“ Link, get up! Hey, c'mon! Can Hyrule's destiny really depend on such a lazy boy?”
Navi? Link tried to open his eyes, but sand weighed them down. Out of habit more than thought, mind as exhausted as his body, Link assessed himself. His body ached but faintly, more reminiscent of hard exercise than injury. His skin felt filthy, particularly his chest, but nothing concerning.
Beyond the strange sensation of rocking .
The world filtered in slowly, first sensation, then scent. Sweat and dirt and under that, the familiar scent of spice and something earthier, masculine. He knew that scent.
Sound came slower. Snatches of a familiar voice, with the words drifting into focus.
“-- gave you the potion, now wake up . Come back, Link.”
Ganondorf. Demise. The blue potion.
His eyes grew no lighter but Link forced them open, anyway. He recognized the ache now -- the aftermath of the blue potion, the memory of pain -- and the lethargy. His body recognizing the battle was done. Now he could rest.
He was sprawled over Ganondorf’s lap, Ganondorf’s arms tight around his torso. Link’s blood splattered them both. Ganondorf’s gaze was fixed on his face, and his eyes met Link’s. His words cut off. For a long moment, they were silent, the cavern soundless but for their breathing.
Then, “If you ever do that again, you insane Hylian, I will kill you myself.”
Link smiled sleepily. Eh. He had worse. “It’s done.”
Not eternally, no. For how long, he didn’t know, but at least he knew that for this lifetime, Ganondorf’s lifetime, Demise was sealed away. Perhaps the Goddesses had more for him to do, but he could rest knowing the evil which haunted his dreams was defeated.
Ganondorf’s exhale shook them both. Despite Link’s reassurance, fear still darkened his eyes. “And you? Are you done? Do you need to return to… wherever, whenever , then?”
Not fear: terror. Grief. His hands were so tight on Link they bruised his already worn body. It was ridiculous and possibly cruel, but Link couldn’t stop smiling. Ganondorf offered him a home, fought beside him, wanted him to stay . No farewell waves, no casual dismissals. No more careless good-byes.
Ganondorf started and tightened his grip on Link. Unable to stop smiling, Link looked up.
The original Hero grinned back. He no longer wore the red scarf and his hair seemed darker, eyes wider, but Link knew it was him. There was a boyishness to the Hero’s grin as he scooped the Master Sword up from the ground.
When he spoke, it was with an unfamiliar accent, one not heard in Hyrule for thousands of years. “Demise’s spirit is bound to the Master Sword again. He will get free again to spread his malice, but it’ll take time.” The Hero pet the bared blade like Link pet Epona. “In the meantime, I’ll take the Master Sword to the forest. There is no need for her to rest in the Temple of Time anymore.”
Even as Link was nodding, Ganondorf was shaking his head. “I do not understand. Who are you?”
The Hero’s eyes sparkled. “Just an old Knight. Hang on tight. Before I leave, I’ll send you both home.”
He winked at Link when he said it, and Link relaxed. Home .
The Master Sword blazed white, and then the world flared around them. Somewhere in the rush, almost drowned out by Ganondorf’s curses, Link heard, Good luck, Master Link.
Their arrival in the middle of the courtyard caused a small commotion among the Gerudo. It took several hours before Ganondorf restored order, organized the Gerudo still at the Fortress, and escaped from the Healers. Link, with barely a bruise on him, was able to sneak away much easier.
When Ganondorf found him again, Link was back in his room, studying his shield and bow. There was no sword. He never discovered where the Silver Sword went, and the Master Sword was now at rest somewhere hidden in the forest. For several heartbeats, Ganondorf stood in the doorway, watching Link examine his gear, before closing the door with a click behind him.
“If they left promptly and travel with speed, our people should return to the desert tomorrow night.”
Our people . Link smiled, running his fingers over his bow. He liked that.
Ganondorf reached over, stilling his hand. Liking the feeling of Ganondorf’s broad hand covering his, Link allowed it. Link looked up to meet Ganondorf’s gaze. The fear was gone, leaving only an intense warmth.
“I knew that day,” Ganondorf murmured, “that destiny brought you to me to help restore the Gerudo people.” He smiled wryly. “Although the Goddesses prove ever quixotic and fail to provide further directions.”
Link sighed. Ganondorf had no… Well, maybe by now he did.
Still, Link knew some things. He knew they needed to travel back to Hyrule Castle. He had a letter to deliver. It would probably be a good idea for the Gerudo to build ties with the Zora and Goron, banish the memory of Ganondorf being the lone kneeling leader in its entirety. He wanted to take Ganondorf to the forest, show him the place he called home for so long. Not instructions, per se, but something of a path.
He also knew another important thing. “Whatever happens, I’ll need a new sword.”
Ganondorf raised an eyebrow. “Indeed, a sword for… What should your position be? A priest, perhaps?”
“ No. ”
“Perhaps a consort then?”
While they waited for the others to return, Link expected Ganondorf’s questions to begin. Yet for all of his comments about expecting Link’s story, Ganondorf never asked. Instead, Link found himself again dressed in red Gerudo clothes, another green pendent resting on his chest. Ganondorf explained that it came from the same stone as the first but refused to elaborate, only made it clear that he expected Link to always wear it. Considering it stopped Demise’s strike from killing him, Link agreed. A new sword was commissioned (“A proper Gerudo blade, this time”). Several Gerudo made it clear that, even as Link refused the title or anything to do with priest , they viewed him as a type of religious leader. It was odd, to say the least.
Odd, but good . Nebu celebrated the confirmation of Link’s staying by putting his hair up in an elaborate style and dancing with him as he played the ocarina. Ganondorf ate breakfast with him and talked about future meals, and Link realized that he had no idea of Ganondorf’s favorite foods but would have time to find out. A young Gerudo challenged Link’s archery score and told him that she would make the course harder for him.
So many things and Link had time to do them and explore them.
When the Gerudo arrived that night, a contingent of Hylian warriors followed, led by Tasl. Above them, high on the cliffs, a pack of wolves watched. Link doubted it was for a hunt: probably only curiosity about the high level of activity. Still, he found himself saluting them.
“My king! Sa’ven! ” Kali called, and Link walked with Ganondorf to greet them, dressed in his Gerudo clothes and wearing his Hylian gear. His new necklace caught the firelight from the surrounding torches, shining bright.
Only later did he realize that he couldn’t remember the last time that he heard the Song of Time play in his mind: that the only sounds were the laughter and voices of those around him. But that was later, like Zelda’s note, like the Ocarina of Time. Now Link listened to Gerudo voices calling sa’ven and realized that sounded good. Good enough to be his new role, since Ganondorf refused to explain what a consort was.
Link smiled back at the Gerudo now and waved, oblivious to how another Link, miles away, smiled in Saria’s arms and waved at the mysterious sword now in the middle of Kokiri Forest. Saria rocked him and listened, unsure what she was listening for .
At the entrance of the Fortress, Link reached out for Afrit, aware of Ganondorf looming beside him, and smiled at Kali and Nabooru. “Welcome home.”