying in my side and her head rests on my shoulder as I point out the constellations and explain how to navigate by the stars. Despite being so tired, she listens closely and yawns again, letting out her breath as a sigh as she turns into me and keeps her head turned to look at the sky. I see the stars reflect in her eyes and find I’m staring at her face again, but I can’t help it. My heart beats faster as I lean forward to kiss her cheek, but she turns her head slightly to me and I catch her on the side of the mouth, making both of our eyes widen like saucers and our faces turn such a deep shade of red I feel like I’m on fire. I pull away and we turn our heads to not look at each other, but slowly I look back at Link and she looks back at me, tilting her head cutely.

We just stare at each other as our faces stay heated, before I touch my forehead to hers, making it so our noses touch. We close our eyes for a few moments before opening them to look at each other, and I see her eyes shining with glee. She may not know it, but I know for certain Link loves me.

My heart rises at the thought. Link loves me. I try to tell her how I feel, but my throat tightens up and my mind becomes blank of words, as if something is stopping me. Then I realize it’s me who’s stopping myself. Yes, I love her, and I know she loves me, even if she has no clue, but I can’t tell her. Even after I said to myself I would, I can’t bring myself to do it. I can’t afford for her to get distracted on her thoughts, not when we’re so close to finding the last Sage, not when we’re on the brink of a possible war. Link, I love you, and I wish I can tell you how I feel right this moment, but you have too much going on in your life right now. I hope on day, and one day soon, that this will all be over and I can tell you the truth, but I don’t want to risk your life like this.

Taking a deep breath, I let out a sigh and just go with smiling at Link, hugging her to me as she closes her eyes, her breath becoming even and relaxed. “Sleep tight, my love, I’ll watch over you,” I say in a breath to her, hissing the top of her head gently.

‘I know,’ her thought makes my eyes widen. Did she…hear me? I look down at her, hoping she didn’t hear the ‘my love’ part.

-Link’s POV-

I open my eyes slowly, expecting to see Sheik, but I sit up fast and frown when I find I’m in clouds, and I feel lighter than air. “So you’ve come to,” I jump at the sudden voice and look over my shoulder to see a boy with ocean blue eyes and golden-brown/blonde hair. Didn’t I see this guy in one of my dreams? “Good. I don’t have much time to talk,” the man says, coming over as I stand. “Can you guess who I am?” I look him over and get an idea.

‘One of my past selves?’ I guess, he nods, smiling grimly.

“Indeed. How you can say that so casually is beyond me,” he sighs, rubbing his forehead. I tilt my head, why is he upset? “You may not know this, but I’m the first Link, the original Link,” my eyes widen and I look him over again.

‘Really? You’re the first?’ I ask, walking up to him.

“Yes, and so far, you’ve been the only one of my reincarnations to see pieces of my life the most. And you’ve dreamt of the Imprisoned.”

‘Imprisoned?’

“I believe you call him Turkey,” he says. “That is the beast form of Demise, the Demon King and the one who cursed me, my friend, and many others to be incarnated into future people and be destined to play a role. That’s why I brought you here, because I know Ghirahim is back.”

‘You know him?’

He nods. “I encountered him many times when I was looking for my friend. He was the one who started it all for wanting to revive Demise. I don’t know why he’s trying again, Demise practically killed him and used him as a sword. But perhaps he has other motives this time around, although I doubt it,” he explains. “But be careful around him, he’s very manipulative and sneaky, and he may not want to just fight you.”

‘Trust me, I know that already,’ I shiver a little. ‘He just tried making me his ‘Demon Lady’ today.’

My first incarnation winces a bit at that. “Well then, be extra careful,” he smiles an apology. “I really am sorry.”

‘For what?’

“For not stopping Demise when he was casting that curse. I was confused about what he was doing and didn’t take it seriously, thinking he was bluffing. But apparently not. Now every one of my incarnations will be cursed a life similar to mine. Without parents, forced to take a path not all are willing to go down, unable to do anything to change what their ‘destined’ to do. And all of you have a disability of some sort.”

‘We do?’ I tilt my head.

“Yes, Demise must have thought it would help his reincarnations win Hyrule. For example, you’re mute, the Hero of Time couldn’t read at all, even if he tried, the Minish Hero had short-term memory loss, and the Four Sword Links were half-blind. I myself don’t have any disability of any kind, but it pains me even more to watch you guys go through so many struggles just to live normally, and then you’re thrust with the task to save Hyrule or any other world in peril.”

I frown a bit, before picking up on something he said. ‘Watch? You watch us?’

He nods. “I watch you guys, trying to help you as much as I can and giving some of my memories to help along the way. That’s why you guys get any memories of your past lives at all, I helped Min along by reminding him of his task, Time was able to get along quite well without being able to read anyway, and Green, Blue, Red and Vio, despite arguing all the time, were able to help each other. That was quite funny to watch,” he grins a bit at the memory. “And with you, I’ve givin you a bit of a mind-barrier that was built stronger by you and that Twili.”

I look down. So that’s how I get small snippets of my past lives. ‘Does that mean that my past lives help our other selves as well?’

“Yes, we all help out in any way we can. Min helped by making it so you could remember Vaati and Shadow’s names and have a basic understanding of being so tiny. That’s why you are used to becoming so small in the first place. Time’s helping you in the obvious way by being a Sage and all. Four Swords have also made it so you’ll know what exactly Shadow has up his sleeve when the time comes. We all help each other, because we’re the only ones who know what we’re going through. We’re basically family,” he says.

‘So, if Hero of Time is called Time, and Minish is called Min, what would you be?’

“Call me Sky. You’d be Twilight,” he grins and I shrug, I can live with that. “It just makes it easier to tell us apart.”

I feel a tug in my chest and I blink, looking down in confusion. “Yeah, thought that would happen soon. That wasn’t too long, but at least you have a better understanding of everything, not just Ghirahim. I should get going,” he turns when I think of something.

‘Wait! If you’re watching me, then can you tell me why my heart flutters around Sheik sometimes?’ I ask.

He looks over his shoulder, grinning widely. “Oh, I can’t tell you that. But what I can tell you is that I’m the one who helped you there. You won’t see me again, but know that we all have your back,” and with that, everything vanishes and my eyes close and I frown, confused.

What couldn’t he tell me? Is it something I need to find out about myself? And why did he tell this all to me now? Why not before when I first met Ghirahim? Maybe it’s better to not think about it, I have a feeling that if I think too far into it, I’ll just end up with a headache. Like usual.


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