When Link was young, long before even Vaati’s first attack on the land of Hyrule took place, he would tell his father and grandfather about his dreams at the kitchen table, old and worn and laden with food. It was a common sight to see the tiny boy gesturing wildly as he spun stories of giant birds and an island far above the clouds. Those were the happy stories, the ones seemingly pulled from the tales of heroes past and the fairy tales that Link had always been fond of.
They were not concerning. The dreams of a dark tornado pulling him down through the clouds to the surface, the dreams of a girl encasing herself in crystal, the dreams of making his way through twisting chambers of dungeons, injured and alone but for a robotic voice in his sword, all for the girl he called his best friend- those , on the other hand, concerned his father beyond belief.
More concerning even then the horror of the dreams that plagued Link’s sleep were the similarities to historian’s accounts of the adventures of the Chosen Hero. The dungeons he described were chillingly similar, from one inside a volcano to an ancient structure in a verdant green forest, and even the red bird the boy had spent hours ranting about fit in as well, as the Hero’s crimson Loftwing. Even the girl in the crystal, Hylia reborn, sealed long ago and woken by the Hero...
“I think he may be the Hero,” the man had told Valensuela and Artura, late at night, his head in his hands. “I truly hope I am wrong, but…”
On the day when the Wind Mage Vaati stages his attack on Hyrule on the day of the Picori Festival, Link had been safe at the forge with his grandfather, his father sending a message telling the man to not let his son leave, to keep him safe, before he went off to fight Vaati’s dark forces alongside the rest of the Hyrulean knights.
If when he came back after the mage was defeated, sealed in the newly repaired Four Sword by whomever the hero had been, if Link was quieter, twitchier, he didn’t remark on it. The boy’s best friend had been turned to stone. Being honest, he had expected worse. And if sometimes, Link disappeared for hours on end, turning up later with tiny flowers woven in his hair and a soft smile on his face- well, he wouldn’t question the boy. He had likely just been out with Zelda again, playing games in Hyrule Field now that it was safe again.
Nothing strange about it all. He was just thankful that he had been wrong, that the hero hadn’t been his son.
Wouldn’t anyone be?
It was only two years later when Vaati returns, when Zelda was kidnapped, and he had prayed to Hylia that Link had followed his instructions- that if anything like what had happened two years before was to happen again, he would go either straight to the castle or to the forge, no stopping along the way. He did not have the time to check. He could not risk the lives of hundreds of citizens to make sure his son is where he is supposed to be.
And when Vaati’s forces spread across Hyrule, he did not have the time to check back home, even when rumors of a hero- of heroes , plural- began to spread, of four-who-are-one each wielding a piece of the Four Sword. All he could do was hope that Link stayed safe, at home, where Vaati’s forces could not reach him.
The boy wasn’t the type to ignore instructions, but when it came to Zelda, he could be reckless, and he hoped, dearly hoped, that Link had not gotten it in his head that he should try to save her himself, or anything similar, anything that would put him in the line of danger.
His son was too young to fight.
And when he came home this time, Link did not come to the castle for months afterward. If he did not see his boy until months later, he did not question it. Perhaps he should have. Zelda, though, was in and out of the forge, beginning her own apprenticeship with old Master Smith, Link’s grandfather.
Link is working on an advanced project, she told him. He’s working hard, but he’s doing fine.
He believed her. Why would the princess lie?
And if after he saw Link again at last, the boy acted strange, withdrawn, stumbling over his words and mood changing uncharacteristically fast- well, this had been the second time his home and his best friend had been attacked. And he was still so young…
And if sometimes, he overheard Link and Zelda talking about people he did not know-
“I miss them, sometimes”, Link had said.
“How could you not”, was Zelda’s response. “But…” her voice had dropped then, low enough he could not catch her words.
He worried for his son, but he supposed every father did.
And then two years again, and Vaati would attack once more. And when the first alarms had been shouted, of an invasion, of Vaati once more, he had known that Link had been in the castle, and he had prayed that he had gotten out in time.
When he saw his son lying prone on the ground, his heart stopped
When his son- not his son- opened his eyes and smirked, his heart dropped and he knew, somewhere in him, that all along, he had been right. He had been right .
When Shadow Link pulled him to the Tower of the Winds, he fought back. And when Zelda had appeared- no, not Zelda, Vaati , you idiot, Vaati..!
The four demons that had taken the form of his son pleaded, shouted, panicked. Something in him had said, no, this is wrong, that is Link, but… it couldn’t have been.
And when he fell to the ground, and watched the four rush through the opened doors to confront Vaati, he still was unsure of whether or not that had truly been his son.
Days later, with Zelda saved and the Four Sword returned, he sits in the kitchen, running his hands over the wood of the table, worn smooth from use. Link sits across from his, Zelda at his side as he fidgets with his tunic, hands twitching, arms shaking, legs bouncing. His own father sits at his side, watching Link and Zelda with old, sad eyes.
And now they finally explain.
That on that day four years ago, Link was not with his grandfather, but off on the beginnings of a journey to reforge the broken Picori Blade, a journey he would come out of with his hands twitching nervously every time he heard a sound and a friend in the Picori- no, Minish- especially a sage by the name of Ezlo.
That after the defeat of Vaati two years ago, Link had not worked on any projects. He wouldn’t, not until months after- his hands had been far too shaky two years ago to forge anything, as he tried to piece himself back together after the Four Sword shattered his soul into pieces, the parts of his mind constantly at war.
He still hasn’t fully managed to piece his mind together, Link says. He likely never will.
And after this adventure of his, it will take months for him to even consider himself Link again, to go from being Red, Green, Blue, and Vio, separate and warring and readjusting to being in one body once again, to Link, however shaky Link had been ever since he first pulled that sword.
He could not say that he had not expected it- ever since his son was young, he had always said…
But he had always grasped at straws, hoping that maybe he was wrong, that Link wasn’t the hero, always passing off Link’s strange behaviors as the effects of Vaati kidnapping his best friend or turning her to stone, not as the effects of fighting the mage, the demon , himself.
Link’s father sits at the table, and he berates himself for not having noticed. For not having questioned. For thanking Hylia that the hero hadn’t been his son, and ignoring the obvious signs that he was. That he is.
When only a year later, Link disappears again amidst rumors of monsters, stronger than ever before, he knows. And he mourns for his son’s life, for his sons’ lives, because they are only fifteen and yet it seems that they cannot go long without being dragged, yet again, into another adventure they never asked for.
And when Link appears again months later, when he is called to the forge to see his son laughing in the middle of a crowd of boys and men, Zelda at their side as they talk, he smiles, and can’t help but notice the way they all interact, like a family. Even from afar, it is obvious just how much they all care for each other.
Later, after the group explains who they are and their adventures thus far, he speaks to the oldest, a man with a scar over one eye and strange markings burnt across his face.
"Thank you, for taking care of my son," he says. "Keep them safe," he says.
The man turns to the group, watching with his one eye as the long-haired boy dishes out stew, as the man with a blue scarf argues with a man whose hair is streaked pink, as Link listens as a boy with messy blond hair tells a story involving lots of gesturing and loud sound effects, and he smiles.
"I would," the man says, "but I think they can take care of themselves fine."
"But if they ever need it, we will all be there to help."