He hated water, he hated rain, he hated shock arrows, he despised Lynels with every fiber of his being. Link hated a lot of things at the moment. Though, with the Lynel dead on the grass, his seething rage was now directed at the weather.
Link glanced over his shoulder to Achak, standing there quietly as if he had not just kicked a monster's ass. Quite literally actually, Link would probably have more than a few broken ribs and maybe a leg if it werent for his trusty steed.
He held up a hand and the white horse pressed his velvety snout to it, snorting softly. The beast was dead, so the Zora people would be able to scout up here again. Drawing in a sharp breath, Link took a step forward, and found that yes indeed, his leg was broken. He crumbled to the ground with a cry.
It was still raining.
Link swallowed back a groan, lying here was just asking for him to get sick, or for some other monster to wander up and kill him in his weakened state. Zora’s domain at least offered some protection. He could make it back.
Though he’d have to find a way onto Achak’s back first.
Trying not to jostle his definitely broken leg too much, he grabbed the reins and pulled them down, Achak snorted and lifted his head up, dragging Link to his feet as he did so.
With a death grip on the saddle, he used his good leg to kick off a nearby rock and vault himself onto his steed’s back.
His leg hit the side of Achak’s flank, forcing out a cry of pain at the white hot fire that suddenly shot up from his toes all the way to his skull. Link didn't bother with the reigns and hunched over the saddle, hugging Achak’s neck instead.
The world spun around him, but Link blinked it away. He was fine. He needed to stay conscious at least until he got to the inn, then he could bandage up and sleep it off. He’d be fine.
He still let himself remain hunched in the saddle as he spurred Achak on down the mountain, towards the bridge that would take him back Zora’s Domain. Achak knew the way back, he didn't need to worry that much, so he let himself have the luxury of just zoning out in a feeble attempt to ease the pain.
As he watched the ground pass under Achak’s hooves, he noticed occasionally he’d see dots of red. He sat up and to his surprise, blood caked the saddle, and some of Achak’s neck.
Ah. Must have been when the Lynel swung his sword and hit him in the chest. Link didn't feel the pain - oh wait, there it is - he had been too hyped up on adrenaline before, trying to ignore the sensible voice in the back of his head telling him to run for his dear little life.
Did the Zora’s have doctors on hand? He sure hoped so, probably wouldn't do Hyrule good to just die of blood loss now. He still had two other Divine Beasts to save.
As they drew closer, Link sat up in the saddle. He couldn't let people see his weakness, not with them all counting on him. So he gritted a calm smile and tried to pretend that every slightest movement was not actual agony.
Prince Sidon was standing on the bridge with another guard. Link felt his mood brighten a bit at that, it was hard to be upset around the Prince.
“Link!” He playfully nudged the guard standing beside him, “Told you - Link! You are incredible, I knew you could slay that beast! You are such a treasure.”
He had not expected Sidon to dash up to him and envelop him in a hug tight enough it lifted him off Achak’s back.
An anguish wail echoed through the air, and it wasn't until Sidon dropped him like a hot baked apple, that he realized the sound was from him. He groaned from the stone ground, blinking away tears. Link gently pushed Achak’s snout away when it pressed against his face, earning him a whicker in response.
Sidon, Link noticed, was hovering over him. It looked like he was going to cry.
The guard was not within his peripheral, Sion was huge was basically covered his entire vision, but he heard shouts vaguely off in the distance, so he probably went to get help.
“I’m so sorry. I had no idea! Of course you’d be injured after a fight like that.” The prince groaned, “I thought that blood was that monster’s… Don't worry, we have excellent healers. You’ll be back to normal before you know it.”
Link didn't respond, not like he could have anyway. Pain didn't exactly put him in a talking mood.
He then noticed he wasn't getting wet anymore. It took him a moment, but he realized that the reason Sidon had taken up so much of his vision was because he was crouched over him enough to keep the rain at bay.
The world lurched into a spin. Black dotted his vision as he felt himself start to dip away from reality.
He was dimly aware of being picked up, Achak making irritated snorts, and a soft voice telling him to remain conscious. To hell with that, Link was ready for a good long nap.
When Link woke he was in a water bed. He slowly tested his joints and muscles, his chest was bound, and leg had been set. He was still in a lot of pain, but he was in one piece. He sat himself up, with unnecessary difficulty because water beds were impossible, and looked around. His armor was folded up neatly in the corner, with his shield, sword, and bow.
He wasn't at the inn, probably some sort of hospice. The room was small, the only lighting coming from four glowing stones positioned at each corner. There was a desk and stool near the door, and shelves with some being empty and the rest filled with vials and jars of who-knows-what.
How long had he been out? Probably too long.
Link set his jaw and slowly, but surely, swung his legs over the side of the bed and slid out. He stood, shakily, and waddled his way over to get dressed.
He had his britches on when none other than Prince Sidon barreled through the door. A smaller Zora trailing behind him, looking positively distraught. “He is resting, you shouldn't disturb him!”
Link froze, feeling like a cat that got caught eating the canary. The two Zoras stared at him, then eventually the healer spoke, “How - You shouldn't be standing! You'll risk permanent damage to your leg. Please, lay back down and rest until you are fully recovered. Your body cannot function under such distress!”
It was tempting to just ignore her, but he didn't like the idea of being rude, so instead he answered, “I’m fine.”
Of course his voice wavered just enough for it to be blatantly clear he was not. He swallowed and tried again, “Divine Beasts, no time for resting.”
To Link’s surprise it was not the healer who acted, but Sidon himself. He scooped Link up under his arms - surprisingly gentle for someone of his size - and set him back down on the bed, “The Divine Beasts have waited 100 years, I think they can wait a few more days.”
The healer was by the bedside immediately, and Link conceded to his fate, for now. He could always sneak out later.
Link remained as still as he could while the healer poked and prodded at his wounds, changing bandages and rubbing some foul smelling poultice over the stitches along his stomach and chest. He wondered if it would scar.
“Please stay in the bed this time, if you strain yourself you could permanently damage your leg.” She warned, then addressed Sidon, “Prince, the Champion needs his rest.”
Sidon made an affirming noise, “Dont worry! I’ll make sure he falls asleep before I leave. Can't have him running off when we aren't looking!”
Link could picture the look on the healer's face as she sighed and gave up, letting Sidon remain in the room.
There was a scraping sound, and Link rolled his head to the side to see Sidon perched comically on a stool. Probably the one from the desk, now dragged to the side of the bed.
His yellow eyes kind of glowed in the dim lighting of the room. Link wondered what time it was.
“Your horse is fine, I had another healer look him over while the rest were taking care of you.” Sidon offered. He looked uncomfortable, probably regretting his promise to stay here until Link fell asleep.
“You can go.” Link croaked out, not bothering to pretend he was in perfect shape anymore, he had already been caught, what was the point?
Sidon blinked at him, so Link tried again, “I won’t leave tonight.”
The prince’s eyes narrowed at him for a moment, then he perked up considerably and beamed, “Great! I’m glad you are taking your health more seriously!”
Link laughed weakly, and looked back up at the ceiling. After a few minutes, Sidon didn't move from his spot and Link looked back to him. “You're still here…?”
“Of course! I’m keeping you company.”
Sidon was uncharacteristically at a loss for words. He opened his mouth and closed it a few times, before covering up his blatant surprise (embarrassment?) with an overzealous grin, “Because you are my most treasured friend, of course! I wouldn't want you to feel lonely.”
Link smiled, it was impossible to be upset with him around. He was incredible. Way out of his league obviously, but still, he could admire from afar.
“Sheika Slate.” Link jerked his head in the direction of his armor and weapons, “Please?”
Sidon stood and dug the ancient technology out from under his clothes and brought it back to the bed, sitting down and handing it to Link in one smooth motion.
Link booted it up once it was in his hands. He slipped on camera mode, and turned a bit so he was facing Sidon, then snapped a picture. The prince was obviously confused, which the picture captured perfectly. Link chuckled to himself and offered the slate to Sidon.
After a pregnant pause, Sidon took it and looked down at the screen. “That's all you wanted it for?”
Link nodded and averted his gaze up to the ceiling.
Sidon hummed to himself, observing the slate, and probably going through the pictures on it. Link didn't care, they were mostly of places he liked, Achak, people he wanted to remember, and that wolf that followed him around.
Though now that Link thought about it, there were a lot of pictures of Sidon in it. Perhaps admiring from afar was taken a bit too literally.
He heard a noise from Sidon, which meant he probably discovered the swarm of photos of him. He didn't comment, to Link’s surprise.
Though he did speak up after a few minutes, “You take a lot of pictures.”
Link grunted his confirmation.
Sidon set the slate down on the edge of the bed, “Why?”
He really didn't want to be having this conversation. Be it exhaustion or pain however, he ended up answering despite his better judgement. “I don't want to forget again.”
When Sidon didn't speak, Link continued, “I remember so little. But pictures help me remember.” Link grabbed the slate and pulled up a picture of a valley he and Zelda rode their horses on often, before Ganon attacked, “I go places and sometimes remember things. Little things, but still something.”
Link put the slate back down, “If… If I forget again, I want to leave pictures of things that are important to me, so I can remember.”
Sidon laughed, it was a warm, joyus sound. “You must adore your horse.”
Link snorted, though he was right. Achak was his only steady companion through his journeys, along with the wolf occasionally, so he wanted to be sure he’d never forget all Achak has done. “I’d be dead if not for him.”
Sidon’s brows raised, “Wow, what an incredible steed. Of course. He matches how fantastic you are, no wonder you two make such a great team!”
It was hard not to laugh at that, even though it hurt his chest. A snap sounded beside him, and he glanced over to see Sidon lowering the slate, he offered it back to Link. It was a picture of him laughing.
He looked like a mess. His hair was in at least eight different directions, he was covered in bruises, and he looked like he was going to sneeze. Was that how he looked while laughing? Good Goddess, he was never laughing in front of anyone again.
“You have a wonderful laugh.” Sidon added, scooting his stool closer to the bed so he could lean closer to Link. Probably to see the Sheika Slate, he figured.
It was a strange compliment. Especially now after seeing what he looked like when he laughed.
“Hylian laughs sound different than Zora’s.” Sidon leaned back, “I like them.”
Link grunted in response. Maybe it was because Zora don't have noses, or at least noses like Hylian people.
With a huff he closed his eyes and just rested comfortably, Sidon sat surprisingly silent beside him. After what Link guessed was about ten minutes, he eventually spoke.
“You probably shouldn't be so reckless.”
This was another conversation Link didn't feel overly inclined to have. He had heard it all already, he was the Champion, a hero, he had to live to free the Divine Beasts, defeat Calamity Ganon and just all around save the world. He could die on his own time.
Instead of answering, he feigned sleep. At least he could justify it to himself as he was actually tired. Which, he was.
When he did not respond, Sidon sighed and shifted in his seat. Link felt the Sheika Slate taken from his hands and set on the table with his clothes. Link expected him to leave, but the prince actually returned to his seat. Did he know Link was awake?
Time passed and eventually Link began to truly fall asleep, though was stirred when Sidon rested a hand on his forehead. He brushed some hair out of Link’s face with a sigh.
“Stupid.” He muttered, low enough that even Link could barely hear it. “Hurry and defeat Calamity Ganon.”
If Link didn't adore the Prince so much, he probably would have had a more bitter response. Now, Link just sort of deflated.
In the end he was just the Champion, it was his duty, he knew. One he failed 100 years ago. Sidon was a good prince, and would make an excellent king eventually, Link was sure. After he defeated Calamity Ganon, he’d probably just fade off into obscurity, let Zelda handle the Hylian people.
“There you are, my Prince.” A weakened voice called from what Link guessed was the doorway. It was familiar, so one of the elders. Not Muzu though, he didn't think.
The stool scraped against the floor as Sidon stood, “Yes?”
“Your father needs you, a diplomat will be arriving within the day.” The elder explained, “He requested you be present.”
“Of course, tell him I will be there momentarily.” Sidon sounded strange when he spoke professionally. He was so casual when they first met. Link is glad that at the very least, Sidon continued to act the same. Even after finding out who he was.
The footsteps of the elder padded away, leaving him and Sidon the only ones in the room again.
Sidon’s hand returned to Link’s forehead. Well, Link presumed that was its intended place, Sidon’s hand was big enough to cover his entire head frankly.
It lingered there for another moment, then disappeared, followed by Sidon’s footsteps fading away.
Were all Zora this touchy-feely? Link couldn't remember. Though a voice in the far back of his head told him Sidon’s hand lingered longer than standardly appropriate. He ignored the voice.
When Link opened his eyes again, the room was a bit brighter than he remembered. He did his body test, still in pain, but still in one piece. He could probably travel now without too much worry. He’d just lay off fighting for a bit if he could.
Link slowly pushed himself up, and moved to swing his legs off the bed, but a voice stilled him, “Going to try and sneak off again?”
He looked up to see Sidon was seated on the stool from last night, though he held some papers in his hands this time. He also looked a fair bit more decorated than usual. Maybe for that diplomat the elder mentioned.
Sidon set the papers aside and offered him a good natured smile, “You still shouldn't be moving around yet.”
Link grunted and remained upright, though adjusted himself so he was no longer poised to leap off the bed.
“How do you feel? That Lynel really did a number on you, we were worried for a bit that you wouldn't make it.”
“I’m tenacious.” Link snorted, then added in a more genuine voice, “I’ll be alright.”
“Good.” Sidon scooted closer, “The healer advised you stay in bed for a few more days, but she said you should be able to move without permanent damage by tomorrow.”
He’d leave tomorrow then.
His conviction must have shown on his face since Sidon laughed, “Your dedication is so outstanding! You truly are a hero.”
Link tried not to grimace. He failed.
Sidon must have noticed as his beaming smile fell into a frown, “Link?”
He waved it off, he’d probably need to get used to it anyway. The Gorons didn't even know who he was, which frankly Link was thankful for. Who knows about the Rito or Gerudo though.
Not to mention if he lived through this, he’d definitely be bestowed all kinds of titles he was wholly unworthy of.
“Don't like being called Champion or Hero then.” Sidon mused, leaning precariously back in his stool, “Just Link then?”
“Yes.” Just Link.
A firm nod was his response, and he felt a bit of relief wash over him. Link didn't want to be called any sort of honorific by anyone, least of all Sidon.
Sidon picked the papers back up and resumed reading, yellow eyes narrowing at the fine print. Link was curious, but knew it wasn't his place to ask. Instead, he shifted and fell back into the bed. It rippled around him, then eventually stilled and molded itself around his body.
“We’re trying to establish a trade route with the Gerudo. None of my people can physically go there though due to the climate.” Sidon spoke, “They don't want to be the only ones doing the traveling, and the humid air here is uncomfortable for them.”
Link was glad he wasn't royalty. Being a warrior thankfully came with very little need for politics and posturing. Well, some posturing, but he was able to stay out of politics completely.
A warm chuckle came from Sidon, “Not your forte?”
He scrunched his nose and stuck his tongue out in response, drawing another laugh out.
Sidon watched him with something akin to fondness, a small smile spread through his lips. Which, by the way, Link was absolutely not staring at.
Breaking the brief moment, Link cleared his throat and jerked his head towards his clothes. He needed something to entertain himself and distract him from the burning in his cheeks. Sidon stood and grabbed the Sheikah Slate, he held it up to make sure it was what Link wanted, then brought it to him when he nodded.
Link took it and distracted himself with the photos, giving time to rid his mind of little pesky thoughts. He did take note of the slightly disappointed look on the Prince’s face when Link kept his attention on the slate.
An awkward silence spanned between the two, until eventually Sidon broke it. “Where do you plan on heading next?”
Link let his head hit the pillow with a huff, “North. To the Rito.”
“Any particular reason?”
Link shrugged, “They are having the most trouble. The Divine Beast shoots at anyone who flies too high.”
“Hm, good choice then. Quite the distance though.” Sidon’s concerned tone prompted Link to move his gaze from the ceiling to the Zora.
“I have Achak.”
“Of course, your horse would make the travel far easier!” Sidon laughed, “He was grazing just outside of the palace this morning. He has quite the attitude.”
Link raised a brow and waited for an explanation.
“He got rather testy when anyone approached. I tried offering some food and he kicked me.”
It hurt to laugh, it hurt so much, but Link couldn't stop himself from howling with laughter. Link probably should apologize for his horse’s behavior, he found he wasn't sorry at all. In fact, he was rather disappointed he didn't get to see it himself.
Sidon’s head was tilted with a bewildered, but happy, expression when Link finally looked back to him. “What did you give him?”
The Prince’s expression shifted to a sheepish one, “There aren't any horses here, we’re too big to ride them.” He fingered the rope along his chest and glanced about the room, “My people really only eat fish so…”
Once again, Link was in tears.
“I offered him some Hylian rice, and he wouldn't take that either.” Sidon snorted, cheeks turning an interesting shade of blue.
“He likes apples.” Link offered after he was able to catch his breath.
“Apples… I don't think any of our vendors sell them. I shall put in a request then.”
Link nodded towards his bag, “I have some.”
Sidon set the papers down on one of the shelves beside him, then pushed to his feet. Sometimes Link forgot just how huge he was.
After some digging around, Sidon produced a small bag of apples. Link always made sure to have them on hand, they were Achak’s favorite after all.
Sidon took one apple and returned the bag back to it’s place. Link propped himself up on his elbows and raised a brow.
“The best friend of my best friend should like me.” Sidon justified with a laugh.
“You going to try and befriend the wolf too?”
“Of course, whenever I meet him that is. I don't think he’s ever actually been here, has he?”
Link pursed his lips in thought, Sidon was right. The wolf hadn't set a single paw in Zora’s Domain. Probably didn't like getting wet or something.
“I’ll meet him eventually, I’m sure! Until then, I can just focus on getting your valiant steed to like me.”
Link chuckled and flopped back down on the bed.
Sidon grabbed the papers from the shelf, “I have to give this to my father anyhow. I’ll be back later. Get some sleep, alright?”
A grunt was his only response from Link as he waved the Prince off. He’d feel bad if he left without saying goodbye now. Link turned onto his side, careful of his leg, and decided to do just as Sidon suggested.
There was something on his arm.
Link jerked awake, sitting up swiftly and already positioning himself to lunge for his weapons. The action deflated halfway through, leaving him to flop ungraciously back on the bed with an “Oof.”
Sidon stared at him with wide eyes, the thing Link felt touching the arm in question was his hand, which was now held up in a sign of peace. “Sorry.”
“It's alright.” Link shook his head, a bit embarrassed at his overreaction. In his defence, it could have been a monster or something. Unlikely, but Link was paranoid.
Wobbling around, Link regained his balance and sat up to face Sidon.
“Achak took the apple. Though wouldnt let me touch him.” Sidon mentioned, an obvious attempt to move on from the awkward silence.
“He didn't warm up to me for a while.” Link assured, flinching at the memory of getting kicked off his back. Twice.
It warmed Link’s heart when Sidon laughed.
“Thats a relief, I was worried your horse hated me.” Sidon’s fingers twitched, Link moved his gaze from Sidon to his hands.
They were huge, like the rest of him, and his fingers were connected together by a thin webbing that reflected light differently than his skin. Or really small scales. Link couldn't tell.
He continued to fidget, eyes darting around the room, looking anywhere but Link himself. Something which worried Link, had he offended Sidon? He liked to think Sidon would have told him if he did. Still, something was up.
“You ok?” Link inquired, narrowing his eyes a bit at him.
Sidon didn't respond immediately, then let out a sigh that deflated him. “I am fine, don't worry Link. Nothing for you to worry about.”
After a moment, Sidon reached out and rested a hand on Link’s arm again. Link could see his muscles tense under his skin, as if he expected Link to dart away again.
The hand was warm and brought a sense of comfort unfamiliar to him. Link rested his hand on Sidon’s own, which instantly relaxed him. Guess Sidon was the one worried that he had offended Link.
“The healer said you could leave now, if you really wanted to.” Sidon mumurred.
Link didn't want to go anywhere quite frankly. Hell, he’d love nothing more than to just curl up with the hand and go back to sleep. He had a job to do, however. One that left his desires irrelevant.
Another moment was all he allowed himself, before he swung his legs around so he could stand up from the bed. Sidon moved his hand away as he did, resting it in his lap with his other.
He padded to his clothes and began to slip them on, strapping his shield and weapons to his back too. It still hurt to move, so he’d keep out of any unnecessary fights if he could. He felt far better than he did before, so the healer was definitely on to something with that whole sleep business.
A hand rested on his shoulder, Sidon again.
Link looked up and remained motionless as Sidon adjusted his clothes and weapons. The Prince was nervous again, and since he looked fine, he probably was preening Link instead. The action sparked some sort of familiarity. He was preened a lot before by someone else, when they were nervous. Link couldn't set a face to it though.
“You’ll be more careful, right?” Sidon prompted.
If he didn't look so genuinely worried Link would have groaned. Well, he still groaned, but with less exasperation behind it.
Sidon frowned and tugged on Link’s sleeve, this time with enough force to briefly teeter him off-balance. “Promise me.”
Link turned and got a better look at Sidon’s face. He wore an expression Link didn't recognize. His eyes were narrowed, which if he had not been comfortable around Sidon would have probably scared him a bit. So he was upset? Probably. Link didn't really understand why.
When Link did not respond, Sidon did some obvious choice looming and leaned over Link, face mere inches from Link’s own. His breath was hot against Link’s lips when he spoke, “Promise. Me.”
Link stared at him owlishly and responded with, “Promise.”
Sidon relaxed and pulled back, a weak smile on his now neutral face. “Thank you.”
Now Link was left with all sorts of feelings. None of which Link had the energy or patience to deal with. So instead he stomped them out at the source, refusing to acknowledge the warmth of his cheeks or the butterflies in his stomach.
“You are welcome here anytime! You know that, right? If you need a safe place to rest, Zora’s domain will always be available.” Sidon pipped, looking more cheerful now. Though Link detected some strange cadence to his voice, leading Link to beleive it was a mask.
Link remained silent and narrowed his eyes, which was enough to break through the facade.
Sidon sighed and rubbed his neck, “I… Have something for you.”
Sidon walked to one of the shelves and picked up some sort of pendant, bringing it to Link. He held it up, showing a silver chain with a luminous stone in the center of three outward facing crescent moons, the Zora’s Royal Crest.
He looped it over Link’s head, the pendant resting just below his collarbone. Looking it over in the light made it shine beautifully, it was obviously very well crafted.
Link wondered if that blacksmith made it. It certainly couldn't have been easy, he wasn't sure what he had done to deserve such a gift.
“Think of it as a good luck charm.” Sidon offered, still looking suspiciously sheepish.
“This is a beautiful gift.” Link tilted the crest and watched light bounce off the silver.
“It’s nothing, really.” At Link’s raised eyebrow, he continued. “It holds a little significance with my people, but you needn't worry yourself with that. You have plenty on your plate already. When you defeat Calamity Ganon, I can tell you more about it. Fair?”
“Why not tell me now?”
“Its incentive to stay alive.” Sidon chuckled, then laughed when Link rolled his eyes.
It was time to go.
Sidon escorted Link out of the hospice and to the main grounds above Mipha’s statue.
He rested a hand on Link’s shoulder, “See you soon then, right?”
Link smiled and gently patted the hand, “Yeah.”
With reluctance, Link pulled away and descended down the steps. His curiosity was piqued, he looked down at the pendant. Guess he really should hurry and defeat Calamity Ganon then.
He did take note of Muzu’s appalled reaction as he passed by the elder Zora. This gift apparently meant a lot more than Sidon let on.