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Sidon has little to worry himself over during these peaceful days. With the second-coming of the Calamity averted, Zora’s Domain prospers more than Sidon ever remembers it having before. His princely duties have drifted away from teaching and waging battle and instead to humbler matters of diplomacy and maintaining community.

It is rewarding work, yet it does not excite him. Only one thing excites him, as of late, and that would be—

“Link!” The name is courage and light on Sidon’s tongue. He revels every chance he has to utter it. “How good it is to see you, my friend! What brings you to Zora’s Domain?”

Link stands heavy before him, body garbed in tarnished Zora Armor and blonde hair pulled back into a snarled ponytail. He seems weary, Sidon thinks, though he cannot fathom why. Surely the roads are easier to tread, with the monsters having been banished back to their darkness. And he certainly must feel more at ease, as his burden to bear of Calamity Ganon has already been lost to legend—and yet….

“Are you all right, Link?” Sidon asks, drawing closer to him in concern. His footsteps are loud on the wet, arching bridges of the Domain. “Was it a long journey? Perhaps you ought to get some rest.”

Link looks like he wants to object—his shoulders square back, and his lips pull into a sordid frown. And yet, the exhaustion weighs so laden on his bones, he cannot muster the strength to fight, and he resigns himself to a terse nod.

Sidon lays a palm on Link’s back. He knows he need not be gentle—Link is the strongest of Hylains, and likely stronger than Sidon himself—but his claws clink against the armor and catch on the nape of Link’s neck, and he falters. He does not want to harm Link any more than he already has been. He deserves the rest—the sanctuary Zora’s Domain can provide, albeit just for the night.

“Come,” Sidon says, guiding Link up the city slopes and towards the inn. “We can discuss your trip in the morning.”

▲▼▲

Sidon tells the innkeeper to send word as soon as Link awakens. Sidon was certain she would have kept her promise, but—unfortunately for her—Link was far faster, and Sidon finds him waiting outside the royal chambers as the sky blushes with early dawn. Link takes Sidon’s hand and leads him across the swooping bridges and back to the inn, whereupon he begins to prepare breakfast.

As Link tosses crabs and sea snails into the cooking pot, sautéing them with goat butter and seasoning them with unfamiliar peppers, Sidon says to him, “It is nice to see you well. Have you come on business or for personal matters, may I ask?”

Link grinds up a clove of wild garlic and adds it to the pot, letting it dissolve into the butter. He looks up at Sidon, and his expression pinches—like he’s in disbelief that Sidon asked such a question.

Embarrassment washes over Sidon, and he adds with a laugh, “Well, I assumed it to be the latter, but your sudden arrival had me worried! I hope you did not trouble yourself too much in getting here—especially if it is only for pleasure.”

Only? Link mouths, frowning at him.

Sidon flinches and scolds himself for his quick tongue. “Pardon me—I believe I misspoke! I do value your company, Link, and I am incredibly grateful for your visits. I simply—ah, hmm.” He takes a moment to think about the best way to phrase his complicated thoughts, then continues with hesitant poise: “I simply do not want you to trouble yourself when it comes to visiting us. I am sure you are very busy with your knighthood, and I do not wish to impede upon your duties.”

Link shakes his head as he stirs the ingredients. Perhaps he has no duties left to attend. Perhaps he is finally free.

(Why, then, does he look so defeated—as if the Calamity had won?)

▲▼▲

Link stays for three days. Sidon wishes he could take more time to enjoy him, but alas, he must attend to his people.

Link winds up joining Sidon in his formal responsibilities. He is quiet and respectful, but the warriors Sidon trains are distracted by the presence of the Hero, and the children he teaches are even more so. Nonetheless, his visit is a jubilant affair, and it pains Sidon to watch him go.

And then, a week later, Link returns—as much in shambles as he was upon his first visit. Sidon is there to catch him when he falls, to walk him to the inn—and he is there in the morning, when Link cooks breakfast in a daze and eats with the furor of a starving piranha.

Surely the Domain must bore him: Sidon’s life is simple. He is far from the Champion his sister was, and farther still from Link’s heroics. Yet Link never complains—he seems interested, in fact, and asks questions about the Zora and their history that Sidon finds himself referencing journals in order to answer.

Before Sidon realizes it, they settle into a pattern. Link will stay for a handful of evenings, before taking off at dawn—and then arrives again only days afterwards. The children start to recognize him as a friend: he shares with them stories through shadow-puppets and brings them strange souvenirs from all across Hyrule. He offers Sidon the same trinkets: rock salt from Death Mountain, lilies from the garden of Great Fairy springs.

“Why, Link, I am flattered!” Sidon says, and he really, truly is. Yet he presses the flowers back into Link’s chest and continues, “But these are from your adventures. You earned them! I cannot usurp your memories.”

Link blinks, and then he says with his hands, I can always make more memories. These ones are too special to keep.

“Too special?” Sidon echoes, and before he can try to puzzle out what Link means by that, the blossoms are once again held out for him to take.

They’re for you, Link odes. He has a determined gleam in his eyes—that same gleam Sidon remembers sparking in him during the heart of combat—and, well, Sidon can hardly refuse that.

Later that evening, Sidon sets the flowers in a glass vase blown by Goron artisans (another gift Link imparted upon him). When he glances at it from his resting pool, he wonders about the garden where they had grown. He wonders if they miss home.

He wonders the same about Link.

▲▼▲

It takes several cycles for Sidon to muster the courage to voice his concerns to his friend. When he does, during one of their friendly bouts of fishing, Link stares at him as if he has suddenly grown an extra flipper.

Home? Link silently utters. He doesn’t speak the word aloud, yet Sidon can hear the confusion bubbling in his throat.

“Well, yes! Your home!” Sidon fidgets with his fins. He finds it relaxing to spend time with Link and share in his space, yet it is difficult to add weight to his words. (He does not want to hurt him. Link has done so much, and he deserves to rest.)

Sidon goes on, slowly: “You have been spending so much time here as of late, and I worry that they worry. I do not wish to waste your time.” He is honored that Link wants to give it, but he knows that it is selfish for him to take.

Link shakes his head so furiously, his hair falls loose in front of his eyes. He bares his teeth in an upset snarl.

“My apologies—I did not mean to perturb you!” Sidon pats the air in front of him, trying to console without touch. “Pray excuse my informality. I will not bring it up again—”

Link makes a sudden move. He abandons his crudely-fashioned fishing pole and lunges, on all fours, to grab Sidon’s massive hand between his two smaller ones.

Come, Link mouths. He pulls Sidon’s hand into his chest; Sidon feels like he’s being led, but he does not know where.

“Pardon?” Sidon asks, blinking wildly.

I’ll show you, says Link. Home. Come with me.

Sidon opens and closes his mouth wordlessly, feeling like a porgy glubbing for scraps. He thinks about the offer: of being by Link’s side as he rides into the new day, instead of watching and yearning from inside the blue borders of his kingdom. He thinks of the lily blossoms and the glasswork, and he thinks of Link’s strange, spicy peppers and his wild grain and his mysterious armor. How splendid it would be to witness them in their homes, too, in sanctuaries spread far beyond the waters of his marshland.

It kills him, what he has to say.

Sidon sets his other hand on top of Link’s clasped ones. He always marvels at how warm Link’s skin feels against his scales—Hylians are strange, soft creatures.

“That is a wonderful suggestion,” says Sidon, smiling as well as he can, “but my responsibilities are here, Link. I cannot abandon them.” As he utters the words, his voice sticks like sea urchin spines in his throat.

Only for a while, Link promises.

“I cannot leave the Domain unattended.”

Link looks pointedly in the direction of the royal chambers, past the statue of Mipha, and then looks back to Sidon.

“My father is an old Zora,” Sidon says solemnly, understanding Link’s reasoning. “He cannot be here by himself.”

Ask.

“Link, while I am honored—”

“Please.”

Sidon is not sure if it is his imagination, but he swears that he hears a whisper slip past those pink lips. He stares at him in shock: Link’s eyes are as blue as the skies above.

If he says no, will he bring them storms? He cannot bear the thought. He is willing to sacrifice his own desires for the sake of his people, but to deny Link such a simple request—after everything he has done for Sidon, for the world

“I will ask,” Sidon vows. “For the sake of us both, I will ask.”

▲▼▲

His father thinks it is a wonderful idea.

“Of course you can go! I’ve been trying to encourage you to leave the valley for years!” King Dorephan hoots and hollers on his throne. “It’s good to see the world—understanding other people and cultures is crucial for a future king. Take as much time as you need.”

Sidon is reluctant to accept. When his father notices his hesitation, his eyes narrow as he says, “I am old, my son, but I am not dead yet. I will manage in your absence. Now go, be young.” He grins, with teeth as sharp as swords. “While you still have the chance.”

▲▼▲

When Sidon tells Link the news, the Hero shakes with excitement. Sidon has never seen him emote so brightly before, and a gentle note plays soft on his heartstrings.

Link tells him to prepare quickly: they leave at dawn.

▲▼▲

The trek is long. Sidon doesn’t know what he expected, but it certainly wasn’t this.

He has never ventured far outside the Lanayru Province before—in his hundred-odd years of life, he has never had the time. His father had been right: he had always been overwhelmed with too many duties to attend, people to support, and soldiers to train to even consider the trip.

Link leads him south, beyond the spattered wetlands and the sleepy villages, until vines rein back the wood and forest gives way to jungle. It takes them a sun, then a moon, then another dawn—until Sidon cannot bear any more adventure and begs for his companion to rest.

The air in the tropics is mud-thick, humidity clinging in dewdrops along the arch of Sidon’s spine and up the split of his scales. It suffocates him, the weight of the water in the air—his gills flare with each of his breaths, starving to suck down the vapor.

Link, however, moves with grace. Each step he treads comes with a soft hum, a quick dart of his eyes. He reminds Sidon of a predator—of the shadows he would warn Zora guppies not to draw too close to. It surprises Sidon to see the legendary Hero stalk with such wildness.

Link finds for them a cave to rest, hidden between the hulking statues of ever-watchful ancestors past. Sidon does not know their history, and he asks it of Link.

Link, in response, pulls out his traveling log and flips to a clean page. He reaches into his pack, rifles through Goddesses-know-what, and then slips out a piece of fine, chiseled stone. He presses it to the paper, and it leaves behind a flaking trail of language. When he’s finished writing, he spins the book around for Sidon to see.

Long forgotten, Link’s scrawl reads.

Sidon glances up at the statues. Despite the rain drowning the color from the stone and the wind whetting their shape, they still stand proud.

“Mayhaps their history is forgotten, but they have legends yet untold,” says Sidon. When Link tilts his head in question, he elaborates: “After all, their stories are still being written! I have only been in their presence for but a moment, and yet they have already blessed me with so many marvelous tales. Sleeping in the mouth of a cave, guarded by the likenesses of ancient beasts—why, that is the very foundation of wonder, Link!”

Link’s honey-light eyelashes flutter, before a string of realization threads through his features. He nods his head and presses his makeshift quill to the paper again.

I have stories, too. About this place.

Sidon smiles at the words, teeth bared in the light of the moon. “I am certain you do! I would love for nothing more than to listen to them, Link.”

Link shakes his head. No, not listen: live. I’ll take you there.

Sidon starts to object—they’ve been traveling for days, now, and he needs at least a night to rest—but Link continues to write. He’s trembling, and his lips are twitching at the corners.

I’ll take you there. Into the serpent’s maw, over the dragon bridge. There is much yet to see.

He’s excited, Sidon realizes. When Sidon finishes reading and glances back at Link’s face, he witnesses a smile beaming with brilliance brighter than the Goddesses’ light.

And then, Link continues, I’ll take you home. He hesitates for a moment, and then squeezes the word “my” in just before “home”. Like I promised.

“Wonderful!” Sidon stamps a hand to his chest and bows his head. “If that is your wish, Link, then let us make it so!”

It’s not my wish. It’s yours. Isn’t it? He pauses, and before Sidon gets the chance to answer, writes: Maybe it’s both.

▲▼▲

After nearly a week of travel, Sidon finally comes to the conclusion that he is not going to return to Zora’s Domain any time soon.

They rarely stick to roads. Link pulls Sidon through the trees, trails him along cliff-sides and traipses through meadows. They bathe in the crystal waters of Lake Hylia and pray to the shrine of steeds.

Now they pause to sit atop a great plateau that overlooks the entirety of Hyrule. Sidon recognizes the split, twin peaks in the distance and wonders about his father. He has never left him for this long before. He does not know if the king can manage without his brood—he was never meant to.

Link gently nudges him in the side. Sidon’s meandering thoughts amble back to the plateau, and he offers Link a smile.

“You need not worry about me, Link!” he says, tapping at his chest. “I was simply lost in thought.”

Link scrutinizes him. He blinks his blue eyes and, like the jaws of the sky above and the sea below, Sidon feels swallowed by them.

He is so caught up in their waves, he hardly realizes Link is reaching for him until hands wrap around his arm and angle it towards the distance. It takes Sidon by surprise, but he does not flinch.

Link has him point to something. He makes him gesture to the far, far distance, at the visage of Hyrule Castle. Calamity Ganon is defeated, yet the stain of its smoke still scars the husk of the castle walls.

Link drags Sidon’s arm down, and Sidon’s eyes follow. His gaze sweeps from the castle to the plains of Hyrule Field, frollicking with wildlife yet untamed. Then to the savannahs weeded by lightning and thunder, then the froggy swamplands long abandoned, the blistering molten waterfalls of Death Mountain, the amber-gold canyons with flat, snow-capped peaks—

Link lets go of Sidon, and not soon after, the familiar tune of stone on paper rings in Sidon’s ears.

This plateau is where I woke up, Link’s journal reads.

Curiosity tickles beneath Sidon’s gills. “From your slumber?”

Yes. This was the very first thing I saw.

Sidon looks back over the cliff’s edge. He catches the sight of storm clouds billowing in the distance, their rain threading fingers through wisps of grass and trees.

“What a lovely sight to wake up to,” Sidon marvels.

Overwhelming. Link dots the period with a particularly harsh point.

A laugh escapes Sidon. “That is understandable as well! Hyrule is beautiful, but I can see how it might be too much to take in at once.”

Especially knowing that it was in danger, and that only you could save it. The thought makes Sidon’s scales crawl. How unfair it was for the world to ask that of a single man.

It’s so lonely, Link writes. Yet I always come back.

“Is this not your home?” Sidon asks.

No. I hate it here.

“Then why do you return?”

Because they don’t deserve to be lonely, either.

Sidon’s tail flips against the rocks. “They?”

He’s lost him, then, Sidon realizes. Link’s gaze is wandering—not towards Hyrule, but towards the rest of the plateau. He stares at the dilapidated temple beyond. He can only manage it for a second or two before he grunts and curls into himself, as if having been burned by flame.

“Link?” Sidon calls to him. He places a hand on his shoulder—it dwarfs him. Even by Hylian standards, Link is so small. What strength he must possess. “Are you—are you all right?”

Link grapples for his notebook. He tries to put the rock to paper, but his hands are shaking so terribly, the words cannot take root.

“Breathe, Link,” Sidon tries to soothe. Yet Link is already fleeing from his touch—and Sidon, respectfully, does not pursue. He shakes his head and makes motions with his fingers that are too turbulent to follow.

In a gangly, awkward movement, Link shoves himself up to his feet. He turns away from Sidon and prowls like monster-kin away from the edge, back towards the southern ladder from which they had climbed.

Sidon is not sure if he should follow. He is no hero—he has no concept of the depth of the horror Link must have witnessed, nor the weight of the sins he carries on his shoulders. He wants to understand—he wants to give Link his every gratitude, his every kindness. He wants to give him sanctuary. Pain never fades—Sidon knows that well enough—but oh, if only he could heal what little he could reach. If only he had his sister’s touch.

Link’s stride pauses, briefly, and he cranes his head back to look at Sidon. He frowns at him. And then—he speaks.

Aren’t you coming?

There’s no voice to the words, yet Sidon hears him.

“Of course,” he says—and of course, he follows.

▲▼▲

They see the world together.

They cross the coarse sand of the Gerudo Desert. Sidon’s scales bake brittle in the desert sun, and he has to coat himself in hydromelon juice to keep from shriveling. Link rides sand seals around him and spins to him yarns from the Gerudo people. Here, Sidon thinks, Link is at home—this must be it.

Not here, Link writes. Not there yet.

They climb into the Tabantha Frontier, Sidon dressed in such heavy winter pelts that he can barely move his limbs. Link soars with the Rito and hunts with the wolves. He looks at peace among both man and beast.

Almost.

They loop around the great canyon piercing the continent like a thorn, then circle the giggling forest Link warns him not to wander off near. They skirt the edges of Death Mountain, just far enough to keep from melting in the red rivers. They walk and they walk—for days, for nights, through rain and shine and snow and storm. Sidon has lost track of the passage of time. Here, in the wild of Hyrule, there is no time—not as it matters to the Zora. Hyrule is eternal. Sidon will die, Link will be reborn, and another Calamity will threaten its terrible destruction: but Hyrule will survive.

I promise.

Sidon has to wonder: what will the legends remember of them?

▲▼▲

They weave a path through the eternal-autumn roads of Akkala. Sidon is starting to recognize the terrain again—he is nearly home.

They stop for the night in a small, bustling little village built on top of a stone spire. The second Link enters, all business grinds to a halt: the townsfolk rush to greet him, to ask of his adventures, to beg him to stay for a while. Link returns all of their niceties with chortles and laughter—such pleasant sounds upon his lips.

This, Sidon thinks, must be it. He hears, through the hum of rumor, that this town was built from the ground up because of Link. People live here because of his hard work, because they believe in him. They speak of him with the same breed of wonder Sidon feels boiling in his chest whenever his thoughts dwell on his Hero.

It is evening. The festivities thrown by the townsfolk have died down, and only few remain awake. Link has rented a room in the inn and has already set to work on cooking a late dinner. Sidon is too large for the furniture (he is a little disappointed by that, considering the Zora at the desk), but he tries to make himself comfortable on the floor.

“What a lovely little town,” Sidon offers.

Link, despite concentrating on his skillet, nods in agreement. The scent of herbs—of saffron and sage, of parsley and pepper—fills the room. It smells like the wild.

“I will have to visit it! It is so close to Zora’s Domain, after all. Perhaps we will cross paths.”

Link stifles at his words. He lifts his head to look at Sidon and tilts it so that his tangled locks mask his face.

Sidon holds up his hands. “Ah, pardon me. I was thinking of the future. This journey of ours is at its end, is it not? You are home, and I am nearing my own.” Sidon lets out a chuckle, yet its hollowness chimes blunt in his ears. “What a wonderful adventure! It is a shame that it has reached its finale. How I wish I could be by your side for longer.”

In a frantic flurry of blue and blonde, Link deserts his skillet and scrambles across the floor towards his pack. He flings his things about with little abandon, instantly cluttering the already-cramped quarters, until he finally locates his notebook and quill.

Link scrawls quickly, and then shoves the notebook into Sidon’s face. This isn’t it.

Sidon skims the text and cannot help but utter another laugh. “We have been all across Hyrule, Link! Surely you jest.”

There is more yet to see.

“Of that, I am certain.” Sidon lays his head on his knuckles. His claws pinch his palms. “How desperately I want to stay with you, but I must return to my responsibilities. My people—my home needs me… as I’m sure does yours.”

It does need me, Link writes. I need it, too.

“Then stay,” says Sidon.

I want to.

“What is stopping you, Link?”

Responsibilities.

Responsibilities?” Sidon reads the word aloud and shakes his head in disbelief. “Link, you’ve saved Hyrule! You’ve earned yourself a respite from responsibilities, surely!”

Not mine, Link clarifies. Yours.

Sidon doesn’t entirely know what to do with that. He furrows the scales along his brow and asks, quietly, “Excuse me?”

Link tucks the journal up to his chest so that Sidon can’t see his progress. He writes furiously: every couple of seconds, he scribbles something out and writes something in its place. The frustration mounting in his muscles tightens like a bowstring.

Eventually, Link releases a defeated sigh and tosses the journal aside. He crawls on his knees towards Sidon, then plants himself in front of him and stares. Sidon feels like a hooked fish drowning in an ocean of blue.

Home isn’t… a place, Link says without voice. His lips move slowly, shaping the meaning of every full word. Hyrule is big. Beautiful. But… it’s lonely. I’m always lonely. But, I don’t feel lonely when I’m… home. He taps twice on his chest, then reaches out his hand and—hesitantly, shyly—taps twice at Sidon’s shoulder. When I’m with you.

They look at each other. Link’s face is taut with a conflicted scowl, and Sidon can’t imagine he himself looks any more composed. He feels the blood in his chest boil and bubble, threatening to steam from between his scales.

Link is the Hero of Hyrule. Sidon is not. Sidon is not even a Champion. For Link to speak so kindly of him, despite his shortcomings, despite the braver souls of the age—

Link’s eyes suddenly go wide. He pulls his hand back from Sidon and mouths, Sorry. I—lied to you. We didn’t need to go this far. I’m sorry. Sorry, sorry…. He repeats himself over and over again. On every silent utterance, his breath comes shorter and shallower.

“Goodness, Link, you need not apologize!” Sidon snatches Link’s retreating hand tightly between both of his own and pulls it close to his heart. Link gasps at the grasp. “I simply—I simply cannot believe that you think so highly of me! I think the world of you, as does everyone you have helped save, but—to think that the Hero of Hyrule feels safe with me, it’s—why, Link, I can barely form thoughts, let alone words!”

Goddesses, he’s going to cry—in front of the Hero of Hyrule. What must Mipha think of him now?

Link’s eyelashes flutter wildly, and his lips purse. You aren’t upset?

“Of course not!” If anything, Sidon is exalted. He is grateful his embarrassment cannot bleed through his scales; if he were a Hylian, he would certainly be blushing. “But I must ask: why did you not say anything sooner? If I had known, I could have—perhaps I—well, I suppose there is nothing I would have done differently, but nonetheless!”

I’m not good with words, Link says, glancing away from Sidon. So I wanted to show you. Show you that… no matter where I am in the world, I only feel at home with you.

Sidon grips Link’s hands tighter—and tighter, and tighter, until he gives up on that route entirely and pulls Link into his chest. He wraps his arms around him, swallowing him in an enveloping embrace. He feels Link suck in a breath, but he does not retreat.

“I feel the same way, my bravest Link,” he says as he squeezes Link’s frame. “You are my dearest companion. Zora’s Domain is my home, but you are the person I hold the closest to my heart. I did not—I did not think you felt the same way, considering the life you have lived….”

Link squirms slightly in Sidon’s hold. Sidon loosens his grip, just enough for him to pull away. They sit mere breaths apart, Link folded in Sidon’s lap.

You healed me, Link intones.

“Healed?” Sidon repeats after him, gold eyes widening.

You showed me that I could still feel. When I woke up, I wasn’t sure. And when I found my memories and saw who I was before… that made even me more unsure. But you—you made me—realize… that I can heal. That things will get better.

“Of course,” Sidon whispers. “Of course. This world is resilient, Link—as are all of its creatures. It has dawned on the darkest days, endured countless Calamities, and risen from the ashes of evil… and so will you. As this world gives rise to heroes, you too will grow. Things always get better. You can always heal, no matter how deeply your wounds ache.” He smiles at him, as brightly as he can manage with tears prickling behind his eyes. “Mipha taught me that, long ago.”

Link’s lips part at the mention of Mipha. He tilts his head right and then left, as if sloshing the name around in his mind. Eventually, though, Link reveals his glasswork heart: he mirrors Sidon’s smile with a small one of us own.

She said something like that to me once, too, he says.

Link collapses, then, into Sidon’s arms. He presses his forehead into his broad chest, limbs going limp. Sidon holds him steady and utters nonsensical niceties, hoping in some way that they will help him heal. (He is not a bard, like Mipha. This is all he has.)

He promises Link the world. He says that he always has a place at Sidon’s side—that the Zora are his family and that they will welcome him, always. He says that he is aware, too, that there are pieces of Link hidden in crevasses all across Hyrule—growing in the foggy jungles, shivering in the snow-slick peaks, and gleaming in the brightest deserts. He knows that they reside with others, too—with ghosts, warriors, and queens-to-be. He tells Link that if he must go—when he goes—Sidon will understand.

“All I ask,” Sidon murmurs quietly, words bubbling deep beneath his gills, “is that you someday return.”

Always, Sidon feels spoken against him. He hears the words in the mist of Link’s breath as it beads upon his scales.

“I will wait for you,” Sidon promises.

It will never be for long.

For Link needs his sanctuary as surely as Sidon does. It is the nature of all things wild, Sidon supposes—for even lilies, even wolves, have their garden and their pack.

Rest, Link breathes into him. Rest, while there is peace.

And, for the first time in a hundred years, they do.