It was an old Hylian custom, one that Sidon barely half-remembered from before the Calamity had happened, of a Hylian pressing their mouth to the back of a person’s hand.
He remembered Mipha’s fond giggle as someone had done it to her in farewell, and the gesture seemed an appropriate way to honour Link as he departed to take on the next Divine Beast.
“Remember.” He said, kneeling down and taking Link’s hand in his. It was so tiny compared to Sidon’s, yet so strong and fierce. He pressed his lips to the back of Link’s bare hand, careful of his teeth, just a bare brush of contact. He looked up at Link’s face, trying to radiate sincerity and determination. “I believe in you. And you are always welcome back in Zora’s domain.”
Link’s response was for his face to turn the colour of Sidon’s scales, his eyes round as he stared at Sidon.
…. Perhaps he had misremembered the custom? He was pretty sure he had it right. Or maybe it hadn’t been Hylian? Sidon tried not to fidget or let his uncertainty show. There had been many non-Zora in the Domain at the time, he may have gotten the cultures mixed up. He had been quite small back then.
Then Link curled his hand around Sidon’s fingers, his shoulders shaking as he laughed silently. One hand came up, fingertips touching Link’s chin, then coming down as if presenting his hand to Sidon. ‘Thank you.’ He signed, the first purely happy grin on his face that Sidon had ever seen.
“You are quite welcome.” Sidon smiled broadly, his tailfin waving happily. He wanted to see more of Link’s smiles like that, the small Hylian having become quite dear to him in the short amount of time they had spent together.
Unfortunately, the world needed saving, and the smile faded from Link’s face, like the sun hiding behind the clouds that had so recently covered the Domain. Sidon missed it already. Link gave Sidon’s fingers a squeeze, then stepped back.
It was a heavy responsibility for his friend to carry by himself, and Sidon wished he had a way to lighten Link’s burden. To bring more smiles back to the Champion’s face.
He stood up to give Link some space as the Hylian took the Sheikah Slate from his hip and tapped the screen. Sidon wasn’t quite sure what that would do, but it gave him a moment to think about what he could do to help his friend.
Then he realised he knew it.
“When you come back, I shall give you as many kisses as you want!” Sidon grinned brightly, his tailfin wagging slightly in eagerness as blue light began to envelop the Champion. “Where ever you want!”
The last thing he saw before Link disappeared was his very round blue eyes, only a shade brighter than the magic that carried him away.
Ah, teleportation. That was a handy way to travel indeed.
“Did the… Did he trip, just before he teleported away?” Muzu wondered out loud, looking almost startled.
Bazz and Sidon exchanged a look. “Not likely.” Sidon said firmly, Bazz nodding in agreement. Link was a great warrior after all, and Sidon had the utmost faith in his skills.
Still, he hoped that his words helped Link. And that he would see the fierce wild warrior again.
The alarming stench of something being burnt had Sidon rushing towards the Ne'ez Yohma Shrine. Several guards followed him, lances at the ready in case it was some sort of attack, although there wasn’t much that was flammable in the domain in case whatever was burning decided to spread.
Well, aside from the Zora themselves.
“Get everyone out of here!” Sidon ordered Bazz, who saluted and started directing the guards to move the civilians out of the area.
Sidon sprinted around around Mipha’s statue, trident in hand in time to see a masked figure wobbly step out of the shrine. The figure was short, only about half Sidon’s height and covered completely in some sort of thick bulky armour that was smoking. Sidon nearly gagged at being so close to the source of the stench.
He was about to demand the person identify themselves when the figure reached up, pulling off the squarish helm, revealing a tangled matt of golden hair.
“Link?!” Sidon gasped in surprise. He could hear the guards behind him pull to a halt behind him, everyone staring at the exhausted looking Champion. “Where in Hyrule did you just come from?!”
He meant it as hyperbole, but somehow it came across as a bit of a surprise when Link answered, his gestures clunky with the thick gloves and armour he was wearing. 'Death Mountain.'
“My goodness, then Vah Rudania-?”
Link nodded, tilting slightly in exhaustion. He looked at the assorted guards, then up at Sidon with a worried, almost confused expression. Link’s lips moved in question, but no words came out.
Of course, this was not the kind of polite, proper greeting that Sidon prided the Zora people with. “Stand down.” Sidon waved a hand to the guards. “It’s the Champion.”
“Of course.” Bazz nodded, giving Link a small grin before shooing everyone away. Sidon waited a moment for the crowd to disperse a bit before stepping forward to talk to Link, who looked like he was about to fall over.
“Welcome back, my dearest friend!” Sidon said, trying not to bounce in excitement. He didn’t think Link would actually take him up on his offer and return. He’d hoped of course, but to have his private wish fulfilled was completely different.
Although he probably should have known, given that they had just spotted a second light had appeared from the sky, signalling that second Divine Beast had joined Vah Ruta in freedom from Calamity Ganon’s corruption.
Link gave him a perplexed look, glancing at the last of the guards, then back up at Sidon. “Of course you are always welcome here!” Sidon waved Link’s concern away. “We were just alarmed by the…” He waved a hand, trying to figure out a diplomatic way to say ‘stench’.
This close it was actually worse, like charred meat and singed hair. Link’s expression turned knowing, pointing to his armour. Or himself. It was hard to indiquish in either case.
Sidon cleared his throat. “Bath?” He offered brightly.
Link nodded quickly, looking eager to get clean. Sidon laughed, reaching to assist his friend, and Link held a gloved hand up, shying away. 'Too Hot' Link clumsily signed, the gloves not allowing for the usual graceful movements. 'Burn you'.
“Ah.” Sidon nodded, touched that Link was worried about his safety. “Shall I escort you to a place where you may bathe and rest? We will worry about formalities with Father afterwards.”
King Dorephan would not mind waiting for Link to bathe before getting a chance to greet him, not when Link’s ponytail was sticking to the back of his skull with pungent sweat. It wasn’t the worst of smells, but it wasn’t entirely pleasant either.
Link gave him a grateful look, then held up a hand, reaching over his shoulder to undo the flap of the pack on his back. He reached into it and suddenly his clothing seemed to flicker and change, showing flashes of skin, a glimpse of the body underneath the odd Hylian clothing. There was just a bit of definition to muscles, deceptively weak and soft looking.
But Link’s strength was not one that was easily apparent to the eye, as Sidon himself well knew, having falling into that trap upon first meeting the Champion.
The smoking armour vanished, various other clothing appearing and disappearing on Link’s body, until the only thing he was wearing was a pair of trousers and a worn plain loose shirt. Link seemed to breathe a sigh of relief at the change in attire.
Sidon tilted his head to the side. “Where did the armour go?” It had been there, then it wasn’t.
Link gave him a blank look, then shrugged. 'It’ll be there when I need it again.' He signed, much more fluently without the gloves. He hesitated a second, then looked Sidon over. 'Isn’t that how you change your clothes?'
No. Sidon shook his head. No it was not. Sidon had to manually put on and remove his adornments. As far as he was aware, that was how most people changed what they wore.
Possibly a culture difference-?
“Let me show you the baths.” Sidon said, shaking off the awkward moment. “Afterwards, a nice soak in the recovery springs should put a bounce in your step.”
Link smiled tiredly at him, and Sidon’s chest gave a happy flutter. 'Thank you.'
A soft footstep caught Sidon’s attention as he waited at Mipha’s statue for Link to come out of the baths. He turned to find Link walking up to him, scuffling his steps just a bit, so his approach could be heard. It was a minor thing, but something that Sidon was quietly grateful for.
“Welcome back, my dear friend!” He smiled, feeling something ease at seeing Link looking much better than he had previously, clean and back in Champion’s clothing, minus his weapons. Sidon was quietly pleased that Link felt comfortable enough in the Domain to forgo carrying them. “Did you have a good soak?”
Link smiled back, and pointed at his head. Without a further thought, Sidon leaned over, pressing his lips to the top of Link’s head, kissing it. Link’s hair was an odd texture against his lips, very unlike Zora skin, and he could pick up the lingering scent of soap and the recovery springs.
He straightened up, trying to keep his fins from wiggling in amusement.
Only to be met with a slack jawed, wide eyed look of surprise on Link’s face. Link blinked a few times, expression clearly settling on confused as he hesitantly signed. 'I’m clean-?'
“Ah.” Sidon felt his face heat up, feeling foolish at his eagerness. “My apologies, I assumed you remembered my promise, and meant-” He pointed to the top of his own head.
Link made a gasping sound, clutching his stomach as he burst out in silent laughter. 'I forgot!' He signed, his fingers moving like the flickering of minnows.
“Oh dear.” Sidon fretted. What error to make. “Truly, my most sincere and humble apologies, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable-”
Link waved his hands, waving away Sidon’s concerns with a bright grin. It wasn’t the incandescent one he’d had the first time Sidon had kissed his hand, but rather one full of mirth, which was nearly as good. He patted Sidon’s arm, just above the gauntlets, almost as high as he could reach on Sidon’s much larger form. 'I liked it.' Link assured him, the faintest bit of blush on his cheeks.
“Then I’m glad. I would not want to damage our friendship, my treasured friend.” Sidon relaxed and smiled back.
Link looked like he was laughing again, in his silent way. 'It would take more than that.' Link assured him, then glanced up at Mipha’s statue, the merriment fading from his expression. 'My apologies if I’m the one intruding.'
“No, I often come here.” Sidon shook his head, glancing up at his sister’s face again. “To think and to contemplate. It helps give me perspective when I’m trying to find solutions to problems.”
He’d once come to ruminate on the parts of his life that she was missing. He wondered if she would look the same now, 100 years later, or if she’d be bigger, taller, like he had grown. He wondered if she’d be proud of him, the Zora he’d become.
As he got older, he found himself coming here to seek her guidance, trying to figure out what she should would do, see other perspectives to find solutions to the burdens he carried. Van Ruta may have not been a problem anymore, thanks to Link’s assistance, but until all of Hyrule was cleared of Calamity Ganon’s blight, there were many plans for the future that were not currently feasible.
He did not blame Link for the wait, as what he was doing was both incredibly courageous and dangerous, but being stuck in ‘wait and see’ mode never sat well with Sidon.
A sudden flash of light made him turn back towards the Hylian, to discover Link offering him a glowing sphere with an earnest expression on his face. It took a second to realise that the Champion of Hyrule was giving him a bomb to attack whatever troubled him with.
A bomb that Sidon had no idea where Link might have acquired.
“Ah.” Sidon floundered for a moment. “May I assume this means the rumours of a half naked Hylian spreading fires across the landscape to be you?”
That is not what he meant to say. Truly, he needed to attend more classes in diplomacy if this is how he talked to guests of the Domain.
Alarm flashed across Link’s face for a moment, before turning thoughtful. Finally, Link just shrugged, looking nonchalant at the mention of possible random destruction he might have caused.
Sidon wondered if this meant the rumours of a bear on fire running through the woods was not as exaggerated as he’d previously thought it to be.
Especially considering Link was silently offering Sidon the bomb again. He was starting to get the impression that Link may be a pyromaniac.
“Thank you, Link, but no.” His worries were not the kind that could be defused with firepower, unless he was willing to explode his own skull. While tempting, it would not solve anything.
Link nodded, and the bomb was gone as suddenly as it appeared. Sidon couldn’t tell where it had gone, and after a moment’s thought, decided it was a mystery better left unasked.
“You are a marvel, my friend.” Sidon shook his head and smiled, touched by the Champion’s thoughtfulness. Though he was slightly disturbed by the revelation of Link’s tendency towards pyromania.
Thankfully, being made of stone and water, there was little Link could do to harm the Domain in that regard.
Link just shrugged and smiled back, looking pleased and Sidon found himself grinning in return, feeling brighter than he had since Vah Ruta’s return.
This was not quite what he’d intended by his offer for Link to return, but it did seem to be working.
Perhaps he didn’t need the diplomacy refresher after all.
A flicker of blue light from the Shrine caught Sidon’s attention, and his heart leapt into his throat, wondering if it was Link, given that a third light had illuminated the sky, signalling the freedom of yet another Divine Beast.
It probably was. The temptation was there, to run and enthusiastically greet his friend. But he was a Prince of the Domain, and Zora were a proud people. He was supposed to lead by example, be polite, dignified-
Sidon caught a glimpse of pointed ear and a small stature. “LINK!” He jubilantly cheered, throwing his hands in the air.
Link waved back, but Sidon couldn’t read his expression with the fabric that covered his face from the eyes down. Sidon tilted his head to the side, trying to make sense of the clothing Link was wearing. It seemed odd for armour, given that his abdomen was completely bare. As were his shoulders. And from the knees down, where greaves would normally cover.
“That is a very… interesting outfit, my dear friend. I’m not entirely certain that I understand it.” Sidon commented, then hastened to assure Link. “Well, given that Zora do not wear clothing, I’m sure-”
Link held a hand up, laughing in that silent way of his. ‘It’s Gerudo.’ Link signed, his gestures sloppy from his amusement. ‘I dressed as a-’ Sidon didn’t understand the gesture Link made -in order to enter their town.’.
“I’m afraid I didn’t catch that sign.” Sidon apologise, trying to replicate it the best he could.
'V-A-I' Link slowly signed each letter, then repeated the gesture he’d made the first time. 'A Gerudo woman.'
“Oh, yes! I recall that Gerudo tend to be female only.” Sidon nodded, understanding dawning. Not Hylian then. Given the hot climate of the desert that Zora could not venture into, Gerudo culture or clothing was not something that he knew much about. “The fabric is quite pretty.”
It looked so thin and light, and yet there were detailed patterns woven into the material.
'Thank you' Link signed, giving Sidon an impish look, giving a small spin so Sidon could see everything.
There was quite a bit of jewelry with the outfit as well, making a soft chiming noise as Link moved. The gold was pretty and matched Link’s hair well, although Sidon was personally more fond of silver. Perhaps the difference was a cultural preference? He’d never questioned it before.
'I got another outfit there too.' Link signed, reaching into a pouch on his hip and touching it. The ‘Vai’ outfit disappeared, to be replaced by one that showed even more of Link’s chest than the first one, although it did have more in the way of armour, covering one arm and his lower legs.
'This one is V-O-E' Link spelled out each letter again, then made a strange gesture that Sidon assumed meant the same thing. 'Male Gerudo clothing.'
“I thought that Gerudo were only women?” Sidon asked, confused. At least that’s what he remembered reading, finding the concept to be a little strange at the time.
'Mostly' Link agreed, the lack of a veil meaning Sidon could see his amused smirk, and Sidon had a feeling there was a story there that he was not entirely sure he wanted to hear. Or maybe he did. It was a little difficult to decide with the look on Link’s face.
Something glittery on the side of Link’s face caught his eye, the high ponytail showing off Link’s long elegant ears. He leaned down to see what the shiny thing was dangling from Link’s ear. He vaguely remembered Link having his ears pierced with blue hoops before, but these shimmering drops of gold and stone were new.
'There’s a Gerudo smith named I-S-H-A who can make jewelry that works like potions, only they don’t wear off.' Link signed, then removed one of the earrings, putting it in Sidon’s hand with a sly smile. They were gold tear drops with round opals that shimmered like water in the light. Pretty, but not a colour Sidon would have normally thought to associated with Link. 'For the next time we go swimming. They’re enchanted to increase my speed. I might win.'
Sidon laughed. He had no doubt that these trinkets would do as Link said, but he doubted that it would be enough for Link to win. Still, he was touched that Link had obviously bought them while thinking of Sidon. He handed it back to Link, who fastened it back on his ear.
'Got this too.' Link signed, touching his pouch again. Link’s hairstyle returned to his usual low ponytail, earrings hidden by the fall of hair on either side of his face. Link lifted up the fringe that covered his forehead, showing off a glinting red spot.
For a moment, Sidon was worried that it was a wound, then he realised that it was a ruby set in silver, attached to a beaded leather cord. 'Protection from Cold. I’ll need it in Mount Lanayru.'
“I remember hearing it was quite cold there, my friend.” Sidon murmured, touching the red stone, reassuring himself it was not actually blood. Zora sapphire would be a better match for warrior, the same shimmering shade of blue as Link's eyes.
He looked Link over for any other wounds, and realising that some of the marks he’d seen on Link’s skin weren’t decorative, like he had assumed with the ‘Vai’ outfit, but scars.
There were a lot of scars, now that he was looking.
He brushed a finger across Link’s bare arm, down the slightly dark lines that looked like coral branches running from his shoulder and down to his elbow. The marks were familiar, but he’d never seen them on pale Hylian skin before.
“You have been struck by electricity.” Sidon could not disguise the heaviness in his heart in his voice. Some Zora bore similar marks, after having attempted to use shock arrows on Vah Ruta. Even just brushing up against the arrows could cause such damage.
There were other scars on Link’s skin, now that he was looking. He followed the marks on the shoulder onto Link’s back, Link slowly turning to so Sidon could see. Slash marks, such as from claws or swords were most common on Link’s body, but there were remains of other injuries, such as the aftermath of burns that marred Link’s soft golden skin.
“How did this happen?” He asked quietly, aching for the pain that his friend must have gone through.
Link turned just enough that Sidon could see his gestures. 'I was being pulled by a sand seal while surfing on my shield, shooting bomb arrows at a giant camel while R-I-J-U tried to keep us all from being struck by lightning.'
Sidon stared, trying to comprehend what Link had just said. He had no idea what a sand seal, a camel or a Riju was. After a moment, he decided the details were unimportant as he got the gist of it. It was probably somewhat familiar to the situation where Link had ridden on Sidon’s back, while shooting shock arrows at Vah Ruta.
Link nudged Sidon. 'I’m fine.' He signed, clearly annoyed.
Sidon sighed. “I know.” He reassured his friend. As confident as Sidon was in his own fighting skills and the strength of the Zora, he was not confident it would be enough to best Link should they ever find themselves against each other in the field of battle. “You are a mighty warrior of much skill, but that does not prevent me from worrying about you, my dear friend.”
He kissed the burn mark on Link’s bare shoulder, feeling the slightly raised marks against his lips. Link was much too impulsive and rash, and seemed to have no self preservation skills.
One of his guards, Gruve, recently confessed to Sidon and Bazz that he’d witnessed Link diving off the top of Shatterback Point after collecting shock arrows from the Lynel, before going up against Vah Ruta. The image gave Sidon nightmares, it was called ‘Shatterback’ for a reason. Sidon himself had seen the aftermath of both confronting the Lynel and foolish jumps from the top of Ploymus Mountain too many times before.
Link shivering at the gentle contact. It was probably too cold in the Domain for Link to be wearing such clothing, even with the ruby circlet.
“That being said, do not forget that I believe in you.” Sidon said standing up. “And I shall be cheering you on as ever. However, I do believe a soak in the recovery springs would do you no harm.”
The wounds were healed, and Sidon could not smell blood on Link, but the healing properties of the springs would help with any remaining recovery. If nothing else, they were hot springs, and could warm Link up.
Link shrugged, as if there was the possibility they might, then laughed at the look on Sidon’s face, following after with a bounce in his step.
Sidon could not protect Link from all he faced, but he would do all that he could to ease his friend’s pain before he left again.
Sidon was not worried, exactly. Link was a highly capable warrior, and could defeat great foes single-handedly, that even the entire Zora army could not.
That didn’t mean he wasn’t concerned about his friend. Link had been gone for a while, longer than his previous absences. There were still three lights in the sky, meaning that Link had not been successful in freeing the final Divine Beast, Vah Medoh, from Calamity Ganon’s control.
And such as things were, if something were to happen to Link, it could be quite a long time before anyone discovered it.
It did not bear thinking about, but still, Sidon couldn’t help but to do so. It was a foolish weakness of his.
He heard a scrape behind him and sighed. Most likely Bazz, coming to scold him for mooning over the Hylian Champion again. He wasn’t ‘mooning’, thank you very much. He was a Prince of the Zora. He had much more dignity than that.
“Bazz-” Bracing himself, Sidon turned and was surprised to see something other than his second in command standing there.
Instead, he found a wood crate. Sidon frowned, fairly certain that the crate had not been there when he’d first arrived at Mipha’s statue.
The crate moved forward, and Sidon jumped slightly, hand flying to his hip, where his sword usually sat, only to remember he’d taken off earlier. No matter, a Zora was never without weapons. He bared his teeth, flexing the claws on the ends of his fingers.
A shadow moved behind the crate, and suddenly Link appeared, jumping on top of the crate and waving. There was a pleased air about him, for all that he was covered from the nose down. The Sheikah symbol across his extremely tight shirt was eye catching, although a bit perplexing.
Not that it mattered. “Link! My dear friend! How excellent it is to see you!” Sidon cheered, moving closer to his friend. “... Although the crate is a bit of a surprise.”
'This way we can speak face to face.' Link’s beautiful blue eyes sparkled with mirth, and Sidon got the impression he was smiling. He was correct as well, standing on the crate meant that his head was just slightly above Sidon’s.'Last time you had to crouch for us to speak.'
“A brilliant solution!” Sidon beamed at him. “I hope you have been faring well. I had not heard anything of your escapades and have been concerned.”
The only thing that he might have been able to associate with Link was rumour of a Guardian being defeated by a flock of Cucco, and even that he couldn’t figure how to tie back to his friend. Although it did sound strangely like Link.
Link nodded, and it was hard to tell with the mask, but it seemed as if his expression fell. “Forgive me if I have overstepped.” Sidon apologised.
Link shook his head, then reached into his pouch, his clothing flickering and fading away once more. He was back in his champion’s tunic and normal trousers, his face visible once more.
He still had the opal earrings, Sidon noticed with a pang of fondness.
'I’ve been training in the shrines.' Link signed, his expression unreadable. 'I had to get stronger.’
“Stronger?!” Sidon nearly recoiled. “You’re the strongest person I know!”
Link huffed, a small smile flashing across his face before fading away. 'Thanks.' He signed, but it seemed strangely sardonic. 'I had to get strong enough to get this.'
He reached behind him, unsheathing the sword on his back. Sidon was perfectly prepared to be in awe of whatever Link showed him, but he didn’t have to feign his shock as he looked at the triforce symbol on the lustrous blade. “The Master Sword.” He breathed. “The sword that seals the darkness.”
The sword that would defeat Calamity Ganon.
Only someone who was chosen by the Master Sword, who had proved themselves worthy, could wield it. And Link held it naturally, as if it was an extension of his own arm.
Although the expression on Link’s face showed that it was far from comfortable to do so. The weight of the Master Sword was not an easy one to carry, not all of it being physical.
Link sheathed the sword, freeing his hands to sign again. 'It was nearly broken when I got it, I had to repair it by going through the trials. It…' Link floundered for a moment, hands moving in meaningless circles as he searched for the right word. '-Was not easy.' He settled on, and Sidon had the feeling that it was a massive understatement.
Peering at Link’s face, Sidon realised that Link had gained more scars, even on what little skin was visible.
“What happens if you fail the trials.” Sidon slowly sounded out, a dark twisted feeling in his gut. It was less a question, and more of a plea that it wasn’t as bad as he feared it to be.
There was a hard look in Link’s eyes, almost anathema to the spirited warrior Sidon knew, when Link signed. 'I don’t.'
Sidon felt gutted, as if he’d taken a sword to the stomach and his insides had spilled out. He didn’t… He didn’t know what Link had gone through, but he both feared hearing it, and wished to know. But at the same time, he did not wish to inflict more hurt upon his friend by having Link relive those experiences by explaining.
Link’s eyes went wide, as if realising he’d let slip something that he hadn’t meant to, and didn’t know what to do now, or how to correct it. Sidon knew the feeling, and mirrored it himself.
He reached out, slowly, so that Link had time to move if he wanted to, gently cupping Link’s head, the golden strands tickling his fingertips. Link let out a shuddering sigh, closing his eyes as he pressed the side of his face into Sidon’s palm, suddenly going soft and pliant, the hard edge to him vanishing as if it hadn’t existed.
Sidon gave a soft sigh, leaning forward and kissing a new scar that went over the curve of Link’s cheek. “Remember.” He said quietly, willing Link to believe him. “I believe in you.”
Link opened his eyes, giving Sidon a suspicious look. Sidon stared back, putting no cavats or anything else to it. He believed in Link.
Finally, Link huffed and nodded, rubbing his cheek against Sidon’s palm, reaching up to trap Sidon’s hand there for a moment before pulling away.
'So.' Link signed, looking like the cocky brash warrior he usually was. 'Come here often?' Sidon snorted in amusement. From anyone else, he would have taken as an attempt at flirting.
“Every night.” Sidon admitted, glancing back to the the sculpture of Mipha’s face. Although, privately, he could admit that lately it wasn’t so much to seek her perspective, but fret over how Link was doing, and to pray that she watch over him somehow. Link been very dear to his sister a century ago, even if Link didn’t remember it.
Something brushed his hand, and he glanced down to find that Link had wrapped a soft hand around one of Sidon’s fingers. Slowly, as if to not to startle, Link turned Sidon’s hand around and leaned in, something soft touching the palm of Sidon’s hand.
He felt a shiver go through him and his heartbeat pick up as he realised that was the touch of Link’s lips against his skin. Link had kissed him.
By the Goddess, if that was even a fraction of what Link felt whenever Sidon kissed him, it was no wonder the Hylian was fond of them.
'Come on.' Link broke him out of his revere. The smaller Hylian jumped off the box and motioned for Sidon to follow him.
As if being pulled along by an invisible thread, Sidon did so. “Where are we going?” Sidon asked, curious.
Link gave him a small smirk, holding a finger up to his lips for silence. Sidon chuckled quietly and obeyed, following him without a word. He noticed that Link had acquired an unusual shield as well. It was predominantly blue, with the red bird that was the Hylian royal crest stood out in the middle, below the Triforce.
It looked strong, and Sidon hoped that it would protect Link well.
Although if Link was as stealthy outside of the Domain as he was within it, he may not need a shield quite so much. Sidon marveled as Link somehow managed to find a meandering path that let them travel uninterrupted by the guards on Night Patrols. He made a mental note to make the patrols a little less predictable. It was a good thing Link was a friend and not an assassin.
Just when Sidon was starting to wonder if they were lost, Link turned a corner and pulled Sidon into the castle’s kitchen, looking around with a pleased air. “What are we doing here?” Sidon asked, curious. It was late, but not so late that the kitchen staff hadn’t started on the morning’s meal.
Link grinned in response, pulling Sidon over to a stool next to a table, then released his hand to push Sidon into the seat, his demand clear. Sidon did so, finding himself missing the feeling of Link’s hand around his finger. He’d never noticed how warm Hylians were before.
Sidon properly seated, Link turned his attention to the stove. The fire was out, so Link quickly pulled a pile of firewood out of his bag, and tossed it under the pot that was sitting there.
And then to Sidon’s shock and surprise, proceeded to pull out his bow and fired an arrow at the stove. There was a ‘boom!’ as the wood suddenly burst into flames. Link nodded, looking pleased as he put the bow away.
Something of Sidon’s shock must have shown on his face, because Link hastened to explain. 'Fire arrow.'
Which begged the question of how the arrow was on fire when he pulled it out of the quiver. “Do you normally light fires that way?” Sidon ventured.
Link seemed to think about it. 'Bomb arrows work too.'
“Thank you for refraining from using one to light the stove.” Sidon said quickly. The resulting explosion would have no doubt caused a great deal of destruction and woken up half the palace. Link laughed in his silent way, opening up the cupboards and rummaging around before closing them and moving on.
“You can cook?” Sidon questioned, curious. Link was constantly full of surprises.
Link made an inelegant snorting sound through his nose. ‘Have to eat somehow while I’m in the roads’ He signed flippantly, before opening up one of the chilled bins. He made a pleased face when he discovered a container of milk, gleefully setting it on the table.
“Warm milk-?” Sidon ventured. It was a Hylian drink he’d heard about as a method to fall asleep but never tried. As a rule, Zora did not consume much milk, other than occasionally for sauces on fish.
He was intrigued when Link gave him an affronted look, as if such a simple dish was below his talents, before pulling his ever present pack and pulling out two heart shaped vegetables and setting them on the table.
“My apologies my dear friend, I should know better than to question your skills.” Sidon chuckled to himself as Link waved off any affront, digging into his pack again. Sidon sat back and relaxed, trusting Link to know what he was doing. “Sadly, cooking is not one of my abilities, so I shall leave it in your capable hands.”
Link gave him a wide smile, pulling some sort of melon out of his pack and putting it on the table as well before signing. 'Since you seemed curious about the culture, this is a recipe I learned in Gerudo Town.'
“How exciting!” Sidon smiled in delight, his tail fin wagging happily. “I don’t think I’ve ever tried any of their food before.” Perhaps when he’d been small, before the Calamity happened, and trade between their cultures was still possible.
Link shrugged back. 'I liked it. Never tried making this dish though, didn’t have the fresh milk.' He admitted before pulling out a spiky looking fruit and adding it with the others. 'The teacher said that if you can master this recipe, then you can master almost anything in the world.'
“How inspirational!” Sidon beamed with delight. “Then you should be able to master it with ease!”
Link gave him an affectionate look before picking everything up and dumping it in the pot. The ingredients seemed to bounce and sing for a moment, then there was a large ‘poof!’.
Sidon stared in surprise as he realised the pot was now filled with a lovely smelling soup, with slices of cooked heart shaped vegetable. “How-?” The glass jar the milk had been in was now gone too, not even fragments remaining.
Link shrugged. He didn’t seem surprised, even though Sidon was pretty sure most other people would have to cut the vegetables first before cooking them. “You are most amazing, my wonderous friend.”
Link ducked his head, his cheeks turning a darling shade of pink. He found two bowls, some spoons and a ladle, setting about serving the soup, quickly setting a bowl in front of Sidon. 'Creamy Hearty Soup.' He signed. 'Good for restoring hearts.'
They could both use that, after tonight’s talks. Sidon nodded, eagerly picking up his spoon to try the food. Link put a hand out, something hesitant flickering across his expression. 'Enjoying the soup with someone is supposed to bring them closer together.' He haltingly signed.
“Like the Gerudo enchantment in your jewelry?” Sidon questioned. He’d heard of being able to cook potions before, but he thought that was something different than creating food.
“Well.” Sidon picked up the spoon, giving Link a fond grin. “If it is true, I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather share this with.”
The smile he got back was blinding, and Sidon felt warm, his heart beating faster even before he tasted the soup.
There was now a fourth light in the sky, Sidon noticed with a mix of elation and worry in his gut. The fourth Divine Beast was now free from Calamity Ganon’s control.
That meant that the next adversary that the Champion faced was Calamity Ganon himself. The next foe that Link faced.
When reports of a blue flash from the Shrine reached his ears, Sidon was torn between extremes of joy and terror for his friend, but it didn’t stop his feet from running as fast as he could towards the Shrine.
Link was standing there, looking up at Mipha’s statue as still as if he were the one carved from luminous stone. A loud and joyous greeting was on the tip of Sidon’s tongue, but something in his friend’s posture made him swallow the words and quietly walk up next to the Hero of Hyrule.
The first thing he noticed was that Link looked exhausted. “Are you well, my friend?” Sidon asked, voiced full of concern.
Link looked up at him, and the answer seemed to be a silent but resounding ‘No’.
Sidon looked around, realising that they had acquired a small bit of an audience, Zora gathering around to look at the Champion. “Come.” Sidon said, putting a hand on Link’s back and giving him a gentle nudge, away from Mipha’s statue. Link stumbled a step, then followed with no resistance, Sidon’s fingers sinking into the strange quilted jacket that Link wore.
He had to admit that the feathers behind Link’s elegant pointed ears were quite striking, in an exotic sort of way. Nothing a Zora would think to wear, but flattering nonetheless.
Bazz caught his eye, looking first at Link, then up at Sidon with a worried expression, silently motioning that he’d guard their retreat, so no one followed. Sidon nodded his gratitude before turning his attention back to Link. Both Sidon and Bazz had been in the guard long enough to spot someone who had been pushed too far.
“I can carry you, if you are too weary.” Sidon offered, aware that Bazz was following them. “It is no great difficulty.”
With his fingers spread, he could nearly cover the entirely of Link’s back, fingertips curving around each side of Link’s ribs. Even with the armour Link wore, his weight would not be much against Sidon’s Zora strength.
He got an annoyed glance back so fierce it was almost a shock that it didn’t leave a mark. “Apologies.” Sidon said stiffly, pulling his hand away and finding himself straightening up as if he’d just received a tongue lashing.
Link ran a hand down his face, the ire fading from his expression, his posture wilting. ‘Sorry.’ Link signed, looking tired again, although somehow retaining a stubborn air. ‘I can walk.’
“It is not far.” Sidon said quietly, uncertain how to assist.
Sleep. That was probably the thing Link needed most. He escorted Link to his chambers, thankful he had a water bed as well as a sleeping pool. Link could easily sleep in the former, not the latter. Well, unless he slept on top of Sidon…
He dismissed that train of thought as they approached his rooms, Bazz taking up position to block anyone from coming down the hallway or disturbing them unless it was an emergency. Link seemed to wake up a little bit, looking around the room with a minor bit of curiosity.
“My rooms.” Sidon said with a bit of a smile as he closed the door behind him. It was probably a breach of etiquette to bring Link here, but he couldn't find it in himself to care. “There’s a bed you can rest in over here, you looked like you need a good night’s sleep.”
Link looked up at Sidon, something heavy in his gaze. He raised his hands to sign, then lowered them, a silent debate going on behind his blue eyes. Finally Link signed, his gestures somehow both hesitant and defiant. ‘I don’t sleep.’
What an odd thing to say. He stared at Link, waiting for Link to finish the joke, to make some sort of comment about surviving on a hot beverage of ground roasted beans or something.
The moment stretched and he realised that Link wasn’t joking.
“Ever?” Sidon echoed in confusion. Surely not.
Link shook his head, his expression resigned.
“But… Doesn’t everything need to sleep?” Possibly not the Goddesses, but the Great Fairies slept in their ponds, and all creatures, sentient or not, had to rest sometime or another.
Link looked away, staring at the smooth floor of the rooms. ‘Don’t need to. I just…’ He paused, fingers in mid motion, like he forgot what he was saying, before signing again, slowly, each sign formed like it hurt him to sign. ‘I just keep going.’
A bit of alarm prickled at the back of Sidon’s brain. True, the Champion had slept for 100 years, but to not need rest? At all? “You do not feel weary? Ever?”
Link shrugged, not looking at him. ‘I get hot.’ He confessed. ‘Cold. If it’s too much, or do something too long, like climb or swim, I…’ The hesitation was back, something haunted in his face.
“You do not need to explain it, my dear.” Sidon said quietly, trying to raidate that he was there for Link, whatever he needed. “Not if it pains you.”
Link looked up at him, blue eyes, bluer than the sea, or Hyrule Lake itself studying his face. If he was searching for something in Sidon’s expression, he seemed to find it.
‘I don’t sleep.’ Link signed, his gestures quick and decisive. ‘But sometimes... it’s as if I am turned off. A period of blackness. And then I wake up and no time has passed.’
Sidon wasn’t sure what to say about that. Link didn’t seem to notice, continuing onwards.
‘And, sometimes, I die. There’s nothing, this... darkness. Then I am whole again, standing where I was before it happened, minus potions and weaponry.’ Link’s face was grim. ‘It’s like everything has reset to just before a battle or a shrine. No one else remembers anything happening, they greet me as if meeting for the first time, and I’ve got a new scar that I only half remember getting.’
Sidon felt something dark and cold twist in his guts. “How many times? To free Vah Ruta?” He asked, voice thick.
How many times had he failed Link? Sidon bad promised to always catch Link when the warrior fell, and he wondered what scars remained on Link’s body from their battle together.
Although, drowning didn’t often leave marks.
Link pressed his lips together and looked away, refusing to answer. Too many, was Sidon’s guess.
He only had the memory of the once, Link responding to the attacks as if he knew when and when they were going to land.
At the time, he’d been in awe of Link’s skill at reading the attacks, but if what Link was saying were true, it was not a keen eye, but prior knowledge. From going up against Vah Ruta, and losing.
Over and over again.
It was a blessing that Link still counted him as a friend, after failing so many times.
He reached out, trailing a fingertip along the opal earrings Link was still wearing, to enhance his swimming speed. He wondered if that might have saved Link a few times, if the Hylian had had them when they went up against Vah Ruta.
Link pressed his warm hand against the back of Sidon’s, closing his eyes as he turned his face against Sidon’s hand, forehead resting against the curve of Sidon’s wrist. Sidon remembered Link doing this during their last conversation, but unlike their earlier discussion, Link didn’t relax completely.
Still, he seemed to find some measure of comfort from it. Sidon wished he could pick up Link, protect him from this burden that seemed to almost crush his friend.
Link took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh that sounded like he had the world resting on his shoulders. Which Sidon was all too aware that Link did. He opened his eyes, lifting his head away from Sidon’s hand, leaving the tips of Sidon’s fingers still touching Link’s earring.
‘I can’t lose. I can’t die. I can’t sleep.’ He finally signed. ‘All I can do is get stronger and fight.’
From anyone else, saying that they couldn’t lose would come across as a brash, prideful thing.
But, for Link, it was a curse, that losing wasn’t an option, he would always come back to face the same battle over and over again. Their conversation about Link fighting the shrines and the trials to get stronger took on an entirely new and horrifying context.
‘I’m tired of it.’ Link closed his eyes, looking like he was so worn out he could cry. ‘I’m so tired.’
Oh, Link. Sidon’s heart ached for his dear friend and he longed to be able to do something to help.
“I would take this burden from you if I could.” Sidon murmured, stroking Link’s cheek with the pad of his thumb. “Not because you are the Champion, but because you are my dear friend, and I care about you.”
Sidon couldn’t though. Link was the only one who could end it. The Hylian Champion. The Master Sword's Chosen One. The Hero of Hyrule, supposedly blessed by the Goddess Hylia herself.
For all that Sidon was a warrior, and a prince, there was nothing he could do to help Link with his destiny. Except this, encourage his most treasured friend with his words.
Link stared at him with those blue eyes, bluer than the the sky or the ocean, or any gem that Sidon had ever seen. His hands didn’t move, but his lips did, forming words that Sidon could clearly understand without sound.
“No.” Sidon knelt down, taking Link’s hands in his. “Thank you.”
Link made a hiccuping noise, the first sound Sidon had ever heard from his mouth. He pulled his hands from Sidon’s loose grasp, causing a moment of alarm that Sidon had exceed his limits, before Link wrapped both of his arms around Sidon’s neck, pulling himself close.
Sidon nearly panicked as Link’s face pressed up against the unarmoured section of his throat, strands of his hair tickling against the underside of Sidon’s jaw. That… was a very sensitive place for Zora, being so fragile to sharp teeth. One bite there was fatal, and there was no way for Sidon to avoid a bite if Link chose.
But Link was not a Zora, and had no sharp teeth to bite with, although he was no less deadly for it.
It was then he realised Link’s intention and relaxed. It was not an attack, but a hug. Hugs he could deal with. He hugged Link back, mindful of his larger size and strength, but if it was too tight, Link didn’t seem to notice or care.
“I believe in you.” He’d told this to Link many times before, but this time he hoped that Link believed him. That Sidon believed in Link, that it wasn’t just a platitude. “You are nearly done.”
Link nodded, tightening his grip on Sidon, fingers digging into scales. One more. One more battle to fight, then it was all over.
“And when you are done, I will give you as many kisses as you like.” Sidon added with a bit of a smile. “Where ever you like.”
That got him a huff that was nearly laughter, Link pressing his face against Sidon’s shoulder, even as his grip changed, lessened in its intensity. It seemed to settle something in the warrior, easing some of Link’s stress.
He held Link for a moment more, until Link seemed to find it uncomfortable. Sidon reluctantly released his grip, Link slowly sliding to the ground, holding on to Sidon’s hands, a small smile on his face. Sidon smiled back, happy to help his friend however he could.
“Don’t ever forget.” Sidon leaned down and kissed Link’s forehead, right between his eyes. “I believe in you.”
Link nodded, stretching up on his toes and pressing his forehead against Sidon’s. It was familiar to Sidon, a sign of familial or romantic affection among Zora, and Sidon found himself blushing slightly.
They stayed that way for a moment, long enough for Sidon’s blush to fade, a strange sort of peace falling over them.
Unfortunately, there were battles to fight, and Calamity Ganon to defeat. He felt a sense of loss when Link pulled away, twisting enough to brush the fleeting of kisses against the tip of Sidon’s forehead, right against the sensitive receptors there.
Sidon blinked, confused by the odd sensation, but Link was already fading away, blue light carrying him away, leaving Sidon with empty hands.
One more. One more battle, then Link would be free. From all these battles and the constant fighting that was obviously taking a toll on his friend.
One more battle, and hopefully Link would be free from this odd curse that put so much weight on his friend.
One more battle, then he could see Link again.
He prayed that it would be a short battle for Link.
He spotted Link talking with a Hylian woman with similarly coloured eyes and hair, the two standing close enough that Sidon wondered if they were siblings. Although he couldn’t remember Link mentioning ever any family at all.
Link did a double take when he spotted Sidon, his face brightening immediately.
Link excused himself from the woman, then started running towards Sidon, a broad carefree grin on his face. “Sidon!”
For a second, he thought he was hearing things, then he was distracted by Link throwing himself at Sidon.
“You did it!” Sidon cheered, grabbing his friend and spinning them around in a circle before hugging Link tightly. Link wrapped his arms around Sidon’s neck, pressing his face against the unarmoured section of Sidon’s throat again. “I knew you could do it, you are incredible!”
Link more than incredible. He’d have to get the details from Link later, the most important being how many times did Link have to go through the fight before he won. But there were no shadows around Link now, so he prayed it was very few.
Link leaned back, pulling far away enough so he could look Sidon in the eye, while keeping one hand on Sidon’s shoulder for balance as he grinned broadly.
And then deliberately pointed to his nose.
Tailfin wagging, Sidon laughed, and kissed Link’s sun freckled nose.
Link beamed back, looking delighted for a moment before he darted forward to kiss where Sidon’s nose would be if he were built like a Hylian. Sidon barely had a chance to blink before Link was sitting back again, pointing to his cheek.
Sidon laughed and obliged him, Link returning the favour. Then obliged him again and again, when Link pointed to his forehead, his chin, his other cheek, his nose again, until they were both giggling madly as they peppered each other’s faces with kisses.
Link finally rested his forehead against Sidon’s, practically buzzing in happiness, an emotion that Sidon gladly mirrored it. “You are well?” Sidon asked earnestly. He could not smell any blood on his friend, just warm Hylian and soap from what he thought might be a recent bath. “Have you slept?”
Link nodded, his hair tickling Sidon. He shifted so he was sitting comfortably in the crook of Sidon’s arm. ‘Dreamt too.’ He signed with a pleased expression.
There were no shadows around Link’s eyes, none of the dark exhaustion that had weighed him down when last they met. Just a lingering tiredness that could easily be explained by a long hard battle and cured with a few good night’s rest.
What ever curse had been lingering on Link had been broken when he defeated Calamity Ganon.
“Have I told you how magnificent you are?” Sidon asked, unable to keep the joy from his face or his voice.
Link laughed, not the soundless motion he’d made before, but honest to goodness laughter, free and bright, and Sidon was immediately addicted to the noise.
“And you got your voice back!” He added with delight, cupping Link’s cheek with his hand, feeling the vibrations against his skin.
“Mostly.” Link agreed, his voice cracking as he said it. He pulled away, rubbing his throat with his free hand.
“He forgets that he can use his voice now.” The blonde Hylian spoke up, stepping forward with a vaguely teasing air. “And such things like manners and introductions.”
Sidon flushed with embarrassment at such an improper gaff, manners were something that he prided himself on, even if other people forgot. “My apologies.” He stammered, but did not let Link go. “That was terribly impolite of us.”
Link huffed in amusement, cutting Sidon off with a casual wave of his hand. “This Sidon, my best friend.” He breezily introduced Sidon.
Sidon very nearly dropped Link in surprise, managing to prevent the action at the last moment. He counted Link as one of his dearest friends, true, but he’d never even considered that Link might feel the same. Not with all of Link’s travels, and the multitude of people he had met.
But when he met Link’s gaze, it was cool and assured, with just a little hint of smugness. Sidon’s heart felt like it was leaping from his chest in joy when he smiled back.
The woman gave a small giggle, and when he glanced her her direction, she had a hand over her mouth, which did little to hide the smile that was crinkling her eyes.
“I am Sidon, Prince of the Zora Domain.” Sidon corrected with a smile, because as much as he adored Link, the hero’s manners were honestly atrocious. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure is mine.” She said warmly. “You’ve grown so big and tall since we last met. I don’t know if you remember me, but I am Zelda.”
Sidon’s eyes widened in recognition. Princess Zelda. Of course. He’d met her before when he was quite young, although she’d seemed kind of tall to him at the time, the same height as his sister. He hadn’t recognised her, although it was obvious now.
“Princess.” He knelt, setting Link down. The Hero of Hyrule made an amused snort that Sidon ignored as he took the princess’ hand and gave a quick kiss to the back of her hand. “I’m incredibly glad to see you happy and healthy once more.”
“Same to you.” She smiled at him, blue eyes twinkling in mischief. She stepped forward, invading his space. He resisted the urge to stand up or back away, allowing the princess to speak softly in his ear.
“I’m sure Link neglected to mention that kissing is frequently a stage in Hylian courting?” She whispered just loudly enough for him to hear, then stepped away with an amused smirk.
Sidon looked between the princess, and Link, who was giving them a puzzled look, then back to the Princess, wondering if she was joking. “Beg pardon?”
He hadn’t thought of it before, but now that she brought up the idea, he wasn’t opposed to it. Quite the opposite. He adored Link, and the Hylian was everything he could wish for in a partner. Brave beyond measure, compassionate, and made Sidon feel so full of joy it as though he were floating while his feet were still on the ground.
Sidon had no idea how Hylians courted, he’d need to find out how. Courting, much less Zora courting was not to be taken lightly. He’d need to talk to his father about political and diplomatic concerns that this might cause. And if the Princess was mentioning it, it seemed like a pretty big step they’d jumped to…
“Don’t worry.” Zelda assured him, giving Sidon a fond look as she patted the top of his hand. “I’m sure it’s another one of those things he forgot.”